There are nearly as many programs as there are coaches that exist in this present day and age. Each coach, with his/her personal values, beliefs, and knowledge of running, designs a training program to the best of his or her ability. In addition, there are numerous individual runners who design their own programs to the best of their abilities. And you know what? Many of them succeed using their system. Good! That's how it should be. Just as there are many routes one can take to scale a mountain, the same goes for running. However, there are a few essential common factors most successful programs have. Therefore, I will share my system along with these common factors.
My system is largely based on common sense, a general working knowledge of numerous high profile programs, and personal experience. Quite simply, I believe it is my role to meet a runner where they're at and do whatever it takes to help them achieve their personal goals. To achieve this, I have developed different daily training schedules for several target races. These programs are based on where you're coming from (your weekly mileage for the last 4 weeks coming into the program, injury history, time you'll be able to commit to training) and where you want to go (your goals and target race). Your job is to choose the program that most closely picks up where you've left off. First of all, I want to share my guiding philosophy as a runner and coach as well as explain the basic components included in each program.
Essential Running Philosophies
Running should be meaningful for you. Too often, many of us go through life getting caught up in doing what everyone else tells us to do, and we forget to make the time to ask ourselves what things are truly meaningful to us. If running is meaningful to you, then you will naturally stick to it. If not, then it will be an uphill battle all the way. Be honest and really ask yourself if running provides pure enjoyment in your life.
Have a meaningful goal. Simply put, a goal is a dream with a deadline. A meaningful goal inspires you to rise above average and really see what you're made of. It provides a sense of direction for all the time and effort you put into running.
Enjoy the process. Who you become on your way towards achieving your meaningful goal is as important, if not more important as the goal itself. Think about how much you will change in all facets of your life as you strive to achieve your goal, and you'll see what I mean. Have some fun and watch what happens as you work towards your goal!
Listen to your body. I will have done my job if you rely on me less and less as the program continues. I truly believe that your body constantly gives you signals as to how it's adapting to the training. But, it's up to you to make the time to listen. How do you do this? Just quiet your mind and listen by becoming aware of how your body is feeling while you slowly warm-up in the first 15 minutes of every run. This awareness can better help you make the necessary changes in your training to stay on course towards accomplishing your goal. No matter what program you choose to work with, you will make changes based on what your body tells you. If your training is a bit too much, then you are wise to back off. Conversely, if you feel you're not being challenged enough, then you are wise to step it up. In either case, give yourself at least 2-3 runs of feeling this way before making a decision.
The long way is the short cut. In the social world, you can B.S. your way through a lot of things even if you're not prepared, at least in the short run. Remember how you did after cramming for a test in school? However, in the natural world, there are no shortcuts. Can you imagine cramming for a marathon? Running keeps us honest and forces us to make daily deposits towards overall fitness and health. I firmly believe that deep down, we prefer an honest effort over a quick-fix attempt. There is something very noble and spiritual in this process. That's why you're choosing to do this!
It's the hard part that makes running great! If running were that easy, everyone would do it. I truly believe it's because we have to work at running from beginning to end that causes us to appreciate it so much. And over time, you'll have those moments where you feel effortless despite putting 3 times your body weight on each foot with each stride - that's what makes you feel on top of the world!
Believe in yourself. You can love running all you want, but your body will only listen to what you think it is capable of. You must trust in your body's great adaptive capacities as well as your enduring spirit, yet respect its physical limitations. It's a nice balance to strive for. I share this especially for those of you who have decided on a challenging goal.
Surround yourself with winners. Even the strongest-willed people need support along the way to help them through the tough spots. The crux of this program is that you will have people who share your dream. That along will carry you through many of the tough times that you'll experience during the long runs. There is something magical about running with a group that you cannot get by yourself - the miles seem to fly by faster and easier. If necessary, I encourage you to hook up with people for a mid-week run to help you stay on track.
There you have it! These are my beliefs which will shine through everything we do in this program. Now, in the next section, I will share the essential components of each program.