Tag Archives: Running

How I Built A Training Schedule Around A Different Work Schedule

To preface all this, I have a weird work schedule now. Not that the schedule isn’t normal for me personally (I am working it every week, after all!), but it’s not a schedule most people work.

It’s an office job where I work from about 10-11am until about 8-9pm, an early swing or 2nd shift, and I work Thursday through Monday. That itself is no big deal.

What’s weird is that some days are worked in the office, and some days are worked remotely at home. Because most of the office works a traditional Monday through Friday schedule with office closed weekends and some holidays, there’s no practical reason for me to come to the office on weekends and holidays… though the stores I interface with are open weekends and holidays.

So I work remotely at home on Saturdays, Sundays, and business-open holidays, while going to the office (when open) on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. (Of course, with the current Coronavirus risk, this can always change and I could end up working remotely everyday if that situation gets suitably dangerous again.)

Getting back to more relevant material, this adds several wrinkles to training. I’ve mentioned before that my schedule now allows me to train comfortably every morning, without having to wake up early. I can also sleep in as needed, and the reduced sleep deprivation improves my long term recovery.

However, once I get off work around 8-9pm, it’s highly impractical to train at all being so close to bedtime. So on work days I need to train during the morning, unless lunch and work circumstances allow me to sneak out and get a quick workout in during a late afternoon lunch break.

On the flip side, having to work out early in the day means spending my work day sitting, which really helps with recovery. There’s no afternoon commute or stress to complicate recovery… especially if I’m working from home that day: There is no commute!

With all of these opportunities and advantages, I have slowly carved out a template for a weekly all-around training schedule.

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Running Is Easy Again. And Running Is Tough Again

For all of April and May, I ran a grand total of 8 times. And 6 of those times were prior to April 15.

After the first week of April, I shut down all my running and embraced our collective lockdown. I basically went into personal hibernation, focusing on cleaning up and slimming down my diet, my only exercise most days being an occasional walk.

After years of mostly uninterrupted running and active life, I decided to give myself a long break for the first time in a while, and see if extended inactivity would help me physically once I started to train again. So far, so good.

After “beta-testing” a variety of workout approaches over the last couple weeks, I’ve settled on resuming regular running, with a long term goal to train for 5K running, then for 10K, then for the Half Marathon distance, then finally to train for (world events permitting, of course) the 2021 Vancouver Marathon in May 2021.

Part of this is a semi-fortunate change in my work schedule. For the better part of the last two decades, I worked weekdays 8 to 5 in offices like most people. Much of my creative efforts to consistently train were built around this schedule and lifestyle, and to be honest I got a lot out of myself that way.

But now, my job requires I work more of a swing shift, from late morning until the evening. Plus I work on the weekends, with my days off during the week, and since the company’s retail outlets are open all the time, I work on most bank holidays as well (except the big ones: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day).

This doesn’t sound ideal until I point out that my job can be done remotely. Though I do work in the office (now that we’re open, of course) on the weekdays, I work from home on the weekends. This eliminates the commute, allows me a ton of flexibility with meals, plus makes recovery a lot easier since I don’t need to move far for anything that day.

Plus, and this can’t be understated… for the first time in a while, my work schedule allows me to sleep in if needed. I can sleep in even later on the weekends despite having to work those days, because I’m working from home. Before, if I had trouble getting to sleep on a work night, I was likely ruined the next day. Now, it just pushes back when I wake up, and I still usually get 7-8 hours of good sleep that night.

That’s a big improvement on my recovery, because before I frequently ran into short sleep nights that interfered with recovery.

This also gives me more control over my diet. When you’re at the office, your food options are more limited. Working from home allows you to do things like cook for lunch while working. Also, since the workday starts later, this gives you more flexibility with breakfast, not to mention more time to prepare food if desired. Granted, I’ve been intermittent fasting so I’ve usually been skipping breakfast. But it’s great to have the option.

Most of all, instead of having limited morning time to train and thus usually training tired in the evenings… I now have hours in the morning to train as desired BEFORE going to work. I also do so with full energy first thing in the morning. Plus, instead of having to logistically figure out how to get a workout in following work, I have full control over what workouts I can do first thing in the morning.

Plus, with two weekdays off, I don’t have to deal with more crowded pathways and streets on the weekend. Most people are working weekday mornings, so the trails and sidewalks are mostly clear for longer runs.

So those are the benefits I’m experiencing now. After adjusting to the new schedule, I found it suited my training needs a LOT better than my prior lifestyle.

Meanwhile, my biggest struggle right now is the actual workouts themselves. Remember: I hadn’t run much at all since early April, and am just now getting back into regular running. Even though I feel mostly better after the break, any running at all is now a struggle as I work back into shape.

April 4th, 2020 was the last time I ran at least 3 miles. Even now, running 2 miles is a somewhat arduous effort. Only in the last week have I managed multiple runs in a week for the first time since April.

Yes, the dry Las Vegas summer conditions are a factor. Even training in the mornings, temperatures at dawn are already in the low 70’s (Fahrenheit, 21-24°C), and if you wait until the 8am hour the temps are already above 80°F, 26+°C. Even with the desert’s very low humidity (20% in the morning, 5% by afternoon), the runner’s heat index is in the 120°F (49°C) range. Plus, Vegas is almost always sunny. The heat and sunshine get you hot very quickly.

Still, having experienced Chicago’s very different but similarly tough heat, I know the difference between heat wearing you down and just simply lacking aerobic endurance. A lack of running makes it easy to realize it’s probably way more of the latter.

So, while I’m looking forward to 10K morning runs, 10+ mile long runs, and 400-800 meter repeats… right now the first goal is just for 3-5 miles to feel normal again. Until then….

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A Training Plan Need Not Be So Structured

man sitting on bench

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Ideally when deciding to run a goal race, you find or write a training plan (with or without a coach), and then you follow it.

But maybe no training plan out there is an ideal fit and you don’t have a coach. Maybe you had a plan and found out much too late that the plan is not working for you (and because none of us can rewind time, you can’t start over!).

Of course, it is entirely possible for a runner to train for a race without following a hard-set defined training plan. It might not adequately prepare you for the race, and therein lies the risk.

But then again there’s always a non-zero chance that following a given training plan doesn’t quite prepare you for a goal race either. Any approach to training comes with its set of risks. What would be the fun and accomplishment in training for a race if any recipe or approach made doing it foolproof or easy?

Still, if you want to run a race and you have at least a couple months to generally train, you could prepare for that race without a specified written training plan. It’s as simple as a consistent habit of multiple workouts per week, with as many of them as reasonably possible being specific endurance workouts: Workouts that specifically work on things you need to do in the actual race.

It helps if you’re already running regularly and in some degree of condition to race, but even if not you could adequately train with a general, consistent schedule provided you have enough time before the race.

Again, training for a race involves executing with these acute factors:

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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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Tips For Effective Runner Hydration

blue labeled plastic bottle

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

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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A Good, Quick VO2Max Workout for a One Mile Loop

man running beside street

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Pexels.com

Got a one mile loop near home that you can run uninterrupted? Training for a 10K or longer? Want to work on speed but do more than just 200-400 meter speed reps?

Run or jog to your loop and make sure you get about 10-15 minutes of easy warmup running in. Stop at a spot on the loop with a clear landmark and some space to move around.

If the loop provides a landmark about 3/4 of the way around, great. But if there’s no clear way to tell where 3/4 mile is, that’s okay.

Do some dynamic stretching, relax a bit, then run 4-5 strides… little 10-15 second fast runs to get the feel for running fast.

From your landmark spot, begin to run fast… about one tick below how hard you’d run a mile time trial. Focus more on moving your feet and arms quickly and steady, than on trying to go hard.

  • If you know where the 3/4 mile mark is on this loop, you’ll run this fast until you reach the 3/4 mile mark, and then slow to an easy recovery jog.
  • If you don’t know where the 3/4 mile is, but you know how fast you can run your fastest mile… subtract one minute from that fastest mile time, and round down. That is how long you will run fast before you slow to an easy recovery jog.
  • If you have no idea about either of those items, run fast for 5 minutes before you slow to an easy recovery jog.

No matter which way you choose to do it, jog easy until you get back to your starting point. Then, repeat the fast run as you did before.

Do this fast-slow run process three whole times, and you’re good. If you did this right, you’ll definitely want the workout to be done after the 3rd time.

Jog home. Eat something with protein.

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Work out with purpose when endurance training

men running on road

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

Matt Fitzgerald recently wrote on an interesting topic, asking: At what minimum volume does 80/20 training cease to be useful? I had some useful, common sense thoughts on the topic… that turned into the much longer piece below on endurance training, and how it must evolve past the basic runs consistent in most runners’ training plans.

First, to address Matt’s question… I think it’s important to consider the length of your goal event. Short of the marathon, I think it’s important during easier runs to practice running the duration or distance you plan to run your goal race, to accustom your body to the volume of running required.

For shorter events, this is easier. A 5K (3.11 miles) takes most runners 20-40 minutes, so it stands to reason you should be running at least 20-40 minutes or about 3 miles in easy runs. Doing 1 mile or 5 minute runs aren’t going to help you much at all. Hal Higdon has the right idea for beginners: Just work on running easy as long as you can uninterrupted until you can run 3 uninterrupted miles. That task in itself will suitably occupy most if not all of your training for such a race.

Something longer like a 10K (6.21 miles) might take more like 40-60 minutes. Even if you don’t run 6 miles regularly, running 40-60 minutes regularly in easy runs is probably a better idea than just brief 2-3 mile runs. Even your easier runs should have some specific application to the distance or time you plan to race.

It becomes more complicated running a half marathon, marathon or more. A 13.1 mile Half requires around 90-150 minutes of racing for most. Obviously, it’s not reasonable for most people to run 2 hours or 13 miles everyday. And of course the marathon requires a limit-busting 26.2 miles, and can take several hours. No one in their right mind will ask you to run that much.

The 60 minute race threshold is where a trainee should cease trying to run the distance in easy workouts, and focus instead on aerobically beneficial workouts:

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