Race Day Running Routine

Optimizing Your Racing Potential

Racing to your optimal performance level is complicated because there are so many factors that go into performing at a high level. A lot goes into running fast. It’s so much more than being physically prepared. I know a lot of runners who are in peak fitness shape and yet cannot perform to the level they’d hoped to have achieved. Why is that? Well, there are. Continue reading


Smart Running Tips

Running Tips for the Smart Runners

Shalane Flanagan recently said, “You can’t take a Ferrari off-roading”… as she announces that she’s injured and pulling out of the Boston Marathon this April.

This Ferrari analogy is so true as so many distance runners find themselves taking their race car bodies into uncharted and unfamiliar territories without pause or hesitation. smart-running-strategies 

Jump back into training with a hard 12 miler? Sure!  

Track workout in spikes after years of no spikes?  Why not!

A major injury in April. June marathon?  Yes, please!

All of this leads to heartache, headache, and unworn running clothes.  We constantly make these decisions… And yet, we’re not quite sure why we always get these repetitive injuries… Maybe we’ll learn..

Injury prevention is one of my “schticks” as I’m often on the receiving end of long stretches of zero running – and not from the above-mentioned reasons…  Running injuries suck.  Any injuries suck, but being a runner and injured is the worst.  

Dealing with injuries

Dealing with injuries

Variation is Key to Injury Prevention

Pacing Variation

There are lots of paces on the spectrum of running… Hitting all of them may make us a more well-rounded runner.  Focusing most days on easy/recovery runs is one way.  Then touching on each of the “major” running paces (ie: tempo, threshold, interval, & race pace) will ensure we stay fresh, motivated, and healthy.  Mixing in cross-training days and off days will also play a huge role.

“Train smarter: If you run your easy runs harder than necessary, you won’t be able to run your hard runs as hard as necessary.”

Race Distance Variation

Can’t always be a marathoner.  There comes a time when speed work (ie: 5k work and lower) plays an important role in the success of a runner.  Too often, we get into the mindset that what we are is what we always have to be.  Here to tell you that you don’t have to be confined to a certain mold.

Training Location Variation

Running on 1 surface for every run is oftentimes equal parts boring and risky.  By varying your terrain – roads, trails, packed dirt, hills, grass, track, etc – you can work different muscles and put less strain on the bones and joints that get used to running on a specific surface all the time.IMG_0096_2

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try different “styles” of running.  You might find something out there that captivates you and forces you to be an active runner rather than a passive one.

Workout Distance Variation

Changing what workouts you run will prevent getting stale, will help you boost your performance, and keep your mind and body engaged in the workout.

Example: Always running 4-5 x 800 at the same pace with the same recovery.

Make a change and try 1000s or mile repeats. Try them at 5k pace or half marathon pace. Adjust the recoveries to match the type of workout you are running.

Injury-free runners are the happiest

4 tips to staying injury-free and happy while running

Figure out what works for you by experimenting far away from peak races.  Don’t shy away from change because change is scary.  Be smart and go slow.  Make small changes at a time when you can focus on easy running, rather than in high or heavy mileage.TrainwithMarc.com (6)

Want similar articles on Smart Training? Check these out:

What pace is best for my intervals?

Incorporating speed work into a running plan

Having a plan for consistent running

Contacting Marc

Contacting Marc

Planning a Racing Season

Planning a Racing Season

Winter time is here.  I hate running in the winter.  I don’t enjoy being cold. Ever.  Luckily, planning a racing calendar is something that motivates me to get out the door when it’s really cold, windy and truthfully, I’d rather be doing anything besides running outside.

Planning a Racing Season

Planning a Racing Season

When I’m building a race calendar, a lot of factors go into my decision.  I often ask myself if the race is “worth” my time. Let’s break that down, as that phrase “worth it” is not intended to be elitist in any sense.

  • Is the race helping me reach a goal?
  • Does it fit into my life calendar?
  • Is the price fair for the race distance/experience I’ll have?

After thinking about those questions, I look at whether the pros outweigh the cons.  Even if a race passes the above tests, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll race it.  Then I ask myself these questions:

  • Am I in shape or out of shape?  
  • Do I feel like racing?
  • Do I need to race for motivation or for another reason?

As you can see, I don’t just race to race.  There are a lot of factors that go into deciding to race… Sometimes, I’ll go 4-5 months without racing.  Why? There isn’t a need to or a race that satisfies all of my above qualifications!

Ok, so let’s say I’ve chosen a racing calendar.  It has 4-5 races spread out throughout 3-4+ months.  I’ve adjusted my training to focus specifically on the goal race and I work backward.  What do I need to do in training to be at my best for the goal race?  I focus on just the goal race as the other races are less important.  They are crucial for me to do them, but not in the sense that I am looking to run a PR or a perfect race.  In these non-peak races, I’m purely looking to work on strategies such as pacing, nutrition, and getting rid of nerves.  That’s all they are there for!

Planning your next racing season

When to race & when to keep training

When to back off even if I have a scheduled race on the calendar.

Numerous times to “skip” (ie. NOT RACE) even though a race is on my calendar:

  • If an injury occurs during training
  • If I don’t feel recovered from training or a race
  • If my goal race has changed
  • If something in my non-running life has come up

So many reasons to NOT race… Be picky.  Be choosy.  Figure out what’s important to you and why you’re always racing.  Just know that you’re not going to get everything out of yourself if you race week in and week out over the course of 5 months.  There’s little time to train effectively when each weekend there is a race.  Good blocks of uninterrupted training will ultimately be the most rewarding and the best strategy to performing well in a select few race.

Reasons Not to Race

Reasons Not to Race

Interested in more that’s similar to this?

Distance runners should keep a training log

Having a race-day checklist 

Using a coach to guide your training

Setting goals for a racing season


Contacting Marc

Contacting Marc

Strength Training and Base Mileage

Over the last month, I’ve done more strength training than I had previously done in the last 6 months.  

True story.  

I tell my runners to keep up with their strength training (bodyweight exercises, ie: pushups, squats, lunges, etc, core and ab work, hip and mobility, etc, etc… Yet, hardly ever “found time” to do it myself.  There is a disconnect between my runner-self (doing strength work) and the coach (telling myself to do strength work).  I know how valuable it is for me to do it, yet couldn’t pull myself together to actually do it with any kind of regularity.  I choose an easy run over 20 minutes of strength.  Blah! That needs to change.

Base Mileage & Strength Training

Base Mileage & Strength Training

Strength training is something I’ve needed to incorporate into my weekly routine, but never really had any desires to figure out how and when I’d make it work.  Not only does strength work improve my running form, my running economy, and my overall ability to run faster, but it is also something I need to continue doing as I get into my mid-30’s.  

This lack of effort, or, better put, lack of stringing together days and weeks of strength training has recently changed.  I’ve been able to do my strength training with a group – and that has helped tremendously.  I get my 3-4 mile run in, then head indoors to work out with the kids I’m coaching.  

all-i-needed-was-some-accountability-and-a-reason-to-stay-consistentIt doesn’t matter one bit who I’m doing my strength with.  What matters is that I’m actually getting it done.  

Prone Stabilizer - Core Exercise # 2

Prone Stabilizer – Core Exercise # 2

As it stands now, it looks like all I needed was some accountability and a reason to stay consistent.  Maybe that’s all it takes for anything to get done?

Strength training and base mileage for distance runners

Strength training while adding base mileage for distance runners

Here are some of the routines I’ve done. If you do any, snap a pic and tag it with #TrainwithMarc.

UK Workout

8 Min Abs 

Shoe Workout

Deck of Cards Workout

Body Weight Strength Routine

Power & Explosive moves

Contacting Marc

Contacting Marc

Question about any of the exercises? Google is your best friend.

7 ways to go from a good runner to a great one

I have been getting brand new runners lately and I thought that even us seasoned vets could use some reminding about what it takes to go from a good runner to a great runner.


7 ways to go from a good runner to a great one


1.  When in doubt, something is better than nothing. Go get a mile in.  Chances are, it won’t be as bad as you think it is and you’ll continue on for a few miles.

2.  Slow down – it’s better to move (by move I mean run, cross train, basically sweat) for 40 minutes at a slower pace than 25 minutes at a faster pace.  When you work out slower, you’re able to recover for your next workout.  When you’re recovered and not sore from a hard workout, you’re more likely to get out there for that next run.
3.  If you don’t run every day, move around days only if you have to.  There is a pattern and a flow to how your workouts should be arranged.  Become a planner.  Know you have a run/workout scheduled and plan to get it in.  Try not to stack hard days next to each other without some planned rest before and after.  As you become more seasoned, you can get away with this, but as a new runner, you’ll want to go in an easy-hard-easy pattern.
4.  If you’ve taken a complete off day and should have worked out, then you should attempt to make it up.  Know that stacking back to back (to back) days is what gets you injured, and so we try to avoid this scenario.  Don’t save your off days for early or late in the week.

5. As runners, we have to be flexible with our training.  That means that if Tuesday looks better than Wednesday (weather, scheduling, life-wise), we should probably try and do our hard workout that day.  It doesn’t mean let’s put off our workouts to Friday and Saturday because we didn’t have time.

thurs @ armory 1.20 (27)

Going from good to GREAT!

6. Distance runners aim to build a big base (run as much as possible without getting hurt) so that when you start doing workouts and faster paced runs, you have the foundation to build upon.  Think of building a skyscraper with a weak foundation…what is likely to happen?  It will tip over or crumble (you’ll be more susceptible to injury).  So we aim to have a good foundation of easy runs and long runs to help support the faster workouts that are to come later in the training cycle.
7. Our bodies can adapt to a great amount of stress if we let it.  We should aim to only increase one of three training variables at a time.  When we stress more than one factor, we are more susceptible to injuries.  However, we can trick our bodies into thinking we are just playing with one variable, when we can be altering two.  The important key is to stay hydrated, get enough sleep and eat healthily.  The 3 variables are intensity, density and volume.
Intensity – how fast our percieved effort is for a given run
Density – how soon you allow yourself to recover between your workouts.
Volume – how much mileage are you running per day? per week? per month?

Be sure to share this with new runners – it’s great advice that I’ve picked up on over the years!


3rd TrainwithMarc logo

For details on how you can train, run, and race with TrainWithMarc, find us on the web:


Track Intervals: On Pace or Faster?

Many runners have questions about how to run intervals – should they be run as fast as possible or run within yourself at a prescribed pace/effort?
Specifically, this is written for a runner I coach who is unsure about how to run intervals the most effective way to seek the maximum amount of bang for his buck.
Coach Marc in 4th of July Race

Coach Marc in 4th of July Race

Read below and let’s discuss how you run intervals during your training.

Send me a tweet or message me below!

Running Intervals

Intervals that I provide to you are designed for you at your current fitness level.  I have no doubt that if I gave you repeat 800s at threshold with 40 seconds rest that you could run each effort 10-20 seconds faster with the same recovery.  In fact, I know you could.  The issue then becomes that you’re not running threshold effort.  So then instead of running threshold (which you can do in your sleep, practically), you run something faster (which is still attainable) than that and it taxes your body differently and now you are slightly more run down, depleted, and the effort intended was not met.
Track Intervals

Track Intervals

So let’s say I give you this workout: (1 mile warm up, 2.5 miles @ tempo pace (8:15 pace), 1 mile recovery mile, 2.5 miles @ tempo pace (8:15 pace), 1 mile cool down).
Can you run 8:15s yes, could you even run 8s or 7:50s, yes!  But the body responds when you run within a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate ability.  With your current fitness (based on your race results and your training paces) you can be expected to hit 8:15s at your true threshold pace.  Now, here’s the “if”…
Let’s say you’re used to 8:15s at tempo pace and they feel like you’re going 80% hard (which is roughly what they are supposed to feel)… And now you get a day like today where it’s 60 degrees, no humidity and you feel AWESOME.  Well yes, 8:15s is either going to feel stupidly slow or you’re going to run a faster pace (while still maintaining that 80% effort)*  <– This is the key.  The effort.  This is why I say summer (and winter running) is all about getting in mileage and going off of effort.  The effort will stay the same when you get a nice day, but the pace will exceed your current ideals about what you can run.  
OK, to sum up… Yes, you can run faster on your intervals, but it doesn’t always benefit you to do so.  The paces I prescribe are ranges (give or  take 5 seconds higher or lower) so you can account for weather, terrain, sleep, nutrition, etc.

What do you think? Do you adjust your summer running to account for weather and humidity? 
Send a comment on twitter or facebook and let’s keep the conversation going!
Need a VDOT chart to help with your own pacing? Check ours out here.

9 Tips A Coach Gives His Runners

As a virtual or online running coach, you won’t find me with a stopwatch in hand overseeing my runners during their workouts.  It’s not possible, even if I wanted it to be.  I have runners in all corners of the country, and so, as you can imagine, a lot has to be said and then implied when we do interact.  An online coach is there in spirit and, if I’m doing my job correctly, the athletes I coach become, in effect, my assistant coaches.  They ultimately make the call on whether they do that last repetition, or how fast they run their recovery runs…  

9 tips from coach marc for runners

9 tips from coach marc for runners

Within the coach/athlete relationship, a lot of communication happens.  Some of it is explicit within the daily training (run this pace, with this much recovery) and some of it is general advice (hydrate, stretch, be flexible and be open minded).  Regardless of what type of information I’m passing on, my goal is to make the runners I coach smarter runners who race faster.

That being said, here are some of the key pieces of information I’ve shared with them throughout the summer as we’ve built, tinkered, and fine-tuned our approaches to their peak races.  (These are in no particular order).

Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Don’t neglect foam rolling, massage, icing, and stretching. All of these will make marathon training possible.

    Massaging on a foam roller

    Massaging on a foam roller

  2. Let’s not be running at the hottest part of the day…
  3. Be careful of the heat. Hydrate often and run when the sun is not as strong – early in the morning or late at night.

Training (and Racing) Philosophy

  1. “Comfortably hard” is a range of effort that is roughly 10k to half marathon pace. Roughly a 6 out of 10 in terms of effort.

    Tempo running explained

    Tempo running explained

  2. Run days – or days that you run the day after a workout should feel hard only because of fatigue. Don’t make them harder by running them too fast.
  3. Cross training can be done as swimming, biking, or on the elliptical.  Anything that gets your heart rate up, but doesn’t bother your injured area are all GREAT forms of XT.

    Carly and Marc biking

    Carly and Marc biking

  4. Most runs should start slower than they finish. When you finish a run, you should feel “fast” and not slogging through the run.  And, the pace on an easy run should be comfortable and finishing like you could go out and run for another 2 miles if asked.

    Carly and Marc running

    Carly and Marc running

  5. Remember that “easy” pace varies based on weather, course/loop, current fatigue, etc
  6. Always adjust your pace to reflect the conditions (heat, sun, lack of sleep, hills, etc).

Having an online running coach is great for runners who don’t need their hand holding and can get their training done because they want to get it done.  The coach/athlete relationship works well when both communicate, ask questions, and are flexible.  If runners, whether coached or not, take the 9 tips above and put them to good use, they will ultimately be a better runner and athlete.

Contact Marc to get coached.

Find Marc on social media:

Twitter: @marcpelerin

Facebook: @fb.com/TrainwithMarc

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Transition from Runner to Triathlete

The move from being a runner who might dabble in cross training to a multi-sport athlete (swim, bike, run) can be a fun challenge that enhances your running potential.  For many runners, jumping into a pool can be a big scare, but don’t worry: lots of practice will help you overcome any fears about being in the water that you might have.  The same can be said about biking; long hours in the saddle and cars whizzing by can be nerve-wracking.

transition from runner to triathlete

transition from runner to triathlete

Regardless of how you move from runner to triathlete, make sure you practice and get help from athletes who’ve done it before you.  Unless you have prior swim experience, chances are this is the discipline that will take the hardest to master.  Join a swim group who will motivate you, give you tips, and push you to become a better swimmer.  

While biking costs the most to pick up, you’ll find that the fast pace and the wind in your face will alleviate your desires to be running.  Link up with a bike group who can teach you the ins and outs of being safe on the open road, help push you to new distances and prepare you for the longest discipline in the triathlon.

New to swimming?  

Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

  1. Swim suit – preferably one that is made for racing in the water, instead of lounging on the beach chair.  Speedo makes a great (and affordable) line for new swimmers that are flattering and modest for the newbie triathlete.  
  2. Goggles – try a few pairs on and see what fits to your head and face.  Upgrade by getting a pair that protects your eyes from UV rays.
  3. Swim cap – optional, but a good idea if you’ll be doing a lot of swims and you worry about what the chlorine is doing to your hair.

    via runnersweb.com

Practice your breathing (something you don’t have to worry about on land), your stroke through the water (efficiency is key!) and how your body moves through the water (the less your body resists water, the faster you’ll move).  

Swimming usually is calculated in yards (rather than meters), so aim for swimming by laps or by time.  As a runner, it’s more manageable to focus on laps rather than yards or meters.  Swim 8 laps the first week and increase by 2 laps every time you get in the pool.  By the time it is race day, you’ll be strong enough to handle the race distance.

Getting into biking?

Here’s what you’ll need to have a safe and enjoyable ride.

Gus Andersen, a recent 2x Ironman finisher says, “You don’t need to buy new as there are lots of used bikes out there and can be of GREAT value.  Find a biking friend to help you out…With new bikes, you get what you pay for and lots of people get discouraged on the bike because they buy CHEAP and then its painful (literally).  A bike fit or at least working with a local shop is the best option.  Good bike shops will not push you into a purchase and will let you test ride a bike for hours.  A simple lap around the block is not sufficient.  Bike shops don’t make their money on the bike sale really, they make it on the accessories and follow up services.”

Bike Transition at Ironman Vancouver

Bike Transition at Ironman Vancouver

  1. Helmet – a must if you want to protect your brain.  There are entry level helmets and super advanced ones (for time trials), but an mid-level helmet will be perfect for you.
  2. Bike shorts – Most new bikers skip this crucial part of the bike portion of a triathlon.  Long rides in the saddle almost require having some padded protection for your butt.
  3. Bike – this is the no-brainer item to be a biker and have a good bike split.  Bikes range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.  Do your research, find a bike you are comfortable being on and will use often and then save for it.  For the most part, the more expensive the bike, the faster (and easier) your bike portion of a triathlon will be.
  4. Clip in pedals – “Clip ins” are for the more advanced rider as they take a lot of getting used to.  Clip in pedals help disperse the amount of work your legs must do to pedal.  While you’re clipped in, you can push down and pull up on the pedals.  
  5. Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from bugs, leaves, grit, and wind.  You don’t want to be going 20 miles an hour and get something in your eye.  Trust me.

Practice changing gears on the downhills and uphills.  Find an efficient yet comfortable position on the bike and make sure you abide by the rules of the road.  Since you’ll be spending a lot of time on your bike, try taking in nutrition – there are a lot of products on the market, so try them before race day.

Biking is measured in miles (unless you’re from out of the USA), in which case to get a good workout on the bike, you’ll need to ride for well over an hour.  Don’t get discouraged if your pace isn’t there at first, it takes time to get efficient on a bike.

Already into running?  

Here’s what you probably already own.

  1. Running shoes – go to a specialty running store and have them watch you walk and/or run.  The right pair of shoes will make the difference between having good runs and bad runs.
  2. Racing shoes – get racing shoes (also known as racing flats) only if you feel comfortable being in a less-supportive shoe.  Most high-end runners will find that racing flats are the way to go for road races.
  3. Shorts – being a runner means owning running shorts.  If you’ve never been in running shorts, you haven’t lived yet!
  4. Running/racing tops – Moisture wicking shirts will change your life.  Racing tops (racing singlets) will not only keep you drier, but also promote your favorite company or brand.
  5. Watch – a GPS watch isn’t necessary, but definitely comes in handy if used wisely.  If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it.  Not all runs require a GPS, so if you don’t have one, it’s not a big deal.

The three sport discipline of triathlon can be rewarding in so many ways.  Since you’re already experienced with running, you’ll find that the cardio aspect of swimming and biking to be quite fulfilling.  On top of that, you’ll be able to work harder (in the pool and on the bike) without feeling the fatigue of the pounding from running.  Training for a tri breaks up the monotony of just running and will strengthen your non-running muscles making you a stronger athlete. 

Carly and Marc running

Carly and Marc running

So give it a try.  Take 2 months of taking out some of your normal running and add in biking and swimming.  You’ll have the same strength aerobically, but you’ll be so much more well-rounded as an athlete.

Tell us how you feel once you’ve added in the other disciplines! 

Ever do a triathlon? What tips can you leave for Marc so he can rock his first tri?