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My solution to over-training: Racing flat, fast, and short

On Folsom Street with about 600 yards to go, with David Glennon in hot pursuit.

For my Outside blog I recently wrote about the unexpected benefits of running flat, fast, and short this spring, a break from my more usual up/down, slow, and long.

Read: How to Avoid Overtraining

I was not suffering from over-training syndrome, which is a debilitating physical breakdown that seems to have no cure. But if you closely follow this blog, you may have heard me mention the mental exhaustion of high-volume efforts. Remarkably, I’m entirely refreshed after just a single training block of “normal” running: 60-mile weeks, one or two track workouts per week, and no races longer than 35 minutes.

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9 Responses to My solution to over-training: Racing flat, fast, and short

  1. George Zack July 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm #

    Good read.

    I’d venture to guess that you are not going to see a “lot” of drop off in what you do at RRR this year. I base that on the fact that you are not too far removed (a year vs. years) from the bigger ultra training and given you are still doing something … well it accounts for something. In other words, while specificity in training still rules, generally training will get you generally there.

    I do also notice that the guys that go back to the track and the short stuff are typically the ones that came from there in the first place. I have struggled to understand the 20 something kid that starts in the ultra space when they have 24 second speed in the 200 and have yet to run a mile on the oval (but hey, no harm no foul I guess – or “you do you.”).

    I’d be interest in the more specific particulars … do you avoid slogs up Green Mountain, or repeats up Fern Canyon entirely to be sure you get the 400 meter reps in? Or do you occasionally sub one in for the other?

    • Andrew Skurka July 10, 2018 at 5:07 pm #

      Good thoughts and observations.

      Re “more specific particulars,” I think David and I are still figuring it out. My summer schedule is inconsistent due to private and guided backpacking trips, so it’s been tough to establish a routine. In general, it seems like I can handle two workouts per week, independent of a day or two with a lap on Green or similar. One of those workouts will be something on the trail; the other, on flat trail or the track, to keep up running economy.

  2. Tim July 23, 2018 at 2:13 pm #

    Hey Andrew- enjoyed the article. I’m trying to build track workouts into my half marathon training–this’ll be my 5th half plus one full but I’ve never incorporated sprint workouts before (chalk it up to laziness). Do you have a resource you’d recommend outlining track workouts for non-ultra runners? I realize this probably varies by fitness level, personal preference, etc, but would appreciate any general thoughts (or links) you can share. So far I’ve just been doing 100m intervals for 2 mi. Thanks!

    • Andrew Skurka July 27, 2018 at 8:50 am #

      Sorry, no specific resources to recommend. But search around for “running efficiency” and you will probably find some helpful things.

  3. Joe August 2, 2018 at 5:53 pm #

    I’m curious about your upper body fitness regimen, Andrew.

    Do you work out up top?

    In the pic, you and the man behind you seem identical in build, from head to toe, and you both look fit above the waist as well as below.

    • Andrew Skurka August 2, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

      Ha, no, not at all. But there is muscle up there, and when there’s not a lot of fat to cover it…

  4. Joe August 2, 2018 at 9:13 pm #

    Huh. Unlike you, I am not naturally blessed with a “runner’s build”, as I recall you describing yours. I tend toward linebacker, but aspire to Ethiopian. šŸ™‚

  5. Martin August 28, 2018 at 9:47 pm #

    Andrew, a good article (once again) and something that I have always pondered and attempted to do. Can you elaborate on “three-month training block” and how you managed to coax your legs into speed work? After months of endurance running, my legs feel like they lack the agility to get up to pace, plus the fear of injury! Thoughts appreciated.

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