Ten simple rules for training

This post is inspired by my new favourite blog in the whole world, the logic of the long distance. I discovered this little piece of wonder on the web a few days ago and the guy who runs it, ‘Jeff’ hits the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. He so eloquently combines his passions of running and philosophy, and I for the most part wish I had half the brain he does when it comes to this kind of thing.

While I enjoy the softer side of running (the beautiful nature of the scenery etc…), at times I find some commentary of our sport a little superficial. It’s nice to explore the depths and philosophy of it all too, as well as enjoying the softer side. Ultra running needs a little injection of intelligence every now and again, and Jeff has buckets of the stuff.

We all have reasons as to why we run, and sometimes it’s fun to try to pick it apart a little. Most things in life are after all, a combination of art and science, and running should be regarded as such too.

‘Jeff’s’ recent Facebook post around the ten rules of training really seemed to resonate with a lot of you. So in honour of my new favourite blog, I thought I’d take Jeff’s ten reasons and add some further Ultra168 context to it all. It’s not gospel by any means, and probably isn’t half as intelligent as Jeff could describe it, but it’s a springboard for discussion and I’d love it if you could share your own context as well.

1. Show up

Man, this one is so easy, yet so many of us find it hard to do. There’s a quote I love that has been attributed to many, but it rings true in all walks of life: “The world is run by people who show up.”

Time and time again, it’s so easy to get side-tracked and ‘lose the habit’. Because that’s what running is. It’s a habit that we form. As human’s we need and also crave structure in our lives. But just as easily as it is to form a habit, it can be lost too. We get into the habit of not running. When was the last time you ever heard someone say they regretted going for a run? Probably never, right? It’s no secret that the ‘luckiest’ runners are the ones that never miss a training session. Funny that.

2. Run hard twice a week.

How hard do you really run in training?
How hard do you really run in training?

How many of us appear to go through the motions with our training? Those 10-15km runs that clock up the kms, but are kind of easy and don’t really do a lot. Sure, there’s a time and a place for easy runs. But if you want to progress, get quicker and improve your times, you have to learn how to run quick first. Anyone can run ‘slow’, no need to practice that. But the guys at the pointy end have all been working out how to run quick first. Arthur Lydiard is regarded as the founding father of how to train, but I know many (including myself), who adopt a reverse-Lydiard approach to training. Learn to run quick first, then build up the mileage after. Running slow is the easy bit. Running hard hurts like hell.

3. Go fast when you feel good.

Don’t go into your training with a mindset of ‘I must run this pace today’. You could be doing yourself out of what you’re really capable of and ultimately not training effectively. The same is true when you’re not feeling so good. If the legs simply aren’t there, then give them a break and just take it as you will. If you want some further context on this, have a look at our recent article on listening to your body from Andy DuBois. It’s pretty good.

4. Don’t chase numbers.

Garmins and Ambit. They exist to record your training and times, not to dictate it. They’re not there to tell you how fast to go. So many people ‘think’ they should run a certain pace, which is either a.) way above their stations, or b.) too slow in a few cases. As with the above, run to feel sometimes. Some of my best racing has been without a watch. Use them as a guide by all means, but don’t live and die by the watch. The best indication of pace is to listen to the ticker in the upper left-hand side of your chest. She’ll tell you if you’re going to hard (or too slow).

5. Race your friends

Friendly competition is great. There was a time when myself and a few mates would meet every Tuesday for our hills reps course in Sydney. It was our weekly hills session, but the more we did it, the more competitive it became until each week this would become a race between us all. Not only was it friendly competition, but man did we get fit squaring off against each other each week in this unofficial battle for the fastest time on the hills. If you train with some mates. Nominate a session each week to bust your balls and claim the bragging rights. It’s good fun and it forms great bonds too.

Training with your mates is not only fun, but you'll probably improve your times too
Training with your mates is not only fun, but you’ll probably improve your times too

6. Don’t be a wimp

OK, there are times when we don’t want to run, that’s fine. But don’t whine about it and become a Facebook Runner.

7. Appreciate the good ones

You won’t realise it at the time, but there are some training blocks that become the making of you. Remember those times, work out what worked and what you did, and remember how you can use it for future training. I look back at some of our GNW training in 2011 and think it’s some of the best and most enjoyable training I’ve done. Appreciate it, learn from it and use it again.

8. Forget the bad ones

Learn from it. Consign to the bin. Don’t dwell on it. End of.

Smiling, it’s good for you

9. Enjoy

If you’re not enjoying it then why bother. Afterall, you run because of the feeling you get from it all, a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that it gives us. Similarly, don’t take it all so seriously, enjoy it for what it is. Sure you might not hit a race or training goal, but relax man… it’s only running.

10. Believe

So many times we can doubt what we’re capable of or even think that something is impossible. Only your opinion matters at the end of the day and if you believe something can be done, then go and get it and be prepared to put in the hard yards. Remember, lucky runners are lucky because they trained so damn hard.

Like our articles? Take a second to support Ultra168 on Patreon from as little as $1 a month!
Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

9 thoughts on “Ten simple rules for training

  1. Hi Marcus,
    All so simple but true!
    Did a couple of Kedumbla repeats this afternoon, one of my favorite sessions. Looking to Cradle Mountain run early Feb, then Tarawerra.
    Thanks for your efforts I enjoy reading them.

    1. Hey James, while Marcus’ pretty face is plastered over the article, the brains behind this piece is my good self 🙂 Inspired by ‘Jeff’.

  2. #2 resonates with me. I always find that 1 “hard” run each week is actually quite enjoyable. It’s the second one that really challenges me.

  3. Interesting article, blog entry, whatever they are called these days. That part in #2 “Learn to run quick first, then build up the mileage after. Running slow is the easy bit. Running hard hurts like hell.” I thought the hard part was learning to run slow. My first 50-miler was a crash and burn at 7:24ish, almost adequate amount of speed, but the endurance was not there. Learning to run the longish stuff at 10-12 minute pace (miles, not kilometers 😉 ) took a couple of months. Eight months later I managed to pay attention (I am one of the nonserious ‘just passing through’ folks) and ran a 6:31 50-miler. Endurance>strength>speed.

    I never have understood the almost mythical idea that the need for faster workouts goes away when a person starts doing ultramarathons. The regular speed sessions are a must. The biggest addition (if you are not a trails-only sort) was using road marathons as long tempo runs.

Leave a Reply