running 101: different types of runs and a training calculator

Why is it so cold?!  Motivation to do anything goes down even further with every drop of a degree.  But, I haven’t missed a workout yet including my decision to run outside when it was a tropical 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  I decided on Wednesday that I had to get outside to get my run done especially if I was going to do this whole half marathon.  Why it can’t be inside on a warm and comfortable treadmill will continue to baffle me.  So, after talking myself in and out of running maybe 30 times.  I donned my two pairs of pants, gloves filled with hot-hands, and a pair of heavy duty ear warmers and set off.

I was getting pretty bored with my usual route, so I made a note of paying more attention to areas with long stretch of trail and/or sidewalk in my neighborhood so I could try something out.  I was driving out to one of those areas, scouring for a place to park, when I took a left turn on to a tiny, secluded side street that took me to the cutest, most beautiful park I’d seen in awhile.

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There was no one around at all and it was so peaceful and enjoyable, even though I was freezing my butt off.  I set off on my run and had planning on taking it pretty easy, but I just wanted to get it over with, so I picked up the pace averaging 7:37 for 4 miles.  Not terrible, but not necessarily what I was going for.

You see, there’s a difference in runs.  Some people think that when you go for a run you go at your max speed for your max time and that’s it.  In fact, this is exactly what I thought when I first started running.  Every run in my mind had to be better than my last or else I clearly wasn’t progressing.

Boy, was I wrong.  If you keep running consistently at the same pace for the same distance a) you’re never going to get faster or further b) you’re probably going to injure yourself and no body wants that.

A smart running plan is a plan that varies.  Here are a couple of different runs you should add into your arsenal to keep your training productive and enjoyable.

If you want to know how to pace yourself for all of these different types of runs, check out this calculator.  Go to the training intensity calculator and put in your highest pace for a mile, 5k, 10k, or half marathon and it will give you the speeds you should be training with.

Different Types of Runs:

  • Easy Runs:  Whenever I tell someone I did a 5 mile easy run, they scoff at me and say “Yeah right, 5 miles will never be easy”.  Not true at all.  Easy runs should make up 70% of your weekly training runs and should be run 1-2 minutes slower than your goal pace runs.  These should be comfortable, conversational runs that keep your heart rate at about 60-70% of your max.  Consider these types of runs your “reward” for all of your harder work.
  • Long Runs: Long runs are runs when you’re focusing on endurance.  If your focusing on distance, it’s not always necessary to focus on speed.  Try slowing it down and making one of your easy runs one of your long runs.  When adding on distance to your long run, try not to add more than 10% of your mileage per week.  So if you’re running 10 miles a week the first week, progress to 11 miles the next week, 12 the next and so on.  This will help keep away injury and help build on miles safely.
  • Speed Work: This is where the real work happens.  Speed work is usually done in an interval format at a pace that is quicker than your normal pace.  Workouts that work for speedwork include different distance repeats, time repeats etc.  HIIT work counts as speed work so yes, your 30:30 intervals are helping you get quicker.  Ever wonder how track distances match up on the treadmill?  Take one of the distances below and repeat 4, 6, 8 or 10 times depending on desired intensity.  The farther the distance, the less repeats you will want to complete.  Between each repeat, dial down the speed and move for half the distance or less until the next repeat.
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  • Fartleks:  Not just an awesome word, but an awesome way to run.  Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “Speed Play”.  The goal for this type of run is to switch up your paces.  Start easy and then go faster for a minute or two and then back down again and continue to keep switching around as often as you want.  I find these runs to be the best when I listen to music.  Every time the chorus comes, I pick up the speed until it’s over, then it’s back to a more comfortable pace.  This is a great run to do outside too.  Switch it up and see how it goes.
  • Progressions: Progressions are awesome for working on negative splits (running a race with the second half faster than the first).  Progressions have each mile run a little bit faster than the last.  If you run your first mile at a 9 mile pace, run the next in 8:55, and the next in 8:50 and so on.
  • Hill Repeats: I’m not kidding when I say this is speedwork in disguise.  You will never feel faster than when you’re finished running hills, I guarantee it.  I prefer to do my hill repeats on a treadmill since I live in a pretty flat area.  I set the treadmill to a 3, 4, or 5% incline and choose one of the distances listed above and repeat the same way I do my speedwork, but at a much slower pace.  I usually am running 9:30 miles or slower during my speedwork because my heart is PUMPING.  Don’t be scared of taking it slower than your used to, you will feel the benefits, I promise.
  • Tempo: These runs are best when you’re training for a race.  The goal is to stay consistent and to pace yourself.  In a tempo run, you pick a pace that you’re aiming for and you run as close to that pace as possible.  Say you want to run 4 miles in 32 minutes.  Each one of those miles will be run in at an 8 minute per mile pace or as close to that pace as possible.

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When you’re starting out, keep yourself motivated and interested by trying out different types of runs.  Not only will this make you a better, stronger runner, but it will challenge your mind as well and make you actually look forward to something different every time you get out there.

Workout:  Play around with some speedwork.  Start with a warm-up of a half a mile and then choose a distance from the table above and repeat it 4 times as fast as you can.

-sj

 

 

running 101: what do I need?

It’s been a busy start!  Work is taking off since we have a big conference coming up and I feel like I’m already drowning and it’s barely halfway through the week.  At least I have this nugget of a co-worker to keep me company.

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No joke, I was sitting on my couch working and she came and lied across my lap and computer.  Girl is not afraid to go for what she wants, especially if what she wants is pets.

The thing that’s keeping me sane during this crazy time?  Running.  specifically running 9 miles on Monday because I am insane.  After signing up for the half marathon, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t entirely impossible so here we are.

image3The most important tip I can give you to start out your running journey is don’t care about how you look.  Every single time I finish a long run I look like a zombie come back to life who just got caught in a rain storm.  And I have no shame about it.

But real talk, let’s get down to business.  What do you need to start running?  Well, you’re in luck my friend.  You don’t need a whole heck of a lot.  Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise.  Humans have been doing it since the dawning of time and it is one of the few things that we are just built for.  That being said, with the invention of modern technology, there are some things that really help.

So, what’s the most important thing a new runner needs? Shoes.  Shoesshoeshoes.  Did I say shoes?  Because it’s shoes.

I’m not lying when I say that the right shoes will make or break your experience running.  If you’re really serious about trying this out, head on over to a running store like Road Runner, Fleet Feet, or another specialty running store and have them assess how you run.  The people who work at these stores are experts.  They know what to look for to make sure that the shoe you choose will be not only comfortable, but functional.

You want your shoes to be a little bit big because your feet will swell after about a half hour of running, so you’ll want that extra space.  Find out if you pronate or not.  This means you land with flat feet and is a fairly common problem, but good news, they make shoes especially for this problem.  If you take the time to invest in a good pair of shoes, you will notice.  Shoes can be a little on the expensive size ranging anywhere from $80-$180 for a good pair, but they will be well worth it.  Plus, this is pretty much the only real thing you need for running.

Other running things you may want:

  • Good socks.  Spoiler alert: you can buy these at the running store too when you get your shoes!  I get really bad blisters on my feet when I don’t wear the right socks, so this can be almost as important as your shoes.  You want to look for something that does not have cotton in it as cotton does a pretty crummy job of preventing blister.  Ask your new running expert friend at the store what they recommend.
  • Moisture wicking clothes.  We’ve all seen people going on runs in baggy t-shirts and shorts and they seem to be doing just fine.  Truth is, they probably are, but they would feel a whole heck of a lot better if it didn’t feel like they were dragging around a wet towel strapped to them.  Do yourself a favor and go to Marshalls and/or TJMaxx and pick up a couple of athletic shirts and pants for $5 each.  You’ll thank me later
  • Music/Podcast/Audiobook.  Not necessarily a requirement, but a nice to have.  Some people hate to run with anything in their ear distracting them from the world around them, but I am not one of those people.  Give me all the distractions.  Currently, I’m really into podcasts for my log runs because they’re about an hour long and there are so many different types that I can always find one to fit my mood.  Plus they’re free.
  • Foam Roller.  If you’re only in to the running thing because you want to get injured, don’t get a foam roller.  I made this mistake the hard way when I first started out.  A) I didn’t know what this mythical beast was.  B) This girl didn’t have time to stretch, she was all business.  Enter IT Band injuries, Piriformis injuries, Knee injuries, foot injuries.  You name it, I’ve had it. That is until I realized how important it was to massage your muscles.  A foam roller helps get those knots out of your legs and to get the blood moving so muscles heal faster and more effectively.
  • A good running app or watch.  You don’t have to track your workouts, but if you don’t how will you ever know how far you ran?  That’s part of the glory after all.  Chances are even if you tell some one you ran a mile this morning that’s one more mile than they’ve probably run since school.  Win for you.  My favorite running apps that track distance/pace etc. are Runkeeper and MapMyRun, both of which are free in the App Store.  As far as watches are concerned, I have the Garmin Forerunner 220 and love it, but it’s much more of an investment than one of the free apps so keep that in mind.

Those are the things I consider the basics.  Not all of them are mandatory you must have this before you run even a foot, but they’re things I have found that help me to keep going and can help you too.

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Workout: Let’s try some intervals.  Sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds.  Stop and Walk for 30 seconds.  Repeat 10 times.

-sj