Thursday, January 03, 2013

Janathon 2013 Day 3 - The medium on which you practice

Gym - various weights + 17.5m running, 3.5km, Time - 1 hour, Weather - irrelevant

Last year I toyed with the idea of base training and limited my speed to stay below a specified heart rate. It was slow and frustrating as I kept on having to slow down or even walk but the idea was that the training effect gradually increase the speed I could run at that heart rate, as I gradually became more efficient. It never happened. The only result was I got used to running slowly and anything else felt like an effort. In other words it was boring and it messed up my head. From this I will not say base training does not work, as many other people have used it successfully and it could just be I didn't run enough miles or gave up too soon. However I will not be trying it again.

Looking back at the year when I ran at my easiest my approach was completely different. During the winter months I combined strength work with running short distances (2-3 miles) at varying speeds, on a treadmill. I then moved outdoors for the endurance training, with a weekly long slow run and other runs at mixed pace. I have no clear idea why I abandoned this approach. Perhaps I fell prey to a false idea that real runners had to keep up a higher weekly mileage, or perhaps I just wanted to try a different approach. In the end  I forgot what had worked.Now though I am now back with the old way and we will see if it still works.

There are a couple of lessons in this. The first is the famous quote of George Sheehan that "you are an experiment of one". In other words try things out to find what works for you, which might well be different to what works for your neighbour. But do not do this haphazardly, give each method a fair go and learn from the experience. The other lesson is related (or perhaps a different way of formulating the same idea) and is my Stoic quote of the day (again from Zeno):
"The goal of life is living in agreement with nature."
I will amend that slightly for the purposes of this blog and make it 'living in agreement with your own nature. You should not try to fight yourself, force yourself to cut against the grain, instead you should be trying to reveal yourself.  Or in the words of another Stoic quote, this time from Epictetus:
"Just as wood is the medium of the carpenter and bronze is the medium of the sculptor, your life is the medium on which you practice the art of living."

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