Yup, you read it right. Training is EASY. How? When you train EASY. It sounds so simple yet most of the time it’s very hard to do.
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill
Sometimes I really wonder why it’s hard to train easy.
I know endurance athletes can be adrenalin junkies and it feels good to suffer actually (yeah crazy us, to the outsiders!!!). Is it because of that or is it the theory that more intense suffering equals better performance? Or do you feel bored when you set out to train easy?
If I ask you to do a hard workout every day or every alternate day, can you really sustain the effort? How long can you sustain before you start to break down? I would say, not long. In fact, your performance will suffer and as a result, you’ll become a slower athlete. That’s something you don’t really don’t want.
Frankly speaking, there’s no single or magic solution to become faster. It takes time, effort, persistence, patience, consistency, etc. and so many other factors. During this treacherous road, you’ll face sickness, office priorities (after all most of us are amateur athletes), family responsibilities, peer pressure, and so on.
So yes, I understand the impulses of pushing that extra mile and trying to eke out as much as possible from our available time. That’s how most of us get stuck in the “No-man’s Land” zone training.
Training in this zone can be very misleading for a few reasons.
Firstly, training in this zone feels hard enough and rewarding. Unlike hard sessions, you can keep doing this “Grey” zone sessions on a regular basis which gives you a sense of satisfaction. notice fitness improvements quickly and it encourages you to train more in that zone.
Also, you can burn a lot of calories in a shirt if the amount of time in this “Mid-zone” training. It’s very tempting to employ these workouts in the calendar to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. losing weight and gaining fitness simultaneously.
The downside of training in this mid-zone is your growth tends to plateau after a few months. You’ll start to accumulate a lot of training stress without too much progress which shall prompt you to raise your volume even more. This can become a dangerous cycle which you may struggle to break free from.
So, what’s the solution? The thing I mentioned at the very beginning, train EASY.
What do I mean by the term train easy- you might be wondering?
You should spend the majority of your training time in a very easy zone. You should be able to have a conversation easily and should never venture into the no-man’s land zone. This means taking a very slow approach to your running, cycling, or swimming sessions.
It sounds counterintuitive but easy training actually helps to build cardiovascular strength, lowers heart rate, enhances muscular endurance, and so on. Not to mention, you start enjoying the training more rather than always feeling tired and crap. No one said training has to be miserable all the time. On top of that, you recover faster from hard sessions.
Before the Dhaka Half Marathon 2020, I did almost 90% of my training volume at a very easy pace. My training pace was slower by almost 3 minutes from the target time yet I made the time easily and I could have gone even faster. When you train easy and slow, it doesn’t make you slower. On the contrary, you become a faster athlete.
Training is a highly complex topic.
When you search the internet, you’ll find so many different suggestions that it can become confusing for anyone to which training guidelines to follow.
In reality, you want to maximize your time investment. Yes, whatever time you spend on training, it’s an investment and like any other investment, it should be smart with high a reward.
The thing is every human being is different and that’s the beauty of it. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why I love exploring the nuances of training to figure out what’s the right way to go about setting a training plan. It depends on a lot of parameters to make it right. But one thing that’s always constant, train easy, and maintain the intensity of those sessions intentionally.
Hence, from now on make your longer sessions as easy as possible.
The same goes for shorter planned easy sessions as well. Start enjoying these sessions rather than getting bored. Schedule them properly around your interval sessions. If needed, use a heart rate monitor to align your training intensity with your training heart rate zone.
In summary, be patient and train easy when needed. You have chosen to be an endurance athlete, so embrace the long slow path. Train smart and keep up your great work.