Regardless of genes, the human body can respond and adapt to the challenge presented by training, and while not everyone is capable of breaking world records, with correct and structured training, significant improvements in performance are possible.

Getting the foundation in place for a successful training is vital, whatever the ability of the athlete. Following simple guidelines, and gaining a basic knowledge of the principles of training, is crucial from the outside.

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If you are considering joining a club so that you can train and compete, it is important to find one that suits your needs. With some basic research you should be able to find the answers to these simple questions – What age group does it cater for? Does it compete on the track or on the road and cross country? When does it train and what coaching does it offer? Many clubs will welcome visits from prospective members, allowing you to speak to members and see for yourself what facilities are on offer.


There are five basic principles that any training program must adhere to. These are:

Progression – A training program must be progressive and gradually increase the workload that you are exposed to. Simply doing the same session over and over again will not lead to improvements.

Overload – Training must place a physiological 'overload' onto the body that is high enough to stimulate changed, yet not so high that is causing fatigue or injury. Combining the first two principles of training, by progressively overloading the body, is one of the keys to a successful training program. This can be achieved by following the 'FITT' principle, changing some or all of the following factors:

  • Frequency of training
  • Intensity of training
  • Time (duration) of training
  • Type of training

Specific – Training must be specific to your event and, of course, must be based on strength. While there is scope for variation and change, the bulk of the training must be closely linked to your event.

Recovery – Including sufficient recovery time in a training program is essential, since it gives the body a chance to adapt to the stimulus created by training, and time to recover from injury and fatigue.

Reversibility – Unfortunately, the gains achieved from training will also be lost throughactivity. Therefore one of the key challenges is to include sufficient recovery time, without risking the loss of any training gains.