What does it take to be a winner in endurance sports? Is it natural ability? Complex training programmes, wearable tech and the most expensive running shoes?
Lindsey Parry, head sports scientist at the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sports Research at the High Performance Centre, offered some interesting insights at the Discovery Vitality Summit, leading with the advice to avoid overcomplicating things – particularly when it comes to running.
Parry is head coach for 2015 Comrades Marathon and Two Oceans winner, Caroline Wostmann, and for Charné Bosman, who placed second in the ultra marathon.
Highlighting that Wostmann only started running seven years ago, and that Bosman has been a professional athlete for two decades, Parry pointed out that, “consistent training beats everything else… That is, everything, apart from keeping healthy with enough rest and the right nutrition”.
“Making sure that athletes remain injury-free is 90% of a coach’s job,” he said. “No matter how fancy the training programme, we need to make sure that athletes recover properly, so that they get to race day able to do what they need to.
“As a coach, it’s my job to help an athlete reach their full potential, and I remind my runners that they can only run a race as fast as they can run it. If they try to beat other people, they will fail to reach their potential. It’s our job to guide the athlete through the process of getting ready to complete an event, and to find magic in helping them to achieve their full athletic potential,” he added.
Parry’s top training tips for endurance athletes:
- -Don’t overcomplicate things
- -Get enough rest
- -Get the right nutrition
- -Choose a recovery method to support you, such as ice, massage or acupuncture
- -Monitor training and progress – and use the data to learn. A simple phone app and an activity tracking device are all you really need
- -Plan the race as much as you plan your training
- -Plan your race (and your training) with your fastest time in mind
- -Stick to the plan, and don’t think about the people around you
- -Plan your journey to the big race using lesser races to measure your progress – or complete time trials
- -Make sure that you recover properly after every training session, and after every race
- -Diagnose injuries early, treat them well to minimise away time – and start training only when healed
“We need to make successful training repeatable,” says Parry. “Athletes need to perform on the days that count, and this includes training days. Performing well on training days gives the confidence that you’ll need to achieve on race days.”
Notes to the editor
The Discovery Vitality Summit being hosted in Illovo, Johannesburg, today, 06 August 2015, is an open platform that brings together pioneers and leading thinkers in sports science, high performance, fitness, nutrition, technology, health, wellness and psychology.
It creates shared knowledge around the latest global health and wellness developments, while encouraging debate and interaction amongst industry stakeholders.
Head sports scientist at the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sports Research at the High Performance Centre and head coach of the 2015 ladies Comrades’ winner, Caroline Wostmann.
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