Using Recovery to Dictate Pace

A common question I get when coaching athletes is “how hard” or “how fast,” when speaking to a workout and its effort level.  There are times that I plan a workout w/ specific paces and times so that it is more of a mental challenge along w/ the physical effort.  Other times, I plan workouts that are based on perceived effort so they might have a day to relax mentally and just give a good effort without trying to hit specific times.  I’ve seen persons respond better to one or the other.  For example, I know a woman who was an elite marathoner that made multiple USA teams that only trained by effort.  She never did pace workouts.  She said she gave better/higher effort if she didn’t track pace.  I know other athletes who will fudge a workout and their effort if they don’t have set times and paces.

You probably know which type of athlete you are.  To understand how hard of an effort to give on a workout that doesn’t specify pace, here’s a quick lesson on pacing.  You might use the words “moderate”  “hard” or “fast” and easy for recoveries but if you track the timed efforts and the specified recovery, you’ll know how to approach each workout.

Full Recovery-
If a workout suggests longer amounts of recovery w/ short efforts… GO HARD
When taking full recoveries, the goal is to run fast and get the legs moving.  That increases running economy which helps you run smoother, longer during future efforts and races.

One-to-One Recovery-
If your workout has 1-to-1 recoveries based on time… i.e.- 60 seconds hard/60 seconds easy or 3 min. hard/3 min. easy… GO HARD BUT NEVER SLOWER.  Gauging effort based on whether or not you can maintain the effort/pace is a great way to make sure you don’t go too hard, too soon and die a slow death the second half of your workout.

Incomplete Recovery-
If a workout suggests short amounts of recovery and longer amounts of effort… PACE YOURSELF
The goal of a workout w/ short amounts of recovery is to slowly build lactic acid amounts into your system and allow your body to get better and better at clearing that lactic acid.  Going too hard, too early will only build too much lactic acid that your system won’t be able to clear.  You’ll slow down more and more and gain hardly anything from the workout.

Example:  I’ve been getting workouts with the same interval efforts but with differing amounts of recovery.  20 seconds hard w/ 40 seconds easy is going to be run a bit easier than 20 seconds hard w/ 1:40 easy.  If I have 30 seconds hard with 30 seconds easy, I’ll run them hard but not so hard I die.  If I were to have 30 seconds hard w/ 2 min. easy then my effort would definitely increase as I’d have more time to recover and get ready for the next effort.

Use these rules of thumb in your training and you’ll find that the workouts pay huge dividends.  Just remember,


The Power of the Tongue P1











Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 18:21

As we move closer and closer into the Spring season many of us will start to feel a little more pressure.  We’ll pick out our A races, set goals for the season, and find that we can’t just put in easy miles of training if we want to achieve those goals.  We’ll increase our intensity and work harder to get better.  But there’s one muscle that many of us have yet to even consider as one of the most important, our tongue.

Let’s be even more specific.  It’s not just the words you let fly out of your mouth that can hurt or heal, tear down, or build up.  It’s the ones that you allow yourself to listen to inside yourself that are just as important.

Before we touch on, “Speaking Goals into Existence,” let’s do a little Spring cleaning. OK, maybe a lot of Spring cleaning. There are many areas of our lives that we could use our tongues in a more positive manner.  The tongue has power and if you think you’ll argue this point, first think about little children.  Being a father of two young children has made me increasingly aware of so many of my own short comings.  For a decade I worked with children in treatment facilities who’d had plenty of harmful arrows shot at them from their parents’ tongues.  Honestly, I find it quite scary to now have a 6 and 7 year old that I’m helping to raise and encourage.  I’ve seen just how quickly I can change the mood and memory of a child by either speaking grace and hope, or anger and blame.  And I’ve done both if I’m being honest.  Therefore, I think and pray on this thing, the tongue, daily.

A great way to start your Spring cleaning is to keep a log just like you would if you were wanting to change your diet.  For two weeks, try to write down and make note of your daily dialogue, with others and with yourself.  Be honest, you can’t change your diet by ignoring those late afternoon cookies and cake and you can’t change your talk if you won’t admit being an asshole to your neighbor whether out loud or inside your mind.  As you start to see a pattern in your talk, identify areas that you can clean up.  First choose the easy ones like not getting so upset about “bad” drivers.  Learn to take a breath before reacting so that you might create a chance to respond positively instead of negatively.  Choose to purposely say something nice to one person each day.  As you peel back those layers you’ll find yourself staring smack dab into the bigger issues of how you talk w/ co-workers, family, friends, and yourself.  You’ll also find yourself beginning to feel more and more positive, powerful, and optimistic.  Just like finishing a major Spring cleaning project in your home.  And once you’re there, affecting others in a positive manner, then you can begin to help yourself become more powerful within yourself as well.

In Part 2 we’ll talk more specifically about positive self talk and speaking goals into existence.  Until then, let’s lay into the task at hand and find others to encourage and raise up.  Speak life to a child,  love to a friend, and hope to a stranger.



Rest is like Pizza









They say some things are like pizza, some is better than others but it’s always good.  Rest and recovery falls into that category.  Recently, I was working with a client on adjusting their training plan for coming back from being really sick.  Many times, we want to come back too quickly and find ourselves just able enough to shuffle through a workout.  Even worse, sometimes, we try to start the workout only to find out we don’t have enough energy to even complete it.  Both of those scenarios do nothing to increase our fitness.  Actually, they probably slow down our ability to fully recover.  So we decided to simply have a full day off.  The results were a run that felt great and was much better than we could have hoped.

From time to time I’ve been one to talk about sleep habits.  Our culture is one that continues to push to get more and more done without regard to taking care of our health and well being.  We increase our training volume and intensity by getting up earlier without finding a way to make up for the missed sleep and that is truly a mistake almost every time.  (Unless you already sleep 11 hours a night and now you get 10;)  I wish!  Well planned rest that you use wisely can help you make gains that might not be attainable without the recovery.  Stress + Recover= Progress.  It’s a simple equation that many hide behind the other layers of training like volume, workouts, and cross-training.  However, those all fall within the Stress portion of the equation.

Next week we plan to talk about speaking your goals into existence.  I wanted to first talk about recovery because visualizing when tired or stressed out isn’t the best idea and trying to talk yourself into believing that you can achieve something while not formulating a plan without recovery isn’t either.  Plan those rest days just like you plan your workouts and you’ll soon find that the workouts will go better than you could’ve hoped.  Rest rarely disappoints, just like pizza!

Run for Love






One of my favorite new songs is attached below, “When Love Broke Thru.”  I think I like it so much because it reminds me that if I can act out of love, many things can be overcome.  But if acting out of ignorance, anger, or misunderstanding, many times, those situations only get worse.

Something I love so much about running is that it strips us down to our most simple desires.  I’ve often found myself running with others whom I’d rarely call to hang out with.  However, finding persons to run with at a certain pace for ridiculous distances on cold, dark mornings isn’t the easiest task to accomplish.  Therefore, I’ve had many runs in many different states across the US, over many years, with persons whom I may not be in accordance with concerning political or religious views, their so-called way-of-life, or even their views on morality.  But over and over again I’ve found that running miles of trials with another human being helps us find common ground in a way that few other things can.

Running isn’t easy.  You don’t take time to run, you make time to run.  That means earlier out of bed or later to bed.  It’s a grind.  That sick feeling you get when you wake up early in the dead of winter in the dark… Simple desires.  Run alone or run with someone who helps you feel supported in your endeavors as you support theirs?   Run alone or together?

Psychology Today says, “Love is a desire, not emotional need.”  Finding ourselves in the midst of all kinds of different persons willing to help us strive for our desire to be better, get stronger, hang on a little farther is breathtaking.  It’s unreal when everyone is happy to see you happy.  That’s how runners are.

Adding love to that desire could be life-changing, not just for us, but for all of those around us.  You see, if we’re willing to love across views and opinions because we’ve learned to desire good for those we run with, then we can learn to use love to desire good for others we don’t run with.  Running is my stress relief, my compass, my reset, and my life’s desire.  Not because I ultimately desire to be faster, but because I ultimately desire to be better.  Better for my wife, my kids, my community, and my running mates.  Love on you all,

20%, 2%

Which is greater?!  I know, it looks like a simple question but it’s not.  My college coach always said, “It’s better to be 20% under-trained than 2% over-trained.  Seems like you’d be leaving a lot on the table if you always showed up at your race 20% under-trained.  However, the alternative isn’t ever a good place to be.



Coach’s point was that anytime we get over-trained, bad things happen…  we get sick, injured, chronically fatigued or a combination of more than one of these.  When this happens, we then need extended periods of time off to heal up and recover creating a lapse in training that puts us in a place of decreased fitness, the one place we were trying to stay away from.

Training gains are made not from stressing the system alone but by recovering from the stressors.  Your fitness progresses when you can allow adaptations to happen and those can only happen with both stress and recovery.  Over-train and you no longer have the chance to allow adaptation.

Winter time is a great time to work on this principle.  As the training and racing seasons slow down for many of us, it can be a chance to build slowly, enjoy making small changes, and learn to program recovery into the schedule.  Finding patience in the quiet months of winter can help you enjoy a myriad of breakthroughs during the racing season.

Chances are, when we picture ourselves being 20% under-trained, we see ourselves taking a day off here and there or maybe even doing a little more work in our base phase and less in our intervals or thresholds.  Hence, 20% under-trained is closer to perfection than we might think.  Allowing ourselves enough recovery to adapt can put us in a place where we feel good on race day.  And that’s way better than never making it to the start line in the first place!

“No, I like to Party…”

We like to try to offer a little motivation in our blog posts and today is no different.  However, instead of us motivating you, it’s those we try to motivate hopefully motivating others.  Below is a short video from an incredible night of fun competition and community.  Throughout this past year of elections and debate, the media has seemed to increasingly portray us as opposing, ego-centric, agenda-focused dividends without any remaining sense of humanity.

Well, here’s to being a runner, knowing a runner, and hoping to be more like a runner.  Inclusive, encouraging, motivating, and happy.  It’s almost like a high-school keg’r when there were all different types of classmates at one place having a good time together.  “F” you media, we runners like to party!  All kinds of us!

Seeing is Believing–Visualization















In one our more recent posts, we talked about fighting complacency and goal setting.  As I was dragging myself through an early morning run in the dark cold of winter the other day, I was reminded of something I’ve learned through the years.  Most gains are made after you recover from the efforts.  When visualizing yourself succeeding or when trying to see yourself achieving something, I believe it’s just as important to be recovered.

Trying to visualize positive vibes while feeling like a clunky piece of dog crap is about as effective as trying to make ice cream in August in Iowa.  In order to set yourself up for success, try to visualize when you feel good.  Whether that be during a run when you feel fantastic or during a relaxing afternoon nap, being able to see yourself in a positive light is greatly affected by first feeling good in the present.

Why do we think children have such a fervor for life and adventure?!  I wonder if it isn’t because they get more rest and have way less stress than their adult counterparts.  Our coach in college would start and end visualization sessions with the following…  “If you can see it, you can believe it.  If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”  I spent many a thirty minute nap in the dark basement of a Colorado Springs rental house, laying on a futon and listening to a mixed tape in my headphones as I watched and re-watched myself qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Trials.  On the days when my long run was clicking, I’d listen to the same mixed tape for 24 miles in the mountains while seeing the same pictures.

I still visualize.  But I pick the days I feel good.  And on the days that seem like more of a struggle, I look forward to the next day when I’ll feel better because that’s when I’ll visualize the self I see achieving the goals that still lie ahead.

Methods Monday, Fight Complacency

They say that completion is the enemy of progress.  That means that the, “off-season,” can be filled with plenty of enemy fire.  You’ve just finished your first marathon or triathlon.  You quit smoking and started working out this Summer.  All of these are good things, but good things can quickly become the past.  Or they can help motivate you to morph these successes into ongoing progress.







Sure, it’s good to sit back and look at our successes from time to time, but I’m not sure it should become the standard.  From the time I finished my Freshman year of college in 1993 until 2015, I had zero injuries that kept me from endurance training.  In the last two years I’ve been injured twice!  What gives?  Complacent? Me?!  No way… but was I?

Injuries happen and most of us, and if we do this endurance lifestyle long enough, will probably have some injuries to tackle.  However, as I look back, yes, I was progressing my running, but I was simply throwing more logs in the fire.  More mileage, more double days, more lifting of more weight etc.  But I wasn’t learning how to adapt and adjust to these stressors at the young age of 40 or 42 w/ a busy work schedule, two young kids, and the stress that comes with life in general.  What I’m learning is that if I want to continue to strive for progress, I may need to add new tricks to the tool bag.  Instead of just lifting weights, I need to focus on strengthening my core and range of motion to withstand the miles of training.  Instead of just doing more, I need to do more wisely, which I had been, but I wasn’t wisely trying to learn new tricks.

I just read a research paper on stretching that would seem to indicate quite intelligently, that static stretching for endurance athletes may not be advantageous at all, either before or after.  Now I’m not going to stop stretching post-workout all together, (I know that’s what you’re thinking, you wish) but I am going to research the area to see if there’s something more advantageous to injury prevention and performance enhancement.  What about nutrition, fueling, motivation?

All this is to say, are you thinking about progressing this off-season?  Or are you doing the same things you always do.  Taking the Winter off, hibernating, following the same plan you have for the last four year…  Progress is another word for advance.  To advance is to move forward.

Think about your goals for 2017.  Think about your goals for your life!  Are you hoping to progress or just maintain?  If maintaining sounds pretty good, proceed with caution as maintaining while aging is still a fight.  Finding ways to maintain probably means you’ll have to progress.  And progressing means that you’re never done.  Good thing you like to fight!

Consistency Trumps Extremism









We kicked off this series of posts way back in May by talking about consistency.  Realizing that our goal is to encourage you to create a life of healthy living and not a one-time success story of a completed marathon or a 5K PR is very important here.  I’ve seen countless persons train to complete a marathon only to never return to training at all, let alone running after their event.  I recognize that completing a marathon or doing something in your life that you’ve never done before should be celebrated.  We desire to see many not only complete something for the first time but to make life changes that positively impact their life’s entirety and those of others around them.  Therefore, patience is a virtue.

Patience-the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Let’s go one step further and add “or without doing something stupid like over-doing it.”

Here are two rules to adhere to if you desire to see consistent progress, decrease risk of injury, illness, or burnout, and stay motivated…

*When in doubt, leave it out.  
If we are training for something other than trying to make it to work on time each day, we’re probably motivated to some degree.  When you have a day or two that are particularly hard to get out the door whether because of a lack of energy, a day of sickness, or a feeling of possible injury, it is always a smart move to skip the workout.  Many times, if you try to tough it out, you end up sick or injured, or both.  Then, you end up missing even more time from training.  Skip the workout and recoup a little bit.  Live to conquer another day.

*Never make up a missed day.
Even as hard as the first rule is to follow, trying to fight the urge to make up a missed workout might be even harder.  However, think it through.  You missed a workout for good reason.  Fatigue, sickness, or possible injury.  Doing double time as you return will most likely only return you to the previous scenario.  Picking up where you left off without trying to make up missed work is a very good way to continue to make progress.  Recovery from training stress is what creates fitness.  Getting back on track without over-doing it is a great way to feel better and increase motivation.

As you set goals for the future, think about following these two guidelines as you pursue your goals.  Extremism is for those wanting a new Facebook Profile Pic.  Consistency is for Champions.


Habits make Real Consistency

habits wordle






Seems like many times, the word, “Habit,” gets a bad rap.  There are many habits in life that are good for you.  After spending the last 7 months trying to get over a nagging injury, I’m currently back to training and working on gaining fitness.  It’s a process that I’ve had to go through a handful of times in life but more often because of injury and only a few times many moons ago, because of my lack of consistency.  Running as part of my daily routine didn’t really happen until after college.  Stretching on a regular basis didn’t happen until I turned 28.  Consistent strength training as part of my run training didn’t really happen until two years ago.  Thinking back to the continuously progressing training I’ve done throughout my life, I realized that if I add up all the positive habits I’ve formed over the last two decades it equals a pretty fit lifestyle.

Many people struggle because they try to make everything “healthy and active” a habit all at once.  Let’s get faster, stronger, more flexible, and oh yeah, less injury prone all at once!  Hang on there…  Creating small habits after small habits is what creates real consistency.

When I have to take time off or curve my training for various reasons, I’ve found that the habits I’ve made reality continue to help me keep a majority of my fitness.  Consistent cross-training workouts when I can’t run.  Push ups and sit ups.  Stretching.  Healthy eating.  All of these habits keep me in a continued state of positive health with or with-out my 80 mile training weeks.

Think about the small changes that you’d like to make and list them in order of importance.  Maybe number one should be the easiest to achieve.  Or it should be the one that will garner the biggest positive change.  Then, we’ll begin to list some ground rules on how to create positive habits that foster real consistency.

Run in or Drop us a line!