Knowing WHY you train

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Do you know why you run intervals or fartleks or weekly long runs?  Do you know why they’re scheduled as they are?

Knowing why might help your motivation.  Or if you’re like me, the “why” counts as much as the “what.”

In the book, “Daniels’ Running Formula,” he explain this and much more. An excerpt is reprinted here with permission of Human Kinetics.

“The one question regarding training that any athlete (or coach) needs
to answer on a regular basis is, “What’s the purpose of this training
session?” I wonder how many athletes and coaches ask this question for
every session and answer it in a way that makes sense. I think I can
answer just about any question you might have

Do you know why you run intervals or fartleks or weekly long runs?  Do you know why they’re scheduled as they are?

Knowing why might help your motivation.  Or if you’re like me, the “why” counts as much as the “what.”

In the book, “Daniels’ Running Formula,” he explain this and much more. An excerpt is reprinted here with permission of Human Kinetics.

“The one question regarding training that any athlete (or coach) needs
to answer on a regular basis is, “What’s the purpose of this training
session?” I wonder how many athletes and coaches ask this question for
every session and answer it in a way that makes sense. I think I can
answer just about any question you might have about your training and
racing (if racing is part of your plan). For example, I might tell you
that the purpose of today’s easy run is to get in some running while
recovering from yesterday’s demanding interval session, or that today’s
repetition session will include long recoveries between workbouts so
that you can practice good mechanics while running fast. However, I’m
not so naive as to believe that I (or anyone else) have all the answers
for everyone who takes up a running career. Sometimes what works well for one person might not work for another. That said, some sound
scientific principles do apply to everyone, and there are some ways of
doing things that work far better than others.

Runners who train together often forget that they might not all be
training for the same event. Further, even if they’re shooting for the
same goal and same event, they might react differently to the same
training. Tom Von Ruden, my friend and a great middle-distance runner,
was in the final weeks of preparation for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Trials,
to be held at altitude in South Lake Tahoe, California. He and the
other finalists for the trials had been training together for several
weeks in Tahoe, and Tom was feeling a bit down about his chances,
possibly because he’d watched the others seemingly float through their
workouts. Tom asked me what I thought might be the best thing to do for
his final preparation, and I suggested that he fly out to Leadville,
Colorado (elevation nearly 10,000 feet), for a week or so and have some
time to himself at an altitude a fair bit higher than what he’d be
facing just outside Tahoe (about 7,300 feet) in his Olympic Trials
race. Out of trust in my scientific knowledge of the effects of
altitude, or simply out of desperation for something different to try,
Tom made the trip. On his return, he not only made the U.S. team but
was also a finalist in the 1,500 meters at the Mexico City Olympics,
where he finished ninth.

I believed in what I was advising, based on sound scientific knowledge
about training. I also had spent time with Tom at altitude research
camps and felt I understood his psyche to some degree. In any case, at
that time, for that athlete, training at higher altitude was the right
thing to do. Would it have been the right thing for all the finalists
training in Tahoe? Probably not. Certainly it might not have been right
for the other finalists who ended up making the U.S. team by staying in
Tahoe to train.

More recently, one of my female collegiate runners entered the cross
country season running personal-best times, but as we added more
quality to our program (to which everyone else on the team responded
favorably), her performances started to decline. It didn’t take us long
to realize that she responded better to the steady distance running
she’d done in the summer; with a change back to that training, she went
on to have even better-than-usual seasons during her final two years in
college. The point is that each runner has unique personal strengths
and weaknesses–you need to get to know your own
training needs. When I was coaching Lisa Martin, she got a positive
feeling about doing fairly fast repetition 400s, although the marathon
was her primary event, whereas other marathoners I’ve coached seldom
included repeat 400s in their program because they felt better doing
more threshold-pace training. Lisa’s craving for short, fast running
probably dated back to her early years of competing as a 400 hurdler.
Jerry Lawson, another great marathoner, always relied on high mileage
to get him through.”