Tag Archives: Running

The Bill Phillips Body For Life Inspired 10 Minute Warmup

A bit over 20 years ago, I bought the famous Bill Phillips book Body For Life. I won’t go too much into the premise of the book, its historical context at the time or its many flaws (including in-book product promotion). At the time, I found the template for fitness and diet interesting, so I bought it and followed the plan.

The book’s training method had you aggressively strength-train several days a week and follow some simple diet principles. For “cardio”, it had you do 20 minutes of effort-based high intensity intervals, which you can do in any aerobic-based way you desired, three days per week. I always used the treadmill. Back then I wasn’t the focused runner I am now, nor was I active beyond walking or cycling to commute, but I had enough fitness to run hard for some distance.

In short, the Cardio:

  • You start at a 5 out of 10 effort, whatever you feel that means
  • After two minutes you increase to 6 out of 10.
  • Each minute thereafter you again increase effort by 1, until you do a minute at 9 out of 10.
  • Then you scale back to 6 out of 10 for a minute, once again ramping each minute until at 9 out of 10, then falling back to 6 and repeating the process.
  • Once you get to 9 out of 10 for the 4th time, instead of dropping back to 6 you increase to 10 out of 10 and hold that for a full minute.
  • Then drop back to 5 and cool off for the final couple of minutes at 5 out of 10 to end the workout.

This workout always kicked me around, but I was always able to get it done. It was the only running I did, and you did it every 2-3 days so I had plenty of time to recover before the next one. I followed the Body For Life plan for a little while and then left it behind, probably in part because I lost gym access around that time.

In any case, this interval sequence resided in the back of my mind pretty much all this time. I still have the book but haven’t cracked it in a long while. The strength workouts I’ve forgotten as they’ve long since been replaced by far superior approaches.

But during recovery from my injury problems, as I started using the treadmill again, this approach came to mind as a warmup. It’s very similar to the 10 minute progressive treadmill warmup Lifetime Fitness taught me during my VO2max testing a while back. In that warmup, you jog for 2 minutes, and speed up by 0.4mph each 2 minutes before ending at a speed that is somewhat fast for you.

I realized that’s quite similar to how I did the Body For Life intervals. For 5/10 I would start at a 3.0mph walk. Then my 6 would be a fast 4.0mph walk. My 7 would be a 5.0mph slow jog. My 8 would be a 6.0mph steady run. My 9 would be a 7.0mph hard run. And the 10 out of 10 would be a nearly all-out (… well, at the time) 8.0mph run.

While the top intervals were harder than anything in the Lifetime warmup, the bottom intervals were of course much easier on me and allowed me to recover. The Lifetime warmup was harder to do because it required 10 straight minutes of progressively harder running (though, at least it was done after the fastest interval).

I realized doing an adjusted 10 minute version of the old Phillips workout as a warmup would be an easier and possibly more effective warmup, since I’d hit a faster top speed with a shorter duration, then have a walking period to cool off before re-trying.

I tried it recently and it not only felt better as expected, but I found it did a much better job getting my body ready to run at a higher intensity. So now that’s what I do as a warmup before any key indoor workouts (and you’ll notice I adjusted from the above paces a bit).

  1. I start at a 3.0mph walk for 1 minute.
  2. Increase to a 4.0mph power walk for 1 minute.
  3. Increase to a 5.0mph very easy jog for 1 minute. If too easy (e.g. I’m running into the front of the treadmill), I increase to 5.3mph, a more typical jog/recovery pace for me.
  4. Increase to 6.0mph steady run for 1 minute. If feeling comfortable after a few seconds I’ll often increase to 6.2mph.
  5. Increase to a brisk, somewhat demanding 7.0mph for 1 minute. If feeling comfortable after a few seconds I’ll often increase to 7.3mph.
  6. Drop back down to 3.0mph for 1 minute, and repeat the sequence.
  7. After the 10th minute, shut it down and go dynamic-stretch before the workout.

Since many of my treadmill sessions cruised around 5.5-6.5 mph, this whole sequence made that range feel very sustainable over a long period of time, suitably warming me up for a workout like that.

I not only do this warmup before treadmill runs but also do it before other cross training sessions, to ensure I’m at and can reach a suitable heart rate training range for a maximum training stimulus and benefit.

If I run near my gym, I could also do this warmup in the gym, then go outside and run. Sure, it can be awkward walking out of the gym 15 minutes after arriving, then back in the gym 45-75 minutes later.

I could also, with some discipline and adjustment, do the warmup outdoors by feel. That makes some sense after all, since the workout was originally intended to be done by effort rather than set parameters. I had an outdoor run yesterday that didn’t go great and had to be cut short. While not certain, perhaps it could have gone better had I thought to do an outdoor warmup like this.

You could follow the above sequence, with your own pace and parameters. Whatever a 5 out of 10 feels like or a 9 out of 10 feels like is up to you to determine (notice I don’t ever go to 10 out of 10, by the way; I stop at 9).

You could walk for 4 minutes and run just for 1. You could start at an easy run and just have it be all running. You could do it all on a spin bike or a rowing machine or elliptical. It’s up to you.

But I found this to be a great 10 minute aerobic warmup sequence, and it might work for you as well.

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Checking In 9/30/2021

Other than a spur of the moment afternoon work break run, yesterday was a full day off from training. I had to do my laundry last night, and that gave me a convenient excuse to come straight home and not go to the gym. I had a good dinner and slept reasonably well, even if I did wake up early today.

Today I’m gunning for running a good 7-8 miles, which would be the most midweek running miles I’ve logged since the end of June. I’ll run on at least one work break, and the main plan is to do what I did Tuesday, with a full Phillips-style walk/run warmup, then 60 minutes of 1000 meter easy intervals on the treadmill with a run-out to finish a full hour (an interval run until the clock hits 1:00:00).

If this works as intended (which given how Tuesday went I’m thinking it will), I’ll finish the day with roughly 7.5 miles. Tomorrow is another scheduled day off before a long workout Saturday, so even if today is really tough to get through I’ll have all of tomorrow to recover.

If I get through the weekend feeling reasonably good (I expect to feel somewhat weary and work-sore), I’ll likely do at least three of these next week and cross train in-between as well as through any rough patches.

The plan is to stay in town for the next couple weekends (I could be swayed to travel next weekend but the plan is to stay for now). I’ll bring fuel for the long Saturday workout, so if I can log the intended mileage and recover in reasonable time I think I’ll be in a good place training-wise. I’ll be able to log at least two more long weekend workouts (obviously the Vancouver trip will be one), if not another long workout next weekend (which is a swing weekend: I’ll see how I’m feeling and if I need that to be more of a break, I’ll take it).

Vegas mornings have cooled off considerably, and while it’s still a bit warm to go long (high 60’s Fahrenheit in the mornings) the conditions are decent enough to go for it. If the wildfire smoke comes back, the current treadmill format might be suitable for a long workout, or at least part of it on the treadmill with long cross training behind it.

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Time To Taper: When It’s Too Late To Train For Your Marathon.

A good portion of you are running one of the many major marathons taking place over this next couple months: Berlin is this weekend, London next weekend, Chicago and Boston the week after that, and NYC on November 7.

As people do for these races, many of you are probably in an overthinking sense of semi-panic about getting trained and ready for these races. I’ve seen multiple accounts of people now injured ahead of these races, so I know the following advice is relevant.

Most of you are now about 2-3 weeks out from your race. This is now the time you should be tapering, not training hard or long.

Don’t forget: Your body can only gain fitness adaptions from any individual workout after about 8-14 days. Anything you do within 8-10 days of the marathon will not manifest in any training benefits until after your marathon. Any hard workouts within 8-10 days won’t do anything other than tire you out and possibly get you injured.

Many argue for tapering within 3 weeks of a marathon, but I’m with Jonathan Savage on the ideal taper being 2 weeks, with a gradually reduced volume of running at mostly your goal marathon-pace, e.g. instead of a workout of track repeats you’re generally better off doing a few miles at marathon pace and calling it a day. So anyone 3 weeks out at least has through this weekend to train long or hard before they need to wind it down.

At the same time, a lot of injuries happen within the month before a race because runners, generally knowing this truth, do the equivalent of cramming for a final exam, trying to jam in as much training as possible feeling they didn’t do enough the previous couple months. They overtrain within the last 4-6 weeks ahead of their taper, and then get hurt.

It’s a risk I clearly recognize with my own training for Indy in November, and one I have to balance against restoring training volume and best getting ready for that race. Granted, like NYC runners, my race is farther down the road, and I should be reaching peak volume anyway with my taper ideally happening in late October.

But those of you running Boston, London, and Chicago should be in your taper phase, and at this point any hard workouts are unlikely to significantly benefit you. The time to get the work done has passed. You’re either going to be ready or you’re not, no hard training you do from now to then will do much of anything at all to change that, and any long runs or hard work you do in the interim is more likely to burn you out, injure you, or otherwise leave you at less than your best condition for the race.

Side note: In fact, the only real benefit or purpose of any long run the week before a marathon is to tap into your glycogen stores so that any subsequent carb loading will best re-load them before the race. The goal isn’t to get in a hard workout to get you ready. Most would almost be better off cross training this workout for 2-3 hours than running at all.

So unless you want to join those people who now have a sudden injury to their calf, knee, hip, ankle, etc. with 2-3 weeks until their goal race… recognize that you won’t benefit from hard/long marathon training within about 2 weeks before your race, and start wrapping things up now. You had 2-5 months to get ready, and at this point you can’t undo the past.

Any hard work from 2 weeks out until race day is much more likely to get you injured than it is to get you ready for your marathon.

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Checking In 9/18/2021 from Big Bear Lake

May be an image of nature and tree
Boulder Bay Park in Big Bear Lake

Hello from Big Bear Lake.

This morning I headed out and after over nearly four hours of start-stop running, broken up with a mile 2 pit stop for pastries and espresso, a break in Boulder Bay at 7.5 miles, and a partially bonk-induced steak and egg brunch at Country Kitchen at 10 miles, I staggered back into base at 13.3 miles.

No left anything hurt the entire time! I did have a fatigue-like pain in the right hamstring in the tail end of the run, but I took it slow and stopped for a lot of breaks… so it never got dangerous or hung around long. As I write this, I feel generally sore/tired by mostly good overall. Nothing is bothering me. My left hamstring and groin were never at any point an issue the entire time.

I stayed under shade for most of the workout, and that’s one advantage Big Bear has over Flagstaff: The trees here are taller and take up more of the real estate, so the roads are generally more shaded across the board. Flagstaff is prone to longer stretches of open sun. It also was rather cool in the morning, actually near 40’F, only getting up towards the 70’s once I finished up.

I’ll see how I feel about some extra running tomorrow before I head out of Big Bear, and/or some more cross training after I get back into Vegas. I also have errands I need to run at some point once I’m back in Vegas, so time may be limited. But Monday is a scheduled rest day, and I’ll see how I feel Tuesday in deciding what to do that day and the rest of the week. I know I’ll be running some and cross training some, but what combination and volume remains to be seen. I have a lot penciled in, knowing some of it may likely come off.

This is a good time of year to come into Big Bear, because the summer season ends with the Labor Day holiday, yet it hasn’t gotten cold enough yet for icy temperatures or snow to make coming here unworkable. I may be able to squeeze in another trip here before Indy, but we’ll see. It’s not yet cooled off enough in Vegas that these weekend trips for long runs aren’t necessary anymore.

I don’t plan to run long next weekend, but might do a moderately long workout Sunday. These long workouts will be spaced out a bit, to give the adaptions a chance to show up workout over workout without overdoing it and risking further trouble.

That’s it for the moment. Going to relax before a busy Sunday.

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Checking In 7/28/2021

Last night I ground out a full 60 minutes on the elliptical without pain, though once I climbed off my lower body felt heavier than excess baggage. I ate a rather large meal and Garmin reports I got some good deep sleep last night.

I woke up this morning with two changes from yesterday.

First, my hamstring while a bit stiff is feeling better. I don’t feel pain except a little bit every so often, depending on how I step or stride. This improves on yesterday where I pretty much felt it most of the time I walked.

Secondly, though, I now have some occasional pain in my left groin, where it meets the leg. This however feels more like soreness than a possible issue or injury, suggesting this part of my body simply overcompensated for the hamstring issue rather than got strained or injured.

I attempted a brief test jog this morning and running did feel a bit better and easier. I will at least attempt a work break jog in the morning, and unless that feels terrific I’ll probably shut down on running again for the day just to be safe. I’ll walk through remaining breaks and continue tonight with cross training (plus I’m due to strength train this evening).

The hope is that the morning break feels reasonably pain free, and the brief stimulus of running on my lower body plus this evening’s training further spurs recovery overnight and beyond.

I’ve been leaning on my Hammer supplements during the last few days since the issue arose, taking closer to the normal dosage each day (I normally take just one pill a day, way below the recommended dosage). I’d like to think they’re working but it’s hard to tell. Am I healing more quickly than would be normal? Am I healing normally and it’s having negligible effect?

I’m holding out hope for Saturday’s trip into altitude, and Friday by 6pm is the V1 date to decide on cancellation. Obviously if my condition worsens in any way before then I should shut down for the weekend and cancel.

But there’s a large gray area where I may be pain free (well aware of a possible relapse at any point) or may have lingering pain, and could run with it. Saturday being a scheduled rest day before Sunday morning’s scheduled long run is also a factor. Could a full afternoon and evening of relaxation with a night’s sleep improve the situation further?


Tonight I’ll return to the elliptical and chase it with a hopefully brisk effort on the spin bike, before strength training.

Even if this heals up and is just a blip, it’s also a welcome rest for the rest of my body after a few weeks of solid training.

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Antioxidants: Helpful or Not?

Antioxidants are a fundamental mixed bag. On the one hand, their ability to heal the body and combat inflammation helps the body recover quickly from exercise, not to mention help protect your everyday function and immune system.

On the other hand, researchers have in recent years discovered that this antioxidant influx also blunts the body’s adaption and supercompensation to training, that while you heal more quickly and completely you also interfere with the body’s ‘learning process’ in fighting the inflammation markers and growing to adapt to the stressor of your intense training.

Basically, because antioxidants are an external healer, your body is less likely to learn to adapt to the stress for future workouts.

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Building A Better Self: July 2021 Edition

I not only finished Friday with 34 miles this week, with this weekend and a long run workout still to come (after 36 miles last week), but I did so despite insomnia on Thursday night and my air conditioner problem messing with my sleep earlier this week.

While obviously tired, I didn’t feel burned out, and I had the energy in me to pump out 30-45 minute training workouts on the treadmill after work, AND run 1K-2K on all my work breaks (except only for Thursday afternoon, which I walked). I played everything by ear and was willing to bail on any of the above if I simply didn’t feel well enough to do it.

But I did all of the above. No stimulants (outside of the same 12 oz of coffee I have had every morning for years and years), no crutches, no supplements I hadn’t already been taking for a while. Even now, other than understandable general fatigue (and yes I got decent sleep last night), I feel okay.

How am I doing this? I haven’t taken a complete day off from training since June 23 (10 days ago)

There’s a few new things I’m consistently doing. Some regular readers already know about, but some things not as much:

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