This article hit it on a nail. I think everyone should take notes on this one and action!
You Are Disciplined to Train, But Do You Have Training Discipline? by Matt Russ
I have the privilege of working with motivated athletes and they all exhibit a high degree of self discipline. Often, one of the hardest things to do is to get them not to train, or to rest and recover. Training can be a slippery slope. You have to balance the right amount of stress with the right amount of rest. Even though you may be a disciplined athlete, training discipline means performing the right volume, intensity, and work out and then allowing your body to recover from it. It also means knowing when not to train. Training too hard can be more detrimental than not enough.
Too many athletes confuse high volume training with high quality training. Just increasing the amount your run or ride will not necessarily get you faster. You have to choose the right work outs to train your weakness and capitalize on your strengths. Training should be a slow steady progression. If you add 10 more intervals to what you accomplished last week, the first 3 may have been beneficial, and the last 7 counter productive. A proper plan will not increase overall volume more than about 8% per week with a maximum of 10%. Try to keep these numbers in mind when you design your plan.
Another common mistake is training too hard in the weeks leading up to a race. Depending on your event you should taper your training for 1-2 weeks or more. In this time overall volume goes down while intensity stays up. The purpose of this is to have you fully rested while maintaining a high level of fitness. Some athletes find it hard to taper their training and feel they are under training before their event. As Chris Carmichael once told me, “there is nothing you can do the week of a race to increase fitness, but there is everything you can do to screw it up.”
If you are sick, overstressed, or generally feel like you need a day off it is best to take it. Always consider the quality of your work out. If you are just going through the motions and do not have the energy to complete your work outs as prescribed, rest would be more beneficial than additional stress.
It is important to have a written plan. A plan is not a general recommendation but a deliberate course of action. You should be able to see your progression from block to block. The “close enough” attitude is not a good habit to get into. It is better to have the satisfaction of completing your work out as prescribed. Try not to make too many adjustments during your work outs. If you do need to change your plan or miss a work out make sure you adjust your other weeks to compensate.
Training discipline means having a good plan and sticking to it. It means training smart, not just hard. If you are confused about your training consult with a licensed coach. Often a one hour consultation can get you on the right track.