How To Combat Plateau in Performance
By: Brandt Quick
As the season draws on, and athletes are enrolled in late season races, triathletes, and all athletes can start to fade, get tired, and in some cases, burned out. If your training consists of the same exact thing, day in day out, week in and week out, you are sure to fall into some form of a slump: plateau in performance or get burned out and bored. How do we combat this?
- Develop a concise and coherent plan for training. Without this you are just spinning your wheels (no pun intended). Whether you are well studied on physiology, or have to hire a coach to develop this coherent plan, this is pivotal to your success, and happiness by increased performance/improving as an athlete. Making sure you, and/or your coach understands physiology, physiologic demand/overload and adaptation, and training phases, are crucial to your success. Phases for training should include, in order: base, power, race specific, and then a great taper. Following an “online generic plan” can be ok, but it depends on you specifically and individually. Generic is generic, specific is specific. That general plan doesn’t offer you the chance to tell someone how you feel: tired, great, energized, feedback of each training session, sore, tight, pain, etc. Coherent, needed deviations from a plan will sometimes have to occur. Following something generic does not offer that, and thus can lead to overtraining and injuries in some instances. Being guided and trained: mentally, physically and sometimes emotionally can only happen when someone is there to listen, and to guide you. If you cannot afford a coach (in addition to ALL the fiscal demands of triathlon and sport), seek out someone who you know you can confide in, and ask advice of. This may be a training partner or fellow triathlete. Bottom line: train smart to be at optimal performance, injury free, with a sound mind and body on race day.
- Schedule Recovery Work into your regimen. This is vital to someone placing large training loads on their bodies, especially the endurance athlete who places an abundance of stress on the body for a long duration of time. What recovery modalities are available to us on an everyday basis? 1.) Hot Tub-Cold Tub Therapy. This helps to flush the toxins/metabolic waste out of our musculature by vasodilating and vasoconstricting our vessels from hot to cold and cold to hot. Try to spend time doing a rotation of 6 minutes in the cold tub and 3 minutes in the hot tub for 3 rounds, 2 times per week. Cut the time intervals down if you simply don’t have the time. 1 round is better than 0 rounds.
- 2.) Epsom Salt Baths. Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium can help our tight, sore muscles to release their tension as magnesium helps to control muscular release (and other important functions in the human body). This can be a great way to recover after tough workouts, and is rather inexpensive.
- 3.) Yoga/Static Flexibility. We tend to create myofascial adhesions through all of the stress we place on the body. This means our musculature “sticks” and cannot move or “glide” optimally which eventually can lead to imbalances amongst other problems. Yoga/Static Flexibility while breathing properly can work to alleviate these adhesions, and can help to ensure that our musculoskeletal system is working optimally, at all times.
- 4.) Foam Rolling. Using a foam roller after doing your flexibility work can also help to move metabolic waste/toxins. It can also help in this way by increasing the amount of toxins moved by the lymphatic system. Foam rolling is not always the most fun endeavor as you find “hot spots” in your body, but like a massage, it may not feel great at the time, but you’ll feel better after.
- Schedule time off just as you schedule training. This tends to be one of the toughest things for serious athletes to do. There’s a fine line between doing too much, and not enough. Schedule TRUE REST into your regimen. This pertains to working through your training cycle, and take off a day per week or every other week if done correctly. Sometimes to lose a slight amount of fitness will allow us to gain greater fitness when we re-engage in our training program. Something has to give one way or another. If we over train, our performance will suffer. If we do not train enough and concise, our performance will suffer. Find the right balance of training and rest that works for you. Remember, the body adapts to training during passive rest and recovery. If you don’t give your body a chance to do this, you’ll eventually have a negative adaptation to training. If you absolutely have to do “something” on your day off, take an Epsom salt bath, stretch and breath/yoga, and foam roll. This will satisfy you mentally.
In conclusion, it is important to train smart. It’s also imperative that we recover just as well for our next training session or competition. Put some emphasis on recovering so that you can train, and perform optimally. By following these important steps, you’ll be a healthier and happier athlete!
Brandt Quickis CEO/President of BQuick Athletic Development, BQuick Nutrition and BQuick Tri-Dat. He can be reached at 1-855-TRY-BQUICK (879-2784), and website at www.bquickfitness.com, www.bquicknutrition.com or www.tri-dat.com