Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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)