Searching For A Comprehensive Running Philosophy

Since I have gone pretty quiet on the blog, I’ve been using the time to do a deep dive into where I want/need/will go with my running over the next few months and hopefully beyond. That has meant a lot of thinking as I explained in my Why do I run, Where am I now, and Where Do I Go From Here? post and even more research about how I am going to accomplish this ongoing quest to improve myself as a runner.

Looking down the Kennebec River in Hallowell during a run on Saturday

Over the years I have read books, or watched videos and websites/blogs (if available) by many who write about running. Including but not limited to Lydiard, Cerruty, McMillan, Fixx, Friel, Fitzgerald(s), Hanson, Daniels, Roche, Noakes, Benzie, Dicharry, Cucuzzela, Balk, Romanov, Maffetone, Dreyer, Abshire and many others. Along with dabbling with Stryd, Garmin, Strava and other websites that provide a running ecosystem for many of us.

However, all this means is that I am more confused than I need to be most of the time. I have been hopping from training methods, philosophies, plans, or daily workouts like a butterfly flitting and flailing about without any rhyme or reason to what I am doing for far too long.

Something I read while in one of my many rabbit holes over the past few weeks, made a lot of sense, though I forget where I read the original article. This is not the direct quote, but my interpretation of what they said.

“It isn’t so much that a particular way of training or looking at running is that so much better than the other ways. Whatever “it” is, it’s more whether I believe in what I am doing and stick to the program over a long period of time.”

In other words — consistency and believing in what I am doing.

At this point in my life, I need to find a training/running philosophy and stick with it for the long term.

It must be done if I want to improve as a runner.

My goals

Run well until the body lets me know it is time to stop.

Establish a good training base, get rid of the injuries and niggles that have plagued me for so long, and make running fun again.

Start racing more regularly when the pandemic calms down enough that I feel comfortable to start again. Then be competitive at the local age group level in the 5K. Though, distances I end up running in races will probably range from the mile up to the half seem like good bets at this time (although I prefer the shorter distances). Running in races and racing to be competitive are different things to me.

I still have the unfulfilled dream of a BQ, but the body has not held up to the marathon training demands, so that one is on hold for a while longer. I need to train consistently for another year, to even think seriously about this one. Plus the qualifying time is slower, but then again, so am I.

What am I looking for?

Since I am an experiment of one — my needs are just that, my needs. Yours are probably different, and that is a good thing.

As a 64-year-old runner, my ideas of what improvement is has evolved as I have gotten older. While I may still have some delusions of grandeur slinking around, I have learned (the hard way) to accept what I am capable of now. Which is very different from the fantasy stuff that used to dominate my thinking.

Whatever I chose will probably be based primarily on Lydiard’s principles. More like how he actually coached and taught, not what some interpretations of his work claim.

I prefer a weekly routine and track my progress primarily by miles, but like plans to be duration-based. What I do on those days will be a nice variety of workouts and after the pandemic is over — locations, but the weekly routine is stable. While the idea of a 9-day routine or other similar ideas might be tempting since they have more rest between hard workouts to accommodate my increasing need for recovery. However, I have used the 7-day weekly plan for over 50 years and…well, you get the idea.

At this point in my training I have a feeling that 2 quality days (one faster and one long run are enough), along with one or two days a week with 4-5 strides will be plenty for the aging body.

I still like to run 6-7 days a week. Yes, I know why I shouldn’t, but I will anyway. I have an elliptical in the house, but I prefer running to cross-training, even if cross-training might be a bit better for me.

A program that integrates mobility, strength, balance and other ancillary work as part of the overall philosophy and training program — not as a nice to do kind of thing that never gets scheduled or done.

Experience dealing positively with older runners and our peculiarities is a must. The program can’t be condescending or limiting to an old fart. I have read or watched a few too many “gurus” that disappointed me, in the manner they described how “older” runners need to train, run or heaven forbid actually run faster.

A program where I do little but slow running for months does not appeal to me in the slightest.

Forget about requiring strict adherence to a number (Power, heart rate, pace, zones, etc.) as the only way to improve — I won’t do it consistently. While I can and do use them as guides, all have their limitations as well.

Websites and apps must be easy to navigate and have resources available when I need them. It has to have an up-to-date blog (to show they are active), and video or text resources to help explain more technical parts of the training or give me examples of how to do something.

A good website is a must, and a well-designed app a plus. Being able to have a calendar function and the ability to upload/modify workouts on my watch is a feature that I am learning to like the more I use it. I can always create them in Garmin Connect, but a dedicated app where it already exists is much more convenient.

Free is good, but often you get exactly what you pay for. At some point I expect to pay for their expertise either by subscribing to their training program, run club, buying a plan, or books. Price is a consideration that I need to be aware of on a fixed income. Even so, I prefer not to be a complete freeloader.

I want to keep my running fun for me, when a training plan/or my running becomes a chore, I start looking for something else.

Finally, I know that I am a cantankerous old fart when it comes to my running. Just the way it is, and knowing me I am not as coachable as some/many coaches would want. I have done it my way for almost 50 years (for better and worse), and paying someone else to tell me what to do with my running could be rather “interesting” for both of us at times. I might ask a few questions.

The reality is that

I am a strange mixture of run by feel, do it my way, and needing a coaching/training philosophy that has guardrails to keep me pointed in the correct direction and healthy.

In other words something to stop me from being too stoopid.

The biggest thing that I want from my running nowadays is to enjoy the challenges it brings to my life. That’s correct, I want to challenge myself and yet still have fun while doing so. Finding a running philosophy that mixes and matches those two disparate goals, while keeping me healthy, is the hard part.

At times, I know that I am my own worst enemy and all too often go off searching for the next shiny dime versus sticking with what was working for me. It is something that has plagued me for years and not only in my running, so it is an area of my life that I am working on and getting better at.

Looking back through my training logs for the last 10 years, I had a period where I successfully followed a base training block and ran very successfully for almost two years after that block. So, I know that I can be successful in the correct program.

The question becomes what do I do next?

I have some ideas and thoughts, but I need to look closer at a few more running philosophies and training methods, before I go jumping off on — yet another tangent of Harold being Harold.

This time it isn’t about another shiny dime, it is about what I want to do with my running as I continue to get older. Which means making a commitment to stick with whatever program I decide on to use.

The journey continues.

Come with me now, for the best is yet to be.

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