Preparing For Random or Randomly Preparing?

“Being prepared for any random task is not the same thing as preparing randomly for any task” – Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics.

Being prepared for the unknown is a popular thing in training these days.  I’m not here to say there is anything wrong with that, just that there are good and bad ways to do it. Having a specific goal in mind often makes preparation a little easier, at least in terms of having a plan, a deadline, etc.  Want to run your first 10K?  Just go to google and you can find a day by day plan laid out for you.  Lose X lbs in X days, someone will at least claim their plan is the best.  What happens when your goal is simply to be prepared for any random task?  How does one prepare for just anything?

Preparing randomly for any task leads one to believe that no actual plan of any kind is in place.  Now, if you’re preparing for anything then simply doing anything could theoretically bring you closer to the goal.  There are two problems with this:  The first is that you’ll never be good at anything and by that I mean, if you’re constantly doing something random, you aren’t practicing and developing your skills in any way.  The second problem is, if you are just doing random “stuff” then how do you know you’re actually doing something productive?  What if it’s actually counterproductive?  Well, hard to tell because you’re only preparing for the unknown.  Tough to tell if you’re wasting your time.

Some might say being prepared for any random task is, well, no easy task.  But to that I say, nay.  What does it mean to be prepared for any random task?  Well, I’m telling you that it always pays to be strong.  How strong?  Well, it depends on the task but it’s difficult to think of a situation where raw strength is going to be a detriment.  In my 10 years as a coach I have found that the key in this preparation is to practice moving well, focus on the fundamentals and get stronger.  This is a somewhat broad formula as there are plenty of ways to get stronger, some being intelligent and others not so much.  However, if the focus is on quality in both moving well and strength training, the foundation will be laid and there is plenty of room for variety within that base of movement and strength.  This to me means a balanced program of pushing and pulling both upper and lower body mixed with plenty of mobility and some power/speed work, as well as conditioning.  Check out the pyramid below.


That is your plan to prepare for the random.  Some people seem to naturally have great movement already, others need to work on it regularly.  Next, focus on strength.  Now we could debate at length the methods for this but now not the time.  Often times it depends. There can be a lot of ins, a lot of out, a lot of what-have-yous.   After that comes speed and then finally endurance.  So, again this is in order of priority.  As stated previously, you might be someone that moves quite well already, now go get stronger.  Most people aren’t currently strong enough but can also add in a little speed work.  Endurance is of least priority.  Again, this preparation is for the random.  It’s unlikely you’ll die if you change the order of the pyramid.  Many have done the opposite and done ok, but it’s likely success or results will suffer and potential for injury increases.

At Ambition Athletics I have seen this system proven to work time and again as members consistently come to me explaining, “Wow, this weekend I did X, Y and Z.  I had no idea I could do that!”  This could range from carrying heavy things at home to hiking, biking, skiing or participating in some other random sport.  Most often their goal is to feel better and look good naked (remember that?) while living a somewhat random but active and physical lifestyle.  Following the priority of the pyramid has helped them stay healthy, strong and prepared for anything.

– Mike Baltren