Originally Posted by 04072511
Really? Surprised by this. How can somebody really get the most out of him/herself and make big improvements if he/she takes it easy in training the vast majority of the time?
ecoli just posted about this
The old saying of practice makes perfect is true even in running. The best way to get better at something is to do it over and over. Some people use this approach when they start running. They go out 2-3 days a week and do X distance as hard as they can and in fairness they see rapid improvement. You will also hear people sometimes us the terms “racing will bring you on leaps and bounds” or elites talking about “racing themselves into shape” this is because races are the best training and the quickest way to improve.
So why is it that we don’t all go out and give it 110% in every run/session like so many football/rugby players etc are told day in day out at all levels of sport. The difference being that running is a condition based sport unlike many skills based ones such as football etc. This means that people can spend hours upon hours developing a skill to get better without taxing the body to the point of breaking down so skills can improve without putting stress on the body (or at least very minimal)
If you look to condition based sports you see that the improvement for the most part is predominantly physically based - i.e you get fitter/stronger/faster. The only way that this can be achieved is as a two part process – Stress and recover/Adapt. We need to work the body hard so that we can break down the muscle, which creates huge amounts of physiological changes in the body (muscle micro tears, change of PH balance in the blood etc). Once this happens in order to improve we must give the body sufficient time and fuel to recover.
If you think of it in terms of Weight lifting you don’t just start off lifting huge weights you build up. Your muscles are broken down through training and when you recover the muscles repair themselves and build back stronger (known as “supercompensation”) you body adapts to be able to take on a greater load the next time.
Without proper balance of training and recovery you cannot improve. If you don’t have adequate recovery the body will eventually breakdown (can be seen as injury or illness which are often associated with over training). Because of this we cannot race every run so we must break training down in order to give the body the same stimulus of a race with sustainable recoveries. This is where coaching comes into playing as each person reacts differently to different forms of training and recoveries which is why there is no one size fits all super training plan which all Elites use however there are some common elements of training which are known benefit the body in certain ways. This is where paces and recoveries come into play
From the sound of it, the OP is fairly new to running. The temptation at that stage is to try to do too much too soon - to run faster or further than they're really able for. You can do that for a while, but the fatigue builds up, you get injury-prone, you lose motivation. You go from running quite hard 3 times a week to not running at all. Much better to do some of your runs a little too easy, and still make steady gains, than to go a little too hard. The old adage about it being better to be 10% undertrained than 2% overtrained.
The more you run, the better you get at listening to your body, to know when you can push it and when you have to back off. The easy/hard alternation doesn't change, but you get better at knowing how easy to go, and still do the hard session right. In the meantime, 'too many' easy runs will still see the OP improve.