Strengths and Weakness

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Strengths and Weakness

By Ben Tilus

There's often some debate about whether or not to focus our training on a runner’s strengths or on their weaknesses in order to see the biggest margin of improvement. I prefer to look at it as a matter of when as opposed to which.

Runners can do a much broader range of training in the offseason. This allows you to spend time looking at them as a developing athlete and not just as a specific event competitor. In this way, I think it makes sense to use this time to address some of a runner's weaknesses.

When runners are training in season they are much more sensitive to anything that might not go right, whether in a workout or in a competition. As the biggest meets get closer it's good to make sure that an athlete has confidence in all that they are doing. This is the time to dial into their strengths. Well it may seem counterintuitive to focus on the strength of the athlete as opposed to the specific demands of an event, sticking with what works for an athlete often has bigger benefits. Several years ago, one of my top male high school runners ran 4:09 for the mile only 4 days after running 6 x 1000. Counter to your initial reaction, that athlete didn't lack speed. In fact, he had just closed the final 800m at the state track meet in the 1600 meter run in under 2 minutes, with a final 200 in around 27 seconds. His body just responded better to longer intervals.

Take the time in the offseason to work on things that the runner might be less comfortable with before turning your attention to the type of training that suits them in season. You will have a happy, fast runner.