Elite runners don’t necessarily know all of the answers, but if results count (and in sports, they certainly do), then they must be doing something right. Granted, training routines and workouts should always be considered from an individual perspective, but it’s always interesting to see what kind of training the fast folks get in. With that in mind, let’s zoom in on Ryan Normand and Jessica Harper, two of central Texas’s top runners.

Normand is a former track and cross-country runner for Arizona State University, who’s gone 14:36 for the 5K. At ASU, where he majored in civic engineering, he ran 8:58 for the 3,000, and 4:06 for the 1,500. A year ago, after moving to Pflugerville, he served notice that he’s a force to be reckoned with when he beat former Longhorn ace Rory Tunningley at the Schlotzsky’s BunRun 5K at the Domain, running a 15:07.

Normand, who is aiming to race the Run for the Water 10 Miler on November 3, typically runs about 70 miles a week. “My weekly schedule can vary based on work and other conflicts, but a typical week looks like this,” said Normand.

  • Monday: 8-10 miles @ around 6:30 pace
  • Tuesday:  8-10 miles @ around 6:30 pace
  • Wednesday: Workout (usually some sort of long intervals, tempo, or fartlek totaling 10-12 miles, pace is usually between 5:00-5:45 depending on the length of interval or tempo. For example, a recent workout was a simple 10-mile tempo run at ~5:35 pace with a 1-mile warmup and 1-mile cooldown)
  • Thursday:  8-10 miles@ around 6:30 pace
  • Friday:  8-10 miles @ around 6:30 pace
  • Saturday:  6-8 miles @ around 6:30 pace
  • Sun: Long Run (14-18 miles @ around 6:30 pace)

“I do take days off, usually once every two to three weeks,” said Normand, “but it’s not on a set schedule. I just do it when my legs start to feel tired or I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.”

Harper, a former Longhorn track and cross-country standout, won the 2018 3M Half Marathon, and came back in 2019 to win again in 1:14:23. In the last several years, she’s been shifting her attention to the marathon; she set a PR for the 26.2-mile distance at the Rotterdam Marathon in April 2017, clocking a 2:40:40.

“The meat of our training was done at altitude over a two- week stint,” she said. “During this cycle I was averaging roughly 90 miles a week.

Leading up to her marathon in Berlin, Harper significantly cut back the mileage. The following represents her final taper before the marathon:

  • Monday: 8 miles + 30 min strength session with her trainer
  • Tuesday: 7 miles @ 7-7:10 pace
  • Wednesday: shakeout the legs – 3-mile warmup, then 4×5 minutes @ 5.30-5.40 pace followed by a cooldown
  • Thursday: rest day
  • Friday: 6 miles at 7-7:10 pace
  • Saturday: 5 miles at 7:00 minute pace with 4 strides

Note: This weekend (on Sunday, September 29), Harper set a PR of 2:35:56 at the Berlin Marathon, her first marathon in two and a half years after dealing with multiple injuries!

Upcoming Races: Saturday, October 5,a at 8:00 a.m., the Jameson 5K at Southwestern in Georgetown. Saturday, October 5, 8:30 a.m., the Dime Box Mini Marathon 5K/10K at Stephen F. Austin Blvd., Dime Box, TX.