How They Train!

Mary Anne Grayson - June 2011


  • 45

How many years have you been running?

  • I ran competitively in high school and college, but that was a lifetime ago. Time constraints prevented any serious running during medical school and residency.  Career and childbirth further deferred my return to running.  I currently work full time and have two active children (Isabella, age 9 and Kent, age 5).  I returned to running at age 42.  I have a wonderful husband, Tim, who is very supportive of my training schedule.

Lifetime personal records

  • 5K – 19:48
  • 10K – 41:38
  • Half Marathon -1:36:06

These are my Masters PRs

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?

  • 25-35 miles per week

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

  • My favorite event is the 5K.  I was a sprinter in my former life and I feel hardwired for shorter distances. I really enjoy racing!  I try to peak for Springtime 10K, Palace 5K, and Rose City 10K.

What does your typical week of running look like?

My call schedule at the hospital varies from week to week, so I have to be flexible.

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: AM core strength workout; PM FSU track intervals1-2 miles warm-up, 3 miles of intervals on the track including fast, intense repetitions interspersed with short rest periods; the repetitions vary each week and include combinations of distances from 400 to 1600 meters on the track; for example one workout is 3 times 1600 meters, another is 4 times 1200 meters, another workout is 6 times 800 meters and another is 2 times 1200, 2 times 800, and 2 times 400 meters, ending the workout with 2-3 miles cool down
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: AM core strength workout;  PM  5K Tempo run
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday:   Race (winter and spring) — I enjoy racing any distance 5K to 1/2 marathon.
  • Sunday: Long run 10-12 miles at 7:30-8:00 pace

    I do my best to get in three Specific Training Workouts a week: 1) an interval workout with Gary Droze and Bill Lott; 2) a 5K tempo run with the speedy GWTC members; and 3) a long run (10-12 miles) at 7:30-8:00 pace.  If I have time off from work I will do extra mileage, but these three workouts are key for me.

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

  •  I race in the winter and spring.  I take a break from racing in the summer and fall to spend more time with Tim and the kids.  During this time I try to get my mileage up.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • I sleep about 6-7 hours a night, an area that needs improvement.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • I had a hamstring tear and foot surgery in college.  Even though the injury has healed I still have trouble with stiffness and soreness in that leg. Do two C-sections count as injuries?

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • I don’t take any unique supplements.  I take a Flintstone vitamin with my kids in the morning.  I do drink a ton of skim milk, about 32 ounces a day.  I eat meat every day, which has cured the anemia I had in the past.  Maybe I’d be faster if I didn’t, but frighteningly low hemoglobin makes it difficult to stay vertical.  I drink a protein shake after workouts.  I don’t drink alcohol, but I love my coffee.

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • I like a shoe with a large toe box.  I train in Newton Performance Trainers–lightweight training shoes that encourage forefoot strike.

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  • I race in the Newton Performance Racers.  Honestly, I really can’t feel the difference between the trainers and racers, but they are different colors.

Do you use weight training?

  •  I do core strength training 2-3 times a week early in the morning with Danny Copeland and Dondell Green at “Next Level Training” in Thomasville.  I don’t do free weights, only body resistance work.  I use exercise against external resistance, i.e., elastic tubing and my own body weight.

Do you stretch? 

  • I usually do a mile warm-up followed by dynamic stretching and modified drills.  I find that this works better for me than static stretching. Time permitting, I do the same during my cool down.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • I enjoy running Millpond Road in Thomasville, Miccosukee Greenway in Tallahassee and the Yorba Linda Trails in Yorba Linda, California (my hometown).

What examples can you give of specific training methods?

  • I have so little time to train that I make every workout count. I don’t have any easy workouts.  I either run hard or take a rest day. 

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

  • Over past three years I have learned to take more rest days and in turn I have been healthier.  When I returned to training at age 42, I over-trained to “make up” for lost years, not realizing the risks.  Early aches and pains have given way to smarter training.  I now know that rest and recovery is an important part of the training program.  I have realized that you can’t build if you are constantly tearing down.  At my age, you can build muscle and speed, but the process is slower and more deliberate.  Avoiding interruption of this process with adequate rest days has helped.