Tapering’s the Word

source: runnersworld.co.uk

source: runnersworld.co.uk

All the fuss about Tapering. What is it? How is it done and why it is and can be beneficial to you the marathoner are some of the questions I’ll attempt to to shed some light on while I try to get you, “Speedy,” – that would be me – to slow it down some in order to bring it home on marathon day.

To Taper or Tapering, with respect to marathon training,  is the process whereby runners reduce their weekly mileage and effort in the final two to three weeks before the marathon so as to be completely recovered from previous workouts and be rested for the big day. Sucessful runners across the board swear by this as a vital part of training and preparation while it’s aim is to secure your marathon goal; even that of first-time marathoners.

The Tapering Phrase usually consists of the two weeks (sometimes three) prior to race day. During this time a concentrated effort is made to ease up on the long and hard runs, usually reducing workouts by as much as 25-50% leading up to race day. For example, for a two-week period, long runs which generally consisted of 20-24 miles should be reduced to 14-16 miles in the first week with two rest days while the second week should ideally be an easy running week with -say- one 10 mile run with three leg-rest days. Reduce weekly mileage so that runs average between 5-7 miles on other running days with the week leading up to the marathon consisting of less mileage than the week prior. One may be tempted to push it a bit, since with the cut back you might be feeling stronger and think you can go faster and longer, but coaches stress that this is where it is important to stick to method over ability so as to avoid injury and compromise on optimal muscle repair. It is wise to note that there is nothing you can do in those two weeks leading up to the marathon that will make you perform better on race day. You’ve already done it all so resist the urge to add anything new or do any more than – just enough.

Benefits of Tapering

1. Provides ample opportunity for muscle restoration and repair while allowing you to get some much needed rest from a rigorous training routine.

2. Decreases the risk of injury and setbacks.

3.  Encourages a sustainable training methodology that secures your race day plan and increases your chances at goal realization due to optimal performance.

4. Allows you time and energy to listen to and care for your body, which time may not have allowed for before.

5. Allows you to place yourself in a total state of preparedness for marathon day. Here the focus is on proper nutrition, sleep, rest and getting the necessities together for the event.

While tapering is no exact science and largely depends on the individual, their needs and the distance of the event; it is a fact that some measure of this process can benefit you the runner. Be open to making the method work for you by tailoring it to suit your needs. For example, instead of long, hard runs, consider short sprints to regulate speed and bursts of energy. Given that this is my sixth time around, I’d say you have it on good authority that it works to maximize your marathon day performance and in every instance makes you an all-round better runner. So talk aside, let’s taper on!

References: Runner’s World, MarathonTraining.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

runner_legs

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.

Marathon Training, Fundraising & Just Because

 

TCSNYCMarathon_r31

Approximately sixteen weeks to Chicago and eighteen weeks to The New York City Marathon. I mean WOW! Where did the time go? Am I alone in thinking that we’re not the only ones running here, that so is time! That being said, technically, I should to be in marathon training mode, which means I’m suppose to be running practically everyday working on mileage, speed, strength and endurance. In reality, I figure to take the next couple weeks to myself and run for sheer enjoyment – just because it’s Summer, it’s hot, it’s pretty and because there’s the inescapable fact looming that I’m about to embark on some crazy running; two challenging marathons in two successive months.

Rest assured, I’m not crazy, people do this all the time – not really. Not ordinary people anyhow, but then you’ve probably already figured out that normal does not describe me. Not to worry, it’s not my first time, only the second..wink..and I’ve already figured my strategy is more mental than physical. See, I’m training for a marathon so I’ll just keep running..joke..but really, it’s just a shift in focus after the first run as the next is within two weeks. This is ideal as it works to keep the momentum going. With enough sleep, training and cross-training, the right diet and proper hydration, I should be fine. In fact, I predict they’ll be runs of a lifetime, providing I stay injury-free. My past record notwithstanding, I aim to stay positive; run a few races between now and then and try to maintain top form. With God on my side, I can’t lose now, can I.

team-UNICEF-banner

On another related note, I haven’t been all-ensconed in fundraising efforts for my project – Team UNICEF re the NYC Marathon – as I should be. I’ll have to be a bit more brazen in my approach if I am to reach the $3500 goal that is allotted me. While I’d love to raise more, it being for such a great cause and all, I’ll settle for being within target range for now. If you’re reading this, please feel obligated to help a runner and sister out; plus you’ll earn bragging rights for a good cause and get your name on my running-T on marathon day. I also have a few cool T-Shirts for very generous donors and a couple pom poms for you if you go the extra mile and show up to cheer me on race day. It rarely gets better than this but I’m sure you deserve it!

 

Running for causes aside, I really treasure each opportunity I get to make a difference while running. Being a force for change is something we can all benefit from; hence why I think I take running and training so seriously leaving very little time to enjoy the sport. So excuse me while I fix that before doubling down for some record running in the coming months.

Be a trooper and support my cause here:   https://www.crowdrise.com/unicefnyc2015/fundraiser/loricaldon

FinalLOGO_Print_0

I Confess 2 weeks of Marathon Training

download (1)

I’ve been a bad girl. I mean like really taking-for-granted-my-ability bad. I’m running the New Jersey marathon on 4/26 and I’m nowhere near the peak of my training as I should be as I have yet to complete a long run. That’s not to say I haven’t tried, on two occasions I attempted to do just that and fell short because of 1. The weather and 2. The time. Sounds like I’m full of excuses right?

For me, this weather has been a nightmare for training. I am so over the treadmill when it comes to running long distances, this has been a major setback to my training. While I was training for the NYC half marathon, it was all well and good since ten miles is the maximum I can handle on there, and that was for two long cold months, now, I pray daily just for average temperatures so I can head out. So far, not so good. It’s not every person can work a 10-hour day then train for two hours; It takes a lot of self-motivation, determination and sacrifice. Toss the weather we’ve been having in there and it becomes the ultimate challenge to which I have not responded in the best way.

At this point I am quite the realist, it is what it is. Sometime in the next couple days, I plan on doing a long run even if it hails, afterall, it’s down-to-the-wire-time and there is just no more time for excuses. Ironically, that should have been my attitude from the onset, but I confess, even I am not perfect.

This week my focus has been on adding milage and strength and interval training with emphasis on hill repeats. So far, so good. I’m certainly glad there are a couple weeks left before the race as I feel there is so much left to be done as far as diet, hydration and cross training, in addition to running.

One thing I’m very thankful for is being injury-free up till now. I pray to remain that way and focus on the simple things that will make a big difference on race day, such as: resting/sleeping well, eating well, hydrating, and adding a little umph with a creatine supplement while varying my workouts to include some cross training. While it sounds like a lot to do in so little time, I’m onstream – somewhat anyway – resting well presents the biggest challenge as I keep such crazy hours. But hey, I’m still thinking Boston qualifier.. OI’m either crazy or extremely confident.

Running a Fall Marathon (Part 1)

Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

Sometimes there’s no help for it, you just have to take the proverbial bull by the horns and have faith in your handling. Deciding to run your first marathon or going for a fall goal after some absence away from running or maybe you’re like me, just looking for a good race in cool weather; whatever your reason, let’s pave the way to make it happen with as little pain and pomp as possible. Choosing your run should be among the first set of things you do so here’s a list of some great, local ones. Choose your fancy.

  • The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Minneapolis, St. Paul/Minn.
  • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon
  • Under Armour Baltimore Marathon
  • Detroit Free Press/ Talmer Bank Marathon
  • Nike’s Women Marathon, San Diego, Cal.
  • New York City Marathon
  • Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC
  • Anthem Richmond Marathon, Virginia
  • Philadelphia Marathon

For some of these races there are pre-conditions to racing or some pre-qualifying standard to be met, so that should be taken into consideration when choosing. For my part, I’ve decided on one not on the list there but part of the Rock n’  Roll series which are always loads of fun,  this one in Denver, Co.

So you’ve signed up..Congratulations! Now what? It’s time to start training. Various training plans exist ranging from 12 to 18 weeks but before taking up one it’s wise to get your body used to running four or five times a week and build some base mileage. This can offset injuries and help you prepare for the longer training runs due in a few months.  There are five parts to a successful marathon training plan says Jason Devaney, writer for Competitor Magazine, 1. Establishing a base. 2.Building core strength 3. Increasing mileage and developing fitness 4. Running a tune-up race and 5. Executing on race day. Next week we’ll cover similar aspects to these according to my experience in tandem with what the experts say. For now, let’s focus on building our base mileage by continuing to put in a few steady runs per week, slowly increasing as we go along.

Happy and focused running!

Next Newer Entries

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 525 other followers

%d bloggers like this: