Running Faster Without Training...

Elfed Joseph. 17th May 2020

1. Less is More

Training sessions will not make us faster by themselves, rest and recovery is vital to reap the benefits of our hard work; we become stronger and faster by the process of adaption where our bodies are put under athletic stress and while we rest, muscles get stronger, energy systems get replenished and our cardio-vascular systems becomes more efficient. Without appropriate recovery, rest and sleep, our progress as runners plateaus and if continued, performances deteriorate and frequently staleness sets in along with niggling injuries. What is the balance to aim for in the training/ recovery pattern cycle? Back when I started running as an adult 35 years ago I followed a plan from Bill Squires (a famous American coach) for marathon training, building to 100 miles a week along with 1 day off. It almost killed me, though considered good practice at the time! The wheel has turned full circle now and as an example, the FIRST plan outlined in “Run less, run faster” (Runner's World) is designed to produce Personal Bests for a range of race distances on 3 runs per week with 2 active recovery sessions. This is backed by evidence-based research and I recommend it as a good read. However, no standard plan is a guaranteed blueprint for success by itself which is why our team of coaches can help in personalising plans tailored to your use.

2. Active Recovery

The FIRST plan noted above and many other accredited programmes use “active recovery” sessions to supplement running with many attendant benefits. They limit the wear and tear on our joints and muscles, can makes us stronger and fitter than running by itself and provide welcome variety in a training week. It is worthy of a article in its own right but to highlight some plus points - circuits, Pilates and weight training can improve leg and overall strength with particular emphasis on our core; Yoga can keep us supple, increase our range of movement and breathing capacity while indoor rowing, swimming and cycling have potential to boost aerobic capacity.

3. Patience- not just a card game

The energy systems used by the body for different intensities of training and competition are in my view fascinating but quite complex, here is a link which outlines the processes involved:

Suffice to say with reference to resting and recovery, take the full amount offered in an interval training session and drastically reduce the speed of the faster paced work in the sections in between. Finding the patience to do this is a discipline worth cultivating; if we cut our recoveries in a session we normally end up with lactic acid burn and fail to complete them properly, if complete them at all.

4. ....but I want to do the 'Run Every Day' challenge in October

There are many reasons for finding enjoyment in running, whatever motivates us to lace up our shoes is legitimate! If we wish to run every day for a month this is fine but it is unlikely to make us faster runners which might be an overriding goal. A balanced plan will almost certainly give us a better end result if PBs are the targets we strive for.


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 “Gan bwyll/ Take care”