Running nearly 40 years, and reading various running literature for nearly that long, you develop a base of knowledge. Most of that is from your own experiences, good and bad. Races that were unexpected surprises, or total busts; injuries and recovery; over-training and cross-training; and periods of great enthusiasm or total burnout with running.
My book knowledge came from my schooling and various authors like Jim Fixx, Arthur Lydiard, and Jack Daniels, as well as years of digesting Runner's World and Running Times. Like with religion or politics, you tend to read with the intent of amplifying your own preferences and beliefs.
I like six-mile runs with an all-out mile at the end - this article says it's a great idea!
My education was enhanced Saturday by attending the Run-Fit Training Certification at Monmouth University on Saturday. Presented by Josh Karp, Ph.D, the eight-hour seminar, 200 pages of information, and ensuing on-line test untangled some mental cobwebs I had concerning the "why's and where fore's" of running, and made me think about training in a slightly different vein.
Some of the highlighted ideas:
*Base your training speed on your last race result (not something you ran five years ago, or hope to run next time). If your last 5-k was in 21 minutes, you are a 21-minute 5-k runner, until you prove otherwise. Base your training mileage, hard or easy, around that number.
*Spend time running slow, in order to eventually run fast. Build that base and don't get anxious.
*Keep your easy runs easy, and your body will be fresh to run hard when it needs to.
*Time spent running is more important than miles. A 10-mile training run may take a lot longer for someone (like myself!) than it used to. In my early 20's, I could do it in about 65 minutes. Now 65 minutes probably gets me, maybe, eight miles. A 10-mile run is a different stressor on my body now, based on that additional time on my feet.
*Don't do running workouts to failure. You shouldn't have to crawl off the track!
*In training, try for the least stressful way to reach your desired result: Don't hammer yourself just to talk about your new injury or near-death experience. If 7 minute training miles can bring you to a V02 max, don't do 6:30's, "just because." They are not doing you any more good than seven-minute pace!
*Train to your strengths: I stink at short sprints, but feel I have then endurance to run a long time. I will improve more by further enhancing my cardiovascular strength than in a futile effort to improve my sprint speed!
*To improve, your training load must increase. I've used this example with my clients. You're a non-runner, and your car breaks down five miles away. You barely make it home. Your car breaks down every day five miles away, that walk home is no longer a big challenge. Now you need to run home to have the same physiological effect, or have the car breakdown further away!
*Heart rate is a great measure of intensity: I use my heart rate watch constantly in my own training, and to monitor my clients. At 56, my approximate HR max is 164. When the watch is reading around that number, I know I'm working as hard as I can, that day, no matter if I ran a 90 second quarter, or a 95. Respect the number!
*Weight training, biking, or swimming should not take the place of running until you have maximized your running training. Don't give up a day's running for one of these activities unless a run would increase your injury risk, or you have maxed out, mileage and intensity-wise, in your training. Simply, to be a better runner, you must run!
Everyone will have their own opinions on the nuances of these points, but Dr. Karp's observations are backed up by reams of scientific studies. He's an accomplished runner himself, (but doesn't dwell on that), the author of six well-researched running books, and was a former IDEA Personal Trainer of the year.
In many seminars, the speaker is ego-based, and spends much of their time wasting yours with
braggadacio or enhanced biographical information. This is no-nonsense, understandable training concepts, physiology, and training design. The test comprehensively covers the material in his outlines.
I left there with a better grasp of the physiology or running, a more sober approach to my own training, lots of new information for my clients, and a refreshed attitude towards the activity that has been such a big part of my life for so many years.