What’s your training secret? Colorado running gurus share theirs

Mark Wetmore’s staff at Colorado imparts training wisdom. You can, too.

Drew Morano is a sprints coach on the staff of Colorado University coaching legend Mark Wetmore. Heather Burroughs is another Wetmore assistant in Boulder. In a seeking-secrets column by Mike Sandrock, we get some interesting ideas on how to train. Morano says: “Run some fast 150s,” a workout the CU athletes do, and he advised to run them at 80 percent effort — six the first week, the next week eight, working up to 10. Burroughs says: “One key is to get fitter to run faster.” Say what? she’s asked. “What’s your heart rate with 400 meters left? You want to be less tired than your opponent with 400 to go. … That is the dreaded secret non-secret.” Masters tracksters have been giving each other advice since the sport’s inception, but we can always learn and share more. What’s your “secret non-secret”? Most of us are self-coached, so 2014 can be a season of greater success if we help each other out. One way is posting to the Forums, where many tips exist. Or just post a comment here. Don’t be shy.
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January 1, 2014

21 Responses

  1. George Beinhorn - January 2, 2014

    My secret non-secrets:
    1. Training is individual, and individual needs change daily. Adjust as needed. Your body will tell you what it can handle with benefit – by making you feel “just right” when you’re in sync with its present needs.
    2. Visit the videos and podcasts by Pete Magill on the Running Times website. (See http://bit.ly/1d1C7Ri.) Pete discovered a huge secret for master’s runners: plyometrics, hill sprints, bounding, skipping, et al. revive an over-40 runner’s stride length and elasticity. (Works for me, at age 71.)
    3. Do heavy deadlifts as prescribed by Barry Ross, who was Alyson Felix’s high school strength coach. Keith Livingstone repeats this advice in his fine book, Healthy Intelligent Training (official training guide of the Lydiard Foundation). The deadlifts increase the number of trainable type IIx fast-twitch fibers in your legs. You’ll run like a young person. They’ll also improve your posture, strengthen darn-near every muscle in your body, and make you feel like an old war horse.

  2. Joe Ruggless - January 2, 2014

    I am an M60 Masters division sprinter. Six months ago I developed a training program that enabled me to drop a half a second off my 100m time (13.3 to 12.8) and a second and a half off of my 200 meter time (27.5 to 26.0). I run 3 days a week. I start out my week by doing block work. I set up an electronic timing system and run 10 to 15 20m to 30m intervals. I use this to improve my starts and gauge my condition. I rest a day and then run multiple 200m intervals. I then rest another day and run multiple 100m intervals. I do not time the 200s and 100s. I run them as fast as what is comfortable while pushing at the same time to stress my body. Never push to injury. I started out slow. I.e. 2x200s with a 200m walk in between, and 4x100s with a 100m walk in between. By the time I ran my PRs I was up to 8 200s and 12 100s. I increase the reps by one rep each week. I am currently at 12x200s and 18x100s. By the Indoor Nationals I will be up to 18 200s and 25 100s. My theory is that the 200s help with stride and endurance. The 100s help develop form and speed. The block work is all about pure power. As a side note, I run in very cushioned flats with a good heal to toe rise to help from getting shin splints and injuring my Achilles. I also make sure at the end of each run I stay on my toes and never, and I repeat NEVER use my heels to slow me down. Speaking from experience I sat out 12 weeks in 2012 with an inflamed Achilles because of this. On non-running days I do calisthenics and weights, religiously.

  3. Ken Stone - January 2, 2014

    And I should add that my secret is hill runs.

    I do several kinds:

    Steep grassy hill in 11 seconds.
    Asphalt incline in 14-15 seconds.

    Work on high knees, good form.

  4. Ken Kudo - January 2, 2014

    Hi George, I agree with you! I’ve used Barry Ross’s protocal of heavy deadlifts and fast short intervals for the last five years. And have had PB’s in the 60m and 100m. Initially, I was skeptical but it works!
    I basically focus on max strength and max speed, with NO tempo work. I’m getting older but still motivated that PB’s are possible!

  5. George Beinhorn - January 2, 2014

    , thanks for your insights on the deadlifts and routine. I’m thrilled to read these responses. – g

  6. dave albo - January 2, 2014

    Deadlifters, how heavy is heavy?

  7. George Beinhorn - January 2, 2014

    Dave – “Heavy” as defined by Barry Ross and Keith Livingstone is at least 85% of your 1-rep max, in sets that last no more than 10 seconds (to prevent soreness and aid faster recovery). Barry pretty much explains it here: http://bit.ly/1ixyc0D. It’s based on research by Weyand at Harvard that found the most important factor in running speed is “power to the ground.” That’s determined by fast-twitch muscle – which can be improved by sprinting as others have said here, or by heavy deadlifts.

    There are formulas to calculate your 1-rep max based on how many times you can lift a lighter weight. But I think they are included in the chapter on weight training in Keith Livingstone’s fine book, Healthy Intelligent Training (http://amzn.to/1ixylRS).

  8. John - January 2, 2014

    Deadlifts. I’ve heard the “if you do them right they’re great but people do them wrong” pitch a million times. The risk to your lower back and hips is very high. Injuries before “you do them right” are a dime a dozen.
    You’ve been warned.
    Cut and paste this into your smartphone calendar!

  9. George Beinhorn - January 2, 2014

    I won’t claim deadlifts are without risk. I’ve never been injured, but I’ve had to quit a rep when I felt a hamstring twinge or a tiny bit of discomfort in my lower back. So far, so good, and it’s been once-a-week lifts with a 1-rep max of 305-315 (age 70+). I would definitely – definitely – watch some YouTube videos that emphasize good form. When my form is right, and I lift no more than intuition tells my my body is ready for on the day,I find it feels completely natural, comfortable, and safe, a very natural movement. My rules are: lift slow, rehearse form before lifting heavy, never lift so heavy that I have to “bend” my form to make the lift. See http://bit.ly/1kdLeSP (10-step safety guide for deadlifts) and Mark Rippetoe’s YouTube videos on proper deadlift form: http://bit.ly/1kdLVvk.

  10. Milan Jamrich - January 2, 2014

    I do dead lifts with a trap bar. It works the legs more. Less stress on the back. I am a high jumper; 63 years old; last year 1-rep max 415 lbs. lots of plyometrix. I also do deep squats 3×4 225lbs, but I find it harder on my body than trap dead lift.

  11. marie Kay - January 2, 2014

    Hey Ken,

    Happy to share what i do!

    For me a typical week is 2 weights sessions a week, which include lunges, dead lifts, leg press and some upper body and core.one speed endurance track session based around 400m work and one pure speed session, onefartlek session and one hills approx 20sec incline, 6 sets x 96 stairs , back to back 100m sprints 30 sec rec session. Friday being a rest day.

  12. Ken Stone - January 2, 2014

    So in other words, Marie, you work your butt off. No substitute for hard effort.

  13. Greg Theologes - January 3, 2014

    I agree completely with Milan that the trap bar is the safest, most effective way for an athlete to train the deadlift.

    Unless your chosen sport is Powerlifting, in which case you will need to compete and train using the conventional deadlift.

  14. George Beinhorn - January 3, 2014

    Will look for a trap bar at the gym I go to. Another point – I suspect many runners will find that their max deadlift is limited not by their leg strength, but by their grip strength. It’s frustrating to know that you could lift 50-100 lbs more, if your grip didn’t give out prematurely. The solution, suggested to me by Clarence Bass, is straps. A hitch is that most straps are made for big guys – they are wide and a bit hard to manage for those with smaller hands. Big selection here: http://bbcom.me/1dtw1aQ. Some are as narrow as 1.5″ – example: http://bbcom.me/1dtw5Y9.

  15. dave albo - January 3, 2014

    Sorry to hijack this discussion into a deadlift forum, but thanks much for the details. I’ve pretty much fallen in love with deadlifts over the last couple years, most bang with least buck!

    My secret non-secret is to gradually evolve training to stay healthy, and by health I mean full of vitality and energy and keeping chronic health problems at bay (and injuries to a lesser extent). For me this means doing less and less as I get older (57.5 right now), but keeping the intensity as high or higher than ever. Chronic fatigue due to chronic non-recovery is not a healthy choice! I keep moving to shorter racing distances too, which sure keeps things fun. 800/mile is now too far, 400 is a new challenge.

  16. Peter Taylor - January 3, 2014

    Dave Albo, if you’re in love with deadlifts, I will be as well, as I know you’re a sensible guy. Will try to find a knowledgeable person at the fitness club tomorrow who can help me.

    At first I thought the 57.5 referred to your 400, but that’s your age, right? Doubt you can run 57.50 FAT in the 400 right now, but maybe you can.

  17. dave albo - January 3, 2014

    Be careful Peter Taylor! I have an injury right now (psoas) from one slightly non-perfect lift. My dream goal at this point is to break 60.00, before I turn 58.0.


  18. Liz Palmer - January 3, 2014

    My secret is baby powder in my shoes. Keeps your feet dry and happy. Happy feet are fast feet.

  19. mike sandrock - January 4, 2014

    hi, nice site and excellent comments. Please sign me up for your emails. mike

  20. Eleanor Gipson - January 4, 2014

    For what it’s worth, here’s what I do, not necessarily for the high jump, but just to navigate through life. 1/3 of my training is to improve balance & flexibility-yoga, bosu ball, running slowly through the woods on uneven terrain. 1/3 is for strength-squats of 155 lbs or so, deadlifts, overhead squats, sometimes pistol squats. 1/3 is for form-specific high jump drills and jumping. I do something 5-6 days a week, with winter training having more strength training and summer more quickness @ the track.

  21. Eleanor Gipson - January 4, 2014

    I forgot hills or stair running as part of the strength training.