How They Train!
Michael LaBossiere April - 2014
Did you compete in high school cross country or track?
- My running career began with failure. In high school, I tried out for the basketball team. The coach’s response was to offer me the job of team manager. When I said I wanted to do a sport, he said to go out for track: they took everyone. After failing the tryouts for the glamorous events, I ended up a distance runner, competing in the 880, mile and two mile for Old Town High School.
Did you compete in college cross country or track?
- When I went to college, I ran cross country and track. But I did not become a true runner until May, 1985. That was when I decided I would run every day without fail. That attitude (and extra mileage from getting lost regularly) resulted in me being the first male all-conference runner in cross country for Marietta College. On March 21, 2008 my streak ended—I realized that running everyday was beating me like a piñata—only one filled with pain rather than candy. Despite that, I’ve been running for over three decades. Back in the day, I used to run 90-100 miles a week. These days it is 60-70.
Lifetime personal records
When I was I kid, I thought I’d remember my times forever and did not start keeping track until late 1987. There are the PRs that I can actually document:
1 Mile -4:54
- 5K - 16:30
- 10K - 33:45:2
- Marathon - 2:45:03:12
- College cross country - 26:32
- 8K - 28:10
- 12K - 44:06
- 15K - 55:24:88
- 10 Miles - 58:04:86
- 20K - 1:19:39
- Half Marathon - 1:24
- 30K - 1:58:20
- 50K - 3:47:58
What running events do you train for or what are your training goals?
- On the short side, I train for the GWTC Track Mile and on the long side for the half marathon. I also train for everything in between. I keep thinking about doing another marathon, but I don’t dislike myself enough. Yet.
What does your typical week of running look like?
- Monday: Two hours of Tae Kwon Do (forms, bag drills, etc.) and one hour of strength training. I do 1.4-2.4 miles in minimalist shoes with my husky (who goes bare-paw). Then I run 10-11 miles on my own in training shoes.
- Tuesday: Same as Monday
- Wednesday: As Monday & Tuesday, but I do 8-9 miles on my own.
- Thursday: As Monday & Tuesday, but I do 3-4 miles on my own in minimalist shoes.
- Friday: 45 minutes of Tae Kwon Do. No running.
- Saturday: 30 minutes of strength training and whatever race I am running. If there is no race, then I run 8-12 miles.
- Sunday: 30 minutes of strength training followed by 12-19 miles.
How does your training vary over the course of a year?
- I run slower when it gets hot. Plus I complain more about the heat.
Do you take recovery or down time?
- I take Friday off from running. Otherwise my only down time is when I fall off a roof.
Do you peak for certain races?
- No. My peaking days are well behind me. These days, I downhill slide into races.
How much sleep do you usually get at night?
- Too little, usually 7 hours.
What time of day do you normally run?
What injuries have hampered your training over the past year?
- Various vague leg and knee pains, but nothing too serious. Having suffered a full quadriceps tendon tear in 2009, lesser injuries do not seem like much.
Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?
- An apple a day. Plus chocolate.
What type of running shoes do you prefer?
- I have been training in Asics and I have New Balance minimalist shoes.
Do you race in a different type of running shoe?
- I usually race in Asic racers or, for trails, I wear an Inov-8 trail shoe.
Do you use weight training?
- Yes. I do strength training six days a week, alternating between legs and upper body. I also do pull ups, sit-ups and core training to offset my love of cake and pie products.
Do you stretch?
- Yes. I stretch every day, badly. I mostly follow the routines I learned in the martial arts, although I am clearly no Bruce Lee. I also use a foam roller—being able to lay on it and roll about appeals to my basic laziness.
How has your training changed over the years?
- There are three big changes. First, I run less distance: I'm down to 60-70 per week from 90-100. Second, I am slower. I used to do 7 minute miles for any distance between 12 and 30 miles, but these days that does not happen. Third, I've added more "cross training" in terms of Tae Kwon Do, strength training and alternatives to normal running such as aquajogging.
What are your favorite running routes?
- My favorite is the route I have in my home town, Old Town Maine. I have a 13 mile base course with a 16 mile option—much of it is in pine forest. I usually see deer and foxes on the run…and the occasional black bear. Here in Tallahassee I have two main routes—one that goes through the FSU campus and another that goes out through various neighborhoods. All my runs start in San Luis Park—which is right behind my house.
What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else?
- As my father will tell you, I am bad at getting advice from others. I have also been told that I am “uncoachable.” That is both true and fair.
What examples can you give of specific training methods, and what were the results?
- I’ve found that when I was younger and faster, I raced much better. Seriously, I have found the obvious holds: hill training helps with hill running in races, intervals help with speed, and trail running helps with trail racing. These days, I run hills and trails as part of my normal training and my only speed work is at races (or dodging cars). I have also found that “cross training” to build strength helps a great deal in avoiding injuries.
What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training?
- Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned about running is to have a proper understanding of pain. There is no excellence without pain, but pain can be a sign that the body is being damaged. You need to learn to reliably distinguish between what merely hurts and what is actually injuring you. Also, stay off roofs. And buy my books.