What is the most significant thing most people can focus on that will yield an immediate improvement in their training?

By Donovan van Gelder - Cybercoach

The one thing that pretty much every age-group athlete can improve in their training is to control the intensity of their training sessions properly. That may sound arbitrary but from my observation, the biggest difference between professional athletes and amateurs is that pros go easy enough on their easy sessions.

With regular group training sessions and apps like Strava it is very easy to get pulled into going too hard on your recovery sessions. This then negatively affects your quality sessions and they become mediocre as a result. So we end up training in a grey area of not too hard but not too easy and there is not that much difference between our hard and easy sessions.

Sadly, amateur athletes are the ones that can least afford this. We have less training time at our disposal and we need to maximize this. Our recovery time between sessions is not as optimal as a pros as well, so we need to really consider our pace and effort and what we are trying to achieve when we do an easier session.

Control that competitive instinct when you are on a long endurance group ride and don't follow the accelerations or surges. Resist the temptation to accelerate when someone runs past you when you're on an easy run.

Focus on what you are there to do and do it well. Race days are the ones for comparison not training.

(Click on the images for the description of each session which were performed on consecutive days and illustrate the above discussion)


Tuesday the 29th of August - Building tempo run, increasing the effort and heart-rate every 10:00. As a result of HR lag, the line steadily increases throughout instead of going up in steps. The last 10:00 of the building period is at anaerobic threshold, so this is hard.


Wednesday the 30th of August - Following the previous days hard run, this is a nice relaxed recovery session to help facilitate recovery and focus on good form. Also preparing the legs for the next hard session. Notice the average heart-rate at 128bpm compared to the anaerobic threshold level of the previous days run around 170bpm.