As the weather changes and the clocks go back, is it time to rewind the training?
Ben explains how to gain control going into the winter months. Whether you are reading this now or in a few weeks time when its dark at 4pm, this advice can help you make the most of running in the dark.
Running in the dark = control. Why?
The UK’s Autumn clock change lends itself wonderfully to runners' getting a better understanding of what their body is telling them. Running in the dark removes the visual cue of speed. The runner is left to ascertain tempo by less obvious means (GPS aside) and develop an all important running empathy.
This increased sense of running empathy is hugely important in understanding pace judgment, both in training and when racing for a new PB time.
Why you might want better running control.
Greater control of your running pace will make it easier to find your correct threshold in training and equally will make you much better at judging effort during a race. Rather than sprinting out at the start and flagging at the end, you will be able to find the optimal pace that will allow you to get the best possible performance from your current fitness.
If you have a good grip of pace control it will allow you to marginally throttle back if you need to recover from red line efforts, without having to resort to jogging in order to recover. This can be a big confidence boost in races or when training with a group of faster runners.
The bottom line is that control puts you at the helm of your running, and it is the pivotal moment when the run is no longer in control of you (“how much longer?...”) and instead you are now able to be the captain of your own running destiny.
Autumnal running empathy & control
1. Run with the stated aim of listening to your body.
2. Identify your body’s natural metronome as you change pace by breathing and foot noise.
3. Leave behind the mp3 player, i-Pod, Garmin, HR monitor and extraneous stimuli.
4. To seek the most subtle tempo increases, feel for your forefoot and toes getting more engaged in your running stride and your center of gravity will move forwards slightly.
5. Slowly start to identify very subtle changes in tempo gears.
Aim to run the same 30 minute running loop once per week.
Week 1: Aim to run it initially at what feels like first gear aka your normal steady run pace, and time exactly how long the loop takes.
Week 2: Now you run the exact same loop in second gear which is the most subtle increase you can identify on pace from the previous week, your goal is to run the same loop LESS than 30 seconds quicker, with the ideal to run it only five seconds quicker as this represents truly subtle pace increase and please don’t look at your watch until you get home – that would be cheating!
Week 3: If last week you managed to run your loop less than 30 seconds quicker, then you progress to aiming for third gear and again not looking for any more than 30 seconds improvement on last week’s time. However, if last week you ran more than 30 seconds quicker then week one you go back to trying to find the tempo that will achieve this goal.
Week 4 and beyond: Continue the same pattern of progression or replay, remembering the key is not to simply go faster, but instead to find the smallest margin of tempo increase.