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1. Get out the door – The hardest part to any training run is getting started. Come up with a responsible training plan and get your butt out the door. If you wait around for the perfect day, the perfect weather, or the perfect mood it will never come. Write out a calendar and count out the actual number of days/weeks/months until the end of the season. It always surprises people when they see how quickly the season comes and goes. Remember that somebody out there is taking it serious and doing the work.
2. Consistency is key - You don’t have to hammer every day to get better. That sounds good on a Prefontaine poster but it’s not reality. Getting the work done is not always exciting or sexy but it’s the essence of our sport. One good workout won’t make you a better runner or earn you a trophy. The beauty of this sport is its simplicity. The hardest part of this sport is staying focused and motivated enough to do it every single day. Keep in mind that it’s more beneficial to run a moderate effort 6 days/week than to blast 3 workouts/week and blow off the easy days between. Consistent training is what helps elevate your aerobic threshold, and in turn, helps sustain peak fitness for a longer period of time. Hence the reason why so many high school and collegiate runners look so good in September/October just to fall apart when the season starts in November.
3. Practice running FAST! – Speed/sprinting is often an overlooked part of a summer training program. Running fast for short intervals will not make you “peak” before the end of the season. Keep in touch with your neuromuscular system as it will help bridge the gap between the slower summer training and the introduction of higher intensity intervals. We use this in 3 different ways over the summer:
- 20 minutes of strides on a turf diagonal loop at the end of a tempo run/moderate workout
- 8 x 200 at mile race pace at the end of a shorter easy day
- 8 x 25” sprints on a moderate grade hill (3-5%).
None of these should be forced or flat out. Work through the gears and focus on the mechanics such as good hip extension, relaxed arm carriage, increased cadence and proper breathing. It doesn’t hurt to put on your spikes for some of this as it will help keep you from blowing out your calves after the first race of the year after not running in them since the track season.
4. Don’t overlook the little things – This cannot be overstated. Recovery is just as important as the actual work. Proper fueling is essential to recovery. You must replenish what you have burned within 30 minutes at the end of every run. Sleep is vital. Not everyone needs 10 hours of sleep, but you need at least 6-8 hours. Proper sleep is critical to recovering from a hard day’s effort. You may not notice it right away, but over time, poor sleep will affect you more than any other variable.
5. Run a Lot! – There is no substitute for old fashioned hard work. Wimbledon champions hit balls for 6-8 hours a day. Top archers shoot a 1000 arrows/day. Tour de France champions are on the bike 5-6 hours/day. There was a simple reason that it was so hard to break into the top 25 at a state cross country meet in the 1970’s … everybody was running a lot. Get out there and put in the good work.