Thursday, April 29, 2010

Traits and Habits of Slower Runners vs. Faster Runners?

I took a rest day yesterday at Brennan's request, so it was good to get back to the gym this morning for a 1.75 mile treadmill walk in 30:04. As I was stretching afterward, I thought about how I'd really like to head home and start getting ready for work, but then I decided that time working on core and upper body strength would be time well spent. So, I did 50 ab crunches on the ball, then some alternate supermans, before heading to the free weights for some bicep and tricep curls, and ended with some shoulder presses. As I type, my arms are a bit tired. I can tell I'll be a little sore later.

Part of what motivated me to stay at the gym for a few more minutes and extend my workout was the thought of "going the extra mile," as the name of my blog goes. I've been thinking about the differences between slow and fast runners, and how a slow runner like me can make the transition to becoming a faster runner. I think that part of it is talent, especially for elite runners, and part of it is years of training. But, what are some things that slower runners can do to shorten the gap? I'm thinking that some changes can be made pretty easily, but others take time.

So, what do faster runners have in common? Here's what I'm thinking so far....
1) Low BMI (No brainer here, the fewer pounds I have to lug around, the faster I'll go)
2) Well-rounded training that includes (especially for a middle-aged runner like me) speedwork, endurance work, crosstraining, and strength training
3) Plenty of sleep
4) Staying hydrated daily
5) Healthy diet

I'd love additional ideas to add to this list! Any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another Tuesday Speed Workout

I did more speedwork today, but a shorter speed workout than last week, as Brennan has me tapering a bit for Sunday's 5K.

Walked 1 mile 19:01
Ran .5 mile 5:41
Ran .5 mile 5:32
Ran .5 mile 5:32
Walked .51 mile 9:00

My goal was to break 5:30 for the half mile, didn't quite get there today.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Hilly Course...

But this time I asked for it! (The hilly course, that is!)

I'm still smarting a little from last week's mega-hilly (to me) 5K, so I decided to join an unofficial Galloway run, but do my own run/walk intervals. We started at the new Raleigh Running Outfitters in Cary, on NC Hwy 55 in High House Crossing Shopping Center, near the Harris Teeter. They had maps for up to 10-mile courses out to (and on) the White Oak Creek Trail that's part of the Cary Greenway System. I'd heard the course has some hills, so I decided to tackle it, but take it pretty slowly. I did the run/walk intervals set out for me, which--after the warm-up walk, were 1 mile runs interspersed with .2 mile walks. The hills weren't a total shock this week, so they didn't feel terrible, but I sure did feel slow. It was time on the hills, though, right? The total ascent was 951 ft, and total descent was 952 (according to my Garmin). St. Tim's 5K ascent and descent last weekend were in the low 500s, to put in into perspective! (Today's mileage was a mile longer, though.)

I ended up with 4.1 miles in the books, in a slow-pole 1:18:02, a pokey 19:02 average pace. Time-wise, it feels like I'm back to Square 1. The hills are a new twist, though, and something that I feel like I need to conquer to become a stronger runner--and better racer in the Raleigh area.

Mile Splits:
1) 18:42
2) 18:24
3) 19:07
4) 19:41 (From the trail up NC Hwy 55 to the shopping center and running store is a big long incline!)
.1) 21:04 pace

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Run in the Books

This morning's running assignment was 3.5 miles, with another 1.5 mile running interval thrown in there. I'd still been feeling pretty tired, so I was concerned about how I'd do this morning. I did get a good night's sleep last night, and I'm sure that helped me this morning. I felt a little creaky when I started, so while I took a quarter mile of walking to warm up, I still took it pretty slow. About a .5 mile into the workout, I decided to increase the grade on the treadmill to 1%, and it felt surprisingly easy, so I left it like that. I ended the run/walk at 3.51 miles in 57:04, a 16:15 average pace. I was surprised my average pace was that "fast!" ("Fast" is a relative term, of course! Fast for me!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bike Intervals

This morning I did interval work on the stationary bike, with a 10 minute warmup and 5 minute cooldown. It was a pretty challenging workout, since I still feel pretty tired from yesterday's speed workout on the treadmill. I finished it, though, 7.65 miles in 45:03 minutes, a 5:53 average pace. I was surprised to learn that I broke a 6:00 minute average pace, since I was feeling kinda tired. I bet I'll sleep well tonight. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday's Speed Workout

This morning's workout assignment was what has turned out to be my weekly speed workout on the treadmill. It was pretty darn hard, as usual, but was a little different this time, as it was the longest total distance where I've worked on speed intervals. Hoping it'll pay off down the road! Here are the results:

1) Walked .26 mi in 5:09
2) Ran .25 mile in 4:00
3) Ran 1 mile in 13:46
4) Ran .50 mile in 5:16
5) Ran .50 mile in 5.52
6) Ran .50 mile in 5:53
7) Ran .50 mile in 5:52
8) Walked .50 mile in 8:59

The first half mile was an anamoly, as I looked at my workout notes and thought it read that my half mile intervals should be at a 5:30-5:45 pace, when my coach meant that I should run the half mile invervals IN 5:30-5:45. Hehehe, big difference, no?! I was trying desperately to work my pace down to something sub-6:00, and my legs were flying (by my standards)! I knew I couldn't maintain that for long, and I'd just started! I was relieved that the lightbulb flashed on and I realized I could slow down, but by the time I worked my way back down to a more reasonable pace on the treadmill, I was pretty spent. I had 3-minute rests between each running interval, but it was still a struggle to complete the workout! I'm glad I made it through to the end. I DID consider cutting it short, but I kept remembering last Saturday's 5K race, and how much I want to get faster!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Race Report: 2010 St. Timothy's Spring Sprint 5K, Raleigh, NC

Well, this was not the race I was expecting. I was hoping for a PR in this sixth race of the Second Empire Grand Prix Series, but it wasn't meant to be, though I felt like I did a lot of things right in preparation for this race. I followed Brennan's workout and rest plan for the week, got plenty of sleep, drank lots of water throughout the week. Yep, I thought I was ready. And the race description online called it a flat and fast course! Hehehehe. *sigh* It turned out to be the hilliest course of the series!

My plan was to run .75 mile intervals at around 14:30, with walk intervals of .1. I pretty much did the distance, but the hills sent my pace all over the map. The heat got to me as well after the 9:30 start. I was surprised to find that by the time I got to the water stop, they'd run out of cups! I was slow, but not THAT slow! Since I was struggling anyway, that really threw me for a loop. Thank goodness, by the time I got back around to the water stop on the opposite side of the street from the first water stop, the volunteers had located some cups, and the water was especially cool!

I felt pretty discouraged by the end of the race, which ended uphill. My chip time was 49:43, gun time was 50:12. It was a finish, but it was more a hill workout than a race for me. I felt pretty deflated when I was done. When I went inside to the bathroom, my face was really red, much more so than usual after a race. I stopped and got some fluids in me for the drive home.

I did see some Galloway people before and during the race, as well as some other runners I know. It was a nice surprise, too, to see the daughter of one of my former Wake Forest University coworkers walking the race. I introduced Steph and Ruby before the race, and met George afterward at Panera for lunch.

I must admit that I'm not eager to do this race again, not without some more hill training, anyway. This was a new course for this race, which went through the North Hills neighborhood in Raleigh. It's a beautiful neighborhood, but a tough course for a race. Also, they had a one-mile race before the 5K start, which pushed the 5K to 9:30, kinda late for this area. Parking was plentiful, and it was nice to get a closer look at St. Timothy's School, which looks pretty and probably has a good reputation. The proceeds went to the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, a great cause.

All in all, the best thing I can say about my own performance was that it was a finish, for which I'll earn Series points toward the series-end luncheon. My mile splits are below:

1) 15:15
2) 16:39
3) 15:43
.14) 14:55 pace

Today I've gotta work on getting this one behind me so I can look ahead. The next 5K in the series is in two weeks, and will be a 2 PM (Sunday afternoon) start. Weird start time for an early May race, when things have warmed up even more. Yes, everyone will be out in the same heat, but I'm still dreading it, in a way! Must. Stay. Positive.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Music vs. Podcasts

I had a light workout this morning, 2.2 easy miles in 30:15 min. on the elliptical. I was thankful for the easy assignment, as yesterday's speed workout was tough!!

I listened to podcasts instead of music during this morning's workout, unusual for me, but a nice change of pace! I wonder if others have a preference for music vs. podcasts. I'm usually a "workout playlist on my iPod" gal, but I've been listening to more podcasts during my workouts this week. I think part of it is just a change of pace, but maybe I need some new songs to liven up my workout playlist. Any song suggestions?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Speedwork Tuesday

This morning I did some speedwork on the treadmill. First, I walked 0.50 mile (10 min) to warm up, then ran 0.51 mile in 8:05 mile to warm up some more. After a 2 min. rest, I ran 1 mile in 13:44, rested three minutes, then ran 1 more mile in 13:30. I cooled down with a 0.52 mile walk  (9 min) and about 10 minutes of stretching. It was tiring, for sure, but in a good way. I think I'll sleep well tonight!

Coach Brennan and I had a nice chat last night about last Saturday's run and my upcoming 5K. She encouraged me to get plenty of rest, good nutrition, and plenty of water over the next few days. We'll talk again Friday night before the race.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yesterday's Long Run Plus Race Report: Cary Road Race 5K

I felt like such a renegade yesterday, as I decided on Friday to run the Cary Road Race without running it by my coach. Mainly, though, I was looking for a way to jazz up my training run just a bit, so I decided to make the 5K race the end of my training run, that's all. I knew there'd be a pretty good hill in the first mile or so, then later in the course a small lake to run around. Also, George had decided to run in the 10K, which started before the 5K, so it was a good opportunity for me to cheer him on as well. An added bonus was getting to see a number of my running friends (in addition to George, of course!), plus, the weather report for yesterday promised it would be a beautiful and slightly cool morning.

So, after seeing George and Meri (one of our Galloway friends) off for the 10K, I took care of my early mileage, about 1.15 miles of running and walking, then looked for people I knew in the 10K while I waited for the 5K show to start. I was able to see George once and Meri twice before the 5K started.

The first mile was my slowest (with the big hill), but also just about my favorites, since one of my Galloway pace group friends, Ellen Klinger, came up behind me! She called out to me and  when I turned around, we hooted and hollered and carried on! :) It was sooo much fun to visit with her!

My training run for yesterday called for running three 1 mile intervals with quarter mile walking intervals in between. I decided to still run the 1 mile intervals, and walked somewhere between .1-.25 in between, so that the last "mile" of the 3.1 miler was a little short, but close enough. I kept a pretty close watch on my pace, as I didn't want to race this race; I just wanted it to be a training run with punch!

At the first water stop, I had to get my own water cup off the table, as the volunteer kids were busy starting to clean up. (I was near the back of the pack, of course!) Still, I was thankful for the water, which took care of me through the end of the race.

As I finished running around the lake, I saw George and Meri waiting on me to cheer me on, and they ended up running in the last bit (maybe a quarter of a mile) with me, which was fun! There was only one finish clock, and it showed the 10K time only, so I had to wait until results were posted to see how I did for the 5K portion of my run.

Before the race, it was good to visit with Gary and Rachel from Galloway/NCRC, and afterward I saw Lena from NCRC. Ron and Elaine were manning the Raleigh Galloway table, so we enjoyed visiting with them after the races as well.

My overall time for 4.25 miles was 1:10:46, a 16:40 overall average pace, which is an improvement for me! I finished the 5K in 49:07, an average 15:49 pace. Although I had a chip on my shoe (thank goodness!), there wasn't a starting pad, so the time is "gun time" only. This wasn't my best 5K time of the year, but not my worst either. Not bad, considering it was a training run. I'm pleased with the negative splits below.

Mile Splits:
1) 19:26 (part of warm-up)

2) 16:43 (big hill here)
3) 15:57
4) 15:18
.25) @ 13:35/mi pace

Friday, April 09, 2010

Sidestep: Low Carb Diet Progress

Yesterday, I went to see Dr. Westman. He's a Duke internist who's specialties include bariatrics and addictions, and he has a new book out that updates the Atkins diet. I've been seeing him since mid-January, so yesterday was my monthly appointment, as well as my first visit to the lab since my initial visit in January. I'm happy to report that I'm down about 18 lbs and 7 inches in my waist! My labwork also tells an interesting tale. Below, I'll give my numbers from mid-January and yesterday:

A1c: 7.1--> 6.3
Total Cholesterol: 246-> 193
Triglycerides: 161--> 114
HDL: 46--> 42
LDL:168--> 128

Most of these numbers are rather good, and all without medications! I still need to stay the course, as they could be better still. The goal for my A1c is to get it below 6.0, and the HDL should be higher. I'm encouraged by the improvement, though! And the whole cholesterol thing fascinates me, since Atkins has the reputation for being all about fats--steak and cheese, and all of that. I must admit, I have stayed away from red meats, by and large, and usually choose low-fat cheeses when I can.

I'm still pondering the differences between the Rice Diet, which I spent numerous months on with success, and the Atkins Diet, which is successful so far as well. One is low-fat, the other low-carb. How do they both achieve similar results for me?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thursday Run

This morning I ran/walked 3.27 miles on the treadmill in 54:04, a 16:32 average pace. I could've gone a little faster, but I decided to take it pretty easy on my knee. Still, this is a decent training pace for me, better than I usually do on the road for a training run. My road training pace will get there someday! :)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Yesterday's Speedwork--Not! But Go Blue Devils!

Yesterday was supposed to be a speed workout, but that didn't happen. Brennan, my running coach, had emailed me over the weekend, and asked how my knee felt. I admitted that my weekend workouts had felt a bit sluggish, and my knee was talking to me a little. So, she suggested I make yesterday's speed workout a 2-2.5 mile walk instead! I'm glad she gave me a way out of having to do speed, because it turns out I had a way late night Monday night, staying up to watch the whole Duke-Butler game in the NCAA Basketball Championship game! It was too exciting and CLOSE not to watch the whole thing, which lasted til around Midnight EDT, then I was too keyed up to go to sleep for a while. *sigh* So, I walked an easy 2.32 miles in 45:03 minutes on the treadmill yesteray morning, then went to bed early last night. (I think I finally gave up and turned my light out aroun 8:00!)

I was good for little yesterday at work, but it was a good day to be a Duke fan! :) Unfortunately, I arrived at work to see the (Duke) blue screen of death on my computer screen, so I had to work at another computer all day. I hope it gets fixed today.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Saturday's Run on the American Tobacco Trail

I had a "long" run on the American Tobacco Trail on Saturday. It was a beautiful morning, clear with temps in the mid to high 50s. I wish my mojo had matched the great weather!  I felt sluggish, and was worried about my knee, so I ended up run/walking 3.81 miles in 1:08:31, barely breaking 18:00 for my average pace. Blah! Some runs are like that, though. I'm glad I got out there and got the mileage in.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Yesterday's Run/Walk on the Treadmill

Yesterday's run/walk workout assignment on the treadmill was my longest workout of the week! I'm used to having my longest run on Saturday's, so this was different for me. As usual, my running and walking intervals were by distance. Since I've become accustomed to doing speedwork on the treadmill, I found myself pushing the pace yesterday morning on the treadmill. Bad move! After running intervals of one mile and 0.5 mile with walks in between, I was running my second 1/2 mile when my left (oh, yes!) knee starting hurting--more than usual. I looked at my pace, and it was sub-14:00 by then, faster than my race pace of late. No wonder! I took it down to a walk, and walked through my next walk interval, and stopped for a minute. I decided to record my distance and time up to that point, then massaged my knee for a few seconds. It felt better, so I decided to try to run and walk the end of my workout MORE SLOWLY and see how things felt. My knee felt much better after that. Whew! So, here are the numbers from yesterday:

2.56 miles in 40 minutes
1.5 miles in 23:08 minutes

Today, my knee has felt a little creaky, so I'm glad it's been a rest day. I also took today as a vacation day, so I've really been able to take it easy. I hope tomorrow's run, 3.75 miles on run/walking, goes okay.


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