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Specificity of Training (or, Why I Stink at Riding a Bike)

Holy Moly, it’s been a crazy couple months. The blog writing “hiatus” started mid April when Matt was in the last month of school- writing a 20 page paper, applying to grad school, writing another paper, studying for finals, and living in the library. I thought I’d take a month off since we have one computer and my chances of seeing it were about as good as being hit by lightning (although, lightning did strike a boat I was in once). A month off….and suddenly I find myself staring down the barrel at July and a move date that is less than 4 weeks away. How did that happen? Let me break it down for you:

1) We find out that Matt was accepted to the Master’s in Military History Program at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN.

2) Matt graduates.

3) Huge graduation party to celebrate Matt (my husband) and Katie (my sister).

4) Trip to Kinesphere in Phoenix, Arizona to teach the Restorative Exercise™ Specialists in training.

5) Long awaited trip to Washington, DC.

6) On the way home from Washington, DC, pop over to Clarksville  to find a place to live.

7) Do 1,000 projects that we have been putting off to get our house in Ventura to get it ready for renters.

All in 6 weeks.

In the last 4 weeks, I’ve been in 6 different airports, visited 6 different states, and been home a total of 9 days. So while I love writing about alignment, you can see why the blog took the back burner.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s been an amazing 6 weeks! It was exhausting but an exciting time of adventure and growth. I had a lot of blog ideas brewing while I was away, so let’s get down to business.

One highlight of our trip to Washington, DC was night time bike rides around the city. With Capitol Bikeshare, you can borrow a bike from a bikeshare station, ride it around the city (under 30 min is free), and deposit it at any other station when you are finished. Brilliant.

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Here we are by the Lincoln Memorial. Lovin the bikes!

Now there is a pricinple in exercise science that we call the specificity of training. It states that the specific nature of the activity you perform produces specific adaptations, and to improve at a particular activity, you must train in a specific way that meets the demands of that activity. In other words, if you want to run a marathon, you have to run long distances to train for it. There are very specific physiological adaptations that occur in the body when you run long distances that you will not get if you swim or bike or play tennis. If you want to become a better runner, you have to run.  You become more efficient at the things you train for and  less efficient at the things you don’t. (Many of you have experienced this when you try to switch sports- you are a runner and when you try to swim you feel like you are dying, or vice versa.)  It’s the same reason why, if you want to become a great guitar player, you don’t spend hours a day practicing piano. They are different instruments that require different skills.

I walk all the time, but bike? Not so much. Before this trip, I’d spent a total of about 2 hours on a bike in the last 10 years.

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Here I am about 10 min later. Getting my butt kicked.

When we talk about athletes, we talk about better performance in a given sport. But what does this mean for the average person? Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you care about longevity rather than performance. What if your goal is not a faster mile or better free throw percentage, but instead it’s to walk without pain? Or to be able to get up and down off the floor to play with your children/grandchildren? Or to maintain control of your bladder? Or to avoid a joint replacement? Well, the specificity of training principle applies to you too. If you want to be able to get up and down off the floor, you have to spend time doing just that. If you can’t, you may need to do several weeks or months of stretching first to restore the joint range of motion in your knees and hips. Then you can add some squatting to start building the strength to lift and lower your body weight.

Ask yourself, “What is my  goal?” Then build a training program specific to that activity. If you aren’t sure how, you can contact me or a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist near you.