Q & A: Mileage, Pacing, and Balls In/Out

I asked a lot of questions on the fly about mileage and pacing and whatnot, and I try to remember all of them so I can maybe answer one or two on the blog. Alas, my memory is dedicated to school and nothing else. But here are three that I get asked on the regular.

Q. What should my weekly mileage be during marathon training?

A. This is like asking me how you should take your coffee. Iced? Soy Milk? No foam? Foam? Whipped Cream? Stevia? Sugar in the Raw? Goat’s Milk?

Tell me, is this true?

Tell me, is this true?

Guys, I don’t drink coffee. I don’t know these things. I also don’t know what your mileage should be. I can give you a range (40-60, 60+ if you’re seasoned & healthy) but there are numerous factors that go into your training schedule. It would actually take me several days to put together a proper schedule for you, and that would be after you completed a page-long questionnaire (and possibly a phone call) and sending over your recent race times and training logs.

What I’m saying is that it’s specific to you, your goals, and your current fitness level.

Q. How should I pace my long runs. I’m going for a BQ (Boston Qualifying time) and I’m a 29 year-old female.

A. The qualifying time for your age group is 3:35:00, or EXACTLY 8:12 min/mile. Now, the BAA stipulates that it takes the fastest qualifying times first and fills the slots from there. So, you may technically qualify with your time but still not get in. Just be prepared for that.

(Good luck to everyone trying this year! Click here for the latest on 2014’s race.)

This would be so frustrating. (Image courtesy of the BAA and ADIDAS)

This would be so frustrating.
(Image courtesy of the BAA and ADIDAS)

Your long runs, on the other hand, do not need to be run at 8:12 min/mile. In fact, I would suggest you NOT run all of them as fast as you want to run the marathon. I do, however, suggest you get used to running hard when you’re tired. There are several ways to accomplish this during a long run:

  1. Chop your miles in half and run about 8:20-8:30 for the first half and run at or sub-8:12 for your second half.
  2. Do an Over/Under run.
  3. Do ONE of your longest runs at or under 8:12 goal pace (for confidence), if you must.
  4. Split your run into thirds: 1/3 comfortable pace, 1/3 sub-8:12, 1/3 8:15-8:30.

Long runs should feel relatively easy and be somewhere (not > 20 seconds) near your goal marathon pace. But they should feel very manageable and not leave you crazy-sore for the rest of the week.

Q. I was feeling so good on my “easy run” day that I decided to just go balls out and race it. Is that ok?

A. No. I repeat, NO. It is not ok to just go balls out cuz you feel like it. keep the balls in. Why? Easy days are there for a reason. To recover, give your legs a break, and to mix up the days. And when your coach makes your schedule, he/she puts those days in a specific spot for a reason (I hope). Switching workouts around is fine now and again, but changing workouts on a whim defeats the purpose of well-planned, thoughtfully drawn out schedule.



I know, it’s nice outside and you feel like a million bucks, but you gotta take it easy and bank some of that feeling for your deadly track workout tomorrow. Recovery miles should be easy. Save it for later. If you don’t, I promise you runner burnout, or worse–INJURY, will be right around the corner.

Hope you guys are having a great week! And as always, if you have a question, email (runstrongereveryday<at>gamil<dot>com) or Tweet it to me.

Now go out and run!

Q & A: Cycling Your Training

Two super-common, and super-important!, questions I’ve that were sent in about cycling through training seasons. If you’re hitting up a Spring full or half, these are your jam!

Q. How many weeks do I have to taper for? I’m running a half next month.

A. Tapering down from your highest mileage runs and weeks is essential for your legs to be fresh and ready on race morning. I generally recommend two weeks for a half marathon and three weeks for a full.

Swoon. (Courtesy of heyrunnergirl.tumblr.com)

(Courtesy of heyrunnergirl.tumblr.com)

But why? Long runs are exhausting for your body. Even if you’re not sore from them, your body is tired from them and needs time to recover. That’s why you can have that “dead legs” feeling on your runs 24-48 hours after a long run. Weeks and weeks of adding mileage and hammering out speed workouts takes a toll on your muscles.

Do your last “long” run and then slowly ramp down the mileage over the next two (for a half) or three (for a full) weeks and give the heavier weight training a rest while you’re at it. You should show up at the start line itching to run.

Q. How long do I have to wait after one marathon before I can run another one?

A. I’ve written about this topic before but I want to address it a little differently. If you get through your marathon comfortably and recovery normally, you can run another marathon in 6-8 weeks, if you must. 1 week to recover, the 2nd to shake it out, the 3rd to check your ability to get a high-mileage week, the 4th to kick in some speed, and the 5th and 6th to taper back down.

If you struggled through your race or your training cycle was hindered by injuries or terrible runs or fatigue or sickness, you seriously need a rest. You need a PT. You need some time off your legs. You need to build up strength before you build up stamina and try again. I’m talking 6 months off from high mileage training.

(Image courtesy of Zazzle.com)

(Image courtesy of Zazzle.com)

You do yourself a serious disservice by forcing yourself through workout after workout and race after race when your body is breaking down. Stop. Assess your training  Get assessed by a professional. Start over.

Cycling through your training and having both and On- and and Off-season are absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body and and getting into tip-top racing form. The pros cycle BIG TIME.

I recommend no more than 3 marathons a year for a 100% healthy runner and 1 if it’s your first time.

Got a question? Email me: runstrongereveryday@gmail.com

Now go out and run!


Q & A: Make-Ups & Take Downs

Happy Pi Day, all you Mathletes out there! I like to call it “Pi(e) Day” and treat myself to a slice. I mean, who doesn’t love pie? I’m partial to fruit pies, cherry being my favorite. Though, nothing says home to me like apple pie.

Back on the topic of running, since this is a running blog and not a pie blog…though, I’m sure there’s a delicious pie blog out there and if someone knows of it, please send it my way, here are some recent questions I’ve fielded from newbie runners.

Q. If I miss a run, can I make up for it by tacking on mileage tomorrow?

A. Hmmm…tricky question. This depends entirely on:

  1. How seasoned of a runner you are.
  2. How healthy you are.
  3. What you are training for.
  4. How much mileage you missed.
  5. What type of workout it was.
  6. Where you are in your training.

The list of factors is endless. In general, my suggestions are thus (with respect to the above factors):

1.  Beginner: Maybe add 20% to the next run, other than that skip it and move on. Intermediate: If you feel up to it, add 50-60% of the missed run to your next workout. Advanced: Lazy bones-why did you miss it in the first place? Add a little              onto every workout for the rest of the week to make up the mileage and hit your weekly total.
2.  You’re injured: leave it alone and run when you’re better. You were sick: come back slowly and don’t worry about the missed mileage. Healthy: see above.
3.  Nothing special: add a little more to each workout. 15K or less: add 50% to the next two workouts (whatever they are). 1/2 marathon & marathon: take the next long run day and either do half the mileage in the morning and half in the evening of the same day OR do two long runs (70% of your longest long run) on back-to-back days.
4 & 5.  If you missed a recovery day, shakeout run, or other “easy” workout, forget about it. Move on. If it was a long run, see above. If it was a speed day, tack on a fast 5K or 10K to the next long run you have to work that anaerobic threshold.      6.  If it’s early on or you’re tapering, don’t sweat it. If you’re in a high-mileage week, do what you can with the above answers, give the circumstances.

Q. I’m injured but I still want to run my race in a few weeks. What can I do?

A. Don’t run. Seriously. It’s not worth ruining your body for one race. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of races in your future if you are smart and take yourself down now. If you put yourself through the ringer and run a long-distance race injured, you run the risk of sidelining your running career for good. Is it worth it? For one race? Didn’t think so.

If you’re determined to participate because you’ve shelled out serious dough to register and get there (I feel your pain), then consider taking yourself down to the half-marathon instead of the full or the 10K instead of the half. Something might be better than nothing and if you make this decision early enough on in your training, you’ll be able to adjust your schedule and maybe even take some much-needed rest days.

Always seek the help of a physical therapist when treating injuries. They have neat little tricks and tools to help you feel better faster. Trust me. I’ve been there. Your future health is so much more important than one race.

Now go out and run!

Q & A: Runner Problems

There are problems and there are runner problems. This blog is a safe place to talk about both. Up today: Runner Problems from two awesome readers.

Q. I’m rehabbing a stress fracture in my tibia and getting ready to get back into running. Any tips?

Injured? Been there. Rehabbed that. Sprained ankles were my thing during cross country. And basketball. Also rehabbed from bad fashion and glasses that make my face look rounder than it already is.

A. First off, make sure you have the OK from your physical therapist to start running again. Second, ask them about how many days a week you’re allowed to run (at first). The will likely tell you start with just a little bit and build up from there. Lots of help, right? When I came back from my glute strain–yes, there is such a thing–I ran one mile 3 times a week as long as I didn’t have any pain at all. I swam and did the recumbent bike to supplement my cardio workouts in the mean time. So long as I was pain-free, I added a mile onto my runs every other week until I felt confident that I could take up my regular mileage again (~25 miles/week). This was after about a month.

Every body is different and so every body heals at a different rate. I would say to start small and build slowly. Make sure strength training is a big part of your life before you add on any serious mileage (like, 4 miles or more) and to do your physical therapy exercises religiously. If you feel pain of any kind, stop immediately and get back into your doctor’s office. Pain (not soreness, but PAIN) is not to be ignored when you’re coming back from an injury.

Q. My group fitness instructor had us jump in the pool with our shoes on the other night (don’t ask). My sneakers are soaked! Is it ok to pop them in the dryer?

Sopping. Wet. Sneakers. Yuck.

A. Ummmm…jumping in a pool with your shoes on? Were you given prior notice of this??? Anyway, if you can avoid the dryer, you should. The high heat can damage the very expensive cushioning you paid to have in your very expensive running shoes. A better way, if you have the time, is to remove the inserts and then stuff the shoes with newspaper. This way, the inserts can dry off and the newspaper will absorb the remaining moisture in the shoes. If you’re desperate, go ahead and use the dryer. Just don’t make a habit of it. Those shoes are pricey!

Got a question about running, running gear, life in general? Email me at runstrongereveryday@gmail.com –Don’t be shy!

Now go out and run!

Q & A: Common Questions From Runners

Whenever I help someone get into the whole running thang, they inevitably get as obsessed as the rest of us (don’t lie, you’re obsessed) and their thoughts turn towards how to maximize their efforts and become the best runner they can be. Here are a few and my humble opinions:

Q. Is it better for me to run in the morning or at night?

A. Whatever works for you. When I run in the morning, I need at least a half an hour to wake up, chow something down and do my bathroom thing before I can lace up and start running. It takes me a little longer to warm up, but I generally don’t feel any more tired after a mile or so than on any other run. I enjoy morning runs because the sun is low and less intense and the air is still cool from the morning. (Notice how my feelings about the morning are directly related to the weather: this is very important to me)

I like an evening run as well. I’m more awake when I start and it doesn’t take me as long to get into my groove because my blood has been pumping all day and my muscles are generally warmer than first thing in the morning. I like running right before dinner, hitting the showers and curling up with my husband on the couch. It’s a nice way to end the day. However, it does take me a little longer to settle down at the end of the night, which sometimes makes for a later bed time, so I have to plan my runs accordingly.

But seriously, there’s no conclusive evidence that shows people burn more calories, have more effective workouts, or look better if they run in the morning vs. the evening and vice versa.

Q. I missed my run today. Should I run on my off day instead or run extra long tomorrow?

A. What I recommend people do is give themselves one or two days a week that are completely off from exercise. Not walking or shopping, but organized, high-intensity exercise. That way, when you just can’t get it in or make it to the gym, you have a buffer day and can pick up the next day with your workouts. I don’t recommend adding more miles onto your next run, but if you miss a strength training day or a run, consider doubling down the next day. For example: say you missed your yoga class today and are schedule for a run tomorrow. Well, add your yoga class to your workout schedule the next day and do one in the morning and one in the evening. Or, if you’re like me and you sometimes run as a part of your commute, run TO yoga class. Two birds, one stone! Don’t be so rigid with your schedule. Life happens, go with the flow and do what you can.

I’m glad we talked about this together. These are two questions that, when  you think about it, had pretty common sense answers. Runners being, well, runners, we don’t always take the most logical approach where our workouts are concerned. We’re kooky like that. Be kind to yourself and do what works for you.

Now go out and run!