By running the body impacts from an external load. When we achieve sports in general, we want this outer impact to make the body stronger than before we started. This process is called Supercompensation. So, how to make progress by running with Supercompensation means we manage the outer impact that comes with running, which loads the body in many different ways. Thus, various tissue types such as muscles, tendons, heart and lungs will all be loaded during marathon training. As starting point, all physical training causes a breakdown of the tissue that is being loaded. In this way, various tissue types such as muscles, tendons, heart and lungs will all be loaded during marathon training.
No Progress in Running is no Supercompensation
If you always run the same route at the same pace with the same finish time, you get no success when it comes to progress, because the body during the recovery returns to the same level, as before you started your run. This is because the route you always run once loaded your body, got it to adapt and be stronger.
Afterward, you have just maintained that basic level. If you want to get in better shape, you have to load your body more to make progress. But more doesn’t mean that you can run with higher intensity exactly as you want. The process has to be managed.
Progress in Running is with Supercompensation
Supercompensation gives training progress and stronger tissues. Simplified we could say that a slight breakdown of the tissue is a precondition for the body to overcompensate, which in practice means re-build itself to a stronger version than before the run.
If the periods between your running sessions are too long before the body is loaded again, decreases the supercompensation progress and we are back to basic level again.
Waiting even longer, decreases our performance and tissue strength weakens. If we on the other hand load the body too quickly again, before it has re-build itself at least back to where we began our run, there will be a breakdown of the body tissues and a decrease in performance rather than a build-up and shape progress.
The Supercompensation Phase
When the run is over, your body will begin rebuilding of the decomposed tissues. The rebuilding phase (recovery phase), has as the first objective, to regain the strength in the loaded tissue and to create or redress the balance particularly in muscle energy depots and in the body’s fluid- and hormone quantity.
When the balance is re-established and the loaded tissue has regained its strength, the recovery continues into a new phase called supercompensation.
In the supercompensation phase, the body continues the build-up, which began during the recovery phase, but the body increases its strength comparing to the starting point before the run. You begin to get in better shape.
So, with well-planned training with an appropriate combination of load (training) and recovery, you can manage your progress by increasing the training volume/intensity gradually from the “plateau” where you are now, to the next higher “plateau” and so on.
Supercompensation is a Build-up System
The diagram shows the supercompensation principle:
Let’s take a resume here with the diagram above in other words:
The body gets stronger with the right training
When you run, you expose the body to a load it has to respond to. The processes are a bit complex, but in short, the training breaks down your body i.e. you are destroying the muscle fibers and emptying particular your sugar depots.
During the breaks between your training sessions, the body responds and builds itself stronger, so it has a better starting point than before you started the training to cope with the next physical challenges you are exposing it to.
However, the training only works to a certain limit, because if you push the body without giving it a break, your cells will no longer rebuild themselves between the training sessions. They break down and it either gets harder to recover or you get an injury. So, the Supercompensation curve going downwards.
All types of training are about keeping the focus on the target, having the right mindset, and paying attention to the body’s signals.
So instead of training with the head under the arm by aiming on the quick results, you should try to hit the load that causes your body to return to the best state for rebuilding itself according to the supercompensation principle, as in the diagram above.
The load depends, among other things, on:
- The fitness rate that you can improve in two ways either by increasing your maximum oxygen uptake or by minimizing your bodyweight – losing weight.
- Your running economy
- Your endurance – how close you can run with your maximum oxygen uptake during the time your chosen race lasts.
So, one important point here is:
Trained Charging – the breaks are the basis on which we can build strength and progress. if you want to get stronger, the rules are few but simple. Teach yourself to create strong waves of charging to the same extent as you create waves of training.
The course of a thorough recovery phase (Charging) and subsequent supercompensation takes time. How long it takes before the body has completed its recovery, and before the body is in the supercompensation phase depends on several things.
Training intensity (how hard you train) and training volume (how much you train) are very important for the length of these phases. Repeated runs regularly will result in changes in the body. Changes that overall are called improved fitness.
To build-up, a good shape is a kind of system with “rest plateaus” and stair steps. For each step you take upward, it is necessary with a plateau where you can rest before you take the next step upward.
The relationship between training and rest, between the “rest plateau” and “stair step” is different for each of us because we do not have the same running experience and starting point. Therefore, it is not possible to be general in how often and how hard you have to train but it’s about 1 – 3 days recovery.
You have to try it yourself but of course, some guidelines are matching your running level. Because the tissue breaks down during the training and slowly builds up again to a higher level, there will be no progress without the balanced rest periods.
If you do not provide the body with sufficient restitution, the training will have the opposite effect. The body weakens and you risk getting an injury. The tissue rebuilds and reinforces with different speeds over time, and this is very important particularly if you are beginner:
Muscles: After 2 to 3 weeks there can be measured an increased strength of muscle tissue.
Bones: After about 3 months, the bones have evolved to the same level as the muscles.
Tendons: After about 6 – 9 months, the tendons have evolved to the same level as the muscles.
As you can see, the training can have consequences. While muscles easily can withstand and adapt to the training, bones and tendons need a longer time. This is the reason why many running injuries are tendon injuries.
Supercompensation – Manage the Progress
A progression of 5 percent weekly is optimal. But we must take into consideration that as a beginner in running with experience from other sports, the progress will be biggest in the first period and can be done with higher progress as the person often already have developed sufficient strength in muscles, bones and tendons from the other sport. I did that as I came from soccer to long-distance running.
Earlier a 10 percent progression was recommended, but experiences among other things with Periodization where the goal is to avoid stagnation and ensure a shape top at the right time showed that the number of injuries was too high with 10 percent.
So, experience tells us that it’s necessary to increase training more slowly. It is recommended that every two or three weeks a restitution week has to be added where the training is reduced by approx. 50 percent.
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