Going The Distance!!

As most of you know, I am a member of Team Hoyt VB  http://www.teamhoytvb.com/ and participate in many races with them throughout the year. What you may not know is that Team Hoyt VB is only one of many organizations that carry on the spirit and legacy the original Hoyts’, Dick and Rick and their Team Hoyt Foundation.

Team Hoyt VB is actually the ONLY chapter that uses the Team Hoyt name, however, in the Team Hoyt spirit, several new organizations with the same mission, have arose.

In particularly, there is My Team Triumph, which now has chapters in 12 states across America, with the goal to expand to as many states and cities as possible. http://www.myteamtriumph.com/

Among the current chapters of My Team Triumph, I personally have close connections with the Ainsley’s Angels http://ainsleysangels.org/ chapters of Louisiana and Eastern Carolina, as well as the My Team Triumph Cape Cod chapter. The AA chapters and the Cape Cod chapters have spawned from parents of our rider athletes of THVB who have branched out and started additional chapters to raise awareness outside the Virginia Beach area.

So, with the recent announcement of our 24 Hour World Record Run attempt, these above mentioned organizations are what we will be raising funds for. From now until the date of the run, every cent raised will go to one of these organizations. All proceeds will be used to fund start up fees associated with future chapters, procurement of running chairs, entry fees of our rider athletes into races, assistance with travel for rider athletes and family members to and from non-local running events, etc.

As any of you who know me, know that these organizations are very near and dear to my heart and, I would appreciate all of your help in spreading the word and helping us in anyway that you can. Over the upcoming months, we will be building a fundraiser website in preparation of the “Big Event”.

In the mean time, please get the word out by promoting this cause and this mission. With the advent of social media, lets hit the “air waves” as often and as much as possible.

“Many hands make light work”…So lets do this!!

In advance, I would personally like to thank all of you who are undoubtedly going to be putting in much time and effort for this. I thank you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.


Training Is Only Half The Battle!!

It’s been my experience (both personal and from a coaching aspect) that runners are the most stubborn organisms on the planet!! They always want to go hard, they want to run every workout faster than the previous, they want to run more miles when they aren’t ready, they want to run beyond their current limits (both physical and mental)…Essentially, majority of runners are a “now, now, now” breed and they expect to have a shiny new PR for every training run and every race.

They will put every ounce of their being into the training, but often turn a deaf ear to rest, recovery, regeneration, nutrition, strength, etc.

No matter how much you preach it, it seems that nearly every runner has to experience this for themselves before they will even consider listening and learning from it. Sometimes the learning process is only fatigue and slight burnout, sometimes it is serious injury that keeps them from running pain free or at all, for months, years and or ever in some cases.

In “layman’s terms”, in order for your body to get out what you put in, you MUST account for more than the training itself. You must understand that in order for the body to absorb a workout, you must first stress the body,  then recover from the workout, regenerate from the workout and finally, adapt to the workout.

Let’s say you were studying for some big exam. Would you feel more prepared if you could have several weeks to study for it, as opposed to only a day or two?

The same can be said for training!

You should never go 100% in training, or even beyond 90% (with the exception of short duration repeats) for that matter. When you consistenly “cram” as much intensity or volume into your workuts than what your body can handle, it’s’ only a matter of time before your body breaks down and you begin to negate any benefits of the workout.

A while ago, I stopped basing my fitness by race performances, but instead by a combination of other achievements. Who cares if I can run a fast marathon, if I can’t walk the next day? These days, I base my fitness on not only how well I do in the race (finishing time), but also how well I feel in the race and also by how well I recover from the race.

The day after my last marathon, while most people were walking down the stairs backward, I worked on my feet all day, then went for a run the next evening.

How did this happen? Recovery and nutrition!! During the race, I prepared my body for the post race. While running, I made sure I was taking in proper ratios of electrolytes, amino acids and minerals to speed up the recovery process, even before I was actually finished with race.

The purpose of a workout, is to provide a certain and structured amount of stress to the body (but not too much). You should think of it as “Every step needed, but not one step more”. What does this mean?

Let’s take running as the example. Let’s say your coach gave you a workout of 6 x 1 mile repeats at 6:00 pace. The pace and the volume were carefully selected so that you are providing your body with the right amount of stress, in respect to your goal race. The pace, depending on your goal and skill level, was likely selected for one or more reasons. The pace could be intended to simulate race pace and get your body in the groove of running that pace, or it could be to build Vo2max, etc, etc…..So, what if you were feeling good and decided to knock the repeats out at 5:40 pace? This pace, being significantly faster than the intended pace, would likely mean that you were pushing the body too hard, thus, throwing off hormone balance, pH balance and likely overstressing the musculoskeletal system to the point of pushing toward overuse and extreme fatigue. At the very least, you likely hindered and took away from your next specific workout.

In other words, a 5 gallon bucket will only hold 5 gallons. Constantly trying to milk out every extra rep, mile, second, repeat, etc., will only leave you overstressed and likely falling short of your long term goals.

To avoid falling prey to injury, fatigue, burnout or plateauing, you need to ensure that 3 things are happening.

1.) Adequate Stress and Adaptation – Every key workout should have a purpose! You should expect to push your body to a specific stress point, but not any further. Do not be afraid to swallow your pride here. Who cares if your training partner decided to do “one more rep” when the workout called for a specific number. You will likely see him/her on the sideline while you are on the starting line. Never be afraid to cut a workout a bit short if you aren’t feeling right. Tiredness and general fatigue is common in hard training blocks, but never push through pain, sickness or extreme exhaustion.

2.) Recovering/Regeneration – After you have adequately stressed your body, it now needs time to recover and regenerate. When a body is stressed, an adaptation process is triggered and the body begins to repair itself, building up an immunity to that stress so that it can readily handle the stress at a later point in time, if and when that stress is reapplied. In order for this adaptation to take place, the body must rest and go into it’s regeneration phase. This is the phase where sleep, maintenance and nutrition all work together to create a fitter, stronger and more resiliant athlete. Without this cycle, the body will not absorb all of the stress that was applied. How upset would you be to discover that for every 10 miles you run, only 6 count? That is the way to look at the recov/regen cycle. You put in the work, so make sure it counts!!

3.) Fueling and Re-Fueling – In order to make the most of your workouts, you need to ensure the body is properly fueled. Clean, healthy eating. Fueling and re-fueling also fall under the recov/regen cycle and can pretty much be all inclusive. After a hard workout, the body has been taxed and has been using all of it’s energy stores to keep your body going. If you do not replenish the energy stores, the body cannot recover properly, thus, taking longer than necessary to bounce back from the workout.

Hard workouts cause acidosis in the body. When this happens, the blood pH levels become too acidic, thus throwing off the normal functionality of the bodies fine tuned systems. The foods we eat play the biggest role in keeping pH balances in check. Take a look at the link to see what foods/drinks make the body more acidic or alkaline. http://www.drscottgraves.com/naturopathic/alkaline-acid-diet/


Aside from worrying about pH balances, the body also needs certain nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc in order for the body to perform and function as designed and in the most efficient way possible, as well as to repair and recover from intense bouts of exercise.

How many of you actually know WHY the body needs Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Taurine, Beta Alanine, etc? These common electrolytes and amino acids are some of the key players in how the body performs, especially the endurance athlete’s body.

A quick example is the role of Taurine in the body (Below text taken from online sources).

Taurine is essential for cardiovascular function, and development and function of skeletal muscle, the retina and the central nervous system.

Taurine is conjugated via its amino terminal group with chenodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid to form the bile salts sodium taurochenodeoxycholate and sodium taurocholate. The low pKa of taurine’s sulfonic acid group ensures this moiety is negatively charged in the pH ranges normally found in the intestinal tract and, thus, improves the surfactantproperties of the cholic acid conjugate.

Taurine crosses the blood–brain barrier and has been implicated in a wide array of physiological phenomena including inhibitory neurotransmissionlong-term potentiation in the striatum/hippocampus,membrane stabilization, feedback inhibition of neutrophil/macrophage respiratory burstadipose tissue regulation and possible prevention of obesity, calcium homeostasis, recovery from osmotic shock, protection against glutamate excitotoxicity and prevention of epileptic seizures.

It also acts as an antioxidant and protects against toxicity of various substances (such as lead and cadmium). Additionally, supplementation with taurine has been shown to prevent oxidative stress induced by exercise.

I know a lot of the middle paragraphs are more appropriate for a chemistry major, but you athletes pay close attention to the first and last sentences.

Taurine just happened to be the example here, but many other key nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes play even greater roles in how the body functions.

So, no matter where you are in your training and fitness schedule, it is never too late to make changes and adjustments. All you runners out there know what it feels like when you miss key training runs. Start learning to take the same approach and the same intensity into your rest and recovery cycles, your nutrition and your regeneration. If you can put the same efforts into all of the components that that make up a quality training cycle, you will become a better athlete for it.

Until the next post, train smart, have fun and HAPPY TRAINING!!


It’s Going to Be One Hell of a Year!!

As 2012 came to an end and another year passed, 2013 has started with a BANG!!!

Two weeks into the new year, I ran the Disney Marathon and set a new PR for the distance, not to mention, I helped my friend Renee get her second win at Disney. So, I would say that was a good start to the year!

I had already had a pretty busy running schedule written out for 2013, but have since added a few more highlights over the past few days. The following will be a look at the BIG STUFF coming up this year!

In no particular order;

Shamrock Marathon – For this race, I plan to do some pacing to try and help a friend PR..I will also be pushing for Team Hoyt VB again this year for this race.

Boston Marathon – This year’s Boston is going to be equally as special as last year. This year, I was asked to be a “GUIDE” for Michael Davis, a fellow Team Hoyt’er and legally blind runner athlete. He will be running his first Boston and we will be gunning for a new PR for him. We will also be a part of Dick and Rick Hoyt’s Boston charity team. I also have several other training partners/clients and local 757 runners who will be up there running some great races of their own.

Ragnar Relay (Cumberland MD to D.C) – Recently was asked to be a part of this amazing cause. This won’t be a group of runners solely out for competition and team building, but will be used as a fundraising vehicle for Ainsley Rossiter, one of our very special rider athletes of Team Hoyt VB. Check the page here : http://www.crowdrise.com/AR13

USATF Masters Championships – Indoor (Regional Championships), Outdoor (State and Regional).

Umstead 100 Miler – This race, I will be crewing for and helping pace a friend, Michelle to a hopeful victory and possible course record.

24 Hour Team Hoyt VB charity run – This will be a 24 hour continous run, pushing a Team Hoyt VB rider athlete the entire time. This will hands down be the biggest and most important run of the year…It’s been my dream to do something like this to not only raise funds but, also awareness, for those who live with special needs. For me, this is about something bigger than I could ever do on my own..it gives me a chance to be the legs and the muscle to help bring a smile to our riders faces’. This will be the run that all other training and races are geared toward.

Spartan Ultra Beast – The first of its kind, the Ultra Beast is the world’s first marathon distance Obstacle Race. It will be ONE heat that will feature two loops of the main Beast course. Racers will face the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, TWICE, before finding the finish line. It’s not for  the faint of heart! For this race, there is a $15,000 dollar cash prize to the winning team..David Mick, William Tallent and myself intend to make a bid for that prize!!

Aside from all of the above, I intend to do plenty other smaller races and will be doing a lot of pacing for my wife and other members of my training group. There are several of my training partners and some of the runners I coach, who will be looking for some big PR’s this year and, I fully intend to whatever it takes to help them get there.

Whatever your goals and targeted races are, get out there and get going…you have 11 months left (this year) to create a fitter, faster, stronger and better YOU! What are you waiting for??

LIVE, LAUGH, RUN and Happy Training!

I Guess Disney Really Is Magical!!

As a child and like all children, I wanted to go to Disney World, when I was younger…I would see the cartoons, see the movies, knew the characters, yet, for one reason or other, I would never get my chance to go to Disney…

Now, fast foreward 30+ years later and, I finally would get my chance, but not in your normal family vacation kind of way.

Several months back, my training partner and friend, Renee High, started throwing around the idea of doing a marathon together. We had been doing a good amount of our runs together and I was doing a lot of pace work for her on her harder workouts, so we figured it would only be appropriate to actually run one of the races together. Originally, we had discussed me running with her for her October marathon in Colombus, OH…but, with such close proximity to the MCM, that didn’t happen….then, we got to discussing Disney. She had won the 2012 Disney marathon and was invited back to run it again. The race had already sold out, but she said she would talk to her sponsors and the race director to see if I could get in..Well, I DID!

It wasn’t official until sometime in December that I would be running Disney, but I was training for it either way, so I would be ready regardless. My soul intention for this race was to pace Renee for as long as I possibly could, hoping like hell I could at least get her to mile 20 and then just try to hold on and hope that she wouldn’t have to battle with any other female competitors.

Going into Disney, I was going to be running in uncharted territory. I knew I could hang with Renee and pace her for anything of 18 miles or less..beyond that, I didn’t know if I could hold her pace for 26.2. Disney made my 9th marathon, but it was only my 3rd solo (not pushing for Team Hoyt) and my first solo since November 2011. So, needless to say, I was a tad bit nervous. But, all the training was on point for a quality marathon, if I could just hold it all together on race day, my body was otherwise ready.

I decided to go with a non-traditional taper and continued training as usual (for the most part)..I continued to run all of my same runs throughout the week prior and the week of, I only changed up one run to accommodate for the race.

I flew down to Disney on Saturday morning and would be staying with Renee and Andy for the night, then racing the next morning. Upon arrival in Disney, I was amazed..the place is HUGE and is overflowing with smiles, fun and a hint of magic!

After my arrival, I met up with Renee and Andy and we had lunch, chit chatted for awhile and then I went to the expo to pick up my bib. While at the expo, I listened to a bit of Q&A from some of the past and current running legends. Desiree Davilla, Frank Shorter, Joan Samuelson, Greg Meyer, Bill Rodgers, among others were in house sharing stories and taking questions. The only thing that gets me as excited as running, is listening to the legends talking about their running…After listening to them speak for a couple hours, I was more than motivated…I WAS READY TO GO!!

Though Renee and I kinda had a race plan/strategy worked out in our heads prior to our arrival, she called her coach, Ryan Warrenburg, for some final instructions. After speaking with him, the plan was “Go conservative for the first couple miles, then gradually pick it up over the next few miles, then maintain to steady pace to the finish. Sounds easy, right??

Since the race start was at 5:30 am, we would have to be up by 3 am in order to get in our nutrition, get ourselves together and catch the bus over to the start line. So, Saturday evening, we ate dinner early and was in bed by 8:30, in preparation for our early wake up.  I will say, Renee uses the bathroom more than any person should during one single night!!! LOL!

No sooner did we doze off, the alarms all went off simultaneously (we had three set, just to be safe). I got my nutrition in me and prepared my nutrition for during the race, while Renee and Andy jammed out to “Dub Step”…whatever the hell that shit is!!


By 4am, we were on the bus, getting ready for the ride to the starting line (I got to ride the VIP/ELITE bus since I was with Renee..pretty cool). As the bus is about to leave, guess who gets on and sits down right in front of us?? Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter!! Talk about being in runner geek heaven!!

Prior to the race, neither Renee nor her coach knew whether or not there would be any other competitive females who could contest Renee for her attempt at a repeat of her title….BUT, as we are about to get on our way, Leah Thorvilson stepped on the bus, adorned in her Tinkerbell costume. For those who don’t know who Leah is, well, she ran a 2:37 earlier in 2012 and was the 2011 Disney winner.

At this point, I don’t know exactly what was going through Renee’s head, but, I knew what was going through mine ( I knew those original race strategy plans were probably out the window now). A few minutes after the bus pulled away, I decided to let Renee know, “Umm, I forgot my Garmin, Renee!!” She offered up hers, which is exactly what I had hoped for!! In actuality, I had purposely forgotten my Garmin, hoping I could get her’s, thus, eliminating the one thing that would cause her to “think”. I wanted her to just run and not think about anything…as tough as it was going to be, it was my job to maintain pace and take in all the thinking part of the running.

We arrive at the starting line with about an hour to spare before the start….Renee was restless and got off immediately, I stayed onboard for awhile, waiting for the bathroom (a routine is a routine!!!). While we are waiting, I talk a bit to some of the other runner’s, particularly Leah! I wanted to know how she was feeling, what her plan were, etc…she gave up a bit of info, but not too much (just as I had anticipated). Based on what she told me, I decided that we would chase her, provided she wasn’t dropping sub 5:50 pace in those first few miles.

As we are approaching the start of the race, several of the legends come on the big screen jumbo tron to give a little pre-race tips. We listened a bit to Frank Shorter, Bill Roders and finally Joey Fatone (yep, the NSYNC member who had run his first half marathon the day before!! LOL!).

Finally, Corral A is called to the start, and the gun goes off. As we begin, each corral is started with their own fireworks display, which was quite amazing!

From the gun, another girl and Leah take off in front of us…we catch up to Leah fairly quickly and run with her for several miles…the first few miles were quite a bit faster than the original plan, but, we couldn’t afford to let her get away from us..if Renee was going to have any real competition, it was likely to be Leah. It was somewhere around mile 4, after doing some continuous “surging” that Leah finally dropped away from our sides and was now running a bit behind us (this was a good sign). Up ahead, there was still another girl who we had yet to catch. I decided that although she was running a bit faster pace than what was the original plan, it wasn’t so fast that it would be a “make or break” decision. So, I decided to reel her in as soon as we could and at least run with her.

At mile 5, we caught the girl, ran with her for about a mile, then gradually pulled away..Renee was now first place female and from here on out, we just had to hold this position.

The first half of the race is in the dark because of the early 5:30 start, so we just chugged along, not talking, but sharing the same understanding of what the goal was. I was willing to kill myself to get Renee her win, whether it meant me having to do a “death march” for the last 6-8 miles. At Disney, the first several miles is a lot of access roads (aside from Cinderella’s Castle..which was actually way more cool than I would have thought…all lit up in purple!!), so it not necessarily exciting for the first bit of the race.

Around mile 11, we head onto a race track (picture NASCAR)..this was probably one of the coolest parts of the race for me…as a kid, for some reason, I always wanted to run a flat out mile on a race car track…thank you Disney, for granting me that wish!

The halfway point came inside the Animal Kingdom park…we went through the 13.1 at 1:21:05 (new PR for me!). We were rolling and on our way to a very nice marathon.

I guess it was somewhere around mile 16-17 that we start entering the string of parks. We went through ESPN wide world of sports complex, where we ran around an actual rubber running track and, a baseball field (the grandstands were filled with fans screaming and cheering…that was really cool). At this point of the race, the course has a ton of turns, so pace starts to drop…it’s here in the race that the body gets tired, but the mind must prevail…tight turns and corning does not help with that..LOL!

From time to time, I would glance behind me to see if there were any other females close to Renee (I never saw one)..I had figured we had dropped them at this point, but with a 2:37 marathoner in the field, you can never be to cautious. I was also quite amazed at how I was holding up..I figured I would be struggling at this point, but I wasn’t.

At mile 22, we start to enter the section of “non-stop turns”…this is where the park is really tight and constricting. As we pass the clock at 22 miles, I realize that, all I have to do from here on out is maintain 7:30 pace and I will break 2:50!! Even though I was getting excited for both myself and Renee, I knew that 4 miles is still far enough away that tragedy can strike and shit can go terribly wrong really quickly.

As the park threw more and more turns and tight manuevering our way, the more I realized it was time to go conservative a bit. A lot of the pathway on the course was wet at this point and with extremely tired legs, I knew there was a chance I could go down and possibly blow the whole thing…so, I decided to just maintain a steady pace and not push…just maintaining pace would produce a PR and would also get Renee a win.

At mile 25, when I was just ready for the race to be done, I come around the corner and WOW!! I see Desiree Davilla (2012 Olympian), Joan Benoit Samuelson (1984 Gold medalist in the Olympic marathon) and Janet Bawcom (2012 10k Olympic team) all running their easy run for the day….as I pass, they all say “Almost there, 1 more mile”…talk about motivation!!


A few minutes later, I round the turn at Epcot and see the finish….We had done it!! We had just finished the Disney…a new PR for me and a win for Renee (her 2nd at Disney). As the race directors and new media pull Renee aside for her interviews, I stood there crying…..why was I crying? I was elated….after several hard training cycles, that ended in injury, I had finally overcome…the monkey was off my back..my goal had been to break 3 hours and I had finally done it..I had PR’d by 21 minutes..but most importantly, I had done it side by side with a good friend and I was able to help her reach her goal.


So, despite the fact that I had put in tough training to prepare for this race, perhaps a little Disney magic could be a part of the reason for our success…It was an amazing race, an amazing course and one that I will certainly do again.

I would like to thank Renee for getting me into the race and I would like to thank Renee and Andy for letting me stay with them in their hotel room…Renee and I shared many hard miles together and many laughs in the buildup to this race…..all of which, was not only fun, but also fundamental in our success.

I would also like to thank all my training partners, HRR and my wife….I know this shouldn’t sound like a Hall of Fame induction speech..but, without all these people, none of this would be possible…..there are many who wanted to see us succeed, many of whom put in lots of miles to help us succeed…to you who did that, THANK YOU!

So far, as of this post, Disney has been the PERFECT race for me…the pace, the nutrition, the conditioning…it all came together in this race…I was tired at the end, but never close to “the wall”….nothing hurt and never was I in fear of falling apart..I felt the strongest I have ever felt for any of my marathons.


Also, to those of you who get caught up in the high mileage training Hooplah…I ran my best race ever off of 30 miles per week average…so, it’s just all about proper training, the right timing of training and proper nutrition…if you want something, put in the time and effort and you can make it happen.

Live, Laugh, Run and Happy Training!!

Time Vs. Distance – What’s the difference???

I am often asked, why do you prefer to run by time and or coach your athletes to train based on time vs. distance? What is the difference?

First, I’ll give you a little background as to WHY I prefer time. Long before the almighty Garmin GPS watch came about, runners and distance athletes had something prehistoric, called a WATCH!! What could this watch do?? Well, it could tell time and that was about it! If you had a fancy one, like a Timex Ironman, it would also record laps (which was sooooo cool!!).

Now days, we have the Garmins (among other brands) that will record distance, heart rate, calories burned, pace, elevation, etc, etc. These things are amazing training tools and can be awesome components to a good training plan…however, they can also be your own worst enemy. They suck you in with that exact distance, exact pace! Heaven forbid you only run 7.93 instead of an exact 8 miles…just imagine how horrible your next race would be if you didn’t have exact distances for each of your training runs (I am being sarcastic, of course!).

So, WHY do I prefer to use time more so than distance?

PROGRESSION TRACKING – Too often with runners, we want to pile on more mileage than our bodies are currently ready to handle, only to wind up injured, over fatigued, or both. So, how can time vs. distance make a difference? Lets take a “cookie cutter” training plan for the marathon. In this plan, lets say that you are to run 6 miles per day, everyday for 7 days (totaling 42 weekly miles).

Now, aside from the amount of miles you have to run, you also have to account for the amount of time it will take. So, lets say two runners of the sport, both running the same plan, but both of varying abilities. So we have Runner A and Runner B.

Runner A is able to cover her 42 miles per week at an average of 8 minutes per mile pace, which gives a grand total of 5 hours and 36 minutes running time for the week.

Runner B is able to cover his 42 miles per week at an average of 10 minutes per mile pace, which gives a grand total of 7 hours running time for the week.

As you can see, Runner B is on their feet for 1 hour and 24 minutes longer per week than Runner A. That is a substantial amount of time more to be out there on your feet running.

Running by time also allows the body to adapt and progress at the rate in which it is absorbing the training workload. For instance, a typical training plan might call for a 5 mile tempo every Thursday, adding 1 mile to your tempo every few weeks. But, how do you know your body is ready to make a complete mile jump in distance?

If you run by time, you can start your Thursday tempo at 40 minutes. Lets say your run an 8 minute pace. You will be covering 5 miles during this amount of time running. As the weeks go by and as your body adapts and progresses, now that 40 minute run may produce 5.25 miles, a few weeks later 5.6 miles and so on and so on. As you start maximizing the distance that you can obtain in that 40 minute window, then, instead of adding another mile, you just add another 5 minutes or so, with training paces remaining constant and only progressing or getting faster as your fitness improves.

This is particularly important for the longer runs that you need if you are training for a marathon. Somewhere, years ago, Americans became obsessed with the magical 20 miler, with many training plans calling for 22, 24 and even up to 28 miles for marathon training.

The argument is always “Just need to get time on your feet”. Which, is partially true. But, again this all comes back to skill level and current fitness and training levels. It is pretty well observed and researched that the “long run” shouldn’t be anymore than 25-30% of your weekly mileage total. However, most runners are doing 40%, 50% and sometimes even more than that in just one single long run. Here is another example of two different runners with two different marathon goals.

Runner A – Goal marathon = 3:10, Weekly mileage = 60. For this runner, the weekly long run would be in the 15-18 mile range, based on the 25-30% rule. If this runner were to do an 18 mile long run at 7:45 pace, they would finish in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Runner B – Goal marathon = 5:00, Weekly mileage = 36. For this runner, the weekly long run would be in the 8-12 mile range, based on the 25-30% rule. If this runner were to do an 18 miler, as most training plans might call for, at 10:00 pace, not only would it account for 50% of their weekly mileage, it would also take them 3 hours to complete.

So, why do two different runners, with two completely different weekly mileage and different time goals, often run the exact same distance for their long runs? I blame peer pressure and these “cookie cutter” training plans. In my own training group, I will see the same distances being covered weekly by nearly all the various skill levels of runners that are out there. One runner may be a 2:50 marathoner running 80 miles per week and one may be a 4:50 marathoner running 40 miles per week, yet, they are both doing a 20 mile long run…Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

From a physiological standpoint, the body doesn’t understand or know distance. However, the body does understand frequency, duration and intensity.

If two runners are running at the same relative intensity for the same duration, it can be assumed that they got the exact same benefits and the same type of workout, regardless of the respective distances that they each covered.

Most training schedules and plans are often based off of a plan that was designed for an elite runner, then was modified a bit and or diluted a bit to accommodate the “Average Joe Marathoner”.

The body tends to expend its glycogen stores around the 2 hour to 2 1/2 range and nearly any and all physiological benefits of the long run are absorbed during this time. No evidence has been shown to suggest that running longer is anymore beneficial.

So, if the body is using up all of its glycogen stores (or at least most of it) during a 2-2:30 long run, what does that mean? On average, it takes 48-72 hours to replenish drained glycogen stores (provided you are refueling with the right foods, fluids). So, if you go out and your 3 hour long run and severely deplete your glycogen stores, you likely won’t have them replenished again until the following Tuesday and that is only assuming you did no other running or excercise to deplete them further. This is why the body and legs are often rather tired and fatigued after hard training runs, rides, swims, etc. If you deplete your glycogen and then only replenish 70% of it to the muscles, then go hard again, you are already working with a deficit.

An elite level marathoner could do a typical 18 mile run at 6:00 pace, giving him/her a total run time of 1 hour 48 minutes, thus, never having gotten to the point of glycogen depletion. So, as you can see, an 18 mile run for one runner becomes a totally different workout than what it would be for another runner.

As always, every individual is different and can handle different stresses and different workloads. But, if you seek the best out of your training and your body, you should probably consider taking care of it.

There is a very important adaptation process that the body has to go through in order to improve and progress. The idea is to stress the body, just enough to signal a adaptation response, but not so much as to over stress it to extreme fatigue or injury.

The body needs time to recover and regenerate in order to improve and be able to respond to the next bout of high intensity training. Each training activity should have a specific purpose and each run should focus on a specific area.

If you want to become a good marathoner, you need to start getting the body adapted and ready to handle the paces and the stresses of the marathon….essentially, you want to maximize gains with the least amount of expenditure.

Often times, during a marathon, a runner will become dehydrated. It is something that you should try to avoid, but it is a likely scenario…so, with that said, why doesn’t marathon coaches recommend during all their long runs from a dehydrated level?

Because it would be absolutely absurd and would be putting the runner at extreme risks! The same level of caution should be taken for other faucets of training. Just because you CAN run a certain distance or intensity every day, it doesn’t mean that it is wise, nor does it mean that you will see any improvement..in fact, you will likely break down over time and will see diminishing returns from your efforts.

GROUP RUNNING – Another reason running by time works well is that it is the same, no matter who is using it. If you run with a group, like I do, you run with runners of varying skill level. So, if you all meet up for a Tuesday night 8 mile run, then there will be time ranges of less than an hour, to maybe an 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, if you all start out with the intent to run 1 hour, no matter what the pace or distance covered, everyone gets the same workout, relative to their abilities. One runner may cover 7 miles in an hour, while one runner covers only 5 miles in the hour, yet, the level of effort and the benefits of the run will be the same for each runner (provided they are working at similar intensities).

PSYCHOLOGICAL- Lets say set you set out to run 1 hour. So, you head out and run for 30 minutes, then turn around and run back to your starting point, only to find that your total run time was 59:28. What does that mean? That means you “negative split” your run and that you ran your second half faster than your first. Just this slight pickup in pace, might be all you need to see progression and improvement. As you continue seeing greater distances ran, within the same time window, it will likely be a great boost of confidence. Remember, little goals piled high, will help you climb to your big goal!

So, maybe you aren’t ready to give up your sacred “exact distance” mindset..but, just try doing a “timed” run once a week and see how you like it. Find new ways to change up that 30, 45, 60 minute run. Perhaps use that one timed run each week to do a fartlek, mix and match, pickups, etc.

Keep your training fun and keep the body guessing and welcoming to change. Have fun and enjoy what you are doing…training should be fun, not stressful and work like.