How They Train! Lisa Johnson

December 2010


  • 29

How many years have you been running?

  • 15

Lifetime personal records

  • 5K – 18:11
  • 10K – 38:03
  • Half Marathon – 1:24:15

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?

  • 45-65

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

  • My goal is to lead a healthy lifestyle and have fun while doing it.  Running is the main part of my social life since I don’t really enjoy girly things like “going to lunch!”  I didn’t decide to run competitively until my sophomore year of college when my former coach tracked me down and asked me to join them on the trails because he was tired of seeing me run the one mile campus perimeter over and over.  I guess you could say I’m more competitive now than I’ve ever been.

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • My weeks have to be versatile because of work, racing, etc.  Also, since I train for different distances throughout the year my weeks vary significantly.  This is a typical week of 5k training:

    • Monday: Off.  Maybe do Pilates
    • Tuesday: 5:00 a.m. speedwork on the track.  Start with a 2-3 mile warm up, then 3+ miles worth of track intervals at 90% effort, end with a 2 mile cool down and a little stretching.  Ideally, I go to the gym at night for a 20 minute lifting session (I dislike lifting but I do it because it helps keep me injury free).
    • Wednesday: 6-10 easy miles on the trails with the Maclay kids, ending with 6-8 striders.
    • Thursday: 5:00 a.m. road run of 6-9 miles with 2 miles of fast pace, leg turnover in the middle.  I may do pick ups of 200s, 300s or a combination of the two at 95% intensity.
    • Friday: Easy run of 5-8 miles.
    • Saturday: 3-5 mile warm up followed by one of my various tempo workouts equaling approximately 20 minutes.  I prefer to run my tempos on the top loop at Lake Overstreet so that I can head to Maclay’s track for speed training of 200s or 200s and 300s.  After that I finish with a 2 mile cool down and stretching.
    • Sunday: Long run increasing in intensity through the middle miles followed by stretching.  In the afternoon I’ll do Pilates and a 20 minute lifting session, this time using more machines than free weights but emphasizing the same muscle groups

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

  •  I tend to build a base in the summer, train for 5Ks in the fall, try to peak for the Turkey Trot, then switch to half marathon training until the Tallahassee half, then change to 10K/5K training for the spring.  I really look forward to down time in May each year!

Do you take recovery or down time? Why?

  • Absolutely, I always rest one day a week.  I always go through a 4 week cycle where I build miles for three weeks and then back down the fourth.  I rest two weeks in May each year (no exercising!) and build very slowly back into it, introducing speed again little by little.

Do you peak for certain races?

  • That is always my goal, sometimes it works out, sometimes not.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • My goal is 8 hours.

What time of the day do you normally run?

  • Usually in the morning since that’s when I have the most energy. However, when it cools off it’s nice to get on the trails more after work.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • None!

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • Yes, daily multi-vitamin and calcium.  I also have a protein shake post-workout.

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • Mizuno Wave Inspire and Saucony Kinvara

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?  If so, what is it?

  • Yes, Saucony Fastwitch

Do you use weight training?

  • Yes.  My favorite workout uses mostly free weights, with no rest between lifts since I rotate muscle groups.  I try to work all muscle groups but really focus on adductors, abductors, hamstrings

Do you stretch? 

  • Yes.  I always try to do it on speed and long run days, easy days are hit and miss.  I stretch my quads, hamstrings, IT bands, and calves.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • Tom Brown double track out to the railroad tracks and back, Forest Meadows Lake Overstreet route to Lake Hall and back.

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

  • Getting training and injury advice from other accomplished runners is the best resource I have.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • In college I was injured constantly because I tried to train like my teammates and didn’t want to miss a day of practice because I loved being there with my friends.  I realized after graduating and running on my own for a year what works best for me.  Also, I used to be able to schedule things around my running, now I have to schedule my running around the rest of my life.  Running is part of my life, not my life.

What examples can you give of specific training methods (for example, long slow distance, hill repeats, track intervals, trail running, etc.) that have produced results?

  • Leg turnover is key for me since I don’t have much natural speed. For 5K up to half marathon training I need speed intervals weekly on the track in order to control pace and optimize speed.

What were the results?

  • Improved my 10K and 5K personal bests from 39:59 and 18:45 to 38:03 and 18:11, respectively.

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

  • Enjoy running however, wherever, and with whomever you like to!  I truly believe that happy runners run fast!