Training plans

Runners new and runners old, use training programs. I think the big difference is that more experienced (old) runners know how to tweak theirs to make it the most beneficial for where they are at and where do you want to go. These are both big questions to ask yourself when you are either looking for a training program someone else has put together or building one for yourself. It takes a little honesty and a lot of introspection. Some runners like to have a written plan and others have a mental plan. Both are useful at certain times but I’ll cover that in a different post.

Where are you?

To create an effective training program for yourself you need to know where you are starting from. Do you have any injuries? this could be a current injury that you are recovering from or it can be something that is a reoccurring issue for you. What are you doing now to train? This takes into account your current fitness including your strength, aerobic fitness, and what you are running now. What is your life like? Think about how much time you have to train, what stressors you have or will have, and also other obligations you have to the world around you. These questions are not in any particular order and I could go on and on but these are essential things to know to build a training program that is going to start you off right.

Current and past injuries are relevant when creating a plan. The current injury is obvious because you need to continue to allow it to heal before you put too much stress on it. I’m a firm believer in active recovery, but it should be gentle. You should not be doing so much training that you leave your body without enough energy to heal.

Past injuries should be taken into account because you don’t want to repeat them. These could be things that have happened one time or they could be an issue that pops up every so often. It could also be a mild chronic issue rather than a acute injury you are healing from. If you have injured yourself doing certain types of training or by building your miles too fast, you know you should build slower or avoid some types of training.

If it’s something you can’t avoid, you need to do a better job preparing your body for it by building a foundation. To build a foundation thing about the different elements that you need to successfully complete the skill. Do you need some extra flexibility in a muscle or tendon? do you need more strength in supporting muscles? There might be a workaround as well. Some runners get injured every time they do speed training. If this is you, instead of doing 800s on the track, find a hill that is steep enough and long enough for you to do hill repeats.

Before you begin creating a plan, don’t change anything you are doing and really get to know where you are during your training. How do you feel? is it challenging? is it fun? are there things you think are missing from your training? What you are presently doing is where you want to begin unless you are already over doing it. If you are tired all the time, lack motivation and are grumpy, you may want to reduce your load for a couple weeks before you begin to build.

What your life is like has a huge impact on your training program. It places time constraints on you and it uses up energy. You may need to reduce training at times when you know that it’s going to be a stressful week. This can’t always be planned for but for things you know about, take them into account and reduce your training that week. By being proactive, you will make reaching your goal fitness easier. If you just push through everything, you will decrease your gains because you will either get injured or be too energy depleted.

Where do you want to go?

Many runners are training for something. Most often, it is a particular event. It can also be to reach a certain level of fitness such as be able to run continuously for one hour or run a 6 minute mile. Whatever your goal is, you need to build up to it.

If your goal is a certain fitness level, begin by thinking about the steps needed to improve what you are working on. Possibilities are strength, endurance, agility, and speed. Once you know specifically the elements you need to consider to reach your goal, start thinking about each one in both incremental and approaches terms. The key is to build up at a rate your body can handle. If you don’t know, keep it easy at first and then push a little more as you get to know your body. As far as approaches, this just means that there are different ways to approach a mountain (goal).

To build strength, you can go to the gym and lift heavy but low repetitions or light and high repetitions. You can also use your body weight. Are you going for overall strength or do you want to have fabulous biceps or glutes? The type of weigh you use changes the way your body builds muscle. Do some research and make sure you are doing what is going to get you where you want to go.

Endurance can also be hit using different types of exercises. Your passion may be running but sometimes it is good to cross train to reduce the impact and still build endurance. You can choose things that will enhance your running: elliptical, stair master, hiking, walking. You can also choose things that will give you a break from running such as swimming, rowing, and cycling.

If you are a trail runner, agility should be something you think about. I would encourage you to add some form of agility training to your program. For agility training, you can use real experience by finding a rocky section of trail and doing some repeats. Start with something flat before you add in the downhill. An agility ladder is also a great way to improve your foot work. Another, less well know strategy, is leg turnover. This really focuses on quickly picking up and putting down your feet. Spinning can be a good way to increase your leg turn over.

Speed training is something I love to hate. There are so many different types of speed training. You can do intervals of different distances. The most common are 400, 800 and one mile. You will want to take a recover lap or 2 minutes between each repeat. You can do random time sprints by adding in 30 second or 1 minute of fast running randomly through a run. You can do a pyramid by starting with an 400 then you go up and down: 400 rest 800 rest 1 mile rest 800 rest, 400 cool down. You can do a ladder by starting with 400 then you go up, 800 rest, 1 mile rest 1.5 miles. Another fun one is diagonals. Find a square or rectangle field. Run along one side at an easy pace and when you reach a corner you sprint diagonally to the opposite corner. Run/jog/walk along the side as a rest and when you reach the corner, sprint diagonally to the opposite corner. Here are some links to my prior posts on speed.

Importance of interval training

Getting Faster

If your goal is a particular event, you will need to break it down into elements or the particular skills you will need to complete it successfully. It may have so many elements that you can only choose one or two as focus points. If you try to incorporate too many things into your training program you will plateau or over train or get injured. None of which you want. Possible elements to events are distance, ascents, descents, heat, cold, eating and mental training. All of these could be it’s own post. Lucky for you I have written them and linked them here for your enjoyment.




heat training

Winter running

Okay so I couldn’t find one on just mental training. It’s touched on in many many of my posts so You will have to wait until next week for a comprehensive mental training post. Sorry, not sorry.

Happy and Healthy running!

Recover and Rebuild

So many runners have an issue with taking “rest” days. I know I do. The purpose for taking rest days is to recover and rebuild your muscles so they are stronger and can withstand more rigorous training. It allows you to build your miles and increase your speed. It is the foundation to making running a life long sport and not just an “in the good old days” sport or “when I was younger…”

My goal is to run a 100 on my 100th birthday. Maybe it will happen maybe it won’t. One thing is for sure, I will be slower and I will need a full time pacer and crew. Something I have had to reconcile is this whole concept of rest. I have read books on rest and why it is important. I’ve heard pod cast after podcast and seen many videos and articles on rest.

Even with this information being spewed at runners from every media source available, we struggle. We fight taking rest days. We push through injuries and then our bodies make us stop. Doesn’t it make more sense to just take a day off here and there or to take a week of reduced miles every so often? yes but we’re ultrarunners and nothing in rest says ultra anything. Ultrarest? hmmmm questionable.

I’ve gotten better about taking rest. Some of that is from listening to Coaches David and Megan Roche from Some Work, All Play Running. Coach David Roche often says, taking three days off when you start to feel an issue is not going to hurt your training but it may save you from having a serious injury which can sideline you for a month or more. I’m paraphrasing and saying like I remember it, but it’s pretty much what he said.

I’ve tried to implement this in my running over the last six months and I believe it has prevented little issues from becoming big issues. So I would recommend this thinking to all other runners.

My other recommendation when it comes to “rest” days, is to not think about them as taking the day off or “resting” at all. Think of them as Rebuild days or Recovery days, which every you like. You can even double them up into Recovery and rebuild days.

Sometimes just a change in the language we use can totally change the way we view an idea or training concept. Do I always take a Rebuild day or week? Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Happy Healthy Running.

This Year’s Races

I am hopeful that we will be able to return to a more normal race calendar by this fall. Not only because I have races then but because getting at least one part of my life back to pre-covid-19 days would be nice. I’m only registered for two events this year because of the pandemic. I really wanted to run a couple of others earlier in the year but being one of the last on the list for vaccines, it just wasn’t going to happen.

First Bear 100 finisher’s metal September 2015.

The new CDC guidelines are encouraging for racing especially for those who are fully vaccinated. Being able to run a race without a mask would get me on the vaccine train if I wasn’t already fully onboard. The longer the vaccines are out and research is continued, I hope more people will get vaccinated. The more who are vaccinated, the closer we get to the critical 80% needed for “herd immunity” and once that is reached, everyone can get back to life more normally, including our youngsters who can’t get vaccinated yet.

I’m registered to run two races. Squamish 50/50 in August and Bear 100 in September. I was registered for both races in 2020 but Squamish was cancelled and I wasn’t comfortable running Bear with the Covid numbers for Utah and Idaho.

Squamish 50/50, for those who are not familiar with this event, is a fifty mile run on Saturday followed by a 50k run on Sunday. So just your run of the mill back to back right? I don’t think so. The terrain makes these back to backs very challenging. Plus there are not many who are doing such high volume for back to backs. I will admit that I have done 40/30s as back to backs in the past, before my daughter was born, but I haven’t been able to get those numbers in since then. I regularly run back to back 20/15 and some times 20/18s but that’s about my max at this point. Even with the lower mileage, I will be ready for Squamish.

Bear 100. I love Bear 100. It is my all time favorite race. You never know what you are going to get, well I guess you know you are in for a day-night-day to remember for the rest of your life. It can range between late summer heat to a full on winter storm. Weather in the Utah mountains (Spring and Fall in Utah in general really) is unpredictable and swings wildly every few days.

I have registered for Bear 100 for the past two years and haven’t been able to run it. The first year was because my daughter just wasn’t ready for me to be gone all day, all night, and possibly into the next day. Then Covid. My fingers are crossed that Utah will step up its game in vaccines and continue with social distancing so it is safe for all to come and run the race without having to worry about themselves or their crew/cheering squad being exposed to the virus or one of its variants.

Happy Healthy Running

Don’t Become Stagnant


Do you run the same routes and distances every week? I hope not, especially, if your goal is to improve your running. It’s important to change things up and challenge your body in new ways. The body learns to run the same old stuff very efficiently. Once it does this, you stop getting gains in your running.

Most training programs include a couple of easy runs, one speed work, and then a long run on the weekend. This is pretty much true regardless of distance.

Having a couple of easy days is important for your body to recover and I don’t think you need to mess with these. Easy days should be at conversation pace. The distance depends on the distance of the race you’re training for and if you’re not training for an event, it would be based upon the distance you like to run on the weekends.

Speed work is a wonderful way to work on your leg turnover even if your focus is not speed but endurance. Being able to move your feet quickly is helpful for steep descents and technical terrain. There are many different types of speed work including intervals, ladders, and tempo runs.

Interval runs consist of a specific distance of a mile or less run at a 90% effort and then either a 200 meter or 400 meter cool down. Then you repeat them. The number of repeats again is tied to the distance of your long run on the weekend.

Ladders are when you increase the distance with each interval. You still have the 200 or 400 meter rest, but the first interval would be 400, the second would be 800, the third one mile, and the fourth a mile and a half. You can create a pyramid by coming back down, one mile, 800 and 400 with the mile and half being the apex.

Tempo runs are when you run a 800 to one mile warm up (actually you should be running a warm up with all speed work) and then run 4 or 5 miles at about 80% effort or race pace.

Of course these are just a few examples, and if you google you will find a ton more. When doing speed work make sure you are not putting it back to back with another hard workout such as a long run. Speed work is hard on your body and it needs an easy run or rest day to follow.

Another way to mix up speed work is not to run speed at all, but hills. You can find a long gradual climb of a few miles or you can do hill repeats (gag). With hill repeats, your rest is on the downhill. So run hard up and then slow down, repeat.

Long runs are another essential part of training, but there are options here as well. You can add in Fartleks. Fartlek means, “speed play.” What you do is pick a point in front of you during a long run. It doesn’t have to be very far out. And then run it hard. You can do this as many times as you’d like and change up the distance each time. This is also good for those who get bored during long runs.

Change up your route for your long runs too. Add some hills, some trails, or run through a park or two. If you run through a park with a playground you can stop and do some pull ups or go down the slide (why not?).

My final suggestion to mix it up and prevent that stagnation is to throw in some other exercises every mile or so during a long run. Stop and do some pushups, burpees, or jumping jacks. Run with high knees or butt kicks.

Changing things up forces your body to adapt in new ways. This means it gets stronger, which is what you want.



I know I have harped on overtraining before, but I’m going to do it again because the runners prone to doing it, and tend to be the runners who have a difficult time taking it to heart and hearing the wisdom behind the advice.

I’ll make this seriously simple. Here is the bottom line, overtraining causes injuries and is the fastest way to put a stop to your running for three to six months.

That is all.


Endurance Sports Show: Take Away Part two

endurance sports

Part one includes information on running myths, low carb endurance, and running biomechanics and can be found by scrolling down after this post.

Here are the major points I took away from the lectures on Open Water Swimming and Transition Two in Triathlons at the Endurance Sports Show this past weekend.

Open Water Swimming: (1) You can draft in swimming just like in cycling; (2) an efficient way around a buoy is to cork screw, roll from front to back to front as you turn around the buoy; (3) sight on nearly every stroke, if you don’t see what you want just keep sighting don’t slow down; (4) you should do speed work in every swim even on recovery swims; (5) there are two main schools of swimming: Total immersion and straight arm turn over, they are not compatible; (6) get comfortable with other people in the water and in open water; (7) triathletes don’t want to build massive shoulders like elite swimmers because it slows them down on the bike and run; (8) swim until your hands brush the bottom when exiting the water, running through the water is a waste of energy.

Triathlon T2: (1) the tri-bike body position makes this transition a little easier than a road bike position; (2) do two sets of deep air squats every day; (3) keep your lower back limber; (4) keep your hip flexors and hamstrings limber; (5) everyone struggles through this transition because the back and core muscles are cramped up on the bike; (6) lacrosse balls make excellent massage tools for the Hamstring. Place the ball under your thigh on the hamstring while on a hard surface, then bend and extend your lower leg. This causes the hamstring to move over the ball; (7) tape two lacrosse balls together to make a massage tool for the back, use it against a wall rolling it up and down your spine.

My big take away: I have a lot of work to do.

I’m pretty solid on my running. I know how to improve in that area. I know quite a lot about running, gear, mechanics, training strategies, physiology, strength, and injury.

I’m sad to admit that I’ve been walking around with an enormous mental block about cycling and swimming: that I can just put in the miles/meters and I’d be just fine. This is probably fine for a goal of “just finish the race,” but if you want to challenge yourself and see, what you are capable of accomplishing, it won’t work.

In other words, I need to apply the knowledge I have about running to swimming and cycling. I need to train as hard at these two as I do with running.

Finally, I was also able to corner one of the physical therapists at the Endurance Sports Show and ask about the pop in my knee two weeks ago. He said if I had torn a ligament, it would have swollen like a grapefruit immediately, and the swelling would not have gone down after two-three days. Diagnosis: sprained knee. I’m clear to run so long as it does not cause pain.

Endurance Sports Show: Take Away Part one

endurance sports

I attended the Endurance Sports Show this past Friday and Saturday. I wandered through the exhibit hall looking at booths on cycling, running, and swimming. I spoke with athlete’s and experts in all three areas. I listened to lectures on popular running myths, low carb endurances, running biomechanics, open water swimming, and the transition from bike to run during a triathlon. There was so much information and amazing knowledgeable presenters. I’m excited for years to come because this will only get bigger.

I’m going to do this in two parts because I know everyone is busy and can’t read long blog posts.

Here are the major things I took away from each lecture:

Running Myths: (1)Stretching doesn’t reliably prevent injury; (2) warm-ups don’t reliably prevent injury (3) motion control shoes regardless of foot type have the highest injury rate among runners; (4) neutral and stability shoes, regardless of foot type have the lowest injury rate among runners; (5) you should choose your shoes by comfort not foot type; (6) orthotics and store bought insoles have the same injury prevention rate regardless of injury type.

Low Carb Endurance: (1) Low carb athletes are setting major records; (2) Low carb athletes add in carbs during racing and high volume training depending on their tolerance for carbs; (3) low carb athletes consume under 50 carbs a day during low volume days; (4) Low carb athletes process carbs more efficiently and get the most bang for their buck; (5) the product Vespa assist in the body’s transition between burning fat and carbs; (6) low carb runners should be eating a lot of liver or taking a liver supplement and they need to watch their electrolyte levels more than other athletes.

Running Biomechanics: (1) there are ways to reduce impact forces both externally and internally; (2) shoes and gear are external and running form is internal; (3) Cadence is the best way to reduce impact; (4) like everything in running, you don’t want to make major changes to your cadence all at once, so follow the 10% rule; (5) 180 steps a minute is ideal for most (but not all) runners. You can get metronome apps to help with this; (6) maintain a 6% forward lean and keep your feet below your center of gravity; (7) you should be landing with a bent knee. This is more important than the contact point of your foot (heel strike, mid-foot, or forefoot); (8) hip strength is a big deal in running form, it maintains your legs in the proper position beneath your body.

Part Two will be posted on Wednesday: including open water swimming and the struggle of the T2 (bike to run) transition during triathlons.