Why Are Improvements from Training Different Among Athletes?

Have you ever heard the expression, “We’re all an experiment of one?”  Especially in trail and ultra running, we each respond differently to training, food, drink, weather, and distance.  In this article, Olympian Craig Pickering brings some interesting data to this axiom.

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“If you’ve ever trained a group of athletes, you’ve probably noticed something peculiar. Even though you give the group the same training program, at the end of the training block, there are vast differences in how much those athletes improve.

Some athletes will respond really well to that specific training, and see huge improvements that carry over to personal bests in the competition period. Some athletes won’t respond well at all, and as a result might underperform in the next competitive season. Most of the athletes will show a fairly average response; they might set a few new personal bests and have a decent season, particularly if they’re young and developing, but it might not be anything special.
Over the course of a several different training periods, these effects can add up. Those who respond really well to training will likely compete at a very high level, while those who respond poorly will likely fall by the wayside.
Psychological factors can also impact exercise adaptation through several different mechanisms. Exercise is a form of stress, and each person’s response to that stress is highly individualized. Every brain interprets stress differently, with past experiences modifying this response. How our brains interpret a stressor impacts the release of hormones, and these hormones can affect how we adapt to exercise.” Read more…

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