Jack Daniels — Run Coach, Not The Whiskey Guy

April 11, 2012 · 38 comments

I’m changing the way I train.

I need to preface this overflow of new running knowledge with the fact that I’m, for the most part, not a numbers runner. Yes, I check my Garmin periodically while I run, but I much prefer pacing myself based on how I feel.

Also, I prioritize keeping running fun. When a hobby becomes a job I don’t look forward to, I know I need to drop it. Why do something if it doesn’t make you happy?

Therefore, it’s imperative to me that I keep running something I enjoy. This is why I never really made running a science.

Ew. Science. The reason I didn’t fulfill my dream to become a dolphin trainer marine biologist.

We all know I’m no scientist.

Anyway, if you’re a serious runner, you’ve heard of this Jack Daniels guy. He’s an Olympic medalist, exercise physiologist, and was named “World’s Best Coach” by Runner’s World. He created a baller formula using VDOT value to determine  at which speeds a runner should train using prior race times. Daniels’ formula is based on capacity, endurance, and efficiency.

Am I still speaking English?

Here’s what I’ve been doing wrong: Jack says don’t run farther or faster than you have to. Runners should strive for optimal training benefits with the least amount of work, maximizing improvement and minimizing injuries.

I’ve been training too hard, and I’ve been getting injured (hello, shins). This is why I’m going to start following Jack Daniels’ rules.

via

Yes, Jack.

I actually ended up speaking with Mike, the owner of my local running store Running Etc., because I wanted him to check my stride and my shoes. I spoke with him at the Shamrock expo and last week stopped by the store to have my stride analyzed. This is how I ended up getting my own private running class.

Mike informed me my stride is great (very neutral), my shoes are a-okay (however, my beloved Brooks Pure Connect are a performance shoe, so I should probably only wear them for speed training and races), but he asked me why my 5k PR (21:18) varied so much from my half PR (1:42). I admitted I haven’t busted my butt for a half yet, but I hope to once I’m fully recovered from all my surgery stuff.

Mike told me that, according to Jack Daniels’ formula, based on my 5k, time I should be running just under a 1:38 half marathon.

WEIRD, right? For those of you who remember back before surgery, that was my original goal time.

Mike also told me I’m running way too fast on my training runs, which is probably causing my injuries.

(thanks, brightroom!)

Here is Jack Daniel’s VDOT chart Mike printed out for me. In Table 1, locate your your PR. Check out your VDOT on the end of that row. Then, find your VDOT number in Table 2, and it shows you the pace at which you should be training.

Or, if you want to make it really easy, type your PR and distance into this VDOT running calculator and select “calculate appropriate training paces.”

Mike matched my VDOT to my 5k PR (a 1:37ish half marathon time), which is right between 46 and 47 (46.3, to be exact). This means I should be running most training runs at a 8:45 pace rather than the 7:15-7:30ish pace I normally average.

For example, my results for VDOT training:

Easy/Long Runs:                                            8:45   (80% of all training runs)
Tempo Runs:                                                   7:15
Intervals (3-5 min max):                             6:40
Repetitions or Mechanics Workouts:    6:16

Long story short, to avoid injury and to race faster, I need to train slower.

Or as Mike says, “slow your wheels!”

And that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Mike promises me faster race times if I obey Jack, so I’m game to try this method out.

Huh. Sounds like I’m a complete running nerd now that science suddenly makes me happy. Go figure.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 clare @ fittingitallin April 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

Ok I usually TRY to slow myself down when I’m running outside, and especially semi-long distances, but my legs just WANT to run around 8 minute miles. I can’t help it.
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2 Losing Lindy April 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

wow your slow/easy runs are still 2 minutes p/mile faster than my runsohardandpuke miles
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3 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries April 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

Slow running works for me! But you already know that 🙂
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4 Kara April 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

Thanks for posting the VDOT calculator! I’ve played around with quite a few others but really like this one. I’m probably going to be preoccupied with it for the rest of the day 🙂

I’m definitely running too fast on my “easy” runs but I can’t help it!! Definitely need to work on that, haha

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5 Brittany @ Life of a Bama Girl April 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

Love the leopard shorts!
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6 Daphne @ Candy Coated Runner April 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

Yikes! Apparently I’m running way to fast too! I’ve been working on majorly slowing down my recovery runs, but I guess I need to slow down my training runs AND long runs too! Thanks for sharing!
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7 Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe April 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

Very cool calculator! I’ll be taking this into account as I start to train for my longer distances coming up… thanks for sharing (even though I now want some Jack Daniels – the whiskey)!~
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8 Heather April 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

this post may have just changed my life.
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9 Cynthia Michener April 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Love your lepotard short!!!! where did you buy that??? :o)))

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10 Cynthia Michener April 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm

oh.. sorry for spelling error.. I mean leopard.

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11 Andrea @ Andrea Out Loud! April 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Im not even a runner and all of that was so interesting to me!! Thanks for sharing!
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12 Easa April 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm

The big diffie is the distinction between interval day, tempo day and long run day (with or without a pickup/tempo involved) vs steady state mileage, smell-the-roses, try-to-run-xx-miles training. Glad to see you take a step towards a more calculated approach. Try it on, see if it fits, you can always adjust or go back to what you were doing before or move on to something different (Lydiard for example.)

The best way to self coach is to keep a training log and micro-correct as you go. Plan in 3-4 week build cycles with 1 week recovery. FItzgerald and others advocate giving an up/down/neutral arrow for each workout indicating if it built, lowered, or did not affect your overall confidence. I think the believe I am journal (if you don’t have one already) might be great for this.

It’s not slowing down that matters, it’s focusing your efforts during the week on the 3 key workouts and letting the others take a back seat. If you can do your “garbage” miles easy, it does not matter how fast you run them. Many new runners tend to “go” or “push” whenever they feel good and that leads to haphazard training. Which can work quite well sometimes, but can also take longer than having a structured plan.

Enjoy!

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13 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

This is really interesting! I’m going to look into his method!
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14 Dorsa @ Running Thoughts April 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I couldn’t run faster if I tried! ha. good advice!
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15 Sarah @BlondeBostonian April 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

This post just gave me an “ah-ha” moment (as Oprah would say). I’m using this for my upcoming half training. It explains so many things!
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16 Talia @ Bite Size Wellness April 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Love the leopard running shorts!
Looks like you had an eye opener with your running life. I have had a similar experience with gym life in general…no running everyday and no yoga everyday either. Happy mix makes for a happy me:) Perhaps your scientist days are not as far behind you as you thought!
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17 Jessie @RunforFroYo April 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for this! I never know what pace I should be shooting for so this is really helpful!!
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18 Erin April 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

AWESOME! I’m looking to blow my half in September out of the water so this info is great!
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19 Laura April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

You seriously just made my day awesome!! I am coming off of ankle injuries and I am loving the go slower to get faster method 🙂

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20 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy April 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

8:45 is slow? That’s a decent (actually, fast) pace for me!
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21 Britt @ Chicago Runner Girl April 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

This is the best blog post I’ve seen in months! Most runners seem to constantly be in competition mode where they convince themselves that if they aren’t running hard and fast all the time that they are slacking, and in the words of Matt Fizgerald “most runners make the mistake of running medium hard all the time”. It’s a tough lesson to learn, and I had to learn the hard way myself years ago too. But you will be amazed at how your body transforms when you switch gears frequently.
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22 Rachel @girlwithweights April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm

My favorite part about running outside is not having to think about anything…just running at the pace my legs decide to take me. I’ll have to try the paces Jack Daniels recommends and see how it feels…it’ll be interesting to see how the run goes when I’m constantly checking to see what pace I’m running at.

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23 Kristen @ notsodomesticated April 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I feel like I hear such mixed opinions on this stuff … but I do like this perspective better than the one that says you have to train faster if you want to run faster on race day! 😉
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24 what katie's baking April 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm

man, you’re such an inspiration girl!
wish i could be half as motivated as you 🙂

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25 Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement April 12, 2012 at 5:00 am

Love, love, love this post! That running calculator is a savior and this whole concept seems to take a lot of the pressure off. I am on the prowl for a race to sign up and I want to train properly, even if it means less miles and a slower pace. Thanks for sharing. My friend has a yorkie named Jack Daniels…such a common name.
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26 Beka April 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

Very cool. I love the calculator, it is spot on! Leopard shorts are rockin.

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27 Heather April 27, 2012 at 7:54 am

writing about my new training plan at the moment.
came over here again to link to you, of course.
then i realized that your easy run pace is my mechanics pace.
LOVE IT, my speedy speedy froach. 🙂
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