Got Endurance?

Between January 15th and 20th 30,000 people decided that, despite the relentless winter weather, they'd like nothing better than to be running 10 mile race down Broad Street on May 1.

“Plenty of time to train!”, I heard someone say.

Sure, if you're consistent and you train no matter what the weather, it's enough time. But I know how it goes.

You get snowed in one day, it's a little too icy to venture to the gym another day, then work piles on an urgent project and it's all up to you to get it done on time.

All of a sudden, you only have 6 weeks until the big race and the longest run you've done is 3 ½ miles. How are you going to run 10??

Some people I know shake it off, saying “I'll get through it. I know I can do it”. Or, “I've done it before and I can do it again.”

This blog post isn't for them. This post is for the runner who is genuinely concerned about not only getting to the finish line, but getting to the starting line. You've got 6 weeks and you need to triple your endurance WITHOUT getting hurt. Let's get to it!

First, download your free Broad Street Run training program if you haven't already.

In order to gain endurance you need to practice running longer than you have previously. It's not good enough to repeatedly run the same 5 mile loop, do one or two 8 mile runs and then declare yourself ready to run 10. And I don't really like the programs that have you ramp up your long runs by a mile each week until you reach your goal, either!

Your body adapts to the stress you impart upon it on a regular basis. This means that you need to regularly apply an endurance stress in order in improve your endurance. I think most of us can understand this.

But rather than continually building and building your stress (mileage) week after week, I like the idea of running a certain amount for 3-4 weeks, then increasing it more significantly (maybe 10-30% depending on how much you are currently running) for another 3-4 weeks. I'm not going to go into the rationale for this now, but please feel free to discuss in the comments section below...

So here we are, 6 weeks out from race day. How are you going to get from a 4 mile long run to a 10 mile long run? By walking! Seriously. You will add defined walking breaks into your long run so that your workout lasts longer and your endurance improves.

For example: an 80 Minute Workout:

4 Times: [Running Easy Pace 15 minutes, Brisk Walking 5 minutes]

If you go run 6 miles, that may be too much running. But if you go for a 75 minute workout that includes walking and running, then you will end up doing SOME running on legs that have been moving for 70+ minutes. Now don't you think that will provide more endurance than a 6 mile run that takes you 60 minutes?  Besides, your walking breaks are at a brisk pace and your running pace is at a slow pace.  The difference between the two paces won't be all that much.

Maybe you're still not convinced. That's ok, when you're injured because you ran too much, too soon, call me!

That's right, your injury risk decreases when you slow down. Walking is definitely slower than running and you're less likely to get hurt. So, now we have a situation where you're training longer and with less damaging impact forces. Pretty cool, eh?

I know the macho runners (ha! get it?) out there will scoff at the notion of walking while training for a run, but this post is for INTELLIGENT runners only. You can't cheat your way to endurance. If you attempt to run too much, your body will let you know. The macho runners probably won't even listen to their body's pain signals and will eventually end up on the sidelines anyway!

So don't be one of those people. As the saying goes, “train, don't strain”!!

Enjoy the great running weather if you're in the Philly area this weekend. My wife Jen and I are headed to New York City for the weekend and Sunday I'll be going for a personal best time at the NYC Half-Marathon. Wish me luck!!