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Do you have a running strategy? Something like run fast and then run faster or go out hard and finish faster? Mine is run fast and don’t die at the end. Those are more racing strategies than running strategies. When I sit down and think about long-term races and plans – then I “strategize” by picking a training plan, setting a goal, finding a race.
Is that a good strategy? It is definitely a good starting point. But what about a real plan to achieve real success? It takes weeks of training to create a successful race and like any good dessert – there are many ingredients.
Runner’s World offers these 5 parts of strategy:
1. Minimal Training for Optimal Results – I like the sound of that! If you could run a 4-hour marathon by just running 5 miles a day – would you ever do a 20-miler? I’d hope not! While that’s not really possible, we need to make sure we aren’t over-training ourselves. Running more miles doesn’t necessarily make you a better runner capable of producing faster race times.
2. Be Consistent – This is the key to success in almost anything. It is a vital component of any training plan. While running 5 miles a day won’t make you a sub-4 hour marathoner it is better than running 5 miles a week or running a 25 mile week and taking a week off and running 3 miles the next week. Regular and consistent running lets your body adapt to the stresses and pressure of running which will greatly improve your outcomes. Even if it is a couple of days a week you should maintain some type of consistent schedule. On a side note it is easier to be motivated to run if you do it at the same time each day (consistently!).
3. Balance hard efforts with rest – Even as your body is adapting to a consistent running schedule, it needs time to rest and recover. Your body needs a little down time to repair all the muscle and bone tears that the stress of running causes. Think about this as letting the no-bake cookies set into hard cookies. I personally take one day off completely of exercise and cross-train one other day a week. This is helping keep me healthy and strong. A few weeks ago I had a “down” week and I felt a lot more rested and energized afterwards. This also helps prevent over-training and burnout.
4. Expect peaks and plateaus – My entire life ebbs and flows – I have exhilarating days and days where I’d rather just stay at home. You make a good batch of cookies and then next week using the same recipe they taste horrible. A consistent work load creates change in the body and you’ll see improvements – yet your body can only improve so much unless something else changes. If you feel like you’ve reached a plateau or stale point in your training, try something new. Find some new trails, mix in some speed work, find a running group, race a different distance. Each of these and many more ideas can help you reach new goals and overcome a stale stage in training. If you follow a training schedule it should include a time of peaking – allowing your body to be at top performance during the race. You may have mini-peaks throughout where you run a route a little faster than usual. If this happens you get excited, until next week when you run it again and its slower than before. This happens to me sometimes and then I’ll look back and realize that during the second week I had done more speed work or something and my body was tired and needed a little extra time!
5. Practice Patience – This may be the hardest for me. I want my times to start dropping immediately. Just like we want our fast food fast – we want performance improvements fast or we want to be at 35 miles a week during the first week back from an injury. To continue with the cooking analogies if you are supposed to bake cookies at 350 for 20 minutes – you can’t bake them at 450 for 10 minutes and get the same result. You can’t speed up the baking process. In the same situation you can’t pull the cookies out after 10 minutes of baking and expect them to taste right. You must be patient and follow directions to get the perfect cookie! In running you should follow the 10% rule – increase your overall mileage by 10% and any long run by 10%. You should also be careful not too add speed work too quickly. You need to have a good base/foundation before you start building up intensity.
For the perfect cookie you follow the recipe, so for the perfect race follow the strategy. Well that’s not always accurate either! Sometimes you can do everything right with the cookies and they still get messed up somehow – the same is true in running. You can follow every piece of advice, read all the blogs and article, and still have a bad race or get injured. But thinking strategically and being careful should ensure a good season.
[tags] Training, Running, Strategy, Cookies [/tags]