My Take On The Run Less Training Plans

Like always, my opinions are just that my opinion.  They are not meant to offend anyone by any means, I have no one but myself in mind when I write posts.

Today's topic is on the Run Less Training Plans.  Specifically for those who are training for higher mileage, full marathons and beyond.  However, the half marathoner may also be interested.

I really do see why these plans are so popular with newer runners, and runners who might want to attempt their first half or full marathon.  Or busy people who can barely fit 60 minutes of time to their selves a few days a week.
Although I am not exactly partial to them, one positive thing about them is they probably do get a few more people active by their creative writing and "new philosophies".  Catchy titles and big promises telling you less is more really do catch a lot of peoples eyes.

I am not questioning the positive influence of these plans and books.  But when it comes to the distance runner who wants to see higher achievements, enjoy a race more, maybe one day experience that possible "runners high."  The run less training methods might not be the way to go.  I speak this from personal experience on both of the training spectrum's.

I have no idea what the numbers are these days, but if I was going to guess I am going to say probably more of today's runners go with the run less plans.
If you speak to runners of the 80's and 90's (because I know a few, and yes these are the comments I hear from them) and compare today's runner to them, yes distance runners may slower and lazier when it comes to training in compared to decade's past.

But I am not sure if lazy is the word, as much as life gets busy and hectic and people want to have goals and sometimes running less might be the only way for some to obtain those goals and still live their lives.

In fact even races have changed their finish line times to accommodate for runners who adapt the popular run less or run/walk training plans.  You used to have to finish a marathons in 5 hours or less. Now a lot of them allow a 7 hour or less finish time.

Times are changing, and is there a right or wrong way?
Nope, in fact if your active and you are enjoying what you are doing, then stick with it, that is the most important part!!!

However, if you are a distance runner and you want more.  You want faster times, you want to not feel so sluggish and crappy the last few miles of a race, you want to push to race instead of just finish. I'd like to share with you my take on why I am NOT a fan of the run less marathon training methods.

Let me tell you a story (this took place over several years):

Once their was a girl (me) who ran a decent marathon time, had pretty great results and success.  At that time, this girl was running 5-6 days a week.  6-10 miles a day with a long run of 16-18 once a week.  (Always at least 1 rest day a week.  Some weeks if needed 2 rest days.)

Then this girl slowly got lazy, started shortening daily runs for start to 4-6 miles, still once a week a 16-18 miler.  She started seeing her marathon finish times getting gradually slower.

Then this girl got even lazier, thinking I've got this, I can do it with less, I know what I am doing.  She started doing her own thing running only 3-4 days a week, long runs every other week and daily run mileage less and less.

Each race became harder and harder, she could see and feel the difference. Races and marathons became just a finish.  Sure she was still "getting them done".  But marathon times had slipped and added an hour and sometimes even more to what she had previously ran in years past with better training.  It was taking a toll on her body, she could feel that extra time on the courses, and it hurt.

One day on the ride back to a hotel after a particularly hard marathon and very bad experience she spoke to her original trainer (Dad).  The conversation went something like this: 

"I don't know why I had such a bad race." 
"You know why, you've adopted this run less mentality, your not training, not putting the mileage in to have a good race, what do you expect when your only running a few days a week?"
"I know, I don't want to have another race like this."
"So what are you going to do about it?"
"Will you help me?"
"If I remind you what to do, you have to promise you'll do it, make it worth my time to help you."
"I will, I want to feel that great race feeling again."

So with 8 weeks until her next marathon, she went back to the basics.  Ran more, increased daily mileage back to 6-8 a day Running 5-6 days a week.  Made sure she got a few long runs in, but the importance was making sure she was running more, putting in the miles ahead of time, training for a better race, taking rest days when needed.  But mostly getting back to running correctly and putting in the required hard work.

Race day came, what happened?
In a short 8 weeks of training correctly again, putting in the mileage, actually training her body properly for what she wanted.  She shaved 45 minutes off her marathon time. (No speed work was ever used during those 8 weeks.  Just proper training, putting in the mileage, no more run less mentality.)

I don't tell you that story to gloat in fact just the opposite.
It's to show that I know what it means to "train less, run less" I know how it feels on the body to train correctly running more and put in the hard work and miles ahead of time and the rewards of doing so.
I understand the results, I know how each method feels.  Which is why I have a strong opinion and disagree with the "Run Less or Train Less" plans for myself.

I am not writing this post to tell anyone what to do.
If you enjoy run less plans, and that is how you achieve your goals and it gets you what you want, I think that is great, keep on doing what works for you!
I also think if you stick to lower mileage and only train for 5k's or 10k's your probably okay.  I know a lot of half marathoners also tend to do okay with 3-4 days a week of running as well, which is great if that works for you!

However, if you are a distance runner and racing and you are wondering why it is "so hard" or want to get PR's or bring down your times or even just enjoy your races more.  My purpose for writing this post is for those of you.

Re-evaluate your training plans, are you running just enough to get by?
Have you slipped into a "train less" mentality (even if by accident?)
If you want things to get easier, if you want times to come down, believe it or not they actually can and will. But not many people can get these things without putting the mileage, training the body properly for the distance first.

Sure there are those that running and speed and endurance come naturally, I wish I was one of them.  But they are a rare and lucky breed.  For the rest of us, we have to think about what types of running goals we have, and how to go about achieving them, and what work really needs to be done to get there the right and safe way!

This post, may be my opinion but hopefully for some it gives a little "food for thought."  It is in no means meant to put anyone down.  If you enjoy your run less training programs and they are giving you the results you want.  Then stick with them, running is after all meant to be enjoyed!
But if your a marathoner and race after race you are struggling and wondering why it looks so much easier for some versus how your feeling, maybe this will give you something to think about!

So tell me, do you enjoy a run less training plan?  Are you in favor of normal training plans that require you to put the mileage and time into them?
Have you tried both, have you experienced different results if you've trained differently?  What are your thoughts?

I am not a trainer or doctor, my posts are my opinion and should not be taken as advice.  They are also in no ways meant to offend anyone.

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