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In a recent NY Times article I read a quote that states, “Training a little bit beyond your capabilities is the only way to get better…”.

For now, I want to comment on that one statement. As an overarching theory, I agree, but what I don’t agree with is what the article and that statement implies. Most running coaches believe that more training is the only way to become a better runner. So what do they mean by better and what do they mean by training?

I’ll start with the question about training. When most people talk about training for running they are usually either talking about running more miles or doing some sort of strength training for their legs. So, when you “train a bit beyond your capabilities” it generally means you run farther or faster. I do agree that you need to train beyond your current capability to get better, but I think the focus should be on improving your running form and technique, not just running faster and farther. If you focus only on running faster and further, you are setting yourself up for injury.

If you focus on improving your running form, you are setting yourself up to run faster and/or longer distances with greater proficiency and efficiency.

This brings up the question of what it actually means to be “better.” In most cases I think most people define “better” as becoming faster, which is somewhat of a limited vision of improving your sport.

The ChiRunning approach takes on a much more holistic view. Getting better means running more efficiently so that you can run with less perceived effort no matter what speed or distance you run. It means working on your running technique so you can run injury-free and there’s no down side to your running. It means not working so hard that you have to recover after every run. It means finding long-lasting joy in your running so your relationship with it doesn’t fade with the years. And, it can mean, if you so desire, to use running as an internal practice to improve your mind and body as well as your spirit.

So, the next time you think of “training” to “get better” with your running take the time to include the whole picture or you could be missing out on something much more valuable than speed and distance.


Posted in Technique

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