Training error. It’s a catch all term which you may or may not have come across. The phrase has been coined relatively recently to provide a bit of guidance as to the reason why some people end up with so called “overtraining” injuries.
To get an idea as to why this is “Training Error” we need to think about how training works. In effect, no matter what your sport, you are looking to get stronger, faster or more skilled. In order to create this change you want to be challenging your body and mind to encourage adaptation. As you rest and recover, you adapt and hopefully next time you do the thing, you’ll have a little more resilience, a little more ability – you’ll over-reach again and encourage your body to get better, and so progression is made.
The Training Error comes at the point where this falls down. Either you overstretch just a bit much on a single effort and an injury manifests itself, or you overstretch a little more each time you go out, don’t quite recover enough, and overstretch again, and so on and so forth over a period of days, weeks or months, leading to an inevitable long term slump- either through injury or through catastrophic lack of energy.
It can occur in a variety of ways… too many miles over a short period of time, too much elevation gain/loss, increasing either of these things too fast, changing your habits so that all of a sudden you do a normal session, but with a weighted pack, doing a hard speed session when not being used to it, smashing out a few weights sessions and going back to back with hard training runs – when you aren’t used to it. All of these things could constitute “Training Error”.
I have to say I have certainly done a few of these things, and paid for it. I can nail the overuse injury down to a couple of sessions where I really overdid things – and the overriding theme for every time I’ve done this has been that it was a training error. Before doing the thing I knew I was challenging myself, and in hindsight I can see that the effort was going to be far outside of that which I was physically capable of.
To be fair, this has happened more as I have got older. Whether this is because my capacity for regeneration is slightly less than it used to be, or because I have got better at running in the last few years, so my hard days are actually harder than they ever used to be 5-10 years ago, I don’t know. What I do know is that I need to think a bit more about fluctuations in my training, and how much effort I am putting into it on a weekly basis. We know from Tim Gabbett’s work that Hard Training of itself is not a bad thing – but when it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst many days of “not so hard” training, there is certainly an error going on. Train hard, and be used to that training, and the hard days will not end up being an error – they will simply be another day.
Excessive and rapid increases in training loads are likely responsible for a large proportion of non-contact, soft-tissue injuries.