Training Peaks – Hal Higdon Notes of interest – 71 days to MCM!

Signing up for the Marine Corps marathon through the ACS DetermiNation program gives the additional advantage of a membership to this online training program called “Training Peaks”. You fill out the info and input the level of runner, etc.. then they calculate and give you a training program. Because I am on many other online networks I have not utilized this program fully, but have followed the Hal Higdon model through the past 3 years so I am familiar with the routine.

The thing I like best about the program is the emails – they come daily, but summarize what distance, how to run it, why and some extra notes from Hal. Very cool indeed.

This post is my collection of some recent notes from Hal that have fueled me in my training for the MCM. Enjoy the words — great information here to learn more about what works and why.

August 7
One means of attaining maximum performance is to achieve optimum body weight and an optimum percentage of body fat. You can do that just as easily with long, steady distance. It will take you somewhat longer than if you ran those miles fast, but you are less likely to become injured.

The secret to weight loss is to burn more calories than you eat.

Exercise physiologists say that when you run slowly, your body has time to metabolize fat as a source of energy. When you run fast your body burns glycogen, a derivative of carbohydrate, as its preferred energy source. Glycogen is stored in the muscles and is a more efficient fuel in the sense that the body can metabolize it more rapidly than fat. But by training slowly, you teach your muscles to become more efficient at also metabolizing fat, thus sparing glycogen stores for those last few miles in the marathon.
Just because you run slow doesn’t mean you’re not getting the most out of your training.

August 9:
Speedwork is a scary word to a lot of marathoners, who reason that there is nothing speedy about the pace at which they run 26-mile races. If that is so, why do speedwork, with its ultimate threat of injury? First-time marathoners need give little attention to speedwork: Their main goal is to gradually (but gently) increase their mileage so that they can finish a 26-mile race. Improving marathoners probably should also focus their attention on determining what level of high-mileage training works best for them. But after you have been running for several years and you begin to shave seconds instead of minutes off your PRs, or if you start to slip backward, it is time to turn to speedwork.
Also, if you’re an experienced runner, sometimes you need to take a risk to improve.

August 10
One of the best ways I know and, in fact, the only good way to improve form is by running fast in practice. If you can learn to run more economically, you will perform better at all distances and levels. I am not sure why speed training improves your running form. Maybe you recruit different muscles. Maybe you force yourself to move more smoothly. Maybe by learning how to run at speeds faster than race pace, you are more relaxed when you do run that pace in a marathon. Maybe it is all of these reasons.
Whatever the reason, running fast works.

August 12
Speed is of limited importance during long runs; more important is time spent on your feet. One long run strategy for runners following time-based programs is to set as goal for the longest run approximately the length of time they plan to run in the marathon itself, not worrying about the distance or the speed at which they cover the distance. That is handy if you plan to run on unmeasured courses, particularly ones that would take you off roads and into the woods.
And I encourage you to do so.

August 12
One of the skills that separates the good runners from the almost-good runners is an ability to focus their attention for the entire period of the race, whether it is a mile or a marathon. Dissociating is a good strategy for beginning marathoners, but not for people who want to run fast. When your mind wanders during a marathon, inevitably you slow down. If you stay focused, you learn how to concentrate all body systems to sustain a steady pace, conserve your energy and maintain your running form.
It takes total concentration to run fast on a track; once you master this skill, you can transfer it to your road runs.

August 14:
Knowing when to back off and take a complete day off, or even more, is one of the secrets of marathon success. It is not easy, since the traditional work ethic that has proved successful for many people suggests that more is better. The training diary we all keep would be more of a hindrance than a help if it pushed us to run extra miles just to achieve mileage levels we may have planned months ago without considering whether I have a cold, or failed to get enough sleep the night before, or am overly fatigued because of having spent most of the previous day on an airplane. When in doubt, listen to your body.

Saturday, August 15
Speedwork usually involves bursts of fast running (at race pace) followed by periods of slower running, or rest. That is essential, because most runners probably can achieve race pace for long distances only when well motivated and rested, in other words, during the race itself. To achieve race pace in practice, they need to cut their race distance into segments, and rest between those segments. If you were a competitor at 5000 meters, you could run 12 x 400 meters in a workout, resting short periods after each 400, and simulate some of the stress of your race as well as practicing race pace.
A marathon runner probably would not do 26 x 1 mile in a single workout, but the principle is the same.

All the above information and coaching is from Hal Higdon – Here are some links to information from Hal online.

Hal – Author of 34 books here is a link to his main site.

Hal Higdon’s Training Guide – A series of training programs that guarantee marathon success. This is the training that I have been following since my success in Chicago in 2006.

Training Peaks – where Hal is featured and here there is a link to his training forum as well for addition Q&A and information galore! 🙂

(Photo: Chicago Marathon – 2008)

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Nancy Cook 2021

About Nancy

Nancy Peck Cook is a trainer and speaker who has presented in front of large and small audiences for the past 25 years.  Her work as an executive and volunteer trainer for the American Cancer Society during the growth of the signature activity Relay For Life trained professionals to be more confident and successful in their roles. 

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