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The Role of Super Efforts

The Way of Running delves into a world unknown to most runners: we have much more strength than we think. Most of us believe we have reached our limits when we are no more than 70% exhausted. We rarely make full use of our strength due to chronic tension, anxious thoughts, and unskilled movement.

Efforts made up to and beyond the point of exhaustion allow us to draw from a special reservoir of energy much like the second wind that comes during a super effort like climbing to the summit of a high peak or fighting off fatigue during long hours spent serving others in an emergency. 

Your two-hour long run was merely an effort. By choosing to run an additional hour you made a decision to put forth a super effort. Another kind of super effort is carrying out any workout at a faster rhythm than your normal sessions. Changing paces frequently, running in a tougher environment: on hilly trails, on sand or cross-country, into a headwind are all super efforts. Such an effort is best achieved collectively with compatible training partners or on your own with the support of a coach or crew.

The beauty of a super effort workout is that you are the only one who truly knows when you are totally spent. You alone must decide when you can no longer maintain the pace, the recovery, or both. At that point, you must slow your pace or stop running. Then with ample recovery time, the overcompensation the body makes after performing such a hard workout allows you to move up to a higher level of confidence and enjoyment going forward.

Not only is our altitude ideally suited to endurance training, but we also have an alpine climate with close to 300 days of sunshine each year. You’ll run on earthen red-rock trails and lush greenways through a land teeming with wildlife habitats and stunning geologic features that embolden the human spirit. Why not seize the moment rather than risk its passing forever?

Individualizing within a Group Structure

It’s probably obvious to anybody who has trained for any kind of endurance event: in most cases, it’s more preferable to train with a group of other runners than it is to train on your own. It’s even good to change your schedule on occasion if there’s a group doing something similar to what you hope to accomplish. The thought of grinding out something like 400 meter repeats alone on a deserted track on a windy Tuesday night doesn’t exactly conjure up images of fun!

Even the most challenging sessions on the track are more exciting when done as part of a big group who take turns sharing the lead position. Especially with me shouting out encouragement and split times to keep everyone on the task at hand. Not only do these group sessions feel easier and more enjoyable, but they are also generally faster too.

It’s not only track work where the group environment seems beneficial either. I used to find long runs on my own incredibly boring. So I’d typically lose interest after 2.5 hours. One summer I hooked up with a bunch of decent ultra-marathon runners and every Sunday morning we would go 3-4 hours (and beyond) at a very relaxed pace in the countryside. These long runs soon became the highlight of the week instead of the lonely slog they had been before!

Realistic Goal Setting & Performance Prediction

There will always be those who are fitter and faster than us and those who are less fit and slower than us, just as there are individual differences in the need for rest and recovery. The most important factor to consider is your own time process: where are you now compared to where you were before? Or, more importantly, where you will be a year or more from now?

Choose your level: Follow a running schedule that incorporates the right distances, paces, and recoveries for where you are:

Health & Fitness Runners – You’re accomplished at running 5K and are now ready to prepare yourself for a 10K or 1/2 marathon. Runs are expressed simply in terms of the amount of time spent running. Programs are based on 3 days of running per week.

Serious Fitness Runners – You’re accomplished at running the 10K or the 1/2 marathon and now you want to improve your performance or move up to the ultimate challenges of the marathon. Programs are based on 4 days of running per week, with distances of approximately 25-35 miles per week.

Competitive Fitness Runners – You’ve already run a marathon or an ultra and now want to go faster, longer or both. You may also have a promising race resume and are targeting a performance that elevates you onto an age group podium! Programs are based on 5 days of running per week, with distances of approximately 40-50 miles per week.

Destination Running Camps

The way we run is powerfully influenced by where we run.” – Art

I love the way gifted athletes seem to feel the effect of a running venue in their bones. An Olympic Stadium, the familiar scene at the Boston Marathon, or an epoch course like The Western States 100 can bring a connection with tradition, and a concentration of energies that give performances in these places a heightened quality. Even when there is no arena or competition involved, a mountain to be climbed, a river to be rafted or a stretch of countryside to be raced on can summon up significance and power for us simply by being designated the field of adventure. 

Your camp experience will be a truly memorable one. You’ll hear outstanding seminars and take part in before and after discussions so you understand exactly how to use the new information and techniques in your daily life and why they’re important. The skills you master at the Destination Camps will help you have better runs immediately and you’ll enjoy the process of extending your limits more than ever.

“A simple activity has been made complicated. This is a sport that only requires a half-decent pair of running shoes.”- Steve Jones
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