Motivation Five things we learned from running legend Jack Daniels

Five things we learned from running legend Jack Daniels


On December 5, Jack Daniels, former Olympian, run coach extraordinaire, and inventor of the Daniels’ Running Formula, which, among other things, concocts a very simple equation for the distance of your long run, will be in Toronto to give a clinic at Black Toe Running. Prior to the event, and prior to our feature in the December issue, in which Daniels’ coaches everyday runners from 5K to the marathon, we picked the mind of the trainer that Runner’s World declared “the best in the world” and is still running everyday at 82-years-old. Here’s five things from the man.

5.  You Don’t Have to Freak Out About Shoes

When asked what shoes he prefers or what he makes of the minimalist sneaker movement or pronation-correcting sneakers, Daniels laughed. “I’ll wear anything that comes along,” he said, adding that sometimes he’s invited to speak at running camps, hosted by a shoe sponsor. “Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony: If they give out running shoes and I get a pair, I’m happy. It’s the training, not the sneakers, that makes a runner great.”

4. Peak Soreness Doesn’t Occur the Day After a Hard Workout

In fact, 48 hours after a hard workout is when you most feel the ache. Daniels’ has his runners try speed work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they have a Saturday meet, in order to keep their legs sharp, but also give them time to recover. Remember that, everyone racing on a Sunday: if you’re not limping on Monday, don’t be surprised if on Tuesday you have trouble handling the stairs.

3. 30 Minutes is the Magic Number

Daniels says that the benefits of a 30-minute run over a 10 or 20-minute run far outweigh the health benefit difference between a 30 and 60-minute run. “30 minutes is ideal, much better than 20, but not much worse than an hour,” he says before adding: “A 10-minute run is certainly better than nothing, but at that clip, you spend almost as much time showering and getting dressed as you do in your shoes.” If you can find 30 minutes, that’s an ideal time for a run.

2. Two and a half hours or 25%

If you’re wondering how long your long run should be prior to a marathon, think either 2.5 hours or 25% of your weekly mileage. When applying the Daniels’ formula, it becomes immediately obvious that must of us don’t run enough. For instance, if you want a 30K long run prior to your marathon, you should be running 120K-per-week. Are you running that much? I know I’m not. And long runs shouldn’t exceed two and a half hours. “Seems like that’s just too long to me,” Daniels says. For half marathoners and 5K, the same equation holds. Don’t exceed more than 25% of your weekly distance on any one run. The answer? It’s not that you should cut down the long run. It’s that you should increase your mileage per week.

1. Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number 

Inspired by his daughter, Daniels ran his last marathon at 77-years-old. “My longest training run of the previous five years had been three miles,” he says, adding that we often apply our own limitations on our abilities. Granted, Daniels is a former Olympian, but he ran his marathon in Flagstaff, at altitude, and was nearly 80-years-old. “People are always looking for a magic solution to finishing a race, but why is 20 miles for a long run better than 19? I’ve never understood that. Someone has to prove to me that there’s an exact corresponding long run distance for everyone, until then I’m going with two and a half hours.” Can you run a marathon at 80 without training? Certainly it’s not advisable. But it’s possible. And Daniels is living proof.

Incidentally, Daniels doesn’t drink Jack Daniels or any alcohol whatsoever. His brother was killed by a drunk driver and rather than drinking, Daniels prefers to run.

For more information and registration for the coaching clinic in Toronto on December 5th  Athletics Canada is giving out professional development credits to all attendees who have an NCCP. It’s also an opportunity for coaches to become certified by Dr. Daniels.


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