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Patience in the Process

Patrick Thomas Gildea, Director/Head Coach for the Knoxville Distance Project

One of the more beloved anthems in the Grateful Dead arsenal is “Shakedown Street” and it can be a metaphor for increasing mileage and building endurance from the beginner to the advanced runner. Bear with me here… In a similar fashion to way the original jam kings took their time, improvising and delicately maneuvering their way through each song until the final note was played, you can find a like-minded approach to your own running. A verse in the song states, “Maybe you had too much too fast,” and if you take that into consideration and place in the context of your own running when making a jump training it makes total sense. You can’t simply add more miles all at once. You’re headed down a slippery slope or facing uphill battle – whichever way you look at it. If you read in between the notes of the song, really, it speaks about patience.

I think, as runners, the most important lesson we can take away from training is always practicing patience. Success doesn’t occur overnight. Sure, we’d all love to feel great each day, have our best workout or set a PR in every race we run. It’s not practical though. Taking a long-term approach to training, making adjustments with your coach, if you have one, along the way can prove to be very valuable if you want to reach and exceed your goals. Understanding where you are and where you want to go is important.

“Sure don’t know what I’m going for, but I’m gonna go for it for sure.”

Whether you’re starting out on Barren Ground or you have more than a few races under your belt, there’s no good advice in being Runaway Jim and Throwing Stones to the wind when increasing your training load. If you train appropriately and manage each day accordingly, you too, can Run Like An Antelope. Taking a cautious approach and being mindful that your body can handle an amount which is appropriate for where you are is a safe approach. Some things to consider when increasing mileage and building your endurance:

  • Recovery – Make sure that you are adequately rested before you head out on your next run. In order to run more and build that base, it is imperative that you stay healthy, minimize injury and recovery is the major component. Foam roll, stretch, strength and conditioning – all keys to recovery and injury management.
  • Consistency – A simple way to increase mileage and build endurance is to get out and run. Add to the frequency at which you run while making sure that you’re taking each run easy and not pressing. Your body responds to stress. It’ll learn to manage it. A soft, easy, short run has benefit. Get out and go!
  • Pace/Effort – Take your time. There’s no point in rushing your way to success. Working your way through training “on feel” can be a good way to progress from one step to another. Simple checks along the way; using a sliding scale of effort can be beneficial.
  • Focus – On the details. Feel things like rhythm, cadence, breathing, form. Get to know them well. Having a joyful approach to your training as opposed to having to hit a desired amount of mileage. Mileage is just a number. Time well spent can be seen as much more valuable.
  • Mileage/Minutes – Whether you go by one or the other, take it slowly. It’s not practical to go from a 5 mile run to a 15 mile run. When increasing, be mindful on the physicality of the run. For someone just starting out, allow your body to adapt for about a month before making an increase in mileage.

We all wish we had the exact answer, that Estimated Prophet appearing and telling us everything will be okay. The reality is that when you’re putting together a training program you want a philosophy Built to Last. There’s more than one bridge that leads Across the River. Take your time, there’s Pastures of Plenty and if you set out in believing that – you will find success.

Patrick is a Tennessee graduate where he was a standout distance runner for the Vols. He competed professionally and qualified for two IAAF World Championships in cross country and half-marathon. He’s run PR’s of 14:01 for 5k, 28:38 for 10k and 63:43 for the half-marathon. He’s coached runners of all ages and ability. Patrick is the Director/Head Coach at Knoxville Distance Project where he values training with balance, structure and flexibility. You can contact him at knoxdistanceproject@gmail.com.

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