Adapt or Die


Since moving to Vancouver (Canada) several months back, one of the things I’m continually amazed by is the natural environment. It truly is one of the most beautiful and incredible places I’ve ever been. And one of the more amazing things you see are the trees. They grow to as high as 85m tall in the temperate rain forests here due to the ridiculous amount of rain and temperate climates. Among the more unusual things you notice is the growth of these trees in unusual places: on a vertical rock face, in a water fall, and even directly on top of other trees (see pic). Although you see these things everywhere it’s a constant reminder that biological organisms will attempt to adapt to whatever adversity (or training stress) is thrown at them in an attempt to survive (or thrive) until the stress becomes too great and they ultimately die (overtraining). As a coach, it is important we provide a training stress that produces the desired adaptation without stressing the athlete to the point of overtraining. It’s a simple concept but many get lost on the key points:

  1. Make sure the training reaches a stimulus threshold to produce positive adaptation (overload)
  2. Make sure the stress will produce the DESIRED adaptation (training specificity)
  3. Make sure the training does not overwhelm the athlete’s ability to adapt (overtraining & principle of rest / recovery