The Ultimate Beginner’s Broad Street Training Guide

Racing guru Ross Martinson on everything from why Broad Street is the best race for beginners to what to do if you miss a day of training

As a running coach and co-owner of Philadelphia Runner, Ross Martinson has run his share of races.  He finished 23rd in the Boston Marathon and he’s finished in the top five for The Blue Cross Broad Street run three times, with a personal best of 48:58. Train alongside him as part of Team Philly and check out his answers to a few pre-training questions below.

What’s the best way to train for Broad Street if you’re a beginner? How many runs per week should you aim for and how long should they be?

Three runs per week is ideal for most beginners.  If you have been doing some workouts/weights or cross training already, you can keep doing those workouts as well.   I try not to have beginners do too much because it takes some time for your body to adjust to the impact of running.  For someone fit from other activities it is really easy to do too much at once.  You see this a lot with swimmers or bikers–they are fit enough to do a long fast run, but their bodies aren’t quite ready to handle the stress of running, whereas a true beginner is going to be limited by their breathing and muscle strength. Basically, you need to be careful because some people are fit enough to get hurt if they start out too hard too fast.

Why do most training schedules have one long run per training week slotted around other shorter runs?

Getting fitter is all about recovery.  When we do a long run, or a harder run, we are actually working to break down our muscles.  We improve when our body heals, in the days after the runs.  If we do a little harder run (or longer run), it takes our body a little longer to recover, sometimes a few days.  In fact, you might find you feel worse two days after a hard run or workout than you do the day right after a run. That is a sign of your body improving, healing stronger.  The danger with running is going hard again too soon. If you start wearing yourself down before you have recovered, you haven’t gotten everything out of the first workout.  So sometimes it is a fine line.  For beginners, err on the side of caution — with one longer run a week.  As you advance, you can mix things up, do a shorter run faster, or incorporate running workouts like 10 x 30 seconds. Mixing it up keeps things interesting, and it also can get you fitter without increasing distance or the length of runs.