I’ve had conversations with a number of runners lately that revolve around the same concept: trying something new for no particular reason.
Yeah yeah. Hypocrite warning blah blah blah.
Here’s the deal: I’m all for trying something new.
Any runner that is looking to take his or her running to a new level by running faster or running farther is likely going to want to try some different training techniques, gear, fueling options, etc along the way to help them improve.
I get that.
But use your heads when it comes to trying something new; stop trying to fix a problem that doesn’t even exist!
Whole Sale Changes: Proceed with Caution!
Trying a different fueling strategy, making changes to your diet, dabbling with cross training: those are all suggestions for things you can try to help you continue to improve as a runner.
Shoot, all of those suggestions should probably be encouraged!
Even if all seems to be well, who knows! Maybe adding a little more cross training or switching from gels to a different fuel source will be the difference between setting or not setting a new PR.
Don’t try something new on race day, obvi, but during your training go ahead and experiment with some different things in your training and see what happens.
On the other end of the “try something new spectrum” are the big things, and perhaps the biggest area where runners should stop trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist is with switching shoes.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!
You all know I’m an Altra fanboy.
No doubt in my mind, if it weren’t for me changing my stride and subsequently discovering Altra I wouldn’t be running today.
Six years ago, I couldn’t run more than 3-4 miles without being in pain.
Shins, ankles, knees, calves… Everything hurt!
Clearly, something was broken and a fix was in order.
What I don’t understand is when runners are having no issues with their feet, legs, knees, hips, whatever else and they decide to change shoes.
Can I be real for a minute?
I think that Altras are the best shoes on the market.
And I think that the vast majority of runners, like 90+ percent, would find that Altras would work quite well for them.
That said, if you’re wearing a shoe with a narrow toe box and a significant heel to toe drop that isn’t causing you any problems, why on Earth would you try a running shoe on the opposite end of the spectrum?
By doing so, you are asking for a problem. No, you’re begging and pleading for an issue to crop up by making such a drastic change.
Why would you do something like that?
Big Changes Need a Long Runway
So let’s say you’ve determined you need to change things up with some aspect of your running.
It could be switching shoes. It could be adding speed work to your routine.
It could be any number of things.
What you’re changing doesn’t matter as much as how you make the change.
You have to make big changes gradually.
If you’ve never done speed work before, don’t go out tomorrow and crank out 10x400m.
The best case scenario for doing something like that would be that you’d be hurting so bad you could hardly walk the next day.
A more likely scenario would be a muscle pull/strain that prevents you from doing any running at all for a couple of weeks (or longer).
When you’re making a big change to something in your running, you need to give yourself some time to ease into the change.
Instead of diving right into 400s, a more prudent approach would be to add a few tempo miles or several fartlek segments to your training for a few weeks.
Then add some longer repeats, such as mile repeats.
As you get more comfortable running at higher levels of intensity, you can work your way up to the hardest sprint intervals, such as 400m.
And it’s the same thing with your shoes.
If you’re going to make a switch in footwear, start small.
Wear the new kicks for a few days where all you’re doing is just walking around in them.
As your body gets used to the new shoes, now you can mix in a short run every couple of days in them while still running the bulk of your miles in the shoes you’re transitioning out of.
The process can be long, like 6-12 months long.
So if you’re considering making a drastic change, you need to give yourself plenty of time to do so safely and intelligently.
Otherwise, there is a very real chance you’ll find yourself working on fixing a problem that you created in the first place.
What is an Area of Your Running, Big or Small, That You are Thinking About Changing?
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