BREAKING FREE from the shackles of always running to a set pace or strict time limit can help veteran runners train smart, avoid injury and stay motivated as their capabilities change over time. Here’s how to make running by feel work for you.
As runners, we tend to crave details on how to maximise our running time and efforts: how many kilometres should we run, how many repeats, what pace on which runs on which days? Charts and numbers fill training books and magazine articles. We download training apps that tell us exactly what we should be doing each day and how to do it. The market is saturated with devices that allow us to track every number, every step, even the quality of our sleep. But what if a key to achieving your best is to stop planning and tracking? What if, instead, you just listened to your body and ran how you felt?
FINGER ON THE PULSE
The mental benefits of training by feel are enormous. But so are the physical benefits. Most experienced runners have a story about getting injured in their 40s as a result of trying to match their training from earlier years in distance, pace or both. Training by effort addresses these difficulties in one swoop. If you’re tuned in to what a tempo run feels like – or a long run, or a session at 5K effort – your pace will naturally follow as your ability changes. In contrast, if you try to match arbitrary paces, either what you have always d