Archive | February 2013

I Admit It, I Have Race/Event A.D.D

When I began my health journey, I wrote a goal to run the 5K at the Ottawa Race Weekend in 2011. After completing that race, I was hooked and I was always on the lookout for another race or challenge. So my next race was the ARMY Run 5K that race just reaffirmed my passion not only to get healthy but my love of races and events. This year, I wrote a list of races and events that I want to complete and now I am beginning to wonder if that was such a good idea. I completed the 2013 Resolution Run and Disney Hal Marathon so far and my next race is the 30K Around the Bay race at the end of March. The problem is, though I have been training, I am already looking forward to the event after that and the event after that.

Everytime a read a blog post or read a magazine article about a race or event, I do more research about the event/race and start thinking about doing that event/race when my focus should be on my upcoming race/event. It has gotten to the point where I start dreaming about a race/event and even in my dreams, I get half way through that race/event and I start dreaming about another race/event. Bloody hell, I cannot even focus in my dreams. Maybe I took on too much this year but time will only tell for sure. Maybe I should just limit myself to three or four races/events a year so that I can focus more on the training but where would the fun be in that? I am sure there is a way to combat this race/event A.D.D and that I might need to seek “professional help” but until then, I will have to deal with it as best as I can

Even writing this blog post I think I may have come up with a plan. At the beginning of the year, I will pick my first race/event of the year but for the rest of the year, I will make a list of races/events that I would like to take part in. I will give that list to my “coach” who will decide which races/events I will participate in. I will not know what the next race/event is until I finish my current race/event. Almost like the OSCARs. Once I cross the finish line, my coach will hand me an envelope with the name of the next race/event that I will take part in.

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FARTLEK……there I said it!

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Is there a funnier word in running than “fartlek”? If nothing else, saying fartlek before beginning this training session will put a smile on your face and who has ever had a bad training session with a smile on their face. So what is Fartlek? Fartlek, is a Swedish term that means “speed play,”  it is a form of interval or speed training that can be effective in improving your speed and endurance. Fartlek training involves varying your pace alternating between fast segments and slow jogs as you run. The one thing about fartlek training is that it is unstructured unlike other training methods. You can either use distances, time or points in the distance(landmark) for this training method. That is the great advantage of fartlek training, it can done on a track, road, trails, fields or even on a treadmill.

If you are someone who has gotten  used to running at a continuous pace, you are most likely totally bored and are seeing little improvement, it is time for a change. Introducing fartlek training will making you feel like a kid again as the lack of structure will make the training session feel more like playing. The first couple of times out really have fun with it mixing things up, especially if you are doing outside where you can use points in the distance method. As you get comfortable with fartlek training, you may want to put some structure to the training session. Currently, I am doing a 10 minute light easy warm up  run, then I follow that with a 1 minute tempo run just to get the heart rate up. Once the heart rate is up, I do 1-2-1, which is 1 minute jog followed by 2 minutes of race pace which will be 80% max heart rate and follow that with a 1 minute jog. After doing  three complete sets of 1-2-1, I will increase to 2-3-2 and finish up with a 10 minute cool down. I usually keep this training session to 45 minutes. Again, depending on your fitness level, you can decide how many repeats you want to do but starting out you will want to keep this to about 40 minutes in total including a 10 minute warm up and 10 minute cool down. As your fitness level increases, you extend the time of the session or even better, start doing distances. Fartlek training can also be incorporated into longer runs to just mix things up a little bit.

Have a little fun training and until next time…..

“There are really just two kinds of people. Those who say I can’t. And those who say I can. Which one are you?”

Another Year Older

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Well today is my birthday and I am now 45 years old. Getting close to that big 5-0 but really, it is only a number. At the age of 45 I am most likely in the best physical shape that I have ever been in my life. I am reminded of a quote by Lew Hollendar an 80-year-old IRONMAN athlete, ” If you want to be functional at 80, you had better damn well pay attention at 40″. I am certainly paying attention now and will do so from this point on. Even through the health challenges of the past year, I can honestly say that I have never felt more alive and energized than I have in the past 43 years.

As you have seen in my very first post, I have a lot planned for this year and as long as I do not injure myself in any way, I am excited to be participating in some great events. If there is one thing I have learned from the past year, is that if I am injured or not feeling well, listen to my body and recover before pushing the training again. Year 45 in my life is going to be awesome!

Have a look at this video. It is one of several videos that I watch to inspire and motivate me on a regular basis. I see a lot of myself in the video.

It’s a good life! Until next time…

“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” 
Mark Allen – Ironman

Watch Out Usain Bolt, Here I Come

Ok, not really. A number of people asked why I had checked in on Four Square at the Louis Riel Dome and talked about how I was going to do a track workout. I have no grand illusions about challenging Bolts’ world record in the 100m dash. Doing track workouts is just another training method for distance running and for triathlon as well.

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The most obvious benefit of track running is that I should notice some gains in speed. It won’t be overnight but over time, I hope my legs will move and turnover a little faster, and I will be more physiologically efficient. I am also hoping that not only will I become  faster, but that I will be able to run harder for longer. This in turn I hope will teach my lungs to process more oxygen more efficiently. Another get benefit of track is that it allows me to watch and study other runners in a more controlled environment, I learn so much from watching others that there is no doubt that my running style and form will improve over time.

Without a doubt one of the greatest benefits of doing track workouts at Louis Riel Dome  is having an expert eye watching me and giving me suggestions on how to improve.  That expert eye happens to belong to Phil Marsh, regional manager for Running Room in Eastern Ontario and  who has been coaching runners since 1986. Though Phil is the main coach, there are several others that have lots of running experience that are more than happy to pass on any tips and give that little bit of extra encouragement when needed.

When taking on any type of goal or challenge do not try to do it all yourself, having coaches and accountability partners will allow you to reach that goal. And Usain, you can sleep well tonight knowing that I am not gunning for you……. Yet!!!

Until Next time….

“We may train or peak for a certain race, but running is a lifetime sport.” 
-Alberto Salazar

LSD and Getting Chicked

What is the purpose of the long slow distance runs?

The long slow distance or LSD as it is known, (this should really be changed to LSR as I am sure that people with drug problems end up on blogs like mine) training method has many benefits.  The main reason it helps to adapt your joints and muscles to give them the endurance for long runs.  Another benefit is that it improves the cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart and increases the blood supply in the muscles, this helps the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles.  The LSD also helps the body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy, which is great for me as I am still in weight loss mode.  Also it makes the body learn how to store more energy such as glycogen in the muscles. Lastly, long slow runs teach the body to run efficiently, reducing the energy expenditure needed to move you along. The LSD training method can be used for any type of distance running training.

How to do long slow distance runs

The LSD run should be run slowly to ensure that you are developing the fat-burning metabolic pathway, and to reduce the effect of fatigue and risk of injury. Your pace during the LSD should be about 20-30% less that what race pace would be. The first few times doing LSD, it may seems as if you are standing still but remember you are teaching your body to get use to longer distances.  Most runners these days have GPS units with heart rate monitors (HRM) built in. Use this function to monitor your heart rate and try to keep it in the 60-70% of your maximum heart rate during the LSD.

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The LSD is usually a once a week type of training run. There are many running clubs, such as the Running Room that organize a LSD run on the weekends where you go out with runners that are doing the same pace as you are. Running in a group will also help you control that urge to break away and run faster. When running with a group during LSD, your pace should be so that you can have a conversation with the person next to you. If you cannot hold the conversation or start to get winded, then you are running to fast.

The other great benefit of the LSD with a group is that it is a very social run. You get know your fellow runners and you can also get to learn about some of the races that they have run.

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I look forward to the LSD on Sunday morning with my group from the Running Room. It is my time to escape and enjoy the company of great friends. We are lucky in Ottawa to have so many great scenic areas to run so it is never boring.

Getting Chicked

As with anything I take on, I tend to do a lot of research and reading.  In reading a few triathone magazines, I came across the term “getting chicked”. The first few times I saw this term, I did not pay it much attention until one day I was watching a video about a race. The male athlete mentioned that he “got chicked” by one of the elite female athletes. That is when it really hit home that this was used as a derogatory term. Getting chicked means for a male athlete, that they were passed or that a female athlete did better than they did in a race.   I guess that the macho attitude in some male athletes is alive and unfortunately doing well.

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I have been training with pretty much the same group of people for the last 18 months and the group is about 60% women and 40% men. When I am training with the group, I do not see them as male or female but as athletes with the same purpose of doing the best that we can with what we have. I am not nor will I ever be the fastest runner in my group and at no time does that bother me. I just want to see improvement within myself.

In my running group, there are some women that I am just in awe of the way they run. I cannot get over their speed, stride and form while training. I am not jealous one little bit, I just feel lucky to be training and learning from such great athletes. I hope that I never ever hear the term “getting chicked” in my running group as I am sure it will take away from the joy and pleasure I getting while training.

Until next time….

“Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time.” 
-Michael Sargent

Hill Training or As Us Runner Like to Say….The Freckin’ Hills

Running Training Method

One of the training methods used to prepare for any distance running is Hill Training which I have been told is a necessary evil for my next big race, the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, ON on March 24,2013. Hill training is used mostly for distances of 10K or more as it is more than likely that you will encounter hills in those distances versus say a 5K race.

The purpose of hill training for runners is that it will increase muscle power, muscle strength and speed. It also increased VO2max and increases the lactate acid threshold. Hill training strengthens hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glute muscles and Achilles tendon, as well helps with mental strength. It has been said that distance running is 90% mental, so running hills during training will mentally prepare you for those hills on race day. With all the technology we have today, runners can look up elevation changes for a race route. This is especially important for races that are not in your local area. The Around the Bay or as it is better known as ATB, has some nasty hills in the last 7K of the 30K race.

In preparing for ATB, our training this week includes a nasty hill on Blair Road and people in Ottawa know the one I am talking about. The image below shows our route for Sunday Long Slow Distance (LSD).

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As you can see at about the 12.5K mark which is the Blair Hill, it looks like we are going to be running over a cliff like a bunch of lemmings. From the top of Blair Hill to the bottom and back up again the distance is not far so the amount of time doing this hill should not take too long. Where as from about the 6K mark (corner of St.Laurent and Montreal Rd) to the top of Blair Hill, the distance is much further and the grade is pretty steady. This is the type of hill that will certainly build strength, endurance and will take much longer to complete. Now let’s compare the LSD route to the ATB route:

ATB ROUTE

Look at those nasty hills in the last one-third of the ATB race, that is why hill training is a must. This is where the mental training comes in, doing the long climb up Montreal Road to the top of Blair Road will be similar to the long hill leading up to the big drop off on the ATB course, though ATB has two back to back nasty hills. At the 25K mark of the ATB route, this is the highest elevation point and from that point you can see the finish line area, though it may seem close you are still almost 5K away from the finish line. As the crow flies it is a shorter distance but with all the ups and downs the distance is much longer. So preparing yourself mentally for this last part will be important.

Proper Hill Training

Hill training should only be performed by runners who already have good leg strength and several weeks of run training behind them. It is not recommended for beginners to start out with this training method. This is because hill training puts a lot of stress on the muscles and joints and if not well conditioned can result in injury.

For runs like a half marathon or longer,  hill runs should be done for 60-90 second intervals on a hill that is between 5 to 8 percent grade. First warm up with a nice steady 10 to 15 minute or 3K slow run on more or less level terrain, then incorporate a few intervals of hills.  To begin hill training, start out with 3 intervals and add one interval each week until you get to nine intervals. You should also not run the same hill every time, as it will become boring, so find a different hill with varying grades to run each week. Run the hill with proper form for 60-90 seconds, and then slow your run for 2 minutes on a flat surface to recover. For beginners,you may wish to run up the hill and then walk back down the hill until you build up some strength and endurance. Repeat until all intervals are completed and finish with about 5 to 10 minutes 0r 2-3km of a slow easy run to cool down and to help flush out the lactic acid. It is also very important to stretch after doing hill training so be sure to have a proper stretching program in place for the end of your run. You can do hill training indoors on a treadmill that has adjustable inclines, though outdoor running will have a little more resistance . Here is a little video explaining proper form for running hills, both up and down.

So when you see us runners huffing, puffing, cursing and swearing as we go up the hills, do not let that fool you, we love every freckin’ minute of it!

See you on the roads, paths and hills.