May
19
Jeff Browning Black Butte

The staple of my running release is long run days in the mountains each week. While the high country is still locked in snow, the views just don’t get much better while knocking out a double summit of Black Butte, near Sisters, Oregon. Photo by Max King.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my training and how it has evolved over the past 14 years of ultrarunning. The natural progression of the body’s ability to handle more work as I’ve consistently trained, adapted, trained more, adapted — and so on. This is all on the forefront of my mind as I’m attempting to complete four 100-milers this season (plus a few other shorter ultras thrown in too). Since turning 40 a few years ago (I’m turning 43 this summer), I’m trying to make sure I do the little things on top of simply running a lot. The little things…

Strength, core and cross-train. Being a master’s runner (40+), I’ve found I need to consistently mix in strength training and time on my bike to stay fit, strong and not fall into the trap of over-training. Plus, it keeps the training fresh. An important factor the longer I try to train hard and compete. For many years, I did little but run. However, I’ve found that the bike and strength, if used strategically, work synergystically with my running regimen.

The other thing is making sure the easy runs are super easy. Now that my two older kids are able to join me for 2-4 milers, we take the dog out and cruise around. It’s usually my 2nd run of the day, which allows me to relax and just enjoy running 9-12 minute pace and enjoying my kids energy (since I’ve already “trained” earlier in the day).

With a busy career that many times puts me at 40+ hours per week, plus family time, it can all be a big-time juggling act. But, that means long runs are not only important for actual race preparation, it also makes it important for a stress relief each week. A time to go run in the mountains and clear my head of deadlines and responsibility for a few hours. Just the woods, the trail and finding that simple rhythm that mountain running brings.

I’ve had lots of runners ask me how do I balance racing and competing with a full time job, 3 kids and a wife. Short answer: Figure out how to incorporate training into your life instead of separating the two. For example, bike commuting to work or getting a second run of the day in with kids while exercising the dog. The proverbial Killing Two Birds with One Stone. And sometimes, well, I just have to run at 11pm with a headlamp to fit it all in.

Here’s a peek at last week’s training…

Monday

AM: Bike commute 6 minutes to work (1.25 mi)
Noon: Lunch 10-mile run w/ tempo for 7 miles of it with time trial climb in the tempo workout (1000′ of climbing)
PM: Evening bike commute 9 minutes home (1.25 mi w/ 250′ climb in last half mile)
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog before dinner
PM: 5 minutes of yoga/strength/stretching routine before bed (downward dog – plank – pushups; super slow controlled reps; end with pigeon pose and lunge stretch movements)

Tuesday

AM: Bike commute 6 minutes to work
Noon: Lunch 10-mile easy pace hill day (1400-2000′ of climbing)
PM: Evening bike commute 9 minutes home
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog before dinner
PM: 5 minutes of yoga/strength/stretching routine before bed (downward dog – plank – pushups; super slow controlled reps; end with pigeon pose and lunge stretch movements)

Wednesday

AM: Bike commute 6 minutes to work
Noon: Lunch 10-mile steady state lunch group run
PM: Evening bike commute 9 minutes home
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog before dinner
PM: 5 minutes of yoga/strength/stretching routine before bed (downward dog – plank – pushups; super slow controlled reps; end with pigeon pose and lunge stretch movements)

Thursday

AM: Bike commute 6 minutes to work
Noon: Lunch 10-mile interval run (combo of flats and hills; 90 sec intervals)
PM: Evening bike commute 9 minutes home
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog before dinner
PM: 5 minutes of yoga/strength/stretching routine before bed (downward dog – plank – pushups; super slow controlled reps; end with pigeon pose and lunge stretch movements)

Friday

AM: Long Run – 18 to 25 mile trail run in mountains with lots of climbing
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog before dinner (sometimes a family hike)
PM: 5 minutes of yoga/strength/stretching routine before bed (downward dog – plank – pushups; super slow controlled reps; end with pigeon pose and lunge stretch movements)

Saturday

AM: Dawn patrol 1-2 hour mountain bike ride (sometimes this ends up being a Saturday night ride after kids are in bed if family commitments interfere)
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog in afternoon (sometimes a family hike)
PM: 5 minutes of yoga/strength/stretching routine before bed (downward dog – plank – pushups; super slow controlled reps; end with pigeon pose and lunge stretch movements)

Sunday

AM: 7-12 mile trail run, easy pace (or rest depending on training cycle)
PM: Easy 2-3 mile shake-out run with kids and dog before dinner (sometimes a family hike)
PM: 16-minute BB Power Pack Strength workout (constant muscle load full body workout with dumbbells, includes core work, pushups and pullups)

 TOTAL = 79.6 miles running w/ 13,928 feet of climbing; 27.5 miles of cycling; 46 minutes of strength/stretching

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14 Responses to “Running Strong Past 40: Doing the Little Stuff Matters”

 
  1. Olga King says:

    The only part that may not work for most of normal folks is “10M lunch run”, because majority of people’s pace would likely allow them (me?) to put 4-5 miles in an hour (and shower time needs to be added as well). Other than that, agree – easy runs easy, quality is important, long run is still a staple, and cross-training is required. Keep on going on!

  2. Bronco Billy says:

    Hey Olga, my employer is flexible on long lunches (negotiated up front when I was hired). I come in early and stay a little late to make up for extended lunch break. I typically take about 1.5 hr lunches. My point I guess is that you have to get it when you can. I just wanted to give a snapshot into my typical training week of trying to juggle husband and parental duties, work and training. Hope you’re doing well. Cheers.

    -Bronco

  3. Nick Billock says:

    Really enjoyed reading this post. It was shared on a Team RWB Endurance page on Facebook. I’m 41 and feel strong but at a plateau and wondering what to do…and growing frustrated. I’d be curious to hear about your diet. Have you written elsewhere about that? I just ran my 29th ultra and PR’d at the 50K this past Saturday so I know I’m doing “something” right but want to be better, get healthier and be stronger. I don’t do anything but run. I like that the yoga/stretching only takes up a few minutes…and I’d like to try that. Do you find that compliments your running?

    All the best to you!

  4. Olga King says:

    That would be true, absolutely, we all fit it in when we can, whether lunch hour, before dawn, after kids go to bed…I think now that I have slowed down due to various things (not related to training this year) my only “beef” is with miles mentioning by runners vs time. When somebody local is in awe of elites with families racking up 100+ miles a week, I remind them that it might take those folks at least 30% less time. Other than that, as someone with a full time job, part time job to add, and formerly having raised 2 kids while training hard, I can attest that nothing is impossible. Always thrilled to hear about your life!

  5. Ken Dodge says:

    Thanks for posting that workout I was very curious how you juggled all those things gave some ideas how to better frame my run/workout time. Big fan and enjoy reading your posts. Learn a lot of insight from you sharing your Ultra experiences

  6. Bronco Billy says:

    Nick,

    I will do a more lengthy explanation of my diet, but the short answer is that I follow an 80/20 rule. 80% of the time (i.e., at home) I eat really well and 20% of the time I don’t sweat it (although in the Pacific NW we have good choices when eating out — natural, grass fed beef, locally-raised natural chicken, organic ingredients, etc.). So, I do try to pick relatively healthy, but will have the occasional chocolate chip cookie or good gourmet burger and fries. I supplement Barlean’s fat supplements (and have for years). Their Omega 3-6-9, Olive Oil Complex and their Organic Greens powder in smoothies. I also pay special attention to recovery window right after workouts (first 30 minutes). I usually have a Gu Recovery Drink to replace carbs, proteins, and electrolytes immediately after major workouts. I do drink raw milk and have for over 10 years (at least a quart a day). The diet my family and I most closely adhere to is: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/the-diet/

    Hope that helps.

    -Bronco

  7. Bronco Billy says:

    Ken,

    Thanks for reading. Keep rolling, man.

    -Bronco

  8. Lee Latham says:

    I am 58 years old and want to do my first ultra. I have been running consistently for about 6 years and have 8 half’s and 3 full marathons under my belt plus numerous other distances thrown in. What advise can you offer for this event. I am planning on a 43 mile trail race in January 2015.

  9. Mike says:

    Hey Jeff, I found your blog through UltraRunning magazine… as a 43-year-old road and trail runner myself, this post is great advice from someone who’s running strong and having continued success with his own training. Also motivates me to work on integrating more yoga and cross-training into my regimen.

    Thanks for sharing, and best of luck with your 4×100-mile racing season!

  10. Bronco Billy says:

    Mike,

    Can’t stress enough how important the x-training is and yoga type stretching. Sometimes deadlines and parenthood take up too much time and I skimp on the stretching part. But, try to get back on it asap when that happens.

    -Bronco

  11. Bronco Billy says:

    Lee,

    Ultra training is not much different than marathon training. You just need to get out for you long run on like-terrain that your ultra event will be. Meaning, if it’s a mountain 50K, go run long runs in simulated conditions your’ll face if at all possible. If you’re a flat-lander, go run stairs or hill repeats. Practice hiking on hills (even if it’s on and off running/hiking transitions). Also, practice and experiment with eating, drinking, and electrolyte replacement on an hourly basis, as you’ll be out longer than a road marathon. Nutrition (what works for you) is a key factor in ultra success. Giddyup.

    -Bronco

  12. Ken Dodge says:

    Jeff I’ve always been curious since you I believe wear corrected Frames when you run how much of an issue is it with fogging up or when it rains or stuff dealing with with your glasses becoming for lack of better word jacked up. I usually wear contacts when I run but couldn’t see wearing on a long run like you do. Just curious since I explored Lasiks but its spendy. Plus I’m sure you have to stow a pair of sunglasses on yourself for bright weather. Just noticed your the runner I see wearing framed lenses and just curious on your take with framed lenses up against all the weather variables you could face. Long winded question sorry.

  13. Bronco Billy says:

    Ken,

    I do use Rx Lenses in my Rudy Project glasses. They are transition lenses (UV sensitive), so I can wear them at night for 100 milers. Rudy Project’s sports frames have good bendable nose pieces for pinching and getting the frames slightly more space off your face in order to increase airflow over the lenses on climbs. I also carry a lens cloth in a ziplock during weird weather races (100s, spring races, etc.). I sweat like crazy, but lenses have been solid. Run with them everyday.

    -Bronco

  14. Ken Dodge says:

    Jeff,

    Well if you can do it then you know what I’ll just make it happen because Lasiks is too spendy and Rudy is more affordable. That particular style I see you wear is that custom made for you or is it on their website available to public because I looked and didn’t see it. Maybe just missed it. Anyhow, appreciate your time I know your busy guy especially if I’m not mistaken your running Hardrock in July coming up quick. I’ll be pulling for you man! Keep

 

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