A wise person once said that it is important to write down your goals. This same person said that it is also important that you write them in pencil. I have a goal of breaking the 2-hr half marathon mark this year and I still plan to do it yet. One thing though is that I am uncertain whether that will happen on May 5th. This realization does not deter me from trying, however, all evidence points to me having slowed down a bit since last year or rather I’m just peaking at a different time. Today I completed the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon Training Series 15K in 1:33:34 (unofficial). I am happy with this time, but it is over 5 minutes slower than last year’s time of 1:28:06 (official time). So, there are 12 months in a year and this one isn’t a third of the way done yet. In another words, I have plenty of time!
Including the warm-up and cool-down I ran an extra 3.4 miles beyond the 15K today and I feel great! So it’s interesting to see that while I have slowed a bit in 12 months my endurance is high. Today I am 4-weeks away from the mini-marathon. I know what I have to do for training. It’s all written down…in pencil. 🙂
Over the course of the next 4-weeks I am concentrating on cutting weight and maintaining my speed and endurance. One easy way to get faster (to a point) is to run lighter. I am very much enjoying learning more and more about how my body responds to training and seeing the effects on a weekly basis.
I’ll keep you all updated on the mini marathon training over the next 4-weeks and then I switch to my ultra training plan for the remainder of the year. I am so looking forward to this next training cycle!
Okay so the half marathon is still 7+ weeks away, but I had an awesome 6-mile Tempo Run this morning at a pace that’s 15 seconds faster than my HM PR. I even pushed it to sub-8min pace for the last half mile. I know I could have done at least one more mile, BUT…STICK TO THE PLAN!
Basically I felt really good and I can now see the possibility of a PR at the Mini Marathon. My goal for 2012 is to break the 2-hour half marathon mark, but I don’t see that happening in May. I DO see the potential for a PR though. My current PR is 02:05:49 so if under 2-hours doesn’t happen in 7 weeks then I’d be ecstatic with A). Any PR, but B). Really want to break 02:05:00 so shaving an extra 50 seconds off would be enough to make me happy…it’s the little things sometimes! 🙂
What a fantastic week of training! I hit the gym all five days this week and hope to keep that trend going in the weeks to come.
Here’s the breakdown in case you don’t follow me on the Dailymile.
My Monday workouts have been a combination of weights, running, and biking. I hit the weights for a hard and fast leg workout across thirty minutes doing super sets and trios of exercises with minimal rest between. Once I’m done with the weights I jump on the treadmill for a run. The first week I did just a mile and this past week I did two miles at a sub-9:30 pace. After the run I jumped on the stationary bike for the remaining time and covered 5 miles. This was 1-mile more than the previous week on the same day. I worked out for over an hour and left the gym feeling great!
On Tuesdays I hit the weights again, but go for the upper body regimen similar to my Monday workout of supersets, combo sets and trios. I take about 30 minutes for this routine and then hit the bike to give my running muscles a chance to rest. Tuesday I rode for 9.5 miles in about 46 minutes. Not bad for one of the longest rides I’ve had to date.
Wednesday is a specific run workout for speed. I do interval training with all types of distances, but this time it was 6×400. I start with a 1-mile warm-up at a 10min pace and then go into the intervals with a 400m rest interval (R.I.) as well. At the end I decided to cut the last R.I. and instead just increased the speed. I finished up by slowing to the 10min pace again and going for another half-mile for the cool-down.
Thursday is another run rest day so I started out on the elliptical for less impact but a good cardiovascular burn. I kept at it for 3 miles and ten switched to the stationary bike. I rode for 4.25 miles to finish up the hour long workout and hit the showers after a good stretch.
Friday was another specific run workout. I hadn’t ran for any significant distance since the Goofy Challenge so I decided since I have a half-marathon coming up in two months that I needed to start rebuilding my endurance. Friday was a 7-miler and I wanted it to be a tempo run of sorts so I started out at a 10min pace and sped up a bit when I had 1.25miles to go. Overall it was a great run and I finished feeling good with gas still left in the tank.
Another victory this week is my nutritional plan. I hit my EAS whey protein shakes after every workout for recovery and I can tell a big difference from when I don’t take in the extra protein for recovery. Per my usual routine I eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day, take in the required amount of fiber and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I had one splurge meal on Saturday and by the end of the week I was down 4 lbs. This is perfect as it means I’m sending my body all the right messages in regards to weight loss and performance.
The Week Ahead
This coming week I am repeating last week’s workouts with some minor tweaks. I plan to cut one super set on legs to allow for an extra mile on the run. I’ll continue to rotate exercises to keep my leg muscles guessing and adapting. The same goes for my weights workout on Tuesday for upper body. Wednesday and Friday will be specific run workouts for intervals and tempo runs and Thursday will be dedicated to just getting a good calorie burn on the elliptical and the bike.
One addition for this coming week is a long slow distance run (LSD) on Sunday with a friend of mine. He’s training for a full marathon in April, the same half marathon I’m training for in May, a duathlon in September and I’m sure several other races this year. My goal this week is to continue my weight loss toward my 170 lbs goal.
The greatest spectacle in racing! The Indy 500 was dubbed thus so many years ago and this year Indy is in the midst of celebrating it’s 100th year of memories spanning from 1911 to present day.
The Indy Mini-Marathon started in 1977, bringing in Olympic champion distance runners Frank Shorter and Bill Rogers. In 1979, the Mini-Marathon became an official 500 Festival event. The event grew rapidly in the 1980s and even more throughout the 1990s. Today, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is noted as the nation’s largest half-marathon with a field of 35,000 runners and walkers participating each year. The course is flat, fast and allows participants to run the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
But enough with the history lesson! This past Saturday May 7th was perfect for running in Indianapolis. The morning brought temperatures in the mid-50s and the winds were quiet.
Last year (2010) I ran “The Mini” in 02:33:25 and was very happy with my time as I had been training for 5 months and had just started my fitness journey and lost about 20 pounds. My time was 22 minutes faster than my 2009 time. This year I ran the 13.1 mile race in 02:05:49 approximately 18 minutes faster (and another 35 pounds lighter) than my 2010 race.
Besides having an extra 12 months of training I tried a few more things this time around to improve my performance this year. First was knowledge (or information would perhaps be better way to describe it.) I’ve been having trouble keeping a consistent pace recently. Basically, I go out too fast which is a common error for new runners. You feel good, you run fast and then you crash hard on the second half of the course.
This year I wanted to run a more consistent pace throughout the race so I strapped on a temporary pace tat so I could keep tabs on my pace throughout the run. This is also a lot cheaper than a GPS watch (though I’ll be adding that to my Xmas list this year too)! These are very good if you are wondering. I could still use the tat for a run three days after the race. It has survived a half-marathon which ended with rain and several showers!
Next, leading up to the Indy Mini-Marathon I was reading a book called “Racing Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald and in the book the author mentions how performance is effected by various factors like hydration and muscle glycogen.
Of course everyone realizes that being hydrated is a good thing. Don’t drink enough water during a long run and eventually you’ll slow down or stop altogether as your body has trouble cooling itself and your blood gets thicker from having less water in it.
Next, most of us know that we need fuel (carbs) during a long run like a half marathon. We take sports drinks with us and consume gels like GU along the race course.
What I didn’t know was that exercise induced muscle damage causes fatigue separately from hydration or fuel availability. So I looked into using a product that would help this third performance limitation. I found a product called Accelerade from Pacific Health Labs which has a combination of carbs and protein to help limit muscle damage from prolonged exercise like a marathon or half-marathon. The company also makes a gel called Accel. So I bought some Accelerade and instead of taking GU on my 13.1 mile fun run I added some Accel gel to my run pack.
Now I will say that from training for a year I was in much better shape and I did run a much smarter race with my pace tat, but still I liked the Accel gel and I did feel like I had a lot more energy during the mini-marathon. The consistency of the Accel gel wasn’t as thick as a GU gel so it was a lot easier to take and I didn’t feel like I needed to wait until I was near a water station to have something to drink with the gel like I do when I use GU. I still like GU, but I’ll be using Accel a lot more in the future.
Another thing I can say is that the day after the mini-marathon my legs felt great and I never experienced the pain that shows up two days after such an intense exertion. When I ran the Kansas half-marathon four weeks ago (in 02:11:37) my legs were tired the next day and I did experience the major stiffness that usually comes 48 hours after (called DOMS). So the Accelerade (taken pre & post race) along with the Accel gels seemed to help me recover faster than with just GU and a whey protein shake per my usual routine.
So my experience at The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon was great! I even made it onto the local news on WTHR. I had a half dozen of my friends tell me that they saw me on the news running around the Indy 500 Motor Speedway.
Now I have 5 weeks to continue training for my next race (another half-marathon). I’m excited to continue using Accelerade while I train and to use the Accel gels for my next half. My recovery workouts this past week have been very good and I’m ready to jump back into training on Monday!
I’ve written about tapering in the past, but felt it was worth writing about again as I approach my next half-marathon this coming Saturday. I’m running the nation’s largest half-marathon, The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon with 35K+ other runners in Indianapolis, IN.
What prompted this post was all the “taper tweets” I’ve been reading this morning. Many runners are worried about doing too much or not enough in the last 7-10 days leading up to their race. I totally understand dear friends!
First off for all my new runners out there you might be asking, “Tapering? What’s that?” Tapering is the final days leading up to your big event when you workout less so as to get the recovery you need for race day. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, 15K, Half, Full or Ultra marathon it really doesn’t matter. All of these have a little taper time before hand.
In my opinion and experience, how much tapering you need depends a lot on your amount of current running experience, the distance you’re going in your event and the number of races you’ve run prior. All of this combined should fit into a plan of what works best for you.
For me, I tend to taper for 7-10 days before anything less than a full-marathon. So two weeks out from this half I did a final 10 mile long run. Last Friday I did a 6 miler and primarily rested over the weekend except to do yard work. This week I rested Monday and I’ll do short runs Tuesday and Wednesday. I lifted last week on two days and did a very light (high rep) full body weights routine today (Tuesday). I’ll be finished with any weight lifting after today. Thursday I will go to the gym and do something non-impact like cycling, elliptical or maybe just walking on the treadmill while I watch ESPN. 🙂 Friday I will take off completely (and sleep in past my usual 4:30am wake-up call) since the race is the next day.
One big component of my tapering is stretching. I normally stretch after every workout, but I will take a little extra time to stretch my IT Bands, glutes, legs, shoulders and back. Basically, instead of doing 2-3 sets of stretches I will do 3-5 sets adding 10-15 minutes of extra stretching. Many times I’ll also use my foam roller at night to make sure I have all the knots worked out of my legs.
As for diet, I don’t change much in the taper zone. 2-3 days out from the race I do eat a little more pasta….mainly because I really LOVE pasta! There is a lot of hype around carb loading, but I’ve read the actual research studies and while stored muscle glycogen (sugar/carbs) is a limiting factor for performance (sorry about the geek speak), the average runner doesn’t get a lot of benefit from carb loading. As long as you rest a couple days before an event, your muscle glycogen stores will increase just from not exercising. You’ll also want to replenish during the event/race with Gatorade, gels, etc. at regular intervals. Basically find what works for you and stick with it.
For me, I eat a measured serving of cereal, a banana and a cup of coffee a couple hours before the race. 15-30 minutes out from the start I pop a GU Energy Gel and then continue to take more gels as the race progresses usually every 30-45 minutes. I also use the provided water and Gatorade on the course. I might be overloading on the carbs, but it doesn’t bother my stomach so I stick with the plan. I also don’t have to worry about hitting the wall at mile 11 and crawling to the finish line.
Remember, tapering is a good thing! You won’t lose the ability to run long distance in a week…or even two weeks. I’ve even had races where I didn’t workout at all 5-6 days before an event and did fine during the race….including earning a PR by over 8 minutes! I chalk it up to being well rested.
Tapering is also a time to make sure you are getting extra sleep. If you are a morning exerciser, sleep in those last two days before an event and get your 8 hours (or more if possible). If you are an evening exerciser use the gym time to get a few things done early so you can get to bed early. Don’t waste the time on the TV…that’s why we have DVR! 🙂
Active.com had a decent article on Tapering today as well if you’d like to check it out! Also, Runner’s World had a good article on Recovery days today. Though not specific to tapering it speaks well to recovery which is what tapering is all about!
The 15K…one step down from the half-marathon. Not so long as to fear not finishing but longer than a short weekend run. The 15K (9.3 miles) is a nice distance and I had the opportunity to run my first 15K this past Saturday as a part of the Indy Mini-Marathon Training Series sponsored by OrthoIndy. I had a fantastic time starting out at the NCAA Hall of Champions Saturday morning at 8:00am! Over 1600 runners and walkers showed up to run under slightly cloudy skies and warm weather. I was one who had ambitions of beating the rain…..alas no one runs faster than Mother Nature if she decides the grass needs watering! I got a little wet on the way back to the car, but I ran the half mile from the finish line to my automobile. The rain felt good!
It was a great day for a run! Lower 60s temps met the running group as we ran on much of the same route that we’ll run on in May for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. My official time for the 15K was 01:28:06. This being my first 15K I was guaranteed a PR for the day!
One thing I reinforced in myself at the start was my commitment to pace myself better. At the beginning of the race I was telling myself, “go out slow, go out slow, go out slow…..” Last time for the 10K I had ran the first two miles at an 08:45 pace which was way too fast for me….closer to my 5K pace and I paid for it in the last half of the race. Alas, even though I was telling myself to slow down I approached the 1-mile marker with a time of 08:30:00. Makes me wonder what the time would have been if I had pushed it! I slowed by 15 seconds on the next mile and then tried to maintain closer to a 9 min/mile pace for the remainder.
I did slow down toward the end which is inevitable when you go out too fast due to lactic acid build-up in your legs. Elite runners and running coaches agree that for every second gained in the first half of a race by running faster than an optimal pace you will lose 2 seconds in the second half. Better to run an even pace throughout the race or slightly faster on the back half. My overall pace for the 15K was an average of 09:28/mile. Pacing is something I will continue to work on in my upcoming three half-marathons next weekend, May 7th & June 11th.
Ahhh, it’s that time of year again when the weather breaks and we can all get off the treadmill and go outside without freezing!
I’ll admit that I’m a fair weather runner. Lots of my running friends tell me they go out when it gets into the 40s (or run all winter…crazies), but I love the warmth! I don’t hit the running trails until it’s closer to the mid-to-upper 50s. I just hate to be cold on a run!
Regardless, let’s talk training! I run on the treadmill even during the summer and save only a couple runs a week to the outdoors. This is mainly because I get my training in at 5:00am and year round it’s dark out at 5:00am so I’ll stick to the bright soft lights of LA Fitness. Basically, I’m an early morning gym rat. Some call it the Dreadmill, but with ESPN in front of me I can almost run all day on that thing!
Last time I promised to chat a bit about speed training including Tempo Runs and Intervals. Before I do though I want to say that speed is relative. If I suddenly became independently wealthy, was able to quit my job and started training like a full-time olympian there is still a good chance that I would never develop Kenyan-esque speed…. When I started running back in December 2009 I was a 5.0 to 5.5mph runner. I was training primarily to finish a race and lose weight. I didn’t care how long it took me as long as I beat the meat wagon to the finish line. After I had a couple half marathons under my belt last year I decided to start trying to finish a bit faster cause I, like a lot of other runners, have aspirations of a Boston Qualifying time in the future. Aside from running in Athens I believe that Boston is running mecca! Right now I am no where near a Boston Qualifying time, but I’m improving!
For speed work I alternate Tempo Runs and Intervals each week. Intervals are pretty straight forward and I like to do them on a treadmill though if you have an outdoor track at a local high school near you then some folks prefer the outdoors.
The treadmills at my gym have a picture of an oval track on them and once around, just like on a standard high school track, is a quarter mile or 400 meters. So a lot of times you’ll hear about people doing 400m repeats or 800s (1/2 mile repeats), 1200m (3/4 mile), or finally 1600m (1 mile). Each one has it’s challenges. At the moment I am working up to 10 x 400m. Between each 400m repeat I slow down and run a much slower lap to recover. It’s also okay to walk a bit for the recovery section if you aren’t used to this type of training. When I first started doing these last year I did walk during the recovery.
For me I do the Intervals one week and the Tempo run the next week then continue to alternate week to week. When I started doing 400m repeats this time around I started with 4-5 intervals and then added one each time the interval training came up on the training schedule. Currently I am up to eight 400m repeats and my speed has improved a lot! The realization came to me a couple weeks ago that I am no longer a 5.5mph runner. In fact, I’m no longer a 6mph (10min/mile pace) runner. I’m getting close to where I am maintaining a 9:30 pace or better for 10K distances and above. Still, this is a far cry from a Boston Qualifying time so I have a lot of work to do!
Next Tempo runs!
The Tempo run is a curious thing. Some think, what’s the difference between a Tempo run and a Pace run? Well there are similarities! Both are run at higher speeds than your normal pace. For me, a Pace run is ran for a specific distance like 5-6 miles while a Tempo run is ran for a certain amount of time like 30-60 minutes.
A Tempo run is broken up into three sections. The first third is the warm-up building to my “normal” pace. The second third or middle section is ran for a faster pace. I like to describe this middle section’s pace as faster than you feel comfortable with, but can maintain for the allotted time. For me, the middle section of my Tempo run is ran faster than the pace I use for my Pace run. Of course the distance I cover in this middle section is less than the distance of my Pace run.
In a sense, a Tempo run is like an extended single interval. However, considering the longer distance of this type of training, the speed of a Tempo run as compared to my speed during a 400m interval is much slower. Make sense? I’ll have a couple examples in a moment to clarify between the three runs. Finally, the last third of the Tempo run is again ran slower at your normal pace and tapers to a cool-down in the last 1-2 minutes of the run.
Here’s a couple examples of my speeds for a recent set of Intervals and a Tempo run.
Intervals: I jog at 6.0mph for a quarter mile between 400m intervals to recover.
Warm-up for a half mile building to 6.0mph
1 x 400m at 6.6mph (1 warm-up interval)
6 x 400m at 7.1mph (FYI, 7.0mph = 8:31 pace)
1 x 400m at 7.5 to 8.0mph (finish strong)
Cool-down for a half mile tapering from 6.0 to 4.5mph
Tempo Run: 45 minutes
First 15 minutes – 9:50 pace
Middle 15 minutes – 9:05 pace
Last 15 minutes – 9:50 pace
For good measure I’m also going to add an example of a recent Pace Run I did to show the difference between the three types of runs.
Pace Run: 4.5 miles
Warm-up in the first few minutes or however long it takes for you to feel ready to go! I do this in the first 5 minutes of the run. You could bike too just be sure to warm-up!
Build to the target pace which for me was 9:22 min/mile pace.
Continue at this pace until you reach the target distance.
Cool-down at a slower pace for an additional half mile.
Smile at the exhilaration you are feeling.
Remember the above examples are JUST examples. I worked up to these speeds and for some runners these may be quite slow! Speed training does work, but don’t worry about it if you are training for your first race. First timers should train to finish and have fun above all else! Speed comes with time and you can’t make yourself go faster sooner than your body can adapt.
Finally, if you have speed training in your workouts delete it from your schedule 2-3 weeks from a race to allow your body time to fully recover and to be prepared for the race.
This past Saturday I took my canoe (rain!) out to the 10K training run that the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon puts on prior to the half marathon (Indy Mini) to kick off the city’s “Month of May” celebration which concludes with the Indianapolis 500 race. They actually put on three official training races coming up to the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon including a 5K, 10K and 15K. I’m also registered for the 15K, but skipped the 5K as 3.1 miles is my normal weekly easy run aaaand it was in early February….oh heck no!
The training runs are well organized with race bibs, timing chips, a marked course covering an increasingly longer portion of the half-marathon route, volunteers, EMS, hydration stops and an official start & finish line. Basically it prepares beginners to really go for it in May and to hopefully be a little less nervous about 13.1 miles since they progressively worked up to that distance in official races from February to race day!
I had a great run on Saturday and posted a 10K time of 00:58:11 which worked out to a soggy 9:22 pace. I was very happy to see my weeks of speed training paying off. I do a pace run each week (see last week’s post) and I alternate between a tempo run and interval training each week as well.
I realized at mile #1 that I went out too fast. In fact, my first two miles were at an 8:45 pace which is fine if I were doing a 5K, but I should have eased up a bit and ran a more consistent pace throughout the race. My last 2 miles were closer to a 9:30-10:00 pace so I slowed down quite a bit at the end before my sprint to the finish. If I had another 6.9 miles to go I would have still earned a new PR I have no doubt, but consistent pace is my new goal! Really dialing in on my pace and running it! I now remember the sage advice of olympic marathoner Jeff Galloway, “For every minute you gain in the first half of a race you will lose 2 minutes on the back half so don’t go out too fast”. This speaks to conserving your strength initially and finishing strong as opposed to trying to win it all in the first mile. If you don’t know Jeff, he is a great guy and the official training consultant for the runDisney series of racing events.
This May will be my 4th consecutive Mini-Marathon. For those who have never ran/walked the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, it is a 13.1 mile half marathon, but not just any half marathon, No! It is the largest half marathon in the nation! Each year it sells out to 35,000+ runners and walkers. It also includes a 2.5 mile lap around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway home of the Indy 500 & Brickyard 400.
During the Mini-Marathon is one of only a couple times a year that the average Jane/Joe may be on the track! The route is described as flat & fast and believe me, it is! I especially like that the start AND finish has a slight downgrade. Need a little motivation to get you through 13.1 miles? The Indy Mini has you covered! There is live entertainment along the entire route and aid stations a plenty! The entire city rolls out to cheer for runners and walkers! It is definitely a great kickoff for Indianapolis’ 500 Festival Celebration for the month of May! Check it out! Indianapolis Mini-Marathon.
Finally, this year is extra special as 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500! I can’t wait to run and have fun! My girlfriend’s family comes out in droves to run this event so I’ll have a team of 20 running with me! Also, my trainer has plans of getting a few people together who she trains so we are going to be a big group! I can’t wait! Oh! …one more thing! If you are more of a walker you can still do the mini-marathon. Just train to be able to keep an 18 minute/mile pace and you’ll come in under the 4 hour limit for the course.
Next time around I’ll talk a bit about my speed training which I mentioned earlier including Tempo Runs and Intervals. I have no training run this next weekend, instead I’ll be driving to Ohio for a trip to Ikea and Jungle Jim’s. Ikea I’m sure you’ve heard of. Jungle Jim’s is a massive grocery with specific sections as big as some other stores. I’ll post a report on this trip and the yummy foods we find on our adventure too! We may even stop by a couple wineries on our way back! Hey, it can’t be about running ALL the time! 😉