Welcome to episode 35 of the final surge podcast where we welcome Coach Greg McMillan to the show. If you get any tidbits or learn anything useful from this podcast please head over to iTunes and share a review. Today we are going to discuss How Greg got involved in coaching, we will break down his world famous running calculator app and answer some common questions that coaches and athletes have about it and we will talk a lot about his training from 800 to marathon. Greg’s calculator is now built into Final Surge as one of the calculator options, and when you match that with his training plans there are now over 100 McMillan customized plans available at Final Surge.
How did you get started in running when you were younger?
Can you give us the history of how you got started in coaching?
You started with exercise science. There is the science of coaching and the art of coaching. What is something you learned early, maybe in a classroom, that didn’t translate to real world coaching?
Who were your big coaching influences?
I believe you made a transition in the last few years away from coaching elites runners in person to more of an online model, is that correct?
You developed what may be the most widely used running calculator around. We recently added in your running calculator into the Final Surge software and started adding your plans as an add-on. So let’s start talking about your calculator and your plans.
When looking at your plans you ask if a runner is level 1-4, can you describe the difference between the levels?
Another question you ask is if the athlete is an Endurance, Speedster or Combo. You go into great detail on this in your book You only faster. But can you explain to someone who hasn’t read the book what the differences are between those three?
One of the ways to figure out what type of runner you are is your running calculator. So If I understand it right, if someone runs a 5k of say 17 minutes and types it into your calculator it says they should be running a 4:54 mile. Now if their mile time is 4:45 that would tend to show they are a speedster if their aerobic training was in place correct?
If that same athlete has recently run a 17 minute 5k it says their Tempo runs should be 5:44-5:58.. but if you use their recent 4:45 mile it would give them a tempo pace of nearly ten seconds per mile faster. So which would you recommend they use, the faster time because they may be more of a speedster of the 5k time because it is a longer event? Of course, this assumes both those events were recent good races and true times.
In your mobile app you have 4 groups of workout paces. The first two are Endurance and Stamina. How do these two differ and what percentage of time do you think you should spend in each of these sections during a typical week or 12-week training cycle?
Now let’s jump to your plans and take a look at some examples. Based on the training plans, if someone is following a level 4 training plan they obviously have a good solid base. What do you see as a typical base buildup looking like before someone jumps into a 12-week training plan?
In your 800/1600 training for a combo runner you start out week one with an easy run on Monday, then Tuesday you go into a 800m cruise interval workout with 6-8x 800 with a 200m recovery. Then 3x200 with 200 recovery. Can you talk about this workout and the goal of cruise intervals and what the pacing is for the cruise interval and 200’s?
Then Wednesday you do a 40-50 min recovery. Then on Thursday for a miler, you go 16x100 race goal pace with 2-400 recovery. You go right after goal pace work week one, so this obviously assumes they are coming in with the base. How often do you tough race pace work?
Then you go Friday/Sat easy days and Sunday a long run up to 80 minutes. How long do you think 800 runners and milers should be working up to on their long runs and do you do them every week?
Your peak week 10 you start out with the recovery run on Monday, Tuesday you comeback with 10-12x200 with a 2-300 recovery jog to work on building sprint speed. What paces are these 200’s at?
Wednesday is a recovery day. You give a wide range of 40-60 minutes. What advice would you tell your athletes on determining if they should go 40 or 60 minutes?
Thursday is a 20-30 min warmup run.
Then they do 15-20 sets of 15-second strides with a one min recovery jog and 20-30 min cool down.
Are these strides at 5k pace? 3000 pace or what are you using?
Many coaches I have talked to use strides at the end of their workout, you are doing them in the middle, what is the reasoning?
Then Fri/Sat are easy run days with a time trial on Sunday. how should an athlete run this time trial?
We have a lot of high school coaches who listen to this, and I would expect many of those purchasing the 800/miler plans are likely high school and college coaches. Many high school athletes who are not national level elite may be racing once a week. So if a high school runners has a race on a Saturday, do you substitute one of your workouts during the week for the race or how are you changing a week?
You start out with an easy run for the first few days then on day 4 you do a goal pace workout where you do 10-12x400 at goal pace, then a couple more easy days and your long run of 70-80 minutes. What some will notice is how similar this is to the 800/mile plan we talked about earlier. Many coaches today treat the 800 through the half marathon with similar training just working on around the edges on some pacing work and a little volume changes, what do you see as the biggest differences between maybe a miler’s training and a 5 or 10k runner?
There are a lot of similarities there, but then things really change when we reach the marathon. One of the big factors in the marathon of course is the wall and how to properly train the fueling systems. What does a runner who is making the move to the marathon really need to know about this jump and teaching their body to burn fat more efficiently along with glycogen?
When it comes to hip mobility, core strength, strength auxiliary work, what do you recommend and how often?
If someone wanted to reach out to you and find out more about your services how could they best reach you?
Final Surge Round
Your favorite running book? - Once a Runner
Current trainers you are wearing? - New Balance 1080
Favorite race? - Mile or 5k
Favorite recovery meal or recovery drink? - Cheeseburger, Fries and Beer
Your favorite workout - 10-12 400m