PUTTING FAITH IN NUMBERS
Activity trackers can be great, providing you with stacks of data that allows you to monitor and observe progressions in your fitness. But, blind faith in the numbers can derail your running. Technology provides us with real time feedback, like pace, distance, heart rate and cadence, but does this prevent us from listening to the very real feedback our bodies are providing? Running 180 steps per minute is counter-productive if it makes you feel like you are running like a horse on hot coals. Running a 5k on a nice flat course on a bright autumn morning is totally different to a hilly 5k run in heavy rain after a stressful week at work. Don’t hamper yourself with predefined targets!We recommend structuring your running by time and effort or feel. Running for 30 mins at a ‘steady’ pace can be replicated regardless of weather, terrain, or mood - allowing you to be much more consistent in your effort. Eluid agrees with us.
COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” You are unique, with your own individual circumstance. Running five times a week at breakneck speed might work for some guy you follow on Strava - but it might not work for you. If you looked at the training schedules of Olympic 1500m finalists you would be surprised at how varied they are. That’s because they are brilliant at finding the right balance of training that works for them. We don’t have their talent or have the luxury of training full time but we can borrow their more individualistic approach. Keep a running diary, making note of how the sessions make you feel. This will help you find a training routine that makes you feel great and brings you the most satisfaction.
GETTING STUCK IN A ONE PACED RUT
Understandably, new runners tend to focus on ‘building the distance’ in their training. This is great initially - it’s important to build strength and stamina. However, as you progress it's really important to include some variety in your training. In very simple terms, there are a number of bits in our bodies or ‘physiological areas’ we need to develop to improve our ability to run. Lung busting intervals improve our ability to take on and use large volumes of oxygen, sustained challenging pace runs improve our hearts capacity to pump the blood around the body, and short fast sprints improve communication between brain and muscles. Building the distance only gets us so far - variety is the spice of life.
SETTING ‘HARD AND FAST’ GOALS
We are told to make sure our goals are measurable - so it makes perfect sense to include firm dates, times and distances. However, if you want to have a healthy, fruitful and long-term relationship with running perhaps it’s better to cut ourselves a bit of slack.Trying to hit a specific time goal in a specific race on a specific day is a tough ask. What happens if the weather is unseasonably warm, or the wind starts gusting at 40 kmh? What happens if you pick up a cold the day of the race? Very specific time goals can bring added pressure on race day - many runners have felt the dark cloud of negativity that envelopes them as they start to fall short of their mid-race splits!Set goals that focus on the journey you need to take to reach the times or distances you want to achieve. If running three times a week consistently over eight weeks, and joining a pilates group will help you run a sub 50 min 10k, then make that your goal. If you don’t do it at the first attempt you will at the second!
GOING IN STRAIGHT FOR THE MARATHON
Running a marathon can be an incredible life affirming experience, but it's also really tough. If you want to tackle 26.2 you need to be prepared to devote four months of your life to a race that can easily end in disappointment. Run a 10k, race a 5k - you can run one every weekend if the mood takes you! People always want to buy a ticket to the big dance but there is so much fun to be had at events along the way.
RUNNING TOO FAST
Most new runners, regardless of intrinsic ability, run too fast too often. We’re time poor. We’re all looking for the latest ‘training hacks’, fastest ‘gains’ and most productive approaches. The problem with running is there is no quick fix. Like a fine wine, the longer you give it the more rewarding it becomes.The more you ‘practise’ the better you become, and keeping the majority of our runs steady allows us to run more consistently. As a rule of thumb, around 80% of your running should be done at a relaxed, comfortable pace - a pace where you could maintain conversation with a running partner if you had one. Push yourself from time to time, but allow yourself to recover properly before you push again. With this approach your body becomes stronger, and you perform better when you do push yourself. Stress the body, let it recover and it will adapt more effectively.
BEING AFRAID OF FAILURE
The vast majority of us will never toe the line at an Olympics - so have some fun and experiment. Run with reckless abandon, take a risk or two. What’s the worst that could happen?Enter a few races and test yourself. Who cares if it doesn’t go to plan! Try to learn something new about yourself - it might be eye opening.