How to Dominate Running Multiple Marathons: Interview with Chuck Engle, Winner of 148 Marathons

how to race multiple marathonsOur mission with Run to the Top is to help you learn from the best in the biz and give you actionable advice you can use to transform your running right now. Today’s guest is the epitome of that goal.

If you’re attempting to run multiple marathons or half marathons in the same weekend (The Goofy Challenge for example) or you’ve scheduled two marathons relatively close together – for the challenge or maybe for redemption after the first didn’t go right – how do you best accomplish this task?

To help you answer that question, we’re interviewing the master of running multiple marathons, Chuck Engle. Chuck doesn’t just run a lot of marathons; he runs a lot of marathons well.

Chuck has won a total of 148 marathons. And these aren’t podunk marathons with a few hundred runners. His average finishing time is a staggering 2:44. He’s also won a marathon in all 50 states – the first person to ever do so.

If you’re running marathons close together, I can’t think of a better person to learn from. In this interview, Chuck talks about:

  • What to do immediately after you finish your first marathon to ensure you recover as quickly as you possibly can.
  • What training looks like if your marathon is the following week and what training looks like if your next marathon is 5-6 weeks away. He breaks down some of the exact workouts he does and why.
  • How he uses heart rate to not only control his training and racing efforts, but how he monitors is resting heart rate after the first race to help tell him identify when he’s ready to run harder again.
  • How to structure your training in your build-up so you’re as prepared as possible to race back-to-back marathons.

This is an absolute must watch or listen if you plan to run two marathons close together or if circumstances ever force you race a back-up marathon. Even better, Chuck is such a helpful guy that he is going to be available to answer questions in the comments section. So, take a listen and let us know if we missed anything.

Watch this week’s show now

Download the podcast version here

Links and resources mentioned in this interview:

Chuck’s website: Marathonjunkie

Chuck’s Facebook

How to recover after a marathon

Speed development for marathon runners

The importance of sleep

Coach Jeff       Welcome back everybody to Runners Connect Run to the Top. Today on our podcast we have Chuck Engle, who’s a marathoner and he has some amazing accomplishments. I let him tell you about them, but if you’re interested after this –during this podcast and learning anything more or visiting any of the resources that we talk about. You can visit the podcast URL at runnersconnect.net/rc11 and that will take you to all the information about this podcast. So let’s get started and welcome Chuck, thanks for taking the time out of your day to chat with us today.

Chuck:             Yeah, looking forward to it always happy to motivate other runners to run more.

Coach Jeff       Awesome! So let’s give our audience a little bit of background about who you are if they haven’t heard of you before. Let’s talk a little bit about of your running background, when you got started? What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

Chuck:             Running is always been a means to an end for me. It’s never been running at the forefront. When I was in Junior High I always run to just stay in shape for wrestling. Wrestling was kind of my forte through most of my high school career. So that’s kind of how I got my start, just trying to stay fit for wrestling. Now I try to stay fit to enjoy other activities of life and really develop as a hobby. I’ve had just a lot of relatively a lot of relative success I guess.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, so I know when people ask me that question I’m a little hesitant too because don’t want to sound like you are bragging or anything but, I know some of your accomplishments are that you’ve run the most or you have the most marathon victories combined, correct?

Chuck:             Yeah, I think the record has just recently been busted. I was in a chase with the guy from Norway. These marathons aren’t like Boston or Chicago or anything like that. In fact, I’ve done research on the ones he’s ran and the ones I ran and I did eclipse a 148 marathons wins just earlier this year. I guess it’s been taken over now but as far as Americans, I have the most American wins with 148. Right now, say that 295 total marathons.

Coach Jeff       Wow! That’s an impressive number I mean I know I haven’t run that many I didn’t even come close to running that many. Running I think just finishing a marathon in general is a big accomplishment. To be able to do that many of them, pretty awesome! And you’ve also done the 50 in 50 states, correct?

Chuck:             Yeah, I’ve done 50 wins. 50 marathons with 50 wins in 50 states, which I’m the first person in the history of marathon running to do it.

Coach Jeff       Wow! That’s even more impressive. It’s interesting that you say that you got your start in training for wrestling. My family is huge into wrestling, my dad was a high school wrestling coach, my brother was a state champ in Maine and I’m pretty much the only person in the family that didn’t wrestle. Did you have any—so when you ran you probably did either cross country and outdoor track?

Chuck:             Yeah, I did cross country and outdoor track and I was again just to stay in shape for wrestling.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, now did you move on with your running beyond that?

Chuck:             Yeah, I did. I went on actually when I got to college pretty much wrestling coach said, “You need to focus on the sport”. That’s when the running coach said, “I think you could be an amazing runner”. He didn’t tell me to focus, the running coach didn’t. He didn’t tell me to focus he just said, “I think you could be an amazing runner with just working out a little bit more”. That kind of swayed me that he wasn’t putting pressure on me to just do one sport to the other, but simply let me do some great running just said, “Let’s go run”.

Coach Jeff       Cool! Now, you can be honest here. I won’t tell my parents or my brother, but which sports do you like the most?

Chuck:             I like the physical contact of running, but definitely wrestling was—oh, I like the physical contact of wrestling, but definitely running has given me just so many avenues that there are no regrets. I’m so glad I chose running. I see the injuries that occur. How many wrestlers do you see wrestling? Unless it’s the acting they do with the World Wrestling Federation. But running has provided me so many great avenues. I definitely glad [inaudible 00:03:56] with running.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, plus you can eat. That’s a plus.

Chuck:             Anything you want.

Coach Jeff       Very cool. So that’s awesome! Obviously, you have a lot of experiences marathoning. One of the things that we want to do covering this podcast is let’s talk– I want to talk about how you were able to successfully run so many marathons back to back. Or not even a silly back to back, but in a short period of time because as a coach that’s a question that I get a lot is whether it’s intentional or not. Athletes wanting to do marathons within a short span. I couldn’t think of a better person to ask then or to interview about this than you since not only do you do it, but, you successualize it. It’s not just you’re going out and finishing all these races. You’re going out and you’re winning a lot of them.

I guess the first question is what’s your focus when you’re doing marathons within a few weeks of each other? In terms of training, you’re coming off one marathon and you may only have three to four weeks before your next one. What are the important workouts training, philosophies, energy systems that you’re trying to get in, in that short time span?

Chuck:             Well, I do so much aerobic base during the marathon that really aerobic base is something that it’s just– it’s covered. If you’re doing a marathon on a Sunday and going back and run another one the following Saturday, the biggest thing for me is been recovery. Just trying to get as fast of a recovery time as I can. That actually starts immediately after the marathon, literally within seconds of crossing the finish line. I’m really trying to reload the glycogen just trying to get quick sugar in me. Everybody knows my favourite I mean I’ll suck down my Clif Bar as quick as I can and a Dr. Pepper or the Clif Shot Recovery Drink but, just quick sugar. I usually have it waiting for me right there on the spot, that’s where it starts.

Coach Jeff       That’s a great tip, yeah so you’re– as soon as you’re finish you’re just like focusing on the recovery getting in the sugar. What about in the hours after, do you anything immediately—obviously, you’re taking the sugars immediately, but what about the next couple of hours do you cool down. What’s that process look like?

Chuck:             Yeah, most people again go, [inaudible 00:05:55.26] run 26 points to a mile and anywhere from 235 to 247 or whatever. You want to run more I was like, “Yeah I’ve got to run something to flush”. All the nasty [inaudible 00:06:06] stuff that’s in my muscles I’ve got to flush that stuff out. It might be something as simple as again depending on how hard I finish the marathon. If I finish with an all out sprint for a better time or to outkick somebody I do a really easy, light, slow walk. But if I finish with just comfortable pace throughout the marathon and I wasn’t really concern about necessarily about time, but more concern about placing I might be able to do easy jog after that. Again, quick sugar then a light jog and then after that If I’m able I’ll do a light stretching and then I’m right into either ice bucket. Actually, I prefer ice bags like the big gallon size bags of water and ice, I prefer those.

Coach Jeff       Okay, so your time like an ice bath you– it kind of idea, okay.

Chuck:             Yes

Coach Jeff       Cool! And then throughout the rest of the day what is your nutrition look like in terms of– are you trying to do anything specific, are you really loading on the calories, what’s that kind of look like?

Chuck:             Yeah, if I know I have either a race either the next day I typically will ingest more calories, more quickly after the race. First, is if I know my next marathon is not till the following weekend like If I’m doing a Saturday and Sunday double or a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday marathon. One at for five or six days, so that closer my next race is the sooner I’ll really ingest a lot of calories. For me, it’s been always been carbohydrates and fats. Heavy whole grain pastas maybe with a little side of some sort of like I don’t know cream sauce which most people don’t do, but I just know that’s where I’m going to get a lot of great calories. A lot of dense calories and that’s what I go for, my body seems to respond to that. People like, “Wooh! You’re going to gain weight”. Anybody who sees me knows that I’m just not going to put the weight on so–

Coach Jeff       Right, that makes sense and I think a lot of runners have that fear that they’re going to gain weight when they recover or when they feel themselves properly and it’s usually not the case if you’re training enough. Obviously, in your case you are doing a lot of training. As a side note, what is your training look like when I guess on a macro cycle, what’s your weekly mile? What kind of workouts are you doing?

Chuck:             Yeah, when I’m hitting marathons at least one or two per weekend. Typically, my mileage is between 90 and a 120 and again it’s built up. When I first started, I think I was running maybe five miles a week and that was even just maybe a mile here, half mile here way back in eighth grade. It’s just gradually built up. I think I could have reduced that time I think instead of running five miles, then six miles, then seven miles this week to the next. Just a little bit of knowledge really goes a long way. I think you can do the 10% rule and I think that works accurately. I think people may add 10% far too often, they also add quality to that quantity and that seems to be to the detriment of many runners.

Coach Jeff       You’re absolutely right, there’s definitely that balance that you need. That’s actually an interesting note that you mentioned and I haven’t actually talk about this or wrote about it, but I’ve been thinking about it in the sense that runners like you and I who ran in high school and in college as well, really have a big leg up in that sense that we have that eight year roughly aerobic base where we increased our mileage very slowly. You go from freshman to sophomore year and sophomore to junior year. You usually don’t actually increase your mileage too much, but over that eight year period you’re talking about adding another 40 to 50 maybe 60 miles a week to your average. Where a lot of runners who are coming into the sport now who are new, eight years is a lot of time to be training. And so if you figure while if you increase your mileage 10 miles, five miles or 10 miles a year that doesn’t seem like a lot for somebody who’s 30 and like, “Man, I want results now”. When you’re in high school that’s kind of a normal progression so I think we worked out.

Chuck:             Yeah, I’m really trying to people to understand that the weakest link in this whole thing is going to be your bones. Your muscles will adapt, your lungs will adapt, its bones that are just the weakest link. If you go out and destroy it you may be able to run a 50 mile week this week and maybe jump to 70 next week, but that third week rest assured, if you don’t have that eight years of base building your bones are going to feel it.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, now absolutely. Going back to the recovery, what is your training look like the next day or the next couple of days? Are you running permanently easily or are you trying to do something specific?

Chuck:             Well, we alluded to this earlier to the conversation and I do so much aerobic training with the marathon themselves with maybe the last mile or two or maybe to get off the starting line there’s some and aerobic, but that’s really is insignificant to the total volume. The rest of my week the majority of the mileage, the miles are that got to be anaerobic. I’ve got to find time to do some speed. Again, with the base that I have my recovery is pretty good, so I can go out and run quarter repeats, mile repeats and try to hit along the game from the early cycles that eight to ten seconds of stuff to the 800 meters. I’ll do sprints. I’ll ask to do 800 meters. It just depends on what I’m feeling I missed out from like the marathon the week before or two weeks before, where I missed. That kind of dictate what kind of a workout I’ll do for the following week.

Coach Jeff       That makes a lot of sense and I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but it really does if you’re doing the marathon which is specially if you are doing multiple ones and either two in the same week or back to back weekends. You’re talking a good 25% maybe 50% if you’re doing two in a weekend of your mileages coming at that race itself. You’re looking at training the entire energy systems that you don’t necessarily aren’t using in the race at all.

Chuck:             But I think you got to keep fresh. Just because you don’t use those fast twitch a lot of us fast twitch muscle fibers, it’s nice to know they’re available and I think that also helps prevent an injury. If those fibers are quick enough and they can– you can teach those fibers to recover faster. Again, that helps in the overall recovery process of running multiple marathons weekend and week out.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, I know this is probably individual I know you’re probably played by feel, but when is that first workout usually occur after if you do a marathon?

Chuck:             Well, if I do say I race Sunday, Saturday whatever I will run the next day and that would be considered a recovery run. I’ll judge that base on my heart rate the morning after the marathon. If my heart rate– I have a max right now at about 208 to 209. I look at my heart rate and if it’s elevated the mornings my resting not [inaudible 00:12:17] but my resting heart rate as you see around probably 40, 42 in the mornings and if I’m elevated more than about 10% so if I’m 46 to 48 I’m going to do a shut down really easy day. I might even get in the deep water and do some deep water running and just [inaudible 00:12:31] my body just kind of recover as much as I can the next day. Again, over the years I’ve really pounded my body just to adjust and adapt. Doing one marathon and say 245 effort I can typically come back and run the next day at 245 as well. With just a good night sleep, some good quick sugar after the race. I don’t recommend it to everybody unless you got that background, but that’s just part of it. It’s part of it the biggest part of it is the recovery.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, I know that makes sense and there are actually two points there. I go to the first one, so do you train primarily by heart rate or–?

Chuck:             Almost exclusively by heart rate.

Coach Jeff       Okay

Chuck:             I won’t race by heart rate because once you’ve trained by heart rate so much you have a general feel. My training I train on hills, sand, heat, cold and coos bay I can drive 20 miles in when I get heat. I can thrive and out and its winter here I can drive 20 miles and find snow. I’m really forcing coos bay that I can run and all these different environments with my heart rate monitor and I found that my poor heart in monitor just really locks me in to a great training zone. Then when I get to the race I say okay this is –heat I know where my heart race is going to be to get it to about 85 to 90% during the race. There are all sources of anomalies and variables that come out race wise and I try to adjust those. It’s difficult to throw everything into a training workout that you’re going to experience in a race. The lead car taking you off the course. If I’m doing the workout I pretty much know the course.

Coach Jeff       Right, right.

Chuck:             In a race I’ve had lead vehicles take me off, I’ve had lead cyclist take me the wrong way. You try to throw things when you do workout that will assimilate to being panic stricken in the middle of a race. It’s tough to do because you never know what’s going to hit in a race, but you try to do in a training workout.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, I know I mean I think that’s a great point and that’s one of the reason I actually suggest most of my athletes train by pace. It’s only because I think unless you are really experienced it’s hard to translate that effort that you have in training to race day, when you have all those anomalies come up when your heart rates– when your adrenalin at off the line and it’s like through the roof. So many runners if they’re training by heart rate if they’re not experienced they can’t control themselves enough they think. I feel great my heart rate must be nothing right now. Next thing you know they’re ten minutes past through half way.

Chuck:             Good thing about the heart rate training and the pace training is with most heart rate monitors you will see a pace. I’m on a Polar RC3 GPS so I know my pace and I see my heart rate at the same time. When I’m in a work out, it’s great hey! I can look at my pace and go okay 85 to 90%. I’m roughly running 545, 42’s and that’s should be comfortable for me during the marathon. So I get to marathon and suddenly I’m at 515 I’m going, okay look I feel good I’m not wearing my heart rate monitor but I’m at 515 pace this is ridiculous. I know what’s going to happen, mile 18 or 19 everything is going to fly apart and I’ll be reduced to 720 pace or what have you. You’ll be like two minutes off your goal pace. I do agree with pace, but I also like to have the heart rate there so that I can see, “Hey! I’m 85 to 90 this is what it feels like” so if mile 80 to 90 so okay this is what it feels like. I just like to have these many variables behind me backing up my race [inaudible 00:15:45] part of those for my training.

Coach Jeff       I mean I think I actually think that’s a fantastic strategy in way I look at it and I think one of the things that I think the audience can learn from is that you’re using that data, but you’re also listening to your—you’re also making decisions. You’re not just looking blindly at the data and saying, “Well, this is what it is”. You’re adapting to it, you’re making decisions and I think our audience can learn from that. I think that’s really the optimal way to approach a race.

Chuck:             Absolutely

Coach Jeff       And even going further in the heart rate you mentioned that you measure your resting heart rate in the mornings. I know a little bit about what that is, but can you explain do you do that every day and what are you looking for?

Chuck:             Actually, I typically with my resting heart rate I’ll take a series of three days in a row.  I just sleep with a heart rate monitor on. Again, I’m bragging out about my sponsor Polar because I just love what they do, but the heart rate monitor is good. Geez! It lasts forever. I go to bed with it on and then as soon as I first eye sight I’ll wake up and I do that three days in a row. I typically do that about every two months cycle, whether it’s one of my macro cycles I’m just completing just to see where I’ve improved. If my resting rate is improving and that’s literally as soon as I wake up. So I’ll wake up and look at it and if it says 42 to 48 I’ll take it three days, take the average and that’s what I use as my resting heart rate for the next two months.

Coach Jeff       Okay

Chuck:             So at the end of that two months let’s say I have a workout somewhere I know that my resting heart rate is 56. As soon as I wake up, and I know to do that usually two days after my most strenuous workout. I know definitely to check it then and if I’ve not recovered from– because after any strenuous workout I typically have a recovery day. Two days later after the recovery day, I’ll check my morning heart rate and If I’m elevated I’ll literally I have to say, “You know what? I’ve got to take an easier day”. Whether I go on again a pool or bike something non-impact to again give my body a complete chance for full recovery.

Coach Jeff       Awesome! Yeah, that’s a really smart way to do it– is two days after your hardest workout just to make sure that you really recovered. And actually going into that this is the next thing I want to talk about is– you mentioned aqua jogging and non-impact activity. I mean I think we used to do that when I coach in college as every morning we have athletes who weren’t able to run doubles, they would do double in the pool. They would be doing the pool workout which was facilitating recovery and we’d go a little bit harder since they were recovering. How much of– what’s that component look like for you in training, how often do you do that kind of stuff?

Chuck:             Yeah, I agree with you 100% my training days and coaching days when I was a 10 year down in Mississippi. Exact same thing for eight years we have kids in the pool every Tuesday and Thursday in the mornings as a double recovery run. I trained a lot of kids from maybe jumped up mileage because they’re in college and they wanted to really fit in with the big mileage. I’ve put them in a pool more often than maybe even some of their other component or counterparts. Say, if I have a female running 50 miles a week and I had another female who wanted to achieve the same time goals. Well, I just put in, in the time slot and say you’re in the pool if it’s an hour run you’re in the pool for an hour- hour and fifteen. As far as my running is concern, I’m in a pool if I feel like I need a recovery day and that’s about it. I believe in running and I actually try to get into it say on a Saturday or Sunday for a long run. Just because I know it’s good for me it’s good for knee lift its good for just flexibility. Really help massage the muscles. I try to do that once per week as part of a recovery/longer run.

Coach Jeff       I mean I think that’s very and obviously you’re running the issue and I did as well when I was training a lot is at some point there’s just not enough time in a day. So when you’re running as much as you are it’s a little bit difficult obviously, but it’s good to see that you’re– and I think for our audience is to that you’re even somebody who runs so much is using the things like the pool as a recovery tool, and as a almost like a strength training tool. I’m not strength training, but stretching dynamic type of thing as a tool I’m not just, “Hey! I’m injured I have to go on the pool”. It’s unique and I think a lot of people if they’re listening should definitely incorporate that into their training.

Chuck:             Yeah, the term cross training is kind of thrown around loosely these days. It applies to programs and things like that. For me, cross training is just anything than running, whether it’s cycling, swimming. I agree 100% it’s a must have if you feel slightly fatigue or you feel like a knee or an ankle is maybe getting a little tweak from the increase of odds or the increase in quality. I agree a 100% in pool is just a great thing to do.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, yeah it’s awesome. And here’s a question relating to obviously we’re talking about a lot about kind of you’re training and you train a lot. How do you suggest that runner who aren’t running quite as much as you are or training quite as extensively as you are? How do you think that they should approach their training if they’re going to do marathons close together not necessarily back to back maybe, but within a few weeks of each other, how do you think they should adjust their training?

Chuck:             Well, I think you’ve got to have the mileage. I think the mileage is probably one of the biggest things and again it’s such a widespread realm of runners out there. We have runners that are just trying to finish these marathons. As we’ve seen you can pretty much walk out the door and go do a marathon and without any training you can just finish it. Might take you 12 hours, but you can do it. Races are actually allowing this to take place. If you’re competitive and if you’re like to perform I think there is a good 18 week program that would get you up and running for your first marathon. I think once you’re in shape to do that first marathon you’ve got the mileage, you’ve got the volume and from what I’ve seen from the kind of the up-start marathon runner that usually two weeks after that first marathon. A lot of more go on and run as fast if not faster than they just did two weeks prior.

A lot of my fans on Facebook, “Hey! Just wanted to say thanks for the Run More Mantra. I trained 18 weeks for this marathon. I went out and ran 317, 330 what have you? Two weeks after that race I just stumbled in to another race and I ran a 303″, like okay.

Someone who’s not train for 8, 10, 12 years I think that type of stuff pays off for me big time. I think during the middle of the week it’s again for that type of marathon runner, the up-starts marathon runner its recovery. If they’re not recovering in doing some light, easy biking or jogging, you can’t go back and tackle another speed workout. I don’t think and expect to have that speed workout pay off the marathon the next weekend. I do think there are some speed thing maybe some temple things you can do just prior to that second marathon whether it be two weeks three weeks away that will sharpen some things. I do suggest keeping volume of mileage had a relatively higher level. Not higher than your first race keeping it 70% of what you were ended at that first race.

Coach Jeff       Okay, so there’s that balance– so that’s when you’re thinking is there’s that balance where you do what you want to be doing enough aerobic conditioning to kind of keep that component in there, but also balancing the recovery that’s kind of where’s that I should say number, but that idea comes from?

Chuck:             Yeah, exactly most people when they finished their first marathon they don’t want to think about running a second marathon. They call that time off and everything tightens and stiffens. I suggest, “Look, get out and force yourself to do something the next day.” Again, whether it’s on the pool or on a bike. Force yourself to do something the next day you’d be surprised how many people just sit, but if they get out and do it boy within two to three days like, “I feel like I could go tackle another one”. That usually when I get the e-mail or the Facebook or whatever, “Hey! I just finished my first. I’m really thinking about doing another one two weeks from now, what do you think? Absolutely knock it out”. If they’ve got the mileage then there’s no injury issues, yeah send them off to the next one in two to three weeks, just reducing the overall volume.

Coach Jeff       Okay, so yeah that’s your suggestion is reducing the overall volume for the next two weeks. If it was you what kind of you said you probably would do some type of a speed workout?

Chuck:             Yeah, I would do some sort of a temple workout where I’m approaching 80-85% of my max heart rate.

Coach Jeff       Okay

Chuck:             And I would break that down on a segments whether it’s probably just as many as like maybe three by three quarter mile or three by one mile segments slightly faster than marathon pace. Again, just to keep things sharp and crisp and keep your body kind of in touch with what that pace feels like.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, I think that’s great advice and I think those are some great workouts. Now, what would you do if you had maybe longer break not just a couple of weeks, but let’s say you’re talking about five or six weeks where it’s not enough to do a full cycle, but it’s not short enough where doing just a little bit is obviously going to be too little. What would you do and what would you recommend?

Chuck:             Yeah, if I’ve got five or more weeks I’m going to take that first week right after the marathon. Again, I’m going to do something the next day following the marathon. I’m going to do a fuller bike definitely I’m going to get that recovery and get everything flowing again and get loose. It’s painful. Anybody who’s not in a marathon 90% of people who do their first I think the next day they don’t want to do anything. Given what I call an honest effort. They don’t want to do anything, they want to sit down and just drink beer. If you’ll get up and stay hydrated and do a quick sugar and do something. That first week again should be recovery pace and then I would do a mini cycle of maybe not a mini cycle, but definitely maybe a micro cycle. Do a little base building on that second week post marathon. Third week, I would do just probably a little bit of tempo running to build up. Then probably fourth and fifth week, the fourth week would be I would sharpen. Then on the fifth week probably going to go down into a small taper mode if you will.

Coach Jeff       Yap

Chuck:             For my overall [inaudible 00:25:10] but the quality of that volume is going to be pretty intense.

Coach Jeff       Okay, and now what about the long run– what distance would you be looking at in terms of are you looking to get a hard long run in there? Are you just going to run some easy miles, what’s your take on that?

Chuck:             Yeah, I definitely think [inaudible 00:25:27]

Coach Jeff       Sorry, can you say that again the audio kind of went out a second there.

Chuck:             I even think three to four days prior to your marathon that a good 10-12 miler is pertinent. You’ve got to keep those aerobic conditioning going. You’ve got to keep the liver enzymes off the speed. Some people would take two weeks off and never get in to a good hour and a half, two hour run prior to the marathon.

And they can’t understand why they are running flat. Like I feel so flat today, I feel so dead. Well, that’s because your body got back to what it was used to, which was used maybe running two or four miles a day. You’ve lost pretty much the storage in your liver is gone, the storage within your muscles are gone. It’s not going to keep for two weeks.

Coach Jeff       Right

Chuck:             Literally, the Wednesday before a Sunday marathon I’ll go out and I’ll run 10-12 and I think that holds true for that person who’s going to take five weeks off. You’ve got to get at least two to three long runs in between those marathon. Like that third week– let’s get that third back up to the 18-20 miler on the weekend. The next two weeks lets go back down to maybe a 16 and then a 12 as a modified taper for your marathon five weeks away.

Coach Jeff       I completely agree especially with the taper issue is I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes I see runners make when they struggle and they say, “What did I do wrong?” I look at their last two weeks and the fear of the marathon it’s just like they shutdown and they say, “I’m in taper” And it’s just like three miles a day and nothing in there. I think you’re right a 10 to 12 miler 5-6 days out and then definitely keeping the marathon pace miles up there is really important. I’m glad that you brought that up and kind of confirm that. I think that kind of five week plan is really intelligent and well done. I think that’s a great way to approach things.

Chuck:             [Inaudible 00:27:14] of this taper, the whole taper thing and I think people look at it as a complete shutdown. It’s like on tapering, “Why can’t you run today? I’m tapering”. It’s not the absence of running it’s just a gradual and people go from a 100% of a mileage to like 30%. I think that a 100%, I’ll drop mine down to maybe 80 and then maybe to 70%. Again, that quality of the 70% is going to increase. But it’s not a shutdown, I mean a shutdown is like, “Okay, I’m just going to take five months off and do nothing”.

Coach Jeff       Right

Chuck:             Lot of marathoners could run quite when they get a lot better in their first race if they would really define what a taper means.

Coach Jeff       I think you’re absolutely right and one of the best ways that was explain to me is I was coach by a guy name Scott Simons and his philosophy was very similar to that. You reduce the volume a little bit mostly because the workouts are just shorter. You’re not doing 10 mile temple runs anymore in that last two weeks just the workouts getting a little shorter, but when you think about what easy running is– its aerobic building. It’s easy and in some cases its recovery. You’re actually recovering by running and if that’s really the case if you’ve put in the mileage where 6-7-8 mile run is not difficult, then there’s no reason to cut that out of your training on the last two weeks. Only till maybe the couple of days before the race when you want to start building that glycogen it doesn’t really matter. So I think it’s– and for me that was a big kind of that clue that was like, “Oh! Yeah that makes sense”. If it’s an easy run it shouldn’t be tiring you out.

Chuck:             Hey! I agree.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, here’s kind of a question that I had and it’s probably not related to too much to training, but how do you balance your personal goals of wanting to do something, having so many I guess different goals. You have these goals of winning certain amount of marathons and running 50 marathons on 50 states and winning all of them and those types of things. With the performance aspect of how good can I be? I think that’s on every runner’s mind is they want to– and especially the kind of the athletes that I coach is you have this, “I want to be as good as I can, but I also want to do x and x and x and x raise”, how do you balance that?

Chuck:             I suppose this is the [inaudible 00:29:27] out answer for me. I don’t think I ever necessarily wanted to run fast, running again much like growing up running was always a means to an end. I ran to do other things, I run right now I mean I love running and you probably won’t find a bigger fan of running than myself. I just love the sheer energy and effort it takes. However, I run so I can eat a lot, I run so I can have a great glass of wine, I run so I’m more efficient at my job so I’m more efficient. I mean it’s running to me it’s just been a big energy warehouse in the longer I run the more I run, the more find, if I take a weekend off from running I’m like, “Wow! I’ve got all this energy lets go play in the sand dunes, let’s go cliff climbing, let’s hike for the woods and stay out all day”. That’s way I look at running so speed has been one of those things that’s just been, Okay, Well If I want more energy to do things later on, I might want to be faster at what I do so let’s add some speed to my running and that’s what I did.

Coach Jeff       Okay

Chuck:             I had a couple of goals to run fast in college, but I think those goals were more set toward what my coach thought I could do is–  well, you could be this fast, you could run sub four. You could run nine minutes to the [inaudible 00:30:32] and I thought, “Well, those are goals as long as I had a coach in front of me saying that well that’s what it work for”. So I think I’m kind of anomaly in that situation that I really just run for the sheer joy of it and I’m fortunate that I’ve had some great coaching in the past that they’ve thought me how to be relatively fast.

Coach Jeff       I mean I think that’s a great answer I don’t think its [inaudible 00:30:52] at all I mean one of the things that’s great about the sport is that we all have our internal motivators and we all…levels of success are different across the spectrum. To me, people ask me this all the time like you were pretty fast yourself so how do you balance being excited about people that are running four or five hours of marathon? To me, it’s all about the effort. When I was training in running and I was putting in a 100% of effort so it’s awesome to run well. It’s the same thing when I coach people that are even if they’re running significantly slower than I can. That’s fine if it’s to me it’s all about how hard, how much effort and how hard they try to something.

Chuck:             So you’ve opened Pandora’s Box to that question. How do you justify what honest effort is? I mean you and I running as fast as we run and can you look at a five hour marathon and go, “Well, that really wasn’t an honest effort”. So I would critic even I’ve seen guys running 227-228 and I go, “You know you’re a 212 marathoner, what are you doing?” People have looked at me and said, “You’re a 231 guy, come on at 256?” And then it comes another play well it was an honest, honest effort, was a tough course, and was on hilly course. It’s just tough to try to look at somebody running eight hours and go, “Geez! Was that a tough course? And that’s why they ran eight hours, are they normally a five hour runner?” And I think running is one of those things where everybody just does what they want to do. I mean we’ve got a fewer real leads out there, really going for the gold, going for records and things like that. I think the rest of us have just kind of we just kind of do what we want to do. I don’t think there is anybody that says eight hours is not an honest effort although I mean I know I’ve run slower than four hours for a marathon. It wasn’t much of an effort it was just a lot of fun and I had a great time talking. I think I’ve experience both sides of it and it’s difficult for us to kind of judge, Hey! Is eight hours honest?

Coach Jeff       Right, right

Chuck:             [inaudible 00:32:46] so…

Coach Jeff       No, I think it’s a great response I think it’s honest. One of the questions that I love asking people is, if you could go back five or 10 years and tell yourself one thing with regards to your approach to training, your approach to racing or one mistake that you made. What would that be and why?

Chuck:             Throughout my career I’ve always talked to more seasoned possibly older runners and I’ve asked them that exact same question. What would you do differently? One of the best answers that I’ve ever got was from a guy from Mississippi name Bryan Pope, I always call myself as a starving artist, never call themselves as runner, but call themselves a starving artist. For a period of time he held a master’s record in the 5,000.

Coach Jeff       Yeah, and he’s still runs pretty well I believe.

Chuck:             Yeah, he’s an amazing runner. We were running some little 5k in Jackson, Mississippi and after the race, I mean he had dominated the race he ran low 14s. There are the rest of us back in 15s and we just kind of smiled and wave goodbyes he sailed off. I asked him about the race, what would you do differently? He said, “Is to find more time for naps, and to sleep a lot more” And he really went into a lengthy diatribe about sleeping more and how he loves sleeping, he would sleep more, he need to rest more. I really took it by the heart I mean I could see his passion for getting more rest and more sleep. I see just like this past weekend I was in Florida at the Road Race Management Conference and I didn’t sleep at all. I probably could have chosen to go back to my room early and not hanging out with some of the Race Directors and things, but that’s the balance and I saw Bryan’s focus. So you ask about like five 10 years ago you basically asking about regrets. I make a decision to either go do something which I know will be to be the detriment of my running, but might benefit somewhere down the line.

For example, I went out this weekend and actually I’m about to pick up and sign with the new sponsor. Hey! That to me that’s a good thing. That actually motivates me later on to run even more run even faster. I had a new sponsor. I want to represent that sponsor well. Let’s do it, but how much does it set me back? Well, my workout Monday was just a complete junk. I got a late flight back, had to drive four hours at coos bay, and my workout was a junk. I still got my workout in, it was just it was junk. I know that was a quality workout I missed. Again, I don’t know that I would change anything from five to 10 years ago.

I’ve travelled exactly where I wanted to travel. I’ve raced in the races I’ve wanted to race, but I think make a decision and stick with it. Probably be that if I make a decision to go out, be happy with it. Don’t kick yourself on Monday when you got a crap workout because I always go back and hindsight’s 2020 that’s the cliché. You get to the workout on Monday, well man I ate a lot of fried food on Friday night and I know it’s just going to kill me on Monday. Oh! It’s so good and I’ve had such a good time with these people. So make the decision and not just stick with it, but live with it, too.

 

Coach Jeff       That’s fantastic advice. I’ve never heard that before. I never heard that before, but you’re the first person to say that in an interview and I think it’s a great way to approach things is make a decision and be happy with it and move on. If it happens it happens, so that’s great. Actually, I wanted to bring up the sleep thing, like what’s your sleep recovery schedule look like? How many hours do you try to get a night?

Chuck:             Yeah, I try to get to bed 9:00-9:30 at night. I’m addicted to the show called “The Voice” and I hate it TV. I never watch TV, but I got into the show called “The Voice” and so it’s on until 10 o’clock on the West Coast and so I’m 10:05, 10:06. But because I run so much during the day and working jobs it’s as soon as 10:05 rolls around I’m out, you’re not waking me up. Depending on what the schedule looks like for the next day, I had to get up relatively early so I might just get six and a half hours a day on say Sunday night or say Monday night or Tuesday night. Then later in the week the schedule kind of calms down so I might be able to go to the bed at 9:00-9:30. Sleep until 6:37 maybe 7:30 if it’s a shorter recovery day like Thursday. If my afternoon is free I sleep until 8:00 and get a short little 40 minute run in and then know I’ve got the afternoon from like 4:35 O’clock and just go out and run, get my longer run my 10-12 miler in.

Coach Jeff       That makes sense, it’s good to hear. Actually, before we go, talk a little bit about the sponsors and who you run for and those types of things.

Chuck:             It’s been great with Team Marathonguide. John Elliott of Marathonguide has been sponsoring me for over 10 years now. I think 2003 we met and we got things kicked off. In 2005 is when everything really started to happen. I’ve been with John forever and he’s been great. I’ve been with Clif Bar slightly longer, actually signed a contract with Clif. I think my first contract with Clif was ’04. It’s great because now I see the transition that happened at Clif, I see the new national sponsors my rep has changed like four times at Clif. Oh! Yeah you’re– I’m basically the old guy at Clif now. You’re the old guy, yeah yeah it’s like okay, I’ve been here forever and I’m a loyalist. Same thing with Polar I’ve been with Polar Heart Rate Monitors forever with Janelle Jackson of [inaudible 00:37:43] and Wayne Vartabedian and of course [inaudible 00:37:45] Turner those guys had been great to me. Anything I needed there, I just recently picked up Sanza [inaudible 00:37:50] down in Florida he’s been just phenomenal. He’s been on top of the things. I’m just really fortunate to be such in the position that I’m in and it really got just started by the hobby running. Hobby running led to some great sponsors some relationships. I’ve just been blessed. It’s been a great career.

Coach Jeff       It’s awesome! It’s exciting to hear that from somebody who’s obviously so passionate about running and again the macho run more I mean that’s really…it’s great to hear it’s inspiring and I think everybody should listen to it. How can they follow you, get in touch with you, those types of things?

Chuck:             I’ve got a little website that I dabble on about every three or four months, but I try to keep my results updated, marathonjunkie.com is a [inaudible 00:38:34] there’s a Facebook, the social networking Facebook, marathonjunkie you can Facebook search that. I have fan page that I’m on all the time and I tell people, “Look, I just post things as I feel it”. Facebook for me is one of those things there’s no gut check, there are no filter I just post it as I feel it. Again, I make the decision I live with it and I love it. Lot of people see something that I post they’re offended by it and see you know it was a flash opinion. Understand it’s coming with very little filter, in fact no filter at all. I just love to get the discussion started. If I see something that affects me I post it and I go, “Is anybody feels this way and if not why?” I think those are the type of discussion where we learn not just running, but just in life in general as well.

Coach Jeff       It’s great! So we’ll throw out those links at the bottom of this post. If people want to see it– its runnersconnect.net/rc11 and people can check out follow you on Facebook, check out your website. It’s pretty good I did enjoy a lot of stuff that you had to say and you’re right it’s a little– it’s your opinion, but I’ve love that kind of stuff because it’s honest it’s not the fluff. This is why I feel and whether what I believe or not, it’s definitely great to see other opinion so–

Chuck:             Thank you.

Coach Jeff       Very cool, well Chuck I wanted to say thanks again for taking the time of your day for this interview I learned a lot. I know my audience is really going to benefit from this. I’ve really appreciate you taking the time sharing your knowledge, this is great and thank you.

Chuck:             Thank you [inaudible 00:40:03], thanks so much.

Coach Jeff       Thanks!

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