“Good runners pay attention. They are acutely in tune with the vast potential within their bodies and derive their joy out of seeing how close they can get to the ultimate limit. At the same time though, respecting their human fragility, orchestrating their “instruments” like a master conductor, knowing (or “feeling”) exactly when to back down and when to go full tempo, for the perfect symphony.”
My peak training years were in the era when in order to know the pace you were training at you would either find a stretch of road that had been used for a race and still had the painted kilometer marks, or, you would cycle a route, spray paint in hand, and make your own markings. Our runs were rarely based on kilometers, but on time. If you were tired you ran slowly, if you were not, you ran fast, either way, if the program said 40 minutes, at 40 minutes you stopped. Training diaries were old school hardcover books that you diligently wrote in with pencil every evening, carefully calculating the “estimated” kilometer total at the end of the week (always rounding up!), it was not 100% accurate, but that didn’t really matter, winning races (fast!) was what mattered.
The arrival of various tracking devices and apps that can tell you everything from how far and fast you ran to whether you were close to your heart attack limit or not, has definitely simplified course measuring, pace calculation, training feedback and added lots of fun elements to training, especially for newbies needing some cyber village motivation.
Something that has been lost though, is the art and beauty of “feeling your run”. A lot of the simplistic joy of “just running” (Nike were onto something good there) sometimes gets lost in between the numbers.
Three common “overtracking” scenarios that I often find and that lead me to get runners to ditch the GPS for a while and simply “JUST RUN” for a certain amount of time “as they feel”, ignoring pace and distance.
Firstly, the OCD runners. You know those who stop the watch at every traffic light and whose GPS uploads show these strange circles where they ran round and round the car to round off the last kilometer? These runners usually become so obsessed with weekly mileage and pace stats that they struggle to “listen” when their body is sending emergency flares to back off. Over-tracking then quickly turns into overtraining!
Secondly, the competitive achievers, those who are continuously frustrated if there pace is “slow”. Slow days are amazing. Slow days are when our body gets a chance to do some much needed repair so you can throw down the hammer in the next workout.
Then thirdly, there are those who simply never know if they are going fast, slow, have run 5k or 10k, are about to go into cardiac arrest or are just out of breath because they are going fast unless something is beeping at them and some friendly data voice is giving them constant feedback (much to the irritation of the fellow runners in the group!).
All of these have always responded very positively to the just run as you feel for time programme. Bouncing back positive, motivated, healthier and stronger – and most importantly, with a renewed love for running.
There is something magical about being perfectly in tune with your body, being able to train and race perfectly according to “feel”, knowing exactly how to respond to the myriad of messages your body is continuously sending back, and being able to compose these into “The Perfect Symphony”.
Get out there, JUST RUN, and “Feel” the music!!