Why Runners Should be Rowers

4 11 2011


By T.J. Murphy


CrossFit Endurance coach and 100-mile trail run fanatic, Brian MacKenzie of Costa Mesa, California, scrawled a simple looking workout set on a whiteboard in his home gym, then spent five minutes teaching me proper rowing technique. I was in need of a workout to help me retain fitness while I rehabbed a foot injury, so he directed me to a rowing machine—commonly referred to as an ergometer or “erg.” Then I endured one of the most challenging cross-training workouts of my life—for exactly 12 minutes.

“Rowing is an invaluable tool for runners,” MacKenzie said. “When you learn how to do it right it lights up weaknesses you didn’t know you had. It helps runners and cyclists find power in muscles they hadn’t used before.”

MacKenzie points out that rowing is a potent weapon in an endurance athlete’s cross-training arsenal, or as a replacement for running when injuries surface. “It’s no joke,” he said. “It’s some serious, lung-searing stuff. When an athlete is dealing with a foot or Achilles tendon problem, I’ve never found issues in replacing running with work on the ergometer.”

Lori Gallon is evangelistic about the magic that rowing can bestow upon an injured runner. A registered nurse who moonlights as a personal trainer at R.A.W. Training in Wildwood, Pennsylvania, Gallon said that rowing salvaged her dream of running the Boston Marathon.

In 2009, at 42, she qualified for Boston, but two weeks into a 15-week training plan targeting the 2010 event, she developed a stress fracture in her fibula. Per doctors’ orders, she was not allowed to run or jump for eight to 10 weeks.

“I couldn’t believe I had made it that far and I didn’t know if I’d get another shot to qualify for Boston,” she said. “I talked to other trainers at my gym and decided to use rowing to train for the race. I had nothing to lose.”

In place of key running workouts, Gallon used indoor rowing. “It’s all about proper technique,” she said. “If you don’t do it right it’s not going to work.”

Gallon’s doctor cleared her to run again two weeks out from Boston. “I did one five-miler and one 10-miler. Everything else I had done in the buildup had been rowing and doing CrossFit workouts.” Gallon finished the marathon in 4:20:26.

While running and rowing are similar in cardiovascular benefits, they differ in the muscular workout they deliver. Erin Cafaro, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist and member of the U.S. rowing squad, said that rowing punishes the body in different ways. “In one continuous motion rowing works legs, core, back and arms,” she said. “It’s a full-body workout.”

MacKenzie added that one of the chief benefits rowing offers runners is improved posture. “Runners typically have terrible posture, leading to bad form, leading to beating the hell out of yourself,” he said. Proper rowing, MacKenzie believes, helps runners develop robust midline stability to help shift running from smaller, weaker muscles such as hip flexors to more powerful muscles in the hips.

Properly performed rowing gives a runner a solid blast of cardio work, works the abs, core and lower back, and even develops flexibility in the hamstrings and calves.

Where should you start? Don’t make the mistake most runners do when they first hit the rowing machine and yank away—not only will you miss out on the primary benefits rowing has to offer, but you also might make things worse. Follow Erin Cafaro’s guide (on page 3) to developing proper technique.

How to Supplement a Running or Multisport Program With Rowing

Will Kirousis is the co-director of Tri-Hard Endurance Sports Coaching and is a USA Triathlon-certified coach and strength specialist in Leominster, Massachusetts Kirousis explains why and how to adopt rowing into an overall training program.

What benefits does rowing offer runners and triathletes?

Rowing machines allow runners to do a non-impact form of endurance training. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to be a better runner, your training should focus on running. However, cross-training during noncompetitive periods in the year and during recovery blocks throughout the season helps runners stay injury free and mentally fresh. Those are the key benefits of rowing for runners.

Any tips for runners and triathletes taking up rowing as cross-training?

Strongly resist the urge to become a rowing specialist. This is especially true for triathletes, who tend to want to mimic the training done in the specific sub sports of their discipline. For example, very often triathletes fall into the trap of training like Masters swimmers, road cyclists and runners rather than training like a triathlete. The same intensity and inquisitiveness that leads to those miss-steps can also lead a motivated runner or triathlete to use the erg as if he is a crew specialist. This is counterproductive because it can hurt recovery. If you’re really trying to improve on the erg, it’s likely your training load will increase on the erg and will cut into your recovery, leading to decreased volumes of sport-specific training. Both problems reduce sport-specific performance.

High-Intensity Workouts to Aid the Injured Runner

Beating back an injury but want to sustain your running fitness? Shane Farmer, a former member of the University of San Diego rowing team and now a CrossFit Invictus coach, has several basic rowing workout suggestions for injured runners who need to replace track workouts. Be sure to get the all-clear from your doctor before jumping in.

500-meter Repeats

4×500 meters, 2 minute rest between each. Similar in nature to the feel of running 800-meter intervals at a moderately high intensity. Use the memory function on the rowing computer to log your workout.

Long Sprints

8×45 seconds hard. 15-second easy recovery between each hard interval. “Good old fashioned, short, high intensity interval training,” Farmer said.

The Time Ladder

Ten minutes nonstop: four minutes, three minutes, two minutes, one minute, building up intensity in each transition with no rest in between. The four minutes should be at a relative base tempo with the one-minute intervals at high intensity. Be sure to have enough in the tank to make moves at each time transition.

The Stroke Ladder

4×5 minutes. Each five-minute session is broken into five, one-minute segments with a focus on the number of strokes you take per minute (s/m), which the erg computer tallies in real time. First minute: 18 s/m, second minute: 22 s/m, third: 26 s/m, fourth: 22 s/m, fifth, 26 s/m.

“Again, there will be no rest,” Farmer says. “The workout should last for 20 minutes total without stopping.” Use the time spent at 18 s/m to recover. Each jump up in stroke rate will come with an increase in intensity and vice versa. “This is a really good tempo piece that teaches people how to control their output and rate of recovery, which are two very crucial aspects of rowing.”

Rowing Technique: The Essentials

  1. Proper grip. Curl your fingers around the handle and keep the wrist joints cocked slightly.
  2. Secure the feet. Insert your feet into the footrests and adjust the toe strap so that it crosses over the top shoelace. Pull the straps snug around your feet.
  3. From “The catch” or start position into the early drive. Keep your shins vertical and the muscles tight, pulling your belly button up and in, and make a point to retain good posture. Slant the upper body forward, extending powerfully from the hips. Avoid hunching your shoulders. From this position, begin the “drive” phase by employing your leg muscles with a powerful push off. Retain the forward tilt of your upper body for the first half of the drive phase—approximately a foot of travel as the seat slides backward on the rail.
  4. The drive. Push through with your legs, and in a continuous motion, begin to use your back and abs as a lever, transferring the workload to a combination of your legs and the muscles surrounding your core. Resist the temptation to begin pulling with your arms until you’ve completely channeled the power from your abdominal and back muscles. With legs fully extended, begin using your arms to pull and finish the stroke. Keep the muscles of the core—the midline stability muscles—activated and tight.
  5. The finish into the recovery. Upon completing the drive and pulling the handle to a point just in front of your upper abdominals, you will transition into the recovery phase. While keeping a tight core, smoothly return to the starting position at half the speed used in the drive. Use this time to allow the muscles to recover. Reverse the sequence of the chain of movements—arms, back and core, and finally allow the legs to return to the spring-like position of the catch.



Whether you’re at the front, middle or back of the pack, you can find helpful training tips, injury prevention tips and the latest product reviews on Competitor.com to help you run smarter, longer and faster.


Reach Your Best Running Weight: Strength Train

3 11 2011


American Running Association


If a winter downturn in training has caused a few pounds to accumulate, take heart, dieting may not be what you need.


Add Strength Training

Add strength training to your workout plan. You will get two calorie burning benefits. After each weight session, you will burn calories for longer than after a cardiovascular workout like running. And, as you build muscle you will increase your resting metabolic rate so that additional calories are burned even while sleeping or relaxing.

Researchers from Arizona State University found that energy expenditure was raised for up to two hours after a weight training session. Cardiovascular exercise generally raises metabolism for less than an hour following a workout.

Change Eating Habits

In addition to weight training, a few changes in eating habits without dieting, per se, can trim calories, improve your diet, and healthfully return you to your best running weight.

Here are tips from the Food and Drug Administration to improve your diet for health.

  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grain products like whole grain breads and rice.
  • Eat only small, single servings of foods high in fat or calories.
  • Eat less sugar and fewer sweets.
  • Drink less alcohol or no alcohol.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Make sure fish, poultry, and meat are lean. Trim skin and fat.
  • Broil, roast or steam foods.


Reduced Calories Won’t Harm Performance

You will be glad to know that the reduced calorie intake necessary to drop a few pounds is not likely to impair your running performance. In a 24-day controlled study of 24 physically fit men and women, short-term calorie restriction resulted in a reduction of about 2.5 to 3.25 pounds while weight was maintained for controls.


At the same time, muscle strength (leg and shoulder press) was maintained or increased during the weight loss period. Muscle endurance measured by leg squats to fatigue and five-mile run time improved. Anaerobic capacity increased slightly in the restriction group but declined in the control group.

The authors concluded, in a statement of the obvious, that a short-term reduction in calories results in weight loss but does not impair performance. Drop those few pounds and run faster.

For more information on eating for optimum weight and health visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health Web sites.

10 Post-Race Essentials

2 11 2011


Photo by Matt Dickenson

By Fara Rosenzweig

Whether it’s a 5K or marathon, you have to prepare for race-day. Preparation includes registration,training and gathering all the essentials you need before the start line (watch, iPod, bib number, fuel and gels). There’s a ton to remember prior to the start line that often times post race essentials slip your mind.

As you prep for your next race, try to think past the finish line. What will you need to recover and survive the post-race festivities? Here are some key items you should keep in your bag to help you recover (plus, these usually are not passed out at the finish line). Have a small cosmetic bag in your bathroom with these items, so the next time you prep for an event you can just throw this into your bag.

Post Finish Line Essentials


Come on, you just ran your heart out and are completely sweaty. Give those around you a break and reapply. Go buy one of the travel deodorants to keep in your little bag, this way it’s there and doesn’t take up too much room. Plus, you are giving everyone a break from your lovely odors.

Moist Towelettes

Again, give those around you a break and wipe off your sweat. If you plan on sticking around for the post-race festivities you might as well clean off a bit. Wipes are inexpensive, light and easy to throw in your bag.


After running a significant amount of miles my stomach starts to feel unsettled. After numerous marathons (and asking the first aid tent for antacids) I’ve realized, I should just keep a bottle in my bag. Avoid any stomach situationby being well prepared. This will at least settle your stomach for a bit, so you can celebrate with friends at the post-race festivities with no surprises.

Adhesive Bandage

The medical tent should have adhesive bandages, but who wants to wait in a line? Just grab a box of multiple sizes for any unexpected blisters or scrapes you may encounter.

Massage Stick

Keep a massage stick or tennis ball in your bag to massage your muscles after the race. A post-race massage will help circulation and restore you tired muscles. Bonus; you will feel less stiff the next day and recover quickly.

Pain Reliever

Again, if you want to avoid the medic’s tent throw in some pain reliever. If you happen to hurt yourself, pull something or just in slight pain, you’ll be well-prepared.

New Shoes

This is especially important for marathon runners. After running 26.2 miles, your feet will be tired and slightly swollen. Finish your cool down, take off your shoes and give your feet some love. Give them a little massage with your tennis ball or massage stick and let them air out in flip flops or your favorite comfy shoes.

New Shirt

If you’re going to stick around for the festivities, change your sweaty shirt please. I usually bring the shirt that was given to me through the event. If you don’t receive one, just bring an old one from home. Plus, it just feels nice to get out of sweaty clothes. After all, if you are cleaning up (wiping off with wet wipes, using deodorant, changing shoes) you might as well feel like a new person by swapping shirts.


You should put some sunscreen on prior to the race, but due to sweating your skin is not protected. After you clean yourself off, slather on some SPF to protect your skin when you’re enjoying the post-race festivities.

ID and Money

Bring your ID and a little money for any food or souvenirs that you may want. A little cash might be a good idea just in case you need to take public transportation or a cab to your destination. Just make sure you keep your ID and money tucked away in your bag so it doesn’t get lost.

14 Tips to Reach Your Race Goal

1 11 2011


By Gigi Douban
Runner’s World

Jitters come with any race, whether you’re going shorter, longer, faster, or just heading to the starting line for the first time. But they shouldn’t stop you from running your best. This expert advice will help you manage your anxieties for any new endeavor. Who knows, you may even enjoy yourself.



This strange new world—people with beeping devices on their wrists and Band-Aids on their nipples—is a bit intimidating.


Go ahead and splurge on a technical top or pair of sleek sunglasses. Looking the part can make you feel like less of an outsider. Just get in a few test runs in new gear (especially shoes).


Give yourself at least an hour so you can find parking and make a trip to the porta-potty. Showing up late increases anxiety, says Lucinda Seares-Monica, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist.


Tell someone—a volunteer, the person next to you at the start—that this is your first race. “The running community is encouraging,” says Frank Webbe, Ph.D., a sports psychologist. “Opening up can also be cathartic.”


Don’t have a time goal, says Bill Cole of the International Mental Game Coaching Association. You’re already guaranteed a personal record.



The gun goes off and the race is on, which can be daunting to those used to finding a rhythm and settling into a pace.


For a local 5K, do a trial run. Being familiar with the course will give you confidence—you’ll know where the hills are and when to fire your finishing kick.


Ideally an experienced 5K’er who’s a bit faster. Following someone means you don’t have to stress over pacing yourself, Webbe says.


“Jitters are actually good for a short race,” Seares-Monica says. “Adrenaline will rev up your engine. Think of it as fuel.”




Stepping up to a longer race—be it a 10K or an ultra—can be overwhelming.


Divide the race into manageable sections and focus on them one at a time, rather than thinking about the finish line, which seems far, far away.


Put your name on your shirt and soak up the fanfare. “It’s amazing to have people call you out and cheer you on,” Seares-Monica says.


Plant friends and relatives strategically along the course—at the top of a tough hill, at mile 20, or where support is light on the course.


“Carry small items of food you can digest easily and have one at each mile marker,” says Seares-Monica, who suggests pretzels or peanut M&M’s. You’ll stay nourished as you track your progress—watch the snacks disappear as you knock off the miles.


It’s time to cash in on all that hard training. But doubts set in.

IGNORE NEGATIVITY If you hear someone groaning about how hard the course is, tune it out. That person probably didn’t train as much as you did.


Your legs and lungs will burn. Have a “bring it on” attitude, says Cole. Remind yourself that you wanted this: The challenge of pushing yourself to achieve something new.


You wake up with a migraine or to a heat wave. Move on to Plan B—another goal that’s more realistic, but something you’ll be proud of.


The Elusive Trail Runner

31 10 2011


By Adam W. Chase


Trying to characterize the typical advocate of trail running is like trying to give a small child a haircut or searching for fireflies during the day–you don’t get much cooperation and spotting them can be tricky.

They are not joiners and they often run trails to get away from it all. With 6.2 million individuals in the United States identifying themselves as trail runners, and a reported 38 percent growth rate in trail-running enthusiasts between 1998 and 1999, you’d think the outdoor industry would know who these people are, or would want to.

A simplified profile might describe trail runners as folks who run on surfaces other than streets. But even that characterization is flawed because there is a substantial crossover among trail and road runners. Then there is the question of whether adventure or cross-country runners count as trail runners since they often run off-trail.

Trail runners might also be classified by their choice of footwear. In contrast to road-running shoes, trail shoes have aggressive treads, or “outsoles,” that enhance the traction for dirt, mud, snow, ice, rock, grass, gravel and other off-road surfaces. Trail shoes also tend to feature protective uppers that prevent trail debris from entering the shoes, and buffer against encounters with sharp objects along the trail. That said, one frequently sees trail runners with road shoes and vice versa, so choice of shoe is not that great a clue.

Understanding who trail runners are requires going beyond issues of running surface and gear. Just as the separation between “roadies” and mountain bikers in the cycling world is a distinction in attitude, so is the dichotomy between alpine skiers and telemark “pin heads,” sport climbers and traditional climbers, flat-water kayakers and white-water kayakers, track skiers and ski tour types, and road runners and trail runners.

The difference between road runners and trail runners boils down to a psychological one. One distinction in attitude is the quest for speed and distance versus pursuing something for an intrinsic, yet immeasurable, experience. Road runners tend to be into measurement. They are often aware of their pace, heart rate, time above, in and below their heart-rate zone, the distance they have run, and perhaps the elevation they have gained and lost, or calories they have burned. In contrast, while trail runners might know the day of the week, they rarely know how far they have run, much less their pace, because they normally measure their runs by time rather than distance.

Trail runners tap into the off-road running experience as a freeing escape that allows them to recharge their emotional and spiritual batteries while they commune with nature through physical exertion. Road running by definition requires a road, which translates into a connection with civilization. Road runners are often forced to maneuver their runs to contend with auto traffic in what are often hostile encounters. Those stressful interactions are not the best way to unwind or recharge.

Trail runners are people who like adventure, variety, challenge and excitement. The essence of trail running is the ability to deal with constant change. No two steps are the same on the natural obstacle course of off-road terrain. Even if you run the same trail day after day, you will soon learn that the trail has a life of its own. One day it may be dry and hard, the next it may be wet and sloppy. There are also the seasonal changes and the effects of temperature, erosion, foot traffic and plant life. Of course, there are also the flowers, trees, birds, insects, squirrels, rabbits, deer, and if you are lucky–or unlucky, depending on your aversion to risk–the chance encounter with coyotes, bears, mountain lions, moose and other big game. It is this constant change that brings the trail-running experience to life.

Some of the best trail runners hail from a background of alpine or freestyle skiing, or mountain biking. Like chess masters, talented trail runners are able to have their mind three or four steps ahead of where their feet are at any given moment. This anticipatory running style allows trail runners to set up for turns, rocks, roots, or other variations that lie ahead, which is crucial to staying upright while maintaining downhill speed.

Trail runners also tend to run alone–which explains why you seldom come across a pack of runners on the trail. While there are literally hundreds of road-running clubs throughout the U.S., there is only a handful of trail-running clubs. Of course, there are more road runners than there are trail runners in this country, but the lack of trail clubs speaks more to the nature of trail runners rather than the number of trail runners. Trail runners are hard to count. Whereas road runners tend to flock together, trail runners maintain a solo spirit.

Perhaps the road runner’s desire for companionship is explained by a sense of boredom that comes from running on unvarying terrain. Trails offer the opportunity to retreat from the masses, and to escape to a place of tranquility where your mind may wander without any concern for traffic. The distraction of having to scout each footstep can lull you into a peacefulness that cannot be found in a paved and populated environment.

Many more ultramarathons are run on trails than they are on roads. The ultra community is a more mature, experienced crowd that has learned that the road to injury is paved, especially in races longer than 26 miles. Ultrarunners are often characterized as aficionados of natural beauty, which is why the biggest and best ultras are run in some of the most awe-inspiring places.

Although many trail runners tend to hale from adventurous, athletic backgrounds such as rock and mountain climbing, triathlons, mountain biking, and backcountry and cross-country skiing, others are road-running converts who have turned to the trails to revitalize their athletic lives.

Many converts appreciate the forgiving qualities of the trail, and have learned that running trails decreases the chance of suffering overuse injury, in comparison with the pounding of pavement that offers little variation in stride length or foot strike, mile after mile.

Many trail runners never race. For them, it is enough to just enjoy the activity for its own sake without testing themselves by running with other trial runners. For some, “trail racing” is an oxymoron. They run trails for the sake of running trails, and don’t really care to cross paths, with other trail runners while out on a run. Trail events, however, are different from road races in that the atmosphere tends to be supportive rather than competitive and there is usually a lot of encouragement from everyone in the field, regardless of the runners’ speed. These events may be called trail “races,” but a more proper label would be that of a trail “celebration.”



Adam W. Chase, a resident of Boulder, Colorado, is the President of the All American Trail Running Association. When he is not being a husband, father, tax lawyer, or product tester, he can probably be found running on mountain trails. He is a sponsored ultramarathoner and snowshoe racer, and he has run more than 50 marathons and ultramarthons, most of which were on trails.

7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Long Runs

30 10 2011


By Coach Jenny Hadfield
For Active.com

The long run is truly the bread and butter of an endurance running program. It teaches your body how to spend time on its feet, how to utilize fat as a primary fuel source and is a dress rehearsal for the big dance.  The secret in perfecting your long runs is to keep it simple and avoid making these common training mistakes.

1. Running too far too Quickly

Soon after you commit to a half or full marathon, it’s time to train. Excitement from the target can encourage runners to tackle longer runs than their bodies are ready for at that point, which can quickly lead to aches, pains, burn out and poor performance down the road. The greatest way to assure your success on race day is to follow a plan that starts from where your current fitness level and mileage is. For example, if your longest run is 4 miles, you’ll want to find a plan or create one of your own that starts no higher than 5 miles for the first long run. This may not look all that exciting. However, the goal isn’t about how many miles you tackle each week; it’s about getting to the start line healthy, fresh and ready to rumble. Start from where you are and you’ll perform well, recover better, and have fun along the way.

2. Running too Fast

The difference between running for fitness and training for a long-distance running race is one stays consistent week to week (fitness) and the latter builds and progresses throughout the season. Because of this progression, it is important to vary your effort level as you train. In other words, run at a pace that is easy and conversational. If you can talk while you’re running the long run, you’re at the right effort. If you can’t, you’re running too fast. Avoid trying to run the long runs by a pace or target time. This sets you up for the race pace training disaster where you feel great for about four to six weeks, then things start to crumble when your energy levels decline, your body aches, and performance begins to suffer.

3. Fueling With too Much Sugar

Sports drinks and other on-the-run fueling products such as gels, beans and Clif Shot Bloks were originally invented to supplement your energy intake. Your body can only take in so much energy in the form of sugar, and when you exceed that level, it causes nauseau and stomach upset. The idea is not to replace the energy lost while running but to only replenish some of what is lost. This, I believe has been lost in marketing translation.

Everyone will have their own unique menu for fueling on the go. Some go with sports drinks only as it contains both sugar, electrolytes and fluid and is easily digested. Others go with sports drinks plus a gel along the way. Still others go with the simplicity of water, use electrolyte tabs such as Nuun and Succeed or gels as their main source of energy.  Confused yet? You should be. Endurance fueling has become as intimidating as selecting a cereal at the grocery store. Keep it simple and target to get in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour for runs longer than 60 minutes.

If you are on the lighter side, lean toward the lower end of the range and vice versa. Practice this in training to identify which products agree with your system. Avoid mixing a sports drink with a gel or beans, as all of these products are designed at about a 6 to 7 percent sugar concentration to allow for quick absorption rates. If you mix sports drinks with a gel, this increases that concentration level and you’ll develop sugar belly. You can also develop this condition if you take in too much sugar during the run. Keep track along the way, and you’ll develop a recipe that works for you. Look at the carbohydrate content on the label. Aim for an hourly rate on the low end of the range, and tweak it from there. You’ll avoid a lot of issues along the way and take in only what you need to replenish.

4. Running by Pace Rather Than Feel

The easiest way to bonk during a long run is to run it by a pace. Pace is only the outcome. It’s not the target. When you run by feel (effort level) and stick with a conversation-pace effort, you’ll always be in the right zone for that day. This is because there are a variety of things that affect performance and turn your normal easy 10:30 pace into a hard run.

Running on a very hot day will be much harder on the body. Lack of sleep, stress, training fatigue from other workouts and more can affect your performance. If the goal is to train in the easy effort so you can cover the distance and recover efficiently, you can’t pin this running goal on a specific pace. Doing so can lead you to over training and under training and will rarely keep you in the optimal zone. Listen to your body, do a talk test, and stick within the easy zone when going the distance.

You’ll teach your body how to utilize fat as the primary fuel source, get in quality time on your feet, and recover more quickly. As you develop your long-distance resume and your body adapts to running longer, you can weave in faster paced long runs to fine-tune race-day performances. But this is best left for those who are seasoned and have a solid base of miles behind them.

5. Running too Many Long Runs Back-to-Back

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game. That is, getting in a lot of back-to-back long training runs and believing you have to run the race distance before you run the race. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. A long run schedule should ebb and flow through two to three building weeks and cutback weeks to recover.

Once you get into the longer miles, you can alternate a longer run one weekend with a shorter run the next. This allows your body time to recover from the last effort before you hit your next building long run. Running too many long runs back to back (12, 13, 14, 15, 16…) can lead you quickly and efficiently to no man’s land where you’re fatigued and struggle to make it through the day. It’s not about the total miles. It’s about the quality of the long runs.

6. Training with a Buddy Even Though They Aren’t in Your Pace

One of the best parts of being a long distance runner is running with a buddy or group but if they aren’t at your fitness level you can end up running too quickly or slowly and both can have a negative effect on performance. I’ve already mentioned the reasons to avoid running too fast and going it too slowly can alter your natural stride and increase impact forces on the body. Train at your effort and find a buddy or group that closely matches it and schedule a post run breakfast to catch up with your buddies outside your zone.

7. Catching up on Mileage When you Have a Set Back

The training plan is a blueprint that will evolve and change as you progress through the season. In the event you get sick, miss a training run while on vacation or have other issues that get you off track along the way, it is better to merge back into the plan and modify than to try and catch up. This is one reason I create training plans over 14 to 20 weeks for half and full marathons. It allows for a few missed days and week.  Avoid catching up with the plan and flow from where you are. When you miss a week due to illness, you are coming back from the illness and the time off. The best route is a few test runs of 30 minutes or so to remind your body that you’re a runner. From there, you can build back up in mileage while keeping it at an easy effort for the return week. The key is to give your body time to get back into the swing of things rather than jumping back in. It is better to toe the line healthy and with a few less long runs under your belt than to show up hurt or fatigued after having crammed in all the scheduled runs. Your training plan is a work in progress. Let it naturally flow with the rhythm of your life.



Coach Jenny Hadfield is an Active Expert and the co-author of the best-selling Marathoning for Mortals, and the Running for Mortals and Training for Mortals series. She is also a columnist for Women’s Running and Runners World.

Coach Jenny has trained thousands of runners and walkers with her training plans. Improve your running performance or train for your next event with Coach Jenny’s Active Trainer Plans. You can ask her a training question on her Ask Coach Jenny page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


6 Tips to Push Past the Pain

29 10 2011

By Christopher Percy Collier
Runner’s World

In 2006, Michelle Barton tackled California’s Orange Curtain 100K, which is 10 circuits on a 10K out-and- back course. “It stank,” says the 38- year-old from Laguna Niguel, California. “It was one of my most painful races—mentally and physically.” But then, around mile 50, she had an epiphany: “If it’s going to hurt, I want it to hurt for a reason.” She dug in, pushed hard, and won the race in 10:24.

Elite runners often say that their ability to push through excruciating bouts of discomfort is integral to their race performance. “After you’ve built up your base mileage, it’s really about how much pain you can take,” says Barton, who once ran five 100-mile races within six weeks. “You have to reach into yourself and find that toughness.”

As runners propel themselves forward, some measure of discomfort is normal (provided it’s not a sign of a serious issue). Muscles burn. Joints ache. Exhaustion sets in. However, research suggests that our pain threshold is not set at an unmovable level—that the mind can, to some extent, control it. “When I tell an athlete that they can adjust their pain level by using mental techniques, they’re amazed,” says Raymond J. Petras, Ph. D., a sports psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. “They often find that their performance increases dramatically.” The following mental tricks—recommended by sports psychologists and used by elite runners—will help you redefine your limits.

The Pain: Feeling Sick in Anticipation of a Run

Deal With It: Remember Your Strengths
Researchers at the University of Illinois recently reported that athletes who believed they could tolerate leg-muscle pain performed better in a running test than those who doubted their ability to withstand pain. “Think of all the other challenging workouts and races you’ve done to remind yourself of how strong and capable you are,” says sports psychology consultant and marathoner Kay Porter, Ph. D., of Eugene, Oregon.

The Pain: Struggling Through Mile Repeats

Deal With It: Run With Purpose
Don’t dwell on how much you hurt. Rather, focus on your rationale for training. “Tell yourself, ‘I’m working this hard because…’ and then fill in your performance goal,” says Jim Taylor, Ph. D., a performance psychologist and sub-three-hour marathoner in San Francisco.

The Pain: Climbing a ?@*#! Mountain

Deal With it:Repeat a Mantra
“If you connect pain with a negative emotion, you’ll feel more pain,” says Taylor. “Connect it with a positive thought, and you’ll feel less.” Create a positive affirmation you can call upon during tough bouts. It worked for Matt Gabrielson, who repeated “Go!” and “Do this now!” while racing the 2008 USA Marathon Championship and the 2008 Twin Cities Marathon — he placed second at both.

The Pain: Hitting a Low

Deal With It: Know It Will Pass
Seasoned runners like Barton know that pain not related to an injury is often fleeting, and this knowledge is sometimes enough to help ride out the unpleasantness. “I learned that the pain comes and goes, and so at future races I was ready for it,” she says. “I could take it because I knew what to expect.” During difficult moments, put the pain in perspective. Remind yourself that the discomfort is temporary, and each step forward is one closer to the finish. Research has even shown that pain is often purely in your head and not an accurate signal of physical distress. Keeping this in mind will enable you to push through the discomfort so you can run faster or longer.

The Pain: Long-Run Fatigue

Deal With It: Think of the Payoff
“Don’t get too emotionally involved with the pain or get upset when you feel it,” Taylor says. “Detach yourself and simply use it as information.” Ask yourself where the pain is and why it’s happening. And if it’s not related to an injury, then acknowledge that this could be an indication that what you’re doing is going to help you reach your goal. “Some types of pain tell you that you’re pushing yourself, that you’re getting better,” he says.

The Pain: Gutting out a Hard Patch

Deal With It: Distract Yourself
“Focus on something else while also staying in the moment,” says Gabrielson. At mile 18 of the 2006 New York City Marathon, Gabrielson felt a pounding in his quadriceps. “I had to find a way to channel the pain,” he says. His solution? As he ran, he studied the faces of the people on the sidelines. Most of them, he recalls, were smiling, cheering him on. Focusing on the pleasure of others around him was just enough to take the edge off and help him reach the finish line in 2:19:53.

Stop Right There

Running your best often means going all out, but certain pains are warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.

Sharp, sudden foot, shin, or hip pain that worsens as you run
It’s possible you have a stress fracture, says Heather Gillespie, M. D., a sports-medicine physician at UCLA. Take time oft from running and make an appointment for an x-ray.

This could be the result of a muscle or ligament tear. “Any pain that causes you to change your form should make you stop,” says Lewis G. Maharam, M. D., medical director of the New York Road Runners.

Chest pain, extreme sweating, breathlessness
These are symptoms of a heart attack, says William Roberts, M. D., medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon.

High body temperature; dry skin; vomiting
This could be heatstroke, which can be life threatening, says Dr. Gillespie.

Severe stomach pain; diarrhea
These are signs of an intestinal problem called ischemic colitis, which tends to occur during prolonged exercise.

—Nicole Falcone