How They Train!

David Knauf - July/August 2013


  • 49

How many years have you been running?

  • I started at age 12 and ran through my college years until about age 27.  Had a serious gastrocnemius (calf) injury and stopped.  Then ran off and on for a few years at around 25 miles per week until my ego got sufficiently squashed and I couldn’t fake it and race well any more.  Focused on short distances and track as I first became a master’s runner and then got boondoggled into helping train with Keith Howell and Karen Harvey for this crazy marathon thing at age 46 and started putting in real mileage.

Lifetime personal records


All Time

600 Yds 1:16.5(middle school–my only record still standing!) N/A
Mile  4:30.4(HS) 4:49.2
5K 15:24 17:48
10K 32:51 36:59
1/2 Marathon 1:14-1:15 (?) 1:26:42
Marathon N/A 2:58:23(1st one: age 47)


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?

  • Had foot surgery on June 11, 2012 so the first 6 months was simple biking and recovery and trying not to do anything excessively stupid (failed a few times at that).  Last six months:  I typically put in 35-50 miles per week….higher end if I am training for a 10K+ and lower end with more quality if I am racing shorter or am tapering.  My mileage recently has been up in the 50 mile range as I am training for the Boilermaker 15K in July. Marathon training puts my peak mileage at around 70 miles/week.

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • Monday: Rest day.  Core workout at the gym or bike ride if I am feeling up for it.
  • Tuesday: Intervals–typically 3 miles with a 1-2 mile warm up and cool down; longer if marathon training.  Intensity is usually 5K race pace or faster.       
  • Wednesday: 7-10 mi at 7-8:30 pace; depends on Tuesday recovery.  Bike if I am hurting too much.
  • Thursday: 6-8 miles relatively easy pace in the AM; PM core workout if recovered.
  • Friday: 0-5 miles depending on how I felt and if there is a race on Saturday.
  • Saturday: Race or 6 mile tempo at  6:30 pace +/-. 
  • Sunday: Long run; slow 0-20 miles depending on marathon cycle.

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

  • I try to maintain my weekly three key workouts throughout the year and modify the intensity and length if required.  The other days round out based on where my training cycle is on 15k-marathons.

Do you take recovery or down time?

  • At least 1 day per week and I try to cycle down my running volume every 6-8 weeks.

Do you peak for certain races?

  1. Yes, this is also in concert with my down time cycle. I try to focus on 2-3 key races per year.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • Lately, 3-5 hours per night.  I don’t recommend it.

What time of day do you normally run?

  • I love to run in the morning, but I end up with about a 60/40 split between AM and PM running. 

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • Foot surgery for Morton’s Neuroma and calf issues in general over the past 12 months. 

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  •  B-complex, D, E, coenzyme Q10, and a multi-vitamin

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • Nike Pegasus is the main trainer; been in the shoe since it first came out; upgraded from the old Nike 2’s (remember those anyone?)

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  •  I used to go ultra-light weight and have had most success in Brooks racers over the years but since my surgery and due to longer races I am using a light weight trainer and the Spira’s.

Do you use weight training?

  •  Yes, two times per week.  I focus on my core and legs mainly on my off day (Monday) and usually do a supplemental circuit workout at my gym at home later in the week depending on whether or when the next race is on the weekend.

Do you stretch? 

  • Yes. I do some static stretching but am a big supporter of active isolated stretching technique and try to mimic core stretching activity as it relates to the forces that are going to be placed on me.  Kevin Sullivan’s recent mile clinic showed excellent examples of these stretching techniques.  Just don’t overdo it; some coaches go crazy on it and spend ½ hour stretching.  Let’s just go run!

What are your favorite running routes?

  •  Forest Meadows, Old Centerville Road, Killearn Lakes area with some nice rolling hills, and the Pisgah Mountains of North Carolina.

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

  • Mcmillan site!  I use it to goal set race times and work backwards to determine the kind of workouts and intensity I need to hit to get me there.
  • Running Research News…I love to read about all of the physiology studies (geek) but what they do is convert that research into real life thought provoking questions that you can use in your training.  Some of the best tapering and training workouts have come from here.  Runner’s World uses their research as well to create the fluff they write about.

How has your training changed over the years?

  1. It takes me longer to warm up and my stride has gone from a heel-to-toe runner to a midfoot striker.  I would not say it has changed that much other than putting in the long runs.  I was getting PRs on distance on every long run I took in my first marathon training.

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

    • SSFF (Slow Start Fast Finish) straight out of Mcmillan mainly used for long runs (12-22 miles), but you essentially start out a min+/mile slower than your average marathon pace in the beginning and work the distance in 3rds.  The last leg should be a hard tempo with the final mile or so dropping the hammer.  It simulates what you are going through late in a race after you have expended some of your energy systems. 
    • Long tempo runs at 30 sec+ below marathon pace for 10-14 milers. It makes running the first half of a marathon feel easy and will prepare you for the hard work later.
    • I have always responded well to speed work and prefer anything under a 1 mile repeat and with little rest (less than 2 min).

Most of my Masters PR’s have been a result of successfully completing those types of workouts with the right intensity and was instrumental in my 2:58 marathon debut.

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

  • Beginners:  It takes 8 weeks for your aerobic system to catch up with the rest of your systems and most people quit before then and say they “can’t run” when they actually just can’t breathe—efficiently transporting oxygen to the working muscles.  Start with a run-walk program for 8-10 weeks. There are quite a few on the internet sites.  Once you get over the hump and if you want to run faster then you need to get to the track on Tuesday morning at Maclay (6:30 AM start) or at the FSU track Tuesday night (6:30 PM).  Gary Droze does a fantastic job at breaking up the groups into ability level and provides some one on one coaching if you are struggling; you will not be the slowest one out there! Confront your fear!
  • Experienced:  Find groups to train with at your ability level or above.  It is a social sport and misery loves company.  If you can hang with them you will get better. Key workouts are tough to do on your own and the group dynamic is the best environment to push through the three key workouts.  If you have run for years then you invariably end up in a pattern of training; mixing it up with some of these group runs will help break out of stagnant repetitive training modes.
  • For everyone it is important to hydrate and if going on long runs do not hesitate to use gels, gu, etc. to supplement your nutrition during the run.  Post workout nutrition is also important; you should be ingesting some type of recovery fuel within 30 minutes of your workout in order to maximize recovery and replenish lost nutrition.  There is quite a bit of research surrounding the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein as the proper refuel. has that research on their site and it is a good read.