What Should You Train?
OCR has sooooo many requirements - running, strength, agility, power, endurance, balance, post-race beer-miles - that it can be a case of a deer in the headlights when trying to figure out what to train. You have lives and only so many hours per week to spend training, so how should you prioritize your workouts? In this article I’ll give you a very simple, basic way to help you decide.
Identify Your Suck(s)
Let’s take a quick look at triathlon as a simpler example of multiple training demands - but only 3 in this case (they have it so easy). Many times, athletes will switch from a single sport into triathlon. They will be dominant at their single-sport discipline, but weak at the other two. A collegiate swimmer will be out front after the swim and then fade away during the bike and run. Similar scenarios apply to runners and cyclists.
Imagine you are the coach of one of these athletes. Let’s say you have an amazing runner who is a mediocre biker and is simply happy to not drown during the swim. What would you emphasize in your training plan? Would you try to pump up his strength even more, or work on his worst discipline to minimize his weakness?
The answer to the above is to train where you have the most to gain. The better you are at something, the harder you have to work for smaller gains. Conversely, the most rapid and dramatic improvements are to be had in areas where you are weak. As such, the order in which to prioritize your runner’s triathlon training would be
Granted that this is grossly oversimplified, and I am sure traithletes and triathlon coaches out there are appalled at how much I’ve dumbed it all down. The point I am trying to illustrate is that you identify the weaknesses and train to build them up, more so than you would try to improve their strengths.
This training principle applies across pretty much any sport or activity. So why doesn’t everyone train this way? Well...because it sucks.
Turn your Sucks into Sucks-esses™
Doing things that you're good at is fun. This applies to training as well: training things you're good at is fun. Doing things at which you are lame and pathetic sucks. Ditto with training. Yet, as you get better and better, your sucks are the prime areas for you to train and continue to see improvement. If you are already at 90% of your genetic potential as a runner, and are only at 60% of where you could be in heavy carries, then it stands to reason that you would get much more bang for your training buck by focusing on your heavy carries.
Remember that the improvement-training curve flattens out as you get better, meaning it takes much more effort and time to get from 80% to 90% than from 40% to 70%. Since you only have so many hours of training time available, start picking on your weaknesses to raise your overall game.
Even though it may suck.