Thursday, November 25, 2010

Strategies for Improving 5 K Times for Weekend Warriors

Strategies for Improving 5 K times for Weekend Warriors

Raise your hand if you a) have a job, b) have a spouse, c) have kids, or d) have all three! If you did indeed raise your hand to any of those, chances are you fall into the category of “busy”. With only so many hours in a day, it is nearly impossible for you to find time to work out during the week. Thus, the weekend is your time to train. Sunrise, Saturday, you lace up your shoes and go pound the pavement. Your average mile pace is a little slower than it used to be, but you still love the way running makes you feel, and you still want to go faster. The reality is, “going faster” is a thing of the past. Or is it? The truth is, you’ve still got some speed in you. So if you want to tune up for the Holiday Hustle or a Jingle Jog this holiday season, here’s how to do it….faster!
Just a disclaimer, running, like any other sport, takes practice. Consistency is really the key to success when it comes to running faster and avoiding injury. Rapidly increasing your mileage is not advised and drastically increases your risk of getting hurt. Start low, go slow.
I believe the best way of going about training for a 5k is breaking it down into 3 phases: base, strength, and speed.

Phase 1: Building your base
Consistency is really important in this phase. You need to find a couple times a week to run. Logging a week’s worth of mile on a Saturday morning won’t cut it. Get up a little earlier, run on your lunch hour, or jog around the soccer field while you’re waiting for your son or daughter to finish up practice. The great part about the base mileage is that it’s done at a slow, easy pace. What’s “easy” you ask? You should be able to hold a conversation with someone while you run. (Just a heads up…if you’re running alone, talking out loud to yourself will draw strange looks from passersby.) Try shooting for 4 runs a week (maybe every other day) where the first 3 runs are 3 miles each and the 4th is 4 miles. Continue this series of workouts for 3 weeks adding a mile to each of your runs each additional week. (So you’re increasing your mileage by 4 miles per week for 3 weeks.)

Phase 2: Building your strength
Hill running is a great way to build strength quickly. Find a hill (or a treadmill where you can adjust the incline) that takes you about two minutes to run up. Start off your run with 1 or 2 easy miles before coming up to the hill. Run up the hill at a brisk pace (about 85% of your maximum effort) and focus on driving your knees and pumping your arms a little more than you normally do. Lean into the hill slightly more than you would while running on flat ground, and focus on turnover (quick steps). People make the mistake of over-striding (taking too large of strides) while running up a hill which is a big waste of energy. Jog slowly down the hill and repeat this a total of 4 times. Finish your run by jogging an easy 2 miles after the hill repeats. This workout will replace one of your easy workouts you were doing the past few weeks. Continue this for a total of 2 weeks.

Phase 3: Building your speed
The last phase of your training will involve running short distances, repetitively, at a pace faster than you will on race day. These “speed workouts” are ideally done on a track if you have one near your house, but may also be done on a flat quarter mile stretch ( works great for measuring this). You will replace your hill workouts from phase 2 with workouts in which you run 400 meters fast then 400 meters slow (1 set) and repeat that 4 times for a total of 1 mile worth of speed. To calculate how fast your repeats will be, determine the minutes per mile of your last 5k and divide by 4, then subtract 15. For example, if you ran a 5k averaging 9 minutes per mile, dividing by 4 equals 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Subtract 15 seconds and your repeats will be done at 2 minutes for 400 meters. Finish your workout with a 2 mile cool down. Ideally, one speed workout per week for 3 weeks is best, but even if you get one in before your race you’re better off.

This is the crash course for 5k training. If you would like a more comprehensive training plan, or have other questions about running in general, feel free to subscribe to our blog and simply reply to this post. I also recommend Jack Daniel’s Running Formula as a great resource to help you with your training. We’d love to answer any questions you may have. Remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Good luck with your next race!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Avoiding Marathon Mayhems

Marathon Mayhem…what to do (and NOT do) the week before a big race!

It’s the week before your big race: the fall marathon (or maybe half marathon) you’ve been training for since Memorial Day. You’ve suffered through the scorching summer heat on runs where you thought the soles of your shoes would surely melt. You’ve sacrificed late nights out to the bar with friends so you could get your long run in at 6 a.m. the next morning. You haven’t had a single can of Coke in months, and the word donut is no longer in your vocabulary. All the work has been done, right? Well, in some ways yes and others no. For the last couple months, you’ve been making changes to your body’s physiology that has made it a more finely tuned machine. At this point, there is nothing you can do in regards to running that can help you. Hurt you, yes. Help you, no. The week before the race is just as important, if not more important, as any other week of training, but for different reasons. Here are some tips to help you through the week and get you to the finish line.
1. Don’t change your routine-the week before the race is not the time for experimentation. Maintain the diet you have been on for the last few months. Now is not the time to go try the new Double Bacon Thick Burger at Hardee’s. Continue eating well-balanced meals. Increasing your carbohydrate intake (aka Carb Loading) is okay to do, but 5 rounds of the all-u-can eat pasta at Olive Garden is discouraged. If you’ve been doing morning runs, keep doing morning runs. If you’ve been sleeping 7 hours a night, getting 10 hours of sleep the week leading up to the race may actually make you more tired the morning of the race.
2. Mental preparation takes precedence over physical preparation-Your body is ready for the race. But, what about your mind? You’re getting ready to run 26.2 miles! You’re going to need some mental toughness (especially after mile 20). Practice positive thinking AT ALL TIMES! Repeatedly tell yourself things like “I can do this!”, or “I feel incredible!” Visualize in your mind how you want the race to play out. I always write my goals on a piece of paper, being as specific as possible. Writing down your plan, and showing it to others, holds you accountable for your actions on race day. It’s also something fun to look back on after the race. It’s always good to remember why you’re doing this race, or maybe who you’re doing it for. If it was a goal of yours to lose weight and simply complete the marathon, look at how far you’ve come. If you’re running in memory of a loved one who’s sick or has passed away, remember you’re doing this for him or her.
3. Take care of your feet-What kind of podiatry blog would this be without mentioning the part of your body that will be taking the pounding! Trim your toenails back a little bit to avoid them from cutting the skin of the neighboring toes or hitting the front of your shoe. Black toenails are out of style now that Halloween is over! It may sound like a nice reward for all your hard work to get a nice pedicure before the race. I would recommend holding off until afterwards because you’ll need those calluses for the 26.2. Wear moisture wicking socks for the race. Brands like Wright, Features, Nike, and Asics make synthetic socks that pull moisture away from your feet to prevent blisters. Putting a little bit of foot powder on your feet will also help soak up some extra moisture (But don’t use it if you have any open wounds. Cover those up with a bandage) DO NOT CHANGE YOUR SHOES THE WEEK BEFORE OR THE DAY OF THE MARATHON! Shoes definitely have a break-in period where your feet get used to their new home. Changing shoes can lead to hazardous consequences on race day.
4. Drink water; Drink water; Drink water -Dehydration is probably the number one reason people never get to the finish line. On race day, you are a runner, not a hospital patient! Follow the 8 x 8 rule. 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day. If you’ve forgotten to drink an adequate amount of water all week, you cannot make up for lost time by chugging a bunch the night before the race. Be consistent with your fluid intake.