Online Coaching

The Long Run

If you are familiar with my coaching style you know that I’m a firm believer of every workout having a specific purpose. I find that athletes who go into a run with a goal in mind perform much better than athletes that just run to run and log the miles. This is particularly important with  long run training days, which for most of us typically falls on a Saturday.

For those athletes training for a marathon these long training days are critical not only for building endurance, but also simulating race day conditions. It is on these days when we can teach our bodies to become more efficient at burning fat, utilizing supplemental fuel and working harder on tired legs. This  helps an athlete maintain pace in the later miles of a marathon when it really counts.

Depending on the athlete’s age, fitness and goals I typically include several 18 mile runs, some 22 mile runs and even a few 24 mile runs into a marathon training program. Again, this is all dependent upon the individual athlete’s ability to take on the stress. I utilize these key workouts to get the most of an athlete and showcase how their training is taking hold. During these sessions we deplete the body of glycogen, forcing it to utilize fat as fuel, work on efficiency and goal specific pace progressions. Most importantly we work on the mental part of a race.

One of my favorite long run workouts starts with a 10 mile easy run, followed by 8 miles at race pace, 2 miles at half marathon race pace and 2 miles at an easy cool down pace. This 22 mile workout is not only challenging, but also provides some very insightful data and as such, is a good marathon predictor. More advanced athletes putting in very high volume will do a similar workout twice in a day, lower mileage with higher intensity.

On your next long run, don’t just spin your wheels putting in “junk” miles. Make sure the time you spend running has a purpose and the workouts are paced for the distance you are running. If you need any help, I would be happy to share a few workouts you can incorporate into your training.

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What makes up the ideal training program?

I often get asked what makes up the ideal training program.

As most people know I am not a fan of generic training plans. I believe that in order to get the most out of your time spent training, a plan needs to be tailored specifically to you. No two people are alike nor should your training plan be.

Before putting pen to paper, a good coach will first review your individual strengths and limitations in relation to your goals. This will not only level-set expectations, but also determine the best approach to your training plan and race session.

For the most part, the sport of running is simple and all training programs should include: endurance running, running specific strength training, hill/speed work, tempo and pace specific runs. Of course, not all athletes will train the same; ultra distance runners training will look significantly different than a 10k runner. The magic really lies in how and when to incorporate these workouts into an athlete’s schedule. But before you even get to that point, it is important that the athlete has a strong foundation.

With athletes newer to marathon training or for injury prone athletes, I recommend starting 26 weeks out from their goal race. This provides the adequate time needed to build a strong foundation before entering the base building phase. 26 weeks also allows some leeway for unforeseen sickness, family and business obligations which tend to impact most recreational runners.

I also like to utilize this “prep-phase” to help athletes develop a feel for running and their cadence and tempo. This is something I see missing in so many runners’ training programs. By running on feel an athlete becomes in-tune with the rhythm of running at different paces which tends to lead to a more enjoyable and less injury prone season.

So, back to the question of what makes the ideal training plan… Answer is… one which is customized for you. A plan specifically tailored to make you a stronger athlete and adjust as your fitness and abilities development. Invest in yourself by hiring a coach; the investment is minimal in comparison to the time you will spend training without purpose.

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