Do you feel like your workouts always run on low? it’s time to train like an elite runner for your best results yet.
If you’ve never run a marathon, let alone jogged a full mile, then don’t be dismayed. The life of a runner could still be in your future. Not only is running a sport suitable for nearly all sizes, fitness levels and walks of life, your progress on the pavement will improve your endurance in other sports and activities. So get going and follow these elite athlete training tips to work your way to the front of the pack.
“Elite athletes too experience discomfort in day-to-day training. It does not matter if one is out of shape or elite, discomfort is in all of us,” says Foon Fu, an Atlanta runner coach, who has trained
everyone from beginners and youth competitors to collegiate athletes and national record holders.
In order to push through your discomfort and thus build up your endurance, Fu says you must distinguish between discomfort and pain, which he describes as physical and constant and, if felt, should limit or terminate your workout. Do this by starting out at a steady, easy pace, then add a few seconds, minutes or miles at higher intensity. As elite runners have spent years learning their body and perceived degrees of exertion, he says, learning and running within your different zones of discomfort will open your fitness level to new frontiers (quite literally).
In fact, discomfort-based training, also known as threshold training, is extremely popular among elite athletes in all sports. But if you think that means every run has to end ceremoniously in a pool of your vomit, then relax. Results from one particular study on elite runners, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, suggest that runners should train roughly 70 percent of the time below threshold (easy), 10 to 20 percent near threshold (moderate) and only 5 to 10 percent at their max threshold (intense). For example, in five days of 30-minute slow runs, one day may be spent on 15 minutes of high-intensity interval sprinting drills, which are also common among the training plans of the elite.
Last, a big step to training like an elite athlete is adopting an elite athlete mindset.
“When you view yourself as not only being a professional at something but being good at something, there is an intensity and purpose behind your training that the average person doesn’t have,” says Dr. Stan Beecham, a sport psychologist and author of Elite Minds, who has worked with several collegiate teams and Olympic and professional athletes in various sports, including running.
Beecham says that major difference gives elite runners the motivation to work harder and more often even when they don’t meet their goals. So in order to find your motivating factor, he says you should find the truthful reason why you run in the first place.
“I would say the primary reason to run as a recreational athlete is No. 1: it’s an enjoyable experience for you and the other hand is that it is beneficial from a health standpoint for a number of reasons. If you hold on to that as the primary reason, you can run for the rest of your life.” – By Nina Hemphill Reeder
Photos: Michael A. Chester