Running and Training are Not the Same Thing

Running is simple, training is not. Training also hurts a heck of a lot more. But, getting back to the first one there, running really isn’t all that complex: right foot, left foot, right foot, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, that incredibly simple and repetitive motion is addicting as all heck and something I’d rather not live without; however, training is a completely separate entity from the mere act of running.

mario runner

I think she’s training…the mean mushroom men chasing her are just making sure she hits pace. ;)


Training is methodical, there needs to be a method to the madness, many more variables need to be considered and getting back to the inevitable truth: it hurts a heck of a lot more. Runners in training need to be able to look at the big picture, how each run fits into the whole; you can’t just take it day by day. This rigidity might sound like a turn-off, but the rewards that come from training are also a bit unique from that which you get from pleasure running alone. I think because you suffer more, when you’re done you respect the process and YOURSELF in a different way, namely more.

And to be honest your training schedule doesn’t have to be viewed like a rigid schedule; in fact it shouldn’t be. There needs to be flexibility because running is the same across the board in this regard: you can’t plan for everything. The human body is one complex creature and sports performance is a science riddled with variables and unknowns. You see, we don’t know all the answers, which kinds of training programs or philosophies work the best, and then which workouts and training cycles fit the individual. So there needs to be flexibility with any training program because there will be days when your body is sending you signs that for that particular day you need to adjust the workout; it could be that you need to cut back or it could be that you’re fitter than you predicted and should up the goal paces…things you can’t know three months prior. Sometimes with running and training, you just never know.

Though there are lots we DO know and here’s some distinct differences between running and training:

* With training, even with a flexible plan, you still need to see everything you do as a piece of the whole. Think to yourself before you do any run, extra cross-training, weights, core, etc, “How is this going to help me in the big picture?” Just because the weather is suddenly awesome later in the afternoon and even though you’d love to go out and do some more miles, if you honestly did a hard workout that day and shouldn’t, in training, the smart thing to do is use some self-restraint.
running rainbow
* With running the pace really doesn’t matter if you don’t want it to. Not so with training; this applies to hard AND easy days. With hard days, obviously you’ve got a goal pace you want to hit, but for easy day you do too: the goal pace is one that allows you to recover. This little detail is something many new and eager runners forget…then fast-forward and they can’t understand why they are so tired later in the season. The answer is they never let their body recover.

* With training you need to be more accountable. There will ALWAYS be days you’d rather sit on the bed curled up with Ben & Jerry and the Tivo. Rest days can be part of training but they are different when they are actually planned versus the ‘I’m just lazy’ rest day. Know the difference and get rid of the second kind.

* With running it can be just running. Let me explain, if you want to run faster and run your best you need to do other things than just miles, miles, miles. Core work, strength work, stretches, quick feet drills…there are lots of ‘extras’ that when integrated into your training routine will vastly improve your running performance.

* With training some of those ‘extras’ are injury prevention. Running puts a ton of stress on the body, training exponentially increases that. So that’s why with training it’s also your job to be kind to your body and give it the TLC it needs. If you don’t, it will revolt (check out this awesome post by Mark @ Running, Writing, and Chasing the Dragon on just that kind of revolt) and you won’t be doing any running or training.

True, training still includes the left, right, left, repeat aspect of running. However, it entails a LOT more. That said, getting back to the rewards of training vs. running…anyone who has gutted through a tough as heck race and come out hitting their goals will attest that it was worth it.
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Miles Madness Update: Okay, guys, so it’s Friday and this marks the end of Week 2 totals. Now in an effort to make things easier for everyone I’ve created a Google Doc for all team members to be able to go in and insert their total themselves in about T-minus 30 seconds time. If you emailed me last week and I have your email address I sent you an invite to view the document. If you didn’t receive the invite (and check the Junk, in the one I sent to myself the message went to the Junk bin) let me know and I’ll get you squared away. Thanks guys! Also shout out to Amy @ Proud Patriot for suggesting the Google Doc route! My team members are smart AND fast. :)
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1) What’s one difference you can add between running and training?

2) Where are you at, are you training for something in particular? Let me say, it’s also more than okay to just be in the running phase…whatever floats your boat and you’re still doing the BEST sport ever. :)

3) When you’re just about to start a hard workout or race and you know it’s going to hurt, but you also know that if you stay tough through to the end it will be well worth it, how do you tell yourself that you will stay strong and tough when your mind starts begging for mercy?

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8 Comments

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8 Responses to Running and Training are Not the Same Thing

  1. Why weren’t you my coach when I started this crazy marathon training? And started as a completely new runner with no respect for the sport. Oh dear, you better believe I’m feeling tired now!

    For a hard work out, I use the ‘ I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done’ mantra. Whatever happens, I get to the end.

    • well now we’re besties!! hehe…plus, honestly u’ve had SUCH a stellar learning curve, the things u’ve already picked up it takes most people years!

  2. I’m glad we started using the spreadsheet, it works a lot better for me so I can log every day. I think running is when you’re just logging miles for fun and not signed up for a race or have a goal of a time in mind, but when you sign up for a race, competition, team, etc… you are officially “training”. I think cross training things like yoga and weights are good for everyone though! It builds bones, muscles, flexibility… and prevents injury! With tough workouts I try to break it into chunks and also think about how amazing I’ll feel when it’s over with because I always do :) .

  3. I really needed this! For so long I really thought that no one where I lived got out and ran, but slowly falling in love with this sport has opened my eyes to the fact that there are others out there that run! I just found out that there is a group of people that meet three times during the week and once on the weekend. Knowing all of this info really wants me to “train” instead of just run. Don’t get me wrong, I feel no shame in just running for the sake of running, but I really like the idea of training for something. I love for someone to give me a task and meet it.
    Great post Cait!

    • i LOVE that u’re finding ur running posse and falling in love with pushing it in workouts! there is of course no shame for peeps who don’t, but i personally kno that there is something unique about the runner high u get after a workout that u kick ur tush and come out the mental victor…keep it up girl!

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