Run Long Run Strong Endurance Coaching, LLC

Heidi D.

11 Nov

Run Long Run Strong: How old are you?
Heidi D: 33

RLRS: Tell us a little about yourself (kids, married, job)?
HD: I’m an electrical engineer, and not married and have no kids …unless you count my dog and two cats. 

RLRS: When and why did you start running?
HD: I did cross country in middle school and high school “to stay in shape for basketball” but stuck around even after I stopped playing basketball because of the social aspect and that feeling I got when I crossed the finish line and got a PR. I took a break from running most of college until my last year of college when I started finding much needed stress relief in my solo runs. I was able to push myself pretty hard and ran some fast 5ks and half marathons and marathons, eventually qualifying for and running the Boston marathon. But then I got a stress fracture and had moved close to a trailhead for some mountains-to-sea trails and so I started running those focusing less on speed and more on fun. I signed up for my first 50k, and never looked back! 

RLRS: What keeps you motivated to train?
HD: Originally, it was my competitive nature, and always striving to do better than the time before, but lately I am finding it is what keeps me grounded, it provides structure to my life, a place to go zone out or meditate, clear my mind and most importantly it helps me manage my anxiety & depression better when I am able to have that base of running. 

RLRS: What are your hobbies outside of running?
HD: I am an avid reader, and am working on writing a novel! I also enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons, participating in the Bachelor/Bachelorette Fantasy League with my friends, and hanging out with my boyfriend and our pets. Also, fixing up my very vintage 1950’s house. 

RLRS: What is your favorite race?
HD: I love the Columbus Marathon because it is my hometown and I’ve run it probably 5 times, I know the course, I know the city, and I love how flat it is. I also love the Bigfoot 50k for similar reasons – I’ve run it twice and I know the course. However, it is very much NOT flat, and I like it for that. 

RLRS: What is your bucket list event?
HD: I’d love to just do one 100 miler once in my life so I know what all the hype is about. Otherwise, I would love to go back and do really any race in Western NC because it is such a gorgeous part of the country. 

RLRS: What is the funniest thing to happen to you during a race?
HD: For some reason, I always get a ton of compliments on my leggings during races! The other funny thing was when I slid in a muddy section of a trail race and fell on all fours, getting my knees and hands muddy. When I finished the race I had muddy handprints all over my leggings. 

RLRS: What is your proudest race moment?
HD: Finishing my first 50 miler was probably the proudest moment for me. In training, I had a lot of doubts about if I should drop to a shorter race but decided the worst to happen would that I would need to drop out. It was that day I decided I would run and would finish the entire race. It was then I realized that you really have to want the finish to push yourself 50 miles and I got the finish, even if it was not pretty at all. 

RLRS: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started running?
HD: I wish someone told me to take it easy on easy days, rest on rest days and for heaven’s sake – please fuel yourself properly for the distance you are running! 

RLRS: What is your best piece of advice for new runners?
HD: Don’t let your mind get in the way of what it *thinks* you are capable of – you are always capable of more than you know. But sometimes we just have bad days, don’t let it stop you from going out there again the next day. 

3 Steps to Train Smarter and Get Results

05 Nov

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

Are you tired of finishing a stock training plan and not getting a PR? Do you often feel like you’re doing a lot of work but not seeing much progress? Are you following the same plan as your running partner, yet you can’t understand why you struggle to make small improvements while he or she has amazing success and it’s driving you nuts? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are experiencing the cookie cutter conundrum.

Each athlete is an experiment of one. What works for your friends may not be the right training plan for you. This is the problem with canned training plans – they don’t take the individual into consideration! While you will most definitely be able to follow one of these plans and finish your goal event, stock plans won’t help you be the best athlete you can be – and will often lead to you wasting a lot of time.

No one wants to put in a lot of effort without getting results. So what can you do to avoid the time and effort sink? First you should create a plan to fit into your life, one that can absorb the changes that often happen on a daily basis. Second, simplify your workout library and use just a few key workouts within that plan. Finally, monitor your progress and change what isn’t working for you.

Create a plan to fit your life

It is really easy to download a pre-written training plan and plug it into your calendar; however, most of these plans don’t take into account that adults have busy lives. Many runners have families with kids that have their own activities, jobs that take up way more time than you would like, and other obligations that are in a constant battle for your attention. Oftentimes your training is the activity that needs to take the backseat to all the other commitments, and when life throws a monkey wrench into a pre-constructed plan and you have to miss a few workouts it can be difficult to know how to get back on track.

A better approach to your training is to take an honest inventory of how much time you reliably have to dedicate to training, and then create a schedule that can be organic when life goes sideways. Maybe doing shorter runs five days a week with one long weekend run fits well into your life because you have long work days or activities every afternoon. Or perhaps you might be better able to get your mileage in if you do longer runs 3 or 4 days a week in addition to your weekend long run because you have evening meetings or kids’ activities a couple of times a week and can’t run every day. The takeaway here is that your workout schedule needs to be flexible to ensure that you get the proper training in for your event.

Simplify your workout library

The key to a successful training plan is awareness. You have to be observant enough to notice when you are plateaued in your progress or when you are overreaching and accumulating too much fatigue. A platform such as Strava or TrainingPeaks can be useful to monitor your progress by using algorithms to calculate your training stress from your uploaded workouts.

We all want to be stronger, faster runners. We read books and articles on training and plans and see terms like VO2max intervals, tempo runs, ladders and progressions. What’s the difference between them? How do we know what workouts to do and when to do them? With so many workouts to choose from, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to put together a training plan that works.

There are a multitude of speed workouts to choose from, but I use just three: VO2max intervals, tempo effort, and steady state effort. When I construct a plan for an athlete, I take into account their strengths and weaknesses, and also what event they will be running. I stress event specificity last in the training plan and whatever is least important to the race first; therefore the plan for a road marathon will look vastly different than a plan for a 100 mile mountain race, but I still use just those three speed workouts.

Change what isn’t working

Here comes the fun part. You’re chugging along, doing your VO2max intervals and checking off the days on your training plan when you realize that your training stress numbers are flat.
You’ve been following the plan, so why aren’t you progressing? The problem is that you’re an individual, and we all react differently to different types of training. If you’re not seeing progress using one type of workout, it’s time to switch to another. The same is true if you are experiencing a high level of fatigue. If you aren’t recovering from one type of workout, you need to make adjustments and try something else.

Does this all sound confusing? This is where a good coach comes in handy. A coach can design a plan for you and then tweak it based on your progress and recovery. This allows you to simply do the workouts and not worry about the logistics of the training plan. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to communicate with your coach about how you’re feeling, but at least you can feel confident in knowing that you’re getting the most of your training by letting a professional plot it out for you.

I hope this information helps you to make more informed decisions about your training and that you’ll be better able to reach your athletic potential. I’m happy to design a training plan that will maximize your effort without wasting time on workouts that aren’t effective for you. Are you ready for success? Head on over to our contact page and let’s get started on your future!

Coach Faith is a UESCA certified running coach and has her level 1 sports nutrition coach certification through Precision Nutrition.  She has taken continuing education credits in women-specific training and nutrition and works with athletes of all abilities. She lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her husband and two fur babies.