Copyright, © 2013-2015. Run2bwell & Hans Kroese. All rights reserved.
Prior to my first 100 mile race at the Mountain Lakes 100 endurance run in Oregon I volunteered at the event the year before by flagging traffic at 4 AM. Typically only about half of the participants complete a 100 miler. The rest get a DNF “Did Not Finish” (or “did not die”).
Seeing some of the runners prior to the race was interesting. Most looked incredibly fit, while others looked about as prepared as at the local 3 mile neighborhood charity run. What I wanted to know from the runners I met was their average weekly mileage or volume leading up to the event.
Most, of course, follow a rigorous running schedule dictating how much to run, how far, how fast, and how often. Also translated as volume, duration, intensity, and frequency if you want to break it down. Schedules are paramount to specificity of training to improve metabolic capacity, strength, and mental conditioning. However, following the wrong schedule can quickly lead to injury, chronic fatigue, and/or poor performance. It seems pretty simple. Follow the right running schedule, get in better shape, and finish the race. How could anything go wrong with that?
In the movie “Forest Gump” Tom Hanks is seen trekking across a deserted land trailing behind him a group of runners who no longer know what to do with themselves when Gump suddenly decides to stop running. Similarly, do we ever feel lost without our training schedule telling us how much to run?
When asked why he runs Gump answers, “I just run”. Simple as that. Thousands of miles. Across America. Likewise, many of us have been down the road of running hundreds of miles, with our schedule in hand, until the breakdown point. This is when our joints force us to stop or slow down because of injury.
Many runners are too willing to blindly pick a training program without knowing if it is not ill-suited to their level of training. It is easy to get in over our heads preparing for the next event when attempting to cram a prescribed amount of miles in two or three months of training. These schedules will stipulate the amount of miles per week (or volume), times per week (frequency), and type of run on any given day such as your long run, interval, recovery, tempo, or lactate threshold run, etc. You can find any level of training such as a beginner 10 km, your first 12,16, 24 week marathon schedule, your advanced 50 mile ultra-marathon, or an intermediate 5 km schedule written by Hal Higdon (an american writer and runner), etc, etc.
If you are to follow a training schedule here are 7 rules to keep in mind to keep you safe:
Rule 1: listen listen listen to your body. If you find yourself running too far, too much, too often, or too fast take time off from running and rest! Your body’s aches and pains will tell you you are not recovering enough after your training.
rule 2: maintain consistent weekly mileage. Volume should not vary much from week to week. Large swings in weekly miles is recipe for injury. Be consistent in your training. Keep weekly miles the same with gradual increases over time.
rule 3: volume precedes speed. Prior to training for speed increase your weekly mileage first. Your ligaments, tendons, and bones need time to grow strong before running fast. Once you reach the critical amount of miles and have a significant running history then start to train for speed.
rule 4: high frequency precedes volume. You can’t increase volume by training just a few times per week. To augment weekly mileage run more often. Run initially 2-3 times per week, then gradually increase to 5 or even 6 x per week.
rule 5: high volume and frequency precedes your long duration run. As your weekly mileage and frequency increases over time you will reach the point of wanting to run further (or longer). Throw in a long run by combining 3-4 days of running in one session. Rest the remainder of those days. Try to keep the same weekly mileage.
rule 6: reduce weekly mileage regularly. After each 2 or 3 weeks of ramping up the mileage reduce your mileage by 25% or even 50%. A recovery week also consists of running less frequently while also reducing the intensity of your workouts. This will give your body a chance to build damaged ligaments, tendons, or bone.
Next time you go running discard the running schedule printed off the internet and make your own schedule by following these 6 rules. You won’t have to feel like those runners following Forest Gump, left alone, with no one to follow who is telling them when, where, and how much to run.
RUNNING INJURIES • SPECIALIZED ASSESSMENTS • SPORTS MEDICINE
Beaverton, Tualatin Medical Clinics
Tualatin: Mon-Thur, 7 AM - 5 PM
19260 SW 65th Ave, Suite 285
Tualatin OR 97062
Telephone: 503 927 1012