Many just don’t think about it, yet why do you run?
For the joy of it, a healthy glow? To be with friends, to catch up after work? To reach new racing goals, to run faster for a PB?
The truth probably lies in a mix of the above and will change through the year and most definitely during a life time of running. Yet it is still important to understand the ‘Mix’ as it should then help direct your purpose for training. We all like company when we train, it has been shown to benefit those searching for the pinnacle of their sport, as does the single-mindedness and loneliness of the long distance runner.
The reasons you run could also impact on the group of friends you run with. If you are more competitive and they more social then there is a good chance you will be running ahead trying to force the pace, whilst those behind you are feeling pressured into keeping up. All they wanted was a nice easy run and catch up. Opps, suddenly there is a little friction in the group. Like wise there is little point in joining a competitive group if you are there for a low level aerobic healthy run. You will not be inclined to keep and get easily dropped.
So getting the ‘Mix’ right and understanding your reason for training is really important. Every reason you give for training will come back to one of three reasons, blended together to form the whole.
Now here’s the killer… you spend the winter running with a social group. Then you enter a spring 10k and start talking about a PB. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don’t. So what was your motivation for running through the winter? Clearly social, yet underneath the surface is the longing for a PB or two. So there’s a ‘Mix’ and in truth you should look back and admit you perhaps could have planned things a little better. Progressive running groups, with a social aspect are not uncommon and in fact perfectly OK. A bit of a weekly push is no bad thing if you want a spring PB, use the warm up and down for the catch up time, use the effort to encourage and help each other along. Sounds like good running buddies to me.
From a coaching point the ‘Mix’ is also important. It has to match the runner you are working with, to be adaptable and flexible. A period of stress in a runners life may mean you have to reprogram things for them. To give them a chance to chill out and be with friends, sociable running. It’s good practice for mental health and also to get them back onto track quickly, when they are ready.
You also as a coach have to ask where your ability lies with this ‘Mix’. If it is lacking and a highly competitive runner wants big improvements do you know what you are doing? So where does you skill set lie within the ‘Mix’. Yes, it can also drive you to become more knowledgeable and experienced to encompass all areas of the ‘Mix’ and that is definitely no bad thing.
On the face of it the reason we run, or the reason we coach all lies within the ‘Mix’ and how that is blended together is important to understand. Not as straightforward as it would first appear.