How to Plan Your Weekly Mileage

How should 30 miles per week be broken down into daily runs? What if you’re running 100 miles per week?!

No matter how much you’re running per week, there’s a smart (and not so smart…) way of structuring that mileage.

Since 2011, I’ve written over 1,200 training plans. Part of that process is reading through each athletes’ prior training – and sometimes, it’s not pretty.

I’ve seen it all. Runners who…

  • jump from 20 miles to 50 in a single week
  • run all of their mileage in just two runs – on back to back days
  • complete the same distance every time they go running

These runners are doing it the hard way, sacrificing progress and skyrocketing their risk of a running injury.

And I refuse to let that happen to MY runners.

A few weeks ago, Team Strength Running member Richard asked the group:

How should weekly miles be broken down? So for instance, if someone is running 30, 70, 100 miles a week, how should it best be broken down into days?

The answer to this question is in our new mileage video below – don’t miss it.

More important than the mileage templates are the principles behind them. After watching, you’ll know:

  • How to schedule rest days in your week
  • How to break up a big mileage number (“40”) into daily totals
  • Why you should run a decent amount the day after a long run
  • If you’re ready to add double sessions (two runs in one day)
  • What a 100-mile week looks like!

Even if you’re someone who likes to follow a plan written by someone else, it’s always a smart idea to know why a plan looks the way it does.

Behold the wonder of freeze-frames

If you found this video helpful, share this post with your running friends!

Don’t miss these resources about planning your mileage:

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How to Find Your Best Stride with Coach Jonathan Beverly

Whenever I’m asked about running form, I nearly have a panic attack. What should I say when I’m so conflicted?!

Jason Running

Working on my split-leg game since 1998

You see, I don’t like to steer runners in the wrong direction. My goal is to point out the advice that doesn’t work and focus on fundamentals that never change.

But I also want runners to run faster. And that means reconciling two conflicting truths:

  1. Having “proper” form is incredibly important – we should try to improve our form
  2. There is NO ideal way to run and actively changing your form can result in injuries or losing efficiency (or both)

How do we improve our running form… without trying to change our form?

It may seem paradoxical – but it’s possible!

And in fact, optimizing your stride isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. You don’t need to proactively “fix” any biomechanical errors you might have.

The solution is three-fold:

  1. Develop the strength necessary for an optimized stride
  2. Counteract the harmful effects of our modern, sedentary lives
  3. Improve mobility and movement patterns to make economical running far easier

Thankfully, Strength Running readers are already ahead of the pack (as usual). If you’ve been part of our community for long enough, you know that I emphasize key aspects of training that will improve your form automatically.

These things are:

But there’s always more that we can do. And if you’re a runner that’s passionate about improvement, you won’t want to miss the latest episode of the Strength Running podcast.

“Run the Way You Were Born to Run”

Jonathan Beverly Your Best Stride

Jonathan Beverly was the editor-in-chief of Running Times for 15 years. He’s run nearly 30 marathons and hundreds of road and trail races around the world.

He’s also coached with the New York Road Runners Club, taught several college running classes, and has coached junior and high school track and cross country since 2003.

Jonathan’s new book quickly became one of my favorites. Your Best Stride: How to Optimize Your Natural Running Form to Run Easier, Farther, and Faster – with Fewer Injuries is a holistic look at how to run with better form.

He does not promote a certain brand of form (like Chi or POSE).

He won’t make you run on your forefoot (that’s a big no-no).

And he isn’t even gung-ho about “cues” that make you run slightly differently.

Instead, the goal is to bring you back to when you were 10 years old. Remember back then? If not, just know that you ran with a lot better form back then.

Jonathan is on the podcast today to discuss how to reclaim your youthful, smooth, powerful stride.

Subscribe on iTunes or on the Stitcher platform.

Links & Resources:

Are you a fan of the podcast? Share this episode or leave an honest review on iTunes – it’s the best way of showing your support!

This episode is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special life insurance rates. Head on over to healthiq.com/strengthrunning to see how your running can help you save on insurance.

They’ve pulled the latest data on runners’ health risks to convince insurance companies to offer cheaper rates. Just consider:

  • Runners have a 41% lower risk of heart disease
  • Runners also have up to a 35% lower risk of premature death

And they’ve been successful: over the last three years, they’ve helped health-conscious athletes secure billions of dollars in coverage.

Want to see if you qualify for cheaper life insurance? Check out this tool to get your free quote.

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Negative Splits: How to Finish Strong in Every Race

How fast should I run for the first mile of a 5k? What about a hilly half marathon?

Pacing yourself during a race isn’t always so straightforward. Elevation changes, terrain variability, and different distances all impact how quickly (or slow) you’re able to run.

But in almost every racing scenario, negative splits are the ideal pacing strategy.

But first, let’s define our terms: a negative split is when the second half of a race is faster than the first half. For example, if you race a 10k with 5k splits of 25:30 and 24:30 for a 50:00 10k finish time, you’ve just ran a negative split.

It may seem more difficult to run negative splits on race day, but in fact it’s usually easier. It often takes 1-2 miles to properly warm up during a race (especially for longer races like the half marathon or marathon). But then:

  • Joints are fully lubricated
  • Adrenaline and other performance-boosting hormones are peaking
  • Muscles are primed to work at their most efficient capacity

In short, you’re not ready to run at your best until the middle of the race – making a negative split easier to attain than most think.

When the opposite happens (running the first half faster than the second), you’re not allowing the body to properly warm up nor are you taking advantage of the hormones that make racing fast a bit easier.

I’m sure you’ve had experience of starting a race fast only to flounder and pull up short in the later miles… We want to avoid that!

So, can we find examples of this strategy benefiting runners at the highest levels?

How can we put these lessons into practice on race day?

Let’s find out.

Negative Splits and World Records

At the elite level, most world records above 800m have been set with negative splits. If you look at the recent history of marathon world records, you’ll see this strategy used effectively to consistently lower the world record performance.

When Dennis Kimetto set the marathon world record to 2:02:57 at the 2014 Berlin Marthon, he ran the first half in 61:45 and the second half in 61:12.

Haile Gebrselassie ran a similar strategy in 2007 when he ran the WR of 2:04:26 with a spread of 62:29 and 61:57. The next year, when he broke 2:04, he had half marathon splits of 62:05 and 61:54.

This strategy extends beyond the marathon, however. When Kenenisa Bekele ran the 10,000m world record of 26:17:53 his 5k splits were 13:09:19 and 13:08:34.

Galen Rupp had a fantastic negative split performance when he set the American record in the indoor 5k of 13:01.26:

Watch Galen Rupp Negative Split the American Indoor 5,000m Record

His mile splits were 4:13.94, 4:12.64, and 4:04.32 with a final 200m split of 30.36!

Top coaches like Jay Johnson (coach to three national champions) also believe negative splits are ideal for both elite and recreational runners.

How to Negative Split Your Next Race

While it’s easy to say “finish faster than you started,” it’s much more difficult to put into practice! That’s why it’s critical to practice negative splits during training to ensure you’re used to the feeling and execution of this strategy on race day.

Training tip #1: Negative split easy runs

Easy runs should be negative splits all the time, anyway. Start slow to help you transition to running and allow your body to warm up properly. After a few miles, you can settle into your “normal” pace.

If you’re a more advanced runner or are just feeling great, then you can run the last 1-2 miles of easy runs at a moderate effort. This will surely guarantee a negative split run, helping your body and mind remember what it’s like to finish a run faster than when you started.

Training tip #2: Negative split workouts

The absolute best way to practice negative splits is to run them during a structured workout. They work best in single-speed workouts where you run the same speed for the entirety of the repetitions (i.e., all of the intervals are at 5k pace).

This strategy forces you to run harder when you’re fatigued – exactly what’s needed during a race to finish with negative splits. Just be sure not to turn the workout into a race and still run within your means.

Racing tip #1: Predict an accurate finish time

A negative split is virtually impossible if you don’t have an accurate finish time prediction. After all, if you think you can run faster than you’re able to and start too fast, you’ll fizzle out rather than speeding up.

For example, if you’d like to negative split a 10k and you’re confident you can run 50:00, then run the first 5k in about 25:10 – 25:30. That should be comfortable enough that you can turn on the afterburners in the last 2 miles to finish in 50 flat.

Racing tip #2: Be confident

Negative splits are challenging – there’s no way around it. But when top coaches recommend them and world records are set using this race pacing strategy, then you know it’s the real deal.

But it can only be achieved if you’re confident in your abilities. Running fast when you’re tired hurts.

You’re in “the pain cave” taking a bath in lactate.

Your brain is screaming at you to slow down.

Your muscles and lungs are burning as you squeeze every ounce of speed into that final stretch.

Simple isn’t always easy. But if you believe in your fitness, then you’ll finish strong.

That confidence (and a good dose of mental toughness!) will help you cross the finish line with negative splits – and hopefully, a shiny new PR!

For more on pacing, race strategy, and negative splits don’t miss our free ebook 13 Lucking Racing Tips for Your Next Personal Best.

13 Lucky Racing Tips

You’ll hear the preferred racing strategies from top coaches and runners like:

  • Jay Johnson, coach to 3 national champions
  • Jeff Gaudette, Olympic Trials qualifier
  • Mario Fraioli, coach to the 2012 Costa Rican Men’s Olympic Marathon Team

And many other journalists, Boston Marathon qualifiers, and ultra marathoners. Download it here!

A version of this article first appeared on Competitor.com.

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How OCR Phenom Amelia Boone and Trail Rockstar David Roche Prevent Injuries

Earlier this year, I worked with nearly a dozen professional runners to discover their injury prevention secrets.

elite runners

Runners like Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein and 100k National Champion Devon Yanko.

Runners like World Mountain Running champion Joseph Gray and two-time winner of the World Warrior Dash Championships, Max King.

I put all of their suggestions, workouts, routines, and exercises into a book that you can download for free:

The Little Black Book of Prevention & Recovery

Learning from runners at the top of the sport has always been fascinating.

After all, why not learn from the best?

Today I’m highlighting the contributions from two elite athletes: a nationally ranked trail runner and one of the best Obstacle Course Racers in history.

If you can tease out just one lesson, you’ll benefit from it forever.

Use it to become a healthier, stronger, and more resilient runner. One who can handle more mileage, faster workouts, and speedier races.

Amelia Boone: “Mobility and Stability”

To prevent injury, I find there are two key parts: mobility and stability. Often athletes focus too much on one, and not enough on the other. A few things I do to address both parts:

Dedicate 10 minutes each night before you go to bed to mobilize a particular body part. It doesn’t need to be the same one (and shouldn’t always be the same!), but focus on moving your tissues and loosening up before you go to bed.

For runners, single leg strength is everything – I work on single leg stability at least twice a week in the form of lunges, single leg squats, balance work with slant boards, Bosu balls, and other unstable surfaces.

If you’ve injured a particular body part (i.e., muscle strain), focus on loosening the tissues around it – not the injured tissue itself.

For example, if you’ve pulled a hamstring, foam roll the calves, quads, glutes, etc. Those are the tissues that will compensate for the injury and lead to compensatory patterns. And often, the place of pain isn’t the source of the problem.

If you are desk bound like I am, do what you can to stay moving as much as possible. Take a lap around the office at least twice an hour.

On conference calls, I like to sit in the bottom of a squat or hold a plank. Keep a golf ball at your desk and roll out the bottom of your feet during the day. The little movements add up.

Go barefoot as much as possible in everyday life – builds foot strength, lets your toes breathe!

Take complete rest days – “active recovery” is all the rage right now, but I’m a firm believer in just letting the body be completely static once in a while. We can tend to take our “active recovery” too far!

About Amelia

Amelia BooneAmelia Boone is a force of nature. She’s not only a full-time attorney for Apple, but the most dominant female obstacle course athlete in history.

But she’s not just the best (if not THE best) female OCR athlete – she usually beats 99% of men in every race she enters.

A small taste of her racing performances include:

  • 30+ victories (and 50+ podium finishes)
  • 2013 Spartan Race World Champion
  • 2012 Spartan Race World Championship 2nd place overall (only 8 minutes behind the male winner)
  • 2012, 2014, and 2015 World’s Toughest Mudder Champion
  • 3x finisher of the Death Race

Connect with Amelia: Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or visit Amelia’s Website.

David Roche: “Adaptations are earned at the dinner table”

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

I didn’t learn that tip in a book, but at a dinner table. In 2015, my wife and I were on the US Long Distance Mountain Running Team. The race went up to the saddle of the Matterhorn – in other words, it involved almost all uphill. I assumed that meant it was best to be skinny and light – after all, cyclist climbers usually have the body measurements of a praying mantis.

Then, I saw what happened at the dinner table. Some of the best mountain runners in the world ate and ate as if the big event was the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, rather than an uphill race. One woman in particular packed olive oil in her carry-on just so she could have ready access. She got a plate of pasta, and glugged it out until what seemed like half the bottle was on the spaghetti.

Since then, I have done informal studies with the professional runners I coach. Without fail, the healthiest ones – the runners that win national championships year after year – eat plenty, always.

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. Of course, runners can have success going the other way for a brief period. But the stories of talents lost to negative energy availability are too many to count.

So my main stay-healthy tip is to always eat enough. For a runner concerned about energy availability during hard training, no food is bad food. Scale your calorie intake to training levels (if you are running 15 miles per week, don’t eat like you are running 150), but never forget that your body needs fuel to stay healthy.

Training stimuli happen on the trails, roads or track; training adaptations are earned at the dinner table.

About DavidDavid Roche

David is the 2016 Way Too Cool 50k winner, the 2012 and 2014 USA Trail 10k National Champion, and the 2014 US Sub-Ultra Trail Runner of the Year.

He’s also a member of the 2014 US Mountain Running Team and 2015 US Long Distance Mountain Team.

He is also a columnist for Trail Running magazine and a public interest attorney focusing on environmental issues. A HOKA HOKA sponsored athlete, David is also a running coach.

Connect with David: Follow him on Twitter or check out his coaching site.

7 More Elites Share Their Top Recovery Strategies

The full book includes 7 more pro athletes:

  • Dathan Ritzenhein – 3x Olympian, 3x National Cross Country Champion
  • Kelly O’Mara – professional triathlete
  • Ian Sharman – 3x winner of the Leadville Trail 100
  • Devon Yanko – 100k National Champion and 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier
  • Joseph Gray – Mount Washington American Record holder and World Mountain Running Champion
  • Andy Wacker – Trail Half Marathon National Champion
  • Max King – US National Ultra Running Champion and 2x winner World Warrior Dash Champion

Their approaches to prevention, recovery, and resiliency are varied – and that’s why I love it!

Pick and choose the ideas that most resonate with you. Implement them and you’ll be a better, stronger, healthier, and faster runner.

Click on the button below to download the free book. Enjoy!

Pro Runners on Injury Prevention

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How to Build Mental Toughness (according to a PhD and World Champion)

In high school, my track coach could always be found on the sidelines screaming “Get out of your comfort zone!!

mental toughness

He was telling us that progress does not happen when you’re comfortable. You’ll never set a personal best running comfortably.

And it takes mental toughness to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

There’s no way around it: racing hurts, training can sometimes be boring, and it takes a lot of time, effort, sweat, and maybe even tears to get faster and break through a performance plateau.

Strategies that can help include:

  • Comparing yourself to others (strategically – not for every run!)
  • Building self-confidence in your abilities
  • Embracing beneficial anxiety – but managing unreasonable fears

The real question is: How do we build these skills so that we can tap into our most powerful muscle (our brain) to run faster?

Even though we spend the vast majority of our time focusing on our physical skills, what about our mental skills?

If the reason we give up in races is because of our self-limiting beliefs and inner voice, how do we get stronger?

The good news is that you don’t need to wait for Neuralink to train your brain.

We can do it every day while running.

Becoming a Brave Athlete

Simon and Lesley

I invited Simon Marshall, PhD and his wife Lesley Patterson to talk about these practical strategies on the SR podcast.

Their new book The Brave Athlete is a handbook for the athlete’s brain, showing you how to:

  • Resist the urge to quit
  • Embrace difficulty
  • Respond positively to setbacks
  • Build confidence and self-belief
  • Cope better with stress and anxiety

This husband and wife team is quite the duo. Simon is former professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of San Diego and a professor of sport and exercise psychology at San Diego State University.

Currently, he’s the performance psychologist for BMC Racing – a World Tour professional cycling team.

His wife Lesley Patterson is a dominant triathlete, having won three world off-road triathlon champions and an Ironman Triathlon. A professional mountain biker, she’s also a former national champion in cross country.

And I think all of us get how important our brain is to our running.

How many times have you been halfway through a long run and dreaded every step?

How many races have you wished in hindsight that you had sucked it up and ran harder instead of settling?

It’s happened to me more times than I can count. And it happens to world-class athletes (like Lesley, which we talk about) all the time, too.

This podcast will show you how to turn your brain into an asset, rather than a liability.

Subscribe on iTunes or head on over to Stitcher if you have an Android device.

Resources & Links From the Show:

My question for you: what mindset strategies do you use for mental toughness? Leave your comment below:

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How Josh Used a Team Approach to Run a Sub 5-minute Mile

In November, 2015 Josh got a wake-up call. He heard what no man wants to hear from his daughter…

It looks like you have a baby in your tummy!

Kids say the darndest things…

Josh knew he was the heaviest he had ever been and now he was ready to do something about it. Despite running in high school and college, he had struggled to get back into a regular running routine.

Josh explains,

As a former high school and collegiate runner that had taken years (17 to be exact) off from any serious training, every time I would try to come back, it would result in injury.

Josh began with regular easy runs to help him lose weight, but knew it would take more than that to keep injuries at bay. So he began to search online for useful advice that would allow him to stay consistent with his running.

Strength Running’s dynamic warm-up and strength routines were exactly what he was looking for to help him stay healthy.

Initially, Josh’s goal was simple. After nearly two decades, he wanted to be able to call himself a “real” runner again. Although his college running days were behind him, he wanted to get back to running consistently and set a healthy example for his kids.

Escaping the Injury Cycle

Runners are plagued by injuries far too often – and they’re the number one reason that many of us are unable to stick with a consistent training schedule. Because of its high impact and repetitive nature, running can quickly cause injuries in runners who are unprepared to handle the stress.

Whether you have been frustrated by injuries like Josh, or are just trying to stay healthy and avoid getting injured, you’ll need to add some preventative work into your routine.

But this doesn’t necessitate hours in the gym every week! One of our most popular routines – the ITB Rehab Routine -typically takes about only about 10-15 minutes (and does not require a gym membership).

“Sandwiching” your runs with a warm-up and strength session can help take your running to a new level. You’ll not only be more resilient and less prone to injury, but your runs will likely feel better from the start with a proper warm-up.

Over time, consistent, injury free running can help all runners pursue their goals.

And Josh was no exception.

A Team Approach

Soon Josh was running more consistently – without any of the nagging injuries that had plagued him in the past. Building on this success, Josh wanted to take his running to the next level.

He believed that the resources and community available through Team Strength Running were the best way to get there.

The success I had with Strength Running’s free tools prompted me to join Team Strength Running to have a community of runners to lean on to share ideas and success stories.

Beyond what is freely available on the Strength Running website, Team members have access to a lot more:

  • Our full collection of runner-specific strength, core, and warm-up routines
  • A full Training Plan Library for 5k – 100 miles, including plans that focus on injury prevention, busy runners, and more
  • Personalized support with Jason during our regular Coaching Calls
  • A private community to share your running stories, exchange ideas, and get support and accountability
  • Monthly interviews with elite runners, coaches, authors, physical therapists, etc.

The variety of material available to team members made it, in Josh’s words, a “no-brainer.” As Josh explained,

The value of the team can be summed up in one word: RESOURCES.

Jason has assembled top-notch content and continually adds value through additional resources like podcasts and training calls.

Jason’s willingness to put the work in to expand the number of resources available to Team SR is the core of why it’s successful.

Having run on a collegiate team, Josh also recognized the value of having a group of like-minded runners to share his struggles and successes. While family members and co-workers may be less than excited to hear the details of your most recent workout, Team SR members are a willing and supportive audience.

The team’s active community is always willing to listen, help, and offer advice when needed. Josh felt that the support from this group was instrumental in keeping him focused and inspired.

Runners from all walks of life, sharing their triumphs and struggles, played a huge role in motivating me to stick with a solid game plan.

Whether you’re new to running, trying to lose weight, or going after a new PR, staying motivated can be a challenge.

A supportive community plays an essential role in stoking the fire that keeps you working hard and challenging yourself, day after day.

A Competitive Fire

Once Josh was healthy and injury-free, running consistently was no longer an issue. With support from Team SR and his continually improving fitness, he found that his competitive instincts began to resurface.

As he explains,

Once I began running races and seeing some success, latent competitiveness rose up and it felt like I was in my 20’s again chasing PRs.

Josh’s racing success was swift and impressive! Since joining Team SR, his racing highlights include the following:

  • He went from barely jogging an 11-minute mile to a sub-19 minute 5K in 7 months.
  • He ran a USATF mile road race in 4:59 at age 40.
  • He routinely places in his age group or overall masters in every race.
  • He joined the Kansas City Smoke Masters team, a highly competitive USATF developmental racing team.

Team SR gives runners the resources to improve their running both mentally and physically, and Josh exemplifies the kind of success that is possible with dedication and commitment.

He told me:

If utilized properly, Team SR can keep members from falling into the injury pitfalls that plague so many other runners. The icing on the cake is getting stronger and shaving time off PRs.

If you have ever doubted that you can run fast well into your 40s, Josh is proof that a well-rounded training plan and team support can push you to personal bests you might never have anticipated.

And Team SR is Now Open!

And the great news is that through Friday, you too can join Team Strength Running!

Team SR helps you be the runner you KNOW you can be, with ongoing coaching support, proven training programs, new educational interviews with world-class experts every month, and a community of other runners.

This is unlike other programs with no support, no new content, or that cost twice as much.

Instead, you’ll finally know you’re doing the right training for you personally, with other runners to keep you motivated and coaching guidance to answer any and all of your questions.

More specifically, this program includes:

  • Live coaching calls so you can ask questions and get answers specific to your goals (we do these every few weeks!)
  • Training Plan Library, with plans that focus on time-efficiency (for busy runners), weight loss, ultra distances, injury prevention, and more
  • Teammates! Meet other runners like you in our private community, stay motivated, and be held accountable
  • New, exclusive interviews with a leading running expert (once you join, you can immediately access past interviews with Amelia Boone, Runner’s World’s gear expert, form experts and more)
  • Bonus Resources: gear and course discounts, team t-shirts, plus extra interviews from world-class experts

The best part? Every month, I’ll be adding more and more resources to help you succeed. So every month, the program gets more and more valuable.

Just imagine if you have the motivational support, coaching guidance, proven training, and deep knowledge to succeed with your goals.

At that point, it becomes very difficult to fail.

We’re offering a special bonus if you join between now and Friday, so check out all the details here.

Run strong!

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How to Recover From “Completely Trashed Legs”

We’ve all had to spend some extra time on recovery after a particularly grueling workout or race. But what happens if you’ve gone WELL beyond normal fatigue?

running recovery

What should you do if you’ve run too many races in a very short time period?

What if you’ve trashed your legs by the Dopey Challenge?

Or, like my friend Joel, what if you’ve run five ultra marathons in just three months?!

At that point, you need a whole new approach to recovery. It’s not enough to take an ice bath, slap on some compression socks, and go on with training as usual.

No… that will only invite injury, over-training, or worse: quitting the sport entirely.

Today’s episode of Q&A with Coach takes a question from Joel Runyon, who just finished running 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in order to build 7 schools through Pencils of Promise.

The 777 Project was a success. But Joel’s legs aren’t celebrating.

If you’re burning the candle at both ends or committing yourself to outlandish goals, this post on high-level advanced recovery is for you.

How to Recover From Months of Abuse

A few weeks ago, Joel sent me this message:

I prodded him to learn more and found out that he recently finished five ultras in just three months.

Talk about stressful!

A situation likes this demands more than traditional RICE methods. It needs a longer-term approach that prioritizes both physical and mental recovery.

You’ll notice in the video that I discuss two separate issues:

  • Immediate recovery strategies like RICE plus high-quality sleep, proper nutrition, and reduced stress
  • Post-race training focus: how your running should look after the ultras are finished

Note that it doesn’t matter if you’ve run a slew of ultras in a short period of time or have simply finished your first marathon. If you need a lot of recovery, this advice is still applicable.

A question for you: how do you recover from your hardest races and workouts? What’s worked for you in the past?

Leave your answers below. I’d love to have all of our favorite recovery techniques in one place!

Don’t forget to download the free Little Black Book of Prevention & Recovery to hear from 9 elite runners on their favorite strategies to stay healthy and recover faster!

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Training for a Half Marathon PR: 3 Essential Ingredients

The half marathon is one of the fastest growing races in the world – and for good reason.

Cheering finishers at the 2017 Colfax Half Marathon

At 13.1 miles, it’s long enough to require endurance and mental toughness, but short enough for most runners to tackle with less than a year of running experience.

Unlike a marathon, where the body is limited by the amount of carbohydrate (fuel) it can store, the half marathon allows most runners to finish strong. You likely won’t “hit the wall.”

Nevertheless, it will still take hard work. You can’t “fake” your way through a half marathon like you can a 5k race.

But with the right training approach that prioritizes the elements of fitness that are specific to the HM distance, you’ll experience tremendous progress and hopefully, a faster finish time.

There are three fundamental types of workouts that are critical for success in the half marathon.

Let’s begin with the most general – the long run.

Half Marathon Workout #1: The Long Run

Every runner must run a weekly long run – no matter what distance you’re training to complete.

They build general endurance so you can:

  • run further
  • complete longer and more intense workouts
  • maintain faster paces for longer periods of time

In other words, long runs build your capacity for work. They increase your ability to tolerate a high workload.

Or, as Bill Squires said:

The Long Run puts the tiger in the cat!

Beginners should particularly focus on long runs because their lack of endurance is the top obstacle to faster racing.

Long runs increase running economy (efficiency) so that you can run faster with less effort. It’s like increasing your car’s fuel economy – you can go further on the same amount of fuel.

They also make the half marathon distance comfortable – so you can then worry about running it fast rather than just completing the distance.

During a 12-20 week training period, add a mile to your long run every 1-2 weeks but take a “recovery week” every 4-6 weeks where the long run distance dips by 2-3 miles. Run at least 10-11 miles during training to ensure you can complete the half marathon comfortably.

More advanced runners will want to run significantly more than 13.1 miles during their peak long run – even up to 20 miles.

The longer you can safely run, the more you can focus on speed on race day.

If you want more guidance on building your long run and mileage, this article shows you how (it’s NOT the 10% rule…).

Half Marathon Workout #2: The Tempo Run

Tempo runs are what I consider “bread and butter” workouts for any runner training for the 10k – 50 kilometers. They’re that useful!

This is because they help push your endurance to new levels. More specifically, they increase your body’s ability to clear lactate from your blood stream, which is a byproduct of hard exercise.

Tempo runs help you run at a faster pace without accumulating excessive lactate, ultimately helping you maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time.

There are quite a few definitions of “Tempo:”

  • The pace that you can hold for about an hour (often correlating with 10k Pace for some runners)
  • A “comfortably hard” pace (for those who like to run by perceived effort)
  • The pace that causes your heart rate to reach 85-90% of maximum (if you prefer heart rate monitor training)

Beginners can start with tempo intervals which are simply 2-5 minutes at tempo pace with 1-2 minutes of easy running as recovery. Aim to complete roughly 15-20 minutes at tempo pace.

Advanced runners can skip the recovery running and instead run 3-5 miles at tempo pace with no rest.

And of course, you’ll want to run a few easy miles before and after any tempo workout to ensure you have a proper warm-up and cool-down.

Half Marathon Workout #3: HM-Specificity

Specificity is the golden rule in running: training must be specific to the goal race.

These workouts are slightly more advanced, so if you’re a beginner, you can just run easy mileage, long runs, and tempo workouts.

But advanced runners need an extra challenge for a new personal best. Half marathon-specific workouts closely resemble the race. At its most basic, you’ll run at half marathon pace for 6-8 miles.

Here are two more examples:

  • Two repetitions of 5km at goal half marathon pace, with 2 minutes of easy running as recovery.
  • End a long run of 13-18 miles with 3-6 miles at goal half marathon pace (this workout makes you run fast in a fatigued condition, making it even more specific to the half).

Workouts like these should be done in the final 4-6 weeks before the goal race so you don’t get too fatigued or burned out too early in the season.

Most beginners will see rapid improvement without these challenging sessions. If you’re not ready for workouts like this yet, that’s ok! You can simply skip them.

These workouts help you build a foundation of endurance so that your next 13.1 miles can be your best. Focus, prepare intelligently, and run strong!

If you’d like help with your half marathon training, we have many coaching programs to help you snag your next personal best.

A version of this article initially appeared on Competitor.com.

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How Allan Overcame Piriformis Syndrome (and became an athlete)

Can you ever imagine running 3:17 in your first marathon – and still not consider yourself a “real” runner?

running healthy

Me neither.

But Allan is a runner who felt that way. After his speedy debut at 26.2, he still felt like something was missing.

Allan committed to serious running in 2015 and ran his first marathon in the fall of 2016. He did a lot of things right in his training by progressively increasing his mileage and including a variety of workouts.

But throughout the training and after his race, Allan recalled that he:

“felt very one-dimensional in my running and did not really feel like a runner.”

How could that be?

A Pesky Piriformis

During marathon training, Allan developed piriformis syndrome – quite literally, a pain in the butt.

The piriformis is located deep in the glutes behind the gluteus maximus. Piriformis syndrome occurs when a tight piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. Pain can occur in the glutes and radiate down the leg.

Although Allan was able to finish the marathon successfully, he wanted to get rid of his piriformis pain so he could resume training after his recovery.

He got a lot of benefit from Strength Running’s free injury prevention series but he wanted every advantage.

After investing in the comprehensive Injury Prevention for Runners program, he went through all of the program material in its entirety and committed himself to every aspect of staying healthy.

One specific element of prevention stood out to Allan: the importance of a dynamic warm-up:

The dynamic warm up definitely helps me at the start of a run. I find I am always “up and going” right from the start of the run, whereas before, it was normal to have a very sluggish first kilometer before I started feeling “normal.”

But a simple dynamic warm-up is just one aspect of staying healthy. Soon, Allan went all-in.

A Commitment to Athleticism

Allan originally planned to pay for a gym membership but was pleased to find that the routines could all be done with little or no equipment. This saved him a time-consuming trip and hundreds of dollars per year.

He was also surprised by their intensity:

 At first, I thought the strength training was on the “light” side (I guess I thought I needed to be flinging weights around in a gym to get real benefit).

However, after my first go at the Stiletto routine, I was amazed to find how sore my glutes were a few hours later (as one example). And that was just one set, at the lowest reps for each exercise.

In order to stay healthy and continue training consistently, runners have to do more than just run. The body needs a strong foundation to handle increasing mileage, workouts and races.

Running alone doesn’t accomplish this. This is where strength, core and flexibility work builds you into a strong and capable athlete – not just a runner.

And as Allan demonstrated, this does not require hours in the gym with heavy weights.

When it came to commitment, Allan went all-in with Injury Prevention for Runners.

With a tighter focus on general athleticism, variety, dynamic flexibility, and runner-specific strength Allan quickly began to reap the rewards.

But it’s important to note that you don’t need to train like an elite or spend hours cross-training every week. Allan was pleased with the structure of the training plan, calling the setup “brilliant” at maximizing adherence.

Allan correctly realized early on that running was only one part of being a healthy, fast runner.

The other components to the program weren’t “extras” – they were truly a necessity to stay healthy and become a more well-rounded athlete.

Making these strength and core sessions part of your routine requires a commitment, but the long-term benefits are tremendous.

A Comprehensive Approach

Allan Success Story

Once Allan learned to approach his running differently, he no longer felt like something was missing from his training. He was becoming not only a faster, stronger runner but also a more well-rounded athlete.

Allan explains how he was able to see the bigger picture of successful running by working through Injury Prevention for Runners:

The most positive aspect is that the total plan is a comprehensive approach to becoming a robust, athletic runner.

Although I purchased the material “just” for the routines, when I read the whole thing cover-to-cover, I came away with a lot more insight.

The program finally gave Allan clarification on:

  1. Why strength training is important
  2. How to do it in a sustainable way
  3. How to warm up appropriately for a run
  4. How to plan workouts with variety
  5. Cues to improve running form
  6. The impact of a sedentary lifestyle (he decided to change to a standing desk!)

If you have spent much time on Strength Running, you have probably heard me say, “Consistency is the secret sauce of successful running” (we even have a t-shirt about it!).

As a result of this consistency, Allan has seen fantastic results. I asked him about some of his results and he told me:

My piriformis injury is almost gone (and getting constantly better, I expect it to be gone completely soon).

My legs feel much less burnt out between workouts.

I’ve developed a better sense of athleticism.

This program has stimulated a lot of curiosity; over the past month I have read Born to Run and Running with the Kenyans and have just generally become more a student of running.

Whether you have been frustrated by ongoing injuries or are just trying to see the bigger picture of your running, Strength Running’s injury prevention material may help.

Allan’s final piece of feedback says it best:

I recommend this to anyone who wants to progress from someone who runs to an athletic runner. It is a comprehensive and total approach that gets you going in all the right ways.

Suddenly I’m feeling like there are so many ways I can improve and I am not just going on runs, but rather developing more broadly as a runner.

You can’t ask for more than that!

The most poignant aspect of Allan’s recovery and transformation as a runner is that he now knows that there are many ways he can improve.

He doesn’t just need higher mileage. Or harder workouts. Or years of grueling long runs.

Allan has the knowledge and resources to continue progressing for years.

And isn’t that what we all want? Progress?

If that sounds like you, I invite you to get our free series about injury prevention. I think you’ll love it.

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CNN’s Tom Foreman on Running for a Lifetime

Once you build the running habit, you’ll be a runner for life. But how does running change after a few decades?

running lifetime

When I started running in 1998, I had no idea that joining my high school cross country team was arguably the most important decision of my life.

Running led me to attend Connecticut College… which led me to meeting my wife.

And it clearly led to my dream job: helping runners set big PR’s while staying healthy and strong.

Without running, I never would have embarked on this journey.

But now that I’m older and married with kids, my perspectives on running have changed.

It’s like Nick Symmonds said recently,

I love running more today than I ever have in my entire life, and I hate training more than I have in my entire life.

Those two things are very different. Running is going out for a run. You can run ten minutes, you can run two hours, you’re meeting up with friends. You’re running at whatever pace you feel like for however long you feel like. It’s enjoyable, it’s meditative, it’s cathartic.

Training is making sacrifices. It’s being away from home, it’s doing whatever’s on your daily schedule. It’s just not fun.

It’s funny how things work out.

I used to be obsessed with mileage and PR’s; now I’m focused on enjoying myself and using running to live a better life.

While my priorities have changed, I still love running with an intense passion that I doubt will ever fade.

How Running Changes as You Get Older

Tom Foreman

I invited Tom Foreman on the podcast to philosophize about running, goals, and racing throughout life.

You might recognize Tom as an emmy-award winning journalist at CNN. He’s reported on wars, natural disasters, and political skirmishes across 20 countries.

He’s also quite the runner.

Author of My Year of Running DangerouslyTom has a handful of marathons and ultramarathons under his belt and is chasing a BQ soon at the Cincinnati Marathon.

More than anything, Tom has a unique perspective on what running means at various stages of life.

Speaking with Tom is always a treat so I hope you enjoy this conversation. I think it will bring you new appreciation for running!

Download on iTunes or Stitcher.

If you enjoy this episode, an honest review on iTunes would be wonderful. There’s no better way to let me know you appreciate the show!

A big thanks to Tom for spending time with us on the podcast.

And if you haven’t read it, his book is a meditative stroll through the wonderful joy that is running.

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