Life in the fast lane.

shoes

Blame it on the rain? I wish.

I don’t race you. I race me.

Oh, wait. Let’s be honest. If you come up out of nowhere and try to pass me at the finish line – the race is on. Just ask my best running buddy. She will tell you that its all fun and games until that moment. A character flaw on my part? Perhaps. But 99% of the miles, it is just between me and whatever crazy goal I have gotten into my head about how fast (or slow, as the case may be) I would like to finish any given race.

Sometime last summer, I was coaxed into running the Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon by my buddy, Julie of Run. Walk. REPEAT. Julie is an ambassador for the race and she assured me that there it was a flat and fun course and the race wasn’t until April so I had plenty of time to prepare. She had me at flat. You see, that’s when the “PR POSSIBLE” (that’s personal record, not public relations) fireworks went off in my head! I registered immediately.

Now, here’s the thing. When one decides that they would like to run a race for a personal record, one should train with that PR in mind. Am I right? Or let me rephrase that. One should train. Period.

corral sign

For half the race, these were my people, but alas…

It’s not like I didn’t train. I just didn’t train enough – far enough, fast enough, enough enough. Something about it being our busiest season at work. Something about taking a 10 day european vacation with my daughter. Something about it being cold. Or rainy. Or the barometric pressure was too high or too low or something. Or something about something. You get the picture.

Long story short. I ran the race. It was indeed a flat and fun course. But all those “somethings” came back to taunt and haunt me while I was out there on that flat and fun course. I would love to blame my virtual collapse at mile 8.5 on the humidity that day (in my defense, it was brutal), but I have no something to blame but myself when I crossed that finish line almost 3 minutes behind my PR rather than 3 minutes ahead of it.

finish

This picture tells it all.                    It was rough.

Yet, like every good little runner does, I’ve gotten up. Brushed off my Mizuno Wave’s. Put on my favorite “fast” shorts.  And asked Jeff Galloway for some advice on how to run a little faster next time I decide that a PR is in my future…which, let’s be honest, is probably the next race I register for because I am, after all, my own best competitor.

Here’s what Jeff has to say about running faster! And don’t forget to register for this year’s Publix Savannah Women’s Half!

FAST AND FUN—It’s a state of mind 

Why is running faster a good thing?  Short and fast segments not only help you run faster in races.  If you run a few faster segments each week you can improve your running efficiency while receiving a better attitude boost.

How long should you be running before you add some faster running in?  After 2-3 months of regular running some short accelerations can be added with minimal risk of aches and pains.

Is it possible that running fast can actually be fun?  Yes.  The secret is be creative and limit the length of the fast segment at first.

How often should you run fast? Playful speed can be done once or twice a week.

mickey

One of the bright spots on the course! She was an awesome chEARleader!

Four Faster, Fun Workouts
1. Speed play that you can do on your own. ACCELERATE AND GLIDE.  After an easy 10 minute warmup of slow running, pick up the pace for 10 steps, then coast off the momentum for 10-20 steps.  Don’t be obsessed about the number of steps as this is just a guideline.  Don’t sprint–be playful.  Gradually pick up the pace, and then glide back down to a jog.  Repeat 2-3 times on your first attempt, and take a one minute walk break.  Each week you could increase the number of accelerations as you wish, with a recommended walk break of 1-2 minutes between each.

1. Speed play you can do with one friend—CHASE game.  After an easy 5 minute jog together, one person takes the lead.  As the leader changes the pace (speeding up, then slowing down, speeding up) the follower tries to stay close but not pass.  After 3-5 minutes, take a 1-2 minute walk break and repeat with the other runner leading.  Repeat as many times as desired.

2. Speed play you can do with two friends—SURPRISE game. Following the same format as game 1, the follower tries to surprise the leader by passing gently but quickly.  While there should be no sprinting, it is OK to run fast for 10-30 steps to pass.

3. A speed play workout you can do with three or more friends— FOLLOW the LEADER RUNNING.  The group is running single file for a minute or two at an easy pace.  Then, the last runner, passes all of the other runners and takes the lead for a minute or two.  The current leader sets the pace, and takes a walk break.  When the running resumes, the last runner starts to move to the front.  Each runner gets to take the lead at least once in this game.

*I’m honored to be a part of the Galloway Blogger program. They provide tips for bloggers like me to share. Go check out the Jeff Galloway Official Website and find out more about the man and program that got me running and keeps me going!

Prior proper planning provides pixie dusted performance

Let’s get something straight here. I register and run races not for the medals, not for the t-shirts (though runDisney does make it enticing!), or even for the competition. Likewise, I don’t set time goals for a race so that I might win my age group or even to beat the person standing next to me on the starting line.

I do it so that I have to train. Plain and simple. I do it so that I can say, “here is what I have to do for the next 10 or 12 weeks or so to make it happen.” I’ll admit it, I’m not a runner who will just wake up every day and be excited to go out for a run “just because.”

Push ups weren't part of our training plan - but they happened!

Push ups weren’t part of our training plan – but they happened!

I love running. It keeps me sane and provides all sorts of benefits, but it is the first thing to go when I have to take something off my list in order to get life done. Unless, of course, I have a goal in mind (sometimes that means just finishing in the upright position!) and have to work for it. And working for it always – and I mean always – requires a training plan. 

Always have an extra spring in my step when I've trained properly!

There’s an extra spring in my step when I’ve trained properly!

Jeff Galloway has been my go-to guy for training. His run-walk-run method has worked for me every time and his sensible training plans keep me motivated without killing me.

So, if you are anything like me and you want/need/must have a training plan to keep you on track, but aren’t sure how to make it happen here are some great tips from Jeff himself to get you going.

THE TRAINING PLAN

WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TRAINING PLAN?  When using a proven strategy, a runner gains control over fatigue while improving motivation.  Those who follow the right training plan, for the individual,  tend to improve more, with less injury risk.

WOULD BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM A PLAN  Unfortunately, most beginners “run as they feel” or follow conflicting advice.  This leads to confusion and more aches and pains.  The right schedule will systematically increase the type of running needed for a goal, with strategic rest for rebuilding.

KEY TRAINING ELEMENTS:

1) A longer run builds endurance, 2) A hilly run builds strength, 3) Scenic or social runs insert fun and keep you coming back for more.

WHAT IS ADDED TO A PLAN IF THE GOAL IS TO RUN FASTER?  The right training plan will gradually increase the speed repetitions needed for the individual goal.  Easier days and rest days must be inserted before and after speed workouts.  To avoid injury, the pace and the increase must be realistic for the individual.

EVERY OTHER DAY!  Most runners—especially beginners—run best when they run every other day.  This allows for the “weak links” to heal.  The very slow long run is usually on the weekend when there is more time available.  Hills and fun days can be run on the short runs during the week (for example, Tuesday and Thursday)

SHOULD I EXERCISE ON NON-RUNNING DAYS? While you don’t have to exert yourself on non-running days to improve your running, exercise will energize your mind, and improve your attitude and vitality—while burning some fat.  So I recommend any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle, such as recreational walking.

DOES VARIETY HELP?  Changing things a bit can improve motivation.   You don’t have to change the “mission” on specific days, but alternating some of the courses or running with different groups can make each day more interesting.

WHAT ARE VARIOUS MISSIONS, FOR VARIOUS DAYS? Each type of run bestows a different benefit.  Hill runs build strength.  Drills that work on cadence, gentle acceleration and gliding will improve your running form.  Long runs produce stamina and endurance.

WHAT SHOULD I DO THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY AFTER LONG OR FASTER RUNS?  Take it easy on these days.  Do little or no exercise, don’t over-eat, drink 8 glasses of water/sports drinks, and focus on how you will enjoy the next run.

SHOULD I SKIP THE REST DAYS—TO IMPROVE MORE QUICKLY?  Not Recommended!  It is during the days off from running that the running body rebuilds and improves.  While some runners can get away with running short and slow runs on rest days for a while, these “junk miles” can compromise recovery and lead to injuries.

IF I DON’T LIKE A WORKOUT CAN I SUBSTITUTE? Following a consistent plan is more likely to lead to success and improve motivation.  Those who pick various elements from different schedules experience  more burnout and injury.

Galloway 13  Want to get started by registering for a Half Marathon or 5k? Register for Jeff and Barb’s races coming up in December! 

For individualized training plans for any race/distance/pace, check out Jeff’s Customized Training Plans!

*I’m honored to be a part of the Galloway Blogger program. They provide tips for bloggers to share. Go check out the Jeff Galloway Official Website and find out more about the man and program that got me running and keeps me going!

Turning up the heat ~ tips from Jeff Galloway

I’ll admit it, even though I’m running the Dumbo Double Dare  as part of Team TSA (to raise funds and awareness for the Tourette Association to find a cure for Tourette’s Syndrome – check it out!) in just over a month – I have avoided running this summer because I live in Atlanta and it is hot and humid. Period. End of story. When it rained at the AJC Peachtree Road Race this year on the 4th of July, I was one happy camper to be running in the cool rain. I love this shirt from The Big Peach Running Company, it sums up running in Atlanta from oh, let’s say March to November! [That perky blonde isn’t me, by the way.]

One of my favorite ATL shirts - the back says it all! "Heat, hills & humidity...welcome to Atlanta!"

The back says it all!
“Heat, hills & humidity…welcome to Atlanta!”

 

Even though it seems like we should be back out there pounding the pavement since school is a week away from starting (and seriously, whose idea was that?) it is STILL hot! But never fear, Jeff Galloway has some tips for us to stay safe and cool (well, at least not miserable?). Continue reading

Yes I did, with 23 seconds to spare.

So this is how crazy ideas get started.
23 seconds to spare
Back in January I ran a 10k that was hard. For real. Seriously y’all, it was uphill and uphill some more. I didn’t plan to run it at any fast clip, I was just out to have a good time, oh and not keel over. Less than a mile into it I realized that I   didn’t start my Tom Tom GPS watch (that I love!). While I don’t really care about my speed or time, I do like to see how many calories I burn (to completely rationalize the pie I’m going to eat later) so I stopped and got the watch going, which wasted a good minute and a half, at least. Six miles later, as I’m huffing and puffing towards the finish, I catch a glimpse of the official time clock and I realize that I’m only one minute – ONE MINUTE – past finishing in under one hour. WHAT?? I didn’t know I could run that fast.
Well, you know what that means don’t you? Exactly. I had a goal. Finish a 10k in under one hour. Sub-60, baby. I signed up for a 10k on the first Saturday in May and got busy. Two weeks prior to the race, I fell down…walking in a parking lot. Yes, that’s right…walking. I did a number on my knee, fortunately nothing terrible, but it did put my goal in jeopardy. Yet on race day (with a serious last minute push from my daughter about 300 yards from the finish) I realized that I could actually make it happen if I turned on every burner I had. It was hard, but it wasn’t supposed to be easy (which was my mantra through all 6.2 miles). I had trained to run faster. And I did. With 23 seconds to spare.
Since then, I’ve had lots of friends ask how I did it. Well, I stuck to my training, I ate better, and I tried to get rest. And I followed some of Jeff Galloway’s training tips (check them out below) for getting faster. It all works together to get you where you want to be. Do I want to PR every run? No way. But do I like the feeling of accomplishing a PR once in a while. You bet! And you can, too, with 23 seconds to spare.
FIVE WAYS TO GET FASTER
by Olympian Jeff Galloway


Longer Long Runs

Increasing the length of the longest long run has produced the greatest amount of improvement that I’ve seen among my coaching clients.  Several surveys have shown more than 13 minutes of time improvement when runners increase their longest long run from 20 miles to 26 miles before a marathon.  Comparable time improvements are experienced in 10K runners and half marathoners when they increase their long runs above race distance as noted in my YEAR ROUND PLAN book that covers all the distances.  Long runs must be at least 2 min/mi slower than current ability, with liberal walk breaks.  The slower the pace, the quicker the recovery.  I suggest doing the long runs every 2-3 weeks.

Speed Repetitions—increasing the number

My runners have improved by an average of over 6 minutes in a marathon (3+ minutes in a half marathon) by increasing the number of speed repetitions to 14 x 1 mile for the marathon, and 14 x 800 meter for the half marathon.  I recommend that each of these be run 30 sec/mi faster than goal pace.  The recovery interval is a 5 min walk between miles and a 3 minute walk between 800’s.  These workouts prepare one to maintain or pick up pace at the end of the goal race, instead of slowing down.  See GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS & HALF MARATHON books for details (http://www.RunInjuryFree.com).

Improve Running Form

Most runners I’ve monitored have improved several minutes in a marathon by fine-tuning their running form.  As the mechanics become smoother and within one’s limits, there is a significant reduction in aches, pains and injuries.  The two best ways to improve form are water running and cadence drills.
•        water running uses the same basic motion as when running on land, using a flotation device so that the feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool.  When done for at least 15 minutes, once a week, the legs find a more efficient path through the water—eliminating extraneous motion.
•        The cadence drill is done for 30 seconds, counting the number of times the foot touches the ground.  This drill is detailed in most of my books.  I’ve found the key to improving speed on the mechanical side is quicker turnover.

Race in Shorter Events

Dropping down a standard distance or two can improve your mechanics for running faster and your ability to handle a higher level of oxygen debt.  On non-long-run weekends, during a half marathon program, try some 5K or 10K races.  When training for a marathon, race at the 10K or half marathon distance.  At first, the faster pace of the shorter distance may seem awkward.  But after several short races, you will adapt—especially if you do some speed training for the shorter/faster event.  These performance improvements can translate into faster times in the longer distances.  My book 5K/10K details the training and the racing strategies for these events.

Hill Training

The only way I’ve found to build strength for running is to run hill repeats.  On a moderate grade hill, start at a jog and pick up the turnover rate of the feet and legs as you go up the hill, shortening your stride.  Walk down the hill for recovery.  Don’t sprint, and follow the other hill training guidelines in my books and athttp://www.RunInjuryFree.com.  The strength from hill training will allow you to perform better in speed sessions which will help you improve in your goal race.  You’ll also run faster on hilly courses, during your races.

~~I’m grateful to be a Jeff Galloway Blogger! Learn more about Jeff and his run, walk, run method on his website!

Why I Keep Running – the charge with Sarge & Jeff Galloway

Push ups at the WDW Half at the mile 10 up-hill charge with Sarge - and still injury free!

Push ups at the WDW Half at the mile 10 up-hill charge with Sarge – and still injury free!

So there are lots of reasons why I run and maybe you run for these reasons, too.

  1. I like to eat what I want.
  2. I like for my clothes to fit.
  3. I like a challenge.
  4. It let me spend time with my family and friends.
  5. It lets me go to Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  If you knew my husband, you would completely understand this. He will happily encourage me to go on a Disney Vacation if it involves running.
  6. It makes me feel better!

Now, that last one isn’t simply a matter of running giving me energy (which it does), it is a matter of running helping the things that give me serious trouble…primarily my lower back.  I used to think that taking a two month break from running, which I used to do every year after the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, was “good for me.” But mysteriously, every time I did that my back would start giving me serious problems.  Till one day, my Orthopedist said, “Stop taking a break from running!” He likes to say that “motion is lotion,” sounds a wee bit creepy when I say it, but it sounds completely medical when he says it! This year I took his advice. Lo and behold, he seems to be on to something!

I’ve had people tell me that running is bad for your joints or that I’m getting too old to run (yes, those are fighting words!). But apparently not – have you seen Jeff Galloway or heard him speak about running injury free?  He has some great insights about how to stay injury free and not only that, how running can actually be good for you – and not just because you can eat what you want or go to Walt Disney World.

Here is what Jeff Galloway has to say about running injury free:

  • Most injuries experienced by my runners are due to 1) pacing long runs too fast, 2) increasing the weekly mileage too quickly, 3)lengthening stride and 4) stretching.
  •  The principle in staying injury free is to balance gentle stress with the right recovery periods-allowing for rebuilding. (For more information, check out Jeff’s book:Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention).
  •  Finding the right Run Walk Run strategy from the beginning of a run has been the best way I’ve found to stay injury free, come back from an injury and in some cases, continue to run while the injury heals. (Here’s Jeff’s book that changed the way I run! The Run-Walk-Run Method)

And here are some interesting facts that Jeff shares about running and your health

  • Are you concerned that running will damage joints, and other body parts ? I was told this regularly, from my first week of running over 50 years ago but the research shows the opposite result: Runners have healthier joints, etc. than non runners as the decades go by.
  • While researching for my book Running Until You’re 100, 3rd Ed, I reviewed dozens of studies and could not find one showing that running harms legs, feet, joints, etc.
  • It may surprise you to know that many studies show that runners have fewer orthopedic issues compared with non-runners as the years go by.
  • A respected and large population study out of Stanford following thousands of runners over 50 who had run for more than 20 years concluded that runners had less than 25% of orthopedic issues compared with non runners of the same age.

So there you have it. No more excuses. Let’s get out there!

This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy one of the books through the links above, amazon.com will pay me a fee. Purveyor of Pixie Dust is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is no way influences what I write or think.

Today *IS* That Day ~ Running with the mind of Jeff Galloway

Catching up with Jeff Galloway at the runDisney Disney World Marathon Weekend 2013

Catching up with Jeff Galloway at the runDisney Disney World Marathon Weekend 2013

Ironically, at a marathon expo I saw a shirt that says, “Someday I’ll run a marathon. Today is not that day.” I had always thought of “Today is not that day” in basically the opposite way: “Someday I won’t be able to run. Today is not that day.” Or something similar.  And yesterday, that mantra kept running through my head.

My favorite running buddy is training for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon and she needed to get her last long run under her belt or tiara, as the case may be. Not a problem, right? The glitch was that just the day before I ran my favorite Atlanta 10k, the Tartan Trot, which is the epitome of Atlanta hills! And for some crazy reason I decided that I needed to PR it. So I was a wee bit sore and tired. But running buddy duty called and I laced up my shoes and headed out the door. We had an awesome 9.2 mile run plus a mile worth of warm up/cool down!

As we approached mile 8 yesterday, I spontaneously said, “Five years ago, I never would have even considered running 9 miles much less 15 miles in two days.”  And it is the truth. I had a few false starts on long-distance running. You know the ones – stress fracture, chronic muscle injury, and the dreaded constant chaffing/blisters/fatigue (seriously, just fill in the blank, right?). All of that until I discovered Jeff Galloway. Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached over a million runners to their goals through his clinics, wonderful retreats, training programs, books and e-coaching.  Not only is Jeff an accomplished runner, he is perhaps that most genuinely positive human being on the planet!

I picked up one of his books on running and never looked back. I’ve listened to him speak at race expos, I follow him on Twitter for daily inspiration and have had the chance to speak with him on several occasions about running.  His run-walk-run method moved me from a struggling 5k runner to a happy marathon runner. I’ve gone longer, run faster, and stayed injury-free while doing it – and I will tell anyone who even looks like they may have a slight interest in running about it!

So, you can imagine how thrilled I am to be a part of the brand new Jeff Galloway Blogger Program, which will enable me to share even more information with others about the Galloway Run Walk Run Method so that you can get out and run because today is that day!

If you are thinking that today might not be that day, here are some of Jeff’s insights to help you get you going with Run Walk Run:

  • You can’t run a long run too slowly or take too many walk breaks.  You’ll get the same endurance based upon the distance covered.
  • If you have a Run Walk Run strategy that is right for you on that day, it’s possible to feel good after every run-even the marathon.
  • Running is the best stress reliever I’ve found. Research shows that running tends to activate the conscious brain which over-rides the emotional subconscious brain and manages the negative and anxiety hormones during and after the run.

If you are a “run-only” runner who is struggling with injuries, distance or pace, check out some of these thoughts from Jeff:

  • The finishing of a run that is longer than you’ve run in the last 3 weeks can bestow a sense of achievement that is unique and empowering-due to positive brain circuits that are turned on.
  • A well-paced run enhances vitality for the rest of the day.  Start each run at least 30 seconds a mile slower than you will run at the end.
  • Research shows that as runners get faster, their stride length shortens.  A quicker cadence is the mechanical key to faster running.
  • When paced correctly, running delivers the best attitude boost you can get. Sustain this by pacing yourself gently during the first mile or three.
Go ahead, lace up your running shoes and get out there and make today that day!
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