Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Runs in 30 Days

Brought to you by Dr. Jeff Shilt


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. [Ed Note: Gordo used 30 minutes]

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.
  • 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.

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