Running is hard.
Nobody ever said it was easy. It can be addictive and Fun and is obviously incredibly challenging and enjoyable. It’s popular.
Millions more people are running Half marathons, 10 & 5K’s since even a decade ago and that is millions more than in 2000.
Running is HUGE and I think, at this point in our lives, most everyone can agree it is good for us.
We’re Humans. We are built to run, climb and lift heavy things.
But like everything I do in life I want to know…”Is there a better and perhaps easier way?”
At one time I was a 240 lb Linebacker. In my era, college football players didn’t run much. We had our 40’s (that’s 40 yards!) and occasionally a full length field, but we did NOT run. In my mid 30’s I decided to change my life and my fitness world. I knew a BIG part of overall fitness is the ability to run so I made it my quest. Over the years I feel like I’ve got pretty good at running.
It’s certainly not something that makes me anxious anymore. It’s simple, dude! It’s just a run!
I’m not really training for anything specific but more want to have it in my bag of tricks. My desire was to be able to run at the drop of a hat. For instance if you said, “Hey Chad, i have an extra ticket to a tough mudder and it’s a ten miler.” I wouldn’t have to think about it. I could do it.
I could run 3 -5 miles if my life depended on it (Are You Healthy Enough To Survive?) and even if I felt the whim over a lunch break.
I could run a leg of Beach to Bay with no formal training. I’m there already, (typically the announcer at the beginning) so I just go if I feel like it. Running is by no means intimidating to me anymore.
Where a three mile run used to look like an all afternoon affair that would probably include a sack lunch and be brutal, it’s just not anymore.
I can get you there. And honestly, you should be able to do this.
Hence the article – How do I make running easier, better and possibly…fun??!
First thing to know…It will still be hard. Running is Hard. But so is your job, yet- you do it everyday and go back for more. So is raising kids and yet…that’s a huge part of WHY it is so rewarding.
2nd thing – My ideas you’ll see and hear in this article won’t win you the race.
It’s not for the elite and honed in athletes. It’s for the newbies and people that have struggled and are fearful. It’s for the guys and girls that just “gut it out” and as much as I love strong willpower, It’s for those looking for a better way!
This entire site is looking for a better way…In everything.
And YES, there is a better way to run.
Here’s my list of things to play with and experiment with to make running easier and more efficient:
Shorter strides with a quicker pace
Glute and Hamstring contractions
Sprints and up-tempo runs
The Galloway method is based on Jeff Galloway’s best seller’s and his method of a run-walk combo.
I have played with this for years and it is typically the VERY FIRST THING I RECOMMEND to anyone that wants to improve their running.
In my opinion it is mandatory for people that hate running. When I take people for a run I do this 100% and nearly 100% of the time I hear, “That was the easiest run I’ve ever done.”
I can go deep into all the physiology etc and the burning and sparing of glycogen versus lactates etc but I think for this article, let’s not. Look up his stuff if you want to dive deeper. I’ll just give you my take.
First off it’s a run/walk meaning you run for a set amount of time and walk for a set amount of time.
One of the marathoners in my clinic that has done all 50 states and over 110 marathons stated he thinks MORE THAN 50% of marathoners use Galloway method for their RACES!
Here’s how I would have you start.
Run for 2:30 comfortable pace, your pace. Not trying to move faster or anything, just your pace.
At the 2:30 mark walk for 30 seconds. That’s right. Walk. No need to try and walk super fast or crazy, just walk. recover.
Repeat. For however long you want to go.
We’ve just turned running into sets and reps. If you are like me – that already makes a run easier.
Here’s how you adjust as you get better.
Once 2:30 becomes easy, repetitively easy -add to the run interval. Try 2:45 – still with a 30 walk. And I’m big into the 30 second walk. That’s the ideal amount of rest.
Here’s how you pick your run time. As you progress and complete a few runs and the pace was good, increase it ten seconds and try it out. I still like the 30 sec rest.
You should never look down at your watch to see how much time is left because you’re tired. My personal example is this:
I am at about a 3:30 run/:30 rest. I constantly try to get that run up to 4 minutes but I find I am dying on the last 20 sec. I look down at my watch thinking, “OHHH LORD! How much more!?”
That’s your clue – the run is too long – your run pace should consistently be about 5-10 sec less than what you could run. It always stays comfortable!
Be aware that the most common marathoner’s time ratio is a 4/1 meaning 4 minute run with a 1 minute walk but I think the walk is too long and there are a factor or two physiologically that make me prefer a 30 sec rest.
But, this is about you. You do you, I’m just here to drop the science.
If you just absolutely are getting your butt kicked halfway through, take the rest to a minute for one interval and then hop back on board – no biggie.
Galloway has many benefits: like rest for one. But if that’s not doing it for you try out: sparing muscles, increased fat loss, psychological (effort perception), and pace maintenance.
Meaning -You won’t get consistently slower as you go along. Typically for new to moderate runners you might start out at a 8 min pace. By mile 3 it’s a 9 minute pace. By the end of a 10K it’s maybe an 11 or 12 min pace. With Galloway, there is a lot of muscle sparing and You’ll almost always maintain the same pace race long. If not, your run interval it too long. Modify this.
Shorter Strides with a quicker pace.
For you guys that have been in a race before – especially a ½ or a full marathon. You know those guys that just look goofy when they run? I call them the jumping bunnies. These hyper-energetic bouncy weird people that just seem to hop around the race course with their quick short little strides. Yeah those guys…I’m one of them now.
That came from a protocol called POSE running technique and it is a HUGE energy saver by utilizing the energy your muscles produce coupled with elastic recoil. Like a rubber band and piston ½ the work is done with no additional energy.
You’ll feel super lame. SUPER Lame.
But lets look at some evidence here. The jumping bunnies are constantly the ones that spring their way through the finish line with a smile and bounce on over to their friends for a chat, yapping a mile a minute and then bounce on over to the beer keg for a quick one to celebrate another fantastic life affirming run they just had. Yeah! Life!
Meanwhile, the Sloggers, the guys with the big long strides – the putting every freaking ounce of effort into this technique of pain – basically start/stop/start/stop the entire race are dying and look like extras from the walking dead series as they cross the finish line. Gas break gas break
The perfect POSE tempo is 180 strides per minute! Crazy fast! Your fast tempo music is most likely at 128 bpm – which is WAY slower and you’ll match that to your stride. Now a 180 tempo for me is just too fast, I’m not there but I do mimic the bunnies as much as I can and it has helped my running so much. Plus it only feels strange – it actually doesn’t look that strange if you just get that smile off your face that shows you know a secret others don’t.
Glute and hamstring contractions.
Not stretches. Really.
I’ve only spouted on about this for close to 20 articles on this website – suggesting the same thing over and over for a number of conditions. Look, a warm up is not what it was when we were in grade school PE. You are heading out asking your muscles to contract over and over again for miles. Why would I start by taking them the wrong way. You’ll feel like a nerd, I don’t care. Contract those Glutes and Hammies prior to a run and see what happens.. You’ll run faster I’m sure.
Look dude, You cant just go out and run as a amateur every single day and just expect to get better. Your body needs to recover and adapt and beating it too hell every day doesn’t do this. There is a level of what is good and detrimental in any sports conditioning. Football training is nothing like it was in my day and especially in my dad’s era. Recovery, rest, cross training are brought up every single seminar and book because it is real. You will only get better through adaptation. Allow recovery for this! My suggestion – and this has leeway depending on what your race distance is – forming a base is only 3-4 runs per week, and I lean towards three. With one of them being a speed run (see below).
So yes – to get ready for even marathon’s I might suggest only 2 REAL distance runs per week. The rest of the time is for growth! This goes counter to most programs out there but most programs out there are written by famous /elite runners, they like to use their techniques. This isn’t the article for those guys. I’m not a famous runner. I’m just a guy that wanted to get slightly better than average by utilizing a smarter system. I don’t win races. I finish slightly better than average with a smile on my face and can go for a run at the drop of a dime. I don’t fear runs.
Repetitive long slow distance (LSD) is great for injuries, that’s it – I know there are still tons of marathon systems that emphasize lots of LSD but there are testing your will power and pain adaptation and most end up in my clinic missing weeks of training and sabotaging their efforts. Train smarter not Harder! ‘
Especially when your goal isn’t to win but to finish. Or to look better naked. Or to get slightly above average. The game changes and my coaching changes if you’re looking to qualify for Boston or MAKE THE OLYMPICS – for most of us – it isn’t.
Don’t like a day off? great , me either – hit the gym. Get some muscle on that machine. You wouldn’t put a Ferrari engine on a VW chassis would you? A run pace of under 6 min/mile with no muscle and no strength training is another recipe for guys that want to end up being a chiropractic client of mine..they’ll get hurt.
More muscle equals better running.
What’s the golden egg in all of this? The one tip that will change it all? Well I’m split – I think the muscle is a huge missing factor for a lot of runners but if not that it certainly has a lot to do with speed day.
Have a sprints day or an uptempo day to not only prep your body for a faster tempo but shock the system and up regulate your hormones. This is so important and so good for your body and brain and system. Hormones are the secret. Use them for shortcuts and lifelong health.
8 x 200 is my favorite speed day – sort up. 8 x 200 sucks. It doesn’t look like much on paper or over the airwaves but this is a bad ass workout. It ramps up your entire system with much less stress on your body than a five miler. But given the choice of what I’d pick for perceived effort level I’d take the 5 any day. 8 x 200, 4 x 600, 1 mile repeats at a 30 sec faster per mile tempo are MAN MAKERS! And a fantastic way to see results quickly.
You’ll naturally change your turnover and pace and keep it fresh at the same time as well as dumping all kinds of beneficial hormones into your body – you need ‘em!
So this is what you do Chad?
Yeah, all the above. I do. During the super hot summers here I actually run much less. I save running for the better weather but yeah, I do these.
If you want to dig deeper check out the master of this stuff – Brian MacKenzie and TJ MURPHY and the book The Unbreakable Runner – I have a review link right here conveniently enough – he’ll tell you the same stuff I do but in a more clinical setting with all kinds of premade protocols to follow etc. he’s the best in the game –
That’s it – you can get good at this, I want you to get good with less pain, less injury and more fun, that’s what life is like over here at SportsDocDC
See you on the road guys.