Category Archives: Race Day

The Predictive Power of vV·O2max

This excerpt is from the book, Running Science. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics.

To begin to comprehend the lack of predictive power of V·O2max in contrast to that of vV·O2max, consider an extremely well-trained runner who happens to have large, clunky feet. Such a runner will tend to have a high V·O2max because of the demanding training he or she has been undertaking, and the clunky feet will add to V·O2max, driving it higher compared with a similarly trained runner with small feet. Having to move those large feet down the road at high rates of speed will call for extremely high rates of oxygen production. However, large feet will not make the runner competitive; in fact, they will cause this runner to reach V·O2max at a rather modest speed since so much oxygen is being used to move the big feet along. Thus, this runner will have a high V·O2max but relatively poor running economy, and thus a moderate vV·O2max and moderate performances. As usual, vV·O2max will be more reflective of performance potential than V·O2max.

This big-foot scenario is an extreme example of why vV·O2max predicts performance quite well. It is important to bear in mind that the same situation prevails for runners in general who have modest to poor running economy for reasons other than big feet. Such athletes might have high levels of V·O2max. If running economy is subpar, however, any particular running speed will elicit an unusually high rate of oxygen consumption, and V·O2max will be reached at relatively mediocre running speeds. Thus, performance potential will be below what might be expected from the determination of V·O2max alone.

The power of vV·O2max to predict performance is illustrated in a study carried out at Lynchburg College in Virginia in which 17 well-trained distance runners (10 males and 7 females) underwent physiological testing and then competed in a 16K race. Laboratory tests determined V·O2max, vV·O2max, running economy, percentage of maximal oxygen uptake at lactate threshold (%V·O2max at lactate threshold), running velocity at lactate threshold, and peak treadmill velocity. The Lynchburg researchers found that among all the measured physiological variables, vV·O2max had the highest correlation (r = –.972) with 16K performance, while %V·O2max at lactate threshold had the lowest correlation (r = .136). Overall, vV·O2max was found to be the best predictor of 16K running time, explaining all but just 5.6 percent of the variance. The Virginia scientists concluded that vV·O2max is the best predictor of endurance-running performance because it integrates maximal aerobic power with running economy.

In a separate study carried out at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts, 24 female runners from four different high school teams competing at the Massachusetts 5K State Championship Meet were tested in the laboratory. These tests revealed a high correlation between vV·O2max and 5K performance (r = .77). In contrast, the correlation between V·O2max and 5K speed was lower, and running economy at a slow velocity (215 m per minute) was poorly correlated with 5K outcome. Note that economy at race-like speeds is predictive of race competitiveness, while economy at slow velocities is not necessarily linked with racing capacity (another argument against conducting a lot of training at medium to low speeds).

In a classic study carried out at Arizona State University in Tempe, vV·O2max was found to be a primary determinant of 10K performance in well-trained male distance runners. Among these runners, the variation in 10K running time attributable to vV·O2max exceeded that due to either V·O2max or running economy.

Impact of Training on vV·O2max and Running Economy

French researchers Veronique Billat and Jean-Pierre Koralsztein have concluded that vV·O2max predicts running performances very well at distances ranging from 1,500 meters to the marathon. They also noted that vV·O2max has similar predictive power in cycling, swimming, and kayaking; of course, vV·O2max would have to be determined for each sport since running vV·O2max does not carry over to other activities. Billat and Koralsztein also discovered that training that emphasizes intervals conducted at vV·O2max can be extremely productive for distance runners.

In one study, Billat and Koralsztein asked eight experienced runners to take part in 4 weeks of training that included one interval session per week at vV·O2max. The athletes specialized in middle- and long-distance running (1,500 m up to the half marathon), and their average V·O2max was a fairly lofty 71.2 ml • kg-1 • min-1. This program included six workouts per week, including four easy efforts, one session with work intervals at vV·O2max, and one session at lactate-threshold speed with longer intervals. Total distance covered per week was about 50 miles (~ 80 km). Over the 4-week period, the runners’ weekly training schedules were formatted in the following way:

  • Monday: One hour of easy running at an intensity of just 60 percent of V·O2max.
  • Tuesday: A 4K warm-up and then vV·O2max interval training consisting of 5 × 3 minutes at exactly vV·O2max. During the 3-minute work intervals, the runners covered an average of 1,000 meters (.62 mi; their vV·O2max tempo was 72 seconds per 400 meters). Recovery intervals were equal in duration (3 minutes), and the cool-down consisted of 2K of easy running. Overall, the workout was a 4K warm-up, 5 × 3 minutes at vV·O2max, with 3-minute easy jog recoveries, and a 2K cool-down.
  • Wednesday: 45 minutes of easy running at an intensity of 70 percent of V·O2max.
  • Thursday: 60 minutes of easy running at 70 percent of V·O2max.
  • Friday: A session designed to enhance lactate threshold composed of a warm-up and then two 20-minute intervals at 85 percent of vV·O2max; for example, if vV·O2max happened to be 20 kilometers per hour (5.55 m per second), the speed for these intervals would be .85 × 20 or 17 kilometers per hour (4.72 m per second). A 5-minute, easy jog recovery was imposed between the 20-minute work intervals, and a cool-down followed the second work interval.
  • Saturday: Rest day with no training at all.
  • Sunday: 60 minutes of easy running at an intensity of 70 percent of V·O2max.

After 4 weeks, the results were amazing, to say the least. Although maximal aerobic capacity (V·O2max) failed to make any upward move at all, vV·O2max rose by 3 percent from 20.5 kilometers per hour to 21.1 kilometers per hour. In addition, running economy improved by a startling 6 percent. This enhancement of economy was probably behind most of the uptick in vV·O2max since it lowered the economy line on the graph of oxygen consumption as a function of running speed and thus pushed vV·O2max out to the right for the French runners.

After the 4 weeks of training, lactate threshold remained locked at 84 percent of vV·O2max. However, since vV·O2max was 3 percent higher at the end of the training period, running velocity at lactate threshold had also increased by a similar amount. Most of the key variables associated with endurance performance—vV·O2max, economy, and lactate-threshold speed—had advanced in just 4 weeks.

The 6 percent gain in economy associated with vV·O2max training was particularly impressive. A handful of training manipulations have been linked with upgraded economy, and the gains in economy have usually been far below the one documented by Billat and Koralsztein’s research. A classic Scandinavian hill-running study (see chapter 25) detected only a 3 percent increase in running economy, even though the hill training was conducted for three times as long (12 weeks versus the 4 weeks needed by the French runners in Billat and Koralsztein’s study). Similarly, improvements in economy associated with strength training have usually been in the 3 percent range, also after fairly long periods of training. It appears that vV·O2max training can work economy magic in as little as 4 weeks, especially for those runners who have not carried out vV·O2max work previously.

Common combination workouts to prepare you for race day

This excerpt is from the book, Triathlon Science. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics

Combination Workouts
Combination workouts bring two or more disciplines into a single workout, either for convenience or for specific race preparation. The most common combination workouts are swim to bike, bike to run (usually called a brick), and run to bike, depending on the goals of the triathlete and time of year.

Swim-to-Bike Workouts

A small segment of the triathlon population experiences some lightheadedness when transitioning from the prone position of swimming to the standing position of running, as triathletes do when moving from the swim to the first transition. Another small segment of the triathlon population experiences unusual leg fatigue going from swimming to running and then cycling.For these triathletes, one strategy is to set up a bike on a trainer on the pool deck.

Triathletes can begin with an easy swim of 500 meters or so and then transition to the trainer for an easy spin of around 10 minutes. They repeat this sequence two to four times in a single workout.

If the triathlete is not adapting or feels so lightheaded that passing out is a possibility, a doctor should be consulted to be certain that no medical issues are present. Depending on the severity of the problem, triathletes may want to be checked out before doing any swim-to-bike workouts.

As triathletes adapt to the easy swim-to-bike workouts on the pool deck, they should increase intensity by following a fast swim segment with an easy ride. The second round should be an easy swim followed by a faster ride. As adaptation to the transition between swimming and cycling continues, the triathlete can increase the intensity of both the swim and the ride.

Many triathletes do swim-to-bike workouts as a matter of convenience, particularly on weekends. Many do a pool workout and then head straight to a bike workout. With workouts sequenced in this manner, they can decide which workout or workouts should include intensity. As triathletes approach race day, they may want a swim-to-bike workout as a dress rehearsal for race day.

Bike-to-Run Workouts

Swim-to-bike and run-to-bike workouts are often called combination, or combo, workouts. The bike-to-run workout is often called a brick. Although the history of the word is not clear, one theory is that the name was given to the workout because when triathletes go from fast cycling to running, their legs feel like bricks.

To help triathletes adapt to the change of body movement and muscle recruitment from cycling to running, and the feeling that this change produces, aerobic brick workouts are a good place to start. Some prefer to do brick workouts every week throughout the training plan, but others limit brick workouts to once per month, perhaps as a workout during a recovery week. Others limit brick workouts to certain macrocycles. No standard has been set about how often to perform brick workouts, and some triathletes appear to make this adaptation better than others do.

In one study on elite international Olympic-distance racers, the intensity of cycling did not have an adverse effect on neuromuscular control and running economy. Even moderately trained triathletes experienced little influence on running muscle recruitment after cycling. These studies may lead the reader to believe that experience in the sport of triathlon eliminates any effect of cycling on running economy and muscle recruitment, but that is not true. A third study found that despite years of training, some elite triathletes do experience changes in leg movement and muscle recruitment in running after cycling. The effects of cycling on neuromuscular control and running economy appear to vary among people.

When deciding how many bricks to include in a program, triathletes should consider their experience level, goal race distance, and race results. Slower sprint- and Olympic-distance racers are more likely to do short brick workouts. For faster sprint- and Olympic-distance racers, brick workouts are often in the range of 50 to 100 percent of race distance. For half-Ironman racers, bricks are often 25 to 50 percent of race distance. For Ironman racers, bricks become less important because the need for blazing fast transitions is not an issue except for the top triathletes.

For Ironman racers, the benefit-to-risk considerations of long brick workouts need to be evaluated. For example, how much value is gained from doing a 60-mile (100 km) bike ride followed by a 10- to 13-mile (16 to 20 km) run? Would this triathlete be better served by entering a half-Ironman race and using that race as part of the training strategy? Is the triathlete prone to running injuries? What is expected to be gained from the brick workout? Individual athlete strengths and weaknesses need to be considered when making training decisions. The bias should be toward conservative undertraining so that the triathlete remains injury free and mentally sharp.

Intermediate and advanced sprint- and Olympic-distance racers often complete brick workouts every 3 to 4 weeks. These workouts are done at the same intensity as other workouts in the macrocycle. The intensity portion of the brick can be structured in multiple ways:

- Aerobic ride followed by an aerobic run.
- Aerobic ride followed by a run that includes some portion at current training-cycle intensity. This run can be a steady effort or broken into intervals.
- Ride that includes some portion at current training-cycle intensity. This ride can be a steady effort or broken into intervals and is followed by an aerobic run.
- Ride followed by a run in which both disciplines include some portion at intensity.

Run-to-Bike Workouts

Duathlon T1 is easier to practice than triathlon T1 for most triathletes. Any yard or garage can be turned into a mock T1 area. The duathlete can go for the assigned run, return home, complete the transition, and head out on a bike ride.

The intensity for any run-to-bike workout should match the intensity of the rest of the workouts in that macrocycle. As workout intensity increases with an approaching race day, race-pace run-to-bike workouts can be included in the mix. Examples include the following:

- Run 5 kilometers, doing the last 1.5 kilometers at race pace. Immediately transition to an easy ride of 10 kilometers.
- Run 2.5 kilometers at aerobic intensity. Transition to a 15-kilometer negative-split ride. Begin at aerobic intensity for 7.5 kilometers and then ride the last 7.5 kilometers at close to race intensity. Faster duathletes can finish at zone 3 to 5a intensity and build from zone 3 to 5b in the second half of the ride.
- Run 5 kilometers, doing the last 1.5 kilometers at race intensity. Immediately transition to a ride of 15 kilometers. Make the first 7.5 kilometers at race intensity and finish at aerobic intensity.

The design of the workout should have intent for the duathlete. That intent may be transition practice, muscle recruitment when changing disciplines at an easy pace, or race-pace rehearsal. New and intermediate duathletes may consider making the workout distances less than race distances. Top duathletes may want the distances to be the same as race distances. They may perform only a portion of the workout at race pace so that they save the best performance for race day.

Looking for something new to enhance training?

This is from the author of Breathe Strong, Perform Bette. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics

“For every sport and fitness category described in the following sections, inspiratory muscle training (IMT) will improve exercise tolerance or performance by delaying the onset of the inspiratory muscle metaboreflex and reducing the perception of breathing and whole-body effort. These sections summarize the additional benefits.

Exercise and Fitness

For those engaged in general fitness training, IMT will make exercise feel easier, which enables people to maintain higher exercise intensities for longer durations. This enhances the fitness gains and caloric expenditure of general fitness conditioning.

The rate of perceived recovery will also improve, which will enhance the ability to maintain the tempo of activity during exercise-to-music classes and the intensity of circuit training. The enhancement of core stability will reduce injury risk and improve weight training.

Weight trainers will benefit from improved core stability, which may produce an improvement in maximal lift performances for lifts where trunk stiffness and stability contribute to the ability to overcome a load (e.g., Olympic lifts).

Endurance Sports

A wide range of endurance sports are reviewed here, but the principles that have been applied can be adapted to suit any sport.

Running

IMT will improve the runner’s ability to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern. It will also enhance the efficiency of respiratory and locomotor coupling (entrainment), enhance core stability (reducing spinal loading and improving leg drive efficiency), and improve postural control (balance). IMT may also reduce the risk of developing a side stitch.

Cycling

IMT will improve the cyclist’s ability to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern. It will also enhance the efficiency of respiratory and locomotor coupling (entrainment) and enhance core stability (reducing spinal loading and knee stress and improving pedaling efficiency). IMT will also allow the inspiratory muscles to operate more comfortably in extreme cycling positions (e.g., when using aerobars).

Swimming

The addition of IMT to swim and other aquatic training will improve the swimmer’s ability to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern and will enhance the efficiency of respiratory and locomotor coupling (entrainment). IMT can also enhance the swimmer’s ability to inhale rapidly and to achieve and sustain high lung volumes. As a result, the swimmer’s body position and stroke mechanics will be improved. A decrease in the number of breaths per stroke will also be possible. In addition, the muscles of the trunk will be better able to meet the dual demands for breathing and providing propulsive force.

Those using scuba will also benefit from a deeper, slower breathing pattern, which reduces air use and extends cylinder wear time. Furthermore, free divers and surfers may also experience an improvement in breath-holding time. Breathing restrictions imposed by wet suits will also be easier to overcome or tolerate after IMT.

Multisport

The addition of IMT to multisport training will provide the benefits summarized for each component. Most triathlons involve a wet suit swim, and IMT will enhance the swimmer’s ability to breathe efficiently and comfortably. Furthermore, the unique breathing-related disruption that occurs during the transition from cycling to running will be alleviated.

Rowing

The addition of IMT to rowing training will improve the rower’s ability to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern; enhance the efficiency of respiratory and locomotor coupling (entrainment); and enhance core stability and trunk stiffness (reducing spinal loading and improving force transmission to the blade). Furthermore, improvements in intercostal muscle function and the ability to generate and maintain high intrathoracic pressure may reduce the risk of rib stress fractures. IMT will also allow the inspiratory muscles to operate more comfortably at the catch and finish positions.

Sliding Sports

People taking part in sliding sports have a number of factors influencing their performance, including the effects of altitude and the challenges associated with maintaining balance. IMT will improve their ability to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern. It will also enhance the efficiency of respiratory and locomotor coupling (entrainment), enhance core stability (reducing spinal loading and improving leg drive efficiency), and improve postural control (balance) and trunk stiffness. The ability to maintain aerodynamic postures for longer periods without the associated breathing discomfort is another benefit of IMT.

Hiking and Mountaineering

Hikers and mountaineers have to contend with the effects of altitude, the impact of carrying heavy backpacks, and the challenges associated with maintaining balance on unpredictable terrain. IMT will improve their ability to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern; enhance the efficiency of respiratory and locomotor coupling (entrainment); and enhance core stability (reducing spinal loading). The challenges to postural control (balance) imposed by carrying a backpack and by traveling on uneven terrain will be minimized by IMT, and trunk stiffness will be improved. In addition, the ability to overcome the resistance to normal breathing movements of the trunk that are induced by backpacks will be improved.

Team and Sprint Sports

Team sports are diverse in their challenges, but they all have three important factors in common: They involve repeated high-intensity efforts that drive breathing to its limits; they require the contribution of the upper body and the core-stabilizing system (e.g., fending off opponents, changing direction quickly, or passing objects to teammates); and they require tactical decision making at a time when the distraction from breathing discomfort is high. IMT will improve the rate of perceived recovery between sprints, which will enhance repeated sprint performance and the quality of interval training. These improvements in perceived recovery should enable players to maintain the intensity of their involvement in the match or game, rather than back off for a period of “cruising” recovery. In addition, the damping down of breathlessness will lessen the distraction that this sensation imposes on tactical decision making.

Improvements to core stability will advance a player’s effectiveness during physical interactions with opponents (e.g., tackling, fending off) and in activities such as kicking and throwing.

For contact sports and those that involve activities requiring the application of whole-body isometric forces (such as a rugby scrum), players will benefit from the increased ability of the inspiratory muscles to function as breathing muscles. This is important in situations where the demand for breathing is high but the requirement for maximal core-stabilizing activity is also present.

Finally, in those contact team sports requiring the use of mouth guards and other protective equipment, IMT can improve breathing comfort and reduce the risk of inspiratory muscle fatigue that results from the restrictions imposed by the equipment.

Racket, Striking, and Throwing Sports

Sports falling under this heading most commonly require the participants to use an implement to strike a ball—such as a racket (e.g., tennis, squash, badminton), club (e.g., golf), or bat (e.g., baseball, softball, cricket)—or they may be sports that involve throwing a ball (pitching and bowling). In the case of racket sports, the player is required to direct the ball within the bounds of the court using a range of strokes. Matches are fast paced, requiring speed, agility, and skill. In contrast, in sports such as golf or baseball, the player is able to square up to the ball or pitcher and is stationary as the ball is struck. These two scenarios create very different demands on the breathing muscles, but there are two common denominators: the involvement of the trunk musculature in providing a stable platform and in protecting the spine; the contribution of the entire trunk musculature to the task of accelerating a racket, club, bat, or arm.

After using IMT, players in racket sports will be able to maintain a higher tempo of performance during rallies, and they will experience a reduction in unforced errors. Rate of perceived recovery between rallies will also improve, which will enhance the ability to maintain and dictate the pace and tempo of the game. In addition, the damping down of breathlessness will lessen the distraction that this sensation imposes on tactical decision making. The enhancement of core stability and improved contribution of the trunk musculature to racket head speed and precision will increase the likelihood of aces and shots that are “winners,” as well as reduce the risk of injury.

Many of these sports require high levels of core stability and a contribution from the trunk musculature to the swinging of implements (such as clubs and bats) or the launching of projectiles (such as in field sports). Players in these sports will benefit from the enhanced function of the diaphragm and the enhanced contribution of the inspiratory accessory muscles to these movements. This will result in an increase in striking and throwing velocities. In addition, there will be a reduction in injury risk because of the enhanced spinal stability and the improved resistance of rib cage muscles to tearing.”

Tap the athlete

This is an excerpt from Timeless Running Wisdom. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics.

Running isn’t like most other activities. Do it, then do it some more, and you can become decent at it. Do it a lot more, and you can probably become above average.

But, you may ask, what kind of an athlete could I possibly have trapped inside of me?

Consider the fact that there are blind runners (some of whom can run a marathon in under 3 hours), runners who are amputees (one gal not long ago ran a marathon in 3:05 as a below-the-knee amputee), runners with diabetes (who greatly benefit in controlling their disease through exercise), 85-year-old runners, and people who used to be runners who take it up again later in life who are changed forever by the rediscovery of how simple yet profound the act of running is.

This is about walking out the door and meeting your athlete. Go out there and spend some quality time with your new best friend, the athlete that was trapped inside you, the primitive eons-old runner who wants out, the essential runner ready and eager to reveal aspects of yourself that have long been repressed.

Millions of runners ply the world’s highways and byways. They weren’t always runners, except in the relatively rare instance in which they ran track and field or cross-country during their school days and continued to do so after graduation. Go to any local 5K race and hang around after the race is over and talk to a group of the runners. Ask them how they got into running. If there are eight people there, seven of them will reveal that they weren’t athletes in high school. In each case they will be happy to confirm two things:

1. I never imagined that I was a runner until I became one.

2. I’m more comfortable with myself now that I’m a runner than I’ve ever been in my life.

The nice thing about running is that the runner is always there, patiently waiting to be released. There isn’t a predetermined starting date or a firm expiration date.

One of the easiest ways to release the athletic beast inside and to keep it loose is to set running goals, both short term and long term. It’s fine on occasion to just run around for the sake of basic movement, but to loosen the athlete, goals are necessary, both as a motivational factor (to get you out the door on days you’d rather not go) and as a testing factor (testing just how good you can be with a requisite amount of training).

Setting goals is a process that runs parallel with the personalities of most people who get involved in running, and it is a way of laying out yardsticks end-to-end toward reaching a long-term goal. You may start with modest goals and grow from there. You may be surprised at how motivating reaching goals can be. Set a short-term goal and achieve it, and you will be doubly motivated to strive for the intermediate goal, and from there to the long-term goal.

One of the most impressive runners I’ve ever met, and a guy who really knows goals, is John Keston, who holds numerous age-group world records. He didn’t begin running until he was 55 and, like many other people, he started running to whip himself into better shape (in his case, to play squash). He was a Shakespearean actor and professional singer, with a runner lurking inside him, just as one lurks inside all of us.

John began entering 10K races as a lark and found that, for his age, he was pretty good. Through dedication and hard work he became ever better and began setting records for his age. An aspect to consider with running, at least if you wish to race, is competition—against other runners and against yourself. Age-group competition occurs within the larger race; beyond that is competition against yourself, which involves setting PRs (personal records), trying to run faster and better than you did last week.

But getting back to John Keston and his fully emerged runner: John is doubly impressive because on a somewhat regular basis (like, once every five years or so), he has been forced to reinvent his runner as a result of a nonrunning accident (such as riding a bike over railroad tracks and breaking his hip to the point that it required a metal plate) that puts him on the disabled list for months at a time. Each time he has eased back into running and reemerged as good as ever and sometimes even better. He has essentially been reborn on a regular basis.

Even those with decades of experience can be reborn. Kathrine Switzer, one of the pioneers of women’s running, twice the head of the Avon running program and the author of Marathon Woman, related this surprising and refreshing development in her own search for the inner athlete:

When people would say to me, “I used to run, I don’t anymore. I should get back to it. I always liked it,” I used to be amazed. How on earth could you like running and not do it?

Now, after running for 50 years, I think I understand a little better. The athlete within is always there; just finding it is often challenging.

I never stopped running, and still define myself first as an athlete, but over the last 10 years I was spending less and less time actually doing it. Work, travel, fatigue, higher priorities—you know the story—all resulted in my running less. Consequently, I got slower, put on weight for the first time in my life, and was less confident of my physical capability. Well, hell, I was 60, I told myself. Of course I had less capability!

After running 35 marathons, it became more fascinating to do the TV commentary of the race. After thousands of miles of Sunday-morning long runs, using that time to write another book was more challenging to me. There was still joy and great creativity in my daily run, but it wasn’t compelling enough to make me push myself.

And then a funny thing happened. Fascinating events began popping up that didn’t exist even a decade ago. Like running on a game reserve in Kenya, or running three races in three days in Bermuda, or running over a mountain range over rough tracks and through rivers in New Zealand. I found myself wishing I could do them, and annoyed at not being 28 anymore. Back then, I only had to pull on my shoes and I was there. And now what? Was the old athlete somewhere inside me even capable of trying?

And then another funny thing happened. I was meeting women who were 65 and 70 years old who had just started running and were doing these events. Older than me! Way older than me! That was it; if they could do it, I could, too. For years I had the reputation for motivating others, and now, presto! They were motivating me. It’s the truth: Finding the athlete inside happens quickly when you are inspired or when your competitive hackles are raised. The athlete was there inside raring to go; it just needed a goal to give me the focus.

The ongoing process has been funny, wistful, time-consuming, and extremely enlightening. Although the outcome has yet to be determined, I can say for certain that it is humbling to have to work so hard again; it is bewildering to still feel inside how I felt at 28 but how incapable I am of being anything but 63, how hilarious (you have to laugh) it is to have to spend twice as much time training now as I did then because it takes me twice as long to cover the same distance and because I need a nap afterward. But it is thrilling in the extreme to find that old lioness getting stronger again; perhaps a bit wobbly and flea-bitten but still roaring.

The athlete lurks in all of us. It is our human nature honed over tens of thousands of years. It is up to us to open the cage and let it loose. Even if it goes on hiatus, remember that it can still be revived and again released into the wild.

Understand the Training Principles

Daniels’ Running Formula, now in its second edition, is still one of the best books on running available. It contains five running plans, each can be customized for you. From 800M to a marathon, you can not go wrong with this book. It’s also available as an ebook.

The following is an excerpt from Daniels’ Running Formula. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics.

Click here to view the pdf, “Understand the Training Principles”.