I coach a very small team in XC and distance track. My kids do not feel as if 1 workout a week is enough (if they have a meet), or 2 workouts if no meet. They have a difficult time going easy the other days (long run day included!).
Is there a way to convince them that 4 easy days is best for them?
Could they do any other workouts on easy days that wouldn’t exhaust them?
They are overachievers and have been very successful – but have hit a plateau recently. They also play multiple sports – so they are always doubling – XC before school – volleyball after. Soccer/Basketball until March – so running is secondary until March – state is early May – so they feel like they need to ‘catch up’ and do more workouts once they can focus on track.
This is a great question that I get often.
Tell them that the best runners in the world take it easy every other day. It’s how I trained when I set an American Record, it’s how everyone I know achieved their success.
When you do a workout or long run, your body gets torn down. At that time, you are actually slower because your body has been damaged. If you recover properly, that’s when your body makes an advancement in fitness. If you do not recover properly, you will plateau and eventually start regressing.
At my first overseas competition, I was stunned at how slowly the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners warmed up and cooled down. They must have been jogging 9 minute pace! They understood how their bodies worked.
One thing they can do at the end of an easy run is a good set of core and hurdle drills to work on strength and mobility.
I hope this helps! It takes discipline to do things right, including the hard workouts and the easy ones.