Coach Mike Mead

April 2010

Running for Running’s Sakes

There is really no secret to becoming good at running. It does help to have some basic ability and physical make-up, but again I’m approaching this from a competitive standpoint. If you enjoy running for simply the physical and emotional benefits, more power to you!

As a collegiate coach, I am finding it harder and harder to find pure, hard-core runners. If you want to get better as a competitive runner, you have to run. But I find more and more folks professing to be “runners” who tend to be more interested in looking for short-cuts or simple, easy ways to get faster without putting in the work.

I guess that is part of today’s culture. We’ve seen and heard about steroids in many of the professional sports. Get “juiced up” to become better without thinking about the long-term consequences.

Runners in the last 20 years have been exposed to such things as cross-training, aqua running, and various forms of alternate training. These are all well and good if you’ve been running for a while and need to enhance training, but what many inexperienced runner tend to overlook is running.

I’ve stated in previous writings, there are no short cuts in running. If you want to be a stronger runner, one must run. If you want to get faster, you run faster -- simple, yes, but difficult for those looking for the easy way.

If you are looking to become a better, stronger, faster runner there are some basics you need to follow in order to achieve your end results. To start, run every day. Granted, there will be that day or so that will make it challenging to run and from time to time you need to give your body a rest, but the bottom line is you need to be consistent in your running. Some folks think running two or three times a week and lifting weights the rest of the time will do.

Again, you must run every day, whether it’s sunny, cloudy, raining, snowing, foggy, winding, cold, hot, or humid. It’s all about consistent development and running through the daily challenges that makes one the better runner.

Consistent running includes volume -- that is steady mileage. Many runners today lack volume. Those racing 5K’s need a minimum of steady 40-mile weeks. Those running 10K’s need a minimum of 60-mile weeks. Marathoners need a steady dose of at least 90-mile weeks. Anything less is just pedestrian. Not just one or two weeks of 40, 60 or 90 miles, but months’ worth.

These weeks and months of running will require a variety of distances at varying speeds. Running the same pace is not going to help one get faster. Just like racing, your training needs to be run at various speeds. Sometimes one must run at an easy, steady pace. Other times at faster than race pace and sometimes at an all-out sprint. The greater the variety in training routine, the better one will likely have in racing results.

There are no shortcuts or substitutions for running. If that is what you are looking for you may need to find another activity. If you do not embrace running for running’s sake and think it’s a grind or chore, you are not truly a runner. A true runner uses positive adjectives like invigorating and refreshing to describe the act of running. A true runner does not back away from a challenge. A true runner runs in any conditions. A true runner never misses out on an opportunity to run. A true runner enjoys running.

So go out and enjoy!