The Consistent Secret to Running Sucess

Consistency: The Secret to Running Sucess

Over two thousand years ago, a Greek King named Pyrrhus of Epirus and his army fought soldiers of the Roman Empire at the Italian city of Asculum.  Unlike so many others who attempted to stand up to the growing empire, Pyrrhus and his army actually won the battle.

However, the battle was extremely costly for Pyrrhus – he had lost nearly 10% of his soldiers and many of his generals.

After the battle, the Roman army was soon brought back to full strength with a new supply of recruits.  Pyrrhus’ army, on the other hand, had no new reinforcements.  While Pyrrhus enjoyed his victory on that specific day, he knew that the cost for winning the battle was too great – with his large losses, the Romans would soon defeat him and his army.

The phrase “pyrrhic victory” is now used to describe a short term victory that ends up ruining the victor.

Pyrrhic Victories in Training

Almost every runner has experienced a “phyrric victory” in his or her training.

When designing a training plan, many runners focus only on mileage volume and the time and intensity of workouts.  There is a certain excitement in running super fast workouts and being able to brag about lengthy long runs.

Unfortunately, going for the glory in a specific workout can ultimately doom a training plan. Injuries and overtraining often follow workouts or mileage amounts that were done without proper build-up.

Rather than focusing on the “epic” workouts in a training plan, runners should focus on a more important metric for judging training success: Consistency.

Consistency: The Key Ingredient to Running Success

The fact that a runner may have run an amazing 4 X mile or 6 X 800 meter workout while running 80 miles per week is irrelevant if the runner got hurt the next month and had to take two weeks off.  Similar to Pyrrhus, a runner’s decision to go “all out” on one workout when he or she is not ready is a recipe for disaster.

The true plan for running success is one based on consistency.

While all runners want to run amazing workouts, we also have to be smart about whether taking on increased intensity is appropriate for our specific fitness level – the costs of overestimated our fitness are just too great.

For example, a recent study found that an endurance athlete’s VO2Max declines about 6% after taking two weeks off from training. For a such a short period of time,  this is a significant drop off.

To avoid going backwards in your training, fight the urge to run workouts that are a drastic increase in intensity from prior sessions. Make the decision to be patient.  Learn from Pyrrhus and make sure you achieve “victory” in your ultimate goal race rather than some workout in the middle of your training plan.


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