How to train by listening to your body

Runners who want to increase their performance, get faster and stronger need to follow a proper training plan and schedule. But how should runners train in the off-season training, when you’re not training for any specific race, when you just want to take it easy and enjoy running, or for veteran runners? Listening to your body and how you feel, can be a great training plan.

Both mental and physical benefits of training by feel are enormous. Our body constantly gives us feedback on our internal workings, the ability to run by feel is the result of knowing yourself. If you’re tuned into what a tempo run feels like, what your 5K, 10K pace is, being aware of your heart rate, knowing how hard you can push, your pace will naturally follow as your ability changes due to recovery, fatigue or any other issue. If you listen to your body, running hard when you feel good and slowing down when you don’t, you will also add the increased recovery time you need without having to modify your training schedule. If you can focus on running as far as your body lets you or as fast as it allows you and listen when it tells you to rest, you will be able to run the volume that you need, avoid injuries, fatigue or demotivation. Even with a planned training schedule, sometimes you must be willing to adapt what you are capable of doing each day. In order to do that, you need to pay attention to how you feel and need to know yourself.

How to learn to train by effort?

  1. Don’t use your GPS watch– or just ignore it: To learn to train by effort requires changes in habits and tools. Not wearing your GPS watch for a while will help you concentrate on your pace, your heart rate, your distance and how it all feels. Looking at your watch every km and speeding up or slowing down only based on your data can sometimes be counterproductive. You must tune into what feels right for the training and trust your body.
  2. Focus on the effects– not the data: Training by effort requires a change in mindset on how the training works. You need to focus on what is really important, which is the training effect on the body. Remind yourself that you are strong and fit, you can run fast or run long-distance when you want to and feel right, not because you want to log it on Strava or be competitive with other runners. Even doing speed work or hill repeats is not to practice running faster, we do this type of training to improve our physiological system that will allow us to run faster. The best way is to train at a 5K effort, not a 5K pace, this will actually improve our pace more easily.
  3. Learning to train by effort improves over time: Your running must be consistent, a regular habit. You also have to train at a variety of paces, from sprints, tempo runs, long runs, slow runs. This is the best way to learn how your body feels and react during different training plans. When you push hard, focus on how your body and heart feels, when you run slow also listen to your body and heart rate. Your goal should be to always do your best according to your body. You can learn how hard you can push and what is the appropriate effort by pushing close to the edge at some point, to know the warning signs from your heart or breath, so the next time you will know just how far to push without going over the edge.
  4. Pay attention to your breathing: To learn more about your pace, focus on your breathing pattern. When running different paces, you need to adapt your breathing pattern. It is important to learn to feel the different breathing efforts of each training pace. The breathing technique can make a big difference in your training when you are pushing harder. Once you start pushing hard, you will reach the ventilatory threshold, the point at which you need to start breathing harder to keep up with the oxygen demands. Once you learn your proper breathing rhythm according to your pace you will be able to push harder and it will feel a bit easier.
  5. Feel your heart rate: When training at different paces, concentrate on your heart rate and how it feels. After a while, you will know how it feels when you reach your max heart rate, and you will know if you have trained in aerobic or anaerobic pace.

To learn to train by effort, you need to listen to your body, your heart and your breathing technique to run feeling better, stronger and faster:)

Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!