Wednesday Workouts: Mid-Week Long Run

A common question I get from runners who are setting out to train for a marathon is how to add mileage during the week. Most of my mid-week runs are 6-8 miles because they are intervals, hills, fartlet, repeats, or progression runs and don’t require crazy high mileage to be effective.

There are only so many times one can go around this oval without going crazy.

There are only so many times one can go around this oval without going crazy.

But if you want to add mileage, there is another way.

The midweek long run.

Not 20 miles or anything like what your weekend runs look like, but a longer, easier, higher mileage run the day after a tough workout.

Why?

  1. It adds mileage.
  2. It teaches you to work on tired legs.
  3. It helps you condition both your body and your mind for the longer miles of a marathon.
If you're planning on making it to the finish line, you gotta prepare for the tough miles.

If you’re planning on making it to the finish line, you gotta prepare for the tough miles.

There’s no easy way to break this to you: marathons are hard. Maintaining your pace throughout all 26.2 miles of a marathon is ridiculously hard.

But you can prepare yourself for this by working with fatigue throughout the week.

Set yourself up:

  • Monday: hard workout
  • Tuesday: longer, marathon-paced run
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: tempo
  • Friday: intervals
  • Saturday: long run
  • Sunday: off

This is just an example week of how to stack your harder workouts together and then get a full day’s rest twice a week. Not every week will look like this, but when you get further into marathon training, it’ll be important to kick up the days and mileage.

Smiling at mile 9? Must be the mid-week long runs kicking in.

Smiling at mile 9? Must be the mid-week long runs kicking in.

It is critical to teach your body to operate on less than ideal rest. You will get tired during the race and you need to know how to respond both mentally and physically to that extreme fatigue.

This is one way to do it.

Do you do mid-week longer runs? How do you amp up your mileage during marathon training? Do you find it prepares you for the race itself? 

Now go out and run!

 

Training Outside the Zone

I had one of those glorious long runs last Friday morning that could have gone on forever…maybe why I didn’t get to a Friday Fitness News round-up. Anyway, it was an awesome run and I didn’t want to stop.

I look something like this when I'm in the zone, but without makeup. Happy, bouncy, relaxed Abby.

I look something like this when I’m in the zone, but without makeup. Happy, bouncy, relaxed Abby.
(Image courtesy of MK Photography)

I was totally in the zone. My comfort zone. Running my pace. Running my course. Running my way. And then today I just about died pushing through my hill workout. It was the opposite of Friday in every way.

Two different workouts. Two different days. Because they can’t all feel easy. They can’t all feel effortless. They can’t all be the run that you want to go on forever. That’s not how Personal Records are made.

No, sir. PRs are made outside of the zone.

On the track in the pace group juuuuuuust a little faster than the one you’re used to.

In the speed workout that’s tempting your puke threshold.

On the road with the hills you hate.

Big, big, bigbig hill. You could walk it or you could run it. It's up to you.

Big, big, bigbig hill. You could walk it or you could run it. It’s up to you.

In the gym with a heavier weight than last week.

At the race you’re scared to run.

God, I hate 5Ks. But, here I am at the finish line, clearly not dead. Guess I'll have to do another one.

God, I hate 5Ks. But, here I am at the finish line, clearly not dead. Guess I’ll have to do another one even though I hate them with a fiery passion from Hell.

If you consistently go out and run the same pace, the same distance, the same road, you will be the same runner with the same times.

Long runs should be comfortable. They should feel pretty good. They should remind you of all the reasons you love to run and full of beautiful scenery.

Time to stop and take a picture during a long run? Sure. Why not?

Time to stop and take a picture of the budding Central Park trees during a long run? Sure. Why not?

But your weekly workouts, the majority of your runs–those should be hard. Like, H.A.R.D.

They should challenge you. You should push every single interval, every single hill, every single time. That’s where you change. That’s where you get stronger, faster, tougher.

Ever tried running on the track with Birdie? Yeah, this is approximately what it feels like chasing her wings around that oval.

Ever tried running on the track with Birdie? Yeah, this is approximately what it feels like chasing her wings around that oval. But I do it. Cuz I wanna be fast.

That’s where your PR is made, well outside of your zone.

Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

How do you get outside the zone and push yourself: run with a faster group, change up your terrain, train against the clock, hire a coach to give you workouts? Do you run the same route/pace/distance every day? Do you go to a group circuit training class to lift? What’s your secret?! Share it here.

Now go out and run.

Ask Me Anything

1. How should I prepare for an obstacle race (Dirty Girl/Tough Mudder/Spartan Race)?

These races are less about running and more about brute strength. Many races, the Dirty Girl and Tri-State Tough Mudder, have the obstacles listed so you know what you’re getting into.

This isn't my idea of a fun Saturday activity but to each his/her own.

This isn’t my idea of a fun Saturday activity but to each his/her own.

As far as training goes, I suggest a hefty dose of strength training, focusing on 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps of heavy weight and major muscle groups. Think: lat pull-downs, push-ups, pull-ups (assisted works too!), lunges, squats, and step-ups with weight, if possible. Incline walking and running or the Step Mill (revolving stairs) for the muddy hills.

Short bursts of max effort repeatedly best mimic these types of races. A quick tip from my friends who have done these races: knee pads, elbow pads, fitted pants, and grippy gloves.

2. How about some ideas for incorporating simple strength training into my routine? Think I maybe maxed out on improvement from just running.

The most common mistake runners make: they only run. For the why of strength training, click here. For when and how much to strength train, click here. And for your basic Leg Day Workout, click here.

3. How about some IT band stretches?

Let’s be very clear: the Illiotibial band is a fascia, not a muscle. The fascia inserts into a muscle called the Tensor fascia latae (TFL)–>tenses the fascia. The IT band has negligible blood supply and doesn’t really stretch. The TFL, on the other hand, will stretch and, in turn, relieve tension on the IT band. Here are a few TFL stretches:

photo (6)

Bear in mind that most IT band problems develop because of weak hips and glutes. Deal with that with these exercises. When foam rolling, roll the muscle, not the fascia.

4. Chafe

Ouch. It hurts. Two things: fitted clothing and Body Glide. I may not look amazing in my compression shorts, but I don’t get chafe anymore. So there.

Compression shorts = no chafe = no sudden excruciating pain in the shower later. #winning

Compression shorts = no chafe = no sudden excruciating pain in the shower later. #winning

5. What do you eat before a run?

Most days it’s PB&J. Sometimes only PB if I’m out of J. Sometimes Eggo waffles if I’m going out for a long run. Hey, you asked.

6. What did you learn about PT and Myasthenia (Gravis)? There’s a lot of controversy…I need to do something, but so out of breath and needing a nap just from climbing my stairs.

Myasthenia Gravis and other auto-immune diseases wreak havoc on your body and leave you utterly exhausted, especially during flare-ups. Everyone is different and no hard and fast rules apply here. However, what we did learn is that even a little bit of exercise can help keep you fit, healthy, and mentally sane.

Some ideas:

  • Walking–nothing strenuous, like walking a dog or with your kids
  • Pool walking–in 3ft+ deep water
  • VERY light weight training (3-5lbs for all exercises)
  • 10-15 minute bursts of exercise throughout the day instead of 30+ minutes at a stretch
  • Taking longer rest breaks between sets
  • Hatha yoga or restorative yoga
  • Light stretching

7. How did you choose your career path?

I’ve been an athlete my whole life and a runner for 23 years. In college I took kickboxing classes and one day, the instructor handed me the mic and told me to teach. So I got my AFFA certification and taught throughout college. When I moved to NYC, I joined a gym and was approached to become a trainer. So I took my NASM certification and started training over 10 years ago. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn so I applied to my post-bac pre-med program at NYU in 2009 and then to the NYU DPT program in 2011.

Your body is my business!

Your body is my business…in the most professional way, of course.

The human body and how it moves just makes sense to me. Even before I took Physics and Anatomy and Physiology and Kinesiology, I innately knew the how and why of body mechanics better than most people. I can’t say the same about chord inversions.

8. How do I increase mileage (not the 10% rule or speed work)?

The 10% “rule” came out of nowhere and became the standard. Whatever. I generally add a mile or two to my long runs for 3 weeks and then I take it down for a week. This take-down long run should feel really good and really easy. If it does, bounce back up to your previous long run and continue the pattern of slow progression. If it doesn’t, go back and try a shorter distance.

You can also do doubles once or twice a week to add a few more total miles.

9. PT school: the good, the bad, the ugly.

  • Good: Lots of interesting (to me) classes and material for me to geek out over and have long conversations about body mechanics with my friend Birdie. Oh, my friend Birdie is also a good! The rotations are cool and I love applying what I’m learning in real life and the job is something I can do absolutely anywhere in a growing field.
  • Bad: VERY time consuming and some of the material is downright pointless. But you’ll find that with every graduate program. Long hours in a chair wreak havoc on my body and I’m so very, very done with being in school.
  • Ugly: Me during finals week. My student loans.
Pizza, falling asleep on my notes, buried under my notes, SLAC. Finals week in a nutshell.

Pizza, falling asleep on my notes, buried under my notes, SLAC. Finals week in a nutshell. Oh, and sanity runs on the East River.

10. Any speed work recommendations for newbies?

I got you guys. Click here and remember, it’s not about being fast but about being consistent at your fast.

11. How do you know if you are actually overtired and need a rest day or you’re just lazy, ie. mental barrier?

I think feeling consistently fatigued should be a big, red STOP sign for you. More than 50% of your runs should feel good–or, at least, you shouldn’t feel dead after them. Rejuvenated, you know? If not, you’re doing too much. If you’re mentally fatigued, get with someone who runs your pace and run with them for a little while so you can take a break from thinking about every single step you take.

12. Best strength training exercises for runners.

Always do your Minimum Leg Day exercises. Push-ups, Pull-ups, and Sit-ups are classic and great. Yoga is fantastic. Pilates is even better. What do I do? Refine Method, New York Yoga, Pilates Pro Works, Flywheel for cross-training, and I hit the gym on my own when I can’t get to class.

That's right. I FLY. #nevercoast

That’s right. I FLY. #nevercoast

11. What to eat for energy without gaining weight.

I’m not a Registered Dietician or a Nutritionist but I do work with one to meet my nutritional needs who specializes with patients with IBD. May I refer you to Lauren or Kim for that question? These two ladies are far more qualified than I to advise you on that.

I will recommend you get a full physical and blood panel that you’ve fasted for to have accurate vitamin, mineral, blood sugar, and cholesterol readings so your RD can better cater to your needs.

12. How do you mentally push through on a tough run?

There’s no secret weapon here for me. In general, I set out to do a certain number of miles and I do it. If I feel terrible, I get in a cab or on the train and I go home. Having a goal and a schedule is key for me because I know exactly what I have to do every day to meet me goal. Even if I’m not “training”, I still set a weekly schedule for myself.

13. How do I get myself running again after pregnancy? Totally realize no kids yet for you but figure you have friends. Or maybe after your surgery… how did you do it? I can’t seem to get back at it after taking 9 mos off. So out of shape. Where to start when my cardio sucks now?

Oh boy. Surgery and pregnancy are pretty similar in that you go through a major trauma, you are wiped clean of so much strength and endurance, and your body feels entirely foreign to you.

First of all, Square One is a scary, lonely, emotional place but acknowledging you are there and you are going to start is key. Get ok with the concept that it will be hard and you will be sore. But you’ll get stronger.

A week of lying in bed really takes it out of you!

A week of lying in bed really takes it out of you!

 

Pick an event and work toward it–maybe with another mommy friend? I set a goal to run a 10-miler 3 months after surgery and I geared all my training toward that race. Twitter and Facebook can also be sources of encouragement while you’re training–they’re also a place to meet new workout buddies!

Don’t forget to celebrate your milestones along the way (1 mile without stopping? Woohoo!) and whatever you do, don’t give up. You’ll get stronger. It will get easier.

13. Why do I feel like I have to pee when I run even if I just went? Ha ha ha too much info but I want to know.

Common problem, don’t worry about TMI here. For women (this question was asked by a woman), it can be a two-fold issue. One, weak pelvic floor muscles. Need to start doing kegals and adductor ball squeezes. Two, the bouncing–this applies to both sexes. There’s really no way around that unless you do pool running. If you’re really concerned, talk to your doctor or wear a small pad when you go out for a run.

14. How you stay motivated to get out and run in bad weather?

Frozen Abby running in 20 degree temperatures. Brrrrrrr.

Frozen Abby running in 20 degree temperatures. Brrrrrrr.

If it’s cold, being properly bundled up and making a run date with a friend helps. If it’s hot, different clothing rules apply and sometimes I run naked. In the rain I wear a hat, when it’s sunny I wear shades with my hat, and I generally have my tunes on me if I get really frustrated.

Again, having a planned run and goal to work for helps, running with a buddy is always a plus, and being properly fueled and hydrated is a must.

Basically, you wanna be a Boy Scout about it: Be prepared.

Tunes? Check. Shades? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Nuun? Check. Off to my run date!

Tunes? Check. Shades? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Nuun? Check. Off to my run date!

15. How to keep a steady pace.

Set a reasonable goal pace in your mind. Get a GPS watch. Warm up for a mile at a pace slower than the pace you’d like to run. Ease into the pace. Maintain the pace. Simple, but not easy.

Phew! Thank you all for your questions. If I didn’t get to answer yours (or you’d like more information), feel free to email me: runstrongereveryday<at>gmail<dot>com

Now go out and run.

Workout Wednesdays: Over/Under

Long runs can get really, really repetitive. And trying to maintain a steady-state pace for them makes a girl (or guy, let’s not discriminate) crayyyy-zayyyy.

True dat.

True dat.

Doing and Over/Under workout keeps me on my toes and distracts me from the distance of the run. Here’s how it goes:

  • 2 mile easy warm-up
  • 2 miles at 10-15 seconds faster than goal race pace
  • 2 miles somewhere 15-30 seconds over race pace
  • Rinse, repeat as needed

Simple, right? 2 miles under, 2 miles over. When I go under goal race pace, I make a concerted effort to hold back and not blast out for two miles since I’m usually doing more than 12 miles for this type of workout.

When I go over goal race pace, I’m usually somewhere between 15-30 seconds over. 30 seconds when I get into the longer miles but I try not to go more than that because I want to hover as close to race pace as possible and teach my legs to run well with fatigue.

Smiling through the pain...with my ostomy. Can you believe this was a year go? Yeah, me neither.

Smiling through the pain…with my ostomy. Can you believe this was a year go? Yeah, me neither.

It really makes the time go by AND you get a great workout. Before you know it, your run is done and you felt like a million bucks.

In case you were wondering, THIS is what a million bucks looks like.

In case you were wondering, THIS is what a million bucks looks like. Girlfriend is living the dream.

Give it a try this weekend and let me know how it goes. I’ll be rocking my Over/Under on Sunday morning with the rest of NYC. High-five!

Have you ever tried an Over/Under long run or do you prefer a steady-state long run? Tell me how you distract yourself on those super-long training runs. I’m always looking for a good distraction!

Now go out and run!