Training For A Race? Why Running Is Only 20 Percent Of The Work

It's hard to run out of things to talk about with Robin Arzon. This partially has to do with her charisma and friendly demeanor, but she's also accomplished quite a bit in her 35 years. Once a high-powered lawyer, Robin is now a New York Times bestselling author, an ultramathoner, and an instructor at Peloton, a New York City-based cycling studio. She's managed to accomplish all of these things while dealing with Type 1 diabetes—and impressive feat, if you ask us.

I was thrilled to catch up with Robin at Adidas' Future/FIT event in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago to hear more about how she accomplishes what she does, particularly in the running arena. Here's what she had to say.

How she cross trains.

A lot of strength work. I believe that endurance athletes in particular need to focus much more on strength than training programs advise. Generally speaking, bodyweight work is essential for every level of athlete and every type of athlete. I would say planks, squats, and pushups are the trifecta and you can get a lot of progress just by moving your bodyweight in space. That said, a lot of power can be recruited by heavy lifting. When done effectively, you’ll increase your power for sure and marathons and ultra marathons.

How yoga and meditation play a role.

I love yoga. But mobility work tends to fall to the wayside when I’m trying to commit to a certain number of miles per week, but I do see the difference, particularly when I work—sometimes if I’m short on time I’ll focus just on my hip flexors or quads. I meditate daily, if not twice daily. I have a vedic meditation practice, and i think that’s the key to the kingdom. If you can get your mind under control, most of the time you’re pretty unstoppable.

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The most important aspect of training.

I run 70 to 80 miles per week [while I'm training]. I believe when you are pushed to the limits of endurance sport you are raw and there is no avoiding—for better or for worse—who you are. And that is always the point of growth. Training gets you about 20 or 30 perfect of the way there. 70 percent ore more is the mental game. The vehicle there may be sleep. It might be that you need to check in with your breathing a little bit and take a beat, whether it’s meditation or just taking a rest day. Whatever is essential to getting control of your inner monologue is key.

Her favorite pre and post-race snacks.

I’ve never said no to a jar of almond butter. Almond butter and bananas are my two favorite snacks. And Ezekiel bread and almond butter is my favorite race morning meal. After a big race, I love thai food. Any kind of rice noodle that’s spicy with peanuts is my jam.

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