How They Train! Matt McCurdy

November 2017


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Did you compete in high school cross country or track?

  • Yes, St. Benedict at Auburndale in Memphis, TN.

Did you compete in college cross country or track?

  • Yes, Centre College in Danville, KY.

How many years have you been running?

  • 15 years, since 4th grade!

Lifetime personal records

  • Since college, I’ve run 16:13 for the 5K and 1:13:34 for the half-marathon.

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

  • Right now, I’m excited to try my hand at longer distances (10K to half-marathon) after focusing on shorter events in college (8K for cross country and 400/800m in track). Running these longer races are so exciting because I have no expectations prior to the race since I haven’t run them before! On the other hand, racing after the 5K mark in these races is hard since that’s when I’m used to stopping…

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?

  • Usually between 50 and 60.

What does your typical week of running look like?

  • Monday:  Cross training or off.     
  • Tuesday:   4 mile workout on the track. 8-10 miles total.
  • Wednesday:  Easy, 6-10 miles total. 
  • Thursday:   4-6 mile workout, usually tempo work. 8-10 miles total.
  • Friday:   Easy, 6-10 miles total.
  • Saturday:   6-8 mile workout, light tempo work or race. 8-10 miles total.
  • Sunday:   Long run. 14-16 miles total.

My cross training is “cross training” in a very loose sense of the word. It’s usually just an activity to get me moving, whether it’s biking, volleyball, or walking to class because parking on FSU’s campus is terrible most days.

For my easy days, I try to run on trails because it puts less impact on my body. These runs break up the monotony of the track and paths where I run workouts! I don’t push the pace on these runs and run however my body feels.

For my workouts, if I’m not hitting my times or feel terrible, I will usually call it a day, run easy, and try the workout the following day. Most people try to push through bad workouts. However, I think it’s more beneficial to push the workout back a day to get in a good effort and gain confidence in my fitness than to run a bad workout. Pushing workouts back results in one less workout a week most of the time, but this isn’t the be all and end all in the long run of training.

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

  • After time off, I run easy for about two months to build a base before attempting workouts. Building this base helps my body adapt to mileage and prevents injury. My “blocks” of training include 3 weeks of workouts followed by a down week with about 10 less mileage than whatever I ran the week before. This keeps me fresh and doesn’t let my body get too beaten down while I’m training. The down weeks sometimes serve as motivation to finish my training blocks also!

Do you take recovery or down time?

  • I try to take off at least two months a year. During this break, I run a lot less (maybe 20-30 miles a week, no workouts) and usually don’t race. This time off is a great time for me to give my body down time and keeps me from burning out mentally.

Do you peak for certain races?

  • I usually aim to peak for one or two races a year; any more, and I feel like I’m stretching myself too thin! Last year, my aim was to peak for the Tallahassee half-marathon and I tried to coast through races in March and April that with that fitness. Because of this, the races at Springtime and Palace Saloon were a little rough for me. I’ll hopefully be smarter about this next year!

How much sleep do you usually get at night?

  • My goal is 7 hours a night, but it depends on my workload for school.

What time of day do you normally run?

  • I can’t run in the morning. It’s physically impossible for me to do so. Getting out of bed before I head to campus is already hard enough- adding a run to that would be torture! As a result, I try to run outside in the evening or inside on a treadmill during the day thanks to the Florida heat and humidity. When the weather gets cooler, I’m very much looking forward to running outside while the sun is still in the sky.

What injuries have hampered your training over the past year? 

  • Thankfully, injuries haven’t slowed me in a while! (I’m knocking on wood as I type this.) But, I have had to take two weeks off for the flu in early August. As a result, I’m finally getting back into training right now.

Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?

  • In college, I found out I had low iron and as a result, I’ve taken iron pills since then.

What type of running shoes do you prefer?

  • I’m a big fan of Brooks.

Do you race in a different type of running shoe?

  • Yes. I’m cheap; my racing flats vary with what’s on sale whenever I buy them. I’m still a graduate student and “ballin’ on a budget” is hard.

Do you use weight training?

  • Yes. I use the small weights in the gym to keep my arms toned. I will not pick up a weight more than 15 pounds. For my legs, I don’t use weights- just lunges, squats, and related exercises.

Do you stretch? 

  • Yes, I do static stretches and roll out my legs before bed. Before workouts, I do dynamic stretching to warm up.

What are your favorite running routes?

  • I love St. Marks trail and the Miccosukee Greenway!

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

  • My college teammates (who still run) and I log our runs together online for support and to keep each other motivated. My support network is what gets me to lace up my running shoes on days I don’t want to and keeps me honest with my training. They help me enjoy running and without them, I doubt I would still be running.

How has your training changed over the years?

  • My body has adapted to higher mileage over the years. In high school, I maxed out around 20-25 miles a week. The transition to college was rough as my weekly mileage doubled over the course of the summer between high school and college! In college, I would run between 40-50 miles a week on average. With my post-college running, I’m running even more mileage now and loving it!

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

  • My favorite workouts are longer repetitions: 4x2km (at race pace), and 3x5km on the track (slower than race pace). I didn’t do workouts like this in college and I’m enjoying them now that my races and mileage have increased in distance. These workouts are what I think about during races to stay confident and focused whenever doubt creeps in.

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

  • I recommend running with a friend to keep you accountable! It’s so hard to get out the door for a run some days, but it’s harder to stand up a friend for a run. Additionally, it’s important not to rush mileage! Increasing mileage should be a gradual, deliberate process over a period of consistent training. Ramping up mileage too quickly is one of the top causes of injury and mental burnout for runners.