02-13-2014

Track Workouts 101

Just got back in from shoveling 10 or more inches of snow…and am exhausted. I usually write 2 posts a day but this morning was hectic.

Right now I can’t even imagine running outside (too snowy, too icy, too cold), but it’s never too early to start thinking about track workouts!

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If you’re training for any sort of spring race, track workouts can help you increase your speed, strength and stamina. You can easily do these on the roads or treadmills too, but I do feel more hardcore doing them on a track ;)

Basics

If you’ve never run on the track before, here are some basics:

  • People usually run counter-clockwise. I’d say it’s okay to run clockwise but only in the outermost lanes. If you will be doing lots of laps, switch directions every few laps if there aren’t that many people.
  • If there are faster people, run in the 2nd or 3rd lane. If you’re one of those faster people, just yell out “On your left” as you run up behind people so they will move out of your way.
  • I’m sure everyone knows this, but each curve and each straightaway is 100 meters. A whole lap is 400 meters. 4 laps around the track is a mile.

Workouts

If you’ve never done a track workout, there’s no need to make it complicated. The great thing about the track is that it is a measured distance, so you know exactly how far you have gone. Always start with a good warm-up. I usually jog for half a mile to a mile before starting, and cool-down with half a mile to a mile.

Here’s a good workout to start with-one that I have had my dad do when he occasionally runs with us:

  • Run 100 meters (the straightaway) at a brisk pace (not necessarily a sprint, but faster than a run…should be comfortably hard).
  • Jog/walk 100 meters (curve).
  • Repeat for however long you want to run.

Or another variation of that:

  • Run 200 meters (straightaway + curve) at a brisk pace.
  • Jog/walk 100 meters
  • Repeat for however long you want to run.

Once you feel comfortable here are a few workouts you can try out, depending on your goals. Shorter distances at faster speeds will be better for 5k training, and longer distances will be better for half or full marathon training.

The Simple Workout

  • Run 400 meters (1 lap) at 5K effort.
  • Rest for however long it took you to run 1 lap. Active rest though-walk or jog.
  • Repeat 5-10 times depending on your abilities. Start with 5 and work your way up to 10.

Little Bit Longer Now

  • Run 600 meters (1.5 laps) at 5K effort.
  • Rest for however long it took you to run 1.5 laps.
  • Repeat 3-6 times depending on your abilities.

Ladder

  • Run 100 meters FAST (but not all out sprint-we want to preserve form here).
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Run 200 meters fast.
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • Run 400 meters at 5K effort.
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
  • Work your way back down

Work On That Stamina

  • Run 800 meters at 10K effort, or at a comfortable hard pace. You should be able to finish the 800 meters, and have enough in the tank to repeat it. Definitely not going all out here.
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Takin’ It Back To Gym Class

  • Go to the track. Warm up with an easy mile or half mile.
  • Run 1 mile as fast as you can.
  • Cool-down. Note your time, try this next month and see if you improved.

I love track workouts and can’t wait to get back to it once it gets warmer out.

If you can’t make it to the track now, you can easily do these on the treadmill too. Just make sure not to choose a pace that is too fast for you, because that can lead to overstriding and injuries.

Which of these do you want to try?

Do you have a favorite running workout? Track? Tempo run? Fartleks?

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02-05-2014

Health/Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

Sigh…yet another snow day. Not only is the snow interfering with my work, but it’s interfering with my ability to get to the gym! Hopefully the ice clears up by later but its not looking good…

Here are your health links for today:

I’m thinking of experimenting with freezer cooking. Has anyone tried this? Tips? Recipes?

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01-02-2014

12 Running Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

So you’re a runner…or deciding to run? Great! Running is a great way to get in and stay in shape, relieve stress, and compete against yourself and no one else.

However, it’s important to avoid making certain mistakes that could leave you burned out, or worse, sidelined with an injury.

Here are 12 running mistakes runners need to watch out for. Some you may have already heard of (or perhaps all), but still good things to remember/work on!

running mistakes
1) Doing Too Much Too Soon: This has been said over and over again. Don’t run too much too soon. Follow the 10% rule which states that you should not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. This rule may not make sense with lower mileage (such as 10 miles per week), or work for everyone. Instead, start off by tracking minutes instead of miles. Start with a 20 minute run, then the following week move up to perhaps 25-30 minutes, and so on. If you feel any pain, then back off or stay at the current level you are at.

2) Not Running Enough: As opposed to doing too much too soon, sometimes it’s possible to not be running enough. I ran my first marathon in 2011, and completely bonked. Why? Because I didn’t run enough in training. I was scared of getting injured, but that caused me to not be fully prepared. I ran the same marathon in 2013, and doubled my monthly mileage averages in training. The result was a 33 minute personal best. Don’t be afraid to increase your mileage, as long as you have a good base.

3) Not Strength Training: As a personal trainer, I know the importance of strength training for runners. But, as a marathoner, I also know how hard it is to incorporate it into your already full schedule. During the off-season, increase your strength training and include full-body workouts. While training, at least make sure you’re doing body weight exercises, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and hip raises, as well as core exercises.

4) Not Fueling Properly: It’s easy to fall into the mindset of, “I ran 10 miles today, I can eat whatever I want.” However, it is important to fuel your body for the demands of training, especially post-run. Make sure to have a good intake of healthy proteins, carbohydrates and fats. After a run, a protein shake, or chocolate milk makes for a great recovery meal. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water daily! Track how many ounces you drink via an app, or simply writing it down. I also wrote a post on muscle recovery.

5) Not Getting Enough Sleep: If you’re training for anything, whether it’s a 5K or a marathon, you will be pushing your body during hard workouts. You need to make sure you are giving it proper rest to recover. Do not skimp on sleep or your workouts will suffer.

6) Not Wearing The Right Shoes: Another tip that has been repeated many times before. Go to a specialty store and get fitted for the correct shoe. It took me a couple of tries until I found the right shoe. Experiment and don’t be afraid to try other brands. If you can, buy more than 1 shoe at once, so you can rotate them.

7) Not Wearing The Right Gear: Furthermore, wearing the right gear is so important. Sure, cotton shirts and shorts may cut it for shorter runs, but once you switch to dri-fit tops and wicking material, you’ll never go back. These materials are lighter, wick away sweat, and prevent chafing. Make sure to wash them correctly in order to make sure they last.

8) Running Too Fast Every Day: How do you get faster? NOT by running fast every day. There are times when running fast is necessary. You should have about two-three hard days per week, followed by easy recovery days. Those days should be run at a slower pace, giving your body a chance to truly recover. It might feel like a slog to you, but doing so will actually help you get faster. Running hard every day means your body never has a chance to truly recover.

9) Not Incorporating Speed & Tempo Workouts: Going along with the above point, in order to run faster, you need to incorporate speed and tempo workouts. These will really help you pick up the speed and improve your kick in races. A track workout could be something like 10×400 meters, while a tempo workout maintains a certain pace for an extended period of time (2-10 miles depending on what you’re training for).

10) For Marathoners-Not Practicing Fueling: If you’re going to run a half-marathon or a marathon, it is so important to practice fueling on your training runs. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you need to practice everything, down to how you will store your fuel. Will you take walking breaks to take a GU? Or run while eating/drinking? Will someone hand you fuel on the course? Or will you carry it all. What type of fuel will you take? Experiment and find what works best for you.

11) Not Warming Up or Cooling Down: If you only do one of these, at least make it the warm up. Dynamic warm ups help prime your body for the run or workout you’re about to do. You warm up your heart, muscles and joints. You can do dynamic moves such as skips and hops, or simply walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes. Post-run, make sure you do stretches for your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. These can be dynamic as well, such as toy solider walks, or simply sitting on the floor and holding stretches for 20-30 seconds. Here are some dynamic warm-up exercises that I do.

12) Not Enjoying The Run: Last but not least, enjoy the run!!! Don’t let it become monotonous and a task that you HAVE to do every day. It should be something you look forward to. A challenge that awaits. If running becomes a chore, it may signal that it’s time for a break. After a long training period, whether it’s for a half marathon or a marathon, I always take a month off to relax. I may run if I feel like it, but it’s no longer scheduled. Sometimes that’s all you need to really jump back into training and remember why you started running in the first place.

What are some mistakes or tips you would add for beginner runners?

Have you ever made any of these mistakes?

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07-24-2013

Guest Post: Training For Races

I have another great guest post today from Alyssa, who blogs over at See This Girl Run. She is currently training for a marathon, and has a lot of great tips for you, whether you’re training for a 5k or a marathon! I’ll pass it over to her now :)

Hello everyone! My name is Alyssa (a-lee-sa) and I blog over at See This Girl Run. Just as a brief intro, I first started running my 8th grade year with the high school cross country team and ran my 8th, 10th and 11th grade years. I then ran here and there all throughout college but was never very serious about it. This was very evident in my Freshman 10 hanging around for all four years ;) However, I’ve always loved health and fitness. I even majored in Exercise Science! It’s just something I’ve always had a passion for! My senior year of college I signed up for my first half marathon and I was hooked! I have since run 4 half marathons, one 15k and am currently training for my first full marathon. It’s safe to say I love running!
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As I’ve trained for all my of my different races, including my upcoming marathon, there’s been a few things I’ve learned that may help you as you train for your next event.
1) Find and use a training plan
Whether it’s one that you create yourself or one that you find online or in a book, use a training plan! I know that this helps me to know what’s coming up for me as far as workouts and they push me harder than I would probably push myself. I also like to find ones that help me to incorporate a variety of workouts (ie. speed work, long runs, easy/recovery runs, strength training and cross training). One site that I would highly recommend is halhigdon.com. There you can find a lot of different training plans based on the length of the event and your ability level. I used one of their plans for my last half marathon and was able to PR.
For my marathon, I’m currently combining a couple of different things. I’m using a running plan from “Run Less, Run Faster” by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss for my weekday runs (awesome book! I highly recommend it) and Tina Reale’s Best Body Bootcamp for my strength training. I’m then doing my long runs on Saturday. So far I’m up to 15 miles and boy oh boy that was far! Good thing I still have 8 weeks to build up my mileage. :)
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2) Don’t chaffe
Full disclosure, I have had issues with chaffing to the point of bleeding on nearly every run I went on, regardless of the distance. So I know from experience that something as silly as chaffing can totally ruin your workout because all you can think about is the pain every time you rub your skin. Discovering anti-chaffing “Body Glide” has been the biggest life saver! Especially if you’re going to be going farther distances, I HIGHLY recommend getting “Body Glide”. It’s worth every little penny.
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3) Track your distance/pace
Find a way to track your distance and pace! For me, this is one of my biggest motivators to improving throughout my run. It helps me know if I need to pick it up or if I’m going to fast (this happens!). I am currently using my Garmin 10 and I absolutely love it. Plus I got it in purple. So cute!
In the past, I’ve also used the “Map My Run” app, which worked wonderfully. Plus, it’s free!! How much better does it get than that?! I’ve also heard really good things about the Nike app from quite a few friends. But regardless of what you use, I guarantee it will be a huge tool in your training and as you try to improve.
4) Learn How to Fuel
Before, during and after training runs and your race! This will make all the difference in how you feel on your run! Remember that as you increase your training, you should be increasing your caloric intake (in a healthy way). Your body is putting forth more effort and you need to give it the fuel to perform at that higher level!
Before your run, you should be eating a simple carb such as a banana or a piece of bread. These break down quickly and will give you quick energy.
During the run, there are so many different options for fueling! My personal favorite is Shot Blocks. They’re easy to eat while you’re running and don’t have a gross consistency, like goos. The fruity taste can sometimes be a little much while I’m running but it’s much better than anything I’ve tried so far. I can also tell a difference in my energy level within minutes of eating a block. These little things have gotten me through many, many miles.
After your run, you need to eat a protein. When you exercise, your muscles are broken down and literally torn. That’s why you’re sore. You have torn muscles! By being torn and built back up, they become stronger. As you eat protein after a workout, it will assist your muscle to be built up that much stronger, therefore making the most of all that hard work you just put in to your run.
5) DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Yes, that required all caps. I can’t emphasize enough, especially with this hot summer weather, how important it is to properly hydrate! According to Jillian Michaels, you should be drinking enough water that your pee looks like lemonade. If it looks like apple juice, you’re definitely not drinking enough. Graphic? Sorry. But it’s true. Drink your water! Get a water bottle that you can take with you throughout the day to work, class, wherever you’re going so that you can constantly drink throughout the day. Your body is 50-65% water, so if you want it to function properly, it needs to be well hydrated!
I hope those 5 tips will help you as you train for your next event. Even if you’re a seasoned runner, these are always good reminders!

Remember to listen to your body (sneaky tip #6). I know you’ll do great! Be careful out there, take care of yourself and good luck with your training!

Follow Alyssa’s blog here or like her Facebook page for post updates. Thanks for reading and I hope you have some new bloggers to follow now! :)