How They Train!

Jack McDermott - February 2012


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How many years have you been running?

  • I ran cross-country in high school, then went to college and got fat eating pizza and chicken wings. I began my “comeback” at age 30 – so I have been running seriously for 12 years.

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 run about 55-60 miles, but I have done as many as 84 and as few as 31 depending on my training, tapering, and marathon schedule.

Lifetime personal records

  • Mile:  5:01
  • 5K:  17:28
  • 10K:  36:39
  • 15K:  56:30
  • Half-Marathon:  1:21:20
  • 30K:  1:58:24
  • Marathon:  2:50:15
  • 50K:  3:29:15
  • 50-Mile:  6:27:24

What are your training goals?

  • October is the beginning of “marathon season,” although I am still flirting with ultras.  My big races are the Tallahassee Ultra-Distance 50-Miler in December, First Light Marathon in January, and the Boston Marathon in April.  I would love to get PRs in the marathon and the 50-miler – but that is my goal every year.

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • Monday: Gym for upper body work-out – run 8 miles    
  • Tuesday:  Run total of 6 miles including intervals
  • Wednesday:Gym for upper body work-out – run 8 miles    
  • Thursday: Run 5.5 miles easy with Thursday group in Tom Brown Park
  • Friday: Gym for upper body work-out – run 3 miles
  • Saturday:  Either race, or run tempo run of 7-8 miles
  • Sunday: Run easy 10 miles with Sunday Streaker group – maybe another 5 by myself.

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

  • I really try to ramp it up during marathon season (October – April) due to the cool weather; in the summer heat I merely try to avoid getting fat.

Do you take recovery or down time?

  •   No

Do you peak for certain races?

  • Not really — it depends. I go in cycles where I just run marathons for fun; at other times, I am focused on racing.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • I work best on 8-9 hours of sleep – but usually only get 7 hours.

What time of day do you normally run?

  • I try to run twice a day — during lunch (3 miles), and after work (5 miles)

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • .I have chronic problems with my sacroiliac joint – which usually manifests itself with pain in my butt and right hamstring, but it is manageable.

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • After the University of Exeter studies on beetroot juice – I am a firm believer of taking this before races, which I think helps. Other than that – dietary supplements just give me gas and do not improve my performance.  (Shark Cartilage? Honestly!)

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • I still use the Brooks Beast for my training.

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  •   I am really depressed about this; I love the Spira Stinger shoes, but they stopped making them. I have yet to find a racing flat that I like at the moment.

Do you use weight training?

  •  Yes — Upper body; I do this to maintain my physique – not sure it contributes to performance.

Do you stretch? 

  • I try to avoid stretching as I am convinced it causes injuries. I do believe in warming up before big races, and I am thinking about experimenting with massage.

What are your favorite running routes?

  •   Tom Brown Park

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

  • and

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

  • I am a firm believer in interval training, and in doing tempo runs. However, I recommend that people focus on longer slower runs.  Running a 4:00-4:30 marathon for fun is a great workout for me. It is the “time on your feet” that really counts, not the speed.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • I now focus more on longer distance events; on rare occasions you will see me at a 5K.

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

  • The biggest problem for beginning and experienced runners is not training and injuries – it is motivation.  I believe in developing a multitude of goals, especially goals that are not linked to PRs. One of my goals is to run 500 lifetime marathons (I now have 144); another is to run a marathon in all 50 states (I now have 36), or run with my wife Laura in all 50 states (we have run 14 together – she has done 19 states total).  Keep creating goals that do not pertain to performance and you will always be motivated to run – otherwise it is only fun to run if you are setting PRs.