Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: marathon

Seeking Greatness as a Masters Runner: A Non-traditional Approach

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that,
but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

― Mark Twain

 In four years of training, I have managed to move myself from a sometimes runner to a locally competitive status.  I have gradually learned the advice doled out to all typical runners and some of the newer info from research.  Those things have helped me make this progress and I appreciate that.  Furthermore, I have shared those details as a running coach as well as sharing them with you through this web site and my books.

So a few months ago, however, I turned a started a new phase in my running career.  I set some unreasonable running goals for myself.  Among those goals is to run 800 meters is 1:58 or less.

Phase 1 was moving from a occasion runner to becoming competitive in my age group regionally.  It took me four years of consistent training to reach this goal.

Phase 2 is to move from solid age group competitor regionally to becoming a great masters level runner.  I fully expect it to take another four years to reach the goal of Phase 2.
To achieve my goal, I am doing some crazy stuff.  After 4 years of running 6 days a week, I am now running only 3 days each week.  No, I am not resting on the other days.  I am swimming, biking, and lifting weights.  Different folks seem to think I have gone crazy, each with their own reason.

  • Dedicated competitive runners lift weights some, but not usually for power.  I am lifting to add muscle.  That sounds crazy to some people.
  • Most people my age think that getting down to 12.7% body fat is  a crazy goal.  They think I should be satisfied.  My new goal is to get down and stay between 8% and 9% body fat all of the time.  That sounds crazy to nearly everyone.
  • Most competitive runners looking for big gains in running ability avoid other sports.  My goal is running, but I am using swimming and cycling to get to my goal.
  • I have been talking about marathons and training for them for several years and my main goal is now only 800 meters.  That takes a completely different kind of training.  Why the big switch?  It doesn’t seem to make sense.

My logic and sanity has been questioned several times lately.  My allegiance to running has also been questioned. These people have good intentions, but are not looking at the big picture.  Put the pieces together and you might be able to make sense of my strategy.

What is the big idea that underlies all of these changes and makes this strategy make sense?  Physics.  Simple physics.

  • To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
  • Force = Mass x Acceleration
  • Inertia – An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon

I am a guy with a relatively big frame for a runner.  That means that even if I drop weight, I am still going to be moving more weight that elite athletes.  That means the amount of force that it takes to move me is greater than those of those elite athletes.  The result is this:  compared to elite runners of my age, I need a bigger push to get my larger frame moving up to the same speed if I am to catch them.  In short, I need more power than I have.

This is why I am training for power right now.  I am building a more powerful set of muscles.  That does not mean that I am “bulking up” but it does mean that I am gaining some muscle weight.  That brings in the body fat issue.  I have to have more muscle, but more weight means more to carry in those long distance races that I love.  The result:  I must drop body fat in order to trim my weight.  I am not starving myself.  I have to feed my body carefully to support muscle growth and speed development.  I have to lose fat only.  That is a tough trick.  I am refining my nutrition and training for this purpose.  More High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) helps to lower body fat.  It is also great for building power.  I do four workouts each week that have some form of HIIT, two in running, one in cycling, and one in swimming.

I am adding muscle power, but lowering my overall weight.  All of that is great, but why am I swimming and cycling?  That’s easy.  Because I am getting older.  No, I am nowhere near retirement, but I am 46 years old.  A ton of mileage might work for some, but it just wears me down.  Cycling and swimming both offer opportunities to train my cardiovascular system for long periods of time.  They also give me additional HIIT workouts.

The biggest difference in my new system is the wear and tear of training.  I do not believe that running wears you down more or less than cycling or swimming.  When I only did one sport, however I had a few spots that seem to always feel the wear and tear of the constant activity.  raining in all three sports distributes that wear and tear out throughout my body.  There is no one spot that is getting more sore than any other spot.

That explains everything except for the change in focus.  I was focused on marathons and half marathons, but now my focus is on training for 800 meters.  Isn’t that going to hurt my long races.  The answer is a yes and no.  Yes, in the short term the fewer miles might have a negative effect on my long races.  Before and after I achieve my 800 meter goal, however, I am going to capitalize on on of my favorite facts of fitness.

Remember This:

It is much easier to maintain your level of fitness than it is to gain it in the first place.

As I work towards breaking 1:58 in the 800 meters, I will also rotate longer runs and rides into the scheme.  I am racing in the Boston Marathon in April.  I will still have long runs that build over time.  My endurance level will be at least maintained if not improved.

After I have achieved this goal, I will maintain the speed and turn my attention towards stretching my new speed to longer distances.  I am reasonably sure that I will not run a sub-four mile, but if I run 1:58 for 800 meters that makes a 4:30 mile look very reasonable.  If I can run a 4:30 mile, then I could probably manage a 15:00 5K.  How cool would that be??

And it goes on from there all the way back to the marathon.  I will still be doing marathons throughout it all.  How fast will I run a marathon?  Who knows?  Here is what I do know: it will be faster because my power base will be stronger.  As I maintain my new power and refocus on endurance, I will become a much faster marathon runner.

A Final Word

Who am I to aspire to be great?  I believe we all have the potential for greatness. It is not specific to me. Most of us just do not believe it.   I do not believe that I have anything more special about me than you do.  What makes me different is that I have begun to believe.

Remember This:

When you believe there is greatness in you, you are right. 
You must find a way to allow that greatness to shine so bright
that it become a light for others.

To my nay-sayers, just know this.  I have a plan.  There is a solid reason for everything in my plan.  It is not traditional because I am not in a traditional spot.  I am not starting in my youth and gradually building to peak performance in my twenties or thirties.  I started this training at age 42.  I am half way through and I expect to peak at around age 50.  I have seen no other plan for becoming a great runner at a late age.  I had to create my own plan.

As the plan unfolds, I will keep you posted about my progress.

If you want to see my daily workouts, I always post them on Facebook and Twitter.

I will also write a book based on my findings of what worked and what did not for taking a good masters level runner to becoming even better.

Until we meet again…

“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

Race Report: Indianapolis Marathon 2013

I ran the Indianapolis Marathon on October 19.

I completed it in 3:12:45, which was a personal record by 37 seconds.   :)

There are a few things that made this marathon different for me.Indy 2013 running

#1  This was not a “Goal Race” for me.

I have several goal races each year.  I plan all of my training and racing around these events.  This was the first marathon I have run that I did not consider to be a goal race.  I just decided to run a fall marathon to get a little more experience.  It was my 6th marathon.  It was also the 3rd time that I have run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

#2  Since this was not a goal race for me, I did not train to run a marathon.

I only ran four training runs over 10 miles since my previous marathon in March.  I ran one 12 miler in July.  The other three longer than 10 where all in September, when I ran 14 miles, 15 miles, and 17 miles on consecutive weekends.

What have I been training for since March?  To run faster.  I ran shorter races.  I particularly enjoyed the summer track series. I raced 800 meters, 1 mile, 2 miles, and ran various distances for relays.  Good times.

#3  I was pestered by  a couple of minor issues.

While I was doing some intense speedwork this summer, I irritated my heal.  I was not careful enough with my form and I paid the price.  In addition, I developed a sinus infection a couple of weeks before this marathon.  I was on day 8 of antibiotics on race day.  Antibiotics can dehydrate you, so you have to pay close attention.  I experienced a few minor gluten issues, but thankfully they seemed to be cleared up by race day.

#4  I did not do the usual careful travel plan.

I usually arrive in town two days before a marathon so that I can rest on the day before the race.  I like to keep it low-key.  I will zip in and out of the EXPO quickly, just long enough to get my number bib and my race shirt.  I spend the day hanging out in the hotel room except for slipping out for an easy 3 mile jog to loosen up.  Not this time, however.

This time, I traveled the day before with my fiancé, her 4.9 year old daughter, and our little dog Lucy.   I actually almost got sick in the car just after we left Knoxville.  Not a good sign!  Next, we got stuck in a traffic jam in Cincinnati. We didn’t even make it to the Expo.  We arrived at the hotel around 9 pm. I had been hungry for a while.  I brought food for the trip, but left it in the trunk when I needed it most.  When we reached the hotel, I had my smoothie for dinner and got ready for bed.

So, … on race day…

My alarm went off 3 hours before the race.  I had another smoothie for breakfast and proceeded to get ready.  We arrived extra early at the race site so I could pick up my race bib and shirt.  Most races do not allow this.  Score one brownie point for the good people of Indianapolis!  They scored a second big point because they had ample port-a-potties at the start line.  Routine IS everything after all.

When we arrived at the parking lot, it had already been raining for a while.  I was hoping it would quit, but the clouds did not agree.  The start was a little odd.  We lined up a few feet back o the starting line, which is normal.  After the national anthem and other pleasantries, they had us walk towards the start line, gave instructions, and got us started.  The odd part was that none of us had actually reached the starting line when the gun went off. We were still walking as they said “Runners to your mark!”  I did not count this as a big deal because this was not a goal race for me.  That extra second or two of “Gun time” would not hurt me any.  No big.

Even though my sinus infection had me feeling a little queasy on race morning just like the day before, I seemed to put that behind me when the race started.  I was going to treat this like a 26.2 mile training run.  I would keep the pace under 7 minutes as long as I could and just see if I could beat my personal record.  I kept the pace of each mile between 6:48 and 7:20 for most of the race.  The rain finally stopped after I had finished about 14 miles.  My average pace at mile 19.72 was 7:02.  I had felt my first twinge of a cramp at around 19 miles and had managed to keep going without having a full-fledged cramp.  Then I felt a GI issue coming on.  I stopped at the port-a-potty at 19.72.  I was in there for a little over 3 minutes.

When I stepped out, I tried to regain my composure and get into the rhythm I had been enjoying earlier.  My legs were tight and gradually all of my muscles took turns threatening to cramp.  Miles 21 to 25 were all in the 7:30s and 7:40s in terms of pace.  I reminded myself that I had not properly trained for a marathon.  Beating my personal record by any amount of time would be pretty darn good.  With a positive attitude, I kept the pace as fast as I could.  Mile 26 had a long steady climb.  It wasn’t steep, but enough to slow my pace another 30 seconds.

The first female passed me just before mile marker 26.  A nice woman that was volunteering shouted, “Hey, don’t let that girl beat you!”  I shouted back, “If she is fast, I will gladly let her win.”  She had more gas than I did for those last two-tenths of a mile.  I was just happy to see the finish line getting closer.

Official Results of Indianapolis Marathon:

Time – 3:12:45   15th place out of 615 finishers

My Conclusions

Managing to best my personal record without training specifically for a marathon was a pretty good confidence boost.  Yes, it was only by 37 seconds, but I had trained like crazy for the previous one.  This time, I ran about 300 fewer miles.  My conclusion is that I maintained most of my endurance fitness while enhancing my raw speed through the summer and early fall training.

Will I train harder for the next one?  It will be my first Boston Marathon, so what do you think I will do?!?

As for this race, however, it felt rather routine.  I was just out for a good run.

The final conclusion:  I have now completed 6 marathons.  All were personal records.  The last three were all Boston Qualifying times for my age group.  Not bad for a guy who returned to competitive running in late 2009 after a 25 year break. Nope, not bad at all.

A word about the event:  The course of the Indianapolis Marathon was mostly flat and fast.  It was nice in terms of natural scenery.  There were some suburbs, but most of the scenery was trees, which helped me relax.  The race was very well organized and the support was excellent.

For now, I am trying to vary my courses, but this would be on my list of courses to repeat in the future.  Thank you, Indianapolis!

“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

 

My Unreasonable Running Goals for the Next 5 Years (don’t judge me)

These are running goals I would like to accomplish within 5 years.

No, they are not reasonable for my current level of fitness.

This is my dream.

Encourage me or keep it to yourself.

Thanks,

P. Mark Taylor

Distance  

Goal Time

   Why

400 meters

0:54

   Training for the 800

800 meters

1:58

   US record for 50-54 age group

Mile

4:29

   Because it is faster than 4:30  ;)

5K

15:12

   Training for 1/2

10K

31:35

   Training for 1/2

½ Marathon   

1:10:25

   This is my main goal.

Marathon

Sub 3

   At Boston.  Pride mostly.  :)

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

My Running Form: In Pictures 7/25/2013

 

running form 7_25_2013

Wise Running: Models of Motivation

Note:   This is an excerpt from my second book on running, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life.  (to be published some time in August 2013)

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“A setback is an opportunity for a glorious comeback.”

I rarely meet my ideal goal for a race.  I almost always have some ideas about how I could have run the race a little faster.  I rarely satisfied with my performance.  In an effort to be supportive, my friends will try to cheer me up.  They say things like, “That’s a lot faster than me.”  or “I would love to have a time like that.”  I greatly appreciate their hearts as they are trying to care for me.  The thing is that being not okayunsatisfied on a regular basis does not mean that I am unhappy.  I may not be smiling.  I may be very frustrated.  That does not mean that I am not enjoying the process.  I have a different model for motivation.

This frustration cycle is a part of what makes me successful in running.  Let me explain…

Typical Motivation Model for Runners

With most runners, the key to motivation is a series of small successes.  “Celebrate every victory,” is the mantra that keeps them going.

For beginning runners:

  • each time they run a little farther is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they complete a race without quitting is a victory to be celebrated

For the most runners:

  • each time they get a personal record for a distance or race, it is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they have a particularly strong run during training, it is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they enjoy running with friends, it is a moment to be celebrated  :)

For aging veteran runners:

  • each time they get a personal record for the year or for the decade, it is a victory to be celebrated
  • each time they can run with and mentor younger runners and contribute to their success, it is a big victory to celebrate
  • each time they celebrate another birthday with a training run or race is a huge victory to be celebrated.

Deficit Model of Motivation

While I have some of that type of motivation going on, I tend to be more motivated by the moments when I do not succeed.  How does this makes sense?  Despite how I look and act after a not meeting my goal in a race, I am not disappointed and I am not discouraged.  In the initial moments after the race, I am frustrated.  My frustration develops into anger.  Within a short amount of time, usually less than 30 minutes, my anger morphs into determination.  That determination fuels my training.  It is not like throwing a log on the fire.  If I fall short of one of my big goals, that frustration turns into fuel that is more like the equivalent of refueling a nuclear plant.  I train as hard as I do because I am that motivated.  I get that level of motivation not by meeting my goals, but by falling short of meeting them.

I set high goals for two reasons:

  1. So I can accomplish big things.
  2. So I can experience failures, which sets myself up for motivation of nuclear proportions.  The determination created by not meeting my goals eventually leads me to meeting those huge goals.

It is not my little successes that fuel my fire the most; it is my deficiencies, my failures.

Next time you see me getting frustrated after a race, smile and realize that my frustration will morph into the determination that leads to huge success.  Be happy for me.  It means that I am one step closer to achieving great things.

Everyone is different.  Figure out what drives you to succeed and operate within that framework.  Let your friends know, so they know how to contribute to your success.  Life is a team sport.

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
 
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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

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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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