Professor Greg Whyte has some great tips to get you on the road to glory!
Have a plan
For me the detail of the plan comes down to the individual session. You should have a goal for every single session and what you should do is deliver to that goal. What underpins running endurance is a range of multiple factors, which include VO2 max, also things like anaerobic threshold/lactate threshold/fractional utilisation whichever nomenclature you like to use. But it’s also maximum running velocity and the ability to maintain a fast running velocity over a long period of time. What your plan should include is that variety of sessions where you are targeting each of those determinants and that becomes your goal for that session and what you have to do is you have to deliver to that goal. The death nail for many club runners is mediocrity, is that every session becomes the same. For example, you just run constantly on the road and don’t inject any trail running into it, to me that is utterly erroneous, you should be mixing the environment in which you are running so there should be some track, there should be some road and there should be trail included in it. Equally you find that they also do every run at the same pace, and what happens is you become very good at running at that pace but you’ll never run any quicker.
Firstly, it’s about acceptance, accepting the fact that you are going to experience negative emotions and you are going to struggle with motivation. Even Mo Farah struggles with motivation, the best endurance runners on the planet struggle with motivation at times so you are not unique and accepting the fact that is going to happen is the first step in coping with it. The second thing is creating a coping strategy an if/then strategy and you need to create your own plan.
It’s easier once you’ve done it. If you look at a runner with running experience who has done multiple marathons they have already been through this and what they have done is created a plan and they know that when they get to 18 miles and it feels like the wheels are falling off they have already created and if/then plan. So, they know that if the negative emotions come then this is what they will do. As someone new to a particular distance or event, the key is to ahead of time identify those things that could go wrong. So, what are likely to be the negative moods you experience? And this is something you work on and pick up in training, so what are likely to be the negative moods and what then is going to be your strategy to cope with that.
Whether that’s through positive self-talk, or another way is to re-divert that thought so rather than think about it, focus on something else. So if the negative thoughts going to be about your legs think about pacing so thinking about the time rather than the physicality’s. The key to all of that is identifying beforehand where the likely low points are going to be and creating a solution to that whilst at the same time understanding it’s going to happen and accepting it’s going to happen is the first step in the journey.
New Year, New You
There’s a saying that there is no such thing as bad weather just bad equipment, and the same can be said that there’s no such thing as a bad trail just bad equipment. When training on the trails in the winter it’s important to think about your equipment, you cannot wear your racing flats on a boggy muddy trail route it’s like Bambi on ice. The great thing about trail running is everyone can do it no matter you age, ability etc and its an adventure every time you get out on them, but that adventure is underpinned by enjoyment and if you have got the right equipment you’ll enjoy yourself even more. What equipment is important? Shoes are fundamental; the tread on the shoe makes a massive difference and most good running shops should be able to point you in the right direction and the right shoe make a world of difference when you are out on the trails. It’s also about the clothes you are wearing you don’t want to get soaked through, it doesn’t have to be waterproof rather good quality outwear which is breathable as we do heat quickly. Having the right equipment and the second thing is just give it a go, sometimes people like to stay in their comfort zone and seem afraid to come off of the road but the bottom line is once you make that first step on the trails is you’ll never leave them.