Tag Archives: training - Page 2

My Running Form: In Pictures 7/25/2013

 

running form 7_25_2013

Putting the Stopwatch Away: Running Bliss

I’m putting my stopwatch away.  Not forever, mind you.  I will get it out for track workouts a couple of times each month.  Other than that, I don’t want to know.  I run for fun.  I run because I enjoy running.  Paying attention to the stopwatch is sometimes fun, but more often than not it has been the source of stress and disappointment.  This was not the case a few months ago.  I have trained for two marathon in the last two years and my times at all distances are gradually improving.  All of that was done ignoring the stopwatch and enjoying the run.

stopwatchSo how did I get into this negative cycle of setting my sights too high and having them torn apart by the reality of the stopwatch?  Success.  I have not won anything recently (not in the last 25 years), but my times have steadily gone down.  In large races, I am now “in the hunt” for age-group glory.  I may be 46, but I am kind of fast for a 46 year old.  I have gotten close a few times and started craving more success.  Worse than that, I started craving it faster.  I want it now!  This is NOT a healthy mindset.  It is not the kind of thinking that allows for enjoying a good long run.

I am going back to:  “Enjoy the run and the results will come.”  This is what brought the meager success that I have had recently.  I will still wear my stopwatch at the track and try to get faster, but not on the long runs.  Not on the pace runs and tempo runs.  Not on the hill training.  No.  I will listen to my body.  I will enjoy the freedom that running offers.  I will bask in runner’s high.  I will run with friends and family without pushing too hard.

I still expect to get faster, albeit very gradually.  If the results don’t get drastically better over time, then so be it.  At least I will have enjoyed the ride.

Happy Running!

Park

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

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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
 
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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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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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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

Health and Exercise vs. Fitness and Training

There is a significant difference between concepts of health and fitness.  Health refers to the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being.  A healthy person tends to live longer and have a higher quality of life than an unhealthy person.  It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and healthy eating are two critical parts of being healthy.  Your sense of humor and your stress management techniques are also critical features of overall health.

sprintingFitness, on the other hand, is not about general health.  Fitness is about the level of fit that your body has in relationship to a specific task or set of tasks.  The measures of fitness for a baseball pitcher are quite different than the measures of fitness for an offensive lineman in football.  There will most certainly be overlap, but there is a big difference between extremely fit players in these contexts.  If you try to place a baseball pitcher on the offensive line, you are likely to end up with an injured pitcher.  He is fit for one task and not fit for the other.

Everyone should have the goal of being healthy.  As a runner, however, you want to make sure that you are fit for the task of meeting your running goals.  This requires all of the aspects of general health, but also includes running-specific measures of fitness:

  • How fast can you run a mile?
  • Are your core  and hip muscles strong enough to stabilize you during a run?
  • If you plan to run a marathon, have you practiced processing your calorie intake quickly and efficiently?
  • Can you maintain a certain pace for a certain distance?

The specifics of your goals will help you determine the measures of fitness that you should be tracking.  Your training should keep you healthy, but it should also move you towards measuring up to the specific fitness to the tasks set forth in your goals.  Accordingly, you can’t just exercise and expect to move towards your fitness goals.  Swimming is good cross-training, but will never replace specific training runs in moving towards your specific running goals.

Stay healthy.
Set goals.
Determine your level of fitness.
Train to improve your health and your fitness.

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Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!

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

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

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.

Social Pace: The Role of Social Runs in a Training Plan

“Social runs are good for your emotional and psychological health!” — Terri Preast

water hydration couple

I am adding a new category to my training plans.  So far, I have tried to stay true to the 80-10-10 rule.   About 10% of your weekly miles should be  run at a pace somewhere close to your 5K personal record pace (Tempo/Intervals).  About 10% of your weekly miles should be faster than that pace (Speedwork).  About 80% of your weekly miles should be relatively easy, at a pace that is 1.5-2 minutes slower than your 5K personal record pace (Easy Miles).  Research shows that runners that stick with this as a guiding principle tend to improve faster than runners that do not.

The 80-10-10 rule has worked very well for me, but this makes for a lonely life.  You see, in planning my next training schedule for maximum improvement my easy pace will be 7:15 minutes per mile.  At the social runs in which I have participated, there have been very few runners that expect to run at a 7:15 pace.  There are much faster runners in this town, but the elite runners do not usually join the social runs.  Most of the participants in the social runs average between 8:30 and 10:30 minutes per mile.  That means that If I stick to my training program pace, the only time I get to talk to people at a social run is before and after.  That is nice, but it seems to be missing half of the point.  There is joy in running together.  Running in isolation all the time can be rewarding, but a more balanced approach is healthier both mentally and emotionally.

I think it is time to add a new category.  I am going to aim for a 70-10-10-10 program.  I will aim for about 10% of my weekly miles to be at a new pace.  I shall call this Social Pace.  Social Pace will be defined as: “Whatever pace the main group of runners is maintaining during a social run.”  Will it slow my progress?  Probably, but just a little.   I like my runner friends.  The time with them is far more valuable than that price of slightly slower progress.

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Train hard. Race easy. Enjoy the run!

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

– Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

– Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99