Tag Archives: speed

Next Level Running: Hip Drive and Running Form [post 3 of 10]

Good running form is about spending the least amount of energy to move the fastest speed possible in the forward direction.  The way to go faster in the forward direction is to put most of your effort in that direction.  It seems like a simple concept that should go without saying.  The average runner, however, spends about as much energy pushing up and/or sideways as the amount of energy she spends pushing forward.

Key to Form # 1: Foot Landing

There are many sources out there telling you how your foot should strike or not strike the ground.  Is heel-striking always bad?  Is mid-foot striking better than forefoot striking?  I believe mid-foot is more natural and helpful, but as a coach this is not my focus.  “Striking” refers to which part of your foot touches the ground first.

Remember This:

The part of your foot that touches the ground first is not as important
as where your foot is compared to the position of your knee.

Your foot should touch the ground lightly when your knee is directly above the center of the foot.  Too many runners land with their foot in front of their knee.  This is how to put the brakes on!  This is how you slow or stop!  It is also how you get pain under the front of your knee after a while or the next day.

No matter which section of your foot touches the ground first, the bulk of your weight should be carried on the middle of your foot.  Your heel may be touching the ground, your toes may be touching, but it is the middle of your foot that should feel the burden of the weight of your body.  As you make contact and accept all of that weight, gently shift so that you feel the weight there as you push forward.

Remember This:

We do not hit the ground with our feet.  We lightly touch the ground
and then accept our weight, gently balancing it on the mid-section of our feet.

This takes a coordinated effort of all of the muscles from your hips to your toes to keep this action as gentle as possible.  This avoids injury.  Think light!  Move like a ninja!

Key to Form #2:  Point All Effort Forward

The keys to good running form are all based on this forward moving concept.  Your arms should move straight forward and backwards, not swiveling one side to the other. Up and down movement is wasteful too.  When comedians make fun of joggers, they run in place bouncing up and down like a yo-yo.  The better the running form, the less bounce you have.  This is one of my personal weaknesses on which I must focus and correct periodically.

Focus on moving your feet backwards.  As soon as you make contact with the ground, you can:

  • use your hamstring muscles (on the back of your upper legs) to PULL your body forward &
  • use your quadricep muscles (on the front of your upper legs) to PUSH your body forward.

Once your foot is directly under your body, you can:

  • begin to let your heel lift off of the ground while you continue to PUSH your body forwards using the other parts for leverage &
  • use your calf muscles on your lower legs to PUSH forward.

Key to Form # 3: Core Strength and Hip Steadiness

Your hips should remain steady, keeping your belly button facing directly forward at all times.  Zatopek hip extensionEven while you drive your leg all of the way back as far as it can reach to push you forward, your hips should remain square, holding that belly button forward.  If the hips are rocking forward and backwards or side to side, you are wasting energy.  If you held them still, you would go a little faster with the same amount of energy.  This is the role of a strong core.  All of your abs and stabilizing muscles around your waistline help your hips remain strong while you body twists above them.  The hips are the anchors that provide leverage for your legs to pull and push backward on the ground.  This is what propels you forward.

Key to Form # : Hip Drive and Extension

Look at the photo above.  That is Emil Zatopek winning the 10,000 meters in the Olympics in Helsinki in 1952.  He also won the 5,000 meters and the marathon.  Zatopek is a great example of the power generated from the hips.  Yes, the hips are remaining steady, but the power is created there just below and above the hips.  Above the hips, muscles are holding the hips steady.  Below the hips, the muscles are pushing backwards to propel the body forward.

Look at that photo one more time.  Do you see how far back he is pushing?  As his stride finished, Zatopek remained in contact with the ground while his leg straightens out behind him. That last push is call leg extension.  The whole motion of straightening the leg is called hip drive.  Hip drive can be powerful.  It is the most powerful force when you do squats and dead-lifts.  It also holds the potential of being the most powerful part of your running form.

Most runners, however, do not use their full leg extension.  Hence, they are missing out on the extra power created in that last piece of hip drive.  That is like owning an 8 cylinder car, but only activating 6 cylinders.  If your car was not running on all cylinders, you would take it to get it fixed!  Most runners, however, do not know they have an extra gear.

Learn about hip drive and hip extension to take your running to the next level!

Next Steps

In post 4 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • A full range of strength training exercises to enhance your health and running performance
  • How to decide which exercises to do and how much to do

In post 5 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • The fundamental workouts that will make you a better runner
  • The role of consistency

Until then…

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

Next Level Running: Activate & Strengthen Your Glutes [post 2 of 10]

In post one of this series, I pointed out that glute activation and hip drive are the keys to getting to the next level of running performance.  If you have been running long enough to hit a plateau, however, you might be wondering, “How have I managed to avoid using my glutes all of this time?”  Good question.  You have used your glutes at least a little, but most runners do not use them as the powerful motor that they were intended to be.

Your glutes are the muscles that form that spot that you sit on… your backside, bum, or ass.  When activated, they straighten out the angle formed by your upper body and lower body.  When most people think about glute strength, they think squats and dead-lifts.  These are the big compound exercises that have the potential to build your glutes.  The problem is that too many people use nearby muscles, the hamstrings and lower back, to compensate for weak glutes.  Hence, even if you squat and dead-lift frequently, you may still have under-active and weak glutes.

Activate Your Glutes

In order to avoid this compensation and really decide whether or not we have been activating our glutes, we use isolation exercises.  The go-to exercises for isolating the glutes are the the glute bridge, the hip thrust, and a specific variation of the single leg squat.

I will let this video do most of the talking for me about glute bridges and hip thrusts.  I will just add this: when I first started this process, I kept one hand on my hamstring while I did one-leg glute bridges.  I made sure that my hamstring stayed relaxed, doing little or no work.  This ensured that I really was activating and building my glutes!

Build Your Glutes with Single-Leg Squats

After you have been doing glute bridges for a while, it is probably safe to move on to the single-leg squat.  The key here again is isolation.  There are many variation of the single-leg squat.  You must choose one that you know isolates the glute rather than allowing the hamstring to do most of the work!  Here is one good variation designed for that purpose:


What About Squats and Dead-lifts?

Squats and dead-lifts will always be the main exercises for leg strength, including the glutes.  Return to these after you have become strong at glute bridges, hip thrusts, and this version of the single-leg squat.

Next Steps

In post 3 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • How to coordinate your muscles to create hip drive
  • Full and proper running form

In post 4 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • A full range of strength training exercises to enhance your health and running performance
  • How to decide which exercises to do and how much to do

Until then…

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

.

 

 

Next Level Running: Adding Power to Each Stride [post 1 of 10]

form sprinting playingOnce you have become a strong runner, you may be looking for new ways to improve. You may have learned to keep a cadence of 180 steps per minute. You may have done hill repeats, intervals, repeats, and all kinds of other things to get faster. These are all great and important. Each time you add one of these to your arsenal of workouts, you probably found improvement. After a while, however, those improvements get smaller and smaller. As you read this, you are probably nodding your head because you understand. You have lived this scenario and you are looking to break that pattern.

How do you get to the next level?

  • Do effective workouts you have never done.
  • Increase your power supply through a change in form.
  • Increase your power supply through strength training.

I will blog about the 1 and 3 in future blog posts. For this blog post, I will begin a discussion of #2.

Increase Power through Form

Almost all runners do a good job activating and building our quadriceps. These are the muscles on the front of your upper legs. They are huge and very visible. They are strong. The quadriceps activate to straighten out your legs. They are used in running by landing with bent legs and using the quads to straighten the legs. If you are leaning forward, then this propels you forward.

If you’re a bit more advanced, you may be using your hamstrings. Hamstrings are the muscles on the back side of your upper legs. They are not just on the opposite side from the quadriceps, but they also serve the opposite purpose. They bend your leg. Since the quads propel you by pushing, the hamstrings propel you by pulling.

If you coordinate the quads and the hamstring just right, they can work together to propel you forward. What is missing from this scenario? The glutes, calves, and core. The calves activate to push your foot down. If your foot is behind you on the ground, activating this movement means being propelled forward with a bit more power.

The core includes all of the muscles between your ribcage and your legs, all the way around your body. This includes your lower back, your abdominals, and all of the stabilizing muscles all the way around your midsection. The core muscles hold your position. They allow you to align your body to get the biggest push from your quads, the biggest pull from your hamstrings, and the added push-off from your calves.

Hip Drive: The Key to Next-Level Power

The highest level of coordination that leads to the greatest power, however, does not stop there. The gluteus maximus and minimus can combine to be your number one source of power, exceeding even the mighty quadriceps. When activated, they serve to straighten out the bend at the waist which pulls the upper leg backwards. In this way, they can coordinate with the action of the quads and hamstrings to propel you forward. The motion created by the glutes and stabilizing core is called hip drive. Hip drive requires all of the aforementioned muscles to be coordinated AND the added power of the glutes and nearby hip stabilizing muscles.

Alas, many runners barely activate their glutes. That means minimal hip drive. That means that almost all of us are missing out on reaching our full potential.

 Remember This:
Glute activation and proper hip drive are the key to attaining
the next level of performance for the vast majority of runners.

In post 2 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • How to activate your glutes
  • How to strengthen your glutes

In post 3 of this series on Next Level Running, I will address:

  • How to coordinate your muscles to create hip drive
  • Full and proper running form

Until then…

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

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

 

 

Do Not Try This at Home, Kids: Experimental Training

I  base my recommendations to my readers, followers, and clients based on sound research.  The methods I include in my posts and in the training plans I design for people are tried and true.  If you stick with them, you improve.  I have found this to be true in my own running as well.  If it didn’t work for me, I do not recommend it to you.

My current training is not according to conventional wisdom or research.  I have hit a plateau, a sticking point.  I have come to a place where the same old routine is not have the same magical effect.  My body has been adapting to this same set of stimuli so long, that it has stopped responding.

That does not mean that these methods are not ideal.  They still are.  I need to get out of the same old rut, however.

REMEMBER THIS

When you reach a plateau, you must change your routine
until your body starts responding again.

After I get jump-started by this new routine, I will eventually be able to go back to the tried and true methods and see steady improvement again.   In the meanwhile, you will see some crazy workout habits that I do not recommend to 99% of runners.

ludicrous-speed

In other words, as you look at the workouts I post online, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS!

  • 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.

I intend to keep up this experimental schedule for a few months.  If it works well for me, I may begin to alternate seasons of this new routine with seasons of the old routine.  Anything that keeps me improving through honest hard work doing the exercise I love is a good thing.

I will let you know how the experiment is going.

Let me know if you have questions.

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

    — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

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

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 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.”

_______________

 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.

________________________

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 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

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Running 101: What Is a Key Workout?

wise running logo 7_25_12A key workout is one where you are pressing close to the limits of what your body can do without too much strain.  The goal of a key workout is to cue your body to make changes in its processes, to get better at some particular task.  Adaptations that are often a goal of key workouts include:

  • improved running economy [efficient use of oxygen]
  • improved lactate clearance and/or tolerance
  • improved endurance at faster paces
  • improved oxygen delivery [stronger heart]
  • muscle growth & training
  • improved anaerobic threshold [pace at which your body switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism]
  • capillary development
  • glycogen storage
  • fat utilization
  • mitochondrial growth
  • bone development
  • tendon development

When developing a training plan for a runner, I try to aim for two or three key workouts each week.  I place my key running workouts into 4 categories as outlined in the Getting Faster post:

  • speedwork [raw speed]
  • interval training [holding a faster pace for longer]
  • tempo runs [holding a specific pace longer]
  • long runs [endurance]

It is important to note that the adaptations that you get from a key workout do not happen during the key workout.  They happen in the days that follow.   A key workout requires at least one easy or rest day before another key workout should be attempted.  This is because you have pressed the limits of your body.  If you are in GREAT shape and you are below the age of 28, you might be able to handle 3 key workouts each week.  If you are in great shape and below the age of 55, you might be able to handle 5 key workouts in 2 weeks by alternating 2 and 3 key workouts each week.  [these ages vary by individual]

Remember This!

A key workout will not net the results you want if you do not plan for rest
and/or easy miles in the day(s) that follow the workout.

Remember that easy runs net benefits as well.  There are no junk miles.  The key workouts simply offer quicker adaptations.  A combination of key workouts, rest, and easy miles will provide the greatest benefit and quickest progress.

90% Racing: Choosing to Give Less Than Everything

Give everything you have and more.  110%.  That is what I have always been told.  That is what I have always tried to do.  This is especially true on race day.

Unfortunately, I can’t always give 100%.  I’ve been a little bit sick for a very long time – 5 months.  I have good days and bad days.  Most of the time, giving 100% today means resting up for a few days.  If I try to give 110% when I am having a sick day, however, it may mean easing up for at least a week.   Thankfully, I have managed to manage my illness and still train fairly hard.  I have to settle for giving 90%.  I can still make progress at that level, it is just a lot slower.

Today’s race was an example of a 90% effort.  I promised my son that I would run the Butterfly Fund 5K with him today, even though it is not a goal race.  My next goal race is the Hal Canfield Memorial Mile.  On that day, I will give it 110%.  This morning I had to settle for 90%.

I was afraid of going out too fast, but thankfully my car keys jumped out of my pocket just after the start.  That never happens.  I think it was a sign:  “Stay slow and only give 90%”  Message received.  It kept me from going out too fast.  I ran quickly, but not as hard as I thought I could.  After going back to pick up my keys, I had the added challenge of weaving through the crowd of slower runners that had passed.  There was not enough room to run too fast.  I gradually picked my way through the crowd.  Unlike what I would have done otherwise, I felt no panic about the loss of time going back for the keys.  I felt good about taking it a little easier than usual.

I felt reasonably strong.  I was going fast, but not too fast.  Gradually about half of the runners around me started to fade away.  They had been giving 110% from the beginning and could not keep it up.  Yes, that is usually me.  <looking at the floor with a sheepish grin>

Today was different.  I was running within my limitations.  Today I was choosing not to try for a PR, but just to give a good effort.  90% feels pretty good.  I was relaxed and happy.  I was out for a nice tempo run and just happened to be wearing a race number.

I continued giving about 90% effort the rest of the way.  When I finished, I finished strong, but not with an all-out sprint.  I gave it just enough effort to pass a couple of people.  After the finish, I was not wiped out like I would usually be.  I was still energized and ready to go.  What a difference!

So many times in the past I have planned to go out slow and not take a race so seriously.  Each time that I reached the start line, however, I found it difficult to contain the energy.  It is difficult to do anything else but that for which I was trained: 110%

Now that I know what it feels like to give 90% and finish happy, maybe it will be easier to do that when I am not sick.  I want to race more frequently, but you can’t train for them all.  Some of those races have to serve as training runs.  Some have to be 90% runs that happen to be at a race.  If I can plan these and follow through as planned, I will be happier and wiser.  :)

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