How much should you emulate the elites?

His marathon is a completely different race than yours

Last week, in discussing strength training, I pointed out why I think most runners should probably not do what the elites are doing. I wanted to expand on that thought some this week because, while it’s good to look at them to get an idea of what works, it can be risky for several reasons to simply replicate what they do.

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Strength training for runners in 2021

I’m going to tag the date on this because our knowledge changes and I’ll probably post an update every once in a while. Hopefully, more than once every 20 years.

I’ve been having discussions with a few runners on strength training recently and I’ve realized that my very old post about strength training, while not entirely invalid, is outdated. Of course, I wrote that somewhere around 20 years ago so what should we expect?

So it’s time for an update. Is strength training good for our running and, if so, what should we do?

The answers are yes and it depends.

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What competitions matter to you?

What is the primary goal?

Strava is a wonderful tool. It’s a great way to share your training with friends as well as keep up with what your friends are doing. It’s loaded with great ways to challenge yourself and your friends. It also has kudos. Who doesn’t love getting that little virtual pat on the back for a run well done?

Garmin Connect and others also have great ways to challenge yourself and your friends, from pre-built challenges you can join to the ability to create challenges with friends.

However, there are things to be careful about with these tools.

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Compare yourself to your current self

This past week, I got in some very solid training. I had my highest volume week in some time, I put up three consecutive days of double digit mileage and I had a good workout earlier in the week. What a way to end a very solid block of training.

The only problem was that, by the end of the week, I found myself thinking a lot about what I was doing 15-20 years ago.

“This is a challenge? I used to knock out twice this volume at a pace 2-3 minutes per mile faster and call it an easy day.”

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Fundamentals in early 2021

First step: just get out the door

Last year was a mess. I don’t have to tell anyone that. Very few races happened in any way we would have pictured racing in 2019 or earlier. With that, for many runners, training changed significantly.

Maybe you focused on something you hadn’t done before. Maybe you continued training at least somewhat as normal (if so, I suspect you were in the minority). Maybe you took a step back. Some even took a step up.

Whatever you did, with some hope that racing will return to something more like normal by fall, if not (hopefully) summer, you might be wondering what to do now. Racing as normal might be some way off but it’s not too early to begin laying the groundwork, especially if you’re optimistic and holding out hope for some summer races.

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How do you use tools and data?

What I see on my watch while running (if I look)

If a runner from 20 years ago was to look at what almost every single one of us has on our wrists and could comprehend all of the data these magnificent watches record, they would be floored.

The irony of this is that many coaches, myself included, are now worried that many runners are too fixated on that data and have forgotten how to listen to their bodies.

So how do you use all of that data that you have readily available in a productive way?

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Hurt? Look at everything

Just because it hurts while you run doesn’t mean running caused it

Recently, I’ve been dealing with an ankle/lower shin issue. I’m on the road to recovery, in large part because I think I found the primary cause of the issue and have corrected it.

However, the primary cause wasn’t where I was expecting it to be and it was where most runners don’t tend to look. It had to do with what I was doing in my leisure time, not when I was running or, for that matter, doing anything physically demanding.

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