How Setting Non-Marathon-Specific Goals Can Make You a Better Marathoner in the End

The marathon. The be-all end-all of distance events. 26.2 sweaty miles of burning lungs and tired legs. It is likely the first thing your co-workers ask about when you mention you are a runner, and with good reason! They are, to many, a near inconceivable physical undertaking and should be worn like the badge of honor that they are. It is without a doubt Eliud Kipchoge’s recent sub-2 hour marathon will be remembered as one of the most impressive athletic achievements in history. However, your road to the marathon doesn’t have to be a linear journey. Though the marathon may be the ultimate destination, its okay to take detours for different distances along the way, and may even make you a stronger marathon runner in the end.
Having variety in your racing goals is important for three reasons:
1. It improves potential for faster performances down the road
2. It serves as a necessary mental and physical break from marathon training
3. It provides us with new performance markers by which we can gauge progress.

Run Shorter, Run Faster

The marathon is all about aerobic strength. Holding a moderate pace over a long distance. We aren’t worn down so much by the speed of our pace, but rather by the distance over which we are holding it. Aerobic strength takes time to build. It’s not something that happens overnight, or even over weeks. But it does happen. Every time we lace up we are adding a brick to our aerobic base. It is something that we can continue to build and improve on over the course of our running careers. There is no real expiration date on aerobic fitness. However, the same cannot be said about speed. It’s a fact of life that as we get older, we slow down. We tend to lose some of that gut-busting power we had when we were younger. For some this happens in
their early 30’s and for others, like 5x Olympian and Masters world record holder Bernard Lagat, it may not happen until well into their running careers. But the fact remains the same, at some point it does happen. So shouldn’t it make sense that we train speed while we still can?
As we continue to run and improve our aerobic fitness, the “percent of max” we can hold over the marathon distance increases. So in a “rising tide lifts all boats” sense, the higher our max the faster the potential for all of our other paces should become. Looking at professional marathoners, many are athletes who have transitioned to the roads following successful track careers. Eliud Kipchoge was a 5k world champion while Kenenisia Bekele currently holds the world records for 5000m, 10,000m, and the indoor 2-mile. Dathan Ritzenhein is one of only a handful of Americans to ever break 13:00 for 5k and Galen Rupp had run 8:07 over two miles prior to earning a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio games.

The lactic threshold plays a role in race performance even for distances as far out as the marathon. The faster we can run before accumulating lactic acid, the more ground we can cover before having to worry about muscular fatigue. Taking a cycle to improve our vLT (velocity at lactic threshold) can help with our long- term goals. In other words, the higher our threshold the faster our marathon pace. Now this does not mean we need to hammer track workouts and speed sessions while actively training for a marathon. I would be the first to tell you it doesn’t matter how fast you can run a mile if you haven’t done the necessary aerobic work for the big 26. We can’t train like a 5k runner in the months leading up to a marathon and expect that it will translate evenly over an extra 23.1 miles. Rather, this suggests that varying your training emphasis from time to time can lead to success in future training cycles. While high-end aerobic work (like steady-states and progressive long runs) should be the staple of your marathon prep-work, adding a block focused on “shorter” speed in between marathon cycles can set you up for fast times as you transition towards more marathon-centric training. By scaffolding shorter-race cycles with marathon training blocks, we improve our potential at both distances.

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A Change of Pace

Not only can emphasizing speed prep us physically for a better race, but it can serve as an excellent mental and physical break between marathon bouts. Getting ready for the full can sometimes be grueling, and focusing on the marathon year round is even more strenuous. Taking a step back on mileage and running a few shorter races can be a pleasant and exciting way to continue to improve fitness while allowing the body a chance to recover. Managing motivation is just as important as managing stress. A well-balanced racing schedule is like a well-balanced diet. Sure, oatmeal is good for us, but if we ate nothing but oatmeal year round we would certainly be lacking in other areas. Not to mention how bland oatmeal would start to seem after a while. Every now and then you need to throw in something new. Running is no different. Our training needs variety too. Doing the same type of training cycle-after-cycle can
make us very strong in one area but it doesn’t necessarily make us well rounded runners. More importantly, it can begin to feel stale after a while, which may make it difficult to keep that drive going year-round. But a change of pace can keep your running feeling fresh. A shifted-focus can give new ambition to your training and serve as a much needed change of pace. It can be exciting training for a new race or doing different workouts, and conquering a big track session can instill some major confidence. This offers our minds and bodies a chance to recover with lower mileage while still making significant improvements to our overall fitness.

New Ways of Seeing Improvement

Similarly, having a range of goals offers yet another marker by which we can measure our growth. Nothing motivates runners like a new PR, and shifting our focus to different distances can help us achieve these new milestones in our running careers. Being able to say “this is the fastest I have ever been” is a great feeling and something many runners chase year after year. Additionally, shorter races like 5k and 10k take less time to recover from than racing a full 26, which means we can run multiple races in a cycle. It’s hard to know exactly where we are fitness-wise if we only get a chance to race a few times a year. But focusing on shorter distances gives us an opportunity to test our fitness several times over a cycle. A bad race isn’t as crushing when you have two more opportunities to race. Finally, it offers a new way to measure progress when you do finally begin your marathon prepping. For example, if in the build up to a marathon you race a tune-up 10k, it can give you and your coach a much more accurate understanding of what that time means when you can compare it to an all-out performance(s) in which you trained specifically for that distance. A wider range of data paints a bigger picture.

As fall marathon season begins to wind-down and you start thinking about your 2020 race goals, keep in mind the shorter distances. Varying your race goals can improve speed and help to make you a more well-rounded runner. It can serve as both a mental and physical break from the mileage of marathon training, and help to instill confidence and ambition by adding a little more pop to your stride. Just like with volume and intensity, good training goals are about finding the balance that allows you to stay motivated and keep running. If you are someone who finds it hard to lace up after a marathon cycle, adding diversity to your training may help to get you out the door and looking forward to training again. While marathons may be your ultimate
calling, it is okay and even beneficial to try your hand at shorter distances along the way.

Lower VS Higher Mileage

“If you want to run faster, just run more”. If you’re a seasoned runner, you’ve likely heard this or similar advice at some point in your running career, and to a point its true.

The great Gerry Lindgren is rumored to have averaged over 200mpw while continuing to improve. Higher volume does tend to correlate to faster times for long distance races. But this is not a linear line and, even more importantly, it does not apply equally to all athletes. Take Noah Droddy as an example; an elite half-marathoner with a personal best of 61:48, who had averaged around 70mpw prior to a spree of good performances which saw him qualify for the Olympic Trials at multiple distances and nab a second place finish at the USATF 10 Mile Championships in 47:28. Relative to the other elites competing in these fields, Droddy was running significantly less mileage. The same can be said about athletes like 800m American record holder Donovan Brazier who runs less than 35 miles in a week, or 2x NCAA champion Justyn Knight whose peak collegiate mileage was between 55-60mpw.

Finding the perfect balance between stress and recovery is an art form as much as it is a science. Being able to decipher how much volume you can add before it begins to outweigh the body’s ability to repair itself is one of the most important skills a coach can have as it won’t be the same for every athlete.

Managing Stress

Think of stress as a teeter-totter, with one end representing volume and the other representing intensity. As one goes up, the other goes down. In other words, if one end is heavier, then the other must get lighter. However, if you keep adding weight to both sides then the teeter can’t totter and it will eventually break. Your body is no different. As we increase the intensity of our training, through workouts and races, we need to compensate by lowering the volume. If we add too much intensity and too much volume all at the same time, our risk for injury increases. While the general rule stays the same, each athlete will have their own “balancing point”.

Some athletes thrive on higher volume with lower intensity (Gerry Lingren), while others find successon higher intensity but with lower volume (Donavan Brazier). Some athletes find balance in a moderate volume, moderate intensity zone. Too often, runners are in a rush to add volume. They think more volume is the quick trick to getting that BQ. Add volume, collect your golden ticket, done. While it is true that more mileage can correlate to improvements in performance, it is not a hard fast rule and it is never a quick procedure. It is a process of finding the right balance between stress and recovery for your body and, more than anything, discovering the approach that allows you to be consistent cycle after cycle.

 

Finding Consistency

Building fitness is sort of like a game of Chutes and Ladders. Each week of training that we log is a move forward. Slowly we make our way up the board. However, if we get ahead of ourselves we begin to risk injury or, in terms of the game, “landing a slide”. The more we push the intensity and mileage thinking its the ladder shortcut to a PR, the more “chutes” we risk landing on. Take enough chutes and soon you find yourself back at the beginning. For me, lowering my mileage has allowed me to find consistency. It allows me to get in the appropriate volume of threshold and high-end aerobic work necessary for 5k and 10k, while also emphasizing recovery. My weekly volume is high enough that I can safely perform the types of tempos and steady states I need, while still low enough that I can recover on my easy days and enter my workouts fresh and ready to go. Most importantly, it has allowed me to do this month after month without ending up in the doctor’s office. Leaving the ego of high mileage behind and listening to my body has allowed me to stay injury-free, motivated, and able to build off of previous work without setbacks.

In the end, consistency is more important than mileage. Be
honest with yourself, and/or with your coach, so that you can build a program that suits YOUR needs, as it is better to toe the line 10% undertrained than 5% overcooked. A six to eight month window of moderate volume in which you leave most workouts thinking “I could do another rep!” will yield far better results overall than a two month window of high mileage where you finish workouts wondering if you can even do the cool down.

While flashy speed sessions and big weekly totals look great on Strava, ‘likes’ don’t win you races (plus, nothing gets more ‘likes’ than a killer race!). Forget about what your rival is doing. Whatever allows you to get to the starting line healthy with pop in your legs is the best training you can possibly be doing, because it is what will allow you to keep doing it week after week.

 

About the Author:

Coach Julian Manley 

Running Form Tips

THE DO’S AND DON’TS

OF PROPER RUNNING FORM

There are many things you can start doing and stop doing to improve your running form to achieve optimal economy. EFFICIENT runners are FAST runners!

DON’T:

  • Cross your arms over your midline: When your arms cross over your midline (your belly button) you are transferring energy side to side instead of FORWARD. Forward motion = faster motion!

  • Run tensed up: Instead, think about relaxing your arms into a 90 degree angle. Pretend you are holding chips in your hands that you don’t want to break. Think about getting your shoulders out of your ears!

  • Slouch: Slouching most often occurs because you aren’t engaging your core. Think about running TALL, almost like you have a string being pulled from your feet to your head to make you run upright. This will allow for better breathing!

DO:

  • Think “ quick feet”: Think about quick feet rather than a longer stride! In order to achieve the optimal 180 steps per minute (cadence), you need to quicken your foot strike, NOT lengthen it! If you have a running watch that records cadence data, take a look and see if you need to quicken your foot.

  • Run with your feet under your center of mass: Think about your feet falling right underneath your body instead of out in front of your body. Note that some runners will naturally forefoot, midfoot, or heel strike. There are certain injuries that you are more at risk for with each type of footstrike, and you should consult with a physical therapist to see if altering your foot strike will decrease injury for you. Everyone is different!

  • Gait analysis: Along those same lines, get a gait analysis done by a physical therapist.

  • We are ALL different: Look at the elite pack running during the next marathon that you spectate. You will notice that they are all running tall, running with relaxed arms, and are landing under their center of mass. HOWEVER, you will notice slight differences in exactly how their feet strike the ground and their exact arm movements. The same goes for recreational runners! There are things you can do to improve, but there will always be natural differences from one runner to the next.

  • Pick one thing to improve on at a time! If you try to fix your arms, cadence AND slouching at the same time, you might feel like throwing in the towel altogether!

Marathon & Half Marathon Pacing Plans

It’s fall racing season! We are approaching goal races for many athletes. We have shared the benefits of running slight negative splits. A negative split is running the second half of the race faster than the first half. This is the method that gives you the best set up to running to your potential and feeling strong at the end of the race.

 

Setting Time Goals:

We would recommend using a recent race result or workout to assess your fitness. A coach can help with this process. We recommend having A B C goals to keep you motivated in case you have a tough day.

Set multiple goal times!

✔️A Goal (ultimate best performance)
✔️B Goal (great day slightly below A goal)
✔️C Goal (still an amazing time!)
✔️D Goal (not the best day but you are going to finish!)

 

Marathon Pacing Plan

 

Design Process

Miles 1-3: Start around 15-20 seconds slower per mile than your goal average race pace. EASE into it. Let your body get into the groove and find the right pace!
Miles 4-7: Should still be around 5-10 seconds slower per mile than goal average race pace. You should still feel extremely relaxed and good through here. Staying RELAXED 😎 the first five miles can help you finish the race strong!
Miles 8-13: It should not feel “hard” yet, but somewhat uncomfortable yet sustainable 👍 You should be running your goal average race pace here. “Assess” how you are feeling at this point 🧐
Miles 14-20: You should be running your goal average race pace or a little faster! Now is the chance to speed up ever so slightly. If you feel great at the half, you can maintain the effort or try going 5 seconds per mile faster & see how it feels 🏃‍♂️💨

Miles 21-26: You should be running your goal average race pace or faster! This can be a tough spot in the race. Don’t even look at your Garmin here. You need to just GO. Now is not the time to question what pace you are going or how you are feeling. ALL of your mental strength needs to be focused inward on staying TOUGH to finish strong! 💪We generally don’t give paces for the last few miles of the race. You should be emptying the tank here and just doing whatever you can to get to the finish! Focus all your energy inward and push yourself to give everything you have. YOU CAN & WILL DO THIS! 💯🙌
⭐️FINISH⭐️ You CRUSHED IT 🙌🏻

 

Half Marathon Pacing Plan

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Miles 1-2 Ease into it. Start behind the pace group you want to run with. Don’t go out hard. Let your body get into the groove and find the right pace. You have a long ways to go.
Miles 3-4 Should take the first water stop & fuel some point. Taking sips of water is a great method. Don’t push the pace too much, but you might start to get uncomfortable a little. Even effort here! No surging up hills or to pass people. You will likely start to pass a few people through here.
Miles 5-7 This is the section where you will start to get pretty uncomfortable. Your mind will try playing tricks on you. Try to remain positive and don’t do anything crazy. Even effort, no surging. Keep in mind that you ARE strong and the race is HALF OVER!
Miles 8-10 Worst part of the race. This section will make or break your finish time. You are going to need to DIG DEEP. It’s less than 30 min to the finish. Keep counting down. The time is totally going to pass, so dig deep within to find a way
Miles 11-13: GET TO THAT FINISH! You are emptying the tank and the finish is SO close. Do not let up. Give it everything you have left and envision the finish!!

✔️ YOU CAN & WILL DO THIS! 💯🙌

Marathon Training Mistakes

Are you making marathon training mistakes?

As runners, we invest so much time and energy into our training. We want to make sure we are optimizing our time training. Our goal as coaches is to help athletes optimize their time and energy training. We want to get you to the starting line healthy and in the best shape possible! Learn for the mistakes others have made before you.

If you find you are making these mistakes with training, you can change! These are 3 key areas you can make small tweaks that will go a long way. Working smarter not harder is key for success in the sport.

1- Running Long Runs too fast

 

We want to build the aerobic system when we are marathon training. The marathon in 99.5% aerobic! This means we must stress the aerobic system the most to see the most improvement at the marathon distance.

Do you know what your aerobic pace is based on your fitness level?

  • Take a recent 5k time result
  • Figure out your pace per mile
  • Add 2-3 min onto your pace per mile to find your easy aerobic zone
  • Add 45-60 seconds per mile onto 5k pace to find marathon pace

Example:

  • 21:50 5k is 7:00 per mile
  • Your easy aerobic running zone will be 9:00-10:00 pace per mile
  • Your marathon pace will be around 7:48-ish per mile

Did you know that ‘marathon pace’ is the fastest aerobic pace?

Marathon pace is the fastest we can run and still be 100% in the aerobic zone. However, we don’t want to spend a lot of time here because running at those faster paces can cause a lot of additional stress on the joints/ligaments/etc.

Your easy/slower running paces (in the example 9:00-10:00) actually have the same effect on the aerobic system. The slower aerobic paces are easier on the joints/ligaments/etc. Running at the slower paces allows for the same physiological benefits for building endurance with less room for injury/burnout

If an athlete runs all their long runs at marathon pace it will take significantly longer for the body to recover. If we do not recover from the long run within 2-3 days, we will be setback for our next workout. If we do not properly recover, we can not add more workouts.

By running long runs too fast, athletes typically end in a place where they are never fully recovering between long runs or workouts. Athletes typically feel okay for training but paces do not improve. By the end of the training cycle athletes can find themselves mentally or physically burnt out from the lack of recovery.

We often find athletes who run their long runs too fast burnt out at the start line of their marathons. We NEVER want to leave our race in training. Do not use your long runs as a chance to prove your fitness.

Trust your training and the process. You will run fast on race day if you trust the training. You do NOT need to run fast on your long runs.

2- Wrong Type of Workouts

The marathon is AEROBIC. We are using that term again. This is very important to remember when marathon training! Most marathoners actually NEVER run to their potential in the marathon.

What does that mean? What is your ‘potential’ in the marathon?

Take for example the 21:50 5k runner. Add 45-60 seconds per mile to get marathon pace

A 7:00 pace per mile 5k runner should in theory be able to hold 7:45-8:00 pace for a full marathon.

Most athletes do not reach this ‘potential’ in the marathon because they have not developed their aerobic system enough!

The best workouts to close the gap on your marathon potential vs actual finish times:

  • Aerobic Threshold Workouts
  • Marathon Pace Workouts
  • Slow Long Runs
  • Building Mileage

Save the intervals and vo2max speed workouts for a different training cycle. If you have not reach your potential in the marathon, we need to work on the aerobic/endurance building NOT your speed.

We only get so many workouts in a training cycle do not waste them by running 400s and 800s every week.

You have to train specific to your event to be successful!

 

3- Not Enough Recovery

Marathon training is hard. We are working on increasing long runs AND weekly mileage. Many runners also add in longer workouts. There are a lot of stress variables increasing. Athletes are also spending more time training, so they have less time to focus on other things. As a result, athletes can sometimes fall into the trap of ‘under recovering’.

Examples of what not enough recovery looks like:

  • Not sleeping enough (7 hours MINIMUM PER NIGHT!)
  • Not eating enough or the right types of food for their training
  • Not foam rolling/stretching/taking care of self!
  • Not spending any time focusing on other hobbies or enjoying themselves through training
  • Not listening to body when it is asking for time off or extra rest day
  • Not making adjustments to the plan when work/life gets busy
  • Having the ‘must push through it’ mentality if anything comes up

We are all busy! Most of us recreational runners are working professionals. Add on the daily stress of work + everything else we balance in addition to training, it can be enough to send us over the edge. We need to make sure you are making adjustments to training. Sometimes LESS mileage or less volume is the right answer. Sleeping and self care take priority to training. We cannot improve if we are not recovering!

Stress+ Rest = Growth!

You must have the rest in order to grow! Overtraining is not something that happens overnight. It sneaks up on you. It is the little stresses that build on top of each other day in and day out without recovery.

If you don’t give your body planned rest, your body will eventually break to get the rests it is craving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Injuries: How to Avoid & Combat

 

On a 10 mile run your foot contacts the ground over 15,000 times. This exerts repetitive force on bones, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues. That is a lot of pounding. Unfortunately, injuries happen in the sport of running. The most common injuries for runners involve the lower leg and hips such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and the dreaded stress fracture. Even with a well designed training plan experienced runners can get injured.

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET INJURED

  • It is important to STOP running once an injury occurs.
  • Athletes should NEVER run through pain!

R.I.C.E is a great starting point if something flares up, but it is important to seek medical professionals if the pain continues ASAP.

Self diagnosing yourself with a google search is a recipe for disaster.

What type of doctor should you see?

  • ART (Active release therapist)
  • Physical Therapists who specialize in sports/running
  • Sports Medicine Doctors

Many of these doctors have out-of-pocket rates or are not as expensive as you would think! Do not let price be the determining factor for getting help. Often injuries are a result of imbalances in the body that need to be addressed. Only a trained professional in person can help with diagnosis and proper treatment. Do NOT ask friends how to help you run through an injury. Do NOT assume you know wha your injury is unless you have been diagnosed by a doctor.

 

ASK your doctor for a treatment plan and exercises to do coming back. Questions to ask your doctor before you leave appt

  • Are you releasing me to run? or should I rest?
  • When I stat back running, what should I start back with?
  • Can I run every day or should I cut back mileage
  • Should I take any supplements for this?
  • Are there any cross training activities I can do or that I should avoid?
  • Are their any strength training exercises I can do to correct this?
  • How often should I do these PT exercises/stretches?
  • Do you think I can still do the X race I am signed up for in X weeks?
  • When should I comeback?

 

TIPS FOR AVOIDING INJURY!

The base situation to be in would be never getting injured in the first place 🙂

There are many ways that we can train safely to avoid injuries. Here are some of the guidelines we recommend following to avoid getting injured. You should always follow ALL of these principles to train safely

  • Do NOT increase mileage by more than 10% per week
  • Incorporate a cut back week of 30% reduction in mileage every 2-4 weeks
  • Do not run more than 90 min more than 3 consecutive weekends in a row
  • Take a rest day or very slow/easy mileage day a minimum of 1x per week
  • Keep your easy days VERY easy at 2-3 min per mile slower than half marathon pace
  • Take off seasons 2x per year a minimum of 2-3 weeks of easy running only at 50% reduction in mileage or time completely off
  • Never run through pain or injury
  • If your body feels off, take a rest day or move a workout day
  • If you are not recovered fully from the previous workout, do not do the next scheduled workout until you feel 100%
  • Do not increase long run by more than 15-20 min every week
  • Take time off after EVERY race even a 5k no workouts for at least 3-4 days
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Get a massage. Foam roll.
  • Buy shoes when you need them.
  • Eat enough.
  • Sleep enough.
  • Consider DNS for some races if you don’t feel great. Just because you are signed up doesn’t mean you HAVE to run it. If you’re hurt or feeling like shit, skip it. Sometimes people sign up for WAY too many races. Don’t do it because you “already spent the money”- it’s a sunk cost.
  • learn how to run not race in a race environment. If you are going to run multiple halfs or fulls in one season (within a 1-3 month period) you don’t need to “race” them all. Learn how to start with the pacer 60-45 seconds behind your capabilities and negative split the race as a workout. Learn self control.
  • if you’re running multiple marathons or halfs in a season you don’t need to do as many long runs as you think. It’s more about maintaining between marathons & not burning out

 

Training For Your First Marathon (Part 2)

How do you decide on a training plan?

You want to start with a mileage level you have been at for the past few months without jumping up too much in volume right away. A marathon training plan will gradually increase your mileage significantly over the course of the training plan.

Select a plan that starts where you are for weekly mileage, long runs & days per week running.

We want to make sure there is a foundation there before we begin marathon training

  • Running consistently for 6-12 months
  • Consistently running 15-20 miles per week for the past 3-6 months

Want an example of what the ‘prerequisite to marathon training’ should look like?

Check out our 12 week plan here

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How to Determine Paces for Training?

Before you start your training program, we want to test your current fitness level using a time trial or a race. Signing up for a local 5k is a great way to test your fitness. Based on your race result, you can calculate your current VDOT fitness and assess paces for your training plan. One of our favorite calculators is here: http://www.coachdino.org/VDOTCalc.htm

  • Train at your CURRENT fitness VDOT paces to get faster
  • Retest your VDOT every 6-12 weeks to ensure you are training at the right paces
  • Do NOT run more than 20% of your weekly mileage faster than easy pace
  • Make sure you are running the correct pace on your easy days! You can go SLOWER but you can NOT go faster!
  • Focus more on aerobic workouts like tempos, steady states, medium long runs over speed work

Need someone to help with your training? Is it too much information?

Fill out our form here

 

 

 

Training For Your First Marathon (Part 1)

Congrats on your decision to train for 26.2 miles! If you haven’t trained for your first marathon yet, it is about to change your life! It might seem a little bit impossible now, but the amazing part is your body will change. You will conquer something that was once thought impossible. That act will change your life forever!

What is a prerequisite for marathon training?

There is no ‘one sized fits all’ answer here, but we generally like to see a few key boxes checked before athletes make the plunge to train for 26.2 to set you up for the best possible training and success rate. Can you train without these things, YES!

  • Running 20+ miles a week consistently for 4-6 months
  • Comfortable running 8-10 mile long runs without feeling destroyed after
  • 4-6 months to commit to a training schedule increasing mileage & long runs

When should you train for a marathon?

Marathon training is really hard, so it great to wait until you personally are really excited and motivated to run 26.2 miles! You want to have good intentions going into the training. It will be easier to get through the training if it is something you really want to do instead of doing a marathon to ‘check the box’ as a runner. There is no right or wrong reason to train for a marathon, but having a good reason helps you enjoy it!

  • When you are excited about seeing how far your body can go!
  • When you are curious and self motivated to run 26.2 miles
  • When you have the time commitment and not a lot of other life stress going on

 

How can you ensure you don’t burn out or get injured?

4-6 months is a long time to train for an event. It is very important that we don’t do too much too soon. We need to stay healthy & motivated to get through the entire training cycle. Too often we see athletes get very excited in the beginning or middle of training to do ‘more’ than they should or run ‘faster’ than they should. It will come back to bite you on race day or later in the training cycle. We like to use the progressive overload principle and do just enough stress to cause progressive change in the body. Once your body response to the stimuli, we add a new stress or increase the load.

  • Only increase 1 variable at a time: variables that are at play during marathon training are long run distance, weekly mileage, duration/intensity of workouts
  • Working first on increasing mileage
  • Working next on increasing long runs
  • Ensure you take recovery weeks & recovery days!
  • Recovery weeks every 2-4 weeks during training reducing 20-30% of weekly mileage AND reducing workouts/long runs to be less intense and shorter

 

Can you run a marathon off 3-4 days of running per week?

Yes! Is it ideal to run 3 days per week, not really! We would recommend 4-5 days per week running. We understand that you may not have the time commitment to do more than 3 days per week, but it is usually ideal when we see athletes running 4+ days per week. If you can add in aerobic cross training like biking or elliptical in there, that works great too! The marathon is aerobic. The best thing we can do when training for a marathon is stress the aerobic system. The more specific we can get with that stress, the better you will be prepared for the marathon! More miles behind an athlete usually do result in better race experiences. Each athlete is different, and it is important to take into consideration of other factors too.

  • Minimum is 3 days of running per week
  • Ideal to run 4+ days per week during marathon training
  • If you don’t have time, prioritize running exercises
  • If you have extra time, but you cannot increase running mileage/time then increase aerobic cross training

Example of 3 days per week 2.5 months out from goal race:

Day 1- 6 miles easy with 6x 20 seconds HILL strides (20 seconds hard with 90 seconds recovery)

Day 2- 8 mile tempo workout 2 mi easy warm up 2 x 2 miles @ Threshold Pace with 2 min jog between + 2 mile cool down

Day 3- 16 mile long run at an EASY pace

Weekly mileage is 30 miles per week

Your long run is going to be 50%+ of your weekly mileage which does increase your risk for injury, but there is not a great way to frame up 3 days or running per week without having long run be a shorter % of weekly mileage.

Example of 4 days per week 2.5 months out from goal race:

Day 1- 6 miles easy with 6x 20 seconds HILL strides (20 seconds hard with 90 seconds recovery)

Day 2- 8 mile tempo workout 2 mi easy warm up 2 x 2 miles @ Threshold Pace with 2 min jog between + 2 mile cool down

Day 4- 7 miles easy

Day 5 – 16 mile long run with last 2-4 miles fast finish!

Weekly mileage: 37

 

What if you are just getting over an injury or just did a big training cycle?

It is really important that you set yourself up for success. We would want to see an athlete come into a 4-6 month marathon training block feeling good for months leading up to that point. If you are injured now, your top priority should be to get healthy! You have to be 100% healthy to make it through this cycle. Start your training off on the right foot. Have a flexible timeline for recovery and training by shifting your focus from a goal marathon to running 100% pain free

  • Wait 3-4 months after your injury is 100% healed and you are running pain free before you commit to a 4-6 months training cycle.
  • Give yourself 2 months easy/off to recover after a big training cycle/goal race. The off season is very important. Even if you feel good it is important to give your body and mind time to heal from the months of training you just had

Just like you take vacations from work, it is important to take a vacation from running! You WILL comeback stronger!

  • What if you are ‘injury prone’?

You need to see a physical therapist to ensure there are not underlying imbalances that need to be addressed. Often injuries are related and can pop up one after another because of 1 or 2 underlying imbalances in the body. When you get to the root cause of the problem, you will be able to finally get stronger. Often athletes think resting for 2-4 weeks will solve the injury problems, but this is not always the case with all injuries. Other factors to consider

  • lower weekly mileage
  • no workouts/hard runs
  • very conservative approach to training
  • more cross training
  • regular PT visits

Why is nutrition important during the marathon?

Have you heard of ‘the wall’ that happens during the marathon? This is usually around mile 18-20 most runner experience a slow down. Why? Because glycogen runs out in the body.

Your body needs energy to run. When you do shorter distance races or run for less than 90 min, your body has enough fuel to make it through. When you start to do runs/races or 90-120 min, your body starts to use up those glycogen stores VERY quickly.

What about your body using fat stores?

Your body WILL use those, but studies show that your pace will drop 15-20 seconds per mile when using fat stores over readily available glycogen or carbohydrates in the body.

During a marathon, we can use the fuel that is going to give us the fastest pace and be easiest for our body to process. It is important to fuel DURING the marathon with carbohydrates. You must start fueling early in the race. The sooner you can start fueling, the better you off you will be.

If you want to fuel until the end of the race, you may be in trouble! Your body actually starts to slow down digestion as you near the end of the race. Your body goes into preservation mode because of the stress. Often athletes have no appetite or the thought of fueling at mile 20, makes them feel sick. You will be kicking yourself for not fueling sooner! If you fuel early at mile 4-5 of the race, your body can preserve your glycogen for longer/later in the race when you might not be able to stomach the gels.

 

How to start fueling:

  • If you have never eaten before a run, start by having a breakfast that is 1/4-1/3 the size that you normally would. Eat this 60-90 min before you plan to go on a run
  • Start practicing the breakfast and fueling on shorter/easier runs so there is not as much stress
  • Try out different gels, blocks, beans, etc to find what works for you & your stomach the best
  • There is no ‘best’ fuel. The best fuel is what works for your body! Find something that sits well with your stomach and stick with it
  • Start building a fueling plan 4+ months out from your race! Start NOW! You want to practice this so there is no stress on race day!
  • Add in water every 20-30 min and gels every 4-5 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips to “Train Like You Race”

Each week there are things we can be constantly implementing into our workouts to get
the most out of our workouts! How can you “Train Like You Race”? Small details &
successes over time add up to big results! I started thinking about all of the different
things that help to make me successful with my workouts each week. How do I best
prepare myself for each run to make sure I am getting the most out of my training
program along with recovering & staying balanced?
Here are the things I thought of and I am sure all of you can help me build onto this list!
If you currently do not do these things with your training it is time to start!! I want to
make sure each of you are getting the most out of your training and helping to best
prepare you to crush your next race & PR!

1-Practicing Supplementing & Nutrition

“Eat to Run, Don’t Run to Eat”
We talk about how nutrition is all the time and how we need to try to fuel our body
the best we can each week through our daily nutrition. This is more specific to timing
around your workouts. One thing each of you needs to be doing is practicing
supplementing in your workouts. Especially for those of you that are training for longer
distances like half marathons, marathons and ultras. You should start practicing your
supplementing like you would during a race. What I recommend is: 5-10 minutes before
the start of your workouts (Gu packet or supplements) along with every 10K/6 miles or
so on your run. This should be the same for your races. You should practice this during
your longer high intensity workout days along with your long runs. Not only to improve
your performance and get more out of your workout ,but to also make sure the
supplements work well for you on race day. We need to fuel our body to perform it’s
best during a workout along with best preparing it for race day. Also practicing your pre
race dinners and breakfast through out your training. This works great before your long
run or even before a harder workout. Try out different foods to fuel your workout along
with post workout nutrition. Make sure to get a good source of protein and carbs to
replenish your muscle glycogen and having the nutrients available to rebuild your
muscle and help your body to recover.

2- Good Warm Up & Cool Down

“Failing to Prepare, is Preparing to Fail”
Everyone needs a specific warm up that works best for them. This can be
different for everyone. Warm ups should be done on interval/higher intensity days of
training along with before a race. This should be the warm up that you know best helps
you get ready to run at your best. Also something else to not switch up too much on
race day. For workouts make sure to get a good 1-2 mile warm up in before starting
your workout. During your warm up, the first half you should ease into the pace and the
2nd half of the warm up you can start to push the pace slightly to get ready to run fast
for your workout/race. I have different warm ups for different training environments. If I am running on a treadmill, I ramp up the pace from an easy easy pace to just below my
threshold pace by ramping up the pace every 2 minutes for 2 miles. I then take a 5
minute break to stretch, get water, have a gu packet and mentally check myself into the
workout. If I am doing an outdoor workout or track workout, I typically keep my warm up pretty easy with slightly pushing the pace in the last couple laps to get my heart rate up. I then take a 5 minute break, stretch, grab water, have a gu packet and just before I
start into my workout I do 4X10-15 second strides to get my legs ready for the pace. For
me, this is what works best for me for my workouts and also for race day! Also doing a
light cool down after a workout helps to bring our body back to a resting state, flush out
the waste products from the workout while helping to maintain healthy muscle function
and overall to help our body to start recovering from the workout.

3- Focus on Effort

“To Give Anything Less Than Your Best is To Sacrifice the Gift”
Your workouts don’t need to be perfect. A lot of the details I am mentioning in this
article will help to continually help you to perform at your best & feel great from each
workout. What Ive noticed about runners is that if anything throws your workout off,
even if it’s running your last interval 5 seconds slower than you wanted, we suddenly
throw the workout away. Like everything we just put into the workout wasn’t good
enough and suddenly we are upset about the workout. First of all, be good to yourself.
You are only human & things happen. Secondly, no matter how well you want a workout
to go, it is tough to always nail your workout & paces. This comes through years of
experience. Instead of blaming yourself for what could have went better, take every
positive learning moment from that workout & then bring it to your next workout to do
better the next time around. Don’t forget about all of the hard work you just put in & try
to keep a positive mindset. Your body is making adaptation whether the workout went
perfectly or not and next time around it will only help you do that much better.

4-Reflect on Your Workouts

“Run Your Strengths & Train Your Weaknesses”
Just like focusing on effort, even if you workout goes perfect, reflect on your
workout! This only takes a few minutes. For days that go great or even better than you
expected, what did you do differently or what was your mindset going into that workout? Why do you think the workout went so well? And again if it didn’t go well, what are some things you brought into your run that day that didn’t serve you. What kept you from performing at your best?? Running is physical but also completely mental! We can mentally talk ourselves out of anything & when it comes to weekly training, mindset is everything. Especially when workouts gets tough. Train your mind to see the positive in your weaknesses to help turn these into your strengths. This will only help your workouts go better and improve your overall running performance.

5- Always Be Dressed Ready to Run

“Dress Up, Show Up & Never Give Up”
Being dressed ready to run is the first step to success in any workout! First of all,
be dressed for the weather! If it is freezing outside, I typically recommend dressing one
layer cold since you will warm up once you start running without over heating. If it is hot outside, wearing clothes that are going to keep you as cool as possible for the run. Also a big one for me is my running shoes! If I am doing a workout I wear a lighter training shoe (the shoes I race in or something similar). If I am doing a long run or easy recovery run I wear a softer cushioned shoe. This is not only a good way to allow your shoes to bring the cushion and support back into your shoes but also mentally to know that the shoes you are wearing is going to set the tone for the workout! Unless I am breaking shoes in or just trying them out, I always associate my shoes with the type of workout I am doing. It’s like when I am driving my mini cooper & I can either put it in “green mode” to save gas, efficiency & ease back or “speed mode” to push the pace & speed around. I honestly feel the difference and it completely changes my mindset depending on the shoes I am wearing. My lighter shoes I know I am training more for pace & speed. My heavier cushioned shoe I am focusing on nice & easy recovery running. Try having different shoes for different workouts! Honestly I think you will know the difference and know what I am talking about along with helping your running performance!

All of these things help to improve your weekly running performance along with bringing that much more purpose to your workouts! Also I want to make sure that you are getting the most out of the time you are putting into your workouts & training program! You should “train like you race” and no matter if you are doing an easy recovery run, a workout, a long run or a rest day, every day of the week should have purpose & you should do what you can to optimize your training to get closer to your running goals & dreams each and every damn day :).

5 Ways to Enhance Your Running Performance

5 Ways of Enhancing Your Running Performance

Being a runner and athlete, if you want to perform at your best and reach your full
potential you need to have a comprehensive approach to your program. Running
performance isn’t just about running and having the best training program. There are so
many factors that we must balance into our weekly routines to help us perform
at our best. There is only so much time during the week and sometimes just getting our
running in can be a challenge, but the more you can start implementing these 5 things
into your week, the better you will perform, the better you will feel, the more energy you
will have and just live an overall healthier lifestyle.

“Being a competitive runner, there is no way I can perform at my best if I am not taking care of myself. Each and every day I make decisions based on how it is going to affect my body and training.” -Coach Meghan

 5 Tips to Enhance Performance

1- Good Nutrition

Nutrition is all of the time! From when we wake up in the morning from when we go to
sleep at night, our body needs energy to fuel our day. Being an athlete, this becomes
that much more important to fuel our running performance and recovery! Pre workout
nutrition, during workout nutrition, post workout nutrition & just your everyday nutrition!

Reflection Questions:

  • What is your first meal of the day?
  • Do you have a routine when it comes to nutrition or
    does it vary from day to day?
  • Do you have a plan when it comes to weekly nutrition?

As athletes we need to “eat to run, not run to eat”. Our body’s need nutrient dense, real
foods with minimal processed ingredients and extra sugars. I recommend a good mix of
protein, healthy fats and healthy carbs with eat meal.
Do you ever think about what you are consuming and if it is something that is feeding
your body for performance or is it feeding inflammation, fatigued, muscle soreness &
inadequate recovery? When we start to look at our foods in a way of how is this going to
enhance my performance and recovery instead of since I just ran 10 miles, I can now
splurge on whatever I want, we start to notice how we recover better, perform better and overall just live better.
Nutrition is too complex to go into all of the details, but if this is an area that you struggle
with, there are plenty of resources along with small day to day changes you can start
making that will make a big difference to your running and overall healthy lifestyle.

Check Out Our Favorite Products To Aid In Nutrition:



2- Hydration

How important is water for our body? We can’t function without it. It is essential for life. It is critical that we replenish our water and stay hydrated. Being an athlete, we accelerate our fluid loss through our running and training. In our body, we are made of 60% water that is soaked up every day by our millions and millions of cells. The leaner you are, the more water you are going to carry since muscle is made of about 75% water. Water helps with transporting nutrients to our cells, regulating body temperature and is a lubricant for our joints. During exercise these are the consequences to % of total body
water lost:

  • At 0.5% it starts to put extra strain on our heart.
  • At 1% reduced aerobic endurance
  • At 3% reduced muscular endurance.
  • At 4% reduced muscle strength, motor skills & heat cramps
  • At 5% heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, reduced mental
    capacity.
  • At 6% physical exhaustion, heat stroke, coma
  • At 10%-20% Death.

Being even slightly dehydrated already starts to impact our performance. Imagine what
that is doing to your body while it is trying to perform at its best through your weekly
training. With spring finally here and summer heat on the way, planning our hydration is critical for our running performance and our day to day life. So make sure you are
getting plenty of fluids!!

3- Sleep & Recovery

  • How many hours of sleep do you get at night?
  • Do you feel rested through out the day and during the week?

We recommend 8 hours of sleep whenever possible. Our body and mind performs best when we sleep between the window of 10pm-6am. From 10pm- 2am, is our body’s physical repair. Growth hormone is typically released around 10:30pm to help our body recover from the wear and tear of the day. From 2am-6am is our body’s mental repair. This is the time when our body mentally refreshes to be able to take on the day. Also when we sleep, it gives our brain a chance to be cleansed through our cerebral spinal fluid. Did you know that our brain has its own lymphatic system to dispose of the wastes that build up from constantly working (since our brain never shuts off) but the only time this happens is when we sleep? I think it is fascinating, but fascinating or not it is absolutely critical that our brain and body gets the sleep it needs to refresh and re-energize to not only take on the day but to help enhance our
running performance and more importantly help us live through out the day!

Do you take the extra time to stretch, foam roll, massage, epsom salt baths, or just light
active to help your body recover?

All of these activities help our body to recovery. As much as you can work these activities into your day to day training or at minimum 3-4 days per week. I already talked about nutrition and hydration which are both essential to recovery, but the more we implement these other activities into our daily lives we can
live healthier, happier and get the most out of our recovery and running performance.

4- Strength Training

How many of you implement some type of strength training into your weekly training?
Strength training is critical for runners and has many benefits! It helps to improve
performance and prevents injury through strengthening your muscles and connective
tissues, improves neuromuscular coordination and power along with improving running
economy with enhanced coordination and stride efficiency. For some people it can be
intimidating go workout by themselves at the gym. Taking group classes like CrossFit,
Barre, Yoga, Pilates, etc can be a great addition to your weekly routine. Working with a
personal trainer or having a program set for your specific to your running goals gives
you flexibility to fit strength training into your weekly running schedule. As a runner there are a lot of exercises you can do with our body weight or minimal equipment that help with running performance. It also does not need to take a lot of time out of your weekly schedule to reap the benefits!

Anywhere from 15-30 minutes 2-3 times per week is even sufficient enough and will help to enhance performance and prevent injury. Take the time to fit strength training into your weekly routine and see the benefits it has for you
and enhancing your running performance!

5. Having a Plan & Goal Setting

  • How important is your running to you?
  • Another question, how important is your body to you?

For some people running is to stay in shape and to just live a healthier active
lifestyle through something they enjoy doing. For others they have very specific goals
and a timeline in which they would like to achieve them. For others they fall somewhere
right in the middle! No matter what your running goals are, it is always important to have a plan. Without some type of plan it is hard to improve your running performance no matter how big or small your goals are. Running isn’t just about training for a specific
race when it comes to performance. It is also just making sure that you are balancing
out your weekly training with easy and hard workout days at the right paces to enhance
your recovery, feel stronger, faster, more efficient and just to run better! To just live
better! With anything you do in life, the time you are putting into it, you want to know that it is just making you a better person from the inside out. It’s not just about running PRs, but for some it might be able losing weight, preventing heart disease and diabetes and just wanting to live healthier. Coming from a background of being a personal trainer, I worked with all ranges of clients from weight loss to performance to just feeling better everyday. So no matter what your goals are, it is always important to have a plan!
It is not just about performing better, but also just about living better.