Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: custom training plan

Experimental Training: Staying the Course

Back in January, I reported that I was engaging in “experimental training” focused on building speed.  I summarized by saying:

  • I will run less frequently, but with greater intensity.
  • The speed-work I run on the track is going to be much faster and more intense than I would ever recommend to a client.
  • I will work harder on power through intense speed-work and additional weightlifting.
  • My long runs will still gradually increase as I prepare to run the Boston Marathon.  This remains the same.  There is no substitute.  The experimental side of the long runs for now is that my tempo runs will be embedded within those long runs each week.
  • I will replace my easy running days with cross-training on the bike and in the pool.

Has the experiment paid off yet?

No.  At least not in terms of scoring personal records.

In fact, I have had some relatively slow races lately.  Am I getting slower?  No, I am not.  I am training as fast as ever. ImplementationDip

What I am going through right now is called an implementation dip.  I am challenging my body in new ways.  Hence, my body is changing in subtle but important ways.  In the graph at the right, I am somewhere in the red zone.  My performance had plateaued, so I implemented alternative training and my performance dipped down.  As I continue with the new training, the performance will begin to rise again.  When the change is complete, I can expect my performance to not only match my prior level but to begin exceeding it.  By staying the course on this plan, I should begin setting personal records again before fall rolls around.

On a related note, this is messing with my head a little.  In races this year, I have not felt exactly the same as before.  As a result, I have not been able to make good pacing decisions.  When I get past the implementation dip, the feel of races will be more consistent.  This will help me better adjust my pacing during races and maximize my race performances.

Have I seen any benefits so far?

Yes.  I am healthier, with fewer aches and pains.  At 46 years old, that is a big deal.

I am running fewer miles and doing more cross-training that causes less wear and tear.  I am still doing a lot of cardiovascular work to enhance endurance.  It is just in different formats.  Fewer aches and pains means I am more comfortable doing strength training.  This in turn allows me to get faster.

It also breaks up the daily grind by offering alternative training sites and experiences.  Having fewer runs per week makes my runs feel even more special than before. Even though I have added biking, swimming, and some triathlons, I am still a runner.  That is where my goals are.  That is where my heart soars.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

 

How to Make an Effective New Year’s Resolution (Goal)

wise running logo 7_25_122014 is a new year;
don’t make the same old resolutions. 

Change your mind.
Change your life.

The most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more.  Unfortunately, those two resolutions usually fade off into the land of broken promises by the time February rolls around.  These two resolutions are well-intended but doomed to failure for several reasons.

A resolution must be a goal.  To be an effective goal, it must be specific, measurable, and have a timeline.

Remember This

If you aim for nothing, you will surely achieve your goal!

Bad Resolution 1 - “This year I will lose weight.”

Problems:

    • What will you do to lose weight?
    • How much weight?
    • When?

Improved Resolution 1 - “This year I will lose 3 pounds each month by drinking water instead of my usual soda.”

Bad Resolution 2  – “This year I will get exercise more.”

Problems:

    • What kind of exercise?
    • How much?
    • When?
    • Will you do it all at once or gradually add more time/distance/reps/classes?

Improved Resolution 2  - “This year I will do at least 1 hour sessions of cardio exercise three times each week.  I will start in January with 1 group fitness course and gradually add courses, reaching 3 courses per week by July.”

Remember This

If you can’t say why a change is important to accomplish,
then your efforts are wasted and may even be dangerous!

Bad Resolution 3 -  “This year I will increase my weekly mileage.”

Problems:

  • Why? How will it help?
  • How much mileage is helpful and beneficial for your fitness and goals?
  • Will you make gradually increases or big jumps?
  • When?

Improved Resolution 3 - “This year I will increase my weekly mileage from 20 miles each week to abut 35 in preparation for marathons.  I will track this during my spring and fall marathon training schedules, which will gradually increase weekly mileage by ten percent or less.  My mileage will be lower in the weeks between training schedules.”

Yes, this last one got pretty specific, but there is a reason.  It gives enough specifics to know what to do, when to do it, and how to know if you are accomplishing the goal.  It also allows for time to rest the legs a bit and rekindle the love for running.

Remember This

A resolution that is a burden physically or emotionally is unlikely to be kept.
A resolution kept should improve your quality of life.

 

As for me, here is my very specific resolution for 2014:

I resolve to decrease my running mileage from 40 down to 20 per week while increasing my weekly time spent on cardio exercise and strength training until it reach 10 hours.

  • I will gradually move my cardio time (including running) from 5.5 to 8.5 hours per week increasing the weekly total by 15 minutes each week until it is accomplished.
  • My running time has already dropped due to injury, so the goal will be to gradually increase this time by about 10 minutes per week, until I reach 3 hours again.
  • I will include at least three strength training sessions each week, a minimum of 30 minutes each.
  • The remainder of the cardio time will be achieved through a balance of swimming and cycling.

I could make a resolution about eating more veggies, but this is my constant battle.  Every year.  Every week. Every day.  :)

Final Thoughts…

Make resolutions you are willing to stick with for at least 3 years.
If you are not willing to go 3 years, then you will not last 3 months.

Will power and motivation, as most people understand them,
are emotions that do not stay constant.
Resolve and determination are there no matter how you feel.
Base your fitness decisions on them and you will march on to your goals.

2014 is a new year; 
don’t make the same old resolutions. 
Change your mind.
Change your life.

_____________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Reflection on My Training

 Howdy, Friends!

It has been another interesting year in my training. I say training, because this year I added more cross-training.  Don’t worry, running is my first love and will remain my focus.

Looking Back

To put 2013 in context, it helps to remember where I have come from.  In late 2009, I started to run consistently for the first time since 1985.  I ran a half marathon that fall and a marathon the spring of 2010.  I was not competitive.  I was just happy to finish my races at that point.

I gradually learned the basics of how to train for running, gradually became more disciplined, and gradually moved towards being competitive.   By the fall of 2011, I just missed the qualifying time for Boston (for my age) by 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

I had glorious goals set for 2012 that made sense based on my recent progress, but I began to feel weakly just weeks before the Knoxville Marathon.  I started reasonably well, but could not finish that race.  That was April.  I remained sickly while the doctors guessed at what might be wrong.  I completed races and some training, but I did not find the answer until September.  After half of a year of guesswork, I changed to a gluten-free diet.  Problem solved.  I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:22:44 just 6 weeks after eliminating gluten from my diet.  I had expected be sub-3 in 2012, but after the illness I was just happy to finish a tiny bit faster and get the BQ.  (Boston Qualifier)

At the beginning of 2013, I decided not to write down a long set of specific goals.  2012 had taught me that I should be satisfied doing the best that I can in any given circumstance.  Here is what I said:

“I will continue my quest to run a sub-6:00 mile pace at every distance up to and including the marathon. I cannot possibly achieve that pace in the marathon in 2013, but I would like to run under 2:50:00 in a marathon by the end of this year.

I believe that I can achieve the sub-6 pace in the 10K for sure and possibly for the half marathon. I also think I have an excellent shot at running a sub-5:00 mile this year, but I need to find a few more 1 mile races.”

Progress in 2013

I started 2013 with a bang.  On New Year’s Day I ran a 5K in 18:35, just slightly faster than a 6 minute pace.

In February, I managed to whittle my half-marathon time down to 1:27:42.  [6:41 pace]

In March, I ran the Shamrock Marathon in 3:13:22.  I would have liked to have gone under 3:10, but I have no regrets.  I gave it all and enjoyed the run.

dash (2)

There were several races that I did not consider to be goal races.  I ran them to score points for our racing team.  I aimed for age group awards and did fairly well despite not training specifically for them.  This was the first year I had been on a running team beyond high school.  I enjoyed being a part of the Tennessee Spine Racing Team.  Good people.  Running with teammates during races helped my motivation greatly.

Although nowhere near my goal of a sub-6 pace, I did well in my age group in the Expo 10K.  I had been doing a lot of speed work and it showed up in the last mile.  Zoom!

My next goal race was the Fireball 5K on July 3rd.  Although my time of 18:48 was 13 seconds slower than my race on New Year’s Day, I still considered it to be great progress.  It was 70 degrees and rainy, so it was probably the equivalent of 18:20 in perfect weather. Context matters.  Weather affects your running ability.  I did well.

I had a lot of fun at the three summer track meets.  I ran 800m, 1 mile and 2 miles, as well as doing some relays with my friends.  In the heat of the summer, I ran 800 meters in 2:22.9, 1 mile in 5:20.7, and 2 miles in 11:56.  I loved it. 

I continued to play with speed throughout the summer and into early fall.  I added just enough distance to be ready to run the Indianapolis Marathon.  I did not plan my training schedule around this marathon, but I still managed a slight improvement at 3:12:45.

A few weeks later, I ran the Savannah Marathon with my new wife, Muna.  We eloped on the way to the race. I paced her and she earned a huge PR at 3:52:25.   Win-Win!

My last goal race of the year was the Secret City Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, I injured my knees slightly in a weightlifting session a week or so before the race.  I held back a little, but still managed to defend my Masters title, finishing in 1:28:18.

I have spent the month of December crosstraining and building my leg muscles while my knees recuperate.  I have run less than 10 miles in December of 2013. I have kept up my fitness by swimming several miles each week and began to bike some as well.

In addition to training and racing, I also managed to publish my second book, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life.  As with my first book, I don’t make much money on each copy; the goal is to help people.

As a running coach, I developed training plans for several people and continue to see good results.  I love to be a part of it as runners move towards their goals!

On to 2014

In 2014, I will continue my quest towards running a sub-6 minute pace at distances up to a marathon.  Whatever progress I make will make me happy.  2013 saw me run sub-6 pace at 1 mile, 2 miles, and 5K.  I hope to add 10K to that and will once again try to get closer to 6:00 pace in the half-marathon.

2014 will also be the beginning of my triathlon career.  I have found a love for swimming and I need to bike to strengthen my knees.  Hence, training for a few triathlons this year will help my running.

Finally, all of my training will go to support my newest goal.  I want to run 800 meters in 1:58:00 or better.  I do not believe that I can get there this year.  2:10 or better would be a reasonable goal, but I will take what I can get.

Above all, my main goals are what I wish for you this year:

“Train Smart, Eat Well, & Enjoy the Run!” 

Thanks for your support this year. Let me know if you have questions about running!

Your friend,

P. Mark Taylor

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life (2nd book)

Wise Running Book 2 is now available via in paperback and e-book. 

Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Wise Running is the follow-up to P. Mark Taylor’s first book on running: The Gift of Running.  While the first book focused more on getting started as a runner, this second book is more about how to move to the next level. P. Mark Taylor tells us how to think about running in ways that will help you be more consistent and improve.

Running is a great metaphor for life. It takes effort. It takes motivation. You have to stay healthy. If you stick with it long
enough and smart enough, you live a more rewarding life. So it is with running.

In Wise Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

The ebook includes:

  • goals, fitness, & health
  • how to think about training
  • designing a race and training schedule
  • aligning your efforts with reality
  • eating for health and fitness
  • a runner’s view on special diets
  • running-specific nutrition, including marathon nutrition
  • the effects of heat and humidity
  • the social aspect of running
  • motivation and encouragement

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The Gift of Running, the first book in the Wise Running series by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

 

Running Naked: The Effects of Watchless Running

A fellow runner posted this question to me:

Hi, P. Mark!!

What has been your experience with watchless running and racing? I race without a watch but I want to start training without a watch, just enjoying runs and doing true fartlek runs, don’t care wearing a watch during intervals, I have been obsesses with splits for so long that I want to try something different, I have tried fartlek runs without a watch in the past and I raced decent and I loved the freedom of it!! Do you think that the training and racing suffers training watchless always ( even for hard workouts)?

Cesar

Most runners feel naked without a timing device.  That is why I refer to an untimed run as a Naked Run.

It is not the watch or GPS device that we miss.  What we are missing is data, the opportunity to analyze our running and make informed decisions about our progress and the effectiveness of our workouts.

Well, Cesar, I know exactly what you mean.  We get so caught up in the numbers sometimes that is easy to forget some important things.

  • First, in the attempt to focus on our pace and or form, we sometimes forget the simple joy of getting lost in a run. The act of lacing up your shoes and enjoying the freedom that running brings.  There is joy in movement.  There is joy in enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells on the run.
  • Second, we forget to give ourselves a little latitude.  On hot and humid days, we sometimes forget to adjust our goal times and end up frustrated throughout the run.  Cold and rain can throw us off pace as well.  Too  much focus on a regimented training with exact paces can drive you crazy.

Does a GPS device or a watch do this to us?  No, we do it to ourselves.  The watch is just a tool.  It is not the Garmin’s fault.  The Garmin is innocent.

Say it with me: 

“The loss of the simple joy of running and the negative feelings created by a “bad workout” are the fault of no one or no thing except myself.”

Now that we have that out of the way, let us move on to the other extreme.  What would happen if we all started running naked?

The Effects of Naked Running

The truth is that there is not one answer that fits all.  What is true for all runners is that pace is important.

  • Running too fast can lead to injury; a watch can tell you when to slow down.
  • Running too slow can lead to frustration because you are not making progress as fast as you could.

If you have been watching your pace like a hawk for years, you can probably “run by feel.”  Running by feel simply means that you can tell when you are running at or near the most important benchmarks.  If you are that runner, you do not need a watch to know when you are pressing against the limit of your lactate threshold.  You know when your body has switched from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism.  For these experienced runners, the danger of never wearing a timing device is gradually losing your sense of pace.  Without timing periodically, you could venture to far away from your goal paces.

For those runners who are less aware of how these things feel, we need to go by pace and/or heart rate.  For our key workouts of the week, we have to wear our watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS devices.  This includes slow runs!

Striking a Balance

I do not believe that any runner should do all of their runs with a watch or GPS device.  I believe that one or two runs a week should be simple, relaxed runs where you can let go of the pressures of the world AND the pressures of training.  Just go out for a run.

I also believe that the experienced runners still needs to wear the devices at least once or twice a week.  It will allow you to document your runs and show your progress.  You will want this data months or years from now.  Wearing the device periodically can also tell you if your “sense of pace” is a little off.  If you are surprised by how fast or slow you are going, it is time to wear the watch more often for a while.

If you find yourself over-focused on pace and unable to enjoy the run, add some Naked Runs to your week.

Here are some related posts about the importance of pace:

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

wise running logo 7_25_12

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners and Future Runners

My first book, The Gift of Running, is available in both paperback & ebook

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com   $9.00

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .

Below is the official description.  A small excerpt is included at the bottom of this page.

Book Reviews by Runners:

Book Reviews on Amazon.com:

If you would like an autographed copy of the book, please email me at pmark67@gmail.com

_________________________

The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

by P Mark Taylor

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

P. Mark Taylor is a runner & author of the blog at http://www.WiseRunning.com.

Publication Date:    Jul 20 2012
ISBN/EAN13:    0615668607 / 9780615668604
Page Count:    196
Binding Type:    US Trade Paper
Trim Size:    5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:    English
Color:    Black and White
Related Categories:    Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging
 
_____________________________________

How to read this book:   (an excerpt from the book)

“This book is not a technical manual.  I have intentionally tried to keep my explanations brief and simple.  I have avoided technical terms and explained what I mean whenever needed.  It does offer important research-based information, but it offers more than that.

The book is about:

  • the human side of running,
  • becoming a runner,
  • working to become a better runner,
  • & staying safe, sane, and happy as a runner. 

It moves back and forth between personal stories, quotes from runners, and advice on running.

Most of the subsections of the book could be read independently, but I encourage you to read it from front to back.  This is especially true for the inexperienced runners.  Read the whole thing first, then go enjoy the run!

This book is the culmination of years of running, studying, and life experiences.  Most of all it is about the love of running and my respect for runners.

This book is dedicated to all of those who share my passion for running & to all those who are trying running for the first time.”

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 Click here to see my second book on running:
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life
Wise Running Book COVER mockup

The Pieces of the Running Puzzle

The following is an excerpt from my new book, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life, which is scheduled to be released in August 2013.

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Going out for a run is good enough if your goal is to run. If your goal is to run over one mile quickly, however, there is a lot more to it. In the old days, they just worried about two things: speed and endurance. This, too, is oversimplified. The goal of this chapter is to give you an overview of what you really need to know in order to make informed decisions about training for any distance from a mile to a marathon.

The following framework is offered as a way to think about your training. There are much more technical ways of looking at running. Later in this book I have included a list of suggested readings if you want to know more of the details. In my own thinking, however, this is as complex it needs to be for effective training. I think about it in these three categories:

  1. Raw Speed & Power
  2. Short-Term Endurance
  3. Long term Endurance

Here is a brief description of each:

Raw Speed & Power

Raw speed and power is just as it sounds. Go out to a track and run 50 or 100 meters as fast as you can. For this kind of running, you are in the anaerobic zone. Literally, you are not breathing enough oxygen to provide enough energy using the aerobic metabolism. Your body shifts into anaerobic metabolism. The pace at which this occurs is called the anaerobic threshold. While this requires less oxygen, it also requires a lot more fuel. You burn out quickly, so you can only do this for very short distances. Even so, raw speed and power workouts are an important part of the foundation for training for races at any distance from 400 meters to the marathon!

woman running on trackTraining for raw speed and power takes repeats. Doing these sprints at distances from 100 meters up to 400 meters can build muscle and change your anaerobic threshold for the better. In order to add even more muscle, I also add natural power-building exercises after my repeats workout. I include things like power-skipping, hopping, jumping, walking lunges, and crossover running drills.

I do not recommend doing this raw speed and power workout more than once a week. It takes a long time to heal from these extreme workouts. In most marathon training schedules, raw speed and power workouts are limited to the first 1/2 or less of the training schedule.

Short-Term Endurance

When I speak of short-term endurance, I am referring to distances of 800 meters up to a mile or even two. These are distances at which you are not likely to cross the anaerobic threshold, but you are likely to cross another important line: the lactate threshold. While the anaerobic threshold is about the consumption of oxygen, the lactate threshold is about the buildup of lactate in your muscles. Lactate is not only a natural byproduct of the aerobic metabolism happening in your muscles but it is also fuel. Your muscles can recycle this byproduct and consume it as a secondary source of fuel. As such, lactate is good. The bad part is that your body is limited as to how fast this recycling occurs. When the muscles produce more lactate than they can burn, this leads to cramping. This cramping can slow you down or even injure you. Hence, you need workouts specifically designed to challenge your body to become more efficient. More efficiency in these processes means that you can run a faster pace without cramping from lactate buildup.

Training for short-term endurance takes interval training. There are several types of interval training, but they all have the same goal: being able to run faster before hitting your lactate threshold. Interval training methods also have the same characteristics in terms of how they challenge your body to be more efficient with lactate. It is simply alternating between paces: running a little faster than your lactate threshold pace and then switching to a little slower than lactate threshold to allow your body to catch up. Then without stopping, you accelerate to the faster pace again. This fast/slow sequence is done throughout the intervals workout to cue the body that it needs to change to adapt to faster running. As with speed and power workouts, doing interval training once a week is enough for almost any runner.

Long-Term Endurance

When you run significantly slower than your lactate threshold pace, you should be able to maintain that pace for a long way. Many of us might have enough glycogen stored in our bodies to run as far as a half marathon with no additional fuel. That does not mean, however, that your body can manage any distance just by training for those other levels. It does make it easier, but you still have to train for what you want to race.

If you want to race farther than two miles, you must train for the distance. In order to hold your newly enhanced faster paces for longer distances, you must practice two types of runs: tempo runs and long runs. A tempo run is simply running a fairly fast pace (but slower than lactate threshold) for a longer distance. You can do a tempo run that takes anywhere from 20 minutes up to an hour. A long run, however, is just that. You run much slower than lactate threshold pace, but you do it for a much longer distance. A long run can be anywhere from an hour to three hours. Both of these types of long-term endurance runs cue the body to develop more in ways that support more efficient oxygen and fuel delivery, more efficient metabolism, and more efficient lactate clearance. In addition, the longer runs do more to build and develop mitochondria which allow you to burn body fat more efficiently.

** Note for Marathoners: Research shows that no significant gain comes from running a long run beyond three hours. No matter what distance that is for you, I do not recommend running longer than three hours during training.

If you are going to develop a training plan for whatever goal you have in distance running, you will need to consider these three areas.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

wise running logo 7_25_12

Running 101: Why Training Is More Important Than Racing

“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” – Juma Ikangaa

____________________

When you begin a discussion about running, the conversation frequently centers on races:

  • What is PR?
  • When is your next race?

Even when training is mentioned, it is used as context for a question about racing?

  • What are you training for?

This might just be my opinion, but I think discussions like this show that runners are missing the point.  Training is infinitely more important than racing.  Yes, racing can be a motivator, but this is being results-driven.  We begin to judge ourselves, and sometimes others, by the results they produce on race-day.  There is a small segment of the population for whom this is the best way to go.  They thrive on the pressure.  For the vast majority of the population of runners, however, this focus on race results can be very unhealthy.  It can be a source of great frustration, fear, and angst.

Don’t get me wrong, I am training for particular races throughout the year.  I plan my schedule around them.  It is merely a difference of perspective.

The bottom line is this:

Your running performance on race day is merely a reflection of the progress you have made in training over the previous weeks and months.

If you do not train, you will most likely be disappointed with the results.  If you trained poorly or inconsistently, disappointment is also likely.  If you train wisely and consistently, you are more likely to be happy with the results.  On the other hand, with great training you can still be disappointed on race day.  Even though you may have stuck to a perfectly designing training schedule, there are many things that can go wrong on race day:

  • the weather can always affect your results on race day
  • bad sushi or an unplanned illness can steal your power or keep you from the starting line
  • mother nature’s monthly gift could arrive on the wrong day
  • you could slip and fall

0001[1]The list goes on and on.  With so many things that could happen on race day, it seems folly to derive your worth, competence, & happiness as a runner primarily from what happens on race days.

Training, on the other hand, has a lot more days to choose from.  Instead of having certain days where I determine the progress I have made, I can wait until I have a good day.  For example, if I am feeling really great about a set of 800 meter intervals that I just completed, I will choose that day to measure my progress.  I will go home and get on my computer to look up the equivalent workout from a year before and sometimes even further back.  In that situation, I am not depending on weather or luck.  I can compare a good day to a good day and see my true progress.

So here it is.  If you succeed on race day, it is because of your training days.  If you fail on race day, you can still see progress using your everyday workout.

There are a lot more opportunities to find success if you focus on your training rather than your races.  Once I finally came to this realization,  it freed me up to enjoy my races much more. 

I no longer put undue pressure on myself to have a good day on that particular day.  I have learned to plan the first miles of a race and then run by feel the rest of the way.  I can simply be happy with doing my best that day because I know that races are not the true measure of my progress.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

wise running logo 7_25_12

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Running Faster: Adjusting Your Training Schedule and Paces

I was up late last night looking at my training schedule.  Earlier in the day I had completed eight 400 meter intervals with a 250 meter jog between and no rest.  I had run them at the appointed pace and they felt quite easy.  I felt like I could do that workout all day.  On the one hand, this is a great sign.  It means that the assigned pace had become easy.  I am getting faster.  :)

summer solstice 2013 legsOn the other hand, however, it also means that it is time for a change of pace, literally.  This was supposed to be one of my key workouts of the week, the ones that challenge me to grow.  Yesterday’s workout did not challenge me to grow; it was too easy.  I am in the middle of my “crazy speed training” time of year, so I was expecting to get faster.  The progress is just much faster than I expected.  Hence, I had to take the time last night to re-evaluate where I am now and what paces and workouts I should be doing for the next few months.

Remember This!

You should stick to your training plan without changing things too much except:

  • if you are injured or overly sore.  Then you must rest.  If you try to push through it, your progress will be slower in the long run.
  • if you are not getting any faster.  If you have gone for a month or two without noticing some progress, then it is time to change the program.  A change in routine often does the trick.
  • if you are getting faster than you expected.  This is where I find myself today.  In this case, it is time to increase the paces and/or distances at the prescribed pace.

Since I am in the third category, I have the choice of increasing my pace for the same workouts OR to hold the pace for longer distances.  I am specifically training to run a fast 1 mile race, so I choose to increase the pace.

Everyone runs their own pace, so do not judge yourself by my pace.  My run yesterday looked like this:

8 x 400 meter Intervals at 4:58 pace per mile
Jogged 250 meters between. No rest.
5 miles total with warmup/cooldown

I had planned on it taking another 2 months before that would have been comfortable.  Hence, I am cranking it up a notch.  Here are my next two key workouts planned:

For raw power/speed
4 x 400 meter Repeats at 4:22 pace per mileFull rest between.
3 miles total with warmup/cooldown.

For holding a fast pace longer
8 x 400 meter Intervals at 4:40 pace per mile
Jog 250 meters between. No rest.
5 miles total with warmup/cooldown.

These should be challenging.  As a matter of fact, I may or may not be able to do them the first time.  I will try, but I will prioritize being relaxed.  Relaxing while you work your hardest helps to avoid injury.  Over the next several weeks these workouts will gradually get easier.  Not easy, just easier.

Whatever your pace may be, the questions are these:

  1. Are you challenging yourself enough?
  2. Are you challenging yourself too much?

The answers are often evident in the progress you are seeing over time.  Look here to see approximate paces appropriate for you.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

wise running logo 7_25_12

________________

What Is a Custom Training Program and Why Do I Need One?

What is a Custom Training Program?

A custom training program is a schedule of training runs in preparation for a specific race with a specific time goal.  My next major goal, for instance, is to finish the Indianapolis Marathon in under 3 hours.  In order to accomplish this, I know that I will need to average a pace of 6:49 per mile.  That is a tall order,since my last marathon was completed at a 7:24 pace.  How in the world do I expect to accomplish this goal?

1)  I have a plan.

I have an 18-week plan laid out.  I know what to run each day and how fast to run it.  Every day has a specific purpose.  There are days designed for speed & days designed for rest.  Some days, all I have to do is relax and run a few miles.  Weekends runs are more ambitious than weekdays because I have more time and energy to spend on the weekend.  On most Saturdays, I run mile repeats.  On every Sunday, I have the long run of the week.

The weekly mileage gradually increases from 30 to 50 miles per week.  Every third week, miles are reduced so as to not overwhelm my body with the new work load.  In the last few weeks of the schedule, there is a decrease in miles on the schedule.  This is designed to rest, heal, and store up energy for the actual race.

The intensity and speed of the daily runs also increases over time.  Just before the taper period, near the end of my training schedule, I intend to do 16 mile repeats at 5:45 minutes each.  This is a full minute faster than my intended race average.  If I can accomplish this, then racing at a 5:50 pace will seem somewhat relaxed. :)

2)  I will follow the plan.

Will I follow the plan exactly on every day of the schedule?  No, but it does guide my daily decisions and keeps me on track.  The only variations I make will be because of soreness & life issues.  Some soreness is a good sign of hard work.  I have planned for that kind of soreness.  I alternate fast/intense days with relaxed or rest days.  The other kind of pain, however, is a warning that something is not right.  It means that either you trained a little too hard or that your body may soon be injured.  In either case, I may choose to ease up on the speed and/or distance.  In a worst-case scenario I may take an extra day or two off.  In my last marathon training program, I had to take it easy for two weeks.  Once I felt better, I resumed the training program.  No extra miles to make up, just resumed the program the way it was written.  I still managed to PR by 28 minutes, so resting worked!

3)  I realize that I may not make it this time

Sometimes we just set our goals too high.  Sometimes we meet our goal, but sometimes we don’t.  In that fall of 2011, I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  In order to BQ at my age, I needed to run it in 3:25 or less.  Even though I PRed by a full 28 minutes, I fell short of the ideal goal by finishing in 3:27:27, just two and a half minutes from glory.  Was this a failure?  No!  I PRed by 28 minutes.  That is a huge win.  I had set my “Lofty Goal” at 3:25, but I had a “Happy Goal” of 3:35.  I knew that it was more reasonable.  The fact that I exceeded my happy goal and just missed my lofty goal means that my training program was a big success!

Why do you need a training program?

You need both a goal and a plan to meet that goal in order to achieve.  It is that simple.  Runners training without a plan are likely to take more days off.   Runners without a training program are likely to increase mileage either too quickly, which leads to injury, or to slowly, which leads to disappointing results.

A Running Coach can help you set goals and develop a custom training plan to meet those goals.  What do you want to accomplish?

Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor
pmark67@gmail.com

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