In my training, I’ve come across the concepts, which I abide by based on goals, of sustained versus absolute strength. The difference is quite simply defined by one’s ability to remain strong over an extended period of time, the other refers to one’s ability to lift the heaviest load one can displace just one time. For instance, the Snatch Test falls into the category of Sustained Strength whereas your 1 rep max bench press or single rep heaviest deadlift would fall in the absolute strength category.
I submit there should be a third category, that of Sustained Fatigue. It is closely related to sustained strength, but IMHO refers to the mindset one has when training under exhaustion. For the record, I believe in “Easy Strength” and not always killing yourself Crossfit style everyday. I do also believe in testing your own limits periodically, going outside your comfort zone. It not only redefines who you are, but it sets the threshold of performance to a new peak that you can then measure your progress from. You get an adrenaline kick that can boost your strength past a plateau.
I am at the time of this blog entry less than 5 days away from running the 11-mile Tough Mudder obstacle course at Vail Lake Resort. I prepared myself by not really preparing for it, as a “test”. I have been following four 6-week programs of varying and increasing intensity, density, reps and loads. The programs weaved into one another, managed my fatigue and increased my resilience. Unlike others who would gradually increase their running distance as in “traditional marathon training”, I decided to focus on sprints, high volume snatches, jump squats (with cat-like landings) or swings, mixed in with elements of strength (3RM heavy lifts), essentially mimicking “snack-size” versions of the race. On occasion, I would go for a long run, in hills of various incline, one time even carrying a 70-lb sandbag.
Why so few runs? Simply because I don’t have time to ruin and fix my joints. Instead, I focused on the feeling of “this sucks my wind” and got comfortable with it. Active visualization (“this too shall pass”) was the next pattern I’d engrain.
We shall see how I do. If it pays off, there is no need for anyone to kill themselves trying to get ready for such an event. It’s all in the head if you are well conditioned daily, ready for everything, anything, anytime…