How easy is this: improving

Alright I am not talking here about our training or how to row. What I am referring to here is the notion of building capacity. That’s right a concept or the thinking around building human capacity. The easy part is seeing the gains. Observing the trend is very cool and bloody rewarding. Now gains can come in many forms. It can be pure output. Lower or reduced indicators like HR and Lactate. Perceived exertion is a great one. Given enough time and the right sort of training I sense the gains can be never ending. Sure there has to be a limit some where. Eventually age does slow us down I get that and doing the same training eventually produces fair less in the way of gains. So then given time and appropriate stimulus my feeling is the trend can continue for us to improve. Some times large steps are taken other times small ones. Some times you can overreach and the cost might be short term regression and when ignored or not monitored this can result in falling in a hole. The art of preparation then is to walk the fine line between finding improvement and supporting failure.

To explain here I will use a simple example and one that I have many years experience in doing. Our lab tests have been something I have found strange over the years. I like doing them to see where things are at but some days I have got scores and other I have not. Some days lactates are higher with lower HR and other the reverse. Some days I felt great but went worse than my best and other I felt crap and did a PB. The test were infrequent and I suspect that is the first problem. The test historically weren’t about improvement but judgement. Even the idea of using them for individual specific training was usually not followed through on and in anyway with poor data that was often misleading if use was probably not ideal anyway.

Recently we have modified the step test protocol and are doing it once a week. Once a week provides patterns and loads of data. Add to this it’s being used to shift expectations and educate us on what’s really happening on certain days. The correlations don’t always match up between HR, lactate, perceived effort and output. But for all the info the learning is huge.

Two things have come out of this. Trending upwards in performance is created and surprising to many. Second thing is athlete awareness is increased through de-mystifying the experience and all that can happen and come out of a test. By minimizing the cost we can repeat and continue the trend will learning.

*PBs for lab test and training test show increase output, lower lactates and low perceived effort. All this in 3 weeks with out mystery or guess work.

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