Category: Training

Dealing With Pressure

Q: How to Deal with Crippling Pressure?

Hi Lauren,

In a month I will be starting cross country at a division 1 college, I’m nervous, so nervous that I can’t even imagine finishing a race. and the thing is, its a real possibility. Over the course of the two seasons in high school I ran, I dropped out of four races, maybe more. I just feel like I can’t get passed this worry to get to my true potential. It makes me dog the race because its obviously better to finish slow than not at all. If I felt the pressure in high school, how do I deal with it in college?


A: oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh…

Dear Ally,

I’ve dealt with that too, and it sucks.  Three years ago I crumbled under pressure on America’s biggest stage: the USA Championships.  With 600 meters to go, I stopped and walked, and eventually talked myself into finishing (though well behind my potential.)

Your racing is most likely carrying too much of your identity, so if you fail, in your mind it has consequences for who you are as a person. If you read about adolescent development (which lasts until you are in your mid-20′s by the way) the defining area of growth during that age is finding your identity.  In order to do this, you start to see yourself as you fit in with larger groups and systems….no longer an oblivious girl with dirty knees and a big smile just running for fun, you are hyper-aware of your competitors, of the expectations of others, of what’s at stake.  In my opinion, its the biggest growing pain for athletes.  Until you learn to master this, it will own you.

The way this translates into your running is as follows:  your races become little tests and challenges for you to find out more about yourself as a competitor and as a person. You start seeing people around you doing things like dropping out, and they get labeled and talked about by other people.  You see that and you think, “Oh man, I don’t want to be like that.”  You see their actions and draw conclusions about their identity.

Dropping out of a race does not determine who you are.  It is simply something you have done.  It is a behavior.

You are not a drop out.  You dropped out.

Once you disconnect those actions from your identity as a person, you have the power to change your racing.  Once you realize that your racing doesn’t define you, there is way less pressure.  Fear is gradually replaced by excitement and a simple desire to see what you can do on the day.  You need to get back to the basics, girl.

So I recommend you do the following:

Read more…

Living a Simple Life is necessary to run fast…

There are few things more simple than running.  All you need are shoes (some people don’t even have that) and a heading.  This year has been a year of trying to simplify some things in my life.  The last several years has been a full of life markers (buying a house, starting my own business – three of my own businesses, and the best markers were 11 years of marriage and having our first child) that I don’t regret but it is time to pull in the reigns and focus on what I love doing.

I am sitting in Flagstaff Arizona at 7000ft elevation and life is really simple right now.  Even though the city has 60k people and where I live (Rome GA) only has 30k, things are much more simple here.  Even the weather seems simple, quiet, and just really still.

So here are few things that I am going to do to try to “Simplify” life and run fast.  For me this is not just about doing less but in some ways it is about doing more.  Here we go:

#1.  Sometime in 2006 I went to an online running log.  I really enjoyed this time of getting to see what others were doing and share my workouts with them.  However I think I lost some solitude in my training.  Not that I do any secret training, but my running is definitely where I get recharged and writing in my log has been my way of journaling since I started running in 1996.  Today I am going back to a paper log.

#2.  Stretching.  I understand the science of stretching as I wrote about here ( but I forgot a few things about stretching that I really need.  One is stress reduction and the other is that I think stretching allows you to work on focusing and not rushing.

#3.  Sitting and talking.  Coaching Kenyans has taught me that storytelling and just sitting around doing nothing is not only relaxing but it is good for your mind and body when it comes to recovery.  I hope to find some time just to hang out with friends and family more.

#4.  Saying NO to things that don’t fit with existing business and running goals.  In other words I will strive to make the things I do better without adding additional things to the mix.

Let me know if there is anything that you are doing to add simplicity to your routine.


7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Long Runs

By Coach Jenny Hadfield |

The long run is truly the bread and butter of an endurance running program. It teaches your body how to spend time on its feet, how to utilize fat as a primary fuel source and is a dress rehearsal for the big dance.  The secret in perfecting your long runs is to keep it simple and avoid making these common training mistakes.

1. Running too far too Quickly

Soon after you commit to a half or full marathon, it’s time to train. Excitement from the target can encourage runners to tackle longer runs than their bodies are ready for at that point, which can quickly lead to aches, pains, burn out and poor performance down the road. The greatest way to assure your success on race day is to follow a plan that starts from where your current fitness level and mileage is.

For example, if your longest run is 4 miles, you’ll want to find a plan or create one of your own that starts no higher than 5 miles for the first long run. This may not look all that exciting. However, the goal isn’t about how many miles you tackle each week; it’s about getting to the start line healthy, fresh and ready to rumble. Start from where you are and you’ll perform well, recover better, and have fun along the way.

2. Running too Fast

The difference between running for fitness and training for a long-distance running race is one stays consistent week to week (fitness) and the latter builds and progresses throughout the season. Because of this progression, it is important to vary your effort level as you train. In other words, run at a pace that is easy and conversational. If you can talk while you’re running the long run, you’re at the right effort. If you can’t, you’re running too fast. Avoid trying to run the long runs by a pace or target time. This sets you up for the race pace training disaster where you feel great for about four to six weeks, then things start to crumble when your energy levels decline, your body aches, and performance begins to suffer.

3. Fueling With too Much Sugar

Sports drinks and other on-the-run fueling products such as gels, beans and Clif Shot Bloks were originally invented to supplement your energy intake. Your body can only take in so much energy in the form of sugar, and when you exceed that level, it causes nauseau and stomach upset. The idea is not to replace the energy lost while running but to only replenish some of what is lost. This, I believe has been lost in marketing translation.

Everyone will have their own unique menu for fueling on the go. Some go with sports drinks only as it contains both sugar, electrolytes and fluid and is easily digested. Others go with sports drinks plus a gel along the way. Still others go with the simplicity of water, use electrolyte tabs such as Nuun and Succeed or gels as their main source of energy.  Confused yet? You should be. Endurance fueling has become as intimidating as selecting a cereal at the grocery store. Keep it simple and target to get in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour for runs longer than 60 minutes.

If you are on the lighter side, lean toward the lower end of the range and vice versa. Practice this in training to identify which products agree with your system. Avoid mixing a sports drink with a gel or beans, as all of these products are designed at about a 6 to 7 percent sugar concentration to allow for quick absorption rates. If you mix sports drinks with a gel, this increases that concentration level and you’ll develop sugar belly. You can also develop this condition if you take in too much sugar during the run. Keep track along the way, and you’ll develop a recipe that works for you. Look at the carbohydrate content on the label. Aim for an hourly rate on the low end of the range, and tweak it from there. You’ll avoid a lot of issues along the way and take in only what you need to replenish.

Read more…

What Happens When You Run a Marathon Without Proper Training?

By Jeff Gaudette |

It seems like everyone is training for a marathon these days, and the pressure to run one can seem daunting. However, is it possible that training for and racing a marathon might not be in your best interest?

In this article, we’ll look at the potential pitfalls of training for and racing a marathon when you’re not prepared, and how this might be a detriment to your short-term and long-term development.

Let me preface this article by stating that I am not implying that running a marathon can’t be done if you don’t have the training background. I am merely making the argument that it might not be the best goal for you if you have long-term aspirations with your running.

Do you have the training background and time available to prepare yourself?

The marathon is an arduous event and requires a dedicated training block of at least four months for beginning runners (classified as someone running consistently for less than a year, or averaging less than 20 to 25 miles per week). More importantly, training for a marathon when you don’t have the requisite running background is a sure fire way to get injured or find yourself disenchanted with running if you’re new to the sport.

Suggested Running Level to Start Marathon Training

In my experience, beginners need to be able to average at least 30 to 35 miles per week for 5 to 6 weeks to increase the chance that they will have a good race experience. This means that you need to be able to run 25 to 30 miles per week comfortably before you begin training for a marathon.

If you’re not at this number, it doesn’t mean you can never train for a marathon. Rather, you should focus on slowly building your training tolerance and mileage. Otherwise, you’re probably going to struggle to increase the weekly mileage and long runs enough to be prepared on race day.

Read more.

Start Slow – Finish Fast: How Three Types of Progression Runs Boost Your Fitness

Greg McMillan, M.S. |

In a progression run, you begin running at a slow, easy pace but finish at a fast pace. Not only will you find progression runs to be fun, but they are a great way to boost your fitness without any lasting fatigue. And, the benefits are the same no matter if you’re a 2:15 or a 4:15 marathoner.

Three Types of Progression Runs

While the idea of the progression run is simple – start slower, finish faster, I recommend that you begin with structured progression runs until you learn how to properly gauge your effort throughout the run. Below are the three structured progression runs that I have used successfully.

1) Thirds

The first type of progression run is called Thirds. As the name implies, you break your run into three equal parts or thirds. For the first third, you run at a relatively slow, comfortable pace. As you progress to the second third of the run, your pace will have gradually increased to your normal steady running pace. Over the last third of the run, you increase your speed so that you’re running a strong, comfortably hard pace. For many competitive runners this effort corresponds to somewhere around marathon race pace to as fast as half-marathon race pace and a heart rate between 80 and 90% of maximum. This strong running significantly improves your Stamina which raises the pace you can run before you begin to rapidly accumulate lactic acid.

For your first thirds progression run, choose a 45-minute easy run. Run the first 15 minutes slowly, the second 15 minutes at your normal pace and finish the last 15 minutes at a strong pace. While I break the run into thirds, your pace doesn’t radically change after each third. Instead, it is a gradual but steady increase across the run. After getting your feet wet with this first thirds run, you can adapt the concept to any duration/distance.

It’s important to note that the pace of the final third is NOT all-out running. An appropriate pace for the last third is approximately your marathon race pace.* Could you run faster at the end? Of course! But that’s not the goal of this particular progression run. In fact, if you run too hard in the last third, the workout becomes more like a Tempo Run which causes too much fatigue for the purposes of a progression run.

It’s likely that on some of your runs, you already do a thirds progression run without even trying. When you are fully recovered from previous workouts, the body seems to just naturally progress to a faster pace as the run goes along. And please note that I suggest you do this on an ‘easy run’ day not a ‘recovery run’ day.** For all but a select few elite athletes, progression runs should not be used on days when you are recovering from a previous workout or race.

Lastly, I find a thirds progression run to be an especially beneficial workout for experienced marathon runners – runners who can handle an additional up tempo day in addition to their other key workouts and long run. The most important caveat, however, is that you must not push too hard in the last third. Strive for a medium-hard pace (around your marathon race pace) not a Tempo Run.

Read about two more types of progression runs.

5 Running Workouts to Do With a Partner

By Patrick McCrann |

As solo an endeavor as running can be, there’s no doubt that having a companion to share your miles can help breathe the life back into your training. From sharing a few laughs to pushing your limits, the right running partner will help you grow as a runner.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are five great running workouts that you can do with your running partner of choice. Run them as fast or as slowly as you want; you’ve already won simply by having someone to share the experience with

But before we begin…

Quick Running Partner Advice

Running with someone else is just that; a run. Don’t feel pressure to do anything but run. It’s helpful to set some expectations around average pace and distance for that specific workout. Otherwise

don’t place too many constraints around the session as it can really take the fun out of the workout. And don’t forget that you can have as many different running friends as you like; you could have speedy partner, one for recovery days, and even one for your longer runs. The sky is the limit.

Top Partner Run Workouts

#1 — Triple Fast Slow
A variation on a fartlek (aka speed play) run, in this session runners take turns implementing three speed surges at the pace and duration of their choice, recovering as much as needed. After these three repeats, the other runner has the chance to take the lead.

Tip: Start with one set each and build up to three as your fitness improves.

#2 — Adventure Run
A personal favorite, this run involves one runner plotting out a brand new route and then acting as the tour guide leading the other(s). Use an online mapping tool and a GPS device to avoid getting utterly lost; but note that even diverting just a few blocks off your normal route can be sufficiently different.

Tip: This is a perfect substitute for a regularly scheduled long run, especially when your training is becoming monotonous.

Read about more partner workouts.

Breakfast with Champions

Most masters runners have race buddies — those friends we see a few hours several times a year, whom we only know in running shorts or sweats, whose jobs we can’t describe and whose homes we’ve never visited.

Last spring, following a 3,000m race at Cerritos College in Southern California, I had breakfast at Peris Restaurant with four race buddies, all age-group American record-holders: Ken Ernst, Brian Pilcher, Nolan Shaheed and Rich Burns.

“You know what I hate?” I say, as we study the menus. “I hate when I eat a light lunch at work, and everybody says, ‘But you’re so thin, you can eat anything!’ No, I can’t. I’m thin because I diet and because I run 90 miles a week!”

“I eat like 2,000, 2,500 calories a day,” says Brian. “My wife says I’m like a high school girl because I’m always watching what I eat.”

“I definitely have a sweet tooth,” says Ken. “I’ll eat M&Ms, ice cream.”

“My wife bought us each a half gallon of vanilla ice cream,” says Rich. “Hers will last three or four days. Mine was gone in two meals.”

“I eat chicken or fish, any white meat,” says Nolan, who eats once daily and has tea for breakfast. “I eat vegetables, fruit and grains. And beans and oatmeal. I love oatmeal!”

While the rest of us order, Nolan asks Ken–who recently set the M50–54 5,000m record–what he ran in high school. Ken says 9:02 for 2 miles, which is the fastest high school PR at the table. Turns out, Nolan never ran the distance.

“Back then, there weren’t too many black guys running the 2-mile,” says Nolan. “Coaches didn’t think black guys could do anything past a quarter, maybe an 880 now and then.”

“Who’d like to see Jeremy Wariner move up to the 800?” says Ken.

“He was the top 400 meter runner in the world!” I say. “Why should he move up? Nobody asks that about other 400 runners.”

“Because he’s white,” says Nolan, suggesting it’s racial profiling.

I tell the story of doing mile repeats with James Sanford, then the world’s top sprinter, when we ran for USC in 1980. Sanford thought sprinters’ workouts were too easy, so he joined us distance guys for the day. Sanford told us the fastest guy he’d ever seen was a tall, red-haired, white kid who quit running in high school. Nolan says he remembers the kid, but it’s soon obvious we’re talking about different people. Anyway, Sanford ran 5 minutes for the first rep, then collapsed to the Exposition Park grass, exhausted.

“I do all my running on the track,” says Nolan, while the rest of us stuff our faces. “When I was injured, I couldn’t run faster than 7-minute pace. And then I raced, and I ran just as well. I found out I don’t have to run faster than 7-minute pace.”

“On morning runs, I go about 9-minute pace,” I say. “Afternoons, about 7:30 pace. When I go fast, I go fast. But I don’t go fast on distance runs.”

“On a good day, I run 8:30 pace,” says Rich. “Otherwise, maybe 8:45 to 9:00 pace.”

Read the rest of the story.

27 Ways to Run Better Every Day

By Runner’s World editors – Runner’s World |

Mark Covert doesn’t have to think about his run today. It’s a given; he’s going to do it. After running for 12,480 days in a row (through September 30, 2002), Covert isn’t about to miss today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after.

You, however, probably need a plan for today’s workout. Without a plan, it’s just too easy to skip a run. You’ve got pressures in the office, errands to do, classes to take, things to deal with at home.

And more. Always more. Which makes it tough to put together a consistent training program.

Yet consistency is the most essential piece of every training program. It’s the one thing—perhaps the only one—that every coach, physiologist, and medical expert agrees on.

Without consistency, you aren’t going anywhere. You’re not going to get faster. You’re not going to run farther. You’re not going to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, finish that marathon, or achieve your other running goals.

With a consistent training program, on the other hand, the sky’s the limit. You’ll feel better and run better every day. So let’s get with it. Here are 27 ways to add more consistency to your running.
1. Run with others. To make sure you do a workout, there’s nothing like the social pressure of knowing someone else (or a group) is waiting for you. Bonus: It’s often more fun than running alone, especially if you’re doing a long run, or a speed workout on the track.

2. Try something new. The fitness world is full of new and fun-filled events, and they don’t all require a 3-week trip to Borneo and a survivor diet of grubs and lizards. Don’t let yourself get bored with an endless string of 5K and 10K races. Cary Stephens, an attorney in Corvallis, Oreg., found himself drawn to “scrambles,” an off-road running adventure. (To learn more, visit

3. Run like a tortoise. We can’t lie to you. This isn’t a sport of instant success and miracle shortcuts. Patience pays off, often in a very big way. At the beginning of a marathon training program, many participants can’t imagine themselves running more than 5 miles. Twelve to 16 weeks later, voilà: the cheering crowd and unbelievable exhilaration of reaching a marathon finish line. Stick with the program. Repeat: Stick with the program. Prepare to be amazed.

4. Take a break. To every thing, there is a season. You don’t have to run every day, every week, or even every month. Many top runners visualize their training year as a mountain range. It has peaks and valleys—recovery periods when they let their running taper off, so that they can build all the higher in their next training period. For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular—that is, weekly, seasonal, and annual—recovery periods.

5. Eat a healthy breakfast. We can’t emphasize this one enough. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it fuels you for the entire day. To skip breakfast or eat a skimpy one is like failing to rehydrate and refuel after a marathon. You wouldn’t do that, would you? Well, your night’s sleep is like a marathon to your body, because you don’t get any fuel while you’re sleeping. So carbo-load at breakfast. And add a little protein.

Get the rest of the 27 tips.

Ten Training Tips from Bernard Lagat, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Abdi Abdirahaman


Yesterday was the American men’s media day at the 2013 NYC Half Marathon as American stars Bernard Lagat, Abdi Abdirahman, and Dathan Ritzenhein all addressed the media.

LRC sat down with Bernard, Abdi and Dathan and you can see 8-12 minute videos with each of them (click on the links above).

In the course of talking to Bernard, Abdi and Dathan we realized that in talking about their own training they had a lot of training tips that apply universally to running. So without further ado here at the top 10 training tips from Bernard Lagat, Abdi Abdirahman, and Dathan Ritzenhein as determined by LRC.

Top Ten Training Tips from Bernard Lagat, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Abdi Abdirahaman

1) Staying Healthy is Your #1 Objective – Ritz, Lagat, and Abdi
Abdi, Bernard, and Dathan have all had tremendous success and gone about it very differently. One thing is common for all of them, the importance of staying healthy. They have had varying degrees of success at staying healthy and how they go about it. Lagat is notorious for not running a lot of miles. What has it done for him? Made him have an unbelievably long career. Abdi Abdirahman has run a ton of 120 mile weeks, but said he is constantly on the “red-line” of staying healthy and getting injured. And Dathan Ritzenhein has been injury plagued throughout his career. He now realizes it would be better to do too little than too much. He said, “For me, just getting to the line healthy is important.” Running is really about how much you can train while staying healthy.

2) A Good Base is Essential: ”You benefit from getting in enough volume at the beginning of your training” – Bernard Lagat

Much has been made of Bernard Lagat making his half-marathon debut despite never even having run a 10k on the roads or the track. Lagat wants to run under 61 minutes on Sunday. Throughout his career, Bernard has been known for running lower mileage, but that does not mean he doesn’t appreciate the importance of a base. He said, “You benefit from getting in enough volume at the beginning of your training.” Lagat’s ultimate goal for 2013 is not Sunday’s half-marathon, but the World Championship 5,000m final in Moscow in August (see point #3), and the half-marathon is part of him trying to get a bigger base this year.

3) Don’t Forget the Big Goal – Bernard Lagat
Lagat’s goal for the season is to win the World Championship at 5,000m over Mo Farah and Galen Rupp. So no matter how he does on Sunday, he’s not going to forget the bigger picture, that his training is going well for his longer term goal. He said, “Whether I do well or not here, I feel like I’ve done good training and that is the training I have needed.”

4) Check Your Pride at the Door: “The workouts aren’t the competition.” – Abdi Abdirahman and ”Know when you’re getting your butt kicked it’s ok.”-Ritz  
Dathan Ritzenhein trains with two of the greatest long-distance track runners in the world, Galen Rupp and Mo Farah. What do they do? Drill him on the track a lot. Dathan said he knows he has to check his pride at the door when they do a track workout. He said part of his mindset is: “Know when you’re getting your butt kicked it’s ok.”

Similarly, Abdi Abdirahman works out with Bernard Lagat and former NCAA champ Stephen Sambu. Abdi was asked who beats who in practice and Abdi said that was not what it was about. He said, “the workouts aren’t the competition…You run your own workout. If you’re not feeling good and someone is feeling really good and you can’t stay with them, you don’t have to feel bad.” Conversely on his good days Abdi is not afraid to “go for it” and drop whoever he is working out with. Winning the workout is not the objective. Abdi said the objective is finding the “good pace, (the) good rhythm.”

Abdi noted sometimes he’ll workout with Bernard Lagat and Lagat will do 5x mile while Abdi does 7x mile. The point being Lagat is fine doing less than Abdi. Are you fine doing less than your workout partner?

Read the next five training tips. 

Does Competition Boost Performance?

By Matt Fitzgerald |

The duel between triathlon legends Dave Scott and Mark Allen at the 1989 Ironman World Championship is remembered as one of the greatest races in the history of endurance sports. In that race the longtime rivals swam, biked, and ran neck and neck for eight full hours until, with 1.7 miles left in the 140.6-mile competition, Allen broke away from Scott on the last hill to claim his first Ironman victory after six failures and five losses to Scott.

The battle caused so much excitement as it unfolded that a caravan of trucks, cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and bikes that was almost a quarter-mile in length formed behind Scott and Allen as the rivals scorched the marathon side by side. Among those in the caravan was Bob Babbitt, the 38-year-old publisher of Competitor magazine, who dubbed the epic battle “Iron War” in the next issue of his publication. The name stuck.

What Dave Scott and Mark Allen achieved on that magical day would have been considered impossible by most people. They broke Dave Scott’s 1986 course record by nearly 20 minutes. Third-place finisher Greg Welch was three miles from the finish line when Allen crossed it. And Allen and Scott’s marathon times of 2:40:04 and 2:41:02 still stand as the two fastest run splits in the history of the race. (What’s more, run splits included bike-run transition times in those days before chip timing. Allen and Scott’s actual marathon times not including their transitions were closer to 2:38:49 and 2:39:47, respectively.)

I’ve had a personal fascination with Iron War ever since it happened. Last year I decided to indulge that fascination by writing a book about it. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen & The Greatest Race Ever Run has just been released by VeloPress. My goal was not just to write the definitive account of the race in its broader context of Scott and Allen’s amazing rivalry and incredible careers, but to explore how they were able to achieve the impossible together on October 14, 1989.

Some of the answers I uncovered in this journey may serve as valuable lessons to other triathletes seeking their own breakthroughs. One of these lessons centers on what might be called the competition effect. When I interviewed Dave Scott for the book I asked him how much slower he thought he would have gone in the race if Mark Allen had not been there to push him. He said maybe 10 seconds. I love the spirit behind that answer, but I don’t believe it!

Check out the rest of the article.