I think the newsletter is pretty cool

I’m working to put my best content in the newsletter each week.

Here are some excerpts from the last few newsletters.

04.17.14 newsletter – “When life gets in the way, be smart about the next step in training.”

Sometimes life gets in the way of doing the training that you want to do.  Your job is demanding and you have to work late.  You have a significant other whose job is demanding, and they need to vent about it.  You have children.  Maybe you have all three of these.  Obviously there are countless other examples, but you get the point.

Here’s the deal: when life gets hard, you need to be honest about the fact that you have a finite amount of energy and you might not be able to train at the level you want to.  I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.  Finite, not infinite.

When I see clients try to grind through their training schedule when life takes away sleep and energy and a general sense of normalcy, I do my best to talk them into a day off, or at least couple of easy days with strides.  I understand that they need to get in a run to stay sane, but I’m asking that they don’t do a workout to advance their fitness. Easy running, or no running.  That’s it.  They can run, but no workouts and no long runs.

Be honest about where your energy level is.  If it’s much below normal, then be kind to yourself and go easy.

Related is this quick story…

04.24.14 newsletter – “Recovery for marathoners and peaking for high schoolers.”

This is a two-part newsletter.  The first part covers my thoughts on recovering from a marathon, while the second part covers my thoughts on preparing high school athletes for the final weeks of the season.  First, the marathon recovery plan.

Marathon Recovery Plan

The goal of this marathon recovery plan is simple: to get you from the final step of your marathon to the first step of your training for the next race.  I want to help you safely get through this period.  This is a great time to not only recover from the stress that 26.2 miles puts on the body, but it’s a great time to set up your training for the best training phase of your life.  If you execute this recovery plan your body will be better prepared to handle the training that will take you to the next level of fitness.

So what’s in the plan?

The first thing we should acknowledge is that idea that you take one day of rest and recovery for every mile you run.  So that would be 26 days.  I share that not because I think 26 is a magic number, but rather to show that three or four weeks of down time has been used for decades by marathoners.  So that’s the first thing – be honest that a proper recovery phase takes more than a week (or two).

The second thing that we want to acknowledge is that you need to get back in touch with your body and see if there are any little “niggles” – places that are tight, painful, or inappropriately sore – and deal with them now during the recovery phase.  So you do need to go out for a couple of short runs and take an inventory of how you feel.  If your quads are tight, your hamstrings are sore or your gluteal muscles are sore and tight, no need to worry.  But if you have something that hurts in a specific place, that is where you need to focus your therapy.  You need to find a soft tissue therapist – could be a massage therapist or a PT or a Chiropractor – who can help you work through this issue.  If, unfortunately, it’s a bone issue, then you will need a plan that includes some non-weight bearing activities.  That level of injury is outside of the scope of what I want to cover here, but it is important to do the short recovery runs as a detector  of a potential bone injury.

The third thing you should consider is that your mobility and range of motion (ROM) are a) not what they should be post marathon and perhaps more importantly b) your mobility and ROM weren’t what they should be going into the marathon.  This is great news!  Now is a great time to take some of the time you would devote to running training and do non-running work to make yourself a better athlete, and thus a better runner…

———-

Preparing High School Athletes for the Final Weeks of the Season

One of the big thing that high school coaches need to understand when preparing high school athletes for the championship meets is to keep in mind the stresses student-athletes have outside of track practice and track meets.  There are so many end of the year functions for clubs and organizations that the students must attend.  Combine this with the academic challenges of finals and you have student-athletes that come to practice having had to deal with more stress than they did two months ago at the start of practice.

Now, I’m not saying you have to back off the training for every athlete, but I would find the time to ask each athlete how stressful their life is outside of track practice and consider watering down their assignment.  My college coach, Mark Wetmore, would often say, “You can’t run better than your fitness, but you can run worse than your fitness.”  A fit runner who is tired and stressed out from school isn’t going to run up to their fitness level.  Hammering a long run, grinding out a threshold run, or killing themselves on 400s may have worked well a month ago, but might not be the recipe for good running this week.  Again, I’m not saying you have to change your entire training plan for the entire team.  But the class president who is your your anchor leg on the 4x800m might have had two AP practice tests before they come to practice for a killer 800m workout.  This is a special person and they might run the workout well…but they’re also human and might bomb the workout.  Ask them how they feel, and perhaps take off a rep or two.  If they are a guy, you can take out a bit of the GS at the end of practice, but keep the intensity of the exercises high; if they are a girl then I would leave all of the GS in as the hormonal stimulus is important to maintain throughout the year.
The other thing I would like to reiterate, though I know you know this, is that you need to keep your bread and butter aerobic running in the training recipe in the final weeks.  The duration of your long run and threshold run (or whatever they call the aerobic repeats these days) can be less than it was two months ago, but don’t take that work out of the practice completely.  One cool way to get in some race specific work and get some aerobic work is to do a workout that I heard about from Terrence Mahon on the Canadian Coaching Centre podcast (which is an amazing reference for you to check out when the season is over)…

[Read more...]

Podcast 027 – Tom Reese and Adam Batliner

Tom Reese and Adam Batliner are not only two great friends of mine (groomsmen in our wedding) but two runners who battled in high school against each other and then worked together as teammates at the University of Colorado.

In this short 30-minute podcast they talk about the 1,600m they ran their senior year, where they went 1-2, running 4:14 and 4:15 (which would be 4:09 and 4:10 at sea-level).  Then they talk about their experience running the steeplechase at CU.  Adam was third in the NCAA his last two years at CU and Tom was forth, just behind Adam, his last year at CU.  Noteworthy is that back in 1994 these guys run just 30-40 miles a week.  You’ll have to listen to Tom’s answer to the question, “What were your two longest runs in high school?”

So much fun to have friends on the podcast.  Enjoy.

…oh, and as always, you can get this podcast via iTunes.

Throwback Thursday – 1997 CU Media Guide

My first Throwback Thursday (#tbt) post.

Fun to dig these up.  Hope you enjoy.

1997_XC_media_guide_cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s page (click here for big version)

1997_XC_women_media_guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men’s page (click here for big version)

1997_XC_men_media_guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes life gets in the way of running

I’m proud of the content that is going to runners and coaches via the newsletter.  Today’s newsletter shared five different running workouts that can be used to keep aerobic training in the training recipe during the racing season.

Below is the first part of the newsletter from two weeks ago.  This newsletter resonated with many runners and I got some very nice feedback, so I thought I would share part of it with.

Sometimes life gets in the way of doing the training that you want to do.  Your job is demanding and you have to work late.  You have a significant other whose job is demanding, and they need to vent about it.  You have children.  Maybe you have all three of these.  Obviously there are countless other examples, but you get the point.

Here’s the deal: when life gets hard, you need to be honest about the fact that you have a finite amount of energy and you might not be able to train at the level you want to.  I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.  Finite, not infinite.

When I see clients try to grind through their training schedule when life takes away sleep and energy and a general sense of normalcy, I do my best to talk them into a day off, or at least couple of easy days with strides.  I understand that they need to get in a run to stay sane, but I’m asking that they don’t do a workout to advance their fitness. Easy running, or no running.  That’s it.  They can run, but no workouts and no long runs. Be honest about where your energy level is.  If it’s much below normal, then be kind to yourself and go easy.

Related is this quick story…

I will continue to share content on the blog and I hope you find it useful.  But I’m going to put more effort each week into the newsletter.

If you’re interested in getting the newsletter each Thursday morning, please sign up here.

Thank you.

Keeping aerobic work in the training recipe during the racing season

I received the following questions from Patrick Carroll via the “How can I help you?” post.

I would love to better understand the importance of Tempo/Threshold work in the competition and peaking phases. Where and how do you fit it in for your athletes late in the season when the focus is more geared towards races and race-specific work?  How does it differ for a miler vs. a 5k-10k runner?

Great question Patrick.

First, you must keep the quality aerobic running that you been doing leading up to this point in the recipe.  That said, most of the time you’ll want to shorten the duration of this stimulus, but not the intensity.  For example, if an athlete does 4 miles at 6:00 pace every other week as their threshold run, then in the final weeks of the season they may only do 3 miles at 6:00 pace.  So the intensity stayed the same, but they ran 25% less.

Coaches: be creative with this challenge of keeping the aerobic work in while still doing all of the necessary work to get the athlete both metabolically and neuromuscularly ready to race to their potential.  With that in mind, here is a list, from least creative to most creative, of workouts for the competitive phase of the season.

1.  Long Run.  Gotta keep the long run in the recipe.  Simple.  Keep it in.  Now, can you tweak it?  Absolutely.  A shorter long run in the final 4-5 weeks of the season makes a lot of sense.  You want the athlete to spend less time on their feet than they did earlier in the season.  This is a great time to do progression-long runs, as long as you keep those runs controlled.  So if you’re a miler and your long run was 16 miles during the season, now you might do 12-14 miles, making the last couple of miles a bit faster, yet still feeling like you could run your normal 16 mile run at that pace.  If I was the coach I’d probably have the athlete run 12 and say “from 8-11 get a bit faster each mile, then cruise in easy the last mile to get to 12.”  But no matter what, keep the long run in.  If you take it out you’re setting yourself up to race less than your best in the final meets of the year.

The four other things to consider are:

2.  Threshold Run and Strides.

3.  Middle Distance Fartlek.

4.  A, B, C workout of Race Pace (A), Threshold (B), strides (or 200’s) (C).

5. Canova’s Aerobic Support and Horwill’s 5-Pace System.

I’ll explain these last four in tomorrow’s newsletter.   They are all great tools that coaches and athletes can use to keep the aerobic metabolism stimulated in the final weeks of a season or in the final weeks leading up to a key race.

I would love for you to join the newsletter.  Here is the link – http://eepurl.com/WUkQ .  Good content each Thursday morning.

 

Short Running Gossary

Here is a short glossary of terms of I use when helping athletes and coaches.  I had a nice suggestion from a reader that I should do a full glossary and I hope to get that done in the coming months.  For now, here is the short version.

Lunge Matrix (LM).  Warm-up that gets you moving in all three planes of motion.  Should be done before every run, before every workout and before every long run.

Active Isolated Flexibility (AIF).  Should be done daily.  A must do, not a nice to do.  This approach to flexibility is the best way to insure injury-free running.  Thanks to Phil Wharton for teaching it to me.

Eight Week General Strength progression (EWGS).  If you follow this progression you will be stronger after eight weeks.  And you will be able to handle more miles and more intense workouts.  Simple.  Do this progression and you will become a better runner.

General Strength and Mobility (GSM).  This is related to the above.  General Strength exercises could include routines like Core X and this progression for athletes, as well as easy routines like Myrtl.

Speed Development.  You can read this article and then watch this video to learn about speed development workouts.  Great way to improve Running Economy (RE).

That’s it for now.  Looking forward to a more robust glossary this summer.

 

 

Stop reading anything that says that less running will lead to faster racing

Less running could very well lead to faster racing for a college student who is running 100 miles a week and trying to get straight A’s as a pre-med student.  This human is stretched very thin and running 80 or even 70 miles a week could lead to faster racing for him/her.  But this person is the exception to the rule.  For the average runner, running more will lead to faster running.  End of story.

If you want to run faster, you need to run, and you may need to run more.  This is not a hard concept to understand when we apply it to other endeavors.  If you want to learn a language, you need to speak it; if you want to become a better cook, you spend more time in the kitchen; if you want to become better at playing the guitar, you play the guitar.

I love that magazines like Runner’s World (RW) get novice runners excited about the sport, helping them to finish their first race with a minimal amount of training.  But when the novice runner wants to make the jump to running PRs at a variety of distances, they’ll need to ditch RW and pick up Running Times (RT), which will honestly discuss the fact that more running leads to faster running 90% of the time.

Obviously there are caveats to the idea that running more leads to running faster.  If you try to crush every workout while simultaneously running your easy days too hard during a phase when you’re increasing your mileage, then you’re going to get hurt.  You need to slowly build your mileage and you need to do so with a training plan that has workouts that are incrementally more challenging.  That’s the way to improve as a runner – run a little more, run a little longer on your long run, and incrementally do workouts that are more challenging.

The bottom line is that for most runners, running faster isn’t going to happen by running less.

 

Stop thinking that you have to run more or run harder to PR

You don’t have to run more miles and you don’t have to run harder to PR.  Now, don’t get me wrong – if you do one or both of those things and – and this is a big and – you stay healthy, then there is a good chance that you will run a PR.  But consistency almost always leads to PRs and if you’re someone who has struggled with injury, i.e. you’ve struggled to train with consistency, then you should look at your last few months of training and say “If I can just get in the mileage and the workouts that I did in the previous training period – but stay healthy – I will probably run a PR.” All runners have interruptions in their training – they get sick, they have to travel, etc. – but these interruptions are not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about finding a manageable volume of running, then adding in a workout or two per week, plus a long run that you can handle for eight, twelve or ideally sixteen weeks.  If consistency defines a 16 week period of training then you can likely PR.

All runners have interruptions in their training - they get sick, they have to travel, etc. – but these interruptions are not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about finding a manageable volume of running, then adding in a workout or two per week, plus a long run that you can handle for eight, twelve or ideally sixteen weeks.  If consistency defines a 16 week period of training then you can likely PR.