My good friend and coach kept texting me about how he was falling in love with running again and not only getting stronger/faster, but feeling healthier than ever.  Finally I had to know what the heck he was doing, so he offered to write a guest post and here’s exactly what he’s been doing the last 12 weeks and how he’s gotten on top of his run game.  

Running into 2016 – By Coach Robbie 

About 3 months ago (Oct 3rd to be exact) I found myself at a bit of a multi-sport crossroads. I admittedly was a bit bummed after watching close friends and athletes I coach participate in Ironman Chattanooga. It was a race I had originally planned on doing but after a move to the Midwest, a new job, getting married and a sneaky bout of shingles the 2 months prior I  decided to pull the plug on it.

I found myself in a new city with no real known bike or run routes and pretty much zero desire to train. For a creature of habit and routine junkie like myself, this was the perfect recipe for excuses. I knew I wanted to get back into training, more specifically I was ready to start running again.

I also knew that I wanted to get back to “the drawing board” when it came to my training and plan construction. I was not disappointed in my results but really felt I had gotten away from the methods that had brought be so much improvement early in my triathlon career.

I dove back into my training archives dating back to 2011. I looked at what I was doing then versus what I was doing now. A total 180 degrees is what I found.  In 2011 I was able to pull off a 10:31:38 at Ironman Arizona which included the best run performance I have ever had across any distance with a 3:43:39 (8:32 pace) marathon.

That year my training was nothing fancy, not a lot of intervals, track workouts, treadmill burners, FTP tests, turbo sessions, or intricate looking workouts. The majority of my training (about 80-85%) was just good consistent volume in primarily my Zone 1 or 2. I built upon every week very slowly and just stayed healthy and consistent. The last few years I have gotten away from that model and done way too much training at moderate or higher intensity’s for much too long.

After taking a look back, it was now time for me to look forward and make a plan. My first priority was to address run fitness/volume. Not only do I believe this is the best time of the year to address your run fitness it is also the biggest limiter for most triathletes. I decided on a 12 week run focus block where I would gradually work in strength training and cycling as long as it never interfered with my run plan. I decided to use the BarryP model with training paces from McMillan Running. For those of you not familiar with the “BarryP” model it is quite simple:

1. Find a REALISTIC weekly run distance or volume to start.

2. Commit to running 6x per week.

3. NEVER increase your weekly distance or volume by more than 10%.

4. Run 3 runs at 10% total weekly distance.  These are Recovery runs.

5. Run 2 runs at 20% total weekly distance. These are Easy runs.

6. Run your 1 long run at 30% total weekly distance.

7. Run a 5k race to establish your paces.

8. Find your training paces for each of the 3 runs.

9. Build 3 weeks and then have 1 week of recovery.

10. Go run.

Here is how it went for me after following this plan for 12 weeks.

Week 1 weekly mileage – 20

6 runs broken down as 2/2/2/4/4/6

Week 12 weekly mileage – 58

6 runs broken down as 5.8/5.8/5.8/11.6/11.6/17.4

Starting zones:

Easy- 7:36-8:36

Long- 7:40-8:56

Recovery- 8:42-9:23

Finished zones:

Easy- 7:07-8:07

Long- 7:12- 8:25

Recovery- 8:12-8:55

Starting weight – 175

Finishing weight – 168

Total miles – 484.7

Total runs 72

First 5k time was 20:38

Last 5k time was 18:49

This is by far the happiest, healthiest and most consistent I have ever been when it has come to following a training plan. I did not miss 1 single run. I never got injured. I never made an excuse. I made time (aka. was allowed) over my honeymoon, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years so I did not miss a run.

I never ran on the track or did any “speed” sessions. Somehow in the midst of this run focus I also got my cycling groove back and have been riding 3-4x per week. Although I plan on finally getting back in the pool in the coming weeks I wont do it until the time is right and I really want to.

I would encourage you to do your own research on the BarryP plan, read as much as you can, immerse yourself in McMillan Running and just buy into the process. It will take patience but I promise your results will be worth it. ” The fitter you are, the more careful you must be in training. Too often, the engine breaks the chassis. Respect the chassis.” Take some time to build your chassis and put your engine (ego) aside for the next 12 weeks.



Running Into 2016 – Building Your Base