Ryan’s Message: Things we Should and Shouldn’t learn from the pros
It seems like human nature. Whenever we get involved in an activity, especially sports, we start to look up to the best of the best. We look to professional athletes and admire their race results, their workouts, their fans and their success. We may even try to emulate some of their practice routines- but this can be a mistake. What we have to realize is that their lifestyle is far different from that of an amateur athlete’s, but that’s okay. As amateur athletes, there are aspects of a professional’s training we should not try to replicate. However, some elements we should definitely learn from.
The weekly lifestyle of a professional athlete is quite different from an amateur’s. A professional athlete does not work 40 hours plus per week on top of their training. A professional may get up, train, take a nap, and then go back for another three hour workout. They might then receive hours of massages and physical therapy, and end their day with a meal which has been carefully calculated by a professional nutritionist for long term gains. While this may sound appealing to many of us, it’s important to remember that this supports a training intensity and volume that would be unsustainable to an amateur athlete if you stripped away all the other recovery and therapy.
Let me give you a personal example. Years and years ago, I read a book by Ryan Hall, one of the fastest US long distance runners. He talked about a 25 x 400m workout on the track with 30 seconds rest. For those of you unfamiliar with track workouts, that’s essentially running 6 miles at a near sprint pace with only 30 seconds in between intervals. I thought this would be great for me to do (train like the best, right?) I completed the workout, but a week later I had a stress fracture. It probably wasn’t solely because of that workout, but it almost certainly made it worse!
Now, 400m repeats definitely have their place in a training cycle, but they almost certainly should not be done at that volume. What’s important to remember is that a coach can help you in determining what the appropriate volume for you should be. If you over-train, shooting for what the pros do, your workouts may blow up in your face and cause undue strain, or worse.
What’s also important to remember about training volume is that if you’re shooting for 25-30 hours a week of training like the pros may do, that most often is simply not feasible for an amateur athlete. It’s a good way to invade a work-training-family-life balance. It can lead to sleep deprivation which will hurt your training (and other areas of your life) in the long term.
There are healthier ways to develop speed and endurance on shorter training schedules, and that’s by working at higher zones in more intense efforts. We guide all of our athletes at Endorphin Fitness in this when we write individual plans, and always take into account the need to balance other areas of life with training.
Finally, it’s important to know what we can learn from the pros. It’s been highly motivational in my training. What we can emulate is the work ethic and determination to train with seriousness and resolve however much we are training. I can see professional athletes every day on social media doing workouts, working hard, and getting it done. Professional athletes know that when they toe the line, they’ll be facing the best in the world, and I often try to bring similar focus to my workouts, even if the workouts differ.
That’s what keeps me going when my alarm goes off early and I maybe want to sleep a couple more hours. Learn from the pros, but also take the advice of your coaches on how much is a good amount to train.
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