Updated: Apr 19
It is often times celebrated when one completely goes above and beyond and gives "110% of themselves 120% of the time". More often than not, in running, the very opposite is necessary for performance gains and growth. This is because adaptations can occur over a range of a certain stimulus and within that range, the benefits your receive from hitting on the high range of your target are the same (or basically the same) as as hitting your low range of your target.
When a workout is given by a coach, they are aiming to get the athlete to hit a certain percentage of effort for a duration of time/distance in order to elicit a specific adaptation. If that range isn't hit, then the intended adaptation won't occur as effectively as it would if it did.
What athletes sometimes forget is that hitting the low (read slower) end of the range will satisfy the adaption just as effectively as the upper (read faster) end of the range. Athletes even more so forget that hitting out of range (read much faster) than the target effort will yield either the same benefit or in some cases have negative impact on adaptation. This can lead to slower recovery times, over training, etc. When an athlete goes harder than prescribed they are stressing the body too much either mechanically or chemically that leads to faster or more breakdown in the short and long term.
For example: Running easy runs too hard. A lot of times, runners will run too hard on their easy days., whether it be from meeting a friend who is a little faster or naturally on their own. Many of us believe that a run is not complete unless a feeling of complete exhaustion comes upon us . We feel that we did not put in enough "work". This, however, can be further from the truth. The main goal of an easy run is to run...easy. This helps to support recovery and build an aerobic base which is essential for endurance running. Running at a higher intensity more often than not can lead to unnecessary stress and fatigue which can ultimately lead to lack of motivation and even injury.
So, how do you know how often and what effort level you should be running? It depends. What are your goals? What distance/time peaks your interest? What do you want to get out of running? How much time (daily and throughout the year) do you have available to give to running? With these questions answered there are many groups/coaches/forums that can help you guide your way so that when you set out to go for a run or workout, you know what the intent is, and how to manage your effort through out. You will also know where the workout fits in the grand scheme of your training.
Ultimately, whether you decide to join a group, have a personalized coach, or self coach remembering to aim lower will help set you up better for growth and consistency for a long career. Everyone is always looking for easy and efficient hacks and this can be considered one of them.
If you have more interest in personalized running coaching and getting the most out of yourself please take a look at our running services at https://www.milesandmacros.net/individual-training