Training for Tuesday: Six Things You Need To Do ASAP

Welcome to another round of Training for Tuesday! Last month I told you about some running goals I was working toward and today I'm here to share that (if you didn't already know - spoiler alert) I crushed them!

  • What I wanted to do: beat my official PR by over a minute (under 26:00), beat my unofficial PR (under 25:27), sub-8 minute pace (under 24:49)
  • What I actually did: 24:53 - I haven't had a chance to run a 5k race yet, but this was my 5k split from Wicked 10k

  • What I wanted to do: beat my official PR by over a minute (under 54:00), beat my unofficial PR (under 52:42), under 52:00
  • What I actually did: 49:46 at Wicked 10k

Half Marathon 
  • What I wanted to do: beat my official PR (under 2:09:59), under 2:00:00, sub-9 minute pace (under 1:57:46), 45 minutes faster than my first half (under 1:57:21)
  • What I actually did: 1:54:50 at Hokie Half

So in just about 3 years I've knocked over 7 minutes off my 5k (and 14 minutes off my first 5k), nearly 30 minutes off my 10k, and nearly 48 minutes off my half. My point is not to toot my own horn (I mean, maybe a little), but to tell you that if I can do that, so can you. I will say it until I'm blue in the face: I am not a natural runner. I don't have a body that's tall and lean, I have asthma, and I just never believed I could run, period, let alone be decent at it. So whatever your excuse is, I get it! I built my running career from the ground up. It's hard work. That's why today I'm sharing some of the key parts of my running routine that I've picked up along the way that made me a better, faster, stronger runner - and hopefully they can do the same for you.

Strength Training
Running was the first exercise regimen I ever had, and it wasn't until about a year after I started running (and about a month after my first half marathon) that I began lifting weights. I have never and probably will never be someone who lifts 4 or 5 times a week, but I have found that lifting as little as 2 times a week is a great supplement to my training routine. I prefer full-body workouts because even though running seems very much a leg-heavy exercise, there are so many more muscles in the body that get worked during a run. Sure, leg exercises increase my leg strength for more power and pushoff, but having a strong core and upper body are just as important.

When I first started I had NO idea what to do in the gym so I did the only thing I really knew how to do: I found a training plan. The program I started with was New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLFW), and I highly recommend it. There are a lot of workouts so it does take a while to get through the whole thing. I've done it twice, and lifting weights 2-3 times a week it takes about 6 months to get through the whole program. I would be more than happy to do a full review of this program - e-mail me or let me know in the comments!

If you already know your way around the weight room or don't want to commit to a 6-month program, these are some of my other go-to strength training resources (bonus: most, if not all of the exercises can be done at home with a couple dumbbells):

Kara Goucher's Best Strength Training for Runners - if you don't know who Kara Goucher is, she is an Olympic marathoner, an amazing athlete, and a serious girl crush of mine. So, if these 2 workouts are good enough for Kara (she favorited one of my Tweets once so yeah, we're on a first name basis), they're good enough for me. They're also short (~30 minutes) so they're the ones I do the most.

Runner Dude's Core Circuit for Runners - If I feel like I need some extra core work, or I have a race coming up and don't want to do anything too taxing on the legs, this is my jam. This circuit is made up of 10 different core exercises. 3 rounds and 20 minutes later, I'm good to go.

I credit yoga with being the #1 thing that helps me stay injury-free. I have had injuries all up and down my legs, from my shins to my IT band and piriformis. Practicing yoga just once a week makes a world of difference. Even if you don't have a lot of time to devote to yoga, just doing a few poses before or after a run can help. I always used to get side stitches when I ran, but since I've started doing these 2 poses right before I run, they're no longer an issue. 

There are 5 other poses I like (but will let Alyssa demonstrate for you since she already shared them and did a way better job than I ever could)

Go-to yoga resources:

Yoga for Runners with Gwen Lawrence - I did this video every week for over a year. I have it memorized so well I was able to replicate the whole thing and "teach" it to Ben on the beach a few months ago. Hands down the best, most complete yoga series for runners I've ever done.

Erin Motz Yoga for Hamstrings, Runners, and Hips. Erin Motz for Queen of the World, y'all. Just click the videos and you'll understand. 

Cross Training
I didn't do any cross training at all for my first half marathon, which was a mistake, so when I trained for my second one, I biked and/or went to spin class once a week. My running really started to take off when I started training for my first triathlon and was swimming and biking a few times a week each. I don't know that there is necessarily causation here, but there's definitely at least correlation. More than anything, I think swimming and biking have helped improve my cardiovascular endurance, so running feels easier in that respect. It doesn't really matter what you do to cross train. You might have to get creative like Becky and do some jump roping, but just do something! 

Speed Workouts
I only do speedwork once every week or two, but since I've started I've noticed an undeniable difference in my running. There are obvious physical benefits (you train you run's not really rocket science), but I think the mental benefits are just as great, if not more. Since I've never been a fast runner, the idea of running faster than normal completely freaks me out. Speedwork has made me a lot more comfortable with the idea of running fast. It's a lot more manageable when it's only for a couple minutes at a time. There's no way I could sustain a 7:15 pace for my whole run, but I can sustain it for a quarter of a mile because I know I'll get a break soon - and doing so allows me to push through that barrier and go, "See brain? See legs? See chest? Not so scary after all." 

A track is the easiest place to do speedwork (since you know exactly how far you're running for each interval), but I just run my normal routes and let my Garmin tell me when to run fast and when to slow down. Nothing fancy. My speed workouts look something like this:

1 mile warm up
Run 1/4  to 1/2 mile fast, jog 1/4 to 1/2 mile slow (repeat 4+ times) (you decide what "fast" and "slow" are)
1 mile cool down

More Miles
I've always heard that to run faster you have to run farther, and I've most definitely found that to be true. I didn't really start picking up speed until I trained for a marathon. My long runs didn't get much faster, but I started noticing my pace picking up on shorter distances. I don't know that more miles necessarily means training for a marathon, but however much you run more than that. More miles per run, more frequently, whatever your body can handle. It's just about getting used to running at certain paces and distances.

If I had to name one thing that has most drastically improved my running, it's running on hills. The fact that I do this is a product of my current environment, not my desire to improve, but the result is still the same.  If you don't live near any hills (lucky you!) you might have to get creative...something like an overpass will work! A few months ago I moved from the beach where it's completely flat to the mountains, and I was terrified that was going to kill any running progress I had made. Much to my surprise, on my first run here I averaged exactly what I normally did, and I've dramatically improved since then. As much as I curse them they have undoubtedly made me a stronger runner!

What have you incorporated into your training that everyone should know about? Grab a button, link up, and tell us!


  1. Great post. I am sitting between your first and second year progression - so it is pretty inspiring to see how much you've improved over the past 2-3 years.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! Honestly the more my overall fitness improved, the more my running improved. I never thought I'd see the paces I'm able to hit now.

  2. I definitely don't live near hills.. I wish I did so I could train on them more. There is one small hill near my house but it's not enough. Before my next half, I am going to drive to the park that the race goes through, as there are horrible hills there and that should help lol. I definitely don't do speed work, I know, so bad of me. I really need to though. I have found yoga has helped me immensely and I absolutely don't do it that often - I'll have to check out that Gwen Lawrence video. I love strength training, and when I was at my best (I always go back to that lol) I was doing weights 4-5 times a week, plus spin class twice a week... I never really thought about it till reading your post but I am sure both of those things helped me be in the shape I was.
    Anyway - again, all the congrats for your awesome races and PRs! I am so happy for you and you're such an inspiration!! Meanwhile perhaps we should all meet up for a race somewhere? Like a blogger meet up / race. Wouldn't that be fun?!

  3. oh and I have that new rules for lifting book, I'd love to know more about the 6 month program as I must have missed that when I flipped through it :-|

  4. You busted out a 1:54 at your last half?!?!? Nice work! I've been wanting to break through the 2 hour mark since 2010... And at my last half I PR'd at 2:06, but no dice on the sub-2 hours. Totally agree about yoga being the key to promoting an injury-free running career! (As a certified yoga instructor, I think I have to say that!)

    I'm really good at going for long runs, but perhaps the key to a sub-2hr half is in speed training. I definitely need to do more of that, because I pretty much never do. What do you think was the biggest contributor to your awesome time?

  5. Great tips, it's all about balance like strength training and yoga as well as running. I hope you did a serious happy dance when you shaved 30 minutes off your 10 km! That's amazing and you obviously worked so hard for it so good on you!!

  6. You are killing those PRs! Great job.

    I have a love/hate relationship with hills. I do actually look forward to my hill workout days, and I know they make me such a stronger runner. But in the middle of the workout, I'm not liking them so much! But, I will say that I'm 99% positive doing the hill workouts helped me get such a big PR on my last (very hilly) half marathon. So, there must be something to it, right!?

  7. First, tons of congratulations for all these amazing wins are in order. You are so inspiring. Second, totally agree — I constantly tell people, if I can be a runner, so can you. I was still smoking (although in the process of quitting) for the first 2 months of my running career for gods sake! But you're so spot on — with the right attitude and the work, it can happen.

    I admit, I hate weight training. I used to go to the gym but I just... don't like it. I do bodyweight workouts, some arm workouts with 2.5s I have at home whenever I feel like it and, obviously, tons of yoga. Agree that core is huge for it all though, including running, and especially for the yoga inversions that I do love so much. I may have to look into that lifting program you linked though.

    You already know how I feel about yoga :) I'm actually working on a follow-up post to my first 5, hopefully I'll have that up soon! I haven't done that Gwen Lawrence but I'm definitely going to check it out – thanks!

    I'm going to start trying to work in both spinning (there's a new cycle/barre/yoga studio by me, I can't WAIT to try it) and speed work over the next couple weeks and months. Now that I feel really strong and confident in my base as a runner, I can work on getting those miles — that I already know I can run— done a little bit faster. On shorter runs I do like to do some fartleks (heh) every once in a while, but I should probably do something a little more purposeful.

    Anway, longest comment ever, love this post. I think that's a good way to close haha

  8. HOLY COW!!!! You're amazing, Tracy!!!! You KILLED those goals!!!!! You're such an inspiration.

    I really believe strength training helped my runs! :)

  9. Those are all DREAM goals and you killed it. My times started off like yours and I have worked on shaving some time off, but nothing like this. Thanks for sharing specifically HOW you did it.

  10. I love, love LOVE this post and all your insight. Since I now lift weights regularly, I'm excited to do a race soon and just see/feel the difference it has made in my running- because I know it has!

  11. LOVE this!! I love that you have worked hard and reduced your running times significantly. I used to run 12 minute miles all the time and convinced myself that I would never run faster. And then I ran a 10 minute mile and now I don't know what I was thinking!! I still run slower during longer races, but I used to run 12-14 minute miles, now it's more like 11-12:30 minute miles and that's improvement. Also, yoga is amazing for running and I need to get into it again.

    Yes, I'd love to know about that strength training plan!! I am going to download it on my Kindle but I would really love to know more of how it works and your 'official' review :)

  12. I think you totally deserve to toot your horn here! You've worked HARD to get to where you are and it's been impressive! Thanks for all the great tips! I love learning new things to try and will be looking into Kara's strength training. This training cycle is really the first one where I've done stuff more than just run. I've also finally gotten on the yoga train and it's really made a big difference. I'm about as flexible as a boy so it's been helpful with that as well haha.

  13. Congratulations on kicking but for all your goals!! I think the hill training is amazing...that would probably be what would put me on my back in an actual run LOL!

  14. I have recently started speed training. I'd never done it before! It is kind of fun to mix it up and do something different. I'm hoping to train for a sub 1:50 half, which sounds crazy fast, but hopefully I can get there! I don't do cross-training as much as I should. Let's be honest: I don't do it at all. It's hard when you don't have a bike or a place to swim...

  15. You are AWESOME - this post is so absolutely helpful and breaks down that it's not just about going out there and running - so much goes into it!
    I played soccer for years, so the transition from speed running to distance running has been really difficult. I'm working on it, but get too in my head, hit the 4 or 5 mile mark, and start doubting.
    Knocking all that time off of your runs is absolutely incredible! Congrats, on that and keep up the awesome work <3


Thanks for visiting and taking time to share your thoughts! If you don't hear back from me, check your settings to make sure you're not no-reply (check here if you're unsure)!