Quality for progress, but go easy for sustainability

2013-11-02 00:00

Below is the first in a fortnightly series of tips from the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon coach, Norrie Williamson. Norrie will be producing daily training schedules to guide you through the build-up to a successful 10 km, half or marathon at the end of February, next year. You can follow these programmes by purchasing your Witness daily.

REMEMBER that, no matter how slow you are now, you’re lapping the person sitting on the couch.

Virtually every runner began life as a runner in a quality session.

Wow! That’s a statement that will be questioned by many, but the truth is that most people who go on their first run over-estimate their ability and are forced to reduce pace or walk before recommencing. This run and walk process is repeated until such time that they complete the block or predetermined distance.

Walk and run is now the chosen programme for anyone wanting to get into running.

As this becomes easier they progress to run and walk and then into non-stop running.

So from our very first steps we are introduced to the concept of varying pace and interspersing fast work with periods of recovery or low-intensity work that allows recovery.

This is the exact same principle utilised by club, advanced and elite athletes to make progression in their performance … and it works.

But we already knew it worked, because it took only a few weeks for us to progress from walkers to runners using exactly the same principles. But here’s the catch.

When you had made that progress someone suggested that you could now run around a block or route without stopping. True. You could, but to achieve that you had to drop the quality/intensity of the run. You went slower, but not slow enough — it allowed you to run at a pace that you could finish looking reasonably strong and “casual”.

In effect you picked a “medium” non-challenging intensity that ceased to provide the same rate of improvement.

Of course we need to practise distance running to get better over long distances, but the pace where that has an effect is at a pace that enhances the bodies ability to change blood fatty acids into energy, and that’s much slower than many people’s egos allow them to run. This training will improve sustainability.

For progression do regular quality sessions and for sustainability do very easy runs.

Right now, in training for the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon on February 23, we need to improve our short speed, so keep with the quality.

The sustainability comes later.

You can contact Coach Norrie via the race website at www.pmb42.co.za

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