The web has nearly as much training advice as it does kittens. The problem is, whatever you’re into, you can find both a loyal supporter and a staunch critic. Whether it’s Crossfit, nutrition, training plans, or gear, the debate goes on and on. At the top of the running field, you’ll find vegans, paleos, barefoot runners, high miles, low miles, and everything in between. So who do you listen to? How do you know who’s saying the right thing? The answer is clear. All of them and none of them. For the average runner, comparing yourself to the elites doesn’t make sense. If you have a life and a regular job, you’re likely not able to train like an elite athlete. You’re not eating 5,000 calories a day, taking ice baths, naps, and getting massages (if you are, please explain). This wide range of philosophies tells us that average runners need a little bit of everything in our training plan.
Here are a couple of things to consider when putting together your plan
Diet. The average runner/athlete needs a good diet that they can sustain and be happy with. It should be one that delivers the right mix of calories, carbs, and protein for your goals. I’m moving in a vegetarian direction, but I still eat meat about once a week along with eggs. I’ve tried to limit prepackaged foods as much as possible, and I’ll never give up donuts.
Shoes. The average runner/athlete needs to understand how they run and what shoe(s) will work best for them. It really doesn’t matter what kind of shoe your favorite hero wears. I use 4 different shoes depending on terrain, mood, and planned activity (also a good excuse to buy more shoes).
Cross Training. The average runner/athlete needs cross-training to get stronger, avoid injury, and burnout. Going to the gym saved my running “career”. I joined because I was bored. after a few months and low miles, I noticed I was getting much stronger and felt better than ever when I did run. Ultimately, this led to running my 1st ultra on just 20 miles a week.
Mileage. The average runner needs to know what their body is craving. It might be different that what your predefined training plan is calling for. I wrote out a 40 week training plan for the LT run, and I adjusted it almost daily to satisfy different cravings. You might not have 50 mile/week knees, and the good news is you might not need them. There is more than one way to train your running muscles.
So who do you listen to, and what are they saying?