October – Week #3: Which Comes First Cardio or Weights?

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The Strength Running program with Jason Fitzgerald includes some expert interviews that dial into a lot more about strength training and how to use the principals we are learning and put them all together into a well rounded plan. This week, we are listening to one of the expert interviews and starting a discussion about it.

First up…which comes first, cardio or weights?

This is an audio file. You can download it to your computer or save the link on your phone and listen in the car or on a run!

Cardio or Weights? 

Conversation Starter: After listening, which do you think come first? Cardio or weights?

Week #3 Outline:

We are not adding any new strength workouts this week. Last week we added the workouts below so let’s keep working on these (in rotation) so we continue to get more familiar with them. Here’s how your week should look. Plan ahead to make sure you don’t get behind!

In addition to everything we are learning, the Strength Running program comes with access to a book called 101 Ways to Become a Better Runner: A Short Guide to Running Faster, Preventing Injuries and Feeling Great. Each week we will look at a couple tips that we can incorporate into our training arsenal. Some of it you will already be familiar with and some will be new, be open to learning new things and you might find something useful!

*Tips courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald with Strength Running

Tip 1: Hill workouts don’t always have to be repetitions

Every coach I know encourages a good hill workout. And for good reason – they build leg strength, help prevent injuries when done correctly, and give you a great aerobic stimulus (i.e., help you develop endurance). But they shouldn’t be the only hills you’re running.

In addition to a hill repetition workout, you can also run “rollercoaster runs” throughout the week. These are simply easy or moderate paced distance runs that are run on hilly terrain. Don’t run fast on the uphills and downhills; just keep your effort constant for the entire run. Including 2-8 (or more!) hills of different lengths and grades during a typical run will help you build resilience and improve your running economy. Just limit your hilly days to 2-3 per week to ensure you’re recovering properly.

Tip 5: Be a “core whore”

My wife jokes that I’m a core whore because I make a 15-20 minute core session an almost daily part of my post-run routine. You don’t necessarily need to do a core workout every day, butstart doing one about 3 times per week and you’ll start seeing real results.

Focus on whole body exercises that you can do anywhere, like pushups, planks, bridges, and lunges. An effective general strength routine that I used frequently is the Standard Core Routine. (This routine is coming!) Another great core routine is the Tomahawk Core Routine which you can find here.

A more strength oriented workout is the ITB Rehab/Strength Routine which is focused on glute and hip strength (yes these are part of our core). Glutes and Hips and two areas that are particularly weak among most distance runners. This routine is great for overall injury prevention and strength, and is not just for those who suffer from Illiotibial Band Syndrome.

Tip 6: Core is about more than your abs

Keep in mind that your core is about much more than just your ab muscles. Include exercises that engage your lower back, hips, and glutes – all of these muscles are important to stabilizing your body when you’re running.

Even if you’re in the gym lifting weights, you’re using your core muscles. Exercises like the squat, dead lift, and weighted lunge all work your core muscles and help stabilize your upper body. Don’t limit yourself to sit-ups every day!

Tip 15: Don’t over-stride when you run

Over-striding means landing with your foot significantly in front of your body. Over-striders are usually aggressive heel strikers and put more stress on their legs than those who don’t over- stride. This extra stress on our legs can lead to injuries.

Instead, make sure your feet are landing underneath your center of mass. Try to envision just“putting your foot down” underneath your body rather than reaching out with your foot. This simple cue will help you run more efficiently with a more compact stride.

Conversation Starter: Do any of this weeks tips resonate with you? Would love to hear your thoughts. Let’s start a conversation about how we can turn these tips into easy ways to become a better runner!!

Speed Work: Long Interval Repeats 

There are two kinds of runners: those who don’t do high-intensity intervals and those who do them wrong.

Ok…that’s a generalization, but there is some truth to the statement. Many non-competitive runners do all of their runs at more or less the same, moderate intensity. They build fitness for long distance races by adding distance to their workouts, not intensity.

Runners who are interested in getting faster typically do high-intensity intervals. This is a good start, but there’s usually not a lot of variation in their interval workouts. Typically runners lean heavily on what they know they can run fast, short intervals like 400 meters performed at very high speeds on a track.

There’s nothing wrong with these workouts and they do have their merits, but it’s also important to do longer interval workouts at a slightly lower (but still high) intensity. In fact, you will get more benefit from intervals lasting longer than 5 minutes each than you would get from shorter intervals.

To understand why, you first need to understand that the purpose of high-intensity interval training is not to make you faster. It’s to make you less fatigued when going fast! You may already be able to run short distances pretty fast but most likely what you lack is the ability to sustain high speeds over long distances. Long intervals do a better job than short intervals of increasing this crucial ability, which is sometimes called “intensive endurance.”

What matters most in high-intensity interval training for distance runners is not how fast you go but how much time you spend going fast. The faster you go in your intervals, the less time you’ll be able to spend going fast before you become fatigued. By keeping your pace in check in longer interval, high-intensity interval workouts, you can complete the entire workout and get a bigger boost in intensive endurance.

How Hard Is Hard Enough? This is especially problematic for runners. By the time you realize you’ve gone out too fast in a race, it’s already too late. When the alarm bells starts to ring, you’re already about to blow up! You can dial the pace back and recover to finish, but you’re already burned out, and your hopes of a PR might have gone up in smoke.

Long Interval repeats  can be the secret weapon you can incorporate in your training. Interval training has been a part of all solid training plans for decades. Moderately long efforts at high intensity are a great way to explore your faster pace abilities without risking the wear and tear of giving 100% in training.

These benefits alone are enough to make middle distance repeats a must in any running program, but there’s an important side benefit for newer runners and racers. 

The reason so many new runners (and experienced ones too) going out too hard and blowing up early has to do with the gap between their expectations and their physical ability. Maybe they’ve been running by feel all through training, so when race morning comes, the adrenaline makes a fast first mile feel great…for the first mile.

Middle distance repeats bring a heavy dose of reality to our training. Paired with a stopwatch or GPS running watch, you find out what pace you are actually capable of, without the risks and expense of going all-out. You’ll run that first mile repeat fast and feel great, but halfway through the third, your body’s going to give you a big old spoonful of truth serum. By the fourth repeat interval, you’ll have settled down into something much closer to your race-day pace. Once you’ve found that pace, it’s much easier to plan a strategy that will get you the fastest possible time at your next big event.

“Repeats” means just that. You ideally want to run each middle distance interval at the same pace. None of these intervals are meant to be run all out. This is self-correcting to a certain point, but you’ll want to run your first one at a level of effort you think you can maintain for your last one. Try to keep your speed even throughout all of your laps/repeats, rather than surging and sagging. You’re looking for a cruise control setting, not a top speed.

Between workout sets, take enough time for your heart rate and respiration to settle down close to normal. Depending on the length of your repeats this can be anywhere from :90 – 3-4 minutes. Stay moving enough to not get cold. Move around, do some easy leg swings or other drills but don’t do anything strenuous that would keep your heart rate from coming down.

At the end of your last repeat, you should be just about cooked. You should feel like you could keep running, but there’s almost no way you could repeat the interval again at the same pace.

The Workout: Long Intervals

Long Interval repeat workout for a 5k: 

  • Warm up – Easy 800m – 1 mile jog
  • Dynamic stretching (Sabre Routine)
  • Strides – 2 – 4x
  • 6 x 800m repeats with :90 rest
  • Cool down – Easy 400m – 800m jog

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Long Interval Workout for a 10k:

  • Warm up – Easy 1 mile jog
  • Dynamic Stretching (Sabre Routine)
  • Strides – 3 – 5x
  • 3 x 1600m (1 mile) repeats with :90 rest
  • Cool down – Easy 400m – 800m jog

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Long Interval Workout for a Half Marathon:

  • Warm up: 1-2 miles easy
  • Dynamic Stretching (Sabre Routine)
  • Strides 4 – 6x
  • 2 x 2 mile repeats with 2:00 rest
  • Cool down – Easy 1 mile jog

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Long Interval Workout for a Marathon:

  • Warm up: 2 miles easy
  • Dynamic Stretching (Sabre Routine)
  • Strides 4 – 6x
  • 3 x 2 mile repeats with 2:00 rest
  • Cool down – Easy 1-2 mile jog

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Practice Patience and Run Smart – It may take one or two tries to get into a groove on your half-mile or mile repeats. The biggest thing to remember is to not get too aggressive. Once you know you can crank out all of the repeats at close to the same pace, you can try bringing the pace down a bit next time or using that pace at your next race. It should get you in the ballpark of your best effort, and it may even set you up for a great kick to the finish.

Save the racing for race day. Reckless sprints are for kids and adults who don’t mind getting injured. Incorporating long interval repeats into your regular running program will pay big dividends in increased aerobic performance, experience working at faster paces, and setting a realistic expectation of what you can accomplish on race day.

Have a great week Crew! Remember to plan ahead for your strength and your speed work! Links are all over this page. Use them and save them for later! xoxoxo

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