Most of us have specific goals in mind when we lace up, having that carrot to chase is an all important device to keep us on the right path in training. Once you set that goal you go about setting up a training program for yourself, or you just keep schlogin out miles until the wedding is over. If your goals are more on the serious runner side, you read a few magazine articles, talk to your running friends, and begin to formulate a plan.
My plan is going to be; run everyday until I get to race day and then I’m going to do my best. Step one complete.
Somewhere a few weeks into this scheme, you begin to realize that your just running everyday plan has a few weaknesses and it needs to change. You set out to rework your program and begin to think about all the variables. Here is my advice on the first one you need to consider. You have 2 energy systems, aerobic and anaerobic. While you are racing you will utilize both, and the amount of time you dedicate to each in training will have a direct bearing on the outcome of your race time and how much you enjoy the day. If your race goal is 10k or above you will in most cases (there are some variables) be utilizing 90% of your aerobic system, and 10% of your anaerobic system and you should address your training schedule to accommodate both uses. Bring your distance goal down to 5k and the amounts change to 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic. Training for the mile? 60%-40%, 800 meters 50%-50%. It’s easy to see that if you run 90%-10% in all your work-outs and you want to finish that 5k in a respectable time, you have made a slight training miscalculation. I have heard runners say “you can’t train long and run short, the legs are too tired to go fast”. One of the realities of that statement lies in the balance of aerobic to anaerobic these athletes have dedicated to their training. A more appropriate statement would be “you can’t train long and race short”. Bottom line, if you want to race fast you need to dedicate more of your training time to anaerobic training. If you are happy to just go long, you still can’t forget that you still need at least 10% of your training miles to go to speed work, or hill work. Without that anaerobic work you are risking injury. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling here but, to neglect that 10% means that your just walking fast in your race, so you don’t hurt yourself.