Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do Your Runs Have Purpose?

All runs are not created equal. Giving each run a specific purpose can help keep you on track, reach your goals as well as be liberating.

Sometimes the sole purpose of a run is to workout the frustrations of the day. Depending on the runner, a good long run might help clear the mind, while another runner might choose to attack a 10 x 200m hill workout. Both can achieve the same outcome...peace and contentment.

I have an acquaintance who is a pretty good runner, actually he's pretty dang fast. Well, fast that is when he's not injured. You see, every run he runs is a hard run. He's very competitive and that sometimes gets in the way of practicality. He's never trained with me, but sometimes runs with the group. I laughingly tell him he needs to stay away from my runners. I'm kidding...well sort of. Really, I don't won't my runners thinking you have to run yourself into the ground to be a "real runner." I'd rather have smart runners not injured runners.

This is no more true than with many of my marathon training runners. For some it's a challenge getting them to come to the understanding that every run doesn't have to be a hard run. Each run in my training
plans have a purpose. Some are hard and quick to help increase VO2Max (the body's ability to utilize oxygen at max effort). Others are hard but not quite as fast. Their purpose is to build pace and endurance needed to sustain that pace. Others are long and slow. These have the purpose of building mileage and endurance. While still others are even slower and easier but shorter with the purpose of recovery.

We're all guilty at times of not wanting "other runners" seeing us running "slow." In the back of your mind your wondering if they may think you're not as fast as they are, or worse, maybe they're smirking at your pace. I've always liked the saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover." I think that same philosophy applies to running....."You can't judge a runner by his pace."

Any runner worth his or her salt knows that a short slow recovery run is just as important as that gut wrenching 10 x 800m interval workout.

Giving each run a purpose from the get go, helps release you from the worries of what others will think. You're on a mission, knowing that each purposeful run will ultimately help you reach your goal. Even if you're not in training for a race, giving each run a purpose will help motivate you and keep you from getting injured so when you do want to train for a future race you'll be in shape to do so.

Below are some "Purposes" you can apply to your weekly runs.

The Social Run: It's vitally important to get with your running buddies solely for the purpose of running and catching up with each other as well as then heading for the post-run bagels.

The Long Run: The purpose of the long run is build endurance and increse your cardio fitness for the long haul. This run is usually about 1-minute slower than race pace. If you feel the need for speed, save it for the end or near the end of the run. It's very beneficial for your body to know that you can pull up the pace later in a long run. So increase the pace up to or just past race pace within the last 2 miles of the run. But...make the majority of the run at a conversational pace. You're building mileage.

Easy Run: These runs help you build that weekly mileage and build a strong base. They're not fast nor very long runs. They are run at a conversational pace that's a little faster than your long run pace.

Speed Workouts (Intervals): The purpose of intervals (be it 800s, fartleks, hill repeats, or another workouts) is to increase VO2max and push out your lactate threshold. These runs help build pace. This type of run is run at a non conversational pace.

Speed Workouts (Tempo and Progression Runs): These runs help build pace, but they also help to build endurance to help sustain the increased pace. You'll run hard but not quite as hard as in a shorter interval workout.

Steady-State Runs: The purpose of this run is to help bridge the gap between the tempo run and your easy runs by giving you experience running a little faster than your easy run pace but not as fast as your tempo run pace.

Recovery Runs: This run usually follows the day after a hard speed workout or long run. A recovery run is usually very slow (slower than easy run pace) and usually a fairly short run in distance. The purpose of this run is to help loosen up the body after that hard workout from the prior day.

REST: Yes, you should consider a Rest Day as a running day. It's equally important. You need a couple rest days each week for your body to rebuild.

Running Nowhere Fast? Try These Tips for Increasing your Pace

Seems like if you want to get faster, you'd just pick up your pace. Sounds like a simple solution, but like many things in life, what seems simple often is not. Many runners have come to the studio saying, "I just can't seem to get past a certain pace. I try to pick it up, but nothing happens or worse, I begin to slow down."

To increase pace two things need to happen. 1. Increase VO2Max  2. Build endurance. VO2Max is your body's ability to utilize oxygen at the muscle layer at maximum exertion. Your muscles have a network of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that carry oxygenated blood to the muscle. If your runs are pretty even and you don't vary your pace too much, your network will be more like sprawling country roads--few and far between. To increase your pace, you need a metropolitan network of highways. Good news is that you can build those new highways of capillaries. How? By doing various types of speed work on a regular basis.

Adding one speed workout to your regular weekly running routine will start the construction process. When you consistently add those workouts, your brain will realize that you're not going to stop this. It wants your body to work as efficiently as possible, so your body will actually begin to increase the network of capillaries in your leg muscles to help meet the new energy production demands. The more capillaries you have in your muscles, the more oxygenated blood will reach the muscle. The more oxygenated blood in the muscle, the more potential for energy production.

As the network of capillaries grows your body will also increase mitochondria (the energy-making power houses of the muscles.) Mitochondria use the oxygen to create energy. So, now with the increased network of capillaries and increased number of energy-making power-houses, your body will be able to meet the energy demands to get you going faster.

It takes commitment, consistency, and hard work to create that metropolitan highway network. It may be tough at first. Expect soreness and fatigue. Anytime you increase the intensity level of your workouts, your body will react. This is called the gain threshold. Your fitness level may even dip for a few weeks. That's when most people give up. They're not seeing results fast enough and they get discouraged. "I feel worse that before I started. Why am I doing this?" But, like I tell my runners, "Trust. Believe. Conquer!" It varies from person to person, but anywhere from 4-6 weeks you'll notice that you're stronger and faster than when you started.

The gain threshold is the reason why it's not a good idea to add new intensity just before a big race. You're body will not have time to acclimate and it may hurt your performance.

The Workouts:
I like having my runners do two types of speed workouts. One type is shorter, but more intense. Intervals are a great example of this. Don't worry, for many interval-based workouts, you don't need a track. The second type is a fast run but incorporated into a longer distance. Progression runs and Tempo runs are great examples.

Below is plan to help you ease into adding speed work into your running routine to help you run faster and longer. This is just a suggested plan. You'll need to increase or decrease running days based on your experience as well as your schedule. If you're having to rearrange the runs to better suit your schedule, remember to never pair two hard runs back-to-back. Always follow the Easy/Hard/Easy rule. The workouts listed on the schedules are described at the bottom of this post.

Easy Run with 3 Fartleks:  "Fartlek" is a Swedish term for "speed play." Take one of your regular weekly 3-6 mile runs and add in 3 bursts of speed. The first week keep the burst of speed at 2-minutes for each fartlek. Remember to space the fartleks out. Do one fartlek in the first third of your run, the one in the second third and then one in the last third. Between fartleks, be sure to slow the pace back down to your original easy pace. During your second week, try increasing the fartlek duration to 3-4 minutes.

Interval Workouts:
Mona Fartleks: Mona Fartleks are a great interval workout that you can do anywhere. You don't need a track. You'll need a stopwatch or sports watch with a timer. For the workout do a 1-mile warm-up run, then run...
15 seconds fast/15 seconds slow/15 seconds fast/15 seconds slow
30 seconds fast/30 seconds slow/30 seconds fast/30 seconds slow
60 seconds fast/60 seconds slow/60 seconds fast/60 seconds slow
90 seconds fast/90 seconds slow/90 seconds fast/90 seconds slow
That's 13 minutes of fast/slow intervals. Take a 2-3 minute walk or easy jog break, then repeat for a second 13-minutes of fast/slow intervals. Follow-up the workout with an easy 1-mile cooldown.
Timed Based Pyramids: This workout is similar to the Mona Fartlek, but for this workout you'll increase the time increments and then come back down. Before the workout, do an easy 1-mile warm-up run. Then for the Timed Pyramid workout run...
30 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
45 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
60 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
90 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
60 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
45 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
30 seconds at high intensity/1-min at low intensity
Walk or easy jog  for 2-3 mins and then repeat.
Follow-up the workout with an easy 1-mile cooldown run.
90s/60s: Do a 1-mile warm-up run. Then run hard 90 seconds /Run Easy 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Then walk or do and easy jog 2 mins then repeat the 90/60 workout again. Follow-up the workout with an easy 1-mile cooldown run.
Progression and Tempo Workouts:
Progression Run: "Thirds," involves doing the first third of the run very slow and working into an easy pace, the next third  at your regular "in-your-groove" pace, and the final third increases until you're  finish the last 3rd around your 10K race pace—roughly 80 to 90 percent of maximum heart rate. Increases in pace are not "step-wise" but gradual. Basically start really slow. Slower than you normally run and gradually increase pace until the end of the last 3rd, you're coming in pretty fast.
Tempo Run: Begin with a 1-mile warm-up run and end with a 1-mile cool-down. The miles in between are run at a pace about 30 secs slower than your 10K race pace.
Tempo Interval Run: Begin with a 1-mile warm-up run and end with a 1-mile cool-down. For the miles in between, alternate running 5 mins at a pace that's about 30-sec slower than your 5K race pace and 5-mins at an easy pace. Cycle through as many of these fast/slow intervals until you reach your cool-down mile.

Keep in mind that during the fast portion of the runs, you should be reaching a pace that's non-converstional. In other words, it should be hard to talk in more than one- or two-word sentences. Be careful not to go so fast that you can't catch your breath or that you can't maintain the interval pace. Initially start conservative with your increased paces and then as you begin to acclimate, start to up the pace. 

Following this plan for 5 weeks will help you see results in achieving a faster pace and pretty much get you through that gain threshold. Keep at it and you'll continue to see even more progress. This is a great primer for a 5K or 10K race. Start about 12 weeks in advance of the race. If you're not planning on racing any time soon, after the first 5 or six weeks, you can keep just one speed workout or tempo/progression run in your weekly routine until you're ready to kick it up a notch for a race.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gifts and New Year Resolutions

There's no better gift than the gift of health. Whether you're treating yourself or treating at friend, family
member or loved one, providing a gift that promotes fitness can have so many wonderful benefits. Not only will you or your gift recipient embark on a new fitness journey, you'll also make new friends, discover things about yourself you never new you could do, and become that healthy person you've dreamed of being.

RunnerDude's Fitness offers personal and small-group fitness training services and a variety of running coaching services from beginning running to marathon training. We would love nothing better than to be a part of your fitness quest.

If you're in the Triad area of North Carolina and you're looking for a fitness program or running group that's focused on you and your fitness needs, then check out the various programs below.

Beginning Running 
The Beginning Running Group uses a run/walk format that will have you running 30 minutes (about the distance of a 5K) with no walking by the end of the 12-week program. The program's design helps you gradually build muscular and aerobic endurance as you ease into running.

The RunnerDude's Fitness Beginning Running Program is perfect for beginning runners of all ages! So far the oldest graduate is 73 and the youngest is 12. All you need is a desire to want to run.

While this is a group program, participants are not expected to run as a pack. Everyone follows the same incremental run/walk program each week, but each person is encouraged to run his/her own level. Building Endurance and Proper Running Form is the focus of the Beginning Running Group, not pace or distance. Participants will not feel left behind nor held back.

The next program begins Sunday January 5th and meets Sundays/Tuesdays/Thursdays at 5:30pm for 12 weeks.
Cost: $120
      -GYMBOSS Interval Timer (a $20 value!)
      -Online access to the 12-week training plan and tips on nutrition, good running form & a lot more!
      - Instruction on Proper Running Form, Breathing, Stretching, Hydration, & Fueling
      - Up to 3-weekly group runs (see days/times below) along the new stretch of the A&Y Greenway
      - RunnerDude's Fitness Technical T-shirt (1 free T-shirt w/initial service or package)

Intermediate Running 
Running at least 3-5 miles and feel like you're ready for the next level, but not sure what the next level is?
Feel like your running's stagnated? Looking for ways to spice up your running?

Then the Intermediate Running Group is just for you! During this 12-week program, you'll explore different types of running workouts (fartleks, tempo runs, intervals, hill workouts, etc.), pre- and post-running stretching, and core and upper-body exercises (key for strong efficient running).

Most runners have the lower-body muscular endurance but aren't aware of the importance
of core and upper-body muscular endurance. Running is about 50% lower-body and 50%
upper-body. Each workout begins with a 10-12 exercise med-ball workout designed to
increase the muscular endurance of your core and upper body.

Each participant will need to bring a medicine ball (6-8lbs) and an exercise mat to each
workout. The exercises will vary over the 12 weeks, so in addition to the 12+-running
workouts you'll learn, you'll leave the program with a nice variety of core exercises to
continue doing on your own.

Price: $120
      - 2 weekly group runs (Monday/Thursday @6:00PM)
      - Over 12 different running workouts
     - 10-exercise core workout before each run
      - A pre- and post-program 1.5-mile run test
      - Access to online running information and videos just for
     -  participants of the group with information on everything from
      - hydration, to proper fueling, to stretching, to injury prevention.
      - RunnerDude's Fitness Technical T-shirt

Year-Round Running with the RUNegades!

 The RUNegades program is for anyone who...
-wants to learn different running workouts to take his/her running to the next level
-wants a weekly full-body workout designed for runners
-wants a weekly routine of running with others of all levels to keep motivated
 -wants to become a more efficient runner
-wants have fun getting & staying fit!

What Does it Cost?
6-Month Commitment = $360 (Less than $15 a week for 3 sessions!)
Save 10% When You Commit to 12 Months! = $648!

When does The RUNegades group begin?
You can join The RUNegades program at any time during the year. Your 6-month or
12-month commitment begins the day you register.

Where does The RUNegades group meet?
       Monday's Full-Body Circuit Workout—RunnerDude's Fitness Studio @ 6:45pm
       Tuesday's Group Run—the Greenway by RunnerDude's Fitness @ 6:45pm
       Thursday's Group Speed Workout Run—Location varies week to week depending on the type of workout.

Race Training
Which Races Can I Train For?
It's easy, just pick your race (any race), back up 14 weeks (half marathon), or 18 weeks (full marathon) from the race date, and that's when your training begins. You'll get to train with runners doing lots of different races including your own.

What Does It Include? 
        -Custom Training Plan
        -Individual Support:
        -30-minute consultation: A time to discuss your           running/racing experience and racing goals
        -Training Support Info: Online access (for race training clients only) to a wealth of training materials
        -Group Runs: 2 Weekly Group Runs (Wednesdays 6:45PM and Saturdays 7:30AM)
        -Ongoing Group and Individual Communication:
        -RunnerDude's Fitness Technical T-shirt (with first RunnerDude's Fitness service or program)

What's Does Group Training Cost?
     (Half-Marathon) $120 plus two 24-bottle flats of water
     (Full Marathon) $145 plus two 24-bottle flats of water

Running Stride Video Analysis
Curious about your running stride?  RunnerDude's running stride video analysis will give you not only feedback on your running stride but actual video, still shots, and slow-motion footage of your running. Foot landing, foot-strike, cadence, upper-body posture, gait, and arm swing will be evaluated. The Analysis includes a session to collect the video footage, a video presentation with the feedback included on the video for you to view at home and an follow-up session where you'll be able to sit down with RunnerDude and discuss your analysis and any possible next steps or corrective measures, if needed.
Cost: $75

Fitness Assessment
Perfect for evaluating your current level of fitness before starting that New Year's resolution for a fitter you! During this 1.5 hour-long assessment, a complete a health questionnaire will be completed and then various fitness areas will be assessed such as vitals (blood pressure and resting heart rate), body composition (body fat %, circumference measurements, waist/hip ratio), flexibility and balance, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. The assessment also includes an aerobic fitness test to evaluate your VO2max (how well your body utilizes oxygen at maximum effort). If you're a runner the VO2max test will consist of a 1.5-mile run test. If you're not a runner and/or you're new to fitness, a 3-minute step test or 1-mile walk test well be used.
Cost: $75

Running Form Session with RunnerDude
A 1-hour one-on-one session focused on good running form to help prevent injury as well as to help make you a faster more efficient runner.
Cost: $55

Click Here for Gift Certificates (not accessible on mobile devices, please use laptop or desktop to access this link.)