Friday, March 24, 2017

New Resource Website For Distance Runners


While I plan to add another chapter or two (like “Strength Training For Distance Runners”) to the free book I have been publishing here over the last 6 months, I wanted to pause to give everyone a heads-up on a new resource I have established to help runners.

As I have said before, to me coaching is all about stewardship, using the knowledge and experience I have gained over 40 years as a runner, and 10+ years as a coach, to help others pursue and achieve their running goals. But I want to help more than just the runners who want and can afford personal coaching. So I am publishing this resource website, free for all (runners and coaches alike) to read and enjoy, maybe learn something from it, or potentially have it prompt them to look at something from a slightly different viewpoint.  If any of those happen and help you or your runners in pursuit of running goals, mission accomplished.

To that end, I have transformed the Maximum Performance Running (“MPR”) website into a resource website for distance runners.  


Here is what it includes so far:

Race Times – a page contains a chart of equivalent race times over all popular race distance from 5k to marathon.  The charts subdivided by the type of runner you are and your mileage level so customize it to you and see what times you could expect at various race distances. Your race times assign you a certain point level which you can use to determine your most effective training paces (listed on the Training Paces page). 

Training Paces – this page shows you the most effective training paces (per mile and per kilometer) for your runs and workouts given your fitness level, based on the race times charts. Having these most effective paces helps you get the most out of each workout and the time you spend training.  The charts on this page can also show you where you need to progress to in your training in order to run your goal times. 

Workouts – a complete list of recommended workouts for distance runners including their purpose and notes and tips and how to best execute each.  Each workout has a good range of durations and paces allowing for customization, variety and progression options within each workout type. We’ll be adding notes and tips on how to build in progressions in distance and paces in the near future.

Free Training Programs – 92 different training programs for the marathon and half marathon (46 programs for each race).  The programs are organized by number of runs per week, mileage level, and length of program.  From beginner to age group champion, it’s easy to find an effective program for you. 

Custom Programs – Can't find a free training program that is just right for you or your situation?  I will personally design a custom training program specifically for you, for your personal situation, your strengths and weaknesses and your work, life and race schedules.  And you'll be giving back as you get faster as 15% of all custom program proceeds are donated to charity. 

About/Coaching – My Personal Coaching option and a background summary on me as a coach and some of my coaching highlights, so you know from where the information on this site comes from.

Race Paces – this is a handy reference charts showing you the per mile and per kilometer paces for race times and distances from 5k to the marathon. Know exactly the pace you need to hit to get the time you are after.

Marathon Calendar – a listing by month, and link to, all marathons in the U.S. and Canada with over 500 finishers last year.  Great page to visit as you plan out your racing year. 

FAQ – a listing of the most frequently asked questions that I hears from runners and my answers.  Good starting point to get many of your running questions answered.  Including how much to adjust your running paces in warm weather. 

Free Book – A link to each chapter in the book I published here. 

This is the initial version of this site but continue to check back often as new information will be added (a strength training page is in the works), and current information will be updated as warranted.  We never stop learning so this site will never be static.  And …  we’ll even keep working on the formatting to make it easier to use. :-)

Tell your running friends about the site, link to it on your blog and social media, and help us get the word out about this new resource.  Also please send me any feedback you have or questions you’d like to see on the FAQ section.   

Happy Running,


Coach Mark Hadley

Friday, February 17, 2017

Chapter 13 - Warm-ups and Cool-Downs

Note: To me coaching is all about stewardship, using the knowledge and experience I have gained over 40 years as a runner, and 10 years as a coach, to help others pursue their running goals.  So rather than publishing a book you have to pay for, I am publishing it here on my blog, free for all (runners and coaches alike) to read and enjoy, maybe learn something from it, or potentially have it prompt you to look at something from a slightly different viewpoint.  If any of those happen, mission accomplished. 



"A proper warm-up and cool-down is our first line of defense against injury"

Next, I want to talk to you about the importance of a proper warm-up and cool-down and my recommendations on each.  

Warm-up
The primary mission of a warm-up is to get the body ready for the run or workout we are about to get started on by engaging the muscles and tendons we are about to work.  Secondarily it also helps us gain and retain a sufficient range of motion in our muscles, tendons and joints.  A proper warm-up goes a long way to keeping injuries at bay.

The specifics of what is needed from a warm-up can be as individual as the person engaging in it.  So my recommendation is that you follow the basic outline below as your base warm-up routines and then add to it as needed to cover any individual requirements you have (i.e. problems or weakness in an area).  

Before An Easy Or Long Run - Dynamic Warm-up Routine
1.  Standing High Knees Lifts - slowly march in place bring your knees up so that your thigh is parallel with the ground - 10-12 lifts for each leg
2.  Standing Butt Kicks - standing in place alternately bring your heel up and back (with thigh staying in place) towards your buttocks - 10-12 lifts for each leg
3.  Leg Swings - holding a wall, bench or partner for balance, gently swing your leg forward and backward while keeping it mostly straight. This should not be a violent or over exaggerated movement - 10-12 swings each leg
4.  Cross Over Leg Swings - holding a wall, bench or partner for balance, gently swing your leg back and forth, side to side, across the front of your body  while keeping it mostly straight. This should not be a violent or over exaggerated movement - 10-12 swings each leg
5.  Walking Karaoke - this is a sideways walk alternating with your lead leg crossing over in front of your body - 10-12 steps per leg (face the opposite direction but go the smae direction to work the other leg).
6.  Ankle Rolls -  while standing, place your toe on the ground behind you with your heel straight up in the air - make 10-12 circles with your heel (leaving your toe in place on the ground) on each leg.

Before A Quality Stress Workout Or Race
1.  The Dynamic Warm-Up Routine described above
2.  Easy warm-up run - length depends on individual factors - with the last 90 seconds done at a up-tempo pace (LT to AT pace) in order to stir up the aerobic enzymes and prime the aerobic engine for the workout/race.
3.  Any light drills or strides as needed or if needed to feel ready to roll for the workout/race

Keep all warm-up activities dynamic in nature (i.e moving) as static stretching can temporarily weaken the muscles - not what you want before exercising them.

Cool-Downs
The cool-down has 2 main purposes depending on what type of run or workout it follows.  Following an easy run it is an opportunity to stretch the muscles when they are warm and pliable and receptive to the stretching.  This helps the body attain and maintain a proper range of motion in all running related muscles, joints and tendons.  Following a stress workout or race (speed, stamina or endurance) our cool-down flushes the muscles with new blood flow, carrying away and "junk" accumulated in the workout and helps to jump start the recovery process.  The cool-down is your first step in the recovery process after stress workouts and races.  

Similar to warm-ups, what is needed from a cool-down routine can be an individual thing, so my recommendation is to use the routines described below as your base and then add to them as needed to address any individual issues/needs.  

After An Easy Run - Static Stretching Routine
1. Walking (2-5 mins) - great opportunity to start rehydrating/refueling
2. Calf Wall Stretch - using a wall, post or partner to stretch the calves by pushing gently against it while driving our rear heel towards the ground - 20-30 seconds on each leg
3. Sped Leg Stretch - with legs straight (slightly bent - never locked out) spread them a comfortable width apart (past you shoulder width but not straining) and bend upper body downward, stretching in middle, towards left leg and toward right leg 20-30 seconds each.
4. Together Hamstring Stretch - standing with legs together straightened (slightly bent - never completely locked out), bend at the waist and reach down towards the ground and hold for 20-30 seconds. 
5. Standing Quad Stretch - start straight, with feet should width, bend one knee and gently pull heel back towards buttocks (straight back) while keeping thigh perpendicular with the ground, and hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat with other leg. 
6. Cross Over Glute Stretch - seated on the ground with legs straight out in front of you, bend one leg and place foot on far side of opposite knee, twist upper body towards the side of the bent leg and hold for 20-30 seconds then repeat with opposite leg. 
7. Raised Lunge Stretch - start by standing a short stride away from a bench, chair or bumper of a car, place one foot on the bench, keeping the other leg straight foot on the ground, slowly lunge forward towards the raised foot and hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat with opposite leg. 

After A Quality Stress Workout or Race
1.  Walking (2-5 mins) - great opportunity to start rehydrating/refueling
2.  Easy jogging - duration depend on length of workout/race and individual level of mileage.
3.  Light and limited range dynamic movements or gentle rolling as needed 

After An Endurance Stress Workout (Long Run)
1.  Walking (2-5 mins) - great opportunity to start rehydrating/refueling
2.  Light and limited range dynamic movements or gentle rolling as needed 

Note:  We do not want to do any hard or significant static stretching immediately after a stress workout or race as highly fatigued muscle are easier to strain as they are weakened and the sensory feedback they provide is compromised for a period of time. 

Consistency
While the routines above are short and simple and only take a few minutes to do, the consistent use of them before and after your runs will make a big difference in how you feel on your runs and in reducing the likelihood of injury in just a short time. It is a great 5-10 minute investment of your training time.  Ingrain these into your running routine to the point it comes as second nature, so that without even thinking you automatically launch into your dynamic warm-up routine before runs and go through your cool-down protocol afterwards.   It will help you get the most out of the work your do in your runs. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Chapter 12 - Attitude


The attitude we bring to training and racing is one of the biggest determining factors in our success.  

That is a big statement.  

With the right attitude, success becomes possible, but without the right attitude success is highly unlikely.  No matter how great your training schedule is or how great your race strategy is, it is very unlikely to be successful if your attitude is not in the right place.  And even if your training schedule or race plan have flaws, you still have the possibility of success with the right attitude. But if you can marry the 2 together, a great training schedule and race plan, along with the right attitude, well …. then it will be hard not to be successful.  

4 Elements To A Successful Attitude
I believe there are 4 elements to a successful attitude for training and racing and pursuing your goals: Positivity, Belief, Confidence and Determination

1) Positivity:  
The body tends to follow the mind, so while negativity makes you feel worse, positivity can help you feel better. The runner must stay positive and optimistic in mind-frame and outlook in training and in racing. They must focus on the positive and opportunities of their situation. They must recognize and dismiss negative thoughts as quickly and effectively as possible.  Negative thoughts happen to everyone, it is human nature and part of fatigue.  The most successful runners though are those who learn to recognize and deal with those negative thoughts quickly and turn them back into positives.  They take the thought “Its just not my day, I can’t do this” and recognized it's subjective negativity and turn it so then it becomes “this is going to be so epic when I overcome this”.

2) Belief:
The runner must believe in themselves.  The runner must believe that what they are trying to accomplish is possible, and they must believe in that their training will help get them there.  Without belief, success will not happen, period.  A key to belief is being open to the possibilities and potential of themselves. The runner must allow themselves to believe.

3) Confidence:
A runner must allow training to build up their confidence.  They must give themselves credit for the hard work they do in training (even when it’s not perfect) and allow it to build them up mentally as well as physically. The most successful runners go the start line with a calm confidence that they are well prepared for the task before them. The runner must have confidence in themselves and give themselves permission in the race to be the bad-ass they have worked so hard in training to become. Confidence and belief are closely related, we must believe it is possible and that we can do it, and then we must have the confidence in ourselves and our training to go out there and get it done.

4) Determination:
A runner must build up and maintain a strong determination and steely resolve to accomplish their goals.  Often in athletics, determination springs for a passion for the sport and the goals we are pursuing.  Ultimately in training we must be able to be determined and passionate enough about pursuing our goals that it motivates us to get out there every day and do the work necessary to reach our goals.  In racing in order to accomplish our goals we must remain more determined and resolute that we are tired.  The stronger our determination, the longer we can outpace fatigue.  Determination keeps it focus intently on the destination (the goal) rather than on the sacrifices it takes to get there.   

The Attitude Muscle
We can not just decide one day that we will have a great attitude and then magically “poof” everything will be perfect.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.  Instead, our attitude is like a muscle, it is something we have to work on, and train, and develop.  It is not something that will be perfect to start with, but the more diligent we are in working on it, the better and stronger it will become.  Slowly over time we will learn to master the 4 elements that make up the attitude we desire, the one that will help lead us to success and accomplished goals.  And in the times we fail in our attitude, and there will be plenty of those, we must recognize it, and learn from it, and fix it, and rededicate ourselves to the process of developing a successful attitude.  We will never be completely perfect, but with time and diligence we can build up a strong attitude muscle, one we can call on when when we need it most.

Vision
One of the most powerful tools that you have as you work on your attitude and pursue your goals, is a vision of what you want to achieve.  You need to be able to clearly see and define what you are trying to accomplish.  What will it look like, what will it taste like, what will it smell like, and what will it feel like.  Include all the senses you can in your vision, the more senses the more real and tangible it will become to you.  Think of this vision often, multiple times per day, burn it into your mind.  This vision will help you with all the elements of attitude we just talked about.  With a strong vision of success in your head, with all your senses engaged, it becomes more real and concrete to you, not so much a dream or fairy tale anymore, but a real place and destination you are moving towards.  As such, it will be easier to remain positive and dismiss negativity.  It will be easier to believe in it and that you can you achieve it.  It will be easier to see your hard work getting you closer and thus building your confidence.  And this vision will make it that much easier to stay motivated, determined and passionate about it.


Do yourself, your training, and your racing the biggest favor you can, arm yourself with a major key to your success, the right attitude.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chapter 11 - Racing

Note: To me coaching is all about stewardship, using the knowledge and experience I have gained over 40 years as a runner, and 10 years as a coach, to help others pursue their running goals.  So rather than publishing a book you have to pay for, I am publishing it here on my blog, free for all (runners and coaches alike) to read and enjoy, maybe learn something from it, or potentially have it prompt you to look at something from a slightly different viewpoint.  If any of those happen, mission accomplished. 


"Smile as you head to the start line, races are a celebration of the hard work we have done in training."

When determining the best race strategy to advise distance runners to utilize, I came up with the following criteria to help guide me, I wanted a strategy that:
-        Offered the highest probability of producing the best performance
-        Was physiologically sound
-        Was psychology sound
-        Could be practiced in training to help the runner master it

After studying all the different components involved, and looking at the best results from runners of all ages and ability levels over multiple decades, I have the come up with what I feel is the best race strategy and use and one that meets all of the criteria listed above.

Interestingly enough, this general strategy (slight negative split) has been what has been used in the vast majority of world records in distance races over the last 50 years, giving me good confidence in its soundness.

I am also defining the race strategy I recommend in such a way that it can be utilized by runners regardless of how they prefer to monitor their races, whether by pace, effort, or heart rate, so that it may be used by all runners.  

Race Strategy
I recommend that the race be broken up into 3 segments, as follows:

Segment #1:  First 10% of the race - Easing into it
In the first segment of the race the runner eases into their goal pace/effort/heart rate. The runner does this by starting conservatively, just slightly slower than goal pace/effort/heart rate and gradually ramping up into the goal ranges by 5-10% into the race.

Physiologically this allows the body to ease into its goal range more efficiently and with a lower energy burn rate and blood lactate level than a more abrupt start allows.  

Psychologically this takes some pressure and stress off on the starting line and in early part of the race, as the runner knows they have time (by design) to ramp into their performance.  

Segment #2:  10% to 80% of race distance - Strong, Smooth and Steady
The second segment of the race is by far the longest and encompasses the majority of the race.  It lasts from the 10% mark of the race to the 80% mark of the race or 70% of the total race distance.  Our strategy in this second segment is to run as smooth and even as possible in our goal range (either pace, heart rate or effort).  We want to focus on a good strong sustainable rhythm and staying as relaxed as possible while running in our goal range.

Physiologically this allows the body to run as expend as little energy as possible while at goal range. Just letting the miles tick by as we focus on staying as smooth and relaxed as possible.

Psychologically it allows us to go on auto-pilot and just execute what we have trained to do without over thinking things or getting too caught up in racing just yet.

Segment #3:  Last 20% of race distance - Racing home
At the 80% point in the race we do a quick assessment on how much gas we have left in the tank, and then race home the best we can based on that.  At best we may be able to pick-up the pace some in this final segment as we race home, and at worst we should be able to maintain our goal pace if we have executed our first 80% as planned.  Any up-side on our goal time comes in this last 20% of the race.  We have raced the first 80% of the race with our heads, following a strategy we should be able to maintain the whole way, and now we race the last 20% of the race with our hearts to finish off the performance and maybe realize some upside.  We use competition to help motivate us and embrace the challenge of pushing and expanding our limits. This last 20% is a huge investment both physically and mentally as we are pushing our limits and dealing with steadily growing fatigue, but that is why we executed the first 80% as we did, to conserve as much physical and mental energy as we could for this last segment.

Physiologically we have set ourselves up well, we have covered the first 80% at a manageable level so now we are free to race home and use up what energies we have left knowing we are close to home and most of the way to a great performance.

Psychologically we conserved our mental energies the first 80%, not worrying about competition, just executing a solid plan and staying smooth and relaxed and not over thinking.  Now as we hit the final 20% we start pulling out the mental tricks and triggers to help us combat the fatigue.  We let our competition motivate us, we try and catch or pass people, most people positive split races so by executing a slight negative split, we will be passing many more people in this segment than we get passed by. We think of how close we are to a completing a great performance and use it to excite and motivate us.  We break the final miles of the race up in smaller segments and stay in the moment, executing 1 segment at a time.

This Race Strategy:
  • helps us run relaxed and efficient and feel good for as much of the race as possible while still maximizing our performance
  • helps us stay positive late in the race by structuring it so that we are passing people instead of getting passed late in the race, we race the second half of the race as the hunters not the hunted.
  • conserves our mental and physical energies for when we will need it most - the final stages of the race
  • is practicable in most of our training

Establishing Our Goal Ranges
An important part of this race strategy is having a good handle on what your reasonable goal range(s) should be, as we will use it as the basis for the first 80% of the race.  This goal range can be a certain pace per mile or kilometer, or it can be a target heart rate range, or a certain feel/effort we want to give.

Many people find they are most comfortable with using one of these methods as their primary gauge with maybe another one (or two) as a secondary gauge.  For example, you may decide to run based on feel with pace as a back-up guide that is a little more concrete.

You have 2 big tools to use in deciding our goal range.  The results of your training leading up to the race, and past experience in races.  The more you have trained and raced the easier this becomes to figure out.  You will have experienced workouts and races and have a good idea what that means for you in this race.  A coach can be a HUGE help on this front, as not only do they know your training and racing background very well, but they have examples and knowledge of dozens (and even hundreds) other runners having done similar workouts and races.

A big key here is to not overextend your goal ranges.  Stick with what is reasonable and that you have a very high likelihood of being able to sustain.  Leave stretch goals and up-side potential to that last 20% of the race and pace the first 80% of the race with solid, realistic expectation.  A great tool help in setting this up is doing a simulation run or race in your training to practice the pacing you plan to use the first 80% of the race.  As a key stress workout in your cycle, simply run 50-65% of the goal race distance exactly as you plan to run the first 80% of the race.  It can give you great feedback, help you tweak your plan, and boost your confidence on race day.

Goal Range Adjustments
Make sure that after establishing your goals ranges you note any adjustments that need to be made due to course or weather conditions.  This includes things like any big hills on the course or warmer or colder weather conditions than you are use to in your training.  Again, data from your training, past races and your coach can help you hone these adjustments.

Example Strategy
Sub 3 Hour Marathon (goal range by pace)
Segment 1:  ease into the race the first 2 miles: 7:00-7:10 for first mile and 6:50-7:00 for second mile
Segment 2:  smooth and steady 6:45-6:50 per mile from 2 to 21 miles, except 6:55-7:00 pace on the hilly section from 10-13 miles
Segment 3:  race it home last 5.2 miles at 6:50 or better pace
Result:  2:59 or better


Approx Race Breakout By Segment
Race Distance
Segment 1
Segment 2
Segment 3
5k
first quarter mile
.25 to 2.5 miles
last .6 miles
8k
first half mile
.5 to 4 miles
last mile
10k
first half mile
.5 to 5 miles
last 1.2 miles
15k
first mile
1 to 7.5 miles
last 1.8 miles
10 mile
first mile
1 to 8 miles
last 2 miles
20k
first mile
1 to 10 miles
last 2.4 miles
Half Marathon
first mile
1 to 10 miles
last 3.1 miles
25k
first 1.5 miles
1.5 to 12 miles
last 3.5 miles
30k
first 1.5 miles
2 to 15 miles
last 3.6 miles
Marathon
first 2 miles
2 to 21 miles
last 5.2 miles

Practice In Training
During your stress workouts in training, practice the general outline we plan to use in racing.  That is: start a bit conservative and ease into it, run strong, smooth and steady during the majority of the workout, and then finish a touch faster in the final section (i.e. slight negative split).  In particular practice this approach in your tempo runs and long runs as these are continuous runs most similar to our races.  After awhile of doing this, it will become ingrained and just part of how you normally run, making it second nature to you on race day.

Fueling
The is is an area of race strategy that has gotten a lot more complicated for runners in recent years as there is more options now than ever before.  There are tons of waters, sports drink, electrolyte drinks, energy replacement drinks, gels, gu's, sports beans, chews and lots of "normal" foods available to runners in training and races and all sorts of methods of carrying them with you if desired.  So lets first cut through some of the haze and confusion and establish a base strategy.

Lets start by breaking this up into race durations:
1) races under 1 hour
2) races between 1 and 2 hours
3) races over 2 hours

Next lets break-up the fueling needs into 2 categories
1) fluids/electrolytes
2) energy/calories

Fluids/Electrolytes
Serving Size:  3-6 oz (2-3 good swallows) of water or drink with electrolytes
Races under 1 hour:   1 serving every 20-30 minutes (optional)
Races between 1 - 2 hours:  1 serving every 20-30 minutes  (15-20 minutes in warm weather)
Races over 2 hours:  1 serving every 15-20 minutes
Recommendation: start by alternating servings between waters and electrolyte drink the first half of race then adjust second half by craving.

Energy/Calories
Serving Size:  75-100 calories (easy to digest)
Races under 1 hour:  not recommended
Races between 1 - 2 hours:  1 serving every 40-60 minutes
Races over 2 hours:  1 serving every 30-45 minutes
Options: sports/energy drinks, gels, GU's, sports beans, chews, real food (fruit, cookie, etc.)

Experiment In Training
Play with the options listed above in training to figure out what mix and combination works best for you. Do you prefer to get your calories from drinks or gels, or chews.  Does your stomach handle sports drinks OK, and if not which ones does it like or not like.  Your training runs, especially long runs, are you chance to figure this out and train your stomach for race day.

Example
Common Marathon Strategy:  alternating between a servings of water and sports drink once every 15-20 minutes plus take most of a gel pack every hour (with water).

Attitude
Our attitude is key to our success in racing, and the race strategy outlined in this chapter is designed to help us best use our mental energies and produce a positive attitude. The next chapter (Chapter 12) will focus in more depth on our attitude and mental approach to training and racing.