How to get faster over the shorter distances

How to get faster over the shorter distances

Today's episode of RUN with CoachParry is all about getting faster over the shorter distances. Coach Markus chats to one of our CoachParry online training platform members about his goals of getting faster over these distances and the best way to do it.

They discuss the balancing act of strength work (and the tired legs that accompany that) and running. As well as what is an ideal pre-run warm up (and post-run beer count).

PLUS we announce our next winner of our #BiogenJourney

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Transcription

BRAD
Welcome on to this edition of RUN with Coach Parry. My name is Brad Brown. It's good to have you with us. Thank you so much for downloading and listening to this podcast. Let's get into our one on one coaching call. And this is one of our members within the platform, Douglas Saxby. Markus, welcome.

MARKUS
Hey, Brad, thank you so much, really appreciate being here.

BRAD
Cool. And then we've also got a guest on the show today who we're going to try and help smash some goals. I know there's some big goals for early in the new year. And it's a great pleasure to welcome Douglas Saxby on to the podcast. Doug, welcome.

DOUGLAS
Thanks, Brad, thanks for the opportunity to talk to you guys.

Doug's running background

BRAD
Doug, you're a member of the Coach Parry online community. And I know you've got some big goals that we're going to try and smash out over the next few months. But tell me a little bit about you. How long have you been running? What's the sort of running background?

DOUGLAS
So I'm 33 now and I probably started running, my dad was a big runner, so I started running sort of at high school, casually, and then I did my first 21 at 18. Then I've run pretty consistently especially since then, and I threw in two Comrades, 2 Two Oceans, ultra marathons in between and I used to be relatable. I was running my fastest when I was sort of 22/23 at varsity and then since then I've done ultra marathons, not played as much sports and slowed down a bit. So now with the ultras behind me, I want to try and get fast again and see how fast I can go and where I can match the speed I was going at 10 years ago.

BRAD
I love the fact that it's 2 Comrades, 2 Oceans ultras, and it's done. You know what they say about Comrades runners, Doug, 2 is halfway to 10, we can't count.

DOUGLAS
Hopefully, we'll get there in time.

BRAD
Now, there's lots of time, you're still young and I think the thinking of trying to get faster now is the way to go. From it from a goals perspective, what are you hoping to achieve in the sort of near to midterm?

DOUGLAS
So 10 years ago, I ran a couple sub 90 21 K's. And I've been trying sort of on and off casually to try and do that again the last 10 years, but just haven't been able to get that close, I probably run sort of a 1:34 in the last 12 months. And so with a bit of dedicated training and a bit of focus, I want to try get sub 90 again, both at altitude in Johannesburg, and then at the coast in Cape Town to try and get as close as possible to a PB of 1:27.

Initial thoughts

BRAD
I love it. Markus, Douglas has sent through a questionnaire that we send out to all of our athletes to sort of get some background on what they've done and you've done a bit of analysis on some of the times that Doug's done over the years and over the various distances. Tell us just your sort of analysis of Doug's pedigree at the moment.

MARKUS
Yeah, I think it's quite interesting. It's the direct opposite of what we usually see. People tend to, you know, they really fast over shorter sections and as the distance increases, they tend to slow down. What I would like to know is this one you want 1:34 half marathon time that you posted on your questionnaire, when was that run?

DOUGLAS
So that was run I think Two Oceans last year and I haven't really done 21 since then, seriously, but I'd say I'm probably at about the same pace as that now or maybe a little bit stronger, having not had any injuries for a while.

MARKUS
Okay, okay, hundred percent. So that was my first question. Then the five and the 10 k times that you sent through, when were they done?

DOUGLAS
So the 5k would have been about seven months ago, and the 10 k was two weeks ago.

MARKUS
Okay perfect. Because if I work it back from your 21 K time, your 10k time that you submitted was a 44:02, but based on your 21 k time of last year, you need to be running a 42:27. The same with your 5k that you submitted. You said you ran a 20:50, but to 5k time, I think I said it's a 20:23. So it's not a massive difference there. So if they were run, you know, well, all within a few months of each other, your endurance would have been great and one would just need to work on your top end speed. You mentioned something about injuries, what injuries did you have and how has that played out? And do you still feel it? Or how does it influence your training?

DOUGLAS
Yeah, so my running's always been a bit ad hoc, and I probably haven't planned the load that well. So from Comrades, the second Comrades, I got a bit of a knee injury, but it's an Osgood-Schlatter knee that I've got so when there's too much load without building up, I had an issue. But it's a temporary issue. And then last year I did Kruger to Canyon trail run as well, which blew my knees out so it took a couple of months for my knee to recover. But I know when the load increases too drastically then my knees have an issue, but it's not a serious issue, not a permanent issue.

MARKUS
Okay. And on your question that you mentioned something that you run about 35k's a week now. Is that usually a starting point with regards to mileage for you? If you say you're prone to add too much mileage in too short time, where do you usually build to with regards your total mileage?

DOUGLAS
So sort of a per week average?

MARKUS
Yeah, obviously it's race depended, if you're training for Comrades it will be way more but let's say we, you know, based on your questionnaire you say you want to run a sub 90 minute 21 K, so let's say our focus stays on 21k's.

DOUGLAS
So it was interesting looking at that 21 k programme as well, looks like it's got a bit more mileage that I'm maybe doing. I'd say pushing to 50-60 K's should be comfortable.

MARKUS
Yeah, for sure. Okay hundred percent. Then last few questions with regards to your current weekly schedule, the 9 kilometres that you run, easy to medium run, how do you judge that pace? What determines whether you run easy or medium? Or is it just a mix?

DOUGLAS
It depends who I'm running with, that's the problem.

MARKUS
That's a challenge everyone faces.

DOUGLAS
That's almost one of the questions as well, because we've got a good group of people that run Tuesdays and Thursdays and I quite enjoy the socialness of it. And we probably around at about five on average, 5:20-5:30 a k. So it's just based on how quick the other guys are going really.

MARKUS
Okay. And what is your go to easy run pace and how did you determine that? Or do you go and feel?

Determining your easy pace

DOUGLAS
I go on feel. So yesterday morning, looking at the training programme, and it said 4:30 to 5 minutes a k, and yesterday I ran with the mate who's probably stronger than me and we were doing like 5:14, I think, which felt easy and we were chatting, but not taking it too easy. So probably around 5:15 currently, but hopefully that would get get better.

MARKUS
Okay, so you know, there's two ways of looking at this. One can either look at either the generic 21 k programme, but I'd like to make it a bit more of a personal thing based on the questionnaire that you submitted. What I find quite interesting in your programme, there is no 100% easy sessions. So it's either medium, well easy to medium, or at 90% pace. And for me personally, what I've seen over the years is, the smaller the gap is between your easy and your hard pace, the less effective.

So you need to have some really easy sessions, you can have some tempo or interval sessions and then obviously, you can do your long runs preferably at an easy pace. But you can always do some race simulation. So what I'd like to do with my athletes is, if they need to do a 90 minute run, I'd make them run for 45 minutes at an easy pace, 30 minutes just slower than their 21 k race pace, and then I give them you know, the last 15 minutes to just ease off again. So from a coaching perspective, I'd definitely like to see more easy runs in there.

And sure running is a social thing and that's the question I get from many of my athletes is where does one draw the line with regards to yes, but I can run with friends and it's not always easy to convince a group of people to run at your preferred pace. So, you know, with regards to your Tuesday and Thursday sessions, I mean, one can always look at, if your Tuesday session needs to be an easy to medium pace run, one can do your speed session on a Wednesday, and then either not run on a Thursday with your mates, or you can still run on there but then we will definitely include your two runs over the weekend that do need to be easy in order for your body to recover. Because based on your times, we'll definitely need to work on your top end speed. And then work on your 5k speed, work towards a quick 10 K and then obviously building it up from there. So it's just an interesting observation I made. Based on on the trading times that you have available, if you have an hour day and even more so on weekends, I think that's perfect. That one can really go far with that.

BRAD
Cool. Doug, you've got a few questions that you want to throw it at Markus.

Get faster by doing more strength, speed or mileage?

DOUGLAS
Yeah. So I mean, in regards to that training and the pace. So we often end up Tuesdays and Thursdays it gets kind of fast and slow, fast and slow. It depends where the Strava segment is kind of thing. But just paying more attention to pace is yeah. So I just I guess I want to understand broadly, sort of how to get faster, the quickest, sort of where the biggest gaps are.

Because in the last few years, I've done a lot of endurance, and I maybe haven't done as much strength work as I should, and speed work. So between strength, speed and mileage where the sort of shortcuts are? I guess that's a difficult broad question to ask but given that I'm 33 now, not 23, I probably can't get away with as much as I could then just where strength, speed or mileage sort of where the focus should be.

MARKUS
So, look, if your weekly mileage accumulates periodically, if you don't start at 30k's a week, and the next week, you jump to 15 to 20k's more, I think that running in itself is a form of strength training. So if your weekly, you know, increments in distance or time is anything to go by, if you do that, I usually like to add five, maximum 10 kilometres extra per week, until you get to the required weekly mileage. It's enough strength training in itself. Once you've got to that magic number, and I also feel that 50 to 60 kilometres a week is more than sufficient, you know, if your focus is a 21k run, then obviously one does need to focus on speed. Once you get to that magic number of your weekly mileage then yes certainly then speed is definitely something to start on.

The big thing is, you need to know exactly what paces you need to do certain runs at. So for me, what I like to do is, if an athlete of mine focuses on 21k's, I play around quite often with his 10k race pace, because the more we play around with his 10k race pace, and we increase the number of intervals or lengthen the actual distance of the intervals and that to me is building towards a stronger and faster athlete. So if we used to operating at your 10k race pace, and we take the pace off slightly, obviously, you'll be able to cover that over a much longer interval. So for me that's important. So it's not just, you know, just about doing speed, it's about doing it at the right pace. Sure, we have our different calculations and apps and things that we use.

So, you know, for me to calculate certain zones for you, I can gladly do that for you. Do tempo runs, do interval specific work. But then once again, you do need to work on your aerobic capacity as well. And one does need to do easy runs, it's such a big overlooked part of running. It's also you know, the number one thing, in my opinion, that causes injury, because people tend to get caught up with running on Strava. You know, we were speaking earlier about how much information do you really get from your watch and what do you do with it? I think unfortunately it's come to a place in many different sports, it's a numbers game, and people like to throw around the numbers and people like telling what they did and Strava speaks on behalf of certain people. But the bottom line is, you know, there needs to be a certain form of structured training, intervals, and your mileage needs to be there. And like I said, intervals doesn't necessarily need to be a stop start thing, it can be a certain run at a certain pace.

What nutrition should you get in after you runs?

DOUGLAS
Cool, thank you. Two more questions. So one of my challenges is obviously work, and really getting enough sleep in between training. So that's up to me to be more disciplined and get more sleep. And then also nutrition straight after a run. Being on social runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we end up having a cup of tea now after the run. But in terms of nutrition and replacing what you put out sort of the first half an hour after you run, whether it's an easy run, tough run, what you should be taking in.

MARKUS
Okay, so interesting question. So I've got a rule of thumb, if I know I am not going to have dinner, or something to eat, within the first 30 minutes after a hard afternoon session, I either have some chocolate milk, or I actually drink a cappuccino is also good because obviously it contains more milk than a normal coffee and milk is protein. To me that also aids in muscle recovery. So for me, there's nothing wrong with that. Cappuccino is good. Ideally, I'm a big believer in Super M and Steri Stumpie.

Once again, we're not professional athletes, but we do want to get the most out of it. Recovery is vital. So if you cannot have something to eat within the first 30 to 60 minutes, I'd say post exercise, I think the number, and I'm speaking under correction now, I think you recover about 70% less than what you would have had you had either something of value to drink or something to eat.

Should you continue with training session on tired legs?

DOUGLAS
Okay, thank you. Then the last question. So I play quite a bit of cricket and soccer in the evenings. And then I've also found with strength work, so like this week I did strength work Monday night, that doesn't take that much strength work to make my legs feel sore the next day and 2 days after. Just in terms of running on tired legs, when you played soccer, or when you've done strength work ,with regards to the programme, should you be going on how you feel or should you be pushing through the tired legs? Say I guess if you've got an easy session, you run through tired legs and if you've got a speed session, maybe think about whether you should be doing it or not. But just finding the balance between that strength work, heavy legs and running training?

MARKUS
Doug, it's a good question and I don't want to diss our generic programmes. But unfortunately, that's where the generic programme is what it is. There's very little personal input from someone, like I always joke around with my athletes and say if they follow the programme, let's use Modern Athlete as an example, you can't phone the editor and say, what's up? You know, I'm not feeling this, what can I do? What should I do with the session? For me, that's where one on one coaching is way more beneficial.

So that's when you can get in touch with your coach and say, listen, this is how I'm feeling, my legs aren't feeling too great. Okay, let's not do the quality session, it will possibly be too much work load for your legs, rather just do a shortened recovery run. I think once again, it's a matter of getting to know your body and really knowing that if you do do a hard session now, will it cause more harm than good? If the answer is more harm, then obviously you don't need to do it. If you can swap it out for a session later in the week. By all means, go for it. Look a sub 90 21 K isn't the world's best time, but it's definitely not an easy run to do.

So there will be some form of really hardcore sessions in that programme, obviously referring to the generic one that you're doing. But the bottom line is if you're feeling that your legs are tired, it's one thing if there's soreness in your legs, it's a totally different thing, then I wouldn't do any form of pace work or hard running. But if it's just a matter of being tired, I tell myself or any of my athletes, if your legs feel tired, at least start the run and see how you feel. But if you have pain or any form of chronic discomfort then stay away from there.

DOUGLAS
Cool, thank you. I'm gonna sneak in one more bonus question.

BRAD
Go for it.

How to warm up before your race

DOUGLAS
Just before runs, I wonder if it's an age thing, but I must stop blaming age, but before runs it obviously takes a while for the legs to warm up. So come sort of race day with a 10 K or 21, I tend to do a few stretches, swing the legs and then go for it. But do you have any sort of advice on pre run prep on the day of the race? Bearing in mind that they often queues of people that you've got to navigate through too at the start.

MARKUS
I'm a big fan of a warm up, but I'm even a bigger fan of running the day before an event. Because that's one thing that you can control. So for me, running the afternoon before an event, I always joke around with my athletes and say, if there's one session, I don't dare miss the week of the race, it's the run the evening before the race. Especially if it's a one of your more important races, and you'll be tapered for it, you'll be feeling really fit and strong. It's just a good mental boost for you and your body feels 100%.

On the morning of the event, I'd say if it's possible, do a five to 10 minute jog, if not then just a few light stretches, because your muscles obviously do need to warm up. But I'd rather have an athlete warm up by means of either a short jog, and plan B would definitely be some stretches. But don't overdo the stretches because your muscles are still cold.

BRAD
Yeah, cool. Okay, brilliant. Well, Doug, you're on the sub90 minute programme. This is an ongoing process as much as this is a call just to sort of help set things up. You're in the forums and if you've got any questions ongoing, that's the place to go. We look forward to seeing you smash that goal. I think you selected Dischem as the as the goal race, right?

DOUGLAS
Yeah, I don't know why, it's 12 weeks away. So I might as well get stuck in now.

BRAD
It's a sign, 12 week, 90 minutes sub 21 k programme, 12 weeks to Dischem and there you go. It's like, what's the saying, 24 beers in a case, 24 hours in a day, coincidence? I think not. So let me ask the beer question before we go. Doug wanted to ask this but he didn't really want to ask it. So I'm gonna ask it. Markus, how important is having a post run beer?

MARKUS
Brad, I don't know. My lips haven't touched alcohol for 12 years. I really wouldn't know. That's why I'm a big chocolate milk fan.

BRAD
Okay. No, I just want to know because I will have the odd beer. I've been known to have the odd beer and I find it's fine, Doug. So if you feel like having one, anything in moderation is okay, I think.

MARKUS
If you look at the Germans and what they believe in, that's definitely a beer after a run.

BRAD
Exactly. Anyway gents, thank you so much for your time, Markus. Doug, great to catch up, we look forward to to chatting in the forums. And we'll be back again in a week from now.

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