Runners are often eager for results. We’re often impatient. Especially the young ones (including myself). We put in the training, put in the effort and yet sometimes it feels like we’re not getting the results we feel we deserve. Well, this post tries to address the need to be patient and trust the process. Sometimes we just need to hold back. Time is a powerful resource. It heals, allows for recovery, facilitates muscular adaptations and most of the time, we just need to be patient and let time do its thing.
Be Patient And Trust The Process
Adaptations in running and other sports all take time. It could be physiological adaptations or neuromuscular adaptations, but it takes time for your body to adapt. Use a muscle more and depending on the intensity and duration of the stimulus, muscular strength and muscular endurance will increase. Do more aerobic exercise and your cardiovascular fitness will improve over time.
When it comes to sprinting, some of the adaptations required are more neuromuscular. You need to teach the body to react quickly to the sound of the starting gun and move correctly out of the blocks. Then you need to also work on efficiency, ground contact time and form whilst running. There’s a lot more of a technical aspect to sprinting. This is also important for distance runners, but they can get away with having poor form in some cases if they have much better muscular endurance and strength to compensate although ideally, it’d be much better to correct it.
Adaptations take a long time, especially when reaching new levels of fitness. In most cases, athletes will work on a specific aspect of their fitness for 6 – 10 weeks before switching up the stimulus.
For athletes that are struggling to make improvements 10 weeks or so down the line, then I suggest one of several actions:
- Taking a drop down week where you ease off the training or even rest completely so your body can recover and go hard again the following week.
- Increase the stimulus of your training. Increase the intensity, frequency or duration of your training.
- Alter the training stimulus. If you’re doing lots of tempo runs, maybe switch to VO2 max work such as 1 km repeats.
In most cases, even if you don’t feel like you’re improving then either you need to stick at it for a bit longer and your breakthrough will come. Otherwise, it’s quite possible you’re not focusing enough on the recovery aspect.
The recovery aspect of training is where the adaptations to the stimulus of training occurs. This means you need to prioritise:
- High-quality sleep
- Good nutrition (high protein, some carbs and fat, sufficient calories, plenty of minerals and vitamins)
- Keeping yourself as destressed as possible
The human body is a marvellous organism which can adapt to so many stimuli. Often we want results quickly, but it’s much better if we learn to enjoy the process of training and make sure the training is specific to what you want to do. If you want to run competitively in 5 km races, there’s probably not much point in you spending 30 minutes on the cross-trainer at the gym and you’d get much more benefit from doing other functional exercises or doing a 30 minute run as this is specific to your performance.
Trust The Process
Whilst it can be difficult to focus on enjoying the process of training if you’re a very goal-oriented person, this can be made much easier by joining a local running club or running group and instead just showing up to each training session and giving a solid performance week in and week out.
Right now as I start to switch back from my sprint-based to training to more endurance-based training, I must remind myself that despite feeling far behind where I once was, it’s the commitment day in and day out which will bring me the results I want. If I truly desire it, I have to be patient and trust the process.
In the picture of this post, you see me in my first cross country race in 8 months after barely a month of endurance-based training. I was hurting so much in my body, but I knew that I couldn’t drop out and I had to finish the race. I had to prove to myself that I still had the mental toughness to push through the pain I was feeling.
So, to you readers out there, please trust the training process. Do what’s specific to your performance goals. Stick at the training. Don’t overdo it. Avoid injury. Even if some injuries are inevitable. Listen to your body. Do injury prevention work. And believe. Believe the training will pay off. The mind is such a powerful organ and many of us underestimate the power of the mind.
In the words of Eluid Kipchoge…
No human is limited.
Thanks for reading! If you found this post useful I’d greatly appreciate it if you could share it with any other runners!