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The Art Of Practicing

How to avoid injury, advance effectively and quash boredom by practicing wisely

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The Art Of Practice | Kenyan Runners | My Home Vitality

Hi folks, a few more ideas on training from Barry Westley

Last time, I talked about the value of repetition and said that this time I would approach it from the opposite angle.

Some years ago I was listening to Dave Prowse (the ex-weightlifting champion, who acted ‘Darth Vader’ in the original Star Wars trilogy) on the radio. He was talking a lot of sense and said that if you run a mile every night and follow the exact same route, in a fortnight, your training would cease to be effective. He said that it was much more useful to run a different mile every night, over different terrain, then the body would be continually challenged and more efficiently encouraged to grow.

During my involvement in competitive powerlifting, there was one individual who was renowned for his eccentric training habits. Where everyone else had a regular training program on specific nights, this individual would turn up and work extremely hard when he felt like it and not at all when he didn’t. Eccentric he may have been, but he was also a world champion!

Similarly, I once had a conversation with a man who managed the Kenyan running team when they came over to England and he was amazed that some mornings they just would not train. The weather was not right, they didn’t feel good, etc. They would save their energy for another day when they could do top quality training and let’s face it, Kenyan athletes are pretty successful!

From a Taoist point of view this is exactly the right approach. You should not do 50 press-ups every morning. Some mornings, when you feel tired, 10 press-ups are enough because your body is telling you it wants a rest. Another morning you can blast out 250 press ups because your body feels rested and ready to go. In this way, you are listening to your body, you will remain injury free, and you will make improvements more efficiently.

Often the biggest enemy of successful training is boredom. In my last blog I talked about the necessity of repetition and I stand by that; however, that does not mean we become robots!

We must embed that repetition by being creative and finding new, interesting and challenging ways of practicing key principles. On top of this, we must learn to listen to our body and only train when we can deliver sessions of real quality. In this way we can progress quickly without risking either burnout or injury.

I hope you find these thoughts useful.

Barry Westley

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