One of the major concerns I had with moving to Tarragona was a change in my athletic environment. Consistency is key when it comes to running competitively. Throughout my athletic career, consistency is an area I have been lacking through no fault of my own. Certain situations have led me to constant change within a one year period. Change from moving to Barcelona, back to Ireland, and now to back to Spain again (Tarragona). All this has led me to search, seek and inevitably find an ideal situation in regards athletics.
As my passion for running was ignited in Barcelona, there was not much cause for change then, only adjustment. It was all new to me and I was learning the ropes as I went along. It was when I returned to Ireland that I felt it really hit me. I was moving back home, a place where I had never done athletics. I had only been used to running in a sunny climate, my diet was completely different (the food in Spain is very different to back in Ireland) and I was used to the culture and lifestyle. Not only that but the training itself was an area I had become adjusted too. I was training six days a week, all 2-3 hour long sessions, working on core, technique, functionality, gym and series of running. It was all I knew! The only athletic style of training I had ever done.
Seeing as I was new to the sport of running, I wasn’t too familiar with the concepts of styles in relation to training. As far I knew, there was only one way to practice running. The way I had been doing it in Barcelona. How wrong I was! This became very apparent when I returned home at the end of June. I had been in contact with a coach in Ireland during my stay in Spain, telling him about my athletic story to date and the progress I had made. He and his wife were two highly regarded coaches that trained some of the best athletes in Ireland. It was an ideal situation for me as I knew the quality would be high (helping me improve) and the training was situated in my local college. They kindly let me join their group when I arrived home. I presumed it would be the exact same as Barcelona. This was not the case!
Within the first week of training with them, I could see a whole new approach. Not only the approach, but a whole new experience of change through my body and mind. Ireland is known for it’s dull, unreliable weather. I was now training in this weather, which was a huge shock to my body. My whole physical and mental state was so used to running in warm weather, that when I started training in the cold it felt unnatural. My diet was again having to convert from the mediterranean Spanish food back to the Irish food. Needless to say, my stomach didn’t take too kindly to this and it took about two weeks for it to start feeling normal again. Another shock to my body! The main shock though was the contrast in training styles. In a way, my coach in Ireland had a contradicting style to my coach in Barcelona.
The three hour compact sessions I was used to in Barcelona were no more. The new approach was very much a change to me, but a good change. Gym was an area that my coach in Barcelona was very adamant on. He used to always tell me the stronger you were the faster you’d run. It was also a precaution towards injury. Getting your muscles strong and working them in a certain way would help prevent injury. Simple equation really, but an equation that saw me lifting very heavy weight most of the week. We were in the gym 4-5 days a week. Different phases were implemented but lifting heavy was a major factor. Of course we did plyometric work, speed work and core in the gym as well but lifting heavy through squats, bench, and olympic movements were a core part of this area of training. To be fair, I did get more strong and faster! Keep in mind that every approach has value. Just because one person does something a different way to another doesn’t mean that one is bad. Coaches have different philosophies and approaches. It’s about finding one that suits you best at the end of the day.
The experience I had in Ireland was completely different. My coach’s philosophy towards gym was completely contradicting. Lifting for speed was his mantra. Do you ever see a competitively fast bodybuilder? Not particularly. Glamour muscles may look good but they won’t make you run like Usain Bolt! Size and volume can actually take away from speed. Resistance training and lifting for speed was the approach I was being taught in Ireland. Gym was being cut to only two days a week, with a core session once a week. Technique was still an important area. The actually running sessions were much shorter too. They entailed warming up for an hour, which included running techniques and movements, and then straight into your series of running or whatever was set out for you (whether it be block word or reaction). Nothing even remotely like the timescale of training in Barcelona. This was a big adjustment and I found myself only getting used to it all after three or so weeks.
I was preparing for a full uninterrupted season in Ireland. I was used to the style of training, loved the approached and attitude of my coaches, the training group itself was great and I was visioning vast improvement through a year of consistent running. That was until Tarragona struck! More change and even less consistency. Again, I’m finding myself having to adjust to a new coach, group, training style, climate, diet and so on. It’s not ideal. It’s something I’ll deal with and make the best of. Will I improve as much as I would have back in Ireland? Maybe not but I’ll still improve and give it everything I’ve got.
Keep in mind also that changing coaches or groups is not necessarily bad. I have nothing against it. It’s about the time and and way you do it that’s important! It hasn’t been ideal for me as I’ve been swapping and changing around in such a short period of time. People do change coaches and groups but it is done in an appropriate way. If you trained with one group for a few years and want something different in an attempt to improve even greater, then change at the beginning of a new season and not half way through. Remember that you need to be consistent. Try to give your current coach a year or two to get to know you and your training style. Don’t change after half a year or a year as you won’t keep a pattern and you will find yourselves adjusting more than actually improving.
Tip: Try to stay as consistent as possible. Keeping to a routine and style that you have been set out is important. You can’t afford to change or slack off, you’ll see far less improvement. Consistency is key!
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