Running Q & A with Jason LaFave

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Running season is upon us and what better way to start than having your running questions answered by an experienced runner! Jason LaFave is getting ready to run his 6th Boston Marathon.  In May, he will compete in the Dow Run Half Marathon, where he is the two-time defending champion.  That race will be his 50th half marathon! He has run over 200 road races and Jason is a Hammer Nutrition sponsored athlete and part of the Brooks Running Pro team. Jason LaFave's Personal Bests include:

  • 33:37 – 10K (Dow Run 2014)
  • 1:14:10 – Half Marathon (Bayshore 2013)
  • 2:36:49 – Full Marathon (Chicago 2013

Q. What’s your favorite things about being a runner?

A. The best thing about running for me is the sense of accomplishment when you finish. Running gives me a great deal of time to think and a good run gives you time to just enjoy your surroundings! I have also met so many great people in the running community. Runners are very positive and encouraging of one another, which you rarely see among competitors in other sports.

Q. What advice would you give someone just starting to run?

A. The hardest step is the first one out the door. You will have good runs and you will have bad runs but stick with it. Set a goal, whether it is a distance to run, a time to run or a race to do. Don’t try to do too much too quick. Just because you hear people running 5 or 10 miles, that may not be right for you immediately. Keep with it and yes, the soreness eventually goes away.

Q. I like to run but get bored running out on my own.  How do you keep it interesting?

A. If you can, find a running buddy to help hold you accountable. If that is not an option, find different places to run where you can notice the environment around you. I love to run on trails because then it is just you and nature. Switching your workout distances, paces, and routes will help. You can also run with headphones but be aware of your surroundings.

Q. What shoes do you recommend for a long distance runner?

A. Everyone’s preference will be different. I have run in Brooks primarily for the past 8 years. I would encourage someone who is getting started to go to a running specialty store like Runners Performance that we have in Midland. They will be able to do a gait analysis and provide a few different shoe options that should fit your foot the best.

Q. What race do you recommended a beginner starting out with?

A. I would typically recommend a 5k for someone who is just getting started. There are lots of great options in the Tri-Cities. You can check the Bay Area Runners Club or Run Michigan for a local race calendar. If you want to stay local check out the Greater Midland Races in 2018!

Q. How do you improve your race time?

A. I have improved by doing more structured workouts. Usually twice a week (I run 6-7 days/week), I will do workouts that I call “Something of Substance”. These workouts consist of running intervals at faster than normal training pace, hill workouts, and progression runs where the goal is to start easy and over the course of the run, go faster and faster.

Q. Do you only do cardio workouts or do you incorporate strength training in as well?

A. I primarily only do cardio workouts. I know I probably should incorporate more strength training in my program but making time to do everything I need to can be difficult.

Q. What’s your favorite local route for your runs?

A. I have a couple favorite routes. One is from the Tridge on the rail trail that goes down through Emerson Park and out on Tittabawassee Road which is dirt by Northwood. I also enjoy going out to Pine Haven in Sanford and running the trails out there.

Q. What suggestions do you have for pre, during, post workout meals?

A. Like shoes, everyone here is different with what works well for them before, during and after a run. I usually eat a Greek yogurt and Hammer Nutrition’s Perpetuem before a run. Depending on how far I am running, I will typically have a Hammer gel or 2 with me, Endurolyte caps if it is hot, and either water or Gatorade. After my run, I typically will drink a Hammer Recoverite shake along with a Gatorade or water. If I am getting ready to do a race, I try to find out what the sports drink is that will provided to the athletes on course so I can practice with that. You never want to do something different on race day so I ensure I have tried the drink ahead of time to ensure it is going to sit well with me.

Q. What are some must have gear for long runs?

A. Winter runs, I typically like to wear trail shoes if it is snowy for better traction, tights, a compression top, hat and gloves. Summer running is always more difficult because I don’t enjoy running in the heat. I typically will just run in shorts and a hat with sunglasses. Regardless of the season, shoes and socks are something that you can’t skimp on. They are protecting you as you run and put 2.5-3 times your body weight into the ground with each step. For someone new, my recommendation is go get a great pair of shoes and socks and you will find running more enjoyable.