Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Running on Saturday

Over the last few weeks I've been experimenting with a workout Greg McMillan calls a progression run.

In a progression run, you begin running at a slow, easy pace but finish at a fast pace. Not only have I found progression runs to be fun, but they are a great way to boost your fitness without any lasting fatigue. And, the benefits are the same no matter if you're a 3:15, 4:15 or 5:15 marathoner.

There are 3 specific progression runs that Greg shared with me, but the one I'll cover today is called the "Super Fast Finish".

For this workout, the name says it all. You run a normal steady run but run super fast in the last three to six minutes of the run. When I say super fast, I mean super fast. Pretty much like a 5K race to the finish. These runs are challenging yet don't require a long recovery. They are fast enough to really stimulate your Speed and Sprinting ability (muscle recruitment, coordination, mental focus and lactic acid tolerance) but short enough (three to six minutes) that you will feel no lasting effect on your next run.

I like to incorporate a Super Fast Finish at the end of a long, steady state runs, and have definitely noticed speed improvement as a result. You might try it out sometime and let me know what you think.

Okay, this Saturday, I'll be meeting with the group at 6:30am here at the studio for our scheduled 14 miles (or 3 miles for the new members of the group).

Attendance has been sporadic during this holiday month, so please let me know if you are NOT able to make it in on Saturday!

Brian Calkins

Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 Flying Pig Marathon Training...

Are you ready to take your running to the next level? After spending some time putting together our Flying Pig training, I'm fired up and ready to roll!

Please save this email as it contains critical information about your training over the coming 18-20 weeks.

Also, you can find your schedule online ...

First time runners click here (for those who just started this week)

If you've been with us since the summer, click here.

Our training schedule calls for 3 training runs per week, which is built upon the assumption that you are an active Adventure Boot Camp participant, or otherwise combining strength and cardiovascular training each week, in addition to the dedicated marathon prep. If you are not an active boot camper you will need at least 2 additional training days beyond our 3 runs per week to prepare sufficiently for the Flying Pig marathon.

As always, the group will be meeting on Tues/Thurs at 5:30am and Saturday morning for scheduled runs. Feel free to run individually or otherwise make modifications to the schedule to fit your needs. Just use caution to not do less or more than is outlined below.

I will continue to send weekly updates that will include specific information on the coming week's training. We may also make small modifications to the program based on numerous factors (including holidays and recovery level of the running group).

Here are definitions and explanations:

Long Runs: The key to our training is the long run on Saturdays, which ranges from 9 to 23 miles over the course of 18 weeks. Although some experienced runners do train longer distances, many running physiologists see no advantage in doing 26, 29 or even 31 mile runs as the pounding on the body and energy depletion can be difficult to overcome before a marathon, especially for first timers.

Instead, we'll conserve our energy and concentrate on quality runs the rest of the week. Consistency is most important. You can skip an occasional workout, or juggle the schedule depending on other commitments, but we cannot skip the long runs and expect to perform well at the Pig. Notice that although the weekly long runs get progressively longer, every third week is a "stepback" week, where we reduce mileage to allow our bodies to gather strength for the next push upward. Rest is a critical part of our training program.

Many of our long runs will actually be run on the Flying Pig course to become familiar with it. On those Saturdays, Leah or I will let you know where we'll meet on the Friday before the run.

Run Slow: I cannot over emphasize the importance of running the long runs anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds per mile slower than your goal marathon pace. This is critical. The physiological adaptations and benefits of marathon training kick in around 90-120 minutes, regardless of how fast you run. Running too fast defeats this purpose and will likely tear down your muscles, compromising your subsequent workouts and training overall. Save your faster running for the marathon itself. There are many Thursday runs that are designed for you to run at your race pace, but shorter distances. So simply do your long runs at a comfortable pace, one that allows you to converse with your training buddies, at least during the beginning of the run. Which brings up our next training point.

3/1 Training: Toward the end of a run, if you're still feeling fresh, you may want to pick up the pace and finish somewhat faster. This will convert your long run into what Hal Higdon calls a 3/1 Run. That means you run the first three-fourths of your long run (say the first 12 miles of a 16-miler) at an easy pace, then do the final one-fourth (4 miles of a 16-miler) at a somewhat faster pace--though still not race pace. This 3/1 strategy is advised for no more than once out of every three weeks. In other words: first weekend, easy run; second weekend, 3/1 Run; third weekend, step back to a shorter distance. Any running coach or physiologist will tell you that it's better to run too slow during long runs, than too fast. The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance; how fast you cover it doesn't matter.

Walking Breaks: Walking is a perfectly acceptable strategy even for those of us who have completed a half marathon and have been running consistently for awhile now. While Jeff Galloway is a huge proponent of the run/walk ratios, you might develop the habit of walking when you need some water in prep for the water stations at each mile of the Pig. There are two reasons for this: 1) you can drink more easily while walking as opposed to running, and 2) since many other runners slow or walk through water stations, you'll be less likely to block those behind. You will lose less time walking than you think. Bill Rodgers took four brief breaks (tying a shoe on one of them) while running 2:09 and winning the Boston Marathon. Walking gives your body a chance to rest, and you'll be able to continue running more comfortably. It's best to walk when you want to, not when your (fatigued) body forces you too.

Race Pace: Although we've covered pace runs before I want to review this again as it'll be an important component of our program. Race Pace is the pace you plan to run in the Pig. If you're training for a 4:00 marathon, your average pace per mile is 9:09. So you would run that same pace during our Pace runs in this program (on Thursdays).

Please use the McMillan calculator by clicking here to plug in your best Half Marathon time ... and this will give you a good prediction of the pace you can strive for in the Pig.

Cross-Training: It is absolutely critically for runners to work your muscles against resistance (strength training) AND you do some other form of cardio training to keep your body fresh. And if you become excessively fatigued, walking for 30-45 minutes will help you recover after your Saturday long runs and is a great form of cross-training (for the benefit of recovery).

Rest: As I said earlier, rest is an important component of marathon training. Scientists will tell you that it is during the rest period (the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually regenerate and get stronger. Simply put, you can't run hard unless you are well rested. And it is hard running (such as the long runs) that allows you to improve. If you're constantly fatigued, you will fail to reach your potential. This is why I've reserved Sunday as a day of rest for us. It allows you to gather forces for hard running the following week. If you need to take more rest days--because of fatigue, a cold, or a late night at the office or a sick child--do so. And if you're tired from the weekend, take Monday off as well--or cut the length of your cross-training. The secret to success in our training program is consistency, so as long as you are consistent with your training during the full 18 weeks of the program, you can afford--and may benefit from--extra rest.

Mentally gear up as we're on the cusp of taking our fitness and performance to the next level!

I'm excited to be on this journey with you!!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665, x-105

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cold Weather Running Tips...

Welcome to everyone who just joined the Flying Pig Running Group!!

Later this week I will be emailing the training schedule for both groups ... For tomorrow, if you're just getting started, plan on a combination of jogging & walking for 25 minutes. For the group that's been together for the past 6 months, you have 4 easy miles in the morning. Both groups will start at 5:30am, leaving from Crossroads Church.

In the meantime, I've gotten some email's and questions over the past couple weeks about the change in temperature and how that impacts our training ... and wanted to share some important winter running tips.

First, just know that the hardest part of running in the cold is just crossing that initial mental hurdle of thinking that somehow you "can't" run outside when it's below a certain temperature ... or that somehow running in the cold isn't good for you.

You absolutely can run in the cold, and it's really the only way to get through that hurdle. And of course you'll need to dress appropriately, but as long as you're equipped appropriately, the best approach is to just plunge right into a cold weather run!

That first mile is generally a transition mile ... but then this amazing thing happens - your body warms up and regulates your temperature, almost perfectly.

Endorphins kick in and help you feel even more comfortable, just like anytime you run, and before you know it, your run has been accomplished!!

And believe it or not, you get to a point that you really enjoy running in the cold. Just ask those who ran in the cold last year for the first time!

Here are a few tips for cold weather running:

Always Protect Your Head and Neck! About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head. Wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss, so your circulatory system will have more heat to distribute to the rest of the body. When it's really cold, wear a face mask or a scarf over your mouth to warm the air you breathe and protect your face.

Protect Your Hands and Feet! As much as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet. On mild days, wear running gloves that wick moisture away. You can also tuck disposable heat packets into your gloves. Add a wicking sock liner under a warm polar fleece or wool sock, but make sure you have enough room in your running shoes to accommodate these thicker socks.

Get a pair of leggings or running pants! The right running pants will not only keep you warm, but they'll do wonders to support your lower body using compression technology (especially important on those long runs).

Dress in Layers! Start with a thin layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat from your body. Stay away from cotton because it holds the moisture and will keep you wet. An outer, breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will help protect you against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture to prevent overheating and chilling. If it's really cold out, you'll need a middle layer, such as polar fleece, for added insulation.

Pay Attention to Temperature and Wind Chill - If the wind is strong, it penetrates your clothes and removes the insulating layer of warm air around you. Your movement also creates wind chill because it increases air movement past your body. If the temperature dips below zero or the wind chill is below minus 20, I'll recommend hitting the treadmill instead.

My personal choice in cold weather gear is Under Armour. Yes, it can be a little pricey, but they are the leaders in keeping athletes warm in even the most extreme conditions. And, if a cold running outfit from UA cost $150, you'll be able to use it for many years to come - their clothing is exceptionally durable and built for long term performance.

You can click here to check out the Under Armour cold weather gear. Nike, Asics and others have quality cold weather running gear as well.

Last year we had one or two days where the temps hit 10 degrees (not including wind chill), and we all make it through just fine. The key of course, is dressing appropriately!

Talk with you later in the week!

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665, x-105