September 2018 Week #4: Patience & Variety

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Hey Crew! This week’s lesson is a little late and I apologize for the delay. But the good news is…we have no additional strength to add this week! Instead, we are sticking with our 3 begining workouts and running drills. If you are setting up your week correctly, you should already know when you will complete these workouts. Having a plan (without me telling you what to do each day) is crucial to getting to the end of the week with your strength complete.

I know it is easier for me to say do “such and such” today and “this and that” tomorrow, but my goal here is not to keep you tied to a string. My goal is to teach you the best way to get stronger and avoid injuries over your lifetime as a runner and allow you to work these principles into your own schedule so you have fewer excuses. I want to make you a smart runner. I want you to be able to make decisions that are best for your needs and your training. We are all at different places and each of us can follow this program starting where we are RIGHT NOW. But in order to do that, we need to be self reliant and able to make decisions that are best for us.

Below is a snapshot of what your week should look like. I have included a link to each workout on my You Tube page so just click the workout you need and it will take you to the video where you can follow along. I am also including PDF copies of each workout (except the arm routine which I have not put together yet) in our FB group files so you can print them out if you prefer to have a list of exercises you can cross off as you go.

September 2018 Week #4:

  1. IT Band Routine – 3 times
  2. Nike Runners World Arm Strength – 3 times
  3. Tomahawk Core Routine – 3 times
  4. Running Drills – 2 times minimum

Running Drills

  • High Knees
  • A-Skip
  • B-Skip
  • Butt-kicks
  • Butt-kicks (variation)
  • Straight-leg bounds
  • Carioca (Grapevine)

Yes this is a repeat of last week’s strength work. But remember, each week we are adding another section of the Injury Prevention for Runners training. There are steps to follow each week that we get us ready to make smart decisions about our running and other “everyday” factors that affect how we feel and how we run!

So while you are working on this week’s strength, print out our Part 2 lesson and take time to read through it. It’s a lot of info, but if you take the time and implant the action steps you WILL BENEFIT! I don’t expect you to read this right away but I do hope that you will read it. When you have, then ask questions! I am here to help you and each week we are learning a lot so let’s get some discussions going that will help each os us make smarter training decisions as we get stronger!

Part 2: Learning How to Design Better Training to Prevent Injuries and Run Stronger and Faster

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Part 1 of Strength Running’s Injury Prevention for Runner program talked about the major lifestyle factors that contribute to injuries in runners like us. Factors like sitting for prolonged time periods and wearing constrictive shoes.

Did you take the time to put the Part 1 action steps into play? Did you think about how long you are sitting or standing? Did you take a good look at your footwear when you’re not running? Did you make adjustments to avoid being in one position for long periods of time? Or think about purchasing shoes that are less constrictive for working or school or whatever you are ding when you’re not running?

Remember, no one said you can’t sit at all, just that you should change it up. Stand more, move more…even if it’s just for a few minutes. Being more aware of the positions you’re in and the shoes that you’re doing it in can make a big difference in how you feel and how you run!

Part 2 of the Injury Prevention for Runners program moves on to designing effective training programs. Fitzgerald believes that “the best way to prevent injuries is to design effective training. When your program is appropriate for you and follows best practices of sound training design, you’ll get hurt far less than someone who has no plan at all.”

The Strength Running Injury Prevention System will help provide us a framework for preventing injuries and running stronger that includes six important principles. Part 2 of the program highlights the first two principles:

  1. Patience
  2. Variety

Each is critical to the injury prevention puzzle and we’ll cover how to best apply each principle to your training. Just like Part 1, at the end of Part 2 we’ll have several Action Steps that show us the exact strategies to implement.

These first two prevention principles, patient and variety, focus on “Training Design”  or how we structure our running program. Injury prevention, which leads to stronger and faster running, is about more than doing a few strength exercises or stretching after hard workouts. This part of the program will show us how to approach scheduling our weekly mileage and how we should set up racing so we have a chance to reach our goals.

Part 2 Lesson 1: Patient Training = Smart Training

In the beginning of Part 2, Fitzgerald says,

Have you ever noticed that most car accidents happen because people are impatient?

If you’re speeding, following too closely, driving recklessly and passing illegally, or otherwise rushing to get where you’re going, your risk of getting in an accident is significantly higher than if you took your time.

This analogy is perfect for runners. People who are impatient succumb to the Three Too’s: too far, too fast, too soon.

If you’re not rushing to get in shape, you’ll never have to aggressively increase your long runs, total mileage, or the intensity of your workouts too dramatically (and you’ll avoid the same blunders I made).

Distance running is a long-term project. Any success – and certainly injury prevention – takes consistent training free of wild swings in mileage or workout intensity. Your workouts should have a gradual, progressive pattern.

Elite coach Greg McMillan tells his runners that it takes 2-3 years of consistent training to even see their potential (this is on top of eight years of high school and college running). Patience is critical; modest increases in training over a long period of time help you stay healthy and ultimately reach your goals. There are no shortcuts.

So you can understand when I get frustrated when I hear questions like:

  • Can I PR by 15 minutes in the 10k in a month?
  •  I’ve been running 10 miles a week – can I run a marathon in 12 weeks?
  • Can you help me recover from ITBS so I can run a half marathon in a month?
  • I ran a marathon in September but it sucked, so I’m running another one in six weeks.

These runners are being impatient – and their injury risk is through the roof! Sometimes we search for the easy answer. But there are no secrets to preventing injuries or getting faster.

You have to have patience and put in the hard work (which sometimes means you need to do less to stay healthy). That means being realistic about what your body can accomplish in the near future, being consistent with your strength work every day, always doing a warm-up, and running consistently without wild swings in mileage.

I have to admit: this is the LEAST sexy topic in this entire program. But it might just be the most important. If there is a secret that I’ve learned after years of healthy running (since early 2009) it’s this: consistency with mileage, workouts, and prevention efforts is just as important as the hard work itself.

After I ran 2:39 at the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon my friend Greg Strosaker (a sub-3 hour marathoner himself) told me:

Everything you’ve done since the 2008 NYC Marathon has prepared you for this day – it wasn’t one good training season, or a few key workouts, it was the full body of work and the physiological gains you developed in patiently executing it.

I like to joke that the new! sexy! easy! training tips out there are “training porn” and the real valuable coaching wisdom isn’t catchy enough to resonate with runners.

THREE YEARS! Three years Jason prepared for one marathon. Three years of hard work and training for one goal race. I know we are not elite runners and will probably (most likely) never run a 2:39 marathon, but this type of patience crosses over into our training as well. This doesn’t mean we can’t run other races. It doesn’t mean we can only run one marathon a year, or even every 3 years. It means that a goal race doesn’t have to be 12-16 weeks away, that we don’t even need a goal race each year. It means that running our goal race (our true ultimate goal race) might take longer than we think.

For me, this is my Boston Qualifying race. I am not there yet. I’m getting closer…every long run, every speed work session, every strength workout gets me closer to my goal. I am being patient and chipping away at the 3:40 marathon time I now need to qualify for Boston. It won’t be this year. It probably won’t even be next year. But one day, IF I continue to work hard and make smart training decisions, one day I will cross the finish line of a marathon will my golden ticket to Boston. In a way, it’s kinda cool that this won’t happen overnight because part of the excitement is putting in the work to get there. Part of the fun is all the training with my best running friends. Part of the joy is in the little successes along the way. I want to be a runner for life so as long as I can stay injury free and keep running, one day I will get there!

The Patience Protocol

To help us implement more patience in our running and to avoid the “Three Too’s” (too far, too fast, too soon),  Strength Running gives us — the Patience Protocol.

The Patience Protocol has three rules for us to follow:

  • Know your baseline mileage. This is the level that you’re comfortable at but don’t struggle to reach each week. Every runner has a “baseline mileage” that they’re comfortable running but it’s different for each person. Look over the last 4-6 months of your training. What’s your “mileage baseline” where you feel comfortable? This is your starting point. Most of your training cycles should start slightly under your baseline mileage. Then you can add about 5-10% more mileage every other week. If you’re looking at a marathon or half marathon soon, but can’t increase your mileage and long run according to this rule in time, then you’re not ready to train and run that race. It doesn’t mean you can’t safely run the race, you just can’t race it and expect the best outcome. You need to pick a goal race that is farther into the future.A detailed example of what a “baseline mileage” should look like is what Jason likes to call “The Goldilock’s Principle” – it’s mileage that’s just right for you. This is important because sometimes we are very envious of what someone else is doing. Maybe they are starting with a higher weekly baseline. Maybe they are doing more speed work. But if we look to someone else to find our baseline mileage, we are putting ourselves at HUGE risk for injury and burnout. Eventually, we want to have some long runs and weeks of mileage that are pushing our boundary higher, but we have to know what OUR baseline is in order to get started in the right place. Here’s how the Goldilocks Principle looks in graph form:Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 5.41.25 AM
  • Use “Adaptation Weeks.” – We should repeat a week of mileage, long runs, and workouts for most weeks in your training plan. This allows our body to absorb the training, get stronger, and adapt to the higher workload. It also helps limits your risk of injury. This plays right in hand with the IIP principle I learned in my RRCA Running Coach training. IIP = Introduce, Improve, Perfect. We introduce a new workout or high mileage week, then we improve upon that by repeating it, then we perfect it! Only then can we move on to a new or different workout. After a tough workout, we experience a certain level of fatigue and muscle damage. We’re actually in worse shape after the workout. But when we rest and allow ourself to recover from that workout, we adapt to it and get stronger. An Adaptation Week allows this recovery. Adaption Weeks are a general guideline. We don’t have to repeat everything every single week. But new tough workouts should be repeated so we are allowing our body to get used to that training before we move on to something else.
  • When in Doubt, Sit it Out. If you’re not sure whether a workout is too difficult, a race is too soon from your last one, or a particular long run increase is too aggressive, then it probably is.Every change to our training is a new stress: an extra interval at the track, mile on your long run, or 5% bump in weekly mileage. If you’re increasing all of these things, be cautious and reduce any workout where you feel you’re pushing yourself too far or fast.

There are no “magic workouts” or “perfect mileage levels” that will bring glory and PR’s if you run “X” number of intervals or miles per week.

  1. Increase your volume gradually
  2. Be more cautious when you’re above your mileage baseline
  3. Be careful when you’re increasing more than one training stress.

A good training plan uses these rules to guide mileage, workout progressions, and long runs in SMART way. If you follow a plan that’s appropriate for you and stay patient, you’ll never succumb to the “Three Too’s!”

Part 2 Lesson 2: Variety: Repetitive Running = Risky Running

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After years of helping runners design better training, Fitzgerald noticed a consistent trend among the majority of people: their training is boring!

We tend to run the same races, train in the same shoes, on the same routes, doing the same workouts month after month (often year after year).

Jason thought, “It’s no wonder so many runners are stuck in a rut or always dealing with chronic injuries.”

They are called repetitive stress injuries for a reason, because they are caused by repeating the same stress over and over again.

We can’t change the fact that, as runners, we’re going to be running over and over again most days of the week, but adding variety in how we train is crucial. It forms one of the training pillars that influence his own personal racing plans. Each week Jason typically has at least four different paces that he runs and that he prescribes to this runners. He also has over 50 different exercises to help prevent injuries and help runners get faster.

More importantly, when I plan long-term I suggest runners focus on different types of races. Have you met the “two marathons a year” person who only runs marathons and seems to have one speed? They tend to run all of their marathons around the same pace. They do the same thing year in and year out with no variety and then they expect different results…

This type of runner rarely see any improvement and always seem to be in a rut with consistent overuse injuries. Variety is a great way to avoid this rut AND reduce repetitive stress injuries!

Having a lot of variety in your training doesn’t mean that you should run random distances and workouts. Every training plan should follow a logical progression and the weekly workouts should be similar from week to week. The overall structure should be fairly rigid. Without this structure, your fitness won’t progress but there are ways to add variety into the same “fairly rigid” training structure to keep us from suffering from repetitive use stress injuries.

Here’s a general outline of how progression works:

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The real variety in our training comes in the details:

  • Terrain/Surface – hilly, flat, uneven trail, cinder path, dirt road, snow, asphalt, grass, etc.
  • Running many different paces every week from very easy jogging to sprinting
  • Including a wide variety of flexibility and strength exercises
  • Rotating several different types of shoes (and maybe doing some barefoot work after an easy or long run)

Elite coach Brad Hudson calls these “little wrinkles” that are purposefully built into any good training program. They help you stay mentally focused and reduce the repetitive nature of running so you’re not constantly subjecting your legs to the same type of running (read: you’ll reduce your injury rate!).

After you’ve incorporated these mini or “micro-variations” into your plan, you can focus on larger or “macro” variations:

  • Race selection – 5k, half marathon, ultra, 10k trail race, marathon, triathlon
  • Overall training approach: high volume vs. low volume, weight sessions vs. none, cross-training vs. none, high intensity vs. low intensity

Choosing to race only 5Ks or only marathons limits the type of training that we can do. We’re stuck doing marathon workouts in a typically high volume training plan, only varying the details. Does it make sense that this might increase our chance of a running injury if we train for the same type of races every year? Doing almost the same workouts, mileage, and overall training year after year results in repetitive use injuries….

Jason Fitzgerald said,

“Variety is the spice of life – and it’s the spice of running. You’ll see this in almost all top runners’ schedules: their races vary significantly – and therefore their training approach.

This topic of injury prevention is a little “softer” than others like running form and runner-specific strength exercises. But after helping thousands of runners train smarter (including myself), I don’t think any runner can reach their potential if they don’t have a varied program.”

Change can be hard. Designing a training plan to fit our personal needs is hard too. But smart changes and variety are critical for injury prevention!

Part 2 Action Steps 

Time for homework! 🙂

This week lessons tackle very big picture training themes like patience and variations, as well as very small training adjustments like shoe choice, running surface, and weekly running paces.

Some of our action steps will be ideas to keep in mind for later use. And some will be changes you can incorporate immediately.

Step 1: Take a few minutes and think about two specific instances in your running when you were wildly impatient. Here are a few examples:

  • Maybe you increased your mileage way too quickly
  • Or you had a sharp pain but tried to run through it
  • Or you tried running too many fast workouts in one week

Now think about your future running as objectively as possible. Will you be able to be see yourself making the same mistakes again? Learning from our past mistakes and exercising patience before it’s too late is a critical part of staying injury free and being able to continue to do what we love.

In this weekly post, comment with 2 examples of mistakes that you could make in the future, but commit not to making. When you’re faced with a decision later on, you can refer back to your examples and encourage yourself to stay patient!

Step 2: Implement two mini or “micro-variations” into your training on a regular basis that you aren’t doing right now, like:

    • Once a week run a hillier route instead of always sticking to flat terrain


  • Run trails instead of only on sidewalks or the roads (if you don’t have a trail near you, explore a large network of fields that are typically near high schools or baseball fields)
  • Order a new pair of shoes and rotate two different models throughout the week
  • Run at least three different paces throughout the week to stress your body in a variety of ways

Step 3: Think long-term and implement one larger or “macro-variation” into your training. Maybe you train specifically for a 5k (much faster workouts!) if you’ve been focused on the marathon for a long time.

Or if you’ve always stuck to short road races, commit to your first 15K, half or full marathon.

Smarter training doesn’t always mean harder training! Instead, make strategic decisions that helps us run healthy and strong by introducing more variety into our routine and by avoiding the “3 Too’s” (too far, too fast, too soon)!

Whew…that was a lot of info! I hope you print this out and read through it a few different times. Read it, put it down and digest it, then come back and read it again. This is not a “quick fix” program and we are treating it that way by taking our time and putting the action steps into work.

September 2018 Week 4 Speed Work: The Extended Tempo Run

This week’s speed work is a variation of last week workout, except this week we are stretching it out and adding a little more time. Look back at your workout from last week and add 5 minutes to the tempo portion of your run. This is NOT about distance so don’t think about that. It’s about extending the length of your workout!

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to the Strength Running podcast Episode #71: A Step by Step Guide to Tempo Runs, you really should take the time to listen to it!

You can listen on iTunes here or if you are an Android user you can listen on Stitcher.

Once you listen (it’s only around 15 minutes) then you will be better prepared to run your tempo workout. If you have questions, please ask me, but if you listen to the podcast first and you will probably be ready to go.

The Workout: The Extended Tempo Run

  • 5K Workout: 1-2 mile warm up + 20 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
  • 10K Workout: 1-2 mile warm up + 25 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
  • Half Marathon Workout: 2 mile warm up + 35 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
  • Marathon Workout: 2 mile warm up + 45 min tempo + 2 mile cool down

As you can see, we have added 5 minutes to each distance workout. If this is your first tempo run, meaning you didn’t get it done last week SUBTRACT 5 minutes and do the original workout first! Start with 20 minutes and work your way up. Reach out to me with questions. Remember that “tempo pace” is comfortably hard. This is NOT an all out pace. You should NOT be running at top speed. If you still have questions about what that pace should be, PLEASE reach out to me and let’s chat!

That’s all for now Crew and it is a lot. Lots to consider, lots to think about and digest. Remember that this is not a “quick fix” training program. Even if you are in the middle of a plan now, you can still implement these action steps into your routine. Don’t wait…take the time to think about your goals, your current situation and how you can make small changes today that will keep you running healthy and strong for a very long time!

Because we all know that no matter how impatient we are…

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