When I have a runner come to me for coaching I rarely do much with their actual run training initially (aside from slow down their “easy” runs).
Generally, their mileage, speed, frequency, etc all stay about the same. What we work on first is the support work – the extra stuff we can improve and nail down so we can better start increasing mileage, frequency, and intensity. Primarily this is strength and neuromuscular work.
I’m talking about not just walking out the front door and into your run, but being mindful of eating pre-run, having a proper warm-up to make the start of your run better as well as a great strengthening cooldown to extend the run a bit and strengthen the legs. While I’m at it here explaining the warmup and cooldown I thought I’d drop some knowledge bombs about my FULL routine when it comes to having a killer track session, tempo, or long run.
So pay attention and you’ll learn what you can do to take your running to the next level!
The Night Before
Having a great morning workout starts the previous evening.
Especially in the warmer months, I like to have a beer or maybe two every other day or so, and my typical brewery of choice is Athletic Brewing Company with their super tasty non-alcoholic beer. They even invented a new way to remove the alcohol and they’ve done a really great job! I’ve generally drunk so little that even a couple good craft beers left me not at 100% the next day and if I’m waking at 5am to get out the door within a half-hour to beat the heat, I don’t want to feel anything but great. With these NA beers, I can have a beer or two and suffer no ill side effects the next day.
The evening prior I’m also a bit conscious of not eating too large of a dinner. I’m going to eat my fill, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not going to destroy an entire calzone that weighs more than my dog, in one sitting.
And finally, especially in the summer, I lay out my gear the evening prior. I do this to remove as much activation energy as needed to go from waking up to running. It’s simply easier to get everything ready beforehand, and this includes setting up my automatic coffee machine so the coffee is ready to sip when I get up!
All right, so I typically wake up to the sound of the aforementioned coffee percolating in the kitchen. There’s no better alarm in my opinion.
Once I get out of bed one of the first things I almost always do is drink about 1c of tart cherry concentrate, beetroot powder, and an electrolyte supplement to prevent my post-run headaches from the heat. I suspect these are both great supplement choices for an endurance athlete and I also like to start the day with some hydration.
Then I head to the kitchen and fill a mug with some coffee. I start going through my gear and getting dressed while I sip the coffee and munch on a bagel with a bit of peanut butter or vegan cream cheese that I prepped the night prior. At some point during all of this, I’ll utilize the absurdly over the top $700 bidet that I won over a Facebook giveaway.
The Running Warm-Up
“To do that which you’ve never done, you need to do that which you’ve never done” – Coach Jay Johnson
Once I’m ready to go I head out to my driveway and go through my 10-15 minute warmup routine. This helps your body and muscle temps increase a bit which can lead to an improved run and decreased injury risk. The most tangible benefit I’ve noticed is that you simply get over the wonky leg feeling much sooner with a nice warmup rather than running right from the front door. One thing that most elite runners almost never do is just head out the door, there’s almost always a warmup and cooldown. If you have the time availability to do this once or twice weekly before your big runs, I think you’ll see some benefits.
I may or may not eat a banana or apple right before starting the run. This just depends on how I feel, if I’m doing a long run it’s more likely.
The Poop Loop
I used to struggle with having to poop shortly after starting my early morning runs.
That was until I began planning to poop once I started!
Total game changer.
If you’ve been contesting the crap during mile 1, you simply need to plan for a poop loop and your problems will be solved.
I have two methods to overcome what used to be a problem.
1) The first is to simply plan on making a mile or so loop and coming right back home to use your bathroom, and then begin the rest of your run.2) The second and one I use most often is to hit up the disc-golf course that’s half a mile away that always has the portajohn out.
Honestly, I use the disc-golf course more often because I don’t want to risk waking up my wife with me having to re-enter the home and use the bathroom, but it’s also nice to not have to come back home and leave again as a portajohn feels like less of an interruption for the run.
And now we can finally get on with the workout, ha! You can see more about what I often use for calories during a run here.
So the workout is done, what happens next?
I tell my clients that if they are truly pressed for time, the post-run strength work is so important that I’d rather see them skip the final mile and do the strength work VS do the full run without strength work. The reason is that if you’re running 40 miles a week, a single mile is 2.5% of your week BUT one of four strength sessions is 25% of the weekly strength work!
Generally, I take my clients through a ~3-month, three-phase, strength and mobility program. But once that’s done they go into more of maintenance mode for a while in many cases. It just depends on timing around races, rest periods, etc. As of writing this my current go-to strength routine after a hard or long run is:
3 Sets Total (watch the video walkthrough here)25 Bodyweight Squats25 Lunges25 One-Legged Deadlifts
25 Bodyweight Squats25 Lunges with Reaches25 One-Legged Deadlifts
25 Jump Squats25 Skip Skip Lunges25 One-Legged Deadlifts or Step Ups
25 (each side) Eccentric Calf Drops (half bent knee, half straight)
Generally, I perform that routine at the park a couple of blocks from my house. I walk a few minutes back home and head straight to the fridge where I pour 2 cups of milk into a pint glass for some post-workout protein and carbs. Typically the variation is either the Silk chocolate soy milk with 9g of protein per cup or the Silk chocolate almond+cashew milk with added pea protein and 10g of protein per cup, but excellent choices that don’t involve drinking mammary gland secretions from a giant animal held in a cage with suckers attached to her tits.
Side note: I’m sad I contributed to that as a choice while growing up on a dairy farm but I’m not sure I’d be vegan without the experience.
While drinking that, I may jump on a yoga mat and do some extra hip work that is very similar to what I did in the warmup in table position. In the past, I did more foam rolling but now have stopped that for percussion gun massaging that I find much more enjoyable. Finally, I do some Active Isolated Flexibility and call it a day….
Until it’s time for my double run!
Why do all of this?
This entire routine is the culmination of a decade of learning about and improving my running.
I often think and it’s likely true that I’m a better coach of others than I am of myself – but I finally feel like during 2020 I’m doing as good of a job with my own training as many of my clients do on their training.
Of course, most don’t do a 15-minute warmup and a 15-30 minute cooldown routine + a second run on the next day, but they may do a 5-minute warmup and 10-minute cooldown and do some stretching or yoga on the rest days, at a minimum. I do have multiple clients who do a full routine similar to what I talked about above if they have the time available to make it happen.
But why? Why go through all of this?
For me, it’s about giving something my 100%. I have a suspicion that most people rarely give a goal or task the actual 100% they can. I’m no elite runner but due to my job flexibility as a full-time online running coach I have the ability to run when I want and do as much ancillary work as I desire.
And of course it comes down to enjoying it! One of the greatest joys I get out of coaching is that my job is to help people do something they enjoy and they love (running) better. Mentally and physically it’s beneficial, and I get to help bring some structure and fun and fitness into their lives to benefit not only them but their families. This is also why I run, because it improves not only my running but every aspect of my life 🙂
If you like what you just learned and want to get more info on my sometimes unconventional yet proven, down to earth, and simple tactics for helping my runners improve their running through sustainable training habits, nutritional guidance, developing great mindfulness practices, and incorporating easy to do running-specific strength work and having all of it come together with great accountability and motivation, visit kylekranz.com/pbrcoaching to learn more!