Other training tenets offer timeless wisdom (‘Don’t spit into the wind’), while a few have been mercifully abandoned (‘Women shouldn’t run more than a kilometre’). So how do you tell the good rules from the bad?
To find out, we asked six well-respected veteran coaches which commandments they think it’s time to stop obeying blindly. You might expect these grizzled sages to be the most faithful to old-time wisdom. But it’s precisely their experience that allows them to weigh the pros and cons of precepts that have (or have not) served their runners well.
Mind you, the rules they dispute aren’t necessarily bad. It’s just time to examine whether they’re doing you any good. After all, Sunday is a pretty good day for a long run, but if switching to Saturday – or even Monday – helps you squeeze in an extra workout or get an extra day of recovery, that just may be a rule worth breaking.
Roy Benson, 70: Coaching since 1961. Founder and director of the Smoky Mountains Running Camp in Asheville, North Carolina; co-author of Heart Rate Training.
Jack Daniels, 78: Coaching since 1960. Two-time Olympic medallist (1956, 1960); PhD and pioneering exercise physiology researcher; author of Daniels’ Running Formula.
Frank ‘Gags’ Gagliano, 74: Coaching since 1961. Currently coaches the New Jersey-New York Track Club and is a volunteer coach for Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Jeff Galloway, 66: Coaching since 1978. Competed at the 1972 Olympics in the 10 000m; developer of the Galloway Run-Walk-Run Method, a 42-K plan that emphasises run/walking.
Hal Higdon, 80: Coaching since 1962. Competed in eight US Olympic Trials, placing as high as 5th in 1960; author of Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide.
Pete Pfitzinger, 54: Coaching since 1979.Top American in two Olympic Marathons (1984, 1988); co-author of Advanced Marathoning; CEO of the New Zealand Academy of Sport North Island.