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Training for your first 5k

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Today, I wanted to talk about training for your first 5k. In a lot of ways, my upcoming Heart Walk will feel like my first 5k, even though it isn’t. I just haven’t run one in just over four years.

However, this post was inspired by a close friend of mine. The Heart Walk will be her first 3.1-mile race and she’s been following a training plan devised by a running app. This plan told her to do a five-mile run the very first week! That’s just not safe for a beginning runner. With that in mind, I’ve decided to list some general rules to creating a 5k training plan that works for you.

  1. Choose two rest days that fit into your weekly schedule. Avoid having them back-to-back try one mid-week and one at the end (Monday & Friday; Tuesday and Saturday, etc.).
  2. Start slow. A beginner should not run more than 10-12 miles in the first week. Also, you might want to do less or incorporate walking depending on your activity and fitness level prior to this first week.
  3. Increase mileage gradually.
  4. Incorporate cross-training. Running should be replaced by a low impact exercise on one of your five active days. Cross train 1-3 times per week to strengthen other muscle groups/increase flexibility. You can cross train on days you run- take a yoga class or work on upper body strength.
  5. STRETCH daily. Incorporate dynamic stretching before and static after.
  6. Incorporate one long-distance run, one speed workout , and one easy run each week.
  7. Listen to your body! If you need an extra day off, take it.

Lastly, have fun. Run with friends for extra motivation or create a fun playlist. Then enjoy your first race and do your best!

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My New Next Run!

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Hello all!

My next race was supposed to be The Zombie Run on May 10, however, it has been pushed back to October 25, which happens to fall a few days before my birthday and Halloween. Seems fitting to me.
That means I need to find a new race, because races are my motivation to train. I’ll be extra lazy otherwise! Ever since I received the email notification of the date change I have been thinking about what type of race I want to sign up for next. I’ve decided that since I am already signed up for one fun run and will likely sign up for The Color Run again (SO much fun), I should look for an actual no-frills race.
I’m thinking about a 10k or something a little longer, but shorter than a half marathon. Here are my top picks:
  • A 5k or 10k walk/run that raises money for the American Cancer Society
  • A 10k in NYC for women
So, I have a decision to make. I’ll let you all know what I decide after I sign up for one.
A great resource for finding upcoming runs: runningintheusa.com
I’ve been browsing it to find potential runs.
Do any of you have upcoming races or know of any? Tell me about them in the comments below!

Stretching, Part 1

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This week I wanted to discuss a question I believe a lot runners debate about. Stretching. And more specifically:

When should you stretch?

Before? After? Mid-run? Never? (Not good!)

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By Ed Yourdon (Flickr: Summer’s end in NYC, Sep 2009 – 02) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Back when I ran track in high school, each time my team got a new coach, he or she had a different idea of at what point in practice we should stretch. One favored stretching before our run. Another preferred stretching during our run. The last coach I ran for preferred having us run a half mile to a mile, stretch, and then begin our actual run. One thing they all believed in was stretching afterwards. Very important! It helps prevent soreness, speeds muscle recovery, and may help prevent injury. Although, I am guilty of skipping that part sometimes.

Today, I prefer to stretch after I’ve ran about a mile. Then, I just continue my run. It gives my muscles a chance to warm up. Ever since I switched to this method, I have felt stronger during my runs.

Now, since I am not a professional, I cannot tell you definitively when is the perfect time to run. I actually don’t think anyone can. Research on this matter is constantly changing. What I will say, is to try to figure out what works for you. Experiment a bit with the timing of your stretching- see what feels right and commit!

What do you all think, when is the next time to stretch? Comment below and let me know.

I’m Back!

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It’s been almost two months since my last update. That’s because between the relentless snow, ice, and my pesky little foot problem, my running has been nearly non-existent. I was practically ice skating on my way to work this morning! And I’m hearing more snow tomorrow. Sigh.

There is a silver lining though! In the absence of running, I have become more consistent with my cross-training. I might have mentioned this before, but I work at a gym. A gym I have rarely made use of until this year. I figured that if I can’t get in the runs I want, I might as well work on other areas. My cross training has mostly consisted of elliptical machines (I am not a fan of treadmills), cardio/toning circuits and my personal favorite, yoga! I also consider teaching swimming for a few hours a week a workout. 😉

My half marathon is a week from today, but I haven’t decided if I’ll run it or not. We’ll see what happens. 🙂 If I decide to, you can all expect a detailed update next weekend. Also, stay tuned for my next post, which will be on things to consider when buying running sneakers!

That Little Voice..

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“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

When I ran track in high school, beating other runners was the motivation. That isn’t the case anymore and I like that. I participate in events because I want to run, not because I want to win. Obviously I still want to do well; the dynamic is just different now. I’m my own competition.

It has been that little voice inside me that’s kept me from sticking to running after high school. However, since starting this blog I find myself itching to run most days. Most days. I still have days where my couch looks comfier than my sneakers. 😉

How do you guys stay motivated? 

Training Tips

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Doing the same type of run everyday can become pretty mundane and could kill your already low motivation. You might find that after a while you aren’t getting any faster. Work some of these into your routine to keep your training fresh, and increase your speed and endurance!

Long-distance Run (LDR)- Naturally, when training for a race the LDR is a staple in your training routine. The actual distance of you LDR will probably vary depending on the length of your race. It is also likely increase gradually as your race nears. But it should be longer than your usual runs. Do this once a week. 

Tempo Run– The tempo run was one of my favorite practices in high school. Basically, you run on increments with two different speeds. The longer increment is at a comfortable/moderate pace. The shorter one is a sprint. My coach used to have us run our usual pace for five minutes and then sprint for one minute.  

Hills– Most races don’t have a completely flat route. There’s no fun in that. 😛 Hills are always going to challenge you, but you don’t need to feel like you’re going to pass out every time you finish one. I suggest incorporating hill repeats into your runs. Build your route around a pretty tough hill and place the hill in the middle. Run to it as your warm up, do 5-8 hill repeats (run up, jog down), and then jog back to your start to cool down.

Speed Workout– Take it to the track! Logging miles is important, but that will only help your speed so much. Try to do this once a week and mix it up. One week do 200m repeats. Try 400m repeats the next. Tempo runs can also count as your speed workout. I would just suggest lowering the time on the slower increment and jogging slowly in between sprints. 

Garmin Forerunner 10

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A few weeks ago, I ordered the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch from Road Runner Sports. I had been looking for one that was small enough for my wrist (Most GPS watches are men’s watches) and received good reviews. What I found was that these watches were expensive! The watches with the consistently good ratings were around $200.

Then, in September I received a catalog from Road Runner Sports. While I was flipping through it, I came across a page full of watches and there it was! A bright green (LOVE) GPS watch from Garmin. Now, let me say that I am not very tech savvy, but I’d asked other runners and all of them told me to go for either Garmin or Polar. So when I saw this watch I immediately looked it up to read the reviews. And they were good! Aside from a view people saying that the GPS was buggy in the woods (I live in a city; I rarely even see trees outside of parks), customers were happy. What made it even better was that most of the reviews were from women, or husbands who had bought the watch for their wives. The watch came in two sizes and my lime green was the smaller size. 😀  

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After signing up for the half marathon, I decided to order the watch from Road Runner because I’m a VIP member and get 10% off of every purchase. The watch was reasonably priced at $129.99 and with my discount it was about $116.

Now, about the watch..

Features (via RRS):

  • Large color options: Orange and Red: size: 4.55 cm x 5.72 cm x 1.57 cm; weight: 1.5 ounces (43 g)
  • Small color options: Black/Silver, Green, Pink and Purple: size: 4.01 cm x 5.22 cm x 1.57 cm; weight: 1.3 ounces (36 g)
  • Free software updates at Garmin Connect
  • High sensitivity GPS receiver
  • Records position, speed/pace, distance and calories
  • Lap pace: average pace in the current lap
  • Average pace: average pace for the duration of your current activity
  • Lap speed: average speed in the current lap
  • Average speed: average speed for the activity
  • Easy-to-use, button operated
  • Identifies personal records
  • Virtual Pacer compares current pace to target
  • Run/walk feature Auto Lap and Auto Pause
  • Store and share workouts at GarminConnect.com
  • Water resistant up to 50m Automatic time zone
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery: up to 5 hours battery life in training mode, up to 5 weeks in power save mode
  • Display: 55 x 31 pixels
  • Temp range: -4F to 140F (-20C to 60C)
  • Package includes: Forerunner 10 GPS, charging/data clip and manuals

***This watch does not monitor your heart rate. 

What I think:

I’m really pleased with this watch. I’ve tested it out on runs that I had previously mapped out on Google and it is accurate. I like that it tells me my mile splits- I’ve always hating doing the math. The auto-pause is great for city runners, since we often get stopped by red lights or cars. It’s easy to upload everything to Garmin Connect and I find it very convenient for keeping track of what I do. Or what I don’t do, haha. My only gripe is that sometimes it takes the watch a minute to pick up my location. This happens mostly outside my job (I work near the Hudson River and I’m surrounded by tall buildings), but I’ve found that it works much faster if I walk up the block. I should have known; service at my job is pretty awful to begin with. Other than that, I think it’s exactly what I was looking for! 🙂