Coach Mike Mead


Are You Training for Success?

“How is your training going?”

Anyone who seriously runs gets that question posed to them on a regular basis, depending on his or her network of running friends and acquaintances.  Even people who know little about running may ask someone they know who runs regularly about their training to make small talk.

While we may be a month into a new calendar year, it does not hurt to evaluate the effectiveness of one’s methods to maximize one’s madness to running.  One needs to begin by asking oneself the question, “Why do I run?”  What is your motivation to run?  Is it for health benefits like trying to lose weight?  Do you run for the challenge it gives many people to achieve an accomplishment that first appeared impossible?

Why do you run? I’ve asked that many times on runs during my 40-plus years, particularly after surpassing those prime years of peak physical condition.  I am a shadow of a runner I was 20 years ago and even in just the last 3-4 years.  Yet, I still get out and plug away!

However, my training has been rather routine and non-productive these days.  I no longer have ambitions of becoming a competitive grand master runner.  I do not have enough time each day to train AND recover to be the best I might be if I desired to race again.

If you have the desire to be a competitive runner, are you training in the manner necessary to get faster?  Over the years I’ve met many runners who had a limited training routine.  Most had a simple running plan and it usually involved running one speed.  When it came to speed training, their common workout was 8 x 400m repeats and occasional strides on grass.

That is fine for maybe racing a mile, but not a 10K or marathon.  There are more productive training plans these days – combined with technology like heart rate monitors and GPS – which runners can keep their training fresh while providing the potential of more PR’s.

The art of running does require having a “routine” that infers boredom.  If you are a runner with no routine, to be quite frank, you are not really a runner.  Runners enjoy the moment, despite whether it is an easy run or a butt-busting workout.  Having a routine is part of a runner’s DNA.

The key to training success is a well-developed routine and periodically evaluate whether you are achieving goals you set.  If not, you need to evaluate your training methods.

I believe a runner needs to have a couple of favorite workouts – like comfort food – that they do at regular times during your training schedule.  That 8 x 400m workout previously mentioned might be such a workout to check your speed development.  Another workout could be a particular favorite running route you may have that you run every few weeks to see how your endurance strength is coming allow.

Intertwining standard, “comfort” workouts with challenging workouts in your training schedule will result in positive gains.  Some of the most “challenging” workouts are not necessarily physically harder.  Actually, running easy on recovery days or running a particular heart-rate workout at a level that may seem like it is too easy, can be harder for a competitive-minded runner.  Sometimes you have to train slow to get fast.  Just do not run slow all the time!

Do not discount the benefits on “easy” days just like the results of a really hard workout.  Limited speed training results in, well, slow racing while hammering every run is going to catch up to you, usually with an injury or illness.

So, how is your training going?  Take the time now to evaluate and develop a smart training schedule now for success later this year.  Good luck!