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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September 2018 Week #3: You’re a Badass. You Deserve That Standing Desk!

Thank you for your patience with me through “magazine hell week” last week as I know I missed some posts. The magazine is a lot of fun to put together and I’m enjoying it but it does get time consuming when my monthly deadlines are close. Each month, I write a “family feature” story which includes a photo session and interview with a family who lives in the area the magazine mails to. I’m able to suggest families for the monthly story and since I know the owner of our local running store, Doug and Jane Alred, live in the magazine’s community, I asked and they agreed to be my cover story for next month! I’m excited to interview them and watch the photo shoot next week. Pretty cool that I can put running and writing together in so many different ways. 🙂


Enough about me…let’s talk running!

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Last week we talked a little about the shoes we wear outside of running. I posted this because I wanted to get you thinking about the things you do outside of running that can  be detrimental to your goals. There are certain aspects of living in today’s modern world that can cause of issues. Unfortunatley, even if we’re fit and healthy, modern life isn’t helping our running. Sitting is a big problem. With so many modern conveinences, we aren’t required to get up and move around anymore. Sitting causes muscle imbalances that, in conjunction with a lack of strength, can lead us directly to an injury.

The sad truth is that the majority of us spend most of the day sitting down. Long periods of sitting are inherently bad for all of us but for runners sitting wreaks havoc on our flexibility and general posture. A lot of sitting can cause a real problem when it comes to our every day running performance. In the Strength Running program, Injury Prevention for Runners, Jason Fitzgerald tells us:

Sitting results in many types of postural and muscular changes that deteriorate your running efficiency and can predispose us to running injuries. If you run after work, after sitting all day, then you are especially at risk.

Just think: prolonged sitting…

    • reduces the flexibility of the hip flexors and hamstrings
    • creates a forward tilt of the pelvis
    • reduces blood flow to the legs, hampering the recovery process
    • weakens the glutes and hip muscles, reducing the stability of the pelvis while running

These immediate results from a day of sitting makes us ill-equipped to handle an afternoon or evening run.

Jason promises to give us strength and mobility exercises that are “aimed at counteracting the imbalances, weaknesses, and inflexibilities that are caused by our sedentary lifestyles” but before we getting into those, he wants to encourage us to vary how we spend our day. We can’t stop sitting down altoegther, but we can alternate between sitting, standing, walking, and even kneeling.

There are things we can do throughout the day to help our body retain more flexibility and reduce the damaging effects of sitting down for long periods of time.

Consider fighting for one of the following options in your workplace:

    • A standing desk
    • A normal office chair
    • An exercise ball
    • An ergonomic kneeling chair

It’s also helpful to take frequent walk breaks and use your lunch hour actively instead of for more sitting. You can go for a longer walk, a short run, or a yoga class or get your strength work done if you have a gym membership nearby.

If you work an office job, it’s also helpful to do things the hard way. Use the printer on the other side of the office, get up and walk over to a colleague instead of calling, stand up while you’re on the phone, go for a walk with a colleague instead of sitting down for a meeting, and avoid using a chair whenever you don’t have to.

Jason says,

While you’re sitting, use the cue to bring your belly button to your spine (we’ll talk more about this cue later in the Running Form lesson) to activate your deep abdominal muscles and improve your posture. Do this several times per hour while sitting and even while standing to promote a neutral, efficient posture.

Later in the Injury Prevention for Runners program we’ll see some more strength and flexibility routines that Strength Running has developed to counteract the effects of sitting and muscular imbalances. But before we work on strength, we have some action steps to take this week.

Each section of the Injury Prevention for Runners program includes Action Steps that help us implement the material into our training. We want to make sure we are actively incorporating these lessons into our running rather than just consuming the information and putting it aside.

Part 1 Action Steps:

This section tackles a big picture topic – lifestyle factors that affect injuries – as it comes before running-specific changes to your training.

Step 1: For one day, be aware of how much time you spend sitting down. You don’t have to keep a running stopwatch of how much time you spend on your butt (although I did – and it was eye-opening) but it’s helpful as most of us under-estimate.

Step 2: The next day try to reduce this time by 1-3 hours. If you work a sedentary job and spend your evenings watching TV or on the computer, aim to sit for no more than 5-6 hours total (the national average is over 9 hours per day!).

Step 3: Evaluate your casual shoes for rigid, high-heeled, constrictive models that could be contributing to foot and lower leg weaknesses. I won’t ask you to buy a new closet of shoes, but:

1. Wear high-heeled or constrictive shoes for one less workday per week
2. Never wear shoes in your home
3. Opt for more flexible, lower-profile shoes when you’re at more casual events 4. The next time you need new shoes, buy a lower-profile, more flexible option

Many runners look for a “magic pill” that will help them run healthy in the long-term. I’m fond of saying that there are no magic workouts, secret training strategies, or hidden coaching tactics.

Instead, we’re improving your foundation so you can live a lifestyle conducive to running injury-free.

These are simple steps we can take that will make us feel better all around but especially when we run. Will you take these steps to or are you still waiting for that “magic pill?”


In addition to our Part 1 Action Steps, this week are are adding a new strength routine from Strength Running! Let’s look at how our week will play out.

  • Injury Prevention for Runners – Part 1 Action Steps
  • IT Band Rehab/Strength Routine (20 minutes) – 3X
  • Nike Runners World Arm Strength Routine (6 minutes) – 3X
  • Tomahawk Workout (16 minutes) – 3X
  • Daily Plank & Wall Sit – one minute each day
  • Speed Work – See workout below.  Plan ahead to make sure you fit it in

You can do these workouts when your schedule allows. You can do all three strength workouts at once which would be three 42 minute workouts. Or you can split them up and do them at different times or different days. You can do your speed work when it makes the most sense for your running schedule. Remember to give yourself a couple days before and after your long run so you are fully recovered and ready to work hard. Make it work Crew!


Speed Work: The Tempo Run

We’ve talked about tempo runs a lot but they can still be confusing. If you still don’t understand them, or maybe think you know what they consist of but aren’t sure, you really should listen to Strength Running Episode #71: A Step by Step Guide to Tempo Runs.

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: Tempo Run

  • 5K Workout: 1-2 mile warm up + 15 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
  • 10K Workout: 1-2 mile warm up + 20 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
  • Half Marathon Workout: 2 mile warm up + 30 min tempo + 1-2 mile cool down
  • Marathon Workout: 2 mile warm up + 40 min tempo + 2 mile cool down

As you can see, the workout gets longer depending on the distance you are training for. If this is your first tempo run, don’t go all out and try to run a 40 min workout. Start with 20 minutes and work your way up. Reach out to me with questions. You may see others training for a similar distance as you and doing longer or more intense workouts, but they may also be a more experienced runner. Please don’t compete yourself or try to do more than you are ready for. Make smart decisions about your training!

If you have a speed workout given to you by your coach (or by me if I coach you individually) that is different from our workout, that’s fine. Do what your coach tells you. 🙂 But this is a great workout for anyone so if you don’t already have a prescribed workout, then get to tempoing!


Week #3 Workouts: Hope you like the new videos that our Florida Crew helped me with this week!

IT Band Rehab/Strength Routine:

Nike Runners World Arm Strength:

Tomahawk Routine:

September 2018 – Week 2: Capable, Unbreakable…Indestructible!

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Are you as indestructible as an everlasting gobstopper? If you “can’t” do a basic body weight exercise, avoid trails like the plague, or skip a run because it’s raining and you don’t want to slip and break something, you are not as indestructible as an everlasting gobstopper.

We are capable of being unbreakable but we have to work for it. Feeling strong enough to battle the elements is part of gaining fitness, improving our running prowess and getting that PR that’s been eluding us. Are you willing to work hard to become indestructible? I know you are or you wouldn’t be here… so let’s get to work!


According to Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running,

There are a few things about running injuries that you have to know.

Fact #1: Prevention is about a lot more than strength exercises.

Some runners think if they just do strength exercises they’re being “smart” about injury prevention. But no amount of strength can overcome poor training. Your running program needs to be structured the right way – or else your strength gains will just be wasted.

Fact #2: RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is just the beginning.

Ask any runner what they do to recover faster between workouts – or when the early signs of an injury appear – and they’ll inevitably defer to RICE.

It’s a great first step. But it’s just a first step. Are you following a post-run recovery routine? Are you doing all the maintenance work that you should be doing? Or maybe you’re relying too much on one aspect of recovery (like icing).

Fact #3: Smart runners build prevention into their training.

A runner once told me that he doesn’t want injury prevention to interfere with his training. After an audible gasp, I shook my head sadly. Unfortunately, this runner is doomed to continue on the hamster wheel of injuries.

The runners you know that never get injured are incredibly smart about prevention. It’s automatically built into their training plan with strategic mileage increases, workout progressions, and runner-specific exercises. Their health is not an accident.

Fact #4: Consistent health isn’t about luck or genetics – it’s about hard work.

You are not destined to be injured all the time. Nor are consistently healthy runners lucky – they didn’t hit the genetic lottery. Instead, healthy runners work hard to stay healthy.

It’s not enough to run a lot of miles and blast those tough speed workouts. We have to make sure our training program is right for us, for where we are in our fitness and for the goals we are trying to achieve.

But is all we do is run, the risk of injury is higher and our performance will suffer. Think about it…have your heard of an elite runner who “just runs”? Nope, they all strength train.

We know that running builds our endurance, but what are the other key factors that help us improve our athleticism?

  • Strength: the ability to produce force
  • Flexibility: the ability to attain large ranges of motion at the joints
  • Speed: the ability to move the body and its parts rapidly
  • Coordination: the ability to accurately and efficiently move the body and its parts in order to accomplish some task

These skills make us capable of doing more: mileage, speed work, and (of course) faster racing.

Since running is admittedly a two-dimensional activity (we run straight ahead), if that’s all we do then our other physical skills will atrophy. Our strength, flexibility, and agility will plummet.

So while our endurance might be great, if we can’t utilize that fitness because we’re injured, unbalanced or uncoordinated, then we’ll never run fast. If we, as runners, focus more on how to improve athleticism, many of these problems wouldn’t appear at all.

Jason has heard it all:

“I can’t run trails! I’ll turn an ankle!” If we’re chasing a big goal like a Personal Best, ultramarathon finish, or maybe a Boston qualifying marathon, then we must be more anti-fragile! Trails are not dangerous if you’re capable.

“I can’t hold this bodyweight exercise…” Some bodyweight exercises are difficult. But so is running fast! When easy or intermediate exercises can’t be done by runners who want to stay healthy or run a PR, there’s a clear discrepancy. Increasing our movement fluency improves our capability. There are no fast, weak runners.

“My squat form is terrible.” Running is a series of one-legged squats performed in a ballistic, plyometric manner. How can anybody run well without being able to squat adequately? Poor form on traditional, basic, and fundamental exercises is a red flag that there’s a lack of movement fluency – and therefore, athleticism.

“I don’t run two days in a row because I want to stay healthy”

Running more is generally the most effective way to improve your racing performances and get faster. If runners take off 3-4 days per week for injury concerns, this is a major red flag. Why? Well…

  • Not much running can be done in merely 3-4 days per week
  • If a runner is truly so susceptible to injuries that they can’t run two days in a row, the problem is strength, not the running!
  • This is a self-limiting belief and I refuse to let you settle for average

Jason stresses that we must model our training after how the best runners train. This means developing new habits.

Below are some key factors promoted by Strength Running:

  • A dynamic warm-up before every run
  • A cool-down before or after each run consisting of runner-specific mobility or strength work
  • Varied running surfaces like trails, grass, the track, and roads
  • Consistent strength training
  • Running drills to refine form and reinforce good habits
  • Hard workouts (fartleks, tempo runs, etc.) that increase our range of speed capability

Once we start training like competitive runners, even at scaled down levels for us, we’ll see dramatic improvements.

The Goal: Anti-Fragility

Anti-fragility is a property that’s defined as:

A property of systems that increase in capability, resilience, or robustness as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures.

Anti-fragility creates more robust runners. The idea is to thrive off of uncertainty. To be able to go our for a run anytime, anywhere, without being worried about getting twisting an ankle, pulling a muscle or throwing out our back.

Where to start:

  1. Begin each run with a dynamic warm-up routine. (You should be doing this already!)
  2. Next, add a bodyweight strength or core routine at least 3 times each week. (We’ve been doing body strength workouts for a while so you should be used to this one. Now we are doing longer strength workouts 3 times each week instead of 4-5 shorter workouts.)
  3. Once you are stronger, start running on more varied, uneven surfaces. (Do you ever take your running off road?)
  4. Add running drills 2 times per week. (We are adding running drills this week!)
  5. When this is comfortable, it’s time to add additional strength training. (We’re already working on this week…this week we’re adding arms!)
  6. Add harder, faster workouts when you’re ready. (Don’t jump into harder, faster workouts before you are ready. Remember…being capable and strong means you are not fragile but you are ready to move forward with more work. Baby steps…)

Running Drills

It feels silly to do drills like skips, hops, and other form drills. Prancing around feels weird but once you realize how beneficial running drills can be you might change your mind.

Running drills can:

  • Improve the communication between your brain and legs – helping you become more efficient
  • Strengthen not only the muscles, but the specific joints (like the ankle) needed for powerful, fast running
  • Improve coordination, agility, balance, and proprioception – helping you become a better athlete
  • Serve as a great warm-up before challenging workouts or races

The best time to do drills is after a dynamic warm up and an easy running warm up. If it’s race day, drills should be done BEFORE your strides. If done before a regular run, same deal, drills should be done after a dynamic warm up and an easy warm up run. Stop and do your drills, then go into the meat of your workout.

We are going to do these drills AT LEAST twice this week (and each week going forward)

Below is a video of all the drills performed by Jason Fitzgerald. The video includes cues, instructions, and slow-motion footage to help you understand them in more detail.

The 7 drills we will perform this week are: (perform each of these drills once out and back for 30-50 meters or less than half the straight away on a track)

  1. High Knees
  2. A Skip – High Knee Skipping
  3. B Skip – High Knee Skipping with Leg Extension
  4. Butt Kicks variation 1 – Lift foot straight up under your butt (this is different from most of us think of as traditional butt kicks
  5. Butt Kicks variation 2 – traditional butt kick
  6. Straight Leg Bounds
  7. Grapevines

September 2018 Week #2: Adding Running Drills & Arm Strength

In addition to adding running drills back into our training arsenal this week, we will continue with our IT Band Routine and we are adding a quick arm workout that we will do right after the ITB routine. These 2 workouts will take about 25 minutes total and should be done 3 times this week. This is not a Strength Running routine from Jason Fitzgerald, but we need to add in some arms and this is a great one that is easily built into your day. We will add a new Strength Running routine next week.

First, follow along with Jennifer, Meghan and I below to complete the IT Band Routine then go right into this week’s arm strength workout. You should recognize this new one!

IT Band Strength & Rehab Routine

Nike Runner’s World Arm Strength


Speed Work: Train Negative 

This week’s speed workout is the same for everyone, but depending on what you are training for, your distance will vary. First let’s talk a little more about what a negative split is and why it’s effective.

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to run faster in the second half of a race. In fact, anyone can and should run negative splits. Unfortunately, most runners don’t. Instead, they start in a near sprint, hang on through the middle and resort to a survivor’s shuffle at the end. But those who opt for negative splits patiently run a bit slower for the first third of a run, pick up the pace in the middle and finish with strength and speed.

The reason this works is because it can take your body several miles to get warmed up. After that, our muscles are charged, our joints lubricated, and mood-boosting endorphins flood our system. We’ll find ourselves running faster without feeling the additional effort. While 5-K racers DO benefit from this negative-split technique, marathoners will find it even more beneficial. Since a 5K race is relatively short, your warm up miles should be done before the race. But you still don’t want to go all out when the gun goes off. So how do we learn to slow down and the beginning of our run or race, then speed up to finish stronger and faster?

Trust the method. Many people are so used to charging out and then gradually slowing down that they don’t trust their bodies will ever speed up during a run. Trust me. It works. If you conserve your resources during the early part of a run, they’ll be available to you at the end.

Train negative. To build confidence, practice negative splits during training runs. Instead of starting your run, fartlek workout or interval sessions at the pace you want to average, run the first portion of the workout 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower. By the end of the session, you’ll be running faster than planned and will probably be feeling better than you’ve ever felt during a speed session.

Start slow. Depending on the length of your race, begin 20 to 40 seconds per mile slower than the race pace you’ve predicted. Don’t be tempted to speed up when you notice all those other runners flying by. Instead, hold back by imagining yourself comfortably passing them later in the race.

Gradually build speed. As you near the middle of the race, 4-5 miles into a half marathon, or 10-12 miles into a marathon, you want to hit your race pace. Then, toward the end, use those fresh legs to pass as many tired runners as you can.

A lot of us use this method already during our everyday runs, but this week I want you to  really focus on it and FEEL the pace early on, during the middle of your run and in the final miles. DON’T forget your warm up and cool down. The negative split portion should be smack in the middle! It should be obvious when you start the workout portion of your run. Keep your warm up nice and easy, then go into a pace that is a little faster than warm up but NOT at your race pace, slowly speed up to your race pace, finish the workout strong with a pace BELOW your race pace, then do a nice easy cool down.

Train Negative: Negative Split Speed Workout 

  1. Warm up – 1-2 miles at conversation pace
  2. Running Drills & Strides
  3. Negative Split Workout (see distance options below)
  4. Cool down – 1-2 miles

Training for a:

5K – 10K:

  • Do a warm up long enough to make you feel ready to run faster. That means your body is warm and your breathing is stable. This will depend on you. Some people are able to warm up faster than others. For me, I don’t start feeling good till at least 2 miles in.
  • Workout – 1-4 miles of negative split miles. If you are new to speed work and just dipping a toe into going faster, even doing a mile can get you ready for more. If you are only doing 1 mile of speed work break the mile into smaller segments like .25 miles and go faster for each quarter mile. Your last quarter mile being your fastest. If you have done speed work before, you should be doing at least 3 or 4 speedy miles. Again each mile should be faster then the previous mile.
  • Cool down – .5 – 1 mile cool down

15K – Marathon: Same warm up and cool down. Your speed will suffer if you cheat yourself out of a good warm up! 4-8 miles of negative splits

If you are training for a:

  • 15K = 4-5 miles
  • Half Marathon = 5-7 miles
  • marathon = 7-8 miles!

One caveat, if you are training for your first marathon and are just getting into your training, go for the lower miles. You don’t want to burn out or jeopardize your long run (the most important workout of the week) early in training.

I know it seems like a lot of miles, but when you run your goal race there’s no shortening the distance so you might as well be ready for it!


September 2018 Week #2 recap: 

  1. Daily Plank & Wall Sit (Minimum :60 each)
  2. IT Band Routine – 3x
  3. Nike/Runner’s World Arm Strength – 3x
  4. Running Drills 2x
  5. Speed Work

Are you indestructible? I know you are capable…I know you are getting stronger…but if you’re not indestructible…it’s time to get to work!

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September – Week #1: Making Injury Prevention Second Nature

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Did you know that 70-80% of runners get injured every year? That’s higher than pro football!

Being trapped in this injury cycle is demoralizing. It makes us want to quit and wonder why we put in all this work…only to watch it go down the drain as we sit on the sidelines with an injury.

Just imagine how much more you’d love running (not to mention, how much faster you’d run) if you could simply prevent injuries?

September Week #1 – Why do we need Prehab and what does it include?

Injury is tough but there is an upside to getting hurt if we choose to see and do something about the underlying issues.

Facing an injury is a little like tough love. It can serve as an eye opener for us and is usually a great opportunity to test our willpower and improve the things which most runners neglect. Think about when you realized you needed to do more than just run…it’s when you were injured and could no longer run.

When a runner gets injured what is the first thing they turn too? Cross training…right? Runners don’t usually fall in love with cross training, we do it because we love to run and it is the quickest way to stay in running fitness. Unfortunately, if we overload ourself with aerobic cross training but neglect  to devote time to the strength and structure of our body, it can also make us more susceptible to future injury.

We can’t run…so our first thought is to spend lots of time on the bike, in the pool or doing some other type of cardio workout. While that will keep the weight off and help us maintain our cardiovascular fitness, we lose the range of motion specific to running and the power needed to run fast. We fail to get stronger so we’re able to avoid re-injuring ourselves once we are able to run again.  We get back to running quickly, but a couple weeks down the road get we have another injury or the old pain is coming back again.

What does Prehab include?

  1. Strength Training
  2. Dynamic and Static Stretching
  3. Foam Rolling
  4. Recovery Runs

Strength Training: It’s easy to spend so much time cross training that we’re too physically and mentally tired to spend time building strength. To get in our strength work we MUST have a plan, just like our running plan. We don’t want to get up and start working out, deciding right then what we feel like doing that day.

This week our plan is to follow along with the video below three different times during the week. You can do this any day of the week but be smart about when you do it. Avoid strength the day before a tough speed workout or a long run. PLAN AHEAD and make smart decisions. Think back to past challenges…when did we do our leg work? Why did we do it on those days? There has always been a purpose behind what we do, why we do it and when we do it…consider that when you are planning your workouts this week.


Dynamic and Static Stretching: In addition to strength training, it’s important that we continue our dynamic and static stretches each day, even when it’s an off day from running. This will help us improve our strength, flexibility and stability. Dynamic stretches include leg swings, hip hurdles, and even lunges and squats. We can fit these moves into our every day life by getting up and doing a few squats and lunges as we walk to the bathroom or kitchen, or by balancing on one leg while brushing our teeth. We can multitask my watching TV and stretching at the same time. These little additions will help us gain core strength and stability.

Dynamic Stretching: Leg Swings, Hip Hurdles, lunges and squats

Static Stretching:

  1. 7 Key Stretches for Runners
  2. Yoga for Runners – Unknot Yourself
  3. Yoga for Runners – Tight Hips and Legs
  4. Yoga Poses for Runners

Foam rolling: A large proportion of running injuries stem from muscle tightness leading to our biomechanics being restricted and causing alterations in our running gait. The most effective home treatment is foam rolling. Devices like the stick are good, but a foam roller is more effective because we can utilize our body weight to apply pressure to the muscles. We can do this every single day.

Imbalances, even just a fraction of an inch in how each foot lands, can lead to injuries and often the area that hurts isn’t the real problem. Loosening up the muscles, tissues and fascia around the areas in pain allow us to move more freely which prevents some easily avoidable injuries.

Roll every angle of every muscle in your legs, glutes and hips. Basically all the areas that feel tight or sore from running, plus areas that may feel fine but are starting to feel tight.

Below is a foam rolling demonstration that takes less than 5 minutes. I would prefer you spend more than 5 minutes with your roller but you have to start somewhere! As you start to get used to using your roller more often, you will see that it hurts less and less. You might even start to like it!


Recovery runs: Every run should have a purpose! Generally that’s either a long run, speed work, hill work, or a recovery run. Recovery runs should be done at a very slow pace, while still focusing on maintaining good form.

As the name suggests, recovery runs help our legs recover from harder efforts, flushing the lactate out of our muscles and increasing blood flow to the muscles that have been broken down on harder or longer runs. This helps to get the required nutrients to the muscles to rebuild and adapt optimally. Recovery runs are really important. But it’s also very easy to overdo our recovery runs. Recovery should be slower, shorter and easier than ALL our other workouts. Watching our heart rate or literally walking or run/walking 1-2 miles can be just the thing we need to feel good and be ready to run harder again the following day.

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One thing is for sure, recovery is king and if we take care of our body, getting out the door for our next run isn’t as difficult.


Prehab (strength, dynamic and static stretching, foam rolling and recovery runs) is the key to allowing us to continue to train and race.

A healthy regimen of foam rolling, self-massage, and mobility and flexibility stretches keeps everything feeling good as we head out the door for a run. Try adding some rolling and mobility exercises in the evening before going to bed. Instead of using the first couple miles of a run just to work the kinks out, we can do it at home by rolling before our run. This also makes our runs so much more enjoyable.

September – Week #1 Recap:

For the first week of September, we are learning our first strength routine which focuses on our hips, glutes and quads. This is a 20 minute workout from Jason Fitzgerald’s training arsenal that we will do three times every week. You can fit this in any day during the week, preferably before or after a run but get it done even if it’s on an off running day. Throw in a daily plank and wall sit, dynamic and static stretches and DAILY foam rolling and you are one step closer to a strong running form!

Week #1 Plan:

  • Daily Plank & Wall Sit – don’t cheat yourself by cutting these basic strength exercises short!
  • Daily Dynamic and Static Stretching
  • Complete 3 times this week – ITB Strength & Rehab Routine (follow along with the video)
  •  Daily Foam Rolling

That’s it Crew. Three 20 minute strength routines focused specifically on our hips, glutes and quads, daily planks and wall sits, daily dynamic and static stretching & daily foam rolling.

Believe it or not, speed and hill workouts are forms of strength routines. We’ll talk about this more later but plan ahead to fit in this week’s speed work and throw in some hills when you can.


Speed Work: This week’s speed workout is a fun fartlek sprint ladder. Farletks or “speed play” is normal unstructured but this workout gives you a plan to follow while keeping it short enough to keep you from getting nervous and skipping the workout. Give it a shot and see how going a little faster during one of your weekly runs makes you feel awesome and boosts your confidence!

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“If you think you have no time for prevention work, you’ll sooner or later have to find time for injuries.” – Jason Fitzgerald

 

Day 29: This or That…or both!

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Final strength day of September Crew and it’s arm day!

Great way to end the month strong and be ready to go long this weekend! 🙂

And this week’s trend continues because, you have options! You can follow the Day 29 calendar exercises listen below, try the bonus arm workout, or do both!

It’s your choice…choose wisely. Don’t skip it because you’re tired or just feeling lazy on a Friday. Make the choice based on how your muscles are feeing and how your weekend is planned. Really though…you can do a great arm workout and still be ready for an awesome, strong long run Saturday or Sunday!

Day 29 Plan:

  • Quick Morning Workout and Quick Before Bed Workout 
  • Day 29 Exercises and/or Bonus Arm Workout below 
  • Bonus: Fitness Blender at Home Bodyweight Arm Workout 
  • Roll, Stretch, and Hydrate!

Quick Morning workout and Quick Before Bed Workout:

Day 29 Exercises: 2-3 sets of 10

  • Arm Circles – Forward & Backward
  •  Upright Row
  • Shoulder Press
  • Renegade Row
  • Plank – :60 or more!

Bonus: Fitness Blender at Home Bodyweight Arm Workout – This looks like a great arm workout and I can’t wait to try it tomorrow! Hope you all will try it with me. 7 exercises, :60 each. Nothing crazy but great new moves that will give us that good arm burn!

So what will you do? This, That or Both? I’m doing both…come on let’s do this! 🙂

Day 27: Just Working on Our Core

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Our Wednesday Stability workout is great for our core and our legs. After today’s leg workout, this will be tough but that’s ok…plenty of time to rest and recover our legs before this weekend’s long runs!

Last time we run this workout circuit this month so give it all you have Crew!

Day 27 Plan:

  • Quick Morning Workout & Quick Before Bed Workout
  • Day 27 exercises: 2-3 x 10
  • Bonus: Fitness Blender 8 Minute Abs Workout
  • Speed Work – Speed Pyramid Workout – Click here for this weeks speed workout

Quick Morning Workout & Quick Before Bed Workout

Day 27 exercises: 2-3 x 10

  • Stability Ball V-Pass
  • Stability Ball Single Leg Press
  • Stability Ball Crunches
  • Stability Ball Glute Bridges
  • Stability Ball Forearm Plank – :60

Bonus: Fitness Blender 8 Minute Ab Workout – Quick bodyweight workout that will give us that good core burn. Give yourself a couple minutes after you finish our Day 27 exercises then go for it. 8 minutes and you’re done!

Day 26: Fit Runner: Hip and Glute Strength

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Do you have weak hips and glutes? You can lie to us…but you cannot lie to yourself!

When thinking of core, we often focus on just strengthening the abs. Strong abs help to stabilize your pelvis, but the true core of a runner lies in adding strength in our hips and glutes.

Strong hips and glutes are the powerhouse of a runner and prevent many injuries below the hips down to the knees, iliotibial bands, Achilles tendons, shins and the feet. If you’ve ever injured a glute or hip muscle, or have pain in your lower extremities you’ve probably been told you have weak hips and glutes…and you realize the important role they play. If you’ve never been to a Doctor looking for answers  but suffer from lower leg issues, strengthening these areas can save you time, money and a whole lot of physical therapy!

Today is Day 26 on our calendar, but in the spirit of switching things up this week…we’re ditching the calendar and following along with some of our favorite videos. Donkey Kick Workout…a killer one…is on the way!

Day 26 Plan:

  • Quick Morning Workout and Quick Before Bed Workout
  • Donkey Kick Workout – See video below
  • Bonus: Modern Mom/Dad Hips – Do you have the heart to do both these hip/glute workouts? I know you do! 🙂
  • Speed WorkClick here for Monday’s daily post and scroll down for this week’s pyramid speed workout.

Quick Morning Workout and Quick Before Bed Workout:


Donkey Kick Workout: This is a tough workout but it’s quick and super effective. Stick with it till the end!

Bonus: Modern Mom/Dad Hips – We all know this one…most of us love it, some might hate it…but we all know how good it is for our hips and glutes! I know you’ll be tired after the Donkey Kick workout but you CAN do this!