Managing Your Improvement Curve

Managing Your Improvement Curve
How to Find Your Unique Training Balance

Have you ever wondered why a training program that works well for someone else does little or nothing for you?  It is simply because you are different runners and your needs are different to see significant improvement.  As you prepare for your Monumental race it is a good time to objectively assess yourself as a runner to determine your best return on training investment to keep your improvement curve moving in the right direction.  By recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and the demands specific to your race distance you can plan your training in the proper balance to keep building your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

We can boil down all workouts to these four basic purposes, endurance, stamina, economy, and speed.  Endurance is the ability to get from point A to point B without stopping.  Stamina is the ability to maintain a pace from point A to point B.  Economy is the physiological cost of a given pace and speed is the ability to run faster than race pace.

If this is your first attempt at a new distance the first goal is to finish mandating that endurance is your priority.  However, if you have a closet full of race t-shirts and finisher’s medals staying focused on endurance will have you wondering why your improvement curve is flat or downhill.  You have proven you can get to point B and now it is time to think about the pace from A to B requiring more stamina to compliment your endurance.

If you have done a great job blending endurance and stamina and have several strong races on your resume but seem stuck on a plateau with no breakthrough in sight it is time to raise you limits with more concentrated economy training.  If we put you on a treadmill next to another runner keeping all the variables constant and at goal pace they are working at 75% of maximum effort and you are chugging along at 85% we know two things.  They will be able to maintain this pace longer and they can speed up and still be doing less work than you.  You will need to do economy based workouts to lower you workload at goal pace to get off your plateau and see another PR.

Similarly, though it is not much of a challenge to run faster than long distance goal pace, you will still benefit from speed improvement because like economy training it will raise your limits.  The faster you can run for shorter distances the more comfortable the relatively slower pace of long distances become.  By raising your economy and speed ceilings running at the same percentage of maximum effort will result in a faster race.

Yes, you got it!  Now you see that all four purposes begin to overlap and build on each other.  To be at your best you will need to address all four components. The key is to know where you are now and be able to find the best balance in your training for the next few months to have the greatest effect on race day.

If you are thinking this is a great concept but you need to know more to implement it into your training, stay tuned to  I will be conducting several clinics in the next couple of weeks to further explain the specifics of assessing your current fitness and balancing endurance, stamina, economy, and speed to have you at your best on race day.