You are special. You are unique. You are an individual. In endurance training, like most other areas of life, what is best for you might not be good for the next person and your friend’s training program might not work for you. We are all individuals and the best training plan for us to follow is one that is made for us. In this article, Team RunRun coach and exercise scientist, Maxx Antush, discusses the concept of individuality and how it applies as an endurance training principle. 

What do we mean by individuality in training?

There are many different ways that you CAN train; however, if you are looking to train in a way that is going to work for you, the BEST way to train is with yourself in mind. The principle of individuality is that the training program that will work best for you has to be based on your physiological and personal needs. Some areas of individuality to think about are your goal races, your goal times, your current ability level, your training background, your injury history, your time constraints, your family commitments, your geographical location, your training climate and environment, and many other factors. These many factors that are unique to you make it necessary for your total mileage, the amount and type of intervals you do, the terrain you run on, and every other component of your training to be personalized. Although training is not a one-size-fits-all product, this does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t train with your friends or find training partners to run with. Instead, it means that you have to stay true to the objectives of your own training program while you are with them. 

Photo: Rockstar Coach Morgan Manuel, by David Jaewon Oh (@thisisdizzle)

How do we apply the individuality principle to our training?

A great way that you could apply individuality to your training is to work with a coach who can create a training plan for you from scratch and update it as your training and life unfold. You can find many amazing coaches at Team RunRun (you should reach out to a couple, if you haven’t already) who will work with you to create individual, customized training plans. Or, you might be someone who likes to design their own training and want to move beyond the generalized “12 weeks to your next race” type of plan that is widely available on the internet. 

To apply the principle of individuality to your training plan, you first need to identify the specific demands of the event that you are training for and your goals for that event. Then you should evaluate your current fitness, training status, and strengths and weaknesses relative to your goals. These first two steps will give you an understanding of what it is that you need to accomplish in training.

Next, you should look at how your daily life is structured and what your time demands are to identify how much time you can spend training and on which days certain training activities might work best for you. There are many reference materials available that you can use to learn the benefits of different types of workouts that might help you improve towards your goals; however, it is important to familiarize yourself with the other fundamental training principles of overload and recover, progression, specificity, and systematic approach (stay tuned for articles on specificity and systematic approach) when applying workouts to your plan. Some wonderful resources for learning the demands of various types of events, different types of workouts, and how to apply them in a way that can be beneficial to you include Daniels’ Running Formula by Dr. Jack Daniels, Science of Running by Steve Magness, Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop, and Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes. 

Conclusion

A good training program is like a recipe for your favorite type of cookie. There are many types of cookies out there (snickerdoodles are the best) and you could find numerous different recipes for the type that is your favorite; however, the one that tastes the best is going to depend on the flavors of specific ingredients that you like, the thickness of the dough, how long the cookie is baked for (unless you like yours “no-bake”), and at what temperature. In other words, the best cookie for you, like the best training plan, is going to be one that applies the principle of individuality!

Maxx Antush is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Maxx, check out his coaching page.