BEATING YOUR BEST AND WHY NOT TO
Runner's love to post, talk, and breathe running. So, seeing an Instagram photo of a runner's Coros is not unusual. However, we are increasingly seeing posts showing daily runs entitled "beat last week's time" or "beat yesterday's time". While the post may get lots of likes and comments, from a coach's viewpoint, this is not a feat one should marvel at. Having a runner try to run faster each day is a recipe for disaster and it is not something we ask our athletes to do. There is a difference between running fast all year by incorporating in strides at the end of your run or a weekly speed session and running fast every day. When coaching, we like to have our athlete's base pace be slow and at a low effort level and have their workouts/long run days be longer and often more challenging.
Another thing coaches consider when training runners, is the age level of your athlete. Unless you are coaching high school/collegiate aged runners; adults have no foundation to build from when they start running; and, more often than not, they often begin with the goal of going straight into a marathon without working on essential aspects like technique and form (this is why drills are important!).
Let's get into some more depth about why running fast every day is not beneficial to your overall progress as a runner.
Why running fast everyday should be avoided:
Range of motion is very important with running, it ensures complete mobility throughout your run. Limited range of motion inhibits your body's ability to complete the full running gait cycle, consequently displacing forces and causing imbalances. Improving your range of motion allows for your muscles to work at longer lengths and allowing you to build better strength.
As we get older, our range of motion becomes limited, so working on technique is a crucial element to your overall success as a runner. Focusing some of your time on learning drills such as A-skips, B-skips, high-knees, two legged/single legged bounds, and other exaggerated running forms will improve your running efficiency, reduce overstriding, and help to prevent the onset of injuries.
Increase in risk of injuries
You’re more likely to get injured when every run is fast paced. A fatigued body is suspectable to injuries much more than a recovered body. Running is a very demanding sport, it puts a lot of stress on your body. When you are constantly fatigued you compromise your immune system (easier to catch a cold), increase the risk of overuse injuries, and risk overtraining syndrome. All of these risks will derail you from running goals.
When your base run pace starts creeping into your speed session paces, or worse, into your race paces, it is a telltale sign that you are running too fast daily. The majority of your weekly running should be done at base pace (easy, conversational pace levels), if not, you do not have any pace differentiation between base pace and race pace.
Fatigue from running too fast is setting in and you are not adapting to the aerobic benefits of your training. Learning your paces is very important in running. You should know when you are running an easy effort. Take into consideration your breathing, how hard are you breathing? Is this pace sustainable to maintain for your base run - for how long? Get in tune with your body. When you are running easy 5-6 days out of 7, your 1 day speed session will go much better. You will begin to see the different range of paces you can hit.
Variation in your weekly runs are important. Every week should include base runs, 1 long run, and 1 high-intensity speed session.
Recovering from training is nearly impossible if you are running too fast daily. The only time your body adapts and gets stronger (and ultimately faster) is when you run easy paces and allow time for your body to recover. If you are not running easy most of the time, you are not allowing the training that you are doing to take effect and adapt.
In summary, to get fast, you have to run slower most of the time. That's not to say that your base pace wont increase in speed as you become stronger and more fit. As a new runner you may start out at a 10 min per mile pace and soon feel 9:50 a mile is easy. What is easy to you will change as your body adapts!