I am constantly finding myself in conversations with different people about training, what I am up to, or what my goals are. Most of the time during this conversation I end up either confusing the person that I am talking to or they end up thinking I’m crazy. Crossfit Endurance people are easier for me to talk to because they follow a similar training program to what I do. Your average runner, multisport athlete, marathoner, and ultra marathoners are particularly hard for me to communicate with when it comes to the topic of training. Mostly because the way that we go about training for our sport(s) are completely different. In fact, to say they are completely different is probably an understatement. So I thought I would write this post to explain my training and my goals (hopefully) in a way that makes sense.
So, how did I get here? About three years ago I was fat and lazy. There is a story about it that I wrote, and you can read that here in the Faction Strength and Conditioning archives. So long story short, I found Crossfit, some great coaches, and decided to start running some races. This is where I get separated from most runners. When I wanted to run my first 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra, I turned to my Crossfit coaches for guidance. The average person will look to the internet and end up with some type of Hal Higdon style training plan. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I just didn’t know who Hal Higdon was at the time and it seemed logical that if I had a fitness goal in mind that I should ask my coaches about how to train for it. They had gotten me into shape and obviously they knew what they were doing, so why would I look elsewhere? I never really had that “Long Slow Distance” or “Run 2500 Miles a Year” training thing presented to me, so I really didn’t know any different. So when my coach, Mike Bledsoe, put me on a POSE running program and had me continue my Crossfit training like I had been I didn’t think there was anything different about it. So I learned something about POSE running, learned not to heel strike (as much), and was doing Crossfit workouts 4-5 times a week. This got me through my first 10K and Half Marathon pretty easy. Then I decided I wanted to try a marathon. Why not, right?
Training really didn’t change that much for the Marathon. We added in some interval training on the track in addition to the Crossfit workouts. I would run 400’s and 800’s 8-10 at a time with some rest in between. On the weekends I might get to do a 5-10 mile run if Coach approved. Before the Marathon I did do a long 18 mile run so that I would know what it was like to run a long distance, and whether or not I could make it that far. I did fine. I finished my first marathon in 3:50. I didn’t really know if that was good or not as my goal was just to finish. A couple years later now, I realize 3:50 was pretty good for a first timer. So this is where I feel like I became a runner. This is when I started making bigger goals and real plans.
During this first year of training leading up to my first marathon, I had been introduced to something that would change me forever. A barbell. I had never lifted weights before, never done a squat, and never even knew what a clean and jerk was. I LOVED it! There’s just something about picking a heavy barbell up off the ground or lifting it onto your back and squatting it. Pretty much immediately I knew that I wanted to keep being able to add weight to the barbell in my training. I loved feeling strong, getting stronger, and still do. Probably always will. So in addition to being able to run long races, I also knew that I wanted to keep getting as strong as I possibly could. This is where my two goals collided.
By now everyone has seen this picture:
The guy on the left is a super awesome marathoner and the guy on the right is a sprinter. Nobody wants to look like the guy on the left and everybody wants to look like the guy on the right. The problem is that if you want to run a marathon as fast as the guy on the left (according to traditional thinking anyway), you probably aren’t going to be able to ever look like the guy on the right. With that in mind, my goal is to find that perfect middle ground. To be as fast a distance runner as possible while continuing to get stronger. I will most likely never run a sub 3 hour marathon, and I most likely won’t ever squat 600 lbs. I will, however, continue to decrease run times and increase weight on lifts until I either die or until I am in fact the strongest ultra marathon runner in the world. So I train with these goals in mind, and hopefully my Coach builds my program with these goals in mind.
So, I don’t run a ton of miles, but I do put in a ton of work. Unless your goal is to sit on the couch and get fat, then there’s no way to avoid the hard work. I lift a lot of weight, I run hard when I run, and I regularly do some high intensity workouts. For me, training is not routine, it’s never boring, and I just can’t imagine training any other way. I was just telling someone the other day that I don’t run very many miles, but the miles I do run I usually enjoy and remember just about every bit of them. Since I don’t put in tons of miles, I feel like I get to enjoy and love running even more than I would if I had to run 1-3 hours every day.
Am I on the perfect program? I think so, because I communicate my goals to my coach and he takes care of the programming. If something doesn’t work, he adjusts it. Am I on the perfect program for everyone? Maybe not, it depends on what your goals are. My advice is to find a coach and tell them what your goals are. Then do exactly what they tell you to do. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s what’s working for me anyway.
There you have it. Next time I’m in a conversation about training and someone looks at me like I’m crazy I can send them here to read this article! 🙂 Until then…
Lift Heavy, Run Long!