I’ve been running “seriously” for 3 years now and in the last 6 months I’ve trained with increasing simplicity and increasing effectiveness. I guess I did a lot of my early running with the Aussie Rules boundary umpires back in Melbourne, and the world of running was very different then. You just turned up and went out with a group of grizzly old veterans. There was some guy who knew the most about running who was the coach and he told us what to run on a given day. We were doing lactate runs, V02Max sessions, tempo runs and intervals but we didn’t know what they were called. We knew what was required of us, we had to turn up, and run our friggin hearts out.
Nowadays we live in a world of Stella Mcartney designed running gear, Crossfit, Aqua-Zumba, heart rate monitors, Bikram Yoga, GPS watches and running computers that plug into smartphones. Yeah, when I’m not working on a computer doing complicated calculations all day, there is nothing I like doing better than loading my Garmin stats onto my computer and going:
“Ooh, my heart rate dipped to 126, if I extrapolate that from my Max HR to 170 that I calculated the other day, I can determine that… I should have spent yesterday doing some “eyeballs-out” proper training instead of pissing around with my stupid gadgets.
People, it is time to go old school. Stop faffing. Stop calculating. Stop looking for quick fixes that don’t involve leaving blood and sweat on the track. Go old skool. With a ‘k’. Rebel. Ignore the spell checker. Go crazy. Intervals, tempos, long runs. Work on the mat, work on the track, work on the road. Hang the excuses next to the Vibrams and GET THE *** OUT THERE.
1) Throw away your heart belt
“Oooh, I’m dropping to 75% of something or other, I have to slow down…or else I might turn into a pumpkin” Last time I ran, which will probably be no less than 20 hours ago, my body seemed to be capable of giving me some signals about how it was doing. Here is a nice simple guide to interpreting them. After that you can throw away your stupid heart rate belt.
Boy on the Run Alternative to Heart Rate Chart
You feel fine – Zone 1
Action: Go faster. Princess.
You start sweating – Zone 2
Action: Well done. If you don’t like sweat, have you considered another sport? Say, darts or bridge?
You start feeling breathless and you are sweating profusely – Zone 3
Action: Nice. If you really work at this you’ll be able to run most of a marathon at this pace.
You start really sweating and your breathing is heavy – Zone 4
Action: Better. You should really be hurting now. See, you didn’t need to do a percentage calculation to work that out. Pain is nice and simple.
You swear you will explode, puke and spontaneously combust – Zone 5
Action: Who needs a heart rate monitor to find their maximum output? You’ve found it all on your own! Try and sit in this zone for another 30 seconds. Then recover. Then have another go!
2) Seek running friends that are going to tear your heart out and show it to you (Indiana Jones style)
It wasn’t until I watched Indiana Jones that I realised that I wasn’t training hard enough. You to need to have your heart torn out and set on fire (metaphorically of course) every now and again to attain true improvement. And this is a great and simple tenant of the “old skool way”:
Find people that are a bit better than you and try and run with them. You will find that you will get a lot better a lot quicker.
The only problem is that you will suffer in these sessions. Make sure you have some easier more “recovery-style” sessions lined up as well.
3) Listen to your body. Train accordingly.
Instead of planning your training plans in Excel 4 months before the race and sticking to them like glue, give yourself a rough outline of what you want to achieve and then go with the maximum you think your body can manage. For example in a week I look for:
– 40+ miles of base mileage
– 1 decent interval session
– 1 decent lactate run
– 1 decent long run
But that is only a rough outline. If I feel knackered all week I might just run 30 miles with no quality. If I feel like Chuck Norris, then I might run 50 miles and extend out my long run. There are two key points that you want to avoid:
- Running when you are exhausted because it says so in your training plan.
- Holding off when you have lots of energy because your quality session is scheduled for another day
Next week is part 2 which includes the following 4 points:
- Shun the fancy products (drink water, eat food)
- Stop worrying about your shoes
- Do something out of your comfort zone
- Grow a moustache