Don't Train TOO Specifically!
Updated: Feb 22
Do you spend time every week running the fastest speed you can smoothly? I see a lot of runners go straight to threshold and tempo runs when training for a marathon, and long slow runs in the mountains if training for an ultra. You may end up specifically trained for that event, but what have you lost in overall fitness? No matter your distance, you want to make sure to touch your top-end speed pretty frequently!
By running at your top-end speed (without using sprinting form) for short durations with long recoveries, your neuromuscular system learns that fast does not necessarily mean hard. Over time, this will make your efforts at all paces faster, from your slowest recovery run through your 5k race pace. That means you get faster than if you just kept working on threshold and marathon pace. Side note, doing this type of work is WAY more fun than long threshold and tempo runs!
Similarly, let’s say you’re racing a mountainous ultramarathon. You’d think you’d want to mimic the race terrain as much as possible, right? You could, and you’d be confident on race-day, but you may have lost some important fitness in the meantime.
Don’t neglect your fitness in search of the small gains of specificity! During the specific phase right before a race, do one or two runs a week, usually including your long run, over race-specific terrain. That’s likely enough for all but the most extreme ultramarathons.
Your specific training should build ON TOP of your overall fitness, not in place of it!
As always, email me at any time with questions!