General Training

How to Use Periodization to Achieve Your Running Goals

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Are you a creature of habit; one who prefers to use a handful of workouts throughout the year over and over? If so, you’re probably not training and racing to your potential. By following the principles of periodization during your training cycles, you can get fitter and faster just before your goal races. All you need to do is change the emphasis of your efforts bit by bit as you get into racing shape… click for full article from Active.com


Hill Training

by Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

At our adult running camp a few weeks ago we were doing our video analysis with the group and I said for the countless time this summer, “you would really benefit from doing some regular work on hills”. So this month I’d like to talk to you about hills – when, how, and why to use them. Go ahead, cue the collective groan, I’ve heard it before – along with the ashamed look that says you know you should be doing hill training but aren’t. Okay, now with that out of the way let me tell you why hills are important and how they can help take you to the next level in your running. Everyone knows they should be doing hill training, but do you really know why? Most people don’t, they just know they should, but not knowing the reason makes the follow through less likely. Well no more excuses, I’m going to lay it out here and get you motivated to tackle some hills this fall! …. click to read full article


Find Your Running Weaknesses and Fix Them Now

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Our bodies have weaknesses—that’s a fact. And those issues are exploited when we put extra pressure on the limbs and ligaments and muscles through running. Once a bastion for elite runners, running form assessment—and the related tweaking of minor maladies—has now made its way to runners of all ages and ability. Why? Well because making a few small adjustments can benefit anyone’s time and reduce the chance for injury… click to read full article on Active.com


5 Strategies for Successful Road Racing and How to Develop Them

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

I am continually surprised at how many runners enter a race with no execution strategy whatsoever. Before heading into your next race, address potential race strategies and how to improve and execute them… click to read full article on Active.com


Benefiting From Summer Heat

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

It is well documented that many of the world’s best distance runners live or train at altitude part of the year. While spending weeks at a time away from home at altitude training camp is commonplace for many American professional runners, it’s an impractical luxury for most of us. And while the thought of escaping to the cool mountain air during the summer is tantalizing, research has shown heat training to have similar performance benefits to altitude training. The mechanisms that lead to those performance benefits differ, but the keys to reaping the benefits of both are strikingly similar… click for full article


When Runners Should Take Their Pants Off

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

While much of America north of the Mason-Dixon Line is still covered in snow, spring and its warmer temps will soon arrive. For those of you who have been “multiple layer bundling” since Halloween, this annual thaw and its accompanying delayering is a welcome change. But should you be disrobing just yet? How warm do temperatures have to be before your clothes come off? Let’s take a step back in running history to open the discussion…. click to read full article on Active.com


6 Running Tips to Achieve Peak Performance on Race Day

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Even after months of training, you might look for a few last-minute ways to make your PR more achievable come race day. While you can’t do anything in the final week before a race to make yourself fitter, there are a handful of things distance runners can do (or avoid) in the final days to maximize race day. Try implementing these six must-do race week tips for PR performances this summer and fall… click for full article from Active.com


Organic Fartlek Running

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

We live in a grass fed, farm raised, free range, wild-caught, hormone-free world. Or at least we try to. Or at least we know we probably should. Yes, it’s hard in our actual hormone pumped, antibiotic injected, processed world. But we know that getting back to a natural, organic life would probably do us well. I’m inundated daily with lists of super foods, nightmarish videos of how Chicken McNuggets are made, and lists of foods that are certain to kill me, scrolling across my computer screen. So I know. We all know. But I don’t want to talk about organic food, I want to talk about organic running, in particular a terribly under utilized and grossly under appreciated workout – the fartlek…. click to read full article

A Generation on the Run: Reflections on More Than Three Decades of Running

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

The first competitive race I witnessed was one of the greatest college cross-country races ever contested. The 1979 NCAA Cross Country Championship at Lehigh University showcased legendary powerhouse teams, including UTEP, Washington State and the University of Oregon…. click to read full article on Active.com


Jump Starting Your Economy

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

We talk to our ZAP elite runners about how being a distance runner means sometimes you have to be selfish. To be your absolute best you often have to think about yourself and do what’s best for your own running. As an elite athlete there are a lot of weddings, birthday parties, family reunions, and other things that most people would value more than their own running that get missed. So in the name of self interest, while I could write an article on how to fix the broader economy that has been grinding along the last several years, I want to focus on your personal economy. And this may come as a disappointment, but I’m talking about improving your running economy, not your financial well-being…. click to read full article


The 12 Workouts of Christmas

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Runners are creatures of habit. And while a penchant for consistency can improve performance, it can also cause runners to do the same handful of workouts throughout the year. The holidays are a chance to spice things up a little. This season, give yourself some variety with 12 of my favorite workouts… click here for full article from Active.com


3 Ways to Tempo

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

Running fast is fun. The lung busting satisfaction of a fast interval workout provides the immediate gratification we all crave. Part of it is the excitement of running fast and perhaps part is the convenience of track work, but I think most of the allure is the idea that the harder the pain the more the gain. Counter intuitively this isn’t always the case in distance running. You must work hard to perform well, that much is true, but I’ve found some of that effort is often misplaced. I’ve discussed the importance of laying an aerobic base before, the value of “conversation paced” running cannot be overstated and should always comprise the majority of your training. However, as you get into the phase of training where you are doing harder workouts 1-2 times a week (I would suggest no more than this) you will benefit greatly in events from the mile to the marathon and beyond by focusing most of your hard days on improving your anaerobic threshold… click here to read full article


Is Old School Running Advice Obsolete?

By Peter Rea, ZAP Fitness

The 1970s saw the dawn of America’s first “Running Boom.” Kicked off with help from Frank Shorter’s victory at the 1972 Olympic Marathon in Munich—and Bill Rodgers’ subsequent marathon wins at Boston and New York—road races previously dominated by a highly competitive handful opened up to the masses… click for full article from Active.com


Variety is the Spice of Life, and Running

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

When I was younger I would spend most of runs imagining myself accomplishing the dreams I rarely even had the courage to say out loud: winning a state championship in high school, winning an NCAA national title when I was in college, passing everyone in the home straight to win the Olympic Trials – those types of dreams. As I’ve grown older and my competitive days fade in the rearview mirror I still have those visions every once in a while – you know, the one where the aging athlete makes a miraculous return and over comes all odds to make the Olympic team. However, more often than not I now find my mind visualizing the athletes I coach having those breakthrough races that put them in the places I always dreamed of being as an athlete. I suppose it’s the natural progression of my subconscious? I found it happening recently for the first time in a long time as I was trotting down a winding clay trail in the tall pines of Tallahassee. There is something about running through the woods that allows my mind to relax and wander in a way it doesn’t anywhere else… click to read full article


How to Create Quality Workouts When You’re Lacking the Right Venue

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Long-distance running is often a dichotomy of the haves and have-nots. While some long-distance runners are blessed with idyllic non-paved dirt roads or crushed gravel paths within expansive parks, others are forced to fit their runs in amidst exhaust and the honks of rush hour traffic… click for full article from Active.com


Adapting Workouts for Heat

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

We all have that grueling summer running story, the one we’ll never forget. Mine was during college, and I was home for the summer visiting my family in Indiana. At the beginning of preparation for my senior cross country season I had been getting up early to beat the Arizona heat, which by this point regularly topped out over 100 degrees. Now I grew up in the oppressive heat and humidity of the Midwest, but after the scorching temperatures in Arizona, I figured I should be able to handle sleeping in and running my easy 6 miles later in the morning. Of course I did, college kids don’t know anything. What followed was the slowest, most painful 6 mile run of my life. I knew I was in good shape, but afterward, as I lay sprawled on my parent’s living room floor fighting waves of nausea, I was having serious doubts… click to read full article


These Killer Treadmill Workouts Will Ignite Your Training

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

For many of us, it’s going to be a rough winter. Meteorologists from Georgia to Maine are calling for some of the coldest temps we’ve seen in the past 15 years. Snowfalls are estimated to be 60-70 inches for the Southern Appalachians and more for our New England neighbors. With frozen trails, roads and bike paths in our future, long distance runners need to be aware of the footing hazards associated with snow and ice. So what does that mean? We’re actually lucky treadmills exist… click for full article on Active.com

When to Race

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

Are you a runner that prefers training to racing or are you someone that trains to race? These are two very different runners and when it comes to selecting when and how often to race these two athletes have different preferences and needs. When beginning a training plan with a goal race in mind finding the right balance between training and racing is a critical part of the plan. That balance is different depending on the race distance you are preparing for and should look different for a 5k compared to a marathon. Regardless of the type of runner you are and what event you are preparing for the question of when to race and when to train is an important one and can have a significant impact on performance… click to read full article


How to Train for a PR

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Each year at the ZAP Fitness Center begins the same way for resident athletes: We reflect on the year concluded, and then turn our attention to the coming year and beyond. On paper, we outline outcome goals, or performance goals, replete with PRs to target, places for national championships and team-based goals, including road championships and club cross country. The path to accomplish these performance goals is laden with a type of goal many have never considered: process goals… click for full article on Active.com


Overcoming Performance Plateaus

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

If you’ve been a distance runner long enough you know that improvement rarely follows a linear trajectory. You’ve likely learned this lesson the hard way: through injury, mental or physical burnout, or a myriad of other things that can derail the improvement train. Despite the near inevitability of having a setback or reaching a performance plateau at some point those times are still difficult to deal with and overcome. But worry not, while the speed bumps along the way come in many forms, so too, do the solutions… click to read full article


Fartlek Workouts to Elevate Your Fitness

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

With longer days, distance runners are resetting their goals and ramping up their training accordingly. Most runners begin their training with a base phase and move into more intense training later as races approach. One of the most effective (and enjoyable) ways to elevate fitness from this base phase all the way forward to goal races is with the help of fartlek workouts. A Swedish term for speed play, the fartlek is a surge or pick-up within your runs (i.e. changing gears). Fartleks are simple and can be executed virtually anywhere, anytime, at every phase of your training… click to read full article on Active.com

3 Workouts to Use Throughout the Year

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

While workout variety may be the spice of a runner’s life, repetition and routine tend to constitute a significant percentage of a runner’s DNA. Ask most seasoned runners to describe their favorite loops or workouts, and the total number is surprisingly about a half dozen… click for full article on Active.com


Climbing to Great Winter Fitness

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

It’s 2016 and that means it’s time to live up to your New Year’s Resolution to have a great year of training and tackle more hills. What’s that, you don’t remember making a resolution to run more hills? It’s a good thing I’m here to refresh your memory! At our adult running camps when we tell people they should spend more time running hills the response is usually a somewhat shameful sigh of acknowledgement. Everyone knows that running hills is good for you, but so many of us still avoid them like the plague. The winter is a perfect time to run more hills to boost your fitness and running economy heading into the spring… click to read full article


Group Training vs Solo Training

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

Adult running camp season kicks off this month at ZAP bringing familiar faces and the chance to share a new experience with first time campers. Camp is about scenic runs through the mountains, yoga, learning training theory and nutrition among other things, but the true uniqueness is the community that is built between attendees within a few short days. More than anything else, it is the community that brings people back year after year. In my 20 years as a runner the running community is what I’ve enjoyed more than anything. However, I know for many people running is personal time, time to get away from everything and be in their own space. There are benefits to running alone and running with a group and striking that balance can be a challenge… click to read full article


Summer Training

by Ryan Warrenburg

Growing up in the Midwest I was accustomed to harsh winters, and as a runner the weather could be particularly cruel. I still tell stories from my younger, foolish days of running in shorts through the sub-freezing temperatures of central Indiana. I figured it made me tough. And if I’m being honest I still do. Somehow that stupidity feels venerable in retrospect. Regardless, this calloused Indiana boy thoroughly enjoyed his time at Arizona State with it’s balmy desert winters. Just as everyone touts his or her regional pride when living in a new part of the country, I made sure I didn’t lose my Indiana toughness out west. And now I tell the dramatic stories of grueling long runs under the searing summer skies of Arizona. Of course here in the south we are entering the heart of summer, and its time for us to work on our toughness in the stifling heat of the next few months. I am only half joking. There actually is evidence suggesting heat acclimation can have performance benefits in the same way (if not by the same mechanisms) as altitude training, even in cooler weather. Call it toughness, call it increased blood volume and glycogen use efficiency, but heat can be your friend if you take proper preparations this summer…. click to read full article


Digging Out of a Running Rut

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

This morning we were in our local coffee shop reheating after an exceptionally nasty morning of practice with our elite athletes and the barista was astounded that we were outside running on a 36-degree morning with steady rain. It was a morning that would keep most people in bed (our athletes run for a living so excuses are harder to come by), but for amateurs and professionals alike quality spring racing depends on consistent winter training. Full disclosure: I was bundled up with an umbrella holding a stopwatch so I’m not touting my own toughness. The point is, the training can be done, but those dark mornings and early evenings can drag the best of us into a winter rut. The key to performing your best at your goal race, even if it’s months from now, is to defy the lure of the snooze button and dig yourself out of those ruts… click to read full article


Warming Up For Faster Performances

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about running, and admittedly it’s not unique to running, is that there are no short cuts to success. There is no magic pill you can take, there’s no gold pass to the front of the line; it’s not something you can practice for a few days and expect to succeed. Success is largely dependent on putting in the miles week in and week out. However, if you have never done a proper warm-up, performing one before your next race may be the closest thing to a magic pill for your performance. You may have always thought warming up is for the people winning the race, but it is essential to maximizing your performance on race day… click for full article


Mastering the Fartlek

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

Interval training has been used in distance running since Finland’s Paavo Nurmi won the first of his 9 career Olympic gold medals in 1920. Nurmi went on to break 22 world records in distances from the mile to the 20k over the following decade, but the rest of the world would eventually catch up and evolve. In 1937 Swedish coach named Gösta Holmér, fed up with the Finnish domination in cross-country (an Olympic sport back then), began training his runners with an innovative workout regimen called “fartlek” running. The aim of fartlek running was to improve both speed and endurance. With fartlek running, Swedish for “speed play,” Holmér’s athletes dominated the sport in the 1940’s and earned Holmér the title, “Father of the Fartlek.”… click for full article


Tackling the Treadmill

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

Given the choice the vast majority of us would rather run outside on the roads or trails, feel the wind in our face and watch the scenery go by rather than be relegated to the treadmill. I get it. But with little daylight and having to navigate sometimes icy and slick running surfaces, the treadmill can be a brilliant tool to get quality training in during the winter, and for many with hectic schedules, a necessity year round. This winter is time to stop thinking about the treadmill as the “dreadmill” and embrace the machine that can make all of us better runners. There are countless examples of professional athletes and coaches using treadmills to improve the quality of training by avoiding inclement weather, improving the specificity of a workout, and other purposes that we all can take advantage of… click for full article


Mixed Stimulus Workouts

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

One of the most common mistakes we make as distance runners is doing the same thing every single day. It’s easy to get in the habit of doing the same route at the same pace every day, but it’s also one of the principal causes of performance stagnation. Varying the duration, frequency, terrain, and intensity of runs are the building blocks of long-term improvement. Incorporating workouts such as tempo runsfartlek, or interval work on a regular basis is a great way to make improvements through varied intensity. We tend to place those workouts into specific categories – tempo pace, marathon pace, interval pace, hill repeats etc. But who’s to say you can’t do tempo pace and interval pace in the same workout? Or include hill repeats in the middle of a tempo run? Utilizing mixed stimulus workouts can give you a unique challenge and allow for more recovery days between hard workouts than if you were running 2 separate workouts during the week. Here are four mixed stimulus workouts that will make you rethink your Tuesday tempo or Thursday interval days… click for full article


Setting Up a Racing Schedule

By Ryan Warrenburg, ZAP Fitness

A few summers ago one of our ZAP resident athletes concluded his year with a 5000-meter track race. As is often the case on the professional track and field circuit, the faster you run the more racing opportunities you get. His race went well that night and the next morning he received an invitation to a 3000-meter race that night. Typically we as coaches, and he as an athlete, would never entertain races on back-to-back days, but it was the last race of the season and he was scheduled to take a break afterward so he decided to race. The result was the fastest 3000-meter race of his life. Now, I still would never advise that approach, but depending on the athlete and the race distance the optimal racing schedule will vary from person to person. However, there are some important concepts to understand when putting together a racing schedule… click for full article

6 Workouts for 3 Training Phases

By Pete Rea, ZAP Fitness

Fall is often viewed as the season for change. As apples drop and leaves turn, runners across the globe who are targeting late fall, winter or spring races will begin base training, or a healthy dose of aerobic mileage and general conditioning work… click to read full article on Active.com


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