The Low Mileage Runner: How to maximize your performance off of low volume

A headline caught my eye recently: “Be a better runner without running.” *About face* Now I respect the news outlet that ran the article but the snark in me can’t resist thinking, “This kind of thing belongs in Runner’s World next to the column ‘How to get faster in your sleep!’”

track dreams

Track dreams…but you still need to actually run on the track too. ;)


In seriousness though, yes there are ways to improve your running and get faster that aren’t running. HOWEVER, these are thought of like ‘extras’…you still have to run.

Everybody and every BODY handles a different amount of volume and quality. Not everyone can log 110 miles per week, with a hard speed session, endurance session, and long run in a 7 day cycle. Some people can run 170 miles per week just fine, others get hurt going over 50…waaah-waahh it’s not fair but that’s how it is.

Know your body. Know your limits and maximize them. Just because you can’t RUN more than 50 miles per week does not necessarily mean you can’t beat the runner doing twice your volume. Enter QUALITY.

Here are a few quick tips on maximizing your training if you’re a runner who is a little more ‘fragile’: (ie: improving your running with running less and doing other stuff)

* Extend Your ‘Week’: By this I’m talking about viewing your training cycle as 9-10 days rather than the standard 7. Meb Keflezighi has talked about doing this as he’s aged, and many masters runners work off of a longer training week. This allows for more recovery between hard workouts.

* Rule of 10 and Baby Steps: If you’re injury-prone already you know you need to BABY your body a bit. Only increase your miles by 10% each week. Then be honest with what your mileage ‘max’ is. If you start getting extra creaking when you kiss 50, stick there and supplement with extra cross training instead of miles.
stress fractures suck
* Swap Your Easy Runs: Plan your miles for the week and ‘save’ them for your hard workouts and long runs. Those are the days that will give you the most bang for your mileage buck. Cross train on the easy days; to be honest the benefit of easy days are mostly just getting the steady cardio in…you can do that running or cross training. The former is just a lot easier on your body.

* Seek Soft Surfaces: The pavement is harder on your body than the trails, track, and treadmill. Seek these softer surfaces. Also know that lots of downhill running exponentially increases the impact on your joints, so steer clear of huge, sharp downhills.

* Get More Efficient: Most injuries are a result of a weakness and muscle imbalance. Fix those and you’ll be running more efficient and most likely be able to handle running more. All the more reason to fix your form, get a stronger core, and solve why you might be stuck in a vicious cycle of injuries.

* Fitter With Cross Training: Ideally you want to be doing your hard workouts as running because this will translate the best for racing but you’d be amazed by how fit you can stay with cross training workouts. So if you have to do some of your ‘running’ workouts on the cross trainer don’t freak out and remember it all comes back to effort. Go hard, get your heart rate up, feel the burn in your legs and lungs, and you’re getting work done.

Not EVERYTHING that will get you faster comes from running more miles. Think outside the box, learn your body, and maximize your potential.

Though the snark in me still has to end with this: “but, duh, you still have to do some running.” ;)

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More articles on cross training and workout ideas!

More articles on injuries, recovering, and how to prevent them!

Lessons From the Track: Running your best takes more than left turns

Now my younger brother’s first love is rugby, second is football, but for the three weeks between seasons he decided to do track! Wahoo…I was stoked!! I’m also in awe of the fact that he doesn’t do any speed-work and then just blitzes those 400′s and 200′s like they’re nothing.
wesley track sprinting
The mystery is solved as to where all of the fast twitch muscle fiber genes in the family went. Clearly all were saved and concentrated into the youngest Chock sibling. Oh and I guess he stole my coordination genes too. ;)

Granted he’s got the competitiveness of a Chock, so he’ll gut out a race and pay the price after to hit those marks. But the truth is that last 100 of a 400 isn’t fun for anybody, no matter if you’ve trained or not…BLECH…talk about booty lock.

Checking out those high school meets has been fun, observing just as much so, and here are a few tips I’d pass on if teenagers actually cared to listen to us old folks:

* Warm-up and Recovery: set yourself up to run your best, not warming up before a race is setting yourself up for both injury and running below your maximum potential. Cold muscles no likey sprinting. The same for after your race, do all you can to recover so you can come back stronger. That includes a cool-down and refueling within 30 minutes of finishing.

* Drafting and Tangents: it was windy at the track meet and those are days where you really want to draft. Leading expends more mental energy and on windy days it expends a heck of a lot more physical energy to lead. If you can, tuck in behind somebody until you’re really to surge past them. When you DO make your move, try to make it on a straight away…running the tangents on a race course is the same idea, don’t run more than your race distance or your competitors are.
run to beat you
* When You Pass, You PASS: racing is mental like that, when you make a move and pass someone you want to be passing them for good. Conserve energy and then blow by that sucker! Don’t ‘weakly’ pass them because then they can just tuck in behind you and let you do the work. You want to BLOW by them and try to mentally break them. Make them think, “Dang, they’re feeling much stronger than me, I can’t keep up.” Even if you feel like crap, it’s a race, you should feel tired, but your competitors don’t have to know you’re tired as heck and clinging on until the finish line. Break them and leave them in your dust.

* Cling-on: sorry, no sci-fi reference, but this speaks to those getting passed. Read above. You can’t get in the mind of your competitors and chances are they’re working, tired, and hurting too. If they pass you, rally the troops and try to stay with them. Don’t let THEM mentally break you. See, it works two ways like that. ;)

The last thing I’ll add, while I like to joke that I have not a single fast twitch muscle in my body (I’ve never been biopsied, but I’ll say I probably only do have one!) DON’T use that as an excuse to avoid speed-work. It’s incredible how much you can manipulate and overcome your natural predisposition in terms of speedster versus endurance maven. You’d be surprised that, yes, even ye of one speed can get some wheels on themselves and wind up with really strong kicks.

The thing is you just have to train those muscles! For speed you need to build power (hills, sprints, plyo’s) and all that good stuff is plenty of fodder for another post!

Get out there and kick some butt…embrace the booty lock too! ;)
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Have you checked out my Ezzere Running Tees yet?? Mosey over, folks!!

Send MAJOR cheers to one awesome Kim @ Day with KT this rockstar runnerchick and mom is out to kill it at her 50 mile race this Saturday!! WAHOOOO!!!

Hydrate Like a Champ: Running, fluids, electrolytes, and Nuun Energy

Hydration is not something runners can afford to skimp on. Fun fact: by the time you actually FEEL thirsty you’re in a state of dehydration. The key is sipping those fluids consistently, throughout the day, and ensuring you’re urine is rocking the clear-light yellow hue rather than radioactive yellow-orange.

With summer fast approaching and the hotter temps that accompany, it’s important runners are issued a reminder just HOW crucial it is to stay hydrated. If you don’t, your performances will suffer but more importantly it could become dangerous. Dehydration can also wreck havoc on your stomach and intestines.
nuun hydration sample
For runners, hydration is more than just drinking water. Water is essential but so are electrolytes. When you sweat you lose more than just H2O; electrolytes, like potassium and sodium, are also lost through sweat and are just as important to replace. When electrolytes get unbalanced, that’s when you run the risk of heart issues and other complications due to an overly dilute blood stream. Not fun. Besides, before you even get to THAT dangerous of a point, your running will be sub-par if you’re not hydrated fully with water AND electrolytes.

Our good friends at Nuun have been supplying those cool tablets that you can drop into your water bottle, shake, and voila have your electrolyte-infused (and tastified) drink for years. They’ve introduced their new Nuun Energy line and I served it at my Ezzere Launch Party even! Nuun was generous enough to give samples to all of my guests and put together a prize pack for this lucky winner…
nuun energy
He’s excited, he’ll never be dehydrated. ;) Here’s the scoop on the new Nuun Energy:

* Electrolytes: These new Nuun tablets have all the essential electrolytes as the pervious Nuun Active Hydration line as well as extra B Vitamins and a bit of caffeine.
* No Sugars: There’s not any extra sugar added, meaning you can replace your electrolytes without tons of excess calories. Each tablet is less than 12 calories which, unless you need immediate glycogen while running a marathon, is what most runners are looking for in this type of hydration performance supplement. Unless you’re needing to gain weight, a common mistake runners can make is drinking too many unnecessary calories by way of sports drink. Namely because of a high sugar content. Not so with Nuun.
* Caffeine: The extra caffeine (40mg) perks you up and certain studies have shown that a small dose of caffeine pre-workout or race can give you a boost there.
nuun energy
The Taste Factor:

I like that Nuun adds a nice flavor to my water but doesn’t turn it into Kool-Aide. It’s not overly sweet. “It’s fizzy!” one of the guests of my Ezzere Launch Party squealed in delight. These new flavors have a cool fizz to them and I liked that, as did my guests.

The new flavors are Wild Berry, Lemon Lime, and Cherry Limeade. My favorite was the Wild Berry. They come in the portable vial which is handy to take anywhere and infuse your water. Thank you, Nuun, for joining my party and donating your new Energy drink!

NO EXCUSES, Runners, you can stay hydrated all day long. Your running will thank you, heck, even normal people need to be conscious of staying hydrated…it’s just when you’re asking your body to perform at its best it’s THAT much more important you give it the fluids and electrolytes it deserves!

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Check out my latest Active Article: How to Settle Your Race Day Jitters

SUPER stoked to be able to catch up with David Torrence, he’s killing it this year and only going to be setting more records, so check out my story on him over at RunBlogRun: Records Falling and David Torrence is Hungry

Run With the Heart of a Lion

Today I will look a fear in the eye. I will not blink.

Today I will take a doubt and refute it. I will not hesitate.

I will look only forward, learning from what’s been behind. I will not criticize, belittle, disparage.
run with the heart of a lion motivation art
I will see only dreams and possibilities on the horizons. A future bright, no limits, goals big enough to scare.

But fear be d*mned.

I will run with the heart of a lion.

I will LIVE with the heart of a lion.

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Speaking of lions, here is my latest Competitor article on THE lion himself: Meb Keflezighi

Celebrate your mother lion! Mother’s day is fast approaching…show your mother how she MOTIVATES and INSPIRES you with an Ezzere Tee. BUY NOW so it’ll get there by Sunday!

The Comparison Game: What will help you improve and what will drive you insane

A friend of mine was asking his runner friends what their favorite training tracker or log was. Apps, watches, etc. were all thrown out there. Personally I don’t use any of the online training upload apps or sites, not that I have anything against them, I just have a love/hate relationship and here’s why.

1) What are you comparing?

Now I’m OCD and I know that about myself. I abstained from buying a Garmin for so long because I can easily turn it into an ugly thing with knowing too many numbers. I know that about myself. But I also know the watch can be a great tool to use. So I bought it and learned how I can ‘safely and sanely’ use it. And yea, I flipping love it.
garmin
But I don’t upload stats and pour over the elevation charts, I don’t wear a heart rate monitor I go off of effort, I don’t want to feel like a scientist about my runs. But that’s just ME. Of course hard workout splits I do care much more about, but I don’t look at the splits on my easy days.

But some people LOVE all the stats…that’s cool beans, that’s why they make all those things! I just caution you to compare what matters and what can actually be destructive.

* Fast Hard Workout Splits Matter.
* Fast Easy Run Splits Work Against you.

Make sure you’re able to recover on your easy days so you can NAIL those hard days. Those are what count.

2) Competition for the sake of competition?

Lots of runners are Type-A, a bit OCD, and of course competitive. Now there are things to be competitive about: races, PR’s, etc…but then there are other things that are just dumb and destructive.

If you’re trying to do XXX amount of miles because you want to beat Joe Moe’s total miles at MilesTrackerMadness.com (just pulled that outta my head, not a real site??) then you could wind up injured or overtrained.

They don’t give PR’s or medals to people in training, what matters should be race day. If you’re feeling sucked into wanting to do more for the sake of just doing more stop and ask yourself this:

“What’s in the best interest of my long term running goals?”

Btw…who knows if Joe Moe is even being truthful?
running to win text
3) Motivation versus Pessimistic attitude

Most runners are motivated when they see incredible feats like Meb winning the Boston Marathon!! Hurrah!! But thinking on a more logical scale, seeing what people are doing who are closer to your fitness level, running pace, or age can be just as motivating. If you’ve run with someone and trained frequently with them, if you know you can keep pace with them in a workout and you see they raced XXX you should be feeling quite confident that you, yourself have the ability to race XXX.

The problem is when runners come down with the wrong perspective…namely a pessimistic one. “What the heck, Meb can run a whole marathon faster than I can run a half! Why am I even bothering?!” That’s really just an excuse your brain has for wanting to be lazy and not try at all. ;)

You will probably never beat Meb…yo, honesty policy. But you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to Meb unless you’re on ‘that level’. The motivation of elite runners should come in the way of:
* Running hurts for everyone. The test is pushing YOUR limits.
* Running is fun. If you’re not keeping it that way then that’s sad and find something you are passionate about.
* Compete agains yourself. PR’s are called PERSONAL Records. You set a new one and THAT is something to be proud as heck about.

Keep things in perspective and realize what you SHOULD be comparing your running to and what you shouldn’t. Use any App or community training forum as the positive it can be: a motivating space for people to stay on track and dedicated to their goals.

Emphasis on THEIR…ahem…YOUR GOALS. ;)

1) What do you compare?
2) How do you, and how much do you, use a training log?

Sunday Morning Running Motivation: #Mebstrong

Really, need I say more?
boston marathon Meb Keflezighi

#run #mebstrong

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More Running Motivation HERE
peacock running shirt ezzere
WEAR your motivation and be reminded of your goals with an Ezzere Running Tee!

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Runners Rocking Old School: Training tools guide you but they’re not Gods

Sometimes a runner just needs to rock it old school style and get back to basics. Look beyond the Garmins, the heart-rate monitors, the target zones, the iPod/iPhone widgets, connect this, upload that, FitBit, BodyBug, BodPodWod, run-a-shoe-whiz…you get the picture.

The tech world is awesome, it’s always providing us runners new ways to trick our run. But even the most pimped out of sports watches won’t do a thing if the legs aren’t there. Same goes for running shoes that seem straight out of NASA.
old school watch
All the new running gadgets are training tools. Tools, nothing more. A tool is there to provide feedback, help guide you along. Certainly tools can be powerful ways to improve your training but a tool is not a God. Your Garmin is not, wait for it, a God.

Your running watch or shoes can’t distinguish perceived effort. It can’t make the adjustment for effort vs. time. Black and white numbers don’t tell you the full story, sometimes they lie. Running into the eye of a hurricane during 400 meter repeats, your watch can’t portray how HARD that XX:XX was.

In the end: EFFORT trumps TIME.

Work ethic will trump the newest, lightest shoe. A spike alone won’t race to a PR, I’m sorry.

Take advantage of these amazing, mind-blowing training tools. Having a virtual training log or place to report your mileage and workouts to is great, it can act as motivation and incentive for people to go OUT and run. In that regard it’s wonderful to have a community of runners cheering you on and kindly kicking your butt out the door.

ezzere peacock shirt

Workout hard, recover hard. ;)


[Napping in my Ezzere Peacock Runner Tee, you can BUY YOURS HERE! ]

Garmins and watches can also turn into mental nightmares if you get TOO hung up on the numbers and overly competitive. Quick rules:

* Easy Days: Keep them easy. Don’t race your d**n Garmin.
* Hard Days: Effort is ultimately the God, not the time. You know what hard feels like, you know what quasi-hard feels like, and if you know the goal for the day’s workout then the equation is simple. Go hard.
* Community Danger: The bad things with everyone knowing your workouts and weekly milage is getting competitive for the sake of just being competitive. So ask yourself these questions: 1) Do they award medals to people in training or is it on race day? 2) Are you doing XX miles and such-and-such workout because it’s in YOUR RUNNING’S best interest, or because you want to just brag you did XX miles.

So use all these tools, Runners, they’re out there, they can certainly provide some excellent feedback in planning your training. But ultimately you still need to listen to your body.

At the end of the day, sometimes you just gotta rock it old school.