Ask the Coach - Answers

Here are some answers!



Q: I want to break the 3:45 mark for the marathon... what is your best tip to get longer with faster miles? I have a good sub 8 pace for 5 miles but couldn't hold that for 10....

A: The first thing I'd look at is your easy mile pace. How fast are you running your recovery runs?

Next, marathon pace is worked up to. I usually have my athletes starting with either a speed block or a tempo work block depending on previous history and where they're at in a cycle. We'll do marathon pace work occasionally, but usually not until the last 4 weeks before a marathon when we're trying to "learn" the pace.

For the first couple of marathon pace workouts athletes will often say, "there's no way!". But, once the taper kicks in and their body adjusts to the pace they find the pace sustainable for 10-13 miles in a workout... and that's when we know it's sustainable for a marathon :)

Q: I've been running everyday for like 30 minutes or so but I struggle to get any longer.

A: What are your paces for your easy runs? My first suggestion is to try to slow your pace down (I may know your tendencies!). Also, remember that you should be focusing on something different every day: easy/long, moderate, speed, drills, etc.

If it's a mental block, sometimes it helps to think of a run in terms of a WU/workout/CD... i.e. 1.5 mile WU, 1.5 mile "workout", and 1.5 mile CD. Then the miles seem to go by quicker :)

Q: What would be the best workout to do to gain speed? Also, what other workouts could I do for like lifting weights and etc.?

A: If you're just starting speed workouts my favorites are either:

"Telephone Poles" - running as hard as you can between one set of poles, then easy between the next. Repeat 10x.

"The Nichole Special" - as termed by my athletes. It's actually the Jack Daniels special, but I've adopted it and write it often. 2 minutes HARD, 1 min easy, 1 min HARD, 30 sec easy, 30 sec HARD, 30 sec easy. Repeat for 3-5 miles (depending on your weekly mileage and where you're at in your training cycle)

Hills are another great way to build leg strength and speed.

If you're well into a training block and looking to increase overall strength and speed, progression runs are key. Start at about 70-75% of max HR and increase to 90-95% slowly. They're fun :)

Q: What do you eat after workouts?

I usually mix up a Generation UCAN chocolate shake. I usually just mix it with ice and water in a blender. Then in an hour or two I'll have a full meal.

If I don't have UCAN on me then I'll try to get about 20-25 grams of protein with about 60-80 grams of carbohydrates in. It takes some planning but once you have a few go-to meals/snacks, it's easy. And -- it makes a huge difference in recovery time!! Don't skip the post-run meal!

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

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