The sport of running is very prone to injuries, much more so than for instance swimming or cycling. This means you need to train responsibly and for most this means training under the guidance of a coach.
Now top athletes can pay personal coaches, but less talented runners usually take part in a running group, either physically or virtually. Most, if not all, track & field clubs offer programs for runners of all levels and they supply a coach to guide the runners in group activities, called training sessions.
If you’re serious about running, you will probably also run on your own, and some coaches (but not all) will help you with that as well. Of course, all this is not free, but because you’re with many, it’s affordable.
Sometimes when I see how coaches approach training I can only frown.
Especially male runners want to train hard and far, which actually goes against common wisdom among experienced runners. You’re supposed to train according to what your body can recover from just enough to do the next training session without getting injured or burnt out over the weeks or months. However, since for many men their weekly (or twice-a-week) training session is their only outlet from office life; they want to release their tension and lose themselves in training, like a mental short break. Many coaches give in to that urge and make their training too intensive, too tough.
Then there is this common belief among runners (both beginners and experience runners) that in order to run faster in races, you need to run even faster in training (but shorter, of course). Few believe that taking it easy on the speed is better on the long run. It prevents excessive training load and lets it adjust to slowly increasing demands. Yes, even if you keep training the same, but moderate, you will get faster, by virtue of your intent to be faster. If you lack this intent, no amount of training is going to make you faster than a certain initial bump in speed when you start a training program. It’s mostly between the ears.
I hope you like the comic and keep reading it. Until next week!