How They Train!

Kelly Stevens - September 2011


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How many years have you been running?

  • Started running in high school just to keep in shape for soccer, then became more serious about it in college at SUNY Oneonta when I ran indoor and outdoor track (mid-distance). So, 13 years, but competitively 9 years.

Lifetime personal records

  • Mile – 5:02
  • 5K – 18:50 (on track); 19:17 (on road)
  • 10K – 41:22
  • Half Marathon – 1:34:15
  • Marathon – 3:28:54

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?

  • .Anywhere between 20-60; if I’m training for a marathon I average 40-60, but if I’m training for a triathlon it’s on the lower end 20-30.

What running events (sprints to ultra-distance) do you train for or what are your training goals?

  • This past year I trained for a marathon in the fall and a sprint triathlon (Red Hills) in the spring, with miscellaneous races and distances in between ranging from 1 mile to 30K. When in triathlon training, I aim for 2 bike rides, 2 swims, 1-2 strength training sessions, and 4-5 runs a week (clearly I favor running). When in marathon or miscellaneous training I aim for one of each per week: cross training, speed

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • Monday: Swim or soccer
  • Tuesday: Speed work (2-3 miles warm up & cool down, 3 miles worth of speed work, for example repetitions of 3 times 1600 meters, or a work up of 400/400/800/800/1200/1200) AM, possible bike PM
  • Wednesday: Mid-long run (5-10 miles) AM, possible swim 1600 meters lunch
  • Thursday: Tempo run (6-10 miles) & strides AM
  • Friday: Easy run if race weekend or mid-long run, possible swim 1600 meters lunch, yin yoga PM
  • Saturday:  Race, race-pace, or easy run and/or longer bike ride
  • Sunday: Long run (8-20 miles)

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

  • It varies so much it has been difficult to peg for this “How They Train” article! I try to do one marathon a year, and I’ve followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate II or Advance I training programs, but am currently trying the Boston Athletic Association Veteran program for the required 4 months (with some tweaks). During other times of the year I’ll take 3-4 months to train for a triathlon (only done a few sprints so far), or play more soccer, or focus on upcoming shorter races (e.g. 5K, 10K, etc.). I describe myself as a grand prix junkie, and so I try to train for those events as they come up (e.g. Springtime, Turkey Trot, Women’s Distance Festival, etc.).

Do you take recovery or down time?

  • After a marathon I take a week off, then ease back into running through cross-training and short runs for another week or two.

Do you peak for certain races?

  • Generally the marathon takes precedence in my mind, but I don’t think I’ve done my best there yet.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • I aim for 8 hours, but usually get between 6.5 and 8.

What time of the day do you normally run?

  • Usually mornings. I work full-time and am finishing up a master’s degree, so mornings are my only time free.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • Some minor muscle pulls and sprained ankles, mostly from soccer. I also used to have unbearably sore Achilles, also attributed to soccer (I put inserts in my cleats and I don’t have as many issues any more). I love soccer, but soccer doesn’t love me.

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  •  I’m a vegetarian, so I do take vitamins to supplement anything in my diet I might be lacking. Every other day or so I take a multi-vitamin, glucosamine & chondroitin (which I realize isn’t exactly vegetarian), iron, calcium, omega 3-6-9 pill, and vitamin B-complex.

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • Asics, Nike (Structure), Saucony (kinvara 2)

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  • Not usually, but I’m going to try it. I switch to Zoot running shoes for the 5K in a triathlon and have a new pair of Saucony kinvara 2s for road races.

Do you use weight training?

  •  When I’m triathlon training yes, 1-2 times a week in the gym. If I’m marathon training no, but I do P90x abs, ploys, or yoga for some strengthening.
    If it is gym work, mostly shoulders, back, chest, triceps, biceps, and abs.

Do you stretch? 

  • Yes, but not enough. I’m ridiculously inflexible. I am trying to incorporate pre-workout dynamic stretching and post workout foam roller and static stretches. In yin yoga we hold positions for longer than typical yoga (2-5 minutes) to work on connective tissues and fascia, which I think has helped a lot. And I’ll stretch some nights in front of the TV or while reading.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • Living out in Killearn I stick to routes nearby such as Shamrock and Forsythe and the Overstreet trails. I enjoy seeing a variety of routes with the Imitation Adults on Sundays for the long runs though.

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

  • I have a couple of favorite apps on my phone including the “Sleep Bot” to track how much sleep I’m getting and how far into sleep debt I might be (I never reach a surplus). I also like “My Fitness Pal” where I can input my food intake and exercise for the day to compute nutritional needs (e.g. how any grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to aim for, etc.). I also use to record workouts and race performances. And I love the Nike plus on my iPod which tells me my pace while I’m running.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • My mentality used to be that just running more miles will bring improvement. Now I realize it takes more of a holistic approach, where improving my diet, sleep, stretching, habits, AND improving my running is what works best for me. I’m also enjoying cross-training more by incorporating biking and swimming and different things like yoga. Increasing miles alone didn’t do it for me.

What examples can you give of specific training methods?

  • I recently added strides after easy or shorter runs, and I’ve always been a believer in speed work. I also advocate for keeping one long run a week on schedule for endurance.

What were the results?

  • So far so good… but I think I’m still defining my training formula! My next goal is to drop some time in my marathon so we’ll see how that goes this fall.

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

  • Everybody requires something a little different. Because of that, don’t be afraid to try new things, in terms of not only training but also post workout recovery or even daily habits. And also don’t feel bad if something that works for someone else doesn’t work for you! I feel like I try a new thing about every month. Some things I keep doing, others I don’t. The last few months I’ve tried out the foam roller (keeper), Zumba (might not keep), strides (keep), sports massage (might keep), and protein shakes post-workout (keep). I also recently learned that increasing the demands on your body increases your body’s needs. You can’t just increase your miles or training without also needing to better your nutrition, sleep, stretching, everything. Or maybe that’s just me getting older. 🙂