Archive for August, 2007

Changing Upcoming Running Workout at the Last Minute

I had an interesting situation come up on Monday. I had planned a pretty extensive workout for my lunch hour and was looking forward to it. However, on this particular day it was raining out (not sprinkling, full on raining) and I had a very full day in meetings. My plan was to head out at 11:30 so I would be back for a meeting at 1:00.

11:30 came and it was pouring out. I resigned myself that I would need to force my run in at home after work, which was not ideal since I had some important family commitments. Shoot forward 15 minutes and out of the corner of my eye I see some sun peeking out and the rain has stopped. I now have a decision to make – do I adjust my run so I can get the run in at lunch or wait?

I actually struggled with it for a couple of seconds but decided to do the run. My hesitation was the reduced workout that I would need to do as result of the limited time. I am pretty committed to doing my full runs so a change is a bit stressful. However I became comfortable because I knew it would be less of a impact to run at lunch than adjusting things with my family in the evening.

In the end I didn’t need to adjust the run too much. It was a speed workout so I altered my warm up and cool down time and took one speed repetition off. It was actually a great workout. I met my pace goals and I was very happy to have got the run in.

The morale of the story for me was that sometimes it is ok to adjust a workout plan. The impact on an overall training program in terms of fitness is negligible. As long as I am not changing every run at the last minute I will no longer stress about these minor tweaks.

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 29, 2007 at 6:11 pm

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Psycological Aspects of Training for Runners

Psychology of Running
I have heard the phrase, “Running is 10% physical and 90% mental” many times before. Anyone who has run a marathon knows this is true. Sure there is a lot of physical training involved to get ready for the run, and the actual run itself is physically difficult, but the only thing that will get you through the training and the race is your mental state!

I think an important first step is to realize that the training for the race is not going to be easy and it will take all you have got to get through it. However, you also need to believe in your heart and mind that you can do it – if you go into it thinking you don’t have what it takes, then guess what? You will not be successful. If you go into it knowing you can do it and you have the desire and dedication, then there is no doubt that you will finish.

An article on the site lists a number of techniques a runner can utilize to ensure a successful training program and race. They break the techniques down into 3 specific areas:

* Mental Rehearsal/Visualization – The process of creating pictures or images in your mind.
* Imagery – Playing out/imagining in your mind the way you wish for an event to occur.
* Self-Talk – The “voice” in your head that can be trained to provide positive affirmations during adversity and tough times.

If you go on to read the article in more detail, you will see that the key to success for a runner is having the self-discipline, a goal-orientated focus, and the time management skills to place yourself in the right frame of mind.

In my experience, the races I have been most successful in are the ones that I have been able to maintain the right frame of mind throughout the training program. Once race day came along, I was fully prepared and excited to see how fast I could run!

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 25, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Categories: Race, Training   Tags:

Cross Training to Be a Better Runner

I have been cross training to supplement my running for a few months now and wish I had started sooner! My primary form of cross training has been the 2 times per week that I have been riding my bike to work. The positive results of this is that I am a better runner now, and my legs and knees no longer have that constant dull ache I had when I was running 5 to 6 times per week.

I think we all have read about the benefits of cross training but I think that most people don’t do any for the simple fact that it is more time consuming to focus on multiple types of sports. When we get into a particular routine it is easy to just get out and do that run. If you need to complicate it by going to a pool to swim or the gym to do an elliptical trainer, then it becomes more difficult to get started. This was definitely the case for me. I needed to figure out a way to ensure that it fit in with my current schedule and didn’t take time away from my family.

My approach to get these cross training sessions in has been to bike to work. I do this twice per week. It is about 11 miles each way and takes 53 minutes door to door. As I need to get home after the days work, I actually do this cross training workout 4 times per week – 2 times to work and 2 time back home.

The benefits that I have realized from biking are primarily in my legs. As we all know, running really uses those hamstrings a lot. With biking, I find that my quads are taxed more and my hamstrings get a good stretching. It balances the muscles out. I also find that my leg turnover has improved.

I did a bit of research on the web and have found some pretty good tips on incorporating cross training into a training program:

* Just be careful not to overdo it. Reduce your running to accommodate any new activities. Overtraining is overtraining, whether it’s in one sport or a combination of them (Cool Running)
* When biking, make your knees track up and down; do not splay out – otherwise you will lose the knee injury protection (
The following are from
* Swimming focuses on the upper body and general conditioning. It can help you relax and recover after long or hard workouts. Swimming provides an aerobic workout without being a weight-bearing exercise, thus making it a great option for marathoners and injured/recovering runners.
* Rowing also focuses on the upper body, as well as the abdomen. This can be useful for runners who have run for years and are interested in both learning a new sport and balancing their upper body and core area with the strength they have earned in their legs.
* Strength training can focus on keeping your legs strong during an injury or on strengthening unbalanced muscle groups.
* Yoga can be used in much the same way as strength training, since some poses use your body weight as resistance to strengthen your muscles.
* Elliptical machines at the gym or in your home offer an alternative for nasty weather or for injured runners who can still run, but need no-impact.

I think the most important part is to ensure that the cross training is fun and provides you with a break from running.

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 22, 2007 at 7:58 pm

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The Importance of Goals When Training for a Race

I am just like everyone else in the world – I need to be motivated by some internal or external quest to get me moving toward the achievement of a particular goal. Whether it is buying a new car, getting a new job, or running a 10-k, the task of setting goals is the most important first step in the journey.

When I think back to when I first started running over 2 years ago, my running goals were not well defined. At that point it was not about what race I was going to run or at what pace. It was simply to get my fat butt into better shape. Looking back on that, I would say that it was a pretty loose goal with very little definition. I am actually surprised I have been running since that time as many times before I had set out on an exercise path to lose weight and failed. The only thing that kept me going was joining a Running Room 10-K clinic and the friends I was making in that clinic. I was not however signed up for a race at that point.

Shoot forward a couple of weeks into the clinic something changed. I found myself having an easier go of the actual mechanics of running and was starting to really enjoy spending time huffing and puffing my way around Calgary. I also was able to secure a bib for one of Alberta’s largest and most popular races, Melissa’s Road Race 10-K. Things really changed at that point. I was now super motivated to train and I had a goal to finish. The sheer fact of having this goal was so powerful, I remember one training run where it was basically a torrential downpour but I went out anyway as there was nothing that was going to stop me from being in the best shape possible for the race. Race day came and I had so much fun and was so proud to finish it. I am not sure if I would still be running today had it not been for the race day goal I had.

Having learned a valuable lesson from that experience, all my training from that point forward (and everything in my life for that matter) is goal orientated. Each training run has a goal or objective associated with it. For example, on my speed day, I go out with the objective to run a certain number of repeats at a very specific pace. Each of these objectives are driving me towards a particular time goal at a particular goal race. I record each objective in my Garmin watch using the training feature and carry around a 3 X 5 index card with the race and my goal time written on it and read it twice a day. I find this really focuses my efforts and pushes me towards achievement of that goal every day. Without these goals I would not be a runner today.

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 18, 2007 at 8:41 am

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Predicting Your Time in a Race

As you may have already deciphered from my blog, I have been training using the Furman Institute of Running (FIRST) training method. The book they have published, Runner’s World Run Less, Run Fasterprovides a lot of the background on why their program works and most importantly, how to use it properly and for the most impact on your performance.

All runs in the training program are to be run at prescribed times. For example, on Key Run #1, which is a speed workout, you run 10 minutes of easy warm-up, then a number of repeats such as 400 meters with a 400 meter cool down (10 times for example), followed by a 10 minute cool down. Where the science comes into play is not just on the structure of the workout, but the actual pace that you need to run the repeats at. The program will tell you how fast you need to run the 400 meter repeats. The obvious questions is how do you know how fast to run them.

The actual paces that you need to run are determined by your most recent 5-K race time. If you don’t have one, then go back to your most recent race (e.g. 10-K) and from there you can determine what your 5-K time would have been. For ease of reference, FIRST has developed a race prediction table that can be used to predict race times. The file can be found by clicking on the Race Prediction Table. For example, if your most recent race was a 10-K and you ran it in 0:54:58, your predicted 5-K time would be 0:26:20. Further, the table predicts that you would run a marathon in 4:20:08, provided you did the training as directed using paces determined by that 5-K time. When you actually put the paces and training runs into practice, I have found them to be difficult, but not too hard so that I can’t finish them. Most importantly, I feel that my running is improving .

The only negative thing that I can comment about on the program is that on the 10-K training program, Key Run #3 (the long run) seems really long. On some weekends you are prescribed up to 9 mile runs, which is way above a 10-K. This is to prepare you for the 10-K distance as race pace, but it can seem a bit long. Overall I have enjoyed using the training program and look forward to seeing my performance in my next 10-K in September.

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Posted by The Running Guy - August 15, 2007 at 8:58 pm

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