Effort… Should we train with it?
Though Commonly known as (Rate of Perceived Exertion) I like the word Effort
A lot of people could benefit by getting the data out of the way. Imagine knowing your body so well that you didn’t need to wear a watch and heart rate monitor to tell what your level of physical output is. This is not to say technology doesn’t have it’s place in endurance training but I believe before one gets to deep in the numbers of it all they should first understand how ‘their’ perception of ‘their’ physical output can affect ‘their’ performance.
Training to a number has it’s place… Rather it be heart rate, power or pace these are all helpful tools in the ongoing battle to improve ones overall fitness. But… Knowing your limits is what on race day proves to be the most important stat. This statistic is one that can’t be measured by a device but only by ‘your’ perception of ‘you’. This is something no other person can tell you. Perception of effort is very subjective so one must practice. How do you practice your perception of effort? We denote a feeling during a workout at a specific point and compare that to the commonly used scale of (1-10). What types of feelings? Simply put perceived effort is how hard you feel your body is working. It is based on the sensations experienced during physical activity, including increased heart rate, respiration or breathing, increased sweating, and muscle fatigue.
When I first started using perceived effort I found what I thought was my “all out” was actually not even close. Once I found it I found that next level. not only in Racing but in training. ‘All Out’ is ones maximum effort…. Now to be clear I rarely to near never train to ‘all out’ but knowing that limit is the best place to start when using the perceived effort training methods. We all know on a scale from (1-10) a (1) is lying in bed as snug as a bug but very few of us know where (10) is. I would argue that few if any know where (10) is. With that said I believe (10) is unobtainable for most. (10) in my estimation is “lights out” and being our bodies are programmed to protect us we would pass out before reaching a (10) or ‘all out’ state. A (9) on the other hand…. Though very close to that (10) is a reachable number.
Making sure we are testing our limits is key to advancing our fitness… Train to an effort to low and we plateau or lose fitness, train to efforts that are to high and we could end up injured or hitting the proverbial wall.
In conjunction with technology training with effort will help you reach those gains you’ve been searching for. So in closing I use it all in my fight for fitness and as I find my heart rate monitor a vital tool in my success I pay very close attention to my perceived efforts for each workout. I test my efforts on occasion as to feel my gains and you should too… So practice feeling your effort during your workouts and you will have yet another tool to turn to on your fitness journey.