How They Train!

Mary Vancore - December 2014


  • 51

Did you compete in high school cross country or track?

  • NO! I practiced with cross country for about 2 days and then quit. I could not understand why anyone would want to run and run and run like that.

How many years have you been running?

  • I have walked, run, and/or jogged for exercise for almost 30 years. You’d think I’d be better at it. However, I never did any race training until about 5 years ago. The only time I had ever run a race before that was the Palace Saloon race in college, for obvious reasons.

Lifetime personal records

  • Half marathon – 1:38, 5K – 21:26 and 1M – 6:11. I’d still like to break 21! Plus, making it to Boston and NYC marathons on qualifying times was awesome to me.

What running events do you train for or what are your training goals?

  • I do not have any current running goals but would eventually like to break a 21 in a 5k, make closer to 6 in 1 mile and re-run Boston marathon without needing my compadre Lori Abbey to drag my butt out of the med tent to finish!

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?

  • Well, my training has changed pretty significantly over the last 6 months. I am now sculling (rowing with 2 oars), sweep rowing (1 oar with 4-8 people) and erging (rowing machine) 3-4 days a week so I’ve dropped my miles down to 26ish. However, I still do at least one speed workout, a tempo and a long run each week.

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • Monday:  2-5 miles and yoga – Mmmmm; possible sweep row practice (1-1.5 hrs) in evening
  • Tuesday:  My favorite workout of the week (once I get out of bed!). – Speed work w/ the best folks in town at Maclay with greatest coach Gary Droze and greatest crew Bill Lott OR 5k at race pace on erg (rowing) machine . – 7 miles
  • Wednesday:  Scull for 1-1.5 hrs on Lake Hall in single or double or run tempo – 6 miles
  • Thursday:  Run 6 or scull for 1-1.5 hrs on Lake Hall in single or double
  • Friday:  Run 6-8 then scull for 1-1.5 hrs – My other favorite workout out day.
  • Saturday:  Sweep row for 1 hr or long run (min 8 – max 12)
  • Sunday:  Long run if didn’t get it in Saturday and/or bike ride with hubby.

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

  • Not much unless I am training for a marathon or half. Then it gears towards those races.

Do you take recovery or down time?

  • I consider my cross training my “down time”. Sometimes I take a day off but I feel better when I do “something” so would probably bike or move somehow instead.

Do you peak for certain races?

  • Yes, for long distance races only.

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • 7 on average

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • Hamstring attachment seems to get agitated if I do too much fast running several days in a row or speedwork and heavy rowing back to back.

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • Multi-vitamins, fish oil, probiotic

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • I rotate between Nike Pegasus, Mizuno and Brooks Ghost

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  • No

Do you use weight training?

  • Yes. I am a personal trainer so I get weight training with my clients. I would recommend somehow getting core several days a week and rest of muscle groups a couple times a week, if possible (including those legs you keep running on!).

Do you stretch? 

  • YES. I always do some stretching after every run, row, bike, etc. plus standing in line at Publix, etc. If something feels tight, I stretch it right then. Hamstring stretch, IT, calves, glute stretches, chest and back are my regulars.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • Trail runs are my favorite – The stretch between Crump and Edenfield is one of my favorites. Also the trails off of Miller Landing road make me very happy.

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

  • GWTC members and fellow runners are great resources for experience, advice and camaraderie. They have a wealth of information that they willingly share. Running World Magazine was one of my main sources of info when I first started running. I have read several running books but you have to adopt and combine what works for you. Also, I listen to the Ben Greenfield podcast (when I run). He has a TON of info. Finally, Steve Barraco got into my head early with lots of good info. Chuck Kemeny supplemented it.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • It became more geared to the race distance I am focusing on at a particular time. I used to run Shamrock Loop everyday with a lot of rhyme but no reason. Now I make sure I get specific workouts in each week and then build on that foundation as needed.

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

  • Speed work at Maclay has definitely produced results. I also feel always including a tempo and long run each week keeps a solid foundation. I can comfortably run a 5-10k race without too much stress and can also run 10-12 miles enjoyably. Being able to sometimes make it into Group 1 at Maclay is really nice to me too! My cross training also helps me to carry couches, row, and live a physically active lifestyle with my hubby and 3 boys.

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

  • Make sure it stays enjoyable. If you find you are in a rut, examine your routine. You may need a goal or need to add in another activity so when you do go to run you look forward to it.
  • Core work is your best friend. You use your core for everything!
  • Listen to your body. Stretch.