How They Train #1: Leslie Sexton Winter 2019

Leslie Sexton said 4 weeks ago
This is the first edition of what will become an ongoing series called ‘How They Train’ in which athletes and/or coaches will post an interesting block of training, provide some context and relevant detail, and avail themselves for an interactive Q & A in the Community Forum. The offers a great opportunity to learn the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of different training. Over time, we plan to host a variety of How They Train segments with friends and colleagues.

Please read through the posted training block, register an account if you haven’t already, and post your questions for Leslie Sexton and coach Steve Weiler. Starting at 4:00pm on Friday, they will start answering any posted questions, checking in periodically over the subsequent 24 hours, and will aim to wrap-up by responding to any posts made by 4:00pm on Saturday.

https://www.enduranceodyssey.ca/original.php?id=11

This post was edited by a Moderator 3 weeks ago .  
Kubet Weston said 4 weeks ago
That’s a great block of training. I noticed there were no complete days off. How to you build in recovery into your training.
Reply #1
Jen Libis said 4 weeks ago
These questions would be for your race builds. What is your nutrition like overall? What are the differences for what and how much you consume between your shorter distance weeks and longer distance weeks, if any? What is your favorite workout during a build? What is your favorite race so far?
Reply #2
John Lofranco said 4 weeks ago
This is so great. So here is my question. You kind of alluded to this in one of your comments about not having to prove fitness every workout. Where does your racing confidence come from when it's not always possible to "hit the paces" in workouts, whether it's due to weather or just load? What are the kinds of things that let you know you are ready to roll, outside of "I ran X workout in X time"?

Good luck in Prague!
Reply #3
Leslie Sexton said 4 weeks ago
Thanks, Kubet!

Generally if I am healthy I won't take any days off. Steve and I do build in "active recovery" days, so in a marathon build these would usually be a day where I still run twice but go a bit shorter on the distances to let my legs recover. A good example of that would be on March 16th of this block, where I had struggled in my previous workout and was feeling tired, so I backed off a bit on the mileage to recover for the Sunday long run. Since I'm doing 200k+ in my big weeks, a day where I cover 16-20k over two runs actually feels pretty light and restful to me!

In terms of other forms of recovery, I'm a big believer in keeping it simple. I try to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. When I was in BC I wasn't working so I could nap if I needed to. Once I was back in Ontario I knew I would be busier between work and coaching so I made an effort to get to bed earlier and haven't felt the need to nap as much. I will usually get on the foam roller if I am tight, as well.
Reply #4
Leslie Sexton said 4 weeks ago

These questions would be for your race builds. What is your nutrition like overall? What are the differences for what and how much you consume between your shorter distance weeks and longer distance weeks, if any? What is your favorite workout during a build? What is your favorite race so far?



Hi Jen! Thanks for your questions!

1. I would describe my nutrition generally as non-restrictive and high in carbs. I try to eat healthy for the most part but I also eat some form of chocolate or dessert almost every day! That being said, I realize I have a lot of room to improve here (eating more fruits and veggies is definitely something I need to work on), but I don't think I would ever cut out the treats.
2. For big mileage weeks vs. lower ones I would usually consume the same types of food, but up the carb intake during the high mileage weeks. Usually it's a matter of getting enough calories in during a 200k week, so I would eat more carb-dense foods like pasta or rice at dinner and snack a bit more frequently.
3. My favourite workout might be the long MP repeats. Steve and I have done different variations over the years, like 5 X 5k, 4 X 6k, or 3 X 8k this year. I like doing a lot of work at a moderate effort and hitting my pace on these gives me a lot of confidence in my fitness.
4. Toronto Waterfront Marathon is my favourite race so far. It has all of the benefits of a big-city marathon while feeling like it's close to home.
Reply #5
Leslie Sexton said 4 weeks ago

This is so great. So here is my question. You kind of alluded to this in one of your comments about not having to prove fitness every workout. Where does your racing confidence come from when it's not always possible to "hit the paces" in workouts, whether it's due to weather or just load? What are the kinds of things that let you know you are ready to roll, outside of "I ran X workout in X time"?

Good luck in Prague!



Good question! To be honest this was my first time doing a winter marathon build in a few years so I had to re-learn this for myself. Out west the weather was good overall so I could usually hit the times I wanted, but training in Ontario in March required an adjustment. I've been trying to focus more on the effort in workouts ("feeling out the pace" rather than trying to hit certain splits) and reminding myself to look at the big picture and draw my confidence from that. If I am doing consistently high mileage and putting in the right effort in workouts, I can tell myself that I'm ticking all the boxes and understand that the fitness is coming along. Beyond just splits in workouts, I know I am fit when I feel like I can recover from big workouts/long runs quickly and when the daily mileage required to run 200k/week just doesn't feel like a big deal anymore!
Reply #6
Steve Weiler said 3 weeks ago
Thanks to everyone that has posted questions so far. We're going to extend the original timeline and will answer any questions posted for the rest of today.
Reply #7
Tim Hain said 3 weeks ago
Hi Leslie!
I'm curious about how you would compare your prep for a spring marathon vs. a fall marathon. Do you do the same workouts/same mileage (i.e. do you ever change your emphasis between speed and endurance work)? Do you make changes to your mid-run fueling schedule? Do Pablo Hidalgo/JJ Abrams/Kathleen Kennedy care about who Rey's parents are?
Thanks!
Tim
Reply #8
Leslie Sexton said 3 weeks ago

Hi Leslie!
I'm curious about how you would compare your prep for a spring marathon vs. a fall marathon. Do you do the same workouts/same mileage (i.e. do you ever change your emphasis between speed and endurance work)? Do you make changes to your mid-run fueling schedule? Do Pablo Hidalgo/JJ Abrams/Kathleen Kennedy care about who Rey's parents are?
Thanks!
Tim



Hey Tim!

1. In spring vs. fall marathon builds I would usually do very similar workouts. Over the winter months Steve and I may be more likely to switch something to time-based intervals rather than distance if the weather is bad (for example doing 7 X 5 min at 10k effort rather than 1.5k repeats). Steve can answer the second part of the question in more detail so I will defer to him here.
2. Yes, there are definitely changes in fuelling depending on the temperature. For a long run or workout the number of carbs needed is the same regardless of the temperature, but the fluid intake is temperature-dependent. So practically speaking on a warmer day I need to drink more and can take in more carbs in liquid form, while on a cooler day I would drink less, so I would take in more gels to consume enough carbs. I track my carb and fluid consumption on my long runs so by the end of a training block I have a bunch of data on what I have been able to consume in different temperatures, so I will go into the race with a specific plan on what I will take in and when.
3. I hope not. That particular reveal in The Last Jedi was the best thing that could have happened, so I'm hoping it doesn't get retconned in Episode 9. Who Rey's parents are doesn't matter and this makes the trilogy better. (BTW, this is a good read on the topic: https://filmcrithulk.blog/2017/12/15/the-force-belongs-to-us-the-last-jedis-beautiful-refocusing-of-star-wars/)
Reply #9
Steve Weiler said 3 weeks ago

I'm curious about how you would compare your prep for a spring marathon vs. a fall marathon. Do you do the same workouts/same mileage (i.e. do you ever change your emphasis between speed and endurance work)?



Over the last few builds, we've aimed to increase the amount of quality work Leslie does within a marathon build, looking both for an increase in frequency of workouts (ex. 5 workouts in 2 weeks vs. 4) and looking for appropriate workouts where we can extend the amount of work. The easiest example of the latter is that in every prior build, Leslie built up to and completed 26k at marathon pace late in the block, which is borrowed from the Hansons group in Michigan. This was the first build in which we bumped that up to 28k at marathon pace, and it went well.

There has not been a significant shift between speed and endurance work within marathon builds. Leslie did a little bit more faster work within this Prague build, partly being with Richards group out West for a month (slightly different sessions and good weather), but it was also a longer build then normal and included all of the 'normal' elements we'd want to cover.

The main shift in emphasis between speed and endurance occurs during shorter ~5k/10k blocks outside of the specific marathon blocks. Unfortunately, allergies have had a big impact on some of these spring blocks in recent years, so we've been cautious with race expectations and focused on just getting some good speed work in before transition to the fall marathon build. Leslie will undertake a similar 'speed' block of training after her post-Prague down-time, including the Saturday, June 22nd Forest City 5,000m that we'll host.
Reply #10
Teresa Novick said 3 weeks ago
Do you incorporate any strength training? If yes, when do you fit it into your schedule?
Reply #11
Leslie Sexton said 3 weeks ago

Do you incorporate any strength training? If yes, when do you fit it into your schedule?



Just core work, no weights yet. It is something I would like to incorporate in future training blocks but so far the focus has been on being consistent on the workouts and mileage (and avoiding the extra stuff that could potentially have a negative effect on workouts/mileage if it is making me sore or too tired). When I am consistent on the core work I usually do it 2-3 times per week on my workout/long run days (after I have done all of my running for the day). I view it as keeping the hard efforts on the same day so that on my easy run days I can focus on recovery and spend some time on the foam roller. Not that my core work is very demanding or time-consuming; I keep it to about 15 minutes and listen to a record while I'm doing it.
Reply #12
Annette Barry said 3 weeks ago
Tell me about your evolution of understanding and accepting what it takes to stay healthy while training at the elite level.
Perhaps touch on negative and positive-emotional, physical intellectual and social (running community and other) factors that play into this?
Reply #13
Leslie Sexton said 3 weeks ago

Tell me about your evolution of understanding and accepting what it takes to stay healthy while training at the elite level.
Perhaps touch on negative and positive-emotional, physical intellectual and social (running community and other) factors that play into this?



Hi Annette, thanks for your question. I was pretty tired some travel yesterday so I'm sorry for the slow reply. This is an important question so I wanted to tackle it after I had gotten some rest!

I think the two biggest factors in staying healthy while training at the elite level are gradual progression when increasing the training load, and maintaining a healthy body weight. For both of these factors, what you are doing needs to be sustainable over the long term (meaning no big increases either in volume or intensity of training, while fuelling properly to ensure that body fat doesn't drop to an unhealthy level). For women this means having regular periods. This does not mean that women should shy away from high mileage or hard training. RED-S can affect distance runners regardless of event focus and weekly volume (and affects men as well). My anecdote on the subject: I haven't missed a period in over 9 years while running some decent volume. This is because I have made an effort to take in enough calories to maintain a healthy body weight during my tougher training blocks.

In term of emotional and social factors that go into this, I will be honest and say that it is hard to always have a positive body image. In a sport in which we can easily compare ourselves against others with the times we have run, it's also hard to avoid comparing my body to that of other runners. Ultimately over the past several years I have tried to focus on how I love running and pushing myself over the long term so see how fast I can be, so anything that could compromise my long term health for short term gains is something I should avoid.

Here's an honest and practical example of this: I know from past experience that even when I feel like I'm constantly eating during a marathon build, I still lose weight. So during downtime I need to gain a few pounds and start a marathon build a little heavy so that I don't get too low during peak training. It's hard to have a positive body image during this time because I don't like the way I look and feel, but it is something that will help keep me healthy over the long term. A healthy body image and a positive relationship with food aren't just states we eventually arrive at and get to enjoy thereafter; they require a lot of work to maintain and it can be a constant struggle. So I try to be aware of what I do and say publicly, because something I say lightly could come off poorly or even be triggering to someone else who is struggling with this. Something I intend to be a joke (like say, tweeting that I know I'm at "race weight" because I can find into my skinny jeans again) can come off really poorly, so it's better not to say it.

It can take a long time to get to a good understanding of what it takes to be healthy as an elite runner. We learn to push through discomfort in order to get through tough races and perform on race day, but we also need to be mindful and listen to our bodies when they tell us we need rest. We learn the difference between discomfort and pain and over time, we get a better sense of when to respond to our bodies' feedback and back off, or tell ourselves to suck it up and keep going. But it's more clear-cut when it comes to body weight and fuelling. Imagine having an early warning system that told you not to push through that workout because it could tip that minor ache into injury territory. That's exactly what women have for RED-S. Missed periods don't just happen when you're training hard; this is your body telling you that you aren't fuelling enough. So I realize that this has been a long-winded answer but if there's a take-home message here, that's it.

This is a subject that I plan on covering in several articles in the future, I just have to organize my (many) thoughts on it into something more coherent!
Reply #14

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