Training for an event or race can be exciting at first. You start eager and motivated. Over time, that motivation can wane and slowly you start to care less about training or you push yourself less. It could be that you feel like you’re not going to achieve your targets for track times e.g. 4 minute 1500m, 2 minute 800m. But that doesn’t mean you should ease off training. If you want to improve to the best of your ability, regardless of whether you’re a runner or not, you’re going to need to push yourself in training.

Monday Motivation: Push Yourself In Training

Adaptation Requires Stimulus

As an athlete, if you’re seeking improvements in your training whether that’s running, swimming, cycling, football or any other sport, you’re going to need a stimulus to stimulate physiological and neurological adaptations within the body.

The greater the stimulus the greater the potential adaptation as long as adequate rest is taken for these changes to occur.

During training, it’s easy to drop the intensity midway through the session, skip the last few reps or give yourself an extra rest day altogether because you feel tired, stressed, sleepy, lack motivation or find the training too painful.

In a way, the training is meant to be painful to an extent. That’s how you know you’re providing a stimulus to the body. And as long as the stimulus is not too great, then your body will be able to adapt to it. When you feel yourself struggling to breathe during intervals, your body could respond with the following adaptations:

  • Increased capillarisation
  • Increased myoglobin content in the working muscles
  • Increased haemoglobin content in the blood
  • Increased cardiac strength

This is just one example, but it would allow for more efficient exchange and travel of oxygen around the body so you can use oxygen more efficiently. That means your body is able to use more oxygen in a given time period. In other words, your VO₂ max, the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilise per minute.

Push yourself in training, and the increase in any of the mentioned adaptations (or a combination of them) is likely to be greater.

Pushing Yourself In Training Is Easier With A Coach Or Group

But it’s not always easy to push yourself in training. We all have moments when motivation drops due to other factors such as stress, fatigue and amount or quality of sleep. This is why it’s better to train with a coach or a running club if you want to push yourself.

The session is mentioned beforehand. You can give feedback on how you feel and the coaches will make adjustments to the session to account for that or will keep an eye out during the session and tell you to ease off, drop out or miss an interval if you look like you’re struggling too much.

The inclination to drop out or miss a rep because it’s painful goes away – probably because your peers, friends and running mates are there and you want to stick with them during the training session. You’re probably also going to give 110% just to stick with them during intervals or tempo runs if it’s realistically within your capabilities.

This makes it much easier to obtain greater adaptations and is why many of the best runners in the world train together.

Adaptation Requires Rest

The other aspect of acquiring adaptations is rest so the body has time to recover and put these adaptations in place which will allow you to run faster for longer. During rest periods you should be placing no significant amount of stress on the body so the body can recover.

It’s quite easy to push yourself in training compared to giving yourself adequate time to rest. Most feel that after a day if they’re not training, they’re missing out on potential adaptations. This could be both true or false. I can’t say for the individual since this depends on several factors:

  • Your current level of fitness
  • The total stress on the body (mental, physical, emotional)
  • The running-specific stress on the body that comes from training
  • Amount and quality of sleep
  • Micronutrient status (how much minerals and vitamins your body has)
  • Macronutrient status (the proportion and what types of carbohydrates, fats and proteins you consume)
  • Mindset – is it positive? Negative? Do you believe in yourself?

Extremely fit athletes tend to be able to train every day, twice a day, whilst athletes starting out may require 2 – 4 rest days a week initially whilst their body adapts to the stimulus of training.

However, as well as trying to push yourself in training, you can try to accelerate your recovery by prioritising the controllable factors affecting rest and recovery. This can be done by:

  • Using deep breathing to put yourself in a parasympathetic state.
  • Getting enough sleep every day.
  • Consuming a balanced diet with plenty of protein and enough fats and carbohydrates to fuel activity.
  • Eating nutrient-dense foods and supplementing with nutrients you may be deficient in.
  • Trying to adopt a more positive mindset.

Thanks for reading, I hope this post provided some inspiration and motivation so you can go chase your goals! I’d greatly appreciate it if you could also share it with others!

Further Reading:

Monday Motivation: The Dark Winter Grind

The Dangers Of Being Sleep Deprived

Maximising Muscle Protein Synthesis