I was inspired while reading a blog by Olympic hammer thrower – Loree Smith. OK, yes I know, she’s not a runner. But in a post on her blog she made a statement that rings true for runners as well. She says,”So what is the secret to success if there isn’t a, well, secret?” And answers, “Mastery of the basics.”
Certainly in a technical event like hammer throwing this may seem very relevant but what about running? I think there are a few “basics” that the everyday age-group runner should master – and most frequently – don’t. The most important basic is pacing.
Without proper pacing your workouts are either to hard or too easy. Without proper pacing you go out too fast or too slow in races. Without proper pacing you cannot be as efficient in your running. Without proper pacing you cannot adjust to courses, competition and environments.
How often do you find elite level runners blasting out 30 seconds per mile faster than their average pace and then dying? How often do elite runners have track repeats that vary in pace one after the other after the other? How many elite runners waste energy on varying terrains? How may elite runners train at everything but their goal race pace? The answer to all of these questions is one – you won’t find it happening.
Elite runners have mastered the basics. They know pace. They regularly do workouts or parts of workouts at their goal race pace to accustom themselves to that goal and become efficient at it. The run repeats on a track within fractions of seconds of each other whether it is the first four repeats or last four repeats. They measure their efforts over varying terrain to get the most out of themselves. The know their race pace and aren’t “taken out of their pace” because others are in the race. Elite runners do not run hard all the time; they know easy days means EASY days. They don’t find themselves in those “tweener” miles that don’t have the big payoff.
Loree makes a final statement that also rings true. “I believe many will find once they’ve mastered the very simplest basics, the need for complex training cycles and throwing will not be needed.” Replace the word “throwing” with “running” and she just might have something here. All training is based on knowing paces. Only after you have mastered your pacing can you be effective at RACING, using tactics and pressing your limits.