How They Train!
Eric Laywell - January 2015
Did you compete in high school cross country or track?
Track & Cross Country as a senior, Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Let’s go River Rats!)
Did you compete in college cross country or track?
Track & Cross Country as a freshman, Alma College, Alma, Michigan (Let’s go Scots!). I transferred to the University of Michigan (Let’s go Blue!), and have been running “unaffiliated” ever since
How many years have you been running?
Lifetime personal records
Best times from track or certified road races:
- 400m - :51
- 800m - 1:56
- Mile - 4:11
- 3000m - 8:35
- 5K - 15:10
- 4 miles - 19:56
- 5 miles - 25:10
10K - 31:29
15K - 49:12
10 Miles - 54:12
20K - 1:08:00
1/2 Marathon - 1:12:24
Marathon - 2:38:02
50K (Trail) - 4:25
What running events do you train for or what are your training goals?
I don’t really have specific training goals anymore. I just enjoy running with my friends or my dog, and putting out a hard effort in occasional races.
Consider your training over the past 6 months to one year. How many miles a week do you typically run when not injured and consistently running?
What does your typical week of running look like?
- Monday: No running. 60-75 minutes of weights
- Tuesday: 6-7 miles including 10 x 800 on grass at anaerobic threshold pace (about 10K race effort) with 90 sec. recovery
- Wednesday: 8 miles at a relaxed pace
- Thursday: 6 miles at a relaxed to moderate pace, followed by 10 x 100m strides. 60-75 minutes of weights in the p.m.
- Friday: 5-8 miles at a moderate pace
- Saturday: 5-7 miles including 4 x 1200m at max VO2 pace (about 5K race effort) with 4 min. recovery
- Sunday: Long run of 1:45 to 2:30, depending on the time of year. Relaxed, aerobic pace
How does your training vary over the course of a year?
It’s relatively consistent. My long run in cool months is 15+ miles, but I shorten it during the summer, rarely going more than 12 miles at a time.
Do you take recovery or down time?
I usually take one day a week off from running, but I don’t plan any extended breaks during the year.
Do you peak for certain races?
How much sleep do you usually get at night?
6-8 hours. But I could easily sleep 10 hours a night if I didn’t have kids and a damn job.
What time of day do you normally run?
I run almost exclusively in the morning, starting between 6:30 and 7:30.
What injuries have hampered your training over the past year?
I have not been injured in the past year. In fact, I’ve never been seriously injured. I get occasional bouts of tendinitis, but they always clear up with reduced training or a short layoff.
Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?
Rum (the expensive, sipping kind - not the cheap swill that people mix with Coke).
What type of running shoes do you prefer?
I’m fortunate to be able to wear almost any kind of shoe. I look for something cushiony, flexible, and on the clearance table. I do, however, occasionally splurge for Hoka’s. It’s twice the cushioning at triple the expense, but I would eschew pavement entirely if not for them.
Do you race in a different type of running shoe?
If it’s a road race, I’ll wear a pair of Hoka Rapa Nui. For trail or cross country races I have a variety of shoes, but I don’t know what they’re called.
Do you use weight training?
Why, yes, I do. Thanks for noticing! I lift about every third day, and cycle through three different workouts. The major exercises I focus on are bench press, incline press, shoulder press, pull-ups, rows, curls, back extensions squats, knee extensions, and lunges. Almost all exercises are done with barbells or dumbbells rather than machines, and the weights are moderate to heavy. I suppose I could use this time and energy to run higher mileage, but at this point in life I think it’s more important to be able to walk right.
Do you stretch?
I stretch very seldom. Unless you count working my joints through their functional range of motion while supporting substantial amounts of weight. In that case, I stretch every time I go to the gym.
What are your favorite running routes?
The vast majority of my running is done on dirt trails or grass, mostly at Phipps and Maclay Gardens. I also like Old Centerville Road and Alford Arm in winter (in summer the flies leave you a pockmarked, bleeding mess).
What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else?
I used to voraciously read everything I could find about running. Training systems come, and training systems go. The best thing to do is read a lot and experiment to find what works for you. If I had to recommend one, single resource it would be Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot by John L. Parker (http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Monitor-Training-Compleat-Idiot/dp/1891369849). The principles are sound, simple, and applicable even if you don’t use a heart rate monitor.
How has your training changed over the years?
I used to enjoy running 3000+ miles per year. Now I run 1800-2000. I’m no longer neurotically compulsive about getting my run in each day. I still enjoy running hard workouts and occasional races, but I spent my youth as a hyper-competitive jerk and now I have little interest in what the clock says.
What examples can you give of specific training methods, and what were the results?
Without doubt my body has always responded best to anaerobic threshold running; longish intervals at about 10K race effort with relatively brief bouts of recovery. Three of my favorite examples include:
- 20 x 400m with 30 seconds rest
- 10 x 800m with 90 seconds rest
- 2 x 2 mile with 3-4 minutes rest
What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training?
You don’t improve by training hard. You improve by recovering after you train hard.