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How we’d fix the training plan of an often-injured masters runner struggling to progress

by RunnersConnect: Coaching Community, Running Experts, Inspiring Runners, No Fluff Blog
November 2nd 2022

We are back with another edition of Training Plan rescue. The feedback from the previous episode has been great and Coach Jeff is excited to take a deep dive into a ... More

Hello fellow runners, I'm your host, Finn Melanson. And this is the run to the top podcast, the podcast dedicated to making you a better runner with each and every episode. We are created and produced by the expert team of running coaches. At runners connect dot net. You can find the best running information on the internet as well as training plans to fit every runner and every budget. This is another episode of training plan rescue where we take a deep dive into a listeners training plan to see what we can all learn and apply to our own training. In this particular edition, coach Jeff Gaudette is analyzing and offering suggestions on the training plan of an often injured masters runner struggling to progress. If you're looking for a way to naturally boost energy, enhance athletic recovery and get the most from your training, then you should take a look at adding essential amino acids, also known as E A S to your pre or post run drink. I'll go over the benefits later in this episode. But if you want to see some of the research yourself head over to get Keyon dot com backslash run to the top.

Before we get to our conversation. I wanted to talk about the importance of electrolytes, especially in the winter, maintaining healthy electrolyte levels is not only important for your run but your recovery and overall health as well. That's why we recommend all runners. Check out element this winter. It's loaded with everything you need to replenish your electrolyte balance with 1000 mg of sodium, 200 mg of potassium in 60 mg of magnesium and doesn't include anything you don't need like extra sugar or anything artificial. Stay tuned for how you can get a free sample pack at element dot com. That's L M N T dot com forward slash runners connect everyone. It's coach Jeff back here with another edition of training plan. Rescue the feedback from last week's episode has been great and I'm excited to take a deeper dive into a listener's training plan this week to see what we can all learn and apply to our training This week.

We'll be looking at a training plan from Tim Ballard. Tim has been running for about 10 years and has been making good progress up until the last year or two. He's typically in the top of his age group at most races, but as he'll tell you, things have been slipping the last few races. So let's hear from Tim really quick. My name is Tim Ballard. I've been really struggling lately with my lack of progression, especially in the 10 mile and half marathon, which are my favorite events. I've gotten a little bit slower each year and while I know some of that is due to age, I hate to think my best years are behind me. So I'm sending in my last training plan for the army 10 miler to see if there's anything you can see that could help me get out of this rut first off before we get into analyzing his plan. Tim's personal best are pretty solid. He's run 1950 for five K, 1 10 30 for the 10 miler and 1 33 for the half marathon. However, this last 10 miler was running 112 and he hasn't been able to get close to his pr in the last few races.

So, let's look at his plan and see if we can figure out why, When we look at his plan overall, it seems to be pretty standard for how I see most people train. He's running five days per week with a speed session on Tuesday, a tempo, which workout on Friday and a long run on Sunday with 3-5 miles easy days in between. It's a pretty standard plan. The first thing I noticed when I looked at the plane is the overall mileage on average, tim is running 30-35 miles per week. And in my experience, this is a bit on the lower side for somebody training for the half marathon. So I asked him if there was a reason. Well, it seems like every time I increased my mileage I got hurt specifically my calf. So I've kept my mileage on the lower side and instead focused on some of the faster work. So, I think there's a potential issue here. I followed up by asking him about his easy run pace as well as any strength or rehab work that he does. Here's what Tim had to say. Easy pace wise. I run about 7 30 on days, I'm feeling really good and eight or 8, 15 miles when I'm tired As for strength work, I do a core routine 2-3 days per week at home, mostly body weight stuff like planks, v ups and stuff like that.

Okay, so this confirms what I thought might be one of the first issues I see with tim's plan. I know a lot of runners correlate mileage with increased risk of injury, but I actually don't find this to be true when we look at what actually causes running injuries. Most often injuries are caused by one too much speed work or running too fast on easy days or some type of strength or biomechanical issue that breaks down once we get tired. In tim's case he's definitely running his easy runs way too fast. 7 30 pace for someone who can run 1 10 for 10 miles or about 20 minutes for the five k is just a tad slower than his marathon pace. This means he's pushing too hard on his easy days and instead of recovering or truly being aerobic, he's just wearing things down. It's likely a big reason why he can't get his mileage up. His easy run pace should be closer to 8 30 or even 9 30 paise per mile or 10 30 per kilometer for international audience. This is based on what research tells us is the best pace for aerobic development.

I'll put a link in the calculator in this episode notes which you can find at runners connect dot net slash 5 60. It also sounds like the strengthening plan is pretty generic. I'm glad he's doing something that's a huge win compared to a lot of runners, but he needs to do something specific for the issues that he's facing. In tim's case it's his calf, so he should be doing a calf specific injury prevention program. This will still include core and hip work, but put a lot more focus on the area that's giving him trouble as someone who's listening, make sure you're focusing your strength work on your problem areas if you have them, I'll include a link in the show notes as well. At learns connect dot net slash 5 62. A video that can give you some test to help see where you might be vulnerable. I think these two changes would allow tim to increase his mileage, which would help him in the longer distances. Speaking of looking at the training plan, I see a big reliance on speed sessions every Tuesday, there is a vo two max workout, such as 12 times 400 at three K.

Pace, six times 800 at five K pace, nine times 600 at five K pace with 2 to 3 minutes rest between each of these sessions. There's basically a version of this, every Tuesday in his plan. I see two potential issues with this. 1st. When we go back to the injury issue, speed is a big contributor to running injuries. That's because the faster we try to run, the more explosively we need to fire the muscles and the more muscle fibers we need to recruit. That's not to say runners should avoid speed work far from it. It's just a note to keep in mind for those who may be struggling with injuries. However, from a race performance perspective, especially when training for the half marathon or 10 miler, Vo two max workouts like this don't need to be so frequent when we look at the specific physiological demands of the race distance vo two max and pure speed don't play a huge role. It's a pretty small component and thus having a workout like this every week is basically working on a physiological system that doesn't benefit you during the race.

This is further reinforced when we compare tim's race times His five K time from an equivalency perspective is much faster than his half marathon by about 20 to 30 seconds, depending on the calculations, you use that to me suggests he's faster than he is aerobically strong and thus aerobic endurance workouts and threshold runs need to be a bigger chunk of his training. So now that I've dug a little bit into the problems. I see, let's give TIM and maybe you some solutions. But first, let's hear from Finn and our sponsors, every runner wants more energy, more stamina and less soreness. Right on our recent episode, everything you need to know about amino acids for running performance and recovery. We went into how amino acids are the key to unlocking these three benefits. So if you haven't listened to that episode, definitely check it out.

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So it's harder to notice. Now you already know that when you sweat, you lose electrolytes which are essential for your body's best performance. But you've also been told that too much salt is bad for you so it can get confusing to know what to do. The truth is that athletes, healthy eaters and heavy sweaters all need more sodium and just about everyone needs more potassium in their diet and we don't need a bunch of sugar and artificial junk along the way element is the hydration solution designed with athletes and everyone who sweats in mind element comes in lots of salty flavors that even the saltiest sweaters will love, such as citrus, raspberry and orange. It even comes unflavored for those who prefer the clean, salty taste. That's why we recommend all runners Check out element this winter, it's loaded with everything you need to replenish your electrolyte balance with 1000 mg of sodium, 200 mg of potassium and 60 mg of magnesium and doesn't include anything you don't need like extra sugar or anything artificial. Even better, they are currently running a special deal where you can get a free element sample pack with any order.

So order your favorite flavor and get a free sample pack to try out new flavors or share with your running friends to claim this exclusive deal, you must go to drink element dot com backslash, runners connect. That's drink L M N T dot com backslash runners connect. Alright, tim and any listener who might be experiencing some of the same issues, Let's get into how to attack your next race and get a plan back on track. First off, tim told me his next big goal race is the cherry blossom 10 miler. That's perfect. I'm recording this in october and cherry blossom is in the spring, so we have plenty of time. Therefore, I break the training into two segments. First, an 8 to 10 week mileage block and then a 12 to 14 week race specific block in the mileage block. The focus is on two things. First increasing the mileage to 40 to 45 miles per week, by the end of the training cycle, I'd use your typical three weeks up one week down approach increasing by 3-5 miles each week.

The keys here that will make the six vessel versus the times that he may have tried to increase his mileage in the past is that he's going to keep these miles slow. 8 30 to 9, 30 pace no faster. Also, we're not gonna do any speed workouts during this week, just one moderate threshold session midweek and a long run of about 11 to 12 to 14 miles by slowing things down and removing all of the speed workouts. We're going to greatly reduce the stress that tim is putting on his legs and therefore greatly increase the chance that he's going to be able to increase his mileage without getting injured. The second key element is adding in the injury prevention work. Not just the generic core, but a specific routine 3-4 times per week to target his calf injuries. This mileage block is going to put tim in a great position to train specifically for the race. When he's 14 weeks out, he'll be comfortable running more mileage and building a solid injury free foundation As for the race specific plan.

The big change is that we're going to swap out those Tuesday speed sessions for what I call threshold intervals, threshold intervals are threshold runs that are broken down into much smaller intervals, such as an 800 m 1000 m and one mile repeats, but with only a short 32nd or one minute rest between. You'll run these at about 10-K pace. There'll also be a little longer in total volume than typical speed workouts. To give you some examples, I'd have TIM run the progression something like this. Week 18 times 800 m at 10-K pace with 30 seconds rest. Week 28 times 1000 m at five seconds slower than 10-K pace with 45 seconds rest in week 34 to 5 times one mile at 10 mile race pace with 45 to 60 seconds rest from there. You can mix and match interval distances based on what you like and how far you want to go or how are you feeling for that day. But that gives you the general idea of what we're looking for from these specific intervals, These intervals allow you to run faster and not just work on mechanics, speed, form and efficiency without going too fast to induce lots of stress and keeping the physiological effort in the threshold range.

The exact system that you're going to need to target when raising the 10 mile and half marathon. The rest of the plan. I'd keep the same for now. I do see some changes that we can make to the long runs and tempo runs that TIM has been doing, but we've already made some big changes to the plan. In my experience, you really want to only change one or two things in any training cycle. That's because changing too many things makes it difficult to determine what actually worked or what didn't and can introduce too much new stress, which isn't good either. By sticking to these one or two things for this plan, we can make sure that the changes to the plan are working and building tim towards a ramp up to be able to run faster and faster, every race that he runs. I hope that this deep dive into the training plan helped tim. And I also helped you identify some of the issues that you may see in your own plan, that you can help correct and get better for your next race. We look forward to doing more of these training plan rescues. And we'd love to help you with your plan. So if you want to be on our next episode, just head to runners connect dot net slash rescue and it'll be a short form to fill out that can give us some information about your previous training plan, your race goals, what you've struggled with and all that kind of stuff.

And if selected, we'll analyze your plan for our next training plan. Rescue. I hope you enjoyed that training plan, Rescue talk. And if you are a fellow masters runner dealing with injuries and trying to overcome plateaus, I hope you were able to relate in some way. I thought Jeff covered a lot of good ground. One of the big takeaways for me was the idea that most often times injuries are caused by too much speed and running too fast. An easy days as well as these biomechanical issues that arise when we get tired and tim was running his easy days too fast, he was doing too many vo two max workouts that weren't specific to the race demands he was preparing for and he wasn't investing enough in strength work for injury prevention and all of these combined to contribute to his plateau. I think one of the interesting things here is, you know, regardless of your own status in the sport, I think these tend to be universal issues in the running community. So again, even if you aren't a masters runner, I hope these takeaways were good reinforcements for best practices in your own training.

Thanks for listening to the run to the top podcast. I'm your host Finma Lanson. As always, our mission here is to help you become a better runner with every episode. Please consider connecting with me on instagram at Wasatch, Finn and the rest of our team at runners connect. Please consider supporting our show for free with a rating or review on the Spotify and Apple podcast players and lastly, if you love the show and want bonus content behind the scenes experiences with our guests and premier access to contests, freebies and giveaways, then subscribe to our newsletter by going to a runner's connect dot net back slash podcast until next time. Happy training.

How we’d fix the training plan of an often-injured masters runner struggling to progress
How we’d fix the training plan of an often-injured masters runner struggling to progress
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