Coach Tips

In addition to the Coach Tips below, the Coaches offer additional guidance and insights about topics including running physiology, racing advice, nutrition, and more for our members in the private Shamrock Running Club Facebook page.

VDOT Coaching Program

Both of our Coaches are listed in the VDOT Certified Running Coach Registry and subscribe to the Jack Daniels’ VDOT Coaching program, as described in the book “Daniels’ Running Formula.” VDOT is a measure of running ability based on race results. It is close to VO2 max, but accounts for running economy and more accurately reflects race performance. Working on your VDOT score will help you with whatever your running, fitness, and longevity goals may be.

VDOT Calculator

You can look up your appropriate training paces using the free online VDOT calculator or by using the free VDOT calculator app. Sticking to your appropriate training paces is important because it will allow you to get the maximum benefit without overstressing your body. Use the least stress that provides the maximum benefit, not maximum stress for the same benefit. Stick to your appropriate training paces and scale your workouts appropriately (see below) to achieve this balance.

Weekly Training Schedule

The Coaches offer suggested weekly Quality (Q) workouts for those interested in adding more focus and optimization to their running, fitness, and longevity goals.

The Training Schedule is compatible with any runner, no matter how slow or fast, no matter how few or many miles, as long as each runner follows their appropriate Training Paces and scales the workouts according to their weekly mileage.

Weekly Mileage

Spend four weeks at the same weekly mileage before increasing your weekly mileage. This also applies to strength training. Never increase by more than 10 miles in one week. Increase weekly mileage by the number of runs you do in a week (eg by 5 miles if you run 5 times a week).

Training Paces

Always know the purpose of your workouts. Each training pace confers different benefits, and if you focus on the purpose of each workout you can maximize those benefits.

  • Q (Quality) – A vital workout in your weekly schedule. To sustain progression through the season, do your best to get these done. Q is not a training pace in and of itself; a Q workout would include one or more of the training paces listed below.
  • L (Long) – Long runs are typically done at Easy pace. Long runs should be no more than 25% of your weekly mileage (eg if you run 30 miles per week you would want to aim for a long run no longer than 7.5 miles) or 120 minutes, whichever comes first.
  • E (Easy) – Strengthens your heart, improves the blood supply to your muscles, and enhances the oxygen and fuel-to-energy conversions in our muscle cells. Many of these benefits accrue with more time spent running, and you needn’t go fast to reap these rewards. E pace is typically an intensity about 59 to 74 percent of VO2 max or about 65 to 79 percent of maximum heart rate.
  • M (Marathon) – Used primarily for those training for a marathon, it provides practice at marathon race pace and practice drinking while running.
  • T (Threshold) – Improves endurance and lactate threshold. Do no more than 10% of your weekly miles in a single workout. The ratio of work to rest time should be about 5 to 1. The intensity of T runs should be comfortably hard, which means you are working fairly hard, but the pace is manageable for a fairly long time (certainly 20 or 30 minutes in practice). Peaked and rested, you can race at T pace for about 60 minutes.
  • I (Interval) – Improves aerobic power by targeting your VO2 max. Do no more than 8% of your weekly miles in a single workout. The ratio of work to rest time should be about 1 to 1.
  • R (Repetition) – Improves anaerobic power, speed, and economy. Do no more than 5% of your weekly miles in a single workout. The ratio of work to rest time should be about 1 to 2 or 1 to 3. R pace is roughly your mile race pace.
  • ST (Striders) – These are short, often just 15-20 second, quick but relaxed, roughly R paced repeats (not sprints), with 45-60 seconds recovery in between.

How to Scale a Workout Down or Up

For some of the Training Paces above, you can see that guidance is included about doing no more than a certain amount of this particular pace in one workout. If you’re doing any workout suggested by the Coaches in the weekly Training Schedule, please consider scaling the workout according to your weekly mileage. This will allow you to get the maximum benefit of the workout without overstressing your body.

For example, the Thursday Quality Workout Run for June 6 2024 called for 3×1 mile Cruise Intervals (T pace). In the Training Paces above, you can see we recommend that for T pace you do no more than 10% of your weekly miles in one workout. If you are running 20 miles per week, then you should scale this workout down to 2×1 mile Cruise Intervals (T pace), as 2 miles is 10% of 20 miles. If you are running 30 miles a week, then 3×1 mile Cruise Intervals (T pace) is just right. If you are doing 40 miles a week, then we’d suggest scaling up the workout to 4×1 mile Cruise Intervals (T pace).

Workouts guided by your Running Watch

It’s helpful to program any Quality workouts you do in the streets and trails, such as the Thursday Quality workouts, into your running watch, if you have one. This way your watch will keep track throughout the workout for you in relation to distance and time so you always know what to do next and how much you’ve done so far. Learning this skill can also be helpful if you don’t have access to a track but want to do a track workout, or if you do time-based workouts on a track. Below I’ve detailed this only for Garmin running watches, but I imagine that other running watch brands may have similar features.

Garmin Workouts

In the Garmin Connect app or web, go to the “Training & Planning” section, then find “Workouts” and then “Create a Workout.” In my experience it’s pretty simple and intuitive to do this, and once you create the workout, which you could for example copy from the Quality (Q) workouts from the weekly Training Schedule, you can upload it to your Garmin watch. Then when you’re ready for your workout, on your watch when you go to start the run, after clicking “Run,” scroll down to “Workouts” and select the workout. It will then guide you through as you progress through the workout, and let you know when you’ve reached your time or distance for each work bout or recovery bout, and it will tell you what’s the next step, and it will count how many work bouts you’ve done within a set. It’s best to turn off autolap on your watch so that it doesn’t interfere with your workout – and besides you can still get your mile laps pulled out automatically and presented to you by Strava (and perhaps other apps too). And after the workout, within the Activity report under Stats -> Workout Intervals, it gives you the time, distance, and pace of your work bouts, so if you do the same workout in the future, you could try to beat yourself from last time.