When you are attempting to up the pace, it appears normal that you would search all over the Internet for helpful tips and motivation. More often than not, runners look to some of the world’s most accomplished runners and, particularly, their training regimes. The reasoning is sound after all; they are the world’s best, and so, it seems only logical to follow precisely what they are doing when you are trying to beat your current personal best (PB).
However, while scrutinising the training regimes practised by world-class runners can be exciting, trying to follow their programs is a terrible idea for many recreational runners.
Why? Continue to find out.
1. They Know Something You Do Not
When you examine an elite runner’s training routine or follow their lives on social media, whether it is Twitter or Instagram, you are only obtaining a snippet of what it takes to train at an exceptionally high level.
There are lots of work that run behind the curtains which enable them to challenge the boundaries of their physical performance consistently. Be mindful that running is these athletes’ only responsibility, and their days orientate around running and recovering so they can hit the running track again later on.
As a recreational runner, you likely have a job outside of running, typically a 9–5 job. Also, you have other commitments that do not grant you the privilege to spend hours every day committed to training, which usually means 150–200 kilometres weeks are probably not suitable for you.
2. You Lack Sleep
Again, part of a professional athlete’s duty is to recover properly and adequately so that their bodies can cope with the demands of high mileage and intense workouts.
A significant factor in that is sleep, and there is a high probability that you are not getting enough of it to handle the same training volume. For instance, American marathon record-holder Deena Kastor described a day in her life when she was at her peak training as follows:
“My day was eat, run, eat, massage, nap, eat, run, eat, sleep,” she says. “It was simple, focused, and a bit mundane, but it allowed all my physical and mental energy to hammer 140-mile (225 km) weeks while the remainder of the time was focused on recovery.”
At the height of her training, Kastor slept 10 hours nightly and took a two-hour nap in the middle of each day. That indicates she was using half of her day sleeping to handle the intensity and volume of her training. Considering the average adult has difficulty getting the recommended 7–8 hours of sleep daily, this is probably not a realistic schedule for most recreational runners.
3. They Have Constant Access to Therapy. You, However, Do Not.
If you examine Kastor’s day-in-the-life again, you will find that a massage was incorporate into her training schedule. Elite athletes have the continuous support of sports medicine doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, dietitians and all sorts of other recovery tools to keep them on the move without injuries.
Unless you are prepared and able to visit your local physiotherapy centre daily, a training routine catered to the elites is probably too much for your body to deal with.
4. You and The Elites Share Different Training Age
Lastly, if you have just included running into your quest to achieve a healthy lifestyle, keep in mind that these elite runners covering hundreds of kilometres weekly spent years building up to that.
Increasing running volume takes time, patience, and self-discipline, and if you want to continue running injury-free, you are better of backing off the mileage and increasing gradually.
Final 2¢: Where Does This Leave Recreational Runners?
The message I want to drive home here is not to look at the elite athletes’ training regimes but rather to think about the amount of work they put in to get to that point.
Hence, grab ideas and inspirations from their training programs. Take a snippet of their programs if you believe you can handle it. However, copying them exactly will likely get you into a world of hurt, and that, in turn, can sweep away all that you have accomplished so far.
If you truly want to copy what the elites are doing, my advice is not to observe their training at the peak of their careers but rather what they were doing in the years or decades beforehand.