The 5k running race… It’s a race most people in the running world are very familiar with.
You’ve either started your run race career doing a 5k and graduated to a half marathon and up.
Or… if you’re like me, you are focusing on running your fastest 5k…
But how do you get faster at the 5k?
Listen above and read below to find out!
What You’ll Learn
In this episode, Mike gives all of the tips and tricks on running a fast 5k race.
- From – Strength and Conditioning Training
- to Dieting
- to How many and what types of runs you should do each week
- to Time trialing
- to Cross training
- and even touching on the all important sleep
- “A poorly prepared runner isn’t ready for a 5k if they don’t feel the burn”
- “Look at sleep as a positive instead of negative – It’s part training. When I get my 8 hours of sleep every night I know I’ll do well”
- “If you can’t do the sleep and the recovery, you can’t do the training”
- “The only way to run quicker at short distances is to run fast”
2 Lessons Learned
- Mike Trees Coaching Services & Training Plans – https://linktr.ee/Run.nrg
- Mike Trees Instagram Post on the 6 tips for the 5k – https://www.instagram.com/reel/CPJl0kgD_tl/
- 5 obvious racing lesson that will immediately pay off – https://dlakecreates.com/5-obvious-racing-lessons-that-will-immediately-pay-off/
- Follow Mike Trees on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/run.nrg/
- Follow Daren DLake on Instagarm – https://www.instagram.com/dlakecreates
- Suggested episode to listen to next: How to learn from your racing failures – https://dlakecreates.com/how-to-learn-from-your-racing-failures/
- Podcast Concept, Production and Marketing BY POD PASTE
NRG COACHING (MIKE TREES) – SPONSOR
This episode is brought to you by NRG – Coaching which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike coaches beginners to pros and all levels in between.
No one is too fast and no one too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve.
They focus on 1,500m to marathon running and triathlon training.
NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked, so Instagram and this new podcast venture, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people.
Contact mike and his team NRG-COACHING.com for more info
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Full Transcript Below (or download pdf here)
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Daren: [00:00:05] The 5K running race, it’s a race most people in the running world are very familiar with. You’ve either started your run race career doing a 5K and graduated to a half marathon and up. Or, if you’re like me, you’re focusing on running your fastest 5K. But how do you get faster at the 5K?
Speaker: [00:00:21] If you want to find out how to run a faster 5K, then you should listen to this episode of Trees and DLake.
Daren: [00:00:36] What is up? Welcome to Trees and DLake. A podcast series by Mike Trees, and yours truly, Daren, DLake Creates. In this series, our goal is to educate and entertain smart and committed runners, like yourself. A bit more on that from Mike Trees.
Mike: [00:00:48] Hi, I’m Mike Trees, and I’m a professional triathlete and running coach. I’ve been doing all my life. And the aim of this podcast is to give in a lighthearted, amusing, and entertaining way, hints and tips to help you all run better and enjoy your sporting life more. So, let’s see how we can go with that.
Daren: [00:01:09] Mike’s being pretty modest. He has over 50 years of running and doing triathlons under his belt with another 30 years of coaching committed and serious athletes like yourself. And if you’re wondering about me, I’ve been in the endurance sport game for about 25 years now. I’ve done a sub 3-hour marathon and completed an Ironman Triathlon in 10 hours. So, I’d say I know a few things about what we’re talking about.
Another goal is to perform better as you age. No one is getting younger, so why not slow down? “The slowing down,” as Mike Trees says. “Listen to us and we’ll help you do just that. And a bonus cherry on top, is if you can master some of your running and fitness goals, then you could definitely master some of your work, family, and life because it’s all the same.
We appreciate all the help and support that we can get. So, if you can please share this episode to someone that you know that would like this. Also, please rate and review on whatever podcast you use to help the robot overlords get us into the ears of more endurance athletes like yourself.
Oh, quick language warning. In some rare instances, we might use some bad words, so apologies in advance for that.
In this episode, Mike gives us all the tips and tricks on running a fast 5K race. From strength and conditioning training, to dieting, to how many and what types of runs you should do each week, to time trialing, to cross training, and even touching on the all-important sleep rest and recovery. All right, that’s enough blabbering from me. Let’s get into the show.
Daren: [00:02:35] Hey, Mike, how’s things going in your side of the world? We’re kind of on the same side of the world here, where you’re in Tokyo and I’m in Sydney, Australia. I know you’ve had some hiccups with your training. Tell me about what’s going on.
Mike: [00:02:47] Yes, I’m in a bit of a bubble here. All good, it’s old age. One of my eyes basically boxed up on me, so they took it out, put a new one in. Anyways, I had cataract years ago, and that failed. So, it’s a second operation. The [unintelligible [00:03:06] really is that that I can’t go out for six weeks, just got to wait for the eye to heal and can’t do much sport. So, I’m sitting here at home, not allowed to train or do any sports at all, which means that I sneak on the indoor trainer every now and then, put the fans on, make sure I don’t sweat, and get off before the wife comes home.
Mike: [00:03:27] That’s about it.
Daren: [00:03:29] That’s pretty good. Me, actually this week has been absolutely crazy. I got a mild cold from my son, I call it baby cold. And then, in three days, the cold went away and somehow it turned into a full-blown sinus infection that actually gave me full body aches and fatigue. I’ve never had this from a cold and I think I’ve only had the flu maybe once. I got a COVID test, it was negative. I was like, “What’s going on?” I had colorful stuff coming out of my nose, not to gross the listeners out. I just remember being I was tired. I tried to do an easy run and I was tired. I just took the week off, it was one day easy, one day off, and tried to get back into it. So, we’ll see how we go in this coming week. It totally messed up my 5K training plan, because I was supposed to be starting this week, like week 1 of my six weeks of the competition race focus phase, but you’ve got to roll with how it is from– my whole focus was on the 5K.
Mike: [00:04:25] The trouble with COVID is that we’re all in this hygienic little bubble now, we clean our hands, we disinfect ourselves, we get rid of all bacteria, wipe all the surfaces, so our immune system basically gone to shit. So, any little cold you get, you’ve got no way of fighting it because our body actually likes a little bit of dirt. When you’re a kid, you fall over, you get dirt on your hands and you put your hands in your mouth. We get bacteria a bit too, things in it, and that’s how we get stronger. And, of course, we’re not doing that now. We’re all indoors. We’re all super worried about getting COVID, super hygienic. I think little colds are knocking us more. The virus isn’t as easy to get there but if you pick a cold up, I think it’ll knock you more than it does usually. So, that’s probably what’s happening with you.
Daren: [00:05:12] Oh, oh. Coach Mike to the rescue. Like I’m saying, it’s just totally threw my 5K training plan, and life, you’ve always got to go with it. Speaking of 5K.
Daren: [00:05:28] Speaking of 5K, you are the 5K expert, you’ve posted a lot about it on your Instagram. Obviously, you’re a coach. I know that’s kind of the race. I call it the gateway drug, that’s what I call it. The gateway drug of getting into running, it’s the 5K park run. And I’ve had people, as they come to my account, or they start getting run into like, “Daren, how do I get faster at the 5K?” And then, I thought of you immediately. Do you have any tips or tricks for listeners?
Mike: [00:05:58] For 5K, I don’t like it being thought of it as the gateway event. I like that people come to me and say, “Mike, you do the 5K, because surely you could run a marathon.” I say, “Sure, I can run a marathon. I could run a marathon now if I wanted to,” but I like the 5K because the speed, the challenge. It’s 75%, aerobic, 25% anaerobic which, those that don’t know, it means that you’ve got to do a little bit of speed work and think a little bit intelligently, a bit outside of the box to get a good time. If you just run it and don’t prepare for it, you will not do as well as you think you can. And it hurts. A marathon, it’s the fatigue that weighs you down over the course of the run. This, you go out fast or you get to that point of pain, like the body’s telling you to slow down, and you’ve just got to hold it and hold it.
Daren: [00:06:51] Let me jump in on that. I want to just talk more about it hurting because I think that doesn’t get enough shine, and I think a lot of people that get into running, they go, “Oh, it’s only a 5K.” I’m like, “This shit’s going to hurt though. This is going to be really painful.” For me, it’s 16-17 minutes. For some people, it’s 25, some people, it’s 30-35, but it still does not feel good, especially if you’re pushing yourself. Like you say, compared to the marathon, and that’s even half marathon, which are for me, cruisy, yeah, the last 25% of those ends up feeling like you’re in a pain cave. But I think that doesn’t get enough recognition, is how much it hurts. People, they just look at the ultras, they’re like, “Oh, but 5K compared to a 100-mile run is nothing.” I’m like, “Yeah, you’ve got to look at the intensity.” It’s not just the time out there running. It’s actually how hard you’re going and how much lactate is building up your system.
Mike: [00:07:48] Yeah. So, what’s happening with the 5K is you’re running at a threshold, I’m trying to keep this simple [unintelligible [00:07:53] you can use up, your body can absorb so much oxygen and get it to the muscles to power you. To do a really good 5K, you’ve got to go beyond that, which means you’ve got to go into some oxygen debt. And this oxygen debt hurts, and the reason it hurt is because you’re not getting enough oxygen into the muscles. So, the whole body is crying, “Stop, stop.” And the more you’ve push, the more the body’s saying, “This isn’t healthy. Let’s just up the pain threshold a little bit and make those legs go a little bit more wobbly, make the brain go a little bit more lightheaded. Let’s try and make him slow down.”
But you’ve got to push on to the point where you can get the finish line and push through that and you train to cope with that. And if you cope with it very well and train with it very well, you can cope with large amount of this lactate that we call it in the bloodstream and still keep moving. If you’re really prepared for it, you can’t cope with much. I would argue that a poorly prepared runner will do a 5K and won’t feel anything. They’ll say, “Well, that was easy. I need to do a 10K because that wasn’t hard enough.” That’s because they’re not prepared enough for a 5K and they misunderstand what the event is. It’s not just about finishing 5K. A 5K, like for me, is about how fast I can do it, and that’s a really challenging thing to do.
[00:09:11] I’m full of interestingly stories, going back to 5K hurting. While at the university, my friend and I, I was the treasurer of the track and field team at Leicester University. My friend was the captain, and he was lazy but he was a good runner. I got the 1500, and luckily, I won it. I won the British University 1500 championships, super happy. We needed him to get the top three and Leicester was going to win the university championships in the whole country. So being a lazy guy, he obviously didn’t warm up, didn’t do anything. He started on track, got in there. We shouted him and enthused him quite a times. He absolutely got the– Well, he got to the finish line in third place. But being a lazy guy, he decided that he was only going to run 5000 meters. So, he got to the finish line, stopped, and walked off the track. The trouble was, he walked off the wrong side of the finishing pole, so he got disqualified, because officially he’d only run 4999 meters.
[00:10:14] We lost the university championships, and obviously he was in the shit house. He ran all the way, suffered all that pain, and we all suffered, all this hard work, and because it is, yeah, laziness should we call it or inability to want to do anything more than the absolute minimum, we all pay the price. So, the warning there, don’t do the absolute minimum, do a little bit more just to make sure. And that means I’m all the way along the line now. When I prepare for something, I work out what needs to be done and just add a little bit on for good measure. [chuckles]
Daren: [00:10:49] Just a quick story of mine. I was trying to run a sub 40-minute 10K when I first got into proper endurance running, it was going on about eight years, nine years ago. If you don’t know, I have a 400, 800 background. So, anything more than 800, 15 years ago was way too long for me. So, running a 10K threshold, that was absolute torture. I sat there, I was doing the math, I was like, “I think I could do 10, not even training for it.” I was like, “I think I could just go out and do 39, 59, 10K.” It just sounded like a nice round number.
The last 10 minutes of that were absolute death. I was just using my footpod and not my GPS. This is 10 years ago, Strava and Garmin, and I had an older Garmin. The GPS wasn’t that great 10 years ago, and I was like, “Oh, God, it was 39, 59.” I was like, “Yes.” Uploaded it to Strava, it’s like 40, 10. And I was like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.” And then like I went to Strava and I was trying to get that sidebar, where it gives you all your accolades, your 5K, your one-mile best times, and it said 40. I was like, “No.” I emailed them, they’re like, “Sorry.” And then the one thing they said, which is exactly what you said, they go, “Next time, you should just run a little bit more and make sure that you get it.” I was like, “No, because it was saying–” Basically, I’m saying I ran 9.99, but I kept going and I was just like, “No.”
[00:12:13] Now, every single time I hit the finish line, I know I PR’d, or PB’d some people say, I always run 10 extra meters, I’m always like, “Ah,” just to get the extra time in and make sure that when I upload it, it calculates I’ve got the full 10Ks in or whatever, I got the time in.
Mike: [00:12:28] Strava has changed our world, and other times, I’ve gone [unintelligible 00:12:27] and for some reason, the GPS hasn’t quite picked it up. So, you better make sure you start the segment early and finish your segment right. For 5000, you’ve got a Strava, needs to be a good 5100 just to make sure.
Daren: [00:12:44] I know you’ve got some tips on how to run 5K. There’s a million tips out there, but I’d say, listener, if you are listening and you want to know, Mike Trees has the best six tips out of all the millions of tips out there. Mike, what are they?
Mike: [00:13:03] I’ll try to condense it [unintelligible [00:13:06]. The first one is strength and conditioning. The runner people don’t think of the strength and conditioning side of it, they think, “Yeah, I’ve just got to run.” And, yes, to an extent you do have to run, but you’re going to look better if you can condition the muscles to cope with the work you’re going to give them. As a kid, I didn’t really do much strength and conditioning. It wasn’t till actually I had a bad back that I have to do the strength and conditioning work to allow me to recover from the bad back that I had. And then, I realized actually my weight was going up, which is one thing that runners don’t like, but my strength was going up even higher. So, I was finding that my power to weight ratio was getting stronger, my form was getting better. And then, I started to study it more seriously and take it more seriously.
[00:14:00] And now, my form isn’t the best in the gym, but I’m a big, big advocate of strength and conditioning work. So, that’s my first tip that if you don’t do anything, I recommend you get a coach or you get someone, a good friend who knows what they’re doing seriously in the gym because you can’t hurt yourself. You look at core work, you need to strengthen the body, the core, the upper body works against the lower legs, and it pivots against the core. So, if you have a weak core, it’s like a seesaw. Think of a seesaw. If you have a hard plank there, that seesaw will rock backwards and forwards and pivot nicely. But if it’s– I will say that playdough or something soft in the middle, that seesaw is just going to bend and it’s not going to do much at all. So, we need a strong core.
[00:14:50] We need a reasonably strong upper body because the arms are going to drive the legs. People get this wrong. It’s not the legs driving the arm. You go out for a run and swing your arm, your legs follow. You try swinging your arms quickly and moving your legs slowly, you can’t do it, but the arms drive the legs. Therefore, I would say you need to be doing some pushups and tricep dips. You don’t necessarily need to go to bench press, shoulder press, and things like that if you’re just running, but you need to do some upper body work. I like doing a little bit of assisted pull-ups in the gym.
The whole program you can do, and we haven’t got time to go into it, but it doesn’t matter what you do in the gym in the sense, so long as you do something, and you work the core, you work the lower body and you work the upper body, that’s the key thing. So, number one, strength and conditioning.
Daren: [00:15:42] I like that. I would say, just to add to it, I know you’re about to go on to number two, the strength and conditioning, there’s a lot of leeway to getting it right. Meaning, as long as you show up, I’d say minimum two days, if you could do three days, 20 minutes, I’d say 20 to 40 minutes, and like you said, you hit the three areas, total body workout, and you’re getting a decent burn, it doesn’t have to be like, “Oh my god, I’m on fire,” it doesn’t feel like you’re killing it. You also don’t want to not be sweating at all, and not be breathing at all. Just a decent workout, I feel like that’s getting it right. The range is very wide for getting strength conditioning right. If you have good form and if you’re consistent, that’s my biggest takeaway from it. I’ve tried all these different workouts, low reps, high weight, high reps, low weight. From studies, low reps, high weight is better. Or, you could do a middle ground, 8 to 12 reps per set. There’s a lot, won’t go into nuance of it, but showing up doing the workout and feeling like you did something is probably your best bet versus doing five air squats and being like, “I did my strength and conditioning.” That’s not really going to get you anywhere.
[00:16:52] And also, again, on the other side of that, coming out of there, super sore, we can’t walk, is not the best because you’re strength training to run fast. Therefore, running’s always going to be your main priority. Don’t get that twisted, because a lot of people, type A people, can get caught up in being the best at strength and conditioning and it’s like, watch that, because you’re going to take away from actually running fast. That’s my takeaway.
Mike: [00:17:15] Okay, so you’ve now opened a bit more. Before we move on to number two, if you’re doing nothing, I would say anything’s better than nothing. So, those are either nothing at all, don’t worry about all of these intricacies of weight training, strength training, just get to the gym and do something. It’ll be a start, and little by little, you’ll improve. So, that’s the first one. We’re not bodybuilders, we’re not entering competitions, but you need help to run. So, therefore, I would argue that if you did too much weight training and [unintelligible [00:17:45], but you’re going to ache and have [unintelligible 00:17:46] for the next three or four days, and you can’t run, you’ve actually knocked yourself back a bit, because you’ve now just lost three days of running. So, there’s a balance. Getting in the gym, do some work, train, and feel, “Yeah, I’ve done something. Yeah, that’s good.” But don’t the next day wake up like, “Oh my God, I’ve been hit by a 20-ton truck, I can’t move.” Those are the two things. Do something, but don’t do too much. It’s all in balance. Before I get into another off the track, diet.
Daren: [00:18:27] This episode is brought to you by NRG Coaching, which is Mike Trees coaching service. Mike and his team of coaches work with beginners to pros and all levels in between. No one is too fast and no one is too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve. They focus on 1500-meter races, to marathon running and triathlon training. NRG coaching is constantly overbooked. So, Instagram and this new podcast venture, Trees and DLake, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people and help them. Contact Mike and his team at nrg-coaching.com or go to the link in the show notes.
Daren: [00:19:09] And back to the show.
Mike: [00:19:14] When I talk about diet, people immediately think, “Ah, lose weight.” Ah, that’s not what I mean. Diet in terms of running is getting rid of excess weight only that you can afford to lose. It doesn’t mean being super skinny. It means getting your power to weight ratio right. So, when I say diet, I mean get your food right, your nutrition right, eat correctly, and train correctly.
I’ll give you an example. I like little examples. I did the Gold Coast half marathon a few years ago and got down to 57 kilos of weight for that, and I just had no strength. I was really struggling, going nowhere. I looked like a real runner though. You could see me coming and knocking down the street, I looked ill, and everyone said, “Oh, you look ill.” And I think, “Yeah, I must be lightweight.” I felt light and it was okay to get your intervals. But, actually, towards the end of the marathon, the last– I was literally on world record pace, and I just ran out of steam the last 5K. I had no reserves at all. The wind hit me, it blew me backwards.
It was really after that time that I changed my strategy. I’m at about 63 kilos at the moment, 6 kg up. But I go for an aerobic run now and my heart rate, believe it or not, today was 115 at 425 pace. When I was training for the half marathon, my heart rate at the same pace with over 125. So, I’ve actually put on more weight, but I’m more efficient. So, people get it wrong thinking they’ve got to be super light. And the Norwegians are showing us, if you look at Christian Blumenfeld, who’s just won the Olympics in triathlon, he’s like 88 kilos, this man is a powerhouse. He’s got more muscles, but he’s got better oxygen carrying capacity and more power to stay the course. And so, it’s not just about losing weight and getting the weight right. I know the top Kenyans are super light, but most of us don’t need to be that weight. So, I would say combine the strength and conditioning, get your weight right. And you’ll be more powerful.
[00:21:44] So that’s not an excuse for someone who is carrying too much, they’ve got a big beer belly, they carrying too much weight. You’ve got to be realistic and say, “Yeah, actually, I’m overweight, my BMI is out, my body fats high. I need to lose weight.” What is that correct weight? As long as it’s muscle, I would argue it’s useful weight. If it’s fat, I would go and say, “Well, yeah, you don’t need too much fat.” But there is a healthy limit the amount of the fat that we should all have. I would say that for men, amateur men 12% is a good healthy limit. Elites may go a little bit lower. And for women, it’s probably in around about 20%, even up to 24%, healthy range for body fat. And I know that a lot of elite women get super lean, like down to 12% body fat, but they’re not menstruating. They’re probably having problems later or setting themselves up for problems later in life, weak bones, brittle bones, lack of calcium, there’s all sorts of lack of iron, there’s all sorts of things that can happen. I would say to summarize it, get in the gym, get stronger, don’t worry about the weight. If you look in the mirror and you look okay, you look sporty, that’s fine. Don’t try and do any more than that, and don’t worry about few extra pounds, that can help you. So, that’s number two, diet and weight.
Daren: [00:23:05] Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about that, and I can from experience actually concur with that. I’m training my best and like you, I slipped down to 69 kilos, which is for you Americans 150-155 pounds? Right now, I sit healthy between 72 to 74 kilos. So, that’s similar to you, it’s another four or five kilos, which is 160-165 pounds. I am the fastest, healthiest I’ve been, I’m the strongest, I have the most muscle– my bone density, I get that scanned every few months. My bone density is the best it’s ever been. I’m hopefully setting myself up for a healthy future when I reach your beautiful age of 59-60 years old, Mike. But, yeah, I’m not pro, I’m not making a million dollars, and it would be cool to sit at 67 kilos and crush it, but I don’t want that risk. That risk reward doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t make any money by going one minute faster. I can actually hurt myself by going one minute faster. But it’s ironically, I’m going faster by being slightly heavier and not having the super chiseled six pack. So, yeah.
Mike: [00:24:16] Yeah, that’s an interesting point you raised because I think people get into running because they want to get healthier. And then, they get this OCD personality taking over and they’ve got to go quicker, one second quicker, one minute quicker, quicker, quicker, quicker. “I’ve got to lose a bit more weight, got to the skip that meal, got to put an extra session in.” And they actually do everything wrong, and actually dig a hole and make themselves less fit because they’re just pushing too hard. Often, if we just pull back a little bit and don’t stress quite so much about the numbers, about the weight, about the training, and just go through the routine, and they’re chilled and relaxed, you’ll probably end up actually doing better time, have a lower stress level, and live a longer, healthier life, which really is what it’s all about.
Daren: [00:25:06] Number three. What is the number three?
Mike: [00:25:09] This is more nitty-gritty, what you need to do, I would say I don’t run every day. I train every day, and I love training every day. I suggest that if you’re happy training every day, that’s fine but I just think running every day stresses the body. One research I read years ago that’s quite interesting that they reckon a run, like a 10K run, it takes about 36 hours to recover from. So, if you run each day, bit by bit, you’re not quite recovering. And bit by bit, you’re stressing the body. But that means that I would then get a bit more technical, 36 hours, well, I could run on a Monday morning or Tuesday evening, miss a Wednesday, or Thursday morning and Friday evening. And then, maybe, okay, once in a while, but put one back-to-back on a Saturday, you get to five runs a weekend. That’s still quite a lot of running, and not break down and conform the theory of recovering between the run.
[00:26:09] I suggest that for 5K, we need three aerobic runs, I’ve made it very simple for people to understand, and then go on to develop the aerobic system to capacity, 60 to 90 minutes. You’ve got to get over 60 minutes but if you’re getting over 90, that’s more half marathon, marathon training area, and I think you’ll knock the speed away. So, somewhere in between 60 to 90 minutes is a nice time to run for.
Then, you need a short recovery run. 30 minutes, I reckon. Over the years, I’ve found that most people don’t do a nice 30 minutes’ recovery run. Over that you’re not really recovering. And you got to remember what you’re going out for, people get carried away, and they hope, “I’ve done 30, that feels good. I can do 45, I can do 65.” And they get carried away. Just think what the purpose, is do a recovery run, go out and just enjoy your 30 minutes easy running.
[00:27:09] And then, one more run is what I call an easy run, an aerobic run in aerobic pace in about 45 minutes. And I’ll not run, I might even include a huge stride just to get the legs to move a bit quicker. And then, that that’s really it all you need for your aerobic development. And then, what you do need though, is you can either do intervals, you can break this up and do five by one-kilometer intervals, or just go out and every Saturday, if there’s no COVID around in the park and stuff, get out and do a park run, you do the 5K. Specificity, it’s one of those words, sounds easy but I’d never say it. The loss of specificity, you’ve got to actually do what you do. If you go out once a week and run a solid 5K, you’ll get used to the pain of a 5K and how to run a 5K. It’s a great distance to develop your Vo2 max, your aerobic capacity.
[00:28:04] One 5K once a week for a run, that’s it. Anything else, if you want to do more exercise, it leads me into actually five quite nicely. Anything else that– get on the bike and cycle. Go swimming. Do some yoga, that’s not so much aerobic but it’s good for you. The stationary bike in the gym, you’ve got the cross-trainer these days, you’ve got the rowing machine. You don’t just have to swim and cycle for the aerobic exercise. You can do more aerobic exercise that will help the running. The only way to run quicker, if we summarize it, is to run fast. But you can actually get the benefits of what we call cross-training by making yourself stronger, develop the aerobic system doing other sports. I’m all for doing other sports that are less stressful on the body, such as swimming and cycling to supplement the running and develop the aerobic system. But in order to run fast, you’ve got to do one run a week that’s fast and it sounds simple, but a lot of people avoid it. They think, “Oh, ah, Mike says do easy training,” so they’ll run for a week or maybe six weeks of easy running and then miraculously think, “I’m going to go [unintelligible 00:29:23] this on race day.” It doesn’t happen.
[00:29:30] I’ll get quickly the last one and then we can have a little catch-up on it. Sleep. Sleep’s always looked at as a negative. It makes me laugh really. “Oh, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll not do this.” “Oh, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll not do that.” Well, if not, you should be looking at the positive. It should be positive training. “When I get my eight hours sleep a night, I’m going to go really well. I’m going to do awesome.” And look at that as a positive, look forward to getting more sleep. I say eight hours. Most people don’t. I should rephrase it. What I do is, I recommend to the athletes that I coach, that they get seven hours sleep a night, and one hour extra for every hour of training. So, if you do two hours training a day, you need nine hours’ sleep. And people might say, “Oh, Geez, I haven’t got the time to do nine hours’ sleep,” don’t do the training. If you can’t do the sleep and the recovery, you can’t do the training.
[00:30:31] I often get this and think, “Oh, it’s okay for you, blahdy-blah, you’re a professional athlete.” I’m not a professional athlete. I actually coach a lot of people. I actually do quite a little bit of work and I fit the training in like everyone else, but I make a conscious decision that is, “Oh, I’m not going to go out with my mates tonight, I’m not going to go out and have 10 pints of beer tonight. I’m going to go to bed early, because I can then do the training in the morning.” So, if you make the conscious decision you want to go out with your mates and have a night out, that’s fine. Enjoy it. I’ve done that in the past. I’ve really enjoyed my nights out. But my training suffered. And the reason I didn’t get to be world champion or go to Olympics or to do anything serious is because I was enjoying those nights out, I was doing the hard training, but I wasn’t sleeping.
[00:31:14] I can give a million and one examples where I was out actually– I was 18 and had just discovered nightclubs and would be out of the nightclub with my mates all night. You know how we are all at the nightclub. I then had a few beers, and I came home about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. You know old folks, they get up early. So, I’m getting in at 5:00 in the morning. My mother’s just getting up and I think, “Oh no, I’m going to be rumbled here.” So, [unintelligible [00:31:40] I put the training shoes, “What you’re doing?” “Oh, I’m just going for a morning run, mum.”
[00:31:47] Dropped off out of the house, go around the block, sit down and wait half an hour, come back in, go to bed. You get away with it basically, it wasn’t quite a rumble, but I actually suffered badly, that I went out all night and partied, I trained hard and didn’t sleep, and wondered why I never got to where I wanted to be. It took me quite a while because of immature and realize that’s the problem. So, just think about when you’re training, what your purpose is, if you really are keen and want to run well, get seven hours sleep a night, and one hour extra for every hour of training. If you haven’t got the time to get more sleep, please don’t do the training because you’re setting yourself up for long-term problems, in my view. You might disagree, but I found through the athletes I’ve coached and through my own personal experiences that it does get you after a while.
Daren: [00:32:42] Great story. Looking at sleep as part of the training, that’s something I’ve probably done the last two, three years as I’ve got deeper into sleep and recovery. As I’ve gotten older, just realized that I can’t get away with less than seven. The interesting thing is it’s like debt. If you don’t have the cash, what do you do? You go and get a loan, you go own a credit card, you go into debt, and then you have to pay that debt at some point. I have a whole lot of analogies and metaphors. There’s the landlord’s coming, and I have a bit more– sorry, it’s fitness is rented. That’s what it is. It’s an ebb and flow, up and down, and you have to give the fitness up, and then you have to build it up again. A lot of people, especially newbies, they think, “Oh, I’m fit I’m going to hold this for the next three years.” And it’s like, “No, no, your race fitness goes away,” and you’ll come back slightly better than you were the last time at that stage but it’s rented and you have to give it up. It’s very hard for me, it was. I now understand the cycles and the periodization and the block training, but it’s rented fitness. Rented is one way of looking at it. Again, the credit card debt. You’ve got to pay that, that loan back at some point, and it will get you and when you’re not ready, it’s, like you said, setting you up for long-term disaster.
[00:34:06] You might do well for a few months, maybe a few years, but it comes and gets you. And you’re like, “Why is this hurting? Why did I tear this? And why am I sick for three months straight? And why do I have this random illness that no one else has in this part of the world?” Well, your body’s just burned down. So, that’s me preaching the gospel that [chuckles] I need to hear. Every time I preach, it’s always to myself. Don’t think I’m preaching to anyone else.
Mike: [00:34:34] Yeah, I think the thing is, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been training, running now 50 years, so I’ve made all the mistakes, and I didn’t have coaches. I just came from a working-class background in the northeastern England. None of us really knew, our coaches were trying to help us and do things, but we didn’t have all the information that is around now. What I’m trying to do is, I’m offering all this to shortcut it for people, to help them not make the same mistakes. We all have to make a few mistakes along the way, but if you have the information, and I can help you cut out half of those, you’re going to get there a little bit quicker than I got there. But luckily, I think the likes you and me, we’ve made the mistakes and we’ve learned, and that’s the key things, you can learn from them.
[00:35:19] And one last thing I’d like to say on this subject about the payback that you said, quite interesting. Yeah, remember, all loan, you pay back with interest. It’s not just the pay back. You don’t just go, “Okay, I’ve injured myself. Three weeks off, I’ll be back in two weeks.” It doesn’t quite work like that. It gets three, four, five, six weeks to get back, so the interest is going to add on to it. So, try not to make the mistake in the first place, because there’s a lot of interest. It’s compounded.
Daren: [00:35:50] Yeah, and the problem also that I found out from a physical therapist, physio of mine, is he says that– we’re going to go into the weeds of this, and I won’t let us, we’re going to keep it tight. But acute versus chronic training load, and he explained that to me, and it’s basically what you’ve done over the last week versus what you’ve done over the last four weeks. And it’s really simple, you divide what you did over the last four weeks, and I’m sure there’s a million ways to do this like everything, but his method was you divide your training over the last four weeks by four, and that gives you your weekly. And you don’t want to go up or down 20% or more. You obviously want to stay in that 10% mark, which is a bit more safe, but 20% if you’re experienced.
He says the longer you take off from an injury or just deciding not to train, your chronic load, that four-week load goes down. And then, because you’re in your head, you think you’re fit or you want to come back and just run normal again, which was normal two months ago, which was whatever it is, 60Ks a week, 100Ks a week, 60 miles, whatever. You are at 0 or 20, and you’re trying to jump up to 60, you’re going to injure yourself. So, you lose the fitness and you have to then come back slowly. Whereas if you don’t burn out and you don’t get injured, you then can just take a week off, and then you’re fully recovered, and then keep training and training and training. Whereas if you take that week off, but it turns into two or three weeks, which turns into four or five weeks, then you’re just losing that chronic training load, that big base, and you’re setting yourself up for injury because a lot of people don’t come back.
I learned to do it, to slowly come back. Okay, I’m doing 30Ks this week because I did zero the last two weeks. Okay, now I’m doing 30, what is it, 20% of that? 36Ks, now I’m doing, so the 20% it’s slow, and it’s brutal. So, that’s another thing. It’s just psychological kind of game that you have to play and not a lot of people set up for that. And then guess what? You injure yourself, you burn out, again, and now you’re in the cycle of just injury, come back, injury, come back. But I digress, I’ll end this here. This is all about the six tips that you have on 5K. Do you have anything that you want to say for the listeners?
Mike: [00:37:56] Yeah. Just one that probably you don’t hear, about overtraining and coming back. I turned pro at 30, which is the age that most people retire because I had made so many mistakes along the way, it took me a long time to get my shit together, basically. It was triathlon that I made that, not running. I always wanted to be a full-time runner, but I made it as a professional triathlete at 30. I read all the books and looked at people doing it, and it seemed that everyone was doing 25 to 30 hours training a week. So, was what I was going to do. I would do 30 hours a week for a couple of weeks, then get tired, then miss a week, and then do a few weeks, then get injured.
I kept the record of everything, all on paper back then. At the end of the year, I logged down how many hours training I done, bearing in mind that the aim of a big block was 30 hours a week. It was actually 11 hours training. I remember the number. I thought, “Wow, I’ve averaged 11 hours training a week.” I know it’s more than most people do. As a pro, I was aiming for 30. So, I thought, “Let’s look at the 10% rule.” Back then, I was like, “I have done 11, so if I can actually up it next year an hour to 12 or 13, we haven’t gone up too much. And instead of aiming for 30, I aim for something tangible, we might do a little bit better.” So, I aimed it at a little bit higher. Actually, I aimed 14. I couldn’t quite stick to my own rules as you do.
[00:39:43] Anyway, I aimed to 14, and it’s just two hours a day. And at the end of the year, I achieved that. Also, as the first year as a pro, we had six target races with a bonus that my main sponsors had set up for me. I won them. I won the Japanese National Championships in Triathlon that year as well, and then got another contract for the following year. I then at that point, just had my first child, so everything is looking good, and I thought, “Ah, yes, it’s paying dividends now.” And I realized then, that I was on the right track. So, the following year I actually didn’t get greedy, and I said, “Okay, this year, I’m going to aim for 15 hours a week.” And now, believe it or not, at the age of– I’m turning 60 next year, ripe-old age of almost 60, I’m averaging 20 hours a week training now. So, I’ve got the body to the point where it can absorb that workload, and I can go to bed not overtired, get up, and I wake up 4:00 or 5:00 every morning and want to get out of bed and want to get going.
[00:40:48] I decided I don’t push it beyond 20. The 20 is as far as I want to go, I’m happy with that number. I know it’s a lot more than most people can do, but it’s a lot less than the 30 hours that I was initially trying to do as a young teen pro. But it’s even a lot more than I was doing as a pro when I was successful at 14, 15. So, I’m thinking to myself, “If I got it right back then, at 30, my peak of life, and got the balance between that the work and the rest and not got too greedy and not try to jump things up too much, what would have been?” Probably wouldn’t still be here now, set some world record and I’ll be probably retired and have moved on.
[00:41:30] Anyway, just an interesting story that I got sidetracked into. Don’t jump things up too much. That’s the key thing. Just step it up nicely. The 10% rule, it’s a nice little rule, but it’s just a nice little guideline to get you started. Sometimes, you can jump it up a little bit more of your experience. Other times, you might not even be able to go up that much.
These are my six tips. In summary, strength and conditioning. Look at your diet and your weight. Three aerobic runs a week, and one Vo2 max hard run a week. Anything else that you want to do training wise, I would do on the bike or the swim. And finally, making sure you’re getting enough sleep, and that’s all there is to it. And finally, finally, good luck.
Daren: [00:42:27] We’re going to end this off with our questions to the listeners because we want to make this two ways, and I think two ways is fun because you can hit us up via email. Instagram is probably best, @run.nrg, for Mike, that’s the letters N-R-G or just type in Mike Trees. Hit me up, @dlakecreates. I think, Mike, you’re going to put this into your Instagram posts and your stories and all that, so yeah, hopefully make this a cool two-way conversation because that’s how things should be. We want to hear from you. The question is, are you ready?
Mike: [00:43:03] Yep. I’m always ready.
Daren: [00:43:05] There’s no right or wrong answer everyone, by the way. I just want to know your why on this. What would you rather do run faster or run further? So, that’s run for speed and faster times or run for distance. And I personally am in the camp of the unpopular opinion because I’ve done this in my small little circle, and I’d say faster, and always faster. The reason is I’m biased, I have fast twitch muscles, I was born with that DNA. I can run a decently fast 200, 400, 800 meters. I still have a decent amount of power. I wonder what I could run if I actually focus on the 800, which I might do next year. So, faster always, I just love running fast.
[00:43:48] Faster is manageable in my life and I’m sure most people’s lives. I can’t make more time, but if I could run faster, then I can actually get the workout done quicker in a way. The races are more manageable. There was a 5K park run everywhere in my neighborhood every single Saturday for free at Free Races. I can do DIY virtual races much easier either on a track or if you know a 5K course, I feel like you can focus on faster better, personally. You also have control over faster.
Further means more hours of training, more hours of running. I hear 100-mile race. I don’t think I’ll ever do one. I think the furthest I’ll do is a 50k ultra, and when I turn 50, that’s my goal. So, I’ve got 10 years to prepare for that. I just like running off road, but people do 100 mile runs, God bless them, respect to them. I just can’t do that. I personally am like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.” Here’s a quick story.
[00:44:45] A guy here in Sydney, Australia, he wanted to do 100 Ironmans in 100 days, 100 Ironman distances in 100 days, and he got on the news and everything for it. My friend, who was an Olympic-caliber rower, he almost qualified for it. He was one seat away from qualifying for the Olympic Australian team. I ride with him and I would run with him. And he heard about it, and this is like an Olympian. He goes, “Why don’t you just do one race really fast? Why are you doing 100 things slow? Why are you doing 100 at whatever pace you want?” I’ll never forget that, a pro saying that. I’m like, “That is such a good way of looking at like.” That’s the thing I’ve been trying to say.
[00:45:22] Again, it’s a time thing, and literally and figuratively, metaphorically, just doesn’t make sense. Personally, I’ll wrap this up with my theories and opinions, I think more people will be better served getting their 5K, 10K and a half marathon times faster, than they would try to run the marathon because the marathon is no joke. A lot of people, “I’ll do a half marathon. I’m going to do a marathon.” I’m like, “Marathon is probably four times harder than the half marathon.” It’s not two times harder. It’s probably exponential. It’s two to the second power. I’ve gotten that from my personal experience and I’ve also just seen the human body trying to run a marathon at that proper pace, not just walking it, not just slogging it, talking about trying to run a fast pace, the training for it, trying to get it all right, the racing the nutrition, the recovery, it’s a fucking mess. I’m on my soapbox, I’m slowly getting off it.
[00:46:16] I think it’s a better training and racing experience when you can do a distance that’s manageable faster. It just makes the process more fun and that’s a virtuous cycle. So, if you’re having fun training, if you’re hitting your goals 50% of the time, then you’re running faster, and then you feel good, it serves itself, the virtuous cycle. What do you think, Mike?
Mike: [00:46:37] Daren, what I do is I have a little section on my story that I call Just for Fun, and I pose the question. I haven’t put this one on, faster versus further. But I get a phenomenal response. I’m getting like 20,000, 30,000 people looking at these and thousands of people taking the question, taking the poll. So, we can get a pretty good cross section of around the world of what people like faster versus further.
And then, firstly, to be rather boring, I have to agree with you. I’ll give you a little story. I went to Indonesia, I started coaching in Indonesia a few years ago. I got there and I was doing the seminars, and I said, “Oh, what distance do you like to run?” “Oh, I’m sorry, I can only run 5 kilometers. I’m not a very good runner.” “I’m quite a good runner. I can do 10 kilometers. I like to do 10-kilometer races.” And then, they would say, “Oh, and if you look at little Johnny over there–” I added western names– Hamid or– “Well, you look at Jahannam over there, well, she’s very good. She can run a marathon. What do you like to do?” And I said, “Oh, I do 5 kilometers.” “But surely, Michael, you could run much further than 5 kilometers?” I was like, “Yeah, but I’d like to see how well I can run 5 kilometers. I enjoy running 5 kilometers.”
[00:48:01] Don’t be embarrassed about the distance you run. If you want to run marathons, that’s fine. If you want to run five kilometers, don’t be embarrassed and think, “Oh, I’m only running five kilometers but really I want to run a marathon.” I always say that people should focus on speed first whether you’re going to do a marathon or not, because if you can get the speed right at 5K– we’ll take it back one level. If you can do a quicker 3K, your 5K is going to be a little bit easier. If you can go a faster 1500, your 3K is going to be a bit quicker, which will make the 5K a little bit easier. So, if your 800 is quite good, your 1500 to be quite good, your 3K will be quite good. And your 5K certainly feels slower.
[00:48:42] If the 5K then feels slower and you develop to 10K running, the initial pace will feel slow. The half marathon will be even slower. So, you get where I’m coming at. The pace in the marathon will feel even slower. So, people try and do a fast marathon, but they haven’t got the leg speed, they haven’t got the cadence, they’re not landing correctly, their form isn’t correct. So, I’m much, much, much in the camp of training correctly, developing the speed and the form that goes with that speed, and the efficiency that goes with it. Then, once you’ve got that leg speed, efficiency, the cadence, and the pitch, everything correct, then you add the stamina run. Then, you can do a marathon.
[00:49:25] Only now at the ripe old of age of 60, I decided it’s right for me to do an Ironman. The reason I’m doing that is not to complete the Ironman but I think my swimming is at a good enough level but I can rate the 3.8 swim. My biking now, due to the strength and conditioning work I’ve done, I can actually race the bike, not just completely. I don’t want to just cycle 180 kilometers and say, “Yes, I completed the distance,” I want to see how fast I can do that distance. And then, again, at the marathon at the end, I want to run under three hours 20, so I’m going to swim 3.8K quickly, ride a fast 180k, and then try and run the marathon in under three hours 20. I need to get the nutrition right, there’s lots of other things you need to do and the fluids right along the way. But I’m doing that as a race to see how quickly I can go. Even though I’m doing distance, for me, it’s still a race to see how quickly I can go, not just to do the distance. So, I’ve got to agree with you 100%. It’s all about speed, but that’s me.
[00:50:30] I grew up running, racing, I wanted to see how quick I could run. I didn’t get into sport for the health reasons or anything else. It was a long time ago when you either run to race, or you didn’t. There was no fun running. We’re talking 1970. There’s no such thing as a fun run– [crosstalk] If you couldn’t run, you got injured, you just didn’t run. The fastest kids got picked for the school team, they will run it, end of story. No one else run. So, the new fun run, running for fitness is a whole new topic. I think it’s fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I come from an old school way of thinking, it’s always speed. Speed, speed, speed. And I remember Sebastian Coe, obviously, now Lord Coe, head of the IOC, and he said, “Yes, speed kills. It kills those that don’t have it.” Basically, meaning, if you don’t have speed, you’re not going to win anything in running.
Daren: [00:51:27] [laughs]
Daren: [00:50:00] Is the health and fitness internet too much sometimes? Too many conflicting articles and videos that confuse you on how to train and eat right? Or, you don’t have time to just read and watch everything about, I don’t know, the new trends on carb cycling for trail running. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of all that for you. Sign up for our free email newsletter Three Thing Thursday. We’ll put three perfectly curated and creative things in your inbox for better living and training. Go to dlakecreates.com/ttt. We do the hard, time-consuming work and scour the health and fitness internet’s deepest and darkest corners. This is so that every Thursday, you have a piping hot new email with the latest and coolest tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and skills, all so that you can train and live consistently to do dope shit in your next endurance event. Sign up now, you can receive my quick guide on how to get healthy, stay fit, and use data to create habits that last a lifetime. That’s dlakecreates.com/ttt to be inspired and motivated on the regular.
Time. Time is a resource no one can make more of. So, we appreciate you taking precious time out of your day to listen this far. Our goal is to show the world how to live better through running, cycling, and triathlon. The episode and many others have a transcription. Go to the show notes’ description to find out more. This was produced in Sydney, Australia, and I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, who are the traditional custodians of this land. I pay my respects to the elders past, present, and future. I recognize the continuing connection to the land, waters, and culture. These lands were stolen and sovereignty was never ceded.
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