This past weekend I set two really big PRs in the mile and the 10k. Both of these times came as a huge surprise because I have only been running for a month after a big chunk of time off and even before that running only about 30 miles a week. So where did these times come from? (For an update on why I took so much time off, had not been training to my previous levels, and my switch to running, check out our latest “Racing Mindcast” podcast).
In the post race glow of both times, I have been thinking about how exactly I did this back to back and by so much time in both events (the mile and the 10k where seconds matter).
I looked over my training logs and my own morning journal that I keep, and I boiled it down to these 5 pseudo-scientific reasons:
- Consistency-This is actually proven. The more consistent you are in training the better you will be. Consistency beats acute spikes of training 9 times out of 10. This is especially true in running. For the past month I have only missed one day and that was planned and forced into my schedule. Otherwise I ran each day according to how I felt and what was scheduled (see point 3).I think this is why so many of my own athletes have not gotten injured–they a) listen to their body and b) their workouts allow them to be consistent. Even with a busy lifestyle, they have still been able to keep up the consistency.
- Keeping It Real: It was a struggle at first to run easy. My mind kept on saying “Go harder. This is way too easy” and even a few “If people on Strava saw your pace” but I did tune out that voice and ran easy. I used a combination of HR, Stryd running power, and most importantly RPE to keep me in my exact zones. While some days, I wanted to go faster I kept it within my limits so that the next day I was able to hit my harder zones with a solid, fresh effort. I also took a bigger picture approach which is what I tell all of my athletes; if you are going to be able to do the rest of the workouts and train more overall, then you are going to have to go easy when it says easy. If my mind slipped into “Fear Training” and “Comparison mode” I focused back on my form and reminded my self of the bigger picture and the present moment of how awesome it is to run right now.
- Being Loosely Strict: Although I was following a structured and measured program, my body still has the final say. There were some runs where I went slower or slightly shorter than planned and there were others that I went slightly longer or faster. I did not train my Garmin but rather trained my body. These are what I call “naked runs” on which I will track and record the data but the only thing that I can see is the time or something obscure like the temperature or sunrise. Listening to your body is tough and takes constant reminders and mindful moments where you just ask yourself “What am I feeling right now?”
- Prioritizing Recovery (especially sleep and nutrition): When I lived in Phoenix, I must admit recovery took a back seat to everything else. I cut sleep to get in workouts, which were mostly anaerobic, survived off coffee (just ask my students), relied on Quest Bars, and neglected muscle care. I denied that these had any impact on my fitness but just switching to the opposite of this lifestyle has had a significant impact on my training and overall well being. I will dive deeper into these on a later post because they deserve their own blog but here are the Spark Notes:
- Sleeping more and sleep routines
- Muscular TLC
- Nutrition- Tanya Zucco has helped me SO MUCH with this so if you struggle with nutrition, reach out to her on Facebook or Instagram
- Stress management: This is very much linked to all of the above but deserves its own bullet because it is that essential. In my mind, the stress management that I am referring to here focuses more on the “mental balance” rather than the physical recovery factors found in point 1,2,3, and 4. I have handled stress better through two things; I will go into these more on a separate blog but they are:
- Meditation and mindful moments
- Mindset and reframing training
It is Monday morning now as I put the finishing touches of this blog, so what I do form here? Keep chopping wood and carrying water as the Zen expression goes. It’s back to the basics and fundamentals. but that is just my two watts.