Claudia's Consistency Pays Off

I have been coaching runners from all parts of the country since 2000. As a matter of fact, over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had an athlete set a 5k pr in Santa Monica, an athlete set a 1/2 marathon pr near Chicago, and a runner run her fastest 10k in 8 years in Virginia Beach. These results made my Thanksgiving a little more sweet and tasty. I want to highlight the training of one of these runners.

Over the past 3 weeks Claudia Crawford has run her fastest 10k since 2005, her fastest 5k since 2006, and her fastest 10 miler since 2004. Oh by the way, Claudia is 65 years old. These results are a culmination of two years of consistent, smart training by Claudia. Since I began working with her in 2006, she has not taken any significant breaks from running or racing, even while she earned a BS in Landscape Design, in the Spring of 2012, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Claudia and I have had our ups and downs with her results, especially in '08 and '09. Around the end of '09 we took a hard look at her training and realized why she was not running her best. Prior to '08, Claudia had consistently held 40 miles per week as her base necessity for strength. For awhile, her weekly mileage dipped below this. With the combination of school, family, working (way too much), Claudia's mileage had slipped to a point where she was losing her strength. She and I had a come-to-jesus moment that I will never forget. Claudia explained to me that she worked hard at the things that she does and that she expected optimal results if she were going to spend the time and energy. I listened and silently vowed to take a long look at her training and make the right adjustments.

With renewed focus on my part and a strong-willed desire for success on Claudia's part, we have since concentrated on 3 basic principles:

1- Consistent mileage. 40 miles per week is the number that has always made Claudia feel strong. Finding your optimal mileage threshold is a key to maintaining strength. For my athletes, the mileage threshold is strictly personal. Caroline and Sarah feel strong at 70+ while Dave is at his strongest holding 48-55 miles per week. Mary K is running 25-30 miles per week and she just set a 1/2 marathon pr by 4 minutes. A consistent mileage base is the foundation for your aerobic conditioning.

2- High Cadence. Claudia keeps a regular cadence count in many of her workouts. This cadence count needs to be at least 180 steps per minute. Hers is closer to 190. Claudia's concentration on a high cadence at all paces makes her a more efficient runner. The higher cadence allows for less ground contact, therefore less ground stroke. I use to count cadence early, middle, and late in runs, especially long runs, to check my efficiency. If you have never counted your steps, give it a try. If your cadence is less than 170, you will find that you will have to take shorter steps to get to 180. These shorter steps also keep the runner from over striding and will ultimately bring your foot strike closer to the mid foot area.

3- Claudia is on a fourteen day cycle. In the two week period, we concentrate on getting 5-6 race specific sessions done. The days in between are maintenance days that consist of very easy paced runs and rest days. A sample 2 week period would looks as follows:

mon- 6 miles easy

tue- 2 miles warm up, 4 x stride, 2 miles of 1:00 hard/1:00 jog, 5k effort on the hard 1s, 2 miles cool down

wed- off

thu- 7 miles easy

fri- 2 miles warm up, 3 miles tempo at 1/2 marathon race pace, 2 miles cool down

sat- 5 miles easy

sun- 15 miles easy pace throughout

mon- off

tue- 6 miles easy

wed- 2 easy, 4 x strides, 5 x 4:00 at 5k effort/2:00 jog between, 2 miles cool down

thu- 6 easy

fri- 5 easy

sat- 12 miles with 60 second pops on the 9s...figure this 1 out

sun- 5 easy or off if overly tired

This 2 week period would cover the training for racing 5k to the 1/2 marathon.

So, if you ever find yourself in a funk and are wondering how to get out of it, fall back on the basics that will make you whole as a runner. No gimmicks necessary.