As science and professionalism have opened up more and more opportunities for athletes to increase their training workloads, and add all the little components to their schedules, the pure simplicity of running has started to lose its way. My greatest fear is that more and more young and older athletes alike think that in order to succeed, it is required for them to put their life on hold, put family and friends as secondary priorities and sport must take the number one spot.
Sit back and enjoy a cup of Java!
Having been around the block a few times, I have come to the conclusion that regardless of result, the most enjoyable seasons are those where sport has a healthy place in a balanced life. The truth is, a more balanced life often brings out the best long-term results anyway.
This entails focusing on what has worked for you, and enjoying family, balancing other interests, including work commitments and having an overall quality of life that will produce better, and more sustainable performances.
From a balance perspective, your basic week would involve running once a day, removing gym work and running hills once a week, and doing 5-10 minutes of core strength exercises 3-5 times/week. I do believe weight training is an important part of many training programs, but if you are feeling pressured to get in all the workouts, the benefits are far outweighed by the negatives. Five minutes of core strength is a far less invasive time commitment, than a 60-90 minute trip to the gym.
As well, attempting to run twice a day to increase your weekly milage, while can be a great way to increase fitness the pressure and time commitment involved can far outweigh the benefit and can leave you feeling run down, taking away time to could spend with family and friends.
Here is the basic layout of the week:
Monday – Short tempo run + core strength
Tuesday – Short tempo run + core strength
Wednesday – Short to medium length intervals on hilly terrain
Thursday – Short tempo run + core strength
Friday – Short tempo run + core strength
Saturday – Medium to long length intervals on flat terrain
Sunday – Recovery run
The point of this approach is not to find the ultimate schedule that maximizes all energy systems in your body, but to find a schedule that frees you of any stress, and allows you to enjoy running, which seems to bring better results anyway.
When one places sport as an important, but not all encompassing component of one’s life, it allows the athlete to cope with success and failure and takes a lot of pressure off of performances, and so when you toe the line in races, there is much greater opportunity to maximize one’s ability, as you are not weighed down by pressure or expectation.
You can do all the little things to get every little ounce of improvement out of your body, but if you are not free of pressure and not enjoying the blessings of life, your mental state can restrict your performances far more than the little things can help. The key is to find the right balance for your own situation.