Use Proper Stress and Rest To Achieve Your Maximum Potential


“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle”

I will add to this quote proper recovery.

Recently, I have been reading Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and (running coach) Steve Magness. It’s a book I highly recommend. As an 18-year old Steve Magness competed against several Olympians in the mile in an event called the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon. This was quite remarkable considering that Magness was competing against such high caliber runners at such a young age. He did not win that day, but he still ran the mile in 4:01. Unfortunately for Magness, his running career plateaued that day and he was never able to run a faster mile. Magness attributes this to an improperly designed training regimen that did not incorporate proper stress and recovery; especially recovery. For his training, Magness would run 9 miles in the morning, go to school, lift weights, and then run 9 miles again in the evening, and he would do this every day. Magness shared that he experienced burned out and his running career ended soon after.

However, we get to benefit from Magness’ experience. Yes, I realize that we are not elite runners like Magness, however if we don’t train and recover properly we will plateau, as well, and not achieve our maximum performance.

Proper training includes providing the proper stress to our body, based on our health, fitness, running history, age, goals, and injury history. We need to include some runs that are challenging, but still doable. Our training program should progressively build our endurance and speed, and then include race-pace specific training for our event. We also need to recover properly during our training. This might include a run at snail’s pace. Or, this could be a day off from running, in which we incorporate supportive low- to moderate-intensity cross-training. Massage/stretching, diet, and sleep are also important components of recovery.

As far as the importance of recovery, Deena Kastor, U.S. women’s record holder in the marathon, as well as one of the stars of Spirit of the Marathon, says, “During a workout you’re breaking down soft tissue and really stressing your body. How you treat yourself in between workouts is where you make gains and acquire the strength to attack the next one.” Kastor realized early on in her running career that simply working hard wouldn’t do. Deena follows up intense training runs with significantly easier recovery runs. She also sleeps 10-12 hours per night, has a meticulous approach to diet, and has weekly massage and daily stretching sessions.

The best marathoners in the world, the Kenyans, also appreciate the benefits of recovery and will alternate between very hard training days and very easy (snail pace) days. Research studies have shown this approach to be effective in other sports as well, including Nordic skiing, in which Olympic Norwegian skiers will walk uphill at a snail’s pace on easy training or recovery days.

Several years ago, a friend of mine was using a popular training program to prepare for his first marathon. The program instructed him to run a “practice marathon” during training about a month before his actual marathon. My friend followed the program and actually had a decent time during his “practice marathon”. However, his actual marathon was over 30 minutes slower. Basically, it took my friend a significant amount of time to recover from his “practice marathon” and so he lost fitness before his actual marathon. Plus, it takes a significant amount of time to recover psychologically from the demands of a marathon, typically much longer than it takes to physically recover. My friend wasn’t properly recovered for his actual marathon and his performance suffered as a result.

You need to give your body the time and space to adapt to the training stress. Rest supports growth and adaptation, which can help make you a stronger and faster runner, and can be as productive and sometimes more productive than an additional workout. Rest, although typically viewed as passive, is an active process which allows for physical and psychological growth. I know for myself that I feel much stronger and fresher after a day or two of rest, and I’m sure you feel the same way.

Also, consider that if you are constantly stressing your body with long runs and other intense workouts, not only do you not provide the time and space for physical and psychological growth, you also put yourself at risk for overtraining and breaking your body down, while significantly increasing your risk of injury. For example, a neighbor of mine used to run a marathon almost every month. Unfortunately, this took a significant toll on her body and I would see her barely shuffling along during her training runs. Her training and recovery were not optimized, and as a result she was not able to achieve her peak performance. Instead, she was in a constantly overtrained state and was constantly injured.

So, make supportive recovery an important component of your training to help you reach your maximum potential.

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

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. We would love to hear from you!

If you know anyone who might benefit from this email, please share this with them. Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page.

Your friend and coach,



Peak Performance. Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. Rodale, Inc. New York, 2017.

What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes? Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2010 Sep;5(3):276-91. Seiler S.

How to Adjust Your Training to Summer Heat


“A secret to happiness it letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be.”  – Loubis and Champagne

Hello Runners,

Summer is certainly in full swing in Colorado and throughout the rest of the country.

I certainly felt the effects of the heat during my long run today, which resulted in a slowed pace and even having to cut the run short, because I started too late in the morning.

So, a couple of quick tips to help you better train in the heat include staying well-hydrated before, during, and after your runs. Also, run early in the morning or early evening and wear light colored high tech lightweight wicking fibers.

Here are a couple of other recommendations that I wanted to share with you:

Adjust Your Running Pace Accordingly

You should adjust your pace with increased heat and humidity, instead of trying to complete a run at a specific pace not adjusted for heat and humidity, and become discouraged that you didn’t achieve this pace. One way to adjust your pace is by feel. So, if your training plan calls for a long run at an easy pace, make sure to adjust the pace, so that it still feels easy, even with increased temperature and/or humidity.

Fellow running coach Jeff Gaudette has a pace calculator based on temperature and dew temperature (basically relative humidity). If you know these you can use this calculator to adjust your pace accordingly for an easy, tempo, or race pace training run:

Beware of Proper Recovery

The summer also offers challenges as far as proper recovery. If we have to start our run earlier in the morning to beat the heat we may not be getting enough sleep at night. This can add up over time and result in us being more fatigued during our runs, especially if we are not adjusting our sleep schedule accordingly. Thus, you may need to adjust your expectations and pace accordingly, as well as your sleep schedule.

In addition, we tend to be more active with other activities during the summer, whether it’s yardwork, doing a hike or being at the beach the day before a run. These can all affect our running performance. Again, this will require us to adjust our expectations and our pace.

Recovery Between Workouts May Be Slowed

Our body is designed to stay in homeostasis to keep us alive, and this includes for our body temperature. During the summer months, more of your blood is being diverted to your skin to cool you, rather than transporting oxygen to and nutrients to your muscles to help them recover. Thus, recovery between workouts will be slowed and your muscles may not be repaired and as strong for your next workout.

Therefore, it can help, as Coach Jeff Gaudette recommends, to include an additional recovery day during your training week. You may also want to include an occasional down week. This can help you catch up on sleep, allow you to enjoy a consequence-free hike or day at the beach, and can help you avoid overtraining and getting frustrated with what appears to be a lack of progress.

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

Your friend and coach,


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Include Hill Repeats to Be Stronger on Race Day and to Transition from Shorter, Higher Intensity Work Bouts to Longer Tempo and Goal-Pace Runs During Your Training

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”

Hello Runners,

As I reached mile 25, I saw the beast in front of me. It was the last obstacle standing between me and qualifying for the Boston Marathon for the first time, and it was formidable. I saw it take its toll on other runners before me as they struggled to ascend, with many having to walk. It seemed like a cruel joke.

I’d arrived the day before without my luggage, including my running shoes and running clothes, which had been taken from me, by an overzealous flight attendant, as I could not stuff the carry-on they were in either under my seat or the overhead bin. Unfortunately for me, my flight later got redirected, as did my luggage, because of a thunderstorm. As a result, I arrived the afternoon before the marathon without my luggage, and I was now in need of running clothes and shoes. I got the clothes at the expo and shoes at a local running store. I walked around as much as possible to break them in that evening.

When I arrived at the start line the next morning, I had pretty much given up on my goal of qualifying for Boston. Sure, I’d put the training in, but now I was running in new shoes that weren’t broken in and I wasn’t absolutely sure they were the right size and fit.  Who knows if they were going to cause blisters and other issues during the marathon. However, my mindset changed after about a mile when another runner flew by me. I decided to catch him and it was “game on” as far as qualifying for Boston.

After each mile, I did the math in my head as far as what pace I needed to run to still qualify. As I got to mile 25, qualifying for Boston was within my reach. However, I’d forgotten about this hill. The last major obstacle I would need to overcome to qualify. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so to me walking any part of the hill was not an option. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, however part of my training had included hill work, including hill repeats; the topic of this post.

How To Perform Hill Repeats 

I recommend performing hill repeats on a hill with approximately 4-6% incline. The best surfaces to perform these on are a hard-packed trail free of roots, rocks, etc. or on a treadmill. You can perform these on the road, which I did in preparing for this marathon. If you perform hill repeats on the road, I do recommend recovering with a walk to minimize stress on the joints.

Perform a dynamic warmup and easy run first, of at least 15-20 minutes before performing hill repeats. Then perform 4-6 hill repeats at a comfortably hard effort (~5k pace). Recover with a slow jog or walk for at least 3 minutes. To start, I would perform hill repeats lasting 30-45 seconds. Then progress the length of the hill repeats for the next two weeks.

Sample Hill Repeat Progression

Week 1: 4-6 x 30-45 second hill repeats with 3 minute recovery in between hill repeats

Week 2: 4-6 x 45-60 second hill repeats with 3-4 minute recovery

Week 3: 4 x 60-75 second hill repeats with 3-5 minute recovery

Benefits of Hills Repeats

  • Strengthen the muscles of the legs (quadriceps, glutes, calves, etc.)
  • Increasing range of motion of the ankle joint
  • Help transition from shorter, higher intensity work bouts like VO2max intervals to tempo and goal-pace runs
  • Improve running form and running economy (efficiency)

Fortunately, I had incorporated hill repeats in my training for this marathon. I was still strong enough to attack this hill and run all of it. Then, I was able to push myself and finish strong for the last two tenths of a mile. As a result, I beat my qualifying time and I was able to laugh at all the obstacles I had encountered in my way, including that last hill.

So, I recommend that you consider incorporating hill repeats into your training. I typically include these with runners I coach.

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

Embrace the hills during training because they will pay off on marathon day.

Your friend and coach,


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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,


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,


Marathon Training 2019 Days 19 and 20: Fitness Training Program

February 3 2019 long run“There Are No Limits To What You Can Accomplish, Except The Limits You Place On Your Own Thinking” – Brian Tracy

Over the past two days I did easy pace runs of ~38 minutes and ~7 miles. After today’s ~7 mile run I performed the following 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 (~30 seconds)
  • Pushups (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward-and-back (10 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 (~30 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)

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

Recommendation and Tip of the Day: These are both the same for today. If you have not already done so, I recommend opting-in on the Welcome page to receive a Fitness Training Program. This provides a training plan with running, cross-training, stability, mobility, and strengthening exercises for 2-3 months, depending on your running history and the amount of time you have taken off from running. This program will help you achieve the aerobic and neuromuscular fitness you need to transition into more specific half- and full-marathon training. Once you have completed this program please feel free to contact me to talk more about a customized training program for you that is specific to your running goals, fitness, running history, and time available for training.

Live your best self today.

Your friend and coach,


Considerations For Selecting a Training Program That Will Best Help You Reach Your Running Goals

When selecting a training program to help you best reach your running goals there are lots of options available.  These options include online programs, training programs in books, recommendations from friends, family, and other “experts”, etc.!    When selecting a training program to help you best achieve your running goals, I would recommend that you consider the following:

1. Is the program appropriate designed to allow you to reach my goals?

2. Is the program flexible, so that it will fit your schedule, especially if your schedule should change during a given week?

3. Does the program appropriately address your strengths and weaknesses?

4. Depending on your running goals and training experience, is the program appropriately periodized to focus on such things as endurance, running economy, strength, lactate threshold, speed, power, peaking?

5. Depending on your running goals and training experience, does the program follow an appropriate progression to build endurance, running economy, strength, lactate threshold, speed, power, etc.

6. Does the program allow you to provide feedback on how your workouts are going, so that necessary adjustments may be made?

7. Does the program allow for adequate recovery?

8. Does the program allow you access to a coach on at least a weekly or bi-weekly basis?

9. Is there an opportunity to have your running form/stride assessed?

10. Does the program include warm-up/cool-down, cross-training, and strength training workouts?

11. Do the strength training workouts include exercises that are functional or involve movement similar to running and use of muscles that involved in running?

12. Does the program include guidelines/recommendations for hydration and nutrition?

13. Does the program include an appropriate taper before your goal event?

14. Does the program include the opportunity to run some other event(s) while training to break up the potential monotony of training and remind you why you are training for your goal event?

15. What is the experience and credentials of the coach who is developing the program and what have other runners said about this coach?

Although this is not a complete list of factors to consider, I feel it is a good place to start when evaluating which training program is going to be most successful and enjoyable for you.

Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions regarding selection of an appropriate training program.  I would appreciate hearing from you.

See you on the road or trail,