Coach Mike Mead

October 2010

Fall Weather Distance Training

Now that fall weather has finally arrived, this is the best time of the year to get in some serious distance running. Many folks race marathons and longer distances between now and next April. But if you have been on low mileage – less than 40 miles a week – and you have aspirations of racing a distance beyond a 15K, you need to get a healthy boost in your weekly and monthly mileage.

As I have always said, one should not increase their mileage by more than 10 percent in any give period of time. So if you use the above weekly mileage, you would increase to 44 miles, then 48 and 53 miles over a three-week period.

With cooler weather, one can run longer and farther before feeling affects of heat. It will be important to be mindful of staying hydrated. One tends to drink less when the weather is cooler, so becoming dehydrated is perhaps more prevalent.

The main advantage with cooler weather is the ability to run more efficient at a faster pace for a longer distance, that is, if you work at it. Following a long summer of being beaten down by the heat, you should be feeling fresher and stronger on your runs.

I’ve always preferred the method for training runs to start out easy and gradually speed up until you find a somewhat comfortable pace that is challenging, yet controlled and sustained for the rest of the run.

It is very important to start out being relaxed while controlling your breathing. It’s helpful to be aware of your running form and being as efficient as possible, particularly as you increase your speed and cadence. Controlling your breathing is also important in being able to run effectively. Being conscious of form and breathing will help you run stronger for longer distances and improve your endurance strength.

As you increase your mileage, be sure to watch your shoes more closely. If you are logging in about 50 miles a week, plan to get a new pair of shoes every 8-10 weeks. If you are running more than that, replace your shoes every 6-8 weeks.

With your increased mileage, you may need to take a day off each week. If you are an older runner who steps up the weekly mileage and efforts, you may need to take two days off a week. Remember, if you have been running long enough, your base is somewhat cumulative and will be sufficient compared to a younger runner with less of a lifetime training base.

With the fall being the height of cross country season, take advantage of races and training locations that may not be available the rest of the year. Just be cautious running on uneven terrain where ankle sprains are a constant danger.

I also recommend running once or twice a week doing some easy drills or strides in your bare feet. This will help strengthen your feet, help improve your form and help in injury prevention.

By getting in some serious distance training now, you’ll get a good base to carry you through the winter when weather conditions become more challenging to run in. Go long!