Ryan Hall (2:04:55 marathon PR) and #1 marathoner in the US, made interesting comments about his training in a posted interview on a Stanford sports website. These are the kind of comments that often are glossed over by runners – but I want to put a spotlight on it.
Q: On average, what is your weekly running schedule?
A (Hall): I don’t add up my weekly mileage anymore but I will say that it has come down drastically in the last 18 months. Early on in my marathoning career, I would log 120 miles a week, which led to over-training and some sub-par performances. Now I take one day completely off per week, which really adds a lot to both my quality of life and quality of training/racing. If I had to guess I would say I run around 100 miles per week, which is low for an elite marathon runner. But my goal isn’t a given amount of miles in a week, my goal is to hit two really good, quality workouts per week and then spend the rest of the time recovering from that.
The concept of rest is not new. However, like Hall, many runners have been lead down the path of “if some is good then more is better.” This is especially true of the mileage training proponents. Somewhere along the way these proponents have even used the Kenyans as examples. Having talked to a PhD physiologist and coach who lived with Kenyans – the Kenyans do not put in high mileage as some people and articles have reported. But, as much as 35-40% of their training is very fast (race pace or faster) and they get lots of rest!
Hall has become faster as his miles have been reduced and quality increased. And has figured out that rest is a critical element to building conditioning. He is right about elite athletes (and athletes in general not just runners) that as motivated and goal oriented as we are it is often easy to over-train; do more; and push through. It is a different kind of discipline to hold back, get rest, and be sure our bodies recover. It is that discipline that separates smarter training versus just harder training. Training harder is not very often the issue. As a group, runners train hard but are not training smarter.
What are some of the aspects of training smarter?
- Quality over quantity mentality in training.
- Purposeful training – every workout has a purpose.
- Paces are critical and specific – not subjective.
- Rest is essential to progress.
Hall practices quality over quantity; has purpose for each workout; knows his paces; and schedules rest and recovery in his training. He trains smarter.
One of my athletes is trying a program which “takes the science of recovery out of the lab and into your hands”. It’s called RestWise. As a driven elite age group athlete (cyclist) he is motivated and knows how to push his body. He is trying out this program as part of his training smarter. Combining a scientific approach to recovery with his purposeful – specific – quality over quantity workouts he is reaching new heights of performance.
Can you say the same about your running? Isn’t it time to get a structured program? You can come to Arizona Running Camp this summer if you are interested in learning more on how to move your performances to another level.