Quality Running Over Quantity
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Don't Get FOMO
Endurance athletes are notorious for always trying to fit in as much as possible in their busy lives on top of training. We are a rare breed of humans that enjoy pushing our bodies to the limit simply to test out how far we can go. Whether it is getting in a big mileage week or doing multiple workouts throughout the day, athletes want to be in the best physical shape possible. This type of mindset can often lead to overtraining and burnout. The cumulative stress of life including work, family, and lack of sleep all contribute to how your body responds to training. Therefore, focusing on the quality of workouts during the week rather than the quantity is a superior way to build your body.
The Downfalls of a Quantity Focused Plan
There is not enough time in the day to fit in countless miles of training to match your favorite professional athlete on Strava. What these metrics fail to show you is the amount of recovery
these athletes are taking as well. In order to train like a professional, you need to be able to have enough time to recover like a professional. This is one of the most common issues athletes face as they begin their training journey. Doubt creeps in that you aren’t doing enough miles or logging enough hours to be able to finish your next race. This leads to countless hours of garbage training that isn’t purposeful and often leads to overuse injuries. The whole point of training is to provide a stimulus to the body that will break it down in order to build it up stronger. Brad Stulberg points out in his book Peak Performance, the growth equation is “Stress + Rest = Growth “ It would be great to be able to take a nice 2-hour nap after you midweek training run but most endurance athletes have many other commitments besides training. Remember that all stress has a cumulative effect on the body. So rather than trying to get in a certain number of hours or miles per week focus on the quality of how you’re training as well as the quality of your recovery.
Keys to Quality Running Focused Training
It is important to make your training specific to you. This means focusing on weaknesses, listening to your body, and remembering recovery. Many endurance athletes like to get out and log lots of miles. Without a specific purpose to these miles, training often leads to plateaus in fitness. Here are two principles to guide you:
Focusing on making the hard workouts hard and easy workouts easy is a great way to begin to think about quality training. Not sure how this works? Start with this blog.
Incorporate strength. Overuse injuries tend to come from doing repetitive movements without adequate strengthening of supporting muscles. Therefore having a quality strength routine is one of the best ways to ensure you are continuing to build your body in different ways. We have a strength training guide to help you get started.
Know Your Self
It is important to get to know yourself during your training. Being able to push yourself in a hard workout or back things off on an easy day both take discipline in understanding our perceived effort. This concept of rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is one of the best ways to make your training quality focused. It is also just as important to listen to our bodies when training becomes too much. The body is usually pretty good about letting you know what it needs. This applies to recovery as well. Sleep, nutrition, and mobility of muscles and joints are the pillars of having quality recovery. No matter what your next adventure, it is always best to train smarter not harder.