Mapping your run is the most common method of becoming a most efficient runner. However, some argue that no planning or their free method is the best way. I’ve personally used both methods, but I’ll discuss each way so that you see what you think. Mapping is taking a pre-determined distance you’ve marked off with your car. Then wear a runner’s watch to stay on track of your pace at each mile marker. This way you can determine if you’re ahead of pace or do you need to slow it down a little. I always found it to work to your advantage knowing where each mile was. It doesn’t matter if your running a 5k or marathons it’ll allow you to know if your training is doing you any good or not. Especially in the shorter long distance races like a 5k, 10k and two mile races.
Tempo running is a pace half-way between your slow running pace and your racing pace. As you keep improving with running a little faster tempo running, that’ll allow you to train faster on track days. Track days are usually run once a week. Every time you move locations you’ll have to hunt down a local high school track.
Personally I always used early Sunday mornings as a track day. Most runners including me, develop a love/hate relationship with the track. You hate to run on the track, because you’re a long distance runner. But you love the results you get from your racing times.
Those results only come from, repeats or intervals you did at the track. The track is an exact measurement to learn what your race pace feels like. You know exactly what a 6:30 pace feels like. And, exactly what rhythm your breathing feels like at that pace too.
What do you do about mapping if you don’t live on city neighborhoods? I’m glad you asked. I have a remedy for that. There was a time when we lived in apartments so my running was throughout a park. It turned out to be the best training grounds ever! There were running trails throughout the park. Perfect for training. You have hills, flats, steep hills, long hills, wooden bridges and creek crossings.
What I had to do was take my bike over there one day and mark off the miles. There were a few mile markers here and there but I had to add a few of my own. How did I do that? Well, just lay three rocks on the side of the trail is one way. Or you can notch a tree with you pocket knife is another way. You can even take a piece of chalk or a can of spray paint to put a red mark next to the trail to map your run.
Now for the free running and how that works. Free running is exactly what it says. It’s free! Free running can be on a vacation day or a holiday. It’s a time when and where you get an extra free day to run. Let’s say you train on certain days of the week getting ready for a race. And a holiday day comes up during the middle of the week.
Well that’s a free a extra day to run that’s not counted as part of your training. So it’s free! You just go run for the enjoyment of running! You go out to run and not be caring if you see any mile markers or not. Your not taking any certain routes that you’ve previously marked off. You might run four miles or you might run seven and a half miles. Who cares right? That’s free running! Some runners say that’s all they do is free running. That’s ok if that’s what they want to do. So now you know the deference between free running and mapping out a run.
Gary Cooper is a writer/runner who reports on exercise & nutrition from a runner’s prospective. With well over 100 races behind him & 1,000’s of miles logged Gary encourages others to a make a habit of a healthier lifestyle, in this busy world we live in. He says, “You truly can renew your youthful years of strength, flexibility & vitality.” Stop by his website to learn much more!