Thursday, March 27, 2008

Switching Up Your Training

I'm sure that most of you already do this, but if you don't, then you should give it a try. Sometimes, you're not going to feel like running your regular workout, but you still want to add to your training regime.

Instead of forcing yourself to run, you should try putting in a strenuous bike ride or a good swim. You will still build your cardio while exercising different muscle groups that contribute to your long distance running. Plus, it will probably re-energize you as you get back into your training regime in the next day or so.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Putting In The "Hard" Miles

Something that I've learned during my years of running is that there are going to be days where you feel bad while running. For some reason, your body just doesn't want to be out putting in miles for the day, and just a short distance in you feel like taking a break and hitting the couch. However, those might be the most important days of your training.

I've come to realize that to be a good runner you have to be a smart runner. Sure, being fast is great, but if you don't understand how you can maximize your peformance with changes in pace, breathing and diet then what good is your speed? You end up wasting your potential because you're not running smart. The last two days I was able to apply that to my training.

Wednesday I was looking forward to logging my miles. Yet, after just a few strides my body was aching, and I could feel any motivation I had slipping away. I think the hard bike ride I put in the day before wore me out more than I thought, but I was determined to stick it out. After all, I had taken off almost two weeks from training because of a bad cold. I was, and still am, in the process of playing "catch up". The whole time I told myself that the hard miles are the most important ones. They challenge you to keep going, to push your body, and more importantly your mind. Another thing I've learned is that a mental block can hold back even the best runner. Pushing through hard training sessions makes it easier to get through any mental obstacles you might encounter. So I put in my hard miles, and was very suprised when I realized that I had run my fastest training time yet. It was only 4 seconds faster, but it was great to know that I could improve upon my time even when I didn't feel great.

Thursday, however was a different story. I wasn't looking forward to running at all. I really wanted to take a day off, but once again I knew that I needed to train. So, as I started my run I told myself that I was going to push as hard as ever. I figured that if I was making myself run that I was going to go all out. Even if it meant reaching total fatigue before I got to the end of my run. Towards the end of my run I had a feeling that I was doing pretty well, though I wasn't prepared to see that I had taken close to 30 seconds off of my previous best from Wednesday. I was glad that I had pushed myself as hard as I did, and reaped instant rewards. Plus, it helped improve my running psyche. Hopefully, I continue to shave off the time as I prepare for my first 5K in almost 11 years which I'm running next month.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Foray Back Into Speed Training

I used to be an avid runner. I ran track and cross country my junior and senior years in high school, and ran on my own during part of my college years. However, all the training and races eventually burnt me out, and I stopped running completely. It wasn't until I received the Nike+ setup this past Christmas that I started thinking about running competitively again. Then I checked out some results of recent 5K races, and realized that I could be very competitive within my age group(male, 25-29) if I dedicated myself to training like I had years ago.

So, I started out running 2 miles a day three to four days per week. Now, this isn't a lot, especially when you're training for a 5K or when you used to average 40-50 miles per week, but I also didn't want to start out too hard and get hurt or discouraged. Right now, I'm into roughly my 7th week of training(had to take two weeks off due to a bad cold), and I've knocked a little over two minutes off of my two mile time. With about seven weeks until my first 5K in many years it's time to up my mileage and start incorporating speed training. Like my plan to ease into the mileage, this is what I'm doing to ease into the speed work. Plus, it's a workout that doesn't require a track. Though, as I get more serious the distance will increase, and I'll probably put in some track time.

Since I already have my 2 mile course mapped out, I decided that I would just use that for my speed work. What I ended up doing was sprinting a block, then jogging a block. Each block where I run is approximately 1/10 of a mile. So it's 10 blocks out, and 10 blocks back. That means that by the end of the run I had put together a 10x160m(roughly) sprint workout. I didn't track the time because I wanted to concentrate on form and pace, though as I progress I probably will start tracking it. I can say that the first 1/3 or so I felt decent, but a few of those "middle" blocks were sort of tough.

All in all, it was a challenging workout, but the loose structure made it fun. Which is one thing I really want to stress on this blog. Yes, you do need some structure to your running "plan" if you aim to run races in a somewhat competitive manner. However, too much structure could lead to frustration or boredom, and ultimately hinder your training. It's up to you to decide what works best for you, and then use that in a manner that makes you not only a better runner, but a smarter one too.

First Running Related Post Here(Nike+ Info)

Because I've changed the focus of this blog to runnng, I decided to add a Nike+ widget to the sidebar under the "About Me" section. At some point I would like to try and organize some type of challenge for those that participate in the blogosphere.

If you're unfamiliar with the Nike+ system you can check it out here. Basically, it's a way for you to track your distance, pace and calories burned through your iPod. It's sort of an online version of a running log. I like it because I don't have to map out courses anymore, and I can just get out and run.

Let me know if any of you out there also have the system, and if you want to set up a challenge through the Nike+ site.