Resistance Band Workout For Runners

Resistance Band Workout For Runners

Why Resistance Bands Are Great For Runners…..

If you’re a marathon runner, you really want to improve your strength and endurance so that you can avoid muscle injury. Resistance bands can be the perfect tool for you because they help to boost your power and strength in your calves, quads, and glutes. Strengthening these and other muscles with resistance bands will ultimately you run more efficiently and more powerfully. I like to use resistance bands to strengthen my core, hip flexors, and upper back. Strengthening all of these muscles will give you a strong base to build upon.

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The following routine also helps joint flexibility and strengthening smaller muscle groups that surround your major muscles. Completing this 15 minute deep strength work will result in fewer injuries, which keeps you training consistently and ultimately helps you achieve your running goals.

Warning:

Note: Be sure to check with your doctor or another medical professional before doing any new strenuous exercises such as with resistance bands. These exercises may look easy, but when performed for the first time, you will be sore the next few days.

Many of the following exercises use hip circle bands. Check out the photos on this page for more information 

#1 Lateral band walks

Lateral band walks are excellent for runners because they target your not just your thighs, but also hips, and glutes. Completing this exercise regularly with a band will help stabilize your knees and hips and the smaller muscle groups supporting them. I strongly recommend including lateral band walks in your conditioning routines to help prevent injury while running.

  • For this exercise, begin with your feet together and a hip circle band above your knees.
  • Come down into a partial squat with your back straight and leaning slightly forward.
  • Move sideways, crab-style, with your arms out in front of you, and your chest lifted. Lead with your heel to then bring your feet together while keeping them parallel. Keep your knees bent slightly so that you remain in a partial squat the whole way across the room. Make sure your abs are tucked in.
  • Once you get to one side of the room, work your way back to the other side.

You can take a look at lateral band walks in action here:

#2 Dead bug with band

Completing this exercise will help to improve your posture and work your core and hip flexors. The dead bug with resistance bands also strengthens the stabilizing muscles of your lower back which is essential for running efficiently  When completing this exercise properly, extend one leg easily and fully while keeping your hips in a neutral position.

  • Get down onto your back and put your feet up in the air as if you were a dead bug. Make sure your lower back stays flat, and your pelvis is tucked in.
  • Wrap a mini band around your toes.
  • Now extend one leg out straight while bringing the knee of the other leg towards your chest. The closer your leg is to the floor, the more challenging this exercise will be.

Here’s what dead bug with band looks like in action:

#3 Banded sumo squat walks

Banded sumo squats work the muscles of your inner thighs, hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, and hip flexors. Your core even gets a workout too! All of these lower body strength muscles are important for having more power for your running.

  • To perform banded sumo squat walks, wrap a hip circle resistance band around your thighs (just above your knees).
  • Stand up tall with your feet and knees turned slightly out. Your feet should be about 3 feet apart.
  • Sink into a sumo squat and then walk to the side, crab-style, while keeping the sumo stance the entire time.
  • You can clasp your hands in front of you. Ensure your back is straight and that your knees and feet stay in line with each other (at a diagonal compared to your trunk).

Below you can see how to perform sumo squats:

#4 Standing abs twist

Standing abs twists using resistance bands work your upper and lower abdominals, as well as your obliques. Strong obliques will help you retain stability as you run.

  • Attach a longer resistance band through a door anchor or around a pole at waist height, and hold the ends with both hands.
  • Stand with one side facing the door, your feet a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Be sure you’re far enough away from the door or pole so that the resistance band is taut.
  • Try not to move your lower body during this exercise. Move from your waist to grab both ends of the resistance band.
  • Pull the band in toward the center of your chest.
  • Next, turn at the waist away from the door, still holding the band close to your chest. You are, in effect, stretching the band away from the door. Keep your feet and hips in the starting position while you move.

Here’s what a standing abs twist looks like:

#5 Standing leg raises

Standing leg raises work your gluteus maximus, which are the muscles that control the flexion of your hip, the extension of your thigh, the slowing down of the swing action of your legs, and the flexion of your trunk.

  • Wrap a resistance band around your ankles.
  • Stand on one leg and send the other leg first out to the side, then out on a diagonal, and then straight out behind you. Keep your hips square when doing this exercise.
  • You can rest your hands on your hips to remember to keep them steady the whole time. The only movement should be in that banded leg.

Working at different angles activates your glutes in different positions depending on your leg’s angle with your hip.

Here’s what standing leg raises look like using a resistance band:

Resistance band takeaway

Once you try working out with resistance bands for your marathon training, you’ll love it. You’ll also see a real difference in your performance in the long term. Enjoy your resistance band exercises and watch your marathon times improve.

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12 week half marathon training plan

12 week half marathon training plan

Free 12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan …. 

The half marathon is the most popular race in America.  Running 13.1 miles is not easy, but as long as you put in the training, it’s a relatively “friendly distance.” Beginners who have completed a 5K or 10K, think of the half marathon as the next step up. Many experienced runners like half marathons, because they are easier to train for and race 13.1 miles compared to a full marathon.  The purpose of this article is to provide a 12 week half marathon training plan that you can follow. If your ultimate goal is 26.2 miles, a 13.1 mile race offers a good starting point.  However, if completing a half marathon is your goal, I can assure you that crossing the finish line will give you a feeling of great accomplishment.

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KEY POINTS

  • The goal of the following 12 week half marathon plan is to get you to the starting line fresh, fit and ready to race your best.
  • This plan is meant for beginners who have never run a half marathon. If you are an experienced runner and seeking to improve your time off your last race, consider training with me or hiring me to develop an affordable custom training plan.
  • You should consult a qualified and licensed medical professional prior to beginning or modifying any exercise program.
  • During the course of using this plan, you need to be willing to adjust and adapt to your individual circumstances. These include your goals, abilities, school, family life, illness, work, injury, etc.
  • This half marathon training plan is intended to be for general informational use. It is not intended to constitute any fitness and/or medical advice.
  • It is strongly suggested that you use personal judgment when participating in any training or exercise program.

I have prepared many beginner half-marathoners.  My step by step interactive plan increases the weekly mileage and is designed to challenge middle age athletes while also minimizing the risk of training too hard. The plan allows athletes to build endurance and ultimately taper properly.  Before starting to train for a half marathon, you need to possess a basic fitness level. But assuming no major problems, most healthy people can train themselves to complete a 13.1-mile race.  This half marathon training plan assumes you have the ability to run 3 – 4 miles without stopping, three to four times a week and have been doing so for the last 6 months. Basically, you need a fitness & mileage base before you start training for a half marathon. If that seems difficult, consider a shorter distance for your first race.

PACE CHART

Use the paces below when determining your pace for the various workouts within the training plan:

 

Goal Time1:452:002:152:302:45
Easy/Long Run Pace9:18/mile10:3211:3013:0014:12
Tempo Pace7:478:529:5711:0012:02
Long Interval Pace7:098:129:1710:1511:15
Short Interval Pace6:337:328:319:2510:20

Pace:

This plan includes some specific pacing for the workouts.  Use the above pacing charts for guidance, but feel free to adjust.  When I write out plans for athletes whom I coach, I like to include a range for the paces.  This helps the athlete so they don’t get too worried if they’re slightly off.

Since this free plan is designed for beginners, I recommend that runs designated as “easy” be completed at a comfortable / conversational pace. If you can’t do that, then you’re probably running too fast. (If you run using a heart rate monitors, your target zone should be between 65 and 75 percent of your maximum pulse rate.)

Distance:

The training schedule dictates workouts at distances, from 3 to 11 miles. Don’t worry about running precisely those distances, just try to come close.  If you’re longest run prior to the race is only 8 miles, you’ll likely struggle to finish the entire 13.1 miles.  Simply do your best to pick courses through the neighborhood or in some scenic bike paths or nature trails. In deciding where to train, talk to other runners. If you’re not certain of distances, there’s many GPS watches make measuring courses easy.

Long Runs:

The key to success with the half marathon is the long run.  Fortunately, you don’t have to complete any 20 milers.  However the 10 – 11 mile runs will help to build your endurance and get you closer to your goal of completing the half marathon. Pacing for these runs is supposed to be easy/conversational.  What’s most important on these runs is to listen to your body while completing them and back off if you feel like you are having any pain. As you can see in the plan, I will have you progressively increasing your long runs each weekend. So, over the 12 weeks, your longest run will increase from 3 to 11 miles. During the last 2 weeks prior to the race, you’ll taper (less mileage, similar intensity) and then you’ll race the full 13.1 miles. Even though the schedule below suggests doing your long runs on Saturdays, you can do easily complete them Sundays.


If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details. 


Rest Recovery:

Rest is essential to your success.  In fact, remember this formula, stress+rest=success.    There’s a few harder/longer runs included in this plan.  You need to rest and go slow in between these harder runs to avoid injury and get the most benefit out of the harder workouts.  Also remember, to keep your hard days hard and easy days easy.  Even if you feel really good on a planned easy day, this doesn’t mean pick up the pace or go run some hills.

Speed Work:

These are workouts where you run at a faster pace. For beginners, you complete a few of these workouts.  Benefits of speed work include: physiological & physical. You are training your body to push past its comfort zone.  As you feel the burn and learn to push past it, you train your body to deal with fatigue.  For each of the speed workouts, you should start with 10 – 15 minutes warm-up at Easy pace + some strides.  Following speed workouts with 10 – 15 minutes of cool down/recovery jog.  Use the pace chart above or either of the calculators to determine proper pace.

Types of speed work:

Tempo Runs:

Runs where you warm up for 10 minutes with a slow jog, and then run at a faster pace than your normal. This pace should be something you can maintain for 20 minutes, and is meant to be somewhat uncomfortable. You then cool down for 10 or 15 minutes with a slow jog. Click on this link for more details about How Tempo Runs Will Help You Achieve Your Running Goals

Intervals:

These are a specific duration of time at higher effort, followed by an equal or slightly longer duration of recovery. After a warm up at an easy pace, you run hard for 2 minutes, then walk or jog slowly for 2-3 minutes to allow recovery. Then you repeat. Just like the above workouts, you end with a cool down.

Fartleks:

Swedish for “speed play.” These are less structured than interval workouts. The distance and duration of the higher intensity running varies, as well as the rest between. For example, you would decide, “I am going to run a pick-up at a quicker (not sprinting) pace I could maintain for an entire 5k all the way to that tree (or for 45 seconds). Then, after starting you reach the tree, you jog slowly until you’ve recovered and then you run another pick-up. Keep repeating as designated in the plant. As with the other speed workouts, you start and finish with a slower jog to warm up and cool down.

Hills:

A great way to build strength, endurance, improve running form and increase speed. There’s 2 x hill workouts included in this plan. If you can’t find a hill in your area, try stairs at a local high school football stadium. Click on this link for more details about hill training for full and half marathons.

Cross-Train:

I schedule cross training 1-2 times per week in this plan. This means you’re doing something other than running. Aerobic exercises work best. It could be swimming, cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing. The reason we cross train is to stress the body in a different way. This helps build muscle as well as give our body a break from the stress of running. Cross-training days should be considered easy days that allow you to recover from the running you do the rest of the week. I like cross training because it helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Conditioning:

This can also be referred to as strength training. It includes workouts that strengthen the legs, glutes, core, shoulders, hips and other muscles/joints used when running. There’s a few links to YouTube videos where I will show specific conditioning routines that I recommend. Most of the exercises are simple bodyweight exercises. A few use a BOSU Ball or resistance bands just for variety. Strength Training Workouts For Runners.

Glute & Hip Strengthening Exercises:

This video shows some exercises that are completed with a Resistance Bands. Bands may be available at your gym or you can purchase a variety of resistances in a pack through retailers like Resistance Bands.  If you don’t have access to a resistance bands, you can complete the exercises below (see photos and descriptions).

Racing:

These are a specific duration of time at higher effort, followed by an equal or slightly longer duration of recovery. After a warm up at an easy pace, you run hard for 2 minutes, then walk or jog slowly for 2-3 minutes to allow recovery. Then you repeat. Just like the above workouts, you end with a cool down.

Making Changes To The Schedule:

Don’t be afraid to adjust the workouts from day to day and week to week. The key is to be consistent with your training plant.

Strides:

Strides are a great way to practice good form & improve your speed by turning over your legs at a quick, but controlled pace.  Watch the video to see how strides should be performed. 

Stretching & Warm-Up:

Before all runs – complete Lunges & Leg Swings (click for video).

Dynamic or Rope stretching (click for video).  It’s important to complete rope stretching at least 3-4 times per week.

Foam Rolling:

Foam rolling should be completed at least 3-4 times per week.  Click for video

Nutrition & Sleep:

Both of these are essential to your success, yet in many cases they are overlooked by many athletes.  Lack of sleep can lead to a few negative side effects.  These include reducing your body’s ability to efficiently store carbs, convert fat to fuel and recover properly.

Remember Hard exercise + low carb diet = fatigue.  Fueling prior to and during exercise improves endurance performance.

12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan:

12 week half marathon training plan

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Strength Training Workouts For Runners

Strength Training Workouts For Runners

MARATHON TRAINING

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Strength training for runners is absolutely necessary to optimize performance. To back up this position, a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research project surveyed 600+ runners of varying abilities.  Outsideonline.com summarized the findings. In this article I tell you why strength training is important for runners.  All of my training plans (regardless of the race distance), include structured resistance-training programs. Also included in this article, I provide images and video detailing an 8 exercise routine of different exercises that will strengthen legs, core, glutes and upper body.

For runners concerned that heavy lifting will build too much muscle mass, it’s important to realize that the ratio of time spent endurance running to time spent completing strength training makes it really hard to build any considerable mass. The Outsideonline article discusses and other research confirms that the physiological adaptations from running actually interfere with the physiological changes from strength training. 

From the scientific survey, the best runners reported that they regularly complete strength training and plyometric exercises. It was noted that the less accomplished runners interviewed reported less frequent time performing various strength exercises.  I was surprised that the survey noted no relationship between strength and conditioning training and injury history in the runners. According to the survey, the key predictor of injury was training volume. Essentially, the more you run, the more likely you are to get injured.  This makes sense, but I’ll still place my money on stronger runners of all abilities being less susceptible to injury. 

Outsideonline.com summarizes these latest research studies detailing how strength training improves running economy, maximal sprint speed, and race performance.  I think this is great news, especially because it reinforces my position that strength training for runners is very important and should be incorporated in every training plan.  Even better is the finding that the strength training for runners doesn’t need to be of the type that would transform runners into big, muscular athletes. Think of someone like Mo Farah (4 time Olympic medalist in 5/10k) or Galen Rupp. They’re both strong, but not bulky.

In summary, strength training for runners results in faster run speed due to improvements in anaerobic power, neuromuscular efficiency, running economy, and power development capabilities.

The authors of these studies recommend incorporating various types of strength training at different times of the year.  I refer to the details of this kind of periodized program of completing different blocks of training in another post. Essentially the goal is to introduce a new stimulus for your muscles once in a while, which will allow for the best development.  Just like you won’t get better by simply running 6 miles at the same pace, day after day, you need to vary your strength training routine.

Strength Training for Runners 101

 

If you’re new to strength training, I strongly recommend starting slow with mobility and bodyweight exercises.  In the offseason, it’s recommended to complete strength training workouts 2-3 times per week. During your race build up, you can reduce strength training to 1-2 times per week.

These days, it may not be possible to lift heavy weights, so your best bet is to conduct some challenging bodyweight exercises, such as those depicted in the following video.  These exercises are typically included as Level 2 or 3 in my marathon training plans.  This means that they’re more challenging than relatively easier (but important) exercises like bodyweight squats and lateral lunges.

Lastly, it’s best to concentrate on exercises that are functionally more important to running.  Without going into a technical breakdown of various exercises, I recommend a lot of core and single-leg variations, like single-leg split squats, jumping and lunge variations. These exercises are essential for the development of dynamic stability, which is important for increasing running economy.

Use the following video and images to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your training plan. If you use weights (especially heavier weights), reach out a certified strength and conditioning coach to advise you on proper and safe lifting techniques.

Here’s the exercises included in the following runner’s conditioning workout (modifications to make some of the exercises are provided when appropriate).

 

  • Jump Squat
  • Triangle Push-Ups
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Forward Lunge
  • Leg Raises
  • Side planks with Twist
  • Single Leg Squat
  • Bear Crawls and Bear Crawls with twist

Remember to keep your hard days hard and easy days easy, so it’s best to perform the following conditioning work within 3 hours of your harder (long run, intervals, hills, etc) workouts.

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[Updated] How to reach a higher and more consistent level of running performance

[Updated] How to reach a higher and more consistent level of running performance

Periodization TrainingPeriodization training is the process of dividing a training plan into specific time segments or phases leading up to and including a goal performance or race. This article will show you how can train the body in different ways during successive phases, gradually increasing the stress on the body, so you can ultimately combine the benefits of these workouts. The collective result is that with periodization training you can achieve peak conditioning for a desired race or races throughout the year.

UPDATE: Since Publishing this article, I have added a section below discussing Periodized Strength Training as it relates to running & a periodized program. Please scroll through 2/3+ of this post to learn about you can benefit from completing specific strength training exercises into a periodized running program.  

Nearly every elite runner uses periodization. I use this system that includes various meso & micro cycles, each with a specific purpose and different physiological goals and psychological benefits. Using periodization allows you to couple hard training periods with easier periods of recovery to avoid over-training and improve components of muscular fitness such as strength, speed, and endurance to ultimately reach your goals. With the information that I share, you can divide your training plan into three parts to run strong and race well, all year.

Most studies of periodization have proved the superiority of this type of system over non-periodized programs in terms of greater changes in strength, body composition and motor performance (Fleck 1999).

Periodization programs involve a progression from high volume and low-intensity effort towards decreasing volume and increasing intensity during the different cycles. Periodization is not randomly changing volume and/or intensity with no consideration other than to introduce variation into the program. In a University of New Mexico paper, the author discusses how with a periodized program, the manipulation of volume and intensity, over a program that just increases total training volume alone, is an important factor in optimizing training effects.

When I set up a periodization program, I have the athlete, whom I’m coaching, gradually increase the stresses or efforts on their body during a variety of training sessions (distance, intensity, duration and type of recovery vary). Although a large percentage of training is completed at easy or conversation pace, in these programs we stress the body and then allow proper recovery, we achieve cardio gain and muscle growth.  Basically, the work or a specific workout stresses your system.  The planned recovery is what allows your body to adapt.

MACROCYCLES

The overall training period, so it’s the longest of the three cycles and includes all of the elements of training in the entire training period leading up to and including your race. Typically it’s a year in length. Macrocycles are comprised of four stages or Mesocycles.

MESOCYCLES

The mesocycle is a specific (2 – 8 week) block of training that is designed to accomplish a particular goal. The mesocycle is usually classified into 4 stages: recovery + endurance, endurance + strength/lactate threshold, intensity (interval) training and finally competition or peak performance (which includes some kind of taper).  Finally, a set of microcycles, which are generally up to 7 days, make up the mesocycles.

I like the 4 week mesocycle because over the course of 3 weeks of similar workouts, we teach the body to adapt to specific stress, until it becomes not stressful. Then after a recovery week, I like to move on to the next stress.

Benefits of Periodization Training for Runners

Basic Periodization Program

First, if you can imagine a triangle, the bottom or base includes the longest phases of your training which are comprised of recovery/rest from your race (typically 3 weeks), followed by base or foundation training.  Depending on the length of time between races, the base training can be up to 500 miles at relatively easy/conversation pace.  During base training, the athlete will focus on the development of aerobic and muscular endurance which is the foundation of any running plan.


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Not every runner I coach starts in the same phase or level of the triangle.  Some runners only have 10 weeks until their race, they are more experienced and have a substantial base. They may require some strength runs like tempo or hills, followed by shorter intervals to prepare them for a race. Other runners hire me to help them over the course of 6  – 12 months.  I can take them through an entire macrocycle where we develop an entire periodized plan to gradually get them in shape for a few races and eventually a longer race like a half or full marathon.

PACING

One of the keys to a successful program is the pacing.  Throughout the course of a macrocycle, there’s generally six paces that an athlete will train.

  1. Easy/Conversation Pace
  2. Goal Race Pace (goal the athlete wants to race based on dreams, plan)
  3. Date Race Pace (current race pace, based on a recent performance. Should be reviewed with a qualified coach because variables like temperature, course, competition can affect times)
  4. Lactate Threshold Pace (typically 10k pace for most runners. Moderate heart rate, can be sustained for 30 – 45 minutes).
  5. Interval Pace (faster than date race pace, demanding, can only be sustained for shorter time periods (no longer than 10 minutes)
  6. Rest Pace (slow pace in between intervals or as cool down after hard running).

If you need a proven periodized marathon training plan or affordable coaching where I use these principles of periodization training to prepare you for your next race? Train with me where I provide a CUSTOM EXPERIENCE based on your specific situation.


TYPES OF RUNNING

There are numerous types of running depending on the phase of the periodization program.  Some runs like the conversation pace (short, medium or long) runs are completed throughout the program. Other types are tempo, fartlek, hills, long & short intervals and race pace. I posted an article of the essential training runs for middle age marathoners.



ENDURANCE MESOCYCLE

As with any personalized plan, mileage and specific workouts during this mesocycle vary.  If you’re an experienced runner who can handle 55 – 70 miles/week, your training during this phase includes:

5 mile recovery runs at an easy pace.
Gradually build from 6 mile to 11 – 14 mile midweek runs at conversation pace.
8 – 10 mile aerobic or lactate threshold runs at ½ or marathon pace
15 – 18 mile long runs at easy to medium pace (a few runs can include 8 – 10 miles in the middle of these longer runs at marathon pace).  These long runs teach your body to run more efficiently.

Training for runners (beginners, less serious or older athletes) who can’t handle consistent higher mileage (including myself) would follow a slightly different program.

4-5 mile recovery runs at an easy/conversation pace.
8 – 10 mile midweek runs at conversation pace
Gradually increasing from 10 – 16 mile long runs (runs near the end of the phase that include 6-8 miles at marathon pace)
6-10 mile aerobic or lactate threshold runs at ½ or marathon pace
Rest or cross-training twice per week

Speedwork is limited in this phase to strides & “mini-tempos.”  Weekly you can either do 6 – 8 100M on a track or 6 – 8  to 20 to 30-second bursts of speed at the end of one or two of your easy runs. Don’t go any faster than ½ marathon pace in your aerobic or lactate threshold runs.

LACTATE THRESHOLD + ENDURANCE (STRENGTH) MESOCYCLE

hill training for marathons

In the second phase or mesocycle we will still work on endurance, but we’ll step up the lactate threshold training. We introduce strength workouts which consist of tempo, hill & fartlek workouts. We want to push yourself a little, so it’s not a shock when you go faster in the next phase. If the overall training plan is 18+ weeks, this mesocycle can last for 9 weeks. According to coach Greg McMillian, “these workouts strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues, which will prepare the body for the demands of fast running.”

Need Marathon Training Info

Key Workouts for Lactate Threshold + Endurance Mesocycle:

6 mile recovery runs at conversation pace
8 – 10 mile lactate threshold at 15k to ½ marathon pace. See this detailed article about Tempo running.
Strength Training with hills and fartlek. Hills are a great strength training workout.  Run them at a hard, but not all-out effort. Fartlek is an easy way to introduce longer (1 – 2 minutes) of fast running.
16 – 20 mile long runs.  Start to introduce finish fast runs (last 4 – 8 miles at marathon pace) in your long runs.

This 2nd phase is essential to strengthening the body for the fast running that comes in the third phase. You continue to build endurance through long runs, but a few of your workouts become tempo miles or hill repeats prepare you for the intensity/race preparation phase where you will complete more & longer intervals (800m to 2miles).

INTENSITY / RACE PREPARATION MESOCYCLE

During the intensity or 3rd phase, the focus switches to additional lactate threshold and then interval pace (VO2 max). The goal is to ready your body to enter the competition phase, so you need a greater emphasis to be placed on boosting anaerobic capacity and neuromuscular power.

During the beginning of this Mesocycle, we will run longer intervals (the exact length depends on the race) at 5k race pace. Typical workouts may include 5 x 1000m or 5 x 1600.  Long runs are typically 17 -20 miles with last 8 – 10 miles at Marathon Pace. There should still be plenty of 5 – 7 mile recovery runs included.

Later speed sessions include run tune-up events like 8k to 15k races to help you prepare for your main event and then shorter intervals (such as 600m – 800m) at 5-K pace.  The distance of your intervals depends on the length of your race & your athletic ability. Besides 100m strides, there’s no need to complete 200m– 400m repeats if you’re training for a marathon. If you’re a novice or training for a 5k, these shorter intervals are perfect.

TAPER / PEAK PERFORMANCE MESOCYCLE

This last, peak phase includes short, fast workouts that simulate racing. These workouts fine-tune the speed you began in phase two by recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers. During this phase, one of the goals is to improve running economy (how efficiently your body uses oxygen) and strengthen muscles. You accomplish this by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts and then in last few weeks before your race, decrease the overall volume while maintaining intensity.  Coach Greg McMillan calls it “keep the engine revved.”

One of my favorite runs 2-3 weeks prior to the marathon is a 12 – 13 miler at race pace.  This gives you a great indication of your fitness and how close to your goal time you can expect to finish.  During the last week prior to the race, I also like to complete a 6 mile run with 4 miles at marathon pace.

In order to peak for key races, I recommend you mark your event on a calendar and either work with a coach or develop a plan that maps out your base, endurance, preparation, and peak phases. Each should be four to eight weeks long (you can extend the base or preparation phase beyond eight, but not the peak, to avoid burnout). I recommend that every fourth week, recover by reducing your miles by 10 to 20 percent.  Also ease up on strength training. Once you peak, start again with recovery and base training and work your way through the phases over and over again. 

PERIODIZED STRENGTH TRAINING

 

Just as completing a periodized running program with a progression of planned workouts will optimize your performance, it’s important to ensure you have the same kind of progression and variance in your strength workouts.  Runners need to build strength during their training so they they can be more efficient, be more resistant to injury and build power.

Bodyweight Exercises

If you’re new to strength training, it’s not a good idea to start with heavy lifts. Instead, start more basic with body weight exercises that can be performed at home, such as:

  1. Push-ups
  2. Planks
  3. Bodyweight Squats
  4. Lunges
  5. Clam Shells
  6. Bridges with basketball
  7. Jump rope
  8. Dips & Pull-Ups

Other basic exercises can be added gradually, but after 4-5 weeks you can transition to using kettle bells, dumbbells & medicine balls.  The key is you want to strengthen your core, hips, glutes, quads and lower legs & ankles.

Light Weights to Heavier Weights

Eventually you transition to heavier weights at the gym.  I recommend starting with lighter/smaller barbells and completing exercises with 25 – 35lbs at first. You should concentrate on proper form before you increase the weight. Some of these exercises include:

  1. Deadlifts
  2. Lunges
  3. Squats
  4. Bench Press – performed with a longer/heavier barbell

General rules for lifting are: complete 6-8 reps/set and lift so the final set is challenging (not so much weight that you can only do 2-3 reps). Try to complete 3 sets for each exercise and take about 2-3 minutes of recovery between sets.

As Coach Jay Johnson always preaches, keep easy days easy and hard days hard.  This means, it’s best to complete lifting & body weight exercises after long runs and intervals. You should already be tired, but lifting in what’s considered a “pre-fatigued” state where the body already has low glycogen stores will teach your body to perform in this state.  You’ll notice a difference in the late stages of a race.

There are countless stories of elite athletes getting better because they are stronger.  Mo Farah, for instance, gives much credit to his strength which he says helped him to win numerous Olympic Gold Medals.  Using a periodized strength program within your training cycle will allow you to maximize the benefits of all of your training.

In conclusion, you can get the most out of your training by having a good understanding of each of the three cycles of periodization and then using these cycles to create a plan that allows you to peak for your most important events throughout the year.

Resources:

University of New Mexico https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/periodization.html

Training Peaks https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/macrocycles-mesocycles-and-microcycles-understanding-the-3-cycles-of-periodization/

Runner’s World – April 2016

Podium Runner – https://www.podiumrunner.com/use-progression-strength-workouts_123159


Related Posts
How Tempo Runs Will Help You Achieve Your Running Goals
Hill Training for Full and Half Marathons

Strength Training for Marathon Runners


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Do You Lose Speed Faster Than Endurance?

Do You Lose Speed Faster Than Endurance?

From PodiumRunner “Ask Pete” Column

I’m linking directly to this article or Q&A from Coach Pete Magill’s column on PodiumRunner (used to be Competitor.com) because it’s relevant to our audience. The question was in reference to loss of speed & endurance as we age.

There’s been numerous studies over the years from RunnersWorld & the New York Times regarding this topic.  The good news is that lower endurance capacity does not automatically mean slower running speeds. The reality is it’s just much more difficult to maintain the faster speeds as we age. The reason is older runners have a shorter stride length & actually push off more “weakly” than younger runners.

 


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In a 2015 study, researchers found that leg muscles age earlier than other muscles in the body. Also leg muscles’ repair systems weaken earlier than other muscles.  The take away to maintain more our speed as we age is to strengthen calf and ankle flexor muscles.

Coach Magill goes into a little more detail in his post. He follows with a detailed recommendation to complete various training exercises & even some diet advice to help repair tissues broken down by hard workouts.  Go ahead and start reading the article below and click through to finish.


How Strength Training May Help

Paul DeVita, published a famous study  where he showed older people, when they walk, take shorter steps than younger walkers.  He also found that older people also rely less on the muscles around their ankles and more on the muscles around their hips to complete each stride than do younger walkers.

In a more recent study, he observed that older runners (40+ years old) showed  much less activation of and power in their lower leg muscles, especially around the ankle and in the calf. Basically, there’s a shift away from reliance on the lower-leg muscles during running as we age.


This explains why Achilles tendon and calf injuries tend to increase” as runners get older. So it makes sense that in order to lessen the chance of such injuries and potentially also maintain more of our speed as the years pass, we probably should consider strengthening our calf and ankle flexor muscles.

Technically, speed goes first, but the outcome for distance runners is a loss of endurance.

First off, before I explain more, don’t get mad. Every time I address age-related performance decline in running, some readers get upset. Age is just a number, they write. Fifty is the new forty. Yadda yadda yadda. I agree with all that. But I also believe that the more we explore the issues facing aging runners, the better equipped we are to meet them head on with smart, effective training.

I’m an aging runner myself. And, like everyone else, my age 55–59 record (15:42) is slower than my age 45–49 record (14:34)—over a minute slower. I don’t know about you, but I want to know why I’m slowing down so that I can put on the brakes of that process. Which brings us back to the question: speed or endurance?

Let’s start by looking at American records for speed and endurance in three different age groups. That’ll give us an idea of who gets hit hardest by the aging slowdown. The following table shows age group records, then lists the percentage of slowdown for athletes in the older age groups (versus the age 39-and-under record): via Ask Pete: Which Goes First with Age—Running Speed or Endurance?

[Case Study] I ditched my GPS watch while training for a half marathon, here’s how I finished

[Case Study] I ditched my GPS watch while training for a half marathon, here’s how I finished

Vancouver Lake 1/2 Marathon

Have you heard of training by feel, running with your inner GPS or simply training without a GPS watch? They’re basically the same, but I had never tried this strategy myself, until the last 5+ months. Last Sunday, I crossed the finish line of the Vancouver Lake Half Marathon and I saw the finishing time of my run for the first time since last September. In this article, I will briefly tell you what I learned, how I trained and the results of my race.

Training With a GPS Watch or Electronic Stopwatch

Since 2010, I’ve religiously tracked every run that I completed outside. I uploaded runs to my Garmin Connect, Polar Flow or Strava Accounts. Prior to 2010, I used a simple digital stop watch (traditional Casio) and documented the results in a log book. I was never obsessed with my times, but I would compare similar workouts from year-to-year.The GPS watch was merely to ensure I was following the assigned workout paces. I wasn’t typically concerned about distances, since I’ve been running in/around my town for the last 19 years, I know the approximate distances.

Running By Feel

In Matt Fitzgerald’s book: RUN – the mind-body method of running by feel, he provides numerous reasons to ditch the gadgets and listen to our body. The biggest reason to run by feel, as opposed to increasing/decreasing your pace mid run, based on what you see on your GPS watch, is that how you feel during runs is the most reliable indicator of how well the training process is going. Many who run without a GPS watch claim that it reduces performance pressure and can help prevent injury, because when they make adjustments to their pace based on how they feel, they’re not over-extending themselves. Instead, they’re actually working within a smart, yet challenging, training zone.

So, if you feel good during a run, you’re likely fit. In general, the more fit you are, the better you will typically feel during your runs. Now, I understand that if one was running slow, they may feel good, but that doesn’t mean that they’re fit. So, let’s assume you need to be running at what is a fairly quick pace (within your abilities) and then determine how you feel. Ultimately, the only way to get fit is to work hard, which likely means you’ll end up suffering through some workouts.

Remove the Watch To Create A Positive Mindset and Momentum

Momentum in running, occurs primarily in training and can take the form of a period of improving fitness. In many articles and interviews, it’s apparent that even the most confident athletes know that they do not have complete control over every situation. They are aware that their success often depends on the situation shaping itself to their benefit. Why not remove the watch from the equation and simply run by feel where you can create both a positive mindset and momentum.

In my experience, with runners I coach, the most effective way to manage their fitness/fatigue balance is to tell them to pay attention to how they feel. When they don’t feel good, regardless of the time/pace on their watch, we must must determine whether it’s because of lack of fitness or excessive fatigue. If it’s lack of fitness, we can correct this with more hard work. However, excessive fatigue should be corrected by more rest, which also could mean simply slowing the pace of the workout and upcoming workouts.




Another term for running by feel is “using your inner GPS.”  Some coaches, like McMillan, have written extensively about calibrating your inner GPS, so I won’t get into the details in this post.  It’s important to understand that inner GPS training or running by feel should not take the place of traditional time/distance-based training.  At least not until you have a lot of experience running by feel. I recommend that if you want to run a time like 1hr 59 minutes for ½ marathon, you better know exactly that pace.

Heart Rate Monitor

If you don’t feel completely comfortable about ditching a gadget, an alternative to using a GPS watch is using a heart rate monitor.  You’ll still need the watch, but you can just adjust it so you only see your heart rate.  One could make a sound argument that this is technically running by feel.  Instead of running at preassigned paces that you monitor with your watch, when you train with a heart rate monitor, you simply adjust your pace by keeping your heart rate within a specified zone. This is why this is also referred to as zone training.  I discuss how to train using a heart rate monitor in an article I wrote a few years ago.

Need Marathon Training Info

My 5 Month Challenge of Training without a watch

What started out as just running my base/easy mileage without the watch, soon turned into 5+ months of not tracking my times or pacing for any training run. The majority of my runs were on the road, some were on hotel treadmills.  Typically the treadmill runs were 4 – 5 miles at an easy/conversation pace (low 7s) and an elevation of 1.5 – 2 degrees.  Duration of my treadmill runs were 30 – 40 minutes. Over the first 3 months I usually ran 18 – 30 miles per week at an easy or conversation pace.  I don’t know for sure the pace of any runs, but for the last 5+ years, I’ve been able to easily complete 6 mile runs between 46 – 48 minutes.

To a large extent, due to my many years of experience of being a long distance runner, my inner GPS has been calibrated.  I’m confident that I was probably running the majority of my runs at 7:45 – 8:15/mile pace.  As you can see below, I also completed a few faster/tempo paced runs of 5-6 miles. On a weekly basis I would also get to the track to complete strides to keep my legs moving faster.




Since last September, while I completed my base or foundation training, I also performed 2 – 3 different CrossFit workouts per week. The CrossFit consisted of 45 minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with a variety of challenging body weight exercises. I also regularly completed a 45 minute routine where I would rotate between 1 minute on a stationary bike at a controlled to vigorous pace with 1 minute of body weight, BOSU and/or barbell exercises. The key to these workouts was the variety and intensity.  They were supervised by a personal trainer in a group setting at my health club.  My goal was to get stronger, build an injury resistant body and reduce the pounding on my legs while completing aerobic exercise.

Increasing the Intensity as the Race Gets Closer

Two months out from the ½ marathon, I started to gradually increase my weekly long run from 7 to 12 miles. I also increased the intensity of 1-2 runs per week.  All the while, I never used a GPS watch.   Following are some of the workouts that I completed:  Training started in September. During Weeks 1-4, I continued with base training (conversation pace runs of 4 – 7 miles) and cross-fit training.

Week 5 of 10
8 miles at easy/conversation pace (CP)
Fartlek
3 other easy/CP runs of 4 – 6 miles (1 day w/ strides)

Week 6
10 miles at CP
4 mile Tempo (at ½ Marathon Pace (MP))
3 x CP runs of 4 – 6 miles (1 day w/ strides)

Week 7
11 miles at CP (last 2 miles at ½ MP)
6 mile Tempo (at ½ MP)
3 x CP runs (1 day w/ strides)

Week 8
12 miles at CP (last 3 at ½ MP)
Track Workout – 4 x 1600M at 10k Pace
3 x CP (1 day w/ strides)

Week 9
10 miles at easy pace (last 3 miles at ½ MP)
Track Workout – Ladder (400M, 800M, 2 x 1200M, 800M, 400M at 5k pace)
3 x Easy Runs

Week 10
9 miles at easy pace (last 4.5 at ½ MP)
4 x CP 4-6 miles (2 days w/ strides)

Race Day – February 24th

Because I didn’t train too hard for this race, I wasn’t sure what kind of time to expect. The last ½ marathon I completed (2 years ago) was 1:27:45. I figured anything around 1:30 (6:55/mile pace) would be great. With almost ideal conditions of 35 degrees, overcast and no wind, I positioned myself at the start, slightly behind some runners who were projecting finish times of 1:25 – 1:28 (6:30 – 6:45/mile pace).

My strategy wasn’t to try to keep up with the faster runners. Instead, I wanted to keep them within range (gradually let them get 3-4 minutes in front of me). Turns out, this is exactly how the race played out. There were no splits given at any point, so I only knew my time as I approached the finish. My finish time was 1:30:25.

Training without GPS watch

After the race I spoke with others who had run near me and told them that I had not used a watch for the last 5 months. Overwhelmingly, the response was positive and a few thought “how liberating.”

Lessons Learned

It really was liberating to train without a watch. However, I think I would use a watch for longer runs & track workouts if I was really concerned about achieving a goal time. The key to being successful when you’re not training with a watch is to be honest with yourself and push during the hard workouts and of course during the race. I knew I was getting fit when I was able to comfortably push the last 4.5 miles of my 9 mile run the Sunday before the race.

Due to some tough weather in January, I condensed the timing of the strength & track workouts (typically they start 8 weeks out), I never worried about splits during any of these harder runs. My goal was to self calibrate what I thought were 5k, 10k, ½ and full Marathon paces during each of the tougher workouts. During each one I always felt like I could have gone further or completed another interval at the desired pace. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t running fast enough, because I felt fatigued.

I’m certain I could have run faster in the race if I had a 6 or 8 mile split. Also, if I included more strength and interval workouts in my schedule, I would have benefited. I also believe that if I had used a GPS watch during the race, I would have pushed the pace a bit more during the middle and end to get under 1:30.


Related Posts
Hill Training for Full & Half Marathons

Strength Training for Marathon Runners


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