I’ve recently started working with a 10k runner named Paul.
He’s been running for years but his training has adopted a somewhat stop/start pattern. The typical cycle begins when he signs up for a few races and he then goes ‘all in’. He trains daily, eats clean and gives up alcohol. He even avoids social events that might lead him off track. This typically lasts a month or two before he gets bored and frustrated with constantly depriving himself of things that he enjoys.
In turn, he does a 180, training stops completely and fast food and beers are regularly on the menu. Often he then doesn’t complete the races he booked in that got him so fired up in the first place!
Paul came to me for advice on where he’s going wrong as well as direction on his actual training plan. My honest opinion was that he needs to be somewhere in between the two approaches he’s undertaken up until now. If you want to progress in the long term, you have to be consistent with your training. And to do that, you have to be realistic with what you can do.
For most of us non-pros, five runs, three strength sessions, a yoga class and a long cycle each week is extremely difficult to maintain over time. This was Paul’s routine when he was ‘all in’ and with a family and work commitments too, he really was setting himself up to fail from the start.
Now we’ve sat down and revised the programme. The amount of training has been reduced but optimised meaning he can also enjoy a few beers and the odd curry when he wants. I’ve no doubt that a less strict regime will put an end to the stop/start cycle that’s been in play for years.
He’ll now train without depriving himself and he’ll take small consistent steps rather than a big leap followed by a bigger fall. If this is something you’ve struggled with, ask yourself if it’s time to rethink your strategy. The feast/famine approach simply doesn’t work in the long run, so would you be better off meeting yourself somewhere in the middle?!