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.

What is the basic philosophy of the 18 week marathon training program?

My goal in programming is to keep the work simple, manageable and to the point. On the B78 running program you will do three basic types of workouts. One is designed as a pace/effort specific workout aimed at building your ability to run at your desired race pace for the desired length of time. The second type of workout will address your higher end threshold/aerobic capacity (hard efforts). The physiological benefits of training at this level of intensity are significant. The third type of workout is designed purely for frequency, technique and impact tolerance.

What are training zones?

Training zones refer to different levels of effort or intensity.  There are several different versions of training zones but at B78 we like to keep things simple.  The chart below shows a basic zone structure for you to follow.


Zone Objective Perceived Effort (1-10) Perceived effort HR( % of max) Duration of Intervals in training Type of Race
1 Recovery 0-5 Easy <50% N/A N/A
2 Base/Aerobic 5-7 Easy/Medium 50-70% Longer Aerobic Workouts 2+ hours
3 Tempo/Threshold 7-8.5 Hard 70-85% 5-30 minutes 1-3 hours
Aerobic Capacity/VO2 Max
8.5-9.5 Really Hard 85-95%% 2-5 minutes 5-20 minutes
5 Anaerobic Power 9.5-10 Max Effort Max <30 seconds 100m sprint

How do I know my zones?

If you have done any kind of step test, VO2 max test or lactate threshold test then you should be familiar with your zones.  If you have not, then refer to table 1.  If you know your maximum heart rate you can extrapolate the relevant values using Table 1.

Is there a good way to predict maximum heart rate?

There are a couple very basic ways you can predict maximum heart rate.  The first and most often used is to simply take 220 and subtract your age.


Here is an example for a 40 year old athlete

220-40= 180 (maximum heart rate)


The second is called the “Karvonen Formula” which uses the heart rate reserve method. This is similar to the basic formula of 220 minus your age but it also uses your resting heart rate to factor in appropriate heart rate efforts as a percentage of maximum effort.


The Karvonen Formula is as follows:

220-age = maximum heart rate

Maximum heart rate- resting heart rate = heart rate reserve

(Heart rate reserve x % of maximum desired) + resting heart rate = Target heart rate


Here an example for a 40year old with a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute (bpm) who wants to train at 70% maximum

  • 220-40 = 180bpm (maximum heart rate)
  • 180-60 = 120bpm (heart rate reserve)
  • (120 x 0.7) + 65 = 144bpm


If you want to predict your zones using this method it’s best to calculate the percentage efforts required for each zone (as per Table 1) and set a heart rate range for each zone.


The key thing to note is that using either the maximal heart rate method (220-age) or the heart rate reserve method there is little difference in the heart rate values. That being said, the low value of the target range (say 60%) is slightly higher in the heart rate reserve method than the value in the maximal heart rate method. The heart rate reserve method is considered more accurate, as it can protect you from having too low a threshold target and takes into account your resting heart rate.

For both of these methods there is a large assumption involved—that your maximum heart rate is, in fact, 220 minus your age. After all, it is your age-predicted maximum heart rate. In reality, your maximum heart rate may be much lower or higher than this. It is estimated that one standard deviation from this value is 12 beats per minute. Therefore, only 68.3% of the population has a maximum heart rate that lies between 208 and 232 minus their age. For this reason, if you find that you are exercising at the high end of the range and yet not feeling your exercise intensity is very hard, it may be that your maximum heart rate is higher than average. This is why many people prefer to use additional measures of exercise intensity – in particular finding maximal heart rate.

What happens if I miss a day of training?

If you miss a day of training do not panic!  Missing workouts should not be the norm but it happens to everyone at some point for any number of reasons.  Unless it is one of your key pace workouts then move on and don’t look back.  If it is one of your key workouts then do your best to complete it the following day.  If this is still not possible then move on and don’t look back.

Can I do other physical activities when I’m doing the B78 program?

It is possible to do other activities while on a B78 program as long as you are constantly aware of your effort levels and rate of recovery.  Training is only as good as your ability to recover.  If you are doing too much and cannot recover between workouts you will eventually end up sick or injured.

My work hours are not normal, how can I manage what is required of me on the B78 running program?

The B78 program is designed to be flexible for those people who work irregular hours.  The easiest thing to do is to look at your week instead of one day at a time.  The goal is to get all of the sessions required for the week, done in the week with as much spacing between workouts as the week will allow.  There are two key workouts in the week- one faster speed session and the other a longer pace run.  Ideally these two runs fall several days apart as they will require more recovery than the easy runs.  You can take the workouts designed for the week and schedule them in as it works for you personally.

When you schedule shorter repetitions in a workout my heart rate doesn’t get as high as it is supposed to. How come?

Typically there is a lag in heart rate response meaning once you start working at an effort your heart rate takes some time to match that effort.  If the repetitions you are doing are short then your heart rate may not come up to the specified target range in time.  Do not panic, this is ok!  On repetitions that are short the primary objective is to stimulate a nervous system response (train your nervous system and muscular system to move at that speed)

What happens if I feel sick?

If you feel sick then take a day off.  Usually if we are in ill health it is our body telling us to back off and take a break.  Listen to your body and resume training when you are in good health.  Do not try and cram in workouts that you missed just continue on (unless you are out for longer than a full week in which case it is a good idea to resume the program where you left off).

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.

My program has a basic strength and core component why is that important?

Programs for endurance sports often neglect some basic strength and core training.  At B78 we feel it is essential to continually address your core, back and hip stability.  You don’t need to spend 3 hours per day in the weight room to do this; a simple 15- 30-minute routine several times per week should be enough.  The primary objective is to target your core, back and hip stabilizer muscles.  These are all areas that need to be active or “turned on” for swimming, biking or running.  Marathon and Ironman events are as much about strong consistent pacing as they are about your ability to maintain a strong posture and have stability in the core and hip region.  People who lack strength in these areas will often break down in the final hours/miles of a longer event.

I’m already doing yoga/strength training with a group. Do I still need to do the basic strength and core routine you have scheduled?

It certainly won’t hurt to add the few exercises you have scheduled into your program.  If it is a matter of time you can always do the short routine immediately following one of your primary workouts so it is done.  If you are doing strength and/or yoga every day or 4-6 times per week you will likely not need to do the extra core and strength routine you have on your program.

The strength and core routine is on opposing days to my running. Is it possible for me to just do this routine after my run sessions to get it done?

Yes, this is no problem.  You can fit in the basic strength and core routine anytime during the week as long as you leave a day or so between sessions.

What is impact tolerance and why is it important?

Impact tolerance is your ability to handle the pounding exerted during running. Impact is significant during running and people typically do not spend enough time increasing their ability to handle impact. Tolerance to impact needs to happen gradually and progressively. Some of the most common running injuries are due to low impact tolerance. If you are new to running I strongly recommend that you complete the B78 three-week introduction to running program first.

What are the basic philosophies of B78 programs?

Training programs should never leave you guessing about what you are capable of when you toe the line of your specified race. The goal with B78 programs is to get you to the start line with confidence, good health and the fitness to do what you have set out to do.

The basic philosophy is to create a program that simplifies what can become an often overly complicated process. B78 programs have smart structure, progressive builds and training sessions that take the guess work out of the preparation and target the specific outcome you want to achieve.


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.