When you run a lot, and blog a lot, there’s a tendency to sort of run out of things to write sometimes.  From time to time I run into a bit of writer’s block when I’m trying to think of what to write if I don’t have a shiny new toy to review, or gnarly weather conditions to complain about.  Today I simply thought, “why not just address a few of the frequently asked questions that you get when you’re training for triathlon or running?”  So here it goes, my answers to the most common FAQ.  Keep in mind, these opinions are my own, and reflect how I train, which may not necessarily work for everyone.

Do you listen to music when you run?  It depends, in a lot of races music isn’t actually allowed.  This is especially true in triathlon where safety and open roads are a big issue.  At the Calgary Marathon you won’t get pulled for listening to music so long as you’re exercising caution and don’t do anything unsafe.  So when I’m racing, no, I don’t listen to music.  Besides, on race day I’d rather listen to the other athletes, the volunteers, and the wonderful people who come out to watch!

When I’m training though, if I’m going out for a long slow distance run, or a recovery 5k, sure, I listen to music because it helps the time go by.  If its a hard tempo run though, I don’t.  In those cases I don’t want the extra weight, I don’t want to worry about earbuds falling out, and I don’t want to hold something in my hand.  For me, hard runs are as much about building mental toughness as they are about building physical toughness.  For the tough runs I don’t want to have music there as a conscious distraction from what my body is telling me.

How many times a week do you run?  3 to 4 regardless of whether I’m training for a marathon, Ironman, or just a 10k.  That’s one easy run the day before a really hard tempo run.  And one easy run the day before a long slow distance run.  I find that my body doesn’t respond well to 4 or 5 days per a week like some people.  The tempo run and the LSD run are the key workouts and that’s where I make my gains.

Do you follow a run plan?  Yes and no.  I have a plan that I’m following pretty closely, but only because it fits the schedule that I talked about in the previous question.  There are hundreds of run plans available just by searching Google, and most of them are pretty decent.  The biggest tip for that is just find a plan that you can fit into your schedule.  Don’t go from the couch to running 5 times a week in a month.  You’ll hate running and you’ll never visit my blog again.  Whether you Google a plan, or make one for yourself, make it reasonable and attainable for your schedule.  Consistency is key.

What do you eat when you run?  Gels and water.  So basically sugar and water.  And then on race day you can throw some Coke and Gatorade into the mix.  I try not to be fussy and I know that there are a lot of really great, diet conscious athletes out there that have their nutrition dialled in for race day, but I just try and keep everything simple.  For both tri and run I’ll train with whatever they have on course, or something close to it, which more often than not is Powerbar and Gatorade.  I figure that if for some reason I drop a gel, I always have course nutrition that I can take without worrying about having something I haven’t tried before.

What kind of shoes do you wear?  Nike Lunar Fly Knit One’s.  I love them. They’re comfy, they’re light, and they fit me really well.  I don’t like too much cushioning, but I can’t stand the ultra minimalist runner thing.  The Fly Knits are supa fly!

What is a good race to start out with?  Mountain Equipment Co-op puts on a rad race series with races almost every month for just $15 per entry.  These races range from entry level runners to local elites.  The beauty of them is, no pressure.  Its just $15, so you can try out different distances and see what you like running.  When you sign up for a big destination race, its awesome, but it can be intimidating and when you factor in travel expenses, training time, and personal goals, the pressure can add up.  I’m a big fan of starting small, then finding a destination race for later in the season to make a mini-holiday of your goals.

Do you use a run app? Strava.  It goes back to my cycling roots, but if its not on Strava, it didn’t happen.  I like it more than other apps because it does all the basic stuff like track your route, distance, speed/splits, heart rate (with appropriate equipment), and adds an element of social networking to it all.  You can see who you ran with, who else runs that route, and you can even check out who is the fastest for certain sections or “segments”.

What run watch or heart rate monitor do you use?  I run with a Garmin Fenix 3 and a Mio Link.  I’m a huge data junkie.  For a while I stopped paying attention to heart rate except for on the bike, but now that I’m training for my first marathon I’m pretty keen on knowing all the metrics.

I don’t want to run because what if I go for a run and everyone is faster than me?  There are a very select few people on earth who can sit there and not have that same worry.  There’s always someone faster.  My biggest response for people who want to run but don’t want to run for whatever reason, is just go do it.  Go for a run alone and go at your own pace and just enjoy the motions and being outside.  Or even better, go tell the fastest person you know that you’re trying to get into running and ask them to take you for a run.  Chances are, the faster the runner, the more they know how hard running can be. They’ve probably put in their share of hours and know what its like to come up short, and they’ve had their share of bad days.  But they also know how awesome running can be, and if they’re anything like me, they’ll be nothing but stoked to share that with someone else.

Do you have any questions that you’d love to see answered?  Feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll respond ASAP!