Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why do Short Hills

Why do I do short hill repeats if I'm training for a marathon and not a mile?
I do short hill repeats for 2 reasons the first goal, and most obvious, is to gain physical strength. Since strength is in our sport is often interchangeable with speed I see why it seems strange for a marathoner to be doing this type of a workout especially with such frequency. I mean why try to get a faster top end speed when even to run a world record I only need to run 4:45 or 4:46 a mile. The first reason is that every race is a race of speed, meaning that no matter how long the race is the fastest person over the distance wins. But that alone doesn't justify hill repeats one to three times a week. The real reason is strength and speed over the short distance equal efficiency. By doing these hills and getting stronger and faster in the maxim. I teach my body to consume less glycogen, and less oxygen when moving at sub maximal speeds. The less of these "fuels" the body consumes at a given pace the longer I can hold that pace.
the 2nd reason I do short hills is that they drive my heart rate way up in an extremely short period of time, to within 10 beats of max or higher in 10 seconds or less and then because my heart rate hasn't been up that long and no acid needs to be flushed out of my system (it takes 15 seconds of an exercise to begin to produce any lactic acid) my heart rate basically plummets back down to a relatively rested level, 120 to 130 beats per minute, in a short time 20seconds to a minute. This exercise on the heart teaches the heart efficiency as well meaning it takes less energy to pump more blood.
Now if I was training for the mile I would still do short hill repeats for the same reasons I have listed above but I would probably try to go a little longer (say 13 to 15 seconds rather then my usual 8 to 12) and I would try to do it on a slightly less steep hill and with better footing. Why? Because a miler would want to improve there efficiency, muscular as well as heart but he/she would also want to work more specifically on there top end speed and running uphill but with your form closer to that which you use to run over flat ground is a spectacular way of doing that.

Finally the greatest advantage of short hills is that you can reap huge long term benefits without having to sacrifice much of anything. They are very easy on the body and mind. Sure you run all out but only for a few seconds so they really are not hard and because little or no acid is accumulated in the system they take little recovery at all. This is why if I had one thing I would recommend to all runners to add to there program right now short hills would be it. They improve your basic speed, improve your efficiency and strengthen your heart and if you do them once or twice a week your body won't be any more tired or worse for the wear. It’s a win win situation. I am convinced that these, progression runs and the use of circuit training are the biggest reasons the Kenyans are so far beyond us here in the US. That said I believe we are starting to look to their training and we are closing the gap rapidly. So add progression runs and short hills to your routine and join the charge for world class running in the US, or at least a new pr.

Progression runs

I have some time so I want to talk about progression runs. These are my favorite workout. I think that they have applications at every level for every event. They are for my money the best workout you can do to improve your overall fitness level. I only started using them a year and a half ago and I haven’t fully utilized them like I should but I’m working hard to correct that.

So first what is a progression run? Well they are really any run that starts slower and progresses to finish faster. More specifically they are any time you steadily increase the pace of your workout to finish at a hard fast pace. They can be any distance and should be varied in length in any program but the bigger variations should be depending on your event. As I am focused on marathons my progression runs generally range from 40 minutes to an hour and a half, though I do do some runs of more than 2 hours that could qualify as progression runs but they are more structured and varied in pace so for this forum I’ll keep them separate. Also for this forum I’m going to stick to progression runs as a workout for distance and mid distance runners so generally speaking from roughly 3 to 20 miles and 15 minutes to 2 hours plus.

Some people like to start them at a jog, 8 min pace or slower even at the elite level. Personally I like to warm up with a light jog for 2 or 3 miles then jump in a decent clip. I don’t generally do the strides and stretching I would do before a interval workout, tempo run or threshold run for two reasons, first because I’m only starting at 80% to 90% of marathon pace I really don’t need to be all that well warmed up, second and more to the point if I do all that I tend to be too keyed up and I go out too fast and screw up the workout.

Now what makes a progression run so great? They teach you to run your fastest when you are at your most tired. In a nutshell that is the main reason that they are important. But Nate I run the last interval of my workouts faster then all the rest isn’t that the same thing? NO it isn’t, it is a good thing and keep doing that but the fact is you have rested since finishing your previous effort, you are less tired then you were then, often you end up packing away time in the first part of the effort and finishing slower, we have all gone out 4 seconds faster for the first ¼ of a mile then the pace we finish it at.(stop doing that by the way all you are teaching your body is how to do the slower running) But even if you run that last mile repeat in 75, 73, 72, 65 it still not as good as the progression run because again you had a rest after the last interval. Why is this important, because there is no time out at the 2 mile mark of your 5k state cross country meet or the 4 mile mark of your 8k college cross country race. But Nate if I’m trying to simulate the finish of a race why don’t I just go out and run a race in practice. Two reasons again, first without race day adrenaline you can’t run race pace for a full distance, can’t do it. Second there is no guarantee of success. This is the beauty of a progression run, if you think your going to slow down, kick like hell and finish, you are done. But you were planning on going 9 miles and you have only done 5, doesn’t matter, except the workout for what it is. Now I’m not saying the progression run is the only way to simulate the problems you will face in the last part of a race, far from it. I’m just saying that it is the best.

The next reason to love the progression run is the simplicity combined with its natural adaptability. You don’t need a track or a measured loop, or even a loop really (though I really really recommend using a loop). Just go out and start at an ok effort and keep picking up the pace until your running as hard and fast as you can. You can go measure it after. That’s the simple part. The adaptability is that it is always the perfect effort, why? Well because you run as hard as you can and finish strong. (if you just run as hard as you can from the gun all you teach your body is that when the going gets tough it should rig up and die)

Now the downside. The first time I did a progression run I did it all right found a loop that was like the courses I was racing, it was on one of them actually, and I started slow and finished as hard and fast as I could. It was a total disappointment. It was cross country season when I was in college and I ran about 40 minutes and covered barely 7 miles. Worse yet when I measured the loop I found that at my fastest I was only running 5:15 mile pace, now I was trying to run 25:00 or so at the time so this seemed like a total waste of a workout, hell my pr was already under 25:20. So I went back to my next workout happy to return to mile repeats with long breaks at something around 4:40 pace and felt I had wasted a workout by doing that stupid progression run. I had missed the point, the progression run had shown me my weakness I couldn’t run a sustained hard effort and finish well. I never ran under 5:10 for my last mile that year except in races where I ran super slow for the 4th mile (5:20 or worse). So if your first progression seems like a flop then understand two things, one they aren’t about averaging some super fast pace, no pr’s in these workouts, and if you really sucked then you should probably do some more because they are just what you need.

Ok so I hope that I have got my love for progression runs across to you but to sum up. Progression runs teach your body to run its fastest when its tired and to be able to finish races off of a sustained hard effort. They are best if left unstructured because this enables you to run by how you feel so that the effort automatically adapts itself to your exact condition that day. To illustrate what I’m talking about I’m going to put the last three progression runs I have done below in detail (these have been in my last couple of training logs the only difference is that I finally measured the loop so I can give you paces to go with the times) and I’ll talk about the positives and negatives of each workout.

Progression 1 September 13, 2007 (all done on Factory loop at Mines falls (2 3/8 miles pre loop)

Loop 1 13:24, loop pace 5:38.5

Loop 2 13:00, 5:28.4

Loop 3 12:36, 5:18.3

Loop 4 12:08, 5:06.5

Loop 4 11:48, 4:58.1

Total 1:02:59, average pace of 5:18.2, total distance 11 7/8 miles

Ok first great workout because each lap got faster. What I didn’t like is that my hamstring flared up and I didn’t get to do a real hard loop to finish up but I was looking to do about an hour and a quarter so if the hamstring hadn’t started to be a problem I think it would have been a great workout. But even with it I think it’s a real good go, I ran almost 12 miles at under 5:20 mile pace and the last 4.75 miles averaged marathon pace and I finished feeling easy, other then the hammy.

Progression 2 September 20, 2007

Loop 1 12:49, pace 5:23.8

Loop 2 12:30, 5:15.8

Loop 3 12:09, 5:06.9

Loop 4 11:47, 4:57.7

Straight away (.87 mile) 4:08, pace 4:45.0

Total 53:25 average pace 5:09.1

Total distance 10.37 miles

Ok once again first it’s a great workout simply because each lap got faster. Now what I didn’t like is that I went out too fast, I knew it by the end of the straight on the first lap by seeing the split but I make a policy of never slowing down in a progression run and I felt easy so I stuck with it. So what happened? I was aiming for an hour and a quarter or so again and I fell way short. I finished very fast but I didn’t have the volume of work under my legs to properly tire them that I would have liked, also I gave up on myself and only did the straight on the last one. I was right to tell myself I could stop at the end of the straight to get myself to pick it up but then I should have picked another marker and another until the lap was done, also although my last 3 and ½ laps averaged about marathon goal pace only my last lap and a half was actual at or under goal marathon pace. Pluses, well the average pace looks real good and for ten plus miles it is good but honestly I think the first workout was better simply because I exercised more control and had more miles under my legs before I started to run fast.

Progression 3 September 26

Loop 1 13:32, pace 5:41.9

Loop 2 13:15, 5:34

Loop 3 12:50, 5:24.2

Loop 4 12:32, 5:16.6

Loop 5 11:54, 5:00.6

Loop 6 11:35, 4:52.6

Total 1:15:40, average pace 5:18.6

Total distance 14.25 miles

I’m really happy with this run, I wanted to do an hour and a quarter or more, I did that, I wanted to finish at something close to half marathon pace for a full lap and I did that. So this is a great workout all around. Yes my average pace is slow but the distance is real long and I was under marathon goal pace for two full laps (4.75 miles) and averaged mp or better for the last 7.12 miles and averaged under 5:09 (the pace of the last progression for the last 9.5 miles, so almost the same distance as that whole workout). Most importantly each lap was faster then the one before it, even lap 4 when I had to stop and tie my shoe (the watch never stops during a progression run!). I had almost ten good miles of running under my belt before I started running fast and still I was able to run nearly five miles at 5 min pace or better.

My Marathon Training Guidelines

the idea of this blog is to just lay out some of my basic beliefs about marathon training. I hope to do some more stuff like this but we’ll have to wait and see if I ever get around to it. Let me preface this by saying that the most important aspect of training is you the individual. Bill Bowerman said “The magic is in the man not the miles” I think that may be the truest statement in coaching history. So this is what I believe is a good outline for marathon training. It is based heavily on what has worked for me, I hope it is helpful.
I will base all the times off of a 2:11 marathon, just because I have memorized them. But to figure your own times out the easiest way to do it is to figure your marathon pace out in kilometers (there are plenty of online calculators to do this, I like the coolrunning one) then put the time in seconds 3 minutes equals 180 seconds then divide by 5 or multiply by .5 you get the same answer. That is 5% so then add that number to get what is 95%, 90%, 85%, 80% marathon pace and subtract it to get 105% and 110%. In our 2:11:00 we’ll go with 2:10:48 because that is exactly 3:06 kilometer pace. So 186 seconds, so 95% is 3:15.3, 90% 3:24.6, 85% 3:33.9, 80% 3:43.2. 105% is 2:57.4 roughly goal half marathon pace (hmp)though if you are an endurance guy like me 104 or 103% is really more like half marathon pace. 110% is 2:47.7 roughly goal 10k pace but again for me and other pure endurance runners it ends up being more like goal 5k pace.
Ok I break marathon training into two phases basically a base phase and a specific phase. But you need to be very fit to start training so if you are not very fit you need to add a third phase, a build-up phase. This starts by building up your mileage to the range you want to be running in. Next you hold that mileage and add some light workouts until you are fit enough to be comfortable at it.
General guidelines
Mileage: I really feel that for most marathoners (male or female) that want to be elite they really should be running in the 130 mile a week plus range. That said there is a lot of variety in the mileage of successful marathoners some succeeding exceedingly well with as low as 90 miles a week or just below, Benji Durden comes to mind. So lets say for a general guideline range for the runner who truly wants to find their full potential in the marathon 90 to 210 miles a week. The bread and butter range where most should find themselves eventually is the 130 to 160 range.
Paces: we already covered most of these but I want to add easy and regeneration to the list easy is anything slower then 80% mp that isn’t a stupid slow jog. Regeneration is a stupid slow jog, for me right now its anything from 7:30 to 10 mins plus a mile.
Phase length: each phase should at the absolute shortest be 6 weeks and 8 to 10 is ideal. The specific phase includes a 2 week taper prior to the race.
The fundamental phase:
Here we try to build our overall fitness as much as possible and prepare ourselves to handle marathon training. I believe that in this phase our mileage should be at least as high as during our specific phase and can average as much as 10 or 15 miles a week more then during our specific phase. During this time I feel you should run as many different types of workouts and paces as possible to condition as many different systems as you can. I like the easy hard method. One day hard one day easy. Now you may need two easy days or three or you may be able to do just a medium day and recover(paris marathon champion and world champs runner up mbrack shami does this). How easy is easy. I like a nice 10 easy 10 regeneration double or a 9 easy 8 regeneration double. After extremely hard workouts I will do a 6 and 6 both regeneration pace double . But Kenny Moore who finished 4th at the Olympics in 72 and ran 2:11 liked to do only one run of 4 to 6 miles on most of his easy days. The point is find what works for you. But be honest with yourself. You are much better off getting good quality on your hard days and logging pathetic mileage on your easy days then working too hard on your easy days and having your quality suffer.
Now during the fundamental phase what is important is internal effort not the specific paces you run. So if the workout is 10k at half marathon goal pace(hmp) and for our 2:11 guy that its about 2:58pace or 29:40 and he runs all out and only manages a 30:20 that’s fine as long as he was running half marathon effort. During the specific phase the pace becomes important and if you can’t run the pace you are supposed to then you need to take another easy day and do the workout as intended at a later date.
What to work on: Again variety is the key. In a given week hopefully you can get 3 or 4 solid efforts but if your recovery rate only allows one or two then that’s what you have to work with, although if this continues for a few years I would definitely try making your easy days easier. Hard efforts include 8 to 12k at half marathon goal pace, 20 to 30k runs at 95% marathon pace, 30 to 40k runs at 90% marathon pace 20 mile(32K) to 26 mile runs(42K) runs at 80% marathon pace, 12k progression runs in 4k at mp, 102%mp, 4k at hmp(105%mp), 20k alternating 1k or 2k at hmp and 1k slower (start at 40 seconds slower and try to work down to 20 to 25 seconds slower by the end of the fundamental phase). Another great workout that is more involved is 6k at the pace of your marathon pr, 5k at goal marthon pace, 4k 2 seconds per k faster, 3k 2seconds per k faster, 2k 2 seconds per k faster still, 1k all out(roughly 10k pace, do this with a k at roughly 30 seconds slower then mp for rest after each, so very quick jog. If you repeat the workout the paces stay the same but the jog rest gets faster. Finally you can do a super compensation day also called a special block during the base phase the second session should have intervals at hmp as the main focus. An example AM 10k at 80% mp rest 1 minute 10k at mp PM 10k at 80% mp rest 1 min. 10 to 12 x 1k at hmp w/ 2:30 rest. These should only be done a couple of times during the phase at the most and you should take an extra easy day before them and two extra easy days after at least.
Medium hard efforts include 45 minute to 1½ hour progression runs, 10 to 12 x 1k at half marathon pace, 5 to 6x 2k at half marathon pace, 4x3k at half marathon pace. 4x3k cutdowns start at marathon pace cut down to half marathon pace, 3x4k cutdown, start at mp work down to hmp, rest on all of these workouts should be two or 3 minutes jogging. If you can run quicker and do something like at 3 flat 800m for the rest. Finally you can do long easy running 2 and ½ to 3 and ½ hours. Now when you are really fit that may work as an easy day but only after years of high mileage.
Finally if you tend to under perform at the short races or have had a muscle biopsy done that shows you have the slower of the two slow twitch fibers then you should do some aerobic work. So 300 to 500 meter repeats at 3k to 5k goal pace w/ short rest, minute or less. Or hill repeats of 100 to 200meters with jog down rest either way do a lot 10 to 30 in a session. This will teach your legs to burn lactic acid as fuel. Now if you are a good 5k/10k guy your body does this well enough naturally that you need not waste energy on in marathon prep because your base level of doing this is enough for a marathon.
Finally in the second session after doing an am workout once or twice a week you should do short hills as steep as you can find for 8 to 10 seconds, if you are one of the slow people like me you can just do your 100 or 200meter hills here and kill two birds with one stone. These hills serve two (three if you are going anaerobic) purposes first they greatly improve your hearts stroke volume increase the amount of blood pumped out of your heart with each beat. Second they are great for the muscular development of quads, calves and ankles. Jog down and make sure your heart rate is below 140 for rest. It is the great and violent increase in heart rate that leads to increased stroke volume.
As a general guideline I like to cycle things on a two week cycle doing 2 real hard efforts and 1 or 2 medium hard efforts the first week and then 1 hard effort and 2 or 3 medium hard efforts the next week and then repeat. This helps keep an even keal. But you need to find what works for you. First let me recommend caution and control. You need to train hard for a long time to get good. Training as hard as you can for a week will only ruin you because there will be nothing left for the next week. I like to suggest 90%. Each week during heavy training should be at 90% of what you could do if you were to go as hard as you could for the week. Now maybe once or twice during your season you may want a special week to go beyond this but do so only with great caution and extremely rarely. The most incredible training means nothing if you are not healthy on race day.
The Specific Phase
Like the title suggest specificity is the name of the game. Two major things to think about here, pace specific and time specific. Most of your workouts should meet one of those two requirements. Either you run hard, less then race pace but at least 80% mp for roughly the time you want to run your marathon in. One extremely hard session 4 or 5 weeks prior to the goal race of running race goal time at 95% mp or 90% over very hilly terrain is a favorite of mine. I recommend more easy days during this phase, leaning towards two after most hard days.
Try a special block, if you did them during the base phase and like it then do two. But this time both sessions should be mp based for example AM 10k at 80% 1 min rest 10k at mp PM repeat. If you do a second one try to do 10k at 80% 12k at mp Pm repeat.
Race pace Race pace Race pace. More then any other distance race pace is of the utmost importance in marathon prep and yet it seems so few in the US use it and I think that is why so many under achieve at this distance. If you take only one thing from my growing manifesto here let it be this. Do a ton of marathon pace work for the marathon. These workouts can be very straight forward run 12 to 16 miles at mp. But I and others find that impossible to do alone in with the tiredness of mileage in our legs so I recommend doing intervals during which you cover 12 to 16 miles at mp. 4 to 5x5k, 4x6k, 3x7 or 8k. For rest take 800m to a mile but at a quick pace only 20 to 40 seconds a mile slower then mp. Another great mp workout is that 1k at half marathon pace 1k slower workout only now the rest has to be fast enough that you avg. marathon pace for the whole 20k so for our 2:11 guy he needs to run 2:58 on the on k’s and 3:14 on the rest k’s so he is recovering at 5:15 mile pace or better.
Finally there is running marathon pace tired. These workouts specifically target the last 10k of the marathon. The special block is one. But others of note are 1 ½ hr progression runs with the last half hour at mp. Or run at an easy pace for 22 to 30 miles then do 10k at mp to finish up. This was a Kenny Moore classic. Canova likes varied pace runs of 30k to 40k. for example 10k at 80%, 5k at mp, 5k alternating 1min hard 1 min at 80%, 5k at 80%, 5k at mp. Then two or 3 weeks later 15k at 80%, 5k at mp, 5k alternating 1min hard 1 min at 80%, 5k at 80%, 10k at mp (or 5k at mp, 5k all out). These are great because they also serve as race simulations. If you are going to be running for the win or in a group of people where pace shifts or variations are possible then these type of runs, an the 20k alternating pace workouts are an absolute must.
Peaking ok I don’t feel I’m an expert on this and I am still experimenting. I like the 80 60 peak so two weeks out you to 80% of your normal volume and the week of you do 60%. Also during these weeks you cut back on the intensity of your average running days and you only do 1 or two workouts. These should be real light. I really like Pete Pfitzinger’s peaking from his book so if you can get it check it out. But I also like more canova styled workouts. Anyway some stuff they agree on is one workout the week before. One the week of, 7 days before a medium long run say 1:20 or so. Run it solid, not hard but solid, if you want you can go a bit easier and run the last two mile at mp.
The last workout should be 2 miles to 6k at marathon pace. I like 4 days before the race, just how my body works but you may want to go 3 days before. But if you have been working on a hard easy hard easy schedule I really recommend going 4 days before. You can go harder on the workout the week before. I did a double workout before the trials (8 or 9 days out) I ran a 7 mile progression run in the morning and 7k at mp in the afternoon. I also like a long run 12 to 14 days before the race at a solid but not killer effort. I ran 22 miles with the first 19 at roughly 85% mp and the last 3 miles all out climbing 1000 feet 11 or 12 days prior to the trials. I ran 20 miles at 80% mp 13 days prior to my debut marathon.
Now as long as that is there is more stuff that you can add in and a million different ways to personalize what you are doing but that’s my philosophy in a big nutshell. It takes very heavily from the Italian/Kenyan marathon school. But if you cut back on the quicker stuff, eliminate the short hills and increase the volume to 1000 kilometers a month you have the Japanese school of marathoning. Also from what I know it is similar to what the Ethiopians are doing but they often do a bit less mileage and more quick stuff. The Moroccans are similar to that.

Injured? Cross training Ideas Solutions and Guidelines

Often I have come down against cross training on this blog. First I feel that all lifting with ones upper body is a waist of energy that could better be used to recover from running. Second I think that the thinner and more ectomorphic a man is the better looking he is, oh how I wish I weighed a 120lbs! For the most part I basically feel that if you want to be a better runner then you should run. I make exceptions for core work, but it should be running specific, for running specific ballistic and plyometric drills and for lifting with your legs, the last one only if you have a program from someone who really knows what they are doing because it is real easy to build up some serious muscle imbalances. But riding a bike will not make you as good a runner as running will, same can be said for swimming, aqua jogging, elliptical machines and well every other aerobic activity you can imagine. Now some of them may be or are better exercise then running, like cross country skiing for example, but they still won’t make you a better runner then running will. But one day you may get hurt, and when you do you need to do something to maintain your hard earned fitness and running isn’t an option.

The rules of injury cross training

  1. Never do any type of cross training that bothers your injury. If it hurts when you bike then you don’t bike. It is completely counter productive to do any cross training that will slow your recovery.
  2. Next up rule number two be as specific to running as you can. So if your rich or have great contacts then get your ass on an anti g treadmill or a underwater one. If your not then aqua jogging and elliptical and versa climber are better then biking which is better then swimming.
  3. If you are going to only miss a few days then don’t do something that is going to make you sore. For example the stationary bikes I have to use don’t have a low resistance setting so if I ride them long enough to get a workout I get very tight quads, now if you have a stress fracture and are going to be out for 6 weeks then this is no big deal you will be long past this soreness by the time you must start to come back to running. But if you may be back in a day or three then don’t be an idiot stay off the bike
  4. aerobic training is the only training that really matters. Why because anaerobic training is to get you sharp to race and you should not be racing within 4 or six weeks of return from injury.
  5. Never lift weights, your not running and your liable to come out looking like a beef cake if you lift with your upper body and lower body lifting will aggravate your injury. No I don’t know what your injury is but I do know that lifting will aggravate it.
  6. Mix it up, don’t just do one kind of cross training do at least two, the more the merrier. Cross training is the most boring thing in the world so changing it up will help you do more of it.
  7. Bike at 120 revolutions per minute. If your bike won’t let you do this(it has to much resistance, ok, but if you have to do less then 90 rpms don’t use the bike)
  8. If you are in the pool you are doing an aqua jogging workout, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
  9. As a general guideline you should do twice the time cross training as you did running. So if you were running an hour and a half a day then you should do 3 hours of cross training. Yes this totally sucks.

Now that we got those guidelines out of the way lets start to set up a program. Personally I think that ideally you should do a mix of aqua jogging and elliptical. The pool is a boring hell and it doesn’t give your leg muscles a great workout so it alone can as my dad always said “suck the ultimate wango.” Not totally sure what a wango is but knowing my dad it is exactly what you would think it is. Now me personally I haven’t the balance for the elliptical so I go with biking instead, or cross country skiing in season. I recommend even if you are a low mileage person to do 1 session of each of your chosen exercises a day. If you are real motivated or have a partner to help get you through doing say 1 bike/elliptical session and 2 pool sessions is ideal. In college one winter I did an hour on the bike and an hour in the pool and then either a versa climber workout or another hour on the bike and of course an hour in the pool each afternoon. On the weekends I did just one hour each on Saturday and a “long run” of two plus hours in the pool on Sunday. I did 3 hours once and was socially awkward for at least a week after. Don’t spend 3 hours alone aqua jogging in a pool. Its bad for you mentally, it can’t be good for your health and it has little or no training benefit.

Now the sessions I have listed above sound great but one it was very mentally draining and two much of the work and time I was putting in was doing me no good.

Why??? Aqua jogging, just hoping in there and going does you little or no good. I have no scientific evidence of this but I’ve been hurt for literally a total of years when you add it up and I’m 100% certain of this. Why, well I got fat doing it, but more importantly your heart rate will almost always be below 120 and often well below that mark and frankly how much training can be taking place at that level. So if you are in the pool you are doing a workout, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. See rule #4.

So what should you be doing for pool workouts?

I like 30 minuters, not that you get done in 30 minutes but you do 30 minutes of efforts. Basically you break 30 minutes up any which way you want and take ¼ to 1/3 the time your effort was for rest. For example 30x1 min with 15 second rest. Now each of these should be preceded by 10 mins warm up and followed by 5 or 10 minutes cool down. As time goes by you can really get inventive, with ladders and what not. Efforts longer then 5 or 6 minutes tend not to work because you lose focus. Now how hard should these be. Well all out that’s how hard. It is pretty much impossible to go anaerobic well aqua jogging, at least to a serious degree so all out is the way to go.

So what should I do on the bike or the elliptical?

Now this is your volume builder just ride for time every day. It should be at more like a tempo run effort and remember the more rpms the better, lower resistance and more rpms always. If this is your only form of cross training or main form then you can do a workout on it once or twice a week. Just do a workout you would do on the track. Say you often do 5x mile then do 5x5 minutes on the bike with the same amount of time rest as you would take during your track workout.

Next up the Versa Climber, aka the hill workout of the injured world. You simply put this in for a soul crushing lung burning little taste of heaven once or twice a week. It is really a great replacement for hill workouts. One caveat you bring a trash bin over to this puppy when you workout there. If you are not at least dry heaving on this workout then you simply are not going hard enough.

There you have it my slightly rambling guide to staying fit while you are injured. Now for some people cross training is as good as the real thing, Dave Cremin was a guy who ran for Umass Lowell in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Dave got hurt after the first meet of the 1990 xc season and missed the whole season but was able to start running a bit the week before the regional meet. They had a good team so Dave ran, finished 3rd? I believe and qualified for the NCAA’s. There he finished 5th after running for less then three weeks. Now this is all D2 but the point is the guy stayed real fit. Now I never had those kind of results I tended to really struggle coming back but long term my cross training would really pay off. I would struggle for a few months getting back into running shape but then I would make a huge jump as my running came around and acclimated my overall fitness to running. Point is if you miss four months and train your ass off in the pool and come out and run like **** don’t sweat it, you may just have to wait a few months to get your big pay off.

10k training Blog

I’m doing a bit of a 10k training block and someone suggested in a comment that I put up a post about training for the 5k and 10k so I thought now would be a good time to do that. To be honest because I spent my winter focused on getting ready for a marathon my schedule over the next couple of months is not an ideal example of 10k training but it can give you something to compare this idealized schedule and ideas I’ll put in here. You can see sort of both ends of a spectrum in the same type of program.

First you should start with a fundamental/base phase. Like if you were getting ready for any distance races this is focused on getting into great all around shape and getting ready to do the specific training that will sharpen and focus your fitness on its target distance (5k/10k). So it is pretty similar to what you would do for any distance but just with slightly different stresses. For example training for the 5 and 10k you are going to do more work to develop your muscular power and in turn your speed then you would getting ready for a marathon where you are much more worried about endurance both muscular and aerobic. The general focus of this phase is strength endurance basically referring to muscular strength and aerobic endurance. Now lastly a bit of disclaimer, I have been very focused on the marathon and I have only put together two small 10k seasons for myself, this one coming up off of a marathon phase with no race and certain limitations placed on it because I don’t want to do any workouts that bother the hamstring and one last spring that was much more focused on racing back into shape to get ready to train seriously for the trials after losing massive fitness to a 10 week layoff do to mono. So this is mostly theory and based on what I have scene others do. I have used aspects of this myself but never the full cycle and if I did I’m sure I would find things that worked differently then I expected and would make changes. At some point in the next couple of years I will have to do a full 10k season and I’ll have to redo this blog at that point. But it’s a start anyway.

Introductory phase; real quickly if you have taken more then 2 weeks off since your last season or just are not real fit for whatever reason you should do a intro phase to get fit enough to train. It should basically just be a build up of mileage with strides and some easy drills and bounding ect.. Just basically preparing your body to handle the stresses of the fundamental phase. Depending on your fitness level it could be anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. Longer then that would become redundant and counter productive.

Fundamental phase; this should be 6 to 10 weeks long. Depending on the time available and how well you handle blocks of training for different periods of time. Dave Bedford, who set the world 10k record in the 70’s thrived off of a program of 12 hard weeks but wanted to make sure he won at the 72 olympics so he followed the same program for 16 weeks and ran awfully at the Olympics, he was simple flat. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Mileage is very much a personal thing, "the magic is in the man not the miles" as Bowerman said, but there are some guidelines if you can’t run 70 or 80 a week you probably shouldn’t be focused on the 5k/10k, probably the 3k/5k at the longest. Also running much over 120 a week serves no purpose unless you are training for a marathon or see one in your relatively near future and want to prepare your body for that training. The real focus of this program is the quality. Now very quickly far too often in this country people here quality and think instantly of anaerobic intervals. We need to stop this. I simply mean the workouts, the vast majority of which are aerobic quality or muscular development focused should be the focus of your program. Miles are nice but if too many miles are causing your workouts to suffer then they are counter productive, but more importantly if the pace of your easy runs is too fast and is causeing you to have to drop your mileage or affecting the quality of your hard days then you need to slow it down. Too many guys run 6 min pace and say oh its easy. But they are run down and underperforming in races particularly and workouts often. I was one of these guys in college and in slowed my progress, and that of many of my teammates. If you are running at 70% of your 10k pace or faster then you are not running easy enough period and often you should really be running more along the lines of 50 or 60% If that means you run with the freshman girls on your team then so be it. You will be amazed how much this will help your running. Plus no matter how slow you go you won’t be able to go as slow as most of the Kenyans go on there easy runs. 10 to 12 minute miles are quite normal.

Types of workouts

Aerobic Quality- these are your bread and butter of the fundamental phase and you should do one or two a week. They can be hard or medium. The goal is to improve your blood oxygen levels(there is a real term for that but I’m not thinking of it right now) improve the capillary beds in your muscle, both in size and scope but also in number. To increase the number of mitochondria (the energy producers) in your cells and the power and efficiency of those mitochondria.


Progression runs of 30 mins to 1 hr
8 to 12k steady runs at 95% 10k pace
4k to 7k steady runs at 10k pace
Tempo intervals with short rest at 95% 10k pace 1k to 3k 10k to 12k total volume rest of 45 seconds to 3 minutes
Long runs of greater then 2 hours at 70to 75% 10k pace (traditional Sunday long run)
8k to 16k runs (5 to 10miles) at 90% 10k pace (long tempo)
15k to 30k runs at 80 to 85% 10k pace (very hard medium long run or very long tempo)
6k to 12k uphill running at 95% 10k effort (pace obviously slower)

4k to 6k at 95% 10k pace
3k/2 miles at 10k pace
10k to 20k runs at 80 to 85% 10k
20 to 30k runs at 70 to 75% 10k pace (traditional medium long run)

Muscular development- hard effort should be done at least once every other week but can be done as often as weekly. Easy efforts should be done close to every other day and certainly at least a couple of times a week. Goal is to build muscular skeletal strength to run fast in relaxed manner and efficiently in terms of fuel(oxygen mostly in this case) used at fast paces. Also to develop the ability to run very close to top speed for the last 200 to 400 meters of a hard race.


Circuits- start with an aerobic interval 800m to 1 mile at 10k pace then without stopping go into a series of sprints and exercises, best if done on a hill. For example 1k at 10k pace into 100m all out uphill sprint into 50m uphill bounding, into 50m uphill springing, into 100m uphill sprint into 10 jump squats. (there are tons of examples better then this online, just search through Canova schedules on lets run and you’ll find a bunch.
Hill bounding and Springing (Lydiard style) Mix these two exercises done for 600 to 800m with jog down rest for 1 hr to 90 minutes, ie 600m bounding into 600m springing jog down and repeat or 600m bounding jog down 600m springing jog down and repeat

Easy (can be done as a recovery run once you are used to performing them)
Short hill sprints 60 to 100m 8 to 14 seconds, alatic work with jog down full recovery (heart rate down to close to 120 for most people) this is great muscular exercise but also because it drives the heart rate up very fast and down very fast again it increases the hearts stroke volume which is very important and so these should be done at least once a week. You can do anywhere from 10 to 30 plus of these in a set, start low build up.
Butt kicks 8 to 14x30m
Continues warm up drills
High knees
Bounding on the flat
Straight leg bounds
Short hill bounding and springing
Jump squats

Laying out a fundamental schedule

This is where your fitness level will dictate the specifics of your training the most. I love to work on a hard easy hard easy type cycle. To do that I may have to make my easy day very easy, in my present schedule its at 6 and 6 double and I take it very easy on both easy days. But you may not be able to go hard again after 1 easy day no matter how easy you make it. I know I couldn’t when I first started training like this. Now there are a few different ways to approach this you may just want to go hard easy easy hard or you could go hard easy medium, easy hard. Or you may find you can go hard easy hard but then need to go two easy days. One nice way is to have a hard week and a medium week. So maybe in week one you have two hard efforts and a medium effort then in week two you have three medium efforts. Something like that. Also you may find that some of the hard efforts are particularly hard for you and some are easier. Now first if that is so you want to get in some of those really hard ones because they obviously address a weakness in your fitness. That is not to say you should ignore completely the workouts you tend to do with more ease just that they should be less of a focus in your training and can be done much less. But also they are something you can squeeze into a medium week so you get two mediums and a hard but the hard isn’t that hard. I’m sure if that was totally clear but I hope it was.

Racing in the fundamental phase- Races are good workouts and as such are fine in this phase but with a couple of caveats. First you need to be prepared that you going to be tired and that backing off for a race is a bad idea so you must train though. (in a long 10 to 12 week phase you could back off for one race midway) as such you will most likely race poorly and often race very poorly. Think your in 30 min 10k shape you may well struggle to crack 31 or a runner targeting 36:00 may struggle to slip under 40:00. Second races are harder then workouts, they just are, so they take more time to recover from so in the interest of staying healthy and not getting your self into a pit of exhaustion where you don’t recover you need to give yourself extra time to recover after these efforts. Also because of this you simply don’t want to race a whole lot but a couple of races are not a bad idea at all.

The Specific phase
 Now is when you want to start to really focus your training on getting ready for the rigors of your event. So now you need to start doing your aneorbic intervals and your more race specific intervals. Also you want to do a number of what I call shift intervals or shift time trials. These are efforts of 1 to 6k where you run the first part pretty easy generally at about 90% 10k pace and then shift gears and run all out. You will be surprised how fast you can go in these often much faster then you are able to run in a single time trial or all out interval. The focus of these is to prepare your body for tactical races that may finish in a long drive to the finish and to practice running fast paces when you are tired. Also during this phase you should not completely abandon your aerobic quality and muscular development work. This things should just take a back seat to some of this more race specific work.

Specific work
800m to 2 mile intervals at 10k goal pace with short rest (over the course of phase you should shorten the rest or increase the distance of the reps not increase the pace)
Short progression runs 15 to 30 mins
10k runs with the first 6k to 8k at 85 to 90% 10k pace and the remaining 2 to 4k at 10k pace
5k to 6k runs with 2k to 5k at 90% 10k pace rest at 105% of 10k pace
Alternations, 6miles or 10k total distance with the "on" reps at 10k pace and the "recovery" part at marathon pace or a bit slower. Start with 400/1200 try to get to 1200fast/400 recovery
Alternations of 2miles to 5k with "on" at 5k pace (5%faster than 10k pace) and recovery at 5% slower than 10k pace about half marathon pace.  The idea is to try and average 10k pace for 2 to 3 miles.

Anaerobic work
600m to 2k intervals at 105% 10k pace with short rest (same as 10k short rest not increase pace)
4 to 6k time trials at 10k pace
2k to 2 mile time trials at 105% 10k pace
Traditional all out hill repeats 200m to 1k run all out with jog down rest
12x400m at 5k pace with 100 jog rest

Combination aerobic anaerobic work
Aussie Quarters
Moneghetti Fartlek
Shift intervals/time trials 3x2k 1k 95% 10k 1k all out, 2x3k 1500/1500 split, long rest on these 5 mins or so, time trials of 4k to 4 miles again split down the middle same paces
10 to 14 miles at 70% 10k pace into 4k to 6k at 90% 10k into sets of short intervals 300m to 500m at 105% of 10k pace w/ short rest ie a minute between intervals 3 mins between sets, only do 2 to 4 reps in each set only do 2 or 3 sets. For example 3x3x400m

Muscular and aerobic work options stay about the same but avoid the short aerobic options instead use some of the combo work above and the circuits change slightly instead of starting with an aerobic interval you should start with an all out what I call high school style interval, super anaerobic. Which is to say you go out too hard and get yourself in as much anaerobic pain as you can as quickly as you can. So you do an interval of 800m to 1k and just hammer out sub 30 for the first 200 and go as hard as you can. Sure you will run slower then you could have if you ran smart and you’ll be more tired too but that’s the point. You want to start the exercises with your body in an absolute state of crises. Just like the last 400m of a hard race. These Kenyans and Ethiopians you see dropping 50 to 53 second last laps on the track in Europe aren’t 45 second 400m men they are just able to run within a fraction of there top speed for 400m when their body is very near collapse. You want to be able to do the same.

Laying out your specific phase

 You are more worried during this time with the specific out put of your workouts versus really only worrying about the effort during the fundamental phase so recovery is even more important. So drop your miles a bit, say 5 or 10  per week, and put in an extra easy day here or there and go a bit easier even on your easy days.

You want to do one or two anaerobic or combo workouts a week and at least one circuit, one aerobic workout in each two week cycle. I really think one effort/run should be at least 15 miles in length, but there are some very successful runners who don’t do this so its not a absolute.

You should also race at least a couple of times, under distance is best. I wouldn’t want you racing every week but once for every 3 weeks or so is good. Again races are harder then workouts and you need to respect that and recover more from them.

You still want to be doing short hill repeats and the other easy muscular workout but cut the volume back to where you started the fundamental phase at. At this point it is just maintenance work.

As you get into your goal racing season so you need to back off and focus simply on racing mileage should be cut back to 50 to 60% you can last about 4 to 6 weeks without getting back to a little work and without loosing fitness, you should race every week you should do strides a couple of times a week and one or two real easy workouts like 6 laps of the track of sprint float sprint, or some light intervals at race pace or a hard mile or two mile time trial ect… I purposely don’t go into a ton of detail of how to do this part because it is so personal and so much based on the specifics of your racing season. Also there are so many example available out there.