Definitive One Page Guide to Distance Running Success
Scope: If you have only one page to guide your running training plan, this is it.
- Stay Motivated. This varies for each person from finishing a marathon, winning conference, lowering cholesterol, a social life, or eating ice cream. Whatever it is that motivates one to run, that is important! Positive motivations seem to be the most productive, but negative motivations, like the fear of not giving it everything you could, have a place. Without motivation all aspects of performance will suffer. Motivation is necessary for the many days when the training will be lonesome and arduous.
- Stay Healthy.
- First, this involves strengthening the little muscles like the muscles that stabilize the feet, ankles, shins and hips. Strength of the core and back are also important to maintain a strong posture during the later stages of a race. Key exercises: toe raises, planks, running and walking barefoot.
- Second, health involves flexibility and range of motion that is at least as great as anything encountered during running. Key exercises: leg swings and strides.
- Third, health also includes eating your vegetables and drinking enough water. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are all necessary for a distance runner. Without the right nutrients floating around the body, the body will break down and underperform. Key food: vegetables followed by whole grains with fiber.
- Train Hard.
- Aerobic endurance is the base of success in events longer than three minutes. This means the ability to process oxygen at a high rate of running speed. This occurs in all runs from a jog slightly faster than a walk to a sprint at maximum speed. The most benefit to be gained per minute of training occurs through runs at approximately the speed one can maintain for one hour. These runs often 20-40 minutes can be broken up into intervals with short rests, but that pace that one can maintain for about one hour, known as tempo, threshold, 4 mmol lactic acid, anaerobic to aerobic threshold, or half marathon pace, is the key pace.
- Specific endurance is necessary almost exclusively in the 6-12 weeks before the goal event. While it is not possible to train and gain maximum benefit from the same pace every run every week, in the weeks leading up to a goal race, the race pace must be practiced often perhaps 3-4 times per week. The best training is the most specific. To race a good 5k next week if no other training will be possible race a 5k this week. If goal pace is 5:15 per mile, practice 5:15 per mile. In the weeks and months before the goal event, training must be specific!
- Patience and persistence are important. Results may take years, even a decade or more, to develop to the level desired. Likely thousands of miles will be run. Thousands of hours of training go into every Olympic medal.