If you’re like me, splits are everything! I get very focused on hitting the exact paces prescribed, and if I don’t meet or exceed them, I feel like I failed. But this isn’t true and it doesn’t create the best environment for us to chase our goals! Why? Because effort in a workout will teach you effort on race day. And that is the best strategy for racing! Let’s explore what I mean and how this looks in training.
1-How do I know what my effort should be?
Your breathing rhythm! If you have followed me at all, you will know that breathing comes up a lot. (Here’s an article I wrote on breathing rhythm) It’s simple, you can’t run for more than 20seconds if you’re not breathing. Learning to control your breathing will teach you what your breathing should feel like at different efforts. If you’re running easy, then your breathing should be very controlled. You should be able to hold a conversation without difficulty. For a moderate workout like a tempo run, you should be focused but controlled. Feeling like you could answer a question with a few sentences, but don’t want to maintain a conversation. With a hard effort, you should be able to only respond in short one or two word answers. When you apply these principles, you will be able to judge your effort better and thus get the most out of your workout and race.
2-Once I learn effort, how do I apply it to races?
Effort based training will help prepare you for races with hills, wind, turns, all the things that would impact your pace. It also helps in city races where GPS isn’t accurate. The only time splits can be 100% accurate and un-interrupted, is racing indoor track… How many indoor track races do you do? Probably none or not many. Learning this effort strategy will be so applicable for you!
3-Why breathing and not heart rate?
It’s one and the same. But with breathing, you don’t have to have a heart rate monitor, or be so focused on what the apparatus is saying. Instead, you run freely and more in-tune with your body, both mentally and physically.
If you practice this method, some days in training will be faster than you expect, and other days slower. You will work with your body instead of fighting it and this will help keep you healthier and able to keep working towards your goals! Let me know if you have specific questions, I am happy to share my advice! But for now, happy training and happy racing!