Have you noticed all the adverts tempting you to buy gadgets to help your running? Pods to measure your power as you run, pods to measure cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation, balance of time on each foot, amongst other things. Sports watches telling you speed, pace, heart rate. The possibilities for collecting data are endless. And don’t forget the headphones…….
BUT……do you know how to run by feel? Do you know how to tune into your body and listen to how it is feeling, how it is responding to what you are asking it to do? Learning to do this is an essential tool in your run training.
- You learn what easy really feels like. A structured training plan should have 80% of your training in this zone. Most people don’t do their easy sessions easily enough, drifting away into the grey zone because that is where their comfort zone is. The grey zone where you are creating more fatigue that you should without gaining the endurance benefits you should.
You should finish these sessions feeling as if you have not really made an effort. Your breathing and muscles should be relaxed. This is where the long runs should be. You can talk in complete sentences, take the odd photo, talk to friendly animals as you go past (I do!)
- You learn what hard efforts really feel like. That 20% of training that is a lung busting sweat fest. These are the runs that give you that turn of speed, the ability to tackle hills. These are the runs that come race day you pull from your memory bank when it gets uncomfortable and remind yourself that how you are currently feeling is not as bad as that so you can definitely keep going. In training sessions, if you have not got in touch with how hard this should feel the effort slides when the brain starts rebelling, so you end up in that grey zone again, creating fatigue but not the training effect you want.
- If your gadgets die during training or a race, you know how it should feel. Social media posts talking about abandoned training sessions due to gadget failure or races ruined by bad pacing are surprisingly common.
- It is more relaxing!
Try ditching the gadgets and see how it goes. Losing the headphones is also needed to do this properly. They create too much of a distraction. You need to concentrate! How does your breathing feel? How are your muscles feeling? What is your brain trying to get you to do? How hard or easy does it feel? How light is your foot contact? Are you tensing up your arms, shoulders, jaw? (A lot of people do this. Look out for the vertical thumb hold)
Enjoy breaking away from the gadgets now and again.
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