But Coach, I don’t like that event

I meet with comments to the effect of “Coach, I don’t like that event” from a number of runners. I understand that too. We all have our favorite races. Some of us just prefer running long and that marathon pain is just something we seem to cope well with. Others love the feeling of power and flying through a track race – 400, 800, 1500, 3000. Others yet like the pace and effort involved with that 5k-10k distance.

As I have outlined in the past, everyone is certainly “made” for different events both mentally and physically. This is not a bad thing at all. Having race preferences is not a bad thing either. In fact, it is quite beneficial because it create focus in training. The flip side of the coin is if we become too focused on solely doing our favorite event we never develop into the best runner we can possibly be. Therefore, our strengths indeed becomes our weaknesses if that is all we focus on.

We need to take lessons from the best in the world to learn how to be the best we can be. If you follow elite marathoners you will find them often jumping into 5000s and 10000s on the track. You will find 800 specialists moving down to 400 and up to the 1500/mile. 5000 runners often drop to the mile and move to the 10000. Many of these same runners will run cross-country too which ranges from 5k to 12k.

It will be rare that you find a sub-2:09 marathoner who hasn’t also run a sub-4:00 mile! Did you know that the world record 5000 is almost three consecutive 4:00 miles (4:03.8)! Did you know that the last 400 of a 5000 is often run in 55-56 seconds? Or, did you know that the last 400 in a 10k can be run in 57 with the last 1000 meters in 2:32 (just over 60 seconds per lap for two and a half laps)? This pace versatility is in a large part a result of working at different distances.

One of the key practices in becoming the best runner you can be at your chosen specialty is to RACE longer and shorter. Shorter races force you to develop your higher end speed. And the longer races develop strength and endurance. And no, it is not the same as doing practice reps.

In the process you also learn more about tactics, pacing, and mental strategies that will serve you better in your primary race.

Running hard for 800 requires one kind of mental approach while running a consistent and controlled hard for 5k is different. Because you can blast 800 and tolerate the searing discomfort or because you can run a 50k and tolerate nagging deep whole-body aching does not mean you can maintain the effort required of a 5k.

So, to become the most well-rounded runner and ultimately be the best runner you can be at your chosen distance get out and race longer and shorter and get out of your comfort zone… there is method to a coach’s madness.


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 - trailrunningclub.com. 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 Running-Advice.com. 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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One Response to But Coach, I don’t like that event

  1. Pingback: But Coach I Really Don’t Like …. | trackmom.com

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