There is a common mentality that in order to really improve and getter bigger, faster and stronger you have to work as hard as you possibly can. There may be some elements of truth to this which is why it’s such a common school of thought. But read closely, because I will teach you a timeless principle that will save you tears, pain, money, and energy. It is extremely hard to do because it requires patience, consistency and true perseverance.
“No calculated pain, no sustainable gain.”
You actually DON’T have to kill yourself every day. More important than going hard is being consistent. Start out small and gradually increase and you will become better, healthier, faster and stronger. This goes for paces/pacing and for mileage. The “no pain, no gain” philosophy must be revised to “no calculated pain, no sustainable gain.”
The majority of your runs should be done at an easy, easy, EASY pace. Some literature out there suggests that runners be able to carry on a conversation on easy days/runs. I agree with that. I also want to add that runners should be able to carry on a conversation WITH EASE on easy days.
How fast should this be? This is a controversial subject, but let me start by saying this: I don’t think anyone should ever get injured. Most injuries come because a runner is doing something wrong. If you twist your ankle, or slip on ice or a trail, or get hit by a car, then that’s not something you can prevent with better pacing, but chances are if you’re running faster than your body is ready to run, then you will either get burned out or injured. If you’re building mileage healthily, but you’re getting injured or feeling tired all the time, or having trouble improving your race times, chances are your training pace is too fast.
My recommendation is to run 2:30-3:00 minutes slower than your current best race pace. For example, if you have recently raced a 5K in 21:00, then your pace is 6:45 per mile, so your easy pace should be 9: 15-9:45 per mile. Now some of you may be saying, “That is so SLOW! I can’t run that slow.” If you want to reach your potential, you MUST run that slow. Some people need to learn how to run fast and push their bodies, but most people do not know how to run slowly. To most people, it doesn’t feel natural when they start running this slowly. But it works. Just give it a try.
In March 2013, I did a 10K race in 33:25 which is 5:23 per mile. Guess what my easy pace is? 8:00-9:00 pace depending on the day. Sometimes I feel so good that I speed it up and go faster, but I’m good about getting it under control and slowing it back down. When I start breathing hard I know I need to slow down. Some might say that I could be faster if I speed up my “easy” pace. I’ve tried that and it has always resulted in injury. There are rules to follow and a body to listen to. The rules may vary slightly from person to person, but the object of this book is to make running sustainable for life, for all types of runners.
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