Upping the Ante

Training tips from the experts. 

You’re generally fit and want to push yourself to the next level. You run 3-5 miles a few times per week, but this summer, you’re thinking about tackling a longer mountain race, like the Crosscut 15/25k or maybe the Ridge Run. How do you go from exercising to training? What steps should you take to ensure success? We asked the experts so you don’t have to.

One Step at a Time
When training for a longer distance run, it’s important to keep in mind that first you have to make it to the starting line. Unfortunately, stepping up to a long-distance run often results in an injury during training; there’s a wide body of evidence demonstrating that those of us who run 40 miles per week or more have up to a 90% injury rate! Therefore, it’s essential to train properly. That involves a training plan that doesn’t increase total weekly mileage more than 10% per week; supplementing your running with core, hip, and balance training; getting proper and adequate nutrition; keeping up mobility with foam rolling; and taking two days of active rest per week—no running! —Jason Lunden, physical therapist and outdoor athlete, Excel Physical Therapy

Dear Diary
Maintaining a training log and listening to your body are two actions that add up to one powerful tool in increasing mileage. There are plenty of free log-templates online, or you can simply keep a journal. Record as much or little detail as you like. Training variables such as distance, terrain, time, and/or speed are a good start. I also like to keep note of what my body is telling me. For instance, record your resting pulse before getting out of bed—a rise may indicate over-training, oncoming illness, or under-sleeping. Brief notes on mood, energy-level shifts, or weird body twinges help to complete the picture. This information keys the runner into the effect of training on her body and foreshadows injuries, which may allow the athlete to avoid them. And if injury does occur, a log gives the coach, doctor, or P.T. a much better patient history. —Nikki Kimball, ultrarunner and physical therapist, Clearwater Physical Therapy

Variety is the Spice of Life
Most folks that run for general fitness usually do the same thing week in, week out. This means the athlete never progresses, or sees any fitness gains. A runner taking on a new race distance—something longer and a bit more challenging—needs to diversify his training. He needs to run longer (90 minutes to three hours, depending upon the race distance) at least once a week and run on terrain similar to the race itself. Most importantly, add at least one hard workout per week to your training—either a 15- to 30-minute tempo run or some kind of strenuous uphill-interval repeats. These workouts are where you will experience the most gain and physiological adaption. Bonus: these hard workouts are also make you mentally tougher. —Mike Wolfe, head coach, the Mountain Project