Now don’t assume I am telling you to dump your friends and get shiny new and faster training buddies. One of the best parts of living a healthy lifestyle is the built in social support system that comes with. Almost any fitness enthusiast or competitive athlete would agree that training with a group is more fun. Like a LOT more fun. Our training buddies not only hold us accountable, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, but they also find a way to get us to push ourselves beyond what we would do solo…..OR DO THEY? EVER WONDER IF PUSHING THE LIMITS ALL THE TIME IS A GOOD THING? SHOULD YOU BE TRAINING SOLO MORE OFTEN?
We see the good and bad of group training on a daily basis, so here are some tips for optimizing your group and/or group training sessions:
1. Don’t be the fastest person in your group. If you are the fastest, there is likely no one to push you when your focus is speed or quality efforts. You will also likely end up going too easy on your longer aerobic efforts which can lead to decreased aerobic fitness and fatigue resistance. If you are the fastest, mesh your aerobic/tempo efforts with a groups upper end training sessions. Just make sure you are doing the work load you need to do to improve.
2. Throw yourself to the wolves every now and then. You never know where the ceiling is if you never test it out. From time to time, jump in a group session that will test your limits. Notice I said from time to time. Jumping into group training that will constantly cause you to “blow yourself up” can end up derailing your training program, not to mention that it’s mentally deflating. Make it a goal to get into that faster group, but don’t focus on how far you have to go to get there. Rather, focus on making small improvements from week to week. Also, take time to look back on how far you’ve come.
3. If you have a specific set of intervals for your training session, and you know your group won’t aid in completing that, you may want to think about training solo so you can get the most quality out of the session. I see it time and time again – athletes skip their quality workouts to go train with a group. Skipping quality workouts for easy group training will only slow any improvements in your own fitness. On the flip side, constantly doing group training that is too intense and above your limits is a surefire way to find yourself injured, overtrained, and/or burned out.
4. Don’t train with a group for every single session. Even cyclists, who thrive in a team atmosphere, need to train solo now and then. Time trials and long breakaways can be lonely. You need to work the mental aspect of being out there alone, and focusing on your effort and technique. For runners and triathletes, your races are individual efforts in a group atmosphere. You need to be able to focus in on YOUR effort, technique, and what your body is telling you so that you can make those self checks during a race. Too many people get caught up in other people’s races and end up under performing as a result. Getting to know your own body is the number one thing an athlete can do to improve the quality of their training. Get out there and get inside your own head. Train the mental side of your sport. Being distracted by a group makes that harder to accomplish.
5. Don’t let the group talk you into skipping recovery time. This is probably the number one problem we see with athletes who love group training. Their buddies talk them in to going too hard, too long, skipping days off, or adding in that race when they should be taking it easy. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t let your body fully recover, it will never adapt to the training you are putting in. Piling on more volume or intensity will prolong recovery, or worse, send you into an overtrained state which could lead to injury or require even longer recovery.
Again, I am not saying don’t train with friends. Simply use common sense on what group or scenario will fit best with your workout goal, or provide the most quality from each training session. Now, have a blast getting fast!
If you are interested in finding out how a BPC coach can help you reach your goals, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or check out our coaching options.