The Importance of Individualized Training
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of running, it’s to listen to my body and train in a way that suits me, not just how the best or greatest runners train.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to running. In fact, an individualized approach is more often the best approach for optimal performance. Everyone reacts differently to different training stimuli, and one of the greatest ways to improve performance is to discover what works for you as an individual.
For me, the key is moderation. Despite my wishes, my body does not handle high mileage that well. But I’ve found ways to work around this, particularly through cross-training and eliminating any junk miles. I have been aiming for about 45-55 miles a week since November, which includes a run on the Alter-G once a week. I only run 6 days a week, generally in singles, and add in about 3-4 hours of cross-training (aqua jogging, ElliptiGo, spin bike) to simulate 70-75 total miles for the week. I try to keep my training well rounded, with lifting, core work, strides, drills, recovery, and lots and lots of PT. One of my biggest strengths from this type of training is that I generally feel fresh, recovered, and ready to tackle the next challenge. The fact that I’ve been injured so many times has actually allowed me to discover how I train best and made me a much stronger athlete in general.
Focusing on what you can do as an individual to become the best possible athlete can also take away some of the fear of competition. When I begin to think about all my competitors and how hard they train, what their PRs are, how in the world can I hope to beat them, it becomes straight up terrifying. Instead, I think about what I can do each and every day to get the best out of myself. I prepare mentally and physically so that when I get on the line, I have complete confidence in my training. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has done; I know I’m ready to perform my best.
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading about other athlete’s training. It’s so interesting to me to see how runners structure their training, what types of workouts they run, etc. Different training works for different athletes, and as I hope to be a coach myself someday, I scour the internet for anything and everything I can find about running. And while I occasionally find some tips or new ideas to implement in my training, the training of others doesn’t change what I do as an athlete. I stick with what I know best and rely on how I feel, letting my body tell me when we’re training just hard enough and when to back off.
These past few weeks of racing have given me renewed confidence that what I’m doing is working. We haven’t done anything crazy or extreme this year; it’s just the result of being healthy for the past 13 months, continued training, and natural progression. Each year I try to train a little bit harder, a little bit smarter, and a little bit more focused. I stay focused on the positive and enjoy every moment because it’s not that often that you can live your dream!