Dave Scott Answers Your Running Questions

Active Expert Dave Scott
Running Everyday


How do you feel about competitive runners running everyday? At the time, I try to mix up training with biking, stair stepper and weights because I am afraid of causing an injury. My husband and I race every weekend and on Wednesday nights. These distances are anywhere from 5K to a marathon; marathons being one per month at most. On average I put in about 25 to 30 miles per week, unless I do a marathon on the weekend. If I do, I cover less miles during the week before the marathon.

I am confused about all the training programs out there, so if you could give me an idea of what in a good, simple gauge to follow for a 46-year-old female, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks for your help,
Vickie A.


You mentioned four points that are a potential recipe for an injury:
1) Racing two times per week
2) One marathon per month
3) Running every day
4) You are a competitive runner

I don't know how long you have been following this routine, but fortunately, your weekly mileage is relatively low and you do not have a current injury. However, your frequency of racing, plus adding a marathon once per month, is not advisable and certainly will not enhance your competitive goals.

If you are racing 100 percent on two sessions per week, this overload on your joints and muscular system is too demanding. Professional runners would combine variable training loads during the week, but never two races. If you wish to continue your twice weekly racing, my recommendation is to vary your tempo on your Wednesday run and to negative split your weekend race.

For example, on Wednesday, try to swing your pace 30 to 40 seconds per mile or 25 to 30 seconds per kilometer. If you are racing a 10K, the odd kilometers are hard to very hard effort (threshold or slightly faster), and the even kilometers are 25 to 30 seconds slower.

The advantages of a swing pace are:

  • To teach your body tempo changes
  • Forces you to concentrate on form
  • Your body adapts to creating lactate
  • It's easier mentally and physically to recover

Vickie, I would take a day off from running every five to nine days and insert a light, non-weight-bearing activity such as cycling. Additionally, to maintain your strength and lean body mass, I would incorporate a three-times-per-week strength and injury prevention program. This should include: stretch-cord hip extension, hip abduction (single leg for sessions one and two), lateral side steps with stretch cord, single-leg dumb bell dead lifts, plank-up and -downs, and exercise ball crunches.

These exercises can be completed in 20 to 24 minutes with two to three reps of each exercise. Go to near-muscular failure on each exercise and the repeat of exercises. This is a "starter" program. After six weeks, you will be ready for an upgrade.

Lastly, yoga or Pilates would be great to promote whole body strength and flexibility.

Good luck!
Dave Scott

Marathon Training

Dear Dave,
I started running about two years ago. I've been training on my own and following a 16-week training chart I found online. I've run seven marathons and nine half-marathons. The more I run, the faster I recover after each race. My only problem is: I don't think I have improved very much in the marathons. My first half-marathon time was 1:49, and a year and a half later I finished my last one in 1:31:40. I've been running full marathons in about the same time--between 3:17 and 3:24.
After almost two years, I feel I haven't improved as a runner. My goal for the rest of this year would be to run a half in September under 1:30.

I believe my diet is 100 percent balanced. I train every day, but I just need a professional's advice to apply to my training. I've been running about 60 to 70 miles a week and my muscles don't hurt. I'm very short (5'1 and 100 lbs.) and sometimes I try to think positive about my height and weight, believing it is not an obstacle to being able to lead a race sometime in the future. Also, I've recently added tempo runs to my schedule.

Maura P.


First off, your weight and height is not a disadvantage. Take a look at the elite women runners. They are lean, light, racing machines. Your body size is similar to numerous world-class runners; seemingly, you do need to fatigue your muscles during training.

Integrating efforts that overload your muscular system takes the training adaptation to endurance. Combining progression, overload and recovery are the three general key ingredients to elevating your performance.

Let's take a look at a few training suggestions to shift your racing times closer to your goals. There should be two key workouts per week. I'll explain the fundamentals, then the grouping.

  1. The tempo suggestion was a good one, but it needs to be goal specific. Tempo pacing in line with half-marathon speed is a perfect race pace. Quite often 5K or 10K running incorporates tempo sessions that are too fast. However, recognizing that your goal is the half-marathon, the tempo runs should be run at or near ideal half-marathon pace.
  2. Practice
    Begin with three sets of six- to eight-minute runs at half-marathon pace. Allow two to five minutes rest between each set. Increase the segment length up to 20 to 30 minutes with a goal of 45 to 55 minutes at ideal race pace (For example: 2 x 25 minutes).

  3. Incorporate a high-intensity hill segment of 6 to 10 repeats at 75 to 90 seconds each. For your rest interval, jog back down the hill.
  4. Track or interval sessions to elevate sub-lactate threshold economy. The set length is 4.5 to 7 miles. The rest interval is relatively short and the pace is between 10K and half-marathon pace (For example: 6x1-mile with a rest interval between 30 seconds and one minute).
  5. Swing-pace interval training. This is a form of fartlek training and can be incorporated in a long- or medium-distance run. The segment should be between 6 and 12 miles. The goal is to swing the pace in 3- to 8-minute segments of 20 seconds faster-than-race-pace and 20 seconds slower-than-race-pace.

Maura, your goal is 6:57 per mile for your half-marathon. For you, this set will consist of three minutes at 6:37 pace then eight minutes at 7:17, repeating seven times. You can lengthen the harder efforts as your fitness improves.

Try six weeks combining Nos. 1, 3 and 6 in one week, then Nos. 2 and 4 in the next. This can be done twice during your training with the final six week session up to two weeks before your half-marathon.

Good luck!
Dave Scott

Six-time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott lives in Boulder, Colo., and maintains a busy schedule running his own business as fitness and nutrition consultant, product marketing consultant and nationally recognized speaker. He also organizes or is the main keynote for fitness camps, clinics and races and is a regular columnist for many print and online sources. As an Active Expert, Dave utilizes his years of experience by offering unique and creative training plans for athletes of all abilities. Contact him at dave.scott@active.com

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