I have received a number of questions regarding my Simply Running post last week, and felt it might be helpful to have a follow-up post to clarify a few points I may not have communicated clearly on the first go.
The point of my simply running approach is not to find the ultimate schedule that maximizes all energy systems in my body, but to find a schedule that frees me of any stress, and allows me to enjoy what I do, which seems to bring better results anyway. You always hear people say sport is part mental and part physical, but to what degree does each component play a role?
Let’s create a scenario that might play out in an athlete’s week. You have your week all planned out, perfectly scheduled to maximize every ounce of energy in your body. Then your parents call, and say they are coming into town to visit for a couple of days, and they’d love for you to show them around and take them to a ball game. There are three common approaches athletes have to this situation – 1) You are really excited, as you haven’t seen your parents in a long time, so you re-arrange your training to make sure it doesn’t impede with their trip, 2) You begrudgingly oblige their request, make adjustments, but also carry around a burden of guilt (which everyone notices) about your “sacrifices” to your training, or 3) You say that they are welcome to come, but your training is the priority, and they can only hang out with you when it fits around your training/recovery. I have carried out all three of these approaches over the years, and can tell you without hesitation that option 1 is by far the most rewarding long-term.
When one places sport as an important, but not all encompassing component of one’s life, it allows the athlete to cope with success and failure with much more stable emotional maturity. This takes a lot of pressure off of performances, and so when you toe the line in races, there is much greater opportunity to maximize one’s ability, as you are not weighed down by pressure or expectation.
I have chosen to remove what I deem to be the least beneficial segments of my training, in order for me to have more flexibility in my schedule for daily demands of my time that may or may not come unannounced. My overall mileage may have dropped a tad, but I still am a big believer in endurance training. When I run, I run long (for a miler). However, I also believe in rest. A day off each week is not just a physical rest, but also a step away from my sport completely. This fully refreshes my mind, and allows me to charge back into the start of the next week.
You can do all the little things to get every little ounce of improvement out of your body, but if you are not free of pressure and not enjoying the blessings of life, your mental state can restrict your performances far more than the little things can help. Everyone has to find what the right balance is for their own situation, but this is what has worked for me in the past (not just performance wise, but enjoyment of life), and therefore why I choose to go back to it now.