Jul 5, 2019
Effort-based running is a highly sought-after skill. In a perfect world we could measure everything we do by how capable we are in that moment. This is an optimal situation because we wouldn’t limit ourselves when we have the energy, and we wouldn’t look down on ourselves when we don’t.
However, because of the complexity and difficulty of always doing the perfect amount of an exercise, we have measuring sticks. Clocks, distance measurements, amount of weight, and other people to compare ourselves to, all contribute to teaching us how far we’ve come, and where we can go.
Another helper in finding our optimal intensity for each workout is a coach. A coach can look at things from a different viewpoint, letting us know about things we may not be able to recognize on our own. Things like our mood or our posture can be difficult to self-manage, but with the help of a coach, we can learn when to slow down or speed up.
Greg McMillan has been coaching runners for over 30 years. He believes in the individual runner and optimizing every run. “You’re a different runner every day,” says Coach McMillan.
Making sure that you train at the correct level of intensity is important. It can take a long time to figure out what that means for you. As you learn to do so, you’ll be more comfortable with your results, and you will get the most out of each run.
In order to optimize each run, you have to understand that they are all different. From how you feel, to the weather, to the goal of that workout, each run needs special attention.
For many beginning runners, faster always seems better. This is simply not true. For example, running faster when injured can result in long-term rehabilitation, or running fast on recovery days can slow down progress.
Over the years of coaching, Greg has developed a calculator to help runners have an idea of how fast they should be running to hit a certain race goal. Each athlete enters his or her goal time and current fitness level. The calculator then gives a pace range for training. This helps runners who are working toward effort-based running find a pace that works for them.
Coach McMillan suggests running toward the slower pace when the weather is tough or when you are feeling fatigued. However, just as important, he says that you are selling yourself short if you aren’t running your best when conditions are good. This is what it means to optimize each run.
Along the lines of every unique run, is every unique runner. We have different bodies, different minds, different goals and live different lives. For each of us, there are unique injuries that come after us. Whether it is a sore knee, a tight Achilles, or an achy back, injuries can keep us from doing what we love.
Greg preaches the benefits of prehabilitation: doing those things that keep injuries away before they have a chance to surface. Stretching, lifting weights, or visiting a professional therapist can do wonders for preventing injuries.
For those that struggle finding the time or energy to practicing prehab, Greg gives two pieces of advice. First, just pick two things. Pick workouts or stretches that you know are good for you specifically. If you don’t know what those are, see a professional or at the very least, look up some exercises online.
Second, make the prehab a part of your run. Don’t allow yourself to say that your run is complete until you have done the two things you picked. “Make it religious,” says Coach McMillan.
As you work toward effort-based running and choosing routines for your prehab, remember that your potential is unique. It doesn’t matter if you are young, you can run with the best. It doesn’t matter if you are old, you can run with the best.
Don’t be hard on yourself when people younger OR older are running faster than you. Your journey is your own and the only thing you can control is your effort. Run hard on hard days. Rest hard on rest days. You’ll be glad you did.
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