Written by Coach Chris White
If you read about financial investing, many commentators will touch on the concept of 'compound interest' and how important it is to helping your savings or investments grow more quickly. It’s the cumulative effect of regular ‘investments’ over a long period of time where you start to earn interest on the interest on the interest and so on. That's the positive side, but as always there are two sides to the story. This concept also works on debt and can be a problem for those who don’t work to pay it off.
Anyway, what the hell does this have to do with training and triathlon? As triathletes, this idea of compound interest or cumulative effect is a great way of looking at our training and recovery. By starting with small ‘investments’ in our training over a long period of time, our fitness and ability grows substantially. The 30 minute run, the easy bike ride, the quick swim all add up and accumulate. This cumulative effect will win every time, over the approach of doing a larger ‘one off investment' of a 100km ride or 6km swim, irregularly.
I remember chatting to Dr Shona Halsom who is a sleep and recovery expert at the AIS a couple of months ago. She was basically saying that one bad nights sleep was not enough to screw you up, but that the cumulative effect of bad sleep is linked to all sorts of things such as physical injuries, compromised immune systems, chronic health conditions and mental stress. She used stress fractures as a relevant athletic example. It’s excessive load and not enough adequate recovery or nutrient deficiencies over a longer period of time, that cause them, not one run in particular. The same principle is often true of obesity and a whole array of chronic health conditions.
The good thing about this concept is that your short, easy sessions or the session where you manage to squeeze in something instead of nothing, do add up, they add momentum, they add interest and they compound over time.
Thinking in these terms about our training and our recovery also encourages us to think of the bigger picture, so have a think about the compounding effects of the actions you take and where necessary make sure that those small, regular investments are being made in the right places to help you improve and remain injury free.