Mark Hadaway, UK Guide at Run the Wild
In the world of fitness and sports performance we often hear reference for the need to ‘get in the zone’. It therefore might seem somewhat counter-intuitive to be told to get ‘out of your zone’ but there’s good reason for it – performance improvement. As many of us enter 2019 with exciting fitness goals and which may also include the London Marathon, here, Run the Wild’s Mark Hadaway explains how getting out of your zone, could make a real difference to your performance.
Any training plan worth its salt will promote variety in training, amongst other fundamentals such as healthy eating, periodisation and, crucially, recovery. But even if you’re not following a ‘plan’ and are just exercising for the ‘love of it’ (and rest assured, there is a reason behind your actions somewhere) you must mix things up – both from a psychological perspective, as well as a physical one.
Now, getting out of your ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ zone is sometimes easier said than done. Physical, emotional and mental aspects can come into play – the ‘buzz’ of a good session might be lost, you might feel ‘cheated’ somewhat if you don’t finish a session feeling your usual fatigued self or the challenge of working harder might simply be too much. Undoubtedly, these are all aspects to consider but fortune favours the brave and by ‘mixing’ it up there could well be previously untold benefits and gains to be had.
So, let’s consider an ‘average’ runner who consistently dedicates three, 40-minute sessions per week to the sport. Each time they lace up their trainers and head out, they take in the same, familiar loop at the same ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ pace. Firstly, this approach can only be commended in that this person is out there and doing it… bravo. But often, after time and once the initial physical gains have been reaped (although clearly there are also long term, maintenance gains too), the expectation is that by doing the same thing somehow, something will change – they can run faster, longer or ‘easier’. Unfortunately, more often than not with fitness the old saying applies: ‘Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got’.
So, if the ‘results’ are not as forthcoming as you had hoped and you’ve reached a bit of a plateau or simply want to take things to the next level, why not ‘mix’ things up a little? Alter the running route, change the intensity or vary the durations – get out of the zone.
Everyone is different in terms of how their body responds to training stresses but consider taking that same allocated weekly training time (three x 40 mins = 120 mins) and breaking it down as follows:
1 x 35 min ‘comfortably uncomfortable’
1 x 45 min comfortable/steady (effort level 7 on scale 1-10)
2 x 20 min with ‘hard’ efforts (effort level 9+ on scale 1-10) ie a hilly route, some intervals etc
Moving out of the zone
Now, the above does not nor does it intend to go into session detail – that’s for another day – but what it does do is provide you with an idea of how to move out of your zone without the need to add hours to your training week. And the pay off? Aside from providing you with a new and invigorating challenge, getting out of your comfort zone will elevate your fitness and performance levels to new heights.
Now is the time to be brave, so go on give it a go and get out of your zone.
Contributor: Mark Hadaway (MBA) is a highly qualified health and fitness expert having been involved in sports coaching for over 15 years. Mark is a triathlete, trail runner and running guide for Run the Wild.