Step into a gym lately and its tough not to see that the level of intensity and competition has increased among the average recreational athlete. Running, cycling and triathlon have skyrocketed in popularity and the everyman is achieving excellent results thanks to evolution of more and more sophisticated training clubs found in local communities, fitness facilities and online training resources.
Many members of gym facilities are joining groups such as the Lifetime Fitness Run Club which specalize in training the average athlete. Mike Buenting, a USA Level One Track and Field Coach, is the endurance coordinator at Lifetime Chanhassen in Minnesota and focuses on cycing in addition to running.
Buenting’s run club meets three times a week working track, hills and distance runs over a 16 week marathon training program. This past season Buenting lead twelve people to the Boston Marathon and each achieved a personal best time. Buenting also ran logging in an impressive 2:41 in his own ninth marathon.
Buenting is a firm believer that it’s about the coach and how they deliver their message to each athlete. “The average athlete has a million things they need to do each day – so we need to deliver motivation, the belief they can do it, create a sense of accountability for their training and allow them to be motivated by other’s successes.” he says. In addition he believes the group mentality creates a sense of community and athletes are able to meet like-minded people who share in their same goals.
Members of Lifetime can join the marathon/endurance programs online and enter in all workouts and race times on the club’s online platform. Athletes and coaches can monitor these events and results and adjust training accordingly.
Other popular training sites include Movescount (where athletes can upload training information and routes via GPS to for all to view) and training logs like TrainingPeaks which also offers nutritional advice. Other sites like USA Triathlon allow competitors to compare themselves to other athletes internationally and the athletic social media network Athlinks allows users to look up a fellow racer’s complete results.
In addition, blogging allows an additional means for coaches like Buenting to provide information and inspiration. Buenting is big on visualization and natural running. “I dont like ipod running, I think its important to listen to the body without distraction, hear the breath and be in tune with how you feel that day.” he explains.
With all the technology out there it its important to remember to enjoy the feeling of being outside and enjoying the moment. “People can take athletics for granted and maybe over-think things.” says Buenting. “They need to be taken back to a child-like times and just go run like Forrest Gump every now and again.”
One thing is for sure, training in groups and online resources are helping raise the bar and athletes are achieving incredible results proving its never too late to get outside and achieve your goal.