Brian Nicholson: Reasons to run: FIRST system offers variety for runners

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  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    July 11, 2011 11:41 p.m.

    "If the most common question I get asked is, 'How do I run a fast marathon?,' the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th ... most common questions have something to do with diet, running form, sleep, footwear, stretching, weights; anything but actual running. American runners seem to have an unending fascination with all these extra-curricular activities, yet we continue to get slower at running marathons ... If you want to improve your performance in the marathon, stop worrying about minimalist shoes, caveman diets, and new-age running form, and start worrying about getting out the door and running a little more than you did last week. High mileage works!"

    --American marathoner Peter Gilmore

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    July 11, 2011 11:28 p.m.

    This kind of stuff works to a point, but after that it is a deception. If you're running a 5 hour marathon, sure you can shave 30 minutes off by gaining more general fitness, but if you really want to be a good runner, not just improve your fitness, the ONLY way to accomplish that is to RUN. Why do you think the Kenyans are as good as they are? It's not genetics. They aren't doing FIRST. They're running. Every day. 100+ miles per week. As a result, a mediocre Kenyan can come to any Utah marathon and blow the socks off of all but a few of the very best American runners (who, incidentally, train the same way). These types of programs are good for building general fitness, but if you really want to be a better runner, the only way to do it is to run more. Our culture is lazy, and unfortunately that has even permeated the running community (looking at you, Runner's World). I really applaud these kinds of programs for their ability to bring people into a lifestyle of fitness, and introduce them to running, but beyond that they are largely useless.

  • Josi S. Kilpack Willard, UT
    July 8, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    I've never heard of this program but it sounds great. I tend to plod every day at the same pace without much variety, which inevitably leads me to boredom and I don't increase my times. This is something I could do. Thank you and good luck!

  • socalcougar! La Crescenta, CA
    July 8, 2011 12:17 p.m.

    I've been using the FIRST system for years, and I love the variety of workouts and the simplicty of the system. My firsten marathon time dropped 30 minutes after using FIRST, and I didn't always do the biking/swimming/rowing. Now I enjoy biking more than I used to, and I think the biking two days a week is a great compliment to running. Biking takes the pounding of running out and lets your legs rest while still giving you a good workout. Plus with biking you can do more exploring and ride farther than with running. I've found new places to run from my explorations on bike.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    July 8, 2011 9:21 a.m.

    I have been running this way for decades. You don't need to stick to such a small selection of activities on the off days though.