Ask Stew: Running, Swimming, Lifting, PT Help! Need a Program?


Often when people ask for help they tend to look for quick answers or tips to help them with training for a specific goal. Sometimes, people need more help than a workout of the day and just do not know it. You need a full-blown program or plan specifically developed to help you answer the multiple questions that follow when given a workout idea for a day of training. Here is an email with a series of questions that are typical of someone who WANTS to train for something, yet is struggling with all the training options available.

Below are his questions with my answers: My name is John, I am an 18 year old college student hoping to one day become a SEAL. This email will cover a few questions I have on the process as well as the level of training I should be at prior to enlisting. I am running 20 miles a week. I do three four-mile runs on "hilly" terrain, usually at an 8:30 pace for a two mile run, either on the treadmill or track, at a goal pace of 6:00-6:30, and one long slow distance run of six or eight miles usually at around an 8:45 pace.

STEW: Not bad -- building a nice foundation -- that is the most important thing to do right now. And also, realize that you have to train to get to training, and then focus on getting through training. (See link for more info on that concept). JOHN: I have done quite a bit of research on BUD/S and preparation training. That being said, do you agree with the prescribed 40 miles a week prior to beginning BUD/S training? Follow up, how should that be broken down? Five eight mile runs a week? Or different?

STEW: 30-40 miles a week is sufficient but you have to progress to that level of running over time. This will take months as most people increase mileage by 10-15 percent per week. Five to six days a week of running -- some longer runs - some shorter faster so you can run the 1.5 and four mile timed runs at a fast pace. (Sub six min pace for 1.5 mile run -- recommended). A sub-seven minute mile pace for the 4 mile timed run is recommended. You also may want to periodize your training, since you have three to four years of time before getting to BUD/S. I would not recommend year after year of 30-40 miles per week. Cycle through your workouts -- such as with periodization training. JOHN: What is the best way to get faster on longer distance runs? I am having trouble dropping my pace down. Right now I consistently run just over eight minute miles on my four mile runs. I know this is slow and I would like to be at least under seven minutes per mile before I enlist. I have never been much of a runner. I am 5'7" 175 and stocky, but not fat -- I played football in high school and gained muscle mass which attributes to my weight. Before I started running every day, which was about five months ago, I had never ran over two miles and rarely without stopping. I am definitely not built like a runner at all, but I know with the right training and work ethic I can achieve my goal. So what do you recommend in my case?  

STEW: Progress and practice shorter interval workouts - like three miles of 1/4 and 1/2 mile intervals. Running at goal or faster than goal pace to build faster speed endurance for longer runs. See related articles on running workouts 

Long Runs and Faster Pace Speed / Agility Work PFT Run Time Workout Ideas JOHN: Sorry -- I also have a question regarding strength and muscle endurance training. Do you recommend any weightlifting? Or just a lot of intense calisthenics such as pushups, pull ups, sit ups, dips, etc.?

STEW: Sure -- but have you not seen what I write about? I have articles, ebooks, books, and even apps that feature lifting, calisthenics, running, rucking, swimming, and using other tools for training (TRX, tires, sledgehammers, etc.). JOHN: My swimming background is average. I can swim well but have never practiced any specific strokes and I have never competed at any level. I am learning the CSS with the help of your app and YouTube videos.  

STEW: Sounds like you need a program with all of this built into it. JOHN: What should my swimming workouts consist of? 500 yards every day or?

STEW: Five hundred yards should be a warmup, but you may have to build up to that. I would recommend swimming Four to five days a week and try to get at least 1000 yards every day for starters. You can break that up into 10 x 100 yards, or even 20 x 50 yard sets. Just get it done. JOHN: How often should I practice with fins? I have no access to ocean or lakes nearby.

STEW: Swim in a pool with fins. That is fine. But learn how to swim the CSS without fins first, and then swim with fins on leg days. 2-3 times a week. I know this email is a lot to ask, and I'm sure you get hundreds of emails a day. If you will, I appreciate you reading this email and answering these questions. 

STEW: Not a problem, it made for a good Q and A article. Also read this need a plan article, because you need a plan that answers all these questions -- not a bunch of workouts thrown together with tips.

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