Inside My 2005 Training Log: How I Trained for Cross Country

Cross country was always my favorite season of running. Sweaty summer miles lead to fast, fall racing. What could be better?

cross country training

Perhaps my love for cross country is rooted in its team dynamic. It’s a lot more team-oriented than track and field and everyone on the team is a distance runner.

It always felt more cohesive to me. More of a small family. Last year, I even flew across the country to see my cross country coach for his retirement party (we’re cute, aren’t we?). Running is a strong bond.

So when my final collegiate cross country season was approaching in 2005, I wanted to make it my best ever. No more missed opportunities or wasted time due to injuries.

This was going to be my season. My entire summer was dedicated to cross country running.

And I left no stone unturned. I dedicated those months to base training, prioritizing injury prevention and getting in as many miles and hours of cross-training as possible.

It worked: my 8km personal best improved to 26:19 and I won a run-off for the Varsity team’s last spot for the Regional Meet.

Nearly 200 hours of running, a few bouts of throwing up, dozens of hours of cross-training, and more suffering than I care to remember all became worth it. That 2005 season was my most rewarding and 13 years later, I still look back on it fondly.

Today I want to give you a look back on the week of August 8, 2005 – peak base training for my fall cross country season.

Training for XC: Inside My Log

2005 Cross Country: The Season of Big Hair and Shaved Legs

While this summer of training was similar to prior seasons, it was markedly different in a few different ways:

  • Consistent barefoot strides and drills as an injury prevention measure 2-3 times per week
  • Several hours of cross-training (road cycling and pool running) per week
  • More strength training than prior seasons (in hindsight, it was still not enough)
  • Earlier weeks included “rollercoaster runs” (discussed here) for strength and injury prevention

These new additions allowed a healthy, injury-free season from June to November. I hadn’t run injury-free for six months in a long time…

Here’s our sample week, from peak training in mid-August:

Cross Country Training Log

There’s a lot of jargon and odd notations here, so let me explain:

  • I used an average of 7:00 mile-pace to estimate my mileage based on how long I ran. These are Badger Miles
  • The single quotation mark should be read as “minutes”
  • Pegasus 1, Pegasus 2, and DS Trainers are the names of 3 pairs of shoes that I was running in at the time
  • I noted a few timed loops called Lincoln and Garfield. The times don’t mean much, except to show broad trends over time, so you can just ignore them

For me, this was a very typical week of summer cross country training. The priority of the summer was to increase my weekly mileage to 80+ and then stay there and be as consistent as possible.

Looking over this training log, what can we learn? What lessons will help your running, no matter what race you’re training for?

Cross Country Running is Like Life

You get out of cross country what you put into it. Without a big summer of mileage, a fall season doesn’t have the foundation for success.

Knowing that, I poured everything into the summer months of June, July, and August. And there’s lesson #1.

A Foundation is Critical

No matter if you’re training for a 5k or a marathon, a base of fitness is required to run well. That’s why I don’t write “Couch to Marathon” plans.

So if you’re in the “in-between” area between seasons and you’re not sure what to do, build your mileage. You can’t go wrong by running a lot of easy miles to further develop the aerobic metabolism.

It makes any hard work you do in the future much easier (and you more capable)!

Barefoot Running is a Tool

I don’t call myself “Barefoot Jason” for the same reason that I avoid “Long Run Jason” or “Deadlift Jason” or “Fartlek Jason.”

All of these are training tools to help you accomplish a certain task. Just like you wouldn’t run easy every day, or deadlift every day, or run a fast workout every day, you certainly shouldn’t be running barefoot every day.

In this monster barefoot running post, you can see the benefits of running without shoes and how to do it effectively for maximum gains.

Cross-Training is Undervalued

Runners want to run, that’s for sure! I’d rather have run 100+ weekly miles than supplement my running with cycling and pool running.

Alas, I was too injury-prone for that. So I opted for the next best thing: cross-training.

Most runners would see dramatic improvement if they strategically used cross-training to increase their endurance and recovery. That’s because there are barely any drawbacks! It’s a lot of gain, for very few downsides…

I wrote previously about “Performance Multipliers” and cross-training is definitely one of them!

Focus on the Big

When it comes to training, there are only a few things most runners should care about:

  • Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual mileage levels
  • Workout pacing
  • Making sure easy runs are easy
  • Distance of the long run

That’s about it. But we’re lured into the trap of over-analyzing every run, split, and workout with the mountains of data we get from our connected devices.

You’ll notice that I timed my runs – and that was it. I estimated almost everything else based on how I felt.

More runners would improve if they worried less about the minutiae of their ground contact time and vertical oscillation and more on running a relatively high number of miles consistently.

“Good” Training Isn’t Always Perfect

There are two noticeable problems with my training log above:

  1. I was frequently dealing with a sore Achilles, tight plantar fascia, and other foot problems
  2. I stopped doing barefoot strides after Monday and I didn’t do any barefoot drills the entire week

You can see why I laid off the barefoot training!

Good training isn’t always perfect. Sometimes you have to adjust and modify your plans – and that’s ok! Often, your body barely notices the difference.

In this case, I needed to limit the stress on my feet and lower legs while at the same time prioritizing my weekly mileage. So I cut the barefoot work and lived to run another day.

It’s also important to remember that you won’t always feel good or 100% pain-free on every single run during the season. There’s nothing wrong with that! As long as you can run without sharp pain or modifying your form to compensate for pain, you can keep training.

Now it’s your turn: what questions do you have about this training log? Or about cross country training in general?

Leave your responses in the comments below and I’ll reply to as many as I can!

Finally, don’t miss these related resources:

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From Low Energy to High Mileage: How Jodi Turned Her Running Around

Twelve years ago, I had a Michael Phelps moment. I was eating nearly twice as much food and still feeling famished all day (I didn’t gain a pound, either).

Jodi high energy running

Here’s Jodi, leading the pack with high energy!

You see, I was pool running every day because of an injury (sometimes, twice a day). With all that time in the pool, my appetite soared. Now, I understand how Michael Phelps can eat 10,000 calories per day!

Water does that to you. Water, which is a better conductor of heat, makes you colder. To compensate, your body revs up your metabolism to stay warm.

That’s why I had a hot dog and three bowls of cereal for dessert (not ideal, by the way…) and was clamoring for nachos at 9pm.

But running is not swimming. You’ll never need to eat that much to sustain your training, even if you’re running triple digits per week. There’s no water to cool down your body temperature.

Alas, that doesn’t mean runners can under-fuel. In fact, eating enough food is often a problem for many runners that leads to low energy availability. That makes workouts, long runs, and races much more difficult.

Awhile back, I spoke with elite trail runner David Roche about prevent injuries. His advice? Eat more.

To have a long-term running career sustaining lots of miles, you need to be a champion eater.

The mechanism at work is energy availability. Running burns lots of calories, and life burns lots too. Runners need to make sure they are never at a deficit when accounting for all of those demands on energy. A deficit for even one day during heavy training can increase injury risk. A longer term deficit can have even more disastrous consequences on hormones.

Moreover, erring on the side of a surplus energy availability is helpful in spurring adaptations to heavy training, and it allows a runner to sustain harder work over time.

Now let’s be clear: you have to eat good food to get these benefits! Nutrient-dense, minimally processed food is your best option.

And you can see how sound nutrition is a performance multiplier. It:

  • Reduces your injury risk
  • Provides enough energy for high quality workouts
  • Makes you feel better throughout the day
  • Improves the recovery and adaptation processes (this is what makes you faster)

It’s a powerful method of multiplying your efforts to get more out of your training – with zero drawbacks.

Let’s see how this works in real life. Meet Jodi:

“I could feel my low energy”

Jodi running well

Jodi started running when she was 35 but never put any “structure” around her running or diet. She just wasn’t sure what to do.

But she also had aspirations to run a marathon and knew that if she was going to accomplish her goal, she needed a smarter plan. What she was doing just wasn’t working.

I could definitely feel my low energy when increasing my miles, but also just in my everyday life. I was at the point where I was not following any program.

I was tired of throwing my money away on information that did not work or help.

I wanted to learn how to fuel my body to help my distance running and to keep from getting injuries. My goal is to run my first full marathon.

Jodi took the leap and started implementing Strength Running’s nutrition guidance – and her progress quickly accelerated. But she did struggle a bit at first!

Nothing good ever comes easy…

She knew that she needed to have a better relationship with food (and since we don’t make you score, weigh, calculate, or count anything this was an easy transition for Jodi) but she wasn’t sure what to eat, when to eat, or the right portions.

Luckily, our example Meal Plans explain this in simple terms. And our RD-approved grocery list only has “normal” foods on it (no need to travel to a specialty store!).

And Jodi got exactly what she was looking for:

Until I got this program, I was not fueling my body like I should which was why I struggled with my runs and energy.

When I started this program I gained weight at first, which was a little hard and challenging for someone recovering from an eating disorder, but once my body adjusted the weight can back off and my body started to lean itself out.

I started to actually look healthy.

Perhaps more importantly, Jodi started feeling better the other 23 hours of the day when she wasn’t running. After all, you can’t enjoy life if you’re always too tired from running.

She told me:

I felt so much better in all aspects of my life and had so much more energy not only on my runs but just overall. It was not just learning to fuel my body for running but for all aspects of my life!

Your program is not just about feeding information to people but that you or the experts you use all practice what you all preach. Which is why I like this program and why it works.

That last part is probably the most satisfying to me as a coach because no matter the advice (whether it’s to focus on nutrient-dense foods, stop counting calories, or abandon all those fad diets), it’s all advice that’s practiced by us and by all of the experts we spoke with.

It’s not a coincidence.

Fundamental principles of nutrition that help you fuel well, establish your ideal weight, and improve feelings of well-being aren’t secret, difficult to adhere to, or complicated.

They’re fundamental.

How to Energize Your Running like Jodi

These principles can help any runner no matter the age, ability, weight, mileage, or injury status. We’re all runners aren’t we?

Jodie took advantage of our no-nonsense programming to transform her running and daily energy levels.

In particular, I want to highlight two from the program:

Simple is King

Look, if you want to assign a score to every morsel of food that enters your body, then you’ll have my blessings.

But I’m not interested in calculating my macronutrient percentages several times a day or keeping an ongoing calorie log of my diet. I have better things to do – like cutting my lawn by hand with a pair of kid’s scissors.

You might feel the same way…

That’s why we keep our program simple. No calorie counting. No worrying about your diet “score” or stressing about your carbohydrate count for the day.

It’s not only more enjoyable, but it’s sustainable in the long-term. Adherence rates plummet with complicated diets.

And that’s why it’s not even a diet! Just a smarter way to eat.

Eat Foods for Energy

Nutrient-dense foods fill you up but nutrient-poor foods often leave you famished just an hour later.

We’ve all had the experience of eating a huge fast food meal, only to be hungry again soon after.

Why does that happen? A few reasons:

  • Processed foods generally have far less fiber than “real” foods – so they’re digested faster.
  • The have less “nutrition” (i.e., nutrients like vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, fiber, etc.)
  • High sugar content from white bread, soda and fries spikes insulin, resulting in a crash that leaves you wanting to get your blood sugar level back up
  • High sodium levels can make you feel thirsty, which is often mistaken for hunger

These empty calories don’t satisfy you the same way that a balanced meal with whole foods will.

A properly balanced meal includes every macronutrient:

  • Healthy fats (from fish, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, greek yogurt, etc.)
  • Complex carbohydrates (the less refined the better)
  • Lean protein

When you include every macronutrient, rather than just one or two, you stay full for longer. Your digestive system has work to do and while your stomach is busy digesting, hunger cues are greatly reduced.

In our free nutrition course, we cover more examples – plus give you a free dietitian-approved shopping list, case studies, what not to do, and a lot more.

Want these lessons? Just sign up here and the first lesson will be on its way!

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How to Use ‘Performance Multipliers’ For Strength and Speed

Running is exciting because it’s cumulative; what you do this week helps you next month. And your training next month helps you next year!

Running performance multipliers

Like compound interest, training benefits increase with time. The physical systems (let’s not also forget mental and emotional) that enable fast races and injury resilience take years to properly develop.

That’s why some elite-level coaches tell their athletes that it takes 2-3 years after college to even glimpse their potential!

But there are ways to accelerate this process and experience even faster progress.

While there are no shortcuts, there are certainly best practices that lead to better results. And in this article, I want to introduce you to a powerful way of making accelerated progress.

This can be done by using performance multipliers.

Performance multipliers multiply your efforts, give you several benefits at once, and make improvement easier with virtually no drawbacks.

Just imagine going to bed an hour earlier. You’ll recover faster from your previous training, adapt to that training more effectively, and feel better during your next workout.

But the benefits don’t just stop there. Getting the right amount of sleep will:

  • Improve mood, concentration, focus, and the many attributes that comprise “mental fitness”
  • Help you live longer
  • Boost your ability to lose weight by improving fat loss

A healthy sleep habit is a “performance multiplier” that improves many aspects of physical, mental, and emotional health.

Just do that one thing (get more sleep) and you’ll get a whole host of advantages.

What Strategies Don’t Count?

Performance Multipliers lead to progress

Not every training tool is a performance multiplier. In fact, some tried and true strategies have so many downsides that they should be used sparingly!

Just consider a fast workout. Many runners assume that you have to run faster workouts to race faster.

And it’s true that structured, formal workouts (like fartlek training, track intervals, or hill workouts) will improve your speed.

But they have a cost. Workouts:

  • Increase fatigue
  • Cause muscular damage, resulting in soreness
  • Spike your injury risk

Workouts should be considered a necessary but risky part of training. You can’t reach your potential without running fast occasionally but they certainly have drawbacks.

High mileage and long runs are also necessary to achieve your potential. But like speed sessions, they have substantial risks.

Performance multipliers don’t have these substantial downsides. They’re strategies that give you many benefits with virtually no risk.

How to Identify Performance Multipliers

A performance multiplier stands out for two major reasons:

  1. It has multiple benefits
  2. It has few (or zero) drawbacks

In our example above, we saw that fast workouts have one major advantage (greater speed) but there’s a catch: they have a lot of downsides.

While speed workouts are necessary, they must be used sparingly.

In contrast, a performance multiplier like sleep is a win-win-win strategy with no downsides!

Strength training is another performance multiplier that can improve your running in a variety of ways:

  • More strength and power to kick and race fast
  • The best non-training way to prevent injuries
  • Improved economy (efficiency)

In a recent video about how to engineer your own performance breakthrough, I mentioned strength training:

Notice how I said it’s an indirect way of getting faster and that it helps improve your form, strength, coordination, injury resilience, and ability to tolerate a higher workload.

That, my friend, is a performance multiplier.

Cross-training is yet another example of a powerful performance multiplier. Exercise like pool running or cycling can further develop your endurance with virtually no injury risk.

In fact, cross-training led to my best season of cross country in college. With an extra 3-4 hours of cycling and aqua-jogging per week (and a mandated 9 hours of sleep per night), I was able to run faster and more consistently than any season prior.

I made our very competitive Varsity team, improved my 8k cross country PR, and had a lot of fun that season!

The only thing that cross-training costs you is time. If you have extra time, adding it to your training program is a no-brainer.

“Stacking” Improvement for More Speed

You can tell when a runner has been focusing on performance multipliers. They make big strides forward (excuse the running pun), racking up Personal Records while staying healthy and feeling strong.

Just look at this email I received:

Performance Multipliers

It’s not easy to run a Personal Best. Especially in the marathon after two kids! Dena took advantage of Strength Running training programs that stack these performance multipliers and make success easier to achieve.

When you include as many of these strategies as you can in your training, you’ll feel the difference.

This week, I’m putting together more coaching material on the topic of a specific performance multiplier: nutrition.

You see, better nutrition is one of the best ways to magnify growth and accelerate your progress.

That’s because sound nutrition:

  • Improves general health and feelings of well-being
  • Fuels every run, strength session, and cross-training workout you do
  • Boosts energy levels throughout the day
  • Increases your body’s ability to recover from exercise

And the best part? There are absolutely no drawbacks, disadvantages, or negative side-effects of eating well! You won’t get sore, fatigued, or risk an injury.

I’m bullish on proper nutrition for runners because there is no downside – only upside – to eating a more nutrient-dense diet.

To get started with our series this week, sign up here for your first lesson.

I’ll also be sharing more advice on social media, so don’t miss anything:

If you’re ready to accelerate your progress with this performance multiplier, I’m ready to help you transform your running.

I think this is going to be a huge turning point in your running career so get excited!

Make sure you’re on the Strength Running Team to get the best stuff – just sign up here and I’ll take care of sending you the first coaching lesson.

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How to Run Faster Based on Your Runner Archetype

There are so many ways of improving: higher mileage, strength training, faster workouts… But if you want to know how to run faster, which is best for you?

how to run faster

No matter who you are or how long you’ve been running, there are concrete ways to reduce your injury risk, run more consistently, and learn how to run faster.

But each training strategy is different and not always appropriate for every runner. You might be ready to hit the gym for more advanced weightlifting or start running 50 miles per week but that doesn’t mean I am!

Instead, I want to highlight three archetypes of runners. You might not exactly fit into one of these categories but they’ll give you a good idea of the necessary steps for improvement.

A majority of runners find themselves in these situations regularly.

Now, you’ll know more about the options available to you, so that you can keep making progress toward your goals.

But first, which runner are you?

The Often Injured Runner

runner injured

Every few days, I get a variation of this question:

“I can get to about 2 miles and then my knee starts to hurt. Should I keep trying to train for the half marathon?”

With any substantial injury, you can’t focus on treatment while trying to train for a race. Only healthy runners can train well.

The goals and approach are very different so it’s far more effective to focus on one thing at a time.

This is why…

  • Runners focus on weight loss before we focus on training
  • Bodybuilders focus on gaining size before they focus on leaning down
  • We should always focus on treatment before training

This sentiment was explained well by performance coach and author of Peak Performance Brad Stulberg:

So if you do find yourself chronically injured, injury prevention must be a priority if you hope to get off the dysfunctional merry-go-round.

Three of the most effective strategies for staying healthy include:

  • A 10-minute series of dynamic warm up exercises before you start running
  • Slowing down your easy runs (easy should feel easy: controlled, comfortable, and conversational)
  • A 10-20 minute sequence of runner-specific strength exercises after each run

Building athleticism, increasing strength, and reducing some stress are sound ways to stay healthy.

Of course, the most important aspect of injury prevention is not strength training (or foam rolling… or ice baths… or compression socks…) but the structure of your training.

I spoke about this in this video.

To learn more about this training structure – and why it’s far more productive at preventing injuries than gym work – we have a free email course set up for you.

Sign up here and you’ll get the first coaching lesson right away.

The High-Achieving Runner

Running is fun!

This is the runner that we all aspire to be. Healthy, running strong, and well informed about how to train effectively.

Despite everything going well, they’re not entirely sure what to do next. How can they keep progressing? What more can this runner do?

It’s true that the faster you get, the harder it is to keep improving.

Just look at me: in the first 9 months of my running career, I went from a 6:20 mile to a 5:02 mile. But it took seven more years to run 4:33!

Any runner who is bumping up against their physiological limits must be looking at “the next logical step” in their training.

After all, if you want your race times to improve, you have to first improve your training.

You’re probably in this category if you find yourself:

  • Running well but without many Personal Bests
  • Race times have stagnated
  • You think you’re doing everything “right” but your results aren’t budging

These runners need to take the next step. Two of the most effective strategies include running higher mileage and lifting weights.

Higher mileage is arguably the best way to improve. The benefits are undeniable:

  • Denser mitochondria, the “energy factories” of muscle cells
  • Stronger muscles and more resilience to injuries
  • Higher capacity for work (the ultimate runner’s dream)

When you can run a lot, running faster gets a lot easier.

Weightlifting is another great option for high-achieving runners who want to figure out how to run faster. The benefits include:

  • More strength, power, and global athleticism
  • Improved running economy (so you can go faster at the same effort)
  • Better ability to sprint and kick hard at the end of a race
  • Injury prevention

A periodized, progressive, and runner-specific strength program has the potential to dramatically transform your running career.

Since most runners don’t lift weights (and those who do don’t lift as appropriately as they could be), there’s a lot of potential for improvement.

If you’re not sure where to start – or you’re looking for a “one and done” strength program for runners, we’ve got you covered.

Our free strength series will show you the mistakes to avoid, sample exercises, case studies, and more.

The Lost Runner

run faster xc

No, I don’t mean lost when out for a run. That will happen to all of us sooner or later!

This is the runner that struggles with consistency. They sit down on Sunday night and wonder what they’re going to run this upcoming week.

Many runners are in this position. They’re just not sure if they’re doing the right thing. They ask questions like:

  • “I just want to be more consistent. How do I keep improving?”
  • “I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing… I hate wondering what to do!”
  • “I’ve been at 2:10 in the half marathon forever. I don’t think I’ll ever go sub-2:00.”

If you find yourself afloat in a sea of conflicting information, have hope! Shore is just over the horizon…

First, recognize that any lack of consistency might just be because you’re bored. And that’s ok! Running can get repetitive sometimes…

But a varied running program can alleviate boredom. It’s like Coach Mario Fraioli recently said:

I’ll add that trail running can be an exceptionally fun way to inject more exhilaration into your running!

But if variety isn’t your problem, I recommend a three-step approach for these runners:

  1. Read a running book. It doesn’t matter too much which book it is, but choose one that explains the training process.
  2. Be patient! Learning something new and developing competence takes time (often years).
  3. Find support: a coach, running partner, training group, or online community of other runners like you.

Immersing yourself in the sport is one of the most fun ways of learning more about running. You’ll also improve at a faster rate!

But it’s also true that finding a club that works with your schedule or hiring a personal running coach can be difficult or expensive. And we all don’t have friends who want to run with us at 5:30 in the morning…

Strength Running has an affordable group coaching program called Team Strength Running that makes your running easier.

For those who want a supportive team, coaching guidance, and ongoing education about the sport, this is for you.

Get notified when enrollment opens next and I’ll send you all the details when it’s time.

Stacking the Building Blocks of Improvement

Learning!

Progress is not guaranteed. But for those runners who want to know how to run faster, we have the tools to make it happen.

Just like there is a hierarchy of injury prevention, there’s also a hierarchy of speed development:

  • Develop some fitness to run consistently and build your ability to run even more
  • Learn more about running. Knowledge is a competitive advantage!
  • Focus on injury prevention to stay healthy and build momentum
  • Lift weights to improve strength and resiliency
  • Run higher mileage
  • Run faster, longer, or more frequent workouts

Depending on where your running is at the moment, you now have new ideas and strategies to keep progressing.

Instead of implementing all of these suggestions at once, choose one at first and get comfortable with it. After a few weeks, you’ll be ready to start incorporating more of these strategies.

After a few months, you’ll be a whole new runner.

Before you go, I have questions for you!

What is your favorite strategy for running faster? How do you improve when you’ve hit a performance plateau? What works for you?

Leave your recommendations in the comments below and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Yoga for Runners with Yogi Sage Rountree

Long gone are the days when yoga was practiced only by the fringe. Now, it’s used by the best athletes around the world to improve their performances.

Yoga for Runners

But is yoga for runners a different experience than yoga for everyone else? I have so many questions!

  • How is yoga scheduled for endurance runners?
  • What can we expect from a regular yoga practice?
  • Are there any risks?
  • Should the same yoga be done in-season vs. out-of-season?

I’m also personally cautious toward yoga because it’s very different than running. I like to test myself and push hard – things I never associated with yoga.

But I overcame that hesitation years ago thanks to a friend dragging me to many Bikram Yoga classes. It was fun, (somewhat) restorative, and I liked how it made me feel.

With some runners hesitant to brave the yoga studio – and the benefits unclear – I wanted to get a leading expert on the podcast to discuss yoga for runners.

Please say hi to Sage Rountree.

Sage isn’t just an internationally recognized yoga expert with the highest level of training possible. She hasn’t just worked with Olympians, NBA and NFL players, and collegiate athletes.

She’s also a running and triathlon coach and the author of eight books, including:

With a PhD in English Literature, race experience from 400m to the ultramarathon, and experience teaching yoga at venues ranging from the local Turkey Trot to the Pentagon, Sage has a breadth of experience unlike most other fitness experts.

She’s also the owner of the Carolina Yoga Company, the Hillsborough Spa and Day Retreat; and the Carolina Massage Institute.

And she’s on the podcast to talk about the many benefits of yoga for runners.

Yoga for Runners: All You Need to Know

Sage Rountree

Sage Rountree. Photo by Seth K. Hughes

In this episode, Sage and I are discussing everything you’d like to know about practicing yoga as a runner:

  • What physical skills will a yoga practice develop?
  • For the average runner, how much yoga is enough?
  • When is the ideal time to do yoga?
  • What styles of yoga are most appropriate for endurance runners?
  • Can yoga be periodized, like running or strength training?

We also discuss the psychological side of yoga and how a consistent practice can develop mental fitness as a form of “brain training.”

Subscribe to the Strength Running Podcast on Apple Music or on Stitcher.

Resources & Links:

A big thank you to Sage for being on the podcast. I hope this conversation helps you rethink yoga and commit to becoming a more athletic runner!

Thanks SteadyMD

This episode is supported by SteadyMD, a virtual doctor that’s just for runners.

If you’ve ever visited a physical therapist or your primary care physician about a running injury, you’ve probably left frustrated. Many doctors will simply tell you to rest, take some ibuprofen, or quit running altogether.

That’s not going to work for us hard-charging runners!

SteadyMD gives you a doctor available anytime via phone, text, or video chat who understands the demands of training (and injuries). Have a question about a niggle or a joint that feels “off?” Then SteadyMD is your answer.

Started by sub-3 marathoner Dr. Josh Emdur,the goal of SteadyMD is to give you a personal doctor, online, that’s just for runners to help you stay fit, healthy, injury-free, and competitive.

The best part? There are no co-pays, waiting rooms, or surprise bills.

For athletes who need true preventative care tailored to your medical needs and lifestyle, visit SteadyMD to check out all of the details.

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How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon (with tighter BQ times)

The B.A.A. lowered the qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon in 2018. Here’s how to up your game and get that very coveted BQ!

Run Your BQ

Qualify for the Boston Marathon and get that BQ!

You might have heard a loud, collective sigh of disappointment around the third week of September.

It was the sound of thousands of runners learning that the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) was making qualifying standards tighter for the storied Boston Marathon. The BAA announced that across the board in every age group, runners would have to cut five more minutes off their marathons in order to qualify.

A lofty goal just got loftier.

For those who follow the qualifying times each year, the writing was clearly on the wall that this move was coming. For several years now, runners had to go well under the qualifying time in order to get into the race:

  • 2019: 4:52 under
  • 2018: 3:23 under
  • 2017: 2:09 under

Another way of looking at the data reveals that the number of people submitting qualifying times was steadily increasing. For a few years, that rate of increase held at about four percent, but in each of the last two years, it was a full seven percent.

The bottom line: plenty of people were qualifying for Boston, but still weren’t getting in.

If you’re a runner who has been tantalizing close to qualifying, the new standards might feel like a kick in the gut. Now you have to run five minutes faster?!

But Bobby Gessler, MD, coaching certification instructor for the RRCA’s coaching program and certified course instructor for the USATF, says that runners should look at it as good news:

Most people who have made it into Boston the past few years are probably already at the time they need. All you really need to do in this situation is maintain.

Still, there’s an entire population that was hitting the old BQ standard but not making it into the race. For these runners, five minutes may feel insurmountable.

But it’s really not, says Gessler, and if you’re ready to pay attention to all the little details of your training, you may just find five minutes to shave off your next BQ attempt.

Qualify for the Boston Marathon: The Basics

City of Boston

If you are among the thousands looking to BQ this year and now need to run even faster than before, don’t despair. There is plenty you can do in the coming year to take time off that next go at a BQ.

Gessler cautions, however, that there’s no silver bullet:

Everyone wants to know what that one workout is that will make them faster. The truth is, it doesn’t exist.

What is tried and true, says Gessler, is getting back to the basics and sticking to them:

Ideally what you are after, is the highest volume of work you can put in, while still recovering from it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you do have to be dedicated.

To Gessler’s way of thinking, the cornerstone of any marathon program is the long run—always has been, always will be.

“This is where you gain the aerobic benefits you need to get to 26.2. I define a long run as anywhere between 90 minutes and three hours and it should make up about 10 percent to 15 percent of your weekly mileage.

We have a video Q&A about marathon long runs here, as well.

The Next Step: Tempo Runs

Marathon Workouts

See Episode 71 of the Podcast

After the long run, Gessler likes to see athletes regularly knock out a tempo run. A rather ambiguous term, tempo runs often confuse runners, but Gessler defines it as a pace you could race for 60 minutes.

You are still aerobic,” he explains, “but you’re getting close to crossing over into anaerobic work.”

Gessler points out that tempo pace should be considered dynamic:

Your tempo pace will change over a training cycle, depending on how fit you are. So at the beginning of a cycle, it would be slower than a month out from race day, for instance.

What about track work during a marathon build up? Gessler says it can have its place, but that if you’re going to do it, focus on repeats of 800 meters or longer:

Marathon training shouldn’t involve much in the way of VO2 max work, because you’re just not going to need that for a race of this distance.

Don’t miss Strength Running’s step-by-step guide to tempo runs!

Marathon Training Extras

Strength Workout

Marathon training is a long haul and a time consuming one at that. You might be tempted to do nothing more than put in the miles, but if you’re going to have your best shot at staying healthy and going after a BQ, you need to incorporate back-end work, too.

This includes strength work, says Gessler:

All of the elites are strong. It’s harder for those of us with desk jobs, but you can’t let strength work slide during a marathon build up.

He also likes to throw in some cross training that will continue to add aerobic value but give your legs a break when they need it:

Cycling, swimming, and water running are all good options. If you have time, workouts like yoga and Pilates can be a bonus, too.

For more on this topic, see our guide on how to cross-train for speed, health, and recovery.

Consider Life’s Stressors

marathon wall

Marathon training – especially with the goal of a BQ – is going to take a big chunk of your life. With family, work, and social commitments, it’s best to get out a calendar before you take that dive into a training cycle.

Gessler adds:

When you’re training like this, something will likely have to give. So make sure this isn’t a crazy time in your life.

New babies, new jobs, a busy sports season with your kids – these can all make training time more difficult to come by. It can also leach some of the fun from training because you feel guilty – or your partner might feel resentment – so ensure you are picking the right time to commit to training.

Also important to consider is the course and likely temperatures on race day. If you know you tend to overheat while running, for instance, stay away from early fall (September) or late spring (May) races, where temperatures could be warmer than something like a November or March race.

Location, too, should come into play. If you live somewhere relatively flat, don’t put your BQ attempt at elevation. If traveling to race adds unwanted stress, then find a race closer to home.

Marathon Training Demands Recovery

New research continues to emphasize the importance of sleep in our lives. When marathon training and going to the well physically, it couldn’t be more valuable.

Gessler notes:

This is a time to do everything right, including resting. Sleep is incredibly restorative and one of your best recovery tools.

Set yourself up to get to bed early so that you manage the early training alarms if you’re a morning runner. If you’re an afternoon or evening runner, leave enough time after to allow for a regular bed-time routine that signals to your body it’s time to sleep.

Within the bedroom, keep screen time to a minimum or even better, not at all. Set your room up to be cool, dark, and comfortable so that your sleep can be undisrupted and restorative.

Dial in Your Nutrition

healthy habits

Like sleep, nutrition during a marathon training cycle should be spot on. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet will help your muscles repair and be ready to fight another day.

Dr Gessler prefers to keep things simple:

Education on nutrition is generally lacking in our society. But it’s pretty straightforward – whole foods and purposeful, not mindless, eating will provide all you need.

This is also another area where there is no magic bullet. Adding big protein supplements or beefing up on carbs isn’t going to make you faster, but a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats will help you stay healthy for the training demands you are putting on your body.

When all is said and done, taking five minutes off your marathon time truly means making a plan and sticking to it. This isn’t a time to take anything for granted or get sloppy with your habits.

But a basic, tried-and-true formula executed with precision will get you where you need to be.

Gessler likes to remind athletes that there are no shortcuts:

It all comes down to doing the work and including all the small things that maximize the time you’re putting into it.

The only thing you’ll get from trying to cut corners is hurt, and you can’t make it to the finish line without getting to the start line.

Recommended Resources:

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Running and Lifting: How to Do Both For Best Results

Coaching allows me to change people’s mindset and even their bodies through running and lifting. These transformations are the most rewarding part of being a coach.

running and lifting kirsten

And today, I’m thrilled to share a powerful example of what happens when you commit to smart training.

The photo above is Kirsten. She’s a runner just like you. But after some health problems, her running was in the gutter. She told me:

I had some health issues several years ago, which gave me very low energy and caused me to lose a lot of strength. I was all of a sudden an extremely slow runner.

To my body, I was not only a beginner, but extremely out of shape. When I started running again I could do 19 minute miles. Slightly faster than I walked!

Being out of shape – both aerobically and muscularly – makes it seem like you’ll never rebuild your fitness again. It’s a steep uphill climb.

Kirsten felt frustrated because her running was taking so long at this slower pace. She used to be able to run twice as far in the same amount of time!

Not only that, but she was drowning in information overload. She had so much information about how to lift weights properly but still felt unsure of what to do.

I was tired and frustrated with having SO much information at my fingertips and yet still feeling like I wasn’t sure what to do. I’ve read so many books and made my own training plans so many times.

I’m very familiar with progressive training plans and so I was looking for something that was more than just “do these same 8 generic exercises over and over.”

She knew that running and lifting worked well together. The research is conclusive on its impact on running economy, power, and injury prevention.

So Kirsten made the decision to invest in High Performance Lifting – the only strength program created by both a USATF certified coach and a USA Weightlifting National Coach.

Her progress is remarkable – but also achievable for other runners like you.

“The strength I gained made me feel unstoppable!”

Kirsten wasn’t exactly your typical gym rat. While she usually engaged in running and lifting, she didn’t even have a gym membership! Most of her strength training was previously done at home with bodyweight exercises like squats:

To be honest, going to the gym was really challenging, especially being a smaller woman in a room full of large bulky men trying to find my way around the weights.

Over time, it actually boosted my confidence and the strength I gained made me feel quite unstoppable!

Of course, getting comfortable in a gym wasn’t the only obstacle Kirsten had to overcome to transform her training. Even though her confidence grew, she had to establish an entirely new routine.

You see, Kirsten would rather be outdoors (I’m guilty of that, too!). She didn’t want to spend time in the weight room every week.

But soon, she had an epiphany:

This was the greatest lesson that I repeat to myself regularly: it is well worth it to take 2x a week inside to do strength training so that the time I spend outside running is not only injury free, but is also extremely fun!

I have way more fun when I can run with bounding strength.

Once Kirsten got comfortable in the gym and with spending extra time inside not running, her progress started to accelerate.

She was training for her second half marathon of the year and was hoping her training would feel better, result in fewer injuries, and be more fun. High Performance Lifting helped make that possible:

I went through my 2nd half marathon training of the year with the HPL strength program. I felt stronger and stronger as I went through it. My runs got faster and I felt solid. I actually had way more “kick” during my runs even half way through.

Productive training usually leads to productive racing.

So how did Kirsten run in her second half marathon?

Running and Lifting: The Proof is in the Racing

Kirsten half marathon

Kirsten ran her half 29 minutes faster than her previous race (at 6,000 feet altitude!) and thinks she could have been even faster at sea level.

Her progress of being nearly two minutes faster per mile in a half marathon is surreal.

She credits her experience with High Performance Lifting for such a breakthrough:

I really really loved how HPL worked progressively through the workouts. Each week had 2 separate workouts that were each different and each week those workouts changed either slightly or completely, all building off of each other.

That was wonderful! I felt challenged every week and was never bored. I learned a LOT about progression, variation, and building.

It’s made me really excited to do it again to see how much more I’ll improve because you can do it over and over again!

Just as importantly, she ran so fast without any injuries!

Why Was Kirsten Successful?

Kirsten Weight Lifting Transformation

Kirsten’s experience highlights exactly why the High Performance Lifting program is so successful for runners. It’s not because you’re going to be lifting heavier weight than ever before.

HPL is effective because it’s uniquely designed for endurance runners and models sound exercise science:

  • It will progressively get more challenging over time
  • It is periodized to focus on different things at different times during the season
  • The programming is specific to the needs of runners (power, neuromuscular coordination, and injury prevention)

Despite its effectiveness, Kirsten was hesitant about the price:

I was hesitant to buy the program at first because of the cost but the more I thought about it, it wasn’t actually expensive at all if you consider the cost of a running coach.

This program is like having a coach. Since I’d already done a SR program, I knew these were well worth it.

Ultimately, Kirsten understood that if she wanted to experience progress, she must take action.

She signed up to learn more about strength training and took the next step of investing in a proven program specific to runners.

You can take that first step, too. Sign up here and you’ll get your first coaching lesson on strength training right away.

Thankfully, Kirsten didn’t pigeonhole herself into the “beginner runner” category.

Despite her health issues and 19-minute miles, she realized that progress would be faster if she expected more from herself:

Even though I ran cross country in high school, I really started this program as a beginning runner physically. It gave me a lot of perspective on starting from nothing. I learned that the body is way more resilient than we can imagine.

And what does she think of High Performance Lifting?

I would absolutely recommend this to any runner. This isn’t just for high performing runners. This is for runners. Beginners and advanced runners alike will get a lot out of this program because it builds on your current ability.

Start here to learn more about strength training, lifting for power, and how you can transform your running just like Kirsten.

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Running Your First Marathon? Listen to this Behind the Scenes Coaching Call

Running your first marathon is exciting, terrifying, and rewarding at the same time. This post will help you make it less terrifying and more rewarding!

running first marathon

Before I ran my first marathon, I made a lot of mistakes:

  • I foolishly predicted negative splitting the final (hilly) miles of the New York City Marathon
  • Despite injuries during training, I still attempted to reach weekly mileage records
  • Strength training was skipped (mistakenly convincing myself that “I’m too busy for that…”)

The result was a sub-par race. I ran too quickly during the early miles and hit the wall at mile 20 – the very cliche of running your first marathon.

With about a mile to go, a senior citizen passed me. As a 25-year old at the time, this was especially crushing for my ego…

And while that race wasn’t a complete failure, I’ve made it a top priority to help runners avoid many of my beginner marathoner mistakes so they can have more successful and enjoyable races.

Because after all, running your first marathon doesn’t have to be a grueling experience.

But before you ever line up on the finish line, how do you know when you’re even ready to start training for your first marathon?

“I’ve never run longer than about 9 miles…”

Pam is a Team Strength Running member. Every month, I get the team together for a live video coaching call. We talk about workouts, scheduling races, planning around vacations and injuries, and how to strategically plan a season.

I recently asked the team if anybody was planning a BIG goal and wanted to come on the podcast to talk more about how to achieve that crazy goal.

[These opportunities are only available to Team SR members. Learn more about the team here.]

Pam stepped up. She’s not new to running but wants to run a marathon even though she’s never run longer than about 9 miles. Her longest race has been 10k.

This is a unique place to be: an experienced yet low-mileage runner who wants to make the leap to running 26.2 miles.

We’re left with a lot of questions:

  • How can this transition be done safely with as little injury risk as possible?
  • Can Pam train for a marathon now or should she wait?
  • How can Pam build her mileage over the long-term to make running her first marathon easier to achieve?

These are the questions we’re answering on today’s podcast episode about running your first marathon.

This is a behind the scenes coaching call that I occasionally do for team members, highlighting their unique goals and struggles and how they can keep improving.

The format of the call is three parts:

First, what is Pam’s background as a runner?

Second, what are her goals and current training like?

Finally, we strategize on how she can make those goals a reality.

Subscribe to the Strength Running Podcast on Apple Music or on the Stitcher app.

Links & Resources:

For more detail on this topic, watch our video about planning a season:

This video outlines the top 3 mistakes to avoid, how to schedule tune-up races, and big picture training progressions to use in your running season.

Thanks QuickTape!

A big thanks is in order to QuickTape who made this episode of the podcast possible.

If you struggle with lower leg or foot injuries like plantar fasciitis. QuickTape foot support straps can help you run without pain. It offers optimal arch support with a single piece of medical grade athletic tape that takes seconds to apply, doesn’t stretch, and can even be worn in the shower.

QuickTape improves foot alignment and reduces stress on the foot and ankle for rapid relief from plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendon pain, and other common foot ailments and injuries.

It’s also virtually foolproof. With no cutting, stretching, or layering, QuickTape eliminates room for error so you know you’re getting the full benefit from taping. And each tape lasts up to 7 days.

For prevention or treatment, you can apply it before a race or workout to help protect your feet and lower legs.

Podcasts listeners can receive 20% off your first order. To take advantage, visit Quick Tape USA and enter the code SRPOD20.

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Supplements for Runners: What Exactly Do You Need?

Nutrition is an area full of myths and rumors, particularly when it comes to supplements for runners. Here’s how to navigate through the confusion to find exactly what you need.

supplements for runners

Running nutrition can be a confusing arena in which to play.

To begin with, there’s your day-to-day diet. The debates will forever rage on in running circles on how to fuel your training, from keto to high carb to whole 30 and everything in between.

At the end of the day, simple whole foods are your best bet, not following specific, restrictive rules on quantity and substance.

On top of that, there’s a general sense that running means you need “extras” in your diet. Extra iron, extra protein, extra…. fill in the blank.

Runners frequently turn to supplements to satisfy these “needs.” There are thousands of articles and blog posts, not to mention advertising, dedicated to convincing you that as a runner, you need to add specific nutrients to your diet.

Because of this, you’ll see some common supplementation in the running community. For instance, some runners might turn to amino acids to reduce muscle loss and aid recovery. Creatine and amino acids are incredibly popular in the athletic world, and according to the National Institutes of Health, they are the most common supplements among athletes.

Protein and “energy” supplementation are also quite popular, according to NIH. In a survey of U.S. college athletes, 41 percent reported taking protein powders and 28.6 percent take energy shots.

But what’s the truth on supplementation? I’m sure you have questions about supplements for runners…

  • Do runners really need to add extras to their diets?
  • And should these extras ever come in pill or powder form versus whole foods?
  • Are there differences between men and women when it comes to supplementation?

We turned to Lauren Manganiello, MS, RD, a sports nutritionist out of New York City, for some insights.

What Supplements do Runners Need?

nutrition first

Nutrition first! Supplements second…

It is a given that in order to perform your best, you need to eat your best. What isn’t a given is that runners will turn to the right sources for those valuable nutrients.

According to Manganiello, real, whole food is the answer:

Most athletes can get all of their nutrients from food. Making sure you eat a nutrient-dense diet is important. Consume a balanced diet with a variety of foods.

In other words, the old advice to “eat the rainbow” holds true.

This doesn’t have to mean measuring your foods or dissecting which nutrients you are getting from what foods, either. Varying your diet from day to day with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy can pretty much ensure you are getting a healthy balance.

Like to crunch numbers? Then you can drill down to a more detailed level, if that’s your thing.

Consider these recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Athletes require adequate daily amounts of calories, fluids, carbohydrates (to maintain blood glucose levels and replace muscle glycogen), protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals.

Totals for these macronutrients are typically:

  • Carbohydrate: 1.4 to 4.5 g/lb body weight [3 to 10 g/kg body weight])
  • Protein (0.55 to 0.9 g/lb body weight [1.2 to 2.0 g/kg body weight])
  • Fat (20% to 35% of total calories)

These guidelines are from the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements found here.

Supplements for Runners to Consider

vitamin supplements

If you’re still not convinced you’re getting what you need or if you are feeling “off” on a consistent basis, there are options. Consider a trip to a sports nutritionist or your physician to truly dial things in and see if you have any deficiencies.

Manganiello notes:

With an RD, you can together assess your overall diet and make improvements to optimize your diet plan.

Add in the physician’s visit, and you can get a holistic picture of your health and any nutrient deficits. Start with bloodwork – which you can do with a physician’s order or these days, popular blood testing kits like Inside Tracker (don’t forget code strengthrunning saves you 10% on any test!) – to get a picture of what’s going on. You can then turn to your physician for his or her advice on how to boost anything you’re missing.

In the winter months, for instance, this might mean low vitamin D. This is where either boosting foods with vitamin D or taking a supplement can play a role.

Why might this particular nutrient be something worth considering? Vitamin D is essential to bone health and if you are training at a high level, lack of D might lead to a susceptibility to stress fractures.

Legendary pro Deena Kastor famously had to drop out of her 2008 Olympic marathon when her foot fractured. She later learned that dedicated use of sunscreen prevented her body from absorbing the vitamin D it might have from the sun, weakening her bones. This is a case where supplementation – with a doctor’s orders – would have paid off.

If you are female and suffer from a constant state of fatigue, looking at your bloodwork to check iron levels might be a good idea. Iron is the mineral that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen to your working muscles, and a drop here might impact your ability to perform. The average requirement per day for females is 26 mg, while for males, it is only 10 mg, according to the National Nutrition Council.

Your physician and RD can make specific recommendations on how to make up this deficit and help you determine if supplements are the way to go or not.

If you’re looking for food sources to boost your iron, the best sources are:

  • red meat
  • oysters
  • eggs
  • leafy green vegetables

If you couple these foods with something rich in vitamin C, you also help increase absorption.

For more details on supplements for runners, sign up here and I’ll send you two audio seminars with a Registered Dietitian!

Is Protein Supplementation Necessary?

protein supplementation

If there is one macronutrient that has captured the attention of runners in the past few years, it is protein.

Runners are bombarded with the message that more is better when it comes to protein and in an effort to speed recovery and boost muscle mass, the running population seems in a perpetual hunt for protein powders, recipes and other amino acid supplements.

But again, what’s the real truth here? Manganiello advises:

Athletes do have increased protein needs, however, consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fat is important as well. Each macronutrient is important.

I usually suggest having a protein, carb and healthy fat at each meal for balance – plus our bodies can only absorb so much protein at one time. A registered dietitian can look at your current macronutrient intake ranges and make suggestions for optimal protein intake.

Using our estimated protein needs from above, Manganiello explains:

This would give you your estimated protein needs for the day (for example 80g protein total for the day) and consuming those 80 grams of protein over 3-4 meals (i.e. 20-25 gm protein at each meal) will maximize muscle protein synthesis.

Keep in mind that more does not equal more in the case of protein – or any macronutrient – in spite of the messages that you receive on a near daily basis. Every athlete is physically unique and training differently. Many other factors come into play as well: adequate sleep, legitimate dietary restrictions and allergies, and day-to-day life stressors.

The bottom line, says Manganiello, is that you need to pay close attention and listen to your body. She adds: “If we don’t fuel our bodies adequately and with healthy choices, it’s difficult to perform at our best.

Supplements for Runners: In Sum

supplements necessary for runners

Are supplements for runners even necessary?

As a runner, it’s easy to get sucked into assuming you need to supplement your diet – with vitamins, minerals, or protein – because you are often bombarded with that message through social media and advertising.

But just as your training program will vary from others, so too should your diet and what you add to it. Furthermore, unless you know for certain (through bloodwork or a doctor’s recommendation) you shouldn’t pop a pill or add a powder to your menu.

Keep in mind that many factors impact your dietary needs:

  • Gender: men and women often have different needs with regard to supplements
  • Age may be a factor, too, as masters runners (particularly females) may need to focus more on bone health as hormones fluctuate
  • Likewise, pregnant or nursing mothers still actively running may have different deficits

Pay attention to how you are feeling from one week to the next as well. Training hard and feeling tired? Maybe you do need to add a nutrient, but don’t assume. Sleep and recovery methods might be all that’s necessary.

And just as your training changes from season to season and year to year, so too do your dietary needs. Never assume that your nutritional profile one year will match that of another.

To ensure you are meeting your dietary needs, speak with a dietitian, doctor, or get your blood tested. Get the full picture and then learn the best sources for supplementing where you need.

And if you already eat a colorful, nutrient-dense diet, you might be happily surprised to learn you are doing just fine.

Resources:

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How Tamanna Cured IT Band Pain by Committing to the Process

Can you imagine having IT band pain for months when running, going up stairs, and even walking? Here’s how one runner healed her ITBS pain and is now running stronger than ever.

Tamanna IT Band Pain

Tamanna after her longest run ever – 10 miles – with no IT band pain

Tamanna was a casual runner who covered 3-4 miles per day to stay fit. But early last year, she signed up for a 10k and decided to start running even more.

That dream was short-lived as IT band pain quickly hobbled her training. She still ran the 10k – but finished in severe pain.

You see, Tamanna believed that the more running you did, the stronger you got. While this is partly true, she ignored the muscular strength you get from strength training:

I always imagined runners needing to be incredibly lean with minimal muscle mass.

I didn’t think that strength training was particularly necessary. My workouts consisted of static stretching, a run at more of a tempo pace than an aerobic pace, followed by more static stretching and a series of crunches and maybe a few planks.

Of course, with this approach it’s only a matter of time before she got injured!

That’s because Tamanna made quite a few training errors:

  • She didn’t do any strength training
  • Her running was structured poorly on a day-to-day basis
  • She was running too fast on her easy, recovery runs
  • All that static stretching was likely putting her at an increased risk of injury

She needed to optimize both her strength workouts and her training to stay healthy.

Like I recently shared in the video below, how you plan your running is the most important element of long-term injury prevention:

When you can systematically improve your training with a proven process (while also adding runner-specific strength training), it becomes very difficult to fail.

This is how Tamanna committed to that process – and got rid of her IT band pain.

How Tamanna Focused on Process

One of the most valuable principles for any runner is to “focus on the process.”

Instead of worrying about every minute detail of your training like ground contact time or exact pacing, you instead prioritize the boring task of doing your best every day:

  • You don’t skip runs, strength work, or warm-ups
  • You treat your body right, rest well, and practice active recovery
  • You do your best executing your plan to the best of your ability

So Tamanna committed to following the principles outlined in our Injury Prevention for Runners program (learn more about it here):

I was listening to Jason’s Strength Running podcast and was introduced to injury prevention with strength training. I knew that I wanted to keep running and had already signed up for my longest race yet, a 10-miler in May 2018, so I bit the bullet and purchased his program. 

Soon, she was making several concrete changes to her running, including:

  • A proper warm-up before every run
  • Regular, runner-specific strength and core exercises
  • Fewer days of running (but a similar mileage level)
  • Slower recovery runs

Moreover, she knew that the pattern and structure of training would help her prevent injuries like her IT band injury.

Having a training plan that prioritized injury prevention helped Tamanna accomplish her goals – and it saved her a lot of time from having to build her own program:

The most helpful part about the program was the structure. I loved having a plan for my goal and not having to to think about what workout to do.

The night before a run, I pull up the training plan on my phone and go over what the plan is for the following morning. I know the days I need to do fartleks, sprints, long runs and easy recovery runs and don’t have to spend the time creating my own plan.

It wasn’t always easy, though! Tamanna realized that she needed to wake up a few minutes earlier every morning to fit in this extra work.

Though she’s the first to admit that the extra time was worth every second:

After I started Injury Prevention for Runners, my workouts changed drastically without requiring too much additional time.

I workout in the morning and I do get up earlier than I used to to ensure I can perform the strength routines. I NEVER skimp on my pre-run exercises.

Waking up slightly earlier than before to avoid injury is a small price to pay to keep running strong. 

Now it’s time for the moment of truth: did the investment of time, energy, and financial resources pay off?

Was she able to run her goal race with no IT band pain during or after?

Tamanna’s Victory Over IT Band Pain

Soon, it was time for Tamanna’s longest race of her career: the Chicago Soldier’s Field 10 Miler.

If you noticed the photo at the beginning of this article, you saw a big clue: she’s proudly wearing the finisher’s medal!

Her race was clearly a big success. She finished the longest race she’d ever done up until that point – with absolutely no IT band pain. Plus, she’s been completely pain-free for the last four months after the race!

I asked Tamanna about her experience with Injury Prevention for Runners and she said:

It helped me realize that strength in running doesn’t come from increasing running volume alone – you have to be strong to run.

This past Memorial Day, I finished the 10-mile race in 1 hour and 45 minutes – my longest run ever – remaining injury and pain free throughout training and the race!

I bounded across the finish line with my arms in the air and felt like I had not only accomplished an incredible goal but realized that within only a few months, this program helped me go from not being able to run to running 10 miles in 80 degrees nonetheless!

Not only was the program helpful, but Jason was accessible to answer all of my questions. With this program and Jason’s advice, I was able to accomplish my goal of running 10 miles and (knock on wood) have remained injury free!

Woot woot! Now that’s progress we can all celebrate.

But just as important as progress is education. Did Tamanna learn anything that she’ll take to her future training? Is she a smarter, more informed, and thus more strategically advantaged runner?

Yes, she sure is. She told me:

The top 3 results from the plan are

  1. Injury prevention and learning about your own body
  2. Education about running and strength training
  3. Developing a relationship with a fantastic running coach

I thought I knew my body until I did this program but now I know what my body needs and when – I can anticipate when I need to take an unplanned recovery day.

I’m stronger than before and that’s because I trusted this program and the process.

The knowledge that Tamanna has – and her willingness to apply it to her training – will serve her for years as she runs longer distances and faster finishing times.

Sign up here to learn what she learned (and hopefully be SR’s next big success story)

How to be Successful like Tamanna

Tamanna it band syndrome injury

Tamanna celebrating her longest race – with no IT Band pain

Tamanna is not a unique snowflake. Her results – longer races, personal bests, and healthy pain-free running – can be yours, too.

The “secret” to her success is that she committed to the process of getting (and staying) healthy. There are no magic workouts or secret training ideas that will improve your running. Just a set of universal, proven principles.

Tamanna realized this after her 10-mile race:

All the random article-reading and podcast-listening wasn’t enough to help me determine how to remain injury-free. I had to commit to a program and the process.

After that commitment – as you can see – her results skyrocketed.

I asked Tamanna about her experience with our Injury Prevention for Runners program. She told me:

It began with a financial commitment from purchasing the program and has turned into a personal commitment to myself and my body so that I can keep running and staying active for as long as possible!

It only takes feeling pain to remind yourself that your health and your body are priceless. Purchasing a program that can lead you to an injury-free future is money well spent!

Perhaps most importantly, Tamanna will use this program and her new strength for years to come.

She’ll continue gaining endurance, injury resilience, and endurance by training well and prioritizing injury prevention.

Goal times will become faster and faster.

Injuries will be less frequent.

And she’ll be a much happier runner.

I want you to have every advantage that Tamanna had during her brief encounter with debilitating IT band pain.

Sign up here to get your first coaching lesson and I’ll also send you:

  • Runner-specific strength routine examples of how to get stronger
  • A free ebook: The Little Black Book of Prevention & Recovery
  • Case studies of other runners who have beaten injuries
  • Mistakes to avoid and what not to do
  • And more…

Soon,  you might be our next big success story!

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