Realistic Running

Jim Lubinski, Head coach at Red performance Multisport, has heard it all when it comes to running. So many times he gets asked, “How do YOU run so fast?” His advice?? “It wasn’t an overnight occurrence. It took a long time to build up the foundation, speed, and fitness to be able to run mile after mile at a strong effort.” Jim goes on to say that throughout his years as a triathlon coach he has found that many athletes are unrealistic when it comes to running. The athlete thinks he or she is capable of running a lot faster than they really are. When they go out for a run, they take it out from the onset at an “aggressive” effort and top out early on in the run, become injured, or get frustrated and quit. Where as, if that athlete were realistic with what their real ability were, they would be able to complete the run, feel accomplished, stay healthy, and remain consistent which leads to gains.


Jim provided an example: An athlete puts on their shoes and heads out the door for an hour run at a pace of 8 minutes per mile. The athlete makes it 2 miles (16minutes) and they start to feel winded, their shins start to hurt, their energy level states to wane, and the negativity creeps into their brain. This athlete took the run out too hard from the start. 8 minutes per mile was too aggressive for their current ability level. No matter how much he/she WANTS to run 8 minutes per mile, their body is not ready or able to run 8 minutes per mile. The body has not yet adapted physically or aerobically to run this pace consistently yet. Maybe, if this athlete went to the track and ran 400 meter repeats he/she could hold this pace for short stints but not for the longer efforts. If the body has not had a chance to adapt to the stress of 8 minutes per mile it will absorb more stress than it can handle and injuries are more likely to occur. Our bodies are amazing, they adapt to a stress it is placed under over time. The problem is, we (as Type A athletes) want to jump over the process and instantly run the faster paces. In running especially, this leads to injury. The faster paces equal more stress on the body. If you weight 150lbs and have a running cadence of 90 steps per minute, this means every minute your muscles, bones, and joints on each individual leg is absorbing the weight of approximately 150lbs. If the body is not properly adapted to this stress/load, injury occurs. With greater pace, greater velocity/load is produced which leads to greater stress on the body, which leads to more potential for injury to the unadapted body.

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So whats the answer? Well that’s where RPM Triathlon coaching services comes in, we help you learn to LOVE running, stay injury free, increase your pace, and run longer week over week! How is this accomplished?


#1. Check your ego: We all WANT to run like an olympic marathoner. This is sexy. To be able to say “I held 7 minuted per mile for the marathon” is a bragging point. If you are not ABLE to run 7 minutes per mile, no matter how much you want it, its not going to happen. Jim hears it all the time “I was On Pace to go 3:20 for the marathon but I died out at mile 15.” This is the ego talking. This athlete was never able to run 3:20, they were overly aggressive and wanted to run 3:20 but their body wasn’t ready to run 3:20. You must be realistic with where your current fitness and ability levels are and build from there.


#2.  We help you learn your REAL paces and stick to them. This is how the gains are made. Know what your easy, moderate and hard paces are. Easy paces can be run all day. If they can’t be, you are overestimating your pace. We don’t care if that pace is 13 minutes per mile. It is what it is, and you build from there. Moderate paces are able to be held for 8-10 minutes but should not be held any longer even if you think it’s possible. Moderate rest intervals should be built into each moderate effort (5-10 minutes between each interval). There will be a time and place for that but when just starting out that’s the cap. Hard paces are only completed for 1-3 minutes with big rest between each(Rest of 3-10 minutes between each interval). No longer. This is too much stress on the body. Any longer and injury can occur.


The RPM coaching staff recommends that to learn your real paces, the athletes needs to go out with a heart rate monitor. Out the door run for 20 minutes at a pace SLIGHTLY faster than a quick walk. Maintain this pace. If you are new to running you may have to run/walk (2 minutes run/1 minute walk). After 20 minutes click the SPLIT button on your watch. THIS is your easy pace running. From this split you will get your average pace for the 20 minute segment and your average heart rate. From this 1 interval you can get your easy medium and hard paces. These paces MUST be stuck to in workouts until you reassess your paces in 4-6 weeks after consistent paces. For example: If this pace says 11 minutes per mile THIS is your easy pace, subtract 20 seconds for your moderate pace(10:40min/mi) and 20 more seconds (10:20min/mi) for your hard pace.


#3. Formulate a plan based on your running background and injury status/tendency. A majority of your runs will be at the easy effort. It may not be sexy and it will feel as if you are not making the gains necessary to compete, but what you are doing is allowing the body the time to adapt to the stress of running. If the pace is upped too fast the body does not have time to adapt and injury occurs. If you are new to running, 3-4 runs a week ranging from 20-40 minutes at YOUR easy effort (no faster) should be complete. If you are a moderate runner 3-4 runs at your easy pace ranging from 20-50 minutes and one easy run with moderate paces built in 5-10 minute efforts should be added into your week. And if you are an experienced runner, 3-4 easy runs a week ranging from 30-60 minutes with one run week with moderate pace efforts of 5-15 minutes build in and one run a week with hard efforts of 1-4 minutes built into your week of training.


#4. Listen to your body. If you are getting aches and pains, feeling exhausted and deterred within your runs, your easy pace is too hard. Back off and be realistic. Your runs will improve, you will remain consistent, and you will see the gains happen.


#5. Add in some coaching! Coaches (along with your input) will help you to formulate a race plan based on YOUR paces and STICK TO IT. Especially if you are newer to running this will be key to your success. The plan should be approximately 50% easy pace, 30% moderate pace, and 20% hard pace for half and full marathons.


Coach Lubinski went on to say “Back in Junior High when I won the state championship in the 1 Mile event, our practices consisted of just running at our own pace for 20 minutes. Nothing else. While at the time, we thought this was boring as could be, we were giving our body time to adapt to the stress. If our coaches, Coach Meade and Coach Spina, would have instantly started giving us speed sessions, injury would have occurred, consistency would have lagged, and I probably would not be the runner I am today.  It has taken years to get to the point where I am today. My easy paces have become quicker and quicker throughout the years, but I have been very patient in building to the point I am today. No matter if you are a 55 year old new to running, an injury prone 38 year old, a Kona Qualifying Age Group Champion, or a Professional Marathon Runner; you MUST be realistic. This is how the gains happen, you stay injury-free, and you learn to LOVE running.”


Red Performance Multisport triathlon coaching services can help meet and exceed your goals while doing it in a healthy and injury free way. We specialize in building programs designed specifically for each individual athlete, no cookie cutter approach here!

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