Tag Archives: training plans

Checking In 10/22/2021

This week I’ve strength trained almost every day, spreading the exercises I’d have split over two workouts across five, along with leg and ab exercises I’d have previously done occasionally or weekly.

Some of these exercises are modified Rapid Fire Sets. I start at the lightest weight possible, do 8 reps and then after a 15-30 second rest move the weight up one step until it’s too tough to finish a set (aka to failure). Then I do 12 reps at half the failure weight, and move on.

Some of these exercises are standard 4 set blocks, the first and last set 12 reps at a light weight, and the 2nd and 3rd sets at twice that weight.

If the exercise is done on a machine where the weight can be quickly adjusted, I do Rapid Fire Sets. If I have to do the exercise any other way, I do a standard 4 set block.

I plan on three exercises. If I finish them all before 20 minutes are up, I pivot to light weight sets of 12 reps of seated cable rows, an exercise I do need to focus on. I do up to 4 sets, until I reach 20 minutes. (If for some reason every single cable row machine in the gym is being used, I have other needed exercises for which I can do easy sets instead. But I have yet to encounter this since starting this plan.)

I threw together a 5 day plan before I started, but (while I’m still finishing that 5 day plan) I have since adjusted the 5 day plan to better spread out the exercises, and will follow that plan once I cycle back to day 1.

It’s not such a big deal that the current v1 plan is not as organized, as the primary goal was to start this almost-daily training and see how my body responded. In fact, it’s better to have multiple muscle-group exercises clumped together in one workout or on back to back days and see what my body tolerates. Then, once I start v2 and those exercises are more spread out, I know my body can bounce back from that, or can push harder on key days since there’s more recovery time and less to do per day.

The smart strength trainers can agree that the details of the plan you follow is not as important as you actually following a plan that allows you to consistently train. That said, I have certain development goals in mind, and these exercises all fit what I can do and things I need to work on.

As I iron out the plan, I’ll eventually show the layout and why I do what when I do it. But so far, so good.

In addition to this, I’ve been riding the elliptical for 30-45 minutes after workouts, maintaining aerobic fitness while my leg issues heal up. While my right hamstring has a bit of lingering soreness, overall I feel strong in my lower body. I’m giving myself all week to not worry about running, though I may take a work break run today and ride the spin bike tonight to see how it feels today and tomorrow.

I have a couple of casual 5K races coming up this next month, which will help me see where I’m at. At least after all the issues this year I am sure I’ll finish these, and can maybe even race one or two of them.

More to come.

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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 7/21/2021

Every day I play my work break plans by ear depending on my energy levels, and decide whether I’m going to walk or run on work breaks. At my Master’s/fortysomething stage of life, that’s how you need to be.

Today it’s somewhat humid for Vegas (already 90°F, 45% humidity). Today, despite decent sleep, I’m feeling somewhat worn out. A work break run today would feel like a tired chore, and that’s my body telling me to just walk today, especially with plans for a workout tonight after work.

I already have a scheduled day off tomorrow, but that just means I can get some extra rest ahead of Friday’s and Saturday’s planned workouts. Plus, after a lot of activity the last couple weeks, including back to back weekend trips (I do plan to stay in town this weekend), this is a good time for a stepback week.

My schedule morphs like an amoeba, maintain a generally consistent form but often shapeshifting depending on how my needs evolve during training. I recognize the need to prioritize the long workouts, to make sure I strength train and get in one or two sessions of challenging running outside of the long runs.

I recognize the importance of general consistency, not necessarily following a training plan close to the letter, but making sure that every week I execute several workouts, that I run most days, stay meaningfully active every day and maintain a productive diet that facilitates my training and health.

I don’t need to get it exactly right all the time, so long as my body of work over time is a consistent collection of regular runs, workouts, training, and a consistent mix of volume plus recovery periods.


At this point, it’s clear to me that slow running in workouts isn’t helping me unless I’m warming up or cooling down, unless the workout is long and aerobic endurance is the objective, or the slow jogging is done in brief spurts during a walk or similar to help flush the bloodstream and kickstart recovery.

I want to adhere to the general 80/20 Endurance rule, but I always forget that my easy walks in a way are part of that easy 80%, even if they are rather easy, too easy to be an actual workout. This is in part because of the Vegas heat outside. I also like to keep in mind that my strength training is part of that hard 20%, even if these brief, hard bursts of effort aren’t an aerobic activity.

I charted a base template of a typical week’s workout plan, factoring in my weekday walking as easy minutes and my two weekly strength workouts as hard minutes. I wrote in two hard workouts, one speed rep workout and an hour long tempo/M-pace run, plus a 2.5 hour long run. The speed and tempo workouts include an easy 20 minute aerobic warmup (whether running or cross training).

It all added up to about 81% easy training and 19% hard training. If the long run is shortened to 2 hours flat the split is 79.8% easy, 20.2% hard.

So at least for the following week I’ll experiment with this approach, a sort of hybrid FIRST scheduule with three quality workouts (long run, tempo run, speed repeats) and just walking during the workweek, with strength training twice a week.

Monday: Work break walking, PM speed repeats
Tuesday: Work break walking, PM swolework
Wednesday: Work break walking, PM hour long tempo run
Thursday: Work break walking, PM swolework
Friday: Work break walking, no PM workout
Saturday: 2.0-2.5 hour long run
Sunday: Recovery day

If it feels good and I feel like I’m getting good workouts from it, I’ll risk my overall training to continue. I’ll likely add quality tempo segments to the long run as I progress, which will either require I add other aerobic work to stay at 80/20, or to downshift the tempo and speed sessions. I’ll probably also add cross training or other 45+ minute aerobic runs to the schedule if I feel it’s way too easy. I will also move scheduled workouts around to accomodate scheduled midweek rest days.

Let’s see how this goes.

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Developing the Trickling Marathon Training Plan

Without getting too deep into my methodology… every few days I schedule one or more days off from training, whether I’m just base training or actively training for a goal race (as I’m doing right now). On these days the only exercise I do is walk and use the spin bike. Otherwise, I avoid exercise and definitely avoid training.

In the past I trained with few to no days off, and in fact leading up to Chicago in 2018 I ran 70 straight days… with no ill effects in either case. My only knockout injuries have occurred randomly during down periods in training.

But, never minding the first digit in my age is now a 4, I recognize the balance between training enough (and hard enough) to generate fitness adaptions… and taking enough time away from training to allow those adaptions to manifest through recovery and supercompensation.

What I’m doing with the Indy training plan is something that for now I’ll call a Trickling 18 Week Plan. At some point I’ll diagram this all out in detail but in general I’ll describe it:

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A Long Workout With Less Stress Than A Long Run

I didn’t schedule a long run for this weekend, planning rest days on Saturday and Monday.

I did originally plan an easy workout for Sunday, but after having to cut short Thursday’s speed workout (five 2 minute repeats) due to fatigue from poor sleep, I decided to re-attempt the workout Sunday in place of the easy workout.

I also had a 3 mile walk booked for a Garmin weekend badge on Saturday, but had other plans come along and couldn’t do it before the weather got hot. Still wanting to badge-chase, I decided Saturday that I’d do the long walk on Sunday morning right after finishing the speed workout.

The repeats went just fine (that whole speed workout only took about half an hour), and once done with the timed cooldown I began the walk by heading back to base (I was only 1/4 mile away), getting a protein drink, and continuing the walk with the drink as I did some exploring: With some neighborhood construction done, I wanted to check out the mileage on a couple of new potential running routes.

After exploring the first loop while re-fueling, I returned to the ranch, recycled the bottle plus had more water, the continued the walk farther out to examine the 2nd new loop. (While not the main topic of this post, both routes are promising)

I returned after about 6 kilometers (3.72 miles), 80 minutes, of total walking (… and a brief running segment, as part of the 2nd route was in direct sun and I felt like getting out of it as soon as possible), to end the walk and the full workout session around 7am.

Between the speed workout and the extended walk, I was outside Sunday for close to 2 hours. Only about 35-40 minutes of that time I spent running, and the early repeats were the only truly challenging part. Most of that time I walked at fairly low intensity and that last 80 minutes was basically an extended cooldown.


This was in a strange way a long-run level workout, even though it clearly was not a long run. I spent 2 hours of my feet, though only covered about 7 total miles. My body had to operate aerobically (however mild in effort) for close to 2 hours, and while the intensity was not that of a 2 hour run, it still had to absorb the stress of two hours of total effort.

This is akin to the notion that your time to bonking in a marathon isn’t necessarily a function of your distance traveled, but your time spent at a given level of effort. Most runners can go about 2 hours at the typical 80-85% max effort most run the marathon before their natural glycogen stores tap out. How far they travel before this happens is a function of their fitness, the conditions, and all sorts of other variables, but most without fuel can give about 2 hours on their own.

That’s not why I did this, however. I just wanted to get a planned long walk in after a shorter, easier workout, before the Vegas sun got too hot. That I got this benefit was a welcome, inadvertent side effect that I only discovered in hindsight.

Still, this approach can be a fine hedge if you need a bit of a break on a long run day, or you want to maintain fitness and development on a down week.

It’s similar to Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk method, though Galloway would still expect you to run most of a given distance, while here you would just do a shorter, do-able workout and then chase it with a much longer, slower walk.

You could also take a page from IronFit‘s cross training plans, and swap the walk with low intensity cross training… though the idea of what I discovered is more about spending all your time on your feet and better neuromuscularly working your lower body.

I just wanted to share what I found after Sunday’s extended session. This is not necessarily something I’d make the key component of a training plan. It’s just an option for certain situations where you might want to dial back the intensity on a non-crucial long run day, or on a stepback or lighter weekend.

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Struggling With Your Mile or 1500? Two Key Workouts:

The mile (or the 1500 meters outside of the US) is a tough nugget for runners. A common time trial and a popular racing distance at all levels of Track & Field Athletics, the mile comes closest to pushing your absolute anaerobic limits versus just challenging your raw power and speed like the sprints. It’s typically run at a cut above your VO2max and typically redlines your heart rate to its max.

As various coaches have said about racing, your speed is not the problem. Most runners, especially elite runners, have great speed. The problem is developing the specific endurance to sustain as much of your speed as you can over your needed distance.

Most coaches over-polarize middle distance training. They go to three different workout buckets: Hard, usually all-out intervals… tempo runs of a few miles… and your typical extended easy runs.

While all of the above are great for general fitness and development, your goal with the mile is a lot more specific than the above covers. The speed in your hard intervals are not being carried over 1500-1600m (and it can’t, and shouldn’t). The tempo runs are not as hard as you need to run in the mile, and the easy running definitely isn’t hard enough. You’re not working specifically on what you need to do once it’s Go Time.

Again, all of the above are generally valuable, and shouldn’t disappear. But as race season approaches, as you approach time for your mile time trials, your qualifiers, your key races… none of these elements are being suitably combined in your training, and race/trial day becomes 4-8 minutes of misery as you strain to stretch speed that lacks strechability, and you’re going (necessarily but) way too hard for your tempo/easy aerobic work to really help you.

Meathead Coach Mindset claims that such divergent training approaches will somehow come together within your body on race day when you need it. That’s not how most things work, and barring exceptional natural talent that’s not how training for the mile works on race day.

Obviously, I don’t think the answer is to run mile time trials several times in one sitting as a 4×1500 or 3×1600 workout to practice. That’s far too brutal, and totally unnecessary. There is a better, and more human, approach.

I previously covered an approach to racing or time trialing the mile that can help you focus through the strain and difficulty. But I realize most could benefit from one additional key step: Specific endurance training for the mile.

There are two quality workouts I think are valuable for specific endurance. Deep into training, these can replace your 200-400m repeats, and (if this isn’t a time trial but an event you actually compete in) can even replace whatever extended tempo runs you do. I think the easy runs and other cross training remain valuable for generating recovery and maintaining your aerobic fitness, but once you reach the end-game of peak training, your quality workouts need to specifically prep you for the 1500 or the mile.

Both of these workouts are best done on a standard Olympic size running track with full markings.


Workout #1: 2000 Meter Fast Finish Cruisers

Preface: This will push you beyond the mile distance and not only get you comfortable running hard for 1500-1600 meters, but to finish with a strong, hopefully max effort once it’s Go Time.

Depending on your running volume, you probably want to only do 2-3 of these in a single workout. If you do a good amount of easy running each week and can handle it, I’d do 3 in a workout. You want to be tired but in good enough shape to (if you had to) go for an easy run the next day, and to be able to do another long or quality workout in 3 days.

The Workout: After a good warm-up… start the 1st repeat at 10K pace (about 85% of your race effort) and run this for 2 laps (800 meters).

On lap 3 you may step it up a bit, up to 5K pace, for the next couple laps until through one mile (1600 meters). If 10K pace incidentally feels tough, you’re welcome to stay at this 10K pace into laps 3-4.

Once you get to the final lap (final 400 meters), pick up the pace and finish as fast as you can reasonably sustain for the last 400 meters. Don’t sprint all out but definitely go as fast(er) as you can kick, surge, stride, however you approach it.

Hold this extra speed through the final lap and then take an easy lap around the track.

Repeat the above for the next 2000 meters, and again until you’ve finished all your repeats.

NOTE: If you’re elite-caliber, and you’re only doing a couple of these repeats, you are welcome to start at 5K pace and step the middle laps 3-4 up to 3K race pace. I recommended 5K-10K pace if you’re doing 3 or more reps because this is a sizable enough volume of fairly hard running and too much could negatively impact future workouts.

OPTION: If you want to do 3 or more reps in a workout, you can (and probably should) only do the final two reps with the surge/fast final lap, while the prior repeats are done entirely at 5k/10K pace (so they’re basically just 5K pace reps or 10K pace reps). For example, let’s say you do 4 of these repeats in a workout. So you do the 1st and 2nd 2000’s entirely at 5K/10K pace, and then do the fast final lap as I described above for the 3rd and 4th 2000’s.

This ensures you have energy to successfully surge in your final repeats, while also ensuring all your work with those final surge lap reps is done when tired.


Workout #2: 3×500 Race Pace Repeats

Preface: This takes a page from Greg McMillan’s 5K and 10K workouts, and practices your ability to handle mile/1500 race pace in smaller, more easily digestible portions.

The Workout: Simply put, you run your goal race pace for 500 meters three (3) times, taking a recovery jog or walk between each rep.

Find the 1500 meter start line (or the 100M marker) on the track. Start the repeat here, running your mile pace through the main finish line, around the first turn and past where you started, until you reach the nearby 200 meter mark.

Turn around and jog or walk back to the 1500m start line. Turn back around, and start the next repeat. It’s important the recovery be short (albeit useful).

You do three of these repeats. I’ll argue as McMillan does with his workouts that if you run the 1500m, and you can evenly run your goal pace in all three of these repeats without significant trouble, you will hit your time goal on race/trial day.

NOTE: For those doing the mile, you may turn this into a 4×400 workout or a 3×600 workout. Obviously you’ll need to adjust the start, procedure and finish from the 500m repeats, but this is actually a bit easier than the above.

For 4×400: Run a lap. Simple as that. Instead of jogging a full lap, I would jog for about 100 meters (however you wish) before running the next lap. Since you’re doing exactly one lap, it doesn’t matter where the next rep starts since you’re stopping at the same spot.

For 3×600: Find the 200 meter mark halfway around the track and start your repeat there. You obviously get to the main finish line and continue with an additional full lap from there. Once you return to the main finish line and the rep’s done, continue along the track and jog back to the 200m line, then repeat the process until finished.

Final Note: Why start at the 1500m start line for the 3×500’s, instead of the main start line and just finishing at the 100m mark? For competitive 1500m runners, I like the pattern and sense memory work of physically starting at the line that a 1500m runner will start at. This helps with the mental patterning and prep for race day. Trust me on that. It will feel more natural and help with your nerves on race day to start these reps at the same place you’d start the race.


Scheduling These Workouts:

These workouts are best done about 2-6 weeks before a race or time trial, as peak training.

If you have multiple mile/1500 races, and you don’t compete at other distances, you could schedule these accordingly between races provided at least 2-3 weeks of time before your next race.

As with any training, you need about 8-12 days to see initial benefits from a key workout, so burning through these between races when your races are a week apart probably won’t help you. Do this before a block of races, and then let your races serve as your quality workouts from there.

I would do these workouts no more than three times a week, and ideally I’d do each one once a week, spaced at least 3 days apart. If you compete at this distance, you can’t go too far wrong during peak training doing the 3x500s in midweek and doing the 2000’s on the weekend.

Once again, remember that you don’t see benefits from a workout until 8-12 days later, so taper off and cease these about 8-10 days before your next trial or race, or block of races.


I hope this helps you run a better mile, whether you’re just trying to do so for your own fulfillment, or you run this distance competitively for glory, medals, and such. Best of luck.

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Adding mileage with bookended run/walk intervals

I recently made another accidental discovery while training.

After cutting back on running for a while, leaning instead on strength and cross training, I started training seriously again after getting roped into joining a couple of spring 10K’s in the Vegas Valley. With COVID restrictions fading back, races (at least on a smaller scale) are coming back to the area.

To see where I’m at and give me an easy, productive training schedule, I had Garmin set me up on a McMillan algorithmic plan. McMillan’s easy workouts are often flexible, e.g. you can run 20 minutes at an assigned pace, or have the option to extend that paced run up to 35 minutes before the cooldown. I wanted to have that option rather than have to run 3-5 miles at pace or bust.

Previously I had been doing runs Galloway-style, with a run-walk approach. I figured out how to program my Garmin Forerunner to give me run-walk alerts on basic runs, and set it to have me run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat.

This had actually worked quite well in that my cross training helped me maintain more than enough aerobic endurance, but neuromuscularly I was still struggling to run more than 15-20 minutes without sending my heart rate towards the lactate threshold. I was able to easily extend runs beyond 15-20 minutes with the walk breaks.

Still, I figured forcing myself in the short term to combine some 20+ minute runs with some speedwork and ample nutrition/recovery in a training plan would compel my body to catch up.

On one easy training run I was laboring and decided to cut the workout short at 20 minutes, but that after the cooldown and nominal end of the training session I would “Resume” the rest of the run at an easy pace to cover the distance I wanted.

I got to end of the workout, hit “Resume”, and continued running. Within seconds I was surprised to hear my watch chime and tell me it was time to Walk 1:00, just like on my default runs.

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