Monday, June 11, 2012
I've been thinking more about that Sally Kipyego quote I mentioned in Sally's 14:43 Secret: "Julia, don't try to be great, just do every day pretty good like you're supposed to, and then you'll be great." There's a book called The Horse Whisperer (made into a Robert Redford film) that tells the story of how a traumatised horse and rider are coaxed back to a normal relationship by a horse whisperer, Tom Booker. The methods a horse whisperer uses are gentler and kinder by comparison to traditional horse training techniques. I think I should apply a similar philosophy to the training of myself as a runner. Hammering out 'PB interval sessions' or running weekly races with the desperation that a sheep station is riding on the outcome, seems to me like traditional horse training. Runner Whispering has to be a better method of finding that holy grail of improvement — the 'doing every day pretty good' that Sally Kipyego advises.
I've also been thinking about what's needed to be a successful distance runner (besides carefully selecting one's parents). In my search, I stumbled upon the blog of a running philosopher, Jeff Edmonds. One of Jeff's older posts caught my eye: 'Keep it Simple, Yo! Distance training, from 5k to 50k'. Jeff mentions that speed per se is not the problem for distance runners who want to run faster. The problem is extending one's speed over the distance of the race. For example, I can run 1k in 4 minutes, so how can I train my body to hold that speed for 4 more kilometres. Jeff's answer in three words: "run a lot." He put up one of his own weeks of training as an example — 83.2 miles, all 'easy' running except for 5 miles 'tempo' and 8 miles 'moderate'. He was hardly suffering a horse whipping in the tempo run — 5:40 mile pace (about 3:30 per k), which is quite modest for a 15:48 5k runner. Jeff is now running less 'mileage centric' training (about 70 miles/week including 2 'workouts'), but I'd still categorise that as whispered training.
I'm whispering my own training along quite well. Ran 80k last week, including an 8k tempo run (5:07 per k) and one of those 'almost perfect' easy runs on Friday (would have loved to have been racing that day!). This morning I raced 'easy' over the rarely run distance of 5 miles in the Sri Chinmoy event down at Telopea Park. The last time I raced 5 miles would have been in the late '80s or early '90s. Needless to say, I didn't threaten my lifetime PB (which is around 29-flat from memory), but ran a pleasing 38:43 at a comfortable average heart-rate of 143. My next big race is the Gold Coast 10k on 29 June — should be a good tune-up race for the Runners Shop 5k in late July and a happy break from the depths of a Canberra winter.