Saturday, October 13, 2007

30 Runs in 30 Days

The picture above is Erin and I enjoying a zip line trip. The longest one we did today was 800 feet more than 100 ft off the ground. Spectacular!!!_______________________________________________________

Following my requisite break from IMC, I posted a run challenge to my local triathlon club (TriCoWS) to help jumpstart the slow road back to fitness. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we decondition. Many people, my wife included, wonder why I’m starting back so quickly…here are my reasons.

1. The longer I take off, the harder it is to break the bad habits I build up.

2. The more deconditioned I get, the harder it is on my body to get fit again, injury free.

3. It allows a looooonnnnnggg ramp up to get into shape. By starting very slowly, there is no urgency to rush things.
4. Building a big, aerobic base by starting so slowly prevents injury and burnout.

I think the concept of the 30 runs in 30 days originated with Molina. I certainly heard it first from Gordo that Molina suggested it to him. The idea seems simple; in reality, few people can actually accomplish the goal. I think the way it was originally described is nothing less than 45 minutes constituted a run and it had to be a continuous effort…no running part of it in the morning and part of it later.

I’ve adapted the challenge a bit. You have to understand the basic premise in order to maximize the potential opportunity of the challenge. The goal is to safely increase your frequency in running and improve your aerobic base. Given that, the 45 minute minimum shouldn’t apply to everyone. To that point, everyone’s minimum is different based upon their running background.

The primary reason I believe people aren’t successful is from going too hard cardiovascularly. This has two results…one is mental/physiological burnout and the other is resultant musculoskeletal damage. We are wired to push ourselves…therefore, without wearing a hr monitor, people are repeatedly pushing above their aerobic ceiling and preventing adequate recovery.

I have more knowledge about the musculoskeletal limitations. The body responds to stress by “rebuilding itself” in a stronger fashion. To some, it would be intuitive then, to continue to go harder. However, the tissues are also constantly being resorbed during the remodeling process. This continual process of tissue breaking down and rebuilding is generally balanced. Problems arise when the balance is upset such that the breakdown is occurring at a rate more rapidly than the buildup. This results in stress fractures and overuse syndromes if the new stresses are applied too quickly. To avoid these complications it generally takes bones, tendons, and muscles approximately 6-8 weeks to rev up the building process. I believe those that aren’t patient enough to wait this period of time are usually those people who are plagued with recurrent injury and inconsistency.

Therefore, for people that aren’t accustomed to frequent running, their goal should be to build their musculoskeletal system (joints, tendons, muscles) up to the point of achieving a new remodeling homeostasis sufficient to withstand the new daily stress. This method hopefully can lessen the aches and pains that are the result from starting too rigorously that prevent continuation of running for most people. So those athletes who are patient can proceed with a gradual build-up (6-8 weeks) to provide sufficient time for the tissues to respond and strengthen to the initial stresses. I believe this increases the success of a those starting a new running program.

So on to the challenge. 30 runs in 30 days. Nothing fancy-no pace or distance requirements. Just get out and run 30 separate times in 30 days. What constitutes a run? For those people who have done sprint and oly races, 30 minutes. For those that have completed a half or full ironman, 45 minutes.

A couple of tips: need a day off? Run in the morning and once in the evening on a given day to “bank” a run for your day off. Ideally this shouldn’t be done more than 1/week. Tip #2 Use the run walk protocol on those days when you are feeling tired. Start off by walking 2-3 minutes, then begin running. After 10-15 minutes, give yourself a 30-60 sec walk break. I recommend posting your daily runs on your local tri forum…this can be motivating for yourself and others. Group peer pressure is always fun ;-)


I wanted to post one thought as we are 13 days into the run challenge. It is interesting to see people push themselves despite the warnings. Even those who begin with a bit of humility and self proclaimed lack of running experience are running harder and more often than planned. I was running with Erin today and we were cruising around at her typical steady pace/effort. Given the large variability in our run experience, my effort/hr was pretty low (115) during the majority of the run. However, during each ascent, I was keeping pace with her, only to see my hr sky rocket to 150. Despite the obvious effort, she would continue to push the pace and accelerate past me. This is a common event I experience with less seasoned runners and I asked her about it.

My perception was that she felt it necessary to hammer up the hills and was looking at me and questioning why I wasn’t going harder. Yet she said, she just assumed that was the effort required to go up the hill and her perception was that she wasn’t going that hard (She didn’t have a hr monitor on). I suspect this is the same reasoning I commonly see when running with a group.

My suspicion is that these efforts are the ones that make it difficult to recover and come back the next day. But to best build endurance, you need to be able to repeatedly back up your prior days training. The repeated many day efforts of continuous training are superior in my mind than intermittent bursts of high intensity training separated by required rest b/c you are too wrecked to train.

Hope everyone is enjoying the fall. Best of luck to the Kona Athletes.



BRFOOT said...

YOUR KILLING ME HERE, 30 runs in 30 days. I'm going to give it a go though. WE leave for Mexico on Friday so it will be tough to be that disiplined on vacation, especially with a hangover. But I will do my best. Are you doing any long runs or variable speed work. Or is this all 45 min at Aerobic pace?

Lucho said...

Jeff- I read your post on my blog and didn't see that you left any contact information nor do I see any on your blog? My e-mail address is in my profile on my blog....

GordoWorld Team said...

Excellent couple of articles -- I'll plug these in my blog.

$20 bucks says that your VO2 Max test is inaccurate. I don't believe the number is a fair representation of your maximum genetic oxygen uptake.

I'd like to retest you when you come back in October.

30 minutes was the minimum run duration.

Also... I recommend two swims per week (just do it) as well as at least one strength session.

Bryan, when I do this nearly all runs are easy pace (this is slower than aerobic). Very little variable pace work for the reasons that Jeff outlined (goal is durability adaptation, not run fitness).


Lee & Regina said...

Being that we are triathletes, is there any reason why one couldn't do 30 consecutive days of (sub)aerobic workouts rotating s-b-r? Would that bring about the desired effect of durability adaptation? Or is there a specific reason for running?

GordoWorld Team said...

Reason for running?

Yes, the effect of impact is a key limiter in training/racing for most.


Dr. J said...

Lee & Regina:

Ditto what Gordo said above...basically the goal is to increase durability for running. There certainly is benefit from daily Swim/Bike/Run training for fitness, but the idea of the 30 day/30 runs is to boost your durability at this time of year. Later in the year, you can switch the focus and work on aerobic or anaerobic endurance depending on your needs. But, both of these will fail if you don't have the durability to withstand the stress of frequent running.


Dr. J said...


How is the challenge going? I'm interested in hearing if you were able to keep going during vacation. I found that when I was able to do my minimum workout daily, no matter what, is when I really began improving. I think this is the result of lifestyle change, mental toughness, and to a lesser extent, the physical benefit of daily training.

Lee & Regina said...

Jeff & Gordo - Thanks for the clarification. Regina and I both dig you posts. Thanks.

BRFOOT said...

So far so good. I have only missed 2 runs in 12 days. I will make those up when I get home. No real issues other than my ankles are a little sore. My HR is a little higher than I think it should be down here. This is probably due to the humidity and my hydration. In Spokane we have almost no humidity and here in Cancun it's about 95%.
I will have all my info posted on my blog when I get back.

KP said...

Hey Jeff -

I am on board and have finished Day 4 of the planned 30 days. I like that Day 13 commnet addition. I'll add that to my forum.


TJ said...

thanks for posting the 30/30 challenge. i'll begin in december. i'll be taking most of november off/easy after imflorida. the challenge sounds like a good way to get going again post im.

Dr. J said...

Best of luck in Florida, TJ.

Let me know how it goes when you get back on track in December.


Douglas K said...

hi Jeff, got here from Gordo's pages.

I like to do this kind of running on the flats, for me the Denver High Line Canal trail. I don't enjoy the HRM wheedle-de-dees, and I don't enjoy walking up hills - running on the flat lets me keep even effort and pace without those annnoyances. In Winston, laps of WF campus and Reynolda Gardens worked well ;-)
Is Steve Messier still at WF ? I remember participating in one of his biomechanics studies in the early 90s.

Dr. J said...

Hey Doug:

Just passed Messier on my run today...I take it you spent some time here a few years back. The routes you talked about are included in many of my standard runs that start in Buena Vista.

I will have to give the High Line Canal Trail a run next time I'm in town. This past weekend I did a route between Lafayette and Boulder with Lucho on the Teller Farm Trailhead. Awesome views at sunrise looking back towards the mountains. I'm sure you get many of the same views from Denver. Thanks for checking in.