Confession time & going minimalist

Posted on May 23, 2013

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20120511_im1I have a problem.

Even though I’m quite happy to commit to my Tori-style non-training-progamme with no structure, no heart rate monitoring and little attention to time or distance … and even though I don’t actually do long training runs (even for races up to 100km in distance, I never do a training run longer than 25k) and back to backs, whilst often an intention, too often get dismissed by the lure of something far more pleasurable such as a massage & sauna or dinner & movie …

… my problem is that I find myself asking others what they do training-wise then freaking out about my next race on hearing about fancy plans, crazy long runs and alien words like ‘speed work’ or ‘interval training.’

This has to stop, I know.  There can be no benefit to finding out what others do unless I want to change my own approach. And I don’t. Only last week, I had a meltdown post a conversation with my friend Brett, currently in training for Comrades.

But on consideration after, I reminded myself that I have no desire or intention to charge up my current approach. This is why:

  • I believe there is great benefit in just getting distance and time in your legs over a long period.  It’s all about progressive loading and building a solid aerobic base. I’ve been consistently training for a long time now … I always have at least a day off per week and taper before then recover after races but otherwise, that consistency builds endurance, strength and muscle memory.
  • I also feel there’s alot to be said for cross training.  I love yoga, body balance and random short stints on the elliptical, which I can combine with keeping on top of my never-dwindling pile of reading material whilst bopping along to classic tunes on MTV (watching TV is exciting when you don’t have your own at home!). Plus fitting in cross training AND excessive running training is nigh on impossible if trying to find a good balance in life and be a high-performer in other areas of your life.
  • And I realise that whilst pretty much every runner I know seems to have long bouts of injury and the resulting time out and exorbitant medical bills, I’ve never actually had a bona fide injury.  I do have an ongoing Achilles niggle but for the most part, it’s totally manageable. All these years of pretty injury-free training and racing has to come down to a lack of long-runs and therefore minimising stress on my body and on listening to myself rather than a coach or internet programme.

I think the only real downside of this approach is not in your actual race itself but in the recovery. I find myself taking longer to recover, walking like John Wayne sans horse for quite a few days post race and relying on the poor individuals around me to be at my beck and call (!) … but I guess this is no bad thing really if it means we take a genuine rest before starting up again.

So there you go.  Tori’s unconventional approach to training for and running long distance. It works for me and it may well work for you so never be afraid to turn your back on the herd. And this goes for running and life in general. Always take the road-less travelled and you’ll find all that you encounter brings with it far greater adventure!

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