Ask A Coach: How Do You Adjust Threshold Pace At Altitude?

Question: I make adjustments to threshold pace for the duration of a tempo run. How should I adjust threshold pace at altitude? I coach runners at 5,200 feet.

Run SMART Coach Jack Daniels: If using sea level race performances and associated VDOT values (or typical sea-level training speeds) while at altitude, you must adjust the paces.  At 5000 feet of altitude, the adjustment for Interval and Threshold runs would be about 8-10 seconds PER MILE (about 2-3 sec per 400) SLOWER than the sea-level paces.  No adjustment needed in Rep paces as the duration of rep runs are short enough to not need to adjust, but you may need a little longer recoveries between bouts of work in a Rep session.  No adjustment needed in the recoveries in Interval or Threshold work bouts because you are adjusting the training paces.

Ask A Coach: When Should I Double?

Question: Would you recommend doing a second run on days where you have a hard workout or just doing two easy runs on a non-workout day?

Run SMART Coach Rod Koborsi: Running twice a day is helpful in two ways…

  1. It’s great when you are trying to get in miles without building too much fatigue. For example, you will build more fatigue doing a 10-12 mile run than you would breaking it up between two runs. Most experiences that I have with doubling will be for this reason.

When To Get New Running Shoes

Question:  Should I get new running shoes for the marathon, and if so – when?

Run SMART Coach Vince Sherry:  This question is a good one (as well as a common one) that marathoners often ask me about one week before the big day. It is most often part of the final pre-marathon panic. In the quest to make sure everything is perfect for race day, runners will look to their shoes at some point. Unfortunately, it’s often when the race is right around the corner, which leads me to my first tip; never purchase running shoes in a pressured state. A rushed decision is not usually a very good one. Try to plan ahead and get your marathon race-day shoes at least two weeks prior to the race. You should be lining up with around 20 to 40 miles on your trainers (less if your wearing racing flats).

If you’re fairly certain that your running shoes have more than 150 miles on them I would recommend getting a fresh pair. It’s not that your current shoes are shot at that point (in fact that’s about half the mileage a modest pair of trainers would give you), they’re just not 100%. The marathon will likely be the toughest event you run all season. You should give your feet as much cushioning as possible on race day. You will likely finish with less wear and tear and recover faster as a result. If you do end up purchasing a new pair a couple of weeks out make sure they are the same model as the shoes you’ve been running in for the current training period. This is not a time to try something new (unless the shoe you’ve been in has been giving you serious trouble).

Read Vince’s complete response at

Low Glycemic Pre-Race Breakfast Tips

Question: What’s your prescribed low glycemic race day breakfast for events lasting less than an hour? I have to be careful about my blood sugar and what I eat.

Alicia Shay:  Racing in the morning soon after you wake up presents a challenge because your body is dehydrated and very low on readily available fuel resources. But there isn’t much time for you to correct this before start the race and you also don’t want to spike your blood sugar by eating something extremely high glycemic.

To combat this problem, ideally you want to drink at least 16-20 ounces of water (to aid digestion) and take in as many calories as soon as possible without spiking your blood sugar too much.

Ask a Coach: Should I Wear Nike Free Running Shoes?

And the latest question in our Ask a Coach series comes from Samantha…

Samantha:  I am a moderate overpronator and was wondering if it would be harmful to incorporate running with the nike free (designed to simulate barefoot running) into my training. Would it hurt my form and my body?

Run SMART Coach, Vince Sherry: The Nike Free Run is designed to work for mild to moderate overpronation.  If you look at the bottom of the shoe you’ll notice that it looks flat and rather broad under the arch.  This allows for optimal surface area to come into contact with both the ground and your foot. 

Ask A Coach: Peaking On Time For A 5k Race

Question from Adam:  For someone who has about 30 weeks for their peak race, is it too early to start base or Phase 1? Would doubling the length of Phase one of the 5k plan hurt my race? Would I peak too early or plateau?

Run SMART Coach, Blake Boldon:  Thanks for the great question.  The simple answer is no, it’s never too early to start a base phase.  You’re right that there are many different answers to the question and that’s one of the great aspects of our sport – all of them can be a right answer as long as it works for you.

Iron Deficiency In Runners

The latest question in our Ask a Coach series comes from a college athlete suffering from anemia.

Question: Since I know this is fairly common among female runners, I am interested in knowing how long it typically takes for people to start racing well again after beginning supplementation.  Additionally, should training be altered? And if so, what kind of changes would you recommend?

Run SMART Coach, Alicia Shay: First of all, knowing that it is difficult for many female distance runners to keep their iron in a normal range, it is imperative that you are always proactive so that your iron doesn’t get too low and you have to dig yourself out of a hole and lose time training.  You can do this by taking a daily iron supplement and also always eating a diet rich in iron. I am a huge proponent of trying to get as much iron as possible through natural source and then as a last resort, taking supplements.

Pre-Exercise Nutrition Tips

The latest question in our Ask a Coach series comes from Håkon from “cold Norway.”

Question:  My problem is that my stomach hurt during training. And that happends quite often. I was wondering if you, as specialist, could give me some tips about “yes”-food and “no”-food before long runs? And maybe some guidance in eating habits?

Run SMART Coach, Alicia Shay:

The most important rule is to eat foods that are familiar to you and to practice your meal timing to figure out what works best for you as an individual.  That being said, there are some guidelines that seem to work for most runners…

Why is it so hard to get back to my regular running schedule?

Latest question in our Ask a Coach Series comes from a Run SMART client who is working to get back into the groove after a long period of training leading up to a marathon this past month.

Question: Why is it so hard to get back to my regular running schedule?

Run SMART Coach, Blake Boldon: I think it’s natural for you to feel that way right now.  You’ve had a huge block of training and you did a great job of staying dedicated to the daily runs.  That takes a physical toll and certainly depletes your mental energy.  Even the best runners in the world periodize their training to allow for “down time.”  A break from your training regimen allows your body to regenerate tissue and accommodate the accumulated fatigue from a big period of training and racing.  It also provides some time for you to live as a “normal” person who isn’t a slave to your training plan and the work required to reach your goals.

Ask a Coach: Training for Comrades Marathon

Question from Chris Becker: Next year I want to run the Comrades Marathon. How can I alter my training to fit in with the Comrades Marathon but still obtain speed and endurance?

Run SMART Coach, Vince Sherry: You have a couple options depending on your goals for the Comrades Marathon…  If your goal is simply to finish the race feeling strong, I would recommend that you continue to train similarly to the way you are now, with one exception… put more emphasis on the long runs, making them further and more frequent.  A major component of running well in a race of this length is the body’s ability to convert fat to fuel efficiently.  This takes practice and is best accomplished by building a strong aerobic base (lots of steady mileage).