What purpose do X’s serve?

X’s are a great way to work on your zone 3 or zone 4 pacing (5-10km race pace) without over-stressing you physically and aerobically.  X’s work on turnover and neuromuscular response with limited physical stress.  They are a great way for runners who are out of shape or new to the sport to stimulate some upper end fitness.  X’s are a great entry workout to some harder threshold/aerobic capacity sessions.

Athlete Level Descriptions for B78 Powered Programs- Running


Are you a seasoned runner with specific time goals for the event?  Do you have experience racing and regularly finish in the top 5-10% of the overall field?  Do you currently run more than four times per week?  Are you competitive in your age category or as an elite in running and/or triathlon events?  Are you signing up to race this event?  If the answer to most of these questions is yes then the advanced program is for you.



Are you a regular runner with some race experience?  Are you a regular runner without race experience but run frequently enough to know you will be able to handle the distance? Do you have a time goal that you would like to achieve but at the same time you just enjoy being out there? Do you run three times per week or more?  If you answered yes to most of these questions then the intermediate program is for you.



Are you new to running?  Are you looking for a smart, effective way to build up the ability to run the distance you are signing up for? Will this be the first mass start running event you have participated in? Are you running with family members or for a charity team where time goals don’t really matter? Are you simply in it to finish it? If you answered yes to most or some of these questions then our beginner program is for you.

I’m doing a B78 running program but want to run more. Can I?

B78 running programs are set up to progressively increase your run mileage in a manageable and calculated way.  If you are a highly experienced runner then you will likely know the answer as it applies to you.  If you are a beginner or novice then we suggest you follow the program as written.  Running is unique in that it is just as much about aerobic fitness as it is ones ability to handle impact.  It is important to let your body adapt and recover from the impact as much as the aerobic work.  As the program progresses your weekly hours and mileage will increase as well as the frequency with which you run (number of days per week you run).  If the program seems easy at the start, be patient, it will get more challenging.

All of the long runs are distance based. What if I have no way to tell how far I’ve run? Is there a way I can do the long runs as time based workouts?

Ideally the long runs are done to the specified distance.  It is very important for a marathon that you have the confidence mentally and the ability physically to complete the event.  You will notice that the bulk of most long runs are at race pace or race effort.  This means you can definitely do the long runs as time based versus distance based.  The math is usually quite easy but if you are struggling here is a Pace Calculator

If the program specifies that you run 20km at race pace and your race pace is 4 minutes/km then you can run the main set as 80 minutes at race pace or race effort.

What takes priority in measuring how hard I should be going (pace, heart rate, perceived effort or something else)?

Pace, heart rate and perceived effort are all important measures in determining how hard you can or should go and often it is important to use a combination of all three.  Heart rate and perceived effort are more important when external factors such as environmental or course conditions are highly variable.  Pace is more important if the course conditions are consistent and predictable.

What are “X’s”?

X’s are a staple of the University of Guelph and Speed River Track and Field clubs program.  I would love to claim them as my own but they are part of the awesome programming that is implemented by Dave Scott Thomas and his team in Guelph. X’s are a great way to start or maintain some very basic speed in your running.  X’s are ideally done on an all purpose or soccer field with consistent even footing.  Start in one corner of the field and run at a fast pace on the diagonal to the opposing corner.  Then jog very easy across the top (or bottom) of the field (along the line where goals posts would typically be).  Once you reach the other corner, turn and run fast along the diagonal again.  Repeat this for the specified amount of time.  Your effort should be fast or hard to very hard or 80-90% maximum effort (5-10km race pace)

What is a “Kenyan” run?

A Kenyan run is named in honor of the incredible Kenyan runners who for years have dominated long distance running.  One thing they are famous for are very easy runs with perfect technique.  Kenyan runs are not supposed to be hard aerobically. In fact they fit into the easiest category of scheduled runs.  But, they are meant to be as technically deliberate and precise as you can make them.  You will notice some key aspects in your program like “mid foot landing”, “quick turnover”, “light feet” and “great posture”.  These are all aspects of running that will not only help you run faster but will help you avoid injuries.

What are the rules of a Long Pace Run?

The long pace runs are designed to take the guess work out of what you will be able to do on race day.  The bulk of the long run will be pace specific and on target so when it’s time to race you will have the confidence to perform at your potential.  On the long pace runs it is important to mimic your race conditions as closely as you can.  If you live in the area where the race is taking place then do some of your run on the outlined course.  This also applies for your nutritional strategy (see FAQ on race day nutrition).  The key things to focus on during your long pace runs are:

  1. Warm up
  2. Pre training nutrition
  3. Nutrition during the long run
  4. Pacing and Effort
  5. Mental cues and strategy

Why is it important to land on my mid foot? I thought I was supposed to land on my heel and roll forward.

Heal to toe running is a thing of the past and somewhat archaic.  The human foot is designed to absorb impact through the arch, which is a natural shock absorber.  By landing mid to forefoot (depending on how fast you are going) the tendons and natural shape of the foot absorb the impact like a spring.  When you land on your heal the shock is sent right up through your leg into your knees, hips and back.  Shoes are typically overbuilt in the heel region but there is a move to create shoes with less of a prominent heel as we move towards a more mid to forefoot landing surface.

What constitutes good posture when running?

When we run we want to maintain a strong posture through the core and back so that our skeleton frame can support most of our weight.  When we hinge at the waist (often due to pore core stability and strength) we put undo stress on our hips and back.  A good thing to think about is running proud or tall with your line of sight forward.  The body will often follow what the head and eyes are doing so if you notice that you are looking down or that your head is slightly dropped change it so you are looking up and standing tall, standing proud.

What is turnover and why is it important?

There are two ways to generate speed when running.  One is to increase stride length and the other is to increase leg turnover.  Leg turnover simply means the number of times your feet cycle through the running motion (or touch the ground) in one minute.  Everyone has different stride lengths and although this can be improved it is typically very individual and can depend on a number of factors such as leg length, flexibility and range of motion- as well as range of functional motion (the maximum range you can actually generate power in).  Turnover however can be constantly worked on by consciously addressing it.  Good turnover rates fall between 90-105 revolutions per minute (RPM).  Time yourself for a minute and count how many times one foot (left or right) touches the ground and you will have your number.

What do you mean by “light feet”?

The expression “light feet” simply means to get on and off your feet quietly.  If you hear a large thud or slap when you run it may mean you are landing too heavily or “loping” too much in your running stride.  Stand tall, and feel light and quick off of your feet.

I’ve heard a great deal about barefoot running in the last few years. What is your opinion on barefoot running?

Barefoot running may seem like a new trend but it really goes back to the roots of running when our ancient ancestors did not have shoes.  The foot is designed to absorb impact through the arch and mid foot.

The shoe industry went down a path early on of building shoes up thinking that more cushioning was essential to a good shoe.  This does make sense from the standpoint that we run on pavement for the majority of our races and training, which is not a natural surface for any animal.

Shoes were also built around the notion that proper running technique involved landing heel first and rolling forward onto the toes, which is not in line with how our natural shock absorbers are designed.  Shoes often detract from the foot’s ability to naturally deal with impact.  If the heel portion of the shoe is too high then it also promotes earlier contact with the heel which forces you to land heel first.

There has been a move in recent years by shoe companies to design shoes with a lower profile and less of a drop from heel to toe, which is making it easier to get back to a mid foot landing when running.

Barefoot running is not a bad thing because it forces us to land properly on our feet. BUT, it is important to exercise caution.  Remember that our ancestors did not run on pavement.  Pavement and concrete are incredibly non-forgiving surfaces and barefoot running in todays concrete jungle is not necessarily a good thing.  One other issue is that people often take things too far.  If you have been running in shoes your entire life and you suddenly start doing everything in bare feet it is a potential recipe for injury.  At B78 we do small amounts of barefoot running on soft surfaces or on Woodway treadmills.  The best thing you can do is to pick a good shoe that allows for mid foot landing and more natural foot movements.  Most quality shoe retailers will have a strong knowledge on what the right shoe is for you.  You can also watch the B78 video on how to pick the right shoe for you.

How do I pick a running shoe?

Running shoe stores are generally very good at helping you decide what shoe is right for you.  The best thing you can do is find a specialty running shoe store and ask the professionals who know the different brands and style of each shoe.  Like fingerprints, everyone’s feet are unique.  Some people have a much tougher time finding shoes that work for them and some can run in a very low profile neutral shoe without difficulty.

What does “low profile” mean when referring to running shoes?

Low profile refers to the difference in height from the heel of a shoe to the toe of a shoe.  A low profile shoe means that the heel and toe height are more even which allows you to land more on your mid foot.  Low profile can also refer to the amount of cushioning in a shoe.  Heavy training shoes will often have very thick cushioning or a higher profile.  Race flats will often have less cushioning, be lighter and have a lower profile.