Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day-to-day goals

We are largely creatures of instant gratification, which is a horrible start to training for a distance race.  Those who lay out proper training plans can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but may lose sight of the tunnel that immediately surrounds them.  In other words, you may know that you want to run a certain race in a certain time, but are you doing all that you can to get the most out of each workout?

As a proponent of using early season training runs at aero pace, many of the athletes that I train struggle with the desire to go faster, often to their own detriment.  I often hear, "But Curt, I can run faster than this!" Which is exactly the point.  For those that don't want to understand the science behind the running, I often leave them with the analogy of the body being a car and not being able to drive a car at full throttle all of the time.  For those who do want to understand the science, I talk about the importance of being mindful of the goals of each run.

When I lay out a training plan for somebody, we will eventually include tempo runs, track workouts, weights, fartleks, and race pace runs.  However, the base of my training plans comes in the form of the aero run.  These are the same as the "Long, Steady, Distance" runs of other coaches, which I'll readily admit can be tedious and boring.  However, these are the most important runs to developing endurance because they teach the body to use fatty acids for fuel, and not glycogen, thus preventing a runner from hitting the wall (as long as they run the race correctly). These runs can be measured in either time (run at aero pace for 2 hours) or by distance (we have a 15 mile aero run).

From a psychological perspective, I prepare my runners for these aero runs with a simple exercise, which helps to make sure that the focus stays on working the right energy system and preventing someone from losing focus and running quickly to the finish in order to be done.  Depending on the size of the group, I will have runners pick a mantra word or three to be their motivator for the run.  At each mile marker, the runners are encouraged to pick one of their mantra words and reflect on it, either for a couple of minutes or throughout the mile.  The idea is to use something tangible to help keep the mind on an intangible experience.  The same concept works with all types of runs.

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