Day 157 - Sore, Tired, and Hungry
I am now 3 days into my World's Toughest Mudder training schedule and I am experiencing those familiar signs of a change in training. I am sore as hell, I am sleepy, and I am hungry almost all the time!
The idea behind training periodization, or as some folks like to call it, "Muscle Confusion", is to alter your training enough, in order to cause a constant state of change. In other words, change your training program frequently enough so that you don't get bored, and your muscles/body doesn't 'plateau'.
For an individual who wishes to achieve or simply maintain a general state of fitness, periodization is great because it forces you to change up your fitness plan so that you aren't getting bored mentally, but also so that your body is not adapting to a program, causing a slowing or inhibition of 'gains'.
From an athlete's perspective, however, periodization is used to 'build' your body to be really good at something. For example, a football player's goals should include some size, strength, and speed. It is tough to build all three of those at once, so you break your training schedule down into 'periods' so that you can maximize you benefits for one specific goal at a time, and then build on that progress as time passes.
For myself, I just recently came off of a strength phase. I was lifting weights and doing a little bit of cardio, so to the average person, I am 'staying fit'. So why is it that I am now so damn sore?
During my strength phase, I was lifting heavy stuff, with low repetitions. I was generally aiming for 6-8 (sometimes 10) repetitions. The goal was to make my muscles strong, or in other words, able to generate great amounts of force. (Note, not to be confused with power, which is generating force as fast as possible)
Now that I have built a decent level of strength, I am transitioning my muscle fibers to be more aerobic. You see, training in the lower repetition range, my muscles become great at generating force, as I said before. They do so by means of the anaerobic energy system, recruiting large amounts of muscle fibers for every single repetition.
Now that I am training with more 'endurance' in mind, I am aiming for 12-15+ reps on every single resistance exercise set, in order to increase the efficiency of the muscle fibers. Once you get to that 12 rep range, and a little beyond, your muscles are forced into using more aerobic means to generate energy.
This means that the load or resistance is less, placing less strain on the muscles, or in other words, recruiting less muscle fibers on every repetition. The less muscle fibers recruited during each rep allows the muscles to crank out more reps.
Type 2 muscle fibers are more anaerobic in nature. They are there to generate force. However, you can transition them into being slightly more aerobic in nature, which is great for endurance athletes, or in this case, running the World's Toughest Mudder.
So, to get back to my original thought, even though I was lifting weights before, now that I am targeting a completely different energy system, my muscle fibers are transitioning, causing my soreness, my fatigue, and therefore burning more calories and needing more food. Excuse me, I am heading to go get a snack!
Quote of the day:
"I walk slowly, but I never walk backward."
~ Abraham Lincoln