Coach Ryan Ponsonby on Summer Training

Last week we talked about how to deal with running in Austin’s summer heat—how to survive it. But what about actual training? How does that fit in to summer running?

Do you simply drop down your mileage or slow down your pace? Is it a good time to hit the track? What about fall fitness—how does that relate to summer running? Ryan Ponsonby, coach to some of Texas’—and the nation’s—top runners like Leo Manzano, and Ready to Run’s Jen Hall and Drew Soucy, has some great tips to get you on the right path.

“Summer is your time to reset, establish running goals and begin to build your mileage back up,” says Ponsonby. “The running scene in Austin is exceptional, with lots of highly-shaded soft surfaces to run on. It’s truly a runner’s paradise, so take advantage.”

Ryan Ponsonby, coach to some of Texas’—and the nation’s—top runners like Leo Manzano, and Ready to Run’s Jen Hall and Drew Soucy, has some great tips to get you on the right path.

Ponsonby suggests that summer needn’t be a time of slacking off, but rather a time to have fun with your running while building towards a winter or spring 2018 goal.

“Any given weekend in Central Texas you can find 5K-10K races to jump into,” says Ponsonby. “But let’s consider a general progression of starting mid-summer and building throughout the year with the goal of running the Austin Marathon or Cap10K—our most prestigious, challenging and celebrated running events.”

“I believe the basic training guidelines for all running distances consist of these principles: Volume, Intensity and Frequency of various energy systems throughout the year. What I mean by this is that you should incorporate faster, shorter running with longer slower running all year long.”

Ponsonby advises his runners to vary the amount of each of those components depending on the time of year, stating that, “Working all energy systems year-round complements each other in building your optimal fitness”

Rest Time?
However, that does not mean we shouldn’t rest. Before he has his runners start preparing for the upcoming running season, he asks them to ease up.

“Consider taking time off first,” says Ponsonby. “This will allow for mental and physical rest from running. For my elite athletes, I recommend two to four weeks of rest after the season: no running. I encourage them to jump into other non-running exercises such as: stand-up paddle boarding, cycling, kayaking, swimming, rock climbing etc. Change can be as good as a rest and we have plenty of options to change up your activity here in Austin.”

He recommends a slow transition back to running once the break is over.

“Approach the upcoming running season by breaking up your training into in blocks. Treat the summer as your first training block. First, you want to build up your aerobic base. Get out on the trails and run for time, go on feel and don’t be concerned with pace in your buildup. Just feel good! In terms of mileage, I recommend starting off the year gradually. Take your average weekly mileage from the previous year and cut it by 50%. For example, if you were running 40 miles a week on average last year, you should start off around 20 miles for the first week. Then add 10-20% each week in mileage over the next several weeks. At this time, your long run should be about 18-22% of your total weekly mileage. If you’re running 40 miles a week your long should be around eight to nine miles. You can jump into some races during this time too. This can be a great way to incorporate your training into your racing. No better way to run long than with others around you!”

Additional things to consider during your summer base:

  • Strides are important for all runners. These can be done on flat or uphill. Strides can vary in distance from 50-150m in distance.
  • Hills in general are a great to incorporate in your training. We have so many hills here in Central Texas incorporate hilly long runs, Long hill repeats and short hill repeats into your training. This helps build power and good running economy. They also keep you from experiencing pace lock in your runs.
  • Get in the gym on to three times a week.

“I can’t emphasize the importance of doing some type complimentary exercises in the gym,” says Ponsonby. “You don’t need to put on mass for running but you do want to build strength. Getting strong also minimizes the risk to injury.” Learn more about coach Ponsonby here.

Upcoming races: Freedom 5,000, July 4 at 8:00 a.m., Camp Mabry, Austin. Popsicle Run Four Miler, July 4 at 7:00 a.m., 5940 McNaughton, Kyle, TX. Capt’n Karl’s Muleshoe Bend Night Trail Run 60K, 30K and 10K, Sat. July 15, 7:00 p.m. at Muleshoe Bend LCRA Recreation Area, Spicewood, TX. July 15 at 7:30 a.m., Hot 2 Trot 5K at Lion’s Park, Temple. July 15 at 8:00 a.m. Vern’s No Frills 5k, Berry Springs Park & Preserve, Georgetown.

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