Sunscreen-An Applied Science
By Brandon Davis [Novemeber 2014]
I think that everyone can agree that sunscreen, when used properly, is an amazing product. When applied it will keep you sunburn free in even the harshest of conditions. However, the success of sunscreen rests on the consistency of application, which for most brands is ~2hr intervals. Now, what I realized is that sunscreen is the perfect analogy for training. Much like sunscreen.... training methodologies require the proper consistency as well as application, such that without the combined you cannot get the resulting net. So I know what you're thinking, " am I going to have to do two hour intervals "...... not exactly. First a 2hr endurance ride is one 2hr interval so those of you who are clients the answer is YES! However, that is merely the appliction without consistenly applying those 2hr intervals you will have minimal fitness gains at best.
The common thread in numerous athletes is that if left to manage their own training load the trend is a loss of consistency first then they feel guilty so they overcompensate (too much application) and the net is mediocrity or in other words they get really good at mid-tempo effort. These athletes ride a plateau and eventually get frustrated due to lack of fitness gains as seasons progress. Think of it this way (consistency) + (application) = (net). Say (consistency) represents savings and (application) represents checking at your bank if you don't steadily increase both you will never reap the benifits. In contrast if you are merely shuffling the balance between the two your net will never change. Adding slowly in a three steps forward (training load) one step back (recovery) method you will see the resultant fitness.
One of the common statements I get when a new client starts is, "I have never had this much recovery." There is this stigma attached to rest days that if an athlete takes a rest day/period they are somehow instantly going to gain 30lbs and lose years of fitness. That's mainly due to that lack of belief in the PROVEN stress recovery cycle, where by you stress the body in training then rest to net the resultant fitness gains. It's a known scientiffic fact that the human body rebuilds at rest and reaps fitness gains as the net of stress+recovery NOT stress+stress, which is the common practice many athletes subscribe to. You can NEVER push into new territories of fitness via overcompensation and pushing the envelope in your training if you don't take the time to hit the reset button and recover. This is applied on the macro level within your ANNUAL TRAINING PLAN (ATP) to the meso level with off-season/transition phases, all the way down to the micro level with rest days or active recovery within each week. Applying these priciples of periodization and tracking chronic/acute training load in an effort to administer the proper dose is the major benefit of having a coach. However even if you are self-coached take the time to turn the lense on yourself and focus in taking note of your strongest moments last season. What did the training load look like leading into that? What level of sleep were you getting? What was your nutrition and hydration? The take home message is that without the consistent application, a steadily increaseing dose, in a regularly scheduled format you will not get the desired outcome, and in the case of sunscreen you'll be left with at a uneven tan or worse sunburn and many sleepless nights.