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Taking a Break

15 Aug

The Olympics are over. That’s what goes through my head about fifteen times a day now that the athletes have finished their exploits and are back to their normal schedules. So now, I will be back to scavenging the web for just a morsel of media on these athletes and their astounding training and accomplishments. I repeatedly hear interviews mentioning that phrase “in four years.” Four years! Obviously, there is going to be an enormous amount of work before Rio, 2016, but first, they finally get to rest.

Ever had one of those workouts that made the previous night’s sleep irrelevant? You know, that long run you finished that was followed by some banana pancakes, a five minute attempt at yard work, and then realizing it’s been two hours since you came in and lay down on the floor. I have to say, I love it when that happens. No thinking is required, your body just demands rest and there is nothing you can do about it. I think I would be a much better runner if my body decided to take over like that all the time. I would always be ready for the next run, wouldn’t worry about overtraining, and would definitely never be grumpy or lackadaisical due to sleep deprivation. I also probably wouldn’t do a whole lot more than running and would most likely end up napping during half of the races I wanted to watch online. Instead, I am left in this position of having to actually be diligent in the way I formulate my training plans.

What’s the most important aspect of those plans? Rest. Go ask an Olympian about the importance of their rest these next couple of weeks and they will probably tell you it is as much for the mental aspect as it is the physical. However, even when they get back into the full swing of training, they are going to put recovery at the top of their priorities.

Now, rest for an Olympian might mean a week with only two workouts and only about 85 miles for those seven days and it might mean you should opt for a 20 minute walk for the next three days instead of the 3 mile runs you were planning. The difference lies within the body, and they key to improving that body’s capabilities is knowing what it likes, what it doesn’t like, and what encourages it. You might not be sure if you are overtraining, anemic, or are feeling about what a hardworking person should feel like. But, if you become intentional about discovering how you physically react to the stimuli you throw at it, you will at least start to understand the basics. Once you know those basics, I am sure the details will fall into place.

If you want a little head start on how to best listen to your physical requirements, this article will help.  http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=26761&PageNum=1

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Walking While Running

2 Aug

When running alone, it is easy– you just start to walk. No one cares. No one notices. And, you aren’t embarrassed. That, my friend, is why I like running alone. When I run alone, I can walk anytime I want. My mind masterfully talks me into all the reasons why I should walk. I think that I may even have my most creative moments when running alone. Anything from loose gravel to humidity can give reason to slow my strides.

 

The problems begin when I run with people. But, since I do like to occasionally take a stroll, I have developed several strategies for including walking on a group run.

 

1. Ask Short Questions- Early in the run, ask a decent runner with you questions like “What’s new in life?” Or, “Tell me about the Presidential Race.” Or, “What’s on your weekly grocery list?” Something short for you, but long for them. If they answer the question, it will surely cause a cramp and then they will suggest walking.

 

2. Get Lost- Ask to be the lead runner and then take people on a new path, that no one knows. Get lost. Get so lost that you have to stop and check the maps on your iPhone. This will even go beyond a walk and into a full out stop.

 

3. Fake an Injury- This can be as simple as a leg cramp to a full on fall into someone’s hedges.

 

4. Listen- Someone in your group wants to walk too. Listen closely to people breathing. When you find the weak link, run close to them, loudly proclaim your pity for the struggling athlete, and plead with the group to slow down for this poor runner. Then, you can be the servant hero that is willing to walk with them while the other continue.

 

5. Make it a Game- Call it sprint/walk. Light poles are excellent for this. Find a light pole and ask people to pick it up a little until the next pole, then you will walk the next three. The key to this is to not sprint but maintain your speed. Everyone else will run hard and you can affirm them for their speed as a sprinter while you explain to them that you are “more of a distance guy.”

-Mark 

 

What are your creative walking ideas?

Summer Training Tips

27 Jun

With a fist bump from a cow and a warm Chocolate Chunk Cookie, I celebrated the finish of the Chick-fil-A Connect Race series in Asheville, NC. I didn’t get to race, but certainly covered some ground as I ran around helping out hard working volunteers and police staff. The last time I was running in the in the Blue Ridge was while doing a summer’s worth of training on the Parkway before my sophomore xc season in college. So, the familiar scenery and a race series tweet from someone looking for training tips got me thinking about ways to get ready for September 22 (the next race in the Chick-fil-A Connect Race Series).

If your planning on coming to our Gwinnett race on Sept 29th, then you have about 12 weeks to rest and prepare. With a timeframe like that, a little motivation, and proper training, you can make big strides towards lowering your best time and improving chances of winning Chick-fil-A for a year.

The following are 3 quick tips:

1. Listen to your body

No matter how great the scenery is and no matter how much motivation you have, remember to listen to your body. Your legs might get a little upset if you give them unreasonably demanding tasks day after day. Carefully increase your mileage though, and you will see nice improvements.

2. Speed is different than Endurance

While a healthy body and more miles can help endurance, speed takes another kind of training. Dedicate one or two runs a week to developing turnover. Perhaps you can finish a run and do about five 100 meter strides (about the length between two telephone poles). Start off easy, increase to top speed by about halfway, and finish easy. Another great way to get some leg speed is by incorporating some faster segments into the middle of your run. Run your normal pace and mix in several one or two minute sections at a quicker tempo before slowing back down to your normal speed.

 3. Have fun

In addition to training hard and smart, remember to have fun. Recruit some training friends, run in pretty places, and by all means, make sure that you get a cookie from Chick-fil-A every now and then.

Josh (click here to learn a little more about Josh!)