One of my online clients recently contacted me frustrated by the fact he runs much better in training than in races. All of his performances in training (including a 10min 30sec 3k) indicate a Sub 40min 10k is possible however ten consecutive 4min k’s is a feat which is becoming more of an indestructible blockade than a barrier to be broken.
I have found that over-training and a high level of anxiety leading into an event are generally the two things which prevent runners from achieving a performance which ‘should’ take place.
I had the pleasure of running with Olympic and World Champions as well as World record holders. The common trait I found with all of these individuals was that training was black and white. They either ran fast or they ran slow, there was no grey. There were no 50min – 2hr runs that were run at 76.33% of max HR.
I almost tripped myself up a few times due to running so slow with certain legends. Being the clown I often was, I was known to stop running and break out into a race walk just to make these runners aware of how slow they were traveling.
The principal of this type of training comes from the importance of recovering from uptempo sessions. Running fast on your fast days and chilling on all of the remaining runs is something I constantly instill in the runners I am involved with. This is a principal that has allowed our own Craig Mottram to currently be one of the greatest distance runners in the World.
One of my training partners had met Rob de Castella before I knew him and I asked my friend what the great man had to say. “Run hard on your fast days and easy on your easy days” were Rob’s main comments and later in my career when I trained with Deek I found out first hand that this was the policy he followed.
You need to extend yourself in training in order to improve your motor and you also need to take it easy. Running faster than ever before over a certain distance will place a runner through a certain amount of discomfort however starting the event fatigued from over training will not allow the level of discomfort to be maintained.
You need to be pumped and locked into what you wish to achieve however there is a fine line between what is beneficial to your performance and what is detrimental.
When it comes to a monthly 3k Time Trial or a race there is little to worry about if you have prepared well. Achieving your goal is the execution of all of the training you have done.
Thoughts such as what if I don’t succeed and/or facing your running buddies as a failure can literally leave a runner feeling sick in the stomach.
Thoughts immediately before your event should be consumed by the fact you will be tunnel visioned once the event has started and that you will be focused and committed to the realistic pace you have been preparing to maintain.
Once your event has started and you commit 100% there is no room to entertain thoughts of failure. You are on a mission to make the most of the opportunity and filled with desire to walk away with that unique feeling achieving a goal brings.
It’s only people who are involved in sports such as running who understand the place you can go to when you go for it 100%. It’s a place where we feel like we are truly living. Running being one of the most natural of sports makes ‘our’ place a great deal more special. If you train smart and approach your event filled with confidence you will be giving yourself the best chance to experience such a feeling.