The 100 Days of Summer newsletter is a weekly email with seasonal training tips, ideas and inspiration from Lou Serafini and Mary Cain. This series has come to an end, but we hope you'll sign up for our upcoming new newsletter series here.
WEEK 13: AS ONE SEASON ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS
Words by Mary Cain
On September 22nd, one season ends and another begins. For the last 14 weeks, we have shared stories, challenges, advice, and training tips. Over these last 100 days, we moved our way through not only the tough summer running conditions, but also a time of great uncertainty. As the weather cools, this worldwide feeling of unpredictability may still hang over us, but I hope you are ready to face these coming months head on.
One of the most sage pieces of advice a runner can receive is to “control what you can control”. Over this summer we have learned to keep pushing and training to get better, even when there are no races in sight. Rather than get deterred, we preserved and took control over our own racing season by hopping into time trials, virtual races, or coming up with our own, unique challenges to stay motivated.
When races were cancelled, we adapted. This ability to adapt seeps, though, into more than just our running selves. When the weather was hot, we adapted. When the world shut down around us, we adapted. As this new season starts, we will remember that as new hurdles are put in our way, we have grown stronger over this last season and are ready to adapt, learn, and grow with it.
Although our 100 Days of Summer series has come to a close, we look forward to introducing two new Digests for New York and Boston this fall. If you live in the NYC or Boston area, we encourage you to sign up for these new local biweekly newsletters, which will feature more training advice, content and information on events happening in your city.
The Race: Two Mile Time Trial
From Mary Cain
We’ve been training hard the last 14 weeks. As a way to celebrate the culmination of the 100 Days of Summer, we’re challenging you to lace up - whether this weekend or next week - and time trial a two mile race. We picked the two mile distance, since it’s short enough that you can commit to hitting it hard solo, but it also taps into the strength you’ve been building since the start of the summer.
Some tips for solo racing:
Your first lap should feel comfortable.
In last week's workout, we rolled through mile race pace, so for those first 400m, you should feel ready to keep rolling.
The first mile, you should feel fast, but in control.
1600-2400m will be the toughest part. During these two laps, fatigue may be setting in, but focus on getting one foot in front of the other. If you’re racing on the track, try to focus on getting through 200m at a time. From 2400-3200m, you’re near the finish!
That final lap is all yours.
For the penultimate lap, it’s about holding the pace as best you can, because at the end of that one… you just have one more to go! Try your best to let it rip the last 100m-200m.
Want to race a little longer?
Sign up for the More Than A Run Virtual 5K.
A Different Race, the Same Cause
David Melly catches up with Stetson Marshall after running virtual Boston for a cause
Stetson Marshall’s second marathon bears the same name as the first, but come race day, it looked unrecognizably different. Stetson, a Chicago native who’s lived in Massachusetts since 2015, ran his second Boston Marathon last weekend, but the unprecedented virtual nature of the 124th edition of the race made for a unique sophomore effort. He didn’t take the bus out to Hopkinton with 30,000 of his fellow runners; he ran alongside a biker around the Charles River. His “Marathon Monday” was a beautiful September Saturday.
Stetson wasn’t much of a runner before he ran Boston last year, but he’s not afraid to step up to the plate when called upon. Stetson is a board member for The Theatre Offensive, a Boston-based organization founded in 1989 that works with young queer and trans people of color in the performing arts. Last year, he was sitting in a board meeting when someone suggested he run the Boston Marathon as a fundraiser, a tradition begun by the organization’s founder.
“I wasn’t expecting it, honestly,” he says. “They asked me, ‘hey, if we can get a bib for you, would you run?’ And I was like, ‘sure, I’ll run,’ not expecting we’d actually get a bib. And when we finally got it, a month and a half out from the race, I started training.”
Six weeks later, Stetson finished his first marathon in 5 hours and 48 minutes, and although it was “intense,” it was “not so intense that it stopped me from doing it again.” Like so many others, he’d caught the marathon bug, and when the opportunity came to sign up for a second round, he didn’t hesitate.
On the Journal, read David's full piece, where he hears more from Stetson about his fundraising efforts for The Theater Offensive. To donate to Stetson’s #SissyThatRun fundraiser, visit this page.
Stay in the Know this Fall
We love talking about running. If you do too, we hope you'll sign up for a newsletter. Whether you're looking for brand updates or want training advice, there's a email series for you. No matter where you're based, we encourage you to subscribe to receive our upcoming new bi-weekly series this fall, including NYC and Boston Digest newsletters.
See the full compilation of the 100 Days of Summer newsletters from previous weeks on the Journal.
WEEK 13: WHEN LESS IS MORE
Words by Izzy Seidel
Over the past few months, I ventured into fairly unfamiliar territory as a runner. High mileage once seemed so daunting, but as I gradually began to increase my mileage while spring gave way to summer, I started to find comfort in double-digit easy days and the challenge of running just a little more each week. I first began increasing my milage out of boredom, and when I committed to joining Tracksmith’s TSP DIY relay team, it became a way for me to justify my new more-is-more training philosophy.
Mileage is addicting, at least for me. I began to find comfort and confidence in the rhythm of intense training. While I did incorporate down weeks every so often, I began dreading the pre-race taper as TSP approached; I had developed an irrational fear of lightening the load on my legs. If anything, tapering is more challenging for my brain than my body.
I don’t quite understand the science behind it, but I always expect my legs to feel lethargic while tapering, and this held true before TSP. Yes, it’s counterintuitive. And while it’s hard not to feel concerned, I do believe that tapering is one of the few times where doing less really is more. For me, this TSP taper brought some weak spots to the surface: tightening hamstrings that twinged with every stride, and aching IT bands apparent on every flight of stairs. But they managed to work themselves out when it really mattered. They always do. I had to trust that the discomfort was mostly in my head, and that it would be no indication of what I’d feel like during the race.
I knew this upcoming race would be more drastic than usual––I expected to run 50 miles over 31 hours. And as much as it pained me mentally, I knew that my taper should be somewhat drastic too. Coming off back to back 70+ mile weeks in the lead up to TSP DIY, I ran only 24 miles over the five days preceding the race.
While I wouldn’t recommend cutting your mileage by nearly 70% in the days before a big race effort like I did, I do recommended giving yourself the liberty to coast with lighter miles and smooth strides a week out from your penultimate race of the season. Decrease the intensity in some aspect of your training: back off workout paces, slightly ease up the numbers on your running log. And don’t be discouraged by the feeling of heavy legs or minor aches and pains that might arise. The fitness is there, and it only matters as long as you feel it once the gun goes off.
The Workout: Controlled Speed
From Mary Cain
With only one week left before the end of 100 Days of Summer, we’re starting to taper for the two mile time trial. This will be our final hard(ish) workout.
How To Do It:
Start with your usual warm up, drills and strides. Then head over to the track or a flat road for the following speed session:
9x300 @ mile pace with easy 300m jog between
Cool down jog
The purpose of this session is to feel both confident and comfortable hitting an overspeed pace, or mile race pace. For this workout, focus on trying to run the reps smooth - or at a constant pace. Mile race pace is fast, but with only 300m of work and full recovery, we want you to feel like you're moving smoothly, but in full control of the pace. Running 9 reps should get you tired, but continue to focus on keeping your pacing consistent. This will pay off next week when you find yourself feeling fully relaxed as you start your 2 mile-time trial.
Tapering for TSP
Members from our TSP team share their taper tips
Last weekend, we had a team of six Boston-based runners––Jason Ayr, Lou Serafini, Madison Yerke, Izzy Seidel, Sam Fazioli and Jeff Seelaus––complete in TSP DIY: a global, decentralized relay created by The Speed Project. Starting at 7 a.m. EST on September 5th, teams had 31 hours and 15 minutes to run as many kilometers as possible, relay-style from anywhere in the world. Our Tracksmith team emerged victorious, running a total of 560 kilometers, all on the Harvard Tempo Loop and along the Charles River. We heard from two of our athletes on how they tapered in preparation for the race.
Since I didn't really know what to expect with TSP, I wanted to preserve my legs while taking advantage of as much fitness as possible. About two weeks out I cut my mileage by about 25-30%, while easing on the intensity of workouts and cutting down my longer recovery runs.
The week leading up to TSP, I simply wanted to "run as little as possible" without feeling completely flat, so I did a short tempo workout three days out at "TSP pace" to remind my legs what they'll be doing while keeping my other runs anywhere from 15-30 minutes that week––knowing very well that I was going to gain 60 miles from TSP on Saturday and Sunday!
As a last minute add-on [to the team], I didn’t exactly have a ton of time to game plan for this whole thing, but it was probably for the best. I was recruited to fill in for the team with two weeks to go, and I figured it was such a wild event that no amount of tapering was really going to make it feel any easier.
I refrained from doing any workouts the week of to avoid pulling something or going into the race weekend sore, but my mileage was still fairly high. I’d been in the 110-120 range for a few months, and I figured I’d keep rolling with that to stay in my normal routine, but without any workouts.
In a weird way, I didn't want to have that feeling of being 100% fresh and race day ready going into the first shift of running. The strategy that Jason laid out for us required roughly eight shifts of 10 x 1200m. Heading into the first shift full of energy and excited to race, I figured it would be hard to hold back from ripping those first few 1200s, which would be a huge mistake considering the length of the competition.
I thought that if I went in approaching it more like a workout than a race, I'd find it easier to run those early shifts at a steady, conservative effort, which would benefit me in the later stages of the 31+ hours. I went through my last week leading up to the competition as if nothing was out of the ordinary, for the most part. When race day came, I stayed in trainers for my first couple of shifts too to keep with that workout mentality, and I saved my racing shoes for later on when I needed a boost. All in all, I don't think things could have gone much better for me.
See more results and the final leaderboards––broken down into categories for the OG Teams, Women's Teams, Solo Runners, and Freestyle Teams––on the TSP DIY website.
The Trials of Miles
Looking ahead to Fall miles
Fall has always been mileage season. The time for going a little farther, a little faster. In high school or college, maybe that meant embracing the challenge of cross country. In past years, it would have meant sharpening the system for a goal race, chasing a PR alongside thousands of other runners with dreams of their own. Today, when the idea of “distance” has different connotations, fall’s promise remains the same. This is mileage season. Time to get to work.
Follow along Lyndsay Harper, Amy Diallo, Jarrett Moore and Taylor Gilland as they embraced the challenge of northern California rolling hills and relished the chance to run alongside old training partners. They get back to training basics on redwood lined roads while testing out pieces from our new Fall Collection.
Race Day is (Still) Sacred
Marquis Bowden provides some pre-race inspiration
It’s hard to imagine racing Boston without the sights, sounds and crowds that make it the most legendary Marathon in the world. And yet, throughout this week, thousands of runners sought to prove that even at a distance, Race Day is (Still) Sacred.
Marquis Bowden is one such athlete. After his dreams of racing his first Boston Marathon in April were postponed, he set his eyes on snagging a personal record for the virtual Boston in his hometown of Los Angeles.
WEEK 12: OPPORTUNITY IS KNOCKING
Words by Lou Serafini
The year is 2019. You’re in the thick of training for your fall marathon. It’s been a long, hot summer but you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Long runs and workouts haven’t been easy while dealing with the sweltering heat of July and August. But it’s September now, and you’re feeling your fitness come with the cooler temps. Along with the hopes of a big PR in your next marathon later in the season.
Fast forward back to the present. There are no races on the calendar. Motivation is dwindling. But should it be? Because even without your regular slew of races coming up, there’s actually some opportunity. In a marathon build, you’re often left feeling like it’s all or nothing. You put in 15 to 20 weeks of hard work and then throw it all on the line and hope for the home run.
We all have the opportunity this fall to take some leaps. Train for that 5K you’ve been meaning to run. Or take a crack at the mile like you’ve always said you would. Now's your chance. Instead of looking at the coming months with thoughts of what could’ve been, think of them as what could be.
Many of you that have been following this newsletter week in, week out are challenging yourselves to race a two mile in two weeks. That will just be the start of an exciting new season, full of new challenges, far away from the norm.
The Workout: Tap Into Race Pace
From Mary Cain
We have two weeks before your 100 Days of Summer two-mile time trial. With that in mind, we’re giving you a tough two-miler workout. In this session, you will practice hitting race pace and shifting into faster gears, so that you're comfortably locking into your two mile race pace in two weeks.
How To Do It:
Start with your usual warm up, drills and strides. Then head over to the track, or a flat road, for the following session:
800m @ two-mile pace with 2’ rest 600m @ mile pace with 2’ rest 400m @ mile pace with 3’ rest
800m @ two-mile pace with 2’ rest 600m @ mile pace with 2’ rest 400m @ 800m pace with 3’ rest
2 x 200m @ what you have left with 2’ rest
Cool down jog
During this session, try to practice feeling relaxed during the 800s at two-mile race pace. The 600s will be the toughest reps, since you have to stay focused at faster speeds. The first set’s 400m rep is the same pace as your previous 600, since we’re saving some speed for your final 400m and 200m reps. During those final three speedy reps, practice finishing strong on tired legs.
A Boston Marathon Unlike Any Other
Marquis Bowden build up for the virtual Boston Marathon
Marquis Bowden has big goals. The 31-year-old Los Angeles native found running during the twilight of his basketball career, training with Blacklist LA. At the Chicago Marathon in 2017, he ran a debut 3:09 and then lowered his PR to 2:41 at the 2020 LA Marathon, a race which was supposed to serve as a training run in the lead up to his first Boston Marathon.
Postponements and cancellations aside, Marquis is deep in the push for the upcoming virtual Boston, to be run between September 7th and the 14th, aiming to run between 2:35 and 2:40. As the marathon approaches, we asked him to share his thoughts on a recent time trial to gauge his fitness and training for a virtual race.
How has your perspective on racing changed while attacking virtual races?
My perspective on racing hasn’t changed too much, if anything has increased substantially. If one can stay motivated and encouraged in these enduring times we’re all in. I feel it can turn into a huge positive down the road once everything opens back up. But it has been challenging to say the least.
How did your recent time trial within your marathon-build go?
I did throw pace out the window after the first rep. Route was a bit hilly, so I gave some really good effort instead.
What has your experience with time trials been like?
Time trialing is actually something new for me. But I have learned a lot. This cycle I have had the opportunity to run two time trials. I look at them as test to see how training is coming along and figure out what is and is not working.
Do you have any pre-race traditions?
I have so many pre-race traditions, that I absolutely love and that I definitely still do for time trials. But my favorite is that I have a favorite “Goodluck” beanie that I wear the week of a race!
What are your goals after you race the Virtual Boston Marathon?
After the Boston Marathon, I will switch gears to focus on the 5K/10K. With my eyes set on running 15min for the 5K. My ultimate goal is to improve my marathon pace and work on my weaknesses.
To see more from Marquis' 8 x 1K workout in his marathon build, view the new Fall Van Cortlandt Collection Lookbook.
Run Your Own Race
The 2020 Boston Marathon marks a return to amateurism
Not since 1985 has the Boston Marathon been truly an amateur event. This year, without an elite cohort vying for prize money at the front, the virtual format heralds a return to amateurism and running for nothing but the love.
The 2020 Boston Marathon will thrive on amateur runners’ passion, focus, and dedication that, no matter the course, cannot be separated from the 124-year-old tradition that bears its name. On the Journal, Sarah Franklin further explains how the absence of the professional field at the 2020 virtual Boston Marathon will emphasize the amateur experience that once defined this historic race.
Tracksmith x Trials of Miles
This fall, we're teaming up with Trials of Miles to put on an elimination style racing tournament called Cross Country. In last week's newsletter, we heard from race organizer Cooper Knowlton about what inspired him to put on this upcoming event.
The competition will consist of four rounds of races, with runners advancing based on their placement in every round. The race will kick off in early September with a 5k regional qualifier and will culminate at the end of October with a 10k national championship. There will be prizes for top performers in every round, and a $500 Tracksmith gift card on the line for the male and female winners. For more information check out the Trials of Miles website. Registration closes on 9/13.
WEEK 11: MAKE THINGS PERSONAL
Words by Nick Willis
I’m 37, and trying to race the mile against kids almost half my age. Surprisingly, my speed hasn’t waned much, if at all. I’ve kept the old saying of “use it or lose it” to heart, and made sure to keep up my dynamic mobility exercises, sprint drills, and my short sprints so that my fast twitch fibers are tested on a regular basis.
But, if my sprint speed is ok, why do I feel extremely uncomfortable holding pace at the start of races—especially at the early and middle portions of the season? Over the last few years, I’ve been really discouraged after many of my early season races. “Why do I feel so awful? Why can’t I relax?” Yet at the end of each of these seasons, things seem to finally click and I’m back in contention for titles.
It’s become more apparent to me that age is dramatically slowing down my adaptation to training—especially race pace training. What used to take me two workouts to shake the rust off and be good to go, is now taking six weeks, if not more, until I am able to relax at high speeds, allowing me to have a kick at the end of a race. Running fast is one thing; being able to relax while running fast is an entirely different challenge—and the key to good race performances. Thankfully it does come around eventually.
So if there’s one takeaway, it’s to not panic after bad race results. Instead, know that these are merely stepping stones to help slowly come into peak form, albeit, for myself, a few weeks later than I was able to muster in my twenties and early thirties. Many of us, including myself, just have to learn to practice patience.
The Workout: 600m Breakdowns
From Mary Cain
Time sure does fly by. We have three more workouts left before the culmination of 100 Days of Summer in the form of our two mile time trial challenge. With that in mind, it’s important for us to start tapping into even more speed to help you feel ready to hold quicker paces.
How To Do It:
Start with your usual warm up, drills and strides. Then head over to the track, or a flat road, for the following session:
3 x 600 @ mile race pace with 400m jog between
3 x 300 @ 800m race pace with 400m jog between
3 x 200 @ 400m race pace with 200m jog between
This is the first workout we’re giving you recovery based on distance versus time, since it’s meant to stimulate speedier training instead of purely aerobic work. The 600m repeats are meant to be smooth, but tough. Once through those, the 300m reps are meant to be speedy, while still using that strength we’ve been building up. Finally, the 200s are meant to burn, but fight to maintain form and try to rip the last 50m of your final 200m.
Cross Country is Back
Cooper Knowlton organizes a new XC-inspired race series
Cooper Knowlton, the organizer behind the Trials of Miles virtual races that took place throughout the spring and summer in lieu of in-person events, has a new challenge to keep runners across the nation running fast into the fall. The newest Trials of Miles series––Cross Country––is an elimination style racing tournament that will play out over four weeks between September 14th and October 25th. The goal of the competition is simple: to race your way to Nationals. We asked Cooper how he came to creating these virtual racing opportunities, and what he has planned for the upcoming elimination-style Cross Country tournament.
1) What inspired you to first create Trials of Miles?
Trials of Miles was the name I came up with for a small race that I was planning to put on in the spring. Before the quarantine started, that race was really as far as my race directing aspirations went. But once the running world went virtual and all the big marquee events got cancelled, I felt like there was an opportunity to do some outside-of-the-box thinking and try something new. I also just wasn't that inspired by most of the virtual races that I had seen.
2) How did the Survival of the Fastest and Beat the Heat series play out?
Survival of the Fastest was a single elimination March Madness style racing tournament. Every week, runners went head-to-head with another competitor to see who could submit a faster time at a given distance (the runner with the faster time advanced, and the slower time got eliminated). The most notable feature of this race though was that we didn't police elevation and it pretty quickly turned into a downhill racing competition. We had people hiking to the top of mountains, bombing down them, and submitting insane times. It was pretty wild to watch.
Beat the Heat was a virtual track meet series where runners avoided elimination by outracing their competition in a series of seeded heats. Each round featured a different race distance, and took place over the course of a week. What was notable about this race was largely the depth of the fields and the level of competition. In order to make it into the men's and women's finals you had to run a 5k under 15:45 and 17:45 respectively. We also had a very memorable 2k final with some exciting final results.
If you're interested you can find the results for both of these competitions on our website. You can also visit our Instagram page to see some athlete profiles and race analysis.
3) How is your latest series––the Cross Country race––similar and/or different to the previous events?
Much like our last two races, Cross Country is a racing tournament, where competitors must outrace their competition in every round in order to avoid elimination. However in this race, instead of using brackets or heats, we're using regions to structure the rounds. In week one, runners will compete in their regional qualifiers, and each week the geographic scope of the competition will expand, culminating in a final national championship race. The format is loosely based on the NCAA Regional Cross Country structure.
Besides that, people who have raced with us previously should expect more of the same. Before each round we'll post start lists and race analyses. There will be athlete profiles, interviews, and live results during the week. We're also expecting another ridiculously talented field. Registration has only been open for a few days and we've already seen a number of Olympic Trials Qualifiers and some pretty recognizable names getting in on the action. Can't wait to share more!
4) What are you looking forward to most about the Cross Country knock-out series?
For the first time we're experimenting with a team component in this race. While it won't really kick in until the final round, I think the fact that there is a team prize on the line will give the competitors some extra motivation, and help create some added race drama. I also think there will be some team pride that develops as this competition goes on, and it will be fun to see which regions end up with the top squads. I'm already pulling for my home region of Big City.
The Cross Country tournament will include a sequence of four races, ranging in distance from 5k to 10k. Find out more details about the series, how to register, and the prizes on the line at the Trials of Miles website.
From Mary Cain
As we approach the end of the month, we should take this time to reflect on these last few months of summer. For nearly half of the past year, we’ve been living in a time unlike any other. As we look to enter a new month, this is a great opportunity to sit down and channel your inner Haruki Murakami and write about your running.
Maybe you’re someone that diligently records every bit of your training, maybe you rely exclusively on Strava to keep tabs, or maybe you prefer to not track your training. No matter what your preference, we encourage you to write not what you did, but your ‘whys’ and ‘hows.’ Take some time to consider what got you out the door, what made you struggle, and what you’ve learned from this time of uncertainty. Use this time to write and reflect as a motivator for the upcoming two mile time trial at the end of 100 Days of Summer, and also as a learning lesson going forward.
WEEK 10: FIND YOUR FOCUS
Words by Lou Serafini
Never underestimate the power of a goal as a good motivator. Now that the gears have shifted in our training, it’s time to focus our attention towards a tangible target.
At the beginning of every training cycle, I challenge myself to think of a goal––something I really want to accomplish. If it’s something you really want, you’ll wake up motivated every day to go achieve that goal. Last week we proposed the challenge of running a hard two mile time trial in a few weeks. You’ve had some time to let that marinate, and now it’s time to get excited about it.
You might be thinking, ‘how am I supposed to get excited about a time trial?’ Hey, I’m with you. But I encourage you to also ask yourself, when is the last time you had a race you were excited for? It’s been awhile for many of us. For me personally, the lack of races on the schedule has really started to make my competitive side itch. So for those that aren’t keen on virtual racing but are also feeling that competitive itch, I recommend reframing your view on time trials. Start thinking about them as real races. Once you flip that switch over in your mind, there’s no difference between these two types of race efforts. Well one difference - there’s no fee to sign up.
We challenge ourselves as runners to keep raising the bar, to strive to be better. That may seem impossible without races, but I assure you it’s not. It’s time to create challenges for ourselves and goals that excite us. Once you establish a target, all that’s left to do is train, and eventually execute. Then it’s on to the next one. Time to focus up.
The Workout: Each One. A Better One.
From Mary Cain
As we now begin to turn our sights towards the two mile time trial, it’s important to maintain strength––since this race effort is majority aerobic work––while also starting to sharpen our speed.
With this in mind, this hill workout helps with strength maintenance and speed due to the descending length of each rep. In Carl Maynard’s Journal piece “What Are You Here To Do?,” Eric Bolden’s workout mantra of “Each one. A better one” really resonated with me. Using his words as inspiration, we structured a workout where each rep gets a little faster, so transitioning gears and picking up the pace with each interval will help you practice tapping into faster speeds.
For each subsequent set, we also encourage you to remember Eric’s mantra and focus on improving gradually––rather by picking up the pace, finding more power in your stride, or practicing relaxing your mind as the physical intensity increases.
How To Do It:
Start with your usual warm up, drills and strides.
Four sets of:
60 sec hill @ 2 mile effort
45 sec hill @ 1 mile effort
30 sec hill @ 800m effort
Jog down the hill after each rep. Between sets, take three minutes of recovery before starting up again.
What Are You Here To Do?
Carl Maynard sits down with D.C. marathoner, Eric Bolden
The Tracksmith Journal exists as a place to tell the stories of runners who are doing extraordinary things in running, in life, for their communities and for the sport. Trainer, athlete and organizer Eric Bolden is just such an individual.
It's 6:49 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, July 21st in Washington DC. It's not hot - yet - but it's going to be. If you've spent any time in the nation's capital, you know a cool July morning is by no means a sign of what to expect for the rest of the day, hell, even an hour later. As I make my way up 15th Street NW, it hits me that this is my first time returning to The White House and Lafayette Square. More specifically the intersection of 16th & H Street NW, now known as Black Lives Matter Plaza. For months now, this famous intersection has been the epicenter for protests in DC. After the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, protests began all over the country to speak out against the use of excessive force by police officers on Black citizens. After a few days of protests in DC, things boiled over when riot police and secret service members began using tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters.
On the night of May 31st, I was there, hit with tear gas on four different occasions and taking a rubber bullet to my left foot, luckily only after it had been slowed down by a skip off the pavement. It still hurt like hell. But my story pales in comparison to the hundreds of people who showed up day after day and raised their voices in protest. It pales in comparison to centuries of Black trauma in this country that came to a head this May.
On June 1st, the country would again watch live as various police forces used these same tactics to disperse the crowds that gathered at the corner of 16th & H, all for the President to have his photo-op outside of St. John's Episcopal Church. Four days later, the Mayor of DC would reclaim this location and worked to bring to life the "BLACK LIVES MATTER" mural with help from the MuralsDC program and DC Department of Public Works. She went on to designate the two block stretch from H Street through I Street NW as "Black Lives Matter Plaza.” Since the protests began in The District, I'd been down to the Plaza multiple times, even making my way down the day the mural was painted. However, it had been a few weeks. I wasn't too busy to go, but being there was heavy and anyone you ask, they'll tell you, even just being there, police or no police, took its toll on you emotionally.
I take my last turn, and make my way east down H Street, just two blocks now from Black Lives Matter Plaza, where I am meeting Eric Bolden, a trainer and running coach in DC organizing a Run Against Racism fundraiser that's raised thousands of dollars for a slate of racial and social justice initiatives. By the time we meet, he’s already not only got in a workout, he led said workout. He's cleaned up: khakis, a tee and some scuffed-up leather shoes. He's relaxed atop a jersey barrier in the middle of the intersection. Not on his phone, just sitting. I stop for a moment as I recognize him from his email profile photo and watch as he takes in the scene. I approach and we share pleasantries. He could not be more welcoming. Right away, there's an energy to Eric that you can feel. It's comforting and endearing. I think to myself, "I want to just be friends with this guy." We make our way to a local cafe for breakfast. Our conversation is easy and relaxed. We talk about Eric's training at MADabolic DC, the studio where he coaches and his background in fitness. We grab our coffee to go and make our way back to Black Lives Matter Plaza.
On the Journal, read Carl's full story, where he hears more from Eric about using movement to open the door for conversations on building global solidarity, and educating to create advocates for anti-racism.
A Record for the Taking
Tansey Lystad Sets a Record on Colorado Soil
This past Saturday, Tansey Lystad of the Tinman Track Club, and a new member of our Amateur Support Program, won the Frank Shorter Track Classic Elite 5k, and surprised herself by breaking the 16:34 Colorado soil 5k record with a time of 16:14. The track meet, which saw three Colorado soil records fall, was held in Boulder, CO at the Nevin Platt Middle School. We reached out to hear more from Tansey on how the race played out.
Congrats on Colorado's new soil record in the 5k! Would you tell us a bit about the lead-up to the race, such as how it came about and how you were feeling beforehand?
Thank you! I actually was planning to race out at MCDC, but had some plans changed so I pivoted to race in Boulder instead. I've raced up at altitude a few times now, so I at least knew what I was getting myself into. Pre-race I was a little nervous because I had a flair up on my plantar, so I missed a couple workouts in the lead up. I was able to get a couple shockwave treatments in the week before the race, and that seemed to have done the trick!
Do you run any time-trials in the lead up to the race, or was this your first hard effort of the season?
I was able to do two time trials leading up to the 5k. We did a full mile at the end of May, and I was only about three weeks back into training from some tendonitis in the spring. I ran 5:05, which I felt was a solid effort considering where I was at. I had a really good training block from then until June 27th when we ran a 5k time trial. I ran 16:38, and felt confident that my fitness was moving in the right direction! At the time, we had no idea the soil record was 16:34.
How did the race unfold? How were you feeling during the race and post-race?
It was so great to be back on the track in a race environment! There were five of us, plus a pacer. I wanted to get after it a bit and decided to hop out in front of the pacer––she was planning to hit 78-79 second 400m splits. I knew we would have to get out a little hard to try to run fast because the impact of the smoke from the Colorado wildfires was going to be pretty brutal the second half of the race. I took the lead and we went 3:11 through 1k, 6:22 through 2k, and 9:39 through 3k. At that point we slowed a little more than I would've liked, but the hot pace that we started at gave us a good buffer for the record. With 450m to go, Atsede passed for the lead, and I tried to hang on.
At just under 300m to go, she moved slightly to the outside edge of lane one and I passed her on the inside to reclaim the lead––totally a risky move, but it worked out this time around! In training this summer, we did a considerable amount of 600s (my least favorite workout), and I just told myself that I was running the last bit of a hard 600 and tried to mob for the line!
Crossing the line, I was exhausted but also overwhelmed with emotion. To break the old record by 20 seconds was surreal because I've never had a soil record! The pride of breaking the record just added to the emotions of running such a fast time. I haven't run a track PR in any event since 2015, and 16:14 is either an altitude converted PR or VERY close (my PR is 15:42). I've seen anything from 15:38 to 15:44 for the conversion at an elevation of 5300 feet. To have a race come together in such a tumultuous time, and run so hard in less than ideal circumstances just shows me how much more I have left. It meant so much more to me also because I had a few teammates come and watch, and they have been the foundation of me getting back into the best shape of my life. I know for a fact that I wouldn't have raced the way I did on Saturday without their support and hype, and there are not enough words to express the gratitude I have for them and my coach Tom Schwartz.
How do you balance elite training and your full-time job as a teacher?
Teaching is really a great schedule for training! Last year I worked 6:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. and got to work around 6:30 a.m., so I never doubled, but did all my training in the afternoon! I've just had to become really good at managing my time and planning ahead, especially when it comes to meal prepping. I didn't have much of a social life last year because I would work, run, go to the gym, get home and eat, plan for work, then try to get in bed by 9 or 9:30 p.m. to be up at 5:30 a.m. and do it all again! I really thrive with a busy schedule though, so I think working full time has enhanced my running. This year I am working 9:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m., which means I can do the bulk of my training in the morning, and then double once I get off work.
Looking ahead, what are your short-term and long-term goals for 2020 and beyond?
Short term, I would love to continue building consistency and fitness, and hopefully have the opportunity to race a 5k at sea level on the track! I've also never done a track 10k, so I anticipate that may be a possibility for me in the next few months if the chance arises! Looking into next year, I really want to qualify for World XC, assuming the race is still happening. Cross country is my "true love" of running, and I've been close to making that World team before, so I'd love to finally qualify. Then the focus will shift to the track for the Olympic Trials. I am looking to race either the 5k or 10k, depending on where my fitness is at. Qualifying for the Olympic Trials has been a lifelong goal, so I am working to put all the pieces together to bring that to fruition.
WEEK 9: SHIFTING GEARS
Words by Mary Cain
In our last newsletter, we challenged you to come up with a personal goal that will motivate you through these upcoming summer running days. We heard directly from you about a variety of great ideas - ranging from training goals, to reframing the mental-side of running, to race goals. With only five more weeks of 100 Days of Summer, we wanted to shift our focus and share an “end of season” target.
For the last nine weeks, you have followed along and found motivation from your fellow runners to train. Whether you have a race on the calendar, are running for fun, or haven’t yet begun ramping up your training, our challenge is for everyone. Whether you run it mid-workout, or “keep race day sacred” by tapping into your normal pre-race routine, we hope you join us in attacking a culminating milestone at the end of this series.
Here’s the challenge:
At the end of the series, or in five weeks, try your hand at a hard, fast 2 mile time-trial.
For the next five weeks, we’re refocusing on our workouts to help you target your 2-miler. Getting down into faster speeds, you’ll love rolling into shorter reps (and longer recovery) as the August heat continues to beat down. Then, come this September, as the temps start to drop, you’ll let it rip.
The Workout: Establish a Baseline
From Lou Serafini
Sometimes it’s good to do a fitness check. Whether you’re in good shape or bad shape, it’s beneficial to know where you’re at. This week, let’s find out.
How To Do It:
Start with your usual warm up, drills and strides. Then head over to the track for the following session:
400m at mile pace, 2’ rest,
200m at 800m pace, 90” rest,
200m at 800m pace, 90” rest,
400m at mile pace, 4’ rest,
400m at mile pace, 2’ rest,
200m at 800m pace, 90” rest,
200m at 800m pace, 3’ rest,
I’ve always found that whatever you run for that 800m is what you could run for a mile fresh right now. So for example, if you run 2:45 at close to all out or call it 95% effort, you’re in 5:30 mile shape, or close to it.
Running efforts like this will expose weaknesses and help you understand what you need to work on over the next few weeks. Maybe it’s speed, maybe it’s strength, maybe it’s both. Regardless, if you commit to this one, you’ll be well on your way.
The Test of Time
Emma Spencer and Jeff Goupil talk time trialing
Emma Spencer, a member of Tracksmith's OTQ Program for the Marathon Olympic Trials in February, has been laying the bricks over the summer in pursuit of some fast times on the track. Recently, she put herself to the test in a 3K time trial. Jeff Goupil, a member of the Boston Racing Team, also put himself to the test in a 10K time trial that didn't quite go as planned. We asked Emma and Jeff about what inspired them and how they felt their trial went:
What distance did you choose to run and why?
Emma: 3K. I've been working on speed this summer, which is one of my weak areas. I haven’t raced this distance in about 18 months and felt confident I could beat my PR.
Jeff: 10K. It was a group choice as most of the group had done a 5K a month or so prior.
How did it go?
Emma: Great! I ran 9 seconds faster than my previous best and felt like it was race effort, which can be hard for me in time trials.
Jeff: Overall it was a DNF. I stopped at 5K.
Did you learn anything?
Emma: I got a big boost in motivation after the time trial went well. It’s nice to see hard work pay off even in an informal way.
Jeff: It was a very good reminder that racing isn't easy. This was my first real race type effort since February and I could tell how long it had been.
Any tips for others thinking about a time trial?
Emma: Remind yourself that you’re just checking in with your fitness, the only pressure and expectations come from within. You can always try again in a few weeks and see how you’ve progressed.
Jeff: Have a game plan and stick to it. This could be having a pacing plan or having someone to rabbit a section of it. I personally have a race or two before any larger races to get used to racing. With a long lay off, it's good to keep in mind those systems might be rusty.
The Magic is in Your Legs, Not the Number
By Andy Waterman
For a long time I believed race numbers had magical properties. Four safety pins and a piece of card with a printed number on it was all it took to unlock paces that were impossible to reach on no-number days. If anything, pinning a number to my chest unleashed a side of my physiology I didn’t know how to control; I had to learn to tame the beast that would urge me to run at mile PR pace at the start of a 10k, just because for two or three glorious minutes, it felt possible. Reality always catches you eventually, usually before halfway, with oxygen debt dumping you backwards through the field in the negativity spin of positive splits.
Racing has long been my favorite form of training and through repetition I have learned to use the power in the pins to my advantage. Why subject yourself to a tempo when you could just run a low-key race? You almost never need to worry about motivation when there’s someone to chase and someone chasing you. And by racing regularly, you get a guaranteed workout and the chance to experiment with pacing strategies that are clearly sub-optimal, but feel exciting in the moment.
Or at least, it was. This period without races has taught me that I also use racing as a crutch. I almost never subjected myself to a tempo because there was always a race a few days away. I never needed to call upon internal motivation because the external motivation of a race was always there.
For the first few weeks of lockdown, I enjoyed the relative freedom of being able to run without any races coming up, but as the weeks turned to months and as the imminent fear of the illness subsided, the urge to go faster reappeared. With it came a boon in virtual racing.
Here in the UK, where I live, many of the virtual races have been held as mob matches: one club challenging another to race a set distance over a course of each individual’s choice, as measured on Strava, with cross-country scoring determining the winning team. My club recently competed against another local group over five miles. We had five days in which to run the distance so as to avoid forcing people to run at the least socially-distanced times.
Without a start time, a start line, numbers or competition, how would it feel? Would it feel like a race, or a particularly hard tempo? For four days I procrastinated, waiting to wake up one morning feeling like I had the effort bursting out of me. It never happened. So on the fifth and final day, I set off before breakfast to make my effort.
Read Andy's full story on how his solo five mil time trial played out and how he regained the familiar feeling of race day.
WEEK 8: FINDING COMFORT IN THE UNCOMFORTABLE
Words by Mary Cain
Get “comfortable in the uncomfortable” are words we hear often as runners. In any run, workout or race, our bodies are working hard to propel us forward, but we must stay relaxed and mentally calm during this intense physical exertion. We train both our bodies and minds to find comfort in this uncomfortable space to help us go farther and faster.
During this time of pause, I’ve heard from many runners that it’s harder to find peace while pushing their bodies. A lack of races makes some feel the discomfort isn’t worth it or a lack of training buddies leaves runners struggling to get to that point on their own. If you are feeling that way, let me remind you - that is ok. Our minds, just like our bodies, sometimes need a kickstart to relearn how to face tough moments head on mid-run. When our minds don’t have the encouragement of a friend or race on the horizon, they can struggle to kick into that extra gear.
Rather than only practice pushing through tough moments mid-run, try small challenges throughout the day. Now, hear me out, if you’re reading that last sentence saying, “My life is already filled with challenges right now,” remember that facing something head-on, with the pure intention of strengthening your willpower to push through, is different than unintentionally overcoming obstacles. Mid-run, we have to mentally shift our perspective to actively push through, and doing that teaches us good habits. Moments where the pushing-through is more passive or forced, although good, doesn’t reinforce good habits.
Here’s some fun ideas to give our minds that kickstart. These might not all work best for you, but I hope they give you some motivation to come up with some new challenges for yourself.
From Mary: I hate cold showers. So an easy time to practice staying comfortable in the uncomfortable is pushing through a cold shower for at least two minutes.
From Izzy Seidel: I used to rarely run over 55 miles a week, but I’ve transitioned to some higher mileage training over the past few months. At first, 65-75 mile weeks seemed daunting, but I found it easier to rack up miles by using running as a mode of transportation - whether that’s making quick trips on foot to PT, the grocery store or the office. It feels easier to get yourself out the door when you’ve got a final destination in mind.
From Lou: I’m a big music runner. But every once in a while, I leave the tunes at home and focus on what’s going on around me. I do my best thinking on those runs. It’s harder to start, but I always walk away feeling more fulfilled.
The Workout: Finding the Discomfort Zone
From Lou Serafini
Challenging your body to do things that might be comfortable can be a huge difference maker in training. If you do the same thing all the time, you might start to feel a bit stale. So with that, here’s a speed workout that will keep your lungs and your legs guessing from start to finish.
How To Do It:
Start with a 15-20 minute warm-up followed by stretching, drills, and a few good, hard strides.
3 x 400 at mile race effort, 30 seconds rest, 200 at slightly faster than mile pace.
Take 4 minutes between each set.
This workout is short and sweet, but still a challenge. You have to go from running very hard for 400 meters, then quickly catch your breath, walk back to the starting line, and go hard again. To make it easier, really focus on your breathing throughout the workout. If you can keep it under control, getting back on the line for the 200 will feel more manageable. During the 200, focus on keeping your upper body relaxed. You’ll feel the lactic acid flushing in, so again, focus on your breathing and stay strong.
Switch Up Your Sights
Advice from Esther Atkins on Setting New Goals
We felt inspired by some advice that OTQ athlete and coach Esther Atkins tweeted last week:
"With all the races cancelled, I’ve suggested to my runners that they take this freedom from external pressures and focus on a goal that only matters to them... What is your next goal?"
We reached out to Esther to hear more from her about taking this time to focus on a goal that only matters to you, and stepping outside your usual training plan.
1. The Tracksmith team loved your tweet - can you tell us more about what inspired you to create and share this advice?
This season of COVID has taught us so much about our intrinsic motivations. When we have nothing to train for, why do we run? I feel so lucky to be working with over 50 runners from age 14 to 65 through this time because it has totally shifted my job from "you have this goal, so here's a plan to get you there" to "we're all struggling right now, and there are no big official races to train for, so let's find something that'll give you that sense of accomplishment that drew all of us to running in the first place."
With my athletes, we've come up with all kinds of answers to that question. Many of my athletes competed in the McKirdy Mile series and bettered their Mile PRs in May and June. One athlete just finished her first 100 mile week ever, and several of my athletes are finishing a high mileage goal for the month of July.
As post-collegiate, sub-elite, and recreational runners, we often get roped into going from one local race to the next without really taking a look at the bigger picture, so this is the greatest gift that this time has given us as runners - a time to really think about what we need to work on, and then focus on that. Most of my athletes are marathoners, so for many of them, it's laying down a solid base without a looming race ahead to make you antsy to do workouts, and then doing a little more work on the track and focusing on some shorter distances for a change to get better running economy and just push our fitness up a little from the faster end!
But particularly as each of my runners I coach finally accepts that there will not be any big races that we can count on this fall (another one went through this reckoning yesterday), I have pivoted to helping them think outside the box and find a goal that only matters to them.
A few weeks ago, [my husband] Cole came to this conclusion about his own fall racing plan, so we sat down and reviewed his goals. Most of his top priority goals had to do with the marathon distance, which we basically decided is not worth risking for an unofficial time, and so we skipped down the list to some of his goals that just feel like unfinished business to him. And that was to PR at any other standard distance other than the Marathon before he retires from competitive distance running.
It just happens that his track 10k time is one of his weakest marks even though that same PR performance at the time was the mark that made him believe that he could be a great runner in the first place, but he has yet to better it! So we felt like with his marathon training over the last few years, he could translate that fitness into a really solid track 10k with some other local runners in the area without any risk of travel or significant exposure to the virus.
2. As a coach, what advice would you give runners that are new to solo racing?
From personal experience, I have always worked out with a good soundtrack. People have always asked me why I work out with music if I can't race with it. And my answer is that to me it is a great substitute for the sensation of having competition and spectators! So as long as you can do your time trial or virtual race in a safe environment like a clear track or bike path, I definitely recommend a great soundtrack - particularly one that includes a tempo/beat that meshes well with your cadence!
And when it comes to longer distances, I would just be really careful about your route planning. I know how competitive I can be, and I definitely don't want anyone to risk crossing traffic during a virtual race for the sake of not having to stop your watch. So please make sure that you do your solo efforts on a track or designated pedestrian path. Especially in warmer areas, make sure that if you are planning to attempt a race effort over one to two hours by yourself, you have some kind of support person with you to supply fluids or stationed on a loop course to check in with you every two to five miles. The last thing you need is to put your health at risk these days, so make sure you plan out your long hard attempts really carefully just like a race director would.
And since I mentioned it... when it comes to tracks, please know that your GPS will be wrong. GPS always measures short on tracks and makes you look faster than you actually are. So to avoid this, I either turn off the auto lap on my watch or take manual splits every 400, 800, or 1000m instead of letting the auto-lap go. That way you know your splits are accurate and you can just run the real distance on the track - like 12.5 laps for the 5k, NOT 12 like your GPS might suggest! It's the worst to feel all excited about a new virtual PR, only to discover that you totally cheated by mistake. Just make sure you use measured distances for time trials and virtual races because I don't want anyone to have that feeling! And the real danger of it is that after COVID is over and real races resume, you may hold yourself up to an unobtainable standard, and that can be soul crushing.
3. Cole’s goal of setting a PR sounds great, but also tough. How has he been attacking training for this challenge? Does he have a timeline for when he hopes to take a stab at his record?
Yes! His track 10,000m PR is 29:20.77 from the 2010 Stanford Invite. Being really new to running, he was just aiming for sub-30 that day, but the pieces all came together and he really blew himself away with that time. So when he joined ZAP the following summer, he really focused on the 10,000m there for a few years, but things just never came together for him in a 10,000m race, so he never did improve on that PR.
Now, 10 years later, we're really excited to tackle it using some of the same techniques we've used to train for the marathon over the last few years - first focusing on finding that rhythm at shorter intervals, regardless of the effort for a few weeks, next pushing and pulling up his threshold with some longer intervals, and then when the weather hopefully breaks in the fall, we'll give it a go with the help of some Greenville Track Club Elite Team athletes and possibly a few other elites based in the Southeast on October 11th!
4. Are you setting any fun, personal goals, too (training-based or otherwise)?
Whew, that's a good one! I really haven't felt like myself since 2017. So I've had a lot of time to think about how to set goals that aren't PRs or even target races, that will motivate me to keep working on getting better than yesterday - in whatever way that might be.
I have gotten two PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections into a tear in my right hamstring insertion - one on March 4th and the other on April 22nd. After the first injection and a slow ramp back into things, I had some fun with chasing local Strava segments, which was really great because it took me out of my normal running routes and showed me new neighborhoods in Greenville, SC. Plus, I kind of wanted to push myself a little to see how the PRP worked and how my hamstring responded.
It turned out that I did need another injection, and after the second one in late April, I decided to take a different approach - I started just running mileage and seeing if I could get back to running every day. And it worked! I've been running every day (with a day off every two to three weeks) for 10 weeks now, and I'm feeling really good now sprinkling some workouts back in. So my recent goals have been more mileage-based with the long term goal of laying down a solid base again and qualifying for my 4th Olympic Marathon Trials once races resume and the window reopens probably either in late 2021 or early 2022!
Recently, I posted on Instagram about the fact that we are trying and I had a very early miscarriage, so my most immediate goal is to make a baby! Man, the timing is never right, and even when it is, there is absolutely no guarantee that it’ll happen on your schedule. So honesty, with the 2020/2021 marathon Trials behind us, now was going to be the time anyway, but it’s like the timing is better than ever to shift the focus away from performance on an elite level to performance on a cellular level. So for anyone who might have their own struggles with anxiety, compulsive exercise, amenorrhea or chronic injuries, the blessing of this time for them may be that we have the time and space to focus on a total reset to find the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves without the external pressure of racing!
Share What Inspires You
For the last eight weeks, we’ve shared stories, workouts and the journey of summer training with you. As we run past the halfway point of 100 Days of Summer, we wanted to learn more about what’s motivating you. Whether you are inspired by Esther’s advice on finding a goal that only matters to you, Kassie’s NDO mileage streak, or just putting one foot in front of the other, we want to know.
Take a quiet moment or use your next easy run to reflect on what gets you excited. You can submit your running highlights at the link below, and feel free to share with friends online using #100DaysofSummer.
WEEK 7: TRAIN THROUGH THE HEAT
Words by Lou Serafini
This heat and humidity that’s taken over the East Coast is a telltale sign that August is here. I've always used this time of the year to take a step back from workouts since I know, with the heat, they'll be harder than usual. But in these times, I'm finding myself bored of not working out - which leaves me to deal with the heat. Many of you are probably struggling with this too, so I'm kicking off this week's newsletter with four things you can do to beat the heat and stick to your training schedule:
Temper your expectations. I never say this as a coach, but "set the bar low" or as I said in a previous newsletter "set yourself up to succeed." If you can be realistic about the distance or pace you want to run and take the weather into account, you'll walk away happier than if you fell short of your goal.
Bring water. You know those silly handheld bottles and hydration packs? Get one. Given the current health situation, it's even harder to find water when you're out on a run, so make sure you have some reserves. A few other things you can do are: stash a water bottle on your route, run with a credit card or cash just in case, and above all else, make sure you're hydrated before your run.
Know where you can cool off. Is there a place where you can dunk your head or even jump in the water nearby? Or maybe even a friend you know that has a hose on the side of their house? Running while wet has a naturally cooling effect that will make you feel a lot more comfortable out there. Sprinklers are your friend.
Finally, and this is the one I struggle with the most...
Run early or run late. If you run before the sun is up or after it comes down, you'll feel a lot more comfortable out there. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed or to run after a long day. Try listening to podcasts or a new album that you've never heard. If you can find a reason to get out the door at those times, your run will be far more enjoyable.
The Workout: Breezy 1K Repeats
From Lou Serafini
This may sound crazy, but I like working out on the track when it’s really hot outside. Why? Because I can take rest and bring water. If you’re doing a tempo run or a fartlek, you don’t get as many breaks. But on the track, you get a break between every interval. So with that, here’s a workout that I love for the summer. When you do it, remember to pack water and drink some in between every rep.
How To Do It:
Start with a short warm-up of 10-20 minutes of easy running, followed by leg drills and a few strides.
3-4 x 1K at 10K pace, 90 seconds rest, 1K at 5K pace, 3 minutes rest.
Remember to set realistic goals for your paces. You should run the reps at your current 5K/10K pace, not your goal 5K/10K pace. Also remember to keep your slower reps controlled. It’s better to increase your pace on the faster ones if you’re feeling good.
In the Heat of the Moment
Words by Izzy Seidel
Blistering July heat doesn’t make for the most opportune conditions to run a track 10K, but race opportunities these days are a commodity that are few and far between. On a sweltering Saturday not-quite-afternoon, not-quite-yet-evening, eight women stood on the waterfall start-line on a track in western Massachusetts in 90 degree heat with 25 laps ahead of them. Although the surroundings were underwhelming and the weather, quite frankly, was miserable, this was an opportunity that’s hard to come across in the new normal of competitive distance running.
The MVMNT Race Series 10K was one of the first official USATF sanctioned races to go off in over five months, and one of the first chances since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed runners to attempt to secure their spot at the track Olympic Trials, now scheduled for 2021.
Keira D’Amato hadn't raced since February 29th, when she placed 15th at the Olympic Marathon Trials, at least not in a technical sense, with official starters, hip numbers, and most importantly, company. The field of eight women seeded in the MVMNT 10K contained names backed by accolades and professional contracts, with Keira and me, a former collegiate athlete still chasing personal bests, the rare exceptions. Keira balances her training alongside a full-time career in real estate, all while raising her young daughter and son. But even with daily commitments that would seem to pull her in directions, she’s been running times that make the pros sweat, including a blazing 15:04 5K time trial in June.
On the Journal, read more about how Keira tackled a tough track 10K and outran the pros.
WEEK 6: RUNNING OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Under the Stars
By Nick Willis
I have always loved getting away for “training camps.” But real camping - in tents - hasn’t always appealed to me in the midst of heavy training. A nice cabin in the woods sounds amazing, but sleeping on an air mattress - that just sounds exhausting. Not the ideal way to recharge between hard workouts, right?
I know the science behind recovery. But my personal approach to training has always been governed by a healthy marriage between science and experience. This is my experience: less than two months before my best two Olympics I went on week-long camping trips with my wife’s extended family. The Olympics where I declined the camping invitation, I happened to race poorly. Coincidence, or not?
How does being away from the comforts of home - think air conditioning, couches, refrigerators, carpet, pillow top mattresses (I could go on) - help my training? At first, I really wasn’t so sure it did. I thought I ran well at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics despite those camping trips, but now having to plan for my fifth games, I’ve thought a little harder about the family trip to Northern Michigan. Now I’m starting to think there is something to the whole living-temporarily-in-nature thing that might actually make it an ideal training camp.
Let’s unpack some ideas:
Sleep. You’re outside all day (exposed to natural blue light), and there are no artificial lights at night. If you’re out of cell phone range too, this is the perfect cocktail of natural light exposure and darkness to help you have a really deep sleep. Sure you might get woken early by the birds, or your air mattress deflating 50% overnight, but the benefits of the heavy REM sleep earlier in the night are locked in. At home, I might start feeling tired by 7.30 p.m., but watching a couple of shows on Netflix, the artificial blue light exposure suddenly gives me a second wind, and I end up staying up until closer to 11 p.m. When I’m camping, I crash hard at 9:30 or 10 p.m. That extra cycle of REM sleep banked is huge for recovery.
Water. Our family’s camping trips are always right next to the lake. I run straight into the water at the completion of every run to cool off. The compression and buoyancy of the water also helps my legs recover much better than my usual routine of finishing a run and going straight to the couch. I’m able to handle a second run in the afternoon with far more ease than when I am running in the city.
Trails. Choose a campground at a state park where trails abound, and you can run soft surfaces right as you step out of your tent. I love running with my dog, but rarely do it at home because I have to keep him on leash. When we go camping, he can run freely and scout for bears without us seeing another soul for the whole run.
Food. You can eat really healthy. Plan your meals for the whole week, and buy all your groceries in advance. You only have to commit to a healthy approach once, and then you are left with no other choice but to eat healthy once you are away from the city. There are always activities going on, so I’m never tempted to binge on less nutritious food when I’m camping. Something about being out in nature makes me want to eat more natural foods compared to when I’m at home.
Time with family and friends. This might be the most important of all. Sure I love to get out and explore the trails, but once training is done, running is the last thing on my mind when I’m hanging out with my family and friends at the campsite or the lake. All pressures and stresses are distant thoughts, and you just savor being in the present. Running is just part of the day, but not the focus.
In 2008 and 2016, I said “yes” to the family camping trip with some trepidation, happy to spend time with my family, but concerned it could adversely impact my training. Looking back, it’s clear that by mixing things up, I might have stumbled on a perfect training setup. So my encouragement to you this summer: find a campsite near a lake and some trails, talk some family and friends into a week away from the stresses of city life, and set up camp together to run, swim and eat (and repeat). Your legs will thank you.
The Workout: Effort-Based Intervals
From Mary Cain
Word of warning before this workout. This summer heat is tough. The best way to stay motivated and push through these training conditions is to always remember the importance of running by effort. Rather than go off of target race-pace, remember to gauge your workout by race-effort. The difference between the two is that the former focuses on numbers, while the latter takes into account the tough conditions.
Effort-based running acknowledges that your heart rate is beating faster from the start to keep you cool, so instead focus on trying to match the intensity of breath and burn. If you feel as though you’re pushing your body at an equivalent effort, don’t get too concerned if your times are slower than your normal pace comparisons. Your body doesn’t improve through numbers; it improves through hard work.
How To Do It:
Start with an easy warm-up of 15-20 minutes followed by stretching, drills, and strides.
6 x 1000m at 10k race-effort, one minute recovery (these should feel controlled, but strong).
Take five minutes of recovery.
2 x 800m at 5k race-effort, 90 sec recovery (lungs are burning, but form holding strong).
Finish with a nice, slow cool-down jog of 10-15 minutes.
Add 3-4 short, fast 30m - 80m strides if your body feels strong and you want to get a little extra form and speed in.
By Drew Hartman
For the city dweller, the woods and dirt roads are seen as an escape. Fleeing from the concrete and steel feels Emersonian - an opportunity to become one with nature. More recently, fleeing the concrete and steel of the city also feels like an escape from proximity and an opportunity to run without crowds. We sought both.
An early Saturday morning seeps humidity from the prior week like tea as we pile into a car bound for [Redacted] Road, an old logging path from the 1800s in New Hampshire that a friend heard about through the grapevine. In the age of GPS, technology and precision, there was a sense of adventure knowing little about our destination. We knew the following: (i) it was approximately 2 hours away; (ii) it was a seasonally maintained road with no winter maintenance; (iii) it was approximately 10 miles of dirt and gravel; and (iv) there was one disgruntled local on TripAdvisor complaining about how this road should be kept a secret.
A few wrong turns and a hurried mobility session on the side of the road, we stared at a painted wooden sign worthy of hanging in the Von Trapp Family home; it was slightly chipped on the bottom corner like it had been there for years. The charm was only slightly ruined by a metal “No Trucks” sign riveted into a post. We shuffled up the gradual incline and tried to peer around the corner of winding dirt and gravel while trees sheltered us from the sun. What could be waiting for us around this turn?
Our clean trainers began to soil as we saw two mountain bikers mashing their pedals up a 241-foot wall of dirt for the next mile. Our steps became more choppy to match the labored breathing of four runners all trying to hide the fact that they wanted to stop and walk less than a mile in. We reached the apex of the hill with wide eyes to each other, quietly noting to ourselves who was the most fit out of the crew today. The hill was not done. Two hundred and fifty-nine more feet of elevation in the second mile carried the anticipation of more suffering. We weren’t running on our neighborhood streets anymore.
Each time the road ascended to the horizon and dove behind the constant cover of trees, the uncertainty set in; incline or decline; mud or gravel; solitude or company; sun or shade; safety or danger. The constant mental warfare of the unknown in the woods made you look over your shoulder when you hear a noise in the trees; it makes you sneak over to the shaded side of the road when the sun bears down; it makes you shout profanity at a mound of dirt climbing toward the heavens; it makes you wonder how fit you would be if you ran this road every day for a year.
While the uncertainty of the woods has the power to expose your fitness and your mental weakness, it provides the reassurance of why you elected to suffer. Another 200 feet of climbing in mile four took us from a clearing of power lines extending as far as the eye can see back into the woods for our last ascent on [Redacted] Road. A gentle curve and the constant incline had me looking at my feet more than my surroundings until the sun kissed my shoulders again. A meadow of yellow wildflowers speckled a lush green field under the White Mountains. Fitness can wait for a view like this.
Our descent propelled us with physical momentum, but also with the waning feeling of the unknown. I know how bad that hill felt or how muddy that section was or how exposed the power lines notch was. It was less anxiety-inducing and the mystique of the woods took over. We playfully bounded down the mounds of mud that ruled over us minutes ago. The mystique brought us off of our unplanned out-and-back route for a two-mile jaunt on nearby trails. Carefully double-dutching between tree roots and rocks, we pulverized pine needles under our feet until we had to stop.
We had to stop as a rock face sloping down stared at us with water spilling into a small pond below. The water was so clear that you could see the bottom and the temperature was the perfect ice bath we needed after our miles. The mystique of the woods gave us our post run reprieve in a way to thank us for our effort and welcome us back for another challenge someday.
While some may say that the woods are somewhere to run from your troubles or from your daily routine, I see it now as a place in which to run. I run to the woods to wrestle the uncertainty. I run to the woods to embrace the mystique.
Prospecting For Ideas
The Relation Between Running and Writing
"The other evening I’d been out for a run and I was heading to bed when I felt the urge to reverse back downstairs and flip open my laptop. It was one of those rare moments where I just had to write. Often this is an exciting feeling, full of crazy ideas and inspiration, but this time it was different. It wasn’t just a creative urge, but a pressing need to put down my thoughts, which had been churning and bouncing around in my head for days."
We first published Adharanand Finn's piece Prospecting For Ideas in our Spring 2020 edition of METER Magazine, and his message continues to resonate amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Finn explains how running and writing exist in a symbiotic relationship - the escape of running ultimately can stimulate and inspire us to put pen to paper.
If you missed the original print of the story in METER, you can read the full story on the Journal to look deeper into how running fuels Finn's writing process.
Introducing the Fellowship Program
Mentorship for Emerging Creatives
Our sport is rich with stories waiting to be told - stories that have the power to both inspire the next generation and grow the sport. And yet, despite this wealth, it’s often hard for new voices and creators to break out. That’s why we’re introducing the Tracksmith Fellowship: grants for emerging creatives in running, offering both the funds and mentorship needed to pursue a project that will elevate the sport, drive conversation and empower new perspectives.
On our website, find out more about the new Fellowship Program and how to apply.
WEEK 5: TRAINING HARD WHILE STAYING SMART
Words by Mary Cain
Like many dedicated runners, one of the hardest things for me to do is take unplanned time off. Celebrating the end of a season with structured time off is one thing, but those days where my body is telling me to take some down time are hard to listen to.
As runners, we can get caught in the quantitative side of training: checking splits, mileage and heart rate. In overly obsessing about these metrics, we start to ignore our body’s cues of effort and no longer appreciate gauging runs from our breathing and soreness levels.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been dealing with some lingering tightness in my hip. After months of no hands-on massage work, I finally was able to schedule treatment and realized my body had gotten way too tight. Nothing serious - just an incredibly tight hip/glute region.
How did I respond? I kept running on it, hoping it’d one day just go away. Generally, the issue is trending towards feeling better, but it has lingered and made me feel a little off in my stride at times.
Why am I sharing this? Because I realize how easy it is to get caught in a cycle of pushing through. I hated the idea of losing the fitness I had gained or in missing my mileage targets. For the last few weeks, though, my body was trying to tell me it needs some time down. Maybe only a few days, but enough time for my overly tight areas to loosen and my body to get out of the pattern it’s in.
So today I am remembering to practice what I preach, or to listen to my body. I’ll let go of my numbers-obsessed outlook and take the next few days off from running.
How will I spend these next few days? By rededicating myself to enjoying the recovery routine. I will prioritize the stretching I have to do, mobility work, yoga, aqua jogging and whatever piques my interest. Rather than second guess or go through the should’ve/could’ve/would’ve thoughts, I will enjoy and appreciate letting my body fully heal so I can get back to doing what I love.
Little aches and pains happen to everyone - they are a part of training, but learning to listen to them and learn from them is how we grow as runners. For anyone out there who is also debating the benefits of a few days down versus keeping their streak going - letting your body get back to full steam and feel strong are what will help your training long-term. So don’t be scared to take some days, too.
The Workout From Lou Serafini
Feel It Out Fartlek
Are you struggling to hit your paces or finish your workouts? Trust me, you’re not alone. Here's a workout that you’ll walk away from feeling good, no matter what. Before we get into specifics, there are three things you'll need to focus on throughout the session:
1. Don’t look at the pace. You need to run this workout conservatively and off of feel. 2. Do the whole thing. Don’t give yourself any outs. Commit to every set before the workout even starts. 3. Run the last rep hard. Save up a little in the tank if you need to, but no matter what, make the last rep your best rep.
How To Do It: 30 minute fartlek with 6 sets of 3 minutes on (at 10k to half marathon effort), 2 minutes float (at one minute per mile slower than your "on" pace).
If you’re patient and follow those three rules, you’ll walk away from this workout feeling great about the 30 minutes of solid aerobic work you put in.
Reflections on Traversing Arcadia National Park
Words by Pat Gregory
When Louis first texted me to ask if I had any interest in attempting the Acadia Traverse with him and his girlfriend Gabi, I didn’t even have to think before I answered that I would love to give it a shot. Having virtually no trail running experience and lacking even a basic understanding of what the terrain at Acadia is like, I committed myself to the endeavor because it sounded physically demanding and because it was something that during a normal summer of track and road races, I’d never seriously consider trying. However, the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 have produced a world that is far from capable of hosting normal track meets and road races.
Questions & Answers
NDO for 100 Days of Summer
Over the past few weeks, we've heard from many of you about how you're training during this unusual time. One runner, Kassie, shared her story on how the 100 Days of Summer newsletter inspired her to turn a streak of solid mileage into a "No Days Off" challenge:
1) In your own words, how would you describe your No Days Off challenge?
Like most of my running goals, my challenge has been incremental. When the pandemic started, running was my only time to go outside. I live in Greenwich Village, NYC, and cherished my daily run, even wearing a mask. I didn’t start out to do a formal NDO challenge, but after a month without a day off, I wondered how much I might do. I didn’t want a day off from seeing the outside world. My Garmin said “congrats” on day 50, and then I saw Tracksmith’s newsletter titled ‘100 Days of Summer.’ So I thought of trying to make it to 100 days, averaging 10 miles a day. It had a nice symmetry to it.
2) What inspired you to start a No Days Off challenge?
When NYC went under lockdown, my family was pretty vigilant about quarantining. I didn’t want to miss getting some outside time every day and running was my only way to get it. Another inspiration was my new running friendship with the Chief Running Officer of Greatruns.com, Mark Lowenstein, who is into his sixth YEAR of taking no days off. His streak both baffles and inspires me.
3) How many days into the challenge are you and how is it going?
I am 81 days in, and it’s going well. I’ve done over 300 miles each of the last two months, with no injuries or problems. I run between 7-7:30 splits per mile, so it’s between 1-1.5 hours out of my day, maybe two hours on long run days. Totally doable. I have started doing a lot more self care and stretching, especially since I don’t cross train much beyond some “movement” classes online with my kids. I have recovery shoes I wear during the day, and I use a lot of Tiger Balm and CBD cream on my legs and feet. I don’t know if I’ll stop at 100 days now - maybe I’ll lower the daily mileage. I am interested in your advice and wisdom about this. I was signed up for both the NYC Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon this year and was thinking I’d cut back for a bit and scale back up for training later in the summer. I also thought about doing the ultramarathon version of the MCM, but now I’m not sure of my plan. Virtual races don’t excite me. It’s all very day by day, as is the reopening plan for schools, work, everything, right? In hindsight, I didn’t think I would be doing 100 days of No Days Off, but I also didn’t think the country would still be under quarantine right now. 4) Before this challenge, what was your highest mileage/training set-up?
I didn’t increase my mileage much for this - I am averaging about 70-75 miles a week these days. I have run pretty consistently over the past few years, usually between 50-60 miles a week. So while the last two months of 320 miles have been my highest months ever, it’s not that big of an increase. I credit my lack of injury to the fact that I had a pretty high base that I’ve maintained for a while. The only difference was the NDO. With my job, I typically traveled every week, with a lot of international travel. The scheduling, time zones and client demands made me miss a day of running at least once every couple of weeks. Now that I am working at home under quarantine, I have more freedom to run at some point every day. If I miss the morning, I can go in the afternoon. I don’t tire of this. My body is made for long distance running. I should probably start doing ultras. The only thing holding me back is my work schedule, which is usually pretty demanding, unpredictable and hard to integrate with a regimented training plan. So I tend to run when I can and leave it at that. The pandemic has let me run every day.
5) What have you learned over the course of the challenge, and do you have any advice for other runners that also want to try something similar?
I’ve learned that you don’t have to commit to a huge undertaking in order to do a huge undertaking. I have always been the type of person who doesn’t like to plan everything in advance, including running. I have run several marathons but never followed a whole 16 week training plan per se. So much of my life is scheduled, that running is my “free time.” I just go out and run. I remember hearing from an ultra runner that she plans five hour runs every weekend. I could never do that. I have a vague plan to do a long run, or some tempo running, but I would never do a 20-miler if I started out thinking I had 20 miles to run. I am ridiculously noncommittal. I start out doing 10 and then just keep going. I do enough of those and then look for a marathon to do when I know I’m in good enough shape to do it. I ran a three hour marathon (my PB) on three weeks “notice,” even though I had been building up a base ad hoc for months prior. My NDO challenge has been like that. I started out thinking I’d do around 10 miles a day for a while, and see how it goes. Sometimes I do nine, sometimes I do 15. It has been a heck of a lot easier to run everyday at indeterminate durations during the pandemic. I get to one goalpost and keep going. For runners who want to try something like this, my advice is to take it in baby steps. And then keep going as long as it feels good and is still working for you. Of course, some days feel like a slog, but pushing yourself is different then plodding for the sake of plodding. End message: start something and don’t focus on when it will end. Just get started and see where it goes. You might look back and be shocked at how far you have gone.
WEEK 4: STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Words by Mary Cain
On one of my first Tracksmith team calls, a conversation started about whether people would be willing to run a half marathon on the track. The group was split pretty evenly down the middle, with the preference leaning towards a hard no. I chimed in passionately for running a long effort on a short course, seeing as many of daily, easy runs over the years have occurred on the infields of tracks, or around 300 meter fields.
Personally, I am happy running anywhere and my years of competitive swimming at a young age probably taught me to feel comfortable repetitively covering the same course. Most of these runs are solo, with just my thoughts or a podcast keeping me company.
Although I realize there is immense value in being able to enjoy runs such as these, as I’ve gotten older, I also see how important it is to get outside of your comfort zone with running. Rather than staying in the same routine - or covering the same courses every week - I am trying to step out of my constant routine and find new routes to explore and expand my circle of running buddies.
Why shake up the routine? Trying new runs helps us grow both mentally and physically. A new trail might take you over surfaces you're not used to running on, unique elevation changes, or expose you to a whole new scenery. Physically, your body will be challenged by these changes, but mentally, you’ll also snap out of your usual rhythm and have to adapt to your new surroundings as you run.
Many people assume there's an exhaustive list of places to run in NYC, but there are so many places and routes I have yet to try. This summer, I’m challenging myself to find these new trails, running buddies and shake up my routine.
The Workout From Brian Moore
Rest What You Run
This week's workout for 100 Days of Summer comes from our Head of Product Brian Moore, who also is a former collegiate sprinter and two-time Cape Ann League Coach of the Year. He currently is the Head Coach for Eliot TC Masters Club and Beverly High School.
How To Do It: Easy warm up of 15-20 minutes 1-2 sets of: Hard 2 minutes/2 minute recovery Hard 1:45, 1:45 recovery Hard 90 sec, 90 sec recovery Hard 75 sec, 75 sec recovery Hard 60 sec, 60 sec recovery Hard 45 sec, 45 sec recovery Hard 30 sec, 30 sec recovery Hard 15 sec, 15 sec recovery Pace and the effort depends on what you are training for. If a 10k, start at 5k pace; if a 5k, start at 1500m pace; etc. 15-20 minute cool down
A note from Brian: This workout starts off fairly straightforward but gets a lot more challenging as the recovery gets shorter, and particularly if doing two sets - that 15 second gap before the second two minute pick up is a tough turnaround.
It’s also a really good workout to work on form, as the shorter recoveries can make things sloppy, but the decreasing distances make it a little easier to hold good mechanics. Doing one set hard can be a challenging speed workout - doing two sets can be a good way to work on pace when fatigued.
Week 2: Holding Your Own Stopwatch
Words by Lou Serafini
You might think working out alone is a drag, but I would argue that it actually will make you a more confident racer and a better runner. Why? Well to put it simply, if you can hit your goal paces on a lonely track or road in your trainers with nobody around, you can hit them in a pack of runners, wearing your race day shoes, with the adrenaline pumping. When you get on the starting line, you’ll be able to tell yourself that the hard part is over - now all you have to do is go for a ride.
Working out alone is something that you never really choose to do. All your workout buddies are busy, or you have a conflicting work meeting, or you’re on a different training schedule that week. We jump through hoops just to get at least one other person to show up to the track and suffer with us. Likely because shared suffering is more tolerable than suffering alone.
To me, there’s one main reason why people like working out with each other as opposed to alone: it’s easier. You run faster times, for what feels like less effort.
From 2013 to 2019, since graduating from Boston College, I was a lone wolf on the track. I’ve had some running buddies come through that would occasionally hop in for workouts here and there, but by and large, it was just me and my coach, Randy (RT). And most often, just me.
I left BC with PRs of 14:39 in the 5k and 4:09 in the mile. I spent the next four years working out alone, logging solo miles, and learning about myself as a runner. With help from RT I was able to turn myself into a 13:47 5k guy and 3:59 miler. Looking back, I believe the number one differentiator was what I learned through all those solo sessions.
When you are working out in a group, the inclination is to turn your brain off and just focus on staying with the pack. In a lot of instances you’re not even thinking about the pace or how you’re feeling. You’re playing follow-the-leader. But when you’re clicking off splits on your own, you’re focused every single step.
“Is this too fast or slow?” “How many laps are left?” “My legs feel a little clunky today.” “How fast do I need to run the next three laps?” The list of internal questions and debate topics goes on…
As a coach, I preach keeping an active mind as a runner and I believe that in some ways, you are forced to do so when you’re working out alone. You are the coach inside your own head. Willing yourself to another rep, or a fast final lap.
The best runners in the world know exactly how much they can get out of themselves at all times. They know when to push and when to conserve. All of that knowledge comes from experience.
Sure, we hear stories of the great runners who “don’t feel pain” and are just “wired differently.” But to me, it’s a controllable mentality. It’s about confidence. And like all other sports, it starts with what you’re doing in practice.
I’ve always been competitive, but in college I developed a great deal of self-doubt. A few bad races or workouts and you start to question yourself. In a race, this is detrimental. The second you doubt yourself, the race is over. You start to spiral, the body shuts down, and before you know it you’re waving goodbye to that PR after months of training and hardwork. Sound familiar?
When I was working out alone, I was able to start telling myself that if I could do it on my own, I could do it on race day. It was that simple for me, and was the edge that I needed to take things to the next level.
You start showing up to the starting line with a chip on your shoulder.
I think it’s significantly harder to work out alone. Even motivating yourself to get out the door is a challenge, not to mention hitting your splits and executing your session, whatever it may be.
So here’s how you can start working out on your own:
- - Start small. Run easy workouts that you know are well within your ability.
- - Quality over quantity, especially at first. Doing one minute on, one minute off is going to be a lot easier to do alone than say a 35 minute tempo run.
- - Don’t skip the small things just because you’re alone. Make sure you do a proper warm-up jog with a full set of stretching, drills and a few strides before you start.
- - Be consistent in your day and time of workout. It will help you hold yourself accountable.
- - Don’t get discouraged. Working out alone is hard and it’s okay to use that as an excuse. If you’re having a tough day, hey, you had no help out there. The key is sticking with it and getting back on the horse for your next workout.
- - Don’t do every run alone. If you’re able to run with friends on recovery days (or even talk on the phone) it will help you manage your week and keep the focus on your harder days.
I’d encourage anyone who is having a hard time with training or working out alone right now to give this a try. I promise that even if it’s difficult, you will learn a lot about yourself as a runner. We are students of the sport and I believe that you can never stop learning things about your own running.
If you’re in a workout group that you love, here are some ways you can still take advantage of these “solo gains.”
- - Lead a few more reps. When you lead, you control the pace, and that takes practice.
- - Keep an active mind. Try not to turn your brain off when things get hard. Pay attention to the small things like your breathing, your stride length, your upper body and your arm carriage.
- - Squash the self-doubt. Working out alone will help with this, but it’s important no matter what as a runner to leave the negativity at home.
Sometimes I feel like Mr. Silver Lining. Obviously we’re all struggling to get out the door right now. We’re craving consistency, racing, normalcy. The good news is that this particular silver lining will make you a smarter, more confident runner if you set reasonable expectations and are consistent and committed to the process.
The Workout From Mary Cain
Workout: 15 x 2 minutes on, 1 minute off.
This is a workout that I ran just last week! Fartleks are an amazing summer workout. Even though we are using these next few months to accumulate our base, it’s nice to get short breaks to let our bodies cool off in this summer heat. The intention of this session is to get 30 minutes of quality work in, so don’t worry about your 60 seconds of recovery. Depending on how hot it is, taking a walk to slow jog-paced break is perfectly appropriate.
How To Do It:
Start with an easy warm-up of 15 to 20 minutes followed by stretching, drills and strides.
15 x 2 minutes on, 1 minute off.
All of the “ons” of this workout should be run at around your 10k race pace, and all of the “offs” should be easy. Based on the summer temperatures and humidity, be kind of your body and let it recover during the “off” portions. Better to keep the recovery light and hit the last few reps harder than bonk out early from the heat.
Once you finish the reps, help your body recover with an easy cool-down of five to 15 minutes followed by stretching at home later.
Leave The Comfort Zone
Here is a challenge that will be particularly difficult for those married to GPS data: leave the watch at home. My college teammate, Tim Ritchie, a 2:11 marathoner, used to say, “live by the watch, die by the watch.” Leaving the watch at home can be a freeing exercise. Just focus on getting out there and enjoying yourself. Don’t worry about the pace, the distance, or your heart rate. Just run as you feel.
Questions & Answers
We had a few questions come in last week that relate to working out and running in the heat.
On getting properly warmed up: Your body needs time to wake up before diving right into fast running. That’s why it’s important to start each hard workout with a very easy 15-20 minute jog. This should be at an easy, conversational pace. After that, you should pause and do 10-15 minutes of dynamic stretching. A dynamic stretch is designed to wake the muscles up. Focus on your hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Finish your warm-up routine with 2 - 4x100 meter accelerations, starting slow and then hitting close to top speed by the last 10 meters or so. Still confused on how to do a proper warm-up? There are some great videos available for runners on Youtube. There isn’t an exact way to get warm-up - play around with a few different routines and find out what works for you.
On staying hydrated on a hot run: With the water fountains turned off, it can be hard to stay hydrated in the summer. Here are a few things you can do:
1) Run a looped course and stash a water bottle outside your house or apartment.
2) Run with a water bottle or a hydration pack. If you don’t own one, do your research before purchasing. There are a lot of options available. Personally, I prefer a handheld bottle like these.
3) Run with a credit card for emergencies. You can always stop at a convenience store or coffee shop to buy water if you’re really bonking.
4) The best thing you can do is make sure you are well hydrated going into your run. Don’t just wake up, have a cup of coffee, and go out the door. Make sure you have some water and/or something with electrolytes so that your body is ready to tackle the heat.
5) And rule number one of running in the heat: know your limits. The body loses a lot more when it’s hot. So give yourself a few exit strategies, be smart, and don’t try to be a hero.
Have questions about summer training for our Community Managers? Submit me them, here.
Week 1: A Summer Unlike Any Other
Words by Mary Cain
The summer before my first season of varsity cross country I barely ran a step. I was entering into my freshman year of high school and couldn’t imagine giving up an hour of reading, relaxing, and swimming to build up my mileage. Flash forward one year, and my transformation to a passionate runner was complete. Gone was wondering why anyone would train when nothing imminent was on the schedule. Now, lacing up my shoes in the summer heat and chasing after goals was the best part of my day.
My training plans before my sophomore and junior years of high school were simple: every five-to-seven days I’d increase the amount of time I ran by 5 minutes. I would go to grassy fields and three-quarter-mile long trails and complete loop after loop of running. I had no idea my pace or the distance I was running, but would track my progress by trying to run my loops gradually faster. Sometimes I’d find a hill to run up and down, but the summers were about building time on my feet.
To this day, I look back fondly on those summers of running. Every run was an adventure, trying to push myself to get faster each loop. I attacked my training with a beautiful naivety. Rather than compare myself to others or focus on preparing myself for the next race, I focused all of my energy on being better than the day before. The most simple idea, and yet a concept I have forgotten at so many times in my career.
This current time of pause reminds me of these perfect summers. It’s partly the fact that I’ve been logging miles on Long Island, like I did in those summers past. It’s also because of the massive race cancellations, lack of training partners, and reintroduction to training in summer heat. This perfect storm makes me reflect and try to learn from my younger self. That’s why this is my summer of going back to basics.
For the next few months, I will continue to log mileage, gradually reintroduce my body to faster paces, and not force any racing. Although I love standing on a start line, I’d rather use this unexpected period of training to give my body the same love and patience I used to give it during my base-building summers.
We can all learn from those memories of our first few seasons of running, when we were young and hopeful, but free of the constant training cycles. Let’s use these next 100 days to tap into the joys we felt during our younger summers and give ourselves the patience and grace to remember what it’s like to run for the fun of it. Lou and I are here for you if you have questions, and we’ll be sharing workouts and reflections over the coming weeks. Here’s to 100 days of summer running.
The Workout From Louis Serafini
The Moneghetti Fartlek
I was first given this workout as a freshman at Boston College and have done it a few times a year for the past 10 years. It’s great because it’s shorter than the traditional fartlek distance (20 minutes) but keeps the intensity high. I’ll do this one when I’m short on time but want to get a real quality effort in.
The workout was made famous by Australian, Steve Moneghetti. He won bronze in the marathon at the 1997 World Championships in Athens, Greece.
How To Do It
Start with an easy warm-up of 15-20 minutes followed by stretching, drills, and strides.
All of the “ons” of this workout should be run at 10k effort, and all of the “offs” should be run about 1 minute per mile (or about 45 seconds per kilometer) slower than that. So with that in mind, here’s the full 20 minute session:
2x90 seconds on, 90 seconds off - it's important to be patient and controlled.
4x60 seconds on, 60 seconds off - stay focused and try not to press yet.
4x30 seconds on, 30 seconds off - this is where it gets really hard to change pace so focus on shifting gears.
4x15 seconds on, 15 seconds off - keep the upper body relaxed, and the legs moving. This set goes by fast.
Leave The Comfort Zone
Is there a hill somewhere in your neighborhood that has a great view? Or one that you’ve never run to the top of? This week, try running to the top of a local hill or peak. When you get there, stop and take a few moments to appreciate the view and the moment. Then have fun running back down.