Skip to main content

The Horse Latitudes

One of my friends aptly used this name for that period of training when you're just doing work and not really seeing much progress.  Practice the skills, move the weight, recover, and repeat.  If you recall from high school history, the Horse Latitudes, also known as the Doldrums was that area of the tropical ocean where the wind just wouldn't blow, the rain wouldn't fall, and it would take a lot of rowing and patience to make any progress.  Fortunately, the story about horses being thrown overboard in this area to save water is most likely a myth, but I digress. 

Well, sometimes the boats sank and they swam to shore.
   
When training, it can often seem like the work just isn't paying off.  This accumulation phase can be boring, tedious, and unrewarding.  However, its like digging the foundation for a house.  Day after day of moving dirt.  But then all of a sudden the cement truck shows up and everything moves up from there.  

I'm in the middle of training for some Fall highland games events including the Masters World Championships and my numbers are not moving.  Its frustrating to go out day after day and sometimes throw worse than I did the week before.  Its the same with my lifters.  During the heavy volume periods, progress seems to stall and we all just feel beat up.

The good news is that when we are done with the volume period and start honing our skills and recovery to peak for our intended date, all of a sudden, we have a lot more energy in the tank, weight on the bar, and distance on the throws.  And we get there with fewer injuries and a much higher level of performance.

I train for a lot of different things, but always with a date on the calendar.


What is the lesson here?

A lot of us push ourselves really hard all the time and wonder why we can't make progress or are chronically sore/injured/tired, etc.  A better approach is this:  Dial down the effort.  Approach your training as skill development whether it be strength, endurance, or sport specific skill.  Set a goal and put it on the calendar.  Give yourself enough time to achieve it.  And then, and only then, test your progress.  You'll most likely see that you've made far more progress than you expected. 

(For a comprehensive approach to building training programs, check out our latest book:  Play the Ball As It Lies)


Popular posts from this blog

When to Stretch and Why

Sara Fleming, BA, MS, ISSA CFT

Stretching is generally viewed as beneficial. However, the type and timing of the stretch can have a positive or negative effect on the person doing the stretching depending on their activity. Dynamic stretching before a work out helps muscles warm up and increases their range of motion and elasticity prior to exercise. Static and/or proprio-neuromuscular-facilitation (PNF) stretching after an exercise and/or during the cool-down phase of a work-out can help restore a muscle’s range of motion after repeated contractions, correct a range of motion for correct form during a lift, and may help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

It has been hypothesized that static stretching immediately prior to athletic competitions requiring power and force may actually diminish performance. (Shrier, 2004) In addition, Shrier hypothesizes that static stretching can cause an anesthetic (pain reducing) effect on injured muscles, increasing the performance …

Next Level

So, there are those of us who work out regularly to look and feel better and improve our general health.  There are those of us who just like to lead active lives and enjoy nature and the occasional physical activity.  And then there are those of us who like to challenge themselves to push past our perceived physical limitations and see how far down the rabbit hole we can go.  While this last one is certainly an admirable pursuit, as are the other two, I must say it is the one I most commonly see go sideways.

If you are contemplating taking things to the next level with your training, you must first sit down and realistically assess what you are about to take on.  Next level training is not just about pushing yourself in the gym, but also managing your personal life, your recovery, and your expectations.  It also means knowing when to go low and slow and when to go hard.  The most common mistake a lot of people make is that they think next level means going harder all the time.  But,…

Training for the Warrior Dash

Over the past couple of years, obstacle course races such as the Warrior Dash have become insanely popular.  Since I first posted about training for the Warrior Dash, I've gotten a lot of inquiries from clients and other trainers about how exactly one should train for the Warrior Dash or similar short distance obstacle course races.  I've heard people tout everything from Crossfit to P90X to not training at all as being the best way to train for one of these races, but I believe there is a middle ground that can serve far more people, especially beginners, without getting too extreme or requiring a lot of equipment.  Obviously, the best training protocol is tailored for the individual, but with a little information, its relatively easy to tweak a program for your own needs and fitness level.

The first time I saw a video of the Warrior Dash on Youtube, I thought to myself, "Those people are crazy."

I also thought, "I want to do that".  
I watched a few mo…