Training — How Slow Should My Long-Slow Distance Runs be?

running-advice-bugA runner named Gina writes in with a very common question that has to do with pacing in the longest runs in a marathon training plan. Here’s the question and my answer:


I think I’m running too fast on my shorter training runs and I don’t know a) if that’s a problem and b) how to force myself to slow down. According to the McMillan running calculator my tempo runs shouldn’t be faster than an 8:38 and my easy runs should be between 9:36 and 10:06. I pretty much have to force myself to stay at a 9-minute mile for the majority of my runs–even those that get near 11-12 miles. When I run a 10-minute mile I feel like I’m going backwards. Part of this is definitely that I’m pressed for time and part of it is that I just like to run fast (a relative term, but fast for me!).

In fact, many running plans suggest that their runners slow down between 1 to 2 minutes per mile when they doing their longer/slower runs. These runs are usually called the “long/slow distance runs” and this pace may also be used in other “recovery” runs. The idea here is three fold:
1) To maximize the amount of time that you spend out on your runs — because if you can slow the runner down and make what would be a 2 1/2 hour run last 3 hours that’s 30 more minutes logged on the feet. This means that on race day, you will have run closer to the amount of time that you’ll be expecting to run in the race, but with less effort.
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Season 2 – Episode 27 – Run/Walk and Walk/Run

running-advice-bugWelcome back runners. Now, it’s time to get into a topic that doesn’t apply to all runners — but certainly will apply to all of you. You may have experimented with run/walk or walk/run — adding intervals of walking or running into your routine. Our topic today is when it makes more sense to run/walk, walk/run or just run or walk.

On this week’s episode:
– What is run/walk and walk/run?
– When does it make sense to add a walk interval into your running?
– When is it more effective to walk or run without the intervals?
– How should you pick the correct intervals of running and walking?

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in the series, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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Commentary — Is vacation the best or worst of times for a runner?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

Every time I go on vacation I have this feeling that goes something like this: “I can’t wait to have the time off so that I can run. I mean really run. I’ll run every day. I might even do some doubles.”

At the end of those vacations, something strange seems to have taken place. Not only have I not run more than normal or hit those doubles, but I seem to have done even less than I normally do. In fact, it feels like vacation is the worst of times for this runner, rather than the best. So what gives?

Vacation should mean plenty of time, lots of sleep, excellent nutrition and new places to run. But just the opposite seems to be the case. Vacation brings rich food, lots of alcohol, a very different schedule and vacation activities that take up lots of time and energy. Have you ever run AFTER going to Disneyland, just for example. I just recently took a weekend vacation where I ate twice as much as I normally would, slept twice as much, drank twice as much and didn’t managed to run at all.

Perhaps the most difficult thing about vacation for me as a runner is that I’m out of my routine. I can somehow manage business travel, but vacation travel is a whole different ball-game. Gone is the schedule in which my runs inhabit a fixed location. Gone are the places that I normally run. Gone is the track where I do my speed work. It’s all thrown up in the air and by the end of the weekend, or week, or however log, I’ve logged less miles and less quality than I normally would have.
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Video – Season 2 – Episode 21 — Junk Miles and Marathon Runners

running-advice-bugLet’s get serious marathon runners. Do you ever head out for a run without a purpose? Do you run without paying attention to your pace? Do you run a lot of easy miles? If so, then this episode may be tailored made for you. In fact, this episode might apply to A LOT of you.

Our topic this week: junk miles. We’re quality over quantity guys and this week we look at low-quality — or junk — miles.

On this week’s episode:
— What are junk miles?
— Why do we run junk miles?
— What do junk miles do for your marathon training?
— How do we avoid running junk miles in our workouts?
— When might a junk mile workout be a good thing?

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in the series, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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Video — Season 2 – Episode 20 — Precision Pacing for Runners

running-advice-bugAlright marathon runners, it’s time to get serious about our pacing. It’s been awhile since we’ve discussed pacing and this time we’re going to look at how close is close enough when it comes to workouts and race pace.

The great rock band Boston once sang a song called “More than a Feeling” and we ask, when does pacing turn into something more than just a feeling and to ultimate precision.

On this week’s episode, Coaches Joe and Dean spend our 10 minutes discussing:
— How close is close enough when it comes to pacing?
— Is it better to be too fast or too slow in our workouts?
— What will precision pacing gain you in your next marathon?
— What level of runners are we talking about when it comes to seeking out precision in their workouts?

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in the series, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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Training — Why am I struggling late in my training season?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

A reader named Jessica writes in with a great question that sounds all too familiar:


I am two months away from my first marathon – and I feel like I am becoming a worse runner. My runs are becoming more difficult, even in the beginning. The first 4 miles feels like torture. Its ruining my confidence. Is there anything I can do to loosen up my legs prior to a long run?

The first thing to keep in mind Jessica is that late in the season runners often begin to struggle. This is due to the fact that your training is cumulative in nature. You’ve likely been training consistently for a number of weeks or months and your body hasn’t had a chance to recover from those workouts completely. This is the nature of training: we place the body under stress and the body reacts to that stress by growing and adapting to the physical load being placed upon it. However, it takes awhile for this adaptation to happen. So while the workouts are complete, the process of adapting to them goes on long afterward. In this time, you are continuing to train and this is the source of much of the fatigue.

The second thing to keep in mind is that it can take as much as two to three weeks or more to see the benefit of any one particular run. As your long run distances have been increasing, again, you’ve continued to train and your body is racing to recover and adapt to the workouts. It’s in this recovery and adaptation period that you’re feeling fatigued and tired, which makes you feel like your going backwards in your training, rather than forward.

Another thing that you mention is the fact that it seems to be taking longer to warm-up at the start of runs. Again, this is normal as the season progresses. It isn’t uncommon to take 10 miles to really loosen up when your long runs get really long. This is in part due to the fatigue that we’ve already talked about, but it is also part of the adaptation itself. You’re training yourself to go longer, so the body takes a bit long to get all of its processes spun up during a long workout.
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Questions — How important is warming up before a run?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

A reader named Rohit writes in with an super-duper excellent question that I am so glad was asked. Here’s the question:

“During a lot of my long runs, my fellow runners rarely warm up. Most of the time the attitude is, we will get warmed up while running and that warm up is only required on race day. I understand that warming up is important while doing intense training runs, like intervals or hills. But if I’m doing a long run, or an easy run, how important is warming up?”

First, let’s just get this out there. Warming up is absolutely essential and should be a part of every workout. And your friends know this, don’t they? As you say, they feel that warming up is “required on race day”. If something is required on race day, why wouldn’t it be required during a regular workout? Just the opposite is true. Warming up is a critical part of the start-up process of the body, both mentally and physically. We’re just like cars. Ask any mechanic and they’ll tell you that you should let your car warm-up for 30 seconds before driving off. This allows the oil to get out of the oil pan and the engine to warm-up. Unfortunately, we never do this warm-up either, do we? Maybe on a really cold morning or … before a big race?

Warming up has two components — mental and physical ones. On the physical side, the warm-up raises your heart rate and breathing. It starts increasing the blood flow to the muscles. It allows the muscles themselves to warm and stretch. It starts hormonal changes that will allow you to produce energy in your muscles. On the mental side, the warm-up is the time in which you set your focus on the important parts of the workout — its the time when you think through the workout and get set to do what you need to do.
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Racing — It’s about pacing guys, even at the front

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

If you’ve watched our weekly video series, you’ve probably heard us talking about the fact that pacing is essential to marathon running. We usually emphasize the fact that even pacing in the marathon is the best strategy — and that runners should aim to run the same mile pace from the start to the finish of the race.

Some people may interpret this message as being aimed primarily for runners that are new to marathon running. That’s not the case at all. Even pacing is for all runners, even at the most elite levels. One of the points that we’ve often brought out is that when an elite runner records a negative split (running the second half faster than the first), they do it by running the bulk of the race, perhaps the first 23 or 24 miles, at the same pace and then picking it up just in the closing 2 or 3 miles of the race.

Even pacing means two different things. First, it means understanding your pace capability for a particular distance. Second, it means avoiding going out too fast for your capabilities in the early miles under the pressure of competition.
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Video — Tapering for the Marathon

running-advice-bugIt’s time for Episode 16 in our series and this time we’re at a new location: our backyard pool. No, this one’s not about swimming or cross-training, but we’re talking about recovery for the next couple of weeks. We kick off this section of our discussion talking about tapering for the marathon.

In this episode:
— What’s a taper?
— Does everyone need to taper?
— How long should a taper be?
— What should you do during the taper?
— Was Coach Dean’s year-long taper a good idea?

This video is part of our Desert Series, in which Coaches Joe English and Dean Hebert get their lips smackin’ about all things marathon running. There are over 30 episodes in the series and they come out every week on www.running-advice.com.

To watch the video, just click the play button in the video window below.

There’s much more coming. We’ve filmed over 30 episodes in this series and we’ll be rolling them out each week. To visit our video page with links to all of the episodes in the series, click here.

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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Workouts: 10x800M at Marathon Hour/Minute Pace (AKA Yasso 800s)

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

This is week three in our new series of favorite speed workouts. This week I’ll take you through a workout that is famed for its simplicity, but has some underlying math (yes, I said math) that makes it magically more complex than it appears.

Workout: 10x800M at Marathon Hour/Minute Pace (AKA Yasso 800s)

Workout Summary: When I first heard about the Yasso 800 a long time ago and I remember my first thought: “geez, that’s really easy to remember!” and so it is. Bart Yasso of Runner’s World, in a 2001 article authored by colleague Amby Burfoot, set out a simple workout that goes like this: run 800 meters (two laps on your track) in the time of your marathon goal in hours and minutes (e.g. 3:00:00 = 3:00) — if you could work up to about 10 of these, then you’re ready to handle that pace for the marathon.

So what this meant was that if you were trying to run a marathon in 4 hours and 15 minutes, then you would run your 800 meter intervals (about 1/2 mile) in 4 minutes and 15 seconds each. If you could sustain that for five miles (10 x 800M) then you probably had the speed base to handle that pace in the marathon. Of course, you still need to do the long training to build your overall endurance, but this would be a predictor to see that you had the cardio-vascular efficiency to support that marathon pace. It sounds so simple, but there’s more here than meets the eye. Read on to understand how this workout really works.
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