Coach Mike Mead

March 2009

Consistency & Moderation

Before I begin this month’s column, I’d like to thank all of you who sent me e-mails regarding my recent surgery for prostate cancer. I thank you for your encouraging support and am now back at work with my track & field athletes at Clayton State.

In this month’s column, I’d like to offer advice in the manner of how you train. In training collegiate runners for the last 14 years, I’ve coached athletes of various running abilities. Those who experienced significant improvement had one thing in common. They trained in a consistent manner that allowed them to be better, faster runners.

A common mistake I see with inexperienced runners is they do not run enough. They get easily distracted and gravitate to so-called methods or shortcuts to success. There is really no substitution to running than getting out every day and putting in the miles. Riding a bike isn’t going to do it, nor does any other exercise machine on the market. There are those so-called runners who try to do as little running as possible. The results are usually injuries and inconsistent results.

In my opinion, there is no real secret to becoming as good a runner as you can be. To be a high-level runner, it does take having some good genes. But to achieve your best as a runner, it takes consistency in your training and moderation regarding your lifestyle.

Many runners are what my junior college coach called “fair-weather runners.” As long as the weather was nice, this type of runner would be productive. But as soon as the weather turned unpleasant or present a challenge, this type of runner would have an excuse that kept them from running.

I try to convey to my young runners that consistent training means consistent results in their racing. Runners who train almost daily and over the course of a few years gradually increase their weekly mileage, as well as increase the intensity of their runs, will see improved times and consistent results.

If you want to be a good runner, you need to run daily, but you need to be sure you have a variety of different types of running each week. Don’t just get out and shuffle along every day at the same redundant pace. Throw in a little speed here, a hill run there, a long, slow run, and a short, fast run. If you want to be a great runner, it takes many two-a-day runs over the course of several years of training under the guidance of a coach who oversees your workload and monitors your progress.

As for moderation, this requires adequate rest, diet and lifestyle. If you choose to get insufficient sleep (less than seven hour a night), eat poorly (high fat, high sugar diet) drink alcohol excessively, and – God forbid – smoke, you are not going to be much of a runner. These poor lifestyle habits adversely effects your running more than you know.

I’ve known some runners who did pretty well not living a moderate lifestyle. Some drank like there was no beer in heaven. But their running achievements were short-lived and many no longer run. I’m one for running to be a life-long activity. Growing up as a runner, I was told that the typical distance runner’s abilities peaked at around age 28. These days, I believe the peak age is more like 35. There are runners in their 40’s and 50’s who still run extremely well for their age and most have succeeded through consistent training.

But all too often, many young runners give up running by the time they reach age 21. This is sad when they fall short of reaching their optimum best. Again, I attribute this short-coming to a moderate lifestyle in that many young runners do not make the time to keep running a part of their daily activity. It’s not surprising that obesity and poor health are serious issues that we face as a society today.

Well, now that spring is almost here, why not take advantage of the weather and begin with a consistent and moderate running lifestyle today!