It is midwinter and most of us would rather be in Florida relaxing in a hot tub overlooking the ocean with an housekeeper, a masseuse, a cook and a lively training partner. Unfortunately, we are pinned down under the dreaded fog of winter, where rain is more common than sun. Who says runners aren’t tough!!

I thought I would go over some training points. Reminders. Sometimes it is hard for us to keep all that we do in perspective. Especially when our peers/friends/workmates are not as engaged as we are in the physical pursuits.


1. Hard/Easy. We need to remember this very simple principle every waking hour of our lives. For every hard day, there must be an easier one. We run more for EFFORT than for TIME. We know that hard is hard and easy is easy. We don’t need a watch or GPS to tell us this. Within the framework of stress/recover are the essentials of proper rhythms and periodization. We try to run at the same time every day. We try not to squeeze in our runs, but to structure our days so that our workouts fit well. We try not to chase fitness, but to build it step by step. We take each day as a building block, and we follow our intermediate and long term goals. However, we don’t get caught up in minutia and we try to relax within our life structure. Sounds easy as heck doesn’t it? Well, if it were easy, anyone could do it. And they don’t. But we do. So we should feel proud about our accomplishments and measure them against not only our goals and our aspirations, but against our sense of self. What more could we ask for but the wind in our face and the power of knowing we can do it!

2. Let the run come to you. Don’t overdo your workouts. A friend of mine told me the other day that this hard easy stuff was a bunch of crap. That when we were training hard, we were tired all the time. I tried to point out to him that some of us had no lives then, and that we were often injured. The point is that there is a fine line between success and failure. I think of what we do as if we were each running on a knife blade. One bad step and we might cut ourselves. Best to take the crappy day easy and let the next ones come when we are ready. A corollary to this is: Stick to the schedule. Don’t try to make up for lost days. Don’t switch the Fartlek to Tuesday cuz you were too tired on Monday. Messing with the plan just perpetuates our mistakes.

3. The Pyramid. This is how we train. This is our periodization. This is what we do. We do not deviate from the basic premise of the Pyramid. This is essentially a universal principle. Most coaches follow this paradigm. There are variations within the weekly schedules but we do 80% of our running below Lactic Threshold, 15% at Threshold and 5% above it. If we wish to improve our conditioning, if we wish to make the pyramid taller, we increase the size of the base; we increase the amount of miles we run below our Lactic Threshold.

4. Relax but Concentrate. This is a toughie. How do we concentrate like heck on our training. On our pace. On our form. On our footstrike. On our heart rate. On our effort?? BUT at the same time relax and appreciate the effort? How do we pay close attention to what we are doing, do all of it correctly but not become distracted? How do we concentrate on the task at hand, and not consider all the other variables in our lives? In our running. In our relationships. In our daily routines? It is very hard to describe or to teach the HOW in words on paper. Illustration is best. For those of us who ever played baseball, the harder we tried to hit the damn ball, the harder it was to hit it!!!!! The harder we try to hit the damn golf ball straight down the fairway, the more time we spend in the rough. The harder we try to go to sleep at night, the harder it is to sleep. The more we think about something, the harder it is to get beyond it. AND yet, the key to success in all sports is the ability to concentrate like hell and relax at the same time. We need to work on this almost daily. It can only come from practice. As we become masters of OUR game, our running, our empowerment, the easier it is to succeed. The more we master our running, the easier it will be to relax and concentrate. Two apparently contradictory concepts: relax/concentrate are reconciled when our efforts come together with our performance.

5. Mental Training. Part of what we do is to train our mind/body. Not just our bodies. We think about what we do. We log what we did and we reflect on how we did it. We don’t obsess, but we don’t ignore. We attend to what we need to do. We measure it and we move on. We reinforce success, and we minimize our chances of failure. On the other hand, we risk what we should. We are not afraid of failure. We take chances with our efforts/pace but we don’t set ourselves up to fail. We attempt workouts we think will bring us reward. We rethink those workouts that did not.

6. Pace. We will never reach our goals if we don’t teach ourselves pace. If we cannot run with an even, controlled effort, we will never run as fast as we might. An even pace is the most efficient pace. If we start out too fast, we will finish too slow. If we vary our pace dependent on our surroundings, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by our surroundings. We pay attention to that which we do. We follow all the above rules and we keep all in perspective. When things come together we try to realize why. When things do not come together, we learn from our mistakes. We listen to our coach. We listen to our bodies.

Above all, we pay attention to who we are. And what we want to become.

You can think of all this in a different way: There are no shortcuts. There has never been anyone any good at anything who didn’t practice like crazy. Even Mozart did very little except play the piano/harpsichord when he waslittle. Sure he was a genius, but he ate slept and breathed his music.

If you don’t want to eat sleep and breathe your running, then you won’t win many races. But to win is not always to win the race.

Winning is all about improving/perfecting oneself. Only each of us knows how much this means to us. Only each of us knows how much it takes for us to ‘win’!!!Type your paragraph here.

Training Principles

By Dave Milliman