Running by Feel

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Lydiard, in his training principles, emphasised response regulated adaption which means that any training programme should not be controlled by pre-determined values but rather by how your body is responding to the training and adjusted accordingly daily. This might mean taking an unplanned recovery day and moving a workout. This might mean pushing harder in a general aerobic training run if you have that runner's high and feel smooth, relaxed, co-ordinated and effortless.

Lydiard emphasised feeling-based training where the athlete develops a rapport with their internal feedback systems. With this an athlete will learn to distinguish the stimulus of stretching your training envelope from the stress of overtraining or the pain of a developing injury. They will know how it feels to run at threshold and when a run is truly restorative.

As Steve Magness and Jon Marcus preach: stress + rest = growth. Runners need to accumulate relatively high volumes of aerobic training, therefore complete days off are rare for the high performance runner. However, to absorb harder efforts (stress) and adapt to a higher performance capability (growth), it is essential to run to feel and run easy on recovery days (rest) or mix this with cross-training. This concept has been popularised by Stephen Seiler and the 80/20 concept, however, this is simplified in the context of high performance running. When you feel good, it can be productive to spend time at or above aerobic threshold on easy days. Conversely, if you are really tired then a jog in the woods for 30-45 minutes can be restorative. You need to develop a rapport with your body.

‘the easy days shouldn’t compromise hard days‘

Easy running is enjoyable running. You can clear your mind, enjoy nature, and know you are enhancing your fitness. That’s if you’re truly running easily and running to feel and not to your watch. Sometimes easy can be marathon effort or it can be easy jogging in the woods.

Training runs, such as a harder aerobic run, provide additional training stimulus (stress). Recovery runs provide less of a stimulus but improve recovery (adaptation) between hard workouts. You can also do strides and drills on recovery days to maximise technique development. Run easy when you need to and maximise your harder days to improve performance.

Run easy, run longer, run stronger, run faster

Go out and enjoy running by feel