QT: Keeping Your Running Simple is Often the Better Option

Is it just me, or do humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things at times?

Seeing as runners are humans, does that mean that we have a tendency to overcomplicate things as well?


If I’m honest? I’ve been guilty of overcomplicating things, for both myself and the runners I coach, at times in the past.

Here are a few areas where I think, both personally and professionally, simple is better than complicated.

Running is Pretty Straight Forward

Running, at its core, really is a pretty simple process.

Left foot. Right foot. Repeat.

So why do we tend to overcomplicate various aspects of our running?

Great Questions

Is there a time and a place where complicated is better within our sport?


But for most of us, I don’t think the payoff makes sense.

Meaning, in a lot of cases the payoff of simple and the payoff of complicated are more or less the same.

So what is the rationale for doing the complicated when the results are basically the same as the simple?

Me neither.

4 Areas Where Simple is Better

So where might you try to keep things simple in your training?

Hard Workouts

What are the best hard workouts?

Intervals? Hill repeats? Tempo runs?

Which gives you the biggest bang for you buck?

I Don't Know

From where I sit, one hard workout is basically as good as the next.

Challenging yourself in different ways is a good idea, but having a few different workouts you can absolutely crush is better than rotating through a dozen workouts that are half-baked.

Having a few hard workouts in the rotation is plenty, I promise.

Strength Training

No doubt in my mind that strength training is beneficial for every runner.

That said, strength training is something that plenty of runners abstain from.

A myriad of reasons, but a lot of them are some form of overcomplication.

  • Not enough time.
  • No gym membership.
  • Lack of equipment.
  • Not sure what to do.

When it comes to strength training, all you really need is you.

It really is that simple.

  • Your workouts don’t need to be long to be effective, so don’t let having enough time get you down.
  • Bodyweight exercises don’t require a gym membership nor any equipment.
  • There are hundreds (thousands?) of free strength training resources/workouts available.

To be clear, having lots of time, a gym membership/equipment at home, and/or lots of experience with strength training isn’t a bad thing.

But none of those things are required.

Race Strategy

What’s your plan of attack on race day?

Plan for your Race Schedule?

Yes, you should have a plan for race day.

No, it shouldn’t be overly complicated.

I heard recently of a coach that put together specific mile splits, for every single mile, over the course of a marathon.


Honestly? I can’t contort my mind to a point where I could see this being a good thing for any runner.

The amount of mental energy required to stay on track with different goal splits for every mile?

Yes, having a plan for a race is a good thing.

Just keep it simple.

I find that about three targets/numbers is a good rule of thumb for most runners.

How you break those down is going to vary based on the runner, his or her goal, and a whole host of other factors.

But if you need a cheat sheet to keep your race strategy straight, you probably have a plan that is too complicated.

Adjusting Training Due to Life

We all know that life is going to life from time to time, right?

When life happens, we have to adjust our training accordingly.

But how do you adjust when life throws you a curve and you miss a run or two?

It’s impossible to give hard and fast advice for hypothetical situations, but more often than not whatever is the easiest adjustment is also the best adjustment.

More often than not, that means letting go of the missed runs and just getting back to your training schedule where you left off.

Are there exceptions to this advice?

Of Course

But in most cases, it’ll work just fine.

Work Smarter Not Harder

Any goal worth achieving is going to require hard work.

But making it harder to work hard doesn’t make much sense to me.

Keep things simple, as much as you can.

And odds are that you’ll be getting just as much, if not more, out of the work you are doing.

When it comes to running, keep it simple yo! #runchat Click To Tweet

Where Do You Tend to Overcomplicate Things Related to Running?

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