One of the bigger areas of debate among runners and coaches is the tradeoff between quantity of miles (or kilometers, of course) and quality of miles. With the growth of the “run less, run better” and Crossfit approaches to training, there is a temptation to believe that you as a runner can perform your best by landing on the quality side of this argument in your training and cutting down your mileage to the “minimum necessary.” There are plenty of success stories claiming to prove that these approaches work.
It is, however, important to distinguish between what “can work” and what “works best”. Yes, you can improve your race results with a low quantity / high quality approach, particularly if you are a newer runner (and don’t run with so much intensity that you get injured), or a runner who has been away for awhile but has a good aerobic and athletic base. But these gains are going to be limited in scope and over time, as your returns on investment will begin to fade.
One error many runners make is in the management of their tune-up races. These training elements, when used properly, can be a powerful tool for providing physiological and psychological development, feedback on your progress, experience in managing pacing and other race-specific elements, and in dialing in your “A” race goal. However, they can also quickly derail your training if overused or scheduled and executed improperly.
There are a couple of more common mistakes in the management of tune-up races that you should watch out for (and it’s an area I work closely with Team Predawn Runner members in planning and avoiding).
Alright, you may recall in a recent post that I extolled the freedom that comes from base maintenance between marathon training. All the experimental types of workouts you can do, the ability to forget about weekly mileage, all the while still pushing your fitness to come into the next season stronger than ever before.
I’ll admit that sometimes reality intrudes on the best-envisioned intentions. For a week, everything went swimmingly – I was able to hit the track to do some 16x100m strides. I ran a rhythm run proceeding from marathon pace (6:55) to 5K pace (6:00) over nine miles. I ran-by-feel on everything else, including the beginning of a 1:45 long run – until I realized I was going to be late for a commitment and suddenly had to watch the Garmin like a hawk. This whole “run by feel” thing doesn’t work for me as I always feel too much in a rush.
And then reality hit, in a multiple of four:
I had hinted previously at running the Austin Marathon. I brought this up at my company’s holiday party with a colleague who had just run the New York City Marathon (my company provides an ingredient in a anti-chafing product, and we have enjoyed free entries to the marathon the past few years in return for our support at the expo – unfortunately, I had been on a hiatus from the company those few years). My wife was very supportive of the idea. After waiting most of a week to be sure it wasn’t just the wine talking, I sent in my registration and booked my flights.
Now, I never really went into a lot of the reasons as to why I elected to pass on the Boston Marathon next year, but it largely came down to the cost. Between registration, flights, and hotels, plus meals and transportation, it can add up. Yes, I could use frequent traveler points to do a lot of that, but those have an “opportunity cost” as well.
Austin is different. See, my brother lives in Austin. We haven’t seen each other for a few years – we get along just fine, it’s just that our lives have taken different paths. But he is more than willing to host me when I visit and, while I may have to figure out how to protein and carbo-load while staying with a strict vegetarian (given that I’m not a particular fan of vegetables, beyond the basics), I look forward to spending some time with him. And I do have plenty of Delta miles from a previous job that sent me to Asia frequently.
So Austin on February 20 it is, which brings several new experiences (again, in a group of four):
There will be a lot of hurdles to overcome in preparing for this. Winter training will force me to take what I can get and employ a lot of flexibility in my yet-to-be-designed training schedule. Intervals, hills, and pace runs will be subject to conditions. I may find myself substituting higher mileage for speed work, and I look forward to the experiment. Additionally, with a family vacation planned over New Years (with the upside being a reprieve from the cold and snow) and my wife having an 11-day trip for work soon thereafter, stepback weeks will be set in advance and a focus on quality over quantity (and maybe even – wait for it – cross-training) will reign. Perhaps the mix of high-mileage weeks with high-quality weeks will yield a useful balance. Regardless, time to start cranking out some 20+ milers, and pushing 60+ on the weekly mileage. Seems 2011 will need to start off with a bang. Better go and finish reading Daniel’s Running Formula so I can get that plan designed.
The goal for Austin is 3:00, but this is flexible if the training can’t be what I’d like it to be due to weather conditions (but I’m not going to use the vacation and travel schedule of my wife as an excuse). Regardless, I’m going to push Joe Maruchella to come up with a “D” goal, and try to stay ahead of Erin Ruyle as she continues to push out strong marathon performance month-after-month. Worst case, I end up with a strong training run and more marathon experience to prepare for an assault on 3:00 at Cleveland.
It’s not often that I spontaneously buy a new type of running shoe. But that was the position I found myself in when I went with my wife to help her pick out some new shoes at the best shoe store in the area, Vertical Runner in Hudson, OH.
First, I think a bit of a lesson is in order – be careful in trusting the expertise of running shoe salespeople, especially when it’s not a running-focused store. My wife got her first shoes from someone who had been “trained by Brooks” on selecting shoes. While the young lady got one variable right (neutral running form), she missed a few other key ingredients. My wife spends most of her work day in high heels as a hospital administrator, and has never really run before. The Brooks Pure Cadence sounded good on paper, but the low drop and limited cushioning were a complete miss. Fortunately, the store took the shoes back after ~20 miles, so we decided to go to a better source for try #2 (note, I had intentionally removed myself from try #1, to let my wife find her own space in developing as a runner). Read the rest of Running Shoe Review: Pearl Izumi Project E:Motion Road N1 »
Many runners are in a relationship where they are the only one pursuing the sport. Obviously, partners in a relationship can have divergent interests, that either predate the relationship or developed over time. This is a good thing, as everyone needs their own “thing”, and their time to themselves. Plus, running is a hobby that consumes a lot of time, and it can be difficult to balance with other needs like childcare – though hopefully you are doing your fair share of more of the work and supporting your partner’s own hobbies.
However, given the great physical and mental health benefits of running, which you are hopefully humbly putting on display through your fitness and good demeanor, it’s probably far more likely that your significant other (for simplicity, let’s just assume it is a spouse, and more specifically a wife, since Mrs. Predawn Runner has just started running) will develop an interest in running than in, say, golf or poker (especially poker). Or perhaps she just wants to have something more in common, something to talk about, or another way to spend time together.
A few Team Predawn Runner members have asked for help with their form of late. I’ve also been asked to provide some thoughts on the running form of one of the kindergarten soccer players coach. My response? Maybe it’s a little early to worry about that…
Form is a tricky topic and in fact a bit of a “bunny hole”, particularly when coaching online. That’s partly because form is highly subjective and individual, and therefore “messing with it” can often be counterproductive. Since it is a common concern runners have, it’s worth sharing a few thoughts on a “form philosophy” that I’ve built over the years. Read the rest of Nine Helpful Tips on Your Running Form »