ATC 293: Top 5 Exercises For An Explosive Mile, Achilles Bursitis, and Facing An Athletic Crossroads

August 16, 2019


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  • Tawnee did her first MAF test averaging 10:40 pace and felt great afterwards (which is how you should feel after a MAF test). No pressure to advance right away; priority number one is health and family.
  • Tawnee’s favorite workout these days is 3-4 miles at MAF and finishing the final mile 1-min on/1-min off ALL OUT.
  • Lucho is still sporadically hitting the track and hasn’t lost anything, even though he’s not training intensely anymore.

Clint asks:

Training and top 5 exercises for an explosive mile

Hey Lucho and Tawnee!

I have been listening to Endurance Planet from the beginning and I am still stoked and educated by every podcast. Awesome work.

I am a 40 year old ultra-endurance-running-junkie living on a small island in the Caribbean. I have been running for 20 years and have done everything from 5k’s to hundred mile runs,  but I have mostly been ultra-centric. I always spend a part of my year, about three months, focused on speed, and then move into training for ultras for the rest of the year. I often follow a Jack Daniels Plan for speed and then one of his marathon plans for ultras.

I have done loads of MAF effort training. I like to run between 40-60 miles a week. Peaking around 80-mile weeks.

I do lots of strength work-4 days a week(because I love it). All my strength work is body weight or done with a weighted back pack. No machines and no dumbbells. (Except for leg extensions.) I do a push day, pull day, legs twice a week and a core day. I also add in some skill practice-handstands, dragon flags, l-sits and human flags.

So, since turning 40 I have set the goal to run faster and stronger in my forties and try for personal records in all distances. 100 mile, 50 mile, marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K and one mile.

This weekend I will try for a PR at the 50 mile distance at the Ice Age Trail 50 mile. Need to go under 8:00 hours.

Next, I want to train to PR at the 1- mile distance. The goal is below 5 minutes.

Here’s the questions:

  1. How should I structure a week, month, block to run my fastest mile?

  2. What would be your top five leg exercises to get faster, stronger for a mile?

Thanks for years of motivation and education.

What the Coaches Say:

  • As far as structuring the training, Lucho recommends Daniels’ plan (although Lucho critiques it for going to fast too soon, but this shouldn’t be a problem for you because of your strength work).
    • Periodization in 4 blocks, 6 weeks each (but Lucho thinks stretching it out to 8-10 weeks is better for the first 2 blocks).
    • Lucho thinks a 30-week program would be better.
  • Genetics do play a part here: do you have the durability to train to run a fast mile?
  • To avoid overtraining, stop a track workout if you’re not hitting your splits.
  • Remember, you’re not a robot. Just because you program your training a certain way doesn’t mean your body is going to respond as expected. Be aware of psychological and physiological nuance during your training and adjust accordingly.
  • Any time you have a race distance with a specific time goal, you have to shift your thinking toward specific percentages of effort level and speed.
  • Lucho’s top five leg exercises
    • Hip extension – power and durability
    • Hamstring eccentric
    • Nordic hamstring
    • Jump rope
    • Hills
  • Tawnee’s top five leg exercises
    • Elevated reverse lunge with hop (trx)
    • Plyo- Box jumps, lateral bounds, squat jumps
    • SL RDL
    • Pistol squats or modified version
    • Push press
  • Other good exercises
    • Squat/DLs
    • Bosu ball squat and lunges
    • Trx knee drives with jump
    • Half kneeling press
    • Power cleans
    • Planks w/ knee drive, try having hands on bosu ball or medicine ball
    • OH walking lunges

Vicky asks:

At An Athletic Crossroads – What’s Next?

I’m 60 years old and have been doing triathlons and marathons since my early 20s.  The past 5 years I’ve been on a racing team, and competing mostly in road races ranging in 5k to marathon distance.  I’ve also added in a few ultras along the way and most of them went very well. I completed an Ironman 10 years ago, and have stuck to Spring and Olympic distance since then.  I’m always on the podium when I do them, and last summer managed to get the Masters Award for a series (the only tri’s I did). I’m also a running coach and have coached quite a few swimmers over the years – fitness is a huge part of my life.

Currently I find myself at a crossroads and I’m simply looking for some ideas, and I know you guys have a lot of them!  I finally accomplished a goal I’ve been chasing for years this past June, which was to finish 1st place in my age group in the local Grand Prix in Jacksonville, FL,  which is a year long series of races of every distance. I worked very hard for it, and after chasing it for so long, I find myself at a bit of a loss. Knowing I was probably going to accomplish my long term goal this year, I decided to do something for myself, which may sound strange, but I finally scheduled and got an abdominoplasty. This basically tightened the ab muscles which had separated due to pregnancy, and got rid of the excess skin than no amount of ab work could fix.  The down side is a very long recovery before I can get back to my normal Type A self.

I’ve already pushed the envelope a bit when it comes to recovery, but I’m trying very hard to take it easy.  I have a husband who constantly reminds me to do so, and doesn’t expect much of anything from me till I heal.  I had the surgery June 24th, and I’m currently walking around 3 miles a day at about an 18 minute mile pace. This has been harder than I expected as my stomach is still extremely tight, and I try not to use my abs for much of anything.

So…., I haven’t even thought much about when I can run again, but I’m wondering about my approach when I do.  I truly believe in taking my slow runs slow, and then doing speed, tempo, etc, on other days. (Most of the people I run with are always running faster than me, but then I beat them when we race.)  I’m toying with the idea of doing the MAF method when I start back to running, although I have some difficulty with the heart rates. My resting heart rate is high 40s, and even in a 5K when I’m pushing hard, it rarely goes above 155.

The other thing is I have no goals for the future which feels very odd.  I haven’t done much tri training the last few years simply because I got bored with it.  I’ve considered getting back into it and trying to make it to Nationals (I could have gone this year if not for the surgery.)  I’ve also considered doing something really different and focusing on very short distances “a la Lucho” just because I’m terrible at them.  I also do some kayak racing occasionally (not very accomplished in it since I only do it occasionally), so that’s another thought. Just looking for ideas here!

If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.  I’m retired now, so I have lots of time to train and a husband who will do most things with me. (He doesn’t do speed work, but he’s a good runner and kayaker, which we always do together.)

What the Coaches Say:

  • Lucho can relate because when he wanted to make a change he was searching for something that was totally out of his wheelhouse and would benefit him while aging: track hit the target for him. What drives you? What haven’t you done before?
  • Tawnee encourages you to shift away from the number focus. Have you thought about adventure racing or orienteering? You might start to find out more about yourself as an athlete and person if you’re doing one of these athletic feats that are self-supported.
  • Other water sports to consider:
    • Paddle boarding
    • SCUBA diving
  • The next thing will come to you if you open yourself up to the possibilities.

Ally asks:

Achilles Bursitis and Ironman

I was recently diagnosed with Achilles bursitis and given some PT exercises and prescribed rest.

The injury occurred after I raced Chattanooga Ironman 70.3. My shoe got wet and I think it rubbed the bursa to an inflamed status.

I am registered for my first full this year at Ironman Florida. The race is on Nov. 2 and I’m afraid I won’t heal in time. My PT said I should be fine but I feel impending doom!  I can swim and bike without pain but running does irritate the bursa.

Should I look to transfer my race to a 70.3 and just accept the facts? I don’t want to wait too long and have all of the decent races fill up and be out a big chunk of money.

What the Coaches Say:

  • Why is this happening? This kind of injury doesn’t happen out of the blue. Beware of signs in the future:
    • Weak feet, overuse, inflammation, stress, overtraining.
  • If the run foundation is already there, you’ll be fine for the race. But if running isn’t your strength, then transferring the race might be a good call.
  • You also need to analyze your expectations. Do you want to qualify for Kona or just compete? The answer will direct your race decision. At the end of the day, though, you don’t want to sacrifice your long-term health.
  • Tendons require some stimulation in order to heal, but this takes the form of mild isometric holds (not Ironman training).
  • Tawnee follows people like the Sock Doc for treating these kinds of things, so going along those lines:
    • No stretching
    • Rest in the very acute phase
    • Don’t aggravate achilles area, focus on area behind your legs (directly up from A)
      • Scraping – go down the belly of a muscle and try to line those fibers up. And that’s now proven that lining those fibers up and approximating these fibers helps to heal injuries.
      • trigger point therapy
      • Calf massage all the way up into rear knee area
      • massage stick
    • When ready, strengthen foot – don’t over rest
    • No orthotics
    • “The more foot can stay closer to the ground, the more you can walk barefoot, the more you can use minimalist shoes, and very little support or cushion, the more you’ll strengthen your feet and get over injury quicker and prevent other injuries.” Sock Doc, but keep in mind that this is also something that comes with time, don’t jump in if still inflamed and in pain.
    • Eat well, anti-inflammatory foods
    • Manage overall stress

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