Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication to running

4 min read

More often than not we have the tendency to complicate rather than simplify.  We assume that sophistication equals results, brilliance and performance but it usually doesn’t.  This is train of thought is extremely accurate in relation to running where more information, more choices, and more technology does not create a better runner.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” is a quote from artist Leonardo Da Vinci from most likely the late 1400’s and may resonate even truer today in modern society where we have access to more information, choice, technology and differing philosophies on every aspect of our lives.

In running it is true that as we have been given access to more information it is easy to complicate a sport that needs little complication.

Today there is more information available than ever promoting the best way to train. This can make running training confusing and easy to complicate. A simplified approach to running training is both more beneficial and more enjoyable.

Over complicating your running training can easily lead to confusion in what sessions are required. This can also lead to over training and an under developed aerobic fitness that can lead to stagnating improvement. Aerobic fitness is the key ingredient in developing running performance and is developed over time and can’t be rushed. It is developed by many months and years of easy, low heart rate running. It’s a simple process that can’t really be changed by over complicating training.

Today’s technology has made GPS running watches so advanced that there measure almost every aspect of our running. Just how many of these metrics are important and how many of them will help you improve your running. Measuring your running by perceived effort is a under used skill mostly due to technology. Running watches can now tell you what pace to run, but learning what a pace feels like is much more beneficial in the long term. 

Social media growth worldwide has intercepted almost every aspect of our lives and running is no different with platforms such as Strava becoming at the forefront of a runners everyday activity. Strava can be a great service for analysing your running training and connect to your community of runners. However there is a danger in measuring your performance through comparison with your peers as it can create envy. This can lead to poor training habits in an effort to keep up with peers or over train so you can project an impressive run online. When you look at a super impressive run from a peer online it doesn’t tell you how the runner felt during the run. 

So what is the answer?

It would be easy to say stop researching running training on the internet, give up Strava and social media and throw your GPS running watch away. But you probably don’t want to hear that.

Depriving yourself of modern technology and tools is probably not the answer. A simplified approach to training that includes a structured plan for our own running is the answer. A structured plan should take into account your outside running responsibilities and accommodate your running around these. 

In these pages we advocate for three key sessions complimented by regular aerobic running. Building aerobic fitness and endurance by a weekly aerobic long run and regular easy running. Building strength through hill workouts and building speed through interval running. It’s a simple approach but gives you time to build all the key aspects of your running. This philosophy is also easy to schedule into a busy lifestyle and easy to reprogram when things in life go wrong and we need to alter our plans.

If you want to get the most out of your running you should focus on a process that will improve you. Social media and Strava are great resources at times but don’t let them throw you off your own course. Stick to your plan and you’ll see improvement.

Utilising your GPS watch for the metrics you need can help you simplify your process. When you are on an aerobic run or hill workout pace is not acutely important, these are runs you can shift your focus from pace and run to feel or perceived effort. Interval sessions pace is important however just as important is how you feel during your intervals. 

When analysing yourself post run you should really only need to monitor time, average pace, distance, heart rate and elevation gain and loss. Most other metrics are unnecessary and don’t give any real benefit.

A simple approach to running will keep your running fresh and energised. Your training will be balanced and easy to follow and understand. And most likely you’ll get a greater enjoyment from your running and improve as a runner.

Simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication to running.

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