A 10k of Woman Power: 8,833 strong

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Last Saturday 8,833 female runners took over Central Park for the 45th running of the original all-women mini 10k for which the run was aptly named as it celebrates women’s advancement in the field of running. It was a hot and beautiful day, not an ideal race day, but the stellar cast of elite women headlining the race, who are set to represent us at this summer’s Olympics, provided ample motivation for the rest of us.

It was a heartening sight, to witness and be a part of an occasion of such monumental significance. While I’ve only been in this country for about 10 years, I’ve been a runner for twice that time and have read about as well as observed the strides women are making in the sport of running. This makes me firstly a proud woman, then a proud runner.

We took to the street, all 8,000+ of us in an array of pinks; women from all over the world in the splendor of diversity and rolled out wave after wave for all intents and purposes united in the cause of woman power. Beyonce’s “Who run the world” might have been our anthem as we raced up Central Park West and headed into the the park at West 90th street. Of course the answer was girls, girls and more girls..taking on 6.2 rolling miles of Central Park to the cheers and support of spectators lining the course.

Jemima Sumgong of Kenya led the way in a heat-defying time of 31:26 but whether you finished under an hour or as much as 3 hours later, each woman out there had something to be proud of. Truth is, in a city such as New York there is possibly 8,833 other things either of us could have been doing. For sure we had varying goals going in – many of us were looking for PRs – but I’d wager that we all had one overwhelming desire that day and it was to make our mark as women; to represent an international community of womanhood and to celebrate our powerful presence in the greatest city in the world. We did it and then some! #werunthiscity #proudnewyorker #womenrunners

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A Check-In with our 2016 Running Goals

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“The trouble with not having a goal is that you could spend the rest of your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland

We’re back in “running” business! It’s always a struggle to get runners to rest up, mainly because we’re too afraid of losing momentum. We often think that we will have to fight our way back in as the body can become quite use to being on vacation. There may be some merit to that but only to the extent that a break amounts to weeks or months off. Surely it can’t mean one will suffer a setback if he or she takes a well-deserved couple of weeks off? In fact, struggle or not, coming back from my two weeks off feels great and based on my running this week, its all good. You can breathe and rest easy now; two weeks will make you not break you.

Also, we can get ready for better running weather, for it’s May and we’re on the brink of summer – how did that happen? In any event, this is a good time to stop and reassess or check-in regarding our running goals for this year. Yep, the very same ones we were all excited and up in arms about around January 1st of this year. You’re totally entitled to a bit of guilt if you’re nowhere where you want to be, but know that it’s ok. You’re here, healthy (hopefully) and so happily you can give it another shot.

A big goal of mine was running the Boston Marathon so.. check – not the desired result – but it’s done. Even so, there are other races on my agenda, others I still have to do. What is interesting to note is that as I cross one item of my list, it actually has bearing on my other goals in a real way. Take for example Boston, I have now decided to run it again next year, to earn my medal this time, if my registration is accepted. As a result of this decision, I’ll try for a better qualifying time in Chicago this year. It’s a little crazy how it never stops with me; it’s as though there will always be another goal, another race. Maybe there always will be, but goals do many things, chief among them is to inspire us to give of our very best and even if we fail, we get up, stomp the dust off and try again.                                                          

In the upcoming months, (half the year is almost up, unbelievable), I have two, maybe three, big races and a few smaller ones while I have my heart set on a 5k and Half-Marathon PR. Additionally, I have a charity goal to fulfill which I will do at the Chicago Marathon. Because summer is usually an all-round hot time, I will be limiting my runs to fun, short ones with one destination marathon in July.                                             

I jokingly say that my life is a scatter plot, with my running all over the graph. But despite how it seems, it keeps me focused and happy – the world could go to pieces around me, as long as I’m running, it’s fine. LOL! I’m kidding! It’s really not that bad, just a tad bit crazy (my friends would say). Regardless, I’m no fine running example as I have fallen off the goal wagon a time or two. For yet another year, I’ve been terrible with keeping count of my miles while I can’t seem to start the tri program just yet. I try to convince myself that maybe I will in the summer but in the meantime between getting a handle on my health ( making sure I’m fit as a fiddle) and getting coached to improve my time, and working and keeping up with my volunteer activities, I’m a little stretched for time. While I’m not complaining, since that’s the way I like it, I would love time to slow down just a tad and maybe someone up there can add a few more hours to my days? Just saying.

A Marathon Frame of Mind: Boston Strong

Sports-Illustrated-Boston-Strong-2014-spread_1

source: wcvb.com

Just a few more days left to go, two and some to be more precise, and for a while there I was wondering if it would ever get here. Now there’s a part of me silently screaming that it’s all too much too soon, while the other part – the marathoner – is yelling to bring it on.

Only one time before have I felt anything other than excitement at a big run such as this, you may recall my first marathon – the New York City Marathon – which I ran with a sprained ankle. Back then, I had a similar feeling of trepidation, which didn’t result in any great feat accomplished except to probably make me the only person crazy enough to run 26.2 miles with pain and a hobble. Fast forward to Monday coming, seven marathons later and a 100% belief in my ability to finish.

Today’s bit of anxiety really stems from “the elephant in the room” also known as my breathing problem and now becoming popular among athletes, Exercise Induced Asthma. My acceptance of this diagnosis is cynical at best while the reality is much less so and one I must run with; and so my concern is really about my finish time. This may seem silly – here I am with a very real health issue and yet all I can think about is a goal time. Well try not to judge me too harshly. I promise you, run enough marathons and the question becomes not about finishing, which is a given, but only “in what time.” That being said, I’m by no means nonchalant about my condition, only aware of my body and its evolving boundaries, which I think I’m becoming quite good at exploring and extending bit by bit. This is my comfort and that which gives me hope going in to Boston.

I can absolutely do this. The training is done and I’m as ready as I will ever be at this point. I look forward to a phenomenal experience: the new course, amazing spectators, good weather (we can only hope), and an all-round fun time. Determidly so, I might add, because I’m mindful that I’ll be running in the footsteps of all those who have gone before me, in the spirit of all those who hope to come after and for those who can only dream.

As such, in the spirit of Boston, on this the third anniversary of fhe Boston Marathon bombings, along with the survivors and those who lost their lives on that fateful Marathon Monday in 2013, I promise to run Boston Strong.

My Pacing Problem

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source: usafmarathon.com

Pacing is a very important issue for runners, runners who are concerned with optimal performance that is. The average runner will have a goal of what he/she would like his/her next 5k, 10k, half-marathon or full marathon time to be and if he or she is really serious about it then that runner will have a plan or pacing strategy to make it happen. It is a common belief among coaches and athletes alike that practicing proper pacing will bring about running success and ensure you achieve your highest potential. Said professionals believe that pacing is not necessarily a natural ability but a skill that can be refined and sharpened through practice and training in your tempo runs and interval sessions.

We’ve often heard the cliché expression – pace yourself – and while it maybe an overused euphemism it applies just as much to running as to other areas of life and maybe even more importantly so. “Running the correct pace can be the difference between running a personal record or not,” says Coach Richard Airey. In other words, you start off too fast and you run the risk of burnout or you get caught up in the race excitement and allow the race to dictate your pace, the result being you end up running much faster in the beginning leading to a forced and much slower finish.

The newbie or inexperienced runner is susceptible to this as so often we are driven by competition. It takes only the thought that someone will out-perform you to get your juices flowing and you’re off but it is the disciplined and experienced runner who understands that in most cases or races placing and medals happen at the finish line, which could be twenty-five miles down the road.

Enter me, certainly not a newbie but not quite so sure I fit in the category of experienced, or maybe it’s just that I’m not very disciplined, whatever it is and for sure it’s something, I continue to be challenged by this pacing concept. Oftentimes, if I race with a pacer, and this certainly is an option where available, I tend to do pretty well. On the other hand, left to my own devices, I usually end up struggling with an even pace for any race greater than a half-marathon. Too, I have tried running negative splits (second half of the race faster than the first) and have only been marginally successful with that. There is empirical evidence to support this as the most efficient and effective way to attain your goal with studies showing that record holders from 1500 meters to marathons have been negative-split runners, see here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19116437 I have been told this can be remedied with coaching and practice. Since I have been practicing, I can only deduce that discipline is lacking and thus I feel I can benefit from a one-on-one approach. If skill is indeed what this pacing thing is about, I feel more than equipped, only I need those skills honed and developed.

With Boston in mind, I have been focusing on speedwork: tempo runs, hill repeats and interval sessions. Maybe I can benefit from some track work; though with all the cold airof late, my breathing has been taking a beating. I can only hope this leads to something good. Off to find a coach, wish me luck!

 

 

Character Traits of the Successful Runner

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Cold and brutal weather brings about varying responses from many of us. In the northern parts of the United States, many people are very tolerant of this kind of weather and even enjoy it. Maybe it has to do with their having settled here by choice or their having acclimatized easy enough; whatever the reason, you will find arguments for and against running in the worst of winter and runners enough in support of layering, lacing up and braving the elements.

In my view, it says a lot about the character of one who is able to put aside discomfort, unpleasantness, disappointment, inconvenience – snow storm and minus temps anyone – and a lot of other obstacles that define the running life while continuing to steadfastly pursue a course of action that sure enough has its inherent dangers, but also holds the promise of sweet success. Such a runner, in my humble opinion, is above average and subscribes to a set of defining traits and/or qualities that places him or her far above the rest.
The successful runner must have:
  • Passion – a desire and drive for the Sport of running that inspires excitement and commitment for follow-through even when the going is rough.
  • Perseverance – the wherewithal to patiently stay the course: sticking to workout schedules and training plans to ensure the desired outcome.
  • Confidence – an innate belief in oneself and one’s ability and in one’s coach and/or training plan.
  • Determination/Tenacity – holding fast to one’s belief and running MO through a demonstrated willingness to overcome obstacles and hindrances seeing them only as temporary setbacks on the part to success.
  • Focus – the ability to keep one’s eye on the goal at all times.
  • Resilience – that unique ability to bounce back after disappointments keeping focus and form.

There’s nothing like winter weather to draw us out, in many cases sifting us only to find us wanting.. or human.. though often enough it will find those of us who embrace the challenge of winter weather, using it to vilify us and our dreams of being counted among those who belong to that exclusive club of successful runners.

The Tempo Run: the key to your fastest marathon

Source: strengthrunning.com

Source: strengthrunning.com

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably asked yourself a time or few what you need to do to improve your time – your 26.2 time that is – and if you have, chances are you’ve tried a thing or two and it has either worked or not-so-much. Well, since we’re always on the look-out for new and improved ways to up our running game I figure this is a must share. Elite and competitive athletes and coaches agree that the tempo run is the best indicator of your marathon time. For my part, I swear by it as a significant if not the most important aspect of half marathon and marathon training. While the long run is essential to build endurance, the tempo run is critical to racing success as it trains your body to sustain speed over distance (Former Elite Athlete and Coach, Toby Tanser)

A tempo run is a faster paced run also known as lactate-threshold (the point at which your body fatigues at a certain pace ), LT or threshold run. It is running at a hard but somewhat comfortable pace where you you can answer a question but conversing would be difficult. A classic tempo run would be running at this sustained pace for about 2-4 miles. The idea is to run hard but not going all out as though racing, you can go this way for a while but you would be happy to slow down the pace as well.

Tempo runs improve our metabolic fitness by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently by increasing your lactate-threshold. Carwyn Sharp, Ph.D., an exercise scientist and marathoner claims that lactate and hydrogen ions, which are by-products of metabolism, are released into the muscles during tempo runs. These ions make the muscles acidic, leading to fatigue. It follows that the better trained you are, the higher your threshold as your muscles become better at using lactate and hydrogen ions resulting in less acid in your muscles, which keep on contracting thus allowing you to run faster.

The tempo run will vary for different runners with varying goals and differing thresholds. But the result will remain the same, a definite increase in your ability to maintain your speed over longer distances. While it seems then that the tempo run is beneficial primarily for longer runs such as a 10 miler to the marathon, as it is run somewhere between 15k and half marathon pace, the 5k runner too can benefit to a smaller degree. The key here for runners is consistency and intensity; running regularly as often as once per week during peak training time and at a consistent pace (your threshold) will improve your running and put you in the best position to run your fastest marathon.

This is going to be a key component of my training for Boston 2016. I’ve discovered in my running that boundaries are there to be pushed, obstacles to overcome and benchmarks to be reached. We will only ever know what we are capable of when we push ourselves beyond our perceived limits. I figure the tempo run is one way of discovering the dormant Kenyan in me. LOL

Reference: runnersworld.com

Cross-training: An Umph Element to your Marathon Training

Source: wiserunning.com

Source: wiserunning.com

Never one to settle for just doing it, I’m always game for doing it better. By “it” I am of course referring to running that much coveted 26.2 miles. Being a runner and a bit of a “gym girl” have had its advantages: I’m in pretty decent shape, I’m told I look way yonger than my age and I could run with many in that category too, I manage to stay pretty healthy and I keep up with on-going trends, research and data as it pertains to being fit and healthy. All of this I credit with my passion for running though I’m pretty sure my gym workouts as well as other random physical exercise have helped in shaping this 3:29:24 PR marathon girl.

What is Cross-training
That form of exercise, pertaining to runners, whereby runners train utilizing other modes of fitness training to supplement their running. For example; cycling, swimming, a fitness/aerobic class or strength training.

The Cross-Training Debate
There has been may debates of the benefits or not of cross-training for runners. Conventional wisdom says runners should run, as you perfect what you practice while there are others that argue cross-training can inmprove running performance and reduce workout boredom and burnout. Current school of thought seems to be leaning toward the way of cross training to improve the all-round performance of runners with an emphasis on low-impact workouts that complement your running without the same impact of running.

Using Cross-Training to better your marathon time
The focus of the marathoner is on increasing speed, endurance and fitness level. Cross training improves your endurance base without adding unnecessary stress on your body. It can
help you improve your race-day goal while reducing the risk of injury assosiated with intense high-impact training (Jeff Horowitz, certified personal trainer, running & triatholon coach and runner of 150 marathons across 6 continents). Jeff highlights three considerations in choosing the cross training mode that is right for you:

(1) It should be an aerobic exercise that you can engage in for hours at a time, at a moderate intensity level (at an RPE of 6-7)
(2) Is it low-impact ir no-impact? While high-impact exercises is necessary for training as it prepares ypur body for the stress of the day..you need only so much and no more or it increases your risk of injury. The idea is that lower impact workouts as identified in cross training provides you with the means of strengthening supporting muscles and lowering your risk of injury.
(3) Does this option complement your running? Aerobic cross-training will help you become a better endurance athlete, afterall you’re working with breathing, muscle-building and endurance, but to get the most out of it you need to choose a mode that works different muscle groups in support of your running, and thus becoming a more balanced, injury-resistant athlete.

What works for me
Cycling/Spin: Cycling is touted as maybe the best mode of cross-training as it complements your running training by working supporting muscle groups such as the quadriceps, which are super important in supporting the knees and are not effectively worked by running. Strengthening them can reduce the risk of knee, IT Band and patella problems.

Spin classes are something special; they encourage comraderiere, motivate, the hell out of you, kick your butt and pushes you to discover the badass within, all without the continuous pounding of the feet, providing necessary rest for the knees.

Strength Training/ Weights
Because of my small frame, I’m always mindful of weight-lifting. I can get really muscular without even trying and so I often limit my reps dependending on the muscles I’m working on to 4 sets of moderate to heavy, increasing weight as I decrease reps. Weight training is so versatile and there are so much variety to work on any one area – I tend to usually work my legs, calves & thighs together, then back and shoulders, or chest and arms and do core exercises separate; employing a yoga or pilates class to assist in this area. The benefit with weights is that you get to utilize & build muscles that are not necessarily in primary use while running, but again supports your running by providing strength & support to those secondary areas, which decreases your chances of injury and helps you develop power and ultimately your best physical self.

Swimming
As an aerobic exercise it’s on par with developing power, performance and efficiency. For my part, the focus here is on breathing and strengthening leg and arm muscles. Although I don’t go often, when I do I spend 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours in the pool, half as much time as a cycling workout as recommended by Horowitz.

Finallly, Cardio Classes
To me these are the real test of any mettle. An hour per class of constant movement: jumping, punching, swinging running, crawling and everything in between is geared to condition you into the finest athlete; build stamina, test endurance, defy limits and leave you fit and hurting and enhances and supports running training. Classes such as cardio kickboxing, mentally strips me and burns calories like crazy but it mentally and physically challenges and develops me for long term, which for me means race day.

I can’t promise that I’ve peaked or that I’m even performing at my best now, I believe that is still ahead but I continue to improve race by race so I know that I’m doing some things right most times. For the times I bum out, I remind myself that I’m a work-in-progress and I shake it off and try again – always with hope and the training as outlined above – pushing for a better race next time.

Sources: Active.com, Competitor.com, Runners World, Runnersconnect.com, Healthland.time.com

Speedwork Your way to Your best Marathon this Fall

running.competitor.com

Source: running.competitor.com

You could probably tell I’m in marathon training mode as these days it’s all about the marathon. I eat, dream, not sleep yet, talk, train, shop, everything about the marathon. Is that a runner thing or am I just obsessed? Regardless, at the very least, you get to benefit from my ramblings; I hope anyway.

Over the course of two years doing this marathon-thingy, I now know that a training regimen is necessary to complete a successful marathon, one where you can actually live the experience and not want to die and totally swear off it at the finish. I would love for you to have this experience. Thus, throughout training season, I’ll share with you my pointers on running your best 26.2.

The Magic of Speedwork

If there’s any magic at all it is in the time, effort and dedication that you put into your speed training. Now admittedly, not everyone is trying for a PR or wanting to qualify for a race, some are just happy to finish and rightly so if that’s their goal. To those, read on anyway, who doesn’t like to do anything better? We, runners, are a competitive lot and love to outdo even ourselves.  A few common speed workouts are: interval training, pace runs and hill repeats. There are many advantages to working on the speed aspect ( or short fast repeats) of your running, aside from the fact that it will improve speed and stamina thus making you a faster runner, these include:

Improvement to your running economy (the amount of oxygen consumed at a given pace) which makes it less likely that you’ll burn out and can be confident in your ability to stay the course.

Speed work develops focus and determination. The intensity of speed work requires a level of drive and ambition that will see you time and again defying your perceived limits as reps calls for either a faster pace or a higher climb.

It adds some variety to your marathon training. This avoids the common “pace rut” problem that marathoners are known to fall into as training lengthens. Also, it challenges you to faster leg turn- over.

You learn to listen to and command your body.
The human body is capable of so much but we hardly ever realize our potential as we’re all too often comfortable with just making it. Speed work asks..hell, demands of us a push that renders – I can’t – an improbability. You learn quickly that you can and do have what it takes while including recovery time to import the correct amount of stress on your body to achieve optimal performance.

Speed work, because it’s shorter and more intense, allows you to increase your running at a pace significantly faster than your marathon race pace which will make it seem much easier to do.

It teaches you discipline and commitment. These are two traits that will take you through and beyond the marathon and will help you tolerate both physical and mental discomforts while racing. When you’re between miles 17 and 23, it is your tireless attention to your speed leg-work coupled with commitment to seeing it to the end that will bring you through.

It would be remiss and downright irresponsible of me not to mention that with all the advice from coaches and the experts out there, speed work is not recommended fo the newbie marathoner and certainly not without a coach with a tried and true method. Attempting this on your own is dangerous for your health as it increases your chances of injury exponentially the closer you get to race day. You run the risk of hindering your ability to participate in the event itself and in the necessary long training runs which are so very important to completing a marathon.

When it is all said and done, you’re the one in charge of you here. You know your body and always want to do the best for you. Making wise choices can improve your performance a hundredfold. Always do so keeping in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A proper plan designed specifically for you will consider factors such as your age, genetics, running experience, ability to stay injury-free and the choice of speed workouts incorporated into your training, all of this with a realistic goal in mind.

References                                       McMillanRunning.com, MarathonTraining.com, Active.com

Marathon Training: The Long Run

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If you’re running the TCS New York City Marathon in November or have another marathon coming up in October, like me, the experts would suggest that right about now is a good time for your first long training run. Long runs, as part of your overall marathon training, are important for a variety of reasons, but particularly to allow you to ascertain what your body can do to date. This is not your first run, tempo run, sprint or a race; it is the opportunity to engage the distance you’re running with a substitute of similar factors to bring about a simulation of what your marathon day run will be like. It can range from 18 to 22 or even 24 miles, this all depends on what your goal and your training plan is.

Here are some reasons why you need that long run:

1. Training Gauge

It’s an opportunity to test and assimilate how far you’ve come and how far you have to go in your training.

2. Builds a Race Strategy

It provides an opportunity to try out a race strategy you may want to implement on race day. For example; pacing yourself while wisely utilizing energy gels and hydration fuels on course.

3. Nuetralizes the Fear of the Unknown 
Long runs can be a form of initiation for many first-time marathoners; it eliminates the fear of the unknown, and provides a race-day simulation that incorporates distance, companionship, encouragement and motivation to the newbie marathoner when done in an official setting.

4. Prepares You Physically and Emotionally for Race Day
It builds your endurance, stamina and confidence so that you will face marathon day fully prepared and confident in your ability to run 26.2 miles.

5. Cardiovascular Enrichment
As with all forms of exercise, running more strengthens our hearts and its ability to provide oxygen-rich blood to our muscles (CompetitiveRunner.com).

6. Teaches Your Muscles to Store Glycogen                          
Long runs teaches your muscles to store more glycogen, the primary source of fuel during exercise, this is very important to avoid “hitting the wall” on marathon day.

7. Ups Your Performance    
Depending on the regularity and duration of your long run and this would depend on whose training plan you’re using, it could be an instrumental part of your training to assist with speed, endurance and strength training leading up to PR and even a possible coveted placement at the finish.

8. Helps Burns Fat as Fuel  
When your glycogen storage decreases as is the case on a long run, your body fat becomes a secondary source to provide energy for your muscles.

9. Recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers to help out in slow-twitch tasks

10. Increases Mileage and adds to Experience

Practice indeed makes perfect. The more and longer you run perfects your knowledge of your body, its capabilities and of the sport of running.

In essence, the long training run is essential to you not only running but completing your marathon. Additionally, it is good practice for general race training from 5ks to marathons and beyond as it helps to hone pace, endurance and strength skills while also building up the runner psychologically. In my humble opnion, it is the key to running your best marathon.

The Skinny on Recovery Runs

Source: my treadmill trainer.com

Source: my treadmill trainer.com

You’ve heard about that post-race run that all élite athletes and those in the competitive world of running make much ado about. Sounds like it might be something to get excited about and may even be beneficial to you in some way. But what does it really mean to you the runner? Is it a have-to? Can it have bearing on your future performance and ability? What’s all the hype about? Based on my experience and the information out there, I’ll attempt to shed some light on what is quickly becoming characteristic of runners today.

By definition, a recovery run is that which you do the day after a hard workout (race, long-distance run, speed work etc.)

I haven’t always been an advocate of recovery runs, truth is for much of my running life I’ve more-often-than-not, done my thing. I believe in whatever works for you and not necessarily a one-size-fit-all approach. Granted, there are times it’s necessary to toe the line as happens with particular training techniques and smart training practices but in my opinion, we are all unique and respond differently, adapt at our own pace and acquire different skills and abilities special to us. And so I’ll never be a “Jesse Owens”  but I can be the best me if I’m willing to sift through the crud and embody what really matters.

The Experts

Elite athletes, coaches and avid runners will tell you what we all know to be true, practice makes perfect. You want to get good at something you practice hard, you want to be great, you practice harder. Coaches are big on recovery runs as they believe it enhances training leading to optimal performance and so most of their workouts are designed with this in mind, whether it’s hill repeats, sprints, interval training or others ( key workouts aimed at challenging your body to resist causes of high-intensity fatigue) are usually followed by a period dedicated to recovery. The belief here is that exposing your body to these key workouts simulate adaptations that enable you to resist fatigue better the next time (Matt Fitzgerald, competitor.com). Matt proposes that because recovery runs are gentle enough to not to create a need for additional recovery, they allow you to perform at a high level in your key workouts and therefore get the most out of them. In his words, ‘It is a way of squeezing more out of your key workouts.’ Coach Jeff in an article titled “Maximize Your Running With Planned Recovery Days” on RunnersConnect stresses that the body gets faster and stronger by breaking down muscle (hard training),and then allowing the body to build itself back up faster than before (recovery) and then repeating the process until you’re in shape and ready to race. A slightly different twist but with the same emphasis on allowing the body time to assimilate and recuperate to come back stronger.

My Experience

Two years ago, after running my first marathon, was the first time I gave any real thought to doing a recovery run. Rebel that I am, I felt I didn’t particularly need it and that since I pretty much ran all the time anyway, I had it covered. Then I ran 26.2 miles of joy and sorrow that ended with me in a boot for a month, wishing I could get out a day or two after as that discomfort would be preferable to what I then had to deal with.  See the magic in the recovery run lies in forcing you past your limits to not only embrace pain..you did that with the “hard workout” but it challenges your body to go beyond the point of fatigue, again you already achieved this; to embrace it. The run is done in an entirely fatigued state thereby boosting fitness. That is to say, you’re so doggone tired and hurting, how about 5 miles on top of that. Sounds machochist right?  Don’t worry, there’s a method to the madness; you get to slow down to an easy pace where breathing and carrying a conversation is easily done and the distance could range from anywhere between 3 to 5 miles. Plus it’s a tiny price to pay for you who see an ultra in your future.Thinking about rolling over the next time after a key workout? Think again. Your next race may depend on it.

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