Coach Blog: The New Year

The new year is upon us. Steve Magness wrote an interesting blog post about what happens when you set out your resolutions in public. I sort of see his point that you can paint yourself into a corner, and then make decisions that are not good in the long run. That said, I think there are good reasons to set your goals down on paper, and say them in public. There is something to be said for being held accountable. Now, does it matter what the Twitter-verse thinks? No. But certainly if you tell your friends and family what your goals are for the year, they can provide support and feedback. That’s a good thing.

I do mostly agree with Magness’s attitude of “it will all work out” though, especially as it relates to running. Being too focused on outcomes can lead runners to forget that running is supposed to be fun. Yes, workouts can be hard, but you are doing them because YOU WANT TO. That’s the bargain that you’ve made. Where you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner is when it comes to doing workouts that are too hard, or inappropriate for any reason, just because you said you would/thought you should because of your goal. If you love running enough that you just can not wait to get out there every day, you will succeed and you will reach your goals. It doesn’t really matter all that much what workouts you do, as long as you love doing them (and you don’t get hurt) they will probably help you PB. Of course there are certain things that must be done (mileage, some amount of tempo, some amount of race pace running), but the mix is really pretty arbitrary. Ok, I will contradict myself again: it’s not that arbitrary, it is about 80/20 easy/faster. But the mix of that 20% (50/50 tempo/intervals or 75/25 or 25/75) is pretty individual and matters less than you think.

All this to say: don’t get to cranked up about New Years resolutions and all the details. Focus on the big picture: run every day, eat well, sleep well, and be happy. If you can do that, you’ll have a great year!

On to some more specific ideas about our training. We will be back to group training next week (starting Monday January 5th), and while most of the workouts will be the same, and we will continue to work on getting/keeping volume up, we are making a shift of sorts. The next phase is a bit of a hybrid (see “not a strict Lydiardite” in my last post) as some will start a specific build for early spring marathons, others will do an anaerobic phase to make use of the indoor track, while others will continue to build endurance for summer track. In the early fall, we did a couple days of testing where runners ran 2k then 400m. The comparable times were used to put them in a category of a) needs endurance b) needs speed c) balanced. Most are a) or c). The reason for this is that endurance takes longer to build. If you come from a youth track background or any other sport usually, your speed is fine, at least, it is usually better, relative to your endurance. But the endurance is what is lacking. For the most part we have been working on that for everyone in the fall. Now, for those who lack speed, we will do a 6-week block of anaerobic focused training in order to try to balance them out.

The reason it is only 6 weeks is that the anaerobic system has a limit. You can only improve it so much relative to your aerobic abilities before the gains flatten out, or worse, you start to lose on the aerobic side. 6 weeks is enough to boost the system, then we can go back to aerobic work in March, April and May, with more frequent (but still not weekly) anaerobic “booster shots.” Then, in June and July, if necessary, we can do another anaerobic phase. The “if necessary” depends on the athlete and on the event. The anaerobic work in this, the competition phase, might even be mostly made up of shorter than goal-distance races for a 5k/10k runner, or short, fast intervals (200s, 300s) for a 1500/800m runner.