Training

How Olympian Jared Ward Is Training Right Now

Jared Ward details how he recovered from a disappointing marathon trials and shares a week of his current running and strength training routine.

Jared Ward, 2016 Olympian, ran his marathon PR of 2:09:25 at the 2019 Boston, then finished as the top American in New York last fall in 2:10:45. Coming in as one of the favorites at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, he finished in 27th place. Here he describes each day of training between May 11 and May 17, 10 weeks after the trials with no races on the horizon.

Quarantine Training

The past couple of months has been a good time for me. I pain for so many that have been significantly impacted in a negative way because of this pandemic. For me, this has been a wonderful time of recovery and healing from the trials (physically and emotionally)—and for family-centered fun.

I’ve been working out at about 50 percent in my basement, and spending the majority of that time biking, lifting, and doing old-man exercises.

Jared Ward training in basement

After the trials, I took three weeks really light. These weeks consisted of 4 mile runs (occasionally) and shorter exercise bike sessions. Then everything began cancelling.

I saw Dr. Brent Rich (old BYU sports medicine doctor) about my foot. It had been bothering me for a few weeks leading into the trials. He took an x-ray, and prodded it a bit, and then confirmed my suspicions with his best guess. He suspected I had bruised the ball of my foot. He recommended that I take another 2 or 3 weeks totally off and then ease back in slowly. Coach Eyestone also advised not rushing.

I took 3 more weeks totally off from running (so 6 weeks total almost entirely off running). This meant back to the exercise bike for 30–60 minutes a day. Then as began running again, I could still feel my foot. So I went every other day for a while, and kept runs to 30 minutes or less. For three weeks now I’ve run almost every day, but runs are typically 4–8 miles and only occasionally 10+.

This week was a success for consistency and doing the little things. I’m kind of a switch on or off guy. Sometimes it seems harder to train at 50 percent than 100 percent. A training partner of mine, Micah Adams invited me to join him for hill repeats and a fartlek this week, but I think I’ll wait a week or two more before introducing those types of runs. For now, lifting, biking, and jogging.

Monday, May 11

7 miles running (Kaysville, outside)

We went to my mom’s for Mother’s Day (Utah has moved to “yellow” – allowing gatherings of 50 or less), and that was a lot of fun. We slept over, so I ran on the roads in Kaysville Monday morning. One of my first outside runs since resolving to stay home. It was hot, and tough—amazing how quickly I went from the best shape of my life to totally out of shape.

Jared Ward training indoor bike

Photo: courtesy Jared Ward

Tuesday, May 12

4 miles running, 70 minutes biking, lift (in my basement)

Tuesday I rode my exercise bike in my basement for 40 minutes, and watched an episode of Psych. I try to keep my HR above 140 when I bike. Then I did a lifting session:

  • Back Squats and box jumps. I like to count to 4 or 5 as I go down slow, pause for 1 second, and then come back up. This was the most I’ve squatted in a while (6 x 135 pounds and 5 jumps / 5 x 165 pounds and 5 jumps / 3 x 195 pounds and 5 jumps / 3 x 195 pounds and 5 jumps)
  • Nordic Curls (3 x 10) Dr. Nabhan at the Co Springs Olympic Training Center recommended this exercise to me in 2018 after having pulled my hamstring twice. I now do this 2–3 times/week and have purchased a board for it, but the exercise can be done with kids sitting on your legs and/or sticking your feet under a sofa or similar.
  • Pull ups (3 x 7)
  • Band Exercises (band on my ankle, and 2 x 10 leg swings each leg at each of the 90 degree rotations)
  • Core (Dead bug leg lowers and side plank crunches, 10 x 2 each leg/side)

In the p.m. I did 30 more minutes on the bike followed by 4 miles on the treadmill at 6:30 minutes/mile. Lately running has felt better after I’m warmed up on the bike. But I’m burning through laundry… I need a fresh pair of shorts to start my run after biking indoors.

Wednesday, May 13

9 miles running, 30 minutes biking (in my basement)

Today’s workouts were all back in my basement. 30 minutes on the bike followed by 4 miles on the treadmill. In the evening I “Zwifted” on the treadmill. It was fun, I ran (virtually) through the streets of London and up a beautiful little mountain. It kept me oddly motivated and I found I kept a good clip even through 5–7 percent inclines at portions.

Jared Ward Zwifting in London

Photo: Swift

Thursday, May 14

6 miles running, 70 minutes biking, core work (in my basement)

Today I got in 40 minutes of biking in the morning, and an episode of Psych kept me going. Then I lead a core workout with NYC’s Armory kids programs CityTrack and LittleFeet.

We did a dynamic warmup of A-skips, B-skips and some hip movements. Then we did a core circuit designed to improve running posture by conditioning them to keep the pelvis tucked. I had them focus on keeping the front of their pelvis tucked up towards their belly button through 3 sets of 30 seconds each of front plank, side plank, and dead bug straight-leg lowers. I do this dead bug exercise multiple times a week, but it seems the circuit added some stress… my core was still sore Saturday.

In the p.m. I did 30 minutes biking and 6 miles on the treadmill.

Friday, May 15

11 miles running in 70 minutes (outside!), front squats, bands

Friday I ran 11 miles outside. It felt great. I’m slower than a few months ago, working down to 6:30-minute miles, but the sun and pavement felt good—compared with the treadmill running I’ve been doing.

Then I lifted—4 sets of front squats and my band exercises—before heading to a cabin for the weekend with my family.

Jared Ward strength training

Photo: courtesy Jared Ward

Saturday, May 16

135 minutes (55 minutes up a mountain, 40 down)

We spent the weekend at my sister-in-law’s family’s cabin in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, which sits at 7000 ft. Today I took off with my brother Josh for a run up the mountain. Josh ran in college, and has been my mountain running training partner. He holds local records for some mountain races, and is really pretty good on a trails. So when I want to go up a mountain, I do it with him and he pulls me along.

We ran up 55 minutes, then came back down in 40. I estimate we climbed 2000+ feet—we were in snow at the height of the run, but saw some pretty sights. My quads were sore for a few days….

Jared and Josh Ward

Jared Ward with his brother, Josh, his mountain run training partner. Photo: courtesy Jared Ward

Sunday: Off

I don’t train Sundays, but I’m active with my kids. We played outside at the cabin, went on numerous 4 wheeler rides, and did some zip lining… Fun day.

Week Summary:

  • Approximately 55 miles running
  • 170 minutes indoor bike
  • 3 lifting and/or core sessions