A coach I follow and greatly respect says there’s a big difference between a coach with 20 years of experience and a coach with 1 year of experience repeated 20 times.
I believe this also applies to runners.
But what does it mean and why does it matter?
Do you know a runner who does the same thing every year? Same workouts, same volume, maybe even the same races? Is that runner really learning how to become a better runner? Is that runner really getting better year after year?
More likely, that runner is simply repeating similar races with similar performances every year. The runner isn’t learning about what works and what doesn’t. The runner isn’t exploring and discovering how to become a better, faster, healthier, more resilient runner.
When you explore and look for better ways, it can be scary. How do you know it’s going to work?
You don’t. There’s a chance you will try something that won’t work as well as what you’ve been doing. But then you learned something. You can ask yourself why it didn’t work. Was it that the method just doesn’t work for you? Maybe you didn’t execute it quite as planned? Maybe you need more time to make it work? Once you think about these things, you can decide to discard that idea or alter it to make it more likely to work next time.
On the other hand, if it does work, great! Now, what do you do? You think about why it worked. You think about how you might be able to make it work even better. Then you look for the next way to improve.
I’m not suggesting that you add a new thing every time you read a new post on your favorite running blog. You need to train with consistency. However, on a regular basis, review your training and the results. Think about what you were missing at your most important race or how your goals are changing for your next big goal race. Then think about how you can do even better than you did last time. Review your history, think about what others you know are doing, maybe review some of the history of the blog that had some interesting training ideas. Then pick one or two things to add.
At the same time, we can’t just add. Think about what you did that didn’t produce the results you were hoping for. Maybe something you’ve been doing for years that you once needed but you no longer need or something you tried that didn’t produce the results you were hoping for. Remove that to make room for the new ideas and concepts.
If you find something that works, it’s tempting to just keep repeating that and never explore beyond that method that works.
If you want to keep improving, though, you can’t keep doing the same thing. You need to be in constant search for a better way.