‘Will Power’ training. Undefeated 1500m runner Herb Elliot with coach Percy Cerutty.
I recently wrote a blog about using off-season training to build mental strength. While the response has been largely positive, it has also generated a lot of comments along the lines of:
“That’s interesting for the pros, but as an age-group athlete how does that work for me?”
Those who follow Trisutto.com will know that we view our age-group athletes the same as pros when it comes to personal performance. Yes, you have less time and more stress with your training, but the parameters to lift performance are basically the same.
I challenge you to think of some of the most satisfying workouts you have done. Let me be presumptuous and say that I bet none of them were the fastest ones you did, but the ones that were a challenge. The ones where you were getting your arse kicked and managed to turn it around. The sessions where you attacked the paper tiger instead of giving in to it.
I once had the privilege of talking with a coach who used to run at Portsea with the great Percy Cerutty (brilliant coach of undefeated 1500m runner Herb Elliot). He told me about an infamous Percy training session. It wasn’t called ‘Speed Work’ or ‘Aerobic Conditioning’ or even ‘Hill Work’ though it was performed up a hill.
No, Percy called it the ‘Will Power’ set. In his eccentric style he’d rally the squad on a Saturday morning and tell them:
“This session is the one that makes you who you are. Defines what you want to be and gives enlightenment to the individual of oneself. You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.”
He then proceeded to a sand dune of only about 30-60m and say “up you go”. How many reps? “As many as your will allows you to.”
Now this is the type of workout you’ll no longer find in the textbooks, but it still takes pride and place in mine. I haven’t replaced it with a chapter on over-training or that other myth of the weak – recovery. Because when it comes to performance both pale in significance when pitted against the effectiveness of ‘Will Power’ training.
So as an age-group athlete there is nothing better you can do than plan a session that is not only good for performance, but great for the soul. I’m not saying you have to do it every week, nor does it have to be up sand dunes. Just every now and again when you’ve got time to yourself (maybe the weekend or an early finish from work) set aside some time to give yourself some ‘Will Power’ training.
One of those sessions where at the end of it you sit totally exhausted, sweat dripping off the end of your nose, your heart pounding through the chest like hammer blows. As you sit or lie there close to exhaustion you’ll know that you’re truly alive and that today ‘I made myself a stronger person.’
Pro or age-grouper – isn’t that what we all want?