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Everyone has a comfort zone for training and it's great to go back to that comfortable place where you need to dial it back a bit. But at other times you need to break out of the comfort zone to take your training to a new level.
So how do you know if you're stuck in the comfort zone? Often it is when you are doing the same or similar training over a long period, or you do backup/ go-to workouts instead of the critical workouts.
Here are three examples of people who get stuck in their comfort zone:
1. No Skill Sam
Sam has been running for years and just likes to run. He reckons technique work is for kids doing skill-based sports, because "after all i've been running for 42 years so of course I know how to run.."
Sam tries to muscle his way through workouts, but usually ends up plateauing because about the same level. So Sam's biggest opportunity is to change up the training with a focus on skill work (posture, cadence, agility etc.), rather than just doing things the same old way.
2. Easy Ellen
Ellen considers herself to be a diesel engine. "You know, i've only got one speed, but can keep going at that speed for hours on end".
She's known in her club as the go-to person for anyone who wants company in training because she's always out there training. The problem is she goes too easy just about all the time so no matter how much training she does, she never gets faster.
Ellen needs to break out of this comfort zone by doing less training, and doing some harder training. By lowering the training hours she'll have more time to recover, and can therefore be fresher for the important harder sessions.
3. High Rev Kev
Kev races every workout. He dosen't have a lot of training time in the week so figures by going for it in every session he's getting the best bang for buck out of his time.
The problem is that he never seems to get faster no matter how hard he tries. That lunchtime 5k always takes 25 minutes.
Kev is training at a level where it feels like a good solid workout, and the best he can do, but actually, it's not quite hard enough to get performance benefits from. Even though he's trying hard he's stuck in his own comfort zone and what feels "good".
Kev would do well to mix up the training by occasionally finding time to do longer, but slower training, and at other times do some interval work so he can push even harder for short periods, then recover and do it again.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? There are lot's of other ways to be stuck in a comfort zone so take the time to give yourself a "comfort check" and decide if you need to break out of the comfort zone.
By Gerrard Smith of Mr Smith's Coach