Competitor.com » Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com Your Online Source for Running Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:34:54 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Video: The Importance Of Fish Oil In Your Diet http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/video/eat-and-run-the-importance-of-fish-oil-in-an-endurance-athletes-diet_33685 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/video/eat-and-run-the-importance-of-fish-oil-in-an-endurance-athletes-diet_33685#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:15:28 +0000 Dr. John Berardi http://running.competitor.com/?p=33685

Learn why these fatty acids are important and how they can benefit your diet.

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In this video, nutrition expert Dr. John Berardi explains the benefits of fish oil in an endurance athlete’s diet. Fish oil contains the most important omega-3 fatty acids, making it paramount to similar supplements. Learn why these fatty acids are important and how they can benefit your diet.

RELATED: Can Fish Oil Reduce Inflammation?

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Ask Mario: Which Running Shoes Should I Buy? http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/shoes-and-gear/ask-the-coach-which-running-shoes-should-i-buy_11598 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/shoes-and-gear/ask-the-coach-which-running-shoes-should-i-buy_11598#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:00:49 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=11598

Don't feel overwhelmed when purchasing your first pair of running shoes. There are a lot of options but a good salesperson can help you make the right decision. Photo: Mario Fraioli

There is not a "best" running shoe for beginners — but the good news is there are lots of excellent options.

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Don't feel overwhelmed when purchasing your first pair of running shoes. There are a lot of options but a good salesperson can help you make the right decision. Photo: Mario Fraioli

Q.

Hi Mario,

I just signed up for my first half marathon this fall and need to know what type of running shoe you recommend for a beginner?

Thanks,

Nicole C.

A.

Hi Nicole,

Congratulations on signing up for your first race! Your question is not an uncommon one. In fact, it was a regular query when I worked in specialty running retail.

The short answer is that there is not a “best” shoe for beginners — or experienced runners, for that matter. The good news, however, is there are lots of excellent options out there. The best running shoe for you is the one that addresses your own individual needs.

Don’t know what your own needs are? Don’t worry — this is why specialty running stores exist! A trained staff member at one of these stores will take a look at your feet, watch you run and provide you with a variety of options from all the different brands of running shoes they carry based on their observations and your feedback. They’ll also take into account your experience level, how much you’ll be running and tell you about your foot type, as well as what’s going on with your lower legs and the rest of your body when you get up to speed.

The “wet-tests” you read about in many shoe reviews only reveal a small piece of the puzzle (i.e. your foot type), so it’s important to find a trained eye to take a look at you in action. A department store or big-box sporting goods store won’t provide this kind of service or experienced expertise, nor will many of them let you take a pair of shoes for a test run before you purchase them.

RELATED: Buying Your First Pair Of Running Shoes

All that said, here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing running shoes:

— This may seem obvious, but make sure you buy running shoes! Cross trainers just won’t cut it — and they won’t be very comfortable, either.

— Bring your old running shoes in with you to the store. Have the staff member at the running store take a look at them so they have an idea what you’ve been using and what changes, if any, need to be made in regard to the type of shoe that you’re wearing.

— If you run in orthotics, bring those, too — even if you’re not planning on running in them. Orthotics tell a story to the staff person who is helping you. If you’re planning on using your customized insoles for running, it will have an effect on the type of shoe that ends up being recommended to you. Of course, even if you do wear orthotics regularly, don’t rely on them as a crutch. Make sure you’re doing some lower-leg strengthening exercises and running drills in bare feet or less of a shoe than you would typically wear in an effort to make your body more resilient.

— Just because a shoe costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better for you. A $200 shoe isn’t necessarily twice as good as a $100 running shoe. In fact, most models will run you between $90 and $120. Yes, this sounds like a lot of money, but when you take into account that the average life of a running shoe is between 400 and 500 miles, this breaks down to 20 to 25 cents a mile! It’s well worth the investment!

— Ask lots of questions and make sure the shoe you end up choosing feels comfortable on your foot. In the end, if the shoes don’t feel good on your feet, you’re not going to want to run in them. A good running shoe salesman won’t (read: shouldn’t) make a decision for you, but rather point you in the right direction by providing you with a handful of appropriate options given their observations as well as your feedback.

— Break your new shoes in gradually. As a beginner, in all likelihood this will be your first “good” pair of running shoes, and is likely very different from whatever it is you had been using. Walk around the house for a bit to break them in, and test them out for the first time with a short run.

Best of luck training for your half!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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Workout Of The Week: Broken Miles http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/workout-of-the-week-broken-miles_64874 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/workout-of-the-week-broken-miles_64874#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:00:40 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=64874

You can train your body to clear lactate more efficiently with the right kind of workouts. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

This speed session will help keep your form and pace from fading at the end of a race.

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You can train your body to clear lactate more efficiently with the right kind of workouts. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

This speed session will help keep your form and pace from fading at the end of a race.

Let me know if this statement sounds familiar: “I was holding a good pace for the first 2 miles, but then my legs started filling up with lactic acid the last mile and I was done.”

Heck, you may have even said this yourself when your smooth stride turned to a slow shuffle at the end of your most recent 5K. And while I don’t doubt that your pace plummeted faster than Felix Baumgartner fell from the edge of space, it wasn’t lactic acid that caused you to tie up and slow down.

The slow man’s shuffle you were doing in the final mile of your race was a result of your body’s inability to efficiently clear lacate — which along with hydrogen ions comprises lactic acid — from your blood faster than it could be produced. When you run fast, in this case 5K race pace, your muscles use lactate as a source of energy. The longer and faster you run, the more lactate your muscles produce, and subsequently use. As long as your body can clear lactate as quickly as it’s produced, your muscles will work efficiently and won’t have too much trouble maintaining your pace. When your body starts producing lactate faster than it can be cleared, however, everything starts going to shit — your legs get heavy, form starts falling apart and pace begins to fade — as hydrogen ions begin to slow energy reactions in your body and impair muscle function.

RELATED: The 3-2-1 Sandwich

So, it makes sense then that if you can improve your body’s ability to clear lactate while running race pace, you’ll be able to hold that pace for a longer period of time before both your form and pace begin to fade into oblivion. There are a number of workouts which can help you achieve this end, but for 5K and 10K training, the Broken Miles session is one of my favorite. Best performed on a track or interruption-free path or trail 4 to 8 weeks out from a key race, the Broken Miles workout alternates between 1,000 or 1,200 meters at 5K race pace and 600 or 400 meters at faster than 5K race pace, separated by a short rest between intervals and a longer rest between sets. Adjust the pace, and number of sets, for your fitness and experience level.

The Broken Miles Workout

— Warmup: Run easily for 20-25 minutes, dynamic warmup drills, 6 x 20-second strides

— Workout:

Version 1: 3 to 4 sets of 1,000m at 5K race pace, 1:30-2:30 recovery, 600m @ 3K race pace. 4:00 recovery between sets. 

Version 2: 3-4 sets of 1,200m (or 3/4 mile) at 5K race pace, 2:00-2:30 recovery, 400m (0r 1/4 mile) at 1 mile race pace. 4:00 recovery between sets.

— Cooldown: Run easily for 20-25 minutes

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New Runner: No Pain, No Gain? http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/injury-prevention/new-runner-discomfort-vs-pain_108987 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/injury-prevention/new-runner-discomfort-vs-pain_108987#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:32:46 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=108987

Sharp pain that comes on suddenly shouldn't be ignored. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Learning to listen to your body can save you a lot of time and frustration.

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Sharp pain that comes on suddenly shouldn't be ignored. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

This story is part of an ongoing series aimed at new runners.

You have probably heard the phrase “no pain, no gain.” You may even have some seasoned runner friends who have told you that training—by definition—comes with aches and pains. If you are doing everything right, they insist, training is going to hurt.

Is that true?

Partly. Going longer and/or faster than you ever have before involves getting out of your comfort zone to reach a previously unattained level of performance. Learning to deal with discomfort in training and racing is a necessary ingredient for improvement in running. This is the welcome “hurt” of pushing yourself to a new personal best on race day, hanging on for one more interval during a challenging workout or honing the art of endurance by asking your exhausted muscles to run a mile longer than they’ve ever run before.

If you are experiencing mild to moderate muscle soreness that lingers for 12-48 hours after a tough workout or race, not to worry. This is normal! As you increase your running volume and experiment with different training intensities, your body will need to adapt to the new stresses that are being placed upon it. Soreness is your body’s way of telling you that it’s repairing and rebuilding itself to come back stronger over the coming days, weeks and months. Be careful not to do too much too soon and take your rest and recovery days seriously so that you’re able to absorb all the hard work that you are putting in. Running easy on a set of sore muscles is fine, but save the long runs and faster workouts for when the soreness has subsided. If you’re unsure whether you should run or not, aerobic cross-training in the form of swimming, spinning or water running can be a great way to flush out metabolic waste without the impact on your legs.

RELATED: Should I Wait And See Or Go Visit A PT?

Pain, however, is an entirely different type of discomfort. This is an unwelcome “hurt” that will prevent improvement rather than promote it. Pain is usually discomfort that comes on quickly, lasts for a prolonged period of time and ranges from tolerable to severe on any given day. Unlike the normal discomfort of training and racing, pain is something to be taken seriously and addressed quickly.

Sharp, sudden pain that seemingly comes on out of nowhere in the middle of a workout or race, unwelcome “pops” that force you to alter your stride or deep soreness that lingers for more than 48 hours are symptoms that should not be ignored. Don’t try to run through it. Stop running immediately, evaluate the situation and seek the expertise of a physical therapist or sport medicine doctor (if necessary) to understand the root of the problem and how to correct it. Be especially careful with joints and tendon pain, and unusual swelling or bruising—these are signs that something isn’t right and needs to be addressed right away. Start by taking a few days off from running, cross-train to maintain fitness while your body heals (as long as it doesn’t aggravate the injury site), perform corrective exercises to strengthen your weak spots (you should be doing this anyway!) and only attempt to run again once you’re able to go about your daily activities without pain.

RELATED: Returning To Running After An Injury

One of the most important skills you develop as a runner is learning to discern discomfort from pain. While learning to deal with temporary discomfort is necessary for taking your running to the next level, letting a dull, persistent pain linger for a long time can lead to injury.

Addressing it quickly, however, can get you on the road to recovery right away. Learning to listen to your body, and addressing the issue when a sharp pain arises or a dull ache lingers can save you a lot of time and frustration.

This article was adapted from The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide To Marathon & Half Marathon Training [VeloPress, 2013]

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Improve Your Running By Becoming A Better Athlete http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/improve-your-running-by-becoming-a-better-athlete_57107 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/improve-your-running-by-becoming-a-better-athlete_57107#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:46:27 +0000 Caitlin Chock http://running.competitor.com/?p=57107

Run stronger by working on your strength, explosiveness and flexibility. Photo: John Segesta

It's worth your time as a runner to work on improving your overall athleticism.

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Run stronger by working on your strength, explosiveness and flexibility. Photo: John Segesta

It’s worth your time as a runner to work on improving your overall athleticism. 

The chiseled core of a swimmer. The explosive power of a basketball player. The supple flexibility of a gymnast. The nimble agility of a lacrosse player. While running is typically thought of as a solely linear motion, runners can really do themselves a lot of good when they shift focus from only moving forward in a straight line to working on improving their overall athleticism.

“Running is mostly thought of as a cardiovascular sport but it’s the muscles that do the work and the brain that ultimately controls everything,” explains coach Steve Magness, who most recently worked alongside Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project. “By becoming more athletic you gain multiple benefits. First, you become more injury-resistant because your body learns how to move in multiple planes of direction instead of simply knowing how to run in a straight line.  Secondly, your nervous system is really challenged so that it adapts and creates a more efficient connection from the brain to the muscle.”

RELATED: Strength Training Circuit For Distance Runners

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Full Circle: How To Run A Better Track Workout http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/full-circle-how-to-run-a-better-track-workout_51202 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/full-circle-how-to-run-a-better-track-workout_51202#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:40:15 +0000 Steve Magness http://running.competitor.com/?p=51202

Try sandwiching short hill repeats between track intervals to get more out of your workout. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Get more bang for your buck by switching up the stimulus.

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Try sandwiching short hill repeats between track intervals to get more out of your workout. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Get more bang for your buck by switching up the stimulus.

We all have our staple workouts: the 10×400-meter repeats at mile pace we remember from high school or that 4×1-mile session at 5K pace we grinded through in college. As creatures of habit, we rarely deviate from these staples—and they seem to work well enough for everyone in the running world—so why do anything different? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

The answer is simple; the body adapts to what we give it and if you keep repeating the same type of workout all the time, where does that stimulus for adaptation go?

When I was coaching high school runners at the beginning of my career, I grew tired of what I like to call “straight repeats.” I saw straight repeats as doing the same interval throughout the workout at the same relative pace, i.e. repeats of 200m, 400m, 1K, mile or whatever the distance might have been at the same pace. Everybody was doing them, perhaps rightly so, but for inattentive high school athletes it seemed like a mind numbing way to do things.

I decided to inject some fun into the workouts, while secretly having an ulterior motive of thinking that if we tried for the same adaptations in a couple of different ways, we’d end up in a much better spot then doing the same repeats at the same pace all the time.

The reasoning for this is simple: the body adapts to the stimulus given and if we attack that stimulus from multiple directions, we’ll get more bang for our buck. Thankfully, my hunch that came out of an initial desire to alleviate boredom for some high school runners translated into some great results. So how do you spice up those bland straight repeats?

The first rule is to be creative and mess with the components. You have speed, recovery, duration, distance, terrain and density of the workout to play with. The possibilities are essentially endless.

RELATED: Track Workouts Vs. Road Workouts

The route I recommend is to blend speeds, alter recovery speeds and duration and inject some terrain manipulation. Instead of doing straight repeats all at the same speed, instead inject some variation by blending the interval length and speed. What that means is instead of doing a staple workout such as 5x1000m at goal 5K pace, do a workout like  3 sets of 1200m/400m where the 1200s start out at 10K pace and the 400s are run at 3K pace. As the season progresses, try and work those 1200s down toward 5K pace.

By blending workouts like this, you initially work at paces above and below goal pace, which acts as a support to your specific fitness. Once you are close to your peak race you’ll be combining work at race pace with some work just faster than race pace to improve on speed endurance. By going back and forth within the workout, you create a situation where the faster work is injecting lactate into the system, and then you have to deal with it during the “slower” interval.

A second way to spice up that bland workout is to shift the emphasis to the “recovery” portion of the workout. If you are training for a 5K race, instead of doing the typical 1K repeats at race pace, shorten the interval to 600m at race race and instead of jogging the recovery, run another 600m at marathon pace, or a good steady effort faster than your typical recovery pace. Now instead of getting ample recovery between each repeat at race pace, the challenge becomes maintaining the recovery run speed. These types of workouts create a situation where the faster interval injects just enough fatigue into your legs so that you learn to deal with it during steady recovery portion. Each subsequent faster repeat slowly increases that fatigue and stress in your legs, stimulating further adaptations.

RELATED: 3 Track Workouts For Beginners

Lastly, we all are familiar with the utilization of hill repeats as a workout in and of itself, but most miss out on the benefits of intermixing your flat track intervals with some hill repeats in between. Instead of doing your typical 6x800m session on the track, instead do three sets of 2x800m on the track with a set of hill repeats sandwiched between the track intervals. The hill repeats will increase the amount of muscle fibers recruited—and subsequently trained—on the following set of track repeats. In essence, you’ll be increasing your strength endurance. The hill repeats can either be short hill sprints (4×10 seconds) for pure speed and muscle fiber recruitment or longer hills (2×1 minute) for working on the ability to last under heavy fatigue.

Bottom line: Break out of your shell and try something different. It’s not necessary to revamp every one of your workouts but every once in a while try adding a twist and reap the benefits of a new training stimulus.

****
About The Author:

Steve Magness coaches cross country and track at the University of Houston and formerly coached alongside Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project, where he helped Lance Armstrong with his running on several occasions. He maintains the blog ScienceOfRunning.com which is essentially a place for him to display his inner science and running nerd to the world. He owns a best of 4:01 for the mile and has a M.S. in Exercise Science from George Mason University.

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The Five Most Troublesome Running Injuries http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/injury-prevention/the-top-5-most-troublesome-running-injuries_11316 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/injury-prevention/the-top-5-most-troublesome-running-injuries_11316#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:10:33 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=11316

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Are you amongst the running wounded? You're likely suffering from one of these annoying injuries.

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Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Are you amongst the running wounded? You’re likely suffering from one of these annoying injuries.

As mindful runners, we can take all the proper precautions to make sure that we’ll never have to worry about hurting ourselves, but the reality is that no one is immune to injury.

Let’s take a quick look at the five most common running injuries, how they manifest themselves and the best ways to treat them.

1. Plantar Fasciitis

The symptoms: Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the bottom of the foot, is perhaps the peskiest problem that plagues the running wounded. The common characteristic of this condition is a sharp, tight, painful sensation at the base of the heel that can be anywhere from annoying to excruciating.

The feeling has been described as comparable to stepping heel first onto a nail. Eventually, the pain might go away as the day or a run is carried out, only to return afterward or again the next day. It’s a vicious cycle for sure.

The causes: Overtraining, overuse, and improper or worn-out footwear can cause pain in your heel, but the root of the problem lies in tight and weakened muscles in the foot. If your feet are weak, the heel takes on an excessive load and can’t handle the training you are trying to do.

The fix: Orthotics and stability shoes oftentimes serve as effective Band-Aids and can help eliminate symptoms in a short period of time, but they’re not a permanent fix. And while I’m not against these quick fixes, by no means are they the only—or the best—way to make the pain in your heel go away. In the short term, avoiding bare feet, stretching and strengthening the calves, rolling your feet around on a golf ball, and icing the affected area will provide some much-needed relief relatively quickly. If possible, see if Active Release Technique, a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function, is available where you live. Long term, diligent stretching combined with strengthening the muscles in and around the feet will address the root of the problem and help offset a recurrence.

RELATED: How To Treat and Beat Plantar Fasciitis

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Ask Mario: Can You Recommend A Speed-Distance Device? http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/shoes-and-gear/ask-the-coach-can-you-recommend-a-speed-distance-device_11623 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/shoes-and-gear/ask-the-coach-can-you-recommend-a-speed-distance-device_11623#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 21:15:07 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=11623

In today's running world, there are numerous options for tracking your workouts. Photo: www.guardian.co.uk

Our resident coach answers your questions!

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In today's running world, there are numerous options for tracking your workouts. Photo: www.guardian.co.uk

Q.

Mario ,

I’m training for my first half marathon and have been using a pedometer (cost me $20) to measure out my running loops, but it doesn’t seem to be very accurate. Can you recommend something not too expensive that will tell me how many miles I’ve run? Thanks!

Susan B.

A.

Hi Susan,

A pedometer that clips to your hip is OK for walking and counting steps, but won’t work so well for running and tracking miles. The reason for this is that most of these lower-priced units use a spring mechanism that moves a lever which counts your steps and calculates a reading. Constant usage, combined with the dynamic motion of running as well as terrain/stride changes, causes the spring to lose its spring, so to speak. As a result, you end up with readings that are all over the place.

The most accurate type of speed-and-distance device for runners is going to be a GPS unit, but these products are also going to be the most expensive. Retailing for anywhere between $100 and $400, a GPS unit will fit on your wrist and communicate with satellites to provide you the most accurate information in regard to speed and distance—assuming, of course, that you don’t lose the satellite signal! Garmin, Suunto, Nike, Polar and Soleus are a few of the more reputable brands in the GPS market and offer many different options depending on the features you are looking for. as well as how much money you’re willing to spend. Depending on the unit, a heart-rate monitor may also be included, which, of course, can add about 50 bucks or more to the price tag. A lot of this information, including distance, speed, heart rate, calories burned and maps of your routes, can be downloaded straight to your computer or synced to your phone afterward, graphed out and analyzed for you all the way down to the most minute details. If information overload is your thing, then you’ve got a lot of great options!

RELATED: Is your GPS watch lying to you on race day?

Of course, this level of sophistication isn’t for everyone. A little less expensive, and almost as accurate, are foot pods, which are small units that attach to the laces on your running shoe and communicate with a watch to give you speed and distance information by sensing the motion of your foot. After an initial calibration, it detects the acceleration/deceleration of each stride, which allows the unit to adjust for any variations in terrain. One advantage to using a foot pod over a GPS unit is that you will never have to fear losing a satellite signal! Some brands also feature foot pod units in addition to their GPS offerings and other brands offer just foot pod options that retail for between $50 and $200.

Lastly, most smartphones now have apps, such as Strava, MapMyRun and RunKeeper, which take advantage of your phone’s GPS system to track your mileage and, in some cases, even dictate your pace to you as you’re going along. Many of these apps are free, while others or upgraded versions will cost you a few bucks a month. Of course, you have to carry your phone with you, which can become cumbersome in some cases.

RELATED: Are runners too tech dependent?

So, what are the advantages to using these types of training devices? The benefits are many. No longer will you be left guessing just how fast that last mile was—or if you’ve gone a mile-and-a-half or a mile-and-three-quarters. The numbers don’t lie. If you’re going too fast, you’ll know instantaneously; if you’re dragging and need a kick in the butt, a virtual partner option can help keep you honest. Also, if you want to compare times over your usual routes or have the hard data to see how much you’ve progressed as a runner in the last year, you can do so with the click of a button. In short, spending a little bit more money can give you a lot of accurate information.

Best of luck with your training!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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Ask Mario: Can I Push Hard For Two Races In The Same Week? http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/ask-mario-can-push-hard-two-races-week_106509 http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/ask-mario-can-push-hard-two-races-week_106509#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 23:25:35 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=106509

It's possible to run two longer races in the span of a week, but it's important to gauge your effort and recovery accordingly. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Q. Mario, I signed up for a 1/2 marathon on October 5th and the Army Ten Miler October 12th. Was this a good idea? Should I run in between

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It's possible to run two longer races in the span of a week, but it's important to gauge your effort and recovery accordingly. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Q.

Mario,

I signed up for a 1/2 marathon on October 5th and the Army Ten Miler October 12th. Was this a good idea? Should I run in between races or just recover? I plan to run an easy pace on the half and push hard on the ATM. Can I push hard for both? And, was this a dumb idea? Thanks.

Jose

A.

Jose,

The short answer is: It’s not a dumb idea! You just need to play your cards right.

It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no fitness to be gained (or lost, really) in the week between your races. While you could push hard in both, in general I agree with your plan to run easy for the half marathon and go all-out for the Army 10 Miler. It’s a sound strategy that should put you in a position to get the most out of yourself and achieve the best possible result on October 12.

That said, depending on your racing experience and recoverability, I think there are two ways to approach the half marathon and the days following it:

1. Run the half marathon at your standard easy pace from start to finish. Take the pressure off yourself, stay relaxed throughout and keep the effort conversational. Look at it as an easy Sunday long run surrounded by a bunch of your newest, closest friends. On Monday, run easy or take the day off—whatever is standard practice following your weekend long run—and perform your last significant workout before the Army 10 Miler on Tuesday (E.g. 3 x 1 mile @ 10K race pace with 2 minutes recovery between repetitions). Take it easy on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, throw some short pickups into the middle of a short run (E.g. 6 x 30 seconds at 5K race pace with 90 seconds recovery between reps). Take Saturday off from training or run easy before toeing the line on Sunday for the 10-mile race.

2. Use the half marathon as your last race-specific tuneup for the Army 10 Miler. Do this by running at your standard easy, conversational pace for the first 10 miles of the half marathon and tackle the last 5K NO FASTER than your goal race pace for the Army 10 Miler goal pace. This will leave you slightly more fatigued than if you had run the entire 13.1 miles at an easy pace, but it shouldn’t totally trash your legs either. Recover accordingly for the next three days with some short, easy runs (or a day off if you need it) and tackle a short workout on Thursday (E.g. 5 x 2:00 @ 10K race pace with a 2:00 recovery jog between reps). Take it easy on Friday and Saturday and enjoy a day off from training if you feel like you need the extra rest.

3. If you DO happen to get carried away during the half marathon and run hard from start to finish (hey, it happens to the best of us), dial it WAY back in the days between the two races. Take a day off from training if/when you need it, otherwise run easy and give your legs a chance to bounce back from the long effort. Perform four to six 20-30 second pickups on Friday before the 10 miler to stretch your legs out a bit and get them ready to go again on Sunday.

Hope this helps answer your questions. Have a great race(s)!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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The Western Statesman: How Rob Krar Won Western States http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/trail-running/the-western-statesman-5-questions-with-rob-krar_107178 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/trail-running/the-western-statesman-5-questions-with-rob-krar_107178#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:47:13 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=107178

Rob Krar acknowledges the crowd after crossing the finish line of the Western States 100 on Saturday night. Photo: Mario Fraioli | Competitor

We caught up with the 37-year-old after he captured his first Western States 100 title on Saturday.

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Rob Krar acknowledges the crowd after crossing the finish line of the Western States 100 on Saturday night. Photo: Mario Fraioli | Competitor

We caught up with the 37-year-old after he captured his first Western States 100 title on Saturday. 

On Saturday, 37-year-old Rob Krar of Flagstaff, Ariz., became the second runner in the history of the Western States Endurance Run to break the mystical 15-hour barrier, crossing the finish line in 14 hours, 53 minutes and 22 seconds to claim his first Western States 100 title. Krar, who finished second at Western States last year and later in the year won the 100K Ultra Race of Champions in Colorado as well as 50-Mile The North Face Endurance Challenge in December, was overcome with emotion upon stepping on the track at Placer High School with 300 meters remaining in the 100-mile race, saying, “It was such a personal endeavor for me and I don’t think a day went by the past year when I didn’t imagine that very moment when I first set foot on that track. It’s magical. I can’t even describe it. I’ll cherish it the rest of my life.”

RELATED:

— Rob Krar, Full-Time Pharmacist and Ultra Champ

PHOTOS: 2014 Western States 100

We caught up with Krar within an hour of finishing on Saturday night and talked to him about the race, his training leading into it and the emotion of realizing he achieved his yearlong goal of winning Western States.

Take me through the emotion you were feeling when you stepped onto the track a little while ago. What was going through your mind and body after almost 15 hours of effort?

So much. And it wasn’t so much the 15 hours of effort, it was truly the loftiest goal and the longest goal I’ve ever set for myself. It was a yearlong goal and a lot of trials and tribulations along the way. You know, I never mentioned it to a soul. It was such a personal endeavor for me and I don’t think a day went by the past year when I didn’t imagine that very moment when I first set foot on that track. It’s magical. I can’t even describe it. I’ll cherish it the rest of my life.

At what point of the race did it hit you that, “Holy shit, I’m going to win this thing,” or “I could win this thing if I don’t blow up”?

I put a strong move in on Cal Street. I was suffering pretty good at the top of Green Gate, which is mile 80. I couldn’t get any updates until the Highway 49 crossing, which is 6.5 [miles] to go and somebody told me I had a 25- to 30-minute lead. And you know, it was amazing hearing that but you can’t take anything for granted in a race like this. You know, you get a muscle seizing 5 miles from the finish line and it can easily put you back half an hour to an hour so I was definitely in survival mode over the last 10 [miles]. I could tell my muscles were at the end of the line so it was really a matter of focusing on every aspect of my body and making sure I made it up to Robie Point and I let it go a little bit there. But, you know, there’s always those examples of people who run 26 miles in a marathon and they see the finish line and do the wobbly dance and I always respect that. So I think the emotions took over when I saw the track and I just let it loose at that time.

When you hit low moments during the race, what did you tell yourself? Did you have a mantra you repeated or something you thought of that kept you going when you were in a little bit of a hole?

My wife’s parting words this morning were—and you might need to edit this—but she said, “This is your f#*%ing day. Don’t let anybody take it away from you” and it was perfect. I really thought about that a lot today because it’s so true. I give so much respect to everybody out here. It was a beautiful day, and I’m so fortunate.

Max [King] ran his first 100 here today and he took off fairly aggressively at the start and seemed content to run by himself. Were you concerned at all, given his background as a runner and the unknown of what he could do over 100 miles?

Yeah, you know, I have nothing but respect for Max and I think I’m one of the maybe few that was confident he was going to run a strong race. And he had an 8-minute gap on me at one time but it was so important for me to run my own race and I did that and fortunately it worked out really well.

Looking back at your training coming into this race, was there one day or one workout in the last few weeks that told you, “I’m ready to do this, I’m in a different place than I was last year”?

The Grand Canyon holds a special place in my heart. I’ve had some of my greatest running efforts in the Canyon, also some of my most frightening as well. About three weeks ago I had one of my best runs ever in the Canyon and that’s huge for me. That gave me the confidence to kind of cut things back and respect the rest and respect the race. That was the day. I did 30 miles out-n-back. It’s always tough in there and it was a hot day. It couldn’t have been a better indicator for me.

TOP-10 RESULTS2014 Western States 100

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Kim Conley Realizes National Championship Dream http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/news/conley-realizes-dream_106797 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/news/conley-realizes-dream_106797#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 17:46:00 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=106797

Kim Conley ran to the 10,000m national title Thursday. Photo: www.photorun.net

The Sacramento resident won the 10,000m U.S. championship in front of her home fans Thursday night.

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Kim Conley ran to the 10,000m national title Thursday. Photo: www.photorun.net

The Sacramento resident won the 10,000m U.S. championship in front of her home fans Thursday night.

The boulevard of broken dreams known as the homestretch is where Kim Conley has put together some of her finest moments.

In a move that mirrored her last-second lean to qualify for U.S. team at the Olympic Trials in 2012, Conley captured her first national title Thursday night in front of a sparse but partisan hometown crowd at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium with a final foot-all-the-way-down-on-the-gas flurry to pass a pressing Jordan Hasay just strides before the tape. The last-minute move capped an exciting 65-second final circuit and further added to Conley’s growing reputation as one of the sport’s savviest—and gutsiest—racers.

“I guess in an ideal world I could have dropped her earlier but I definitely was leaving a little something in the tank knowing that she’s obviously strong and a tough athlete and has a great finish,” Conley said after the race. “So I knew that I needed a little something extra but I also kind of kind of planned on the home crowd to carry me. Coming off that final turn, hearing them there was just amazing.”

After moving to the front and pulling away from eventual third-place finisher Amy Hastings with less than two miles to go, a confident Conley led with Hasay stuck firmly on her shoulder for the next six laps before the former two-time NCAA champion from Oregon made a strong bid to the lead with only 300 meters remaining. As Hasay opened up a small gap on the backstretch heading into the penultimate turn, Conley kept her cool and continued to fight, waiting until the homestretch to turn on the afterburners and make her dream of winning a national championship in front of her hometown fans a reality.

RELATED: Conley, Rupp Win 10,000m Titles

“Kim has been battled tested,” said her coach Drew Wartenburg, who has guided Conley’s training since her collegiate days at nearby UC Davis. “She’s been in that position of getting passed and then having to fight back. It’s not easy on the heart but over time we’ve gotten to a place where she’s more comfortable keeping her head in it and fighting. Fortunately, that fight and a little bit of the home crowd on the home stretch helped carry her across.”

Racing in Sacramento, the city she calls home, Conley drew strength from the dozens of family, friends and fans that were on the edge of their seats screaming her name for the entirety of the 25-lap race. A 5000-meter specialist, she also benefited from dropping down to race the 800 meters and the mile this past indoor season, giving her the confidence that she had another gear when she needed it.

Being a non-world championship or Olympic year, Conley is dabbling in the longer distance this summer to work on her strength, as well as to give herself another option when the Olympic Trials roll back around in 2016. Wartenburg says they’ve consciously been working on her range as an athlete, as well as her racing skills, saying, “she’s really been able to build herself into somebody with a good repertoire. Kim’s a good instinctual racer and she loves to compete, but in a race like this, of this length, staying patient as she did and then deciding when the decisive moment was to go to the front and take the race into her own hands was what made the difference for her tonight.”

RELATED: Pregnant Montano Runs 800m While Pregnant

On Thursday night, that patience paid off heading into the homestretch, where Conley once again had one of her finest moments in a place were many races are won or lost at the last second and dreams are either realized or shattered.

“I just kept saying one word over and over again in my head and that was courage,” Conley said. “Because that’s a dangerous place to be in the front with someone who has the leg speed of Jordan. But I was just reminding myself to be courageous and to know that if I could still be with her with 120 to go then I would just use my heart to get me to the line. To win my first national title here is so meaningful I can’t even begin to describe it.”

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Workout Of The Week: Descend The Ladder http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/workout-of-the-week-descend-the-ladder_51854 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/workout-of-the-week-descend-the-ladder_51854#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 16:18:59 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=51854

The descending ladder workout will help prepare your body for the demands of 5K and 10K racing. Photo: Kurt Hoy/Competitor

Training for 5K/10K? This session will help you hold on to a hard pace when your legs start screaming at you to stop.

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The descending ladder workout will help prepare your body for the demands of 5K and 10K racing. Photo: Kurt Hoy/Competitor

Training for 5K/10K? This session will help you hold on to a hard pace when your legs start screaming at you to stop. 

While half marathons and marathons are a matter of resisting fatigue during the later miles, 5K and 10K racing is like fighting off a lactic acid firestorm for the final third of the race.

No matter how comfortable the early pace may feel to you, about two thirds of the way into a fast 5K or 10K a spark suddenly catches fire and starts to spread rapidly as your legs begin to lock up and your stride shortens ever so slightly. Your quads are screaming at you to stop and your upper body tenses up as you seemingly start going backward while you struggle to maintain pace or stick with the runner in front of you.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this at the end of a hard race, of course; it simply means that you’re doing it right. While your muscles are inevitably going to catch fire toward the end of a competitive 5K or 10K effort, you can train your body to slow down the burn and better handle the demands of the race in training. One of my favorite ways to do this is with the descending ladder workout.

Begin by warming up with 15 to 20 minutes of easy jogging followed by six 20-second strides (faster accelerations) to get your fast twitch muscles firing. After your warmup is complete, run for 10 minutes at your current half-marathon race pace. If you’ve never raced a half marathon and are unsure of how fast to run this part of the workout, add about 15 seconds per mile to your 10K race pace or 30 seconds per mile to your 5K pace. The McMillan Calculator is also a handy tool that can help get you in the ballpark. The goal here is to inject some fatigue into your legs without totally wiping you out just yet.

After running 10 minutes at half marathon pace, jog slowly for 5 minutes as recovery. Once those five minutes are up, begin a descending ladder of pickups, starting with 6 minutes at your goal 10K pace — no faster. Upon completion of the 6-minute pickup, jog for 3 minutes as recovery. Continue to step down the ladder with faster pickups of 5 minutes at 10K race pace, 4 minutes at 5K race pace, 3 minutes @ 5K race pace, 2 minutes at 3K race pace (roughly 15 seconds per mile faster than your 5K pace) and, finally, 1 minute at 3K race pace. The recovery between each pickup is an easy jog for half the duration of the preceding interval, so 2:30 after the 5-minute pickup and so forth.

Another way to perform this workout is by doing specific intervals on the track. Perform the same warmup described above, followed by 10 minutes of running at your half-marathon race pace (preferably off the track). After jogging easily for 5 minutes to recover from that effort, step onto the oval and begin with 2,000 meters (5 laps) at your 10K race pace. Jog easily for half the duration it took you to complete that opening interval on the track and then run 4 laps at the same pace. Continue stepping down the lap ladder (3 laps, 2 laps, 1 lap), increasing the intensity with each repetition to the point where you’re running faster than your goal 5K race pace for the final two intervals. The recovery between each faster interval should be half the time of one you just completed.

This session is demanding, but then again 5K/10K racing is too, so if you want to simulate the burning your legs are going to feel in the final mile or two of a race, then try stepping down the ladder in your next workout!

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Ask Mario: Do I Really Need A Recovery Week? http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/recovery/ask-mario-really-need-recovery-week_106475 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/recovery/ask-mario-really-need-recovery-week_106475#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:43:31 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=106475

It can be tempting to keep going hard when you have momentum during your training, but recovery weeks are important. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Recovery is important, even when you're feeling great and have some momentum built up.

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It can be tempting to keep going hard when you have momentum during your training, but recovery weeks are important. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Q.

Hey Mario,

My coach has me down for a recovery week next week, but I’m feeling really strong right now and don’t want to back off my workouts and kill the momentum I’ve built. Can I just keep training hard until the next recovery week? Would love to hear your opinion. Thanks.

Scott

A.

Hey Scott,

Your problem isn’t a bad one to have. On one hand, the fact that you’re feeling strong is a sign that you’re fit and recovering well from the training you’ve been doing up to this point. When you’re in a good groove with your workouts and feeling stronger every week, the hardest thing to do is back off on the volume and intensity, even if just for a few days. But on the flipside, while you might feel like you’re killing your momentum by scaling back your long run, dropping the miles and easing off the gas pedal, you’re really just setting yourself up to pick up even more steam during the next 3-4-week block of training, and the block after that, and so forth. Also, you’re lessening the likelihood of injury or illness by giving your energy systems the opportunity to rebound from the most recent heavy training load.

RELATED: Recover Better To Run Faster

When you’re bumping up mileage and increasing/varying the intensity of your workouts week after week, you’re providing yourself with new or additional stimuli for future improvement. One of the byproducts of this increased training load, however, is that you accumulate fatigue at a faster rate. If you ignore the fact that this is happening and don’t adjust your recovery strategy accordingly, performance eventually suffers and the likelihood of illness or injury increases. In my experience, most runners tend to get stale, sick or hurt after they’ve strung together too many “big” weeks in a row—usually more than three—without reducing their overall training volume by 20-30 percent and varying the intensity of their workouts for at least 5-7 days.

Remember, every workout and every week of training should have a specific purpose. While week after week of long runs and tough workouts will give you the confidence that your training is on track, the recovery weeks that follow will allow you to get more out of those big weeks moving forward. Stop yourself from thinking of these weeks as purposeless or merely restful. Rather, place an equal amount of emphasis on “nailing” those recovery weeks when they’re scheduled. You’ll come back refreshed and lessen the likelihood of being forced to take an unplanned down week because of overtraining, injury or illness.

As retired U.S. Olympic middle-distance runner Marty Liquori famously said: “Just remember this: No one ever won the olive wreath with an impressive training diary.”

Train smart!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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The Importance Of Varying Your Running Surfaces http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/the-importance-of-varying-your-running-surfaces_5889 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/the-importance-of-varying-your-running-surfaces_5889#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:25:52 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=5889

Getting off the roads for some of your runs will give your body a much-needed break from the unforgiving pounding of the pavement. Photo: istock

Are you stuck in a running rut? Take your running where it's never been before--quite literally.

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Getting off the roads for some of your runs will give your body a much-needed break from the unforgiving pounding of the pavement. Photo: istock

Are you stuck in a running rut? Take your running where it’s never been before–quite literally. 

Runners, by our very nature, are creatures of habit. Anything and everything related to our running — from the shoes we wear, to the food we eat (and when we eat it), to the races we run year in and year out — is regulated by routine. Think about it. When was the last time you missed your annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot? Probably the last time you switched shoe brands or failed to spread a tablespoon of peanut butter on half of a bagel some 35 minutes before jumping on the third treadmill from the far window at the gym.

The bottom line is that for runners, routine rules — and where we run is no exception. Whether you’re a runner who prefers to pound the pavement, tear up the trails or trot on the treadmill, chances are you’re tied to your terrain like a dog on a leash. You’re scared to stray too far from your usual stomping grounds and play in some new puddles, so to speak. Well, it’s time to break up the boredom, put an end to the mind-numbing monotony and start treading over some new terrain. It’s not only good for your mind, but beneficial to your body and paramount to improving your performance.

“Changing running surfaces works different leg muscles which, will lead to physical benefits,” says Eric Blake, head cross country and track and field coach at Central Connecticut State University. “And different scenery in your running will lead to mental benefits.”

For the road warriors out there, get off the asphalt every once in a while. Retreat from the roads and seek softer surfaces to run on – some of the time, anyway. Your feet, shins, knees and hips will thank you!

RELATED: How And Why To Run Off-Road

While the roads are always readily available for running, they’re not the best thing for your body. If possible, find a softer surface to run on at least once a week, be it a trail in the woods, grass field at your local high school or path through the park. Aside from steering clear of troublesome traffic, the off-road impact is significantly easier on your body. Let’s explore a phenomenon I like to call it the golf ball effect.

Throw a golf ball at your driveway. What happens? That’s right; it takes off into the atmosphere. Now throw that same golf ball at your front lawn with the same velocity. Where did it go? Yep, it’s still there on the ground, where the grass has absorbed most of the impact. Now imagine that golf ball is your body and the above process gets repeated a couple thousand times over the course of a 5-mile run. Which surface is more forgiving on your body?

If you guessed the grass, or some other similarly soft surface, you guessed right. Not only will you keep those everyday aches and pains to a minimum, but you’ll recover quicker, strengthen your ankles and develop your lower leg muscles more rapidly.

“The softer surface of trails and gravel roads that I run on keeps the impact stresses down and allows me to recover from workouts faster,” says Kevin Tilton, a two-time member of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. “Plus, running on the trails makes you use a lot of little stabilizer muscles that you may not use running all of your miles on the roads. I also find the trails more interesting and that allows me to get in more training.”

Staying soft doesn’t always make the most sense, however, especially if you’ll be racing on the roads. You’ll need to harden your legs to the harder surface, and the best way to go about doing so is to pound the pavement every once in a while. Aside from not worrying about rolling an ankle on a root or dodging some other unforeseen obstacle, you can work on your race rhythm much more effectively and get your fast-twitch muscle fibers firing that much faster.

“My road racing helps keep me in touch with speed that I may not normally find if I did all my training and racing on the trails,” Tilton admits. “Plus, getting my butt kicked in big road races gets me fired up for my trail and mountain races.”

Racing on the weekends isn’t the only recipe for getting your butt kicked and running on the roads isn’t the only way to work on your rhythm. Taking it to your trusty treadmill every so often will do the trick as well. Even for competitive runners, the treadmill doesn’t have to be synonymous with dreadmill. Blake, a three-time winner of the Mount Washington Road Race, does a lot of his training on the treadmill, a somewhat surprising circumstance for someone who’s a regular winner on the road-racing scene. Aside from the impact being easier on his body, training on the treadmill from time to time allows Blake to closely control his pace, increase the incline when necessary and monitor his effort level continuously.

“You know exactly your pace and distance,” Blake said. “And the treadmill is one of the only places you can run on a 10-12 percent grade for a long time. Training on a treadmill at an incline is very specific to the event.”

So, regardless of where you run, take a break from your regular routine, switch up your surface every so often and literally take your running where you’ve never taken it before. As the miles add up, not only will your risk of injury be lower, but the fun factor will be that much higher.

“I don’t get too burnt out by doing the same thing over and over,” says Tilton. “Running is supposed to be fun after all, right?”

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Workout Of The Week: Uphill Interruptions http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/workout-of-the-week-uphill-interruptions_63510 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/workout-of-the-week-uphill-interruptions_63510#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 18:30:18 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=63510

Add an incline into the middle of your next interval workout.

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Add an incline into the middle of your next interval workout. 

In the early phases of a training program, many runners regularly do uphill repeats as a way to work on lower-leg strength, improve power and reinforce the basic tenets of good running mechanics. Later in the training cycle, however, hill workouts tend to get replaced by a weekly interval session (or two) in order to improve speed, enhance efficiency and dial in race pace. And while there’s nothing wrong with transitioning to more frequent interval work leading up to race day, it’s always surprised me that many coaches and athletes seem to forget about hill workouts altogether once they get into the meat of the training cycle.

One of my favorite early-to-mid-season workouts for my athletes, regardless of their specific training focus, interrupts a traditional interval workout with a set (or sets) of hill repeats. The purpose of doing so is to introduce a new training stimulus which will challenge the musculoskeletal system in addition to the aerobic system. Also, keeping some hill work in the weekly rotation acts as a means of muscular support during a period that’s usually heavily focused on improving specific fitness for a goal race.

RELATED: Early-Season Strength-Building Workouts

So how long should your hill repeats sandwiched into the middle of an interval workout be? It depends on what you’re trying to achieve with them. For emphasizing pure power and maximum muscle-fiber recruitment, max-intensity sprints in the range of 10-12 seconds with full recovery between repeats will do the trick, while longer hill repeats in the range of 30 to 90 seconds will help you to develop a greater level of fatigue resistance in your legs.

Here are three examples of classic short, medium and long interval workouts, along with different options for effectively interrupting them with an incline.

WORKOUT: 12 x 400m @ < 5K race pace with 60-90 seconds recovery between repetitions

Interruption Option: 2 sets of 4-5 x 400m @ <5K race pace with 60-90 seconds recovery between repetitions. Follow each set of flat 400m repeats with 2 x 60-second hill repeats on a moderately steep grade at the same effort. Recover from each repeat by jogging back down to the bottom of the hill. The added element of the incline stimulates promotes muscular gains you don’t get from running flat.

WORKOUT: 5 x 6:00 @ 10K race effort with 3:00 recovery between repetitions

Interruption Option: Use the base of a moderately steep hill as the starting point for your intervals. Begin your 6:00 reps at the base of a hill, running away from it on a flat stretch of ground for 3:00 at 10K race effort before turning around and returning at the same pace. Take 2-3:00 of walking/jogging recovery after each flat 6:00 rep, then charge up the hill for 30 seconds at a hard effort that’s 10-15 percent short of all-out. Focus on driving your arms, getting up on your toes and charging up the hill with strong form. After competing the 30-second uphill effort, take 2-3:00 recovery and repeat the sequence four more times.

WORKOUT: 4 x 2 miles @ 1/2 marathon race pace with 3:00 recovery between repetitions

Interruption Option: Take 2:30 recovery after each 2-mile repetition and then perform 2 x 10-second hill sprints at max effort. Recover fully with 1:30 to 2:00 of walking/light jogging after each hill sprint before beginning the next 2-mile/2 x 10-second hill sprint sequence. The short, but intense uphill efforts recruit a greater number of muscle fibers, which will rapidly increase the muscular fatigue in your legs, making each subsequent 2-mile effort that much more of a challenge. At the end of the session, you’ll have gotten in 8 miles of running at goal half-marathon race pace, 80 seconds worth of high-intensity hill work and a toasted set of legs.

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Ask Mario: Any Ideas For A New Goal After Setting A Marathon PR? http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/ask-mario-any-ideas-for-a-new-goal-after-setting-a-marathon-pr_12602 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/ask-mario-any-ideas-for-a-new-goal-after-setting-a-marathon-pr_12602#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 02:25:22 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=12602

Write your goals down and look at them often to keep yourself motivated and accountable. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Mario Fraioli describes how to tackle a new challenge after setting a personal best in the marathon.

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Write your goals down and look at them often to keep yourself motivated and accountable. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Q.

Hi Mario,

I started running three years ago for my health and before I knew it I fell in love with running and decided to train for and run a marathon. Well, one led to four, and last month I ran a huge PR of 3:31:26, taking almost 20 minutes off my previous best time.

So now that I’ve done a few marathons, I’m starting to wonder if there are any new challenges I can take on beyond the 26.2-mile distance? 

I don’t want to be tempted to revert into my lazy, unhealthy ways, so I need to keep giving myself new goals. I want to set a goal that is attainable (100-mile races are definitely out of the question) but at the same time I want to set a goal of doing something that is beyond the marathon. Any ideas?

Thanks!

Cory C.

A.

Cory,

The possibilities are endless! But first off, congratulations on your newfound love for running and all that you have achieved in the sport in such a short time. A near 20-minute PR is no joke!

So what’s next? First, temporarily forget about tackling another race right away and enjoy this HUGE accomplishment for a little bit if you haven’t already—you’ve earned it! Then start thinking about your goals for the second half of 2014 and leading into next year. Here are two suggestions to get you going in the right direction:

Goal #1: Stay committed to maintaining the new healthy lifestyle you’ve created for yourself. The new Cory has already done things the old Cory could only ever dream of, and will continue to do even more if he stays committed to his running ways.

Goal #2: Find that new challenge, that new goal to go after, and chase it down with relentless tenacity.

While the desire to push yourself past the marathon distance is tempting, it’s not a mandatory next step. You already know you can finish 26.2 miles—and rather quickly at that—so why not try to run it even faster? While your recent PR is super exciting and something to be really proud of, don’t be satisfied with it. I have no idea what your current training program looks like, but evaluate it and identify some areas for improvement (we all have them) and see if you can take a few more minutes off your time. Try bumping up your weekly mileage and/or start sprinkling some different types of intensity into your workouts in the form of faster speed workouts or longer tempo runs. Not only will introducing some new variety into your training program help improve your speed and promote faster fitness gains, it will also keep your workouts from getting boring.

RELATED: Setting Realistic Running Goals

Take this new challenge one step further, or back rather, and train seriously for shorter distances such as 5K, 10K or half marathon and see how fast you can go. Working on your short speed will only spur new fitness gains and improve your efficiency, which in turn will make you a better marathoner down the road. After recovering from a major marathon, many top professionals will take a marathon training cycle off and run some shorter track and road races before returning to the longer distance. Such a strategy has worked wonders for folks like Shalane Flanagan, Dathan Ritzenhein and Desiree Davila, and it will definitely work for you, too.

However, if you’re set on putting anything shorter than the marathon distance in your rearview mirror, then I suggest starting with a 50K. I ran my first one this past spring, and found the training to be slightly more challenging than preparing for a marathon, but totally manageable at the same time. Also, with the growing popularity of ultramarathons, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an event to tackle this fall or even next spring.

RELATED: How To Train For Your First 50K

Bottom line: Goals are great and will help keep you on track and accountable. Never go without a new challenge—whether it’s going faster, going longer or trying something new altogether—and I guarantee you you’ll never revert to your old ways. Keep up the great work!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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Workout Of The Week: The Short Fartlek http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/workout-of-the-week-short-fartlek_13895 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/workout-of-the-week-short-fartlek_13895#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:00:34 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=13895

Try your early-season fartlek workouts on grass for an added strength benefit. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

This short speed session can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be!

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Try your early-season fartlek workouts on grass for an added strength benefit. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

This short speed session can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be!

Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar: The last race you ran was a couple of months ago, and since then you’ve enjoyed some well-deserved down time. Long runs and speed workouts have been put on the back burner and all your running efforts of late have been easy and unfocused. But recently the itch to race has returned. You know it’s time to start boosting your volume and increasing the intensity once again but the thought of stepping on the track for a speed session stresses you out. What to do?

Easy: stay away from the track! Aside from rattling your nerves, the cold, hard feedback of lap-after-lap splits is an unnecessary evil at this stage of the game. Tough workouts on the track have their time and place in a training schedule, and it’s not the first speed session after a lengthy layoff.

Instead of going round and round your local outdoor oval for your first fast workout in a while, stick to your regular road route or favorite trail and perform the following short fartlek session

— Warm up with 10 to 20 minutes of easy running.

— Follow with four to six faster 20-second pickups, jogging 40 seconds in between each pickup.

— Perform 2 to 5 sets of 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, starting at 5K race effort for the 2-minute interval and increasing the intensity for the 1-minute and 30-second segments. Adjust the effort level of each interval, as well as the number of sets, depending on your experience and training focus. Starting off at 10K or even half-marathon/marathon effort is fine, too.

— For recovery, jog for two minutes after the 2-minute interval and 60 seconds after the 1-minute pickup. Take a 2:30 jog for recovery in between sets.

— Cool down with 10 to 20 minutes of easy running.

This is a great short speed session for transitioning back to faster workouts after an extended time away from hard training, but can also be used as an intense off-the-track interval session when you’re fit and in flying shape. It’s good for runners focusing on the 5K or even those preparing for a marathon. The key is adjusting your effort level, along with the number of sets and recovery, to suit your individual needs.

RELATED–Workout Of The Week: The Halftime Fartlek

As a collegiate cross country runner preparing for a fall season full of 8K and 10K races, my teammates and I performed 5-6 sets of this session at roughly 8K race effort once a week during the summer months to maintain leg speed and break up the monotony of heavy mileage. Later in the season, we’d run fewer sets at a faster speed with less recovery to improve our anaerobic fitness and get ready for the rigors of racing.

Don Kardong, a collegiate track champion at Stanford who went on to represent the United States in the marathon at the 1976 Olympics, liked to do a variation of this workout when he needed a break from running around in circles on the track. If Kardong was getting ready for a track race, he’d do fewer sets with less recovery. Before a marathon, however, he’d often opt for more sets with longer rests.

“I liked using time because it’s easy to keep track of on a digital watch,” Kardong was quoted in Michael Sandrock’s book Running Tough. “This had some of the advantages of fartlek since I was relieved of the mental burden of trying to run a certain precise distance in a certain time, and I wasn’t confined to an oval. And it had the advantage of a track workout in that there was structure to it, which I found helpful. I also liked the mix-up of distances.”

Runners preparing for races ranging from 5K to 10K can benefit from 2 to 5 sets of this workout at 5K effort or slightly faster depending on experience and ability level. For half marathoners and marathoners, performing 5 to 7 sets of this workout at half marathon to marathon effort in the middle of a long run is a great way to practice running faster on a fatigued set of legs, as well as to get ready for dealing with the irregular rhythm and pace changes you’ll surely face on race day.

Whatever race distance you’re getting ready to tackle, the beauty of this workout is that you can make it as easy or as hard as you want or need it to be. Don’t worry about hitting set after set of specific splits, but instead focus on running at a given effort level for short amounts of time. Before you know it, you’ll be flying across the finish line!

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Ask Mario: Should I Adjust For Heat & Humidity? http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/ask-the-coach-should-i-adjust-for-heat-humidity_11857 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/ask-the-coach-should-i-adjust-for-heat-humidity_11857#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 13:00:12 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=11857

Don't let heat and humidity hamper your training this summer. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Don't let heat and humidity hamper your training this summer!

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Don't let heat and humidity hamper your training this summer. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Q.

Hi there,

I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and every summer running in the heat and humidity proves to be a challenge for me. Even getting out by 5:30 in the morning does not always seem to improve conditions substantially. When running tempos and intervals in warm, humid weather, I always struggle to hit the times I feel I should be able to make and end up frustrated. My question to you is: is it comparable to do these types of runs at a similar effort level and/or heart rate that I would expect under more ideal conditions?  Or should I just plan to add a certain amount of time (e.g. 5, 10, 20 seconds) to each mile or interval? Should tempos and intervals each be handled differently? Any light you could shed on this would be much appreciated. Thanks for your help!

Courtney

A.

Hi Courtney,

Before relocating to southern California a few years ago, I spent my summers running workouts in the heat and humidity of New England, so I understand your seasonal struggle when it comes to hitting target paces during some of your toughest workouts. And while it’s certainly frustrating when the numbers on the watch don’t seem to make any sense, don’t let this fool you into thinking that you’re not as fit as the last mile split in your most recent tempo run.

Just as runners living at altitude have to adjust their target paces and heart-rate zones to account for the elevation and lack of available oxygen, so too do flatlanders who have to deal with high heat and oppressive humidity. Studies have shown that when the temperature rises above 65 degrees, your heartrate will also rise by about 10 beats per minute and performances will slow. If the humidity is also high, add another 10 or so beats to that number. My own experience tells me that under these types of conditions, my average pace will often be off by 10 to 20 seconds per mile at the same effort level. What does this mean? In short, slow down.

RELATED — Beat the Heat: Warm-Weather Racing Tips

If your average heartrate on a typical tempo run performed under near-ideal conditions is in the range of 165 to 170 beats per minute, on a hot, humid day, trying to maintain that type of effort will yield a number in the neighborhood of 190. While you do everything in your power to stay “on pace,” you’ll also be working dangerously close to your max heartrate and exerting yourself at an effort level that’s much greater than it should be for that given workout–or is even safe, for that matter. The best thing to do in this sort of situation is to aim for your normal heart-rate numbers (or, if you don’t wear a heart-rate monitor, the same effort level) keeping in mind that, in the end, your average pace will be a few ticks per mile slower than usual. For example, if the pace of your tempo runs is typically 7:00 per mile, under oppressive conditions the same sort of heart-rate (or effort) might turn out to be 7:15 per mile. This is OK! Your body doesn’t know the difference between a 7:00 mile and a 7:15 mile, but physiologically, you’re still getting the same benefit. The same principle applies to interval workouts — slow down, but keep the effort level the same.

Hang in there, and don’t let the heat and humidity hamper your training!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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Video: The Benefits Of Drinking Tea http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/video/eat-and-run-the-benefits-of-drinking-tea_6986 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/video/eat-and-run-the-benefits-of-drinking-tea_6986#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 17:30:59 +0000 Dr. John Berardi http://running.competitor.com/?p=6986

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Dr. John Berardi breaks down the benefits of drinking a fresh cup of tea.

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Photo: www.shutterstock.com

In this video, Dr. John Berardi breaks down the benefits of drinking a fresh cup of tea. Learn what types of tea are best for endurance athletes, as well as the most efficient way to make tea and how to get the most out of your daily cup.

RELATED: Can a cup (or two) of coffee improve your performance?

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Destination: North Conway, N.H. http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/inside-the-magazine/destination-north-conway-n-h_104849 http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/inside-the-magazine/destination-north-conway-n-h_104849#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 18:13:01 +0000 Mario Fraioli http://running.competitor.com/?p=104849

Catherine Mitchell runs the Arethusa Falls trail at Crawford Notch. Photo: Anne Skidmore

Visit this rural New Hampshire town and enjoy the mountain scenery and miles of trails.

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Catherine Mitchell runs the Arethusa Falls trail at Crawford Notch. Photo: Anne Skidmore

Visit this rural New Hampshire town and enjoy the mountain scenery and miles of trails.

Rural New England at its finest, North Conway, N.H. features quiet back roads with no shortage of natural beauty, a historic old-town feel and plenty of outdoor activity options to keep you stimulated and occupied. When you need a break from the great outdoors, however, there are excellent indoor amenities, such as premium shopping outlets and a variety of cozy, locally owned restaurants, to help fill the rest of your day.

Harsh winter weather may be enough to make many runners weary of the elements, but this year-round resort destination offers something for the endurance-minded visitor, regardless of the season. Trail running is tough to beat in the warmer months, with plenty of wide fire roads, miles of well-maintained singletrack and enough elevation change to put your legs—and lungs—to the test. During the winter, the same snow-covered trails provide some of the best snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the world, while the classic, quiet New England back roads and spectacular surrounding scenery can make road running appealing any time of year.

“The best part about running in North Conway is the variety,” says U.S. mountain running team member Kevin Tilton, who grew up in North Conway and continues to call it home. “We have scenic paved and gravel roads with beautiful views of Mount Washington and the surrounding mountains. We have great singletrack that is maintained by the local mountain bike club and great hiking trails that get you to the tops of some rugged mountains.”

RELATED: Bend, Ore.: Home Of The Trails

Where To Run

Get lost with a variety of fire roads and singletrack that feature plenty of ascending and descending routes. An easy starting point is Wal-Mart at 46 North-South Road in North Conway—behind the store there’s a dirt road leading out to power-line trails that continue for miles and make for a good out-and-back option. There are also a number of trail loops accessible from the power lines.

If you’re looking for some ascent, Mount Kearsage is a memorable 10K run that will keep you on your toes. From Route 16/302 in North Conway, take the Hurricane Mountain Road exit, and you’ll spot the trailhead on your left. The climb is a little over 3 miles to the top (and rather rocky at points) but the views of the White Mountains and the Mount Washington Valley are worth every careful step. An easier option, just a short jog from downtown, is the Whitaker Woods Recreation Area, which has miles of smooth, groomed trails that are popular with trail runners, hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers. “It’s a wonderful little place,” says Katie Gwyther Driscoll, a former NCAA Division I cross-country All-American at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., and native of nearby Madison, N.H.

Where To Race

As you might expect, uphill races are quite popular in the Mount Washington Valley. The Mount Washington Road Race (June 21; mountwashingtonroadrace.com), considered one of the most iconic ascents in the entire world, takes place 10 miles outside of town, in the Pinkham Notch mountain pass. If you conquer the 7.6-mile race with a 4,700-foot vertical climb to the summit, you’ll have bragging rights that will be respected wherever you go. (But getting into the race requires entering the lottery the previous winter.) The Cranmore Hill Climb (July 20; whitemountainmilers.com) takes place at the Cranmore Mountain Resort and doubles as the U.S. Mountain Running Championship. The distance—and the actual layout—changes yearly, and age-groupers are more than welcome to tackle this loop-style course aside some of the best uphill runners in the country. If you’re more of a roadie, the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon (Oct. 26; wmmhalf.com) is as fast and flat as it gets this far north. The scenic course starts and finishes at Schouler Park, offers plenty of mountain views and even crosses the historic 1890 Covered Bridge.

RELATED: Boulder, Colo.: A Running Mecca Out West

Where To Eat & Drink

Got a hankering for a home-cooked breakfast? Peaches (2506 White Mountain Highway; peachesnorthconway.com) has killer French toast, a variety of egg dishes and even a lunch menu if you’re not in the mood for morning food. For great food and drink later in the day, not to mention a little bit of history, check out Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co. (3378 White Mountain Highway; moatmountain.com), which is located on the historic Scottish Lion property. With a wide variety of entrees, from barbecued meat to pizza and quesadillas, there’s something for everyone, and the award-winning beers are handcrafted on site and really hit the spot after a summer run on the toasty trails. At dinner time, May Kelly’s (3002 White Mountain Highway; maykellys.com) is a good place to unwind after a long day and features a number of soups and salads, generous entrees and a variety of sandwiches—not to mention a full menu of Irish adult beverages.

Where To Shop

A specialty running store isn’t easy to come by in North Conway, but there are plenty of sporting goods stores to enjoy New Hampshire’s tax-free shopping, should you need to pick up a pair of running shoes, an extra piece of apparel or a water bottle for a long trail run. Eastern Mountain Sports (1498 White Mountain Highway; ems.com) offers a section for any type of athlete or outdoor enthusiast. The Settlers Green Outlet Village (2 Common Court; settlersgreen.com) houses dozens of stores that feature big brands, such as Adidas, Champion, Nike, Reebok and others that will cover your every outdoorsy need while visiting the area.

Weather

In New England, weather is often unpredictable. North Conway gets its fair share of snow from November through March, which make snowshoeing and skiing popular cross-training options—although many of the snowmobile trails are runnable even when they’re covered in the white stuff. The warmer months from May through September see average temperatures in the mid-60s to nearly 80, with the occasional 90-degree day in July. Despite the surrounding elevation, it’s hard to avoid humidity in the summertime. The fall months can feature a fair share of rain, but the peak foliage in early October will help you forget about any damp days.

RELATED: Race Destination: Big Sur Mud Run

Did You Know?

History
North Conway is known as “the birthplace of American skiing.”

Fame
The 1993 movie “The Good Son,” starring Macauley Culkin and Elijah Wood, was filmed in North Conway.

Education
North Conway is home to the International Mountain Climbing School, which attracts climbers from around the world.

This piece first appeared in the May 2014 issue of Competitor magazine.

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