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  • Writer's picturecoachmk

The Principle of Specificity

"Specificity states that the body makes gains from exercise according to how the body exercises. This  principle is important because applying it correctly will allow one to have a focused, efficient, effective program that will lead to the desired gains. Failing to apply it will result in wasted energy and time, and it will result in frustration as gains do not materialize.

When developing a conditioning program, you should consider the following:

the movements to be trained

the muscles and joints to be trained

the energy system(s) to be trained

the speed of movement

Running and the principle of specificity

It's known that I don't take on many trail clients.  It is often presumed it's because I hate trails (not true, though I do prefer roads.  I prefer truffle fries but will eat the plain ones if my husband is silly enough to leave his unprotected) and trail runners (well..... they can be a crazy lot and I approach them carefully.  "Trepidation" and "hatred" are different sentiments completely though.)

What I hate is having to beg a client to train on trails.  Here is how the conversation often goes:

"Hey!  I want to do a 50k.  Let's go!"

"Most 50ks these days are on trails.  Can you get to trails to train?"

"Why does that matter?"

"It matters. Principle of Specificity, crucial adaptations etc etc."

"No, but I have a treadmill and can get to trails on weekends my kids don't have soccer tournaments."

"We need you on trails like, every day.  If the race is a technical course, then we need you on similar terrain constantly."

"But they are far!  And I'll be slower at heart rate on the trails!"

"You sure you don't want to do 5 marathons in 6 months with Vanessa?"

If you wanna be a better tennis player, you gotta play tennis.  If you wanna be a better basketball player, you gotta play basketball.  You also need a coach and training plan that 1. addresses your weaknesses (for most runners this is strength and nutrition) and 2. prepares you for the demands of your chosen event. 

The best way to throw a good plan out of the window is to ignore the Principle of Specificity and execute that plan in the wrong place. 

In other words, if you wanna race on trails, you gotta train on trails.  If the trails are hilly, you need to train on hilly trails.  If the trails are hilly and covered in scree, guess what you need to do. 

There is NOTHING WRONG with getting your miles done on a treadmill under certain circumstances, and if you're my client we've likely discussed this.  Numerous times.  You are an adult, you are paying me 30 cents per day after taxes and Life Time's cut, so I'm not going to ride you daily to make good choices (Unless you want to join the $350/month coaching plan).  You know what to do.

As you plan your year ahead, I really need you to think carefully about the events on your calendar AS WELL AS your expectations for those events.  If you want to run a fast marathon, we need you on roads.  If you are looking to improve your time in a 50k, we need you on trails and in Lanton's office frequently getting new strength plans, and working with Ellie is not optional it's required.  if you wanna YOLO a marathon or 50k, I will introduce you to Vanessa and Abhi and Rochelle.  

I could go on and on, but you've received enough emails from me today.  When considering what events you want to do, please also consider the time and terrain available to train.  #coachedandloved

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