Category Archives: learning to run

Paddle Your Own Canoe


There are plenty of things about being a third year medical student that are hard. You’re never entirely sure of your responsibilities, you’re almost always in the way and most of the time, you get your feet on the ground just to switch services again. It is the definition of in flux. Despite this, third year is also the time when you are supposed to pick your specialty. Picking your specialty is somewhat like picking a spouse. In fact for some people, their specialty will last longer than their spouse.

For whatever it says about me, classmates who don’t know me particularly well always assumed I would do Surgery. I wasn’t so convinced; after all, it’s a notoriously difficult residency and lifestyle and I like my dogs, my husband and my running. I loved my OBGyn clerkship and was fairly convinced that was the way to go for me. Until General Surgery. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Surgery, not unlike falling in love with your spouse. As Abbey once said, when you know you know. As soon as I admitted it to Will and to my closest friends (and switched my Advisor and my entire 4th year schedule…), I just felt at peace. I was excited again about the next phase, invigorated by the challenge of tinkering with the human body.

As word spread, however, that I ditched OB to General Surgery (we get a little cliquey about such things), I started to get reactions from friends that included, “Well, do anesthesia before you really commit” and “Are you sure? Don’t you want kids?” As sure and as happy as I was (and am), doubt started to creep in.

While I was walking the dogs late this afternoon, I realized that choosing General Surgery as a 30 something female is par for the course for me. I’ve never been one for the easy path. I’ve never been one who avoids an experience because it might be arduous or difficult. People ask me the same thing about marathons/my running life: “Aren’t they hard?” or “I could NEVER run that many miles.” Ultimately what works for me (and ignites the spark in me) doesn’t have to work for everyone else. I love running and I embrace the challenges and disappointments that come with it. Some days it’s easy and I don’t have to think before heading out the door and some days it takes sheer force of will to get out there. But it’s always worth it. I am approaching General Surgery in the same way. I know it is an exhausting road, but I can tolerate exhaustion if it’s something I’m passionate about. That is a lesson gleaned from life as a long distance runner…

Paddle your own canoe. 


Why I Race Without A Watch

There’s an adage in medicine that instructs one not to do a study if it isn’t going to change the management of the disease or illness. Will and I often joke about this in our everyday life as well, in part because learning the art of medicine is basically our sole focus right now and in part because it’s actually good life advice. The same logic explains why I almost always race without a watch. When I race, save for the first mile, I’m giving it what I have on that day so how does checking my watch change my “management”?

I always used to wear a watch in races and for longer races, often wrote paces out on my wrist or forearm to “keep on track.” As I started to get faster and aim higher, however, one of my good friends (who also happens to be a multiple time All-American etc) and training partners suggested that I try racing without a watch. I made a deal with him that I would try it for one race, the Downtown 10K in 2012, and ended up running a big 10K PR AND feeling great about my race. From then on, I started racing without a watch and worked on trusting my body.

Of course, it’s hard to run any race completely blind because most big races have a clock at least at the first mile and often every couple of miles as was the case in Philly. For me, my memory of course clocks is a good subjective measure of how a race is going or went. The first time I ran Philly, I barely remember any race clocks except for the first two because the markers were way off and the clock at mile 10, This time, I can remember almost every fl*pping clock on the course because I was that miserable. Your watch can operate in the same way, especially if it’s a Garmin. While this can be valuable feedback, it can also create a situation where you aren’t as tuned into your body as you are to your wrist.

The only situation where I think a watch can be very useful is the runner who struggles with going out too fast. Almost none of my girls race with a watch, although many wear their watch because they are used to having them on their wrist. One of my athletes, however, ended up using her watch this fall after we realized that she was taking it out WAY too fast. The outcome? She ended the season with some incredible performances once she learned to use her watch to slow her first mile down. For me, the 5K is the most tempting race to go out too fast in because it doesn’t seem that long. Take it out 10 or 15 seconds too fast, however, and you’ll pay for it dearly in the home stretch. For this reason, I do often wear a watch in a 5K if only to check my pace at the mile marker.

Do you race with a watch? Why or why not?

How to Start Running: Month 1

It’s the first Monday of 2016 and many of us are motivated to craft better versions of ourselves in the coming year. I’m a huge believer that running changes your life, no matter how long or short you run and for 2016, I want to do something to help spread the running love across the internet. Although there are plenty of couch to 5K programs, I wanted to create a running program that helps you get to a place where you could go out for a 30 minute run anytime you want. So, if you start and stick with this program, you’ll reach that goal by June 4th 2016.

What’s the purpose? Introduce (or reintroduce) regular running into your life and work towards running for 30 minutes by June 2016.

What do I need to be able to do to start? If you can walk for 10 minutes, you can start this program. If 10 minutes is a stretch, work up towards walking for 10 minutes then start this program at Month 1. I’ll be adding all the How to Start Running posts to the Workouts page so that you can start when you’re ready.

What gear do I need? All you need is a good pair of running shoes, a simple watch or timer on your phone and clothing in which you are comfortable moving. The best place to start for running shoes is at your local running store. If you’re a total beginner, be honest! Running store employees are used to all levels of runners and are great at finding the right shoe for you. As for gear, TJ Maxx or Marshall’s can be a great place to get a few things to get started. As you go along, you can add to your wardrobe.

What’s the time commitment? This month (Month 1/January), the time commitment is 10 minutes, 4 days a week. This will increase gradually to 30 minutes, 4 days a week by June.

Okay, so what’s the plan? I firmly believe that a walk-run combo is the best way to get going. Week by week, we’ll slowly add more time running. By the end of month 1, you’ll be doing 4 minutes of running.

Pick the 4 days of the week you will be running. In my experience, the weekend is a little bit easier to find time to run during, so I recommend you do at least one weekend day.

Below is the plan for the first four weeks. You’ll see the total workout time outside the parenthesis and the details for the run/walk split in the parentheses. In Week 1, for example, you’ll start your workout with 1 minute, 30 seconds of walking then run for 30 seconds. You’ll repeat this four more times and end after your 5th 30 second segment of walking.

What are my paces? A big mistake is sprinting the running segments; that’s a totally different kind of training and while it can get you into shape, it doesn’t help you learn how to run consistently. Instead, take it slow on your runs. By the time you reach the end of each run segment, it’s okay to be tired but you shouldn’t need to bend over and put your hands on your knees to recover.

What if I have questions? Ask them in the comments section because if you have a question, it’s a guarantee that someone else has the same question. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know the other people who are learning to run at the same time as you.

Week Workout Plan
Week 1   10 minutes (1:30 walk/30 second run. Repeat 4 more times)
Week 2   10 minutes (2 min walk/1 min run. Repeat 3 times. 1 min walk to end)
Week 3   10 minutes (2:30 walk/1:15 run. Repeat 2 times then 1:30 walk/1:00 run to end)
Week 4   10 minutes (2:30 walk/1:30 run. Repeat 2 times then 1 min walk/1 min run to end)


What to Wear for Winter Running: Men’s Edition 2016

Let me brag about my friend Carl for a moment. Carl is the quintessential athlete and I’m pretty convinced he’d be successful at any sport he tried, but he claims to not be a “real runner.” Ignore the fact that he once ran a 1:35 half marathon off almost no training or that he regularly runs with me at any time of day. Anyway, since Carl really is up to run any time, he enthusiastically agreed to join me on some pre-surgery 3 am runs…if I helped him build a winter running wardrobe. Hailing from southern California and going to school in New Haven, his wardrobe leaves him wanting for the months of November through April. So for Carl and for everyone looking to run outside as much as possible as we start 2016, here’s the rundown of what you need to run outside comfortably. None of this is sponsored and all comes from years of running, skiing and living in Vermont.

Baselayer: What you put next to your skin matters. The better the baselayer, the fewer overall layers you’ll need to wear and the less you’ll resemble the kid in A Christmas Story.

Warm? Yes. Conducive to running? Notsomuch.

Warm? Yes. Conducive to running? Notsomuch.

Windbriefs: Do not underestimate the importance of these. Every single winter, one of my male athletes will forget theirs or insist they don’t need them and spend many miserable minutes doubled over in the snow after a race. If you buy one piece of winter gear, MAKE IT THESE. My pick? Craft makes amazing stuff and it’s worth the investment for these.

Midcalf Socks: Another rule of winter running is creating multiple ways to tuck in your clothing and thus keep wind, snow and slush out. In my opinion, you can’t beat Darn Tough for running socks. Yes, they are pricey upfront but they have a lifetime guarantee. Literally. I send back many pairs a year as they wear out and they send back brand new pairs within a week. Well worth the $18. For winter, the material of choice is wool or wool blend.

Top and Bottoms: You can spend an enormous amount of money on baselayer and if you’re going to be a professional downhill skier or spend days in the back country, that’s probably a good call. If you’re going to run for 45 minutes a few days a week, it’s overkill. I spend a ton of time outside coaching and love Hot Chillys Pepperskins for their high cost-to-effectiveness ratio. Note: if you are planning on wearing a looser pant, you should invest in a pair of bottoms. If you are planning on wearing running tights on the bottom, you are probably good with just a top baselayer.

Tops: This is where temperature, wind and precipitation starts to matter. If it’s sunny and 30, one of your summer running teeshirts plus a long sleeve shirt or your jacket will be plenty. If it’s an active snowstorm, windy and 15, you’ll need a baselayer plus long sleeve plus jacket. In general, if you’re warm when you walk outside, you’re overdressed. Aim to be comfortable by 10 minutes into your run and you’ll generally be happy.

Long Sleeve Top: You’re looking for a medium thickness top that is fitted but big enough to fit over a baselayer. My pick in this category is the Skechers Godri Seamless Half Zip. It has thumb holes so you can create a nice barrier between your gloves and your skin, has mesh on the back to vent you and has a half zip to dump heat if you overdress. The price is also extremely reasonable and conducive to stocking up on an item that you’ll likely wear the most in your closet. The half zip long sleeve is my most commonly worn winter item; when you find one you like, buy two so you can wash them once in a while.

Jacket: There are tons of jackets on the market but again, Craft takes the cake here. Will has this exact jacket and I’ve stolen it on a few occasions. It’s windproof without being stiff and water resistant. Be warned: this jacket is WARM. You won’t want it when it’s above about 25 so if you live somewhere a bit warmer, consider a vest instead of a jacket.

Bottoms: A bit of a personal choice for most men. I spend a lot of time with distance runners, so I’m used to men in tights but I know lots of men balk at the idea. Thankfully, they make great option in both loose and tight pants, so buy what you think you’ll be happy to wear. Again, it takes a little experimentation to find out what layers make you comfortable in given conditions.

Loose Pants: Unfortunately, the best men’s pants ever seem to have been discontinued. Thus, if you can find a pair of Brooks Spartan Pants in your size on a discount size, do it. They are so comfortable to run in and perfect warmth for 30 degrees with shorts or around zero with a baselayer. Sporthill SwiftPro and Saucony Boston are close in style to the Spartan.

Tights: The market for men’s tights is a little disappointing, as this is one area where they seem to just adjust women’s tights for men’s proportions. That being said, Saucony Drylete is a great all-around option for men with a zipper ankle (allows a nice tight fit around your socks, see above) and mesh behind the knees to shed heat as you go. I have the women’s equivalent of this tight and find them to be the best in terms of allowing natural movement.

Extras: Don’t be the dummy out running in your baseball cap with bare hands. Not only will you feel miserable, but your body will be wasting precious energy trying to keep your extremities warm rather than pumping oxygen to your muscles.

Hat/Headband: I actually prefer a headband because of the ear coverage but regardless of style, I’m totally and uttery sold on Skida.  They fit well, they are extremely warm and they hold their shape with as much washing as you want to do. Of note, the Alpine line is lined with fleece (my favorite) while the Nordic line is unlined.

Buff: I am more likely to wear a Skida neckwarmer on days when I’m doing a coaching/skiing hybrid but if I’m doing a workout on skis or on foot, I’m in a buff so I can manage my snot better. Sorry, but it’s true. Buffs are fantastic (but you should never borrow someone’s because of the snot issue) for giving you neck coverage, rolling up into a headband or stuffing in a pocket to cover changes in temperature.

Gloves: This is one place where I’m the wrong person to ask because I wear gloves when it’s 50 out, but these gloves are well loved by my team and my other running friends for “normal” hands.

So there you have it: the basics you’ll need to run outside all winter long. If you’re a winter runner, what brands and items do you love? Would you rather be a little cold or a little warm on a run?


Will HIIT Training Really Make Me a Faster Runner?

Post-Philly with LT. The LOVE statue was much smaller than we anticipated.

Post-Philly with LT. The LOVE statue was much smaller than we anticipated.

LT has been my running buddy since I moved back to Burlington. She drove with me to Philly, has logged countless miles with me around Vermont and I’m going to miss her terribly as she and Chris move to Oregon this summer. For the past two years, LT has been working on her Master’s in Exercise Physiology, the culmination of which was a thesis that aimed to quantify whether HIIT really makes you as fit as people claim. I was particularly interested in her findings because she used fit athletes and her control group did 30 minutes of vigorous running. Essentially, she emulated what summer training for XC looks like.

Halloween Fun with LT and I

Halloween Fun with LT and I

Study Design: LT took athletes from SUNY-Cortland’s Field Hockey team and divided them into two groups: endurance or HIIT. The Endurance group served as the control and did 30 minutes of runner at 75 to 85% of predicted HRmax, somewhere between easy and tempo. The HIIT group did a 3 minute warmup, 8 rounds of 20 second of burpees or squat-tuck jumps with 10 second recovery and a 3 minute cooldown for a total of 10 minutes. Training sessions were Monday, Wednesday and Friday for four weeks.

At baseline, athletes had an average VO2max of 44.96 and a Running Economy of 213.42.

Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the groups. However, both groups improved aerobic capacity as measured by VO2max by >6% over the four week intervention. Interestingly, the time invested to make these improvements was vastly different: the endurance group did 90 minutes per week while the HIIT group did 30 minutes per week.

At the end of the study, athletes had an average VO2max of 47.78, an increase of almost 2.8 points in 4 weeks.

Implication: The “so what” of LT’s research is incredible. Here’s what I’m most excited about:

  1. Time: We’re all busy and we generally acquiesce that when we’re busy, our training suffers. This research suggests that even though we may not improve running economy with just 10 minutes, we can maintain and even improve our VO2max.
  2. Injury Prevention: I am constantly trying to find ways to make my team fitter without more pounding on the roads and this study offers an idea about summer training approaches, when we only meet three days a week and when we delicately balance increasing fitness with increasing risk of injury. Same goes for the injury prone runner: if someone can maintain or improve VO2 max with just 6 minutes of running, I have a great option for my runners who just can’t tolerate a season of tempo runs.

I’m so excited about this study that I’ve already put it into action for our summer runs. On Wednesdays, we are no longer hitting the roads for a 30 to 45 minute jog. Instead, we’re doing a brief warmup followed by a circuit that includes HIIT. Last week, we used a short, steep hill and did hill sprints (real, all out sprints) between body weight exercises.

During the season, I’m not completely sure how I’ll fit this into our schedule. One thing I’m considering is using it in the awkward weeks where we have a Tuesday meet but still need to get a second workout in without totally ruining legs for a Saturday race.

If you’re interested in reading the whole paper, let me know.

Have you tried HIIT? Would you be willing to after reading this?

Effective Coaching Praise

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Grand Rounds on praise. While the Rounds were intended for physician education on anticipatory guidance for families, there were some interesting themes that I scribbled down to remember when I wear my coach hat.

Essentially, there are two ways to praise someone: person praise or process praise. An example of the former would be “You are so talented at the 5k!” The latter would be “You worked so hard at that race today.” Both can make an athlete feel good, but the latter has been shown to cause positive adaptations while the former can actually lead to negative outcomes. Research has demonstrated that a person who is accustomed to person praise struggles to persist after failure because they’ve previously attributed (and been told) that their success is ingrained and determined by talent. Someone who has experienced process praise will actually try harder after experiencing failure because they see performance as determined by effort.

Even more incredible are the long term adaptations. A person who gets significant person praise will not only struggle after failure, but they will choose only to do easy tasks to essentially guarantee success. A person with significant process praise will take on even harder tasks after failure, focused on the end goal rather than repetitive but stagnant success. Who reading this hasn’t shirked from a hard workout in favor of one they KNEW they could do?!

I see this every year on my team: extremely talented runners are beaten handily by runners with less talent who work hard. Of course, a little positive self esteem or belief in one’s ability isn’t a bad thing, but it’s the athletes who connect the dots of hard work and great performances that really learn to compete. Running is a relatively easy place to incorporate process praise; most of our season is a process anyway and a bad individual race is truly just a step on the way towards the State Meet.

Perhaps Coolidge knew this long before the body of research caught up when he stated that nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Workout: Prerace Shakeout

Summer is peak racing season and as such, it’s not uncommon to have a race almost every weekend. Although frequent racing is a great way to improve speed, it also disrupts training cycles because you are constantly preparing for and then recovering from a race. This is not unlike the challenge I face as a high school cross country coach: how do we continue to have good performances every weekend AND make progress towards the State Meet. In past years, we’ve used Friday’s as our “shakeout” day, with a short run and striders before we head to our pasta party. This spring, however, I’ve been personally experimenting with other prerace routines and will be implementing the following both for my own races and for the team this fall.

First, do an easy run for whatever your daily mileage is supposed to be minus 1.5 miles then hit your local track. For all laps, aim to maintain light, smooth form. All of these paces should be effort-based; the purpose is to remind the legs of all your gears and get the legs ready for a race effort.

Lap 1: Jog the curves and run the straight sections at regular run effort.

Lap 2: Jog the curves and run the straight sections at tempo effort.

Lap 3: Jog the curves and run the straights at interval paced effort.

Lap 4: Jog the curves and run the straights at all-out effort.

When you finish your last lap, cooldown to home or your car.

One of the biggest barriers that I see as a coach and experience as an athlete is difficulty in changing gears from an easy running pace. Many of us can go from “slow” to “fast” without a lot of thought, but the ability to click through other efforts is lost for many of us and inhibits our ability to execute smart races or cover opponent’s moves. Doing this workout regularly before races helps create neuronal circuitry and muscle memory that will reap benefits through a racing season.

When Do I Do This Workout? This workout is great for the day before races up to a half marathon in length. If you want to use it for a marathon, change the paces to regular run – marathon pace – tempo pace – half marathon pace. This workout is also a great way to come back to speed work in general; it helps you to remember your paces and gives enough stimulus for positive adaptation.




Guest Post: El Cajon St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon

(You first met Suzanne a year ago. Since then, she moved across the country and kept spreading the #runlove. Lexy and Suzanne were scheduled to run the San Diego Half two weekends ago but as you’ll read below, sometimes you don’t even make it to the starting line. They ran a half this past weekend in the same heat that affected the L.A. Marathon and did an excellent job adjusting their goals to be safe and still have fun.)

Back in November my friend Lexy and I were chatting about what she wanted to do while her husband was deployed. This was his first deployment and we figured we should have a “deployment bucket list” of sorts. We decided we would sign up and train for the San Diego Half Marathon in March. We paid the race entry and dedicated ourselves to shorter weekday runs and a long run every Saturday. We ran every single weekend. We ran when I had a terrible cold, we ran when Lex could barely put weight on her foot, we even ran when we were on different coasts over Christmas break (Lexy wins the prize for that one – seven lonely miles around a snow covered track in Buffalo, NY). We prepped, we planned, we played around with meals and hydration strategies, we were 100% ready for race day and it was finally here. We had anticipated every obstacle and discussed anything that could go wrong during the race. What we didn’t predict was that we wouldn’t even get to start.

We woke up early on race day excited and nervous for the day ahead. We were on time (for the first time ever) to our friend’s house who so graciously rolled out of bed at 6am on a Sunday and drove us. Everything was going well – we were hydrating, we had our bag ready for gear check, and we were on the road in plenty of time. As we crested the top of the Coronado Bridge, we saw brake lights and came to a stop. Our first thought was that it must be some race traffic – we were only a few miles away from the start so maybe it was backing up a little. It quickly became clear that we weren’t moving at all. The clock said 6:09 when we stopped. At 6:30 we called 911 in case no one had. The dispatcher told us that highway patrol had both sides of the bridge closed due to a possible jumper. Unfortunately, this isn’t all that abnormal of an occurrence on this bridge but it never occurred to us to go the long way off the island just in case. An hour later we hadn’t completely lost hope; we were in a late wave and could still make it into the final wave if we moved in the next couple minutes. We didn’t move. As every minute passed we became more and more aware that we weren’t going to get to the race. We tried to keep everything in perspective; that the reason we were stopped on the bridge was for a far more significant crisis than missing a race. Even though we tried to think this way, we were still completely devastated. At 8:30 a highway patrolman helped all the cars make terrifying three point turns and head back to the island (Google the Coronado Bridge: not a place you want to be in reverse). Lex and I looked at the clock and knew we most likely wouldn’t be allowed to start if we got to the start line, but decided that if we didn’t try we would regret it. We arrived at the start line at 8:45 and there was not a person in sight. As we drove away defeated, we passed the party going on at the Finish Line a block away and started to cry. It was final. We weren’t going to finish our half; we weren’t even going to start it.

Driving over this when we arrived in San Diego remains one of the scariest moments of my life.

Driving over this when we arrived in San Diego remains one of the scariest moments of my life.

What happened that Sunday was so far out of our control that we never could have planned for it. The bridge didn’t re-open until 11am that morning. By that time, Lex and I were out running on the bike path near our house. As we ran we talked about how disappointed we were, how much we could never have predicted this, and how we go forward. We decided that we had to sign up for another half – as soon as possible, regardless of the cost. We signed up for the El Cajon St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon scheduled for just a week later.

We approached this race a little differently. Our goal was no longer to finish the race, but to start it! We did start it (although there was an incident on the course that delayed the start for 15 minutes) and we finished it! It was not an easy race day. San Diego County saw record-breaking heat for March (El Cajon was in the 90s) and the course was very hilly with no shade. We had driven the course the day before and knew there was a hill from mile eight to mile ten. Around mile six we were really starting to feel the heat and knew we still had a huge hill ahead of us. We slowed way down to make sure we could make it the rest of the way and tried to keep our bodies cool by dumping water over our heads at every water stop. We crossed the finish line a little later than planned but it didn’t matter, we were still proud! Although it wasn’t the best introduction to the half marathon for Lexy, she was already strategizing for “the next one” before the race was over.

Looking great!

Looking great!

The El Cajon St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon was much smaller than the San Diego Half Marathon but it was still well run. The course was hilly and hot but well staffed and there were lots of water stations. There were almost no spectators which made for a lonely stretch but the finish line had lots of people and live entertainment cheering us through the last mile.

It certainly wasn’t the easiest way to run a half marathon but the best news of the last two weeks was that the San Diego Half Marathon deferred our entry to 2016 so we will get to race next year! In the meantime, we’ll keep running here in beautiful San Diego!

Two happy finishers.

Two happy finishers.

Boredom Busting Treadmill Workouts

Let’s face it, the treadmill can be a little boring. Necessary evil in the middle of winter or heat of summer, but almost no one’s favorite place to run. That being said, the treadmill offers some great training opportunities that can also reduce “treadmill dread.” Because it’s a controlled environment, it can be a great place to practice a marathon pace or attempt a workout that you aren’t sure you’re totally ready for; after all, you can always tone down the pace if you find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Here are my favorite treadmill workouts that don’t even require a towel thrown over the display:

1. The Progression Run. The ultimate boredom buster, this gives you a little workout stimulus and keeps you entertained. Warmup at your regular run pace then add .1 to your speed every minute for 15 minutes. Assuming you don’t do your regular runs incredibly slowly or your tempo runs fast (too fast, I might add), this should end you right around your tempo speed. Return to your regular run pace for 2 minutes and repeat 1 to 2 more times.

  • You can also do this as a pyramid; build for 15 and step back down by .1 for 15. This is a much harder version because you’re spending a lot more time at higher speeds but another great way to shove your fitness forward.

2. The Wave Run. Warmup at your regular run pace then begin sets of 1 minute at interval pace, 1 minute at cruise pace. Your cruise pace should be harder than your regular run pace but easier than marathon pace. I usually set my cruise pace about 30 seconds faster than my regular run. Repeat 1 hard, 1 cruise for 30 minutes. Although you get a “break” between hard segments, it’s much faster than you usually go and works on running fast on tired legs.

  • If you want to focus on endurance, you can swap to 2 minutes at interval, 1 minute at cruise. If you want to focus on speed, do 1 minute at R-pace (faster than interval) and 2 minutes at cruise.

3. Mount Von Gym. Warmup at your regular run pace then add 1.0 of incline every minute up to 10%. By the end, you should be working hard. If not, consider that your regular pace may be too slow! Recover for 4 minutes on flat then climb up to 10% again. Repeat up to two more times for a total of 40 minutes of climbing.

A note on treadmill effort: there are various schools of thought about what adjustments are needed for the treadmill to be “equivalent” to outdoors. I’m in the camp that finds treadmill running much harder than outdoors; the stagnate air really bothers my lungs and I feel that my effort is way above my pace most days. For other people, the treadmill is easier than outside. One commonly accepted strategy to compensate for the lack of wind resistance is to adjust your incline to 1.0. Another adjustment calculator is here if you need it. I don’t tend to use 1.0 when I’m doing more speed oriented stuff but I do for warmup/cooldown and for tempo oriented runs.

What treadmill workouts are your go-tos? How do you fight treadmill boredom?

20 Minute Leg Workout for Runners

This is my 20 minute, no BS leg workout that can be done at home or at the gym and hits the key muscle groups for building a strong drive train. Start with 8 to 10 reps of each exercise and 2 full sets. As you get stronger, add more reps in with an eventual goal of 20 reps per exercise. This is a little different from “traditional” weight training, where you usually top out around 12 before increasing weight. Endurance sports required a slightly different approach to lifting; because we primarily want muscle strength that helps us out when our bodies are exhausted, lifting for endurance tends to focus more on higher reps and lower weight. There are certainly times for lifting heavier weights (base building season, for example), but for in season strength training, stick to more reps and less weight.

One of the reasons I put videos** here (and WAY less than perfect videos) is to inject some reality into how hard it is to build real, functional strength. I’m not perfect at these exercises, they aren’t easy for me and it’s okay if they aren’t easy for you! #keepingitreal #nophonyrunningblogs

1. Single Leg Squat. It’s okay to hold onto something for balance here (I still do!) but your real focus is controlling your motion down and up and teaching your knee to track in the midline. Only go down as far as you can stay controlled.

2. Plie Squat.

3. Step-ups. Keep these to 10 reps and add an additional set once you feel fluid.

4. Plie Squat Jump. I don’t use weights for this because I like to use my arms to help get an explosive upward movement. Focus on landing lightly; if you are slamming into the ground, you’re missing a key part of the movement.

5. Donkey Kick.

6. Fire Hydrant.

7. Pendulum Squat.

8. Deadlift. You can do this with a straight bar or dumbbells. I usually use a straight bar at the gym, but don’t have one at home so use dumbbells at home. Focus on keeping your back flat (but not artificially straightened) and on driving hip bones up as you stand up.

9. Weighted Squat. If I’m at the gym, I use the Smith rack but at home, I rest the dumbbells on my shoulders for these. If you have a shoulder or rotator cuff injury, I’d recommend just using body weight instead. As with any squat, focus on keeping your knees midline and behind your big toe.

What other at-home exercises do you do? Hardest one of these for you?

**PS sorry the first two are sideways. It is just not my week for technology!