A client of mine knocked 14 minutes off her half marathon personal best at the weekend. We have done three sessions together over the last six weeks.
I worked with an elite England runner a few years ago. We did four sessions on four consecutive days in the middle of an early season over-training period. The next day in his tired state, he took 27 seconds off his 5k PB.
Would you like to make a dent in your half marathon or marathon personal best?
Here's how you can and it's probably not the answer you were expecting:
Remember that coach who told you to engage your core while you run? Don't.
Remember that thing you read about pushing more with your glutes as you toe-off? Forget it.
That shoe company that told you heel-striking is the Devil's work and to land forefoot? Stop it.
Nearly anything that requires you consciously doing some additional work to improve your running is nonsense. It is because of doing additional work that you're not as fast as you can be in the first place.
Let me explain myself.
I'll take a more simple movement than running: bending forward to touch your toes.
How easily do you do this without any effort, any change in your breathing, by letting gravity alone take you forward?
How come gravity doesn't pull you further?
You've seen that other people are capable of going further with ease so it is humanly possible. What stops you?
The unintentional activity of certain muscles.
Somewhere in the musculature along the back of your body, your muscles are contracting unintentionally and you probably can't even feel them.
If you feel lots of tension in your hamstrings as you do this, I would put my money on your unintentional contraction being elsewhere that you are completely unaware of.
You feel no stretch there. No pain. Nothing.
It's your 'doing too much' that prevents you from doing what you want to do.
The same applies to your running.
The unintentional activity of various muscles is what is slowing you down.
It's like a suit of rubber bands you don't even feel you're wearing.
It's decreasing your stride length.
It's slowing your cadence.
It's making you weaker.
It's slowing you down.
And the more you try to do more, the more you're adding rubber bands to your suit.
The first step to getting faster for your race, maybe the London Marathon 2014 or something else, is to stop doing extra.
This stops you adding any more unintentional contraction/rubber bands to your suit.
There's something to do before you begin removing your bands though.
You need to feel them first.
Like I said, you don't even feel you're wearing them. As soon as you feel where you unintentionally contract, you can then relax the area.
The rubber bands can disappear pretty quickly leaving you free to run more easily and quickly given your same level of fitness. So, for the sake of your distance running, do less conscious effort.
Only use your consciousness to learn feel where you work unintentionally and relax it.
If you'd like my help at doing this and running better than you ever have before by feeling and removing those rubber bands you didn't even know you have, I'm running (pardon the pun) a workshop in London in March. It's called
You will change the way you approach your running for good. Click here to book on now.
And if you don't fancy the workshop, at least, just DO LESS.
Arton "The Rubber Band Man" Baleci
P.S. if you're not a big runner but know somebody who is and would love to run better, please share this with them. Thanks.
P.P.S. proud to say that's my doodle of Mo Farah.