Friday, September 6, 2013

Super Compensation!

Beautiful scenery and cool weather are ideal conditions for running and exercising outside. For many that ran through the intense heat and humidity of summer, fall is a new beginning where training volume and speed increases become an enjoyable experience!
It’s funny to see the natural progression that most people follow when getting into running.  First they say, “Oh I could never run.”  Then they start running.  Then they say, “I can’t and don’t want to run far.”  A friend tells them about how they ran a half marathon so they do one too.  Then they say, “I can’t and don’t want to run fast.”  While running the half marathon they pass a few people, feel like Superman and want to run faster and faster and that is how it all starts.

We all want to get better at what we do and running is no different.  Last week I provided some techniques on how to improve your running speed and endurance using hills to build strength.  Hills are nature’s gym and they are free, scenic and give you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
While many of us have trouble fitting in any training with our busy schedules, if you’re fortunate enough to devote a week or two solely to training, you can take advantage of a training concept called super compensation.  Super compensation is not for beginners (less than 2 years running experience) or those prone to injuries but it’s a perfect way to elevate your training. According to Jeff Gaudette from Competitor Online, Super compensation training is dramatically increasing your training load for a short period of time then compensating by going very easy to maximize recovery and absorption.

Training of any nature is the manipulation of stress you place upon your body. You apply stress to your body in the form of training then recover, which allows the body to rebuild and grow stronger.  For consistent improvement you need to repeatedly increase the amount of stress as the body adapts to the work load and grows stronger.

Unless the workload is changed, the consistent application of stress results in a plateau.  If you never run more than 3 miles at the same pace, you will not get stronger.  The body will no long adapt to the stimulus and fitness will not improve.  Enter super compensation training.

Super Compensation changes your routine and exposes your body to vastly different training stimulus. Your aim is to increase your training mileage (not pace) by 30-40 percent of your weekly mileage.  If you run 30 miles a week, target 39-42 miles per week.  Super compensation can last for 5-10 days. It will be hard but proper mental preparation will help you manage the increase.  Remember, pain is temporary, accomplishment is forever!

The recovery cycle is crucial to realize growth from the increased stress. Gaudette emphasizes a recovery period equal in length and reduced intensity or volume. If you increase your mileage by 30 percent for one week, you need to decrease your training by 30 percent the following week. Super Compensation isn’t a shortcut to faster fitness; it’s simply a change to the training workload to stimulate growth. If you are going to put in the extra work, be sure you rest to realize the benefit.

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