Probiotics and Post Marathon Health

How many of you have run a marathon only to find yourself with a head cold or sick within the few days following the race? Yeah, me too! The truth is, we know that hard training and racing makes us more vulnerable to sickness.

Right now, training hard with a suppressed immune system could spell disaster.

We are told that exercise is good medicine when it comes to immunity, but there is a window of time where our immune system is suppressed before bouncing back. There’s also a big difference between general exercise and training hard.

It’s a tough balance, but we have options. I came across a recent article in the Sports Performance Bulletin that discussed this, although it was post race specifically. It looked at supplementing marathoners with probiotics and measuring their blood markers and development of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). What they found is definitely valuable for our situation.

History/Recap

First off, before I discuss the results, let’s recap what we know. We know that long term supplementation of probiotics helps reduce the development of URTI in endurance athletes. This is important because we know that hard training from volume, intensity, or both creates a depression in immunity post exercise.

This creates a particular susceptibility to viral infections.

So, the idea was to supplement these subjects for 30 days and see how their blood looked right before, right after, and then again in 5 days post race. They had 27 male marathoners and randomly split into two groups of supplement and placebo.

Both groups saw an increase in immunity (through different cell production) before the race. This would have been due to the taper decreasing their overall workload. They then all saw a decreased post race and then a return to normal levels. Now, the probiotic group showed a decrease in the pro-inflammatory cells after the race, while the control group did not. It was also shown that the immune cells CD8 and the T cell were not suppressed like they were in the control group (showing that the immunity was not as compromised with the supplement group versus the placebo. So while statistically, there was not a difference, the trends were definitely headed in the right direction. The authors admit that the 30 days was probably not long enough since it’s been clearly shown that any differences to take place in a significant fashion that it will require several weeks of supplementation.

If you decide that you want to give probiotics a shot, here are some general tips.

  1. Take on an empty stomach, at least 15 minutes before eating.
  2. This is not a quick fix. I’d recommend taking at the start of the segment. That will give you time to build the gut flora and help you through the peak of your training, too.
  3. Definitely take probiotics after coming off a round of antibiotics as medical treatment.

While this winter going into 2021 is particularly important to fight off viral infections, it does shed light on staying healthy during hard training. Keep your immune system high and you recover better, you stay more consistent, and your fitness continues to improve- even during this uncertainty.

If you are interested in giving probiotics a shot, here’s what we use. You can try for 30 days with no hassle and this link gets you 25% off. There is a vegetarian option, too.

Training by Feel

It is interesting how our experiences shape our philosophy over time. My earliest example was when I started running cross country in high school. I ran track in junior high but wasn’t bothered with cross country. My coach, Mike Noll, was very pace-oriented with an emphasis on negative splits and since it was really my first experience, though that’s how it was supposed to be. The kids that ran in middle school were basically taught to blast off and see how well you could hold on. They were able to get away with it because the distance was a mile and a half. In high school, the distance doubled, which meant that there was twice as long for things to go wrong.

We have all gone out way too hard before and recognize that the time you can lose is on an exponential level!

Needless to say, my college coach was very similar, as are Kevin and Keith. All have different nuances to their approach, but the bases were all very similar. Fortunately, I thrived under those theories and have taken the same approach to all of you who listen to me. When I was a part of the ODP, I had many, many teammates from all different types of programs. And like anything, people struggled with adapting to this type of philosophy, while others thrived. Truth be told, I feel like the people who thrived were the people like myself.

We were moderately talented but really had to execute perfectly if we were to compete at the level we did. So, we had to learn paces by running paces- over and over and over again.

Now, a couple of years ago, I made a post saying as much. A prominent runner replied, “Why not just train them to race?” Now, to be fair, I really don’t think they were being facetious. I genuinely think they were asking as a type of “well why wouldn’t you just do this? I thought about it for a long time. At their level, they could train to win a major race. I was not there, and most of my athletes aren’t at that level. Many of you are training to beat yourself or to qualify for Boston. Things like that. I was trying to run PR’s, qualify for World teams, and those types of things.

So, I sense it already, “aren’t you selling yourself short?”

No, I don’t think so and that is really what I want to cover. I don’t feel like I did, because I feel like when the situation did arise, I had the killer instinct and disregarded pace when I was late in a competitive situation. But it was because of knowing where I was at with pace that put me in the situation, to begin with! I will give you two examples of races, both of which were in the same training cycle.

  1. In 2011, I and a couple of teammates were on the training cycle. Our first race was a half marathon in Naples, Florida. I had never heard of this race before, but somehow everyone and their brother were at this race! So, it was still kinda early in our block and we were training for a pretty fast go. We were all trying to run under 1:04 for the half- pretty close to 4:50 pace per mile. At Naples, I tried to race the crew. There were some guys there like I described at the start. Go out hard and hang on. I was naive and thought it might work and I wanted to race the competition. I knew we were fast, but I disregarded it. By 10k, I was fried. I spent the second half of the race watching people pull away from me like I was stuck in peanut butter. It was pretty disheartening because it was a wasted opportunity.
  2. Now, about four weeks later, I was in New Orleans for the Rock n Roll half marathon. I had two other teammates who were trying to get Trials qualifiers by running a fast enough half time. So, I went in more fit than I was previously, but having no intention to race the leaders. This time the gun goes off and we settle into the pace right away. This time it felt like a jog, but we were dialed in. The two leaders had jumped out early, but by four miles the lead had stayed the same distance. I knew we were on the pace and it felt comfortable. So, I started dialing in just a little bit. My 4:55 miles crept down to 4:50, then I hit 10 miles and I was at my PR! I think it was 48:35 at 10 miles. I hadn’t quite caught the two leaders at this point and it was a critical junction. I thought- Do I have enough gas to get them? Do I have enough time to catch them if I stay at this pace? My decision/reaction was I felt like I was just off the edge enough to push for 15 more minutes. That’s about what I had left to race. So, I buckled down, caught the two leaders, and dropped the one. Then it came down to a sprint the last 800 meters. I was nipped at the line, but the guy who beat me was an NCAA champ, so it wasn’t like I let him have it. The result: A new PR of 1:03:58.

Two races, within a month, with two dramatically different results. 

I know what many of you are thinking- this sounds like I am making the case for training by feeling more than training by pace. To that, I would disagree. I really feel like because I knew my paces inside and out, I, as The Gambler used to say, “Know when to hold’em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.”

The reason is that regardless of the data you use- heart rate, pace, or power, what are you really measuring? You are measuring an intensity level, or how hard something is. I prefer pace because it’s what I have always used and at the end of the day, many of you are training to run certain times, so pace you need to be able to run a certain time for a given distance. But here is the problem.

We put so much emphasis on the data, that we don’t internalize how that effort feels.

We get so wrapped up in hitting the splits that so many of us just say, “Well, I hit that pace so I’m good for the marathon.” The opposite is also true. Or they get into a situation of just going pedal to the medal because they feel that they can, or should.

The point here is that running paces and sticking to paces lets you internalize better how those paces feel over an array of circumstances. For me, I have been doing it for decades and so I know pretty close (without the help of a watch) if I am over the target, or not. But, it was decades of adhering to pace, adjusting as I progressed over time, and then listening to my body on how those paces felt that helped me “race” when the time came. I learned how long I could extend an effort for before I was going to pay the price. I could make better calculations on what moves to cover or when to let it play out. You might get lucky once in a while when just throwing eggs against the wall, but most of the time they are just going to crack under the pressure.

A couple of last things I want to mention here. One is that I am aware that there is a time to really push a workout. To take yourself to the well a little bit. For us, that was always The Simulator and the second half of the 2×6 mile. For you, it might be one of the 16 milers and one of the 10 Mile tempos.

The problem is that you can only go to the well a few times before the bucket comes up dry. Do you want that to be during training?

Probably not. The second is that I like the other data like HR and Power, but I am yet to be convinced that they should be your training guide. Where I like them better is data that you can look back and reflect on. Where you can see trends and aid in adjustments. That’s just me and I know many of you have your own strong feelings.

Ultimately though, as a coach, I want to get you as an athlete to be at this place in your training- Allowing the pace to be dictated by the effort and not the other way around. Easy runs are the perfect example. Let’s say your easy range is 8-9:30 pace per mile. Yesterday you did a hard workout, had little sleep, and are stressed from a project due at work. In an ideal situation, you’d run at an easy effort and if that landed at 9:15 per mile, so be it. Where many of you are at is you see 8:00/mile and force that pace even though the effort is significantly higher than easy.

To get to this point, I want to teach new runners to learn control by strictly adhering to paces, especially early in a training cycle when things are easier.

This means no cheating down your easy runs or any of your workouts.

The temptation is there, but resist! This does mean you have to pay close attention to the data. Things like setting up your ranges on your watch to annoy the hell out you may be a necessary evil. But, this only works if you begin to pay attention to your body, how you feel, and what’s going on internally to begin associating how you react to the paces. Then, over time, you begin to know if you are creeping paces down. If you are running faster, then it’s a conscious effort, not because Right Said Fred is blasting your ear pods. As you are more experienced you can shift the reliance on the technology to reliance on your effort and be really close. If you can get to that point, then that’s where you can really make breakthroughs in overall pacing and being more competitive. You will be able to make much better race decisions and have confidence in yourself.

Is this clear as mud?

Learn your paces by internalizing efforts. The end result is that you, over time, can put less reliance on the technology measuring the intensity and putting it in the best computer ever made- your brain!

Training Plans

Maybe you have followed the plans from the book, but want to change things up. Maybe you want to train for a different race, like a 5k or a 50 miler! Well, I have been writing plans since 2006 using the HMM philosophy. Over the years, I have tweaked to meet individual needs. Over time, I have created over 200 training plans based on race distance, number of weeks, and training volume. These are an incredible resource to make a general philosophy into a more individualized training experience. And, being at a fraction of the price of coaching doesn’t hurt, either! 

 

Plans Include: 

  • Daily run guidance
  • Specific training paces 
  • Email or text reminders of upcoming workouts
  • Structured workouts- push your workouts to your Garmin and remove the hassle of setting a workout up in your watch.
  • Lifetime access to your plans
  • Access to the FREE LHR community- social wall, public training groups, and courses
  • Easy individualized through drag and drop calendar

 

Check out all the training plans!

Training Consultations

Many of you have found LHR through one of my books chronicling the Hansons Marathon Method and use the programs described in the book. There is also a lot of guidance in those books and so serve as an entry into the training philosophy. There isn’t a need for personal coaching (yet), but what if you just want some guidance specific to your situation? Well, you are in luck. You can access a coach for specific guidance, without signing up for personal coaching. I am pleased to offer one time training consultations through email, phone, or video!

 

Many times an athlete just wants a coach to look over what they have done to reaffirm that they are headed in the right direction. If they aren’t, then give guidance as to righting the ship. Maybe they need help deciding if they are training for the right goal or if their self made schedule looks reasonable. Sometimes they just want to put together a rock solid race strategy plan. Whatever your need, we can be there for you. 

 

Check out all the training consult options! 

 

The second option we have is nutrition specific consultations. After training advice, nutrition is the second most request for guidance. Lucky for you, I am certified in general and sports nutrition through the International Sports Science Association (ISSA). Whether you want to get a handle on your day to day diet, set a plan to shift body composition while training hard, or develop a race nutrition plan, we can help you out. I’ll look over your data, give practical guidance, and be there for your follow up questions. 

 

Check out the nutrition consult options

 

Commitment

The definition of commitment is “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.”

Whether it is running your first marathon with the goal of just making it to the finish line or a world-class racer in the Olympic Games, having a commitment level that matches required. Taking on something that’s outside our comfort zone is hard. If we are going to venture into that area of uncertainty, then having a commitment to the task is a necessity.

We just said that being committed means having a dedication to the activity, but what does that mean? Below My list of areas that would mean you are dedicated and thus committed.

  1. Persistence/consistency.
    Notice I didn’t say perfection. It has been overused a lot lately, but it is really about showing up, day after day, regardless of the outcome.
  2. Finding ways to overcome obstacles.
    When challenges arise or your schedule for the day gets turned upside down, do you find a way to get something done or is it an automatic- “Well, I guess today just wasn’t my day”
  3. Self-Discipline.
    If your time to run is in the morning, do you get it in, or do you convince yourself that you’ll magically have time to get that run in this afternoon?
  4. The mindset that failure will happen along the way.
    There’s two ways to interpret this. One is that failure will happen at some point of a difficult journey, but I will take the lessons from this and apply to the next time. The second is just assuming that failure will happen because that’s just how things usually work out for you that way.
  5. Appropriate goals.
    Do your goals line up with what your training will allow? With  some of my athletes, they want to run the fast times, but their schedules are not aligned with what they want to accomplish. Setting too easy of a goal can lead to lethargic action. Too big of a goal can lead to frustration and becoming overwhelmed- leading into shutdown mode.

The beauty of everything I just listed is that they can all be worked on. Here are my 5 keys to developing a higher level of commitment.

  1. Find your why/meaning for taking on the task.
    When I started running, the reason was simple. I wasn’t allowed to play football, but I loved sports- especially baseball. Luckily, my algebra teacher was also the freshman football coach (Mr. Pearl). He made it simple- “Humphrey, you aren’t playing football. You’ll get killed. Go to talk to Mr. Noll and run cross country.” So, that’s what I did. Have you ever had a moment in life where you just knew that’s where you were supposed to be or doing? That was one for me. I just remember having this feeling like, I’m home. Now, I am not saying that you need an epiphany, or an enlightenment! I am saying though that you need to know why you do it. Maybe it’s because it makes you a better person, spouse, parent, boss, employee, or some combination of those things! Maybe it allows you to make you feel like you still have limits to chase or adventures to take on. Whatever the case is, understand the why. Even as I close in on a new category (the masters!) I love the challenge of training hard and seeing what I am capable of. I love being an example for my athletes and my kid.
  2. Enjoy what you do.
    I thoroughly enjoy what I do. Not 100% of the time, that’s not even close to being realistic. However, even the days that are a grind are way better than the days that I don’t get a run in. I feel better afterwards and in a much better space. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing on your best days, it makes it tough to want to keep doing it day in and day out. If you find yourself dreading lacing up your shoes for an early morning run, then maybe revisit #1 and find a firm answer in your why. If you can’t, maybe start seeking out what you really enjoy doing.
  3. Become committed to the process.
    Many times people are committed to results and seeing results early on spurs the desire to train hard. But, what if you start seeing a plateau? Is the desire still there. I was thinking about this, and maybe it’s the hack culture we live in today? I don’t know, but our attention spans are shorter these days and when something gets harder or we see a new shiny object, we abandon one pursuit for the next. Ultimately, I don’t know if anything is wrong with that. You certainly may experience a lot of new stuff. But using running as an example, we want to qualify for Boston. We get to within a few minutes but our performance has plateaued, what would you do? For me, early on, I probably would have just said train harder, right? But doing something repeatedly and getting the same results is literally the definition of insanity. So, when that doesn’t work, what next? Now, as I have gone through a career and coached for over a decade, I realize that it’s all about the process. We tend to put our training in a bubble and separate it from everything else in our lives. The truth is, if we commit to the process of getting better, we have limitless possibilities to chase in order to become better. When a person lets go of the results and focus more on the process, that’s when I usually see the biggest breakthroughs. Just like Elsa says, “Let it go!”
  4. Recognize that failures come with the territory, but does not mean you are a failure.
    Not hitting a tough workout, falling off routine, missing a goal are signs of pushing your comfort zones. These should be taken as signs of personal growth, not failure. Sure, be disappointed, but don’t dwell. Instead learn from these and sort out what could be done differently or if it’s just a situation of needing another crack at it. If we look at a failed situation as a reflection on ourselves, that’s pretty depressing. It’s hard to stay committed to something if it doesn’t make you feel very good.
  5. Set the right goals.
    This really encompasses everything we just discussed. Have you ever missed a goal, based on a result, and thought- “Dang, I really need to train harder!” Yet, what does that even mean? More miles? Faster workout? As a coach, I’d say it is usually both. So, what does the person do- they add more miles and more intensity which only causes a further setback and creates an endless loop of pushing ourselves beyond what’s needed, only to be disappointed, AGAIN! Doesn’t seem much like a winning combination, does it? Big weeks, and fast workouts make for great social media content, but are they what’s going to take you to the next level? Not if you don’t have the small sustained habits of hydration, sleep, nutrition, mobility, and strength down pat. If we put our success in the hands of a result, then you take the ability to control the outcome out of your hands. Finding a way to set goals based on what you need and not an uncontrollable outcome gives you power. Having power makes you more committed. Being more committed to the right things allows for a greater chance of success. Being successful in things we had control over makes us a lot more likely to continue on!

Do you feel like you are committed? Take the commitment quiz and see where you stand and where you can improve.

Workout Variables: Strength Recovery Jogs

Last week we discussed recovery repeats for speed workouts. If you missed that post, you can see HERE. This week I want to discuss the next group of repeats in the marathon training- the strength repeats. Traditionally, these are done at 10 seconds faster marathon pace per mile. You will see this written as MP-10. If you are familiar with HMM, you’ll recognize that the workouts are 6×1 mile, 4×1.5 miles, 3×2 miles, and 2×3 miles. The 6×1 has a ¼ mile jog recovery, while the 4×1.5 and 3×2 have a half mile jog recovery. The 2×3 has the most recovery, which is a mile jog recovery.

So if we are looking at the recovery from a ratio standpoint, the amount of recovery we are getting from a repeat is minimal compared to the amount of work we are doing. However, the intensity of the repeat is far lower. The other aspect to consider is the ability of the runner.

The faster the runner, the closer they get to the lactate threshold.

For instance, when I was at my peak, I’d train for 5:00-5:05 pace for the marathon, which would make my strength repeat at 4:50-4:55. My half marathon PR was at 4:52 per mile pace. So, with me, it all tied in nicely. However, I fully recognize that if your goal marathon pace is, say 10:00 min/mile, then there is not a huge difference there. Many of you may be averaging close to 9:50 pace for your marathon tempos!

I think that before we get into adjusting the recovery on these, we have to consider what we are trying to get out of these. For faster runners, it is accumulating volume at just under your LT. By faster, I’d say anything faster than 3:30, or so. For these people, it’d really be in the danger zone of your marathon pacing. You go out at this pace and sustain it, then it’s probably not going to end well. You aren’t at LT, but you are at a point that’s not sustainable. You’ll still be producing a lot of lactic byproduct and burning through carbohydrates.

For runners below that 3:30 range, really the closer you get to 4:00 and beyond, you aren’t producing big amounts of byproduct. We are really stressing the aerobic threshold, which is the point where we start seeing an inflection of lactic byproducts. It is often considered the crossover point of utilizing more carbohydrate than fat as fuel. With these folks, we aren’t working on improving the LT as we would be with the faster runners, but rather, trying to boost fuel efficiency and accumulating harder miles closer to goal MP.

As for recovery, you now see the trend- the faster the repeat will result in shorter repeats with a higher ratio of rest to work.

As you creep down to LT range, repeats lengthen out, volume increases, and rest to work ratio decreases. Once you get close to MP, the work to rest ratio will be the lowest. When I would do a workout like the 3×2 miles, they would be done in about 10:00 per repeat. A half mile jog recovery would be 3:45-4:00, usually. This would be a .4/1 ratio (about)- or 40%. I do see faster runners do similar workouts with 3:00 jog recovery, but I will say this, they usually aren’t training for a marathon. They are usually training for half marathons and under. Let’s say you are doing the same workout at about 20:00 per repeat. A half mile jog might be closer to 6:00-7:00, so we are still pretty close to that 40% range.

So… should we adjust?

When just looking at it by a numbers standpoint, I’d lean towards the idea of shortening these up. However, I keep coming back to the intensity of these, the volume, and the timing of these workouts. I also think about who is doing these workouts. First off, I’d say that if you are new to the philosophy, then don’t make this harder than they are. Now, if you are feeling super comfortable, or your paces are getting way too fast without any effort, then maybe consider it. If we were in that 40% range for recovery, maybe try decreasing recovery to 30% of the time doing the work. Or, even easier, back the 6×1 to a 200 meter jog, the 4×1.5 and 3×2 to a ¼ mile, and the 2×3 to a half mile jog and see how that goes.

I would be open to experimentation if you have been through the programs a few times and you know how you feel when you get to the strength block of the training. In essence, I want to be cautious. My other worry is the timing of the workouts. You’ll be in the peak volume of the training. You’ll be tired and you’ll be fatigued from the training. So, from that standpoint, just because you can, does it mean you should? That’s a decision that’s gotta be thought out. If you try it and fade off or you start flirting with injury, then stop it. There is no need to be a workout hero and not even make it to the starting line.

Going through this, I realize I am more vague on this, but I do think it’s something to explore in the right situations.

I think it’s something where keeping really good track of your previous data is a must.

Knowing how you handled previous segments should guide this decision. I don’t want you to take this as a free pass to just push the pace and take less recovery. I want you to focus more on controlling the pace and recognizing the effort. Then see if you can maintain that pace with less recovery. If inclined, give it a go. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

Workout Variables: Recovery Jogs

Last week I wrote about big data and what it told us about training for the mid-packer. I also chimed in about how I felt the HMM style of marathon training fit in. The reality is the vast majority of people under train for the marathon. When I say under train, I am referring to training volume. If you are a mid packer running 30-40 miles per week, then my guess is that it involves a lot of weekend running and then a few runs scattered across the other 5 days of the week. If you are a mid packer looking to elevate your game, then I would encourage you to read my book Hansons Marathon Method. This will bump your mileage and give you a new threshold in training for marathon breakthroughs. This post may be beneficial too.

Following a more structured plan will do a lot for the regular runner, especially if in the 3:45 plus range in the marathon. However, that’s not what this post is about. Rather, let’s say that you’ve been training hard for a few marathons, maybe even used HMM a couple times. You’ve seen success, but now you are starting to level off. Adding even more weekly volume isn’t  really an option, so we have to find a way to get more out of our existing workouts and weekly volume.

Luckily, there are ways to do this and today we’ll talk about one of them. That’s the recovery times of your repeat workouts. Originally, I was going to talk about speed and strength workouts, but realized that this was a lot of information, so we’ll stick with the speed workouts today.

In the classic plans, speed workouts are done over the first weeks of the training plan performed at 5k to 10k pace. Now, I fully recognize that for the true speedsters out there that this may not qualify for true speed work in your world, but it is speedwork relative to the goal race distance. It’s more than plenty. When I prescribe, I tend to prescribe at 10k pace, but I know many of you will go with the faster end of the spectrum if given the option. What happens though, is that this ends up being a wide range of paces and so standard recovery given may not fit all needs.

Let’s look at 5k pace first.

This effort will be at an intensity near your VO2max for the faster runners, while closer to critical velocity (CV), for others. VO2max is the pace you can hold for up to 8 minutes while CV is the pace you can hold for about 30 minutes. Big difference, right? Two important thresholds, but two very different thresholds. To further complicate things, at 10k pace, depending on the runner, you might be working your CV or you may be closer to the lactate threshold (LT), the pace you can hold for an hour. This complicates the ideal recovery times.

You may be asking, what does the book say? For speed, you have 3 miles worth of fast work ranging from 12×400 meters to 3×1 mile and the recovery is 400 to 800 meters, depending on the length of the repeats. When you set the recovery to distance, you take out a major factor- the time that distance is covered. While it might be the right amount of time for some, you also have it being too much/little for others. However, when you are creating a plan that is meant to help a wide spectrum of people, things won’t be perfect for everyone. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be perfect and that is where this post comes in- showing you how to individualize.

There are general rules for recovery, depending on repeat length and pace. For instance, if you are working more of the VO2max end of the spectrum then the ratio is 1:1, 1:1.5, and 1:2. Simply, this is the rest to work ratio. If you are running repeats that take about two minutes, then recovery can be anywhere from an equal two minutes down to one minute. Personally, if you are pretty fit, I’d say that shorter repeats (400-800 in distance) that your recovery can be in the 1.5-2 range. The longer the repeat, the more recover and close to a 1:1 ratio.

The reasoning, you ask?

Well, it takes 90-120 seconds to reach VO2max per repeat. So, if you are doing 800’s with a long rest, then you are spending more time reaching VO2max- maybe close to the full repeat just to get to the stimulus you want. The basics of it all is that you want to run hard, but the recovery has to be balanced between short enough to maximize time spent at desired level, but not so short that you can’t sustain the pace.

Now, if you are on the LT side of things, then we approach the recovery differently. Since the intensity is less, recovery can be less. Think of it this way- we are moving away from an intensity that can only be sustained for 15-30 minutes to a pace that can be sustained for about an hour. Imagine going out at 5k pace for a half marathon! Phew. In any case, the recovery I always see is 90-120 seconds per LT repeat. However, in our case, shorter repeats like 400’s or 600’s don’t need even that and can be 45-60 seconds per repeat. I’d say anything under 3 minutes can be utilized. If referring to ratios, I’d say a 1:3 or a 1:4 ratio for LT repeats. The reasoning- well, again it comes down to accumulating time at the desired intensity.

If you were running, say 1k repeats at 4 minutes a pop, with a 4 minute recovery, then you would be essentially starting from scratch every repeat and severely limit the amount of time you spent at the desired intensity.

If we did 5x1k at that pace that’s 20 minutes of hard running, but how much was really spent at or near LT? 10, 12, 14 minutes? Now, if you shorten the recovery, you spend less time getting back to LT but recover enough to continue the paces then maybe out of that 20 minutes of hard running, we bump that up to 18+minutes at our desired intensity. A lot more bang for your buck! Not only do you increase the efficiency of the workout, you actually decrease the time needed for the workout. If you are an early am runner, how does having an extra 10 minutes sound? Maybe you’d even stretch! Yeah right, who’s kidding who? (JK!)

Ok coach, that all sounds great, but how do you know when you are in the right time frame?

The easiest way to determine is if you can still maintain the pacing. This may be true for both the fast repeat and the jog interval. If your jog repeats fall off a little during VO2max efforts, that’s one thing- I mean I am asking you to run pretty hard! However, for if you are more on the LT side of things, then the repeat intensity is low enough and the distance short enough that your recovery jogs shouldn’t fall off a cliff by the last few.

To reiterate, these suggestions on adjusting recovery times aren’t a must have for everyone. If you are new to the HMM style, then I’ll warn you- it’s not a cake walk plan.

There’s no need to make it tougher and you’ll see so much improvement as written.

However, if you are an old pro at the method and want to shake things up a bit, then this is a simple way to do it without adding more volume or more workouts. This is a great way to break through a plateau.

Lastly…

if you have the plan, or any plan of mine in Final Surge and are using the structured workouts, then you can easily adjust the recovery times on your workout. You can simply log in, go to the Beta platform and select your day. Then click the workout builder and edit the recovery. You can change the distance to match what fits your needs or ger exact and switch the recovery to time based. Eazy Peazy!

Next time we’ll have to talk about strength workouts and recovery times. Make sure you check out our plans at Final Surge! If you like our content and wanna help support, please consider becoming a Patreon. There are some perks for becoming a Patreon. If anything, please share this far and wide to help spread the word.

A look at the “Big Data”

Ok, so I have to admit that I was awfully intrigued with Amby Burfoot’s new article for Podium Runner. I was very curious to see what insights there’d be into the world of marathon training for recreational runners, or as they were called mid packers. And then someone asked if I’d share my thoughts on this and compare it to my own thoughts on training, so it was a win-win.

Now, before I jump into this, I want to set the tone a bit. A few years ago, Outside Magazine published a bunch of Strava data on marathon performance and training. While it was interesting, I was left with more questions than when I started. Ultimately, I asked myself the question,

“Just because this is what people do, does it mean they should?”

I left really believing that most people could run a lot faster if they just trained a little differently, but hey, that’s my job, right? That’s my responsibility to show that messaging and show how my athletes do it! I do really feel that if recreational runners learned how to train, or at least take ideas from what elites do and modify to their situation, then we’d see improvement in marathon times across the spectrum. Anyway, I simply point out that data shows that US marathon times have declined steadily for decades. Yes, more people are running, so there are multiples of more people running now than in the ’70s and ’80s, but the trends have continued to decline for the last 10 years. So, data shows us what people are doing, but it doesn’t mean it’s the most successful way of doing it.

Alright, Mr. Burfoot gives 5 main points as to what the data suggests people should be doing and I want to address these points one by one. I’d like to give what the data shows and then my take. Right off the bat, though, I am left wondering why I should take his word for it, since he claims that the math is complicated and we should just trust him- that’s always an invitation to not trust something!

Point 1: Training more, even at a slow pace can make you faster.

I agree 100% with this and easy to moderate running is the basis of our programs. It’s not junk miles and anyone who tells you it is, doesn’t understand this principle. Easy running is the foundation that your house is built on. The better/bigger the foundation, the more solid the construction and the bigger the house that can be built. Easy running supports the demands of hard running!

Point 2: Fast training builds your endurance more effectively than slow training.

It depends. If I am training for a marathon, is my time going to be more affected by doing small amounts of training that are really fast or bigger volumes of training that includes lots of longer runs at easier paces? I think part of the problem here is that endurance isn’t defined. The truth is, a combination of these two variables would probably the most complete way of doing things.

In terms of the HMM philosophy, I would say that faster training would be the speed that we do at the beginning of the marathon segment before transitioning to the strength and marathon specific work over the second half of the training plan. I believe it’s also part of the reasoning behind the 3/2 rule: No more than 3 marathons in 2 years so that you can work on faster paces. 

Point 3: Elite runners generally don’t push as hard in training as mid-pack and slower runners.

Yes, it’s a simple percentage game. If I am running 100 miles per week, the percentage of “fast” running is going to be less than if I am running 50 miles per week. My workouts might be bigger in absolute volume and intensity, but from a percentage standpoint, there’s a limit to how much you can do. If we both do 5k worth of 5k pace work in a week, then for me, that’s 3% of my weekly volume. If the runner doing 50 miles/week does the same workout, it’s 6% of their weekly volume.

Now, I will say this, too. When you look at a 4 hour plus marathoner, there is a big blurring of lines. They can go out and run their 4-6 miles “easy” and average faster than their goal marathon time. Citing back to one of the previous points: their general endurance is fine, but their specific endurance is lagging. Lots of reasons why this might be, but usually, their training just doesn’t match the event.

Personally, this is why low volume, minimal days per week plans may make you feel fast, but ultimately give you a false sense of where your fitness truly is.

Point 4: There’s a limit to how far and how hard you can train.

Yes, absolutely. We all have that limit. When I was younger, not married, no kids, and running as a job, I could run 140-150 miles per week at my peak and then recover from it. I coach CEO’s and stay at home moms that train their butts off, but that means 40-50 miles per week. However, the biggest lesson you can learn is what we’ve already talked about- easy days are not your enemy and these, when done right, allow you to run more overall and train harder on the designated days.

Point 5: Adopt a new pattern for your training. Focus on training weeks, not individuals. Alternate your weeks (hard, hard, easy, moderate).

For part number one, yes, agreed 100% and this is the basis of cumulative fatigue. Your fitness isn’t going to come from an individual workout, but rather, the cumulative effects of weeks and months of consistent training.

For the second part of this, there is one main problem I have with this. This is basically what the most successful people were doing. But more successful than who? Oh, more successful than the people who trained the least and ran the hardest. So, it wasn’t the strategy that would yield the most overall success. It was the strategy that was most successful in the group being looked at. It doesn’t mean it’s the most effective.

Secondly, my question is, was that rotation out of necessity? How many people who ran hard for two weeks were forced to take that third week incredibly easy so that they could recover enough to have a little bit harder 4th week? Again, some questions I’d like answered.

To Conclude:

To wrap up, the whole caveat to this is at the very end. 47% of the people running were UNDER-TRAINED. So to me, that makes the case for the HMM. It’s not a just go run 40 miles per week plan with 20 of it coming from the long run. It’s a step up between a common low mileage high long-run plan that will allow you to survive a marathon. However, it’s not an 80+ mile per week plan either. It’s a moderate mileage plan with a lot of easy running and hard workouts. I read this article and was further verified that the HMM is the plan that can take a recreational runner who thinks that 3:35-3:45 is where they’ll be and instead get them to a 3:15-3:30 marathoner with a little more training and a lot of understanding of why you are doing what you are doing.

Hansons Marathon Method books

Adjusting Early Season Paces

How many times have you set your time goal, thought it looked kinda scary, but still doable? Yeah, me too. Now, how about when you started the training plan and that first workout at your new race pace was staring back at you? Knees shake, sweat build, and a “Oh crap, that’s fast” blurts out. Yep, been there too. There’s a number of reasons we might be in this situation.

  1. Maybe we are looking at that big home run goal, say a BQ that’s 15 minutes faster than our personal best.
  2. We haven’t run a marathon in a long time (if ever), but since we’ve done some relatively fast shorter races, the charts say we are capable of something much faster than we had in mind!
  3. The opposite, you are a habitual marathoner, but recognize you need to work on that “get down” speed. (Bonus points if you name the book) And that 5k time looks like it might as well be a world record attempt.

There’s lots of reasons why, but the bottom line is that the paces might be a big jump. When looking at speed, maybe you have an intro workout of 12×400 meters at goal 5k pace. However, goal 5k pace feels more like mile pace. So, that hard, but doable, workout (in theory), has now become impossible. If that goal 5k pace is approaching, say your current 3k plus pace, then we are taking it from a place of being below VO2max to a place where it’s right at, or above, your VO2max. This completely changes the scope of the workout. Plus, it makes it really tough on you and it probably won’t end the way you want it. When you look at marathon paces, let’s say you are looking at that first marathon tempo of 4 miles. However, your last half marathon wasn’t too far off that goal pace- yikes! The same thing applies here. Early on, we might be making a lighter marathon pace workout into a lactate threshold workout. If you are in a marathon segment and in this situation, it could spell disaster later on.

For marathoners, why would this be the case?

If you are following the HMM plan, then you are looking at 18 weeks of running. That’s a long time. That’s buffered a bit in the beginner plan with easy weeks in the beginning. In the Advanced plan, you are getting down to business  right away. Regardless, you have several weeks of a buildup of speed and marathon pace workouts before switching to the marathon specific work over the last several weeks. Now, if we are taking the first few weeks of speed, that’s supposed to be on the slower end of the speed range (close to LT for some people) and then a marathon pace that should be more like a harder easy run and switch these to both at LT, or above, then we set ourselves up to be burnt out by 10-12 weeks of training.

If you are training for a 5k or a 10k, then you might not have an 18 week schedule but 14 weeks is still a long time. With half marathon and marathon training, we might be able to get away with it for a while, but as intensities get faster and faster, the potential damage gets higher. Things like DOMS will occur more regularly. Overall muscle damage may be higher. Ultimately, we dig the hole a little deeper than we can fill back in with recovery every time we work out.

So, over the course of several weeks, we either it a breaking point or just so burnt out that performance takes a nosedive. Even if we do survive, psychologically, we haven’t particularly done anything to make ourselves confident.

We end up hanging on rather than building up.

Recommended Post

Whatever situation you are in, the question remains the same- how do we bridge the gap between where we are at and where we want to be. Just diving in may work, but is it the most reasonable solution? The chances of failure are a lot higher with this approach.

As a coach I approach three different ways.

  1. I make sure my athletes aren’t just doing one type of training all the time.
    If they just want to run marathons, then I try to get them to switch modes at the appropriate time. There’s a number of ways to time this. One way is to do during a time that doesn’t make sense to train for their primary event. So, a marathoner in Florida, may benefit from doing a speed segment during the summer months, when training for a marathon would be absolutely miserable. Then, they could switch gears in September and run a marathon in December or January when the weather would be much more favorable to them.
  2. Adjust overall paces.
    What I mean by this, is each workout for a certain goal will be kept the same. So, your 5k pace is 7:00/mile and you are looking to get down to 6:40/mile. What I might do is take a week or so at the current 7:00 pace, then cut down to 6:50 pace for 3-4 weeks, then close out the segment at 3-4 weeks at the goal pace of 6:40. This gives the body time to adapt to new levels. In other words, we don’t dig that hole so deep we can’t get out of it.
  3. Cutdown paces during the workout.
    Flipping it, let’s assume your current marathon pace is 8:00/mile and you want to get to 7:30 pace. You have a 4 mile tempo at goal pace. At the beginning of your segment, that might be faster than what your LT is, so completely changing the dynamics of the workout intentions. What I might do is say first mile at 8:00, then next mile at 7:50, then 7:40, then try to close at 7:30 if you can. Then over the course of the next several weeks, increase the amount of time in the range of goal pace to goal pace plus 10 secs/mile and decrease the amount of time at the old marathon pace. You could easily do the same things with repeats.
  4. Reduce repeat distances for the first few weeks and make tempos repeats.
    So, for workouts like speed at new goal pace, you could keep repeats to 200-600 meter repeats at new goal paces and keep recovery a little longer. With a four mile tempo, I often just make 8×800 meters or 4×1 mile at goal MP with short recoveries. Now, mind you, I don’t believe the physiological adaptations are the same, but in this case that is not the point. Here, our goal is to build confidence in new pace and just dip our toes into the deep end.

I love setting big goals.

However, big goals without a plan is no good. Here’s 4 strategies to help bridge the gap in the early stages. These can be used for big goals, coming back from a long time away from an event, or going into uncharted territory. Let’s make it happen!

 

Custom or Pre-Made Training Plans for any distance!

Hiring a coach: Pros and Cons

Is having a coach worth it?

The answer is, drumroll please, it depends! Believe it or not, ability is not a prerequisite for myself, or any of my other coaches to work with you. In fact, I’d say ability isn’t ever something I particularly look at when taking an athlete on. When I do, it’s not to determine if the person is “fast enough” to be with us, but rather to determine what coach will be able to serve your needs best.

Work Hard

If ability is not a prerequisite, what is? I do have a few traits that I do look at in potential athletes. The first is the promise to work hard. However, don’t confuse this with training faster or more that’s on your schedule! That’s not hard work, that’s just running as hard as you can without understanding the nuances of training.

Working hard is following the plan to your best of your ability, not finding ways out of doing workouts, skipping runs without reason, and just expecting fitness to come to you.

Buy in

This leads to the second trait is to buy into the philosophy. To follow the plan in principle. I know that things can be out of our control and adjustments need to be made, but just not doing something because it’s different from what you are used to doesn’t help you, or your coach. Going rogue on a plan means you don’t trust me, the philosophy, or yourself. Change in training is uncomfortable, but not believing in what you are doing almost guarantees failure. I am not saying it’s my way or the highway, but there has to be agreement by both parties in regards to what you are doing.

Dialog

Lastly, there has to be communication. You’d think it would be easy with all the technology surrounding us, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I have been ghosted by athletes for weeks. Then like a flair in the night, I get a response (and it’s usually- I am hurt) Talk to me, I promise I won’t scold you like a child! I may give you some tough love, but I desperately want to know what’s going on.

Pillars of a Coach

Of course, the flipside of all of this is, what should you be looking for in a coach? Well, some of the same things. The big thing is communication. With our platform, Final Surge, it’s easy to comment on workouts to put context into workouts. I do my best to at least acknowledge a workout that I get notified about.

As an athlete, it’s good to know that someone is at least looking at what I am doing.

Commenting on workouts is a huge start because we can discuss directly about a workout within your training log. It allows for easy adjustments and teaching points.

Another big thing I feel a coach has to be able to do for you is to explain themselves. They are in charge of your training, your health, and your ability to perform at the highest level. If you have questions, they should be able to answer, or at least, provide resources to give you answers. This allows your ability as an athlete to buy into the system a lot easier, no?

The third thing I’d look for is their ability to modify your situation. In reality, we are unique, but our situations usually are not. Given that, a good coach knows those different situations and can keep their training philosophy, but adjust it to a variety of situations.

To conclude

Overall, having a coach is vital, as long as both athlete and coach are present.

If the athlete isn’t present, the coach gradually just stops taking interest.

If the coach is not present the athlete doesn’t buy in. In both situations it’s a lost opportunity and, more than likely, will end up in a poor experience for both. Now, I recognize that paying for a coach is a big decision, so I would really weigh the things we have talked about today. For us at LHR, we have recognized that paying for a coach can be expensive and so we’ve really tried to provide options for all price points. To see all the options, check out our page www.lukehumphreyrunning.com/coaching We also have a standard first 14 days free with our Bronze, Silver, and Gold options. This is to make sure it’s the right fit for you. If you are thinking about coaching, check out this page and we’d be happy to guide you in the right direction.

 

Luke Humphrey Personal Coaching!

Why aren’t my easy days feeling easy?

More specifically, the question was,

“Once well into the plan do your easy runs truly feel easy?”

This was asked by one of our Facebook group members and I believe that he was hinting that his workouts were ok, but the easy runs were now an issue of being stiff, sore, and sluggish. As others noted in their response, they felt like it took miles to warm up and shake these feelings, at least to an extent. These are big concerns, for sure, especially if you’ve never been in this situation before. It could be easy to confuse hard training with going overboard. Is feeling like this normal with marathon training?

The short answer is, YES! This is completely normal. Those easy days following a big workout can be brutal. If you were to look at my training logs, it would be common to see an easy day following a workout day that looked like: 8:00/mile, 7:45, 7:30, then 7:00 pace or faster the rest of the way. When I was at peak training volume, there’d be about a 6 week block that could be really tough for the psyche if I were to judge my marathon capabilities by the drop in pace of my easy runs.

Some noted that the easy days were harder than the workout days. I can definitely attest to that. We are more likely to be “in the zone” for the workouts. We may pay a little more attention to diet, hydration, and fueling during the workouts. Our adrenaline is higher and it’s a bigger deal, right? Meanwhile, we often just go through the motions of the easy days. If you find yourself in this position, then I can only say one thing- Welcome to cumulative fatigue! This is where the magic happens, but it’s also a time to be diligent and not drift into overtraining. Easy runs slowing down is one thing, but workouts taking a hit are another.

So, how do we combat this?

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill here, but we can address the symptoms a little bit.

  1. Be on point with recovery nutrition/hydration. That stiffness and soreness means that there is tissue damage. It can’t repair without the right fuel in the right volumes.
  2. If I do a workout in the morning, then in the evening I’ll do some foam rolling. The hours between should be sent making sure you are getting the fluids and fuel you need to stimulate that recovery process. The work being done won’t lead to adaptations- it’s the recovery between the work that leads to the adaptations. My foam rolling won’t be super hard, but we’ll flush things out and work on trouble spots. For me, it’s calves, quads, and hip flexors.
  3. I’ll do a dynamic warm up before my run. This might be as simple as a few bodyweight squats and leg swings. Just something to open up the range of motion and bridge the gap between rolling out of bed and going for a run. That’s a big shock to the body. Check out the complete routines in the book. These don’t have to be long- just a couple minutes. Don’t expect a miracle here, but it can shorten up the warm up period to maybe a mile instead of 2-3 miles.

The last thing I will say about this is that being in this space isn’t bad. To me, it means you are in a place where you are challenging yourself beyond your normal comfort zone. This is where growth happens, if monitored correctly. You do need to be diligent here and not drift past this zone and into an overtraining zone. Again, your biggest indicator here would be decreased performances across the board. Also, being stiff and sore is fine and we can lessen these. However, if you are in a position where you have sharp pains, limp, or pain gets worse as you run, then it’s time to take a step back and get some answers. These signs are all classic of an actual injury. Overall, welcome to the hard training club. Recognize the differences between this and the signs of being hurt to ease your fears. Don’t let the details be an afterthought as these will help you strive during the weeks of hard workouts. The payoff, when kept into the are of cumulative fatigue, is resilience, toughness, and ability to grind it out if need be during tough spots. Those are the things that lead to big breakthroughs. Hope that helps!

Iron levels and runners

A little while ago, I posted a quick podcast on the role of carbohydrate and overtraining. When training hard by volume, intensity, or both, the lack of carbohydrates has a direct relationship with performance (and mood). The reason I discussed that idea was to try to show people how the idea of overtraining is confused with the idea of cumulative fatigue in marathon training. The problem is, it’s like when your check engine light comes on and the mechanic gives you a range of options from the gas cap not being tight all the way to catastrophic engine failure. There are those two possibilities and about 5 more in between the extremes. Fatigue can be quite the rabbit hole to dive into. However, dive we must, and hopefully, with a few posts, we can cover a lot of the areas we can look at first. Maybe we can avoid catastrophic engine failure.

Most of us are aware of iron and its importance for performance. However, for sake of making sure, iron is a mineral that is crucial for energy metabolism (processing carbohydrates), transporting oxygen, and the acid-base balance in the body. Being deficient can result in weakness, general fatigue, a higher heart rate, shortness of breath, and your performance. The worst part is that endurance athletes can lose iron 70% more than their sedentary counterparts! We lose through heavy sweating, our urine and GI tract, and the mechanical force of our feet crashing into the ground at 180 +/- steps per minute. Women also lose iron through their menstrual cycle. Oh, I forgot to mention- iron doesn’t really absorb that well either.

Before you decide to leave your car on the side of the road and walk it home, let’s finish this out. We can run those diagnostics and get you back on track!

So, to switch away from the silly car analogy, let’s talk about iron stores. It’s kinda like a pantry and your kitchen. You have the stuff you use every day that’s in your cupboards and fridge, but you may also have bulk items stored that fill the backstock. We use our day to day goods. We eat our cereal and cook our hamburger. We get low and take another bag out from the four in the pantry and another pound of burger from the bulk we bought at Costco. Things are all good, right? The problem is, we haven’t been back to Costco in two months and we haven’t been replenishing the long-term storage. So, right now, our day to day is fine because we are pulling from the reserves, but the reserves will only last so long. Iron Deficiency works a bit in the same way. We have iron stored in a blood protein called ferritin. We are training hard, sweating profusely and feet just slapping away at the concrete. No problem though, we’ll just pull from the ferritin. Uh oh, I haven’t been refilling the pantry as fast as I’ve been taking it out. Now we are starting to get into trouble. So, let’s look at the three levels of iron deficiency.

Stage 1:

This is a diminished total body iron content and can be determined by looking at your serum ferritin. Performance may not be affected yet, if the ferritin in the liver is only diminished. Once the muscles have been impacted, then you’ll start to see performance start to drop. This is where we have the pantry and are using the iron here to satisfy needs in other places in the body. (Form red blood cells that we are breaking down)

To be in this state, you are looking at a serum ferritin level of less than 35 ug/L (micrograms/Liter). Hemoglobin and transferrin saturation will still be normal at 115 g/L and above 16, respectively. Honestly, though, a lot of runners don’t feel “spunky” after their levels drop below 50. So, knowing your trends is good. Also, the low end of “normal” is 15 for both men and women. I have had women completely exhausted, get blood work, and have the doc say it looks ok, still normal. I look at it and their ferritin is at 15 or 16! So, make sure you have someone read it that understands athletes. Personally, I get mine done and take it to my chiropractor. He knows where I should be after years of treating me. This is compounded that ferritin levels can rise quickly due to stress, inflammation, and infection, which would give us numbers that are falsely inflated. Go figure!

Stage 2:

At this point the cupboards are sparse. Ham and cheese sandwiches have become grilled cheese sandwiches. When we are at this point, ferritin stores are getting to the point where they can no longer support the full production of red blood cells. You are still making them, but capacity has been reduced. To compensate your body will try to use zinc to make up for the iron that is not readily available. If we are in this stage, ferritin will drop below 20, hemoglobin will still be normal, but another blood protein that carries iron, transferrin will be less than 15% saturated. This means that less than 15% of the protein is carrying iron.

Stage 3:

Now we are at the point where there’s nothing in the cupboards or the fridge. When we get to this stage, hemoglobin is affected. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, while bringing carbon dioxide back to the lungs. If we get to this point, everything will be lower. Ferritin will be less than 12, transferrin saturation will be below 16, and hemoglobin will be less than 115. If you are at this point, training is going to be pretty darn tough to maintain. Performance will be significantly down. I’d be surprised if you were running anything of any substance.

Improving the situation

We have already mentioned that there’s problems with keeping iron levels up and training hard. We break it down at much faster rates than average people and the bioavailability of iron is less than ideal, much less. You have two types of iron- heme and non-heme. Heme iron is more readily available and better absorbed than non-heme iron, about 40% compared to 5%. Yes, you read that right. Heme iron is found mostly in animal sources, while non-heme is nearly 100% non-heme. Now, non-heme iron is absorbed better when in the presence of heme iron, but you get the point. It’s not easy to get iron from the stomach to the bloodstream.

First step:

Time your iron intake properly. Another reason to make sure you are getting your recovery food in. A meal with iron in it (or supplement) along with a glass juice within 30-60 minutes of exercise improved absorption of iron. It’s also important to note that absorption is better in the morning, too. So, regardless of running, this should be done in the morning. Foods like eggs, bacon, sausage, peanut butter are all higher sources, along with chicken, spinach, and broccoli. On the flipside, milk and coffee reduce absorption significantly.

Second Step

Oral supplements. Working with a sports physician is key here for optimal dosage, but I know many of you take an iron supplement. If you do, a slow-release ferrous sulfate is your best bet. Now, taking every day can create GI issues. Taking with the OJ definitely helps, but absorption between taking once a day and taking every other day didn’t impact absorption significantly but did reduce GI symptoms. There are patches available, too. However, it seems that the absorption rate of these are less than that of oral supplements. But, these are pretty new and improvements are constantly made. These may be a more viable option in the future.

Third Step

IV is all the rage, right now, so why not get an IV? No, don’t! I am kidding. I don’t think you can just get these at the IV shop, anyway. Now, these work with a 100% absorption rate, but you HAVE to work with a physician. Over the years, I have seen some physicians adamant that a person only gets severe problems. However, these have mostly been family physicians that don’t work with athletes. I have seen many sports docs offer it up if the blood work indicated it was necessary. I will say, I have had athletes with ferritin in the 10-15 range and just miserable. They got an IV and set PR’s within a couple weeks. But, it is key to work with a sports physician on this. If you go this route, get blood tested a month later and then again at 6 months after to see what your ferritin is doing.

If you are starting to feel the tiredness, the fatigue, and most importantly, a loss in performance, then something isn’t right.

The first thing I’d look at is your carbohydrate intake. It’s simple to do and it’s non-invasive. Maybe at the same time, you get your blood work done. I know it’s a pain to get a doctor’s order and then go to the blood draw. There are other options now, too. Companies like Inside Tracker and others allow you to streamline this process. Now that you have numbers that are for runners, you are armed with info. If your general practitioner says you are fine, but your ferritin is at 25, you know better. Find a sports doc or a physician that works with runners (or is one). Time your iron at the right time while working with said doc to make a plan for supplementation. My biggest piece of advice- don’t let it get past phase two. Don’t let it go for months. If you are 6 weeks in a plan, tired, and slowing down, let’s figure it out. We can still save the segment. 

 

Custom or Pre-Made Training Plans for any distance!