Are you Ready?

For the second Wellness-Vancouver post I was devising strategies to get you all fired up on push-ups and motivational Hoo-Raah. But no, with the Vancouver Olympics only two days away, I thought I’d give you my two cents on how this international event might be relevant for your training, and how you can use it as a basis to actualize your own athletic goals. Right now as a Vancouverite, whether you love it, or loathe it, there is something fundamental in these games that I’d like you to pay attention to.

So, the Greeks along with ouzo and baklava had some notable additions in the form of art, architecture, philosophy, and medicine. It’s also no secret that they held the first Olympics back in 776BC. But more inherently, have you ever noticed that there is four-year gap from the summer-to-summer and winter-to-winter Olympics? It’s not an oversight. Greeks long ago recognized the importance specific phases in an athletes training and continual improvement and thus initiated the concept of periodized training cycles.

Even though it was the first Olympians who laid the foundation for athletic peroidization, the roots of today’s techniques come from a Canadian endocrinologist Hans Selye. He created a theory known as the General Adaptation Syndrome or GAS. His work describes the biological responses to stress and has been used by the athletic community since the 1950s – and for which he received the Order of Canada in 1968. (We’ll just chalk that one up with Hockey, Lacrosse, and Basketball)

Eustress a term coined by Selye is defined as stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. Eustress is a process of exploring potential gains and avoiding the detrimental stresses called “distress”. In athletics, when physical stress is at a healthy level (eustress), an athlete experiences muscular strength and growth, while excessive physical stress (distress) can lead to tissue damage, disease, and death. Periodization is most widely used in program design to avoid over-training and to which systematically alternates between high loads of training with decreased loading phases to improve components of muscular fitness (e.g. strength, strength-speed, and strength-endurance).

Periodic training systems typically divide time up into three types of cycles: microcycle, mesocycle, and macrocycle. The microcycle is generally up to 7 days. The mesocycle may be anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months, but is typically a month. A macrocycle refers to the overall training period, usually representing a year or two. There are longer cycles as well, being 4 or 8 years and is the career plan which is usually only considered for Olympians and professional athletes.

Next, the difficulty I’m beginning to recognize from many of you, is that you keep the same old routine. You report to me that your not making consistent or continual progress and feel like there is a plateau in your health, power, strength, or endurance status. I’ll make reference to the old adage – “ if you keep doin’ what you’re doin’ – your gunna keep gettin’ what you’re gunna get.”

So – here’s my point. For all of you who want to be at the top of your game for this summer, you need to commence on a periodized program now. Whether your goal is a triathlon, looking good at the beach, climbing the Squamish Chief, or increasing the length your golf drive – now is the time to start the athletic cycle.

Starting on March 3rd 2010 (two weeks short of the spring equinox) you can join me at the Bentall Centre Athletic Club to initiate your cross training periodization. I’m offering you 10 sessions over the following 12 weeks of heart pounding fun. No matter what your athletic pursuit, by attending my trail running clinic through Vancouver’s best off-pavement terrain you will you receive the highest quality systematic adaptation to stimulus, and the preparation you need to realize your best this year. Not to mention fresh air, commitment to your goals, quality coaching, and transportation. There are 10 spaces available. Please contact me at

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