Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lil' C Excels and The 90 - 10 Rule

Before I get to my part of this post, I need to give a shout out to my Lil' C. My daughter has been working hard and has completed her 5th week of training by completing a 20 minute run. Coach Daddy (me) has been training her by doing the Couch to 5k program with her and she has been doing great.

She wasn't too confident about doing the 20 minute run and has been complaining about it since I mentioned it earlier in the week. I knew she could do it, but when the longest time you've run is 8 minutes, I guess doing 20 minutes sounds a bit daunting. In order to try to cut down on the whining and to give her some focus, I offered to buy her a Slurpee right after the run in exchange for cutting out the complaining and just doing her best. We had a deal and it was the best Slurpee I ever purchased, even though I didn't have so much as a sip.

After our run I finished work on some plumbing in the house (fixed a toilet, then needed to fix a shut off valve on the water line to said toilet that would not stop leaking) and then ran by myself. I was planning to go easy, but after only doing slower runs with Lil' C all week, my legs wanted to go go go. I didn't go race speed, but I ran fairly quickly for training and felt pretty good.

Last weekend, I ran at the Big House (Michigan Stadium) and was thinking about something which I call the 90 - 10 Rule. Now this is certainly not a totally original thought (and there are a lot of 90 - 10 rules out there), but this one refers to race day performance. It goes like this:

90% of race day performance is attributable to training.
10 % of race day performance is attributable to race day prep and effort.

I'll give an example. In 2008, I decided that I was going to run a race, the Open Door Julie Run 5k. I hadn't raced in about 15 years at that point and wasn't sure how I would do. Before starting, I figured that since my slowest 5k time in high school was around 22:30, I should be able to at least do 24 minutes or so. That turned out to be very unrealistic, as I found out early in my 2 - 3 week training. On race day, I finished in about 32 minutes. I could have had a great race day, but my training dictated my performance more than anything.

Now, I am finally to where I can run a 24 minute 5k (23:18 PR - WooHoo! 1992 here I come!). It took a year of training to get there, but I did it. My training has had more than anything to do with my improvement. In running as much as any other activity, training dictates performance. 

Using 24 minutes as my average 5k time now (it is the approximate average of my 3 - 5ks this year) I figure that if I had the best race day prep, had the ideal nutrition, the best weather and just had my best performance, the best I could hope for is just under 22 minutes. Similarly, if I just had an awful day, cramps / side stitches, stomach issues, etc., I don't think I would do much worse than about 26 minutes. Training sets the "pace" for the run, race day effort certainly matters, but you can't consistently run 24 minute 5ks and then rattle off an 18 minute one out of the blue (but we can still hope). :P The moral of the story is that races are won and lost in the weeks and months before they actually occur. I think every runner knows that, but sometimes it just needs to be said.

In a sentence or two, what is your best training advice?

How is your training going?

Have you ever been a coach for a young person? How do you motivate them when you need to compete against IPod, XBox and TV? 

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