Inspired by Refinery29’s Money Diaries and The Cut’s Sex Diaries, welcome to The Runner Diaries, where we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look into a week of training with runners of varying ages and abilities. We’re asking runners of every level, genre and distance (road vs. trail, endurance vs. speedsters, hobby joggers vs. elites) to share their workouts, training runs and nutritional choices during a seven-day period to get a glimpse into the inner struggles and tribulations of what it means to be a runner. Get The Runner Diaries delivered straight to your inbox every week by clicking here.
This week, we have 33-year-old Jason Fitzgerald of Denver, Colorado, a run coach and 2:39:32 marathoner juggling fatherhood, owning a business, and a daily desire to run.
Name: Jason Fitzgerald
Location: Denver, Colorado
Training For: N/A
Occupation: Running coach & founder of Strength Running
Goal race? N/A
Following a training plan? No
Part of any running communities, clubs or training programs? Team Strength Running
How long you’ve been ‘a runner:’ September, 1998 (joined his high school cross country team)
Goal weekly mileage: N/A
I’m not currently following a formal plan (it’s in my head!) or training for a goal race. But I’ve been running somewhat competitively since 1998 and I’m a running coach so I know how to nail the basics even when I’m just having fun with my running. This week is a snapshot of moderate training at this point in my life. In the past, it would be 80-90 miles per week but I’m not 23 anymore! Kids, owning a coaching business, and other demands have put running on the back burner for now. Maybe I’ll make a comeback as a Master’s Runner!
6:50a.m. Wake up to my two kids (3.5 and 1.5) screaming downstairs. Awesome. Still got just about eight hours of sleep, so that’s good enough for me.
7:30a.m. Have a banana and coffee for a quick breakfast. I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but I try to eat something despite usually only wanting coffee. I drink coffee strategically before races (cold, no milk, timed appropriately), but during training, I just enjoy it.
9a.m. I go out for my run: 50-minutes with 5x800m on the track. Started at 2:56 and ended at 2:38 with a 400-meter jog recovery. Haven’t run that fast in a while! I’m hoping to race some 5k-to-half marathon distances in the coming months so I’m doing a little bit of hard running right now. “Hard running” usually looks like a negative split workout like this, where I do some reps at tempo pace but end around 3k/5k pace so I “remember” how to run fast.
11a.m. I don’t really have a go-to post-run meal. I just eat what we have in the house and what speaks to me! Today I eat a bean and rice burrito, a clementine, and a tin of sardines in tomato sauce for an early lunch.
12p.m. Gearing up for a podcast interview soon, so I brew a big cup of green tea. Giddy up.
5p.m. WHY HAVEN’T I EATEN MORE TODAY?! With dinner soon, I pour myself a glass of red to hold me over.
5:45p.m. Rice, beans, green beans, avocado, and a spinach and beef quiche are on tap for dinner. My wife spoils me.
6:15p.m. Wine #2? Don’t mind if I do.
8:30p.m. One more clementine
Total mileage: Probably about 7, but I’m just using a stopwatch. I’m estimating.
6:45a.m. Wake up after about 7.5 hours of sleep. Stumble out of bed with my lower legs sore and tight from yesterday’s workout. Thanks, Nike Frees!
7:30a.m. Breakfast time: I eat a bowl of cottage cheese with raspberries, glass of grapefruit juice, and coffee.
10a.m. I decide not to run today. My fitness goals are to maintain my running fitness but also gain some muscle. So instead of running today, I do a strength workout focusing on the upper body (pull-ups, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses). And since I work from home, I did a few sets periodically throughout the day. There’s very little rhyme or reason to this workout other than getting in more strength work than I have been doing recently.
12:30p.m. Breakfast was not big enough… I’m famished! I eat a leftover slice of beef/spinach quiche, a clementine, a handful of edamame (soybeans), and a whey protein shake in coconut milk (unflavored, unsweetened).
1p.m. Jonesing for caffeine! I brew some green tea.
4p.m. Weirdest snack ever? I eat two slices of deli ham and a heaping tablespoon of raw kraut.
4:30p.m. Happy hour time! I have a glass of red wine pre-dinner.
5:45p.m. Dinner time: sautéed potatoes in coconut and olive oil, salad (lettuce, tomato, pecans, and radish with creamy balsamic), almond flour muffin (my wife can’t eat gluten) and asparagus. I go a little crazy with a second glass of red.
8:30p.m. Bowl of blueberry frosted mini-wheats and a scoop of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream that my wife couldn’t finish as dessert. I also eat some spelt pretzels with stone ground mustard and maple almond butter.
Total mileage: 0. And if you’re wondering… no, I don’t miss running at all when I take a day off. I trained my ass off for 17+ years, and now relish a day off 🙂
7a.m. I wake up to my 3-year-old telling me that her little sister threw up everywhere. That gets me out of bed really fast. Looks like no daycare for the little one today, but at least I got 8+ hours.
8a.m. Quick breakfast of a banana with peanut butter.
10:30a.m. Workout time. After a dynamic warm-up (lunges and mobility drills), I ran easy for about 23 minutes before getting on the track for some speed development work: I do 4x20m at maximum speed with about 1:45 of walking recovery.* This was so short and fast that it felt easy, but the 80-meters worth of speed work make me sore. I interviewed a strength and conditioning coach about speed development yesterday for the Strength Running podcast, so I was feeling inspired to sprint today!
*A workout like this has a lot of benefits. Primarily, it improves your “top end” speed — or your maximal velocity. It also has a high nervous system component, forcing you to take powerful, very fast strides as quickly as possible. Too often distance runners don’t train this element of running fitness and I’m trying to get back into it.
12:45p.m. Lunch time! Pickled beets, bean/rice burrito, whey protein shake in coconut milk, and green tea.
5:30p.m. Dinner time: It’s pizza night! I have a 10” pie with spinach, garlic, tomatoes, basil and pepperoni. I also steal a slice of cheese from my kids.
8:30p.m. I have a scoop of choc choc chip ice cream.
9:30p.m. I’m thrilled that I go to bed this early. On a Friday. I’m very cool.
Total mileage: About 4 miles.
6:15a.m. Wake up feeling good after about 8 ½ hours of sleep!
6:30a.m. Breakfast: banana and coffee
8:00a.m. I go for a 90-minute run. I run a big loop in Denver at an easy effort, sticking to mostly soft surfaces (grass and cinder paths) with maybe 4-to-5 miles of running on sidewalks. I don’t bring food or water on this run (I rarely need it for any run less than 2 hours).
10:30a.m. Did not plan well, and I’m sprinting out the door to bring my car in for service. So I only have time to grab a slice of pizza post run.
12p.m. I’m starving. The only place to get food near the car service place was a Captain D’s seafood place. I was disgusted just walking in and only managed half of the fried fish and fries plate before I threw it out. I also had a 12oz Coke (I don’t believe in diet soda – it’s gross and I’d rather have sugar than fake sugar).
3p.m. Some friends invited us over for a playdate-slash-happy hour and I’m never one to refuse a few day drinks. I have a few wheat thins and slices of cheese at the party, along with 3 beers.
5:30p.m. Dinner is 1.5 turkey burgers with cheese on a gluten-free roll with a heaping pile of mixed veggies.
8p.m. Long runs make for long snack sessions: I eat ½ pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.
10:30p.m. Fall asleep HARD.
Total mileage: about 12+ miles
7a.m. Get up after about 8.5 hours of sleep. I’m feeling pretty sore from all the running.
7:30a.m. Bowl of cottage cheese with strawberries. Cup of coffee.
Make the executive call for no running today. After the speed development work and long run, my legs are fried. I was initially planning to run but my legs felt too sore after being awake for an hour. I was only planning a 30-min run, so in this case it was best to live to run another day! I’m finding that since I’m not training for a big PR or on a team (and accountable to my coach and teammates), it’s best to err on the conservative side to stay healthy. Recovery is underrated.
11:15a.m. Starbucks run! Get a tall (small) iced caramel machiatto
12p.m. Two-egg omelette with beans, purple tomato, cheese and a clementine.
2:30p.m. Valentine’s Day party at another parents’ house. I have some assorted cheeses, crackers, and other random snacks (stayed away from the really sweet stuff after yesterday’s diet disaster) with two glasses of red wine.
5:45p.m. Chipotle carnitas burrito with guacamole and brown rice.
1a.m. I can’t fall asleep tonight. Ended up going to bed at 1a.m. for some reason.
Total mileage: 0 miles
6:30a.m. It’s too early…. Less than 6 hours of sleep? I don’t do well with that little sleep…
7a.m. Breakfast is a banana and coffee
10a.m. My run today is 30 minutes with 3×15-second pickups during the last half-mile.
10:45: Have some Tailwind Caffeinated Endurance formula mix in water post run.
11:30a.m. Lunch is a bean/rice and cheese burrito, cup of green tea, and glass of grapefruit juice
2:30p.m. Snack time! Clementine, a small homemade oatmeal/pumpkin muffin, and a string cheese. Heated up a small plate of leftover beans and rice with hot sauce.
5:45p.m. Dinner is homemade chicken nuggets (more like small chicken burgers…) with ground mustard dipping sauce. Salad (radish, green pepper, romaine lettuce with chipotle ranch dressing) and a corn/tomato/olive/kidney bean side.
8:45p.m. Starving. So I eat way too many chips and trail mix. 4 servings? 5 servings? No idea. No regrets!
Total mileage: About 4 miles
6:15a.m. I wake up feeling good after about 8 hours of great sleep. Coffee and green smoothie (frozen spinach, mango, banana, cucumber, and coconut milk)
10:30a.m. Time for a RUN! I go for 50 minutes with 4×15” pick-ups during the last 10min. Took 1-min recovery.
1p.m. Lunch of two eggs and a slice of ha.m. cooked in butter with the largest plum you’ve ever seen.
3p.m. Whey protein shake with coconut milk
5p.m. Glass of red wine
5:30p.m. Dinner was another salad and gluten-free pasta with sauce and meatballs.
Total mileage: Almost 7. [Throughout the day I also did 100 push-ups, 32 bicep curls, 20 chin ups, and 20 military press in about 5 supersets every 90min]
A LOOK BACK — THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK:
Looking back on my week, there are some things I’d like to change. First, I need to eat earlier in the day. Sometimes I let myself get so caught up in work that I don’t eat much until the afternoon.
This also made me realize that I drink very frequently. While it’s rarely more than two drinks unless I’m at a party or it’s a special occasion, I might cut back just to give my liver some recovery.
Even though I’m not training for a race right now, I might hop in some shorter races or mid-distance trail races in a few months. So right now I’m going to stay focused on the basics: 5-6 days of running per week, a long run of about 90 minutes, a weekly workout, and regular strides/speed development work. Add to that some more lifting than I’m used to, I’m feeling in great overall shape but not great endurance shape.
About Jason Fitzgerald
Jason Fitzgerald has been running competitively since 1998 and has run a 2:39:32 marathon, beaten more than 17,000+ other runners to win a Warrior Dash obstacle race, and placed in the Top 10 in DIII New England in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2006.
He is the founder and head coach of Strength Running, one of the most popular running sites in the United States with 200,000 monthly readers.