5 Important Training Tips from a USATF Coach and Race Director

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Have you ever wanted a mentor or coach to just lay it all out for you? You know, just tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. Well, for you runners, I have training tips from a USATF coach and race director who will do just that.

Allow me to introduce Coach Lowell Ladd, a USA Track & Field certified coach and race director for the Gettysburg North-South Marathon and the Gettysburg Blue-Gray 1/2 Marathon in Gettysburg, PA.

Lowell is a full-time online coach through his company, 2L Coaching Services, and his philosophy centers on helping “people find/set goals and work towards those goals so that they have some purpose in this sport.”  He “has worked with hundreds of athletes all over the world of varying ability levels as an online coach, including multiple All-Americans and one NCAA national champion.”

Lowell’s accolades don’t end with his coaching either. He’s an NCAA All-American himself, finished in the top 10 among Americans in the Boston Marathon in 2002 and 2003, and won the 2008 and 2010 Harrisburg Marathons (along with a few others). Clearly, Lowell walks his talk (or runs it?).

Now, with that introduction out of the way, let’s get to Coach Lowell’s tips. That’s why you’re really here.

Oh, and if you’re in the Gettysburg, PA area, make sure to sign up for the Blue Gray half. I’m doing it again this year because it’s such an awesome event and very well-organized.

Training Tips from a USATF Coach and Race Director

What are the top 2 to 3 things you tell those you coach?

training tips from a usatf coach and race director

Don’t change too much from one training cycle to the next. If you only ran 20 miles a week with an 8 mile long run for the last half marathon you did and bump up to 50 miles a week and a 15 mile long run, you might drop you time a ton or you might get injured (much more likely).

What’s your advice to the first time half marathoner?

training tips from a usatf coach and race director

For the first time half marathon runner, get your long run up to 10 miles two weeks before the race and build up to that gradually.

How can runners ensure a strong finish in the final miles?

training tips from a usatf coach and race director

The best way to ensure a strong finish in the later miles is to train well and pace yourself on the early miles of the race. It is easy to get over excited and charge out too fast, but run within yourself early and you’ll be able to run strong at the end.

If you were coaching your younger self, what would your advice be?

training tips from a usatf coach and race director

If I were coaching my younger self I would suggest focusing less on times and more on how I approach the race. Being a slave to the watch and training log can lead to over training, which I was definitely prone to doing at times. I once knocked out 165 miles over a 7 day span while in grad school during the summer when I had a lot of free time. While I survived it uninjured, that wore me down and my marathon that fall went poorly.

What are common misconceptions about distance running?

The most common misconception about distance running is that you have to train harder to achieve better results and run faster. Distance running is all about the balance between work and rest. You need both. Too much of either or too little of the other and you won’t hit the sweet spot.

This is counter intuitive because in life most of the time you get more out of things when you put more into them. I have coached people who ran faster when I made them slow down their training runs and changed very little else. Not what they would have ever done themselves, but it sometimes is the right fix depending on the personality of the runner. I wrote an article for a now-defunct publication called “Peak Running Performance” a decade ago about this very subject.


What are your thoughts on these training tips from a USATF coach and race director?

Running, like anything in life, is not easy. Well, the sport itself is simple, but training and doing it properly is not easy. Not by a long shot.

That’s why having training tips from a USATF coach and race director like Lowell is so important. You are provided a framework and a foundation to work with. Having that is important to your success in running — and life.

There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel. Believe me, I have tried in many things. Instead, follow a process and set a goal for yourself. If running is something you enjoy, sign up with Coach Lowell.

Although your goal may not be to finish in the top 10 at Boston, you want to be the best runner you can be. The best time to start is now.

So, readers, what are your thoughts? Do you have any comments on what Coach Lowell said here?

Will you be in Gettysburg, PA in late October? If so, sign up and run the Blue Gray Half with me!

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2 thoughts on “5 Important Training Tips from a USATF Coach and Race Director

  1. All solid comments. Some people seem to handle high mileage training while it seems to destroy other runners. People should experiment with different proven programs and see which suits them best.

    My wife only peaked at 45 miles a week for her 3:32 marathon.

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