QT: Is Race Variety the Key to Your Growth as a Runner?


As you may remember, if you’ve been around these parts for awhile, I got a new guitar for Christmas a couple of years ago.

Up until that point? I’d never owned a guitar and had only dabbled on the guitars of friends a handful of times over the years.

To say I couldn’t play the guitar at all was not an understatement.

I’d always wanted to learn to play the guitar, specifically how to play Dave Matthews songs on the guitar.

So I took the plunge, bought myself a starter guitar, and dove in.

One Song in One Year

My original goal was pretty straight forward: in the first year of owning the guitar I wanted to learn to play one Dave Matthews song start to finish.

It seemed like a lofty goal at the time, but I had ample time.

Provided, of course, that I didn’t wait 300 days into the year to start trying to learn how to play.

By the end of the year, I could more or less play along with the band to three songs!

A Pattern Emerges…

As my fingers started to learn how to play different songs, I would inevitably get to parts of songs that were just way too complex for me to play.

Maybe I could play the chorus but no way could I play the verse. Or maybe the bridge was doable, but the rest of the song was borderline impossible.

Whatever the case happened to be on each particular song that I would dabble with, there was almost always a part of a song that was too much for me to handle.

So I’d move on to another song, learn part of it, struggle with another part of it, and then move on again.

Every so often I’d go back to one of the songs I had already worked on, sometimes after a few weeks and sometimes after a few months, but in almost every case the part that I couldn’t do before was a little bit easier now.

How could it be that having not practiced a song for weeks/months, all of a sudden my fingers were better able to play the requisite chords?

From where I can sit, it was simply a case of improved neuromuscular connections and finger dexterity picked up from simply playing any songs on the guitar.

Make Your Point Diz

The same thing that I noticed in my “ability” to play the guitar? It’s true for us as runners.

How so?

Let’s say you have a goal to go sub-2 in the half marathon for the first time.

Is the best way to get that elusive 1:59 to keep running half marathons until you get there?

I’m not saying that continuing to train for and race the half-marathon isn’t going to get you to your goal, because it very well might.

My point is that shifting your focus, temporarily, and adding some race variety to you calendar may do more for you than continuing to hammer at 13.1.

Race Variety May Be the Key

It hurts my heart to say this, but there might be more 5ks in my future.

Believe me, I’m not exactly looking forward to the prospect.

But just like dabbling with different songs on the guitar helped me adapt and improve my overall ability to “play” said instrument, building your fitness by running different race distances will likely help you improve your overall fitness.

And the more well-rounded your fitness is? The better your chances are at performing well on race day.

So on occasion? Go ahead and hammer something shorter than you usually run. Or jump into a race that’s a bit longer than you’d typically race.

And then when you come back to your goal race?

You might just be surprised at how “easy” sub-2 pace feels…


How Race Variety is Included in Your Running “Diet?”

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