“Always aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” - W. Clement Stone
THE start of a New Year is always exciting for the passionate runner. Races are plotted on the calendar, training plans are drafted, new gear is snapped up, and best of all, it’s another year to grow as an athlete. Unless age has seriously slowed you down, chances are you still have potential to run even faster and farther than ever.
Runners in their early 20’s still have plenty of anaerobic potential, and can use this to their advantage by padding this tool with a bigger aerobic foundation. Runners in their 30’s and 40’s, on the other hand, will have put in hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers, in their legs from years of consistent running. “While the potential for top-end speed may not be as sharp anymore, they have the advantage of experience and endurance," says coach Andy Leuterio, also an accomplished triathlete and Newton Running ambassador.
Perhaps you can’t run as super-fast as before, but you’d be surprised how far you can go at a fairly quick clip without feeling the need to slow down. “Maybe in your 20’s you struggled to finish longer races but could go pretty fast in the 5k and 10k. But as you gain experience with age, you’ll have also built the necessary muscle endurance to keep plugging away like a diesel engine. A BIG diesel engine," adds Coach Andy.
The question, of course, is what specific goal to aim for this year? Should you aim for a faster 10k? Your first full marathon? Or go nuts and shoot for an ultramarathon? The answer lies in an honest, self-assessment of your capabilities and your limiters.
To help you define your goals for 2014, here’s a quick reference guide from Coach Andy Leuterio.
Beginner: You can comfortably run 5 to 10k, can run 2 to 3 times per week, and are looking for something to challenge you this year.
Goal: FINISH YOUR FIRST MARATHON! A full marathon takes 12 to 16 weeks to properly train for, and is well established as a must-do for any serious runner. If your goal is just to finish comfortably, your only consideration should be that you need to be consistent with the weekday sessions as well as putting the time into the weekend long run of anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, or 21 to at least 33km.
Intermediate: You have finished a fair number of half- and full marathons, your 10k time is under an hour or just slightly more, and you can run 3-4 times per week. A weekend long run is something you look forward to.
Goal: SHAVE AT LEAST 5-10” OFF YOUR HALF- AND FULL-MARY TIMES! That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually a significant amount of time for anyone who’s familiar with the extreme difficulty in not slowing down towards the end of a long foot race. To get this done, you’ll have to make substantial changes to your training program. This will most probably involve a lot of hill running to build strength, Progression Long Runs to teach your body to push through fatigue, and targeted track sessions to fine tune your anaerobic power. If your weekly mileage was in the nominal range of 40-50km last year, you’ll have to bump it up to the 60-80km range to get significant improvements.
Advanced: You run practically every day with weekly mileage of 50-80km, you can run a half-marathon in your sleep, you have run several full marathons, and are looking for a new runner’s high.
Goal: FINISH A TRIATHLON! Instead of joining yet another foot race, why not add a Swim and a Bike beforehand? Mastering the triathlon takes a serious commitment as it involves training for two other sports, and there’s only so much time in a week to do all the things you have to do. Whether you’re starting off with a “Sprint” triathlon or a long course race like an Ironman 70.3, training for a triathlon is a radical change that may be just what you need to take your game to the next level! You’re looking at a weekly training time of at least 8 hours to as much as double that or a little more, and it would help to find a training group or coach to help you prepare for it properly. The good news is that aside from the monster fitness you’ll get, your running will get even better as the cross-training benefit boosts your endurance while reducing the pounding on your legs. Plus, your body will learn to recruit more muscle fibers as you get the hang of running fast off the bike.
This 2014, take the opportunity to turn yourself into an even faster and stronger runner! Aim high, run far, and run fast!
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