If you can't do the simple, you can't do the complex...
A few thoughts this week, based on recent discussions and experiences related to social running. We've posted multiple times about the benefits of running easy (below aerobic threshold) rather than running too hard on longer sessions. There's enough evidence now (thanks to mass data collection via online platforms) to demonstrate that those who complete the bulk of their volume below aerobic threshold, are the ones who perform best on race day. You can't build your volume unless you slow down and run at a lower intensity. It's also clear that if you're following a polarised approach, you can't do your hard stuff hard, unless your easy stuff is easy... the end result is always falling into the grey / middle area.
Anyhow... we've talked about the above stuff often enough and there's enough evidence out there to support it. So why do so many people find it difficult?
One of the things we've discussed in the past in the over-complication of training programs. Coaches like to write plans which look complicated, because perhaps they feel that 'more structure and complexity = more benefit'. But here's the thing... whilst athlete love a technical plan, unless you can do the simple basics, how do you ever expect to do the complex stuff correctly?
You'd think that telling a group of people to run easy / socially / at conversation pace would be quite a simple instruction, but it's not. People find it too easy and need to push hard. The need to push hard is often exaggerated when running with other people as someone (usually a bloke, rarely a woman) feels the urge to show everyone who's the strongest and win a pointless victory. Then there's the Strava addict... you know the one who is constantly looking at the watch in sheer panic as the pace slows and pausing their watch at every stile so the average doesn't drop and ruin their upload.
Now before we go any further, I should point out that if you like going out and 'smashing' it with your mates because that's what you enjoy, then my advice would be to 'crack on'. There's nothing wrong with that, go and have fun, you're enjoying yourself and you're outdoors rather than being on the sofa. If however, you're trying to add some structure to your training over this winter, then I am talking to you.
We talk frequently about the benefits of sports psychology in terms of goal setting, visualisation and mental toughness, but take a step back and consider sports psychology in it's simplest form. If you can't get your head around going for a run at conversation pace and successfully manage that, what chance have you got with the more complex stuff? If you feel as though you have to push or race because you need to point prove to yourself, others or Strava followers, what does that say about your ability to execute more complex workouts? More importantly, if you can't manage to control yourself on an easy social run, what chance have you got of pacing yourself correctly and executing a plan, when you're on the start line with 2000 other people and adrenaline is racing through your body?
During events, the ability to control yourself, think rationally and make good decisions is the difference between success and failure. The way you react to problems on the course and handle outside influences is critical. A calm and sensible head is always required rather than simply losing your head, but unfortunately, anxiety makes sensible people do stupid things. Control is something we can very much develop over time, but it requires practice.
We all love a bit of complexity in our training plan and a bit of data adds a sexy element, but the plan is no more than a list of workouts. Having a plan will never be the answer to your problems. The manner in which you complete the plan and the manner in which you control yourself in training sessions and on the day of the event, will always be the critical factors.
> Being consistent and getting out regularly
> Having confidence long term and not switching your training every 4 weeks because you've found a 'new training method' which is better
> Having an understanding the plan and the training intensities
> Being able to exhibit control and complete the sessions correctly
> Being able to exhibit control and make rational decisions during events
A training program won't solve any of the above. All of the above are controlled your head. This winter, why not focus on developing a little more mindfulness? Take a step back from what's written on the plan and think more about how you are applying yourself. As the saying goes... you 'write' a plan, but you 'coach' people.
It's nearly November, 2023 training starts now!
The Endurance Store
If you're more interested is sports science testing and calculating aerobic threshold, we offer run sports science testing sessions which can calculate threshold points and accurately set training zones. You can read more HERE
If you're training for Ironman triathlon in 2023, then consider our triathlon coaching package for £40 per month, which includes regular sports science testing. You can read more HERE
The Endurance Store