Anatomy of an Easy Day

Note: This went out to newsletter subscribers a few weeks ago.  Click here to join the newsletter and get great content each week.

Most runners know that they can’t run hard every day; they need to recover from workouts and long runs with easy days.  But what should an easy day be?  Is there a specific pace you should run?  Should you run strides on easy days?  Should you do core strength and stretching, and if so, how much?  To answer these questions, I’ve come up with my ideal model of an easy day.  Note: This is the longest newsletter I’ve ever written, so you may want to save it for this weekend when you have more time to read it.  I think it is important, so I hope you’ll find the time to consider my version of an easy day.

1.  Warm Up

The warm-up is the first thing you do when you get out of your house or get out of your car.  You want to get yourself moving in all three planes of motion for two important reasons.  First, you’ve likely been sleeping or sitting prior to this run, so you need to remind your body that it’s athletic and can move in all three planes of motion.  Second, even though running is primarily a sagittal plane activity, athletes who are capable in all three planes of motion are going to have fewer injuries.  The lunge matrix (LM) gets you moving in all three planes of motion effectively and quickly, taking just 3.5 minutes to complete.  Click here to see the lunge matrix.  Following the lunge matrix you should do legs swings. To see the leg swings, go to the 2:40 mark of this video (the Myrtl routine).  These two elements take a total of 5 minutes.

An alternative to the lunge matrix and leg swings is a routine I recently learned at the Boulder Running Camps.  Coach Patrick McHugh demonstrated Vern Gambetta’s warm-up, which includes mini-band work. [Read more…]

Food for a curious running mind

Just recommended four running blogs to an online client and thought I should share them with you as well.

Steve Magness’s blog: Best blend of primary research and real world training.  Here is the podcast he and I recorded.

Running Times: Best advice from a magazine on training, with good articles that are well written. Disclaimer – I’m a contributor.

Vern Gambetta’s blog:  Sage advice on coaching and training.  Here is the podcast he and I recorded.

High School Running Coach: Great HS coaches sharing their training and answering your questions on training.  I run this site and I’m so excited about it’s potential to help HS coaches help their athletes.  Join the mailing list to get the Key Workouts from our coaches – click here.

…and if you want to follow an amazing instagram on running, follow ultrarunner Scott Jurek –

Podcast 028 – Amy Feit

Amy Feit is an athlete I coach online.  She lives in Minnesota and as you’ll hear in the interview, she runs in some harsh conditions much of the year.  She has bought in to the idea of non-running activities as a way to stay healthy and run faster.  She has moved past the Eight Week General Strength progression and now does medicine ball and kettlebell work.

Amy is a joy to work with and I’m lucky to have her on the podcast.

You can listen below or you can listen via iTunes.  And leave a review of the podcast as that’s a great help to me.  Thanks!

This I Believe (second draft)

The following the newsletter that I sent out to subscribers a month ago.  I shared the first three parts of it here and I thought I would be appropriate to share the rest of it.  I hope you enjoy it.  You can join the newsletter at the bottom of this post.

There is a project called “This I Believe” – – that is based off of the same series done by Edward R. Murrow.  Here is my list as it applies to training.  It is not a comprehensive list, but it’s close.

I believe if an athlete wants to run faster, they need to run.  The Law of Specificity for a runner means that you have to spend a significant amount of time running to get better at running.  Now, the ratio of running to non-running work may (and probably should) change throughout the life of a given athlete.  Early in a career, when the athlete doesn’t have a very good aerobic foundation, more running needs to occur.  When the athlete is in their late thirties and beyond, a bit more general strength (potentially weight room work) and a bit less running is probably the best recipe for success.  But the bottom line is that if you want to improve as a runner then you have to run.

I believe that the long run is the key workout for developing the aerobic metabolism (though many would argue that threshold training is better). [Read more…]


Simple concept.

Better to be under-trained and fresh, than to be over-trained and drained.  A runner who is rested and energetic will race faster than a runner who has put in more miles and/or more intense training, but is tired in the days leading up to the race.  Again, simple concept, but an important one for both coaches and athletes.

Related is the topic of burnout.  Here is my good friend Patrick Wales-Dinan talking about burnout in high school runners.


2014 CCCAT Clinic – Elements for Sound High School Distance Running

I’m looking forward to speaking at the 2014 CCCTA cross-country coaches clinic in Austin, TX.  Here are my slides for the clinic, as well as links that I think are important.  Always great to visit Austin!



Progression of Strength (i.e. what you do before you go to the weight room) – click here.

High School Running Coach – Greg Weich’s June, July, August plan: click here.

The Magic of the Process

“It’s easy to get drawn offside by the shiny big mileage & crazy workouts, but I really do get the big picture and the magic of the process.”

A relatively new online client wrote this to me today.  She’s serious about running faster, so she wants to run more mileage to run faster.  That equation makes a lot of sense, and running more miles can very well be the answer if you want to run faster.  But doing more isn’t always the answer.  Day after day, week after week, month after month …that’s how you grow your fitness.

“…the magic of the process.”

Well said.


Progression of strength

Let’s make this simple.

Start with bodyweight.  Lunge Matrix (LM) and Eight Week General Strength Progression (EWGS) fit the bill.  That takes you through eight weeks.

You can then add some medicine ball work (here and here) and some swiss ball work.  You keep doing the EWGS but add these on your hard days.

The next challenge would be some kettlebell work.  It takes 4-8 weeks to get strong with this routine.  Or you can do a challenging leg circuit like the Vern Gambetta leg circuit (here is my version).  Or you could do a bit of both.  Again, these are elements that you add at the end of your hard days.

Now you’re ready to go into the weight room.  Here is a short video of what weight room work can look like.

Body weight to light external weight to weight room.  So there you go – a simple strength progression, but give yourself time to move through it.  Don’t skip steps.  Be patient.