You got this.
As we move through the second month of running in 2022, we’re almost done with the worst that winter. I’ve always said that if you can pick up running and train through a harsh North American winter then the spring-through-fall seasons should be a breeze. Last month, we focused on building a routine, creating sustainable habits, and starting to work on that foundation we’ll need in place for more specific workouts in the spring.
This month, we’re going to cover adaptation and how it changes the way we train through a season, consistency in execution (in training for now, but it will pay dividends in racing!), and how to make adjustments based on the feedback our body and mind is giving us.
When you are thinking about putting together a training plan for a race, a season, or even a year, it is important that you constantly use feedback to adjust. You are where you are today, and most runners typically have an idea of where they want to get to and when they want to get there (i.e.: “I want to be able to run 42.2km on May 29th,” “I want to run 5km in 25:00 on April 16th,” etc.), so the part in between can take many paths.
When individuals take up running they typically do so because they want to achieve some goal. Sometimes that goal is a race and sometimes it is simply to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Regardless, to achieve that goal sometime in the future they start training and the body responds to this training by adaptation. Adaptation is what allows you to run further, faster, or easier in the future compared to today after a period of training. Adaptation is how athletes improve!
So what does that mean for you? Well, the training you are doing today is likely a bit different than it was if you picked up running at the start of the year. You may be running longer, you might find your pace is a little quicker, or it just might feel easier. Either way, as you adapt to your current training load—running volume x running intensity—you are going to need to introduce some variation to continue seeing improvements over the long term. Perhaps you tack on a kilometre to your long run each week, throw in a fartlek session, or maybe you introduce some basic strength training.
The key is to continue to balance introducing new stress with recovery to continue the process of adaptation.
On the other hand, you may find that you bit off a bit more than you could chew and your body isn’t adapting positively to the training, maybe you are running too much too soon, and you need to adjust things in the other direction. This is completely okay. When I write training I fully expect that athletes will not end up doing it exactly as written. It is merely a roadmap that changes based on how the athlete progresses. The most important takeaway is to tune into how you are adapting and make the necessary adjustments to keep it positive!
You can do this. The worst of the winter is almost over. Hang in.
In March, we will cover consistency in execution—in training for now, but it will pay dividends in racing— and how to make adjustments based on the feedback our body and mind is giving us. I believe, particularly in the longer events, that many runners do not invest enough thought and effort into execution in individual sessions and races, nor do most have a framework to adjust their program if they find themselves burning out or getting too fit too early.
Keep running, keep enjoying, and stay tuned!