Being the Best (Runner) You Can Be Part 4/4

An internal locus of control, headspace and habit formation were identified in the first 3 parts of this series as key components to being the best you can be. The idea for the post came when I was on a training camp attempting to be the best I could. I was planning how the weeks training would follow on from before, feed into the week after and also thinking longer term while I had the chance. Now that we’ve discussed each one let’s look at how they blend to become a weeks training that leaves you in no doubt – there was nothing else I could have done to be a better athlete.

What needs to be done?

Number one during that week was achilles tendon rehabilitation. Rehabilitation exercises were written down morning and evening as the baseline for a successful day. Similar to the exercises I was doing back home but with time for a few more added on.

Tip: start every training programme looking at what needs to be done to keep you running. Without that, the rest is on a shaky foundation.

What is the focus of today?

Cardiovascular fitness or strength? The main set consisted of one or the other. Morning then read: rehabilitation exercises, main set (cardio or strength), 10 – 20-minute jog (if not injured the main cardio set would normally be running).

Tip: decide the focus for the day and give it the time and space e.g. if the focus is S&C put it front and centre as the number one priority. Any other training you might hope to do only comes after you’ve nailed your focus for the day (assuming you’ve enough headspace left, if not move on).

Preparing for Later

Rest, rehydration and refuelling is the main priority after a long mornings work. A coffee in the sun was factored in for an hour at around 2 or 3pm each day. This is easy to do on training camp but requires more work at home.

Tip: set aside time in your day where you can prepare for the following day in a way that still gives you time to relax and unwind. Something will have to give to do this e.g. that ‘thing’ you were going to go to onto Tuesday night.

What is supplementary for today?

The alternate to the main set is a shorter version of whatever you did not train that morning. This is combined with the second round of rehabilitation e.g. rehabilitation + a 30-minute swim.

Tip: if working full time this is a luxury that you’ll be able to manage on training camp quite easily but at home aim for one good session each day and see the second as a bonus. Alternatively, make the second session something that adds to headspace. I often do a morning run and lunch time yoga which helps me unwind physically and mentally.

What’s the difference to home?

You are essentially training all components of fitness, every day, just in different proportions. By contrast, at home there is probably only time and headspace to do rehab plus one other. To illustrate with a couple of simple examples:

  • I might do single leg squats at home twice a week. Once before circuit training and once before weights. On training camp, it is easy to do them 7-days straight without incurring any major fatigue penalty. By the end of the week, neuromuscular control in the single leg position is significantly enhanced – try it.
  • At home, I might have a day whereby my main emphasis is on circuit-training. On training camp I’ll do a circuit plus a 30-minute cardio session that evening with rehab.

What’s next?

The combination of an internal locus of control, sufficient headspace and well-developed habits means you will have done what you needed to do rather than what other athletes were doing. This means that most evenings on camp or at home, you will get to bask in the satisfaction that there was nothing else you could have done that day to be a better athlete. The next job is a good night’s sleep.