The Inner Mind of the Runner

The workout Monday seemed like a good one, at least Joseph seemed to think so.  He got started about 5:30 pm at the SHS track. While we were there, the boy’s soccer team was practicing on the football field to get ready for their game the following day, which they ended up winning. They went on to win the state championship today! Congrats! But, I digress. Joseph started the workout with a two mile warmup, then did  3 x 400m with 400m jogs, 3 X 800m with 800m jogs, 6 X 200m with 200m jogs, and a cool down.  He did a pretty good job with them doing the 400’s in about 1:10, the 800’s were 2:22-2:23, and the 200’s were 32-34 seconds. With the warmup, jogs between different faster paced runs, and the cool down, he got in at least 9 miles. While he was warming up, Kamau Bostic and Damian Grady showed up and jogged with him a bit. Kamau also did some type of workout, I believe it was a series of 200’s and 400’s or something. As usual, he looked pretty good again for the most part. He may have ran his first few 200’s a bit fast, as he struggled on some of his 400’s, and had to rest a little longer than he wanted between some of them. However, his 200’s were pretty darned quick, so, that was not surprising. At any rate, he was doing his own thing so maybe he was right on his target paces.

Tuesday was just an easy day on the gravel roads at the South Farm. It was a beautiful day as well!  Planned on doing the 7 mile loop, but some horses were penned in on the road at about 2.5 miles in, so we turned around, backtracked then looped back to the main course. This added a mile to the run, so it ended up being 8 miles. Either way, today was an easy day and the kid averaged 7:09 per mile.

On Wednesday, Joseph repeated the mixed tempo/interval type workout from the week before at the Research Park:   a 10 minute warm up, a 10 minute tempo run, 2 minute rest, 10 minute tempo, 2 minute rest, 1000m at 3:19, 2 minute jog, 1000m at 3:20, 2 minute jog, 2 X 400m/400m jogs between (1:10-1:12 per 400), 2 X 34 second runs fast, with 1 minute jogs between, and a cool down jog. The two 10 minute tempo runs were much better than the week before with the first one being done at a 5:40 pace and the 2nd 10 minute tempo at a 5:45 pace. The week before both were at around a 6:05 per mile pace. He will do this same thing next week, and hopefully by this 3rd and final time, he will have gotten used to this workout and can get his tempos to about 5:35 or so.

Thursday, we were back at the South Farm and Joseph got in a 7 mile easy run at a 6:40 pace. Nobody was there when we started, but Juan Villarreal apparently started just a couple of minutes after we did. We stopped at 3.6 miles and saw him in the distance, so we waited for him, then finished up the loop with him. Always easier to run when there is some company of your own pace.

Joseph MacGown and Juan Villarreal

It was raining like crazy Friday, so we took the day off. Got back to it on Saturday. Joseph did 5 X 1000m runs with a warmup, 3 minute jogs between each, and a cool down jog. The first two 1000’s were not great, about 3:18, but the next three were much better: 3:04, 3:05, and 3:10. This was probably better than it sounds too, because it was raining, and the road was pretty slick.

The overall workout plan we are following is largely based on the Daniel’s Running Formula [], a book written by Jack Daniels. I am 47 years old and have been running most of my life, have tried ton’s of different workouts, and read many books on running. But, I really like Jack Daniel’s ideas on the subject. He is considered to be one the greatest training gurus’ around, and anybody who has studied running at all knows about him and his methods. There are some other good books and some other gurus out there for sure, but his methods seem to be something that works well with Joseph. We started using some parts of his training when I was coaching at the academy, but could not fully get into it because Joseph was too young for the mileage and the other kids at the school were way behind him and could not really have done much of it anyway. However, now that Joseph is older and is turning into a running beast more and more, we are finding that the Daniels method suits him to a “T”. Since Joseph is not running track this year, it gives us the perfect opportunity to get back to training that actually suits him, instead of having to do workouts geared for a broad group of people regardless of sex, age, ability, race distances, or running style. He for sure seems to do better with a decent amount of running with consistent tempo training.  I like the fact that Jack Daniels has clearly defined and periodized workout plans for different distance events and clearly spelled out pace charts based on current ability. I really like the way the workouts use a variety of different paces as well. I also really like the threshold/tempo training he advocates. I have personally always found tempo runs to be quite productive.  I don’t think distance runners can come close to achieving their potential without properly paced tempo runs. Intervals are important as well, but no more important than tempo training. A fact that many people don’t fully comprehend is that a successful mid to long distance runner does not need a lot of speed. Even a world record pace in the 5k would only end up being 61-61 seconds per 400m.  Not blazing speed for sure. Of course, it is nice to have a kick at the end of a race, but most distance runners are not running 45 second 400’s at the end of a race. That requires a different set of muscles, and the folks who have those couldn’t keep up with the good 5k runners very long anyway!  Better yet, just run the entire race in control at a pace you can handle instead of running poorly throughout then sprinting at the end. It doesn’t matter how fast you can run a 200m distance if you can’t run a 5k (or whatever distance) at the right pace without running out of energy!

I guess when it comes to distance running, most non runners do not understand us at all. They can’t. Its impossible.  The mentality is completely different for a distance runner than for any other human being. One thing that separates distance runners from sprinters or other athletes is that they tend to be less cocky and arrogant. Pushing a distance runner to be cocky usually backfires and only stresses them out causing them to perform poorly. Distance runners tend to be smart and very creative, but also the type of person who likes to do things on their own. Often times we are loners. At the very least, we like to go into our own little world were we can zone out from everything and everybody else. We are often daydreamers, seekers of meaning, and people who love testing their metal against mother nature’s haphazard folly. We question everything constantly, including our training. Never satisfied, always seeking a new and tougher way to push ourselves to the brink of injury just to run faster and farther. Running is an escape, a stress reliever, a time to meditate, to think about life and all of our problems, a time to enjoy nature, to enjoy our physical bodies, and so much more. What drives us? Only we know. If you want to find out begin the quest now by beginning a running program.


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