Five Reasons For Runners To Cross Train

If I’ve learned one thing from this past year of training, it’s that cross training can be more useful than most runners think.

It’s not just an easy form of activity to do on recovery days, nor is it just a cheap substitute for normal running when injured.

Cross training, especially in the forthcoming years, especially for those getting older, is an important form of aerobic training. And there’s several key reasons I discovered for why it may become more valuable for those training to run marathons and other endurance races….

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An update on new endeavors for 2020

Recently I started a new job, and after a couple of nebulous months it actually feels great to lock back into a workweek routine.

Even with work to do, I find the workdays strangely relaxing. It certainly helps with recovery that I once again need to sit at a desk for hours each weekday. And, of course, it feels good to have a predictable income once again.

During this coming year I plan to study and train quite a bit outside of running. After years of developing my nutrition knowledge through self study, trial and error, and a legion of research… I decided to make my knowledge “official” and study for Precision Nutrition’s L1 Nutrition Certification. This fills in a lot of gaps, and codify (with sources!) a lot of the knowledge I’ve carried over the years. Plus, as nutrition certifications go, Precision Nutrition is considered among most the best of the best.

I’ve also decided to elevate my running knowledge by becoming certified as a personal trainer. Starting next month I will study with Life Time Fitness at their Academy to earn my NASM CPT certification.

Does this mean I will scale back my running work? Absolutely not! If anything, a key goal in these two projects is to make my running work more robust. Coaching from the certified knowledge of a nutritionist and personal trainer will make my work more complete.

Many runners and coaches only operate from a thin, general idea of nutrition and other physical training. Again, I want to fill in the gaps and be as complete a runner and coach as I can. I want to go beyond generalities when discussing nutrition. I want to go into depth on quality strength training, knowing how much a runner can and should handle, and (runners or not runners) get specific with work that will fully develop an individual’s health and performance.

And, of course, I’m still training for marathons. All of this is part of a larger study in utilizing nutrition and outside strength/conditioning work to maximize my health and development for Vancouver 2020 as well as Victoria 2020.

So, there will be more to come on that front. I will also write more going forward on concepts and lessons I study from the two training programs, with thoughts on their impact on not just my training but how it impacts training of others.

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Are you sure you want to run a marathon? Let’s talk about the Beginner and the Marathon.

female and male runners on a marathon

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A lot of new and novice runners get hooked with the desire to run a marathon. While admirable, a marathon is not a 5K, 10K or half marathon, and unlike those races this is probably biting off a lot more than one really wants to chew.

As an experienced runner, I didn’t dare attempt a marathon until I had been running seriously for a few years, and had already completed many races ranging in distance from the 5K to the Half Marathon.

For me, the marathon was far and away a much bigger physical challenge than even the half marathon. This is no surprise to most experienced runners, and even knowing that going in… the shock to my system was substantial and new.

To detail why the marathon is so much harder, let me go into some of the basic science behind how the body generates energy for running, how it impacts marathon training, and why it may present a beginner too steep a challenge training for a marathon:

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Thoughts on the benefits of building your own training schedule

Most people pick someone else’s training plan and just follow that to the letter. That’s probably alright for most, though having a life or other complications can make following most plans a problem.

For example, a Hal Higdon marathon plan follows a fairly set schedule. The intermediate plan has cross training Monday, three easily doable runs in a row on Tuesday through Thursday, Friday off, a moderate run Saturday and then the long run Sunday.

What if you run in the evenings after work but have a commitment on Thursday night that interferes with that run? Or what if you run in the mornings before work, but the 7-8 mile Wednesday runs later in the program are too long to do before work?

Or what happens if you’re exhausted and getting sick at the end of a week? Do you risk compounding that problem by getting your workouts in? Do you risk compromising your training by skipping the Saturday run (or heaven forbid, the very important long run)?

Never mind scheduling concerns: What if the weather is blazing hot and doing a 15 mile long run, even early in the morning when it’s cooler, simply is not do-able without risking serious health problems? What if doing the whole run on a treadmill or otherwise indoors just isn’t practical?

Conversely, what if it’s the dead of winter and windchills have dropped to a deadly low, or your locale just got hit with two feet of snow?

A lot of novice runners would just skip every workout that runs into such interference. And most will get to the start line of their goal race woefully undertrained.

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Tips For Effective Runner Hydration

blue labeled plastic bottle

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I usually don’t drink much water before or during a workout. During races, however, I hit the fluids at almost every aid station in almost every race.

Over time, I figured out the right balance of consuming water/fluid against your training. For most, getting it 80% right or better is really as simple as carrying a small water bottle with you, or running near ready access to water.

I think most runners over-think and over-do hydration. I think spending more than a sentence discussing hyponatremia is overkill (if you drink the electrolyte fluid available, you aren’t drinking a gallon of water per hour, and you eat a salty diet before the race, you’re fine). And I think a lot of the discussion online and in running groups is simply about upselling ‘hydration’ products you mostly don’t need.

And a lot of hydration related distress is beyond the control of your hydration: You either went too hard, it’s too hot outside, or both. No amount of hydration can prevent that scenario, and the best that effective hydration can do is partially mitigate the problem. What many think is a hydration problem is really a climate adjustment problem.


Still, I’ve figured out some effective principles that can keep you hydrated without sending you on needless trips to the restroom.

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Valuable Training Recovery Habits

woman in gray crew neck shirt running on brown soil during daytime

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I don’t get a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) during training. Incidentally, I had some a couple days ago after an interval workout, though I also hadn’t been training that much and I’m ramping back up to a normal training volume.

I’ve been able to train 7-10 hours per week over the years despite a full time job in Chicago and other commitments. A lot of that is creatively integrating training into my commute by running to train stations or all the way home from work, sure.

But those daily 4-7 mile runs, especially with some true speedwork sessions during the week and long runs during the weekend, not to mention all the work and walking and errands I did when I wasn’t running… could have burned me out quickly had I not developed effective recovery habits to follow between work and all those runs.

Even if you aren’t running 6 miles in your work clothes right after getting off work, many of the habits that have helped me can help you as well. In fact, the busier you are and the more you train, the more important it becomes that you adopt as many of these habits as you can:

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10 Tips For Running the Las Vegas Rock + Roll Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K

attraction building city hotel

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Oh, right. The Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon races are this weekend. Always held in mid-November, this is not only the biggest Las Vegas race weekend of the year but also one of the nation’s most popular running races. This is of course thanks to the chance to run along the famous Las Vegas Strip, making the course one of the most scenic courses in the world.

I live here in Las Vegas now, but I’m not running the race this weekend. I’ve run the Half Marathon before (in fact, my half PR was at this race). I certainly have a few tips that can help others running this weekend, whether you’re local or visiting from out of town.

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