The “Less Is More” Dilemma

Anyone  who knows me will know of my extreme competitiveness and vast desire to improve – in just about anything! So, of course, I am absolutely desperate to have a brilliant second cross country season. I have been planning it ever since last season, images in my head of intensive training and success. Now that I have pretty much finished my short track time, I decided that it was time to start putting my plan into action. So, the other day, I turned up early at club training and completed the warm-up before anyone had even arrived to ensure I made use of all the session time (in case you were wondering, we did 400m relays then 200m relays – very difficult with me as I am particularly bad at any sprinting). When we were done, I decided to ask my coaches for some advice. I told them my goals and asked them what additional running I should be doing to achieve them.

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The start of last years (and my first) cross country season.

To my disbelief, they told me that I would need to cut back on training as opposed to upping it! I currently run four times a week – one track, club session, a hilly training run, parkrun and junior parkun. However, my coaches immediately said that I should definitely not be doing both the parkruns! This completely took me by surprise. Double parkrun is part of my routine and I absolutely love both! Initially, I protested. I had been doing it pretty much every week for almost a year and it hadn’t hurt me…had it?

My coaches went on to explain that doing too much training was much more likely to tire me out than to make me improve – especially during race season. They also told me that if I trained too much, I would have nothing to build upon thus would not improve. I definitely understood this point. When I first started running I ran everyday and improved rapidly – great at the time but infuriating for the following 6 months when I nearly did not improve at all! This linked to perhaps the most interesting point my coaches raised: they asked me what I wanted out of my running. If I wanted a few years of ultimate glory then by all means, I could train as hard and as often as I wanted however this couldn’t be the case if I wanted to run for a long time. It is evident that by the age of around 15-17, many young runners tend to drop out due to over-training and may never return back to running again. My coach told me that out all the people she used to run with, probably only about two still do so! This shocked me. I had never really thought this way before. What do I want? Of course, I want to run and I want to win but if that comes with a price of stopping my running career short, is it worth it? It’s a difficult question because I truly do want to run for as long as I can. This really puzzled me but it also gave me a very useful new insight. I know that I have been running for a whole lot less amount of time than the large majority of my competitors. I had always deemed this to be unfortunate as it meant that I was years behind them in practice, however, maybe it does have its advantages. For example, if I manage to carry on until I am in my late teens, perhaps some people will have gotten bored of the sport having done it for so long yet hopefully I will still be enthusiastic. This idea may require a good deal of patience – which, I admit, is definitely not my strong suit – but I reckon that if I listen to my coaches and make sure I enjoy my running, I can pull it off.

But what about now? In order to succeed in my new long term running and achievement plans, I am going to have to take my coaches’ advice and cut back on the training – particularly Parkrun. After much debating, I have decided that it is best to perhaps limit my amount of “adult” parkruns to about one or two a month.

When I do the parkruns, I will either do a new, exciting or particularly challenging course or try for a PB. I was considering doing this even before it was suggested to me just because – unless I get a good time or experience something exciting- I am often sluggish and disappointed. I think that being selective about when I run will allow me to motivate myself to run fast and really look forward to my parkruns. I have decided not to cut out junior parkruns because I always enjoy them thoroughly and (mainly) because I only have one year left of being liable to complete them! I have also been getting a whole lot of PBs at my regular junior parkrun recently and I am still adamant to break the record before I leave the 11-14 age category (I am currently 14 seconds slower)! I will miss my regular parkrun community but I will ensure never to be too far away and at least I just got my 50 so I don’t need to worry about that.

My new 50 t-shirt!

Of course, it will be hard to get into the habit of not doing weekly parkruns so I think I will fill the empty time with perhaps some other activities (I’m thinking swimming or cycling – gotta be inspired by the Brownlees)! I am also thinking of incorporating stretching and strength sessions into my routine to become a stronger and more supple runner as well as to prevent injury. My new training motto is going to be “quality over quantity” and I’m going to make the most of all my sessions by training harder and smarter as opposed to more.

This week, I have tried out this new method. My club session was hard and fast and I did a stretch and strength session on Wednesday. On Thursday, I went on a run with my trail shoes – running on the grass of a very hilly park. I also incorporated an abundance of speedy hill repeats with very short recovery – challenging but strangely enjoyable for me! I also just so happen to be writing this at my Grandparents house but, oddly fortunately, we weren’t able to make Wolverhampton Parkrun on Saturday as we went to Alton Towers (which was brilliant by the way)! Instead, we went to Telford Junior Parkrun which was very interesting to say the least – there will definitely be a separate blog post featuring this awesome run.   I will promise to keep you updated on how this new “training program” is effecting me -I know I am intrigued to find out myself!

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A sneak preview of Telford!

As always, I hope you enjoyed reading! I would just like to briefly bring attention to the Olympics…it’s been absolutely brilliant so far! Some highlights for me have of course been Mo’s amazing 10,000m, the Brownlees’ superb triathlon, the astounding gymnastics and Bolt’s notorious antics. I will be incredibly disappointed when it’s all over but we might be going to the World’s next year in London so I can start being excited for that 😉

Oh and, also exciting, I recently bought some new items from More Mile -as seen in the picture above- and they are amazing! Their kit is technical, stylish and very affordable – definitely worth a mention! If anyone has any recommendations for good, lesser-known running/ sports brands, please let me know so that I can try them out!

Thanks for reading,

Ellie xx

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4 comments

  1. Great post, an issue I think most of us fitness bloggers face! Noticed you’re part of the ‘Bloggers Gonna Blog’ community, thinking about joining myself but contemplating what it’d involve. Just wondered if you could give me any advice, e.g How to grow my blog? How to join BGB? What benefits BGB gives? etc. Thanks again!Xx

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