QT: Stop Trying to Train Like an Elite Runner If You’re Not an Elite

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Would you consider yourself an elite runner?

If so? Carry on.

Now then, if you’re reading this I assume you and I are in the same category: non-elite.

I don’t say that disparagingly, I promise.

I’m just trying to make sure we are on the same page, to begin with, because I might be ruffling a few feathers before long.

“Do What the Elites Do”

If the elites are doing something, it must be the thing to do, right?

Don't Think You Need a Running Coach?

In theory, yes.

Provided you’re an elite.

If you’re not an elite, which we’ve already clarified is the case for both of us, trying to do what the elites do in training is asking for trouble.

Forgive my bluntness, but you and I simply can’t do what the elites do.

You and I, for the most part, aren’t able to do 10-12 workouts per week.

We aren’t able to churn out 60-100+ miles, week after week, without breaking down physically.

And we probably aren’t going to be able to find time to sleep for 10 hours per night, take a nap most days, get multiple hour long massages each week, see a PT every few days, and so on and so forth.

If you want to do what the elites do, you’ve gotta do all of it.

Not just some killer workout. Not just running 6 days a week while also mixing in a few double days or hitting an arbitrarily decided upon weekly/monthly volume just because that’s what Kipchoge or Flannagan or Linden or Rupp does.

If you’re going to do what the elites do, you’ve got to do it all.

And you and I?

Principles, Not Specifics

I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t learn from what the elites do in training.

The key is to look for principles that we can incorporate, at the proper scale, into our training instead of the specifics.

How does this, potentially, look in practice?

  • Workouts

Instead of trying to do the exact workout of an elite, scale it accordingly.

Maybe that means you adjust the volume. Or the intensity. Or both.

But stop trying to do the exact same workout as an elite, when you’re not an elite.

  • Base Building

Unsurprisingly, I’m a fan of running slow to build your base.

So are the vast majority of elite runners in the world.

But guess what? Just because an elite can run at 7:30 pace for their easy runs, doesn’t mean that 7:30 is easy for me.

Nor does it mean that 7:30 is easy for you.

So when you look at an elite’s plan and see certain paces for certain workouts, ignore those paces.

Instead, try and estimate what kind of effort the elite is putting into that workout as you think about how to put your own plan together.

  • Little Things

You really want to take a page out of the book of the elites?

Take a look at how much time then spend doing the little things.

You and I may not have multiple hours per day to devote to foam rolling, stretching, massaging, and various other forms of body work.

But if you look at the ratio of time the elites spent running vs doing all of the little things, and compare that to the ratio that we spend?

Yeah, I’m willing to bet most of us are quite out of balance compared to most elites.

Lord knows I am.


Stop trying to train like the elites, unless, of course, you're an elite. #runchat Click To Tweet

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