Road to Indy: Training up to 10/6/19

Monday 9/16 and 9/17

  • Two days of 12 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Did get strides in on Monday!

Wednesday 9/18

  • Long 24 miles in 2:22:40 (5:57/mile) Now, before people go, “but, but, but!” I am running well over 100 miles per week, and I’m running for under 2.5 hours, so that’s well within reason. This was pretty nie from a simulation standpoint as I definitely got that “wobbly leg” that you get those last few miles of the marathon.

Thursday-Saturday

  • 10 miles, 10 and 4 Double, and 12 pretty dang easy. Running 24 will put you up on mileage, so took advantage of the situation with not doing some doubles. Did get strength, core, strides in during the three days.

Sunday: 4-3-2-1

  • This was a test as we went to the Tigers game and had a lot of junk food. Got home pretty late too, but the kid had fun! I did adjust because it was super swampy.
  • 18 total for the day.

112 for the week. 


Monday 9/23

  • 12 and 4 easy. Nothing to get worked up over!

Tuesday 9/24

  • Taking a different approach and doing some faster stuff. A few years ago, this would have basically been 10k pace, but now it’s probably more like 5k-8k pace. I just haven’t done anything very fast in such a long time that I feel like some interjections of fast work can do me some good. Did 4 sets of 4×200 meters. So 200 meters in 34-35 seconds with 200 jogs. Did 400 meter jogs after every 4th one. Each set got progressively  harder, but never out of control.
  • Did a shakeout 4 miler in the afternoon because of lower workout volume.

Wednesday 9/25

  • Easy 12 and 4. Nice and easy.

Thursday 9/26

  • The Greenfield Elementary fun run was this morning, so I had to run at 12:30. 8 was all I could manage. Decided to cut my losses.

Friday

  • 3×3 Miles with Mike Morgan! Worked out well to team up. The whole team was out there, so good stuff. Mike wanted to go 5:30-20-10 and we were pretty close. The 5:30’s were a touch quick, but nothing out of control. Averaged about 5:18 pace for the workout.
  • Did a shakeout 4 in the afternoon. Trying to make a little bit up from the missed mileage on Thursday.

Saturday

  • Easy 12 and 4. Easy Peasy.

Sunday

  • Hanson’s Running Shop 16 miler at Lake Orion and Mile wanted to do a long run. 20 miles on the dirt roads and hills. He said he wanted to take it easy but we still ran 6:19 pace for it!

110 Miles for the week!


Monday through Wednesday (9/30-10/2)

  • Nothing crazy here, except two things. One, I was planning on taking three days easy in a row this week because I crammed a lot into last week. I know that if I get overzealous and just keep that train rolling, that it never ends well. Two, it worked out really well that I did that because my right plantar had been a little troublesome the last couple weeks. On Tuesday, I was running from the house. Some guy blew through the cross walk and I had to side step really quick. I felt like a tear in the spot it had been hurting. Of course, I was as far out on my run as I could be so I couldn’t just stop. It hurt for a couple minutes and then kinda subsided. Went home and iced like crazy and waited. On Wednesday it was sore, but not unbearable.

Thursday 10/3: 5×1.5 Miles

  • Mike Morgan is starting to get back to hard training. And has been dipping his toe into some workouts. He was looking at doing 5×1.5 Miles and we talked about paces and what not. He was looking at 5:10’s which is an in between pace. So, just kinda said we’d feel it out and see how it went. Newbie, Larry Char, joined in too. Started out about 5:10 pace, but it felt pretty good to me so I started creeping the pace down. Larry wanted to show us old guys that he was a big boy now, so he rolled too. Mike held on for dear life. Got down to 5:00 pace on the last couple.

Friday and Saturday: More easy running.

  • Sunday: 3×3 miles with Mike. 5:15-5:18 was the plan and we pretty much nailed it. Mile jogs were sub 7, which made me happy, but probably not Mike!

Ended the week with 108 miles. 


That’s 6 straight weeks at about 110 miles/week and 10 weeks at over 100 miles per week. My average weekly mileage is now higher than what my highest one week was this spring before Toledo.

Takeaways this week: I probably tried to change or add too much this segment to get everything to stick. I still do core and light strength regularly, but I haven’t done the heavy lifting or plyos as much as I wanted too. This goes to what I tell my athletes and that is finding easy wins at first and making small changes that will stick. For me that’s strides and my nutrition is the best it has been in years.

Getting into the heart of a plan makes finding time tough. You are tired and sore, and motivation can get tough. When you get to this point, just focus on getting out the door. Don’t mind if that first mile is slow. You’ll warm up, you’ll find your rhythm, and you’ll start to find your way. Now is not a time to compare how you felt when you were fresh, because you were, well… fresh!

Indy Monumental Marathon 9 and 10 weeks out!

9/2/2019

  • AM: 10 miles easy. Last run from the cottage. See ya next summer, Hubbard Lake! (Hopefully, for most of the summer)
  • No afternoon run. After cleaning the cottage and driving home, I’m whooped!

9/3/19

  • Strength Day! Upped it up to an 8x1mile @ MP-10 with 2:30 jog today. All under 5:10 and usually was under 2:30 for the jog recovery. I’ll take that!
  • 17 Miles for the day. Did some light foam rolling in the evening.

Indy Monumental Marathon 9 and 10 weeks out!

9/4/19

  • 10 miles in the morning with the guys. Lots of new faces on that team, except for Mike. They certainly let it rip though. 6:20’s coming back in
  • Appointments in the afternoon and curriculum night at the school. No PM room. One hour of Rolfing with Dawn. I can’t believe I pay for this!

9/5/19

  • Nothing crazy. 12 and 4. Did strides in the PM run and little bit of strength afterwards. The temps have dropped and paces naturally have too.

9/6/19

  • MP Day!
    • 5×2 Miles at MP. Still just kind of feeling it out with pace. Settled in at 5:15 ish. Recovery jogs were solid. I am recognizing that the recovery is making a big difference in these. Will explain later.
    • 19 for the morning.

Indy Monumental Marathon 9 and 10 weeks out!

9/7/19

  • AM: 13 and change.
  • PM 4 and change. PM run was real slow!

9/8/19

  • Another 14 and 4. Did do strides during the PM run. Weren’t very fast, but squeezed in after church lunch and going to in laws. Woof!

108 Miles for the week. A couple solid workouts. Wished I could have gotten another PM run in, but such is life!


9/9/19

  • Feeling the last several days. Here’s another lesson we’ll discuss at the end. Was supposed to do a workout. I actually had a 3×3 mile at MP on my schedule, but switched it up to an 18 miler. I hit at 6:16 per mile pace (getting progressively faster the first to second loop. Staying pretty steady on the last loop. A good opportunity to still get something bigger in, but not dig myself into a hole. I can recover quickly from a long run, so it helped bridge the gap between harder workouts.
  • 18 miles

Indy Monumental Marathon 9 and 10 weeks out!

9/10/19

  • 11 and 4 easy, averaging about 7 minute pace for each. Allowing the recovery to set in. Did do 6×12 second strides on the second run.

9/11/19

  • 12 and 4 easy. Nothing to write home about. Feeling tired, but not overwhelmed.

9/12/19

  • 10×3:00 Hard. I’ll just let you read my log in Strava for the commentary. Good effort though. Under 5 minute pace, so 30 minutes worth of sub 5 work. Warm and humid again.
    • About 15.5 miles for the morning.

Indy Monumental Marathon 9 and 10 weeks out!

9/13/19

  • 12 miles slow. Really warm and humid again.
  • No PM run- took my brother in law to his eye doctor appointment at U of M. Got home and we were in a severe thunderstorm warning. Stayed home and ate pizza instead! Whole family went to bed early.

9/14/19

  • Later AM run because Nikki has her workouts on Saturdays. Didn’t get out til about 10 am. At least last night’s thunderstorms blew in a cold front. Gorgeous morning for 12 easy (6:57/mile).

9/15/19

  • MP Day!
    • Went to Stony since Nikki takes Sundays off and I can leave the house early. Did 3-4-3 at marathon pace. Was honestly thinking that if I could just keep at 5:20’s that would be solid. Ended up averaging 5:15’s. One about 5:20 and a few about 5:12. Recovery jogs were much faster than in the past. I am typically about 8 minute pace and ended up being under 7 minute pace. Cool down was quicker too, but I am really running by effort.
    • 17 for the morning.

110 Miles for the week, which is the most for me since probably 2018. Really finding my groove with life, work, training balance. Not my best week for strength training, but did get some basic work in.


Indy Monumental Marathon 9 and 10 weeks out!


My Two-Week Takeaways:

  1. Recovery time is a simple variable that can be altered a number of ways. We can refer to it as a single run, time between workouts, time between segments, and time between repeats. The latter is what I want to focus on. A simple rule is that the harder the repeat (faster the pace) the more recovery time. So, a 400 meter repeat may be a 400 meter jog, but it might take 100-150% of the time. Example, you may run a 400 meter repeat in 2:00, but your recovery jog might be 3:00- even though you ran another 400 meter. So it’s not necessarily the distance we are looking at for recovery, rather the amount of recovery time. Now, if a 5k rep allows for a 100% recovery time, then a marathon rep should be significantly less. Take for example, my 8×1. I ran hard for roughly 5 minutes and recovered for 50% of that time. Then, this past Sunday I did 3-4-3 and took under 7 minute jogs- roughly 30-40% recovery time. My aha moment is that I have been keeping the recovery distances about the same but keeping the paces a little more steady. What I have noticed is that my repeat times are down a few seconds per mile, but my recovery paces are faster. To me, it has shown more where my true current fitness is, rather than the repeat times alone.
  2. The second takeaway is learning how to adjust without sacrificing. The 18 miler was a perfect example. I modified the planned days to allow me to recover, yet this still was the biggest mileage week I have had in months. I began the week feeling like a wreck and ended the week on a very high note. How? I simply did a workout I knew I could do with less relative effort first. This essentially gave me a few more days of easier running before I came back with two significant workouts later in the week. So, by being flexible, I only “sacrificed” the days I originally had penciled in, but still gained all the workouts that where planned for the week. Recovery doesn’t have to mean missing workouts, but rather rearranging to fit your strengths and weaknesses. So many times we just want to plow through and mark days as completed when they were originally scheduled. Doesn’t have to be that way!

Want to follow my training? Hit me up on Strava!

12 Weeks Out from Indy Monumental

8/19/19 through 8/25/19

Monday 8/19/19

Today was the day following a pretty solid 22 miler I put in. One of the biggest lessons I have learned recently is that if I want to continue training really hard on my workouts then my easy days really have to be a recovery day. 7-8 years ago, I would do that 22 miler and then come back and run the “easy” day at 6:30/mile, or faster. I just can’t do that and be consistent. I probably shouldn’t have done it back then, either!

  • AM: 10 miles @ 7:10/mile pace.
  • PM: 4 Miles, about the same pace. Did get 5×10-12 second strides in. Am surprised that these are hitting 4:20-30/mile pace. Regaining any semblance of speed is going to be a long term process. Saying that as I approach middle age seems like an oxymoron

Tuesday 8/20/19

  • AM: Easy 10 miles at 7:00 pace.
  • PM: Easy 4 miles at 7:20 pace.
    Hot today. Strides on second run. Second run was also from my office/studio, so did my “plyos”

Wednesday 8/21/19

Track Day! 6×800 meters with 400 meter jog. Followed up with 4×200 meters hard. An improvement over a couple weeks ago. 2:30 average for the 800’s. The 200’s were rougher, but still squeaked out 35-36 seconds on the 200’s. Very humid out! 13+ miles for the morning.

12 Weeks Out from Indy Monumental

Thursday 8/22/19

  • Recovery Day!
  • AM: 11.6 miles at an easy 7:14/mile pace.
  • PM: 4 miles from office @ 7:13/mile pace. No strides today.

Friday 8/23/19

  • Easy 12 Miles @ 6:58/mile pace.
  • Easy 4 miles @ 7:13/mile, but did 6×10-12 second strides.
    (Notice the difference in paces between Thursday and Friday)

Saturday: 8/24/19

  • 10 Miles easy in the morning @ 7:04 pace. Family get together didn’t allow to get a second run in.

Sunday: 8/25/19

  • Workout Day! 6×1.5 Miles @ MP (or maybe rather marathon effort) 4 minutes for the jog recovery. Managed 5:19 pace. Really going by feel on these, plus it’s really humid right now. Just getting work in.

12 Weeks Out from Indy Monumental

Week Overall:

102 miles for the week. Two pretty solid workouts I am spacing these out 2-3 days right now because I have a pretty decent amount of time. I get in shape pretty quick, so deliberately drawing out the process. I think the key for people to take away is the recovery on the day following a hard workout. Leave the hard days hard and let the easy days be easy. It would have done no good to go out and try to run harder the day following the workout. For the most part, the next day is a lot slower then the following easy day. So, when you look at my training, you’ll see SOS day, recovery (pace, not low mileage), easy to moderate, then another SOS. This is a good system for me and we can do similar things for you. This really let’s you have more quality workouts, keep your easy mileage high, and be able to be more consistent throughout a training block.


August 26th through September 1

Monday 8/26/19

  • Nothing crazy today- An easy 10 and 4 miles. Average over 7 minute pace on both.

Tuesday 8/27/19

  • AM 12 miles around the hood.
  • PM 4 miles, plus 7 strides. Must have gotten dizzy and snuck an extra one in.

Wednesday 8/28/19

  • Track Day! 8x1k and 4×200. This one hurt a little bit. Humid again. One of those workouts where I literally just had to focus on the one I was in. Told myself to get to 6 and I could quit. Got to 6 and said after 7. Finished 7 and realized I hate odd numbers, so finished it. About 5 minute pace for the k’s and the 200’s were 35 ish. Been a long time since I made a dedicated effort towards speed. Especially trying to run really fast after being tired. I remember in college, we’d do a k workout and then 200’s and I could run 25-26 all day. Can’t think about that though!

12 Weeks Out from Indy Monumental

Thursday 8/29/19

  • AM 12 easy at about 7:10 pace. Left to the cottage one last time before the school year starts! After driving all day, I couldn’t muster a second run. Plus we forgot some things and had to go into Alpena to supply up!

Friday 8/30/19

  • AM 10 miles easy. Weather was cool, baby! About 50 degrees way up north!
  • PM 4 miles easy with 6 strides.

Saturday 8/31/19

  • I finally did it! I have been coming up here for 8 years and finally ran the lake! HILLY, so was just trying to get the mileage in at a decent clip. 6:35 pace with uncertainty about the actual distance. Everybody told me it’s 20 miles. I did see I could avoid Mt. Mariah, but what’s the fun in that? 22 miles @ 6:34/mile

12 Weeks Out from Indy Monumental

12 Weeks Out from Indy Monumental

Sunday 9/1/19

  • Easy 10 and 4 from the cottage at over 7 minute pace. Actually did a good job recovering.

Week Overall:

108 miles for the week. A very solid track workout and a really good long run. Plus I finally did something I have wanted to for a long time. Finished the week off with some nice dirt road running. Proud of myself for being up at the cottage and staying disciplined. I have always struggled with that. I wasn’t as good with core and mobility this week, but training and nutrition was solid.

Join the LHR run club on Strava

My last attempt at a 4th Olympic Marathon Trials

It always surprises me when people are interested in my training as I feel like it is pretty mundane. Even more so, I am now a middle aged man with a business to run, people to coach, a husband and a father. So, maybe that’s it? Maybe there is a twinkle of inspiration in there? To see if the grey haired (what’s left of it) can muster up one more performance? I hope so. For one, I’d like there to be a few good races left. Better yet, if you can show people who you can relate with in life that,

“If he can do it, maybe I can too!”

..then I am all for it. Besides, if it ends up being a complete train wreck, people like seeing that too…

So, as we enter the end of summer 2019, the qualifying window for the Olympic Trials is starting to close. To qualify for a 4th Trials in the same event would be a big deal to me. That would mean a career that had spanned 2004 to present! As I am now in my late 30’s, things don’t come as easy as they used to. For one, finding the time is harder, my responsibilities are far greater, and the lags in motivation sometimes linger a lot longer. Given all that, when you look at the number of late 30 somethings trying to chase that dream dwindling, I don’t think it’s due to ability. Rather, I think it’s due to just moving on. I am in a unique situation. As much going on, I have a unique opportunity to still put in a solid couple hours a day of training a day in, so let’s give it a shot!

Alright, so let’s preface this with where I am currently at. I ran the Toledo Glass City Marathon at the end of April. It was a cold and windy day, but still managed a 2:22:47 and second place. Obviously not where I need to be to get under 2:19, but I think I was pretty close to breaking through. My mileage was solid and had some really decent workouts. I took a couple weeks pretty much off and then started building back. Truth be told, I probably tried coming back a little too quick. I could still run, but my darn hip would get me every time I tried to run hard. So, I ran what I could tolerate and worked on strength and mobility. It finally went away and I was able to start building my mileage towards the end of July.

As you can see, nothing crazy, just a nice buildup. 

 

week 1-3

Week 1a 14 mile long run.
Week 26×800 and 4×200. Nothing fast and was probably like marathon pace. Just trying to ease the fear of jumping back into workouts. Then on Sunday, a 16 mile long run.
Week 316×400 meters under 75 seconds with 400 meter jog recovery. On Sunday I did another long run of 18 miles.

Week 4 - 5

Week 4A 6×1 Mile @ Marathon effort and then a 20 miler on Sunday.
Week 5No workouts, as I was gone at a conference until Wednesday (the 4 miler day). Did get a really solid 22 miler in on Sunday. I did want to try and get a workout in during the week but it didn’t happen.

 

Overall, I have been getting more detail work in, too. I have been trying to get 10-15 minutes of core, strength, or plyo work in a day. I have also averaged 2-3 days per week of getting strides in.

So there you have my “pre-season.” Now I’ll start my 9 day cycle. As far as volume, I don’t see myself much above 115 miles per week because I really feel at this point I really need to take some of my time and focus on the detail work. I think my 115 goal and 15 minutes/day of detail work is a good compromise. We’ll find out!

Stay tuned for how this week shapes up! 

 

 

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More Nutrition: Eating to Body Type

We have talked about body type before at LHR, mainly as a determinant of what type of runner you are. However, as we have expanded our conversation  into nutrition, body type has come back into the picture. This time to really determine if body types change how we should eat. (Hint: I believe it does). Let’s take a quick look at the differences.


Ectomorph

  • Light and lean
  • Long limbs
  • Fast metabolism
  • Excess energy burnt thru activities like fidgeting and heat
  • Easily satisfied, rarely hungry (forget to eat)
  • SNS dominant, thyroid dominant (fight or flight)
  • High carbohydrate tolerant

They can easily maintain a “lean-normal” to a “lean-athletic” body fat percentage. This person may struggle to put on muscle. General nutrition guidelines would look like this: Ectos: 55% carbs, 25% protein, 20% fat.

So, what does this look like? For men, each day may include:

Men:

  • 6-8 palms of protein dense foods
  • 6-8 fists of vegetables
  • 10-12 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 2-4 thumbs of fat dense foods

Women: 

  • 4-6 palms of protein dense foods
  • 4-6 fists of vegetables
  • 7-9 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 1-3 thumbs of fat dense foods

Mesomorph

  • Medium and balanced, naturally muscular
  • Middle of road metabolism
  • Excess energy usually builds lean mass
  • Normal appetite, hunger, satiation
  • More hungry if active
  • Testosterone and growth hormone dominant
  • Normal carb tolerance

The trained person will have above average muscularity with “lean-normal” to “lean-athletic” body fat. They may have denser bones than average. Their diet may be composed like this: 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat and look like the following.

Men (daily intake):

  • 6-8 palms of protein dense food
  • 6-8 fists of vegetables
  • 6-8 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 6-8 thumbs of fat dense foods

Women (daily intake):

  • 4-6 palms of protein dense foods
  • 4-6 fists of vegetables
  • 4-6 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 4-6 thumbs of fat dense foods

Endomorph

  • Heavier, more body fat
  • Slow metabolism
  • Excess energy gets stored as fat
  • Often sensitive to appetite and hunger cues. Less sensitive to satiation and satiety cues.
  • PNS dominant (conserves energy, increases digestion and gland activity)
  • Lower than average carbohydrate tolerant

This person will have denser bones than average. They may have a fair amount of lean mass, but still have a relatively higher body fat. There diet may be composed like this: 25% carbs, 35% protein, 40% fat. In more practical terms, it may look like the following:

Men (daily):

  • 6-8 palms of protein dense foods
  • 6-8 fists of vegetables
  • 2-4 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 10-12 thumbs of fat dense foods.

Women (daily):

  • 4-6 palms of protein dense foods
  • 4-6 fists of vegetables
  • 1-3 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods
  • 7-9 thumbs of fat dense foods

Take-Aways and Caveats:

What I want to point out here is that at no point is a macronutrient scaled back so far that another macro has to make up for it. We are simply maximizing (or minimizing) a macronutrient to reach the body’s needs. I can’t stress enough that the body needs all three of the macronutrients, but not necessarily in the same proportions that other people require. This is simply an easier way to individualize nutrition to your needs.

The second point I want to make is that these guidelines are for eating outside what we call the workout window. The workout window is the 1-2 hours before your workout, the workout itself, and then the 1-2 hour recovery window after the workout. Now, personally, I don’t refer to easy runs as workouts. These are usually short enough for most people where they don’t drastically alter your daily nutrition needs. I am referring to SOS days, or speed, strength, tempo, and long runs. These runs are usually long enough and intense enough to drastically change glycogen stores, even if you are “fat adapted” and we need to replace those calories with quality carbohydrates. With all the options out there nowadays, finding real food and/or quality options is no longer an issue.

Pre-exercise guidelines have been discussed previously, so we won’t enter those discussions again. During your workout, general guidelines are 30-45 grams per hour of exercise. This may be a gel(s), or the right mixture of fluid. There seems to be a little bit of mixed thoughts on protein or BCAA’s during exercise, but some say 15g of BCAA per hour will help with performance. Finally, recovery is of the utmost importance if you want to improve your ability to perform and perform more. Again, there’s a bit discussion of how much is needed, but I would recommend at least 15-20 grams (up to 40 grams) of high quality protein or BCAA. Then I would say 80g of a mix of high glycemic/low glycemic carbohydrates. A 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose to enhance replacement of what you have utilized during the workout.

Once outside your workout window, assuming that you have adhered to workout nutrition, keep your nutrition to the recommendations given your body type. This is just one strategy to employ when trying to individualize your nutrition, but still maximize performance. Hope this helps you navigate the waters a little bit!

 

Nutrition: Diet Definitions

Last time, we talked about macronutrients and the importance for balance in general health as well as performance. I hope that’s what everyone took out of it, at least. At the end of the day, balance is key and if there are major swings to focus on one macronutrient, the swing really should be short term and recognized that it may not be a sustainable option for long term (years). At the end of that discussion, I mentioned where I would like to take that conversation. One of the areas included what the definitions of diets actually contained and why the lack of continuity can blur the lines between what we think we are doing and what we actually are. So, today I’d like to explore an article from Burke, et al. (2018) that serves as a guide to understanding diet and exercise strategies. This entire article will be in reference to this article. I will share the link at the bottom of this post!

Let me first discuss that I am moving beyond general strategies here for overall health and talking mainly about running performance and adaptation to training.

High CHO diet

This is what we traditionally think of when we talk about endurance athletes. However, there is no clear definition of what this actually is, other than it is considered a daily diet. Definitions of a high CHO diet range from anything over 50% CHO, 60-70% CHO, 500-600g of CHO per day, or 7-10g/kg of body weight! The underlying premise is that all endurance athletes have a daily need for high amounts of fuel and these are met by high CHO intakes to support hard training. Overall, it’s not recommended to be using in isolation because it’s a poor correlation with muscle fuel needs for training.

Very interesting, huh? If you take anything from this diet is that it’s broad and based off the original research done in the 1960’s. So, this would really be seen as the starting point for endurance athletes. Don’t take away from this that CHO is not needed in larger amounts, but rather that there’s more info needed on an individual basis. Things like- type of exercise, volume, intensity, etc.

It goes back to what you have heard me say before- “Eat to your daily needs.”

Luckily, there’s been a number of updates to that original research that we can build from.

High CHO availability:

CHO spread across the day and is targeted at optimizing glycogen stores by exogenous supplies to meet the fuel demands of the days training/event. Amount is based on goals of training and body weight. Daily intake from 3-12 grams/kg of BW. Basically, we are going to make every run a focus for providing carbs right before, during, and after a run. Then the rest of the day might be a lower overall intake of CHO.

The potential problems are that it may take some guesswork and experimentation on your part to really nail down what works. In really high volume training (2+ sessions/day or 25+ hours per week of training) a person will probably have some training sessions that are low CHO availability.

Peridozed High CHO availability:

Essentially, the strategy as above, but now we decide which ones to make available based on the goals of the training. Each single session may have a different approach based on where you are at in training. So, early on, we may make all easy runs and shorter long runs low CHO availability, but keep high intensity SOS days a high CHO available day. Then, the closer we get, all SOS days may be high CHO available and keep shorter easy days at a low CHO availability. Two studies shown this to show performance improvements, but subsequent competitor studies have not been able to replicate.

Nonketogenic low CHO/high fat:

CHO availability is chronically (up to months) below muscle needs so that adaptations occur to promote fat oxidation. However, it is high enough to avoid ketosis. Typical: 15-20% CHO, 15-20% protein, and 60-65% fat daily intake. Or, CHO can be less than 2.5 grams/kg of BW. One important factor here is that this in combination with a moderate endurance program of less than 5 hours per week. I think that last sentence is pretty key to this! In context- It has been shown that this can up to double rates of fat oxidation, but this has not been shown to be in association with endurance performance overall.

I think there are some very important aspects to look at with this. The first is that there’s no doubt that it can increase fat oxidation and thus probably improve overall body composition. This alone will probably improve endurance performance.

If you weighed 200 pounds and lost 25 pounds of non excess fat, then yes, you will run faster.

However, this is only going to be true up to a point. Also, the amount and intensity of exercise you should be doing with this is pretty low- basically meeting the AHA guidelines for everyday health. I just think you are limited with the situations where this will be successful- especially long term.

Ketogenic LCHF:

A person severely restricts their CHO intake to less than 5% CHO (or 50 g/day), while protein is 15-20% and fat is 75-80% of daily intake. The basic premise is that this type of diet will produce very high rates of fat oxidation within 5 days to 2 weeks. However, extreme fatigue can occur for the first 3 weeks. Overall, exercise seems to be sustainable up to about 75% VO2max, but higher intensity exercise is not tolerated well, if at all. Another factor involved is that the severe restriction of food minimizes nutrient density and variety.

Thinking about the exercise tolerated makes sense. When we discussed macro nutrients, we talked about the body’s back up is to make glucose out of non glucose sources (both fat and protein), but it’s extra steps and it’s slow. The glycogen and glucose required for higher intensity exercise simply can’t be met with these back up mechanisms. I think it goes back to the level of athlete and their desired goal/outcome.

To wrap up, this is all pretty interesting.

For one, the body is really good at making due with what is being provided to it. Also, I think that what works for a lower level athlete isn’t particularly going to work for a higher level athlete. I am referring to both ability and amount of training.

Third, I think it’s important to note that these long term “diets” aren’t really suitable for more than a short period of time.

For instance, a high carb diet might only really be needed for a few days before a marathon. Meanwhile, a LCHF diet may be exactly what an overweight runner needs to shed some weight before starting a training plan and then can eat a more balanced diet. Lastly, what’s interesting in these diets is that the two main variables are fat and CHO. Why not change the amount of protein? For most endurance athletes, I would almost say that you keep CHO at 50-55%, fat at 15% and then protein at 30%. I’d have to work the numbers based on grams per kg of BW, but who knows? I mean, we know CHO needs are slightly higher, but so are protein needs. If we boost protein a little, we can maintain or build muscle during hard training, have a place to store glycogen, and we still change our body composition for the better. Ah well, maybe another time!

So next time, I think we continue on with the article I referenced and look at the more short term strategies and sequences for workouts and tapering (loading). I believe that propels us more into the idea that our “diet” really can shift from day to day. While one day may require a lot of CHO to replace what we utilized, another might not require as much. All in all, I think we are starting to paint the picture that from 10,000 feet, saying calories in, calories out is fine. However, as we zoom in, there’s more to it than that. Until next time!

 

Nutrition Basics: Macronutrients

I have gotten into my fair share of “discussions” regarding nutrition. As a coach and a simple observer, I could see that certain fads were just not healthy in the long term. I couldn’t explain it from a data standpoint, but my intuition always told me that any extreme swing in a nutrition plan couldn’t be healthy long term. I know how to write workouts and place them in the right place in a training plan, but that only takes you so far. Looking at my athletes, most of them know how to string days of training together, but don’t know how to deal with the details of training. So, I decided that I needed more data to accompany my intuition and decided to earn a nutrition coach certification. This certainly doesn’t make me a dietician, but certainly more equipped.

The question now becomes, “where the heck do we start?”

I don’t want to get into a major physiological discussion, but I do think it’s incredibly important to understand the role of macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) in the body and how we utilize them to fuel our exercise.

Role of macronutrients:

Carbs (CHO) are subject to a lot of scrutiny these days. Blamed for making people fat and unhealthy. The truth of the matter is fat will also make you fat and unhealthy. Protein will also make you fat and unhealthy. If you overeat any combination of these three, you will become fat and unhealthy.

From a simple view CHO are readily available and primary source of energy in the body. Your brain prefers carbohydrates, but also helps maintain body temp and internal organ function. Utilizing carbohydrate as a fuel also indirectly helps you preserve and build muscle mass (so that your body doesn’t have to break down tissue to do so). Your body likes carbs and needs carbs to support a healthy body and exercise. It’s the type, volume, and timing of eating carbs that get people hung up. There’s also some individuality based on body type you are,  that we will get into another time.

How CHO is metabolized in the body:

  1. Glycogenesis- taking glucose and storing it as glycogen
  2. Glycogenolysis: Taking stored glycogen and converting to glucose
  3. Glycolysis: Taking glucose and turning it into pyruvate
  4. Krebs Cycle and Electron Transport Chain: Produce Acetyl-CoA to ATP, CO2 and H2O
  5. Gluconeogenesis: Turning non CHO sources to glucose. This can be
    1. Pyruvate from glycolysis
    2. Lactate from glycolysis
    3. Most amino acids
    4. Glycerol from triglycerides

Ok, so are carbs bad?

Well no, absolutely not- as long as we are eating the right volume and the right kinds. As far as volume, that depends on what we are doing and our body type. For now, let’s look at the type. The big thing is fructose, or as we tend to see it, high fructose corn syrup. It is certainly true that if you overeat this stuff, you set yourself up for a whole host of potential problems. Current research is suggesting that over 50g of fructose per day is the threshold. HOWEVER, whole food sources like FRUIT, does not contribute to this number because of their water, fiber, and vitamin content. In America, we are obsese, and there’s no way around it. We are inactive and we eat a ton of junk.

Over 20% of the average American caloric intake comes from sweeteners.

So what does 50g of this look like in real life?

  1. A 32oz soda = 50 g
  2. 32 oz sports drink = 50g
  3. 1 bag of Skittles = 24g
  4. Honey nut Cheerios and orange juice = 45g
  5. Grande Frap = 39g
  6. Gas station protein bar: 25g

You can see how easy it is to over consume these products and contribute way to much to our daily needs. However, to say that we need to go low carb is relative. Within a standard deviation of mean intake, 68% of people fall. 18% of people probably need more CHO than average and 18% probably need less. For most people, it’s about going low processed sugar and simply eating more real food.

Fat is also a nutrient that sometimes gets a bad rap, but fat is crucial for plasma membranes, hormones, transport of other nutrients, and of course, fuel. There are a number of mechanisms that fat is metabolized in the body.

  1. Fat transport and lipogenesis- Mostly as free fatty acids
  2. Fat mobilization and lipolysis- breakdown of triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol.
  3. Fatty acid synthesis- system of enzymes that synthesizes fatty acids
  4. B-oxidation- breaks fatty acids into Acetyl CoA (remember that one?) It’s efficient, but it’s slow and it requires oxygen.
  5. Ketone formation- when CHO is low, the liver can make keytones as a glucose substitute to keep brain, muscles, and blood cells healthy.
  6. Cholesterol synthesis and catabolism

I think most people understand the first four of these. When we exercise at a low to moderate intensity, move around, walk down the hall, take the steps, etc, that fat is a great fuel source for those. However, the 5th option, the ketone formation, is all the buzz these days. With a view of carbs being bad, it makes it easy to think it’s completely fine to substitute the carbohydrate intake with a higher fat intake. However, this system is really viewed as a back up and is not the body’s preferred system and we don’t really know what the long term effects are. The diet was really intended for children with epilepsy. Permanent ketosis can lead to high blood lipids, lowered white blood cells, optic neuropathy, lower bone density. Children ultimately developed hydration problems, constipation, decreased bone mineral density, and kidney stones.

Part of the issue I see with ketogenic diets (and high carbohydrate diets for that matter) is lack of continuity in definitions. I see some where it’s  percentage of 70-75% fat for a diet and then I see others where it’s an absolute limit of 25-50g of CHO per day.

To me this is particularly dangerous as the brain alone needs 130g of glucose to function properly.

Looking at it from a logical standpoint, I wonder why I would load up on a source of energy that I already have an abundance of, but then limit the source of fuel that I have very limited stock piles of. Even if I burn a higher rate of fat, I am significantly increasing the amount of fat in my diet. Then I wonder how the limit of foods is good for overall vitamin and mineral intake. Now, to be fair, I don’t feel that a daily high carb diet is the way to go for all people either. I do think that somewhere along those extremes is a good middle ground to burn more fat, but not deprive yourself of crucial elements to overall health and performance. I realize I will get a lot of pushback on this from some people who swear by ketogenic diets, and I will welcome that discussion later. However, for now just bear with me as this is just a general discussion of macronutrients.

Protein is the final  macronutrient I want to discuss today. Like the other two we have discussed, it’s vital to everyday health and running performance as long as it’s consumed in the right manner. Protein is crucial to giving our body strength and structure, make enzymes and hormones, helping our immune system, and transportation.

The three protein pathways are:

  1. Protein turnover (synthesis and breakdown)
  2. AA catabolism and deamination
  3. Transamination

In terms of providing energy, we need to look at deamination. In deamination, AA are broken down and the portion that remains is called a carbon skeleton. That carbon skeleton can then be converted into one of the following:

  1. Glucose
  2. Ketone bodies
  3. Cholesterol
  4. Fatty acids
  5. A product needed for Krebs cycle where it would ultimately be resynthesized into ATP

These conversions are all seen as backups to when we are under duress of starvation or fasting and isn’t intended to be the primary source of energy.

When you look at use of energy during a marathon and it’s typically less than 2%.

From an endurance athlete standpoint, how much do we need for optimal intake? A healthy sedentary person needs about 0.8g per kg of body weight. An athlete needs anywhere from 1.2-2.2g per kg of body weight. Endurance athletes would probably fall in the middle of those ranges. I think max rate of digestion is something like 3.6 g/kg. This increased rate isn’t for fuel, but rather to help rebuild and repair the muscle damage we create with heavy training.

At the end of the day, if we eat too much excess dietary fat, it gets stored as fat. If we eat too much carbohydrate we increase carbohydrate oxidation. This impairs fat oxidation and causes more dietary fat to be stored. Finally, excessive protein increases protein oxidation and also causes a decrease in fat oxidation. The end result that if you overeat any macronutrient, your body will store more fat.

When we engage in a certain diet, we ultimately gravitate towards high or low CHO. A lot of old school endurance athletes feel like they need to be 60% and above on CHO intake daily. Now, the new school is suggesting that high amount of daily fat is where it’s at. We also tend to muddy the waters between what is ok for a sedentary person and a person in full-blown marathon training. Either way, if a strategy beyond eating an overall balanced diet is extended for a long period of time, then you definitely increase the risk for many nutrient deficiencies and potential health issues.

Where to go from here?

I think we talk about the definition of diets. We can also discuss the idea of “Fueling the day.” Finally, we can talk about safe strategies to decrease fat weight, maintain muscle mass, and improve performance.

 

Glass City Recap

I ran CIM in the beginning of December and then took some time off. I was going through a lot of life changes so for the first time in a long time, running took a backseat on the priority list. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t really miss the training aspect. I still enjoyed the daily routine, but not the regimented routine I have been undertaking for the last 25 years!

As life began to sort itself out, I began to be accustomed to my routine. For a long time I had to be selfish with running (or at least I thought) and that left a lot of daily tasks to my wife. That always made me feel guilty and over time I think it was things like this that really affected our feelings towards each other. I always was an early riser, but it was usually to scramble to get around to meet the guys for an early morning run. Now I was getting up at the same time, but getting a couple hours of productivity done, school lunches packed, kid fed and dressed, and making sure bags were packed. Even after all that, I was out the door running by 9 am.

I started getting the desire to train again, but knew I had to change the approach a little bit. Not the philosophy, but just how this segment was to be approached. I had done two marathon segments in 2018 and ran two in 2017! I hadn’t even thought about that until writing this.

I had played around with more recovery and less mileage because I thought my body couldn’t handle what I used to do.

The truth is, it can’t, but it could handle a lot more than what I was doing. That’s a little off topic, as I still needed to change this segment. I had a ton of marathon work in my system, so I wanted to work on just being able to run faster. I hadn’t done much of anything under 5 minute pace (per mile) in a very long time and I want to get back to where that feels comfortable. However, this winter was pretty rough and I did a lot of simulated efforts on the treadmill. When I got outside, I tried to run faster. During the the last 6 weeks, I was able to get in the staple workouts of a Simulator and a 2×6 miles. I was pretty confident, at least in my ability to run respectable, but honestly, I knew it was going to be a little bit of a crapshoot.

Overall, from the first week of February until the week before the race, I averaged about 105 miles per week.

Not bad by any means, but a little less than what I averaged before CIM and about the same as what I averaged before Bayshore in May. I felt good physically. My back was in decent shape and my head was clear. My stress levels had decreased significantly. So, heading into the Glass City Marathon, I had two goals- 1) Was to compete for the win and 2) Run under 2:20.

RACE WEEKEND

The nice thing about this race was that it was close- about an hour away from home. Nikki and I still got a hotel room in Toledo, but just for convenience. Given the fact that our hotel for Boston two weeks earlier was in the 4 figures, this was nothing! We checked in and then headed over to the expo to pick our race packet up. Part of my elite entry included helping out for a couple hours at the expo, so I fulfilled that duty. Talking to the elite athlete coordinators gave me a lot of info and I knew the competition I was going to be racing against the next morning.

As expected, the weather deteriorated over the evening and into the night, but all reports said the rain was going to be gone, which was my biggest concern.

There is nothing worse than a cold rain. The morning was cold.

About 36 degrees, but the rain had stopped. However, the wind was steady at 10-15 mph and gusts up to 20+ mph. Woof! Oh well, I was honestly just glad it wasn’t 75 degrees! It did warm up a bit- I think starting temp was 39 or 40 degrees, but the wind was still there.

As I stood on the starting line I was pretty calm, but anxious to get going. I wanted to see how this thing was going to unfold. The half marathon and the full marathon run together for the first 9-10 miles, so I knew there’d be a good range of paces at the start. The race started and of course all the local hero’s went blowing by for their few minutes of fame. I was glancing around at bibs to see who was full and who was half marathoners. There was a couple guys that were on there own and then everyone else seemed to just kind of pack up. We started looping around the outside of the U of T campus and I tried to tuck in away from the wind. It was funny because there was so much back and forth with the pacing, so I just tried to stay calm. All was pretty well through the first 5-6 miles. I just ran my pace and let those young guys throw the sneaky punches. Looking at my splits, I was pretty steady at 5:18 ish pace. Miles 5 and 6 were 5:12 range, but I think we were with the wind.

However, by 6 miles, they must have tuckered themselves out and all of a sudden I was in front. Knowing the field, I knew that I had to set myself up for the best chance to win, so I stayed on the pace. I never pushed the gas to the floor, but I stayed honest at 5:18-19 pace. It was cold, and it was windy, so the field started falling apart. Pretty soon it was just myself and the eventual winner. From miles 7-15 we worked through a nice neighborhood and then into a big metropark and were on a bike path. We ran side by side all the way through 15 miles. I never felt like I was over the edge, but I felt like that was as fast as I could go without getting over the edge.

As we exited the park at 15, we made a right hand turn and this guy just blasted it. I ran 5:15 for that mile and he just dropped my like I had made a pit stop, or something.

To make matters worse, we were dead nuts straight into a headwind, too.

So, there was the break and he spent the next two miles putting a big distance on me. At that point, it was a matter of holding on. It just stunk because he was too far ahead to be in contact and I was all alone with third being a couple minutes back. No man’s land is incredibly lonely.

I am proud that the gap didn’t get any worse. At mile 20, or so, the biker next to me told me the gap was about 50 seconds and that’s where it stayed. As we headed back to campus, my calves were starting to cramp and my quads were fried. I was just spent and managing myself.

The wind definitely played a role with me. I looked at a couple calculators and a 10 mile head wind can add 10-20 seconds per mile, pretty easily. I would say that you throw in the factors of dehydration, being tired already, and then running completely alone for 10 miles and there’s a lot going on there. All in all, it was 2:22 and second place. I competed for the win for a long time and was on sub 2:20 pace for 20+ miles, but it ended rough.

Post Race

Now’s the time for too much information. I didn’t pee for almost two hours after the race. When I did, it was so brown I thought it was blood. I am telling you this because it’s important. I dehydrated myself really bad and that also had an effect. The thing is, I was really good with gels. I took 5 Isagenix Fuels. One right before and four during the race. However, it was so cold I couldn’t grab water.

I would be surprised if I took in 10 oz of water during the whole run.

That’s such a bummer, too. That’s a rookie mistake and it’s frustrating for myself. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and you always have to remember the basics!

The next couple days were brutal! I could barely walk. However, by Saturday, I felt good and went for a 3 mile jog. It was slow, but spring had finally come and I wanted to get some sun in! I ran the next week until mothers day. My hip was a little sore, but now it’s all good. I even started doing strides this week!

Moving Forward

I feel like I have one or two more chances at a Trials qualifier.

Right now, I need to step back from the marathon. I want to race some shorter races and get to where I can handle some things I haven’t done in a long time. My plan is to build up with a 5k and a 10k in June and July. Then run the Crim 10 Miler in August. From there I’ll transition right into marathon training for Indy on November 9th. I think there will be quite a few guys going after sub 2:19 and it’s a great course and race. It should be fun! I also want to get back to more strength. I keep saying it, but it’s my downfall!

At the end of the day, training for Glass City helped me transition to a new chapter of my life. I didn’t win, but I raced hard. I learned how to train without the reliance of a team. And I feel good with a lot of things in my life and my family! So, here’s to the rest of 2019.

 

Marathon Tempos: 2019 Update


In 2018, I did a podcast on tempo runs, and it really discusses how Marathon pace should feel. That post is still relevant and will be unless our physiology drastically change. If you haven’t read or listened yet, I encourage you to do so HERE.

Over the last several years, as more and more people have read the HMM books, some questions have arisen. I have had this discussion several times now about how the book and the plans are meant to fit a wide spectrum of people. Now as more and more people have read the books we can dive into discussions about how to make things more specific to your individual needs. So today, I want to comment on the four most common areas of specificity when it comes to the marathon tempo runs.

The first is “Small Jumps vs Big Jumps” in marathon training.

By this I mean, are you making a big jump in goal pace or are you making a small goal in pace? I would say that anything within 10 seconds per mile of what you have currently run is probably within your standard of deviation already. So, if your current marathon pace is 9 minutes per mile, then you probably hit 8:50 per mile fairly regularly in training and doesn’t represent any major adjustment to pace. However, if you ran 8:50 per mile instead of 9:00 pace, then you run nearly 5 minutes faster for the marathon!

Funny how small increases in pace over 26.2 miles can drastically change the outcome of your race…

Anyway, let’s use that same 9:00 per mile pace and now you want to run 8:30 pace. For some of you, that new pace might represent a pace that looks more like your half marathon pace than it does your marathon pace. This, obviously, is a big jump in pace and is going to drastically alter how your marathon tempo runs feel, especially the early ones. Even a four mile tempo will probably feel more intense than your speed work! I will discuss how to handle this in a minute but recognize that if you are making a big jump in pace, you’ll need to exercise a certain amount of caution and recognize that your early tempo runs may feel harder than what your later tempo runs feel.

Building on the jump in pace, the next logical step is how your early paces feel versus later tempo runs feel.

The basic assumption here is that you are coming off a rest and are now starting a buildup to a marathon.

Now, if you aren’t coming off a rest, but simply moving from one segment to another, then chances are your early tempo runs will feel easier than they should and that’s a sign of trouble.

However, that’s another discussion for another time. For now, let’s assume you are coming off rest, and are making a small jump in paces. If that’s the case, then marathon pace will feel uncomfortable, but not super taxing. This is mostly because you have slightly decreased fitness levels and this slightly above your current marathon ability. The idea that is that as your fitness improves (and it will quickly) your marathon pace will feel easier as you go on- to a point. Now, as we mentioned, if you are making a big jump in paces, the marathon tempos will feel difficult. They might even be discouraging. However, if you are committed to the goal, I say give it several weeks before deciding if it is too much. We’ll discuss ways to combat this later on.

The third area is your progression of fitness:

The whole goal with a training plan is to improve your level of fitness. So, in theory, MP should feel easier, right? For some, it might, but for most, there are confounding factors involved that will affect how you actually feel. In reality, I have only had pace feel slightly easier. What’s more important is that unless I was overtrained, I never felt worse. So, I felt roughly the same for a 10 mile tempo later in the segment as I did during a 4 mile tempo 8 weeks prior. Even more important than that, my confidence increased as I felt more comfortable (or familiar) with the new pace. Notice that I am differentiating between easier and comfortable. I find this to be true for modest increases in pace and for those who are adjusting to the bigger increases in pace.

The fourth is the effect of cumulative fatigue and its effect on your “feel” of tempo pace.

Using that early four mile tempo, it feels hard because your fitness is at a lower level. When you get to those 10 mile tempos, you are doing them with several weeks of hard training in your legs. So, your fitness may be leaps and bounds higher, but the fatigue you feel is not allowing your tempos to feel easier. Now, under normal-heavy training, tempo runs will still be hard and the first couple miles might not be wonderful, but you will settle into a pace and end up being just fine. If you are overcooked, what you’ll see is that effort will increase, but your paces will be slower and slower. If this is the case (which is usually with the “big jumpers”) then you may need to reconsider the pace that you are trying to attempt.

How do I combat this?

For big jumpers- a segment that focuses on getting other race times down

So let’s assume that you just ran a marathon and it went well. Now, you want to jump in and start training for another one, but you’ve gotten the idea to make a go at that once impossible BQ. It’s still a big jump of 15 minutes, but what the heck!

Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t. However, what I am saying that you will not want to jump right into it for your next segment. Let’s say you ran an end of April marathon and were thinking you want to make a go at it in the fall. What I will see is a lot of people will want to jump right into another marathon attempt to try and reach the deadline for Boston. For those who don’t know, if we are in the year 2019 and you want to run the 2020 Boston marathon, you need to have your qualifying time by early September of 2019. So, what we have seen is a number of “last chance” Boston qualifying races for that weekend of the deadline. The problem is this doesn’t give the person who is trying to make a big jump in performance enough time to adjust to that new level. Those just needing a couple minutes is another story. They can probably make that turnaround.

What I would propose is that the person take their recovery, then utilize the rest of May, June, July, and part of August to work on shorter races.

I don’t particularly care if it’s a 5k/10k segment or a half marathon segment, but just something that shifts the focus. The reasoning is that if the person trying to make the big jump is aiming for a new goal that doesn’t line up with anything that they have run in the past, then it’s going to be a hard go trying to run that new pace for 26.2 miles. Let’s pick, say a 10k, goal that is more in line with what would suggest that the marathon goal is possible. That way, we aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket, we are giving our body an opportunity to train at faster paces, but not be under the grind of marathon training. Then, once you come back to the marathon, the paces won’t be as daunting and you’ve hopefully increased your fitness enough to tolerate the new paces. Essentially, we have made an attempt to bridge the gap between where you are at and where you want to be.

 

Break up the tempo runs early, treat as rust buster workouts

This is something that I will do in many of my other Final Surge plans. Essentially, these

are soft toss workouts. Something that you are confident in hitting, but an introduction to

new marathon paces. It can be pretty simple like 6-8×800 meters at your goal marathon with short recovery jogs. Each week, simply lengthen the distance of the repeat until you get to where you are more comfortable at doing a straight up tempo run.

  1. Add a day of recovery.

    I am a big fan of going Monday, Thursday, Saturday or going Tuesday, Friday, Sunday. I also like our alternator and 9 day cycle to spread out your intense workouts to a more manageable recovery period.

  2. Start from slower to faster (or fast to slow?)

    You can employ this strategy regardless of whatever strategy(ies) you employ from above as a supplement. There are really two ways to approach. The first is to start your tempo (or marathon repeats) at your current marathon pace and progressively work towards your goal marathon pace. I personally like this method the best, as I like to have your train how’d you should be racing. However, there the other side of this, too. That would be to start at your goal marathon pace and simply hold it as long as you can. This, I feel is acceptable when you want to test yourself after a few weeks, but it’s not something I’d attempt on a weekly basis. I feel like frustration would lead to doubt and more negative self talk. Regardless, the end goal would be the same, and that would be to accumulate more time, each successive workout, at your goal marathon pace.

How am I going to go another 16 miles at this pace?

This is what I want to end with because it’s probably the biggest question I see in the Facebook group after they do a 10 mile marathon tempo. It’s certainly a valid question. I have talked about it in this post (the how do I know I am ready). However, I will say, if you are hitting your 10 mile tempos within a few seconds per mile and not adjusting any of your training to get there, then you have a good chance.

If you get through a 10 mile tempo and felt like you just raced the workout, then you might be in trouble- especially if you are trying to take a big jump.

If you get to that point where it was a hot mess or you just can’t even come close to that goal pace, then you really have some decision making to do. If you are ok with rolling the dice, then go ahead and roll the dice. However, if you are ok with splitting the difference and scaling back to a smaller personal best effort and building that bridge (rather than potentially burning that thing all the way to the ground) to BQ land then now is the time to make that decision.

Need a plan? Check out all our training plans and our Run Club 

Marathon Long Run Part 2

Last time, we talked about long runs that were more simple, but not any less easy. This week, we will expand on those foundational types of long runs and into more race specific long runs. These runs already assume that you have built your general endurance and are now into more race specific phases of your preparation. I’ll discuss a few instances where that could change, but for the most part, these are all long runs that would occur after you’ve done general training. I would also say that most beginners and first-time marathon runners should put their focus in being able to cover the ground and then maybe doing these types of runs in the future.

Fast Finish

This was my first introduction into next level training, right here. I don’t quite recall who started it, but my first experience was from Khalid Kanouchi, the Moroccan marathoner and later US citizen. He was a favorite at the Chicago Marathon in the early 2000’s and he would always chat a bit with us Hanson guys at the Chicago races. He told us a staple of his marathon training was the “Fast Finish” long run. A few of us were really on board and begged Kevin and Keith to let us try it and they did! I still remember the day we tried it the first time. We always had a Sunday group run n conjunction with the Stony Creek Running Club and we’d rotate sites. One location was way out on the dirt roads at this middle school in northern Oakland County. It was a tough loop with tons of dirt roads, hills, and the school had a track behind it. So, being who were as a team, hit the long run pretty hard, ran straight to the track, where we had left our flats, and then ripped a 3200 meter (basically time trial against ourselves). I think I ran about 9:50 after putting in a hard 18 miles before. It was hard. It was a real gut check, but it was fun. Part of it was because of the track, part of it was because it was something new. However, it’s not something I’d do all the time! Plus, we definitely made mistakes on that first one, like changing into our racing flats and taking a 5-10 minute break in there. The run evolved for us over time. We don’t change into flats and we just go straight into it from our run. Now, that typically happens where we can let it rip for a few miles down the Paint Creek Trail where the trail is flat.

Some key points to this long run:

  • Done in the last 6-8 weeks of a marathon segment.
  • I wouldn’t do in successive weeks, follow a tough long run with an easier long run the following week
  • Don’t need a lot of these 1-3 during that time is plenty good.
  • Really focus on the recovery aspect after these. Pushing yourself to that limit on already fatigued legs will require extra attention from the recovery department.
  • From my experience, just getting down to marathon pace is tough enough for most people I have given this run too. No need to make it harder for those chasing BQ’s and new time thresholds. This will still teach you that you can push through late in the game, even when tired and that’s a major component to this long run.

 

Squires Long Runs

The Squires Long run comes from Coach Squires of the Boston Track Club from the Bill Rogers and Greg Myer era. The long run is a great way to accumulate time at marathon pace for the week, but also bring the average pace of your long runs down. To me, it is a great tool to learn how marathon pace feels throughout the course of time- from when you feel fresh, to when you are tired. This will pay great dividends to those performance minded runners. If you can learn to associate effort to pace and do so when fresh and when tired, you can take your performance to a whole new level! I think this is also a great long run for those who struggle with traditional marathon tempos. We can accumulate a lot of time at marathon pace while not just logging mile after mile at pace every week. However, I have to add, that you do need to learn to be able to do that, but this would be a nice break from that monotony. If you aren’t familiar with what these runs are, they are essentially long runs with a fartlek in the middle to second half of the long run.

  • Can actually start these earlier in a training cycle, say 8-10 weeks out from the marathon if you are more of a seasoned marathon vet.
  • Use first few miles as a warm up and progress into moderate paces before starting the marathon pace “fartleks.”
  • Start with small amounts of time, say 8 x 2-3 minutes at marathon pace with 2-3 minute jogs. Each long run you do, up the time. So, if you do this 3-4 times throughout the training cycle, you may be up to 10 x 7-8 minutes at marathon pace. Ideally, recovery would stay about the same, at roughly 3 minutes.
  • Recovery between each marathon pace effort is still in your easy to moderate pace.
  • Cool down the last couple miles of your run.
  • This is a run you want to be fueling for. Allow yourself to keep the effort high by providing the fuel needed for the intensity.
  • Post run recovery is as important as the effort given during the run!

The Combo

If you are in our Facebook group, I have offered this one up for a long time. If you are really tight on time in a particular week, but still have your long run, then this is a great compromise. If you have done the 10 mile tempo, then this is nothing new to you. You have probably done this on plenty of Thursdays already!

  • Use first few miles as a warm up, gradually increasing from easy to moderate to long run pace.
  • Then do your assigned tempo mileage at goal MP. Ideally this is done for longer tempos, say 8-10 milers.
  • Set up so the last 1-3 miles can be used as a cool down.
  • This should be a fueled run. You will already be going to the well pretty deep. Don’t dig it so deep you can’t get out.
  • Post run recovery is crucial. Get on your refueling, re-hydration, and hopefully, rest as soon as you can.
  • If you do this on the weekend, you are typically doing in place of a tempo run during the week, so you may need to adjust the days before and after.

The Mega Long Run

Ok, here it is! For all you 40 mile a week runners who love your 20 milers! I am just kidding, so no hate mail, please! I think it is an important long run type to discuss. Now, admittedly, I have never given a mega long run to an athlete, and I don’t have any personal experience with this long run. Just want to be completely up front with you.

The mega long run can mean a couple of things. It can be described in terms of mileage or in terms of time run. When people talk to me about it, they usually express in terms of mileage, usually something like 20-24 mile long runs. If someone does a 22 mile long run using the classic Advanced plan, this is about 40% of the weekly mileage during the last 8-10 weeks of the training plan. If following the plan, the longest long run would be about 29% during the same week.

Sometimes, mega long runs are described in terms of time. For instance, coach Greg Mcmillan says he will prescribe a long run up to 30-45 minutes longer than what the person is planning on running during the marathon. So, if a person is trying to run a 4 hour marathon, then he may give them up to a 4:45 long run. This doesn’t mean that they will cover something like 30 miles because they are running slower than goal pace. They will just be putting in a lot of time over what they plan on racing for.

Do I agree with the mega long run? Well, it depends! I think that when you are new to HMM style training, then no, I am quite reluctant to give the green light on the mega long run. I have just experienced too many people doing it on their own and then not being able to tolerate the rest of the training. Now, if you have done a couple of cylces of our training and seem to be thriving, but need a new stimulus, then I can see doing a run that creeps up into the 40% range of your weekly mileage. HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean you scale way back during the week in order to accommodate this run.

Now, when referring to a mega long run by time, I think you have to look at from a different point of view. If you are following one of the HMM plans and are running long runs at 10 minutes per mile or slower, then a 16 mile long run is already taking at least 2.75 hours. What I think makes that work is that idea that the day before, you are putting in a significant easy run of 8 miles, or at least another hour and 20 minutes. So within about 24 hours, these runners are putting in roughly 4 hours of running. That is a significant amount and stimulates all the adaptations needed that would also be provided by the mega long run by itself. The other aspect I want to look at is from a practical standpoint. Using the examples from above, a 4:30 marathoner (which is about 10:15 per mile), could in theory run 5:15 for a long run. That seems completely brutal to me and I personally feel like that will cause more harm than good. This is because we deplete ourselves so much and begin to break down so much that we really run the risk of being in a position of fatigue that takes way too long to recover from. If I gave a person that run, they would probably be too beat up to do much for the next week! To me, I feel like I can get so much more accomplished from backing the long run down and being able to train the next 7 days as I normally would. I do understand that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary responses. However, I also think the risk far outweighs the reward for run over 4 hours. Now, where I do see this run working is for runners racing at under 3 hours. Going for a 3-3:30 long run will help these runners, but not dig the training whole too deep. I think a run like that would suit these runners about 10 weeks out from the race and maybe again at about 6 weeks out from the race. As long as they can really put an emphasis on recovery after and fueling during to preserve stores and muscle structure, then I think they will be ok.

 

Wrapping up..

Phew, that’s a lot of variations to the long run, especially for the marathon. I can’t stress enough that you have to take a serious look at your own ability and where you are at. It’s nice to get some ideas, but you also have to be careful not to get yourself into a position that you can’t recover from later on. If you are a beginning runner, focus on building your general endurance first and then start adding in another training cycle. If you are attempting these types of long runs, put a lot of focus into fueling and recovery. I also suggest that you follow each of these long runs with a more traditional long run. Adding too much intensity and duration for too long isn’t productive either. Keep the balance of easy to hard. Train hard, but recover too.

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Marathon Long Runs: Part 1

The marathon long run should seemingly be simple, right? Just go out and run a long way because our race is going to be over 26 miles! In its simplest form, yes, that’s about all there is to it. However, the marathon is a simple event on the outside, but when factoring in all the things that make running a successful one possible, we see there’s a lot more to it. Like fueling, central fatigue, pace, effort, the goal of the race, goal of the run, and on and on. For a lot of years, even today, runners are all about the 20+ milers. How many can we fit into our training plan? Ok, that’s fine but what else are we doing during the rest of the week? Doesn’t that matter too? I know we have discussed this before, so I won’t keep at it. The truth is, that we tend to compartmentalize our lives and our training. Everything is in our own little bubble and nothing else affects anything outside that bubble. The truth is, it’s all lumped together. It’s runny and intertwining. So, what I want to do today is explore the different variations of marathon long runs, where they would fit, and who should consider these.

Luke Humphrey Running- Long Runs

Luke Humphrey Running- Long Runs

However, first, I want to just touch on why the HMM method has worked for so many people. I won’t dive deep into it again. If you want a full discussion, please consider the book, or for a nutshell discussion, this blog post. However, the basic assumption is that training should be kept in balance so that all aspects needed can be trained. For most people and the mileage they are running,  16 miles works well. It’s about 25-30% of the weekly total and takes anywhere from 1:45:00 to 3:00:00 for most abilities. So, it’s a good middle ground. Now, going beyond that, or outside the long run bubble, it fits extremely well, because you are doing a marathon tempo on Thursday, an easy day Friday, then a longer 60-80 minute run on Saturday, finishing with a long run on Sunday. Not only that, but you come back and run easily on Monday and do a more intense workout on Tuesday. So, as you can see, there’s not any downtime before or after. That catches a lot of first timers off guard. I get a lot of emails from folks who said they’ve done a lot of 20 milers and are going to keep doing them during their first go-round with HMM. I urge you to reconsider that idea. If you haven’t done a plan that does what HMM does during the week, I’d really think about keeping that long run pretty basic. You will already be pushing up against that fine line of training hard and overtraining. The last thing you want to do is blow right past that line. Now, after saying all that, there’s a lot of different ways to adjust your long run depending on your ability or what your goal is.

Long Slow Distance

This is your traditional “easy” long run. The most basic development we are trying to build with this is our basic endurance. For a lot of people, it’s simply about being able to know that they can cover the distance, correct? This is why a lot of people tell me that they mentally need the 20 miler, so that they can feel confident that they can even cover the full distance. With this run, we are building the foundation of endurance performance through the same adaptations we would build with an easy run. We also prepare our muscles, tendons, and bones to be able to handle the demands of running that far.

Who is it for?

This is the foundation of long runs and is for all levels of runners. From introductions to long runs, to the elite, the nice easy long run should be a staple. From this run everything else builds. For instance, it’s an easy transition from this type of long run, to say, a fasted or fueled long run. As we get into the other types of long runs, we see a lot of options. An LSD type of long run might easily be pushed aside, but I encourage you to come back from it every now and then. It is the perfect way to get something in above and beyond a regular easy day, but still, allow yourself to be able to recover from a previously hard week or be ready to rock an upcoming hard week.

The timing of LSD runs:

For the beginner, this type of run might be all that you focus on. There might be a lot of trial and error with these, too. There is a lot of temptation to start out a little quick, only to find yourself fading the last several miles. Initially, I think that’s fine because it can teach some valuable lessons about patience, dealing with discomfort, and encourage you to develop pacing strategy. As you become more fit and endurance improves, focus on running these even or negative split. Try not to get in the habit of going out even harder and fading.

For everyone else, the LSD run is probably what you’ll start off with. If you are starting off down time or a shorter race segment where the long runs were shorter and not a priority, then this is the initial long run I would start using. As I mentioned, it’s also a long run to come back to every few weeks.. If you have a “down” week, this is a great way to get a long run in, but keep the stress of it down and allow the body to recover.

The Moderate/Steady Long Run

This is the next logical step in progression and you might even drift into these types of long runs without even trying. Ideally, it’s picking up your pace as the run progresses, but I see a lot of runners start out moderate and fade to the slower end of their pace range. If you have read our books or used our training pace calculator, you’ll see Easy (sometimes A and B), Moderate, and then Long run pace. Many times people will view that as hard lined zones that they have to stay in for an entire run. The truth is, that it is a spectrum. For beginners, they may start out at the slower end of the easy range and put their focus on just being able to cover the distance. That’s perfect. That’s all we are looking for. As they improve and covering the distance is no longer the issue, we can pursue running these faster. A more experienced runner may still start out in the easy range of the zone, but as they warm up and get into it, they will gradually pick up the pace and be well into the moderate zone. By definition, it’s still a pretty comfortable run from a breathing standpoint and we aren’t necessarily testing any thresholds, but we have shifted away from that LSD type of run.

Who is it for and when should I do it?

This might be the goal of the newer marathoner or newer runner. They may want to be able to shift away from general endurance building to specific endurance building by the end of their training segment. For more experienced runners, it might be where they start out at in the beginning of their training, or consider it a maintenance type of long run. The beginner might have this as their “Big Test”  a few weeks out from their race. The veteran runner might use this as a long run to begin their taper.

Fasted/Depleted long runs

I want to talk about this next because the next logical step in long runs is whether, or not, you are fueling before and during these. These are also the simplest factors to manipulate during a long run. The fasted long run has really caught a lot of buzz over the last few years, but I think it is a bit misconstrued. So, let’s first discuss what it actually is.

The fasted long run is just as it sounds. It is a long run where we run fasted. These are also sometimes referenced as depletion runs. However, to me, depletion would mean something different. It would mean that you deplete your stores on your run, but didn’t necessarily fast before the long run. Despite that difference, I found it hard to find any research on those differences. So, for sake of ease, depletion and fasted are the same. The glycogen stores are and/or continue to be depleted throughout the run.

The reason people are doing fasted runs is to try and to get the body “fat adapted.” By that, I simply mean that you have two primary sources of fuel. The combination of fat and carbohydrate represent about 95% of our fuel sources for exercise. The problem is, we have limited stores of carbohydrate and we can “burn” through our stores relatively quickly. Under the idea of the fasted run, if we have low stores of carbohydrate to begin with and let the body use up the majority of the rest, then we can trigger certain adaptations to help avoid the problem in the future. One adaptation is that we will trigger the muscle to store more glycogen to try and avoid that situation again. The second is that we can train the body to utilize more fat across the pace spectrum.

Should you try fasted runs?

I did a quick google search and there’s a ton of articles regarding the fasted run. There’s lots of talk about potential benefits and timing of these runs, but I think you really have to be careful with these. For one, the depletion of fuel sources won’t do anything if you don’t replace that fuel as fast as you can after the run. In other words, you have to recover really well from these runs in order to reap the benefit. Another risk you run is a compromised immune system. Given that, I think the level of runner and the timing of the run are really important.

For the beginner, I am hesitant to prescribe these types of long runs for a few reasons. The first is that if this is their first marathon or are used to pretty low weekly volume and low intensity, then they are already going to make really great strides with the adaptations we talked about through the increased training. There is no need to add another source of stress to the body and risk running well past the point of hard training and into overtraining. The second is that the beginner runner needs to make sure that their general endurance is there before they are worried about eeking out a couple more percentage points in potential performance. The risk just isn’t the reward. Furthermore, the beginner runner needs to practice with fueling, dealing with contents in their stomach, and having the fuel to cover the distance.

The more advanced runner may utilize this run, but I think the timing has to be right. Some people like to do these later in a training cycle, but I tend to disagree. I actually think that these make more sense in the earlier part of the segment. I will discuss other types of faster long runs in another post, but the basic premise of any training is to be doing the most specific work during the last stage of your training cycle. To me, that means we transition from general training to specific training. In this case, that means from doing long runs at a slower pace that would occur with fasted runs, to being fueled and covering the long runs faster (even down to MP for significant portions of time). When you do the early long runs in a fasted state, I feel you set yourself up better. One, the long runs are shorter. This means that they are long enough to deplete your glycogen stores, but not so much that you greatly increase the risk of illness. Don’t take that as a reason not to fuel up after the run! Remember, the fuel afterwards is what allows the body to adapt. If you want to try these, I say early on is ok. Anything in the last 6-8 weeks of a marathon cycle should be fueled and performance based. Again, we’ll discuss those options in the next post.

One final point I wanted to make about these types of runs is the idea of doing these types of runs without even trying. What I mean is that how many of you go to sleep, wake up, and head out the door to get your run in without having food? A lot of us do. Say the last thing you ate was at 9 PM, then you got up at 6 am to go run. I know, a lot of you are laughing and wishing you could sleep in until 6 am! But, that would 9 hours without eating. Then you go for a 60 minute run. That’s a minimum of 10 hours before you get something to eat. For some of you, that might be over 12 hours. The point is, that you are already depleted, then deplete even further during your run. While it may not be to the extreme that a long run would be, it’s still enough of a trigger to stimulate the training adaptations. It might not be at the dose that a long run would be, but if you do that 3-5 times per week, the overall stimulus is pretty high. So, consider that as you look into mapping out how you want your long runs may look. Even the beginner runner will probably be providing the same stimulus that an advanced runner is even though they aren’t purposely running long runs at a fasted state.

The Fueled Long Run

Now, I feel like this really deserves its own section because it is often overlooked. A fueled long run is simply that, running the long run fueled. To me, that also includes practicing the fueling during the long run. I think that all levels need these in their schedule, even if it is simply to become accustomed to taking in fuel during your runs, which will play huge dividends on race day. It has been shown that the stomach can adapt to handling fuel if it is consistently exposed to having fuel during exercise. With that, if you are a beginner or haven’t really practiced with fueling, then I recommend starting at the beginning of your training segment and staying consistent with practicing. If you are doing some of the more intense long runs we’ll be discussing, then fueling before and during will be crucial to the success of those long runs.

There’s a couple of other benefits to these long runs that I’d like to mention. The first is that I am a big believer in replacing what you’ve lost during training. In this case, it’s glycogen that we are worried about. By fueling a little before and during the long run, you limit the amount of carbohydrate that you have to make up for during the rest of the day. This can go a long way in giving your body the right amount of fuel that is needed for optimal recovery. When I recommend carbohydrate requirements for workout days, they often balk at the idea of eating that much. If you make a dent in that number before and during the long run, you take away a pretty decent amount from what you then have to make up for from doing the long run. That number then seems to be a lot more manageable. For instance, if I tell a person they need 500 grams of carbohydrate on a long run day, they often say that’s too much. However, if they took in 50 grams before and then another 50-100 grams during the long run, that’s 100-150 grams off from that total of 500 for the day. That makes a big difference. Then, if you can get them to be on point with recovery, they will actually take in over half of that total of 250 grams within an hour or two of waking up and completing the long run. Workout nutrition can go a long way in making sure you are getting in what you need to replace.

What we’ve talked about today are the first four long runs you should really have mastered. In the next discussion, I will go into more advanced long runs that you can build into as you increase your training expertise.

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Increasing mileage: the 10% rule?

I recently received an email from a runner who just bought my book Hansons First Marathon and was very concerned that the book didn’t follow the 10% “rule.” I know a lot of coaches, coaching handbooks, and online courses promote 10% increases in weekly mileage. It certainly sounds like a nice idea, but how does it stack up in the research department? Better yet, does it stand up in the practicality standpoint?

Luckily for us, there has been a recent interest in this very topic. In December of 2018, a meta-analysis was published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. They looked at all articles involving running-related injury as a result of training load, were randomized trials, included ages 18-65, and used runners as subjects. What’s amazing to me is that they began with a database of over 8200 research studies and by the time they were screened for eligibility, only four studies met all the criteria! What this immediately tells us is that this subject has not been looked at with thorough criteria of sound scientific principles. To me, that begs the question then, who settled on 10%? I don’t know the answer to that. It’s just one of those things where somewhere along the lines, somebody made an assessment and it’s just stuck.

So, as far as what did make the criteria, what does the data say? Unfortunately, even with the 4 studies that made the cut, there remain issues. Mainly, the lack of definition of “sudden increase” in training. From one week to the next, from day to day, a rolling average? There wasn’t continuity. However, in one of the four articles, there is some data to extract. All four studies showed that injuries increased with mileage, but failed to define the increase. In the fourth article though, three groups were looked at, 10% increases, 10-29% increases, and 30% increases. The biggest takeaway is that the 30% increases resulted in higher injury rates. The other two groups also resulted in injury rates, but there was no difference in incidence. What this tells us is really two things. The first is that there needs to be more research and clearly defined terms in this area. The second is that when considering mileage as the source of training load increase, that smaller relative increases may not have any more impact on injury rates as does moderate relative increases.

From a practical standpoint, I feel like there a few factors to consider when deciding how much to increase your mileage. The first is where you are currently are with your running. Believe it or not, with a lower mileage runner, we can probably be a little more aggressive, in terms of percentage increase. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

 

10 Miles/week 10% Increase 20% Increase 25% Increases
Week 1 11 12 12.5
Week 2 12.1 14.4 15.63
Week 3 13.31 17.28 18.75
Week 4 14.64 20.74 22.5
Week 5 16.1 24.88 28.13
Week 6 17.71 29.85 35.16
Week 7 19.48 35.83 43.95
Week 8 21.44 43 55

 

By looking at the chart above, you see that we are using a starting point of 10 miles per week as the starting baseline. In this example, we are using this for a new runner and only looking at running volume. I am excluding other training variables, like intensity, for now. If you start at 10 miles per week and increase your mileage by 10% per week, it would take you two months to build to 20 miles per week. On the flipside, if you believe what research is indicating, and increase by 20% per week, we can knock that time in half. I’ll discuss this more in a second, but let’s discuss the 25% column. You can see at week four, we are almost the same as 20% and just over 20 miles per week. However, after that, you really start increasing the mileage. To double your mileage in 4 weeks is one thing (when starting low), but to the more than double that number again in the next 4 weeks is another issue. To me, when starting at a low number like 10 miles per week, the sweet spot for increasing weekly volume is 20-25% to get to a weekly mileage in the 20-25 miles/week range.

But why do I need to increase that fast?

Won’t I get hurt? Why am I referencing for 4 weeks? Why are 20-25 miles important?

These are all questions that I found myself asking while writing this, and I assume you are asking something similar. So, part of the answers to these involves the research, while the other involves my observations from coaching. Four weeks appears to be a good amount of time to build just your mileage before adding some other source of training load increase. We can do that in four weeks and not significantly increase the risk of developing a running-related injury. I can get a runner to focus on just adding mileage while keeping the intensity low, not take forever to do it, then allow them to get into a training program. I like the 20-25 miles per week because it opens a lot of doors to whatever it is you want to do. Once you get to 20-25 miles per week, you can maintain that, start adding intensity and run a pretty solid 5k within the next 6-8 weeks. If you are marathon training, it allows us to add “slower intensity” and longer run while scaling back the rate at which we increase the volume of training. We are still gaining fitness, but we are adjusting the variables at which we increase.

Now, everything we have talked about so far was to get a runner from initial lower mileage to a solid base level to then start structured training. So, the initial focus was simply more mileage at easier paces, then allowing to shift away from adding mileage as fast but insert more intensity. Once we get to a level of about 30 miles, I don’t think you can continue to add mileage at that 25%. It’s almost a reverse scale. The below chart shows where I think you can be confident in increasing mileage and where I would use caution and where I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.

 

10% 15% 20% 25% 30%
30 miles 3 Miles 4.5 Miles 6 Miles 7.5 Miles 9 Miles
40 miles 4 Miles 6 Miles 8 Miles 10 Miles 12 Miles
50 miles 5 Miles 7.5 Miles 10 Miles 12.5 Miles 15 Miles
60 miles 6 miles 9 Miles 12 Miles 15 Miles 18 Miles

 

Think about it this way. At lower mileage, you have a lot more room. You may be able to add another day for a couple of the increases. Then start increasing your long run on the weekend, then a mile to a weekday run, etc. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you simply can’t just add another day or more mileage to your runs. You’ll also be at a point where you are doing structured workouts and so you’ll be increasing your training load based on that, too. So, by increasing your mileage while doing workouts means you’ll be adding volume, frequency, and intensity. Increase all three by too much at the same time and that is where the body begins to break down.

To summarize, when starting at a low weekly volume, take 4-6 weeks and add volume through easy running at a rate of 15-25% per week. Then back the rate of increasing volume to allow for the addition of intensity, along with gradual increases in daily volume and frequency of runs.

Up until now, all the discussion has been centered around the first time getting to a weekly volume. However, what if you are coming off from planned downtime (post-race)? Or, what if you were training at a lower volume, say for a shorter race, but want to get back up to a higher volume for a marathon segment? Overall, the general theory is the same for my athletes. As long as the volume is something you were able to tolerate previously, then you can certainly be much more aggressive than 10% per week increase.

My general rule of thumb is that the first week of running is about 50% of the desired weekly mileage.

So if you want to be at a peak of 50 miles per week:

  1. Then I’d run 25 miles that first week.
  2. The second week could see an increase of 25%, to 31.25 miles.
  3. The third week could be a 20% increase, to 37.5 miles per week.
  4. Then the 4th week could a 10% increase to 41.25miles. At this point, you are about 80% of the peak mileage and healthy place to start introducing workouts.

That’s a summary for what I do post-marathon, but if you are coming off a shorter race like a 5k or 10k, you can probably get away with a 2-3 week buildup and then start workouts during the 3rd or 4th week back. Granted, this is all dependent on the fact that you are healthy or the source of the problem has been addressed.

To me, the biggest takeaways are that there’s not a lot of research to show that 10% should be a hard and fast rule when increasing your mileage. Like a lot of items in training, it’s dependent on your factors. It’s also more about a relative percentage that makes the most sense. A 30% increase at 10 miles per week is a lot more reasonable than a 30% increase at 50 miles per week. Lastly, I feel like we have had much more success when focusing on mileage first at low intensities before slowing the rate of volume increase to accommodate more intensity. Granted, if you know you are injury prone, maybe focus on become more resilient before trying to make big jumps, or explore common themes when you became injured- it may not be the mileage at all. Experiment with what you can tolerate, but don’t think you have to be suck in the 10% rule. 10-29% appears to be the same in risk for developing running related injuries. Keep that in mind the next time you are designing your plan.

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