Fast Twitch or Slow Twitch: Why Does it Matter?

Running Shoes

I admit it could have been difficult to convince me of the benefits of a custom running training program if I hadn’t experienced them for myself. I’m not an elite runner, so what difference can a custom program really make?

Well it turns out to be a lot.

Below we look at the reasons why a custom training program can bring huge improvements in race performance for amateur runners.

The key is that we are all different.

Do you have a friend who loves to run short fast races whilst the very thought makes you quiver with fear….but put you on the start line of an ultra trail and you couldn’t be happier? I’m taking it to extremes, but most of us have a preference and ability for either speed or endurance and this has an impact on how we should train to maximise performance.

The same applies to how we adapt to different types of training (and therefore how much time/focus is required on each element) and often overlooked, but extremely important, is how much recovery time we each require following different types of training.

In his book “You (Only Faster)” American coach Greg McMcmillan explains, “Training for distance running is not a one-size-fits-all process…The best training ultimately depends on several very important traits that are very specific to you: who you are as a runner – your experience level, injury risk, race history and training background; how you respond to, recover from and adapt to different types of training, and even how much time you have available for training and (just as important) recovery.”

He then goes on to classify runners into 3 types: Speedsters, Endurance Monsters and Combo Runners. If you have the time, his book will guide you through the steps necessary to adapt a generic program to better suit your personal characteristics.

Sports scientist and coach Steve Magness, in his book “The Science of Running”, goes into more detail about how and why muscle fibre type can be used to individualise a training program. He breaks down the characteristics of a fast twitch runner (McMillan’s Speedster) and slow twitch runner (McMillan’s Endurance Monster) and how to adapt and modify individual training sessions (with the same overall objective) to best fit different runners’ characteristics. He explains, “An individual will react differently to a stimulus based on his physiological make up and his training history, among other factors.”

Of course, if you run just for the fun of it and really don’t care about the numbers on the clock then there is no need to follow a custom plan, just go out and enjoy the pleasure of running. However, if a little part of you would love to find out what you could achieve with a program adapted to fit your characteristics, your lifestyle, and your goals, then take a look a our custom coaching services or contact us to arrange a call, we’d love to help you achieve your best results yet.

Still not sure? Read our client testimonials here.


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