Thursday, April 29

Lessons from Mr Stampfl

Picture: Franz Stampfl
with Roger Bannister: 3:59.4, May 6, 1954.

This from a friend who has recently started training:

"Everything is sore and my energy levels have nosedived. Body is pleading not to do it. In fact it does not want to do anything: work, read, chores, washing, talking, sex etc!"

He plans to force his body to comply with his training, "telling" it, among other things that it can look forward to some real pain as he is going to double his distances and halve his times to teach it to stop complaining!

Yes, I was horrified, too. I outlined a possible alternative course of action.

Motivation is a real bugger. There is a fine line between "listening to your body" (which clearly you are fed up with doing) and being lazy. The body, even yours, does have a valid reason for occasionally requiring more rest than "you" (?) think it is entitled to.
Particularly if/when you have introduced a new stress (running) into an already fairly full existence.

A couple or three things to consider:

1. Speaking as one of Her Majesty's World Champions, I do not train to a daily schedule any more. I've learnt the hard way that doing that leads to either injury or (mental) staleness - leading to chronic inertdom. I do have a rough plan of workouts I want to get in and a timetable. But I will shorten or change the intensity of a workout on the day, depending on how I feel. The mind/ego plans it all out; the body often has different ideas and a different timescale. It needs to adapt.

*At our age* - seriously - we need to be very aware of how much we are flogging a reluctant horse. Over the years we have developed some degree of willpower and self-discipline. Applied to a 20-year-old body, we can run through walls and be ready to go again the next day. Our older bodies now run the risk of being overpowered by our stronger minds (and fantasisies - we run on emotion) - so applying brute force can be counter-productive.

2. Every one of Bobby's schedules, even those for young elites/internationals, has an EASY week every fourth week or so. Three weeks on; one week off.
The training effect occurs during rest; we have to allow time for it to happen, otherwise training is worthless.

Your bad patch is a sign that you need a week off.

Either a complete week off, or a very easy week - ie instead of running, just do a 20-minute warm-up to run...and so on.

3. Progress is not linear.

Again, the mind thinks it is and *should* be. But it's not. It's all rhythms and waves. Man. You will have weeks when you can't do ANYTHING and you feel like you are sliding backwards. Not the case. You just need to ride the wave (of energy, man) and wait for it to surge back.

4. This week I've been fortunate enough to consult with Mr Franz Stampfl.
Mr Stampfl, you may remember, was the man who trained Bannister to a four-minute mile, Brasher to Olympic steeplechase gold, Chataway to 5k world record - and there were many others.

His training sessions were "severe" (intervals), "severer still" (reps) and "the sternest test of all" (flat out time trials).... so he was no namby-pamby.

Mr Stampfl has indeed shuffled off his mortal coil, but I managed to find a copy of his training manual. And maybe you will be advised by him, as I am:

"....a first rule is that training should not be too exhausting" (actually Chataway said that about the work)...

"All training must be gradual in its increase in intensity and quality".

"There should be no hangover effecst from the previous day's work".

So, please, do NOT double the distance and cover them in half the time.
Take an entire week off.
Or (second choice): cut your volume and intensity: HALF the distance in 3/4 of the time and maintain untiul you feel recovered.

Instead of your usual run:
First day: Just do a 20minute jog and calisthenics (dynamic stretches etc) warm-up. Then walk home.
Second day: Do 20-minute warm-up then on flat ground with the wind behind you, do 8 x 10-second RELAXED, loose sprints.

5. While you are recovering, make sure you are getting VERY good nutrition. Maybe a bit more protein? (Take a shake, dude). Make sure you are getting enough essential fatty acdis in the right balance, more vitamin C, COQ10 etc. Sufficient magnesium (especially), potassium etc to put back what you are sweating out.

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