Good runners do something unique that helps them succeed: they think long-term and reflect often on their training.
This outlook improves many aspects of your running:
- You can see what workouts and training strategies helped you improve (and what hurts your progress)
- With better planning for the future, you can be more strategic with your training and racing
- You learn what you like, don’t like, and need to run fast
As soon as I began thinking about my future training this way, I became more confident in what I needed to do to reach my goals.
It allows you to work backward from your goals to what you need to do today, this week, and this month to reach them.
Here’s a great example: as my junior year of college wrapped up, I knew that I needed to run about a minute faster over 8km to have a shot of making the Varsity cross country team that fall.
An entire minute over just 5 miles? That’s an enormous improvement in a 5-mile race – especially for me because I was already well trained.
So I worked backward:
- A 1-minute improvement demands a whole new level of fitness. I needed a breakthrough.
- A breakthrough in racing demands a breakthrough in training. And it starts with summer base training.
- I committed to running more mileage than I ever have: consistently 80+ miles per week.
- That wasn’t enough. I needed more but couldn’t handle higher mileage. So I committed to 2+ hours of cycling and pool running per week.
- I committed to “the little things” to make sure I didn’t get hurt.
That summer I ran more mileage than I ever have before a cross country season.
When my teammates found out what I was doing (we emailed our coach and the team every two weeks with our training), one of my friends remarked that I was doing the equivalent of 110 miles per week!
After months of high mileage, more cycling and pool running than I care to remember, barefoot strides and drills weekly, and strategic hill training to limit my injury risk, I was finally ready for cross country.
That season I ran 59 seconds faster than I ever had before for 8k, ran Varsity every meet, and won the Most Improved award.
Here’s an excerpt of my cross country training during that season.
I’ve got this hanging on my wall in my office. Part of me wants to be ashamed (if I trained better, a big chunk of my improvement wouldn’t come in my senior year!) but it’s almost all pride. This award represents hard work, thousands of miles, and plenty of suffering. Looking at this simple certificate gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I don’t get from much else, including my Boston Marathon medal. Next week on the SR blog I’ll be featuring a sample week of training that led to this level of improvement. Looking back, I can’t believe the combination of workouts and volume I was capable of… Getting old is tough ????
Without thinking strategically, planning ahead, and committing to the work I wouldn’t have come close to running that fast.
Today, I want to show you how you too can plan a strategic season (and review a completed season).
Following up with George: How Did His Half Marathon Go?
You might recall George from episode 6 of the Strength Running podcast.
We talked about a lot:
- What’s the ideal length long run during marathon training? And half marathon training?
- Should you keep running marathons if your ultimate goal is to run a faster marathon?
- If your long runs are already 15+, what types of LR’s should you focus on during a marathon season?
- How long should you run at tempo pace during training?
- What is the optimal marathon pacing strategy?
George wanted help planning for a PR attempt at the half marathon. Episode 6 was a “behind the scenes” coaching call where we strategized on how he could make it happen.
Now, he’s back on the podcast to see if my ideas actually worked!
For a long time, George’s episode was the most downloaded show because folks loved listening “over my shoulder” as we strategized.
And I think you’ll enjoy this show just as much.
Download the show on iTunes or you can listen on Stitcher.
If you enjoy the Strength Running podcast, please consider leaving an honest review on iTunes!
And don’t forget to download our free Season Planner worksheet to help you be more strategic with your training.