Want to Race Faster? Stop Running So Hard in Workouts
How frustrating is it when someone says this to you. It can be applied to so many different areas of our lives, yet it is what we struggle with the most, especially as runners. Something so simple, but at the same time, so difficult to do.
We are used to getting what we want, when we want it with almost everything in our lives, but unfortunately, running does not work that way.
As much as we want to get better every single day, run faster and further every day, and hit PR after PR in every race, most of us know that it does not happen that way.
By various advertisements and sporting companies, we have been led to believe that unless we collapse at the finish line at the end of the race, or fall to the ground after a run, we are not trying hard enough.
No pain, no gain remember?
But actually, when it comes to running, this attitude is where we get into trouble.
Not only are we risking our goals by pushing too hard too often, but we are risking injuries and putting ourselves on the verge of overtraining (which is not just for elite runners by the way)!
Back to that word patience. As difficult as it may be, it is what we need to practice (more than training hard) to get to our long term goals, and to keep running day after day, year after year.
It is not easy to follow through with this, and may need lots of reminding from running friends and loved ones, but hopefully by seeing how easy runs can make all the difference in your training, you can be convinced too.
Why you do not need to finish every workout exhausted
It seems counterintuitive right? I used to have the mindset of thinking that the harder I pushed myself in training, the more my body would get used to it, so when I came to race day, it knew what to do, and had been to that level already.
Unfortunately, it does not work that way.
You should be able to finish every workout knowing that you could have done one more repeat, or run a little bit harder.
If you truly want long term success, this is the best way to ensure your body is able to keep improving, and besides, this means come race day, you are able to give that extra gear because you know you have been holding back a little the rest of the time.
Research found that high intensity workouts will lead to bigger improvements in the short term, the improvements will quickly level off. On the other hand, moderate intensity workouts will show a more gradual rate of improvement, but will likely lead to better results long term.
Now that is a result worth paying attention to. Would you rather run a few huge PRs now, but then be stuck for the rest of your running career, or keep improving year after year?
I know what I would rather choose.
What does this research mean?
It is better to train at a moderately high level, where you have something left “in the tank” on your hard workout days, but be able to keep up with your training than it is to risk injury, overtraining, and your entire running career, by running a few weeks of all out excruciating workouts.
Now, if you are thinking that you would rather just hammer those few weeks, see big improvements, then be perfectly fine with not running anymore or ending up with an injury-a sacrifice you are willing to take for a big PR, remember this:
When you increase the intensity, not only are you increasing your injury risk in the long term, but you might not even make it to the start line of a race if you train in this way.
What do all those gut busting workouts mean if you cannot ever make it to the race to show what they are for?
The harder you train on those tough days, the more you are increasing your risk of injury and overtraining.
Once you get into that injury cycle, it is too easy to try to rush back into training, pushing hard in those workouts to make up for lost time, and then you end up back injured again, going round and round.
Not only is this heartbreaking, but it is not good for your body either.
You have probably heard that consistency is key in running, well, how can you be consistent if you never can make it more than a few weeks without getting injured?
Isn’t it better to back off those hard days a little, be able to run your absolute best in races, and have those days be your all out efforts, than run too hard in training, and never quite make it there to show everyone just how hard you can push.
And besides, running a workout where you hold back a little leaves you feeling confident and focused for race day, where you can unleash the tiger!