Tuesday, May 7, 2013
When we run in warm conditions our body temperature rises and in order to keep from overheating our body starts to take steps to reduce our temperature. The main way our body tries to reduce our temperature is by sweating, which cools the surface of the skin when the sweat evaporates, and then diverting more of our blood flow to the skin surface to cool it. This diversion of more blood to the skin surface means that less blood is available to be used by working muscles and organs. This decrease in blood flow to the muscles means that the same work load will require more effort /energy to accomplish or that less work can be performed using the same amount of effort.
That last part is key to how we train as distance runners in the heat and humidity of summer time. Trying to run at the same pace for the same distance in the warm weather can require significantly more effort/energy than it will in the cool weather, so we must either reduce the speed or the distance we run (or a combination of both).
Since we are “distance” runners and the length of races don’t change, I am do not believe in reducing the distance of the training we do in preparation for a certain race distance. This means that if we are training for a marathon in the summer we still run the distances in training required to properly prepare for a marathon, because on race day we still have to run the race distance. They don’t shorten the race because it was hot when people trained for it.
Having said that, many distance runners choose to lessen the total mileage needed in training during the summer by racing shorter distances, choosing to focus on speed rather than endurance during this time of year. This shorter distance focus in the warm weather months is a very valid approach, but may not fit everyone.
Training / Racing Pace
So if the distance we run in training for a specific race isn't changing, than it becomes mandatory to adjust the pace at which we run that distance in warm weather. The logical question then is: how much should we be slowing our paces? The answer that question depends on several factors including the air temperature, the humidity level and how acclimatized we are to the heat. The higher the temperature the harder the body will have to work to cool itself so the more blood that will diverted away from muscles and to the skin surface. The higher the humidity levels the slower the sweat evaporates which slows the cooling process. And how acclimatized to the weather we are affects how efficient our body is at this cooling process.
Here are a few rules of thumb that will help you get in the right ball park when it comes to weather adjustments.
Adjust your pace approximately 0.1% to 0.15% for each degrees F above 60 F. Early in the season, when you aren't acclimatized, the adjustment will probably be on the 0.15% side but by the end of the season it may be down to 0.1% (or less) when you are use to (more efficient at dealing with) the heat. Then I would adjust the temperature for the humidity as well. So if the humidity level is high I might add 5-10 degrees to the temperature I use to adjust the pace further pace.
This is just a tough rule of thumb to help you get started figuring out an adjustment for you, but you may have to customize this some for you and your specific body make-up and situation.
Example: If I normally run 5 miles at 7:00 pace on a cooler weather day, but the temperature when I go out for this run is 80 degrees, than I would slow the pace down by:
80-60 = 20 degrees over 60F. 20 x 0.15% = 3.0% So 3% slower than 7:00 is 7:13 per mile. I would do this run at 7:13 per mile target.
If it was also fairly humid that day (60-80%) I might adjust that temperature up to 85 degrees or so giving me an adjusted pace of 7:16 per mile. If high humidity I might be running at 7:20 or slower.
Note: reduce your adjustment by roughly half when doing intervals/repeats, as the body gets a chance to cool itself back down during the recovery intervals. There is still an adjustment necessary but it is not as big as on continuous runs.
Since the body’s main way of dealing with the heat revolves around increased sweating, our ability to deal well with the heat will require that we stay well hydrated. This includes making sure we have good hydration habits all through-out the day, in addition to re-hydrating well immediately after our runs. While water will be our primary concern, we also need to be sure that we are replacing the electrolytes we lose in our sweat as well. Our body can take much of these electrolytes from a healthy diet, but during the warmer weather times we may need to also increase our intake of electrolytes through sports drinks or supplements. During longer runs in warmer weather (over 40 minutes) it may also be a good idea to arrange to take in some fluids during the run. This will be vitally important during long runs, where some electrolyte supplementation may also be beneficial.
Positive Effects of Heat Training
So now that we have talked about the downside of training in the heat, let’s talk about the benefits. There seems to be good evidence that training in the heat may have very similar effects to training at altitude. Think about it for a minute. At altitude the level of oxygen delivered by our blood to our muscles and organs is less because oxygen levels are lower at altitude. The body responds to this by increasing our blood supply so we have more blood with which to deliver the oxygen. Similarly in the heat, if a portion of blood supply is being diverted to the skin, that leaves less going to the muscles and organs and the body can respond to that over time by increasing our blood supply. So altitude and heat may be two different ways to achieve the same beneficial adaptation (increased blood supply). Additionally there is evidence that warm weather training increases our body’s efficiency at cooling itself, which has carry over benefits even when we are running/racing in cooler temperatures. The less the body has to work to cool itself, the more blood available to transport oxygen to the muscles.
So instead of dreading training in the warmer weather this summer, embrace it as an opportunity improve yourself as a runner with bout of “poor man’s altitude” training. Sorry Boulder, Albuquerque, and Mammoth Lakes, I am getting my altitude training done here in the Deep South this summer. J
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
When designing a training program for the marathon, I often include a “marathon simulation” workout. This workout provides us with a chance to practice pre-race routines, check out the gear we plan to wear, and refine our in-race fueling strategies. This simulation is often very educational and confidence building.
There are generally 3 types of simulations from which I choose: 15 mile Simulation Run, Half Marathon Simulation or a Half Marathon Race. In all 3 types we would be sure to do the following: match the goal marathon course layout as much as possible, practice planned pre-race routines and meals, wear the same shoes and clothes we plan to use on race day, run the simulation at the same time of day (i.e. 7 AM start), and practice using the in-race fueling strategy we plan to use in the goal marathon.
15 Mile Simulation Run: This is a 15 mile tempo run done at goal marathon pace. The advantages of this simulation option are that we can control most variables, such as the course and time of day, and we get significant work running at marathon goal pace. We would do this 3-4 weeks out from the goal marathon and would not fully taper for it other than adding an extra easy day before and after the workout.
Half Marathon Simulation: This is a half marathon race that we are using as a simulation workout rather than a race. We would target a pace about 1% faster than goal marathon pace. The advantage of this option is that we get the race day atmosphere and routine similar to what we will experience in our goal race. We would do this 3-4 weeks out from the goal marathon, and would not fully taper for it other than adding an extra easy day before and after the workout.
Half Marathon Race: This is an all-out half marathon race performance usually done 4-6 weeks before the goal marathon. The advantages of this option are that we get the full race day atmosphere and routine, and we get great lactate threshold work to keep marathon pace feeling easy. This would include our full non-goal race pre-race taper and post-race recovery. In this we would target a pace roughly 4% faster than goal marathon pace.
By doing a simulation workout/race, we learn how well our planned pre-race routines and meals work, as well as discover any issues with our fueling strategies or clothing/shoe choices. This allows us time to make tweaks to the plan, in needed, before race day arrives. Additionally it helps the body and mind get comfortable with the course layout and time of day we will be racing. If we do the simulation properly and don’t get too aggressive with it, it is a great confidence builder for race day, as we have the peace of mind during the first half of the race by knowing that we just successfully did this a few weeks earlier.
Caution: do not get overly aggressive with your pace expectations – be realistic. A successful simulation run can build great confidence but a bad simulation can have the opposite effect. While it is often good to challenge yourself (or your runner), this simulation is a time you want to set yourself up for success with realistic expectations.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Improving our lactate and aerobic thresholds is a major focus in the training of distance runners. Improvements in these two areas usually translate directly into improvement in our race times in long distance races (10k-marathon). Sparking continued improvement in these thresholds requires attacking them from different angles, so I am always on the lookout for different ways to effectively do this. What I wanted to share with you today is my secret weapon threshold workout, “The Wave Tempo”, that I have had a ton of success with, to the point that it is now one of my major threshold weapons I include in many of my training programs.
A good place to start the discussion of this workout is by defining each of the thresholds we are targeting.
Lactate Threshold : As we run at progressively faster paces, the levels of lactate in our cells increase. Our lactate threshold is the point at which lactate levels start to run away and the level of increase in lactate grows exponentially with additionally increases in speed. In well trained runners, the pace that represents their lactate threshold is usually the pace they can hold for 60 minutes in an all-out effort (i.e. a race). For elite women runners this represents between 15k and 20k race pace. For elite men runners this represents between 20k and half marathon race pace.
Ok so now that we have defined the 2 different thresholds we are targeting, let me define the different wave workouts we do to target each threshold.
Lactate Threshold Wave Tempo
This is a continuous 24 to 30 minute run broken into 2-5 minute segments with the pace alternating between 4-5% slower and 3-4% faster than Lactate Threshold pace. This wave workout always starts with the slower segment and ends with a faster segment. This can also be done in terms of miles rather than minutes, such as a 5 mile to 10k run alternating half mile or 1k segments.
Example: If LT pace is 5:30 per mile than I may have this athelte do a 5 mile wave tempo, alternating half mile segments at 5:43-5:46 pace (4-5% slower than 5:30 pace) and 5:17-5:20 pace (3-4% faster than 5:30 pace).
Aerobic Threshold Wave Tempo
This is a continuous 48 to 60 minute run broken into 3-8 minute segments with the pace alternating between 4-5% slower and 3-4% faster than Aerobic Threshold pace. This wave workout always starts with the slower segment and ends with a faster segment. This can also be done in terms of miles rather than minutes, such as a 15k or 10 mile run alternating 1k or 1 mile segments.
Example: If AT pace is 5:45 per mile than I may have this athelte do a 10 mile wave tempo, alternating one mile segments at 5:59-6:02 pace (4-5% slower than 5:45 pace) and 5:31-5:35 pace (3-4% faster than 5:45 pace).
How/Why They Work
Physically these wave tempo runs work through the concept of stressing the body just beyond the current threshold and then allowing it to “recover” just shy of the threshold. This mild overload and then minimal recovery challenges the body to become more efficient around the threshold pace. This increased efficiency translates into a threshold improvement. It is believed, for example, that a lactate threshold wave workout increases the permeability of the cell membranes and thus improves the cells ability to get rid of lactate, which in turn improves the lactate threshold. Whatever the specific physical reason, the concept of repeated slight overload and minimal recoveries seems to work very well on many critical training points, including lactate and aerobic thresholds.
Mentally the benefits of this workout are equal to or even greater than the physical benefits in my opinion. In order to be successful in executing this workout, the athlete must stay focused on the segment they are in and the pacing required. This forces the athlete to “stay in the moment” , and that ability is a key requirement to successful racing and competing. Additionally this workout prepares the athlete mentally for the challenge of making sustained shifts in paces during a hard effort, something they made need to be able to do in certain competition settings.
Using Wave Tempos
As I mentioned earlier, wave tempos seem to be most effective when used in conjunction with other methods of improving our thresholds. It provides us a slightly different angle at which to approach working our thresholds. When working thresholds, I use wave tempos on a regular basis along with a mixture of even paced tempos at threshold pace, tempo intervals and progression tempos. The exact mixture of these workouts will be depend on the focus of the athlete, their background, their predispositions, and where they are in a training cycle.
With some athletes I utilize wave tempos every other time a certain threshold is worked, while with others I save it to spark improvement when other methods start to loose traction. I encourage you to find out what works best for you or your athletes and explore the possibilities when incorporating it into your schedules. For example, I have found aerobic threshold wave tempos to be an extraordinary workout in preparing for a marathon, in particular because of the mental toughness and ability to stay in the moment it teaches.
It is not perfectly clear the exact origins of wave tempos, but there is record of athletes using variations of it back into the 1950’s and it was popularized to a larger extent by renown coach Renato Canova in the last decade or two. What I have laid out here in this blog is my take on the workout, and how I have found it to be most successfully implemented. I playfully call it my “secret weapon” threshold workout because it is still not all that widely used, and I tend to use it more regularly than most any coach I know, as I have been enamored with the success the workout has brought.
I hope you find this helpful and have the best success when and if you implement it.
- Coach Mark Hadley
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
1. Knowledge - A professional running coach is someone who has studied and continues to study all aspects of the sport in great detail. Being knowledgeable about the sport and how to train for it is how they make their living, so their level of expertise in this area will usually be beyond that of a most runners. The professional running coach focuses on what we should do, and why we do it, and when we should do it, which leaves the runner to spend their energies focused on the actual doing of it.
2. Experience – The frame of reference for a running coach is larger than that of most any single runner, simply because they have seen more situations through all the athletes they have coached. Additionally, coaches are trained (or wired it seems) to analyze the various experiences they have with different athletes and different situation, and it is this analysis of these many and varied experiences that helps them continue to raise their knowledge and frame of reference in the sport.
3. Objectivity – Many runners find that they are too close to their own training and racing to stay completely objective as to what they should or need to do to be effective. But a running coach has the right blend of familiarity and distance necessary to remain objective about the situation. This point has even prompted many coaches to hire a coach themselves to handle their training.
4. Accountability – Having a running coach provides an additional level of accountability that many runners find both motivating and helpful. On days when they are having trouble getting out of bed for scheduled morning run, or are feeling impulsive and considering deviating from the training plan, knowing that they will report in to, and get feedback from, their coach provides a level of accountability that can motivate the runner and help reign in impulsive behavior.
5. Customization – Generic programs found on the internet, or in a book, generated by a computer/app, or used by large charity focused training groups, lack the individual customization that is necessary to help a runner realize their potential and meet their goals. A personal running coach can take into account the strengths and weaknesses of the runner, and make adjustments for the personal situation (work, family, travel, life, race schedule) of the runner. This is something generic programs just can’t do, that often leaves their users scratching their heads, unsure how to best adjust it themselves. The failure rate of runners on generic programs is vastly higher to that of runners using a running coach who has designed for them a custom program.
While there are obviously many additional reasons, many often specific to runners themselves, the 5 reasons list above are the main reasons I believe a runner should hire a running coach, and the reasons I most often hear from the runners themselves when they first contact me.
There are many levels of running coaches. And all have their place in the market for helping runners. Some are professionals that coach as their job and passion and some simply coach part-time or as their hobby, and there are all levels inbetween. But not all coaches are created equal in terms of their ability to help with the 5 reasons listed above. Additionally some coaches have specialties in terms of events, runner ability levels, and/or age groups. Be sure to know what you are getting and ask questions so that what you get matches up to what you want and need from a coach.
I offer a variety of coaching services to distance runners of all ability levels and ages at:
Sunday, March 10, 2013
We can break down the stress workouts we do in training for the marathon, into 3 categories: Speed Workouts, Stamina Workouts and Endurance Workouts.
Parameters For Marathoner’s Speed Workouts
Parameters For Marathoner’s Stamina Workouts
Parameters For Marathoner’s Stamina Workouts
In this blog I want to define the purpose of each and recommend some workout parameters for how to effectively work in each category.
When and how often we use each category will depend on the training phase we are in and how close to our goal marathon we are.
SpeedPurpose of Speed Training For Marathoners
· Improve/maintain the maximum amount of oxygenated blood that can be pumped by the hear t to the muscles and utilized. (VO2 Max)
· Improve the power and economy of the stride by engaging the muscles at a more intense level and activating a higher percentage of muscle fibers into use.
· Keep other training/racing paces feeling slower and less intense in comparison
· Repeats of between 400 meters and 1 mile
· Total of repeats is between 4 mile sand 8 miles in total
· Recovery jog of between 200 and 400 meters
· Repeats performed at 4% to 10% faster than half marathon pace
Purpose of Stamina Training For Marathoners
· Improve the pace at which the body before the slope of lactate production to speed increase moves to a steeper slope (lactate threshold)
· Improve the pace at which the body before the slope of energy required to speed increase moves to a steeper slope (aerobic threshold)
· Callous the body and mind to being in various amounts of physical discomfort for prolonged periods.
· Get the mind use to the feel of half marathon and marathon paces.
· Even Pace Tempo Run
Ø 4-6 miles at half marathon pace to 1% faster
Ø 8-12 miles at marathon pace to 1% faster
· Progression Tempo Runs
Ø 4-6 miles starting at 4% slower and progressing to 4% faster than half marathon pace
Ø 8-12 miles starting at 4% slower and progressing to 4% faster than marathon pace
· Wave Tempo Runs
Ø 4-6 miles alternating half mile segments at 4% slower and 4% faster than half marathon pace
Ø 8-12 miles alternating 1 mile segments at 4% slower and 4% faster than marathon pace
· Tempo Repeats
Ø Repeats of between 1 and 3 miles done at half marathon pace to 1% faster, totaling 5 to 8 miles with 200 to 400 meter jog recovery
Ø Repeats of between 2 and 6 miles done at marathon pace to 1% faster, totaling 10 to 16 miles with 200 to 800 meter jog recoveryEndurance
Purpose of Endurance Training For Marathoners
· Increase the amount of available glycogen the body stores
· Improve the efficiency of the body in using various energy sources
· Advance cardiovascular and circulatory development
· Prepare ancillary muscles for running for extended periods of time
· Callous the mind to running for extended periods of time
· Practice / acclimate the body to various fueling/refueling strategies
*Burning fat for energy requires more work from the body – the more fat we have to use the slower we run
Parameters For Marathoner’s Stamina Workouts
· Easy Pace Long Runs: 21-24 miles at 15% to 20% slower than marathon race pace
· Steady State Long Runs: 18-21 miles at 5% to 10% slower than marathon race pace
· Fast Finish Long Runs: 18-21 miles with the first 13-16 miles of the run down at 15% to 20% slower than marathon pace, and the last 3-5 miles of the run done at marathon race paceNote: For marathoners slower than 3 hours – cap easy pace long runs at 180 minutes and steady state and fast finish long runs at 150 minutes.
Friday, March 8, 2013
About 15 months ago (January 2012) I gave a presentation at a coaching conference about "Helping Young Runners Develop". I recently came across the presentation I had prepared and thought I'd share it here on my blog for those interested. Hopefully some of you will find it helpful.
Friday, February 22, 2013
I don’t work for any shoe company (nor have I ever), and I don’t have a shoe sponsor (nor have I ever). So I have the freedom to share with you some free advice on running shoes and how I, as a coach and former serious runner, recommend using them in training.
Beginners: I recommend having at least 2 pairs of comfy cushioned running shoes that have been recommended to you for your foot plant, body type and the type of running you do (road, trail, speed/distance) by a professional at a running specialty store. Alternate between these shoes on a regular basis, and track the amount of mileage you log on each pair. Once a pair has reached between 300-350 miles replace them with a new pair.
Note: Some shoes models can handle more miles than 350 miles and some less than 300, depending on a lot of variables. I have found 300-350 miles is a good target for most people and shoes but be aware of indications you need to retire a pair earlier than this.
Intermediate: When you reach an intermediate level of running you can benefit from expanding your “stable” of running shoes to include a lighter weight performance trainer in which to do speed work, tempo runs and races in. You would continue to use your comfy cushioned trainers for your easy runs and long runs, and then use your light weight performance trainers for speed/tempos and racing.
It has been my experience that these lighter weight performance trainers are usually good for 250-300 miles before replacement is needed, so be sure to track the mileage on these as well. The reason why they last slightly less mileage is that we use these in workouts/races that place a slightly higher demand on the shoes because of the increased speed and torque we are using them at.
Advanced/Elite: For the advanced or elite runner I recommend having a full stable of running shoes that include 3 categories:
1) Easy & Long Runs: I recommend having 2-3 pairs of nice comfy cushioned trainers that you log your easy runs and long runs in. Track the mileage on these shoes and trade them out when a pair reached 300-350 miles.
2) Light Weight Performance Trainers: I recommend having at least 1 pair of lighter weight performance training shoes in which you can do tempo runs and steady state type workouts in. It has been my experience that these shoes need to be traded out slightly more often, I usually target about 250-300 miles on a pair before trading them out.
3) Racing Flats: For those runners who use racing flats, I recommend having 1 or 2 pairs of racing flats. Personally I liked having 2 pairs, one that was ultra-light and minimalistic for shorter races (mile to 10k) and short speed work (fast intervals and sometimes VO2 max work) – only recommended for very efficient runners. And a second pair that was a little substantial and slightly more cushioned for half marathon and marathon races and longer speed workouts (VO2 Max, Groove repeats or LT repeats). It has been my experience that these shoes tend to last between 100 & 200 miles before replacement is needed.
While having a larger stable of running shoes can carry a higher initial cost, the maintenance cost is no larger than having just one pair, as you are changing out shoes at the same frequency (once every 200-350 miles of running).
Brands/Models: Most major running shoe companies have shoes in all 3 categories listed above – cushioned trainers, lighter weight performance trainers and racing flats. I recommend finding the styles and brands of shoes that work best for you and your feet, and sticking with it, unless a model is changed significantly. Your local running specialty stores usually will have some knowledgeable professionals to help you figure out what styles might work best for you. Also many of the running shoe companies’ websites are also very good at recommending shoe types for you based on some easily testable flexibility and body type characteristics.
Note: It is my experience, and that of many form and bio-mechanics specialists in the running world, that far more runners use highly stabilizing shoes than should be. One well respected bio-mechanist in the running world told me that 90% of runners should be in neutral training shoes, but that 40% were wearing stabilizing shoes. So be careful, and when in doubt go with neutral or at least moderately flexible shoes.
Take care of your feet by choosing the running shoes best for you and being sure to track the miles you are logging on each and switch them out regularly. Running shoes are the biggest expense in our sport that has a relatively low equipment cost, so spend the time needed to find what works best for you so can have a happy and healthy running career.