training

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 Next Run!

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My next upcoming run is a “fun run” on May 10, 2014 in NYC. In less than two months I’ll be getting chased by zombies during The Zombie Run. It’s a 5k race where zombies chase you (I’m actually pretty excited about this) and try to grab one of your three flags. Once all of your flags are taken, you’re out! That means a whole lot of sprinting as my friend, who convinced me to sign up, keeps reminding me. Sprinting is not exactly my thing, but I keep telling myself it’s only a 5k. However, on top of running away from zombies for 3.1 miles, the course will consist of 10-12 obstacles. I have done runs with obstacles before like Tough Mudder and Merrell Down and Dirty Obstacle Race, but I was able to run those at my pace. So this will definitely be an experience.

I’ve still been having trouble with my foot and I’m starting to believe I might have a stress fracture. I had one back in high school in my fibula- not fun. I had to stand around for a month or so watching everyone else practice and race. I haven’t tried running in about a month, but I know my foot isn’t ready. Which means it’s time to increase my cross-training so that I’m in decent shape by May.

My plan will look something like this:

Swimming- I already swim 3-4 times a week. My time in the pool consists of kicking laps, treading water, and a little bit of running.

Yoga- 1-2 days a week. Two words- flexibility and strength.

Biking- I’ll be adding 2-3 days of biking starting on Tuesday. It is low impact, but will give my legs and good workout. Biking is also a great cardiovascular exercise and can help with my speed.

Strength Training- This is partly for the obstacles since my upper body strength tends to suffer. It is to help my running- strong muscles support bones, making you less prone to injury. I NEED this. YOU also need this. Please don’t skimp on strength training because you think it will make you bulky. Strong does not have to mean jacked. I will most be using my gym’s cross-fit room where there is a TRX setup. I prefer using my own body weight over weights.

I plan on giving myself two weeks to figure out a regimen and then I’ll share the detail with you! 

The Right Shoe, and the Left

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When you make the decision to start running, one of the most important steps is choosing the right sneakers to train in. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a sneaker because it’s popular or because your friend swears by it. They are not one size fits all. Running in sneakers that don’t meet your needs can make you more prone to injuries, like shin splints. Ouch!

There are many things you should consider before purchasing running shoes, including:

  • Body frame and weight
  • Terrain
    • Road, trail, or both
  • Arch height
    • If you are unsure of your arch height, wet your feet and step on a newspaper.
  • Pronation-
    • Over- feet roll inward excessively
    • Under- feet roll outward
    • Straight- roll inward slightly
  • Injuries
    • Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, etc.

You might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the factors. To help, there are a number of websites that provide shoe finder quizzes. I have used the shoe finders on both Road Runner Sports and Runner’s World. After taking the quizzes, your results will tell you what type of shoe fits your needs. Types include neutral, stability and motion control, which can further be broken down into performance sneakers. If you prefer more guidance, you can visit your local running store- many stores have someone who can watch you run and provide a few sneaker options that would suit you.

Hope this helps!

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! 🙂 

Mix It Up!

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As you know, I’ve been some foot pain recently and it has been keeping me from running as much as I want to. Over the last week I’ve only ran one mile. I don’t know when my foot will feel better, but I know I have to do something in the meantime. So, I thought this would be a good time to talk about cross training.

Cross training means incorporating other types of workouts into your routine. For runners, cross training could be a means to strengthen the upper half of their bodies. Or it could be a way to avoid injuries. Cross training could even help improve speed and endurance.

Here are my suggestions:

Cycling: Cycling can help increase speed while giving your legs good workout. It’s not a weight bearing exercise, making it ideal for runners. Road cycling allows to you incorporate speed work, distance, and hills.

Yoga: I firmly believe that all athletes (and probably all people) should try yoga. However, runners in particular put a lot of strain on their bodies due to the high impact nature of running. Yoga is known for increases flexibility and range of motion. Yoga also increases blood circulation, which can help with recovery.

Weight/resistance training: Strong muscles help protect your bones. The right workout can help strengthen your entire body. Definitely my least favorite option, but that’s just me.

Swimming: Gives you a total body workout while giving your bones and joints a break. Swimming also does wonders for your endurance! It’s what I’ve been doing since my foot has been bothering me.

It Begins…

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On Saturday I finally sat down and signed up for my first half marathon- the Central Park Half Marathon. I’m both excited and nervous. I’m planning on running three times a week (more if I can manage), although yesterday was my first day. I ran about 1.5 miles during a break from work. My hip flexors are already tight! After some stretching later today I’m going to log another two miles.

My fellow lazy runners, I cannot tell you how important it is to ease into running. Don’t try to sprint your first run. Don’t run so far out that you can’t make it back home. By doing too much too soon you are just begging for shin splints or a stress fracture. Personally I’ve never suffered from the former, but I am told shin splints are incredibly painful. Now stress fractures I am familiar with and OUCH. I suffered from one my sophomore year of high school during cross country. I was stubborn and ran a week with the pain before finally limping into the athletic trainer’s office. I wasn’t allowed to run for a month after that. Injuries are nothing to play with!

Now, back to the half marathon. I have just under four months to train, which is more than enough time if I keep up with it. Each will I will slowly increase my total mileage.

To help motivate myself, I have invested in a GPS watch – the Garmin Forerunner 10, and new training sneakers- Saucony Powergrid Cortana 2 from Road Runner Sports.

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Stay tuned for reviews!