How They Train!

Charlie Johnson - October 2016


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Did you compete in high school cross country or track?

  • Yes.  I ran at Cairo High School in Cairo, GA.

Did you compete in college cross country or track?

  • No.

How many years have you been running?

  • I have run since I was probably 6 or 7 years old.  Started with my Pops when we’d make it to the nearby school to look for pennies at the vending machines at the half way point of the “runs.”

Lifetime personal records

  • Mile – 4:34; 5K – 16:15; 10K – 34:00; ½ Marathon – 1:16:41; Marathon – 2:42; 50K – 3:25

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

  • It runs the gamut.  I have definitely been on the long distance side of things for my “A” races lately.  This year, I trained up for Tallahassee Marathon in February and will do Ironman Chattanooga in late September.  For the TM, I ran the Tallahassee Ultra 50K as a “warmup”.  Afterwards, I did some 5K and 10K races to mix it up.

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?

  • I would say I average around 25 to 35 miles a week and get up to 50 miles at the heaviest when marathon training.

What does your typical week of running look like?

I pulled the following from a recent week, which was a heavier load than usual – but I thought it would be fun for some to see.

  • Monday:  Morning swim 3,000 yd; Afternoon 55 min run with 5 x 3 min @ 5K effort
  • Tuesday:   1 hour trainer ride on bike w/ 3 x 8 min very hard sets; 40 min Core / Strength Work
  • Wednesday:   Super early 20 mile run steady effort; Evening 45 min spin on trainer
  • Thursday:   Day off
  • Friday:  Morning 3,300 yd swim; afternoon 2 hour hard bike immediately followed by 35 min hard run
  • Saturday:  100 mile bike at medium effort
  • Sunday:  4,500 yd straight swim

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

  • My training is based upon my schedule of long races (Marathons and/or long distance triathlons

Do you take recovery or down time?

  • Definitely.  Helps more mentally than physically.

Do you peak for certain races?

  • Yes, the long distance races.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • 6.5 hours

What time of day do you normally run?

  • Usually very early in the morning.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • Bone spurs in shoulders (played a lot of handball through my life); knee cap pain, but nothing that took me out of sport.

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • Yes.  Vitamin C pill, Echinacea pill, multivitamin pill each night.

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • I like Brooks in general. I currently have the Pureflow 4 which have treated me well.

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  • No. I run in my shoes WAY longer than most.  I had two pairs on which I put 850 miles on one and close to 1,000 on the other.  If it ain’t broke, I don’t fix it.

Do you use weight training?

  • Yes. Mostly off season.  I like free weights.  I like squats, leg press, toe raises, bench press, lat pull down.  Also do situps/pushups/planks/pullups/etc.

Do you stretch? 

  • Dynamic and static.  Dynamic before workouts (high knees, butt kicks, caraoce, leg swings, etc) and static after workout because it feels soooo good.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • I fell in love with Miccosukee Greenway long ago and haven’t let go.  The span along the south side of Miccosukee Road is probably my favorite part. I also love running on country roads in my native land of Grady County, GA.

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

  • Sooo many options here.  Personally, I learn more from small talk with the local running masterminds.  I am leaving out many, but I have picked up much from shooting the breeze with the likes of Herb Wills, Tom Perkins, Gary Droze, Gary Griffin, Mike Weyant, David Yon, George Palmer, Bob Keller, and the list goes on.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • I have learned that “all out” is not meant for every workout.  I have always considered myself to work as hard as anyone, but knowing that an easy day means “EASY” and a hard day means “HARD” will get you further than you ever thought.

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

  • The biggest part of training I incorporate is visualization.  My goal before any big race is to have seen the whole thing occur before the first step of the race. I am also a big, big believer in mixing hard effort and easy efforts within all training regimens.  Also, running the type of course and type of weather you will face on race day preps one in many good ways.  For this year’s Tallahassee Marathon, by the time I toed the line, I had run every linear foot of the course at least 4 times if not more.  I ran it from start to finish, from finish to start.  I did hill repeats on it.  I ran in heat and in cold.  I learned exactly where each tough hill was.  I knew that the hill on Park Avenue between Blairstone and Magnolia would break many people.  I have named that hill “The Separator”.

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

  • Keep it fresh and keep it fun.  If you are a beginner, the sky is the limit.  Look for variety and ask veterans lots of questions.  This is THE BEST running community I know of – period. Regarding experienced runners, I am at the point in my life where I’ve seen my best races and my times are starting to slow a bit as the years pass.  Many of the names I mention above who I learned from had their fastest times years ago, but they are at the races more consistently than anyone.  Why? – Because they truly love the sport.  I am realizing that if I give it my best shot and have fun doing it, then I am doing it right.  And realize that if you can get out there and move yourself forward, then you are doing it right!