Master the Basics to Improve

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.


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.
This entry was posted in Running, Training Effectiveness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Master the Basics to Improve

  1. mizunogirl says:

    Great post! In going through my rehab one thing that I’m stuck by is how much faster I am running short distances than I was the last time I took time off for injury. I’m about the same weight and ability, but this time, I have spent 4 months simply working on mastery of some very basic agility/balance/strength for my hips (pelvic girdle area). So while I can *just* run a 5K now (yes it was a long road!) I’m running it much better than before, we’ll see how much further I can get now that I have been forced to take the time to really build the base of basic strength, balance and agility.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s