Wednesday July 25, 2018
Issues from a prior ankle sprain - Samantha
Hi, I have a question concerning an old ankle injury. I sprained my ankle a few times during HS, and during the last couple weeks of my senior year XC season was the last time I sprained it. I took off a couple months to let it heal, and I couldn't get back to running more than 25 miles a week without it swelling up again. This sadly led me to not do XC in college.
Now after 3 years, it continues to swell up. Sometimes during less than 10 miles a week. I love running, and my ankle is the only thing holding me back. The swelling is on the outer side, near the top of my foot.
I have not seen a doctor because it isn't severe swelling or pain, and it goes away after a couple days of not running. I've tried some PT exercises I found online, and I try to incorporate leg strength training at least one day a week, I especially focus on single leg exercises. Maybe I'm not doing this enough? I'm a little worried that maybe I permanently damaged my ankle. Advice would be greatly appreciated!
Reply - Coach Janet
It’s hard to know for sure if there is “permanent” damage to your ankle just based on a set of symptoms. It would be necessary to evaluate in a hands-on environment – joint mobility, joint stability, and perhaps even use diagnostic imaging like x-rays to evaluate for things like bone spurring or “loose bodies”. Stability in the ankle (or any joint for that matter) is dependent upon ligament integrity, bony integrity, and muscular strength. Certainly doing exercises to improve both mobility and strength are a good thing to do – but you may also need to look into other things. For example you mention you sprained it “a few times” – which makes me wonder if perhaps there are issues with your biomechanics/form that play into this. It might be worthwhile to get this looked at so that you know what you’re dealing with and so you can start to deal with it more effectively. Perhaps starting with an assessment by a PT that specializes in foot/ankle biomechanics? Perhaps with a functional assessment by a running coach? Perhaps even discussing the symptom presentation with your physician to see if an orthopedic consult is needed? I’d be happy to help you out so feel free to reach out to me via email and we can certainly brainstorm this further. Best regards - Janet Hamilton MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Tuesday May 15, 2018
Pain on side of foot - Vicki
I hope you can help me. I have a constant pain along the side of my foot and the bottom of the foot. So when pressure is applied it causes pain and makes walking and running especially quite difficult. Would you be able to advise what o have done and what I can do to treat it?I will look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards,Vicki
Reply Coach Janet
Generally when someone tells me they have pain that alters their gait pattern (you mention making walking and running quite difficult) it's important to respect that pain and take some time off. Sometimes if it's just a minor injury a few days will do the trick. Sometimes if it's more significant (a stress fracture for example) then use of an immobilizer boot and several weeks off followed by a sensible and regimented return to running program is what's needed. Look back at your training log and see if you can identify anything that might have set this off (adding mileage too quickly, increasing speedwork too quickly, etc). Check your shoes - are they old or worn? If you have symptoms at rest, that's a bit of a concern so I'd recommend you see your orthopedist for some diagnostic imaging to rule out the more severe issues like stress fractures, and then you'll have a clearer vision of how quickly you can proceed. If you want help with this, reach out to me via email. Best regards - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Thursday April 19th, 2018
Running at Altitude - Ben
I'm looking to B.Q. with a sub-3 at Sandia Crest in Albuquerque in September as it promises a fast race with a 4500 foot decline. However, I live and train in Texas and am worried about the starting altitude of 10,000 feet. How much will this effect me and what should I do to counter the altitude? Training masks? Special regimen? Maybe don't attempt at all?
Reply Coach Janet
Good luck on the B.Q! Altitude has an effect on performance and it isn’t pretty. It typically takes about 3 weeks to fully physiologically adapt to about 5000’ and about an additional week per 1000’ after that so you’d be looking at about 8 weeks at altitude to get fully adapted. Your best bet if you choose to do this race would be to get there as shortly before the race starts as possible. Don’t be thinking that getting there a few days ahead will help – it won’t. Your body will be in the process of trying to adapt but you will actually be less able to perform than if you had run the race the moment you arrived.
Though downhill running sounds like it will help – it too has some negatives. Namely that the muscles that control your descent will be fatigued and this can affect performance in the later stages of the race. You can somewhat overcome that negative by practicing a lot on hills and learning the fine art of downhill running. Selecting some net downhill courses for your long runs will also help some.
The good news in all this is that you’ll be training in the summer heat in Texas – and research shows that heat acclimation tends to improve altitude performance. The issue at hand is blood volume. When you train in the heat, your body recognizes the need for more blood because of the two opposing demands (shunt blood to the surface for cooling, and the opposing demand of needing oxygen supply for working muscles). Your blood volume increases as a result and this increase comes in handy when you go to altitude because the lower atmospheric pressure up there means some of your fluid will shift from circulation to the interstitial tissues (you may have noticed that at altitude your fingers and feet tend to be puffy). About the only other way to optimize your performance at altitude (in the absence of moving up there for the last 3 months of training) would be to maximize your aerobic capacity in training.
Good luck with whichever race you choose, but I’d encourage you to consider one that is not at altitude to optimize your chances for success. If you’d like help with this – I’d be happy to help out. I have room on my roster for another athlete right now so just let me know! Best regards Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Friday March 30, 2018
Transitioning from marathon training to 5k/10k training - Bobby
I am just coming off 18 weeks of marathon training (avg 70-80mpw)and running a PR of 2:58:19 and I am taking the next 10 weeks to work on my speed and shorter distance times (5k-10k). 1. how can I maintain my aerobic fitness gained from my high milage without taking away from my speed work, and 2. whats the best way to transition back into my marathon training after the 10 weeks?
Reply Coach Janet
First off - congratulations on your sub-3 hour marathon! With your big mileage base (70-80mpw) you have built a very big foundation which will support a strong volume of higher intensity training. I generally try to keep my athletes within these guidelines: high intensity training (defined as 5k or faster pace) should be limited to no more than 7% of total weekly mileage with the occasional athlete tolerating 10% of total weekly mileage; and moderately high intensity training (defined as 10k to 10 mile race pace) is limited to 15% of total weekly mileage with the occasional athlete tolerating as much as 20%. With that said - even if you drop your weekly mileage to 60 miles a week, you'll still tolerate a fairly large volume of training at those higher intensities. By keeping a long run in the mix, and doing it at proper aerobic paces, you won't lose your aerobic endurance you've worked so hard to gain. The good news is that after this cycle of slightly lower mileage and increased focus on faster paces, you'll return to your next marathon training cycle stronger. Just don't overdo the volume of the speedwork relative to your total weekly mileage. If you do, you increase your risk of injury. Best of luck, hope this helps! Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified.
Tuesday March 13, 2018
Heart rate in healthy 19 year old runner - Rod
So i went out running with a friend of mine, 19 year old female, without any running experience, and definatly not an an athlete, we started running, some easy jogging, and her heart rate spiked up to over 170bpm. Not unexpected since as I said she is not an experienced runner, but what surprised me was that she was able to maintain the pace without any struggle, and pretty much hold a conversation. That would indicate to me a much higher than 170bpm Anaerobic Threshold, is that possible in an untrained person? How would you explain this?
Reply - coach Janet
I’m, not sure how you determined that a HR of 170 bpm would be above this person’s anaerobic threshold – perhaps you have blood lactate levels that you didn’t include? Bottom line is that her HR of 170 is not out of bounds for a person her age. Let’s assume her resting heart rate is 64 beats per minute and that she was running at 80% of maximum aerobic effort (which would be a bit fast for an easy training run but not out of the realm of reality). If you plug in her age and a RHR of 64 into a Karvonen formula to estimate a HR associated with an 80% effort I come up with 174. Understand that this would be an estimate based on an estimated max of 201. If her true maximum HR is actually higher than that, then her exercise HR at that 80% effort would also be higher. If you want to be accurate, you’d get a true maximum HR on her, get a true resting HR, and take serial blood lactate measures while doing progressively faster and faster paces. This would give you accurate data from which you can determine proper training paces and heart rates. If she’s just a beginning runner, I’d probably forgo all that stuff and just have her run at a comfortable, conversational effort for the first month and just track the pace and HR associated with that. If she’s improving, then perhaps doing some more detailed assessment is worthwhile but ultimately the HR prediction tools are just that… PREDICTIONSand estimations – unless you’ve got accurate individual data to back them up. So – I’d say that yes, a healthy 19 year old may have a HR of 170 while running at a relatively comfortable pace – that wouldn’t worry me a bit. Hope this helps. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified coach
Thursday March 1, 2018
Heart rate drift - Sal
Hi there, I'm not experiencing any cardio problems but am curious as to why on a run it takes about 20 minutes until my heart rate reaches a steady max, while my pace is constant.
As a trainee orienteering coach (and a runner for the last 35 years), I'm reading about the value of correct warm-up, but my pace and HR graphs would suggest I'm actually getting more from my heart during the first 20 minutes if it's beating 10-15 BPM slower than max (160 BPM for me), yet achieving the same pace?
Any insights gratefully received - thank you
Reply - Coach Janet
It is normal for heart rate to take a little time to reach a steady state in response to a given workload. This is in part because there’s a gradual increase in the demand for oxygen to fuel the workload of the muscles. Initially the stored ATP and stored CP can meet the needs, then fuel is supplied by glycolysis (breakdown of glycogen) and the oxygen demand for that process is not high until the product of that glycolysis goes into the next phase known as the Kreb’s Cycle.
So – you’re not “getting more” out of your heart - you’re just seeing a normal physiological ramping up of the mechanisms that supply your muscles (and everything else) with the needed ATP to do what you’re trying to do.
As you continue an activity (in your case you mention your HR doesn’t reach a steady state until about 20 minutes) you will be accumulating heat (a natural byproduct of metabolism). The heat has to be dealt with – so the body will shift blood flow a bit so that more blood is going to the periphery of the skin so that it can be cooled. The body now has a dilemma, it has to deal with opposing demands…. It needs to cool the core (send the blood to the skin for cooling) and it needs to fuel the exercising muscles. The natural response to this dilemma is to increase the HR so that more blood is circulated per minute. The volume of blood being ejected from the heart per beat is going to be relatively steady but now that you’re ejecting it 160 times a minute rather than, say, 145 times a minute – the blood volume circulated per minute is increased to meet that demand. This is also seen when you run at the same pace in a cool environment (40 degrees F) vs. that same speed in a hot environment (80 degrees F). The heart rate at a given pace will be greater in the warm environment because of the heat load. Hope this helps clarify it? Best regards - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified coach
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
Predicting a half marathon performance - Terry
Age 35 it took me 1hr 18 mins to run a half marathon. At 65 years, returning to running after a break of many years, how long should I aim for?
Reply - Coach Janet
There are several things to think about when you’re predicting a future race performance from a previous one:
1. When was the previous race? In your case it was 30 years ago.
2. What went into that previous race in terms of training and race strategy?
3. How does the athlete’s conditioning and preparation now compare to previously?
4. Is the target race being run on similar terrain and in similar weather conditions to the previous race?
There are other questions as well but these are some key ones. We know from research that maximum aerobic capacity declines with age and this is true even in athletes who continue to train at a high level continuously. You mention that there was a break in training for several years. The rule of thumb in those who don’t maintain high level of training over time is that max aerobic capacity appears to decline about 10% per decade. If we use that “fuzzy number” as a predictor then the number that comes up is about a 1:45 half marathon.
As a coach – I look at that previous half marathon performance and note that a 1:18 half at age 35 is a VERY fast time – so obviously we’re not talking about an “average” runner. With that in mind, perhaps this gifted athlete didn’t see a full 10% per decade decrease in max aerobic capacity? Perhaps it was only 5% per decade? In that case we’d estimate around a 1:30? This is all conjecture. The best way to estimate your current half marathon capability would be to do a time trial - perhaps a 5k or 10k race – and then predict the current half marathon performance from more current data than the 30 year-ago half marathon.
Good luck in your upcoming race! Best regards - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Friday, Jan 26th 2018
Question about intervals - Alex
So, I ran XC and track (10K) in college. When doing a workout of harder reps, ex. 10*1K at 70-76 pace w/400m rest, we would always jog the rest real slow, but still running motion. Many of the videos I see of elite athletes doing similar workouts, they tend to walk a good chunk of the rest and jog into the next rep. I've read that for more speed based or quality based workouts walking helps you recover better, whereas jogging in between though helping build aerobic fitness may make it more difficult to have quality reps. So it depends on what you want out of the workout. That being said I wanted to fact check this since historically I've always been asked not to walk during recovery between reps and getting someone else's spin on it would be helpful?
Reply - Coach Janet
There's not "one" right answer to this question in my opinion. It sort of depends on what you're going for. If the athlete is running high intensity intervals (defined as 5k or faster pace) and the goal is to be able to make sure the athlete can hit their pace on the next rep - doing the blended walk to jog recovery may be more likely to allow greater recovery between intervals. On the other hand if the goal of the workout is to increase the build up of metabolic by products in an attempt to stimulate adaptation of the mechanisms that clear those - then perhaps not allowing full recovery between reps would be more effective. I use different techniques on different athletes and even different techniques on the same athlete at different times during their training cycle in an attempt to get more specific adaptations. Also keep in mind that each athlete is unique and what works well for one may not provide the same response in another. Training is both art and science... You can vary the intensity of the speed interval, the distance of the speed interval, the duration of the recovery interval and the intensity of the recovery interval -- these variables produce different stimulus and theoretically different adaptations. I think your general statement of "it depends on what you want out of the workout" is pretty accurate. Good luck with your training, sounds like you're thinking about things with the right mindset. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach.
Tuesday, Nov 28th, 2017
Running two marathons in two weeks - Arias
Hi I'm planning to run on April 2 marathons Paros in the 8th (I was already in) and London on the 22nd (I got the luck of getting a place and I don't want to miss it) Which are the recommendations on previous training and also what to do between both marathons?
Reply - Coach Janet
Doing two marathons in close succession is very challenging for your body. The best thing you can do is to build your endurance up as much as possible between now and then, so that running 50+ miles (80+km) per week is no big deal for you. I’m assuming this isn’t a first marathon, so you know what you’re up against with that distance and it has to be respected. Most people who are doing back to back marathons will pick ONE of them that “matters the most” and push for a race effort there, and do the other one at a relaxed training effort. Between the races you have barely 13 days – so the only thing I’d recommend doing is focusing on recovery. Walking for the first couple of days after a marathon is a nice, low stress way to get the blood flow to the injured tissues, then perhaps a few short/moderate distance runs, then it’s time to run your next marathon! The long run between those two might be as much as 10-12 miles but I would not try to push for more than that. Good luck – you’ve chosen a very challenging goal! Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Wednesday, Nov 15th, 2017
How to use a HR monitor - Charan
Thanks for all your valuable information on running.I'm a 5k athlete training for over a year. Recently I bought a heart rate monitor to run according to the zones, which I read on various websites. But what is confusing is the varying information provided in different sites. Some recommend to calculate the zones based on HR max, some suggest to calculate with Lactate threshold and some ask to include the resting heart rate too in the formula. I'm confused. I'm not sure about which zones should fall under what percentage. My HRmax is 199 and resting heart rate is 50. Can you please guide me with the right method and formula to calculate the zones. Thanks in advance.
Reply - Coach Janet
Heart rate monitors are a useful tool but like all things… they’re fallible. Most research on HR shows that the best predictions of training intensity come when you use KNOWN, rather than predicted, numbers. What that means is this: if you use a KNOWN HR max as your starting point, you’ll be more accurate than if you use an age-predicted HR max number. So – if your 199 is an actual KNOWN max HR based on a maximum graded exercise test or a true sustained maximum effort race or time trial then that’s a good starting point. If that number is arrived at by subtracting your age from 220, or if it was just a flash on the screen and you didn’t sustain it… then it’s likely not as accurate a maximum for starting from. Second issue is resting HR – ultimately the argument is as follows…. You have a certain number of beats per minute that are mandatory to keep you alive (in your case 50), and a certain number of beats that you can’t exceed (your max) and the distance between those numbers is referred to as your “reserve” (199-50). You then want to train at some % of your reserve in order to stimulate a certain physiological adaptation. What % you train at depends on what adaptation are you targeting? Are you targeting improved endurance? You might train at a relatively lower % of maximum reserve than if you want to train to increase your lactate tolerance. Are you targeting maximum aerobic capacity adaptations? Then you might want to train at a relatively higher % of maximum reserve than what you would do to stimulate changes in lactate tolerance. Ultimately you need to understand the physiology in order to use the tool accurately. Step one – use accurate starting points, including a known maximum and a true and current resting heart rate number. Step two – determine what is the physiological adaptation I need to emphasize on THIS workout at THIS point in my training cycle? and then train at the appropriate intensity to maximize that particular adaptation. Ultimately you have to balance overload and recovery, so as you ramp up in some workouts to stimulate lactate tolerance or max aerobic capacity… you’ll need to respect that overload and do other runs at a very easy recovery effort. As you use this tool, never lose sight of your PERCEPTION of effort. Correlate your pace per mile with your perceived effort and your HR and you’ll have a winning combination! Hope this helps - Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
How to improve on a 10k and half marathon time - Mike
I'm 27 and started running about 5 months ago. Loved it immediately. Since then, I've completed two 10ks and two half marathons. My PBs are 44:12 for the 10k and 1:39:30 for the half. Could you recommend a type of training to improve results on both distances in December (10k, maybe a sub 43?) and March 2018 (half, maybe a sub 1:36?)
Reply - Coach Janet
You have a good question but one that’s difficult to answer without knowing what you’ve done to get to your current performances. In a nutshell the basic needs are #1- be healthy and injury free at the start, #2 - endurance to RACE the given distance at a true race effort, #3 – optimize running economy and max aerobic capacity (two different things), #4 – proper execution of a race strategy on race day (includes a BUNCH of things). Of the items listed, I often find that runners skip the importance of the first two and focus too much on the third one… to their detriment! I’ll be happy to help with specific training guidance to help you achieve your best, but this would entail me getting to know a lot more about you including your previous training and injury history, your current training, your individual strengths and weaknesses, etc. If this interests you – check out the services page of my website HERE or send me an email with more questions about the coaching options. I’ll be happy to take you on and guide you to your next race success! As a fairly novice runner you have lots of potential for improvement! Best regards and good luck in your coming races - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Monday Oct 2nd, 2017
Running a half marathon on the heels of a first marathon - Caleb
I just completed my first marathon on 9/30 (3:27). I have a half marathon coming up in three weeks on 10/21 and I'm wondering what my training should look like during these three weeks. I plan to take a few days off to recover from the marathon, then ramp my mileage back up for the half, but put a little more focus on speed work. Any suggestions? Thank you!
Reply - Coach Janet
Congratulations on your first marathon. The typical recovery cycle after a marathon is about 3 weeks for most of my athletes. The first week is very low mileage, the second week brings it up slightly and then the third week is almost back to “normal” training mileage (which for many of my marathoners is something in the 30-35 mile per week range when they’re not ramping up for a marathon). I would caution you to respect the load you imposed on your body for that first marathon, and take the recovery phase seriously. If you don’t, you run the risk of injury due to exceeding your tissue strength. To give you a meaningful answer to your question I’d have to know a LOT more details about your training for that first marathon – what your mileage was in the weeks leading up to it, how many times you achieved long runs >16 miles, what your training paces were, what your target is for this half marathon (race or have fun?) and dozens of other variables – so this answer you’re getting is pretty generic:
Recover this week – walk, do some easy short runs later this week. Next week bring your mileage up slightly. Third week is race week – go have fun.
There is NOTHING you can do in this short interval between races to make your half marathon. There are a LOT of things you can do to break it. Focusing on speedwork is a waste of time with such a short window between races. The adaptation from speedwork takes typically 6-9 weeks… and you don’t have that long. Consider the risk vs. reward here…
Risk is that you hammer your body to do speedwork that isn’t going to benefit you and the reward is that you likely get injured.
Good luck – my recommendation is to kick back and relax and enjoy the half marathon at a sub-race effort. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, RRCA-certified, USATF-level 1
Monday August 14, 2017
Cross Fit Question - Paul
I'm a cross fit athlete and would like to increase my running performance (Ex. 400m) with super sets (Chin ups + Pull Ups + wall ball).
Training: Above super sets with running X 5 with no break if possible. My objective is to increase my running (400m) and that will also increase my cardio.
Reply - Coach Janet
It's a little unclear to me what your question is - so I'm just going to weigh in with a general response -- the principle of specificity of training would imply that if you want to get better at a specific sport (running 400 meter sprints) then focusing on running activities would probably net you better improvement than focusing on upper body strength training (chin ups, pull ups etc.). If your goal is to be a better cross fit athlete then doing a mix as you describe will work both the running aspect and the upper body strength aspect. If your goal is to be competitive as a 400 meter sprinter I would probably do something other than what you've described. Best of luck to you - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified
Thursday June 8, 2017
When is it safe to resume speed training after a grade 2 calf strain? - Cristabel
Hi there. I have grade 2 calf strain and I took 5 weeks off from running. I eased back to running slowly and on the 7th week, I added a bit of speed but then my pain came back. I was thinking of not resting this time, but continue all my running in LSD speed. It doesn't hurt if I run slowly. I was wondering when would I know if I can run fast again? I read some said it took 6-12 months for full recovery. I've started using compression calf sleeve as well for protection and recovery.
Reply - Coach Janet
A grade 2 calf strain is not a small thing and taking several weeks off running was the smart choice. Tissue repair takes time! If I understand your timeline right, you were 7 weeks post injury and only 2 weeks into your return to running when you resumed speed training? I would encourage you to step back and really take your time and rebuild your base before you venture into higher intensity stuff like speed intervals or hills. Compression sleeves are fine, but the most important thing is that you rehabilitate the muscle and tendon and that may take some focused eccentric training to really stimulate the needed collagen regeneration. Hopefully you’ve seen a PT who has taught you some exercise? If not, you may want to schedule a couple of visits and get some guidance. As for when will you know you’re ready…. I would say that when your total weekly mileage is back up to where it was before your injury, and you’ve been successfully painfree at that distance for a couple of weeks, you can introduce some low-key fartlek style workouts once a week. For these you simply warm up a bit (1-2 miles) then shift into a routine of running perhaps 10k to half marathon pace for 1 minute and then back to easy effort for 3-4 minutes. Alternate like that for some distance (1-2 miles?) and then complete the workout with easy effort. When you’ve been successful with that workout on several occasions you can be much more confident in gradually transitioning to more structured intervals at higher intensity (track work at 5k pace?). Good luck, let me know if I can be of assistance to you. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level1, RRCA certified.
Monday June 5, 2017
Marathon Performance doesn't match 10k and half marathon prediction - Grant
The pace for my best 10km (4:12 min/km) and half marathon (4:24 min/km) are expectedly close but my best marathon time (5:36 min/km) is significantly slower. I am training up to 100km per week and 80% of that is at about a 5:15 to 5:30 min/km pace. I am targeting a time of 3:30 which given my 10km/1/2 Marathon times should be easily achievable. What am I doing wrong with my training? should I do more of my distance at or faster than marathon pace? Some background info: I am 53 years old and have been training for the last 5 years... the first 3 I focused more on trail ultramarathons.
Reply - Coach Janet
There are a lot of things that go into a race performance; endurance, terrain, weather, running economy… you’ve done a good job of building endurance over the years with your previous ultramarathon training, and your race performances for 10k and half marathon line up pretty well to support that you have the endurance to race those distances well. Doing a 3:30 marathon should be within your capability but perhaps the missing link in your case is to build your “speed endurance”? In other words, in addition to doing your usual training at the proper pace (BTW your 5:15 to 5:30/km is correct easy training pace in my opinion) you might benefit from substituting in a couple of “intensity” workouts each week. Perhaps one could be focused on some short/fast interval work (track workout) and the other could be focused on sustaining marathon race pace on the road for gradually increasing distances. The amount of speedwork you can tolerate is directly proportional to the total weekly distance you’re running. I usually like to keep the high intensity speedwork (5k to 8k pace) to no more than about 7% of total weekly distance and the moderate intensity stuff (10k to HM pace) to perhaps no more than 15%. You can get away with a little more volume if the intensity is MP rather than 10k to HMP. It’s also important to make a transition into this type of intensity training gradually and monitor your body to make sure you’re not pushing too hard. I don’t like to add in speed work until weekly distance is up above 40-45 km/week. Ultimately to achieve your marathon potential you will likely want to get your weekly distance up to at least 70-90 km/week. Most of that obviously will be at your usual easy pace but with the addition of some intensity work you should see your speed endurance (ability to hold a race pace) improve. I’d be happy to help with specifics – feel free to email if you have questions. My coaching services can be seen here. Best regards and good luck with training! Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level1, RRCA-certified.
Sunday May 28, 2017
10k times don't match predicted performance - Kay
When I enter my 5k times into race calculators, they show that I should be able to run longer distance races, i.e. 10k, half marathon, quite a bit faster than what I usually can. Is there something I should focus on in my training to help me close the gap?
Reply - Coach Janet
In my experience the biggest issue is usually lack of adequate endurance base (weekly miles) to support the longer race distance. You can complete a 10k on as little as 15-18 miles a week but you won't race to your potential. If you get your weekly mileage up to 30 miles a week with a long run of 10 you'll likely see a dramatic improvement in your race performance. Pace calculators are based on the assumption that you have the required endurance base to RACE the distance at an "all-out" relative pace compared to the race data you put in for the other distance. If your mileage base is low, you may not have the needed endurance. Hope this helps - if you have more questions, don't hesitate to reach out. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified.
Monday May 15, 2017
Training on Hills - Csaba
I have a question about HR while doing long slow runs (60-70% maxHR) and/or training in the aerobic zone (70-80% maxHR) on hills. I'm a trail runner and have lots of smaller hills where I live, having 2-5%, or even 10% elevation. My hometown hardly has 1-2kms of flat, 0 elevation roads. Could you please tell me, whether I should change the HR zones or not? Are the 60-70-80% values still correct during up- and downhill runs? many thanks!
ps.: I'm new to running, having a 45min 10k PR on a flat surface.
Reply - Coach Janet
Training on hills and hilly trails is a terrific way to build strength as a runner and as a new runner it’s a great way to build in some intensity into your workout without doing too much. Training by HR is a fine way to insure that you keep to reasonable paces and optimize your training without undue injury risk. Even without the HR monitor you can benefit from tuning in to your perceived effort on the hills. Here’s how I like to have athletes run hills: First we start with what I’ll call the “even effort” strategy. For this one, your goal is to run up the hill at the same perceived effort as what you were doing on level ground. If you monitor HR – your goal would be to keep your HR pretty much the same as you go up the hill. In order to accomplish this you’ll simply allow your speed to slow slightly as you run up the hill. Then at the top, carry your same effort up and over and then down the other side – in order to do that… you’ll have to speed up just a little to keep the same effort. For this even effort strategy the goal is to keep the HR consistent with what you had on level ground and the pace will vary.
When that gets easy and you’ve got that strategy learned, then you can switch to an “even pace” strategy. For this one you try to maintain the same speed as you go up the hill, and you’ll notice that your HR climbs as a result of that extra effort. If the hill is not too steep, this strategy can be used later in a race. You might find this article on hill training helpful. The trick on hill training is that the downhill is just as important as the uphill portion. Don’t ride the brakes on the downhill… get in the habit of a light/quick cadence and trying to land light on your feet. Good luck, let me know if I can be of assistance - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level1, RRCA-certified coach
Tuesday May 9th, 2017
Getting back to speed after a hamstring strain - Jeremy
Pulled my Hamstring running a 200 in the meat of our track season. have been resting for the past 3 weeks. Wanting to be back to my top speed in 2 weeks for sectionals for another chance at state. how can i work back up to my top speed and endurance after missing such a huge chunk of key workouts?
Reply - Coach Janet
Hamstring pulls can be minor or they can be a real pain the butt to resolve. The issue is how badly was it strained, and have you addressed the underlying cause for that strain (typically related to weak glutes but also sometimes tight hip flexors and calves can play into the mix). Missing a chunk of training for 3 weeks has certainly resulted in some loss of fitness but if you’re able to train now with no symptoms you can probably resume some more focused speedwork to tune you up. The deal is – you can’t just bludgeon your body and expect to be successful. If you still have symptoms, you have to accept the fact that the strain was more significant than you realized and just shut it down. You’ll never be successful by ignoring the signs/symptoms from your body. If you can run easy pace symptom free, try a few pickups to race pace and you’ll know if you’re ready for more focused speedwork.
Bummer about the injury but sometimes this stuff happens and sometimes it means that you don’t get to run the races you were hoping for. Best of luck with your comeback. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified.
Monday - May 1st, 2017
What to do about a hamstring injury with 3-weeks to go for a marathon - Stephen
While completing speed work during a track workout last week I felt a slight pain in my hamstring. I took 2 days off with ice then ran a half marathon at a very easy pace. 12.5 miles were fine then a sharp pain developed suddenly the last half mile. The onsite sports chiropractor suggested it was a slight sprain in my lower hamstring. I have been training 5 months to set a new marathon PR in 3 weeks. What should I do over the next 3 weeks to maintain fitness while allowing my hamstring to heal so that I can actually complete the marathon in a decent time? Should I take 3 weeks with no exercise at all, or just 1 week followed by easy running with stretching and rolling? Thanks for any advice you can give! Stephen
Reply - Coach Janet
Hamstring strains can be tricky. Sometimes it’s not a hamstring issue at all, but instead a referred symptom from your lower back or sacro-iliac joint. It would be good to get this evaluated by a PT, hopefully one that specializes in lower back dysfunction. With only 3 weeks go to, the timing is a little tricky. You don’t want to just rest completely for that time span because you’ll lose a bit of fitness but you also don’t want to try to force training and make things worse. My thought would be to take 4-5 days off running, then test the leg with a short/easy run and if that works well, you can step back into the taper phase and move forward from there. The majority of your training is behind you at this point so the key element of taper is to get rested and recovered from the hard training, and still maintain a moderate volume of training at race-pace so that you don’t lose your sharpness. Be gentle with your stretching and rolling – you can’t beat this into submission… You may be able to maintain a little aerobic conditioning with some pool work – swimming and deep water running may allow you to fire that hamstring without being in a weight bearing position – you’ll just have to see how you tolerate it. Good luck! Hopefully you can get in to a PT to see if there’s something going on in your lower back that brought this on. Hopefully a few days rest and you’ll be back to normal! If I can be of assistance in helping you find a PT in your area that has the needed skill set let me know – feel free to reach out via email. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified
Monday April 24th, 2017
Getting back to previous 5k performance - Maria
I'm a 47 year old runner who used to run fast. Nine years ago, I could run around a 7:30 pace for a 5k, however, today I can barely break 10 minutes per mile. I had a few breaks from running in my early 40s, but in the last few years, I've increased my endurance as I ran a half marathon for the first time and subsequently completed two more half marathons. My pace was terrible, though. I've never had any injuries or major medical problems. What can I do to get back to a pace I consider respectable? I'd love to be running sub 8-minute miles again. Thanks!
Reply - Coach Janet
It’s hard to say exactly what your potential might be without knowing a lot more about you. The best performances in any given race distance are usually seen when you have a broad base of mileage that you can then use to build speed through specific forms of higher intensity training (hills, intervals, etc). It sounds like you built your endurance base for the half marathon distance and perhaps now it’s time to shift gears and work on legspeed a little? It is important to respect that training load though and not just go out on every run with a “harder/faster” mindset. Easy paces still form the bulk of training and the higher intensity stuff should be introduced gradually and systematically to insure you don’t get injured in the process. Start with short intervals (100-400m) and work first on intermediate intensity stuff (10k pace) then gradually work into higher intensity (5k pace) and start tweaking the work to recovery ratios. Eventually you could potentially work up to two speedwork sessions a week but that would depend on your mileage base. I’d be happy to help with this – it sounds like we’d be starting from a good strong base! Touch base via email if I can be of assistance. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified.
Sunday April 23rd, 2017
Struggling to achieve 5k time - Lynda
I'm a 57 year old woman who enjoys running 5k's. I've been running them for several years. My best time is around 27 min. My goal pace is to run a consistent 8:30 pace. My workouts are one long run per week ( considered 8 miles) one track workout per week....lately I've been doing 1000 meter repeats with a walking rest in between, a 3 mile hilly workout, and the other workout is usually a conversational 5-6 mile. I usually do 2 strength workouts per week on non running days, and a rest day. My problem is my times are not improving....they're getting worse! For example, I ran a race yesterday that one year ago I ran a 28.00 and yesterday same course/same race I ran a 29:27. Ugh! Am I overtraining and just trying to do too much for my age.....or is my training plan lacking. Thanks for your help!
Reply - Coach Janet
PR’s get harder to come by with every passing year. Not just because of the natural aging process but because with the ongoing training you’re closer and closer to your genetic “ceiling”. That’s not to say that you can’t still achieve your goal – just that it may take a bit more finesse to do it. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right – but it’s hard to know without digging in to a lot of details that I can’t get from your post. Things like training paces on easy runs, training paces on long runs, what your hill work consists of, what type of interval workouts you’ve done recently – each of these specific workouts requires a specific focus in terms of pace. Another thing to consider when you compare performances between races – were the environmental conditions similar? Temperature affects performance so if the weather was a little warmer or more humid or perhaps windier than the previous year that may have played into things. Also look into things like sleep patterns and “life stress” – sometimes that stuff can mess up a race performance. I’d be happy to help you work toward your goal with some specific guidance – if you’re interested, just reach out via email!
One thing I can say for certain – at 57, you can still train hard and turn in strong performances, we just need to figure out what’s holding you back. Hope this is food for thought. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified
Sunday April 23rd, 2017
Cadence vs. Pace - Joshua
I am training for my first half marathon. I had a knee injury that I recovered from after 5 months of PT last year. My therapist recommended a faster cadence 175-180 to eliminate my running inefficiencies. I have eliminated the knee pain, but now my trouble is how to balance aerobic training to build my base. When I try and keep that cadence I reach my max heart on long runs. Any advise?
Reply - Coach Janet
Cadence vs pace – a good question! Here’s the thing to keep in mind: your speed over ground is the product of your cadence and your stride length. Your stride length is determined by: how hard did you push off? The amount of ground you cover in flight phase from pushoff to landing is the result of how much effort you put into that launch. So… a nice quick cadence is good – it keeps your legs “under you” so that loading patterns are better. BUT, if you’re combining the “quickness” of your cadence with an increase in effort in pushoff – you’ll quickly reach your max HR. So – relax… keep that quick cadence but consciously tell yourself to push off with a little less force. One fun drill to try is to get on a treadmill and set it for the easy pace you’re supposed to maintain and get that cadence dialed in using a metronome or some other audible feedback like music of the correct beat frequency. Then after you’re warmed up… speed up the TM to 5k pace and keep that cadence…. Notice how you managed to do that? You just pushed off a little harder and bingo, you speed up but your cadence didn’t change. Now go back to the easy pace and keep the cadence… notice how you managed to do that… you just relaxed your effort on push off and bingo, you eased the pace. Hope this helps? If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! Best regards and GOOD LUCK on that first half marathon! Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA Certified coach
Saturday April 22nd, 2017
Overcoming medial shin splints - Jessica
I'm a 31yo woman, overweight, new to running. Well, I ran cross-country and track in HS, but that was a long time ago! I've been trying to start slowly, doing intervals of jogging/walking (2 min each) for about 45 minutes, twice a week. I walk to warm up, stretch, and stretch again after. I am on a combination of asphalt paths and the dirt/grass shoulder of paths. Nevertheless, I get medial shinsplints starting after the 2nd or 3rd time out. I'll wait days or weeks until they resolve, try to start jogging again, and they come right back. I don't know what to do! I take ibuprofen after a jog, use ice daily, stretch even on days I don't jog. How can I ever get past this to running regularly? Any advice is appreciated.
Reply - Coach Janet
First off - congratulations on getting yourself back into running! You may think you're starting slowly with a 2 min run / 2 min walk routine but in reality that might be a bit aggressive to start. I generally start people on the walk to run transition with a much more forgiving ratio - perhaps 1 minute running and 3-4 minutes walking. On the days they're not doing the run/walk thing, they walk. The issue with medial shin splints is often due to tight calves and weak hips, along with shoes that aren't supporting your foot the way it needs. So -- make sure you're wearing running shoes (go to a running shoe store and have them help you choose a pair that supports your particular gait pattern). Stretch your calves 2-4 times a day (gently!) even on days you don't run. Try to avoid the anti-inflammatory drugs as some studies have shown that they interfere with the process of adaptation in the tissues... in other words you send a signal to your tissues to "get stronger" when you push your limits a little (walk or run a bit more than you're used to) and the drugs interfere with some of the processes your tissues need to go through to actually get stronger and respond to that signal. I'd be happy to help you through this process and get you back to running again -- if you're interested, check out the services page of this website or just drop me an email - janet at runningstrong.com. Hope this helps - Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified coach
Thursday April 13th, 2017
Learning to pace properly in the marathon - Vincent
Last year I ran my first Marathon, the hilly Pittsburgh Marathon. I accomplished it using the Hal Higdon Novice-1 training plan. Before that, my longest race was a 10 miler, and my longest training run was 4 miles. I completed the Marathon in about 4:11 which was slower than my goal, but I did complete! :D A big problem was that I lost the 3:50 pacer around the 13th mile and looking at my chart in Run Keeper, my pace is all over the place once that happened.
I would love to get to a BQ someday, but this year my work schedule prevented a lot of winter running that I really needed. I am playing catch up still. I hope this May to break 4 hours, but currently struggling with even my 20 mile runs.
My question is - Assuming I loose the pacer again this year, how do I learn to keep pace myself? 10+ years of running shorter races has not helped me to get there. Thanks!
Reply - Coach Janet
Congrats on completing your first marathon! First marathons are usually a “learning” process -- you learn what it takes to train for that kind of a distance and what it takes on race day to execute your plan. Each time you train up for, and then complete, a marathon you’re building on a foundation of fitness that keeps getting bigger and broader and better able to support your race goal. With your goal of a “sub-4 hour” marathon I’d advise you to NOT try to run with the 3:50 pacer but instead, run with a 4:00 pacer and then as the race unfolds and you get to the final 10k – if all is feeling good you can gently loosen your reins and let yourself slide on out in front of the pacer. This way you won’t be going out too fast (3:50 pace) in the beginning and then fall apart in the last 10k. Now – as for how to learn to lock into a pace – that happens during specific training runs that are called “PACE” runs. On these runs you practice running the EXACT pace you plan to maintain in training. The goal is to learn exactly what that “feels like” so that you can lock in that effort +/- 5-10 seconds on any given mile. Obviously this depends on the course profile. You mention you’re “playing catch up” because of low mileage over the past months. I’ll remind you that a marathon is not a test you can “cram” for . If you want to do well, you have to put in the work and build your base so that on race day you have the endurance needed to RACE the distance (not just complete it). I’ll be happy to help with this – feel free to reach out to me via email (janet at runningstrong.com) if you want some guidance. Best regards and good luck in the upcoming marathon! Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Wednesday April 5th, 2017
Racing the 3000m more than once a week - Job
I run the 800 and 3000 for my high school track and field team. I am one of the top 2 long distance runners in my school (I also run 5k in xc). I use the 800 as a warm up for the 3000, I don't run it at 100% and don't really care about my time. I save myself for the 3000, which is my favorite. My track coach will not let me compete in the 3000 twice in a week if we have 2 track meets in a week. I don't understand why and they don't explain why. Some of the other kids run 400, 800, 1500, and 4x400 in the same meet, which is the same distance as 3000 and they are allowed to run all those more than once a week. I told the coach I would stop running the 800 but she said that wouldn't matter, she just doesn't want me to run 3000 twice in a week. I'm frustrated and just want to run the 3000. I'm not even tired after the race. I could run it everyday, which I almost do working out. I have PE in school and sometimes run 2miles while everyone else runs one. I just don't understand and would like some advise on how to approach my coach with my frustrations. Thanks.
Reply - Coach Janet
Hi Job, it's hard to know exactly what your coach's reasoning is but I would encourage you to assume that she has YOUR best interests in mind as she makes these decisions. Running a 3k is a different load/demand than running sprints like the 400 or even 800. She might be deciding this based on things like your age/skeletal maturity level, or perhaps a previous injury history, or even deciding it based on having bigger goals in mind for you. I think it's worthwhile to sit down and have a frank and open discussion with her to ask her respectfully to help you understand. Elite athletes choose their races carefully and train with a long-range mindset, you'd be wise to adopt that same attitude since you're clearly gifted. You probably have many years of running success in front of you and the best way to achieve that is to train and race with a focus on the longer term horizon... what will develop me the most for my future goals? Ask to schedule a time to talk when neither of you is in a hurry - then go into that meeting with an open mind. Present your concerns just as you have here, and then really LISTEN to her response. My guess is she's thought this out and has your best interests at heart. Best of luck in your future! Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified.
Saturday March 25th, 2017
Running a firt 5k - Justin
I'm a 39 year old male, thinking about trying some 5k races. I've been running since I was little, but have never tried any races. I like 3 mile runs, and can accomplish it in 28 minutes and 11 seconds. I would like to know how I would do if I was actually competing. I don't want to try if I would be at the back of the pack, if you know what I mean.
Reply - Coach Janet
Hi Justin - rest assured that if you're regularly running 3 miles in that time you wont be dead last in your 5k! Go, have fun with it and find out how fun it is to run in a crowd. If you want to do a little "preparation" - build your stamina a little by making one of your weekly runs a little longer than the target race distance - but do it at a very easy conversational pace. On another run, you can incorporate some faster paced running. You would start with short intervals of faster pace (perhaps quarter mile repeats) separated by recovery intervals. This will give you the feel for slightly faster running. On a third run you might start to do a few gentle hills to work on leg strength. Mostly I'll just tell you to go and have some fun and see what you've got. Sounds like you could easily go do this based on your current fitness. If you find you like it and want to get better... hire a coach to help you with specific training guidance so you can achieve your best. Good luck - let me know if I can be of assistance. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach.
Tuesday March 14th, 2017
Can you excel at the 5k while training for a half marathon - Jan
I've registered for several half marathons in the coming months, as this is my favorite race distance. However, I really want to work on bringing my 5k time down over the summer. My long runs are usually in the 10 mile range, sometimes longer, so I know I'll be able to cover the distance comfortably in the halves. If my 1-2 weekly workouts are 5k based, is it reasonable to think I can run well for both distances?
Reply - Coach Janet
Nothing builds success like a nice big foundation of fitness! With consistent long runs in the 10+ range you've built a nice foundation of stamina that also allows you to tolerate a higher dose of high-intensity speedwork. However... your statement that you only run 1-2 times per week in addition to that long run means that your total weekly mileage is probably still pretty low. You can probably tolerate up to 7% of your total weekly mileage at "high intensity pace" (5k to 3k race pace) so if your total weekly mileage is 35-45 miles per week (a good starting point for a successful half marathon) then you could schedule up to 2.5 to 3.25 miles of intervals at 5k pace or faster and be pretty safe in knowing your injury risk from that higher intensity workout was relatively low. If your total weekly mileage is lower than 35 miles a week, I think your first order of business to improve your success at both race distances is to build your mid week runs -- perhaps trying to work your way up to running 4 times a week. I'll be happy to help you with this, I've had athletes achieve PR's in both distances in the course of training for a half marathon or series of half marathons. If you want to race your half marathons well - pick them carefully and allow yourself time to sharpen, taper, race and recover. Racing too frequently doesn't allow for that and your performance won't be as good as it could be. If your target is really the 5k and the half marthons are more for "fun" then the taper and recovery periods for that distance is much shorter and you can get away with racing more frequently. Hope this helps -- good luck! Done correctly, you can absolutely run well at both distances! Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach
Tuesday March 7th, 2017
Questions about Marathon training plan - Pranav
I have a marathon training plan from Nike and I am confused by the arrangement of the long runs every week. After a 14 mi comfortable long run in week 5, they want me to do a 16 mi long run in week 6 where I push to maintain my pace, followed by a 14 mi run in week 7 at an easy pace. I don't get this. If the 16 mi run is the longest ever run undertaken till week 6, why do I need to push? Also, if I am reducing back to 14 mi in week 7, what is the point of running the week 7 long run of 14 mi easily as I would have already pushed through 16 mi in the week before?
Reply - Coach Janet
This is one of the reasons that I don't like "canned" training plans. They can't take into account your unique variables: your fitness when you started, your experience with the race distance, your injury history, etc. It is not out of the question to do alternating up-and-back long runs with one week being a progression and the next being a step back for recovery. It is not out of the question to do a race pace specific segment in the midst of a long run... HOWEVER - that is a more advanced form of training and should NOT be done by an individual doing the distance for the first time! If you've done dozens of marathons and you're consistently logging 50-70 miles a week, then you're likely easily able to perform a RP segment in the midst of a 16 mile run. If on the other hand you're new to distances like this and 16 is the longest you've ever run -- you have no business whatsoever doing any of it at a pace other than "easy/conversational". Build the infrastructure first, then polish the speed. If this is your first marathon, perhaps using a coach to design a specific plan that takes into account your unique strengths and weaknesses would be a better approach. If you want more information feel free to email me directly at "janet at runningstrong.com" . Hope this helps. Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA certified