We can use the concept of technique training: (i.e.) the creation of consistent symmetrical circles to visualize other aspects of training, namely the cyclical nature of the training effect, as in the micro and macro cycles of training (i.e. periodization).
The process of improving as an athletes follows a cyclical pattern called the Training Effect. To achieve the training effect two components must both occur:
- load must be of sufficient stress to cause a change, and
- rest must be of sufficient duration to allow for recovery.
An inappropriate stimulus, either an excessive load or an excessive period of loading and the result will be an asymmetrical sine wave.
An inappropriate period of rest and recovery, either one that is cut short or the opposite, an excessively long cycle and the result will also be an asymmetrical sine wave.
Asymmetrical sine waves do not lead to consistent circles; they result in ellipses: cycles which either are excessive in amplitude (too much) or of insufficient frequency (too little). In either case, ellipses are not optimal as the training effect will not result in the desired performance.
Learning to create consistent symmetrical circles – the outcome of smooth sine waves – is a process. It takes time to gauge how much load you can handle, once, and repeatedly, what different types of load you can handle, once, and repeatedly, and how much time you need to recover, partially, and fully from all the different types of loads.
To start, its a bit of throwing mud up on the wall, it takes experimenting,who have to find out for yourself what works, in what quantities, over what periods. In time, you and your coach will begin to identify patterns that will become the basis of your micro and macro training cycles.
Of significant importance to amateur athletes, masters athletes and their coaches is taking into consideration loads that exist outside of training. Amateur athletes in school, carrying heavy course loads, preparing for exams, or while writing exams are under significant additional load. Masters athletes who commute, who are managers or executives, whose work does not end at 5pm, who are spouses, parents, and on top have taken on roles as members of volunteer organizations or associations need to realize that all of their responsibilities are load. These loads may not be athletic training loads, but they are loads nonetheless, loads competing for your time, your energy, your focus. If these loads are not factored into the training effect equation the result is consistent: athletes end up burning out, blowing up, or blowing out.
Because non-athletic loads are loads nonetheless, they require either distinct rest periods or additional rest factored into the overall time allocated to recovery from training. If an athlete is to engage in sport specific loads and expect progress, then they need to train from a state of rest so that they are able to execute workouts effectively and efficiently.
To maximize the training effect, to achieve the goals that you have set out for yourself, then embracing the rhythm of load followed by rest is the starting point. Either you will flow with your body and brain, or you will fight them attempting to force them to do too much too soon. Your body and brain will let you get away with it for awhile… but when the elastic is pulled too far, for too long it either snaps, leaving you broken, or recoils, snapping you back in the process.
So whats it gonna be? Fight or Flow.
Everything cycles… the solar system, the earth, the moon, the tides, day into night, seasons.
Our body has natural rhythms called circadian cycles, our body has beats… a heart beat, a breathing beat, brain beats for each form of sleep, and many more beats. Cyclicality is embedded into our DNA. To deny its existence is to deny that our very nature is rhythmic, and it is in this denial of our rhythms that we become out of sync… with ourselves, our health, in our relationships, out of sync with our purpose and meaning for life because we have become lost in the never-ending vicious cycle of unbalanced unrestrained unlimited ambition.
Your body and brain can tolerate a certain amount of imbalance – being taken out of rhythm (e.g. a lack of sleep) – for a period of time, but that period should not be seen as ‘natural’, normal, or healthy. We do have slack in our system that is designed to allow us to pull the occasional all-nighter, to go into beast mode in the gym, but it is not meant to be a gear to live in. Its a survival mechanism designed to save us and protect from danger. Its supposed to be a temporary emergency only system. Problem is… when you start to use the temporary emergency system as your daily go-to for getting yourself through life, that’s when you start to breakdown: physically, mentally, emotionally. In time, the breakdowns manifest as injury or illness. If the rhythm is not restored – sufficient rest, downtime, chill time, full recovery permitted – then disease takes hold, eventually you dig your own grave and one day you fall in it… during a workout in the pool, out on a run, after a game of shinny, on your way to work.
You can either live your life fighting your rhythms, beats, your cyclicality and seasonality, or you can embrace it and learn to flow.
So whats it gonna be? Fight or Flow.