I have an admission to make. When I’m writing training plans for the runners I coach, I don’t even look at the weekly mileage I have them running. As I know can frustrate some, especially as we are just starting together, I very infrequently talk about specific paces to target.
Why don’t I do these things? Because your body doesn’t know numbers. It knows effort and duration.
It’s way too easy with modern devices and websites to lose yourself in the numbers, to chase a number in the training log rather than to consider how hard your body is working. However, this is a mistake. It’s the reason for a trend I’ve noticed with a small portion of the running community to avoid these devices and sites in favor of old school watches and paper training logs.
When you focus on the numbers, it’s easy to get yourself into trouble. You want to go a little farther, a little faster, and eventually your body just can’t handle it.
Even if you don’t fall into that trap, you might set targets that seem good when you’re planning things out but just don’t work due to the weather or the stress you faced on a given day. If you’re targeting a certain number but got bad sleep last night, had a rough day at work and the weather is bad, that number might be too much. You’d be better off slowing down or going shorter.
Fortunately, if you’re running by effort, your body automatically accounts for the fatigue and conditions and you end up slowing down or going shorter. You still get the proper training stimulus without running yourself into the ground.
So go ahead and record the numbers if you wish but don’t get too caught up in them. In fact, this is a great time of the year to just cover up your watch and not even pay attention to it during your run.