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 - instagram.com/scottjurek

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” – http://thisibelieve.org/ – 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...]

Overtraining

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.

This I Believe (first draft)

There is a project called “This I Believe” – http://thisibelieve.org/ – 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.

The following are the first three items on my list of nine.  Tomorrow I’ll be sharing all nine in the newsletter, which you can sign up for here or in the box at the end of this post.  Enjoy.

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).  Because of this belief, I also believe a runners should do a weekly long run, except for the few weeks during the year when they are resting for a big race.  Show me a runner who keeps a solid weekly long run in their training and I’ll show you a runner who makes incremental improvements in their fitness.  The long run is difficult, not sexy, and the long run often means that you need to rest (and possibly nap) later in the day.

I believe runners need to do non-running activities to stay healthy.  There are obvious benefits to General Strength and Mobility (GSM) – you develop stronger muscles to handle the pounding of running, and you develop greater range of motion.  Another aspect if that your hormonal profile is better after GSM work – you keep your levels of testosterone and human growth hormone high.  Some non-running activities should be done before the run, such as the Lunge Matrix (LM), while others can be done after the run, such as Active Isolated Flexibility (AIF).  The key concept here is that if you just run you increase the risk of an overuse injury.  If you do non-running work as part of your overall running training you decrease the risk of injury and you can run injury-free week after week.

I believe that consistency in training leads to personal records most of the time…

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.