Lessons from a non-elite

I’m as guilty as anyone of trying to emulate elite runners. Reading about how they train/eat/sleep/race, and thinking that if I copy them my race times have surely got to improve. I’ve been running for a few years now, and I’ve started to develop ideas of what is important, and what really doesn’t matter. This is all quite individual but it is what’s working for me!

  • Breakfast before a race matters. I don’t eat breakfast before training runs, but it is essential before a race. It doesn’t matter what it is – just find something that works for you and stick with it!
  • Racing weight is just a number. I’ve put on a little bit of weight recently. Not heaps, just a couple extra kilos that make me more jiggly than I’d like. This has not impacted my times at all. I’ve run PBs in both the half and the 5km at this ‘comfortable’ weight.
  • Don’t flog yourself at every speed session. Yes, it’s good to reach your limits. But it’s also good to dance at the point that is just hard enough.
  • Peaking is not all that important when you’re an average runner. In the past I have been really concerned about what type of speed work I should do as I got closer to a race. Now I’ve decided that it doesn’t really matter. If I want to do 400s, great. If I haven’t done mile reps in a while and they take my fancy, great. The only exception for me is the few days before a race. I’ll always do either 200s or 30 second efforts. The fast leg turnover always makes me feel good.
  • Long runs – week in, week out, will make you stronger. But not too long! I’d rather drop a couple km off my long run (and keep it nice and slow) if it means the rest of the week’s runs are better for it.
  • Sustained efforts are important. Tempo runs, threshold runs, parkruns. The exact pace doesn’t matter, but once a week do a session like this.
  • Record details of sessions but don’t obsess over mileage
  • Don’t always do your speed sessions with other people. Learning to pace yourself is important, but it’s also easy to put yourself in a basket compared to other people.
  • The lightest racing flats aren’t always the best. I was once obsessed with only getting crazy light flats (like asics piranhas, mizuno wave universe, new balance MRC5000), but looking at photos made me realise they weren’t the best shoe for me. I always looked like I was sinking down in my hips and that my feet weren’t being supported. I’ve now switched to Mizuno Ronins, which are still light but work with my feet so much better!
  • Do yoga. Enough said.
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