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Don’t do Hill Workouts

Until recently I had my athletes doing a hill workout biweekly or at least every third week, in most cases.

However, this is something that I’ve backed off on in 2017 and now prescribe hill workouts even more sparingly.

For example, something I would have had a runner do in the past is 4 x 3:00 hard uphill with jogback recovery + squat jumps at the top. Before that they would have done something like 5 x 2:00 and after they would do 4 x 4:00. But now, that’s rare.

The reason is because this is not specific enough to almost all race goals!

Yes, steep hill reps are challenging, no one is doubting that. However consider that during a race you should ease up when climbing a hill of significant slope. When you do something like two or four minutes hard uphill you are generating a great amount of power, but also a great amount of lactate. 

Now I ask the question, are these best for most people who are training for big A-Goal events like the half or full marathon? I say, no.

Your ability to buffer lactate is not a large consideration for distance events since they are done well below lactate threshold. I argue instead to do such workouts on a flat surface where you can more closely mimic your form and pace during the goal event.

Running a fartlek with segments of HARD two or four minutes will have you running slightly faster than goal half/full pace, so you’ll be doing a workout far more specific to what you’ll require of your body during the event. And as we all know, doing well in the event is about developing your ability to tolerate goal pace for goal distance. 

So I have now started leaving out the hill workouts for more focused and race-specific track, fartlek, or tempo workouts. These do not induce as much fatigue so require less recovery than a hill workout and are more specific to the race.

If you do want to incorporate hill workouts into your training, I suggest doing them during the first third or 2/3rd of your race preparatory period and only every other week at the most. Start with something like 4 x 2:00 hard uphill, then do 4 x 3:00, then possibly 5 x 3:00 hard uphill. 

Note: This is discussing steep inclines that very very noticeably change your speed and form. I’m a big fan of doing tempo type runs on long and slight uphills and downhills. For example, I’ll often go out for the first half of a MOD/HARD run on a slight incline and come back on a slight downhill. 

The Strength Routine You’re Not Doing

Here is a plyometric routine I give to my own athletes and perform myself.

I was hesitant to have my athletes do these because some suggest they can be too difficult/intense for standard athletes, but the research cannot be denied. Thus, there is a shorter plyometric routine as a sort of compromise.

For scheduling any difficult strength work, I typically recommend performing them on the same day as a hard run. That ensures that the easy days are easy and the hard days are hard. Don't be afraid to do easier routines that are not fatiguing on the rest days, but don't do terribly difficult routines on easy days!

Plyometrics are a jumping exercise that mimic and exaggerate running form and requirements.

Why they work: You may not know this, but better runners stiffen their leg muscles immediately prior to ground contact more than less advanced runners do. This is called elastic recoil, and like a spring, the stiffer spring has more recoil than a soft spring. Plyometrics improve your running ability because they improve how much your legs tense prior to landing.

These routines also are very dynamic movements, I mentioned that they mimic & exaggerate running. Because of this, they recruit more muscle fibers at once than running alone, thus help to stimulate improved neuromuscular function.

Study: One found that runners who replaced running with plyometrics improved their running time. Now, of course, take this too far or for too long and you'll stagnate. But the change in their running routine was enough to stimulate adaptation.

Performing the Workout: Warm up with the Lunge Matrix, found here, then hit play below and follow along!

My legs were in pretty rough shape when I filled this since I was just post half marathon, so forgive the bad form but I wanted to get the video filmed!
Two Legged Hops x 20
Scissor Jump x 20
One Legged Jump x 20
One-Legged Side to Side Hopping x 20 each leg
One-Legged Forward/Back Hopping x 20 each leg

What’s the best training schedule?

On reddit and twitter I very often see people asking for training plan suggestions.

As a coach and as someone who has been coached, obviously I feel the best plan is having one that follows you. One designed by a coach to fit your local weather, your job schedule, your children's schedule, etc.

But for those who are not financially able to afford a coach or for those who don't need the accountability from that investment, the personalization, etc, I still thing you should really follow a training schedule! This is absolutely one of the best things a person can do to improve their running.

When looking to download a pre-written schedule, there are a few considerations​:

1: It must follow your work/life/education schedule. 
2) ​A schedule that is a little too easy is better than a little too hard.

So, where do you find these pre-written plans?

Well, searching google for "half marathon training schedule" is a nice place to start. Check out the first ten links and find the one that fits the above points best.

I'm really a fan of purchasing a full book. Hudson, Johnson, Fitzgerald, Higdon, Pfitzinger, are all great choices. The thing about getting a full book is it will be full of supplemental information about strength work, nutrition, etc.

"The best plan should follow the runner, not the other way around." - Click to Tweet!

How I Get My Protein

I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to get 100-125g of protein in daily.

As a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat. However, I eat a lot of eggs, yogurt, milk.

Check out the video below to see my favorite protein sources!

How to Run Better

There IS a secret to improving your running…however, the secret is different for everyone. – Click to Tweet



Winter Base Building Test Group

Update: This is an old article but if you’re interested in coaching, please contact me!

Half of the long-distance races in North America just occurred within the last few months and the next wave of events is in April, which means it’s going to be a few more months until most people have another key race.

A mistake runners make is to use the “off season” as an excuse to cut back on training, thinking the three months pre-race is the most important part of the training cycle.

However, the truth is the 3-6 months before you even start a dedicated training build up for a race is just as if not more important than the three months immediately pre-race.

I am looking for committed people to work with this “off season” who want to race well this spring and summer.

The first test month is steeply discounted so you can experience what having a coach is like and for us to get to know each other.

Just to emphasize, I’m only looking for committed people. This means you can commit time, money, and effort to run to the best of your abilities. You will do the “must do’s“, not just the “want to do’s”. These things you must do are consistent general strength and mobility, running a true easy effort on easy days, performing a warm up before every run, as well as others.

After the first month if you’ve proven yourself I’ll invite you to continue working with me, if you’ve proven that you are committed.

Interested? Please fill out the contact form below:

How to Avoid Dizziness on the Treadmill

 

There are a few things you can do to hopefully avoid becoming dizzy while on the treadmill.

  1. Move your treadmill or select one so you’re not facing or too close to a wall or especially a television. Facing a window can be especially helpful.
  2. Keep your head and eyes up and don’t stare too much at the display. You can really avoid this by covering the display with a towel or extra shirt.
  3. Don’t be afraid to lightly touch the handrail. Keeping a hand on it can affect your stride a great deal but if you lightly tap it with your right hand every once in a while throughout the running gait you can reduce your stride changes but also have a good sense of your placement in relation to the machine.
  4. Putting the incline between 1 and 2 % may help the machine feel more like outside running.

Winter Glove Tips for Runners

Tips to keep your hands warm in the winter while running.

I grew up in eastern South Dakota, so know a thing or two about dealing with the cold.

The lowest temperature I’ve ran in was -30*F and in my hometown the average high does not get above freezing for a number of months.

When it comes to running outdoors in the cold weather the primary consideration is layers.

In regards to my hands, I use the below options quite comfortably. It’s nice to have the cheap gloves to wear by themselves if it’s just a little cold or I can wear them and a thicker pair if it’s colder.

Note: The below links are Amazon affiliate links. I do not run ads on this site but do use affiliate links. All proceeds help support the website hosting.

Cheap Gloves (liner or 30’s)
Pearl Izumi Wind Resistant Gloves (20’s-30’s w or w/o cheap liners)

Pendleton Mittens (nice by themselves or with 1-2 pairs of gloves under)

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Training July 25 – Aug 7, 2016

The last two weeks have gone quite well!

I’ve gotten my mileage up in to the 60’s and have done workouts I’ve never done before!

The Aerobic Power workout on July 29th was a huge motivational boost for me. Six miles just slower than goal half pace in 72 degree temps was awesome! Then running 8.5 at marathon goal pace the next week was (I think) the fastest training run in that distance range I’ve maybe ever done.

A photo posted by SKORA Running (@skorarunning) on

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