Suurtoetaja
Kõik postitused
31. January 2024

Training methods with which I train my willpower

Over time, I have become quite open to new ideas and approaches. As time has progressed, both my own experiences and those of others have sparked new ideas in my training approaches, which, through trial and error, have proven to be effective for me. This has led me to understand that, at some point, to achieve significant progress, one must be willing to make changes even in aspects that have worked well thus far. Sometimes, what has been effective in the past can be the biggest obstacle to reaching a new level.

In my training, methods that challenge my brain to cope better with both physical and mental fatigue play a crucial role. After all, the goal of training is to induce an appropriate amount of stress in the body and then adapt to it. This involves repeating the process, gradually increasing the intensity, and making the effort feel easier for the body. One effective way to induce fatigue is through consecutive days of hard training, pushing the limits. Another approach is back-to-back workouts on the same or two consecutive days. When training on consecutive days, I find it important to "play" with both duration and intensity, as multiple variables help the body adapt more efficiently and rapidly. I try to surprise my body as much as possible with variability, documenting as much as I can for myself (such as keeping a food diary; monitoring regularly blood markers (including blood sugar); tracking different indicators of sleep quality, resting heart rates, HRV, blood pressure; during interval training, I monitor how much the heart rate drops before the start of a new segment, etc.) to learn from it.
Photo: Stefan Meier

Discovering new patterns and understanding how the brain loves the comfort zone, tricking us into staying within it through the manipulation of emotions and feelings. At first glance, one might not notice it, but over time, I have come to understand more and more how important it is (for example, in terms of developing recovery capacity) to train both stopping and starting to move again. The brain needs to learn through experience that coming to a standstill doesn't always mean the end of exercise but merely a brief breather. One effective method involves planning multiple runs with short breaks in a single day. Recently, I enhanced the principle of stopping and restarting again from a different perspective. Within a multi-week training cycle, I challenge my body by subjecting it to high stress for five consecutive days, followed by a 1.5-day easy time, during which I engage in light movement or exercise. I then resume the next cycle (e.g., a 5-day cycle) without allowing time to adjust, picking up where I left off. The initial few workouts are challenging after the easy time, serving the purpose of understanding how the brain operates. This approach allows me to experience the emotional roller-coaster inherent in ultrarunning – the contrast between feeling good and facing tough moments, as every peak is followed by a subsequent decline and vice versa.

I've discovered another excellent way to test mental strength and gain a new perspective on challenges. This involves performing two demanding workouts in different disciplines within a 24-hour period. For example, combining a strenuous cycling effort (usually at FTP or MAP threshold) with a longer run outside the comfort zone a few hours later. For example, on January 9th, I first did a one-hour session on the bike (which included 5 x 8 minutes at FTP threshold), and a few hours later, I run 23 km at increasing speeds (starting with a 3 km warm-up, then covering 3-10 km at a pace of 3.55 min/km, 10-20 km at 3.45 min/km, and 20-23 km at 3.40 min/km).

Shifting the order or changing disciplines, like running before a challenging cycling session, adds a spicy twist. The key is to vary the elements to keep the mind engaged. For example, last Thursday evening, I ran 24 km, which consisted of a 5 km warm-up followed by 14 x 1000 meters of running at a speed of 18.7 km/h (i.e. 3.12 min/km). The next morning, I did a Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP) workout on the bike, involving 14 intervals of 30-120 seconds of effort at 400 watts. It was anything but easy :).

In my opinion, which one is harder depends on how comfortable one is with running. For me, running with tired legs is significantly easier than putting in a strong effort on the bike with legs fatigued from running.

There are numerous ways to toughen the mind through the timing of workouts within a single day. For instance, I often start with strength training (including leg exercises) and immediately follow it with a run for "recovery." The initial kilometers are uncomfortable and difficult, but gradually, the sensation of heaviness diminishes with each kilometer.