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Get off the roller coaster
by on Thursday, July 14, 2016  (3 comments)

This kind of roller coaster is fun - the running roller coaster is not

It's theme park month for me. I recently visited Six Flags and have a coming trip to Wisconsin Dells.

Those are fun roller coasters. The running roller coaster? Not so much fun.

What's the running roller coaster?

The running roller coaster is the training routine I see so many people get stuck on and I'd like to encourage you to break. It's the pattern where you train very hard for a few weeks, maybe even a month or two, then you get burned out or injured. You reduce your training significantly or stop running for a while to recover, then when you start back up you feel like you're behind plan so you jump right back in to very heavy training and the cycle starts over.

So how do I avoid the running roller coaster?

I find myself repeatedly saying that I'd rather see you training at 90% of your capacity 100% of the time than training at 110% of your capacity 80% of the time. You'll get much better results with that consistency than you will pushing harder but breaking down and missing time.

Some people like workouts where you go all out. They say it teaches toughness or it instills some ability to push harder on race day. I don't believe in that. I believe they break you down. I would prefer you finish your workouts feeling like you had a little more left. Likewise, make sure other aspects of training are sustainable. Just because you can do a 50 mile week once or twice doesn't mean you should. You will be better served sticking with 45 consistently.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't challenge yourself. However, do so judiciously. Make sure you're not challenging yourself too frequently or too severely.

And save the all out efforts for race day.

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I've been near the edge of the steep drop on that roller coaster ride flirting with going over the edge and moving into that low point. Because of your advice I have been able to slow it down a bit this past week by an average of 30 seconds per mile even though I am running less total miles. I am learning the value of backing it off to ensure I am not doing 110% for only 80% of the time.

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Ed, I hope you don't take this the wrong way but you're one of the people I was thinking of as I wrote this.

Different people need different things from coaching. Most need some kind of insight. Some need to be pushed, some need to be held back. You're one who needs to be held back. You want to work hard, you're driven. Those are good traits when the proper restraint is applied. If you balance that drive so you can keep going consistently, you can do some very good things. You're finding that balance this year, which is why I'm looking forward to what you can do this fall.

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I would never take it the wrong way. You say it from a coach's and a friend's heart. I am trying to pull back but it seems that I naturally speed back up. Today I tried pretty hard to keep it slow but it kept creeping up and I averaged a 7:32 pace which felt very easy and slow. I wanted to keep it as slow as 8:00 per mile. I'll try again tomorrow as I want as much recovery for Tuesday as possible.

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