Have Fun with a 5k Early in Your Marathon Training

Hello Runners,

I encourage you to consider running a 5k in your first two months of half- or full-marathon training. I found an organization called Park Run (https://www.parkrun.us/) that does local free 5ks throughout the year.

First, running a 5k can be a nice change from the normal routine of weekend long runs, which your body and mind will greatly appreciate! If you do most, or all of your training alone, a 5k will be a great opportunity to be around and connect with other runners. In addition, being in a race environment can be motivating and inspiring and help you enjoy and appreciate your training more.

Also, a 5k early on in your training can be a great way to determine your baseline fitness. Your performance from your 5k race can be used to predict your performance in a future half- or full-marathon, depending on your training for the next 12-16 weeks. This training will need to include long runs and other workouts that appropriately stress your aerobic system, such as progression and threshold runs.

Your pace for a 5k can be used to determine paces for your training runs by using prediction calculators. I use races and prediction calculators with almost all of the runners I coach, to tailor their workouts, so they are getting the most benefit, while training at paces that are most appropriate for them.

There are several online calculators that can be used including:

www.macmillanrunning.com

However, you need to use these intelligently in predicting your future half- or full-marathon pace. This includes taking 5-10 seconds off your 5k time and then plugging into the predictor calculator. Keep in mind this is a projected pace for these events, and certainly not a pace you would run these events at now. After all, you won’t have done long runs much more than 8-12 miles at this point.

You should aim for a negative split in your 5k. That is to run the last half of the 5k faster than the first half. The easiest way to accomplish this is to keep a consistent pace for the first three miles and then speed up for the last 200 meters or tenth of a mile. Also, Coach Jay Johnson, in his book Simple Marathon Training, recommends running the first mile very conservatively, including running the first half mile at a pace that is challenging, but comfortable. He says don’t worry about those people who pass you because most of them will be running a positive split (slower second half of the 5k). He suggests a negative split race is a better predictor of your aerobic fitness than a positive split race.

Make sure you recovery well from your 5k. You should perform a cooldown after the 5k, including walking and then stretching/foam rolling. Also, I recommend a brisk walk or other low to moderate cross-training the next day for approximately 30 minutes. You may want to take the following day off from running completely before resuming your running.

So, go out and enjoy a 5k!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

References:

  • Simple Marathon Training, Jay Johnson.

Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation: Key to Achieving Your Running, Fitness, and Weight Loss Goals

During my run yesterday morning, I was thinking about the importance of mindset during training and accomplishing goals, whether it’s completing a first marathon, qualifying for the Boston marathon, improving health through exercise, or weight loss, etc. I’ll admit it was not easy for me to get up this morning and run. It was a drizzly and dreary morning; not very inspiring for a run. So, in these situations I use a few things to help motivate me. First, I remind myself of my goals.  If you haven’t written down your running/exercise/health and wellness goals for 2019 yet, then you need to write them down and post them somewhere you can see them daily. Remember, these are goals that are important to you! I’ve also developed an association with exercise, in which I feel great during exercise and after I’m done. So, I remind myself how fantastic I will feel after I’ve completed my run and strengthening exercises. If that isn’t enough, then it’s time to listen to my favorite inspiring music, such as the theme to Rocky.

Dr. Michelle Segar has dedicated her career to studying motivation as it relates to fitness. Here are a few recommendations that she gives as far as motivating oneself to exercise. She recommends reframing exercise and to stop thinking of it as a chore, and start thinking of it as a gift. One way to do this is instead of saying to yourself “I have to exercise”, say to yourself “I get to exercise.” This allows you to rely on intrinsic motivation, which has been shown to be a more powerful motivator, than extrinsic motivation. In this case, saying “I have to exercise/run” imposes a measure of external control and thus a lack of autonomy. However, when you say “I get to exercise”, you have full autonomy; it’s your choice. Thus, the motivation comes intrinsically, or internally.

Dr. Segar details more on motivation and fitness in her book “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.”

Also, a note on weight loss. For those trying to lose weight, I recommend reframing this to weight management, such as “I’m managing my weight”, instead of “I’m losing weight”. Consciously and subconsciously, we never want to lose. So, if we focus on “weight loss” we can be fighting an internal battle with ourselves, making weight loss difficult to attain because we want to gain back what we lost. However, if we reframe to managing our weight or weight management, the internal struggle within us no longer exists, and we can be more successful.

So grab your own personal power and use intrinsic motivation to help you achieve your goals. Enjoy the gift of exercise and treat yourself!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

References:

  • Pinkcast 3.01: This is how to motivate yourself when you don’t feel like exercising (Daniel Pink)
  • michellesegar.com

Incorporate Fartlek (“Speed Play”) Runs in Your Training Plan to Achieve Your Running Goals for 2019

April 7 2019 Lupines near Lake Tekapo small version“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  ― Roy T. Bennett

Today I ran ~8 miles in an area with hills, and included a progression (more on this in a future post), in which I increased the pace for the last mile.

Immediately after my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Front lunges (5 repetitions on each side)
  • Front V-lunges (5 repetitions on each side)
  • Side-to-side lunges (5 repetitions for each side)
  • Back V-lunges (5 repetitions for each side)
  • Back lunges (5 repetitions for each side)

After these exercises I performed foam and ball rolling for ~15 minutes.

As I near the end of the fitness training portion of my marathon training and transition into marathon-specific training, I’m reminded of some of the important workouts to incorporate during training, especially early during half- or full-marathon training. One type of run, which is beneficial, is the Fartlek run. Fartlek means “speed play”, and basically means running at different paces during your run. Fartlek runs are useful to incorporate early in half- or full-marathon specific training because they can help you get used to running at different speeds while you are still building aerobic fitness. Therefore, the speed bouts during Fartlek runs should be at a pace which is still primarily aerobic (~70-90% effort). For half- and full-marathon training this pace may be anywhere from approximately 5k pace to marathon pace. The primary benefits of Fartlek runs are:

  • Trains the cardiorespiratory system and neuromuscular systems to efficiently absorb, deliver, and utilize oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid
  • Improves endurance with low muscle stress
  • Promotes running more efficiently
  • Trains runner to manage low grade physical discomfort
  • Increases strength, improves form, and less chance of injury due to less strain on ligaments and tendons

However, when, and if, you should begin incorporating Fartlek runs depends on your fitness level and runnign history. For example, beginners may include Fartlek runs later during their training, or may not include Fartlek runs at all.

For those who use Fartlek runs, the length of time that you are running at increased speed is from 30 seconds to about 4-5 minutes. These increased speed bouts can be run on flat or hilly terrain and the length of time of each bout may be the same or different. In fact, the time bouts may be structuted (running specific amount of time) or not (running to a landmark, such as the “next telephone pole”, running at different speeds). You can also vary the recovery time between bouts to make the workout more or less challenging.

Early on, I recommend keeping these bout short (30-60 seconds) and then increase them over time. As you increase the speed bout time you may want to decrease the pace. So, early on in your training a Fartlek run might look like this:

  • Dynamic warmup
  • Run 10-15 minutes at an easy pace
  • Perform 6 30-second bouts at ~5k pace, or a pace that feels comfortably hard
  • Recover in between each bout with an easy jog for 2 minutes
  • Finish your run at an easy pace

As your training progresses and the time length of your speed bouts increases, you may beginning incorporating ladder-type speed bouts in which you increase and/or decrease the time of each speed bout and run these at different paces and vary the recovery time. This can be a great transition into threshold or tempo runs, or half- or full-marathon pace runs.

So, consider incorporating Fartlek runs into your training, after you have completed a fitness training program, to help you improve your running speed and achieve your running goals for 2019. You may consider working with a coach, so that you can appropriately incorporate Fartlek runs in your training plan and get the most benefit.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 69: Train Like An Athlete, Not Just a Runner, or Risk Not Achieving Your Running Goals in 2019

March 29 2019 Snowshoeing in RMNP on KJs bday

 

 

 

 

 

Today I ran ~10 miles at a comfortable pace and included 4 x 8-second hill sprints towards the end of this run with full recovery in between hill sprints.

Immediately after my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~60 seconds for each leg)
  • Pushups on a stability ball (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and backward (15 repetitions on each side and in each direction)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~45 seconds)
  • Side planks (~40 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~30 seconds)
  • Glute bridge hip lifts (10 repetitions + hold for 30 seconds after last repetition)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Bounced on stability ball with smaller ball in between knees (3 minutes)

After these exercises I did active isolate stretching for the calf muscles and ball rolling for the calf muscles and plantar fascia.

While I was performing my ten mile run, I was thinking about the importance of training like an athlete, not just a runner. Running is a repetitive exercise performed primarily in one plane of motion, the sagittal, or front-to-back, plane. However, it is important to be able to stabilize motion in the other two planes of motion, the frontal, or side-to-side, plane, and the transverse, or rotational, plane. In fact, lack of stability, mobility, and strength in these planes leads to many of the common injuries experienced by runners, including IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and issues of the knee and ankles. Therefore, runners need to train like athletes and improve stability, mobility, and stregnth in all three planes of motion. Thus, I have included exercises in the fitness training program for this. If you have not received the fitness training program, you can access this by opting in on the Welcome Page, under “Subscribe to My Newsletter.” Such exercises would include monster walks from side-to-side (frontal plane exercise) and forwards and backwards (transverse plane exercise).

You can also improve stability, mobility, and strength in the frontal and transverse planes of motion through certan modes of cross-training. One of my neighbors is a very fast runner and I see him running with his young daughter from time-to-time. Last week I saw her rollerblading, which is going to help her build stability, mobility, and strength in the frontal plane. She’s going to be a great athlete and runner!  Cross-country skiing is another great cross-training activity that will similarly be beneficial in the frontal plane. For this, and other reasons, I like to include cross-country skiing for some of my cross-training workouts. Other forms of cross-training can also be beneficial for improving stability, mobility, and stregnth, so I recommend including some variety in the modes of cross-training that you perform. My wife’s birthday was this past Friday, and we sprent a couple of days snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Snowshoeing is another great mode of cross-training. I have continued to feel the effects of those workouts in my glutes, which is also going to help me have more power in my running stride, and thus be a better athlete and runner.

So, embrace being an athlete and not just a runner, to improve your chances of achieving your running goals for 2019.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 62: Embrace Hill Running, Benefits and Techniques

March 20 Moonset on Equinox

March 21 moonset small version

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hills. We love them. We hate them. They make us strong. They make us weak. Today I chose to embrace hills.” – Hal Higdon

Belated Happy Equinox and welcome to Spring! I’m so happy that spring, my favorite season, is here.  On the equinox and the day after the equinox, there were some beautiful moonsets over the mountains. I tried to capture these during my morning runs.

In this post I want to discuss hill running a bit. As I near the end of my fitness training portion of my marathon training, I incorporated some hills on my ~8.5 mile long run today. I also performed 4 x 8-second hill sprints towards the end of this run.

Immediately after my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~60 seconds for each leg)
  • Pushups on a stability ball (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and backward (15 repetitions on each side and in each direction)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~45 seconds)
  • Side planks (~40 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~30 seconds)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions + hold for 30 seconds after last repetition)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

After performing these exercises, I did one-minute static stretches for the calf muscles and lots of softball rolling for the calf muscles and plantar fascia!

Recommendations:

It is helpful to incorporate hills on some of your long runs. This will help you build strength in your legs to improve your strength and speed, as well as help you improve your running economy (efficiency) and help you minimize the risk of injury.

Tip of the Day:

Running on hills can be beneficial for building strength and power in the legs, as well as improving running economy (efficiency), which can be transferred into improving running speed. This leg strengthening can also be beneficial for minimizing risk of injury.

When running uphill, lean slightly forward from the ankles, shorten your stride, and increase your arm swing speed. Keep your back straight, so that you’re not bending from waist. Also, keep your head and neck in alignment with your back. Look at least a few feet in front of you, instead of looking straight down at the ground, even if you are running on trails. Don’t dip you chin down. These will all help you keep your airways open, so you can maintain normal breathing.

Unless you are performing hill sprints (previous post), hill repeats (future post), Fartlek or a paced run, such as a threshold pace run, you should not push too hard when climbing hills, and try to stay as relaxed as possible. Keep steady rhythmic breathing, as best as possible. When you reach the top of the hill don’t push the pace and effort too hard on the other side, whether it is flat or downhill.

When descending, think of running downhill like downhill skiing, if you downhill ski. That is leaning slightly forward, instead of leaning back, like you might do if you were descending a hill on a road or mountain bike. You should land on your midfoot or lightly on your heel. You should take smaller steps, so that you have better control

When running downhill try not to push the pace too hard during training, unless you are performing downhill repeats. During training, you should never push the pace on downhill portions when running on the road or other hard surfaces, because this puts significant stress on your joints, particularly the knee. If you are performing downhill repeats, I recommend performing them on a trail or on grass. If you are performing a Fartlek run or threshold paced run, I recommend performing these runs on trails, grass, or shallow (not steep) downhill.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Embrace hill running. It will help make you a stronger and faster runner.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 59: What Do You Do When You Feel An Injury Coming On

Rockburn Trail pic 1 small version“As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

I’ve had a slight setback in my training. An old injury has creeped up again. I thought I was forever in the clear with this one, but it has creeped back in to my life. Over ten years ago I developed plantar fasciitis in both feet, which kept me out of running for nine months. Fortunately, I learned effective strategies to not only address this issue, but to keep it from significantly coming back, and as a result I have had my best times in the marathon since then.

However, earlier this week I noticed some soreness in my heels (one telltale sign of plantar fasciitis). This may be the result of muscle tightness from the hill sprints I have been performing and I may not have been doing enough to address this muscle tightness.

So, instead of pushing ahead with my running on Tuesday and Wednesday, I decided not to run, and I spent more time than I usually do focusing on the plantar fascia and calf muscles. This included lacrosse and softball rolling on the plantar fascia to break up scar tissue, one-minute static stretches (did not enjoy these!) for the calf muscles, lacrosse and softball rolling on the calf muscles, and eccentric single-leg calf raises.

Fortunately, by today the soreness I had been experiencing was gone. So, I decided to ease back into running. So, I did a very easy run with my friend Sam for ~4 miles. My feet felt fine during the run. Immediately after my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~60 seconds for each leg)
  • Prone planks (~45 seconds)
  • Side planks (~40 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~30 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions + hold for 30 seconds after last repetition)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

After these exercises I did one-minute static stretches for the calf and hamstring muscles. Throughout the day I did lacrosse ball rolling on my plantar fascia. In the evening I did more rolling on the calf muscles.

Tip of the Day: If you experience an injury don’t try to push through. Address this injury as soon as possible. You might first try taking a couple days off from running to see if the situation improves. If it hasn’t improved by the third day, I recommend seeking the opinion of a qualified healthcare professional. If the situation improves ease back into your running. As I mentioned in a previous post, you should feel at least 85-90% well before you resume your running. For long runs and runs with speed or hill work, you should feel 100% well. If not, run 30-45 minutes easy (as long as you feel at least 85% well). You will most likely have to adjust your training plan as well. For example, I have a 12 mile run scheduled in three days, but instead will most likely do 5-6 miles at an easy pace. Nip injuries in the bud early, so that you can (hopefully) address them quickly and resume your training. Otherwise, the injury may become significantly worse and you may not be able to run for an extended period of time. Like what happened to me about ten years ago. Trust me that approach is not worth it!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help.

Don’t let injuries keep you from achieving your running goals this year.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 55: Benefits of Resistance Training (Weightlifting) and When Should You Perform This

March 5 2019 run“Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.” – Byron Dorgan

This post is from Sunday’s workout in which I ran ~8 miles at an easy pace. I also included 5 x 8-second hill sprints with full recovery during this run. Immediately after my run I performed the following strengthening exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg stands (~60 seconds)
  • Pushups on stability ball (8 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward-and-back (12 steps in each direction)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~40 seconds)
  • Side planks (~30 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Glute bridge hip lifts (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balances (~30 seconds)
  • Bounce on stability ball with smaller ball between thighs (3 minutes)

After these exercise I rolled the plantar fascia with a softball because of some plantar fasciitis creeping up and foam rolled calves, hip flexors/quadriceps and hamstrings.

Tip of the Day:

Performing strengthening exercises that address muscle imbalances/weaknesses, improve stability and mobility, and improve power and speed are an important component of every runners training program. These exercises can improve running performance and help minimize the risk of injury.

The question is, on what days should you perform strengthening exercise, especially those exercises of higher resistance and lower repetitions, such as when using weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, or even, just body weight?

True or False: The best time to perform heavier resistance training is on your harder run days, such as when you perform long runs or speed work.

I have spoken with many runners about the best time to perform resistance training. Some runners have asked me if the best time to perform harder resistance or strengthening workouts is on easy run days or days off from running. This discussion leads to another important component of your training, which I mentioned in a previous post, which is recovery. Adaptations to the training you do occur during recovery, not when you are actually performing the workout. Therefore, you need appropriate time to recover. If you are doing harder resistance training or strengthening exercises on your easier or off days from running, there is little or no time for recovery. Thus, you won’t get the benefits from the speed workout or long run you did. Major bummer! 🙁  You also won’t get the benefits of a harder resistance or strengthening workout. Double bummer.

Yes, I know for time sake it would be easier to fit the harder resistance or strengthening workout on a shorter, easy run day, or a day off from running. However, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym lifting weights, like my brother and I used to do when we were younger, and I had other goals than improving my run time.

So, the answer to the statement above is true. The time needed to perform harder resistance and strengthening exercises should be at most 15-20 minutes. You can see above the exercises that I did after a long run, and this took me about 15 minutes to perform. Also, I recommend performing the resistance training after your run, because the run should be the most important component of that day’s workout.

So, remember the following, “Keep the easy days easy, and the hard days hard.” This will allow you to stress your body on the hard days (and offer additional challenge from the resistance training, basically feeling like you have run additional miles) and allow your body to adapt during the easy days (such as easy run with strides, brisk walk or low to moderate cross-training workout). For example, in the Fitness Training Program I have included monster walks with a resistance band on long run days and days when I’m performing hill sprints, but not on days when I’m doing an easy-paced run with strides. On easy run days, I have included exercises that should not be as challenging resistance-wise, but still beneficial.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to be smart with incorporating and progressing harder resistance or strengthening exercises into your training plan, or you can be injured and that can set your training back. Many of us have desk jobs and thus, have significant muscles imbalances and weaknesses that should be addressed first, before using heavy resistance.

I also highly recommend that you have a spotter with exercises in which you are lifting weights.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

I wish you the best with your training.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 48: Don’t Get Frustrated With Runs That Don’t Go As Expected – Embrace New Experiences and New Places to Run

March 2 Denver Art Museum Georgia OKeefe“The stability we cannot find in the world, we must create within our own persons.” – Nathaniel Branden

Today I ran ~11 miles, and partially because of snow and ice, and partially from inspiration from a visit to the Denver Art Museum, as part of my wife and my creative date day on Saturday, I explored some new areas on my run. This made my run enjoyable, despite the fact that the temperate was below 10 degrees! Even though I had to run a slow pace, and it was a hillier run than I might have wanted, I kept in mind the benefits of this run including: building my aerobic base and leg strengthening, as well as “making lemonade out of the lemons handed me,” which can happen during any race.

Immediately after my run, I did the following exercise:

  • Leg swings forward and back with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg stands (~45 seconds)
  • Pushups (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward-and-back (12 steps in each direction)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~40 seconds)
  • Side planks (~30 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Glute bridge hip lifts (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balances (~30 seconds)
  • Bounce on stability ball with smaller ball between thighs (3 minutes)

After these exercises I rolled my plantar fascia with a softball for ~ one minute on each foot, foam rolled calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps/hip flexors, and then did eccentric calf raises.

Recommendations: I recommend following the prescribed run according to the Fitness Training Program, as well as performing the prescribed exercises and a cool-down. If you haven’t done so, sign up on the Welcome Page to receive running tips, as well as the Fitness Training Program.

Tip of the day: When life hands you an unexpected situation on a run, be creative and embrace new running experiences. Don’t get frustrated if your run doesn’t go the way you planned. They won’t all go perfectly. So make the best of your run, and know that you are still getting benefits that will help you achieve your running goals.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Be open to and embrace new experiences.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

P.S. You may or may not know that the picture above is Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Cow Licking,” which has been on exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. I’m amazed at how lifelike the cow is in her painting. I think what really does it for me is the detail of the eye.

Another Reason Why You Won’t Achieve Your Running Goals for 2019 – Appropriate Training Plans for Women and Men

 “Instead of ignoring our differences, we need to accept and transcend them.”

― Sheryl Sandberg

Yesterday I had a brief conversation with a friend who is training for a half-ironman triathlon. Her workout for that day included intervals at a local track. This got me thinking about training plans and being purposeful with our workouts. Certainly intervals or bouts at higher intensity can be beneficial in our training plan. However, performing intervals just for the sake of performing intervals, or that we’ve heard it’s something we should do, may not be the best use of our limited time to train.

Thus, one important reason why runners don’t achieve their goals, and why you may not as well, is because they don’t follow an appropriate training plan, or don’t follow a plan at all. The training program should be appropriately designed for the specific needs and goals of the runner, while considering their age, running history, injury history, time for training, previous race results, and the topic I’m going to delve in a bit deeper in this post, which is physiology. The program should progressive build the runner to their goal, while including proper recovery, and an appropriate taper.

It seems many training programs, training groups, and running coaches don’t take important physiological differences into account, such as what is most appropriate for female and male runners. Due to the physiological differences between women and men, there is a strong tendency for women to use a higher percentage of fat as fuel, than men, when they run. Thus, the types of training and workouts that would be most beneficial to women, are not necessarily going to be the most beneficial for men. Since men tend to rely on carbohydrates for energy more than women, they may benefit more from higher intensity workouts to improve performance more than women. While women may benefit more from longer, aerobic-type workouts, which would include anaerobic or lactate threshold runs and intervals. Very few training groups will have runners perform intervals at the track in which they are running at their lactate threshold pace.

Women can benefit from higher intensity training, however the priority should be on the types of workouts that will most improve performance. Men also benefit from lactate threshold training, however this type of training is something I would incorporate later for them.

Of course, whether either of these types of intervals is appropriate for a runner will depend on their running history. In most cases with a beginner runner training for their first marathon, I may not use either type of interval.

Thus, for my friend who is early in her training for her half-ironman, I would recommend lactate threshold intervals, instead of hard maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) intervals, which I would recommend if I were coaching a male triathlete. My friend would need to know what pace or effort would be most appropriate for her intervals. This could be based on testing, previous race performance, running by feel, or possibly a combination of these. In addition, she would need to know how many intervals to perform and the appropriate recovery. All important factors in getting the most benefit out of this type of workout.

For runners I coach, I provide them with appropriate paces, as well as appropriate number of intervals and recovery, whether they are performing lactate threshold, or VO2max intervals in the customized training plans that I develop for them. I will also offer this opportunity for those who use my training programs in my upcoming ebooks for training for half- or full-marathon.

Another important factor for women with regular menstrual cycles, is the effect that estrogen can have during training. Ideally, the progression of training workouts will match the changes in levels of estrogen to get the most benefit from workouts. This is something that I have worked with female runners on to maximize the benefits of their training, and would certainly offer to all female runners I coach.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

I wish you the best with your training.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

Reference:

  • Running for Women. Jason Karp and Carolyn Smith. Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, 2012.

Marathon Training 2019 Day 41: Dehydration Is Keeping Your From Achieving Your Running Goals, and Negatively Impacting Your Health

February 24 long run“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Today I ran for ~10 miles, primarily flat area, and then included 3 x 8-second hill sprints at the end. I made sure to stay well-hydrated before, during, and after this run, which relates to the Tip of the Day. Immediately after my run I performed the following stability, mobility, and strengthening exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Front lunges (while swinging opposite arm, 5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Lunges at a 45 degree angle in front (while swinging opposite arm, 5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Side lunges (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Lunges at a 45 degree in back (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Back lunges (5 repetitions for each leg)

Then I performed foam rolling, especially for hamstrings, quadriceps/hip flexors, and calves for ~15 minutes.

Recommendations: I recommend following the prescribed run according to the Fitness Training Program, as well as performing the prescribed exercises and a cool-down. Make sure to stay well-hydrate before, during, and after your run.

Tip of the day: Not being properly hydrated will negatively impact your running performance, thus prevent you from achieving your running goals, and can negatively impact your health. First, not being properly hydrated will affecting your body’s ability to carry oxygen to your running muscles, which is vital to energy production. As a result, you will most likely have to slow your pace, if you are dehydrated. Dehydration can also negatively impact your body’s ability to cool itself when you run, which can also force you to reduce your pace or have to stop altogether. Water is the environment that a lot of our body’s cells processes occur in, such as energy production, as well as other functions, and thus will be negatively affected when we are dehydrated.

In addition, to negatively impacting running performance, dehydration can have other effects. Mild dehydration, which many of us can experience, can lead to fatigue, hunger, headaches, and adverse effects on mood and energy, which can negatively impact our performance at work and our interactions with colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Severe dehydration can lead to blood clots, seizures, and other potentially fatal complications.

So stay hydrated. Typically, I have some water right before I start my runs. I also typically bring water with me during my runs, especially runs lasting longer than 30 minutes. I also have water right after I finish my runs.  During the rest of the day, you should continue to stay well-hydrated to help you with your performance for your next workout. At a minimum, you should consume the number of ounces equal to your body weight in pounds divided by 2. For example, I weigh 154 pounds. So, at a minimum I should consume 77 (154/2) ounces of water. For longer runs, and if you sweat profusely, you certainly will want to be consuming more. I recommend consuming water for any runs lasting longer than 30 minutes and recommend consuming enough water to quench your thirst every 15-20 minutes. One way to access hydration status is by checking your urine color. A pale yellow color urine occurring several times during the day are signs that you are most likely well hydrated. A dark yellow color most likely indicates that you are not properly hydrated, unless you are consuming supplements that affect urine color.

In a future posts, I will talk about electrolytes and nutrition during your runs.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Stay hydrated!

Your friend and coach,

Brian