Scott Jurek MA, PT is a world-class ultramarathoner and repeating champion of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. He works as a physical therapist, coaches aspiring runners, offers a comprehensive running form analysis, and leads educational trail running camps. Click HERE for Training tips and click HERE for Nutrition Tips. Learn more by visiting www.scottjurek.com
Long Distance Training by Scott Jurek
Long Distance Training
There are a multitude of areas to consider when planning a training program for endurance running. The following are some key points that Scott feels are of utmost importance to obtain performance and maintain a healthy running lifestyle. These are recommendations are general guidelines only. Seek assistance from a qualified professional for your personalized training needs.
Listen to your body
First and foremost, listen to your body- it can tell you valuable information if you lend an ear. Pay attention to how it responds to the training you are doing. Listening also includes taking care of injuries and seeking assistance from qualified professionals when the injury is in its early stages.
Spend time getting familiar with your current running form so you can make improvements, if necessary, for efficiency and injury prevention. This may be in the form of working with specialists, reading books, watching videos, or working with other runners.
Incorporate periodization concepts. Ultimately, periodization is the process of planning a season around a goal. This includes phases of base training, specificity training, and peak training, followed by a recovery phase. By adhering to these principles, you are allowing your body to achieve a higher level of conditioning following a stress and repair cycle.
Breaking periodization down further, each training phase utilizes the principles of alternating a hard week, or series of hard weeks, with an easy recovery week. Each week includes adjustments in the intensity and volume of training, depending upon which phase you are training in.
Long runs are important for developing your aerobic base, sustained endurance, and your body's ability to utilize fat as fuel. Long runs can be incorporated into any phase of training and will vary in length depending on the phase of training you are in and your goal distance.
Threshold or tempo training is important for developing the body's ability to work at anaerobic threshold efficiently and can also help to bring your threshold closer to your VO2 Max, thus increasing performance. The length of threshold runs typically vary from three miles to ten miles. These runs should be run no more than once per week and primarily during your specificity and peak training phases.
Speed work helps to boost your body's ability to work above anaerobic threshold. Speed work is typically done in the form of short intervals, 30 seconds to five minutes with a recovery period between intervals. Speed work should be used by distance runners during the specificity and peak training phases.
Regardless of what phase you are training in, be sure to incorporate recovery running into your schedule, at a minimum between every hard effort. Avoid only running your speed workouts and long runs. Recovery running is important for repairing tissues between harder workouts while also working your aerobic conditioning and training of the neuromuscular system.
Strengthening and Stretching
Include weekly strength workouts into your routine. You may not want to believe it, but runners are often weak in their lower extremities. Include exercises that condition main muscle groups utilized in running. Strength training can be performed in all phases of training, with varying specificity and intensity depending upon the desired training effect.
Stretching continues to be a controversial topic among experts. Although it may not improve running performance directly, inflexibility can cause a decrease in stride length and can inhibit you from utilizing the full range of a muscle's strength. Flexibility training can be incorporated anytime of the day, although many runners feel they are able to achieve the best results following a training session.
Have a purpose with each training session. Besides enjoying yourself, you should know the purpose of your workout depending on your current phase of training.
Monitor intensity and measure progress
Have a way to monitor intensity of training using heart rate, perceived exertion, pace, and/or breath. Knowing how hard your body is working is important in achieving your desired training effect.
Have a way to measure progress. It is important to have a means of seeing if your body is responding to your training program and to stay motivated whether you have a racing goal or are training for fitness and health.
When setting a goal, make small goals that will ultimately lead to a large goal. For your large goal, it is also beneficial to have an A and B goal. One might be the "dream goal," a higher or more difficult goal, and the other a more achievable goal.
General training tips
Allow for variety with your training sessions. Don't be afraid to mix it up and try new training sessions.
Remember that training is more than logging miles. Many areas of life affect your training sessions. View everything you do in your day as playing a role in training, from eating and sleeping to your daily stress level. Doing so will allow the body to reach peak performance.
Keep balance in training and life. This means having other hobbies and taking four to six weeks completely off of running every year to allow the body and mind to fully recover from the demands of the season.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Nutrition by Scott Jurek
When you run for longer than 90 minutes at one time, eating and drinking during the run becomes imperative for optimum performance and sustained health. There are a multitude of areas to consider when planning what, when, and how to eat and drink on the run. The following are some key points that Scott feels are of utmost importance. These are general guidelines only. Seek assistance from a qualified professional for your personalized nutritional needs.
If running 90 minutes or longer, consume 40-60 grams of carbohydrate for every hour of exercise. This range is provided due to differences in body size and individual needs.
The carbohydrate consumed can be in the form of an energy drink, gels, energy bars, fruit, or any other solid foods that are carbohydrate dense.
Consume 16-40 ounces of water every hour for runs that are 90 minutes or longer. This large range is provided due to varying conditions, temperatures, intensity, and individual requirements.
The water consumed during exercise may be in the form of a sports drink. However, if you are consuming calories in solid form in addition to your sports drink, be aware your overall ratio of carbohydrate to water intake. If you have a high carbohydrate intake, you want to include some plain water to keep the concentration of carbohydrate to water at 7-9 This concentration allows for optimal digestion rate. If using gels or foods for your carbohydrate intake, be sure to consume water, a minimum 6-8 ounces, following the carbohydrate source.
During runs longer than two hours, include electrolyte supplements to balance sodium and electrolyte losses. Include an electrolyte supplement that supplies 200-300 mg of sodium per hour. Increase this amount if running in a hot and/or humid environment.
New foods and drinks
Always familiarize yourself with a new food or drink during training. Many runners have experienced stomach distress when they have tried a new nutritional product in a race situation for the first time. If an event is going to have a certain food or drink on the course and you will not have your own available, use it in training and be very familiar with it before race day.
When and how to eat and drink
When possible, use downhills or times of decreased levels of exertion to eat and drink. If downhills are technical, use flats or uphills that require less concentration. Additionally, practice eating and drinking at different intensity levels, especially at race pace if competing.
Take gulps instead of sips of fluids. This allows for a constant fluid volume in your stomach, increasing your digestion rate.
Practice different methods of eating and drinking that minimize interruption of your breathing pattern. Try eating and drinking in between your normal inhalation and exhalation. Try nasal breathing while taking in fluid, chewing, and eating.
Set the timer on your watch to remind you when it is time to eat or drink. In addition, you may use landmarks, mile markers or course markings to remind you to eat or drink.
If possible, use carrying accessories that are in view or easy to access, such as handheld water bottles. This will help to serve as a constant reminder to drink and eat, as well keeping your nutrients easily accessible.
During training, practice using water bottles, gel flasks, and other accessories used to dispense your fluids and food. Do not wait for a race to get familiar with your accessories. This is also important to allow for adjustments in technique to move efficiently with your accessories.
To determine how much fluid you are consuming when using a hydration bladder try measuring a typical gulp or several sips with a measuring cup. This way you can monitor how much fluid you are taking in per each hour throughout your training run or race.
Don't always rely on gel stops or aid stations during races. Carry some fluids and carbohydrate sources with you, as many aid stations may be far apart, or in the case of marathons be minimally stocked. Do not wait until the 20-mile energy stop that has become popular in marathons. Many times this is too late to refuel.