How They Train!

Paul Guyas - November 2014


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Running Background

  • I’ve always played sports: soccer, tennis, ultimate (Frisbee) and in those sports, running had been a component, but I did not specifically run and race until I became physically unable to compete in field sports about 3 years ago. Before I found Gulf Winds I ran somewhat sporadically about two or three times per week for about 3 miles and maybe I would do a six mile run once in a while. Now I run every day that my schedule allows.

Professional Background

  • I’m a physical therapist, exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning coach, and certified running coach. Basically, I can’t get enough seminars and classes and when I go to them they keep giving me letters after my name.

Lifetime personal records

  • 400m 0:56
  • 800m 2:12
  • 1 mile 4:57
  • 5k 17:53
  • 10k 38:34
  • 15k 59:52
  • Marathon 3:02:57

What are your running goals?

  • I’ve just begun trying to peak for specific races. In the past I would “rest up” before a big race, but now I’m planning out my running calendar with detail and skill. I’m striving for a good fall half marathon. And beyond that I’ve got an 18-month plan.

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • I don’t have a typical week – in fact all my weeks are different. I have a detailed plan and it varies as the season progresses and as the “A” race approaches. The basic premise is that Volume (mileage) starts big, gets bigger, and then tapers off while Intensity (speed) starts slow and then ramps up. I schedule daily workouts to maximize the training effect and allow for and capitalize on recovery. It’s planned variation within planned variation – a concept called periodization. On top of that, I take the liberty to make slight alterations based on my performance or how I’m feeling. It’s not that complicated, but it must must must start with a good plan and an understanding of basic physiology. I base my runs in time (not distance) so when I set up a long run, I have a defined duration planned and the distance just falls in based on the average velocity. One week where I was building to peak mileage, the plan looked like this:
    • Sunday:  2:30 @ 7:55/mi (19 mi)
    • Monday:  0:50 @ 9:00/mi (5.5 mi)
    • Tuesday:  1:53 @7:40/mi (14.5 mi)
    • Wednesday:  Strides* (4.5 mi) 50-100m at about mile-race pace x6-10
    • Thursday:  2:05 @ 7:40/mi (16 mi)
    • Friday:  Rest (or a short jog)
    • Saturday:  1:02 @ 6:50/mi (9 mi)
    • Total: 68.5 mi with some of it at significant speed. I didn’t necessarily always hit every target, but that was the framework.

*With long warm-up and cool down of about 15 minutes each

Now as I build toward this fall racing season I have weeks like this planned:

    • Sunday:  1:40 @ 8:00/mi (12.5 mi)
    • Monday:  Track workout* Run 100m/jog 100m x10 (4.5 mi)
    • Tuesday:  1:00 Fartlek @7:00 to 9:00/mi (7.5 mi)
    • Wednesday:   Time Trial* 1500m (4.5 mi)
    • Thursday:  1:18 @ 7:30 (10.5 mi)
    • Friday:  Rest (or a short jog)
    • Saturday:  Time Trial* 5k (6.5 mi)
    • Total: 46 miles with some (hopefully) fast running in there

I’ll cut down the miles even more right before the Big Race. Missing from these examples is any mention of intervals and hill repeats. They’re on my calendar, but I can’t use up the whole Fleet Foot. Can I?

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • I had an injury last fall where I closed my leg in a car door. It wasn’t that bad, in fact I ran on it for a week or two, but that additional stress broke down the bone and… I wore a big boot for like 8 weeks. Coming back was hard, sometimes I still feel like I’m climbing that hill.

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

    • Light, flexible, fast. I train and race in the same shoes. My favorite are Newton MV2. I go through shoes pretty fast and have a full closet which includes: Saucony Kinvara 4 – the most stable shoe you will catch me in (I also had 2 pairs of 2’s in the past), Saucony Virrata (I’m on my third pair), Merrell Road Glove 2, and Mizuno Wave Universe. In the past year, I’ve successfully killed: Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris, & Levitas, Newton Distance & Gravity, and Saucony type A4.

Oh, and an unsolicited piece of advice: get some Vibram FiveFingers and run in them once in a while over a short distance – it’ll change your life.

What is your nutrition like?

  • Lay off the carbs! Widespread attitudes about refined grains and a carb-based diet are akin to those about smoking from 100 years ago. The common thought is that it is harmless and normal, but science has proven otherwise (just like with smoking). I believe that future generations will look back at us and wonder what we were thinking eating the way we do. You can run on low-carb!

Do you use weight training and stretching?

  • I used to weight train (for other sports) and I really developed some good routines and habits, but I haven’t been to the gym in years. I go through phases of biking and swimming (but I hate cold water). I am fortunate to have a job where I move around a lot and assume varied postures throughout the day. Without that, I would be quite inflexible because I am not good about stretching… I need an 18-month plan of stretching.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • Although I do appreciate the majesty of the great outdoors and the scenery and shade offered by the fantastic trails we have here, I run on the roads generally. Southwood, Betton Hills, Meyers Park, Indian Head, Killearn are all good and I have no problem going ‘round and ‘round on tracks.

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

  • Born to Run, Tread Lightly, Wheat Belly, Grain Brain, Healthy Intelligent Training, McMillan Running, Lydiard Foundation, Mark’s Daily Apple. I’ve also read Chi Running and Galloway’s Book.

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

  • Always work on your form – it can’t be too good. It’s a constant battle against gravity, intensifying as you age.
  • Collect data. There are data hating (or maybe data fearing) critics out there. More information is always good, but you do have to know how to use it.
  • Make every workout purposeful. Know what you want to do and why.
  • Eat real food. Eat things that swim, fly, walk/crawl, or photosynthesize. You don’t want it if it has to be heavily processed so that you can (try to) digest it – I’m pointing at you, Wheat. Clean out your pantry. If it lasts forever on the shelf, you don’t want it.
  • Get lighter shoes. Go barefoot more often.
  • Stretch (oops). Studies have shown stretching, even without any other training, increases running speed.
  • Run fast – it’s fun.
  • Read research and get informed. What your friend did may have worked. What the popular blog says might be OK. Maybe your group’s scheduled run is right for you – maybe not. Websites and magazines want your clicks and eyeballs. Read science, in journals. Ask questions. Make choices based in fact.
  • Remember that some finish lines are more important than others… in running and in life.