Tracking your running is the #1 way to improve your performance. Being able to look back on your training will allow you to identify areas for improvement. While you shouldn’t be a slave to your schedule, maintaining run notes (mileage, workouts, etc.) in a calendar format allows you to see holes in your schedule or to see when it’s time to take a break.
Use our Training Calendar Template to track and review your runs this winter (Dec 19 – Apr 20). Right click the link to download a Word document and edit it to meet your needs. Also, let us know how it’s going! Tag, comment, or message me directly @ohloru.
My buildup started on Monday, July 29th. I asked Tom to coach me on Friday and I received my first schedule on Sunday afternoon. Seeing his training laid out for the month of August was extremely overwhelming; I knew I had only two options:
Option A – Trust Tom completely and commit 100% to his training plan
Option B – Try to blend Tom’s training with my own training ideas/habits
I’m not the smartest runner but I knew it wouldn’t make sense to hire Tom and then disregard his guidance (or try to mix it with mine). I decided to accept Option A as the only viable option. I knew I would have to make some adjustments to my training ideas/routines/habits, and I knew I would have to take it one day at a time. Additionally, I knew there were going to be some other changes I would need to make in order to take my running to the next level. For many competitive runners, these impacts are simply assumed, but below are what some of these impacts were for me (and my wife):
Less flexibility on group runs (did most training on my own)
Eliminated many running routes (focused on finding natural surfaces)
Went to bed earlier (in bed most nights by 9:30pm)
Went to less outdoor sporting events (too worried about getting sick)
Complained a lot about being tired/stiff/sore (up until the last two weeks)
Lost a belt size (did not change my diet, but I generally eat healthy)
No buildup is perfect.
Buildups are non-linear; you must know yourself, have confidence, and trust the process. You can see in my buildup statistics – I felt good on less than a third of my runs. That’s a LOT of runs where I felt slow, tired, and fatigued. For two months I was worried – I felt terrible almost every day – but by October I was starting to adjust to Tom’s training and the consistency of getting in my runs and workouts.
Trade-offs are required.
It’s important to have inner circle buy-in – you can’t just sneak being a competitive runner in on your family and friends. If you want to turn the dial up on your training, be realistic about what the impacts will be to your life and schedule. Most people will be happy to help support you if you ask for their help early on and engage them in the process.
It’s okay to make selective sacrifices, but keep in mind that you can’t sacrifice your way to a new personal best. Some people focus too much on cutting back or eliminating certain things to prepare for their next race. There is little harm in having a glass of wine or a beer after a hard day’s work, and it won’t help your motivation or desire to run fast if you eliminate the foods that your body is craving after a long run or workout. Make sure you are training hard and the other things will fall into place.
Having a clearly identified goal helps you remember each day what you are working towards, and it helps you remember that life won’t be like this forever. Make sure your goal is big enough, and don’t worry about how long it might take you to get there. It’s okay to share your goal with the people closest to you, but don’t feel like you need to let everyone in. Keep the pressure low and then go out and surprise people with your success.
Consistency is king (feeling doesn’t matter).
Competitive running is such a difficult sport to master because you must know yourself and your limits while constantly pushing yourself and putting yourself in position at races to allow for the possibility of a breakthrough. You push the line in training while also battling the risk of chronic fatigue, injury, or illness. You spend time on the roads thinking, feeling, speculating, and second-guessing your decisions. You must develop a very good understanding of yourself and what enables you to be successful; you must know that at the end of the day your performance is up to you.
I followed Tom’s training plan with scrupulous attention to detail but I also understood that as the athlete I always needed to be in control of myself and to not make excuses for making poor decision-making regarding my day-to-day needs (such as rest, sleep, off-days, etc.). While I am proud of running 103 days in a row during my buildup to Indy, it was NOT my goal. Nothing good can happen during the race if you don’t make it to the starting line healthy.
I learned a lot about myself during this buildup because of how terrible I felt for the first two months. I injured myself during an early tune-up race and I ran slower than workout pace at another. I trusted in Tom’s knowledge and experience, and I relied on my closest friends for guidance and support. I’ll never forget calling Brandon one afternoon when I was struggling with the decision of whether to run that day and he answered the phone during his 17-mile long run (you can probably guess what I did after that). It was a fun buildup and I am constantly learning how to not take things so seriously. Running and competing at high levels is extremely important but at the end of the day it also must be fun.
I wouldn’t be able to end this post without a shout-out to the people who made this result possible:
My wife Becca
Coach Tom Schwartz
Katie and Chad
Brandon, Jake, and ARP Elite
Stacey and Mobility Fit
The Circus Maximus crew
The TrampsLikeUs (Up and Running) crew
The 2-Hour Sunday Long Run crew (Walter, Brett, BP, Christina, Chad, Drew)
My running friends on Instagram
The other Ohio competitive runners (too many to name)
I’ve got a couple Spring races on my calendar for next year and I’m going to be training hard this winter to prepare for them. Racing is important and I encourage you to stick with it regardless of your pace or where you finish in the race. If you are running hard and pushing yourself then I consider you to be a leader in our tribe. Go out there and push the limits in your next performance, you never know which day will be your big breakthrough.
As a runner, I’ve never felt more confused about our sport. Is it all about the shoes? Did Alberto really cheat? Are the world champions doping? I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around some recent topics making headlines in running news that can degrade our discussions about performance and steal some of the joy that we have as athletes.
At the same time, I’ve never felt more encouraged. I’m learning about runners like Amanda Nurse, Ali Feller, Carly Gill, and many more. I’m being coached by Tom and learning every day how little I know about training and performance. I’m reading great books such as British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s, Duel in the Sun, and My Marathon by Frank Shorter. I’m testing myself daily to find out the limits of my own training and performance. I’m getting together with friends weekly to share easy miles or to meet at zero-dark-thirty out there on the track.
I’ve found the best thing to do when faced with uncertainty is to try to present the facts. Opinions can be argued and debated but facts should be able to stand on their own. As I’m trying to make sense of the opinions and discussions surrounding the efforts we see to test the limits of human performance, I thought I would use this opportunity to lay out some of my recent thoughts and provide some facts underneath them. I’m not sure if it will help any but I figured I’d give it a shot.
My Recent Thoughts
The Nike Vaporfly 4% is a comfortable racing shoe that has helped me run with confidence and avoid injury this season
This year, I’ve been working with my Physical Therapist on changing my running form to put less pressure on my achilles tendons
The design of the Vaporfly 4% gives me confidence in running with a mid-foot strike that is saving my calves and achilles a ton of pressure while racing
The shoe is lightweight, highly cushioned, and stable enough for road races ranging from the 5K to the Marathon
I am no longer hobbling around after races feeling injured or broken (at least not from the knee down – I have been struggling with my hamstring and IT band this season)
Alberto Salazar was a highly successful athlete and ran one of the greatest road races in history (1982 Boston Marathon)
Read Duel in the Sun by John Brant to learn more about the lives of Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley, the athletes who finished 1st and 2nd in that race
After the race, Dick Beardsley became heavily addicted to painkillers and was eventually caught and convicted for obtaining a significant number of them illegally
After the race, Alberto Salazar suffered from lasting physical damage and pursued a wide range of treatments ranging from spiritual restoration to anti-depressant medication, which helped in part but never fully alleviated his conditions
Both athletes went on to learn from their mistakes and made efforts to help other athletes learn from their mistakes as well (i.e. speaking openly about their conditions, admitting to certain unbalances that made them susceptible to the extremes, talking about their family history and various factors in their lives that made them who they are today, etc.)
The World Championships, Kipchoge’s Sub-2:00 Marathon, and the elite performances in Chicago were all inspirational, but I feel more inspired by what I see and encounter daily. Below are just a few of groups of athletes I feel especially motivated by:
The working elite athletes – see Roberta Groner, who finished 6th overall in the World Championship Marathon while working as a nurse and caring for her kids (as well as numerous other examples, many right here in our own communities)
The running ambassadors – the men and women who have a gift for running, organizing, sharing, and/or coaching who have decided that what they have to offer is valuable and important to share with others
The new or developing athletes – these are the runners who are celebrating breaking 1:35 or 3:15 for the first time that you’ll never hear about unless you get to know them and listen to their stories
The new parents – deep respect for those who are training and racing while also learning how to take care of a baby
There is a lot of good and a lot of bad out there in the running world. I don’t know what everyone’s story is, but one thing I’ve learned is that we are all very fragile. You can make or break someone’s day with a word or a comment, so be careful and choose wisely.
Let’s push each other to achieve our best while also understanding that we all need a little bit of grace and understanding as we learn and make mistakes. Let’s play by the rules but also understand that we are all different and we all see the world differently.
Let’s bring empathy and respect to our next race, workout, or group run. Most of all, let’s stop worrying about what everybody else is doing and challenge ourselves to be the best that we can be. There is no greater truth than what you can find out about yourself when running – especially when you are pushing yourself to your limits.
Finally, if you are someone who struggles with overdoing it or suffers from anxiety, reach out to a friend in the running community. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a step back and ask for help. None of us like to do it – that’s why we’re runners – but there are other people struggling with whatever you are facing.
To my friends running Columbus – go out there and CRUSH IT this weekend! You make me proud.