How to Run Far, Without Running Far

Lately, my workouts have been different than they ever have. I’ve always lifted heavy, and shied away from anything that would make me sweat. I hated “cardio,” running was never that interesting.

A couple years ago, a set of deadlifts over 5 was considered cardio. My workouts have an aerobic-style to them now, I’m constantly moving, breathing and sweating. I am still lifting heavy, by having strength specific workouts or mixing heavy things into my aerobic work. That’s what I am going to highlight here.

You see, I have changed my workouts because I have a 25k trail race coming up in the end of May. I have never run that far in my life. Like I said, I’ve never been a runner and I played hockey, not exactly a sport that helps your running mechanics. Until recently, I the longest I had run was a little over 6 miles for a half marathon relay. Before that, 4 miles in training for the relay.

I knew that what I was doing was working when I effortlessly ran 9 miles, and I mean that seriously, not in an obnoxious way, but in a way to show you how powerful this style of training for endurance can be.

Each week, I am training about 4 days per week, but trying to move and do something pretty much everyday.

Mondays are usually my off day. If I fit something in I make it a small circuit or some light technique work.

Tuesdays are my hard workout days. A typical workout might look something like this:

A1. back squat 5×8 – only increasing weight if it feels good

A2. Running drill

B1. one arm db push press x6/side

B2. box jump x6

B3. Pull up x3

I’ll go moderately paced for 10-15 minutes

C1. running intervals 4x800m with 2 minutes recovery. Running at a pace that’s fast, but possible to maintain for the entire distance.

Wednesday’s are for aerobic circuits. Workouts that last about 20-30 minutes with a sustained pace and effort that’s possible to hold for the whole time. The goal is to finish these workouts “fresh.” An example:

A1. rack pull x 10

A2. bear crawl x20 y

A3. running up hill (treadmill) for 30 seconds

A4. medicine ball slam x30

After this, I’ll usually go for some harder, anaerobic style conditioning. Something like 60 second max effort rowing or on the Airdyne Bike. After 2-3 rounds, I’ll recover for 3-4 minutes and repeat once or twice more.

If it’s possible, I’ll get in some longer intervals on Thursdays. Something like 2-3, 1 mile repeats. I’ll recover for about 2-3 minutes and run the mile as fast as I can. I usually end up only doing these once every other week, but that seems to be doing the trick.

Friday is freestyle day for me. I just do whatever will motivate me to train. Sometimes heavy deadlifts, high rep squats or a circuit style workout. When writing this on Saturday, my workout yesterday was:

A1. axel bar overhead press x 10

A2. tire flip x3

A3. box jump x 5

5 rounds


Saturday is usually focused on Olympic weightlifting. I still enjoy doing this, even though it isn’t a requirement for endurance training. I just think practicing them is fun.

Now we get to the interesting part. On Sunday’s I’ve been going long. Longer than I ever though possible. This only started a couple weeks ago too. Before that, Sunday’s were for 20+ minutes on the rower.

On Sunday April 10th, the day after I really pushed it for a 5.5-mile hike, I ran further than ever. I ran 7 miles in 58 minutes. The goal was to run for an hour. I totally made up the route as I went and it just ended up working out that I finished in an hour when I reached my driveway. I was shocked at how easy it was.

Right then. I was hooked. I finally get it runners – that was worth it. The following week my training schedule was about the same, but when Saturday rolled around, I needed to make sure this wasn’t a fluke and I could repeat my efforts.

Off I went on what ended up being a 9.3 mile run in 1 hour and 24 minutes. This time I wasn’t shocked. I felt good the whole time.

The day after – no aches. No pains. Not even any sore muscles. Some tenderness in my calves and quads, but nothing out our the ordinary from a regular workout. Keep in mind – since my training has amped up, so has my recovery. I am dialed in with my nutrition, making sure to get more sleep and regularly doing mobility work, walking and taking ice baths 3-4 nights per week (more on that another time). I have also been working on my running mechanics not only during my warm ups but during my strength training workouts. I didn’t just start this though, I have been reworking them for almost two years now.

The take away for you is that you can train endurance without having to rack up miles. I know this goes again what most of you runners out there are doing, but my counter to that is how many times have you been injured? How many little tweaks and irritated spots do you have? And how do you fit in 30 miles per week while working full-time, strength training and maintaining a regular social life? It’s hard and it is certainly not a sustainable way to train.

Which gets me to the most exciting part – starting in June, the GAIN RUN TEAM will start training. More details will follow, but what it’s going to be is a 7-8 week, training and running program, designed to get you into to shape to run a race, improve running technique and form, and build your endurance without racking up miles. Spots will be limited and the official sign up will be open soon. The team is open for experienced runners and non runners alike, and members and non members of the gym. The program will commence with your choice a 5k or 10k race that we’ll all run together.

If you are a member, we will modify your finishers and strength training to accommodate the new plan. On the weekends, you’ll be responsible to run on your own, or we will do a group run together. Let me know if you have any questions!







How to Run Far, Without Running Far

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