So you’ve got a training plan in place – great stuff! – but are you training at the right level? Could you do more? There are three levers for managing your training:

  1. Frequency – how often do you do it?
  2. Duration – how long do you do it for?
  3. Intensity – how hard you do it?

Balancing these is important. Increases need to be done little by little, and not all three at once. You may choose to do an extra training session to increase frequency, or do the existing session a little faster, thereby increasing intensity.

Everyone can benefit from collecting and analysing their training. Why not record your activity against the three levers above and note how you feel; measuring feelings is useful so try not to get lost in all the statistics.

Take to the scales 

By this I don’t mean weighing yourself… The Borg Scale is a simple method of Rating Perceived Exertion (RPE) and used to gauge an athlete’s level of intensity in training and competition. There are a number of RPE scales but the most common are the 15 point scale (6-20), and the 10 point scale (1-10). Pick one that works best for you.

Borg, G, “Perceived Exertion as an indicator of somatic stress”, Scandinavian journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 1970, 2(2), 92-98

Whether you’re focusing on achieving the required distance as you build your training, or focusing on getting faster, here are some useful things to consider as you plan your training:

Mix it up and increase frequency

Mixing up your training can be achieved by increasing the frequency, and number of times you train in a certain discipline. You may do one bike ride per week to fit in a longer ride. This could be increased to two rides per week – one being a long one at RPE13 and the other, a shorter, faster ride at RPE16.

Mixing your training is important to achieve your goal. If you always run at the same speed, you will become a very good runner at that speed. Muscles and brains will learn to do this through repetition so challenge yourself by introducing changes.

Go the distance and increase duration

To increase duration, and therefore, distance, build up the periods of effort (between RPE13 and RPE15), with periods of recovery in between. The aim is to reduce the rest time needed. For example, in a swim session you can swim a series of 100 metre swims with 30 second rest between each, then at the next visit swim the same number of 100 metre swims with 20 second rests. Then repeat at the next visit with 10 second rest. Soon you will be swimming the distance needed with no rest.

Fast and furious to increase pace

To increase pace you will use increased intensity. For example, when running, try some fast intervals. This trains your body, muscle and brain, to adapt to faster running. Run at a hard effort for a short period (RPE16 to RPE18) and then follow this by recovery running (RPE11 to RPE14), then speed up again.

Why not give one or two of these tips a go at your next training session, and let me know how you get on using the comments option below.

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