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Empower Your Run: Lessons Learned From Running with Power

In recent years, power-based training has transitioned from its traditional domain of cycling into the realm of running. As the founder and head coach at Mindful Runner, I’ve spent the past two years integrating power metrics into our training programs. This integration has yielded invaluable lessons that have refined our coaching techniques and enhanced our runners’ performances. Here are some insights we’ve gained from running with power.

Running Uphill: Even Out Your Pace

Hills are often seen as formidable obstacles. Many runners have the tendency to exert additional force in an attempt to conquer these elevations quickly, which often results in them being completely gassed and needing to walk for recovery. Power training teaches us to maintain a consistent, regulated pace uphill. By spreading out our effort more evenly, we can ascend more efficiently, conserving energy for the rest of the run.

Running Downhill: Strengthen and Streamline

Staying within a prescribed power range while running downhill presents a challenge as it requires not just control, but also strength and finesse. However, the payoff is immense: it leads to improved downhill stride, well-conditioned quadriceps, and, ultimately, better downhill running performance.

Trail Running: Mastering Traction and Lateral Movement

Various trail surfaces often offer less traction, leading to a greater need for forceful pushes to stay within the prescribed power zones. Interestingly, we have noticed that lateral movements on trails result in a power loss as the forces generated aren’t solely propelling the runner forward. This realization, although a challenge, enhances your running technique. Power-guided trail running encourages maintaining better ground friction and conscious foot placement while minimizing lateral movement. This approach results in a more direct, efficient running path and ultimately, a more agile runner.

Trail Downhills: Fine-tune Your Terrain Reading

Trail downhills really test your terrain-reading skills. Just as with road downhills, the goal is to stay within the prescribed power bands, but the uneven terrain adds an additional layer of complexity. However, it’s this very challenge that helps sharpen your skills, encouraging a more mindful, strategic approach to navigating downhill trails.

Trail Uphills: Master Efficient Steps

Trail uphills provide another learning curve. Small, elastic steps combined with good trail-reading skills can lead to a more even application of power, helping to avoid erratic aerobic demands. This means more efficient uphill runs and overall better performance.

The Ripple Effects of Measurement: Influencing Performance through Power

The adage “you get what you measure” rings true in the world of power-based running. As we begin to measure power, our attention naturally shifts towards optimizing and evening out our power output. This focus inadvertently sparks improvements in running biomechanics. As we strive to produce more power and balance out our power output, our running form evolves, becoming more efficient and effective. Therefore, the simple act of measurement has a profound impact, not just on our understanding of our performance, but on the very process of running itself.

General Lessons: The Power of Power Training

After two years of training with power, one thing is clear: power metrics provide invaluable insights into running efficiency, effort distribution, and performance potential. By guiding our training, it’s helped us and our athletes better understand and refine our running mechanics. This, in turn, has led to improved performance and injury prevention.

That being said, power is just one tool in our multifaceted toolbox. Heart rate, pace, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) metrics continue to hold their own value in our coaching approach. Each of these metrics has a specific role and is brought out and utilized when appropriate, offering a comprehensive and tailored approach to training.

Running with power has revolutionized our approach to training at Mindful Runner. It has illuminated the intricacies of different running scenarios, enabling us to train smarter and perform better. We’re excited to continue this journey of discovery and share our findings with our growing community of athletes. As we advance, we anticipate even more revelations and refinements to our training methodologies. If there’s a specific aspect of power-based running you’re curious about or an experience you’d like to share, we’re all ears. We learn, grow, and run better, together.

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