Run with Patience


The road to running success is always a marathon, not a sprint. I have met so many runners who plot out detailed training programs only to abandon them within a few months. These runners grew frustrated because they did not see immediate results in their fitness.

Running is not a sport of immediate satisfaction. It takes months and years to develop aerobic capacity and other energy systems of the body. Small adaptations in the body from each run and workout eventually will create an exceptional runner, but it takes time.

To illustrate just how long it takes to transform the body into an efficient running machine, consider a 2010 study from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. This study tracked the physiological changes in the bodies of eight male collegiate distance runners over the course of an 8-10 week cross county season.

The authors first performed baseline testing of the runner’s aerobic and anaerobic systems, including VO2max, running economy, and blood lactate accumulation. The runners then trained and competed in an intense collegiate cross country season in which they ran at least 50 miles per week.

When the study’s authors re-tested the runners at the end of the season, they found no change in the results of the runners’ anaerobic and aerobic tests. That’s right – all of the hard training during the season had no discernable affect on the runners’ physiological systems.

This surprising study can be explained partly on the fact that the runners had already developed a mileage base in the summer before the season began. However, the workouts were much more intense during their season, and it is striking that those workouts appear to have had little or no effect on the physiology of the runners.

The lesson here is that it takes a long time to reach your running goals. Runners who believe that a month or two of training is enough for them to race fast will be sorely mistaken. Running is a sport that rewards patience.


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