The following summaries on intensity in training are intended to provide an overview of the subjects and, if you are interested, lead you to read the full texts of these articles.
(1) "Physiology: What Goes on Inside a Masters Swimmer", Thomas Tiedt, Swimmer, March/April, 2010, page 28
Although Tiedt's article focuses on swimming (he is a neuroscientist and masters
swimmer)much of what he reports applies to any masters athlete doing serious training.
Tiedt describes the changes or adaptations that take place in a swimmer in intensive training, changes that increase physical capability and contribute to long-term health. He details the changes due to workouts "beyond your comfort zone." These workouts, creating muscular, circulatory, respiratory, and metabolic overloads lead to improved performance. They also create "rejuvenating bouts of microscopic tissue injury and repair." Here are some of the adaptations that Tiedt notes:
て｢ Regular "overload (swimming) practice increases lung capacity and increased oxygen delivery for energy production and muscle power.
て｢ Increased synthesis of proteins and enzymes necessary for energy production
て｢ Improved tolerance for lactic acid.
て｢ increased red blood cells resulting in improved circulation
て｢ Antiogenesis which creates new capillaries
て｢ Increased size and function of the heart
て｢ Reduction of age-related decline in the endothelium (the inner lining of blood vessels.
て｢ Production of a molecule called "brain-derived neurotrophic factor ("BDNF")which may generate new brain cells, enhance brain cell survival, and protect against age-related brain atrophy*.
て｢ Enhanced neuronal plasticity
て｢ Protection of peripheral nerves and their sheaths (myelin) from aging**.
(*) Research by Carl W. Cotman, et al, Exercise and the Brain published in "Molecular and Cellular Exercise Physiology", Human Kinetics, 2004
(**) "The Adaptive Processes that Allow an Athlete to Push Through the Challenge of Vigorous Exercise at Ever-Increasing Intensity", Ed Nessel, American Medical Athletics Association Journal, 2009
(2) "Check Yourself", Bob Kaehler, Rowing News, April 2010, page 34
This article discusses two important ways to gauge intensity levels while training: (a) heart-rate monitors, and (b) the combination of speed, wattage, and split averages. The discussion covers circumstances that may affect these measures and suggests that, properly used, the heart-rate monitor may be best for self-coached athletes.
(3)"When More is Less" Volker Nolte, Rowing News, April 2010, page 56
Nolte, a German rowing champion, begins his article on "over training" with the story of his own encounter with over training. After a rigorous rowing season, he began to experience a lack of focus, prolonged recovery periods, reduced tolerance for loading, apathy, and fear of competition. He points out that there is no single test to determine if someone is over trained. The cause may be extremely high volumes of intense training, along with extensive psychological stress. However, there are many cases of athletes who work extremely hard and are under tremendous stress and yet do not appear to be over trained. Obviously, there are significant individual differences in the ability to handle intensive workouts. This calls for each athlete and coach to become familiar with their current limits and to push carefully to extend those limits without rushing to attain some arbitrary level of work.
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