Thoughts About Running and Training

I know that I am very lucky to be running as much as I have been recently, but at the same time I am missing training or am I?

All I know is that I have been thinking way too much about my running and training over the past few months and wanted to get some of those thoughts out of my head and look at them a little more objectively.

The Good?

I have had a chance to work on my base, heal up a few of the niggles (though the hamstring is still being grumpy), look at my running goals, training options, and think about the direction that I need or want to go with running in the future.

The Bad?

There are so many directions that I have gone in the past with my training philosophy, plans or ideas, (Lydiard, Cerruty, McMillan, Daniels, Maffetone, Friel, Hanson, Dreyer, Asbshire, Hudson, Fitzgerald, and so many others), that attempting to decide which direction to go, at age 62, the more it started to increase my frustration and stress levels.

No matter how great or knowledgeable the experts and authors, whose words I read so avidly, they can never run a step for me. Running for me and I have a feeling at least some of the rest of us who are self-coached is not about the author, their process, plan, or philosophy, it is about improving our running.

Unfortunately, the authors had no way of predicting who I was, what my strengths, weakness, mind-set or environmental challenges are, they were giving their best generic information at the time they wrote it and made the best of their canned training ideas/plans in their books that could be given under the circumstances.

What was I thinking?

Yeah, I know first-world runner’s problems – right.

I could always as I wrote last week and “Just Run”.

Over the past eight years I have written about training and how I have attempted to embrace various authors’ training methodologies or philosophies. Sometimes I think that I was semi-successful while training in spite of the training plan or philosophy du jour that I was using at the time. Especially, since I never really successfully embraced any training philosophy for more than a couple of months.

Which when I look back this was the real reason that I have been so inconsistent over the years.

What do I consider to be important components of running and training now?

  • I am self-coached and too cheap to hire a good running coach to help me improve. I am sure that the right coach would help me tremendously, but at age 62, I don’t see me going in that direction. The cost/benefit value to the amount of improvement I could make just isn’t there.  
  • Enjoying and having fun with my running. No, it does not mean that every run is an easy run or that I don’t get to feel pain or discomfort at times while running. Sometimes the enjoyment and yes, the fun of running well is partaking in the challenge and meeting it head-on.
  • Reflecting on what the good, the bad, and what was I thinking after I finish a run. Writing about my running is an important part of my running and helps with learning more about what works for me in my running.
  • I run solo most of the time, but I do make the most of the time that I do get to run socially with others.
  • Tracking my training by mileage, not time.
  • A weekly running routine versus a set in stone training plan or do what you feel like that day kind of non-plan. I need structure, but at the same time flexibility to do what the body can do that day versus a canned workout on a generic schedule that I may or may not be able to do.
  • Running more by effort than pace, heart rate, or any other measurement, but having an idea what the pace is.
  • Alternating quality/comfortable runs (giving a couple of days at least between quality days) and as a concession to getting older only two purposely higher quality days most weeks.
  • Running form is unique to the individual, but there are some best practices and cues that I need to pay attention to more often than not.
  • Drills, Pre and Post Run work, Nutrition, sleep, and cross-training are part of training even though I may not do as well on them as I would like most of the time.

I know that it is important to stay current about the latest and greatest things that could improve my running. At the same time, I also tend to believe that we can be our own worst enemies when we get bogged down by too much information, over-analysis and attempting to add-in every new to us: idea, workout, form improvement method, running shoes, technology or latest training program that promises to help us run better.

We jump willy-nilly from one thing to the other without any coherent plan or idea on how we are actually going to incorporate all those great new things into our running.

Then we wonder why our running is inconsistent and gains are often cut short by injuries or the changing everything on the fly as we try the next newest thing that promises pain-free running, increased speed, doing less work, better running shoes, or being able to over-analyze our running. 

The reality is that 

I have learned a lot of stuff about running the hard way:

  • You have to actually run.
  • Run consistently.
  • Define what you consider successful running. If you don’t know where you are going, how in the hell are you going to get there?
  • Give what is working a chance to continue working for more than a few months. If you are not making progress, figure out why and only make small changes to see if things improve before making wholesale changes.
  • Running better is a long-term process that takes time (often in the term of years, not just months or weeks). At age 62 the long-term view of years to make progress does pose a few issues.
  • Aging does change what you can do as a runner.
  • You have to do the work.

Based on the above my whatever direction that I eventually embrace needs to be fairly simple, take into account that I do not do well with a super structured training plan, use of technology is more to tell me how far and how long it took to get there than analyzing every aspect of my running down to the most minute detail.

Plus as I get older, my running priorities are changing. I am more interested in running for running’s sake versus seeing how fast or far I can run. I need to find a process that works for me and stay with it as long as it is working. Which in turn should allow me to run more consistently, stay relatively injury-free and have me worry less about all the different workouts, the newest technology, accessories, or heaven forbid the latest and greatest running shoes.

That old Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle seems to become more important each year for me.

What are some of the training philosophies, methods, or processes that appeal to me and how can I incorporate them into making my running more successful?

That is another blog post, this one is long enough.

What are your thoughts on training? 

Am I delving deep into a rabbit hole that I should just ignore and “just run”?

Stay well and keep smiling.

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2 Comments

  1. I fight this battle all the time, probably now more than ever because there are no races to train for. Structure helps me stay motivated and do the work, but sometimes it feels like a burden, something I have to do, and that takes some of the joy out of it.

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    1. Yeah, I know what you mean that is the struggle I am facing, keeping things interesting and fun. Luckily the race training doesn’t effect me as much, since I only ran one very low-key race in the last 18 months. Although I had planned on getting back into it this spring/summer, looks like I get to continue my non-race training for a while longer and can relax a bit more than I used to. 🙂

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