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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The Long View

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Peak for Weeks

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The Champion's Workout

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
New Research on Older Runners

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Should Distance Runners Lift Heavy?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
An Elite State of Mind

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Free, Weekly 5-Ks (Finally) Launching This Spring

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
George "Doc" Whitney dies at age 94

Friday, February 15, 2013
Distance Running: How Many Miles Should You Run?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Is There One Right Way to Run?

Saturday, February 2, 2013
Middle-Aged Fitness Linked to Less Dementia Later

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Long haul to Inauguration Day

Friday, December 21, 2012
Ex-Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton Admits To ‘Double Life’ As Escort

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Running for our Lives

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
For Athletes, Risks From Ibuprofen Use

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Running in Reverse

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Running in Reverse

Thursday, November 15, 2012
When it Is Good to Gain Weight

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
How to Carbo-Load for a Marathon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Myths of Running: Forefoot, Barefoot and Otherwise

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The New York City Marathon Is Thriving. So What’s the Problem?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
In Chase for Wins, a Runner Cheats

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Honorable Clan of the Long-Distance Runner

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Work Out, but Know Your Limits

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Hurry up and stand still: Why runners need yoga

The Long View
Author: Richard A. Lovett
Source: Running Times
Contributed by Brian Williams.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In his memoir, 14 Minutes, Alberto Salazar talks about the cautious, long-term approach he took in his early years working with Galen Rupp (whom he's coached for more than a decade). "I kept him from overreaching," Salazar wrote, "refusing to let him make the same mistakes that I'd committed over and over as a young runner." Even now, he notes that Rupp has yet to run a marathon, even though by the time he was Rupp's age, Salazar had run eight and was well into his decline.

As anyone who watched the Olympics last summer will remember, it was a strategy that paid off, with Rupp sprinting to 10,000m silver--the first 10,000m medal for an American male since Billy Mills in 1964.

Most recreational racers also claim long-term goals, one of the most frequent being, "I want to be doing this for the rest of my life." But how many of us really work to a long-term plan? We want to be fast now, and think that if we just work intensely enough for a few months, we can have that huge PR we've always dreamed of and still run for a lifetime. Long-term goals, however, require thought, planning and changing bad habits for good ones. If you're committed to working progressively and waiting for the goal to come to you, here are some steps you should take.


Masters runner John Keston, who at one time was the oldest man to run a sub-3:00 marathon, first took up running when he was 55--an age at which most of us are starting to decline. But it wasn't until age 62 that he set his PRs. Even runners who take up the sport later in life need about seven or eight years to reach their peak performances, he wrote in his 2010 memoir Expressions of Aging. "During that time they're building training base and gaining experience."

If that applies to older runners fighting the aging clock, it applies even more strongly to younger ones. "It takes about six to eight years to develop a runner," says Heike McNeil, head coach of Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore. "I get athletes all the time who want to run 80 miles a week and I'm like, 'No, you're not. The maximum increase is about 10 miles a week per year, and you're not going to do any more than that.'"

If that sounds conservative, that's the whole point. The Internet is full of programs for faster progression. The world is also full of injured or burned-out runners.

"Americans have difficulty thinking in the long term," says Bob Williams, assistant coach at McNeil's cross-state rival, Concordia University in Portland--even though the strongest benefits come not from intense training bouts but from staying healthy, year after year. "I think if people learned to train a little bit less intensely, they would stay healthier longer," Williams says.

Amy Yoder Begley, a 2008 Olympian-turned-coach, agrees. "The question to ask," she says, "[is] 'Would you rather be 90 percent and healthy at the start of the race, or injured on the sidelines?'"


"Most recreational athletes should be thinking at least one to two years out," says Williams.

Yoder Begley concurs, saying a two-year plan gives runners ample training time, as well as the opportunity to experiment with training techniques and strategies. "It also gives [you] the sense that each race or workout is a steppingstone," she says.

It helps to realize that for most of us, the easy gains are in the past. "It's a lot easier in a 5K to go from 30 minutes to 21 than to go from 21 to 18," says Chicago-based coach Brendan Cournane. "In a marathon, it's easier to go from 4:30 to 3:30 than to go from 3:30 to 3:15."

This doesn't mean you should be writing out training schedules years in advance. Rather, it's more a change in mindset that reduces the sense of urgency that so often leads to avoidable injuries.

"I always encouraged my college runners to think in terms of about a 10 percent improvement during their four years at college," says Jack Daniels, author of Daniels' Running Formula. "The point was not to think of how much better you want to get this year. Sure, it is good to have short-term goals on the way to the long-term goals, but sometimes things come around more slowly than you would like."


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