So here’s a new blog post on training. I was motivated to post this because my girlfriend told me I didn’t write very much here. I admit, I like making videos more often but the following is a written something for in-between my Youtube “Training Talk” series of videos:
Consistency in Training is Your Biggest Asset
Distance running is a fickle sport. The return on your investment in training is often delayed and your patience is often tested. Injuries, illness, and overtraining can hamper months of dedication and result in utter confusion and frustration. In my 15 years of being involved in the sport I’ve had a love-hate Relationship with Distance Running. However, I wanted to outline “the secret” to long-term improvement in the sport (and what has kept me this somewhat abusive relationship for so long): Consistency in Training!
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Duh, this obvious.” And I agree it is generally considered a no-brainer to many runners of all levels. However, I find that we often get so caught up in all the details of our training that we can sometimes overlook the most basic fundamentals. I believe that the whole concept of “Consistency in Training” can be broken down into 3 key points:
From getting the flu to becoming iron-deficient, any hindrance to your health is going to have a major impact on your running. Health is always a #1 priority and I’ve seen countless seasons and even careers ruined from anemia, anorexia, mental “burn-out,” sleep deprivation, and mono.
If you’re not healthy you’re not going to run your best…simple as that!
Now of course if you’re like most people and you’re strapped for time and overworked you probably can’t just sleep 9 hours a day. But one thing a lot of people can do is work nutritionally by improving their diet and by getting a simple blood test* (complete blood cell count or “CBC” as well as at least a ferritin test for iron and perhaps even a vitamin D test)*
*Please consult a sports medicine doctor with a background in nutrition. I am not a doctor. This advice is only my suggestion…which is my opinion…and it is not meant to cure, treat, or prevent any disease!
If you’re a vegetarian like me be sure you get enough B12…it’s hard to get enough B12…but don’t go chugging 5 hour energy shots because that’s not a good way to get the B12 …think nutritional yeast (and eggs if you’re not vegan)
The mental side of things… you can say it’s the most important side of things.. (but I will tell you from personal experience that if you have iron-deficiency anemia no amount of willpower and/or mental toughness is going to get you through the acute build-up of lactic acid that painfully slows you down after the first mile of a positive split 5k).
This is the self-discipline it takes to get out the door and put in very un-glorious miles on days when it’s cold, dark and rainy out. It is the intrinsic drive that compels you to seek self-improvement even when facing adversity from fatigue and other commitments in your life.
It’s grinding out miles on a hotel gym treadmill at 10pm at night after traveling for work all day….
And finally, it’s also about gutting through speed workouts, tempo runs, long runs and races when your legs become stiff , you have a side stitch, and the copper-like taste of lactic acid burns in your mouth!
Your whole attitude towards training and your commitment to progress will have a drastic effect on your performance and future in the sport. Patience is also a virtue.
3. Intelligent training
AKA “smart training.” This is easier said than done. It becomes quite challenging if you’re coaching yourself (due to personal bias and loss of outside perspective) and even if you have a coach or are following a book/online plan they probably don’t exactly know what’s best for you either (although some coaches are obviously much better than others). There are fundamental training concepts and proven physiological adaptations that have been tested and proven over decades (and through trial and error), but your best training program is still going to be a very individual thing:
Train too hard and/or too fast and you get hurt; If you get hurt you obviously can’t run; If you’re not running you’re not improving.
The solution: Back off right before you start to get hurt and find out why you get hurt (coaches and doctors can help with this as well as fellow runners who’ve been there). Also, train at a level that stresses you, but a stress just below your breaking point. That’s one reason to “train smart” and ties into this whole consistency theme….
In looking at the details of your training schedule it boils down to making sure you have the right mix of workouts and mileage at the right time so that your body adapts most favorably. Do that in the correct sequence at the correct intensities and you run faster in races! Very simple and very complicated….a science and an art…
Of course this aspect of Consistent Training” can be very complex and it is why Coaches who offer customized training programs (which I believe are ideal) charge so much!
I’m just scratching the surface here, but as mentioned in my “Training Talk video #2” below getting to the point where you can run progressively higher mileage as well as doing Lactate Threshold workouts on a more regular basis are a major part of this whole training-for-improvement equation:
Training Talk #2:
Lactate Threshold Training video:
So there you have it.. The Secret is “Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!” Your fitness as a runner can build for years and years and years and this is the key to long-term success and improvement. I think a big part of the reason I was able to quickly transition up to running 100km trail races from just running road marathons was that I averaged about 90 miles a week for 5 consecutive years. I think I was better off doing that than hitting 140 miles a week for a couple months at a time and then getting a stress fracture and “running” 0 miles week for a couple months at a time. Also I took a lot of 4-5 day breaks from running after racing marathons and I ran a lot of miles at a pace 2-minutes plus/mile slower than my marathon race pace in training. I tired my best to listen to my body and I got my blood drawn every 6 months. It’s still a constant challenge for me (and I think every coach and athlete no matter how experienced they are) to find the ideal balance for improvement in running as it ‘s always going to be a moving target!
So go out and find your own balance in training consistently…it may take awhile, but once you do it’s a great thing!
About the Author (Author Profile)2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, Mountain runner, Author of "Running For The Hansons," trail runner, videos for Vo2max Productioins, LLC.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Team Hoka USA: Jason Schlarb | Hoka OneOne Australia | March 5, 2013