Dimity McDowell: The Cofounder of Another Mother Runner

The most rewarding aspect of running might be its community: come for the PR, stay for the people!

Beers with Bart

Beers and fun with Bart Yasso (the Mayor of Running) and other runners

Runners are some of the best people you’ll ever meet:

  • We support each other’s goals, even if they’re different from ours
  • If you fart next to us on a run, we won’t judge
  • Yes, we’ll meet you at 5AM for your run…
  • No, your black toenail doesn’t weird us out

And when it comes to community, very few people have done it better than Dimity McDowell.

You see, Dimity is the cofounder of Another Mother Runner – one of the largest communities you’ll find for women runners.

Besides the blog, the AMR ecosystem includes a helluva lot:

It’s a community for women runners, by women runners. And even as a guy, let me tell you that their content is superb because I think it’s great for any parent – not just mom.

I’m publishing this episode as an excerpt from Team Strength Running (if you’re not sure what that is, sign up here and I’ll give you all the details next week).

Dimity McDowell on Running like a Mother

Another Mother Runner Dimity McDowell

Dimity is on the Strength Running podcast today to talk about the many issues that are more unique to women. As you can imagine, I’m not the best person to address this topic.

As a man, there are a lot of things I’m simply not aware of or privy to in the sport of running.

It’s not just women’s issues; I bring in outside experts on everything that’s outside of my wheelhouse:

And I’m thrilled to introduce you to Another Mother Runner and the great work they’re doing for the running community.

Download and subscribe to the show on iTunes or on Stitcher.

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Like I mentioned, this isn’t the entire interview. The full, uncut version is available to any and all current Team Strength Running members.

Team SR is how members of our community can get regular, ongoing access to me as their coach – affordably. I firmly believe that every runner who wants to get better, should be able to:

  • have access to a coach
  • get a sound training plan that makes sense (this is actually more rare than I thought after looking at the plans you can download online…)
  • rest easy knowing you’re doing the right thing as you chase your goals

But it’s not just the training – it’s coaching. It’s getting your questions answered when you have them.

It’s about getting clarity when you’re confused so you can waste less time on indecision and spend more energy on your actual running.

And it’s about being a part of a team. Something bigger than you. A place where you can share your running stories. Or get motivation or support from other runners just like you.

Sign up here and next week, I’ll share all the details.

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Base Training Fundamentals: 3 Crucial Ingredients in Any Base Phase

Base training (also called the introductory or foundational training period) is the first phase of a training cycle. It’s what prepares runners for the more challenging, race-specific workouts that come later.

There are many goals for the base training phase of a training plan:

  1. Increase endurance – or a runner’s aerobic capacity
  2. Begin training the central nervous system (so the communication pathways between your brain and muscles are efficient)
  3. Improve muscular strength to prevent injuries and smooth the transition to challenging workouts

I’m going to cover each of these goals below. But first, how do top coaches and athletes define the base phase of training?

Brad Hudson, coach to many elites and author of Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon, explains the base phase as:

Priority number one is to gradually but steadily increase your running mileage…

Other priorities of the introductory period include establishing a foundation of neuromuscular fitness with very small doses of maximal-intensity running and beginning the long process of developing efficiency and fatigue-resistance at race pace with small doses of running in the race-pace range.

And Bob Kennedy, the former American record holder in the 5,000m, explains it as:

There are three basic phases to a training cycle: base, strength, and speed. The problem that most athletes have is that they think [the phases] are mutually exclusive. I think that the phase of training is defined by what you are focusing on during that phase.

But you always do a little of all of those things. There’s never a time of year when you’re just running mileage or you’re just doing speed. You’re always doing all of it, it’s just a matter of to what degree.

Greg McMillan describes Arthur Lydiard’s base training. Below is a paraphrase:

In his words, they performed a fartlek workout early in the week. He said the athletes were to change pace for 30 seconds to 5 minutes based on how they felt. Nothing was at a hard effort but it was used to simply provide some change of pace for the legs since most other running is at an easy pace.

He also talked about avoiding building up lactic acid during the base phase. So, I encourage athletes to include a fartlek-type workout once per week but like to keep it as just leg speed sessions (quick but controlled efforts lasting less than 30 seconds).

The leg speed sessions help them get very fast without stressing the anaerobic system. They then have a very good transition to the faster training later in the season because their leg turnover is so good.

Before we get into the three main components of a well planned base phase of training, what do we notice?

First, “endurance” is the main goal. This is prioritized by a focus on high mileage, building the long run, and mostly aerobic workouts.

Second, base training is not just slow running! Workouts are always included – even quite fast sessions – but “fast” does not necessarily mean “hard.”

Third, every coach knows strength is critical. You can get strong in a lot of ways:

What’s the best option here?

Trick question! They’re all valuable.

And each element of fitness – from your general endurance to neuromuscular coordination – should be included in the base phase.

Let’s first start by covering the goal of endurance.

Base Training Goal #1: Endurance

There are three fundamental ways to gain endurance:

  • Run a lot (high mileage)
  • Run long (the weekly long run)
  • Run aerobic workouts (like a tempo workout)

Base training should include every one of these strategies.

“MILEAGE!” – my college cross country coach

Mileage, or the total volume of a runner’s workload, is one of the best metrics for success. Simply put, the more you’re able to run, the faster you’re likely to race.

To build a strong aerobic engine, gradually increase mileage during the base phase of training.

Focus on three metrics:

  1. Increasing the long run by about one mile every 1-2 weeks
  2. Adding 1-2 more runs per week over 2-3 months
  3. Adding 1-3 miles to weekday runs every 1-3 weeks

Fore more detail, don’t miss our weekly mileage planning video:

The end result should be a gradual, progressive increase in mileage that will help build endurance, injury resistance, and economy.

Run Long to Build the Aerobic Metabolism

The almighty long run has become nearly synonymous with endurance. To increase stamina, increase the distance of the long run.

Why? Well, the benefits are clear:

  • Denser mitochondria (the “energy factories” of your cells)
  • Denser capillary networks to deliver oxygenated blood
  • More mental toughness and resolve
  • Improved muscular strength
  • Enhanced running economy (efficiency)
  • More energy efficient
  • You’ll race faster!

No base phase is complete without long runs. No matter if you’re a miler or ultramarathoner, a veteran or a total beginner, the long run is an absolutely critical component to successful training.

Keep the pace of long runs mostly easy and add about a mile every 1-2 weeks. But every 4-5 weeks, it’s wise to cut the distance back to ensure you’re recovering and not increasing your risk of running injuries.

Aerobic Workouts

It’s a common misconception that base training doesn’t include any faster running. As you can see from the coaches we quoted above, base training isn’t just all slow running!

Aerobic workouts have you run at or slower than your lactate threshold (which is your tempo pace). Like Lydiard said, you don’t want to go anaerobic (without oxygen) too often during base training.

Here are my favorite aerobic workouts:

Progression runs where you gradually speed up to about tempo pace at the end of the run is a valuable early-season workout.

Tempo sessions improve your body’s tolerance to and ability to buffer lactate (the byproduct of anaerobic cellular respiration). In other words, you can hold a faster pace for longer.

Fartlek workouts include pickups or surges of a few minutes with 1-3 minutes recovery. These are usually faster than the other two workouts mentioned, so use them only every 2-3 weeks during base training.

While aerobic workouts should make up the vast majority of your faster running, there should still be some “leg speed” sessions as well.

Base Training Goal #2: Neuromuscular Fitness

While they’re not the focus, neuromuscular workouts help maintain leg speed and neuromuscular fitness (the ability for your brain to communicate effectively with your muscles).

There are three great ways to do this during base training:

  • Run strides 2-3x per week
  • Run hill sprints 1-2x per week
  • Run fartlek workout every 2-3 weeks
  • Lift weights

Strides and hill sprints are best considered “drills” rather than “workouts.” They’re done in addition to your running – not as part of your running, like track intervals or hill repetitions.

Also, you don’t need to run more than three sessions of strides and hill sprints per week. That’s too much!

Fartlek workouts provide the “bridge” between short, fast sprints and more challenging workouts. Follow Lydiard’s advice about fartleks above and you can’t go wrong: fast, but controlled and not too hard.

Finally, we have weight lifting. Last month, strength coach Randy Hauer described lifting weights succinctly:

“Strength work is coordination training under resistance.”

By stressing the central nervous system with resistance (weight), you can recruit a lot of muscle fibers in a safe way. Unlike maximal intensity sprinting, the injury risk is a lot lower.

The effect becomes more efficient communication. Your brain can tell your legs, “run faster!” and they know how to respond. It’s powerfull stuff.

Don’t miss our strength training material here – it’s free to sign up!

Base Training Goal #3: Muscular Strength

Jason deadlift

The great thing about running fast and lifting weights is that they accomplish a lot of the same goals.

One of them is neuromuscular – they’ll help you achieve goal #2 above.

But another is actual muscular strength – indeed, running fast does actually make you stronger! As Randy said recently,

There are no fast, weak runners.

Both lifting and running fast recruit a lot of muscle fibers – they “use more of the muscle,” which is more effective at building strength.

Clearly, fast running and weight lifting should be included in base training – no matter if you’re preparing for a marathon or a mile.

If you’re new to strength training, here’s a simple way to get started:

Once you start lifting regularly, you’ll actually feel “off” without it. You won’t recover as quickly and you’ll feel less powerful.

As pro Maggie Callahan told me recently, “Strength training is non-negotiable for me.

Create the Perfect Base Phase

Just like a recipe, you now have all of the ingredients to plan an effective base training season:

  • Gradually build your mileage and long run
  • Run strides or hill sprints regularly
  • Complete an aerobic workout every 7-14 days
  • Run a faster fartlek workout every 10-14 days
  • Include strength training to prevent injuries and tune the nervous system

If you put these ingredients into a coherent plan, you’ll get stronger than ever before.

A productive base phase of training gives you the foundation to run harder workouts – which always leads to faster racing!

Use our free resources to help plan your training:

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Running 101: How I think about training runners to race faster

Running can be deceptively complex: for anybody chasing a Personal Best, it’s certainly not “just put one foot in front of the other!”

For the runner who’s interested in improving and getting faster, running suddenly becomes complicated:

  • Should I *race* my tune-up half marathon?
  • How do you balance lifting weights with running?
  • What’s the best way to come back to running after an injury?
  • How does fueling work for long races?

Simply lacing up your shoes for an easy run isn’t possible anymore. It’s more complicated – now your running has purpose – it’s training, not exercise.

And for a long time, I never bothered with the complexity of running.

I just thought that running was a fun thing to do after school with my friends. But soon, I fell in love with the sport and with the process of training. My goal was to learn as much as possible.

So first, I stuck with the sport and had the honor of learning from more than ten coaches over my running career. The formal training I experienced – and the wisdom I absorbed every day by the track – form the backbone of my running philosophy.

I also soaked up as much knowledge as I could by reading more running books than anybody needs to read

Seriously, this is my bookshelf.

Combined with my USATF certification and experience helping thousands of runners over the years, I have a strong idea of how runners should get faster.

And today, I want to talk more about my philosophy of running with you.

How I Think About Running

Two years ago, I was interviewed for an event called The Running Summit. I spoke about wide-ranging topics:

  • How I started running
  • My injury prevention philosophy
  • The biggest areas of improvement for runners
  • Strength training do’s and don’ts
  • Warm-ups and cross-training
  • My favorite aspects of coaching
  • How running “scales”
  • My favorite running authors
  • The two principles of sound form you must remember
  • Who benefits from getting a coach?
  • How to build your mileage more safely than the 10% rule
  • Why ‘Run Less, Run Faster’ fails as a training methodology
  • and a lot more!

As you can see, we went DEEP on running and touched on nearly every important element of sound training.

To listen to the whole interview, subscribe to the show on iTunes or on the Stitcher app.

Show Resources & Links:

Now a question for you: did you like having me interviewed for a change? If you enjoyed this format, it would be wonderful for you to leave an honest review on iTunes and let me know. I’ll try to do more of these!

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Pro Triathlete Jesse Thomas on Fueling for Ironman Triathlons

The average human male needs about 2,500 calories a day to support his weight and metabolism. Jesse Thomas eats more than double that.

Jesse Thomas Triathlon

You might recognize Jesse as the dude who races in Aviators (there’s never an inappropriate time for Aviators).

He was an All-American and school record holder at track and field powerhouse Stanford University. After graduating with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, Jesse started a company and got an MBA before going pro in triathlon in 2011.

You might say that Jesse likes to stay busy.

Today, he’s the CEO of Picky Bars – a company he cofounded with his wife Lauren Fleshman – and an elite triathlete who’s a 2x Ironman Champion.

He also doesn’t take himself too seriously:

After reading a fascinating article in Triathlete Magazine last year, I reached out to Jesse to learn more about his nutrition philosophy and approach to fueling for such a grueling sport.

As the CEO and cofounder of a company that helps athletes fuel their workouts, a pro triathlete, and a highly educated guy, Jesse has interesting perspectives about the nuances of eating 6,00 calories per day.

  • Does he follow any type of formal “diet?”
  • How does his nutrition change throughout the season and year?
  • Is he a calorie counter, scorer, or macronutrient calculator?
  • How “perfect” does he try to be with his nutrition?

Jesse joined me on the Strength Running podcast to talk about these issues and a lot more. I hope you’ll listen.

Like this topic? Don’t miss our free nutrition course for runners!

Jesse Thomas on Nutrition and the Value of Moderation

Jesse Thomas Picky Bars

Follow him on Strava, and you’ll quickly notice that during peak training Jesse can complete up to 20 workouts per week.

Or in other words, he’s tripling nearly every day. Triathlon ain’t easy…

To fuel all those swims, rides, and runs, he has to eat a lot food. In fact, when he measured his food intake for an experiment, he found that he was eating 5,900 calories on average during the week!

Today we’re diving into the topic of fueling and periodized nutrition on the podcast.

Subscribe to the show on iTunes or on the Stitcher platform.

Show Links & Resources

Please get in touch with Jesse on Twitter and thank him for doing this interview. He’s a busy man and we should all very much appreciate his time for the SR community!

And a big thank you to our podcast sponsor Health IQ. They’re a unique insurance company that helps health conscious people like us runners get lower life insurance rates.

Health IQ has used plentiful data about runners to convince insurance companies that runners deserve lower rates. And since research has shown avid runners have a 41% lower risk of heart disease and up to a 35% lower risk of early death, they’ve been successful: over the last 3 years, they’ve helped tens of thousands of athletes secure billions of dollars of coverage.

Want to see if you qualify? Go to healthiq.com/strengthrunning to see how much money running can save you on life insurance.

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Strength Coach Randy Hauer on The Role of Lifting for Runners

Over the last few weeks, I’ve fielded hundreds of lifting questions from runners who all want to know, “How do I lift the right way?

weight lifting for runners

It’s a great question. In fact, it’s THE question!

Knowing how to lift properly will:

  • Save you a lot of wasted time
  • Give you the actual results you want
  • Reduce your injury risk

But without knowing WHY runners should lift then it’s impossible to answer HOW runners should lift.

Do runners need to build strength? Or power? Or neuromuscular coordination? When is the right time to work on each skill?

Also:

  • Can kettlebell work be added into a lifting program for runners? If so, how?
  • Are CrossFit or other HIIT sessions appropriate? If so, when?
  • Should trail runners lift the same way as road runners?

Clearly, this is a complex topic!

Thankfully, we’re featuring a top strength coach on the podcast to answer all of your questions about lifting for runners.

You’ll recognize Randy Hauer as the strength coach behind the programming of High Performance Lifting – our step-by-step lifting program for runners.

“Strength work is coordination training under resistance”

Lifting Coach Randy Hauer

Randy has over 30 years of strength and conditioning experience in a wide variety of disciplines and training styles:

  • Olympic Weightlifting
  • Sports performance coaching
  • Personal training
  • CrossFit
  • Kettlebell training

He uses insights from these experiences to develop world-class programming for pro runners in Boulder, Colorado. He works directly with some of Brad Hudson’s Hudson Elite team members.

In High Performance Lifting, Randy brings runners through a comprehensive 16-week strength program that periodizes strength training so runners will get strong, powerful, and (most importantly) faster.

And today he’s answering the most common questions we’ve received over the last few weeks:

  • HIIT / CrossFit training for runners
  • When you should lift (Before or after running? Off days? Hard days?)
  • Soreness from lifting weights
  • Trail runners and lifting
  • Mobility and movement fluency
  • Is HPL just for “fast” runners?
  • Is it right for older runners 50+? What about high school aged kids?

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or if you have an Android device, subscribe on Stitcher.

Show Resources & Links

A quick reminder that Thursday, 1/25 is the final day of our discounted launch pricing for High Performance Lifting.

If you want the best strength programming for runners at the most affordable price it will ever be – with workouts created by Randy himself – then act now.

See all the details here. I look forward to welcoming you to the program!

And a big thank you to our podcast sponsor Health IQ. They’re a unique insurance company that helps health conscious people like us runners get lower life insurance rates.

Health IQ has used plentiful data about runners to convince insurance companies that runners deserve lower rates. And since research has shown avid runners have a 41% lower risk of heart disease and up to a 35% lower risk of early death, they’ve been successful: over the last 3 years, they’ve helped tens of thousands of athletes secure billions of dollars of coverage.

Want to see if you qualify? Go to healthiq.com/strengthrunning to see how much money running can save you on life insurance.

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How to Power Clean and Build Explosiveness

The Year of Strength is already one of our most popular – because it’s clear that runners truly value being strong.

Weightlifting

Over the last two weeks we’ve been discovering the truth about how runners should strength train.

We’ve learned that lifting weights is a critical piece of training for any runner (that’s why I don’t even consider it cross-training) because it provides so many valuable benefits:

  • The consistency that comes from preventing more injuries
  • Improved running economy from more efficient neuromuscular coordination
  • Power, strength, and fast-twitch explosiveness that will lead to faster race times

We also talked about how to start lifting weights and avoid the biggest time (and performance) wasters for runners: lifting like a bodybuilder, taking a lot of fitness classes, and relying on wobble boards or Bosu balls for stability training.

I made all of these mistakes throughout my college and post-collegiate running. Even though I ran a 2:39 marathon and finished in the Top 10 in New England for the steeplechase, I left a lot of speed on the table.

Now, after speaking with some of the world’s leading strength coaches, I realized my approach wasn’t strategic.

If you compared how I worked out in the gym with a pro runner, you’d see two completely different workouts (that’s a bad thing). And the elite runner is getting a lot more accomplished. They’re…

  • Increasing their workload capacity (one reason why pros can run such high mileage)
  • Building a smooth, powerful, fluid stride
  • Enhancing their ability to recruit more muscle fibers, leading to faster racing and higher efficiency
  • Improving their explosivity and power, enabling them to kick hard and finish strong at the end of a race

Runners who focus on the proper way to lift will see undeniable progress with their running – fewer injuries and faster racing await.

But let’s be clear: it’s not just about what exercises to do. A well programmed strength plan will include:

  • Progression: how do you build up to more advanced, complex lifts?
  • Periodization: what do you focus on in Week 2 vs. Week 15 of your lifting program?
  • Support: what running-specific exercises support the big lifts?

Any runner who truly wants to get stronger and improve their performances knows these elements are required.

And I’m hosting a live event soon to reveal all of the elements of a well programmed strength plan!

Lifting for Speed: How to Power Clean

Today, I want to introduce you to one component of a proper lifting program: explosive exercises.

These are the types of weight lifting exercises that build power, speed, and explosivity. And when you add explosive exercises to your training, the results are powerful.

Here’s a short case study: Addie Bracy is the 2017 Mountain Runner of the Year. Her strength coach is Randy Hauer, the USA Weightlifting coach who helped dispel popular myths about liftings weights last week.

Addie Bracy

She told me:

When I started to look at what I was or wasn’t doing when I was injured versus when I was healthy, the common denominator was that I wasn’t lifting regularly during the periods of injury.

After a few weeks, I started to feel the benefits of lifting. I can feel a difference in my form and mechanics when I’m lifting versus when I’m not. I also feel stronger and more physical stable so that I feel more confident in handling a higher work load.

I definitely think every runner can benefit from strength training. Even if you don’t think lifting can directly make you faster, you’ll see improvements in aches and pains.

Getting rid of those things lets you train harder and more consistently, which ultimately leads to the opportunity for faster times.

That’s what I love about strength training: not only is it appropriate for every runner but it can also directly improve your speed.

You’re probably getting excited to get started with some proper lifting workouts yourself!

So I’m excited to share one particular exercise that builds strength and power and speed: the Power Clean.

This is Addie showing you how to perform a Power Clean from the Power Position (the bar begins at about mid-thigh).

Follow these steps:

  1. With your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width. Maintain a neutral, athletic posture.
  2. Perform a slight squat immediately before exploding upward, fully extending the ankles, knees, and hips to bring the bar upward. The bar should stay close to your body.
  3. As your legs fully extend, shrug your shoulders upward and then flex your elbows to begin pulling your body under the bar.
  4. Pull your body under the bar and rotate the arms around and under the bar. Simultaneously, flex the hips and knees into a slight squat position.
  5. Lift your elbows so your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Rack the bar across the front of your collar bones while maintaining an erect torso and a neutral head position.
  6. Lower the bar back to the Power Position for the next repetition.

Runners can incorporate exercises like the Power Clean into their training for more explosiveness.

The next time you need to kick hard for a negative split, that ability will be yours!

Putting The Puzzles Pieces Together

Of course, one exercise is not a complete strength program. There are still so many questions:

  • What exercises prepare you for explosive lifts like the Power Clean?
  • Should explosive lifts be done early in a training cycle? (hint: no!)
  • How are plyometrics like box jumps added into the training?

If you’re interested in ALL of the pieces to the strength puzzle – so you can build the power and strength to race faster – I’ve got great news.

This Wednesday, I’m hosting a free webinar to walk you through the final details of elite-level strength training.Lift for Speed

Register here and you can expect to learn even more mistakes that you should avoid and the exact lifting schedule that produces powerful, race-ready runners.

If you’re ready to take your running more seriously this year and are ready to take the next step, you won’t want to miss this live event (sorry, it won’t be recorded).

But for now, I want to challenge you to do just ONE THING in the next 5 minutes: commit to focusing on getting stronger.

Tell your spouse. Join a gym. Tattoo it on your bicep. Whatever it takes.

You’ve seen how transformative weight lifting can be for your running. It’s been a total game-changer for other runners like you (and you should expect similar results, too).

Leave a comment below and tell us how you’re going to commit to strength training this year.

In a few months – when you’re setting PR’s and feeling healthier than ever – you’ll hardly feel like the runner you do today.

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    How to Start Lifting Weights (the right way)

    Have you ever started something new and made yourself feel silly? I wore basketball shoes to cross country practice, so I know the feeling…

    runner running

    The truth is that everybody starts as a beginner. And those first few months of practice are never pretty.

    During the early stages of a new sport, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. And that’s ok! If you never made any mistakes, you wouldn’t learn nearly as fast.

    To kick off 2018, we’re focusing on strength training for runners. And there’s an undeniable advantage from learning the fundamentals before you start lifting weights:

    Progress is faster (you get better sooner!)

    Risks are mitigated (far fewer injuries!)

    Results are more substantial (you get stronger!)

    My goal is to help you limit the early mistakes as you start lifting weights so you can enjoy all of the benefits of strength training exercises:

    • power
    • fewer injuries
    • speed
    • coordination
    • lean muscle
    • efficiency

    Alas, there are quite a few problems with how runners are getting stronger. These training errors are robbing runners of speed and building only a small amount of strength.

    I don’t want you to train poorly. Poor training is frustrating and wastes a lot of time.

    Instead, I want you to be able to recognize these mistakes and know why they’re sub-optimal.

    Then you’ll be able to train more effectively – and race faster!

    We’re covering a lot more on next week’s live webinar. Don’t forget to register today!

    Mistake #1: The “Grab Bag” Approach to Lifting

    I love a good functional strength class. In fact, I used to take a functional core strength class in Boston that shredded my abs. It was a blast.

    But it’s not how runners should get strong.

    This is the “grab bag” approach to strength training:

    • “I love my Body Pump class at the gym”
    • “My P90X DVD workouts are tough”
    • “Oohhh that Runner’s World strength circuit looks fun!”
    • “CrossFit? Sure, I’ll drop in for today’s WOD”

    Unfortunately, this approach is misguided. It wastes a lot of time and isn’t the best way to gain strength.

    First, any strength workout that includes circuits with little rest (like most fitness classes, DVD’s, or CrossFit) is not optimally building strength.

    But don’t take it from me. Randy Hauer is a USA Weightlifting National Coach and strength coach to elite runners in Boulder, CO.

    Randy Weight Lifting Coach

    Randy and his athlete Maggie Callahan

    Here’s his thoughts on these forms of strength training:

    Avoid circuits of several exercises in a row and instead take 1-2 minutes of recovery after each set. Like the talk test in running, you should be able to speak in complete sentences before you begin your next set.

    We aren’t doing CrossFit, glycolytic, sweat puddles, and lactic acid bath stuff here. We’re doing real training.

    I love this brand of honesty.

    So not only are these circuits counterproductive but they’re too hard! Yes, all that huffing and puffing from lifting weights is needlessly challenging.

    A more effective option is to include more rest so the workout is less aerobically demanding.

    But why don’t you want your strength workouts to be cardiovascularly difficult?

    Simple: lifting weights doesn’t have the same physiological purpose as running.

    That’s why we don’t focus on endurance when we lift. Randy told me:

    Sports specific training is your running. Strength training is a type of general physical preparedness. It supplements and supports sports specific practice.

    If you get your hips, postural musculature and legs generally stronger and more explosive, your running mechanics will sort out and use these improvements.

    Don’t fall into the “specificity” trap of trying to simulate running motions (ankle weights, dumbbell “running hands,” etc.) with weights. Weighting these movements will interfere with the subtle coordination of your stride, arm swing and posture and are likely to cause injury.

    Compound bilateral movements like squats and deadlifts are proven to carry over well to running, even though it may not be obvious just from looking at the exercises.

    The good news is that if you’re attending challenging CrossFit or strength classes, you can stop!

    These gym workouts are too aerobically difficult, don’t prioritize strength as much as they should, and can wreak havoc on your running.

    But another big weight lifting mistake is to go in the opposite direction and lift like a body builder…

    Mistake #2: Lifting Weights like a Bodybuilder

    How to Start Lifting Weights

    Bodybuilders have one goal: to build muscle (hypertrophy).

    They spend 5-6 days per week in the gym lifting weights for several hours at a time. It’s a big time investment!

    Thankfully, runners don’t need to lift this often – and our strength sessions can be a lot shorter.

    But there’s another way that runners often mimic bodybuilders in the gym: we focus on specific muscles with isolation exercises.

    Here are a few examples:

    • The exercise selection includes hamstring curls, quadriceps extensions, bicep curls, and other muscle-specific exercises
    • The speed of the lifts is slow (runners sometimes need a forceful lift!)
    • There are distinct days for distinct muscles like “bis and tris day” or “legs day”

    Runners aren’t building runner-specific strength and power if they lift like a bodybuilder.

    I asked Randy about this common approach to lifting and he told me:

    Focus on compound, “larger” standing movements (running is done standing, right?).

    Don’t lift distinct body parts on certain days (like chest day or back day, etc.). As a runner, you don’t care about “bis and tris.” You care about how strong you are.

    The body isn’t a cobbled together bunch of parts that work separately, but rather it functions as a unit. Athletes should train it as a unit.

    Randy reveals that runners need to train their entire body – and it doesn’t take hours in the gym.

    This simple approach has a few advantages:

    • We spend fewer days (and less time per workout) in the gym
    • Our entire body is challenged – not individual muscle groups – with our exercise selections
    • Every gym session also focuses on the whole body, rather than individual days for individual muscles

    The other huge benefit to lifting weights properly is that you’ll get a stronger neuromuscular stimulus – the communication between your brain and muscles – helping you produce force more quickly.

    Since bodybuilders don’t perform power exercises they don’t get this benefit from their lifting.

    But runners who lift properly certainly do!

    Mistake #3: Stability Training vs. Lifting Weights

    Over the last decade, balance and wobble boards have surged in popularity as athletes attempt to build “functional stability.”

    Exercises on swiss balls or other unstable surfaces can certainly be beneficial – particularly when you’re treating an injury. But they fail to deliver the most important goal of lifting weights: strength.

    From Randy:

    Avoid wobble boards, bosu, or swiss balls. They have their place in rehab situations, but really don’t serve any useful function when learning to produce force.

    The goal is STRENGTH – or the ability to produce a lot of force against the ground. This makes you run faster!

    It makes sense when you think about it: the body can’t produce as much force on an unstable surface. Exercising on that surface doesn’t stimulate neuromuscular adaptations that boost power and speed.

    Author Brad Stulberg explains this learning process in Peak Performance:

    If we endure the struggle and keep working at the new skill, the connections between neurons [in our brain] strengthen.

    As we work more at something… that enables electrical activity to travel more fluidly between neurons. In other words, the connections in our brain strengthen.

    Over time, our former struggles become second nature.

    If our goal is to produce force quickly, stability training won’t improve that ability because we’re simply not practicing it.

    This form of strength work is best used during injury rehabilitation or as “accessory exercises” (easier, more sport-specific exercises) that come after your main lifts.

    The Dysfunctional Merry-Go-Round

    We’ve learned today that there are many forms of strength training that aren’t ideal for runners:

    • A “sampling” approach of different classes, workouts, DVD’s, and exercises from magazines or websites
    • Lifting like a bodybuilder with isolation exercises and frequent gym workouts
    • Stability training on a swiss ball or wobble board

    If you start lifting weights by using these types of workouts, you simply won’t achieve as much progress.

    Runners will get a season pass on the “Dysfunctional Merry-Go-Round” – a cycle of injury, wasted time, poor strength gains, and luckluster performance.

    I’ve been there myself and it’s not a fun experience. After dabbling in many types of strength training (and never seeing any real progress) I was still getting hurt frequently.

    There was no progression. There was no focus on strength and power.

    And my results clearly showed that I wasn’t thriving as a runner.

    How to Start Lifting Weights (like a real runner)

    As your virtual coach, I refuse to allow you to follow poor training. I want better for you: more strength, fewer injuries, and much faster race performances.

    It’s not some pipe dream. And you don’t need to be a grunting power lifter in the gym all day…

    I want to make you a simple promise:

    You can lift twice per week – 60 minutes or less per workout – and get ALL the benefits of lifting:

    • Enhanced neuromuscular coordination for better form and running economy
    • Stronger muscles and connective tissues that will prevent injuries
    • Improved ability to generate force quickly (power) that will help you race faster

    Next Wednesday I’ll be showing you exactly how to start lifting weights like a pro runner.

    Strength Training Exercises for Runners

    Join us for a new presentation Lift for Speed: How to Sprint Faster, Boost Efficiency, and Prevent More Injuries.

    It’s on Wednesday, January 17 and 7:00PM Mountain Time.

    We’re going to dive deep into the type of lifting workouts that elite runners do – and you should, too.

    For the runner who’s ready to take the next step with their training and see what they’re truly capable of achieving, you won’t want to miss this live webinar.

    All you need to do is register here and I’ll send you the link to join us next week.

    Go to Source

    What Do Strength Exercises Do For Runners?

    Are you surprised that I don’t consider strength training cross-training for runners? It’s just training!

    Track and Field

    Recently, I announced that 2018 is The Year of Strength. We learned that strength training exercises help runners:

    • Stay healthy by preventing injuries that result from weak muscles, tendons, or ligaments
    • Develop muscular power that enables speed and a fast finishing kick
    • Build neuromuscular coordination that improves running economy (efficiency)

    A single training tool – strength training exercises – has the ability to help you get faster, prevent injury, and run more efficiently.

    Are you surprised that I’m so bullish on strength training?!

    Consider how many runners will get hurt this year. Depending on the source, 35 – 80% of runners will get hurt every single year:

    Stop.

    Think about how crazy this is: recreational athletes engage in a sport where up to 80% of them will get hurt every year!

    Keep in mind that strength training is one of the most effective prevention strategies you can implement in your training.

    It would be crazy for any runner to skip strength training with an injury rate this high.

    Just imagine how much more you’d love running (not to mention, how much faster you’d run) if you could prevent more injuries, run faster, and build power into your training.

    Instead of dealing with constant aches and pains, you would be a strong, powerful runner – capable of running new personal bests or joining your friends for a run any day of the week. You’d enjoy running and look forward to it, rather than fear it.

    When I finally internalized the value of being strong, my running was completely transformed. But how did it look before I focused on strength work?

    Injured, Weak, and in Pain

    The title of this section is a summary of my college career: chronically injured, sore all the time, and pissed off that I couldn’t make it through most seasons without being hurt.

    Maybe that sounds familiar… are you dealing with injury after injury, too? Just look at my college days:

    • Freshman: I hurt my arch before I even stepped foot on campus. Achilles tendinopathy ruined my spring track season.
    • Sophomore: IT Band injury (my “favorite”) and plantar fasciitis
    • Junior: Chronic SI joint problems needed weekly adjustments and lower mileage

    My final year of college (2005 – 2006) saw only one moderate injury: a strained arch in my left foot.

    Because I treated it aggressively, had started strength training by that point, and pool ran every day to stay in shape the injury was short-lived. I was running (fast) in less than a week.

    That year was the first (mostly) consistent year of running – and the personal bests speak for themselves:

    • 8k cross country
    • 800m (indoor track)
    • Mile (indoor track)
    • 3k (indoor track)
    • 5k (outdoor track)
    • 3k Steeplechase (outdoor track)

    I was thrilled with my progress. A small amount of strength training provided enormous benefits and I was reaping the rewards.

    My race times were getting faster. I felt stronger and I was having a lot more fun. I even won an award after cross country!

    But it wasn’t enough. While I went from virtually no strength work to a few basic bodyweight routines per week, I was leaving a lot of speed and health benefits on the table.

    It wasn’t until I became a coach myself that I realized how wrong I was about the value of strength exercises for runners.

    Bodyweight routines are great. But without runner-specific weight lifting in the gym, no runner will ever achieve their potential.

    And as a coach, that doesn’t feel right to me.

    To Get Better, Emulate the Best

    We’ve established that strength work helped my own running. But I’m just a single person (and “it worked for me” is never a good argument).

    A more important question is: Does strength training work for the best runners in the world?

    Whenever I wonder if a certain training strategy is legitimate, I look at how elite runners are training. Because, by definition, the best runners in the world are a model of what works.

    What elite runners lift weights?

    I could go on. I could also point out that Dr. Mike Young, coach to many national champions, is a strong believer in lifting for speed.

    But Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein perfectly summed up the largest benefit to runners during an interview:

    “The most important thing to being a good runner is developing your aerobic capacity but the longer you neglect the structure of your body the easier it is to get injured.”

    Running is most important to runners. But injuries (and poorer performance) await if you don’t get stronger.

    If the best runners in the world are lifting weights – and you want to achieve YOUR potential – then you should be lifting weights, too.

    But first, let’s make sure the science is on board with runners lifting weights at the gym.

    The Truth: What Strength Training DOES

    We’ve learned that strength training is a critical part of training for any serious runner.

    And that it helps you stay healthy, run faster, and become more efficient.

    But is that for just elite runners? Do average runners like us respond the same way?

    Let’s review the research (spoiler: it’s awesome).

    • Strength training helps cure IT Band Syndrome (source)
    • Women with runner’s knee have weaker hips than healthy runners (source – confirmed here)
    • Resistance training improves trained runner’s economy by up to 8% (source)
    • Explosive strength training makes your 5k faster by improved economy and muscle power (source)
    • Weight lifting improves performance (speed), running economy, and muscle power (source)

    I could spend days searching for studies but the consensus has already been reached.

    And it’s incredibly rewarding to see these improvements in real-time. Meet Alan:

    Alex Running Injury Prevention

    Alan told me that he did very little strength work – and always ended up injured. A common story, right?

    Except Alan changed his story. He knew that to improve, you have to step outside your comfort zone.

    After starting a strength program, Alan sent me this feedback:

    I’ve noticed a remarkable change in how I feel when I run now. The strength in my hips and glutes is the highest it’s ever been, including my competition days in high school and college. This leads to a much more stable feeling when I’m out on the road.

    The strength work gets me out of my comfort zone the most; I would never have thought of adding those into my training plan before. Now I appreciate them as a key contribution to my overall leg strength.

    The quality of my running now is off the charts compared to before.

    I’d be lying if I said that I’m not really happy with the changes that I’ve seen in my body. They’re a readily apparent reminder that I am making progress toward my overall fitness aspirations as well as my running-specific goals.

    I can really sense where my hips and glutes were weak before when I thought running alone would make them strong.

    And the best part?

    After incorporating more strength exercises into his training, Alan ran his fastest 5k in over 10 years!

    Results like this aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. They can be yours, too.

    The question you have to ask yourself is, are you willing to reach out and claim these benefits as your own?

    Lift like the Pro’s

    Clearly, strength training exercises have the potential to absolutely transform your training:

    • I’ve seen it in my own running and that of my athletes
    • It’s supported by the scientific literature in countless studies
    • The training programs of countless world-class runners all include a hefty dose of strength training

    Now, it’s time to ask yourself some questions…

    Would you like to improve your running economy and run with less effort?

    Does being a stronger and more powerful athlete sound attractive?

    Would you like to strengthen everything from your muscles to tendons, ligaments, and everything in between?

    How would you like to avoid your next big injury?

    Would you like to be able to run faster, finish races strong, and feel more coordinated while sprinting?

    The good news is that if you lift like a runner, all of these results can be yours.

    It’s possible. And it won’t take you hours in the gym every day.

    Next week, I’m going to demolish the most pervasive myths that surround strength training for endurance runners.

    You’ll learn:

    • Why no runner should ever lift for endurance
    • How guarding against impact can prevent your next injury
    • Why it’s not necessarily how much you lift but how you lift it (movements matter!)
    • And a lot more…

    Until then, I’m excited to announce that I’m hosting a live training on January 17th at 7:00PM MT!

    Strength Training Exercises for Runners

    Sign up here for your official invitation.

    This is going to be an interactive presentation with actionable examples that I think you’re going to love.

    It’s live and won’t be recorded so don’t miss it – this is unlike anything I’ve ever done on Strength Running in the past.

    I’m stoked about this topic so get excited, join us, and prepare yourself for an incredible 2018!

    Go to Source

    Happy 2018: Welcome to the Year of Strength

    I’m ready to make 2018 your best year of running ever. Will you join me and take the next step with your training?

    We have a lot of coaching material on strength training to cover this month, but let’s take a step back first…

    Every January, I like to reflect on the past year and set a theme for the new year.

    This helps us accomplish a lot of goals:

    • What did we do right? (let’s do more of this!)
    • How can we improve, tweak, and adjust?
    • What should we celebrate? (there’s joy in running!)
    • Is there an area of running that we’ve been neglecting?

    And 2017 was a banner year for the Strength Running community! Not because of any awards or accolades, but because of you.

    True.. we hit some great milestones over the last year:

    But these accomplishments are not as important as your accomplishments.

    I judge SR’s success by the progress of my 1-on-1 coaching clients, custom training plan clients, members of Team Strength Running, and the feedback I receive from runners who invest in our training programs.

    And the improvement is coming fast and furious!

    Some of our more detailed case studies are examples of what’s possible when you commit:

    Josh lost weight, stayed healthy, and ran a sub-5 mile (as a business owner and father)!

    Lynsey escaped a frustrating two years of injury problems to run faster than she ever has in the past.

    Monte ran a successful first marathon – at his goal weight – while breaking the 4-hour time barrier.

    Kira turned 5 years of injuries and thousands of wasted dollars into 4 (healthy) personal bests.

    Over the last year, I also added more and more feedback about our training plans (here) and injury prevention program (here) than any other year.

    It seems like I get feedback like this on a daily basis. And it makes my day!

    But while it makes me feel great that our programs and coaching services have been so successful, I really have you to thank. Because it’s your hard work that’s given you these incredible results.

    This would not have been possible without you taking action, investing in yourself, and putting in the work. I can only point you in the right direction

    Thank you for all of your hard work over the last year! You make being a coach the most rewarding job I could imagine.

    We’re Ready for the Next Step

    Over the last seven years, we’ve focused on a variety of themes:

    You’ll notice that each area of focus is different – but related.

    Even though stretch goals and consistency might seem very different, you can’t accomplish a stretch goal without consistent training!

    And this year, we’re building on our previous themes with a more advanced topic: strength training.

    Just like our running progresses, so must our ancillary work.

    Over the years, our…

    • … mileage must increase if we’re to continue improving.
    • … workouts must become more challenging (or else you’ll hit a performance plateau).
    • … long runs must become more complex and specific to spur more endurance adaptations.

    And now, we’re ready to take the next step with our strength training workouts.

    I teased this topic in an earlier episode of Q&A with Coach:

    Now we’re ready to get a bit more advanced and lift the right way – just like the pros strength train.

    Elite runners don’t avoid the gym. And they certainly don’t lift like body builders or CrossFit athletes.

    The pros lift for power, speed, and durability.

    The right strength training workouts for runners make you faster. They prevent injuries. And they improve your efficiency – allowing you to run faster at the same effort.

    That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that 2018 is The Year of Strength.

    The Benefits of Strength Training

    Strength Training Workouts

    Ever since the worst injury of my life left me unable to run for six months, I’ve been on a mission to crack the injury cycle and help runners prevent more injuries.

    First, I recognized the incredible benefits of strength training for runners:

    • Stronger muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues
    • Enhanced durability and lower risk of injury
    • Improved mechanics, efficiency, and higher running economy
    • Faster sprinting ability at the end of a race to kick hard and finish strong
    • More power (Speed x Strength = Power – a valuable skill for any runner)

    As you can see, there are many reasons to include strength training workouts in your running program!

    These skills and positive adaptations build over time. Soon, you’ll experience progress like this:

    “I don’t just feel better; I feel transformed – like a brand new runner. I’ve never run like this – with strength and without aches and pains. I’m excited to run and discover what improvements I can make.” – Rebecca

    “My hips have never been this strong. Ever! All the kinks I’ve had for so long do not exist anymore and I am enjoying my runs so much more now. And… running sub 8:00’s easily! Thank you!” – Sarah

    “I ran a 7:00 mile, a minute faster then my previous PR. I’ve PRed my 5k and 10k multiple times over the last few months. My average pace use to be 9:00 – 9:30 and now it’s 8:00 – 8:30 with some runs averaging sub 8’s.
    Looking forward to more injury-free PRs over the coming years.” – Dan

    Over the years, my focus on strength training here at Strength Running has mostly been bodyweight routines that you can do anywhere.

    These routines have been republished in Runner’s World, Competitor, and elsewhere. They work:

    These strength training workouts are runner-specific and will help you prevent injuries and improve your form.

    And the best part? They take just 10-20 minutes to complete and can be done almost anywhere.

    But the drawback to this kind of strength work is that it’s not as good as it can be. It won’t improve your speed or mechanics (running form) as much as more focused strength workouts.

    Bodyweight routines were my introduction to strength training, but relying on only bodyweight work leaves speed on the table:

    • Bodyweight exercise are not power exercises (you need more weight for that)
    • Without heavier weights, the stimulus for strength gains is not strong enough (meaning your strength will plateau)
    • If you want improved economy and durability, you have to get in the gym for better strength training workouts

    There’s actually a better way to structure strength training for runners to not only prioritize prevention but also make you faster and more efficient.

    Since I’m not a strength coach, I don’t have the expertise to show you more advanced strength workouts.

    Until now.

    Strength Training for Runners – What to Expect

    Over the next month, we’re going to discover what ideal strength training workouts for runners should look like.

    We’ll answer a lot of questions:

    • What types of strength work are counter-productive (and should be avoided)?
    • How should strength work be added to a running schedule?
    • What kind of benefits from strength training should we expect?
    • How do you warm up for a lifting session?
    • How much time is recommended in the weight room?
    • Will strength training make me bulk up or get injured?
    • How much recovery is needed in between sets?

    Most of the action is going to happen on the Strength Running email list so make sure you sign up here.

    I’ll also be sharing tips, quotes, photos, and more on our social media channels. Give us a follow:

    Before we start covering more details about strength training for runners, I have one small favor to ask:

    COMMIT.

    Commit to thinking differently about strength training.

    Commit to investing in yourself and your running.

    Commit to doing the work.

    Commit to a growth mindset.

    And yes, even commit to opening my emails!

    If you follow along and apply these lessons, mindset shifts, and workouts, then I think this is going to be a watershed moment for your running.

    If you commit, this might just be the turning point where you graduate from a “normal” runner to a powerful, coordinated, athletic, strong runner who’s capable of more than ever before.

    As you can imagine, I’m very excited to share this new coaching material with you!

    Finally, I have a question for you:

    What does your strength training look like right now?

    Let us know in the comments below what you’re doing now to get stronger. I’d love to hear how often you strength train, the types of exercises, and duration of the workouts.

    Looking back on your answers after a few months will be eye-opening…

    Go to Source

    Speed Training 101: How to Improve Your Top End Running Speed

    During college workouts when my existence shrank into a singularity of suffering and time stalled, I remember laughing at the sprinters. You call THAT a speed workout?!

    Speed Training Sprint Development

    But it was – and I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    What I saw was a lot of walking. They’d sprint for a second or two… maybe 5 whole seconds… and then walk around for a few minutes.

    Meanwhile, my teammates and I were suffering through fives miles worth of intervals at a cruel “best effort” pace! Our heart rate barely got under 140 before we took off on the next repetition.

    But I just didn’t understand speed training (also known as speed development) because I wasn’t a sprinter.

    After a fascinating conversation with Mike Young, I got turned on to these types of workouts.

    They have the potential to give you a lot of benefits:

    • Improved running speed (your max, “top end” speed will be increased)
    • Higher running economy (you’ll be more efficient and use less energy at the same speeds)
    • Better neuromuscular coordination (the communication pathways between your brain and muscles)
    • Increased muscle strength

    That last one is important: sprinting can help you get stronger if done appropriately.

    Just like a squat makes you recruit a lot of muscle fibers in a strong contraction, running at top speed does exactly the same thing. The mechanism is different but the effect is very similar.

    Just like the NFL advises many types of training strategies to increase speed, we must also look for different ways to get faster.

    Lifting weights, running high mileage, drills, and even sprint workouts will all help increase your overall speed.

    But how is it best implemented in your training program?

    What is Speed Training?

    Most runners call any fast workout a “speed workout.” But technically, it’s not really speed training. Sorry, a tempo workout, fartlek, or track session is not actually a “speed workout.”

    It sounds like semantics, but let’s get our terms right so we can have the same conversation.

    Speed training is really the development of your maximum speed in several different ways:

    Acceleration is how quickly you can go from a position of rest to maximal velocity. In other words, it’s how fast you can get to top speed from a standing position. It’s a good measure of power.

    Maximal velocity is your top speed – the absolute fastest that you can run. If you try to sprint at 100% effort and reach your “top-end” speed, then you’re at maximal velocity.

    Speed-endurance is how long you can hold your maximal velocity before slowing down. Most runners can only maintain their top-end speed for about 40 meters (this is normal!).

    These aspects of speed aren’t typically addressed by distance runners – but a small amount of training can give you a lot of benefit.

    The purpose of any speed development session is to improve one of these three metrics so don’t worry about lactate threshold, VO2 Max, aerobic capacity, or anything like that.

    Instead, the goal is power, neuromuscular coordination, athleticism, and improving economy.

    Want to race faster? Run sprint workouts! <– Click here to tweet this quote!

    Who is Ready For Speed Workouts?

    If you’re thinking about attempting a speed training session (like the one I demonstrate below), it’s important to make sure you’re ready so you don’t hurt yourself.

    First, ensure you hav a basic level of strength before you start a formal speed training session. If you haven’t been getting strong for 2-3 months, you’re simply not ready for these sprints just yet.

    Start here but ideally, you’ll also have spent some time lifting at the gym to ensure your connective tissues are ready for the impact forces of sprinting at this effort.

    You should also be comfortable running strides, which are accelerations that work up to about 95-98% of maximum speed:

    Once you’re comfortable running strides and lifting weights, you’re ready to run as fast as possible during a speed development workout.

    But is it still appropriate for the event you’re training for?

    Sprints like these are more important for events like the 10,000m or shorter, though you will get benefits no matter what race distance you’ll be racing.

    When Should You Run Sprints?

    Depending on the type of runner and what goals you might have, there are three times when you might run a speed session.

    The Beginner

    If you’re a relatively new runner or a beginner, you should replace a regularly scheduled workout with a speed training session. Jenny Hadfield has a nice primer on the basics of sprinting here.

    The stress of sprinting at maximum speed is high – as is the injury risk – so we don’t want to stack this stress on top of your other workouts.

    It’s best to take a more conservative route and replace a more traditional workout with speed development.

    The Intermediate Runner

    Most runners will fall into the category of being an intermediate runner:

    • Weekly mileage in the 30+ miles range
    • A variety of race distances have been completed
    • Experience with many types of workouts

    These runners can add a small amount of speed training to the end of a relatively easy workout or replace part of their regularly scheduled workout with speed training.

    For example, let’s say you have a 5-mile tempo run planned. Instead of that 5mi tempo run, cut it to 3 miles and run a series of sprints like I demonstrate below.

    The Advanced Runner

    If you’re a more advanced runner who has more experience with a variety of workouts (including sprints), you can be more aggressive. Sprints can be scheduled 1-2 days before your scheduled workout.

    Since the volume of speed training is always very low (especially for distance runners) you won’t need too much recovery.

    And the sprints will actually improve your performance in the later workout due to higher muscle tension!

    No matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced runner, you won’t need too many speed development workouts during your training cycle: once every 10-14 days is sufficient.

    Do more speed training sessions and you’ll likely ignore the more fundamental workouts like tempo runs and race-specific repetitions.

    And if you run less speed work, you won’t be able to progress much because they’re spaced too far apart.

    Speed Workout Demonstration

    I think it’s important to have a visual demonstration of a speed training session – to show you the recovery, effort, and distances used.

    So I went to the track and recorded a sprint workout: 4 x 20m at maximum effort with a 1:30 – 2:00 walk recovery.

    Check out the video below:

    A few important reminders about speed training and this workout in particular:

    • Not sure how to use a track? Use our outdoor track infographic.
    • There’s a good chance I was off a little bit with the track markings. Don’t be a slave to perfection!
    • Err on the cautious side when it comes to the recovery interval. If you think you need the full two minutes, then take it.
    • I used a 3-4 stride run-up to the start/finish line since endurance runners will never begin a race in starting blocks

    What you won’t see in this video is the extensive warm-up that I did before I started sprinting:

    I recently shared this photo on Instagram about the structure of a workout. You’ll see that you have to work up to a hard effort by gradually warming up through a variety of strategies.

    Speed training is no different! In fact, it’s even more important to warm up thoroughly before sprinting at maximum effort.

    For best results (and the least injury risk possible), make sure you don’t skip the critical warm-up phase of the workout.

    Advanced Speed Development

    The speed workout I demonstrated above – 4x20m – is a relatively easy session. There are ways that you can make it more complex and challenging.

    Jay Johnson has a demonstration of a more difficult speed training workout:

    This workout has a higher volume of work and at varying speeds (Jay uses a percentage of max effort to assign speeds).

    You’ll notice that within the workout, there’s progression to the maximum effort. Sprinting on tired legs is an advanced strategy, particularly when that pre-sprint work is already quite fast.

    A workout of this difficulty is best saved for highly advanced runners or intermediate/advanced runners who are training for middle distances like the mile or 1,500m.

    But wait!

    Speed training is not the only way to get faster. A safer, though less specific, way to increase your top end speed is through explosive weight lifting.

    We’ll be diving into strength training for runners in more detail next month, but expect:

    • The structure of the workouts – exercises, recovery, and progressions
    • Specialized Physical Preparation – the runner-specific, bodyweight portion of strength work
    • How and when to use plyometrics for more explosive power

    Runners on my email list will be the first to hear about the new coaching material so sign up here before you miss anything.

    A Final Word on Speed Training

    It’s helpful to think of speed development as the “cherry” on top of your training sundae. It’s the final finishing touch or the icing on the cake.

    Speed work is not fundamental to the success of distance runner so it should only be incorporated into your training once you have:

    If you overemphasize speed training, you’ll ignore the more important endurance-oriented workouts. And that means you won’t be as fast of a runner.

    But a small dose of sprints in your training can give your power, strength, and efficiency to set your next personal best.

    Go to Source