Push Yourself, But Not Too Hard
Hard work is rewarded in running. In fact, hard work is the main path to improvement. Expecting to improve as a runner without working harder is like expecting to get more money out of your bank account without having put more in it. Too many runners try to convince themselves that they can improve by means other than pushing themselves more. They try to improve by shuffling the pieces around. They believe that if they can just do a little work, but do it more scientifically, they will run faster. This attitude is a copout.
Bill Rodgers didn’t train scientifically at all. His friends in the Greater Boston Track Club could talk him into doing any given workout on any given day, because he didn’t care. As long as the workout contributed to his step-by-step fitness building, its particular format didn’t matter to him.
Every runner has his limits, though. Competitive runners just as often fail to respect their limits and push too much, to the point of injury or overtraining fatigue. Rodgers was conscious of his limits—which were way out there; he often ran 150 miles per week—and he wasn’t afraid to take it easy when his body needed rest.
“If I have had a minor quadriceps[s] injury that has sidelined me for a week or more,” he writes in one example, “I may try to go just two or three miles in the first day back… If I feel the slightest twinge in the injured area, I’ll quit and return.”