Training Principles in English #3 – Principle of Being Specific

apple-1532055_640The farmer knows that if he plants an apple tree he won’t get oranges

Just like apple seeds produce apples and orange seeds produce oranges, practicing swimming makes you a better swimmer, practicing tennis makes you a better tennis player and …practicing running makes you a better runner.Not only that, but running that challenges your endurance, makes you a better endurance runner, running that challenges your ability to maintain speed, makes you a faster runner etc.

Legendary coach, Peter Coe (father and coach of Sebastian Coe) writes: “The response to a stimulus is specific, therefore the training must be as specific as possible to each element of the event. Inappropriate training is unnecessary stress – this can be very harmful”

It is important therefore to understand the different demands (both physical and mental) of the race you are preparing for and to develop all of these steadily over time. Runners often tend to focus on the components that they are strong in, as these are normally “easy” workouts to do, however, the old saying, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” holds true here too and it is therefore important to identify weak areas and slowly develop them for the optimum race ready condition.

A quick word on one of the biggest buzz words that has been used over the last decade – “cross training”. While the apple tree, even though it does not produce oranges, still produces juicy fruit, other forms of training can be useful in developing physiological components related to your running event and you will likely reap some benefits. It can also be useful when running as a whole is limited due to injury or age.

This training needs however to be incorporated with the bigger picture of the demands the of the race in mind and the question must always be asked – Is the workout helping to better prepare me for the elements of the race? or is it just adding unnecessary stress? (See principle of overload)

Finally, non specific training can cause a physical response which is opposing to the demands of your running event, doing more harm than good. Be specific!

Make less count more #trainsmart!

Coach Kathleen


About Coach Kathleen

Coaching since 2004, I have coached both young and old athletes from those achieving provincial and national medals in track, biathlon and cross country to runners running their first ever half marathon or marathon. I am a specialist in youth coaching and my coaching philosophy is to not only help each athlete achieve their best with their athletic talent but to guide each athlete in developing character and transforming their lives beyond the track. As an athlete I have competed at high levels across all the running disciplines, track, road, cross country and trail running as well as internationally in triathlon. I have a personal best of 2 hours 45 min for the marathon and have twice been part of the winning ladies team in the AfricanX trail race. Qualifications IAAF Athletics Lecturer Level 3 Distance Running Coach SAQ Fundamental Movement Certificate Personal Running Performances
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