Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: rest

Should I Run When I Am Sick?

It depends.  Always follow the directions given by your doctor first and foremost.

If it is a judgement call, a lot of well-educated medical and athletic experts that cite the neck rule.

  1. If you are sick above the neck only, then go head and work out, but…
    • take it easy – back off of the planned distance and intensity
    • hydrate more
    • rest more
  2. If your illness is below the neck, in your chest, body aches all over, fever, or other systemic issues below the neck, then DO NOT RUN.  DO NOT WORK OUT.
    • hydrate more
    • rest more
    • follow the directions of your doctor

Your training will get worse instead of better if you go against this advice.  Err on the side of caution.

If you are healthy enough, enjoy an easy run.


P. S.  I ran today despite having a sinus infection.  I am on antibiotics.  This is an illness above the neck, so I followed my own advice.  I am very well hydrated.  I ran slower than usual.  I ran shorter than usual.  I am typing this post as I recline in my bed at home.




The Toughest Days on the Schedule [a rest day]

Is it just me?  Am I the only one that feels this way?  I think rest days are the toughest ones on the schedule.  I mean… well… think about it.  If you think God made us to run, then our bodies should be clamoring to run.  And today, mine is.  It is screaming out with every fiber of its being.  The message is loud and clear:  “Go, Run, Play!”

Maybe the first and last words of that command would be okay, but my schedule says no running today.  My mind says no running today.  I have qualified for Boston three times now with schedules that included at least 1 rest day per week, so I know it works!  We need this day to recuperate before the big Saturday pace run and the long Sunday run.  With no rest, these runs could go flat, or much worse things like injuries and overtraining could sideline me for a while.  So, I faithfully take the day off.

Still, my body cries out: “Go, Run, Play!”

Is it just me?

Happy Running!

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners and Future Runners

My first book, The Gift of Running, is available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com   $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .

Below is the official description.  A small excerpt is included at the bottom of this page.

Book Reviews by Runners:

Book Reviews on Amazon.com:

If you would like an autographed copy of the book, please email me at pmark67@gmail.com


The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

by P Mark Taylor

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

P. Mark Taylor is a runner & author of the blog at http://www.WiseRunning.com.

Publication Date:    Jul 20 2012
ISBN/EAN13:    0615668607 / 9780615668604
Page Count:    196
Binding Type:    US Trade Paper
Trim Size:    5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:    English
Color:    Black and White
Related Categories:    Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging

How to read this book:   (an excerpt from the book)

“This book is not a technical manual.  I have intentionally tried to keep my explanations brief and simple.  I have avoided technical terms and explained what I mean whenever needed.  It does offer important research-based information, but it offers more than that.

The book is about:

  • the human side of running,
  • becoming a runner,
  • working to become a better runner,
  • & staying safe, sane, and happy as a runner. 

It moves back and forth between personal stories, quotes from runners, and advice on running.

Most of the subsections of the book could be read independently, but I encourage you to read it from front to back.  This is especially true for the inexperienced runners.  Read the whole thing first, then go enjoy the run!

This book is the culmination of years of running, studying, and life experiences.  Most of all it is about the love of running and my respect for runners.

This book is dedicated to all of those who share my passion for running & to all those who are trying running for the first time.”


 Click here to see my second book on running:
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life
Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Running 101: What Is a Key Workout?

wise running logo 7_25_12A key workout is one where you are pressing close to the limits of what your body can do without too much strain.  The goal of a key workout is to cue your body to make changes in its processes, to get better at some particular task.  Adaptations that are often a goal of key workouts include:

  • improved running economy [efficient use of oxygen]
  • improved lactate clearance and/or tolerance
  • improved endurance at faster paces
  • improved oxygen delivery [stronger heart]
  • muscle growth & training
  • improved anaerobic threshold [pace at which your body switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism]
  • capillary development
  • glycogen storage
  • fat utilization
  • mitochondrial growth
  • bone development
  • tendon development

When developing a training plan for a runner, I try to aim for two or three key workouts each week.  I place my key running workouts into 4 categories as outlined in the Getting Faster post:

  • speedwork [raw speed]
  • interval training [holding a faster pace for longer]
  • tempo runs [holding a specific pace longer]
  • long runs [endurance]

It is important to note that the adaptations that you get from a key workout do not happen during the key workout.  They happen in the days that follow.   A key workout requires at least one easy or rest day before another key workout should be attempted.  This is because you have pressed the limits of your body.  If you are in GREAT shape and you are below the age of 28, you might be able to handle 3 key workouts each week.  If you are in great shape and below the age of 55, you might be able to handle 5 key workouts in 2 weeks by alternating 2 and 3 key workouts each week.  [these ages vary by individual]

Remember This!

A key workout will not net the results you want if you do not plan for rest
and/or easy miles in the day(s) that follow the workout.

Remember that easy runs net benefits as well.  There are no junk miles.  The key workouts simply offer quicker adaptations.  A combination of key workouts, rest, and easy miles will provide the greatest benefit and quickest progress.

Wise Resting: Playing It Safe

wise running logo 7_25_12

“You will be faster in the long run by playing it smart and safe today.”

I really want to run today, but I will not.

I have lots of pent up energy to expend.
I need to unwind from my busy day.
I feel the need to get outside and feel the breeze.

I feel the need to run, but I will not.

Yesterday I felt some pain in my heel area.  I have felt it on and off for a few weeks.  On most days, it has gotten better once I warmed up.  It has gotten better over time with a more careful stretching regimen and more careful running form.  It got a little better each day, until yesterday.  In my 7 of my tempo run yesterday, it started getting worse.  I was supposed to run 9 miles yesterday, but I remembered the warning given by Hal Higdon:

“If you have pain at the beginning of a run and it gradually gets better, then keep running.  If the pain gets worse as you go, then stop.  Walk.  Take a cab if you can.”

I was on the greenway and I didn’t have any cash on me anyway, so I did not take a cab.  I did walk 3/4 of a mile to my car.  I do not believe that I have a major injury, but that pain was a signal that major injury could be coming if I was not careful.  That is why my planned 9 mile tempo run became a 7 miler with an extra slow walk at the end.

After I returned home, my foot got an ice bath and some time elevated.  I took some ibuprofen and I looked at my running schedule.  I decided that today and tomorrow would be short and easy run days.  I have a half marathon on Saturday morning and I want to give this heel a rest.

This morning my heel was still feeling twinges of that pain.  Hence, I made the tough decision to let go of the idea of running today.  Full rest today, even though I had a rest day just two days ago.  I looked at my mileage for the week and thought about how I could make up the miles later.  No.  Bad idea.  I know better than that.  It is better to let go of those lost miles.  Full rest and consider those miles to be totally out of reach.

Yes, I will miss out on some of the adaptations that those miles could bring, some growth, some speed.  I have to choose to let that go.  That is speed that I will not gain for the marathon in March.  I have to let that go.

Remember This!

It is better to spend a day or two healing now rather than a month or two later because I made it worse by running through the wrong kind of pain.

When it is muscle pain because I am shredding it in a workout, then run on.  That will heal.  You can tell the difference between healthy workout pain and unhealthy injury pain.  Rest. Live to run another day.  You will be faster in the long run by playing it smart and safe today.


Train hard. Race easy. Enjoy the run!
[when you can safely]


The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

– Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

– Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

– Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

Your First Steps as a Runner: Slowly and Gently

My friend Dessah has started using the “walk to running a 5K” plan from my book The Gift of Running.  Like many new runners, she is full of inspiration and genuinely excited about becoming a runner.  It is a wonderful thing.  🙂

Sometimes, however, that excitement can turn into overdoing it a bit.  As you follow my program or any other training program keep two things in mind:

  1. A training program is just a guideline
  2. Start slowly and gently!

As for following the training program, it is generally a good idea to not stray too far from the program.  On the other hand, it is only a guideline.  You have to fit your running into your life where and how it makes sense.

Along that line of reasoning, Dessah asked me a very smart question:  Is it okay for me to break up my long walk into pieces?  Yes, Dessah, I think that is a great way to get in the exercise and still keep track of those toddlers you are chasing around.  When you need to make changes to your program, keep the big ideas in mind:  slowly increase your time and distance running.  Walk on the walking days.  Rest on the rest days.  If you keep those in mind, then your changes will not hurt your progress.  They will simply help you fit it into your life a bit better.

One thing I want to caution Dessah and all other new runners about is your intensity level.

You are at the very beginning of your journey. 
Make sure you are starting slowly and gently. 

Your first runs may be at a pace that you could easily walk.  That is okay!  You need to gently introduce your body to the idea of running.  Stay slow and make sure that you are gently touching the ground as you run.  You can speed up later when your body is ready.

For now, relax and enjoy the run!


The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99


Table of Contents – Gift of Running

Here is the final version of the table of contents of my new book “The Gift of Running

The book is is now available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store

Table of Contents

How to Read This Book 

Running Is a Gift for All

… A Precious Gift

…E Pluribus Run-em

……Where I Fall In the Spectrum of Runners

……Why am I writing a book on running?

…Receiving the Gift:  A Word to the Newbie Runner

Enhancing the Gift: Running Longer &/or Faster 

…Running Faster

…Running Longer

…Threshold Pace

……Threshold Pace and the Perfect Race

…Running a Marathon

…My Marathon Story:   From 5:35 to 3:27 in 18 months

Renewing the Gift: Motivation  

…Recapturing the Joy of Running

…Motivation: Getting Out of the Door

…Slaying the Specter of a Bad Run

…Potential, Risk, & Failure

…Racing as Motivation

…Aging Gracefully

……The Fountain of Youth

……Setting Age-Appropriate Goals

Renewing the Gift: Health

…Rest Days

…New Thoughts about Old Stretching

…Where to run: Surfaces, Sites, & Treadmills

…Philosophy of Pain

…RICE for Pain

…Weather Affects Running

…Staying Healthy in the Heat

…Running and Weight Loss

Giving Back: Community & Coaching 

…The Running Community

…Running Buddies

…You Will Never Run Alone

…Encouraging, Exhorting & Coaching

…Charity Fundraising

Training Schedules & Other Resources 

…What is a Training Plan?

…Following My Training Plans.

…From Walking to Running a 5K..

Training Programs:

– Walking to 5K
– Racing a 5K
– Racing a 10K
– Racing a Half Marathon
– Racing a Marathon

…The Right Stuff: Running Tools & Supplies

Wrapping Up the Gift 


The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

Running Faster: My New Weekly Routine

“I’ve always felt that long, slow distance produces long, slow runners.”   – Sebastian Coe

I am in the “Crazy Speed Training” phase of 2012 as determined by my annual goals & plan.  As I plan my weekly routine, I have to think about the types of runs to include.  I have blogged recently about “How to Run Faster” and it is time to follow my own advice.  In that blog, I listed several general types of runs:  repeats, intervals, tempo runs, & easy/long runs.  Hence, that list was my starting point when I sat down to establish a basic weekly schedule or runs.

Repeats:   1 Day of 400 meter repeats

Crazy speed is my main goal for the next few months, so any training routine must begin with repeats.  Since the biggest goal I have for this time is running mile in less than 5 minutes, it makes sense to run my repeats at 400 meters.  400 meters is a good distance to train because it is about 1/4 of the goal distance.  I can run 400 meters at a much quicker pace than the pace that I can maintain for a mile.  Training at this new speed will gradually strengthen my legs.  The plan is to run eight to ten 400 meter repeats at a pace that is a little faster than my goal pace.  Remember that in repeats you get full rest in between.  It is speed training, not endurance training.

For the next few weeks, I will run the 400s between 71 seconds and 75 seconds.  When that seems comfortable, I will speed them up a few seconds for a few weeks.  Once my legs have adjusted to this, the pace for a 4:59 mile will feel easy & relaxed compared to the pace on the repeats.  🙂

Intervals:  1 Day of Yasso 800s

Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World magazine found a relationship between his 800 meter interval training and the pace of his marathons.  He noticed that if trained regularly on ten 800 meter intervals with  jogging 400 meters in between and no rest, that his pace on the 800s would predict his race results.  If he ran the 800s at 2 minutes & 50 seconds, then his marathon time was around 2 hours and 50 minutes.  If he ran 800s in 2:40, then he would finish his marathon in around 2:40:00.  That is why this workout is named after him.  Not everyone gets the same exact results, but it is a good starting place for training for a faster marathon.  Since my secondary goal is to run a faster marathon, this workout seems to be the next piece of the puzzle as far as a training regimen.

Remember that this is interval training, so these will not be nearly as fast as the pace for the repeats.  Repeats are about building speed.  Intervals are about getting used to a slightly faster pace.  In the first week, I intend to run my Yasso 800s in 2:40.  I was running them around 3:00 a year ago, but I am a lot faster.  In a few months, I want to be running the Yasso 800s in 2:30 or a little below.

Tempo Runs: 2 Days of Short runs (3-5 miles)

Even though I am working on raw speed for a while, I have already gotten quite a bit faster over the last year.  I want to use my two short runs of the weeks to embrace that new level of speed.  In my last training schedule, short runs were supposed to be run at around an 8 minute mile pace.  In this speed-focused phase, I want to keep the pace of my short runs between a 6:40 mile pace and a 7:10 mile pace.  This is a lot slower than my repeats and intervals but it is still a lot faster than my pace a year ago.  In a few weeks, this pace will feel routine.

Long Runs:  1 Day of 8 to 15 miles

I love long runs, so this is my day to rekindle the passion for running deep in my heart. On my long run days, I will not display my pace or time on my Garmin.  I will only use it to tell me how far I have gone.  I am setting my third screen to only display the distance.  This is my day to relax and enjoy the run.

As for the distance, I have just wrapped up a marathon training phase.  Hence, any long run less than 20 miles feels like taking a break.  I will set a minimum distance for the day and run farther if I feel like it.  I can do that because my mileage will be so much lower on the other days that I can afford to add a few miles safely.

Rest Days:  2 Days of “Full Rest”

By full rest, I mean days in which I don’t run.  I can still mow the lawn or go for a walk in the park.  Full rest just means no running.  No running, even if I feel healthy and refreshed.  I am 44 years old.  I need these days to heal.  Rest days are an important part of getting faster!

So that is my new weekly routine.  I have not preset the order in which these days occur.  The details of my life and how my legs feel will determine this.  I just have to get it all done.

After a couple of months, I will add the sub-5 minute mile to my list of accomplishments for the year and begin a new training routine.  I’ll let you know as I go.


“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor




Graduating to a New Marathon Training Strategy

There was no cap and gown.  There was no ceremony, no pomp & circumstance.  But there was a graduation.

In 2011, I followed the philosophy & rhythm of Hal Higdon’s marathon training schedules.  I most recently used the Advanced 2 schedule.  The routine goes something like this:  Run easy on Monday & Wednesdays.  Tuesdays & Thursdays were about speed work with tempo runs, pace runs, hills, and track work.  Friday was the sacred rest day to prepare you for a long weekend.  Saturdays the runs were longer but Sunday was for the really long run of the week.

Before I started Hal’s programs, I was a train wreck waiting to happen.  I had no plan, unless you count running a bunch and having a couple of really long runs.   No nutrition plan.  No clue about making a schedule.  I was going by feel.  That led to my first marathon… 18 miles of running & 8 miles of agonized walking.

Hence, when I found Hal Higdon’s plans, I was suddenly enlightened.  His plans are well thought out.  Each day has a purpose.  The workouts vary quite a bit so you never get too bored.  And they worked.  In January of 2011, I went from no plan straight to the Advanced 1.  That took me from a 5:35 in 2010 down to a 3:56 in April of 2011.  I switched to the Advanced 2 schedule and followed this with a 3:27 marathon in October of 2011.  So, yes, Hal Higdon’s plans do work.  They took me from 5:35 down to 3:27.

Hal’s plans could probably take me farther, but I have been doing so thinking & some reading.

As for the thinking, I have been thinking that as my intensity and pace have increased, so have my aches and pains.  I am 44 years old and I have known for a little while that I need a plan that incorporated more rest.  Discussions on the Twitter running community have convinced me that there is a way to get better training AND more rest.

So, with that in mind, I picked up that book that my friend suggested.  I told my new friend Jeff that I was gradually increasing my mile repeats at 6 minute pace.  My plan was to eventually run 16 mile repeats at a 6 minute pace.  That, I thought, would prepare me to run a marathon at a 7 minute pace.  Thankfully, Jeff had an alarmed look and suggested the book by Jack Daniels, PhD.  Dr. Daniels had done the research and knew exactly which type of workouts would net which specific results.  This appealed to me because I wanted to know exactly what would happen if I did those mile repeats as planned.

After reading the book, Daniels’ Running Formula, I came to the conclusion that I was planning on overdoing it.  I would have been a victim of my own training scheme if not for Jeff’s advice.  Thanks, Jeff!

So now here I am, wanting to move on from Higdon’s program, wanting more intensity, more miles, & more rest along with less pain.  Several things appeal to me about Daniels’ way of thinking.

Like Higdon, Daniels offered several suggested programs.  I personally like the rhythm of three days of easy runs, two days of high intensity workouts, and two days of rest.  The days can be arranged in any order, so it is flexible enough.  Most of the time I will take a rest day right before a quality day so that I am always freshest on the most intense days.  That sounds like it offers the three most important things I have been looking for in a marathon training program:

  1. Purposeful, intense, quality workout days
  2. Multiple rest days
  3. Days to just go out and run!

That last one is really important.  Sometimes the quality days are wonderful, but sometimes a runner wants to just go out and run!  There may be a prescribed distance, but you can go a little more or a little less and even it out by the end of the week.  There may be a range of paces defined for the easy days, but they are easy for the level of intensity of your training.  So it FEELS like just going out for a good run.  I like that.

Daniels’ basic premise is that each type of run on the track or on the road should have a specific purpose.  He has done the research to know what each type of workouts can do for the runner.  Just as important, he has done the research to know how the level of intensity that a runner is ready for.  Too intense leads to overtraining (where I was headed) and too little intensity leads to poor results.   Daniels has written a great book. I highly recommend it.

So now I understand a little more about why Hal Higdon has things designed the way he does and why the programs worked for me.  I also understand that I am ready to branch out and work from Daniels’ plan for a while.  I have graduated from my first set of plans to my second set of plans.  Maybe in a few years I can publish plans for others to follow based on my experience.  For now, I am happy to be learning as I go and sharing with you along the way.

I will let you know how it goes!    Please give me feedback – what plan are you following?

You can keep up with my running on

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/Wise_Running

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wise-Running/223617527674175


“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor



Marathon Training: Love, Hate, and The Taper

“I wanna go fast!”  — Ricky Bobby

Tapering is a time of running lower miles and slower paces as you approach a long race, such as a half or full marathon.  It is designed to help us be ready for the big day…to help us meet our goal.  Amongst my hundreds of runner friends on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, however, there is a disdain (or at the very least a discomfort) that is often expressed towards the taper.

If the taper can help us meet our goals, why such negative emotions?

Why is it that runners have such a tumultuous relationship with the taper?

For most of us, it can best be described as a love/hate relationship.  Theoretically, we love the taper.  We know that we have been using and abusing our bodies in hill workouts, 20 mile runs, track workouts, pace runs, tempo runs, interval training, and many other torturous yet wonderful ways.  Struggling through these workouts and giving everything we have has built our muscles, our endurance, and our confidence.  Runners love to push themselves.  We pride ourselves on this kind of self-denial.  Push, press, strive!

Here is where the conflict arises.  I have now been training for this marathon for over 4 months.  I have pushed my limits and done all of the aforementioned workouts day in and day out for 17 weeks.    For 119 days, pushing it to the limit was my goal.  The days that I had to take off were horrible!  I was thinking about what I should be running.  Now… after all of this time… you want me to ease up?  You want me rested?  Fewer miles?  Less effort?  Are you absolutely nuts??!!??  Where is the “Dislike” button on this thing!  No. It is absolutely unnatural.  I don’t want to do it.

The conflict continues as our brain reminds us to check in on our body parts.  Feet?  Sore.  Knees?  Swollen.  Calves?  Do you even have to ask?  Hamstrings, quads?  Yes, they are communicating loudly as well.  We know that we need the rest.  We know we need the time to heal.  It makes sense.

In the meanwhile, our spirit cries out for more striving, not less.  Our habits call for more miles, not fewer.  Our hearts love the long run.  That is why we got into this.  We love endorphins.  Let’s go get some more, right?  Wrong.  It is time to taper and heal.  We must stifle the voice crying out for endorphins and go with logic.  Bottle up all of that energy.  Store up all those carbs.  Build up that emotional energy… and pop the cork on all that pressure on race day.

If we taper right, we will be like the champagne bottle coming uncorked on race day.  Our spirit will burst forth at the sounding of the starting gun.  The cap will fly off and all of that conflict, … all of that pressure that we allowed to build through the taper… if we can manage the flow just right… will end up in a PR & all of the endorphins from two weeks flow in one session.  Good times, but only if we taper.

Happy running!

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