I am not sure if I had been given by my CTS Coach to do a Pyramid Running Workout for the past 3 years. I was surprised to see in my weekly schedule that I was scheduled for this running workout last Wednesday. However, I missed doing the said workout on the scheduled date because my body was not feeling well to do an interval running workout as I have been experiencing some pain on my right knee for the past days. Instead, I just did an easy run for about two hours in my Backyard Loop on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Thursday, I decided to do the Pyramid Running Workout. The workout goes this way: warm-up for 20 minutes and then run with a Rating of Perceived Effort (RPE) of 8-9 for 2 minutes and then slow down for the next two minutes. After the recovery run of 2 minutes, start again for an RPE of 8-9 for 3 minutes and then slow down for 2 minutes. This is repeated until your fast run will be done to four and then five minutes with each rest interval of 2 minutes. From 5 minutes, go down to 4 minutes, rest in between for two minutes, until you do your last run in 2 minutes. So, in summary, I ran 2-3-4-5-4-3-2 minutes with a two-minute recovery run in between those fast repetitions. After which, I made a cool-down run for another one hour with 20-minute strides of 6 repetitions on the last 20 minutes of my run. In the said workout, I was able to cover a distance of 7.15 miles in 1:57 hours. I did this workout in my Backyard Loop which consists of a single-track trail.
Ten years ago, I was doing this workout in an oval track and I became a faster road runner in the process.
I did not have any problems with my knees during the run and I had a wonderful feeling after the said workout.
My first two days’ training schedule with CTS were devoted to One Hour Recovery Runs with emphasis on my RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) where in a scale of 1-10, my RPE should be 5 which were done on a flat or rolling terrain and I must be able to easily talk when running. On the third day, I was made to do an Endurance Run for 1:30 hours on the trail where the run has an RPE of 6 out of 10. It is described as a conversational run performed at my “all-day pace” and this run will make up the majority of my training volume and its is the most specific running workout to my ultrarunning pace. I did this workout in my Playground Alpha where I was able to attain an elevation gain of 1,200+ feet. It was suggested that I should hike the steep uphills and start practicing or developing my downhill running skills with fast, quick and short strides. I think I was able to cover a distance of 6.4 miles in 90 minutes. On the 4th day, my Coach asked me to do a 2-hour Endurance Run on the trail with strong elevation gain and loss, hike the steeper portions and run the descents and flat areas and I decided to do the workout to reach the peak of Mt Roosevelt and go down immediately where I have started. The 2-hour workout resulted to a 5-hour workout. I had to explain to my Coach where and why I extended my workout and he was kind to accept my explanation. On these first 4 days, my Coach was able to assess my present running situation based from the data that he could read on Training Peaks.
Then came these two weeks of training schedule.
Every time I upload my GPS Watch after my daily workout, the color of my daily block data will come up as Green which means that I am within the bounds of the time duration given to me but when it is yellow, it means that I went over the time duration I was supposed to do the workout. When the color of the training block becomes Red, that means that I did not do the training workout for the day. My Coach would know immediately at a glance if I did my daily workout or not by the color of each training block. If you click each training block (daily training workout), a separate page will appear and the details/workout data will be there as regards to your Pace, Speed, Heart Rate, Elevation Gain & Loss, and other Technical stuffs where the Coach would determine the intensity of the workout and your effort.
On these first two weeks of my training with CTS, I was introduced to strides and tempo runs. It was on the next or succeeding weeks that I was introduced to Hill Repeats. These 3 specific workouts gave me the much-needed “kick-ass” to my running career as a Trail Runner. All of my training workouts with CTS were done on the trails in my Playground and depending on the specified workout for the day, I had a lot of choices/options on where I would go. There came to a point that my Training Playgrounds were named from Alpha to Delta. Within the first month with CTS, it was an interplay of strides, tempo runs, hill repeats, recovery runs and endurance runs.
Having posted the details of my two-week training schedule, you can use them as your guide where it indicates where you can schedule your speed runs, recovery runs and long runs within the week. If you are reading this blog, I would assume that you are an average competitive runner and would like to be a faster and stronger runner so that you can qualify for the Boston Marathon. Bottomline. Try to do these workouts on the trail with strong elevation gain or loss and try to assess your improvement in a 20-minute field test run once a month.
On my next blog, I will explain to you the principle involved why CTS starts their athletes first with Speed/Tempo Runs instead of the usual Easy Long Runs based from the traditional Arthur Lydiard’s Approach in Training Long Distance Runners.
Before we continue with my series on How To Qualify For The Boston Marathon, I would like to mention my first Coach in Ultramarathon before I applied at the CTS Coaching Service. When I started running ultra trail events, Karl Meltzer had been one of my Idols as he would win as Champion, at least, one 100-mile trail ultra race per year. Now, he is considered as the Winningest 100-Mile Ultra Runner In The World. You can check it out in his website here.
From 2014-2016, I have been coached by Karl Meltzer and I subscribed to his Training Plan Only which cost me $ 300.00 every 3 months. It was a very simple arrangement, he asked me for my personal data and then sent me a separate e-mail message for the list and illustrations of strength exercises that I can do as part of my training. Later, he would send me my 3-month training schedule in miles with one day of the week as Rest Day. No specific description of running workout was stated in the number of miles that I have to run daily. However, my weekly mileage would be ranging from 50-55 miles per week as my Average Mileage. When a race is about one month away, he would increase my weekly mileage to 60-65 miles per week. I can still remember that most of my runs were then progressive runs on the trails. All my communications with him were through e-mails. No nutrition advise and no feedback system in my daily workout was discussed. It was purely running on trails with no elevation requirements. He was not very technical and specific in my training program. However, I am not sure if his more advanced and more expensive training program would include nutrition and other feedback system. In fairness to the Coaching/Training I got from him, I became a stronger and faster trail runner.
In my interview with the Senior Coach of CTS before I started being their athlete, I told him that I was a former “client” of Karl Meltzer’s Coaching for two years and maybe, such information gave him the assurance that I had already the experience of being coached by an elite ultrarunner and he would gauged me on my present condition as an ultrarunner. By the way, a runner being coached by Karl Meltzer is called a “client” while CTS call their subscribed runners as “CTS Athlete”. I think there is a big difference there in terms of impression/opinion on how to describe the “coach to student relationship” in each Coaching Service. Personally, I would prefer being called a CTS Athlete as it impresses other people that you are a member and integral part of their Coaching Service.
When Hoka One One Shoes came up with their Shoe Model with the monicker name “Speedgoat” of Karl Meltzer, I wrote a Shoe Review of the said shoes as I was one of the few who introduced it in the local trail running circuit. That is how I idolize and respect this guy. Actually, if not for the Covid-19 situation, I would have the new Speedgoat right now in my possession and ready for another Shoe Review.
I will continue with my series, How To Qualify For Boston Marathon, tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
I am not trying to force-feed you with the training that I did with CTS as I want to share my story from the time that they accepted my application as one of their CTS athletes. I was just lucky that I was able to contact Jason Koop when he was advertising the publication of his book on Ultrarunning in May 2017 and asked him if CTS accepts a 65-year old runner.
After I applied on line on their Website, I was asked to answer (on line) a questionnaire, asking my personal data, experience and number of years of training, and if I had a recurring running injury. After a few days, one of their Senior Coaches contacted me through e-mail and gave me instructions on how to set up my Premium Training Peaks Platform by giving me my Signing-In data. I think it costs me $70.00 as full time payment for my subscription with Premium Training Peaks. Two of my GPS Watches (SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak and Garmin Forerunner) were linked to the said Training Site Platform. Everything (data) that my Coach need to knowabout my daily workout are uploaded to the Training Peaks and you can not fake your effort on those data. The Senior Coach had briefed me about the terms being used on the description of each workout and the specific data that are incorporated in the workout. Above all, my workouts were given to me in the number of hours and minutes and not by the number of miles or kilometers that I have to run in each day. My Coach asked me what is my preferred REST Day for the week and I said, I would like it on Mondays.
My Coach would send me my training workout for two weeks and each day I should give my feedback how my body felt in terms of effort from EASY to Very HARD, the rank measurement is from 1 to 10 with Rank 1 as Very Easy and 10 as Very Hard. It is a also a “must” that you send a short message as how you felt during and after the workout. Your feedback description will be gauged in terms of your fitness condition, fatigue, and motivation.However, your feedback will be matched with numerical data captured from your GPS Watch and as seen on Training Peaks. At the end of the week, you can easily see your totals in terms of the total number of hours and the total of miles/kilometers you covered from those hours.On those first days as CTS athlete, I would review the Book on Ultrarunning by Jason Koop making sure to know the description and details of each workout I was given to do.
It is worth mentioning that the Coach would prescribe in each daily workout the following description: (1) the number of hours and minutes of your total workout; (2) each workout is described from its warm-up period (in minutes), main workout (in hours and minutes, depending how long is the period), cool-down period (in Hours/minutes); and (3) the type of terrain where the Coach would suggest you to run, whether it is flat road, trail, or in a course with hilly or steep elevation. The Coach would suggest also your “Total Score Stress” (TSS) where Training Peak would refer it as Running Total Training Stress (rTSS). Depending on what type of workout, the Coach will designate an rTSS score for a specific workout (Easy Run, Endurance Run, Tempo Run, Hill Repeats or Interval). The higher the score, the more the stressful the run. Thus, your workout will be quantified in terms of training stress for a specific running workout. Once I upload my workout from my GPS watch, my rTSS for the workout will be immediately compared with the suggested rTSS from my Coach. Most of the time, my workout rTSS would not surpass or equal my Coach rTSS. But in my feedback, I felt that I am wasted as a result of the workout. Anyway, whether I can equal or not on the required rTTS, my personal observation was that I was running stronger every week.
For the first two weeks of training workout, I was given a mix of Endurance Runs, Tempo Runs, and Recovery Runs from the duration of One Hour & Thirty Minutes to Two Hours. In the succeeding weeks, I was introduced with Hill Repeats. After three weeks, I was asked to conduct a “20-minute field test”. It is done by having a 15-minute warm-up run first and then I did my fastest 20-minute run along a flat paved road, and then had a cool-down for 30 minutes. The result of my “20-minute field test” determined my Average Pace for the Tempo Run. The Average Pace would be my target time whenever I do my Tempo Runs. Most of the succeeding weeks will be devoted to Tempo Runs and Hill Repeats! I was surprised that my Tempo Run’s Average Pace would be faster than my usual Tempo Pace. Before, I could not breach less than 9:00 minutes per mile pace with too much fatigue and pain to my legs and body after each workout. But after3 weeks of CTS training, I was able to breach the 9:00-minute barrier and with more regular “test runs”, I was able to record a 8:09 minute per mile paceand then lowered it to 7:30-minute pace. With my age and not-so-perfect running form and short legs, I could not believe how fast I could make those leg turn-overs whenever I do my tempo runs on a flat paved road. Since I was preparing for ultra trail runs in the future, I did not have a chance to run on the oval track. I guess, I could run faster if those “20-minute field test” runs were done on an oval track.
One month before the Javelina Jundred 100-Mile Endurance Race, I was given more time for my Endurance Runs on trails in my Playground and they would last from 4 hours to 6 hours. CTS would not allow their athletes to run more than 6 hours in their Endurance Runs for the basic reason that the runner could not recover in a span of one to two days. CTS wants their athletes to be fresh and feeling stronger after a day of recovery. The training concept on those four months was clear to me as it followed the training concept and principles written in the book of Jason Koop—-assessment of my body on the 1st two weeks, followed by fast runs through tempo runs and hill repeats, and then Endurance Runs on the last weeks leading to the target race.
Bottomline, with those 4 months leading to JJ100, I was not injured, my body was always fresh and recovered on Tuesdays, and felt becoming stronger during my Tuesday runs.
In the next succeeding posts, we will go to the details of my daily workouts.
Training Plans On The Internet & Professional Coaching Services
From the age of 45 years old to 64 years old, the range of Qualifying Time for Men’s is from 3:20 hours to 3:50 hours. And for the Women’s in the same range of age, it is 3:50 hours to 4:20 hours. Those qualifying times are very hard to attain if you are not consistent in your training. So, what should you do? You have two options: Download a Training Plan in the Internet or simply follow the suggested Training Plans at the back of every Running Book published and available in the market (that is one option). And the other option is subscribe to a Professional Coaching Service where you could apply with a considerable amount of monthly fee or a fee for the whole package deal of the Training Plan. In the number of years that I have been a runner, I have tried both and at the present I am under the supervision and coaching service of the CTS.
Let us talk first with the FIRST Option of getting a Training Plan in the Internet or in the back pages of Running Books. You can do that and most likely, you will not pay for anything or if you download those training plans with a fee, it is still very cheap and affordable. However, you should be consistent in following your training plan. Nobody will monitor you except yourself. As long as you follow the scheduled workouts and you attain your desired pace or speed to a certain distance, there is no problem. Most of these training plans consider your weekly mileage as the barometer of your weekly performance. You will realize that your training program will ask you to do more of your mileage to become faster. These training plans will not consider or measure your body condition after every workout and you have only your Strava or any Training Platform where you can download the data from your GPS Watch and see the basic distance, time of duration of your run, pace/speed. elevation, and your heart rate. Your watch might recommend also the number of recovery hours every workout but most of the time, such data is not always accurate.
If you are training on your own, you have to consider visiting the Jack Daniels’ VDOT Running Calculator. All you have to do is to input your Boston Marathon Qualifying Time and it will calculate your Race Pace for the Marathon; your Training Pace for each type of running workout, and Equivalent Pace/Speed for each Distance from 1,500 meters to Marathon Distance. If you can attain your Target Goal Time in 4-6 months, then you are very good and very consistent in your training. But remember, these training plans should be supplemented with better hydration, nutrition, strength training, recovery periods, and flexibility exercises. On this site, you can ask for a custom plan depending on the number of weeks you select as the duration of your training. An example is: You pay $100 for a Training Plan for 24 weeks based from your target goal time.
When I applied for Professional Coaching Service with CTS, the book, “Training Essentials For Ultrarunning: How To Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance” by Jason Koop was just published and available in the market in May 2016. I immediately bought the book and personally contacted Jason Koop through Direct Message on Facebook and asked him if I can qualify to apply for their Coaching Service even if I am about to reach the age of 65 years old. He replied positively and the next days and weeks, I was asked to answer some questionnaire about my running, set up my Premium Training Peaks, and I had my first telephone conversation with my designated Coach. So, in the middle of June 2016, I started my training geared towards a “smarter and faster” ultrarunner. If you happened to read the book of Jason Koop, you would find out how scientific is their approach to make you a long-lasting ultrarunner. And for the past 4 years that I have been a “CTS athlete”, they have valued to maintain my healthy condition as a runner so that I can enjoy running as long as I live.
For the first 6 months as a CTS Athlete, I subscribed to their Premium Plan with One Month Free with a monthly subscription of $300. You can click on their site if you want to know more of their Coaching Services. For the past 3 years, I downgraded to their Select level where I am paying a subscription of $185 per month with a yearly contract. But before last year, I was paying then $175 per month. I am not telling or suggesting you to apply also for a Professional Coaching Service as most of these more popular and credible (not “fly-by-night”) ones have the number of athletes to attend to, are filled-up already. You are very lucky if you will be accepted as one of their CTS athletes but you may never know. You can try. I must accept that those first 4 months that I have trained with CTS, I became stronger ultrarunner but my “gut problem” due to heat was always my weakness. Slowly, I have progressed through the years with the help of my Coach on this problem. I can say that CTS accidentally helped me to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
What is the difference between CTS and this Training Plans in the Internet? There are so many differences. First, CTS measures your training output by the time (number of hours) you put in to your weekly training schedule. Those Training Plans in the Internet measure your output by the number of miles/kilometers you run for the week. CTS monitors my daily workout through the Premium Training Peaks and I have once in two weeks telephone conversation for 30 minutes with my Coach. My Coach had never been changed since the time I started to be enrolled with their service. You could just imagine the relationship I have developed with my Coach for the past four years.
In the coming days, I will mention in my posts the details of my training workouts leading to the 2017 Revel Canyon City Marathon Race.
I just want to review the things that I do when I am running in my training and races. Most of these things are known already by runners but sometimes they forget when fatigue and pain come into play at the middle of the run. I usually do these “tricks” to focus or bring back my mind into running as we tend to be distracted by some factors, whether they are external or internal to one’s body. So, these are the tricks that I do:
1. Strides: This trick is described as quick increase in pace or speed for a short distance or time followed with an interval of slow pace. Most of the time, the time elapsed during a particular stride should be the same period with the slow pace. I am usually asked by my Coach to do some “strides” during or at the end of my Warm-Ups and during my Cool Down. However, at the middle of my Races and training workouts, I usually apply these “strides”. Usually, I adopt the “30-second” duration of “strides” which I estimate 30 counts whenever my right of left foot hit the ground.
2. “30-30”-Second Run: Actually, this is the same with “strides” and it was popularized by Kilian Jornet’s technique in running trail events. The first 30 seconds consist fast run and the next 30-seconds in easy run. This cycle is repeated throughout the run or race. Just the same with the strides, I usually count my right or left feet landing/hitting the ground from count one to thirty on fast pace and then shift to an easy pace with the same number of counts. If one can do this consistently, a runner can run as far as he can. This is what I adopt in my running, whether I am on the trail or road. This is my favorite drill during my endurance trail runs and during my road runs.
3. “30-20-10”-Second Run: This drill run is done by doing first a 30-second easy run, then followed with a faster 20-second run, and finish with a 10-second “sprint” to complete the cycle. You can repeat this cycle drill as long as you want. I usually do this drill in 4-5 cycles in the middle of my workout. As you progress, a runner can increase the number of cycles at least one cycle per week until comfortable to do 8 cycles in a single running workout.
4. “Fartlek” Run: Simply look for an object far in front of your running path and then “sprint” towards the said object. Take an easy and relaxed run after the sprint and then repeat the sprint if you feel you have already rested/recovered. Repeat the process as long as you want. You can walk as your rest/recovery in between sprints. You can start with 4 repetitions in a single workout and then steady increasing the number of repetitions within the middle part of your running workout. This workout is done once or twice a week.
5. Counting Steps or Strides: In the middle of my runs, I usually count my strides, whether they are easy or fast, from one to 90. In my estimate, 90 strides is equivalent to one minute which in turn would estimate me running a stride rate of 180 steps per minute. I usually do this drill when I would force myself to jog or to have an easy run instead of walking on the downhills or flat roads.
Most of these tricks were taken from the experiences shared by other runners. Some were taken from running books and articles from running magazines with the proper studies made by Sports scientists and sports physiologists. You can adopt one trick or you can combine all of these tricks in a single workout. It is up for the runner to choose which one is fitted for their prevailing running condition and purpose or objective while running.