How They Train! Eric Laywell

January 2015


  • 50

Did you compete in high school cross country or track?

  • Track & Cross Country as a senior, Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Let’s go River Rats!)

Did you compete in college cross country or track?

  • Track & Cross Country as a freshman, Alma College, Alma, Michigan (Let’s go Scots!). I transferred to the University of Michigan (Let’s go Blue!), and have been running “unaffiliated” ever since

How many years have you been running?

  • 34

Lifetime personal records

Best times from track or certified road races:

  • 400m  –  :51
  • 800m – 1:56
  • Mile – 4:11
  • 3000m – 8:35
  • 5K – 15:10
  • 4 miles – 19:56
  • 5 miles – 25:10
  • 10K – 31:29
  • 15K – 49:12
  • 10 Miles – 54:12
  • 20K – 1:08:00
  • 1/2 Marathon – 1:12:24
  • Marathon – 2:38:02
  • 50K (Trail) – 4:25

What running events do you train for or what are your training goals?

  • I don’t really have specific training goals anymore. I just enjoy running with my friends or my dog, and putting out a hard effort in occasional races.

Consider your training over the past 6 months to one year.  How many miles a week do you typically run when not injured and consistently running?

  • 35-45 miles/week

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • Monday:  No running. 60-75 minutes of weights
  • Tuesday:  6-7 miles including 10 x 800 on grass at anaerobic threshold pace (about 10K race effort) with 90 sec. recovery
  • Wednesday:  8 miles at a relaxed pace
  • Thursday:  6 miles at a relaxed to moderate pace, followed by 10 x 100m strides. 60-75 minutes of weights in the p.m.
  • Friday:  5-8 miles at a moderate pace
  • Saturday:  5-7 miles including 4 x 1200m at max VO2 pace (about 5K race effort) with 4 min. recovery
  • Sunday:  Long run of 1:45 to 2:30, depending on the time of year. Relaxed, aerobic pace

How does your training vary over the course of a year?

  • It’s relatively consistent. My long run in cool months is 15+ miles, but I shorten it during the summer, rarely going more than 12 miles at a time.

Do you take recovery or down time?

  • I usually take one day a week off from running, but I don’t plan any extended breaks during the year.

Do you peak for certain races?

  • Not any more.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • 6-8 hours. But I could easily sleep 10 hours a night if I didn’t have kids and a damn job.

What time of day do you normally run?

  • I run almost exclusively in the morning, starting between 6:30 and 7:30.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • I have not been injured in the past year. In fact, I’ve never been seriously injured. I get occasional bouts of tendinitis, but they always clear up with reduced training or a short layoff.

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • Rum (the expensive, sipping kind – not the cheap swill that people mix with Coke).

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • I’m fortunate to be able to wear almost any kind of shoe. I look for something cushiony, flexible, and on the clearance table. I do, however, occasionally splurge for Hoka’s. It’s twice the cushioning at triple the expense, but I would eschew pavement entirely if not for them.

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  • If it’s a road race, I’ll wear a pair of Hoka Rapa Nui.  For trail or cross country races I have a variety of shoes, but I don’t know what they’re called.

Do you use weight training?

  • Why, yes, I do. Thanks for noticing! I lift about every third day, and cycle through three different workouts. The major exercises I focus on are bench press, incline press, shoulder press, pull-ups, rows, curls, back extensions squats, knee extensions, and lunges. Almost all exercises are done with barbells or dumbbells rather than machines, and the weights are moderate to heavy. I suppose I could use this time and energy to run higher mileage, but at this point in life I think it’s more important to be able to walk right.

Do you stretch? 

  • I stretch very seldom. Unless you count working my joints through their functional range of motion while supporting substantial amounts of weight. In that case, I stretch every time I go to the gym.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • The vast majority of my running is done on dirt trails or grass, mostly at Phipps and Maclay Gardens. I also like Old Centerville Road and Alford Arm in winter (in summer the flies leave you a pockmarked, bleeding mess).

What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else?

  • I used to voraciously read everything I could find about running. Training systems come, and training systems go. The best thing to do is read a lot and experiment to find what works for you. If I had to recommend one, single resource it would be Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot by John L. Parker ( The principles are sound, simple, and applicable even if you don’t use a heart rate monitor.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • I used to enjoy running 3000+ miles per year. Now I run 1800-2000. I’m no longer neurotically compulsive about getting my run in each day. I still enjoy running hard workouts and occasional races, but I spent my youth as a hyper-competitive jerk and now I have little interest in what the clock says.

What examples can you give of specific training methods, and what were the results?

  • Without doubt my body has always responded best to anaerobic threshold running; longish intervals at about 10K race effort with relatively brief bouts of recovery.  Three of my favorite examples include:
    • 20 x 400m with 30 seconds rest
    • 10 x 800m with 90 seconds rest
    • 2 x 2 mile with 3-4 minutes rest

What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training?

  • You don’t improve by training hard. You improve by recovering after you train hard.