Coaching and Running

Over the years, I’ve written about 160 articles about running and coaching. Here are links to a few of them. If people like this, I’ll add links to new articles, as they post (usually about 2-5 times a month). Articles are organized into 10 topical groups.

What’s New!

NEW!!! What you non-running friends warn you about isn’t true. Science shows that running doesn’t wear down your cartilage. It strengthens it. Podium Runner, October 5, 2021.

NEW!!! Marathons are back. Here are five tips for getting the most out of your marathon taper (plus a plan I often use). Podium Runner, September 17, 2021.

NEW!!! Hills are challenging. So is racing them. Many runners have been taught to attack them, but there’s a better way. Don’t just dominate the hills, conquer the whole course by running more strategically and finishing faster. Podium Runner, September 13, 2021.

Racing

Do you need to retain contact with your rivals if you wish to beat them? Many coaches say that you must, or otherwise you are broken. I disagree. So does Kara Goucher, who talked to me about it. Podium Runner, August 18, 2021.

Want to extrapolate a marathon pace from a 10K? Or a 3K from a 5K? The “four second rule” is a good tool to predict your race pace — and training priorities — at every distance from the mile to the marathon. Podium Runner, February 24, 2021.

I wrote this one at the height of COVID confinement, but it’s still relevant. “How to Run a PR in a Time Trial.” Podium Runner, May 12, 2020.

Training and Workouts for All Distances

If your coach has assigned a workout–or if you’ve picked one for yourself–do you feel like a failure if you don’t complete it? If the assignment is 8-10 repeats, do you always feel compelled to do the max? It might be time to rethink your mindset. Is Your Work Ethic Sabotaging Your Success?” Trail Runner, August 26, 2021.

Decades ago, a coach named Frank Horwill advocated training at five different paces: that for your target race and the two “gears” to each side of it. It is still foundational to many training plans. “The Case for Five-Pace Training,” Women’s Running, February 16, 2021.

Here’s a great workout based on 5-pace theory. It’s also fun and different. Start at 1000m and cut down 100m per rep, speeding up as you go. I call it the 1000m breakdown. Women’s Running, March 29, 2021.

Here’s another great 5-pace workout. It’s also how you really run a fartlek. The things most often called fartleks are too structured to meet the original meaning of speed play. “Run a ‘True’ Fartlek.” Podium Runner, April 21, 2020.

Diversity is more than just the spice of life. 7 x 700? Why not? “Why You Should Try Oddball Intervals,Podium Runner, May 10, 2021.

Training isn’t over until you’re ready and rested for the race. The Art and Science of the 5K/10K Taper.” Women’s Running, March 23, 2021.

Taper doesn’t apply just to running. “Reduce Strength Training Pre-Race, Says New Study.” Podium Runner, February 19, 2021.

Looking for a way to determine your best training paces? A 12-minute time trial might be just what you need. “Workout of the Week: Ken Cooper’s 12-Minute Fitness Test.” Podium Runner, June 24, 2020.

Tempo Runs

Tempo runs are one of the most important, and sometimes confusing, aspects of training. Eight years ago, I wrote about it at length, in an article now archived on Runner’s World. At the time, I was told it was pretty much the definitive magazine article on the subject. Here’s a shorter take on the same subject: “What Exactly Is a Tempo Run?Podium Runner, April 16, 2020.

Tempo runs don’t have to be run at steady pace. In fact, it’s often better to do them by changing pace from slightly faster than threshold to slightly slower than threshold, back and forth, back and forth. I call them long alternations, a term that might originally have been coined by Canova. “A Creative Twist on the Tempo Run: Long Alternation. Podium Runner, January 22, 2020.

Here’s yet another take on the tempo. I created it when runner had limited time and what we’d planned didn’t fit. It turned out to be fun, and I now use it often as an element in other workouts. “Workout of the Week: Rat-a-Tat 400s.” Podium Runner, July 19, 2021.

Short and Fast

Are you a 5K/10K runner (or even a marathoner) wanting to try your hand at the mile? Here’s my favorite miler-tune-up workout. It also works for 800m and 3000m. “Try this Fun Inverted Pyramid Workout to Build Miler Speed.” Podium Runner, May 4, 2021.

Even distance runners can use a bit of short, really fast work. I call this short, fast drill “telephone poles,” because I used to structure it around a series of closely spaced telephone poles. But you can do it anywhere. Podium Runner, August 11, 2021.

This workout is designed to maximize the amount of time you spend at VO2max, which makes it great for 5K runners. It’s also intense, so use it sparingly. “Advanced Billat 30-30s.” Podium Runner, 13 February 2020.

When push comes to shove, Billat 30-30s aren’t all that different from another famous workout. At least not if you adjust that workout to your own pace. “Not Just for Gods: You Too Can Do Pre’s 200s.Podium Runner, May 19, 2021.

Marathon Training

Many training plans advocate starting marathon training 4 months or more in advance. For beginners, that’s probably useful. For experienced runners with a lot of mileage under their feet over the years, it may peak you too soon. “The Case for a Shorter Marathon Buildup.” Podium Runner, September 4, 2020.

Training programs often want you to fit an impossible number of things into a 7-day cycle. Pros know this and often shift to 9-day or 10-day “weeks.” But if you have a normal job, you can’t do that. Here’s an alternative. “Can’t Fit Everything into a Week? Try a 14-Day Training Cycle.” Podium Runner, August 20, 2020.

Long runs are key to a good marathon. If you have sufficient base, so are long-fast runs. Here’s one approach. “Workout of the Week: TLT for a Long-Race Breakthrough.” Podium Runner, May 22, 2020.

Dealing with Heat and Cold

If you are otherwise healthy, your body acclimates quickly to heat. Here’s what happens, physiologically, and how you can facilitate it. Trail Runner, June 11, 2021.

Acclimatization doesn’t mean you can run as fast in heat as in cooler weather, however. Most of the data comes from marathons, but there are some basic principles that can help you generalize it to shorter races and for training. Podium Runner, July 29, 2021.

The U.S. Olympic Trials were halted this year when temperatures in Eugene hit 110°. What’s the science on when it’s too hot to run? Outside, July 18, 2021.

Heat produces dehydration, and dehydration can slow you down. In World War II, an exercise physiologist working with the U.S. Army set out to see exactly what soldiers could or couldn’t do in the North Africa campaign. It remains the definitive study, and has a few findings that some will find surprising, even today. “How Does Dehydration Affect Performance?” Podium Runner, August 10, 2020.

There was a lot of talk a generation ago about how runners need to get ahead of the game in keeping hydrated. “Thirst is a slow reflex” people liked to say. They were wrong. If you’re otherwise healthy, you can trust your body to know what it needs. “Runners Should Trust Thirst, New Study Says.” Podium Runner, October 1, 2020.

Supplemental Training

Strength training is an important part of running. But it’s a lot different today than it was a generation ago. “Not Your Father’s Weight Training: New Rules for Runners.” Podium Runner, March 12, 2021. This one may be subscriber only.

When I was young, I was told to strengthen quads to protect the knees. Now, we know it’s also the hamstrings. Podium Runner, December 8, 2020.

You can also strengthen hamstrings outside the gym. “Hike Your Way to Stronger Hamstrings.” Women’s Running, March 27, 2020.

Post-workout inflammation makes for sore muscles. But it also sets in motion processes that strengthen them for your next workout. That means it’s counterproductive to short-circuit the process just to speed recovery. “Don’t Use Ice Baths for Recovery, Says Another New Study.” Podium Runner, December 11, 2019.

Sports Psychology

Excess nerves before races are the bane of many runners. Here’s what the sports psychologists suggest to do about it. “Suffer From Pre-Race Anxiety? Here’s How to Accept the Pain.” Podium Runner, March 30, 2021.

Injured and fighting off depression or anxiety? Join the club. But there are solutions. “How to Take Control of Your Injury Recovery.” Women’s Running, January 4, 2021.

I like whistle drills, where runners run hard until the whistle blows, then recover until it blows again. Other than general parameters such as “about 20 minutes of speed at 5K effort,” only the coach knows how long each interval and recovery will be. Here’s the sports psychology of why it’s good for you. Train Your Mind With This Pych Hacking Game-Workout.” Women’s Running, June 30, 2021. Subscriber only.

Running Policy and News

The title says it all for this one. “Is Nandrolone Found in Pork? All Your Shelby Houlihan Burrito Questions, Answered.” Women’s Running, June 17, 2021.

Same thing for this title. “The Autumn Olympics? How the Games May Have to Adapt to Globally Warming Summers.Podium Runner, August 30, 2021.

Writing this for the Tokyo Olympics, I was startled how little road runners and cross-country racers knew of track rules. And personally, I think Paul Chelimo’s famous homestretch “drift” is going to get him DQed in some race or another, if he keeps it up. “How to Get DQ’d from a Race—or Not: Inside Track Rules and Enforcement.” Podium Runner, July 8, 2021.

Essays and Fiction

In 2010, I woke from knee surgery to hear, “it’s worse than we thought.” A decade later, running returned unexpectedly. “The Race I Never Dreamed I’d Run.” Podium Runner, October 28, 2020.

I’ve written about 60 science fiction stories. Three of them are both related to running and available online. This one is about the possible interplay of gene modification and running. It’s called Olympic Talent,” is quite short, and originally appeared in Nature.

Bobbie Jo has picked a coach. An online one, with the voice of God. (Literally; I picked the name Morgan to conjure this up, but it was too subtle. Morgan=Morgan Freeman. I call it Morgan’s Run.” It’s appeared in a number of places, but the only one available online is Podium Runner. Subscriber only (sorry).

Excellence” raises the question: if there was an undetectable wonder drug guaranteed to produce a gold medal, followed by a catastrophic decline in health, what type of person would use it? It too has a appeared in a number of magazines, but is only currently online at Podium Runner. Subscriber only.