QT: Bucking Conventional Wisdom May Be the Right Call


If you talk to enough runners, you’re going to hear quite a few unwritten rules that supposedly all runners should follow.

But does that mean you have to follow those rules to the letter?

Or even follow them at all?

When I ran the Celebration half marathon recently, I decided to thumb my nose at multiple “rules” on race day.

Turns out, purposefully breaking the unwritten rules can actually work quite well…

(Un)Conventional Wisdom?

Near as I can tell, I bucked conventional wisdom on multiple fronts during the Celebration half.

It’s true.

You Can’t Race Fast if You Don’t Train Fast

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how they can possibly run faster on race day if they only run easy most of the time, I’d probably be in a different tax bracket.

I might not have enough dollars to retire on a tropical island, but I’d at least be able to take Beks out for a nice dinner.

Anyway, as much as I keep blathering on about the value of building your aerobic fitness it seems that conventional wisdom still feels that regular speed work is required to get faster on race day.

An occasional hard workout is a good thing, no doubt about it.

But multiple times per week? Or even once a week?

Once per month, or so, is enough for me.

Rule Two: If You Don’t Fuel Early/Often, You’ll Bonk

When it comes to fueling needs, not all races are created equal.

The longer the race, the more fueling becomes something that needs to be done.

<makes sense>

But depending on the length of your race, fueling isn’t necessary.

Unless, of course, you follow conventional wisdom.

Gotta pop a gel every 45 minutes or you’re going to bonk, right?

Turns out, you can throw down for 13.1 miles without taking in any fuel during the race (and hardly any before).

Rule Three: If You Don’t Drink, Dehydration Will Crush You

Yeah, so?

Look, the fact of the matter is that humans are able to still function in mild states of dehydration.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to sip some water or some other type of drink during a race.

I’m just saying it’s not a requirement.

If the conditions are hot and humid and you’re sweating like crazy?

You should probably replace some fluids if you’re going to be hammering for a while.

But if it’s chilly and you’re hardly sweating?

Your needs to drink during your event are minimized.

The old drink to thurst advice? That’s pretty solid.

But the “rule” that you need to drink a certain number of ounces per hour?

Meh.

Rule Four: Keep an Eye on Your Watch So You Don’t Go Too Fast/Slow

Conventional wisdom dictates that negative splits are the optimal strategy for race day success.

And to be honest, I think it’s a good strategy.

My Bad Running Habits

Here’s the thing, being a slave to your watch and trying to hit every split perfectly takes more focus and mental energy than it’s worth.

Sure, it makes sense to check yourself so you don’t wreck yourself.

But ideally, you can run by feel and just take what your body will give you.

And on occasion, maybe even more often than not, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

2022 Celebration 13.1

What happens when you throw conventional wisdom completely out the window on race day?

That is an Excellent Question

I’m not sure that I had planned to go completely rogue on race day, but ultimately that’s kind of how things unfolded.

And the results?

A 5+ minute PR.

Does that mean everyone would be better served ignoring conventional wisdom on race day?

Shoot, it doesn’t even mean that I’m going to continue doing my own thing on race day indefinitely.

My point is that just because things are typically done one way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

And in some cases, it doesn’t even mean it’s the best way.

The only way to find out if conventional wisdom works best for you is to be willing to try something different.

And if the unconventional works for you, then it works for you.


How willing are you to buck conventional racing with your running? #runchat Click To Tweet

Do You Break Any of the “Rules” I “Broke” at My Race?

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