Training Tip Tuesday: Training Age
|July 17, 2012||Posted by Katy under Running, Running Tips, Training Tip Tuesday, Triathlon, Triathlon Training, USATF|
Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is off to a great start!
It is time for another Training Tip Tuesday! The past two weeks I went into detail about adaptation and Matveyev’s Model of Periodization. This week I want to talk about a more general, but important, topic- training age.
There are three different ways to think of age: chronological, biological, and training.
Chronological age, simply put, is how old you are. Biological age is based on your development. This is not as important in terms of adults, but with children, it can vary greatly. One twelve year old boy can be tall and going through puberty whereas another can be shorter and has not started puberty.
Training age identifies more with athletics and how long you have been training. Additionally. there are different subunits of training age:
- Lifestyle: how active you have been throughout life, regardless of any specific training in any sport.
- General: how long you have been active and doing slightly more specialized training
- Sport Specific: how long you have been training in a specific sport or activity
There is something to be said about the quality of training, verses the quantity. An individual could be active in a specific sport (i.e.: cycling) for ten years but with poor training whereas another individual could be active in the same sport for half of that time and be much more advanced than the prior.
Also, an individual builds training age over the years, even if they change sports later in life. An example would be a young gymnast who participates in the sport through middle school but then switches to soccer in high school. This athlete would have a different (more advanced) training age verses another individual who played basketball a few days a week, but otherwise was not very active.
I know for me personally, my training age is high in a lifestyle and general sense. I have been pretty active throughout almost my entire life, having been involved in some form of sport (organized or individual) since the age of 5.
In terms of sport specific, I have many different ages.
- Swimming: less than 7 months
- Cycling: 1 year
- Running: consistently- 2 years; off and on- 8 years
- Track and Field (Discus/ Shot-put): 6 years (coming back into the sport after 3+ year hiatus)
So, while I have been active in sports throughout my life, my training age for many sports is relatively young.
This is what I try to explain to people when they ask me why I have not ran a marathon yet. In terms of my running training age, I am still very young developmentally. I have only been running consistently for two years, which is NOTHING to people who have been running for 20+ years.
This is why many coaches stress that an individual has been running for awhile and has a solid mileage base before starting a marathon training plan. Training and running a marathon is obviously very taxing on the body and the body needs time to adapt to the different stressors and get stronger. This occurs over time and it takes years. (Yes, there are absolutely thousands of people who are exceptions to this “rule” and can run a marathon after picking up running for less than a year, but I am definitely not one of them!)
Additionally, training age can be used as a guideline for structuring a training plan. An aspiring first time marathon runner, with a training age of six years in the sport will be able to train at a higher level of difficulty verses another first timer with a training age of only a year in the sport. Their ultimate goals may also be very different; one may go into training hoping to BQ and the other may “just want to finish.” A good coach will be able to use an athletes training age, combined with their personal goals, to develop an effective training plan.
I hope you found this tip useful and if you have any other training areas you would like for me to discuss, leave me a comment below!
What is your training age in your specific sport(s)?
Disclaimer: While I am USATF Certified Track Coach, I am not a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) or Certified Running Coach. As always, for specific exercise counseling, see your doctor, a CPT, or certified coach.