Training can sometimes come down to a trade-off between being practical and training in an ‘ideal’ manner. We may envision ourselves having perfect training weeks, nailing every session, always getting 9 hours of sleep for recovery and so on – but the reality is that the vast majority of you reading this have some challenge or some deficit of time/energy that prevents you from training as ‘optimally’ as you may wish to. In these circumstances, it’s important to ensure that your training is practical for your specific situation – which can sometimes require a bit of innovation.
Let’s look at a personal example from Running Science’s coach Dylan: For the first few months of this year, he was dealing with a foot injury that prohibited him from running comfortably, especially for longer periods of time. Particularly, he found that running fast was more comfortable whereas slower, longer runs were especially problematic. Now of course, his ideal training would consist of a balanced structure with easy and hard days, some longer runs, and so on. But given his circumstance it didn’t make sense to do easy or longer running when it was causing him a lot of discomfort for minimal benefit. Instead, he adjusted his schedule to a 3-day cycle consisting of a workout, a rest day and a ‘fast-easy’ day (and repeating). He came up with a practical way of getting the most of his training while still sticking to the fundamental principles of polarization, albeit in a slightly different manner. In this example, he still managed to achieve peak / personal best shape despite the less than ideal circumstance.
The point of this example is to illustrate how we need to make our training work for our own particular circumstance, rather than completely defaulting to a single template.
From a coaching perspective, we may have two athletes of identical fitness training for the same event; but one that is able to train daily while another can only train 3-4 days per week. Now although one might think that these athletes should be training fairly similarly, you need to personalize their training quite a bit to fit into their different practical circumstance.