As your coaches, we sincerely hope that you will listen to the instructions and advice we provide for you, but above all else, be sure to listen to your body. You alone know exactly how you are feeling on a given day, how sore your legs feel after a workout or how exhausted you are after a long day at work. For many driven, dedicated runners, the issue is not learning how to push themselves and work harder, but rather learning how to hold back and rest when it is appropriate. Our job as your coaches is to help you learn how to decipher the often conflicting messages your body sends you throughout the course of your training - is my body telling me to slow down because running fast is hard or because something is actually wrong? By understanding how to make an accurate and objective assessment of how your body is feeling, you can spend less time feeling rundown and injured and more time improving your fitness and chasing down your goals.
Just because we don't play a sport that involves throwing or kicking a ball around doesn't mean that we aren't still athletes. Our sport may require that we place an emphasis on the development of our aerobic capacity, or the endurance aspect of athleticism, but we must also be sure to develop in other areas. Strength, speed and flexibility are other aspects of athleticism that are key to athletic success, even for a long distance runner. A weekly lifting session with a kettle bell, a couple post-run strides, and a few minutes spent stretching will go a long way towards helping you maintain your pace and form late in a race and allowing you to finish strong.
Everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another. One type of training may get one runner in the best shape of their life and leave another burned out and injured. The key to achieving success in running is finding what works best for you personally. It's about carefully taking all factors into consideration - your lifestyle, your body type, your job obligations, your injury history, your strengths and weaknesses - and crafting a training and racing schedule that maximizes your individual potential. Here at TSRF, we are committed to helping you discover the training path that is best for you and instilling in you the confidence to follow it, regardless of how it compares to that of someone else.
One of our favorite mantras here at TSRF is "you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable" (side note: this is something Rachel's HS coach would yell loudly and frequently during long interval workouts on the track). The fact is, running is hard. Whether you are an experienced elite-level professional runner or someone who is running their first ever race at a local 5k, the training you do and the race itself are going to be challenging. But while your ability to physically run a certain pace and handle your training load without injury are important parts of the process, your ability to mentally endure what you will physically ask of your body is just as, if not more, important. Your ability to push through the physical discomfort you feel while training and racing - the aching in your legs, the burning in your lungs - is what will allow you to keep progressing as a runner and ultimately find your true potential. This ability to exhibit mental strength is, like any other skill, something that requires practice, so the development of mental strength will be a key part of your TSRF training.
"You don't become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.” ~ John L. Parker Jr., Once A Runner
The journey towards the achievement of your goals may be a very long road. It may have twists and turns. It may have big ups and downs. It may even go backwards at some points. The key is to not get hung up on any one thing that happens along the way. Running requires consistency over time; days, weeks, months (and yes, sometimes years) of making a conscious effort towards improvement. It requires patience: understanding that your body will adapt and grow stronger in its own time. It requires trust: having confidence in your coach, your training and in yourself. It requires perseverance: staying the course and pushing forward, even when things get hard. Over the course of your journey you will run many miles - some fast, some slow, some where you feel like you're flying, some that drag on forever. You will be tested many times, both physically as well as mentally - sometimes you will succeed, sometimes you will fail. But so long as you continue to lace up your shoes, get out the door, and put one foot in front on the other, your journey will continue and you will be that much closer to your goals.