Una’s True Transformation Journey: Week 2

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Una’s week two completion consultation took place on the 18th of September, this consultation served as an opportunity for us to gather feedback regarding Una’s own perception of week two and to also continue to monitor (weekly activity levels and body measurement and heart rate data collection), support and motivate Una.

Una unveiled that she experienced sever fatigue this week due to her current training patterns, she also said that this is a common experience for her over the last number of years of following her current training regimen. This feedback led to the consultation taking a specific focus on Una’s training.

What impact has Una’s weekly training routine (prior to True Transformation) had on her body?

Una has always carried out her training sessions blind. Blind training is when a person trains without being completely aware of the true intensity of their sessions and the impact this is having on their body. When Una first had her consultation with Dr Diane Cooper, Diane suspected that Una was training at an intensity that was too high in most or all of her training sessions. Diane suspected that Una was over trained, fatigued and relying predominantly on her carbohydrate stores to produce energy during exercise, which in turn was contributing to Una not achieving her desired results in terms of (i) her body composition and (ii) her running performance. For this reason Dr Diane Cooper decided that Una needed to undergo a lactate threshold test. You can find out more about the lactate threshold test here; http://www.truefitness.ie/sports-science-testing-performance/lactate-threshold-testing/.

Una’s lactate threshold test

Sharon, our resident sport scientist, conducted the lactate threshold test on Una. This involved a 10 minute easy jogging warm up, followed by 3 minute stages where the speed of the treadmill was increased every 3 minutes until Una reached her maximal ability. At the end of every 3 minute stage, Sharon took Una’s lactate sample from her ear and her heart rate. We used all of this data to calculate Una’s lactate threshold and all of the zones she should run in for recovery, her long runs, her interval runs etc. during the week. Each zone causes very specific adaptations in the body and the goal that Una has (improved body composition and running performance for the ½ marathon) dictated the training programme we created for her.

The results of the lactate threshold (LT) test uncovered that Diane’s suspicions were correct and that regardless of the time Una spent training, her aerobic base was not developed. This means that Una was training at a high intensity at all times. When you train at high intensities (above your LT) you predominantly use carbohydrates as your fuel for energy,  doing this consistently results in you using predominately carbohydrates instead of using predominantly fats as fuel. Running at the intensity that trains your body to use fat as fuel primarily does two things (i) It decreases your fat mass and improves your body composition so you will become leaner and (ii) it improves your aerobic base which is essential if you are training for an endurance event like Una.

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Una’s training programme based on the principles of training

Una’s goal is to complete a half marathon in November and this goal was the focus of her training programme. The training programme was developed according to Una’s LT test results, which identified multiple training zones (refer to picture), each zone bringing about specific adaptations and it is essential to develop each zone in order to improve performance. The programme is 8 weeks long and is composed of 2 blocks of 4 weeks, where the 4 weeks are broken down into 3 weeks ‘on’ and 1 ‘off’ or recovery. The 3 ‘on’ weeks cause overload, which is an appropriate stress on the body above and beyond the training that was normally was being done. The ‘off’ week is the recovery week where we either reduce the number of training sessions in the week, the intensity of the training sessions, or the duration of the training sessions. This recovery period is essential to allow the cells and tissues of the body to recover from the previous 3 weeks of overload. The appropriate manipulation of overload and recovery is how the body achieves optimal levels of strength and fitness without the risk of injury or illness. This training method is based on the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) model. Una’s first week on her new training programme is actually a recovery or ‘off’ week, due to Una’s previous complaints of fatigue and showing early warning signs of overtraining. Fatigue and overtraining can lead to a decrease in both mental and physical health, decrease athletic performance and also increases risk of injury.

Functional assessment

Una will also carry out a functional assessment with John Bolton this coming week, this will be done to identify any musculoskeletal compensations or muscular tightness or weakness that may further increase Una’s risk of injury.

 Our expert advise to Una is to run easier!!

Because Una had not previously developed her aerobic base (the lower part of the curve in the picture), a lot of Una’s programme is within the lower heart rate training zones in order to develop this base, these zones would be perceived as “comfortable” to train in and are extremely important to develop. Running in this zone will cause adaptations in Una’s body that increase her ability to use body fat for energy production during exercise and activities of daily living. This will help her with her body composition goal. Running in this zone will also develop her aerobic base and lactate threshold, which in turn over the next 3 months will enable her to have better performance in her upcoming ½ marathon. It will also increase her running speed because her body will be able to clear lactate at a greater rate allowing her to run harder before her body comes under pressure.

As Una mentioned, she always felt as though she had to train hard in order to see results, and as she now knows, it’s actually the opposite.

If you are curious of what happens in the coming weeks of the online True Transformation programme, please join us next week for a recap of Week Three of Una’s transformation journey!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Diane Cooper, Sharon Fennelly and John Bolton

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