Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The plan

So, I've decided to write my own half -marathon training plan this time around. A group of friends and I have all decided to do the Haunted Hustle half-marathon in October. Most of us are beginners so I modified the plan from the August issue of Runners World.

 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.


Monday, August 8, 2011

It begins again...

A little less than two months since Grandma's marathon in Duluth, I'm choosing to begin this journey on more time. Only this time there are a few differences. 

This time I'm only going for half. Training starts tomorrow with a two mile run. I've recruited a few friends to train for the Haunted Hustle Middleton the day before halloween. I hope we can all stick together through training and finish this half in style! Costumes? Probably. I've modified the runner's world half-marathon training to accomodate true beginners. I feel like a beginner right now, really. I hope you're ready girls!

I probably should have shot for a half marathon first, then gone for the full afterwards but I've been known to do things a little differently at times. 

Here's a little catchup from the last couple months:

My marathon went well, but training was somewhat lonely and 26.2 miles is a long way. I finished in 4:37, only seven minutes over my goal.

 I would have uploaded more pictures, but all of them were taken by my boyfriend, Nick, who ended up losing all his belongings in an apartment fire a couple weeks later.
Thankfully nobody was hurt, but my pictures haven't been salvaged. I quit running for three weeks after that. I had a recurring pain in my left foot that wouldn't let me run more than a mile at a time. I lost a little motivation during that little break. An accellerated summertime calculus class kept me busy and too stressed out to run as well.
I'm not a fan of calculus, I must say. It didn't end well.

After that disaster, and a good long healing period, I started to run again. Next came Tough Mudder Wisconsin.

 I had a pretty hard time training for this one. I took a weight training class at school to help prepare. 

 I was only able to run short distances at a time because of my injured foot, but I rode my bike almost every day. I figured I could handle it with minimal training. After all, I had just run a marathon, I could do anything. Ten miles seemed like nothing.
 It was the obstacles that made it both fun, and almost impossible at the same time.
 There was nothing that could have prepared me for those hills. It was four miles of straight up and down hills. These weren't gently rolling hills mind you, these were brutal, better walk on the way down or you might break a leg, hills. Double black diamond ski hills, the kind you don't attempt on skis. 

So, that's some of what's been going on in my life lately. 


Friday, June 10, 2011

Pre-race recap and some lingering thoughts on energy gels

It's almost a week till race day and I'm just about totally prepared for this marathon thing. I'm so nervous at this point that I just want it to be over with. All my plans are in line. All that needs to be done is to do it. 

I've been cutting back on my training for the last couple of weeks. My runs have gone back down to between 3-4 miles each and my long runs no longer seem long. Well, last Sunday's 15 miles turned into 13, then turned into 9+ 2miles of walking because my hip flexors decided to start making themselves painfully noticed. I had worked ALL of Saturday. Starting at 5am with a 4 mile bike ride in to work to stand behind a desk for 8.5 hours Saturday was a non-stop run in itself. It was busy so I didn't get to sit down for a moment. After that, I rode my bike another 13 miles to get to my other job at a swanky private golf club where I do everything from serve tables to carry them and their chairs to set-up and tear down wedding decorations. We were there until 1:30 am. I had to work there on Sunday afternoon too, so I got a ride home and planned on running there (13 miles) in order to fit in my long run for the week. Due to the overexertion on Saturday, my body shut down 2 miles shy of my goal and would run no further. This just gave me a good indication that taking off work for the 2 days proir to my marathon is a good idea. 

I stopped at the local bike shop the other day and parused their selection of energy gels to bring along with me on race day. There are so many to choose from! I picked up quite a few I think I might like just to try and a couple that I know work well for me. I'm a big fan of the cliff bloks and shots because they are mostly organic and contain no high fructose corn sweetener. I noticed a lot of these contained caffeine. I'm thinking, 'hey, caffeine gives you energy, what a great idea!'  Then I started thinking about what caffeine actually does to me; it may not be that great of an idea after all. I don't know about you, but after coffee I tend to need the bathroom. I wouldn't see that being too comfortable on rade day. I've had that feeling on runs before and I don't like it. I was wondering if this is what the problem is for people that regularly complain about digestion issues on race day. Caffeine can also inhibit the absorbtion of carbohydrates into your system and contribute to dehyhdration.

I'd like to know hear some other thoughts on this. Do you use gels on your long runs? Do you go for the ones with caffeine or opt for the more natural gels without caffeine?

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