US Olympic Marathon Runner Jared Ward Shares His Expert Tips on Running and Nutrition
THE OLYMPIC PROFESSOR
US Olympic Marathon Runner Jared Ward placed fourth overall and first in his age group at the 2016 Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon with a time of 1:07:26. This race was Ward’s first competition since returning home from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he placed 6th overall in the Olympic Marathon (2:11:30). An alumnus of Brigham Young University, Ward keeps close ties to his alma-mater, as he’s a adjunct professor of statistics at BYU and he still works with BYU running coach Ed Eyestone. Running the Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was a fitness test for the Utah native and GLUKOS-sponsored athlete.
“The Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was a gauge of my fitness coming back after the Olympics,” says Ward. “After the marathon in Rio, I took a more substantial break than normal after marathons so I’ve only had two or three workouts since then.”
To train for the Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon (his third ever half, plus he’s ran some 20Ks and 25Ks), Ward ran 90-100 miles per week with varying distances and intensities. Ward does intervals/5-6 mile tempo runs/mile repeats Tuesday and Thursday, a long run on Saturday, rests on Sunday, and Monday, Wednesday Thursday are 18-20 mile jogs at a comfortable pace, enough for him to recover from the harder workouts. For a marathon, Ward ups the weekly mileage to 120 and the long run is 25 miles. Regardless of the distance, the hard runs are sometimes a 13-mile run at marathon pace.
“Half marathon training is more intervals and hard runs for 5-6 miles as opposed to marathon training where the biggest workouts are 25-mile runs with marathon pace portions,” Ward says. “Overall, the fitness rolls together so if I’m in great shape for a half marathon, I can put together a good marathon and if I’m in great shape for a marathon, I can put together a good half marathon.”
CRANKING UP THE INTENSITY
Ward provides an interesting insight into how his lifestyle changes when his training intensity is increased. He says running 100 miles per week demands 30 hours that week, including getting ready for the run and recovering from it. If his training intensifies, it’ll take double the amount of time.
“If I tighten up the screws by 20%, it takes 60 hours a week because now all of a sudden I need to take a nap here, I need to see the massage therapist more, and spend more time preparing food,” says Ward. “You put yourself on the line and it changes what you do when you’re not running. It’s like in a class. You can put in 80% of the effort, and get a B- but if you want to turn it up to 100% to get an A, it’s going to take twice the time.”
Another component of Ward’s training is weightlifting, which he does twice a week after the aforementioned hard running days. Ward likes barbell squatting as heavy as he can so he activates the type 2 muscle fibers in this legs, in case they provide an extra boost on a course.
“As a distance runner, you don’t require the type 2 muscle fibers like a football player or rugby athlete because it doesn’t require power so some of those type 2 fibers turn off,” Ward says. “Reactivating the type 2 fibers during lifting lets you use both type 1 and type 2 fibers running, even if it’s primarily type 1.”
GLUKOS FOR THE WIN
A 6-time All American at BYU and 2015 National Marathon Champion, Ward has found the perfect formula for fueling before, during and after distance races. Whether it’s Usain Bolt running the 100-meter dash or running a marathon, eating right is essential to performance. Ward doesn’t carb-load for a half marathon like he would for marathon but he takes a GLUKOS energy gel at the start line at both of these distances.
“Since GLUKOS has carbohydrates and sugar, it gives you fast energy that requires less oxygen to metabolize compared to fat,” says Ward. “Anytime I can be getting more sugar in me for races that are over an hour is awesome and GLUKOS works really fast.”
There were GLUKOS energy gels and gummies on the course at the Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon, since GLUKOS was a sponsor of the spectacle. In addition to that gel at the start line, Ward will have a gel at mile 8 during a half marathon too. For a marathon, Ward takes GLUKOS energy powder mixed with water or the gels every 5K.
“I normally dilute the energy powder a bit because I want to stay extra hydrated,” Ward adds. “I have a table every 5K where I grab my water bottle with my energy gel taped to it. “
Ward enjoys a light breakfast before a half-marathon: 3-4 hours before the race he’ll eat oatmeal or some peanut butter on toast or a bagel. As the race nears, he sips on the diluted GLUKOS energy powder mix.
WATCH OUT FOR WARD
At 28 years old, Ward has a bright future ahead of him in the sport of running and his story is the endurance community is just getting starting. His next events are up in the air but he hints at two big 2017 races.
“I’ll get into another half marathon in the fall and do a marathon in the spring. It could be the London or Boston Marathon.