Temperature: 80F Night – 120F+ Day
Focus = Speed endurance
After I ran my first 3 races in 2015 (all 15k) I realized that my running was not up to speed for these shorter courses. My 7:30min/mile pace doesn’t cut it when I don’t have the miles for error. It seemed that just as I got into the “zone”, the race was over.
I had become slow (or should I say more slow) after spending the fall of 2014 training for the World’s Toughest Mudder. I logged a lot of slow miles to build my aerobic base and neglected speed work, therefore conditioning my body for slow speed – long duration. After the November event I spent December hiking in Nepal and January snowboarding in France. There wasn’t a fast twitch muscle left in my body.
To make the top 10 in these shorter races you need to have a runner’s speed and endurance. Yeah I could run a 6:00 mile for about a mile, but after that I was chugging along at the 7- 8 minute pace I had ingrained in my body. This beat up, pain-loving tub of fat and muscle couldn’t grind at the speeds these guys were running. Grit doesn’t win 15k’s, speed does.
I had a good aerobic base so I could skip that phase of training. I just needed to incorporate speed endurance training. So, I set out training like a “runner” for the first time.
15k = 60:00 or less (65:00 current)
5k = 18:00 or less (21:00 current)
To do this I incorporated some new things such as:
1). Sprint Intervals: I never really used these before, ridiculous I know. Keep them between 15-30 seconds and GO! I learned these teach your legs to move faster (turn-over rate) so you can run faster. Mind blown!
2). Multi-Paced Workouts: Last year was all base training and running for hours at the 8:00/mi pace. To get faster I needed to work all of my “gears”. So I incorporated a lot of interval training, and by a lot I mean maybe… 2x a week.
Elliott’s 44-minute fartlek run with 3:00 running and 1:00 sprinting. Scored by total distance covered in 44 minutes. This one is fun and easy to mix into a run anywhere, all you need is a watch. This is a good one for an off day since you have and 3-to-1 recovery-to-work ratio. This is a good intro to speed workout.
5k Intervals: Run a 400-800-1000-1600-600-400-200m for a total of 5k with different pace intervals to go through all your gears. Rest as needed in between sets. Great way to see how your pace holds up at different distances.
Race Specific: I enjoyed these runs because I feel that I get the most out of them. Basically, take the distance you want to race, say a 5k, then pick a time you want to run it in, say 18:00. Now just take the 5k and split it up into intervals, say 5x1k and try to run each of those 1k intervals at a 5:54 pace, which will get you your 5k in 18:00. I performed these during a continuos run; so that I was running 8x800m at race pace with 200m at marathon pace as recovery.
3). Hill Training: I slacked on these last year because I hate treadmills and those are the only “hills” I had at the time. This time though, I made friends with the treadmill and did hill training once a week. A workout I enjoyed, compliments of Ryan Atkins is the:
15 minutes at 15% incline challenge on the treadmill for distance. Short, intense, and as brutal as you can make it. I liked this one because I could bust it out anytime. Who doesn’t have 15 minutes to spare?
When I wanted a longer hill workout I would take a race elevation profile, split it into sessions, and run that on the treadmill. For example, my next big run is a 50-miler in Utah and the first 9.2 miles of the course climbs 4,500 ft. So, to match that on a treadmill I’d have to run 9.2 miles at 8% incline.
4). Tempo/Threshold Runs: I knew I needed to carry a 6:00 pace to compete in these races to meet my goals, so I practiced running as long as I could at a 6:00 pace +/- 10 seconds. As I got better I could do it longer, common sense.
5). NO DAYS OFF: I kept hearing “consistency” is the key to becoming faster. So I used consistency and ran everyday. I do it now and for I think I am on to something…..Sure, some days I will sit in a chair dazed off and wonder where the last 30 minutes went, but still, I feel that to get better at something you need to do it a lot! Some shit about a 10,000-hour rule.
Anyway, in the past I forced myself to take 1-2 days off a week so I could rest the muscles I didn’t have. Not this time, this time I ran almost every day, and if I wasn’t running for some reason, I was making up for it by riding a bike or yanking away on the rower.
I never got injured, I sure as hell burned out, but I become more comfortable running. These days I think of a 12-mile run and say “pshhh, no problem”
Simple rule, listen to your body not your friends (the ones that say you’re going to hurt yourself). If you can’t run fast run slow. Just run.
6). Rowing: Rowing is a great full body workout and my go to machine when I want to get smoked fast and I’m too stiff to run.
Favorite workout: 5 rounds for time of 15 calorie rows and 15 Burpee’s.
7). LSD day: This isn’t new to my training but I thought I should include this so you don’t forget your weekly long run. I prioritize time on my feet over distance because you need to get out there for a few hours and test your body under stress. See what foods react positively, where you chafe, what hurts, and how far you can go at a certain speed or heart rate before you hit the wall.
Since I already know how to fuel my body for a 24-hour event, I ran my LSD on nothing but water so my body can adapt to burning fat for energy.
2 hours is my minimum for this run. Remember, a 15-minute mile is still a mile.
8).Farmer’s Walk: Lots of farmers walks. Every race has you carrying 2 heavy objects 400m or more. This obstacle is a game changer and the perfect opportunity for a slow runner like me to gain some time on the competition. I did these 3-4 times a week, sometimes twice a day. Wake up and you’re too stiff to run? Pick up some kettlebells and go for a walk instead.
Weekly training structure
I did these 3 runs each week in no particular order:
1 – Long run
1 – Hill run
1 – Speed day/Intervals/sprints
I wanted 3 HARD running sessions a week at least. I consider the Long run and “easy” session so most weeks I would throw in a Time Trail run to give me a chance to race the clock and go all out. I love competing with myself and slashing seconds off previous PR’s, that’s what keeps me motivated.
I filled the rest of the week with Recovery Runs at 60% mHR, Crossfit WOD’s and some Olympic Lifts.
For my Crossfit WOD’s I kept the duration low and focused on intensity. I wanted to put 100% into each one. I did my own programming and insured that the WOD’s were full of Pull-ups, Rope Climbs, Burpees, Box Jumps, Farmer Walks, and Dips. Basically, OCR specific stuff like carrying heavy things and supporting your body weight with your arms and grip.
For lack of creativity on my part, I mostly did “Tabata” and “FGB style” WODS. These are easy to program since you don’t need to create a rep scheme or time limit, just pick what you need to do that day and do it as many times as you can in 20 – 60 second bursts.
I hate planning workouts because I tend to psyche myself out before I start them. This is a problem of working out alone all the time. Some of my favorite training days have been impromptu. I’ll just start running or doing burpees and build on it from there. Once I get my heart rate up I have the motivation to do anything and before I know it I am in a puddle of sweat.
There is always time to do something and I tend to visit a pull up bar or do something physical 3-4 times a day. 1 main workout, and 2-3 small ones.
Here are some fun runs and challenges to mix up the training:
One of my favorite runs to measure my progress was the Burpee 5k (an idea from Junyong Pak). Run 5km and do 5 Burpees every 400m. This one is fast, brutal, and as close to obstacle course racing as you can get on a road or trail.
Mount Washington Road Race Simulation: This is a popular road race up a mountian in the USA. It climbs 7.6 miles on an average 12% grade. You can simulate it by jumping on a treadmill, cranking the incline up to 12%, and running 7.6 miles for time. My time: 83:24.
Lunge Mile: This one sucks the whole way. DOMS (45:46)
Farmer Walk 1 mile: Grab 2 dumbbells or Kettlebells (preferably 50+ lbs.) and walk 1 mile for time. See what gives out first, your shoulders or your grip, and work from there. (17:45)
Burpees: I love burpees because they smoke you and you can do them anywhere. Do a Burpee Tabata, 10 Burpee EMOM, 100 for time, 150 for time, 300 for time, 1,000 for time, do Burpee Broad Jumps for distance, do burpees onto a box, or over a bar, do burpees. Just don’t do the burpee mile, that’s ridiculous.
To the Training:
Week 1: I was in transit, sleeping in hotels, and settling in to a new environment. I managed to get in a few 3- mile runs on the treadmill at 2 different hotels on both sides of the Atlantic. Once I got to my final destination I went out for a 6-mile fartlek run to get my gears ready for the coming cycle.
Next day was a burpee 5k (26:26) and 3500m row followed by a day of gymnastic work. To wrap up the week I did a 15k TT (1:05:46) and a WOD with Thrusters and rows. MILES: 25
Week 2: Started the week with 3 miles of hill work and sled drags on day 1.
Day2: was light running with strength work at the end, main focus on the lifting. Day3: I started with a 44 minute Elliott Fartlek finishing 6 miles in the timeframe. In the evening I ran 2 uphill miles at 15% and did a WOD with Farmer Walks and Rope Climbs.
Day4: was a Long run of 14 miles in 1:50 followed by the WOD Amanda (I love muscle ups).
Day5: I hit the incline again and did 15 minutes @ 15% on the treadmill with a 5k cool down outside. In the evening I did strength work on Squat clean and jerks (185lbs max).
Day6: was a recovery run day.
Day7: I warmed up with a burpee 5k (25:03) and ran 12x400m intervals to finish off the day with 6 miles of running. In the evening I rowed 1k and did 150 Burpees for time.
Week 3: Started the week with a 7k warm up run followed by 400m of walking lunges, 400m of sled drags, 100m of burpee broad jumps, and more walking lunges. I cooled down with a 1.5 mile run. 6 total miles for the day.
Day2: I did the 15min@15% again followed by a WOD of air squats and rope climbs (10×10 for10).
Day3: I took my first day completely off. My shin hurt boo.
Day4: I came out strong with an easy 15k run in the morning and 3k-row with Cleans in the evening. I also burned out a crap load of Toe-2-bars. Great fun!
Day5: was a 14-mile long run finished with 1k Farmer walks and 2k rowing.
Day6: 7k warm up followed by 15@15% on the treadmill. In the evening I did Tabata pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and sit-ups.
Day7: I ran a 36:00 5 mile and competed with a friend on the Helen WOD 9:06.
Week 4: I started the week off with a 5-mile recovery run and took the rest of the day off.
Day2: I ran a half-marathon in 1:41 and cooled down with 1km of Farmer walks. Later in the day I did a circuit of ball slams and pull ups, 150 of each.
Day3: I ran a 5 mile warm up, 15@15% incline, and cooled down with a 5k. In the evening I did the WOD Jackie in 7:09.
Day4: Another recovery day with a 5 mile run in 41:40.
Day5: I ran a marathon to test out my new hydration vest, time: 3:38:56. Day6: I felt pretty good after the marathon the previous day so I ran 3x500m hill repeats on the treadmill @ 15% after a 5 mile warm up.
Day7: I did 5×1 mile repeats @ 7:00/mi pace with 400m jog recovery. Later in the day I did 100 pullups, 100 burpees, and 1 mile farmer walks.
Week5: Following my big week I took it down a notch and started the first day with a 5-mile recovery run and an 800m-sled drag for time.
Day2: I took an off day because I felt my calf muscle ripping from the bone when I woke up. Listen to your body, even when you mind says go.
Day3: I came back from my off day with a painfully slow LSD run of 20-miles in 2:45. I cooled down with a 2k row in 7:40.
Day4: 4.6 mile run followed by 15@15% hill work, 1.36 miles. Later on in the day I did 400m sprints with 10 burpees at the end of each interval. Best time was 2:00. After the sprints I did a 1 mile time trail to burn out, 6:14 with a 162 HR, ugh.
Day5: I ran a 5k warm-up at 134HR followed with a 5k Time trail at 157 HR in 19:30. To finish off the session I did 400m of lunges in 11:00.
Day6: 6-mile Recovery Run.
Day7: 5-mile warm up followed by 2 mile run on 15% incline.
Week6: Week 6 started with a 20-mile LSD run (notice I do these randomly) in 3 hours with a 131 HR.
Day2: I took it easy, biked 10 miles and did 5 rounds of max reps for weighted pull-ups and dips. I hung a 50lb. Kettle bell from my belt for the weight, great way to get better at pull-ups.
Day3: 2-mile warm up run, 5-mile tempo run in 35:00, and 3-mile hill climb on treadmill, 2,000 ft. in 33:45.
Day4: 5-mile warm up, 3×1 mile runs for time (5:52), and 2-mile cool down.
Day5: Fartlek run 1-2-3-2-1 of sprinting with equal time jogging. I covered 6 miles for the day including warm-up and cool down.
Day6: Marathon day! 3:32:56, went out way to fast, bonked at 19 miles, then zombie ran an 8:30 pace to the finish killing my time. New PR though.
Day7: Felt great after the marathon so I went out and did a 5-mile warm up and 2-mile hill climb. Active recovery.
Week 7: Started the week with some sprints. 5k warm up, 5k worth of sprinting, and 5k cool down. The 5k of sprinting went like this: 400-800-1000-1600-600-400-200. My times were 1:14-2:51-3:42-5:53-2:14-1:25-:44
That evening I did 10 rounds of 100m farmer walks with 2x70lbs and 10 burpees. 17:34
Day2: 2-mile warm up, 10k in 46:00, and 2-mile cool down. In the evening I did some pull up, push up, sit up, squat Tabata’s and a 1-mile farmer walk with 2x50lbs.
Day3: 4-mile hill run at 12%, 2,600ft in 50:00. Felt pretty horrible so I stopped early.
Day4: Another day feeling like crap, just did a 5-mile recovery run.
Day5: Finally felt good again. Did a 1-mile warm up then ran a 15k time trail in 63:15.
Day6: 5-mile warm up and 5-mile at 12% incline on treadmill climbing 3117 ft. in 60:00.
Day7: 5-mile warm up run followed by 1 mile of walking lunges in 45:46.
Day1: recovery day, 5-mile run then pull-ups, dips, and farmer walks in the evening.
Day2: Long run – 16 miles slow with burpees, pull-ups, and med ball carries mixed in. 2:24
Day3: 10-mile fartlek run in 1:18, followed by weighted pull ups (50lbs) and 5k rowing in 19:40.
Day4: Mt. Washington simulated race on treadmill in 83:24 (7.6 miles and 4,743 ft).
Day5: 10k recovery run in 51:00 with weighted pull ups in the evening.
Day6: 10x200m run 35 seconds each followed by 5-mile run in 120 degree heat.
Day7: 10-miles of race specific training for upcoming Atlas Race. 12x800m run at 6:15 mile pace with 200m of 8:00 mile pace recovery.
WEEK 9: 2 weeks until next race
Day1: 10-mile tempo run at 7:00 mile pace with warm up and cool down 1:18. Evening = 2x50m burpee broad jumps (training for Atlas race). 1:54 each set.
Day2: 3-mile warm up followed by 15@15% = 1.36 miles. In the evening I rowed 2k in 7:17 and did a pull-up, push-up, squat, and sit-up Tabata.
Day3: Another easy day. 5-mile recovery run at 7:30/mile pace, followed with 5x400m run with 10 burpees. 1:55-1:57 each.
Day4: Half- Marathon TT = 1:36:21
Day5: Atlas Race specific training: 5-mile course in 45:02
Day6: 5k TT = 19:15 in the morning. In the afternoon I did 300 burpees (25:00) and 800 meter Farmer Walks in 8:30
Day 7: 4-mile warm up then Atlas Race Specific Training: 5-mile course = 42:15
Last week and Tapering for Atlas Race:
Day1: 3-mile warm up then 8x800m run at race pace with 200m recovery at marathon pace. Last race specific workout, should’ve done 10x800m but I wasn’t feeling it.
Day2: Atlas Race Course (3rd time): Ran this one at a comfortable pace (7:40/ between obstacles) and finished in 44:21. The 50m of Burpee Broad Jumps felt easier.
Day3: 5 mile TT
Day4-6: rest, strides, and easy running
Day 7: Race
My diet: Same as before
Red meat and eggs for the Iron benefit
Nuts, bacon, and avocado for fat
Vegetables because I had to
Banana’s, Gatorade, and PBJ after a long run to make me happy
2 hours before working out I found that eggs, bacon, and a banana work best with my body.
During exercise I usually fuel with Protein shakes, Gatorade, and gummy bears, but this time I experimented with running on empty. I’d wake up and drink some coffee and workout on empty. For my Long runs I’d carry a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade. I ran my last marathon with those 2 items.
Multi-vitamins and Shroom Tech by Onnit
End of Cycle Stats: I didn’t meet my goals but fuck it. I’ll get ’em this summer.
Marathon: 3:32:54 (-7)
Half-Marathon: 1:36:21 (-5)
15km run: 1:03:15 (-2 )
10km run: 41:20 (-3)
5km run: 19:15 (-2)
5km Burpee run: 23:17 (-2)
400m run + 10 Burpees: 1:54
1-mile lunge: 45:46
15 minutes of 15% incline on treadmill for Distance: 1.36
Max pull-up set: 27
TOTAL MILES: 518
Lesson learned from this cycle:
It takes a lot of time and effort to gain speed. You have to run fast to become fast and you have to do it consistently while maintaining a perfect training balance between too little (losing gains) and too much (getting injured).
The biggest thing: I learned how to train like a runner. You can’t just log hundreds of miles and expect to get faster. Yeah that is the first step, building an aerobic base. But after that, you need to run multi-paced workouts at different time intervals to build your speed and endurance. It’s a science and I am not a coach or a scientist.
I will continue to train like this the rest of the year, keep hacking away at those PR’s, and hopefully I’ll come to WTM 2015 faster, and with the same endurance I had last year. If I can keep my lap times down to a consistent 1:15 while running like a zombie I’m sure I’ll hit my 100-mile goal this November.