Monday, March 2, 2015

Positivity & Driven Personalities


Many runners are driven individuals who want to improve and have lofty goals and expectations for themselves.  If harnessed and used well this can be a great thing and lead them to exciting accomplishments, but if not held in check and used properly it can also be a source of endless frustration.

I think the key to using this driven personality to carry you to success is through Positivity.

To help you see if you are using positivity to help achieve success, here are some examples of how a positive approach and conversely a negative approach would look at training and racing.


Training

Positive Way:  Looks at each workout as an opportunity to improve and gets better.  Reflects first on and appreciates the progress made in an area.  Notes failures or short-comings in a workout and thinks of them as opportunities for future improvement and growth.  Remembers the whole, and each activities place in the process.  Focus is on executing the now and then going forward and what is next.

Negative Way:  Looks as each workout as something that it is critical to nail in order to stay on track.  Reflects first on any short comings or failures in the workout.  Notes failures or short-comings in a workout and thinks of them as having undermined at least some of what they wanted to accomplish.  Seeks to make-up missed work.  Focus is on rehashing or correcting the past.  

Racing

Positive Way:  Reviews their training progress and successes and uses them to set their race goals and build up their confidence in their ability to achieve them.  Goes to the start line with a calm confidence knowing they are well prepared for the task at hand.  Stays positive in the race, focuses on the things they can control.  Adapts to any unforeseen challenges, focused on moving forward and staying optimistic on how they can make the best of the moment and what is left in the race. Only allows positive self talk and encouragement to take place.  Views success with graciousness and humility, allowing it to build internal confidence.  Views failure as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future.

Negative Way:  Establishes their race goals based on what they think they should do in order to meet other bigger goals. Seeks to convince or justify to themselves why they can achieve those goals. Goes to the start line determined to MAKE their goal happen. Gets mad or frustrated when any unforseen challenges happen that put their goal into jeopardy. Seeks to make up for mistakes or challenges. Allows negative self talk to creep in with adversity.  Views success as validation and as being deserved.  Views failure as crushing and devastating, and thinks they should feel this way or they some how aren't driven enough.

It can be very helpful for runners to do an honest assessment periodically of how they view training and racing and which pathway, positive or negative, are they going down.  No one is perfect but the more on the positive side we can stay the greater our chances for success will be.

Happy Running!

Coach Mark Hadley




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

8 Stamina Building Workouts


Here are 8 great stamina building workouts that for distance runners that I wanted to share with you in this blog post. These are workouts that will help improve either your lactate threshold (LT) or your aerobic threshold (AT) and help you hold a faster pace for longer in your distance races.  

Lactate Threshold Centered Workouts


Lactate Threshold Tempo Run (LT Tempo)
Workout: Continuous run of between 24 and 30 minutes at as even a pace as possible
Pace: Lactate Threshold (LT)
Benefits: improves lactate threshold, builds efficiency at and familiarity with LT pace
Use: Used frequently in the Fundamental Phase and marathon Specific Phase, and extensively in the Specific Phase for a half marathon goal race
Example:  A continuous 27 minutes at LT pace

Lactate Threshold Progression Run (LT Progression)
Workout: Continuous run of between 24 and 30 minutes at a progression pace
Pace: Starting the run at AT pace and gradually progressing to 4-5% faster than LT pace the end of the run
Benefits: improves lactate threshold, mirrors the effort profile (increasing effort/intensity) of a race
Use: Used frequently in the Fundamental Phase and marathon Specific Phase and extensively in the Specific Phase for a half marathon goal race
Example: A continuous 27 minutes starting at AT pace and progressing to LT - 1x pace by the end

Lactate Threshold Wave Run (LT Wave)
Workout: Continuous run of between 24 to 30 minutes alternating every 2-5 minutes between 2 paces
Pace: 2-5 minute segments alternated at AT pace and LT - 1x pace
Benefits: improves lactate threshold, promotes focus and mentally staying in the moment
Use: Used frequently in the Fundamental Phase and marathon Specific Phase and extensively in the Specific Phase for a half marathon goal race
Example: A continuous 27 minutes alternating 3 minute segments at 4-5% slower than and 4-5% faster than LT pace

Lactate Threshold Repeats (LT Repeats)
Workout: Repeats of between 5 and 20 minutes, totaling between 30 and 40 minutes in total
Pace:  Lactate Threshold (LT) pace
Recovery: a very slow recovery jog of between 15% and 25% of repeat duration
Benefits: improves lactate threshold, builds efficiency at and familiarity with LT pace
Use: Used sporadically in the Fundamental Phase and Specific Phase as stamina work
Example:  3 x 12 minutes at LT pace with 2:30 jog recovery

Aerobic Threshold Centered Workouts


Aerobic Threshold Tempo Run (AT Tempo)
Workout: Continuous run of between 48 and 60 minutes at as even a pace as possible
Pace: Aerobic Threshold (AT) pace
Benefits: improves aerobic threshold, builds efficiency at and familiarity with AT pace
Use: Used sporadically in the Fundamental Phase and half marathon Specific Phase and extensively in the Specific Phase for a marathon goal race
Example: A continuous 54 minutes at AT pace

Aerobic Threshold Progression Run (AT Progression)
Workout: Continuous run of between 48 and 60 minutes done at a progression pace
Pace: Starting the run at 4-5% slower than and gradually progressing to LT pace by the end of the run
Benefits: improves aerobic threshold, mirrors the effort profile (increasing effort/intensity) of a race
Use: Used sporadically in the Fundamental Phase and half marathon Specific Phase and can be used regularly in the Specific Phase for a marathon goal race
Example: A continuous 54 minutes starting at 4-5% slower than AT pace and progressing to LT pace by the end

Aerobic Threshold Wave Run (AT Wave)
Workout: Continuous run of between 48 and 60 minutes, alternating 5-10 minutes at between 2 paces
Pace:  5-10 minutes segments alternated at 4-5% slower than AT pace and LT pace
Benefits: improves aerobic threshold, promotes focus and staying in the moment
Use: Used sporadically in the Fundamental Phase and half marathon Specific Phase and extensively in the Specific Phase for a marathon goal race
Example: A continuous 55 minutes alternating 5 minute segments in 4-5% slower than AT pace and LT pace

Aerobic Threshold Repeats (AT Repeats)
Workout: Repeats of between 10 and 40 minutes, totaling between 60 and 80 minutes in total
Pace: Aerobic Threshold (AT) pace
Recovery: a very slow recovery jog of between 10% and 20% of repeat duration
Benefits: improves aerobic threshold, builds efficiency at and familiarity with AT
Use: Used sporadically in the Fundamental Phase and Specific Phase as stamina work
Example:  3 x 24 minutes at AT pace with 3:00 jog recovery

Paces
Need help determining what your lactate threshold and aerobic threshold paces are?

Here is a quick guide:

LT Pace:  roughly the pace you can hold for 60 minutes in an all out effort (i.e. race)

AT Pace:  4 - 5% slower than LT pace.

If you are more distance oriented runners (i.e. a marathon type with high % of slow twitch muscle fibers) than you can use 4% to calculate your AT.

If you are a neutral runner (i.e. competes equally as well at 5k as you do half marathon or marathon) than you can use 4.5% to calculate your AT.

If you are a shorter distance oriented runner (i.e a 5k-10k type of runner who does better at those distance than the HM or marathon) than you can use 5% to calculate your AT.

Still need help?  Here is a link to my coaching training paces pace where i have some links to charts where you can use recent race times figure out your current LT and AT paces.





Monday, February 2, 2015

Some Thoughts on Running Surfaces


The surface we run on, as we would expect, can effect to some degree the stresses on the body during running.  The legs change their rigidity in anticipation of the landing surface, and the timing and load of the stress of impact can change by milliseconds and millimeters depending on the surface landing on. 

Given this information my recommendations on running surfaces are 2 fold:
  • Be careful about making changes quickly in the type of surfaces you run on.  If you move from training solely on one surface type to running solely on another (such as exclusively trails to exclusively pavement), you will likely experience some problems as the muscles, tendons and joints of the legs adjust to the changes in impact forces and timing.  I recommend making any changes to the mix of surfaces you run on gradually. But if you find yourself in a situation where the changes has to happen quickly (such as with travel or a move), back off on the mileage you run a little bit at first to help give your body a little help adapting to the change in stresses.  Then gradually over time you can ramp it back up to previous levels.  Remember, the body adapts best to gradual changes.     
  • You need to prepare your body specifically for the surfaces you will race on. If we know that the body faces slightly different stresses on different surfaces than it makes sense that we need to do a fair amount of running on the surface we plan to race on so that our body is well adapted to that surface and ready for the stresses involved in it.  As a marathon coach, I have seen many times over the years where runners (at all levels) failed to do this and it came back to bite them on race day.  They did most of their long runs and tempo runs on trails or dirt roads and when they raced their marathon on the roads they had unexpected issues with their feet and different leg muscles or tendons.  Prepare your body specifically for the stresses it will encounter on race day.

There is no 1 best surface to run on.  Each is different and has its own benefits and drawbacks.  The best approach is to understand that and use each according to need, and availability.  We have a big diverse world in which to run, understand it, enjoy it, and explore it. 

Happy Running,

Coach Mark Hadley

Monday, October 20, 2014

Never Let A Tool Become A Driver


The stress and recover principle is at the heart of our training as distance runners.  The purpose of a stress workout is to stress certain systems of the body in such a way as to cause desired adaptations to take place.  In other words to become fitter in a desired way.  The purpose of a recovery run is to allow the body to recover from a stress workout while maintaining or advancing cardiovascular fitness. 

Note that I never say the word pace or time in either definition.  

I love math more than most, and am an analyst by nature, and so I have fun working through all the formulas and determining the optimal paces for workouts and runs based on the science behind the sport.  But sometimes knowing the theoretical optimal pace does not necessarily help us, and in fact can hurt us by putting extra pressure on us that can detract from our performance in the workout or race.

I suggest the best way to do any run is to start off and find the rhythm and effort level that feels right for that type of run/workout.  Then after a little while, once you have settled in, check your watch as a feedback tool to verify you are somewhere in the general desired range or where you thought you were.

There are many factors that can effect the optimal pace range on any given day, so by having a good feel for and knowing the rhythm of a desired workout, you can often be better assured of meeting the goal of the day, whether it be to stress the body or allow it to recover.  Given this I am in the process of making a change as a coach and including more talk about the desired feel of a workout in my notes to my runners and only including pace ranges as a secondary note that they can use as a feedback tool, not as a driver of the workout.  

What you want to stay away from is being obsessed with your watch.  Checking your time/pace multiple times per mile is not healthy mentally or physically. Hitting a certain time/pace does not assure the optimal outcome for the run, and it can be a dangerous crutch that can be disastrous if ever it is not available or if it malfunctions (which happens often).  

Keep your eye on the goal of run, and no that does not usually mean a specific time/pace, but rather honoring the stress and recover principle.  If your workout for the day is a 5 mile tempo run, and you go out and run it at a good hard, smooth effort, working hard but keeping it controlled and manageable, you will have gotten the desired benefits from that workout regardless of what your watch says.  Similarly, if you have an easy 5 mile recovery run planned in order to recover from the stress workout you did the day or 2 before, and you go out and keep it comfortable and relaxed and never feel like you are pushing it then you will have accomplished the purpose of that run, regardless of what your watch says.  

What you use the watch for on these runs is feedback tools to help you fine tune and better understand those efforts and feel over time, and to monitor and track progress and to adapt the training plan.  It needs to be a tool to enhance training, not a driver that dictates it.   


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Great Marathon Workouts


Here are 5 great marathon workouts to have in your marathon training program:

1) Speed: 16 x 600 meters @ GMP - 12% w 200 meter jog recovery

2) Speed-Strength:  8 x mile @ GMP - 8% w 400 meter jog recovery

3) Short Stamina:  6 miles Tempo @ GMP - 4%

4) Long Stamina:  20 miles - first 4 easy, middle 12 @ GMP, last 4 easy

5) Endurance:  24 miles @ GMP + 10%

Math Guide:

If Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) = 6:00 per mile  (360 seconds)

GMP - 12% =  5:17 per mile  (360 x .12 = 43,  360 - 43 = 317 = 5:17)

GMP - 8% = 5:32 per mile  (360 x .08 = 28,  360 - 28 = 332 = 5:32)

GMP - 4% = 5:46 per mile  (360 x .04 = 14,  360 - 14 = 346 = 5:46)

GMP + 10% = 6:36 per mile  (360 x .10 = 36,  360 + 36 = 396 = 6:36)


For an explanation of these workouts, why these particular workouts, and how and when to use these workouts, see the book:  "Aerobic Titans" - coming out later this fall.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Transforming Goals Into Reality


"The future starts today, not tomorrow." - Pope John Paul II
                         
Do you want to transform your goals into reality?  A major key to doing that will be to turn talk and intentions into steps and actions.  Many people talk the talk, but very few actually walk the walk and that is why so few reach their goals.  You must not only dream big and set goals, but you also must align your life, including daily routines and habits, in such a way as to achieve them.  That takes passion and commitment and THAT is what will make your dreams come true more than anything else. 

I can't give you that passion, that has to come from inside you, but I can show you the way if you have that passion. 


If you have that passion and commitment, and a big running goal to achieve, and need help getting there, please contact me at coach@mprunning.com.  I can and would LOVE to help you achieve your goals.  Lets talk about your running goals and let me help you identify what it will take to get there.  So then you can align your life accordingly and get to work making your goals a reality. I am available for consultations, on-line coaching and custom program design at www.mprunning.com 




Thursday, July 10, 2014

How Fast Is Fast Enough In Training?

Alana Hadley doing sprint work

How fast is fast enough in training?  In other words, what is the fastest pace we need to train at in our preparations for our goal race?  I've done a lot of thinking on this question and have talked with many other coaches and athletes as well and so wanted to share with my thoughts and findings.   

One of the problems we face in training is that we have many systems to work and race demands to cover and only so many stress workout in which to do them.  We need to work primary systems and demands on a regular basis so we must prioritize what we do and how often we do them in order to regularly work on the areas most critical to our race success.  

Though my experience with athletes, talking with other coaches, and an analysis of the physiology, I have decided that the cut-off point is at ~12% faster than goal race pace.  I simply can't justify dedicating a full workout to working at any faster than 12% quicker than goal race pace.  While working at faster than that does have its benefits, the benefits reaped don't merit the full use of a precious resource, a whole dedicated workout.  Now that doesn't mean that I never have an athlete run faster than that, I just don't dedicate a whole workout to it.  I may have them do some strides or pick-ups during an easy run or acceleration sprints during a drill circuit that easily exceeds this pace, but the whole workout isn't dedicated to this type of pace.  

Examples:
- If goal race pace is 7:00 per mile I wouldn't dedicate a full workout to any pace quicker than 6:10 pace
- If goal race pace is 6:00 per mile I wouldn't dedicate a full workout to any pace quicker than 5:17 pace
- If goal race pace is 5:00 per mile I wouldn't dedicate a full workout to any pace quicker than 4:24 pace

For marathon runners one of the faster dedicated workouts I have them do is:
12-16 x 600 @ 12% quicker than goal marathon pace with 1:30 jog recovery
(for a marathoner targeting 6:00 per mile goal pace these 600's would be targeting 1:59)

This workout is a supportive workout that not only covers our speed needs but also stresses our VO2 Max significantly and is long enough (4.5 to 6 miles worth of work + 1.5 to 2 mile in recovery jog + warm-up and cool-down) to provide some work to both stamina and endurance as well .  So while technically a speed workout it also supports other areas important to a marathoner, so I can justify dedicating a whole workout to this periodically.  If I have them work any quicker I would have to reduce the repeat distance and/or the number of repeats and thus I would loose some of those stamina and endurance benefits which make that justification harder to make.

Note:  this analysis and post was done with the 10k to marathon race distances in mind.

Happy Running,

Coach Mark Hadley