How little can you run and still race well?

Ok, so, what is the least you can run and still be able to finish a particular race and still be competitive? That is a question alluded to in so many conversations I’ve had over the years.

Shorter races of course are easily accommodated on only a few days a week of running. You do not need to run too many miles to be able to complete a 5k. How much and what type of training do you need to do to be competitive?

Longer races of course will require some extra miles. For the purpose of this piece let’s define “longer” as 10 miles and beyond. The questions remain however, how many days a week and how many miles per week do I minimally need to run to race successfully? Also, let me define “race” as an effort beyond just finishing; an effort which requires hitting a specific time goal …and still accounting for all body parts at the end.

In the early 1980s there simply weren’t enough hours in the day – three jobs, a wife and a young son and finishing a master’s degree. It’s not unusual. I’m sure many of you can relate. I experimented with how little could I run and still be satisfactorily “competitive”. It was an experiment of one… me.  At the time I called it the “Extreme Hard-Easy” approach. No one was interested in what I was doing at the time. (Not even Runner’s World to whom I submitted an article draft on the topic.) Now of course there is a very nice book out on the topic published in 2007 – “Run Less Run Faster” a Runner’s World publication.

So, share how little you can run and still be competitive! I want to find others who may have long ago learned this also as an Experiment of One.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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