One of the more common questions I receive from runners of all levels relates to breaking out of a rut. Most runners train at a very narrow range of pace and distance. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being walking and 10 being racing), 99.9% of runners train at Level 5.
This is an extremely effective approach to becoming a Level 5 runner. But most runner’s goals are well beyond being a Level 5 runner so a new approach to training is necessary. While training at a faster is challenging, training at Level 2-4 is a far greater challenge because runners don’t see the value and benefit of running easy.
An active rest day (i.e. Level 2-4) is as important to a successful training program as a run at a much higher intensity level. Training at this level provides an opportunity to flush out lactic acid from a speed workout or a race and practice perfect running technique at a far more comfortable pace.
Variety in the form of pace and distance prepares the body and mind for racing. This is also an extremely effective approach to simply getting into better shape. I base my running on my resting heart rate each morning. If I awake with an elevated heart rate, I reduce the mileage and intensity of my scheduled run, cross train or take the day off completely. Training hard with an elevated heart rate is a recipe for injury, burnout or, at the very least, frustration.
Switch things up with your training (i.e., run shorter and faster, longer and slower, incorporate hills and 1 track workout a week) and you’ll get a far greater return on your investment of time and effort. You will also likely experience more enthusiasm in your training!