The world of ultrarunning is changing. People are starting to pay far more attention to their training and are realizing that if they do the right things leading up to the event, they will give themselves the best chance at success. Still, there are many misconceptions and errors in current training methodologies for ultrarunners.
Time and time again, I see ultrarunners making the same mistakes. They unnecessarily prioritize mileage over focused training. They train too slow. They do not train for the specific demands of a particular event. Correct training methodology not only fixes these problems but will also optimally prepare the athlete for success. Later in the book I will dive deep into the whys and hows of best training practices. For now, let’s take a 10,000-foot view of the top mistakes I see in training.
Mistake 1: The N of 1
I have my share of personal ultramarathon experience. I have finished a lot of ultras and competed in some of the toughest races in the world. I’ve had both great days and very bad ones. I’ve DNFed when I shouldn’t have, and I’ve finished races when I should have dropped out. I’ve trained for speed, vertical, endurance, and every other aspect I preach to my athletes. And I’ve improved tremendously as an ultrarunner. Despite all this, I use very little of my personal experience when coaching an athlete. In research papers, the number of subjects in an experiment is referred to as the N, and the best studies benefit from a large N. I acutely realize that I am my own N of 1. If I ever use an “I” statement in my coaching, I consider it a flaw. A coach should certainly take his or her own experience into account. However, relying on that experience, the N of 1, is the ultimate coaching flaw. Yet it’s one I see over and over again.