I had two conversations about training with people over the last few days. One was with a friend training for her first 10km, the other with someone tapering for Comrades.
The common thread: “Am I doing enough/the right thing?”
They were both comparing themselves to others, we all do.
So let me break it down:
I am currently training for the Transrockies Trail Run. In the next few weeks I hope to run my first 100 km week in many years.
Thats is the glory bit. “worth” posting on the socials.
Now for the reality:
Last weekend I overdid it by racing the VWS hard (well too hard for where I was at). Add on top of that a harder than expected run on Saturday and hill repeats on Friday morning… (what the hell was I thinking?)
So on Tuesday the hubcaps finally came off and I was reduced to an utter crawl. See those stats here:
It was a wake up call and got me back to reality. Luckily I had the insight of my running partner to point out the obvious. Who knows how long I would have stumbled along in the dark without him pointing the elephant in the room?
What I should have done is schedule an easier run in between the harder sessions. Like I had been doing for weeks.
So here is a sample of a easy run. Max HR 135. Average HR 121. I challenge you to go slow and reap the rewards!
“And now for the something completely different”
Nobody posts about those type of outings. We don’t see top runners spout on Instagram about their slow jogs or recovery runs or even rest days. It just is not considered sexy to talk about the outings without #blessed sunsets or #HTFU tough as nails or #isurvivedthat now you should give it a go…
“The truth is out there”
The reality is that all top runners have built themselves up over years. Years of laying a foundation of consistent work. What this really means is building a base of slow (non sexy) miles. Think of this as the concrete foundation under the ground for your running skyscraper. This only comes “slowly by slowly“. This might take months or years. We are all different and that should be celebrated and not resisted.
If you don’t have a good foundation then your house will fall over. Joe Friel is one of the best coaches in triathlon in the world. Read his thoughts on base training ala Mark Allen here.
What is easy (or slow)?
A bit of research shows that the Kenyans run their easy days about 40% slower than race pace. If they are racing a marathon in under 3min/km then they will do easy runs at 5min/km.
So what does this mean for us mere mortals who are already slow?
If I am aiming to run a 3h marathon (4:16 min/km) then my slow runs should be close to 6 in pace.
Do the maths for yourself!
Nowadays the best way to work out what your training should be is a Heart Rate monitor. You don’t need anything fancy at all. Just something that tells you current HR. The most basic model.
And if your slow means that you have to walk, then you walk!
Nothing really changes.
So if you are still not convinced then listen to Dr Phil Maffetone and Mark Allen.
So what is my point here? Ultimately you will know what is right for you. Mark Allen (and the top Kenyans) have worked that out and that is why they were/are so successful. Underneath all the ego you know too!
You just need to listen.
So here is the challenge: Let’s support each other to be in our truth. to run our pace, to go on our path and be OK with that.
I commend Meg on her article here. We need more people like you leading the way.
The beauty of running is that there will always be somebody faster than you, but there will also be somebody slower!