REST/XT: this means no running! These rest days are just as important to training for a half marathon as our weekly long runs. Your muscles need time to recover in order to rebuild the strength to keep adding miles as we go. I’m not asking you to sit on your ass like a blob, as it will get harder and harder not to run as your body gets used to it. I am saying that you may become addicted to running! The key on rest days is to do low-impact exercises such as walking, biking, yoga or swimming. A little light weight training doesn’t hurt either. Work on your core during your rest days. A strong core will help you keep good running form when your muscles get tired. It is important to drink a lot of water to help your body flush out any lactic acid built up from those hard training runs we’ll be doing.
EZ: These runs are designed to be run at conversation pace. If you can’t catch your breath enough to say more than a few words at a time, you’re going too fast. Remember, this is not a race. These runs are supposed to be enjoyable, bring a friend along for the fun!
LSD: No, I’m not talking about psychedelics. We are training for a Halloween run and I’m expecting some sort of crazy getup to be going on come race day, but during training it’s important to keep a level head and take it easy on these long runs. Long Slow Distance runs help build both your mental and physical endurance. These are the runs that will help you build up enough confidence to carry you through that final stretch of this half-marathon!
Pickups: This is a pretty simple concept. While you are running, pick up your pace a little. Sprinting for short distances will help you be able to run faster over all. Any good training plan includes a little speed work. Another way to speed train is Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, a form of interval training which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever you want.
HILLz: mixing up your weekly runs is a great way to make you a stronger more efficient runner. Adding a weekly hill workout is a great way to “mix-it-up.” The incline of the hill helps strengthen all of the lower-body muscles, especially the glutes and hamstrings. The increased speed needed to climb that hill helps boost your VO2Max (your body’s ability to take in oxygen and get it to the muscle to make energy) as well as push out your lactate threshold (the point at which you feel that fatiguing burn in your legs). Sometimes it can be hard to locate a good hill and as it starts to get colder, we may want to spend less time outdoors. It is important to learn how to fit these workouts in at the gym as well. This Runner dude has a few good examples of treadmill hill workouts on his blog.
Tempo: Tempo runs are an excellent way for runners to build speed and strength. They're runs that are done at a steady effort level, usually just a little slower than your 10K race pace. Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which is critical for running faster. To get started with tempo runs, start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running to warm up, and then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace. Finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down. If you're not sure what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels "comfortably hard." More on Tempo runs here.
TIPS to LIVE by…
- Start each run with a gentle warm-up of at least five minutes. This can include quick walking, marching on the spot, knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs.
- Run with your arms and shoulders relaxed, and elbows bent. Keep an upright posture and a smooth running stride, striking the ground from heel to toe.
- Stretch! Dynamic stretching is good before runs and static stretching is better for after.
- Register for your race as soon as you can. The sooner you can commit, the more motivated you’ll be during training.
- Keep a diary of your runs. Note down each run, including your route, distance, time, weather conditions and how you felt. That way, whenever your motivation is flagging, you can look back and be encouraged by how much you’ve improved. Daily mile makes this a lot easier.
- Run with a friend. It really helps to have someone about the same level of ability as you to run with. You’ll encourage each other when you’re not so keen to run. You'll feel you don't want to let your running partner down, and this will help motivate you. Hopefully we can all keep in touch through dailymile. You can also join a running club in Madison, or Milwaukee.