It’s a term that coaches love to use (including ourselves). We tell our athletes that ‘consistency is the key to success’ and emphasize its importance. But, what does this really mean? Is it about running as regularly as possible? Hitting a consistent mileage? Performing well in every workout?
How do we actually define consistency in training?
We would define consistency in training as the ability to string together consecutive good training weeks for a considerable period of time. Note that we don’t use the word ‘great’, as it’s unrealistic to expect that every run or every week will be amazing. We don’t need to be hitting perfect weeks all the time, but rather aiming to consistently put out weeks that we might rate as a 7 or 8 out of 10.
Training is a compounding effect – and this is where the true value in consistency lies. There’s a quote that goes “aim to be great at being consistent, rather than aiming to be consistently great”. If we’re making small improvements week on week over a long period of time, this leads to hugely significant gains. To give an illustration: if one improved at something by 0.1% consistently for every day of the year, the compounding effect of this would lead to a 44% improvement. Many small, consistent gains lead to large gains over a period of time.
So, with all this in mind, how can we be more consistent? How do we improve our chances of training with minimal disruptions and enable ourselves to put out good workouts on a regular basis?
- Control the effort of our runs – know when to recover and take it easy, and realize that hard workouts aren’t intended to break you
- Make sure that your overall training load is sustainable over a period of time
- Learn how our bodies respond to different types of training – if you know that something is particularly hard on your body, be sure to allow yourself a longer recovery period
- Prehab and strength training to minimize your risk of injury
- Stay motivated – keep training interesting, set yourself challenging goals, have training partners or a coach to hold you accountable