Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sat, 16 Mar 2002 11:19:12 -0500

More of the Same


A loyal correspondent, Cathy Troisi, notes the irony in the ever-longer discussion of simplifying running (which started in RC 398 and ends, we can hope, in this issue). "This is becoming too complicated," writes Cathy, "and as technical as Peak Performance Newsletter or Running Research News. Why not just go out the door, put one foot in front of the other, and enjoy being able to do so?"

My meek defense was that I'd written most of the recent advice for runners who race and want to do it better. They asked about training distances and paces, so I gave them my thoughts as they mesh with high school coach Jack Farrell's. That doesn't mean I always practice what I write.

At a recent race I was asked repeatedly, "Are you running?" The simple answer, "No, not this time." The unspoken answer: I like to run too much to race anymore.

Races are a poor investment at this stage of my running life. They take more training than I want to do, and racedays require more effort than I care to give. The risks of running myself into injury or illness aren't worth the scant payoffs that might result.

Even if I dodge serious side-effects, the harder work demands more rest and easy days. I prefer to make more days a little better than to gamble on making a few of them great.

More have become better lately. I'm now running nearly 50 percent more, on average, than a few months ago.

I've made the shorter daily run longer and the longer weekend runs shorter. In other words, I've taken Jack Farrell's advice and made all runs more the same. They're creeping back, in length anyway, to where they were a long time ago.

My favorite comment about more-of-the-same comes from an old running mate of mine in the California years. Rich Stiller writes, "Farrell's training sounds remarkably similar to that of someone I used to hang around with now and then. Namely you."

Our patterns were similar. Rich recalls, "In the 1970s and '80s I ran eight or so miles a day. I never liked the really long runs and eventually gave them up. My basic rule was not to do one day what I could not do every day."

Nowadays he doesn't run as far as before, and he takes one day a week off. But he still prefers to run about the same amount each time -- maybe adding only one mile to one run each week, a la Farrell.

My reply to Rich: "I'm with you nearly every step of the way here. I'm inching up by five minutes a month toward a daily 50 to 60 minutes (five or six miles at current pace)... with only a 10-minute (one-mile) jump for the once-a-week "long" run... and a weekly day off (if for no other reason than to keep from falling back into the streaking trap). We have gone a long way to get back to where we were 25 years ago."

Rich's response comes in words I could use myself. Racing, he says, has just about ended for him and he isn't training to get faster or to go longer. He wants as many of his runs as possible to be as enjoyable as possible.

He calls on no less a figure than Jeff Galloway for support. Rich writes, "Even Jeff, who once advocated every-other-day runs and then variations of that, went back to running six days a week. He didn't do this to train for competition but so he could experience the sheer joy of running more often."

Running more minutes, more often, feels even better.

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