How They Train!Ryan Truchelut - November 2018
Did you compete in high school cross country or track?
- I ran varsity track and XC for Trinity Prep in Winter Park, FL from grades 7-12. I recently attended the 2018 state cross country meet with my two-year-old son, Isaac, and realized the first time I ran in a state championship race was 20 years ago, in 1998. Ouch.
Did you compete in college cross country or track?
- I ran indoor and outdoor track for two years for Princeton in 2004 and 2005. I was having persistent stress fracture issues and had to quit competing after my sophomore year.
How many years have you been running?
- I started running when I was 8, in February 1994. First race was called the Smile Mile, and I literally dove across the finish line in a dead heat for second place. So I’m coming up on 25 years this winter. Good timing for an interview!
Lifetime personal records
- 400m: 50
- 600m: 1:25
- 800m: 1:55
- 1600m: 4:26
- 5k (XC): 16:44
What running events do you train for or what are your training goals?
- I am a staunch infra-marathoner, a.k.a. a middle distance runner (historically). I always like to do a little more speedwork in the run up to the Summer Track Series, and to run respectably at Breakfast on the Track. I also like to be in decent 5k/10k shape between February and April to enjoy our window of nice weather in North Florida and have good races at Run for the Cookies, Springtime, and Palace.
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?
- My training philosophy skews low-mileage and higher-quality. Typical weekly mileage is between around 20-30, depending on how busy work and family life are.
What does your typical week of running look like?
- Monday: 4-mile easy run
- Tuesday: Intervals with Coach Droze at FSU Track. One mile warm-up, three miles of intervals with short recovery, one mile cool down
- Wednesday: 4-mile easy run
- Thursday: Tempo trail run. Typically a mile warm up, 3-4 mile tempo, and mile cool down
- Friday: Long run, which for me means anywhere from 7-10 miles
- Saturday: Racing, or biking with the family
- Sunday: Either off, or yoga for flexibility
I’ve found that if I can get the track work, a tempo or race, and one long-ish run in per week, I’ll either improve or at least maintain my race performance.
How does your training vary over the course of a year?
- I try to build up more of a base in the winter and spring when it’s easier to get “mileage” (or my limited concept thereof) in, and focus more on speed in the late spring and summer when long distances are particularly miserable. I tend to take things a bit easier in the late summer and fall, due to the forecasting demands of the U.S. growing/harvest season, and our inescapable hurricane season.
Do you take recovery or down time?
- Definitely. As you’ll read below, I prioritize not getting injured or burning out above almost anything else. If I’m feeling fatigued or in need of more recovery, I’ll take it. That winds up being in the late summer or fall in many years.
Do you peak for certain races?
- I try to be prepared for Springtime/Palace and Breakfast on the Track each year and will rest a little more ahead of those races. Doesn’t always work out for a good performance every year, but those are the breaks.
How much sleep do you usually get at night?
- Seven hours is pretty typical. As an agricultural forecaster, I have to get up earlier than a famously early rising group of people (farmers), so this is a constant struggle. As a soon-to-be dad of two kids under two, seven hours is probably going to sound like a lost utopia for the next six months.
What time of day do you normally run?
- Typically around 5 in the afternoon, between when I wrap up work for the day and go pick up Isaac. A little later in the summer, if possible.
What injuries have hampered your training over the past year?
- I wrenched my back pretty badly hauling debris around after Hurricane Michael, which between the storm and the injury meant I couldn’t run for about 10 days. Otherwise, no problems in the last year.
Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?
- . Not really. Some extra vitamin D in the winter and occasional probiotics.
What type of running shoes do you prefer?
- New Balance trail ultra-marathon shoes. I’m a pretty big guy so I need the maximum amount of cushioning, and I rotate two identical pairs to keep the mid-soles from breaking down as quickly. Unfortunately, New Balance just moved my cheese by discontinuing the Leadvilles, but I’m finding the 910s to be an acceptable alternative.
Do you race in a different type of running shoe?
- Yes, my signature racing shoe is the Nike Mayfly, which they stopped making several years ago. Fortunately, I have numerous pairs stockpiled, including a couple that still have never been worn. I love the ultra-minimalist approach to racing shoes and wish Nike would start manufacturing those again.
However, my parents just gave me a pair of Vaporfly 4%’s for my birthday, so I’m looking forward to putting those through their paces soon. With my second child on the way in December, I’m fervently hoping that they actually make me 4% faster because I am probably about to get at least 4% slower.
Do you use weight training?
- . Not since college. I don’t enjoy going to the gym. Exercise time is my chance to be outdoors.
Do you stretch?
- I should, but usually don’t. I do try to do yoga at least once a week (aspirationally), which is very helpful for my lower back issues and hamstring tightness when I actually do it.
What are your favorite running routes?
- I only run on trails to reduce the risk of stress injury. I live about 1/3rd of a mile from the Fern Trail trailhead at Governor’s Park, which connects out to the Goose Pond, Cadillac, and Magnolia trails, so there’s plenty of great places to run right from home. I also like to do some of my long runs out at Miccosukee Greenway to get a few hills in during my limited endurance work.
What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else?
- Honestly, I’ve been running so long, I don’t really bother to consult with outside resources and just listen to what my body is saying. Daniels Running Formula is a good book to read if you’re trying to scaffold a training plan without that kind of experience.
How has your training changed over the years?
- When I was young, my training philosophy was built around four to six months blocks of time: preparing to peak for each track or XC season’s district, regional, state sequence. After about 10 years of that, injuries started getting more frequent, and I needed to step away from racing (but not running) for awhile when I was in college and grad school to recover.
After I moved to Tallahassee and started getting involved with Gulf Winds and back into racing a little more, I developed a much longer view. Basically, my plan now is that I don’t want to get slower for the next 15 years. My recent 5k/10k times are alright for someone in their early 30s, but would actually be good for someone in their late 40s. So everything is oriented around keeping a steady strain, avoiding injury, and being flexible rather than grinding gears when I need a break. In general, nothing in the short term is as important as there being a longer term. We’ll see if this goal is foolish as my 30s wear on. I’m inspired by the examples of Gulf Winds’ spectacularly hard-working and tenacious master’s runners to believe that it may actually be possible. Stay tuned.
What examples can you give of specific training methods, and what were the results?
- I developed the concept of “minimum effort, maximum gain” to describe my training philosophy when I was in high school. It’s not a justification of laziness, but a scientist’s idea of finding the Pareto optimum, where a unit of training effort most efficiently translates to a unit of success (however one defines success on your personal utility curve). Overall, the times I’ve gone away from this strategy, in doing more miles than advisable for my body type or not taking sufficient rest, are the times in which I’ve been more susceptible to physically breaking down.
I suppose the most significant result I have to show for this, beyond the results of any single race, is that I’m still here. Some of the people I grew up racing with or against either have chronic injuries than mean they can’t run, or just stopped mentally finding it rewarding and don’t do it anymore. I really still find training and racing centering, interesting, and enjoyable after 25 years, and I’m looking forward to applying “minimum effort, maximum gain” to the next 25 years as well.
What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training?
- Play the long game. Run for life.