Wednesday, April 30, 2014

250,000+ miles

Running is fun to me. The miles accumulated from my running are just a byproduct of my passion for running.

Recently, I received an email about Dr. Herb Fred of Houston, Texas. I have never met Dr. Fred, but I feel like we might be kindred spirits where running is concerned.

On April 29th, 2014, Dr. Fred surpassed the 250,000 mark for miles run. Yes, he has run 250k in miles. Just imagine how many running shoes that he has used over the years. The total has to be in the 1000s.

To reach the 250k plateau he has been running for 48 years and 25 days. Yes, this is an average 14.25 miles per day. To put his accomplishment into perspective, last year I averaged about 11 miles per day for just one year. He has been putting 3 more miles day after day, month after month, year after year for years.

Maybe a better comparison than my own running totals is to compare it to Megan’s mileage. Megan has over the last few years put in about 5000+ miles. When compared to Dr. Fred, Megan would still be anywhere from 1000 to 2500 miles behind him. Dr. Fred regularly ran yearly mileage totals in the 6000 and 7000 range.

I am truly awed by his accomplishment. Congrats Dr. Fred on your 250k. May you have many more years of running ahead.     

Here’s a link to article about Dr Fred in Jan. of ’11.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Allergies

Until last week, the weather had been rather chilly. There had been the occasional day warm day but nothing lasting more than a few days.

Then, over Easter weekend we had a ton of rain followed by plenty of nice warm days. Suddenly every tree and flower in the Charlotte was dumping pollen into the air.

Each year, I go through a week or two where my allergies just go crazy. My nose runs. My eyes are watering. My ears feel like they hearing while under water. Breathing is just tougher. I basically just feel miserable.

Right now, I seem to be in the middle of this two week window. The symptoms started coming on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. By Friday, everything seemed like a struggle to do.

Saturday, I ran the Skyline 5k and felt like I was breathing through a mask the entire time. My breathing just felt labored no matter what the pace.

Usually after a good rain everything starts to feel better. With the forecast for a few rainy days this week maybe luck will be on my side. If the rain comes, it will clear out the pollen.  For which I will be eternally grateful and ready to proceed with some summer time weather.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, April 28, 2014

Skyline 5k 4/26/14

Racing last Saturday morning in Charlotte was really nice, and seeing some familiar faces made it even better.

Much has changed about the Skyline 5k since I last toed the line. They moved the registration area and post race festivities. A long with it, there was a big change in the course design. No longer would we be looping around the Memorial Stadium on the start or the finish.

Now, the course starts and finishes on Kings Street. This gives the runners a nice long downhill stretch to the finish. Pretty much giving runners no excuse for not having a strong finishing kick.

Tim, from RFYL, gave the wheelchair and baby jogger divisions a one minute head start over the main field. As he was counting down the final seconds before we were to go, the thought crossed my mind why am I doing these short races. In some ways, they seem to hurt more than the longer races.

Then, Tim said “go”, and the thought disappeared. Time was now to get on with the racing. The first mile is slightly up hill. My legs are trying to respond. Cory was perhaps 30 yards in front of me.  I didn’t see Spada’s red singlet but assume that he was lurking close behind.

By the mile the distance between Cory and I had stabilized – 5:41. There was no one else between Cory and I now, so I focused on Cory’s red singlet. The course tops over and we get a nice downhill along 7th street. I seem to be closing the distance on Cory. My breathing is labored. All week long the pollen in the air has been messing with my sinuses. Breathing normally was a struggle before the race. We make a right turn and then another right return. The race is about ½ over and yes, I am closing the distance on Cory. The course is slightly uphill now.

At the 2 mile point, my Garmin flashes a 5:44 split, and I have closed right up behind Cory. I have been pushing hard to close the distance on the uphill, but now that I caught Cory, I had a decision to make. I could try to push past him while we were still climbing or wait for the downhill then make my move.

Once you “poke the bear” there is no taking it back. I decide to push past him. As sometimes happens in a race, passing someone tends wake them up. It helps bring back their competitive drive. Cory responded and passed me back as we topped over the hill. He was digging hard. I tried to maintain contact, but while the mind was willing, the legs were not. He was slowly opening a gap on me.

We are out on the final downhill and the home stretch. Cory’s led grows, and then Spada flashes by me. Spada has run a smart race and is closing hard on Cory. Possibly, he could catch him.

At this point, I can do nothing but watch the race unfold in front of me. I hear Chuck calling splits at 3 miles. My Garmin says I just ran 5:40 for the last mile. No time to think about it, I have to push hard to the finish.

Hitting the stop button on my Garmin, I finish with a time of 17:49. I finished 12th overall and 3rd among the Masters’ runners.

My overall assessment of the race was good. I had a solid race and finished with my fastest mile being the last one. Although, while we were racing, I thought I was slowing down. The thought never occurred to me that Spada and Cory just ran faster last miles. Hopefully, we get more chances to race together this summer.  

On the news and notes front, Skyline 5k has a team competition. The team aspect creates great conversation piece along with some extra fun and bragging rights. Of course, I created a Charlotte Running Club team for our members.

Later at the team awards, our Charlotte Running Club didn’t win either in the mixed or the open. I thought it strange, but then again, I didn’t know who might have registered on our team. No one is required to be on a team.

Here’s the strange part, I remember them calling out that the “Fort Mill Fast Feet” won one of the team categories. I don’t remember which one but I just remember how excited all of the women were while picking up their awards.

Later Saturday, I was checking out the results online and decided to wonder down to the team awards. Usually, they list the top 3 finishers for each team. Yep, there was the “Fort Mill Fast Feet”, but the names listed underneath were off. I knew them as CRC members. Hey, just because you are a CRC member, we would never say that you couldn’t run for another team.

However, the dead giveaway that something was wrong with the names came when I saw the 3rd name listed. It was my name. I distinctly remember signing up for Charlotte Running Club team because I created the team. I have no idea what happen between the registration and the race results being posted. Someone clearly got something off along the way. Oh, well.

 

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

How close to a race do you do your last run?


There are numerous theories about how close to run before a race. Some people like to take the previous day off. Others take the days off beforehand and then run the day right before the race.

Since I run every day, my window of opportunity is slightly different. I measure the time out in hours instead of days.

There have been training cycles where I seem to run better by giving myself a full 24 hours of rest before a race. While during other training cycles, I have run less than 12 hours before the race.

Strange as it may sound, I have found instances where both work and both don’t work. Granted there are many factors beyond when this last run happens that can affect my races like training work load and intensity of workouts. There are also life stressors that can have a major impact.

Typically, my last run before a race will be roughly 18 hours out. Most of the time, this is nothing more than a short 4 mile shake out run with some strides tacked on to the end.

Four miles is just enough to get me warmed up and flowing. The strides help remind my legs that I hope to run fast on the next day.

I follow this same four mile routine whether I am running a 5k or a Marathon. Keeping the same routine, I feel has a calming effect as part of my preparation.

Everyone person is different so over time each runner needs sort out what works best for them.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Random thoughts on strength training


More than a few studies have documented the physical effects of aging on the human body. Most of them boil it down to a couple of facts; muscular strength diminishes with age and reaction time slows. In runners, the effect are more apparent on running hilly courses and through the loss of leg turnover.

Ironically, the aerobic endurance doesn’t drop nearly as fast which explains why longer races tend to have lots of older runners. Just check out your next Ultra race. There is a good chance the majority of the field will be at least 35 years or older. This also explains why many Masters’ runners head for the flat land road races. These races reduce or eliminate hills as a factor in the overall performance of the race.

As many of you know, I have been working hard to regain some leg turnover through lots of strides, Tabata, and short intense interval sessions.

You might also be interested to know that I also spend time in the weight room 2 to 3 days per week. My routine is about 35 to 40 minutes and involves both upper and lower body weights. I focus a lot on the machines, but from time to time I go across the aisle to do similar routines on the free weights. In another post, I will share my reason for switching things up. But during these sessions, my primary focus is on gluts, hamstrings, quads, and calves, but I do include a number of upper body exercises that work the arms, shoulders, and back.

 My philosophy when it comes to weights has always been about endurance over raw power. I prefer to lift a medium level weight 15 to 30 times over multiple sets than to lift a heavier weight 5 times in just one set. Running is about doing a repetitive action over a long period of time. While my upper body does not directly do any “running”, it does indirectly support my ability to run. Coming to the end of a race or a hard workout, my legs are tired. Because the action of arms and legs are interlinked for us to run, pumping the arms harder can drive the legs forward. The difference can be seen on the finish line clock. There is a good chance, it will a 19:58 instead of 20:01for a 5k.  

Don’t go way thinking that you have to have access to a weight room to do this. One of my favorite Rocky movies to watch is the one where Rocky is living in a cabin in the snowy country side – cutting wood, moving snow, etc. His boxing opponent has the state of the art equipment for training. Yet, Rocky beats him when they meet. Yeah, I know this is just a movie but the idea is still valid. Use the items around you or run some place that has outdoor cross fit equipment. Pull ups and chin ups will work a lot of same upper body muscles. Don’t forget about the old standby exercise called the “pushup”. It hits a lot the major upper body muscle groups.

 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Predawn need for speed


The display on my alarm clock read 3:31 AM this morning and speaker were buzzing with the most irritating noise. Why was it buzzing anyway? Dawn wasn’t even close to coming over the horizon, and my eyes lids were fighting all of my attempts to open.

Ah yes, the recollection of my promise to meet Megan at PDS for 800s at 5:20 AM. Maybe it is just a sign of getting older when I find it a struggle to remember why I want to be up so early. But a promise is a promise, and time was fast approaching to get ready and drive over.

Being a few minutes early is a good thing. I get one more chance to close my eye lids.

Enough said about missing out on sleep. LOL.

Megan asked how many warm-up miles that I needed. I said at least 2 miles. We ended up with 4 miles before starting a single set of 6 x 800 with a 200 recovery.

The first 800, I lead off but after 600 meters Megan passes me. She finishes in 2:47 and I finish in 2:50. My legs don’t seem motivated to run fast.

The second 800 we finish together in 2:47. It feels so much harder.

The third 800 I finish in 2:45 while Megan continues to hit 2:47s.

Coming around to start the 4th 800, there is an eerie silence as the light from the east grows ever brighter while darkness fades away leaving a morning fog to settle over the track. Burning the image into my mind, I wish my camera was handy.
The fourth and fifth 800s, I hit 2:43 and 2:42.

The sixth and final one, Megan jumps out first so I burn through the first 200 meters to catch her. My legs are spent by the last 300 meters. This pretty much explains why I run 2:45 again.

Overall, the workout was good. Regaining any level of turnover is going to take time. I am trying to be patient.

 

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The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Expresso Exercise Bikes

Yesterday was a long day and by the evening my motivation for a workout was waivering. Knowing a workout is going to take 2 to 2 ½ hours might just be more than I am in for completing. Never the less, I pushed ahead.

I put my name on the list for a bike in the spin class and then headed into the weight room. Thirty to forty minutes is about the right timeframe to complete my weight workout before each of my spin classes. I move through the machines in what must seem like a random order, but there is a method to it. I know which machines are most frequently used so when they open up, I jump in and complete my sets on them.  I leave the low volume machines to the end because I can pretty much jump on them anytime that I choose.

Well, I am making my rounds and I notice the Expresso exercise bikes were open. Last week, I had briefly checked them out and thought it might be cool to do one of the courses on them.

With my motivation for my spin class at an all time low, I decided to give them a try. To the outward appearance, these look like pretty good bikes to ride. The interactive course allows for me to pass other CPU riders and get passed by CPU riders. Along the way, the course is going up and down to simulate hills and valleys.

Before even getting on the bike, I start adjusting it to fit me. After a few minutes, I have what feels pretty good.

Next I start pedaling. Immediately, the Expresso bike wants me to logon to an Expresso User account. Really, I just want to check things out. I don't want to create an account or save my workout. Several minutes pass during which time, I finally figure out how to make it work in guest mode. Any other time, I might have created an account but today, I just in the mood for some mindless riding.

Boy, am I in for a surprise.

Slowly I figure out that I need to adjust the gears up and down to accommodate the inclines and declines along the course.

Not to mention, it is nearly impossible to pedal while standing. After maybe 10 seconds of trying, I give up and settle for seated pedaling.

For the first ten to fifteen minutes I am chasing down riders and pass the pace setter. It doesn’t take long to realize that program is recycling the riders. I pass this one rider with the same jersey something like four times.

I do like that it monitors my heart rate during the workout. I wish more machines had this ability.

The course that I choose was projected to take a rider 30 to 45 minutes to complete. I complete it in 29:59. I ride for another couple of minutes and then head off to complete my workout on the stair master.

Yes, the Expresso bikes offered some cool graphic and the potential to entice the rider to work harder. But to make the darn thing more realistic, it needs to be more like a real bike. It needs to have the real bike ride and feel.

On rare occasions I may jump on it again, but there is no real comparison to the spin class bikes. I would much rather hit the spin bikes for a workout or even better get my bike out for a ride.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner  

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon shoes - Ronin vs. Elixir


On Friday evening I was setting back and relaxing after a long day when my phone started ringing. I recognized Billy’s number so I pressed the answer button.

Billy was calling to ask my opinion about racing a marathon in the Mizuno Ronin vs. the Mizuno Elixir.

We talked for about 15 minutes and I shared my thoughts and opinion about racing in them.

Afterwards, I started thinking about our conversation more and then it dawned on me. I should probably share this with a post.

Through my many marathons, I have run in several different brands of shoes. By far, the most often, I have used the Ronins.

To most runners, the Ronin is a great short distance shoe. But over the long haul, it doesn’t have the cushioning and support needed to handle the marathon distance. I suspect this is why most people opt for the Elixir or something similar.

They are concerned about the pounding that their legs and feet are going to take over the 26.2 mile distance.

This is a validate point. 26.2 miles takes its toll on the legs and the body. During the late stages of a race, the body really starts to break down. Usually when it does, the pace starts to slip.

So why do I choose to run in the Ronins vs. another shoe.

I have always subscribed to the theory that the lighter the shoe the less work needed to be done by my legs to turnover.

Think of it along these lines, each day you carry a 20 pound weight during your run. Then, on race day, you carry a 5 pound weight. Logic dictates that you would be able to move faster since you are carrying less weight.

The same principle applies to the running shoe. A lighter shoes means my legs are expending less effort to turnover. Thus, they should at least in theory go longer and faster during the race.

Back to the points about cushioning and support, I firmly agree that these are factors. They weigh heavily in a marathon. More than a few times, my body has wanted to stop after about 22 miles.

Racing is about tradeoffs.

When I finish a marathon, I have to believe that I have done everything possible to run as fast as possible. If this means that my feet and body will be sore for a few days because I opted for a certain shoe. I am okay with this tradeoff. Pain and discomfort are temporary. In a few days, they will pass.

The time that I run will stand forever.  

 

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, April 18, 2014

Perceived Effort

My recent posts have all been about my efforts to pump a little more leg turnover back in to my legs. Yes, the “going” is slow on this front. My progress during the interval session is not showing up as fast as I would like.

There does seem to be one area where it is making a change – medium long runs.

Twice per week, my training plans calls for a medium long run of 14 miles. One is on Tuesday and one is on Thursday.

Sandwiched between these two workouts is my Wednesday speed session.

Here’s what I am seeing.

On Tuesday, I cruise long at about 7:50 overall pace for the run. Wednesday, I hit my speed session. Then, Thursday, my run over the same course and at the same time of day is 20 seconds faster per mile.

Strangely, the perceived effort to me is the same. Some things are just hard to explain.

Explaining these factors is escaping me at the moment, but this change just became apparent over the last three weeks.

Certainly before I started my speed sessions, phenomenon was not present.  But I have noticed it in the past. Often, I will race on Saturday. Follow it with a long run on Sunday. Some Sundays, these long runs feel fast and easy.  Before this, the thought never really crossed my mind as to why.

Now, it has.

 

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The Cool Down Runner

                                               

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring ’14 - 6 x 800

Breathing leg turnover back into my legs after it has been a while isn’t easy. May be this explains why I was doing 800s yesterday around the speed loop.

The initial 800 was slow and I knew it – 2:52. The second one inched down by a couple of seconds – 2:50.

The third took still another second off – 2:49. Yes, my workout was at least trending in the right direction. The fourth quarter was only slightly faster – 2:48.

Could it be a sign of age or wisdom that I don’t push them as hard in the beginning? Has the countless miles and numerous race resulted in my always wanting to hold more in reserve than I should?

Yeah, this makes more and more sense to me. Changing this mentality requires a conscious effort.

Interval five went down in 2:45. Interval six went down in 2:46.

The telltale sign comes from my heart rate monitoring. The first four intervals went by with my heart rate barely pushing into the 140s. The last two intervals saw it just scratch the surface of 150. Clearly, there is more room for improvement.  Aerobically, I feel good, but my legs just refuse to go faster.

Just have to keep the faith and keep working.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Diet

My mother would often tell me that I was too thin and needed to put on more weight. Then, after dinner, she wondered aloud “where could I put it all”.

Little did she understand that runners consume more calories than the average person, and they need those extra calories. They need the energy to power themselves through all of the miles that they run.

Eating is not a choice. It is a must.

But what you eat, you do have a choice.

Hunger doesn’t immediately set in after a run for me. From what I understand, running tends to suppress my appetite for a short time. But it doesn’t take long, and I am ready to eat. The reason behind this urge is easy to see. After a long run or pretty much any run my energy levels are way down. My body’s nature tendency is hardwired to replace this spent energy.

The lower my energy level, the more likely I am to dive into the juke food: soda, pizza, box of cookies, chips, or donuts. My brain knows that these foods will provide a quick fix for my energy needs. The opposite it also true. When my energy levels are closer to normal, I am more likely to choose something better for me.

Therefore, it becomes really important to plan ahead. Having something prepared will help me make a much wiser dietary decision. The food doesn’t have to be elaborate. It just has to be enough that the body feels satisfied. Having it ready to eat makes the choice much easier when it comes decision time.

I once finished a run and then finished off a dozen donuts.  Yes, that’s 12 donuts. Half an hour later, I was laying the couch moaning and gowning.  My brain lingered in a comatose state from my sugar binge. To this day I remember how good they tasted, but “Ouch”, the side effects were horrible: sluggish, lethargic, etc.  

A better choice would have been to eat a couple of apples. In fact, I am not even sure that I could even eat 12 apples at one time.

Before your next big workout, do a little planning head. Have some wise choice foods handy and don’t go directly for the junk food. This is a much better way to keep your calorie count in check, control blood sugar levels, and just all-around feel better.

 

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The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Active Charlotte Alliance

A few months ago I received an email about a “Fit Charlotte” initiative. This was a new initiative to me but it seemed to be something in line with our Charlotte Running Club’s goals and values.

Thus, I decided to attend the first meeting back in January.

My initial impressions from the meeting materials led me to believe this group’s goals were to help individuals and/or organizations find the necessary resources to help with their events.

I guess in way that’s what this group is capable of doing. By and far, most of the attending individuals represented were coaches, trainers, suppliers, or representatives of organizations capable of hosting events. Only a few of the individuals were from groups like the Charlotte Running Club.   

The latter part of March I received another email telling me that there was a second meeting the first of April.

Out of the second iteration of information and meetings, I learned that they were changing the initiative’s name from “Fit Charlotte” to “Active Charlotte Alliance”.

Additionally, they shared our group’s mission statement and purpose:

Mission Statement:

To advocate for an active, healthy, and connected Charlotte by assessing, empowering, and maintaining community – based wellness, sports, and fitness programs for all citizens.

Purpose Statement:

We believe that a community-focused approach for a healthy, more active Charlotte greatly increases the quality of life for all citizens and enhances our appeal as a great place to “life”(I think this should be live), work , play, and visit.

There were 82 interested affiliates listed on the packets shared with the group including our Charlotte Running Club.

Out of these first two meetings there seems to be a lot of networking. Where I am struggling with it, I am just not seeing a clear vision for this group. Clearly, I know they want to make Charlotte a healthier place to live. This is pretty clear.

I guess what I am looking to see is a “Vision Statement” and a combination of both short term and long term goals. A clear list of expectations listed so that not only does the "Active Charlotte Alliance" show it is making progress but member affiliates can show progress toward helping the greater Charlotte area become a more “fit” city. 

I don’t know. On the surface, this sounded like a great way for CRC to broaden its exposure toward “promote a passion for running”. I guess I will just have to wait and see what unfolds in the coming months.
I will keep you posted as I learn more information.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Monday, April 14, 2014

’14 Carolina Masters Track & Field Invitational

While most of the Charlotte area runners were enjoying the beautiful hills in and around the South Park Mall area, I opted for a much flatter and shorter event.

Several weeks ago, I decided to jump in the ’14 Carolina Masters Track & Field Invitational at UNCC’s Irwin Belk Track.

Several races listed on their entry form interested me: 3000, 1500, and 800 meter runs. They were to run in this order.

The track meet didn’t kick off until 9 AM so with only a short drive to UNCC, there was no need to roll out of bed early.

I picked up my packet a little after 9 AM, changed shoes, and headed on to the track for a few warm up miles. Warm up is always a relative term. The sun was getting up into the sky and sweat quickly bubbled to the surface on my skin. Not to mention, I should have brought some sunscreen.

The 3000 was to be run at 10 AM. The 1500 was to be run at 11 AM while the 800 was to be run at 12:30 PM.

There were 5 of us in the 3000. One of the guys was Chad Newton from the Brevard area in western NC. Chad’s a fast masters runner and is doing a better job at not slowing down with age than I am. Chad and his buddy are out quickly. I settled into forth place by 200 meters. I hit the 400 mark and hear the split is 76 seconds. Fast, this is way too fast for me. I hit the second lap in 78. My legs are screaming at me while my arms are basically just numb. I am losing ground to guys in front because they are picking it up and I am slowing down. On lap 6, Chad’s buddy drops out.

Math while racing isn’t easy for me, but I could do enough math to know that Chad was going to catch me before I started my last lap. Sure enough, I was just starting my last lap as Chad finished.

I clicked off the last lap to finish in 10:25.

Reflecting back on this race, I felt like I was struggling from the start. My breathing was labored but nothing too bad. What really bothered me was that I couldn’t “will” my legs to run any faster. They simply fell into a pace and I stuck right there after the first two laps.

Because the 3000 was a little late getting started, I only had a short break before the 1500.

There were only two of us in the 1500.

My first lap was in 1:20, and I felt so much better. I felt much more under control. My laps seemed to click off quickly. My finish time was 5:04. This was little slower than my 1500 time from last year at the Jim Law Track Meet where I ran 4:55.

800 didn’t go off for another 80 plus minutes. Much of which, I spent lying on field grass in the hot sun. Just before the start, I tried doing some strides. My legs felt sluggish and stiff.

There were 5 of us in the 800. In the first 200 meters, these guys were gone. I focused on just hitting my splits. I finished with a couple of 79 second quarters and 2:39 for my efforts.

Overall, I was pleased with my efforts. Getting my legs to turn over faster isn’t easy and requires much work. Saturday showed me just how much work that I have in front of me.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Intervals


For the better part of the last 4 years, I have done very little in the way of short intervals. When I say short intervals, I am talking about intervals under a mile. Because I have focused on longer races, I tend to start my intervals at a mile in length. Usually, I will do a set of 3 times 2 miles.

But with my renewed interest in improving my leg turn over, I have opted to get back to doing some 200s, 400, 800s, and maybe in even some 1000s. This is all in an attempt to breathe some leg turnover back into my old and tired legs.

The past two Wednesday mornings, I have been hitting the 400s. First, I ran 10 x 400 last week. Then, this week, I went 12 x 400s.

Last week’s workout was a solo effort. This week, Philip and Mike joined me. I have to say having them along made a big difference.

They kept me pushing when I might have otherwise just settled for just finishing.

My intervals last week went along in the 1:20 range. This week while chasing Mike and Philip, I was more in the 1:19 range and finished with a 1:18.

I feel good about where I am going. If I can clip off a couple of more seconds over the coming weeks and be able to run 75s to 76s. There is a good chance that I can lower my mile PB from the last two years which is 5:12.

Next week, I am thinking maybe 12 x 400 again before branching off and running a few ladder workouts. I will keep you posted on my progress.

 

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The Cool Down Runner  

Friday, April 11, 2014

RFYL Team Night

RFYL held their team night last night at the Dilworth Store. They invited teams participating in their RFYL Signature Series of which our Charlotte Running Club has a team.

I got a chance to talk with the Saucony reps and even tried on a pair of the Saucony Kinvara shoes. My running shoes arsenal can always stand to have another pair of shoes so I am proud to say that the Kinvara made the trip home with me.

I also took the time to catch up Tim and several of the other RFYL employees. I would like to thank Sara and Katherine for all they do. Sara helped coordinate the RSVP for the team night, and Katherine helps sort through the team logistics to hand out and claim the team awards.

As part of the team competition, the winning team receives a reward. Our Charlotte Running Club had tallied two wins so far this season through two races. This earned us two new Saucony shoes, two Saucony shirts, and two $25 dollar entries to RFYL races.

We give these awards back to our club members. Johanna and Justin each won a pair of Saucony shoes. We will be giving away the shirts and race entries during our Scrambled Egg Run this weekend. This is another good reason to be at McAlpine on Sunday around 2pm.

I would also like to thank the Saucony reps for their generous donation of shoes.

We are all part of one big circle of life, and it is important that we help one another.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

   

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Try Thursday’s Adventure Run

Last week I went down for the TrySports’ TryThursday’s Adventure Run.  They had a nice crowd, but I thought there might more runners turn out. The weather was perfect aside from the being a little too windy. Food and beer were available to the runners for their post run enjoyment.

If you are wondering what is a “TryThursday’s Adventure Run”, let me tell you.

Everyone meets at 6pm at either the Blakeney or South Park stores. Runners are given a list of locations where they can run to do a fitness challenge. Those completing the fitness challenges receive tickets to win gifts and prizes at the post run drawings. Runners can run to as many or as few of the challenges as they like. Runners doing all of the challenges would run roughly 5 miles and have about an hour to complete their adventure.

TrySports will be holding 6 of these TryThursday’s runs on the first Thursday of each month during the summer.

As word gets around, I expect the size of the group for these runs to increase. Kat mentioned when they hit 100 runners, they will be giving away a tread mill. Nothing could be better than seeing 100 runners in May and see them pay up with a tread mill give away.

If you are interested, the next run will be May 1 at 6 PM and will individual runs starting from both the Blankeney and South Park stores.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Plank

I am sure most if not all of you are familiar with the words “Plank” and “Core”.  For most of my life “Core” work was just an afterthought. Something only other runners would do. Being a 20 or 30 something, I could got away with skipping a lot of things while still running well.  

Add another 10 years of experience, and I have learned that I need to maintain what I have.

I have a “Core” set of positions that I follow four days per week. Of these positions, “Plank” is by far the easiest and the hardest for me to hold.

When I started the “Plank” position, 30 seconds seemed like a lot.  Over time, I worked up to 1 minute. Then, I moved to 2 minutes.  Next, I moved on to 3 minutes.

Now, I am 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

What is it like?

The first 30 seconds are easy. The first minute, I start feel it in my arms and shoulders. Two minutes into the workout and my back starts to shake. I focus on holding a straight line between my shoulders and my ankles. This is really hard because I can feel the desire in my back to sag toward the floor. My heart rate picks up. At 3 minutes, the sweat starts to bead up on my forehead. At 3:30, my back is dying for me to quite.

4 minutes, the finish line is in sight. I know I can do it.  

4:15 hits, and I just lay on the floor for about another minute while the rest of my body quits shaking.

With barely any recovery time, I move to side plank – both left and right. Then reverse plank. Four different positions and one goal get stronger.

In the coming months, I want to push the time until I can maintain the “Plank” position for 10 minutes. Right now, I am not even half way.  But I will get there. I just have to keep working at it. 
Keeping climbing the mountain.  

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Strides

A few weeks ago, I said that I would talk about ways to improve leg speed. Sorry, there has been so much going on in my life that I am just now getting back to this topic.

If you are like me, you finish your runs, and you have just enough time to clean up before rushing off to do something else. Oh, the priorities of life. There is always more to do than is possible in any single day.

“Point well taken”

Most runners usually follow a training plan of one up-tempo workout and one long run per week. These two workouts are surrounded by easy recovery days.

When you think about it, you are really only getting one day per week where you are doing any real hard running. I totally understand why. Most people can only stand so many hard efforts before the stress from it starts to breakdown the body.

But this means, we spend a lot time just putting in mileage that is well below what we might be our race pace. Is there any wonder why the legs have trouble running fast? They spend most of their time doing something other than running hard.

This is where some strides should be introduced into your training plan. Personally, I wish that I ran strides more often than I do.

Usually, I do a set of strides once per week.

Strides only take a few minutes to do.

Early in the season, I will run 3 or 4 of them – running somewhere between 30 and 50 meters. Later in the season, I will work up to 8 to 10 and make them about 100 meters. Make them too short and you will not get much out of them. Make it too long, and it becomes a much bigger workout.

From a speed perspective, I want to feel like I am running hard but controlled. They should not be a sprint, and you should not be out of breath. In my opinion the idea behind strides is to continually remind the legs and the nervous system of what it is like to run fast.
I will run my strides on any surface safe enough for running, but if I have can, I will find a nice grassy soccer field. Grassy surfaces are easier on the body and in my opinion feel like they are faster.

If you decide to add strides to your weekly workout, choose a day where you are running easy and short. Just after you finish your run go directly into doing your strides. This way the legs still have “get up” in them plus they are warmed up. This reduces the changes of injury.  

This way you feel like you have accomplished something but it isn’t enough to interfere with your recovery for your next big workout.

Start with one day and try to get up to two days per week.

Usually after three or four weeks, I really start to feel a difference in my running and especially in my intervals.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner