As has been stated numerous times, I have to add my agreement that the discussions here are priceless. Thanks to Snookie for starting things up. I really appreciate the candor, banter and willingness to share of Kim Stevenson, Glenn McCarthy, HRE, Nobby, Tinman, jtupper, Skuj, Hotlanta Master and ronin, along with the rest who have posted.
Like most here, I am on the journey of trying to sort out the Art of Running. How do you put the whole package together so over a period of time you improve? My biggest coaching influence came from a descendent of the Bowerman/Dellinger tree. Much of what I learned from that coach also seems to be foundations shared by Lydiard and Daniels. "Consistency is the key" "Train don't strain." "Six months in running is not a long time" "If we work together, we all can improve" Within our training group, he would match us up by ability, regardless of age/sex/running history. "No racing in practice" I have seen him pull two of my training buddies off the track and send them home for the day because they were racing each other through the workout. Our workouts were structured as to distance and effort, but not strictly by time and numbers. Effort for a repeat was generally easy, medium or hard. Example: "Do one easy, two medium, one hard and we'll see how it goes" We needed to learn what our effort and pace was. A main principal was to try and negative split or cut down times. So one easy, two medium, one hard would work into that. Or it might be four medium, each a little faster than the one before. He wanted us to learn how to control the expending of our energy and get stronger through the workout. And apply that to our races. Run even pace and finish strong. Often we didn't know exactly how many repeats we would do. Depending on how we responded to the efforts, he would determine when we had enough. If someone was struggling that day, he would break them off with something easier to finish or just call it a day for them. If someone was having a great day, he might add in something extra. We trained as a group, but each of us were individuals that required individual adjustments to the basic plan. Oh, I should add, we weren't supposed to wear our watches on the track. He would tell us our splits, but he wanted us to learn our effort and pace and not be looking at our watches to tell us if we were running too fast or too slow. That's what the pace and feel without the watch was about. So you knew the feel of the effort and could manage your energy. The times just sort of took care of themselves. I always left the workout feeling challenged, but never exhausted, and often surprised at what I had actually been able to do.
Sorry for the ramble. Life, family, job have prevented me over the last eight years from training with a group/coach. Instead of having someone guide me like above, I have to figure it out for myself. The Art of Running. How much? How hard? How easy? What to do today and how does that fit in with my goals and what I need to do two months from now? And fit that in around life, family and job commitments. That is where this thread has be a tremendous help. Solid concepts of ideas and techniques explained based on the contributors' experiences and results. From both Lydiard and Daniels and other camps. Not some boiler plate from a schedule which may or may not have an explanation and may or may not make sense. And I can balance against my own experiences. After reading this thread I feel more confident in taking a basic framework, tailoring it to me and having a reason for my decisions. I still have those agonizing questions sometimes of: was that too much? hard enough? too easy? but I feel with much of the advice shared here, when I'm guessing wrong now, at least I'm close and not doing myself real damage, and then that adds to my experience for future decisions. Your posts have been enlighting, entertaining and very helpful to me. Thanks.