Placing your workouts at the correct time of the day, is as crucial as planting them correctly in the season ! Period ! We talk about athletes here ! For me everything is a workout ! Your food, your mobility, your breathing and so ! Not only choosing them wisely, but planning them into the correct hour will be a game changing, especially if you never did that ! You’ll see results that you did not imagine !
For instance 8 am track workouts, tempo runs and so. No ! Check kenyans. Morning is about getting ready for the day. Easy running. They spice it up time to time, but they do their focus workouts later in the day. No hard running in the morning.
Careful with fasted runs
There are trigger workouts or even trigger days, but you must be ready and be prepared. Even the africans put like 3 spoons of sugar into their morning coffee. Of course, when they do 10 to 20mile breakfast runs with their thin bodies, they are back at fat burning after 25 minutes.
Nutrition and pre-fasted-run-day-nutrition is really something important. For instance as an amateur marathoner, you prepare for a big event. You want to make your body be able to tap into fat, but into hidden glucose stores too.
First of all, charge up the day before. Charge up with nutrients not only calories. I did not say overeat, pig out or to get a puffed up stomach. You have the habit of eating natural porridge with fruits ? Add some chia seed almond pudding. You like to eat a big ass salad for lunch ? Add roasted liver, sardines, eggs or another avocado and brazil nuts. Your evening pasta was not a good option anyways, choose yams, manioca, sourdough bread, squash or maybe fonio, quinoa or maze.
I really like avoiding double runs, I’ll tell you later on why, but in this case, yes a double run can be necessary. You really want your body to use that hidden energy in the motion you’ll use during the marathon. Morning would be a longer run with a very deep warming up. For instance 20minutes of very easy running, 15minutes of athletic drills, 25minutes of purposeful focused running, then 35minutes @ marathon pace with 15minutes of cooldown.
Then you fuel with water only. Salt is no problem, like a quality sparkling water. I see no benefits of using amino acids, MCTs, ketones. Let your body running on empty and let it look for stores of essence. That was an 8 am run, finished at 10am.
Knowing your body, when afternoon cortisol springs and you feel the most awaken, you do your second workout. That can be 2 – 3 or 4pm even. Getting after a purposeful workout later might have negative consequences in case of recovery. It might work for the real dedicated, but should be knowing what he is doing. A 6am + 7pm fasted combo can be a race changer on a negative way, even if it was 3 or 4 weeks out ! This second workout should be the hard one. 35min warming up: jogging, drills and running included, then a 6 x 10min marathon pace run with a 2min surge after each 10min, Adding up to 1h and 12minutes of intensity. Yes, to be able to do this, it should be around 4 to 6weeks out of the race, in case of a proper 18 to 24week program. Those gimmicky 10 to 12weeks couch to marathon programs are bollocks !
The next 3 days make sure that you are recovering and refuelling ! Your goal was not weight-loss, don’t forget !
This is crucial. Timing it is not however. You should be mobile all the time ! Doing 20minutes of mobility before each workout is great. Being seated then for 8hours, will however delete any effects you gained !
Little workouts snacks of hip circles, deep squats, lunges, jefferson curls, ankle circles, but even upper body stuff is something to do all day long for a runner.
I have no time, but even if I did have, I would not recommend doing 20min mobility at once. I prefer waking up, get on the foam roller for 3minutes. Put on the coffee, do some deep focused squats and cracking out the knees. Then wash the dishes. Get the broom sticks and go for side bends and good mornings, spine twists. Look at the old Irish and English fell runners. They had springs. Look at videos of Josh Naylor or John Lenihan. The fantastic beasts. They don’t warm up, they don’t cool down. But they bale the hay all day long, work with goats and sheep and do all kind of maintenance and farm work from sunrise to sunset and yes they still do run into their 60s and 80s. They are thin as, but strong hardy people.
Dynamic moves are necessary to get your muscles pumped and revved up before a workout. You can include some Warthon cord aided moves, but I prefer to leave them to the end. I like some fast legged in-place runs, getting those ankles into full range of motion. Dwarf walks and rabbit hops. Jumping jacks and forwards skips. Leg swings, flutter kicks, basketball side drills, high knees and so. This is your mobility, your stretching and muscular prep. The priming !
Static stretching is a game changer ! Before bed I get into some pose-holds and breathing. Around 20 to 30minutes. David Goggins do 2hours, cause his body is/was messed up. Really before bed. Dimmed light, relaxing piano music and basic static stretching. You can call it yoga poses if wanted. Kelly Starett says that to make a difference in a tissue, you need at least 2minutes. I have an interval app on my phone. It mellowly beeps every 2 minutes to change position. I got into this around 6months ago. It really just brings new life to my mornings.
I make sure to include a simple seated lower back and ham stretch. Glut and glut-med / piriformis. Calf. Psoas and quad. Shoulder and arms. So I don’t freckin’ pull to the point of rupture. I just get into a pose and slowly wiggle around. Easy. Relax. No, I never injured anything. But definitely do not pull it tight.
This is also a great way to monitor muscle tightness and to prevent injuries. Might I feel some fibres particularly shallow or even painful ? I double up on the stretch. For instance come back at the end for another 2minutes. In the morning I make sure to get the roller going on for those areas. Every-body has weak spots. I do my calf raises, my voodoo flossing, my hill sprints and strength work, but my right outer calf gets tight at least once every month. I mean tired, painful, fatigued and tight. I know this, therefor that area is really supervised forever !
Am: Foam rolling. Light massage type of easy rolling around. No deep tissue release ! Just chilling and massaging. It can be twice a day even. Calisthenics and other bodyweight routines like yoga and pialtes. In the morning, you want to actually avoid impact, weights, high intensity, stretching and anything violant. You want to ease into your day !
This can have such an impact on your health and can change your injury status, from 5 times a year to ZERO !
This is why I said previously, that for longevity in sports, I prefer morning workouts for runners as a no impact cycling drill ! It can be just a 2hour stroll somedays, rolling around, but of course like in running, most of the times it should have a purpose. For variety, changing up on MTB and a road bike can make also a difference. Different position, different muscles, different skills. No you don’t have to bomb down on technical slopes and jump around. You can just ride 45minutes easy, get up to 145heart rate for a climb, ride down back home and walk it off. I want to see runners staying runners for life ! Not like africans or pro-americans. I want you to have serious objectives and health after 40 , till six-feet-under !
PM: In the afternoons, you do your hard workouts, your weight sessions, your HIIT and plyometric drills. Your body is awaken, it is more mobilised, it is fuelled and hydrated !
Then when you’re in your highest point of the day, just after your target workout, you can wind down by some dynamic stretching and full range of motion bodyweight movements.
Getting in the moderate static stretching at night just before bed will help you to sleep better and to be avoiding injuries too. Like having a bad back, a tight neck or a hamstring knot as waking up, because you brought a blocked bodily point to the bed !
Timing your meals related to your runs and type of runs is crucial. Eating eggs and bacon for breakfast if you did fast 400s in the afternoon is not a good idea. On the other hand getting very high carby, like porridge, honey and dried fruits while going for a long tempo run in the afternoon, would not be beneficial either.
If somehow the day prevents you from PM workouts and you must get in your run early morning, the previous night the dinner should be simple. Sauerkraut, raw beetroots, a palm size steak and anything hard to digest, too fibrous would just make you crap yourself and slow you down. These bad digestive experiences also carry through to the next days, as when you flush out your stomach or run with too much crap in your gut, the lining gets damaged. It becomes more susceptible to irritation and sensitivity will be present.
Loads of runners like beans. Well, it can be done gas free, but still hardish to digest ! Soak them red or white beans for 24 to 36hours, changing water multiple times. Then cook them for 30 to 45minutes under pressure. Don’t eat them with bread or pasta ! Eat beans 18hours out of training and at least 3days out of racing !
It is not complicated, but a lot of people don’t pay attention to these little things. When the coach says 15minutes of warming up, 1h at marathon pace, 10minutes of cooldown, they just do it. I mean, the alarm rings, jump into their clothes and go on running. 25steps and bang, a calf fibre is snapped. 2nd bang, your 1h M-Pace will be broken up by 2 big toilette breaks. 3rd bang, you cannot hold on to pace as under hydrated, under motivated and the fuel is not there, nor the excitement levels and motivation. 4th bang, your workout will be purposeless, unsatisfying and your recovery time will be doubled up !
If you woke up an hour before your workout though, you might have put on a nice music from Nina Simone while sipping on your stinging nettle / green tea infusion, went to toilette and did your foam rolling and easy calisthenics, the experience would have been different. Yes, the evening TV time should have been cut off. Yes, you should have been eaten earlier and should have … This is just a question of priorities and organisation.
This is why I refuse to coach 99% of runners. Nobody wants to do the auxiliary things, just to run.
I accepted and trained many injured folks back then. We started out with a couple of sessions together, learning the proper way to warm up, learning to control the heart rate. Accepting the period of 2 to 6months till full rehabilitation is established.
However, at the first appearances of the sunshine, they start going out and cutting corners. No warming up, no mobility, no focus on breathing, letting the heart rate max out, pushing their narrow limits… – But I am nut injuring myself coach ! – Till when ? 1 week ? 1 month ? Then they are back to the old cycle !