Run Durability Webinar with Coach Patrick
Our recent article on the importance of run durability brought up several interesting follow-up questions from our readers and athletes. Outside of the usual implementation questions, there was a great deal of interest in and out to actually create the conditions for successful run durability training block. in this post I will cover all of the equipment and technology that can help you achieve your early-season running goals.
Training Plan and Training Log
It almost goes without saying but it still needs to be said – the most important part about any training block is actually having a plan. Not because you don’t know what to do, but rather because it will allow you to evaluate how you did it then improved for the future. The only way you can build on what you’ve done is to know what you set out to do in the first place. Inside Endurance Nation we have several standalone run durability training plans, as well as our newly launched 2016 OutSeason® training plans that include a focus on running.
In addition to an actual training plan, you will need some form of a training log. The type of training log you require is dependent upon not only on your personality and desire for precision (or lack of such interest), but also in the type of training equipment you use. The more technologically advanced your training becomes, the more data you have available to gather and analyze. There are many online services which will automatically sync with your training devices, but many people swear by a simple spreadsheet. Believe it or not, there are still a few who still write everything down!
Whatever your method of capturing your performance is, the most important thing is that you do it consistently. This will not only reinforce your training, but it will give you valuable data on which you can base the rest of your season and future similar training blocks.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk first and foremost about technology. The evolution of GPS watches, accelerometers, and heart rate monitors has fundamentally changed the endurance training landscape. It has been said that, “if you can measure it, you can manage it.” That is not only true with endurance training, it becomes significantly more relevant when you are undertaking a run durability block where frequency and consistency are your top priorities.
GPS Device: There are countless such devices available in the marketplace today. At a minimum you will want to know your pace, heart rate, distance covered, and time. Depending on the device you choose, you may also be able to view cadence, laps, track your performance, sleep and much more. Within the context of a run durability program, our top priorities are tracking the distance to cover and the time you run; all while making sure your heart rate (a.k.a. your effort) is appropriately easy enough.
Strava (www.strava.com): This is my exercise social network of choice. Not only does it automatically sync with my Training Peaks and/or Garmin accounts, it also provides an opportunity to motivate and check in with other athletes. The cycle of posting a workout and getting kudos is very rewarding — some might say addictive! You can also spread the good karma by helping to keep others on track. Strava has both free and paid accounts available.
Music: Before I even begin to talk about running with music, it’s important to note that safety is your top running priority. If you choose to run with music and/or headphones, you are also accepting a higher level of risk. That said, music can be a great motivational tool. Or in some cases, it can help take your mind off the fact that you’re running (again!). I personally prefer up-tempo music choices to help me keep a proper focus on my cadence, but I have been known to throw in some hard-core music when the motivation is low.
Things do change when we shift our focus from in season training to OutSeason® training. During the winter months our goal is to remain as close to race weight as possible without going overboard with any particular diet.As we move from using nutrition as a performance tool to nutrition as a recovery tool, it’s more of a healthy focus than it is about being restrictive.
Minimal Food Needed: During your run durability sessions there should be minimal need for workout food. The effort level and the short distance/time combined place minimal demands on your body. Once you get above an hour in any particular session then it’s worthwhile incorporating some nutrition.
Keep Hydration Up! While this isn’t running specific, it is seasonally appropriate. During the winter months many triathletes end up chronically dehydrated because their workouts do not demand a ton of fluids given the temperature outside — yet we are still sweating a great deal. Combine those colder temperatures with the desire for warm beverages – yes, I’m talking about Starbucks! – that you have a recipe for dehydration. At a minimum, make sure that all of the workouts are followed by plenty of fluids.
As you continue along the run durability program, and you begin stacking weeks of running upon weeks of running, you will begin to notice some strain, fatigue, and/or tightness. These are natural consequences of a consistent running program and are not, at least initially, anything to get to seriously worried about. as long as you address these warning signs in a consistent manner you will be okay. Ignoring any early-stage problem is a fantastic way to prematurely end your season – you have been warned!
Foam Roller: This is typically the recovery weapon of choice for most endurance athletes. A good foam roller will allow you to target critical areas in your hips, calves, quads, and engines. They are typically lightweight, portable, and can be very effective both pre-workout as part of your general warm-up. I also recommend that athletes looking to regain flexibility use the foam roller in the evenings as well.
Tennis Ball: Once you graduate from the foam roller, you begin to move into more trigger point type work. This means placing pressure on a particular area and then moving that area help the lease upon attention. A tennis ball is a fantastic way to do this as it is firm yet soft enough that it will not seriously hurt you.
One of my favorite ways to use the tennis ball is sitting in a chair with my leg bent at 90° and my foot off the floor. Once I find a good spot in my hamstring I will raise and lower my foot to work the hamstring over the tennis ball area. I will also often have a tennis ball in my car for longer trips. Note — If the tennis ball is too soft for you, consider using a lacrosse ball.
Normatech (www.normatecrecovery.com) These boots are the gold standard for recovery. Whether it’s after a particularly hard session, or during a run durability block where you are consistently on your feet, using these boots for 15 to 20 minutes a day can significantly accelerate your recovery. This will enable you to not only continue to train frequently, but also avoid accumulating fatigue to the point where you are unable to train at the appropriate intensity.
Depending on where you live you may or may not need to consider additional clothing for your run durability training. for those of us in the Northeast, I continued running focus will mean time outside in the late fall and also winter. Unless you absolutely love the treadmill, you will need a variety of clothing to make continued running as comfortable as possible. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good place to start.
Outer Shell: Combined with the appropriate layers underneath, and lightweight running jacket is the perfect tool to keep you warm and yet still be breathable during exercise. Until temperatures get below 20°F, I typically opt for this lightweight jacket. it should have a full zipper and pockets in the back – there are plenty of cycling jerseys that fit the bill.
Note: When temperatures dip below 20° I go for the heavy-duty bun jacket. I still keep up the base layers but this thick, slightly bag your jacket, keeps me warm on the inside while protecting me from the elements. A reflective material and elastic cuffs and rear pockets are a must. Bonus if there are zippers under the armpits for increased breathability as needed.
Base Layers: I bought my first set of base layer clothing back in 2005 one ahead a great discount. I still have those layers today! These are very snug almost spandex-like material that do a great job of sustaining my core body temperature in the cold. I have both short and long sleeve options depending on the conditions and my outer shell of choice.
Tights: I know what you’re thinking, tights? Honestly running shorts have never done the trick for me even in warm weather turn the temperatures down and I need something that can help keep me warm and allow me to run well. I will run in a pair of spandex shorts for as long as I can stand it. When it simply too cold, I will transition to a three-quarter like tight, again working that fine line between warmth and functionality. The only time I break out the full-length tights is when there’s significant snow on the ground and I don’t want to get it on my skin.
Powertip: A pair of performance underwear can help keep your critical parts just a little bit warmer!
Hat and Gloves: Similar to my outer shell choice, I prefer lightweight and snug skullcaps. Gloves, on the other hand, need to be baggy so I can retain the warmth – however minimal – from my hands inside. I prefer mittens or “lobster” style gloves from cycling. Those tend to have protections against the elements and give you room to move your hands around to stay warm.
Tip: If your gloves are too tight your fingers will be freezing!
Sunglasses: I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I have found that running with sunglasses in the cold actually helps protect my eyes from wind in the lower temperatures. It’s most important when there is some form of precipitation — your eyes will be protected. You might want to invest in a pair of lighter tinted lenses if you don’t already have them, as daylight is typically hard to come by.
Socks: Nothing special here for me, but I know some people swear by wool socks to socks to the winter months generally I have found that if your toes are cold is because your shoes might be too tight. Don’t be afraid to go up one size and see if there is a positive change. Note that I don’t go with compression socks unless I’m doing a longer run – typically more than 90 minutes. So while I enjoyed my compression gear, it’s typically not part of my winter running routine.
Finally, we get to talk about sexy running shoes! High quality shoes can make or break your run durability training experience. The last thing you want to do is incur an injury off of weeks and months of running on shoes that were too old. This goes back to the training log system (see above), but many of them offer the chance to specify a particular shoe and add up the miles over time so you can make a more informed decision about the timing of your next shoe purchase.
NEW Shoes! The most important part of your shoes is that they should be new. Particularly since the run durability program falls at the end of the normal season. During the course of that season you will have most likely warn your normal running shoes down to the point of being utterly useless. Rather than continuing to run on shoes that will start to your body, do yourself a favor and lock in a new pair of sneakers.
Surface Specific Shoes: Given the temperature changes in potential for snow and/or ice here in New England, I typically look for an off-road shoe or issue with a similar type of off-road thread that I know keep me safe. Some of you prefer to run on trails versus the open road; your shoe choices should reflect that. Bottom line is that you want to be changing your running shoes approximately every three months — the perfect duration of our run durability focus.
Having the right gear can make – or break – your run durability training. Staying motivated and engaged does a large part of the process, but it’s not the only component. If you have additional advice or resources we should consider, please add them in the comments below.