Running the Tangents

Most running training plans I’ve come across have 5 or 6 days minimum running days in them. I find that I can’t do more than three. I find it too boring, or perhaps more accurately, I find it overwhelming.

What? Run 6 days a week? Seriously? I have other things to do! (Okay, so I *don’t* have other things to do, but if I *did*…)

Now, these 6 day workout programs have a bit of a fail-safe in them. Basically, if you don’t do a workout, then you’re okay, because there’s so many other runs, the volume is high and you’re not going to lose anything by having an extra day off.

But when you take 4 days off between runs, as I have been, then you’re pretty much asking for trouble. Running only two or three days a week while trying to increase volume means increasing run duration and distance. With so few days to get the runs in, there is no fail-safe, and missing a day actually means I’ve set myself back on my training plan. This could be a recipe for injury if I’m not careful.

So how do I keep my running fitness up and increase my distance all while keeping running interesting?

Shake it up a little! With Drills, Cross-Training, and Running Variations.

The first thing I did this week was try to run a course that had no bitumen (paved roads) in it. I called it my GRAVEL ONLY RUN. I crossed a paved road twice, and other than that it was all gravel, packed sand, and trail. It was really quite fun!

While on that run I also “Ran the Tangents

The basic principle of this is that you look ahead and plot the straightest line between two points and run that line, not the outside of the curve, or just keeping to the left or right of the road. Click on the link above to get a nice visual of this process.

Basically, when you run a tangent, you are running the shortest possible distance on your path.

Two interesting things happened on this run:

  1. I had more fun. I was kept busy planning my route (for gravel and tangents) and thinking and processing where to turn and go next, rather than just plodding along on a set course.
  2. I kept my head up more. I always thought I ran with a pretty upright posture and looked ahead a lot, and I at least don’t look down at my feet, but I don’t look very far ahead. I usually look only about 5 meters in front of me. When running the tangents I was looking as far ahead as I possibly could – to wherever my vision was cut off by the trees, curves or horizon – because I was mapping a straight line from the point I was at to that farthest point away from me.

I’ll keep you abreast of other things I do to keep my running form and fitness, without making myself hate running out of boredom!

How do you shake up your training plan? How do you keep things interesting?


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