So you’ve been in quarantine/lockdown for the past two months. Now that training is resuming with limited numbers, it’s time to meet up with the team, get stuck in and work like crazy, right?
Well, unless you’ve been maintaining your training loads during this down-time, I certainly hope not!
We know from the fantastic work of researchers Tim Gabbett and co. that tracking your weekly training load is crucial to both optimal performance and injury reduction. In technical terms, we call this the acute-to-chronic workload. Put simply, this principle states that your training load in any given week should be 0.8-1.3 times the average of your training load for the preceding four weeks (Gabbett et al., 2019). Let’s not get caught up in the maths here, but essentially this means that too high a jump in load one week, may predispose you to injury, whilst too low a load may not be enough for you to cope with the specific requirements of your sport for that week, and performance will almost certainly drop.
You’re now probably wondering what constitutes “training load”. Well, this varies, and it’s not to be confused with “training volume”. Training volume is often referred to as either the number of minutes spent training (e.g. a 120min training session) or distance covered (e.g. 5km in a training session). Training load, on the other hand, is training volume multiplied by training intensity (e.g. your heart rate whilst training).
Putting aside calculations, this means that if you’ve just spent the past two months training at a significantly reduced volume, intensity, and therefore load, you should not be returning to training or sport at the same level as if you had been continually training throughout your down-time. Obviously, things now need to be adjusted and carefully progressed so that you are not over-reaching in your effort and putting yourself at risk of injury and/or burn-out.
Some athletes and weekend warriors love tracking this stuff. Getting engrossed in the data and analysing it can really help gauge progress and drastically improve performance. However, many more do not. If you or your child are in this situation at the moment, and you’re now having second thoughts about whether you should be more closely watching your return to sport efforts, let us take the stress away for you and come drop us a visit!