Here are a few elements of the Mammoth Track Club program that most of us can implement. The more of them you do consistently, the more the benefits will snowball.
Get With a Group: No loneliness of the long-distance runner martyrdom for the folks in Mammoth. You probably can't -- and may not want to -- run with others every day, but regularly meeting a group ensures consistency and accountability like nothing else. And even if you're as highly motivated as the Mammoth runners, you're going to have bad days, which are never as bad when you have friends by your side to pull you along.
Create an Infrastructure for Success: Having regular running dates on your calendar is an example of what behavioral scientists call "choice architecture," or the context in which we decide how to act. In running terms, Mammoth members ensure that the right lifestyle choices -- post-run drinks readily available, minimal distractions before a goal race, refrigerator stocked with plenty of healthful options when they're craving calories -- are always easy to make.
Become a Better Athlete: A body with better running-specific strength, power and range of motion is going to hold up better to hard training and racing than a less capable one. That's even more true for runners who spend much of their work time sitting in cars and at desks. Mammoth runners work six days a week to build a strong core and address underlying weaknesses. For a good starter program, see runningtimes.com/gsvideos.
Run, Recover, Repeat: Recovery is serious business in Mammoth, where the 30 to 60 minutes after a run are considered an integral part of the workout. The goal is to get the body back to its pre-run state as soon as possible through nutrition and light exercises such as drills and stretching. The latter are especially important if, like the Mammoth runners, you drive to run. For info on optimal post-run nutrition, see "Power Up" on p. 24 of our October Issue.
Set Specific Goals: Mahon sits down with his runners at the beginning of every season to come up with specific, quantifiable goals. In their case, that means things like "win Boston" or "make the world championships team," but what's important is the specificity of the goal instead of something vague like "race well this fall." Specific goals make it easier to create a training plan that results in success and to track your progress.
Set Challenging Goals: Ryan Hall's goal last spring was to be the first American man in 25 years to win the Boston Marathon. Deena Kastor's goal this fall is to win the Chicago Marathon just longer than a year after having a broken foot. Mahon wants his runners to set goals that make them stretch themselves, to have to try something they haven't done before. When setting specific goals, aim a little bit higher than might seem reasonable. Or, as the Mammoth group's Web site puts it, elevate your expectations.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
A really good sidebar to a nice Scott Douglas-penned article on Scott Bauhs in the October 2009 Running Times: