This article appeared in yesterday’s New York Times: Proper Training Is Critical to Athletic Success
No disrespect to Ms. Kolata is intended. The sad thing is that this needs to be stated at all. And yet, it does!
For the past couple of years I have followed the online exploits of several runners who claim to want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Yet, year after year, they fail to do so. Not only that, but they never get any closer. Sometimes they get farther away. And they seem to find their lack of progress a huge mystery.
What are they doing wrong? Well, perhaps most critically, they’re failing to train properly. Many are “training” in the sense that they are following some sort of plan. But they’re running the same speeds they ran three years ago, for example, and wondering why they’re not getting any faster. Or they’re running the same low mileage and bare minimum number of long runs and wondering why they bonked at 18 miles again.
Kolata’s article (which perhaps should be thought of as a public service announcement for runners) is just a longer way of stating one of my all-time favorite running quotes, which comes from Kathrine Switzer: “Training works.” But it goes a step further and says “Consistent, rigorous, event-specific training works.”
I’m not sure that I buy the idea that one necessarily needs to join a training group or hire a coach in order to approach one’s running potential. But if your problem is chronic lack of progress, then it sure can’t hurt. What’s most important is working hard, working hard often and regularly, and working progressively harder with each new training cycle.
Now is that such rocket science?