Exercise and Training – A Difference?

Welcome to the blog this month everyone. So there is a topic I wanted to address – one that I often get asked and is worth looking at. In this blog, which is also a vlog episode over on my you tube channel, I am going to try and explore the difference between exercise and training. You can access the vlog episode here, and this goes through many of the points mentioned below.

Why? Well I wanted to address a common question/scenario that many newbies face. Although this blog (and now the vlog) are there to document my journey in this sport, I also create the content to help other age group athletes.

So, back to that question – is there a difference between exercise and training? If there is a difference, then what the hell is it? I’d like to think I have enough knowledge and experience to share with you my thoughts and opinions around this topic…so let’s get to it!

The Athlete

I think the first place to start is with you – the athlete. So I want you to analyse and ask yourself – What type of athlete are you and where are you in your athletic journey? What do we mean by this? Well, this can be someone either new to the sport and may have just signed up to a race, or it could be a someone who regularly races and does this kind of thing. Maybe you’re in your 3/4/5 year of doing it. So think firstly about where you are in your journey and what experience you have.

Goals / Challenges / Categories

This usually works in relation to the experience of athlete. First we have the newbie and in terms of a goal, this could be just completing an event. This could be a challenge in itself. Then we have the next level. An athlete that has possibly completed the event or distance before and know they can do it. Usually their goals change…like wanting to go quicker and possibly break a PB. 

We then go into the more advanced/knowledgeable athlete. These are those that understand performance and training a little more and use this to achieve particular goals. I would class myself in this category. We can go up again here into the Pro/Elite field which gets even more scientific and takes into consideration natural talent. Although for this post, we are not really going to consider them.

Again, back to those questions…Where in your athletic journey are you, and what are your goals?

Why? Well for example, If you fall in the middle here and are fairly seasoned but wonder why when you target a race you don’t break a PB or you just get close..the likely hood is you are more often exercising and not training. Now I’m not saying that we will PB in every race we do, that’s just inconceivable. But mostly these athletes will reach a performance ceiling where results plateau or don’t improve. And there is a good reason for that…basically the exercise (or supposed training) has reached it’s limit. You see… everyone will improve to a point, but it is what we do after that to push ourselves further.

My wife will often ask me if I’m exercising in the morning or evening. My reply – yes I have a ‘training session’ to complete. You see in my mind there is a huge difference between training and exercise and therefore it is often worth noting what the difference is. At least then – particularly when we are training for something, we actually know why we are doing a particular exercise or workout for a specific goal. 

Exercising for pleasure and for health benefits is great. I can’t knock anyone that wants to do that. The benefits speak for themselves. I can’t knock the athlete who just enjoys running for example and entering races. They may not care about times and goals, but for them the enjoyment is the most important aspect and there is noting wrong with that.

For me, general exercise is something I do in my off season. I couldn’t not do something active. But, and this is important – training for something in particular takes a little more than just exercising and building fitness. True – most newbies will benefit hugely from doing that and will mostly be what they need. But go a little further and plan and think a little more scientifically – and my friends you are going into the world of structured training. Unlike exercise workouts, training sessions are meaningful and have purpose. The key word….structure. 

You can prepare for an event no doubt by swimming, biking and running a lot. But add some real structure and planned reasoning into the particular workouts to do and when to do them – then my friends you have that more structured and scientific approach. What does it mean – well you will no doubt perform even better then just completing the event. 

It’s so difficult for newcomers or those who have been competing for a few years without any improvement to understand why, when actually it just comes down to doing the right things at the right time and stressing elements of your body and engine. 

You see there are all sorts of training plans out there…Triathlon sprint to ironman, 5k to marathon. You look for it, you will find something. Are they any good? Well I suppose they serve a purpose, but they would not be what I use as they are too generic! Meaning they take no account of the athlete, their abilities, their experience and current levels of fitness. There is no baselining. 

You see we now start getting into the realms of how to structure training so it isn’t just exercise. And that my friends is a whole other topic. Trust me…look it up…periodisation, base, build peak blocks…all elements of a good plan. I’ve discussed elements of these here on the blog through older posts. It’s probably why a lot of people resort to getting a coach and taking away all that planning and thinking. For me, this is something I really enjoy doing and have learnt so much about myself. 

So guys, there you have it, my thoughts into the difference between exercising and training. It’d be great to hear your thoughts so please do drop me a comment, thought or opinion in the comments box. Get over to view the youtube channel and get subscribed! Speak soon!

 

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