Finding your best – Training Rhythms

Every person has a natural rhythm that they excel at once found. It is finding this rhythm that is the key and it can be a difficult thing to do. As a coach I am constantly looking for each individual athlete’s rhythm so that it can be exploited to the athlete’s best advantage. I often change training programs and times to look for what suites each athlete.Natural Rhythm

I have a training partner who I run with each week. He spends 6 months of his year looking forward to the Autumn Equinox. This is the time of year when daylight hours become shorter than night-time hours. At this point in the year he believes that it is much harder to get injured because his rest phase of training is longer and consistently better.

I work with athletes ranging in age from 5 to 70 years. Over a life time natural rhythms for best results change. These circadian rhythms do not operate by a clock they are flexible and change with the seasons, your age and other biological influences. These are the general observations that I have noticed over 20 years of coaching.

  • Young athlete’s pre puberty train best in the early morning
  • Teenagers train best in the afternoon
  • Young adults train best around the middle of the day
  • Adults over 35 years of age move back to being best 1st up in the morning

These are general observations and individuals can vary widely from this. As a coach I do my best to ensure that I provide programing that suits each individual. During group training sessions it can become a little more difficult to stick to your natural rhythms. But within each session you can be flexible to individual needs. At morning training I can push the younger and 35 plus athlete harder with better results. I know at the same time that I need to provide more flexibility in programing for teenagers in that same session. The reverse then occurs in the afternoons.

The question then is how do you find your personal best rhythm? I have to say at this point it is well guess work. I start with each athlete by asking a lot of interview questions like? When and what time of day do you like training the most? Do you like morning or afternoon competitions? When do you want to do nothing at all? Do you have a time of day that you find yourself day dreaming or just not functioning at all? From these you can put together a basic daily rhythm of highs and lows. Then start training, working and studying to these.

Try also mixing it up to see if you get better or worse results and make changes accordingly. For myself personally I like to get up and have a morning wakeup period before training. I need about an hour of just waking up. After this I can get my best high performance session in (like a speed session). I love to do my long runs after a period of time in the office as I can then process what went on in the office and plan my afternoon or evening coaching. The most important thing for me is getting consistent rest. This is difficult with everything that I have going on but it is by far the quickest way that I improve.
By working to my rhythms I find it much easier to get the rest required for good quality of work and training. Spend some time and though looking for your circadian rhythms and work with them not against them. It will provide you 10 fold better results without increasing your training load.

“Train smarter by working with your body and your natural biology”.


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