Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Speed Work Lessons (Re-)Learned

Early this morning on a business trip to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada I ran my first speed-work session following Sean Wade's customized Kenyan Way Marathon Training program. I ran in the beautiful Louise McKinney Riverfront Park, alongside the North Saskatchewan River - a great running trail which can be easily reached from Downtown Edmonton.

Though my target 1-mile pace was 6:45 (based on my recent 4-mile pace of 6:53) my legs proved only capable of 7:09-7:35. I do not take this as a disappointment since I'd pushed myself during training a bit harder than appropriate the day prior.

Documenting a few speed-work lessons (re-)learned:
  • Trust your coach! By doing unscheduled legs-focused weight-work the day prior I'd left myself slow for the day's speed-work;
  • Re-hydrate after each segment via making use of a water fountain (or via leaving a water bottle) along the trail;
  • Do not listen to your iPod doing speed work, as this takes the mind away from the mechanics and can affect the stride;
  • Minimize elevation change during a speed-work so-as to provide better consistency between sessions, and to minimize stress on the Achilles during uphill segments (for this reason I ran on the flat segment alongside the river);
  • DO NOT run the first speed-work segment at a pace that you cannot match on your final segment! I committed this common mistake, and realized to my chagrin afterwards that I'd initially pushed myself too hard.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kenyan Way Rocks!

At the advice of a friend this week I joined an excellent Houston-based marathon training program, called The Kenyan Way. I am very thankful for this advice, as the program offers some distinct advantages versus other Houston-area programs.

The Program:
Based on the season Kenyan Way offers programs year-long. In preparation for my Chicago marathon I signed-up for the Fall program. Participating in my first long-run this morning, I was delighted to discover that water and sports drinks are provided every two-miles along the course. Additionally, I was very glad to see Coach Wade lead-off the groups unambiguously, such that every experienced runner is led to join a group appropriate for their pace. Thus, as my marathon P.R. is 3:32, and my goal Chicago Marathon is 3:30 I joined the 3:30 - 3:40 group, which the Coach instructed us on departure to run approximately 30-seconds slower than our Marathon Pace - and as a consequence we ran at a good 8:30 pace.

The obvious advantages of running with a pacing group matched well to the individual's desired pace is to encourage conversation, while causing the time to seemingly fly by. Talking through the run additionally builds camaraderie while - through the physical act of conversation - demonstrating that each runner is not running anaerobically.

Other Benefits:
When you join one of the Kenyan Way programs you will receive more than just a training schedule. You will also receive access to a vast array of information that will help you train smart and remain injury free. Remember, steady consistent training is the key to success.
Sean Wade, a native of New Zealand and graduate of Rice University has competed for more than 20 years as a professional runner both internationally and nationally. He is currently the fastest master's runner in the world being undefeated in 2008. Sean was named 2006 Male Masters Runner of the Year by The Road Runners Club Of America (RRCA), as well as being selected as the 2006 Masters 40-44 Runner of the Year by The Running Times Magazine. Sean Wade has a personal best marathon time of 2:10:49 and was the winner of the 2003 Houston Marathon.

In addition to being an accomplished runner, Sean Wade is an outstanding running coach with more than 10 years of coaching experience. Members of Kenyan Way programs not only benefit from running Sean Wade’s carefully designed workouts but also have access to his running expertise. Members are always encouraged to ask Coach Wade questions about their training. Sean Wade ensures that members of the Kenyan Way get the most out of their training and meet their personal goals.

Camraderie & Customized Training Schedule
Running as part of a group, particularly with others running at similar paces, allows you to push yourself harder while still having a good time. The Kenyan Way has groups of runners at all paces so that everyone is encouraged to reach their full potential. The Kenyan Way has runners of all ages training for many different races.

Enrollment in any Kenyan Way training program includes online access to a complimentary personal training schedule. You are assigned a training schedule based on what program you are enrolled in and which race you are training for (if any). When you log in you will be asked to fill in information about how you would like to schedule your week and your current fitness level. The schedule is then tailored to your personal training needs using advanced computer algorithms designed by Coach Sean Wade. The Kenyan Way’s advanced schedule customization techniques ensure that you do not over or under train as is often the case with more generalized training programs. The schedules are designed to provide runners with workouts that push them to unleash their full potential.

Instructional Videos
Members have access to instructional videos covering a variety of running topics which include hydration, nutrition, strength training, core training and stretching. Are you stretching and warming up safely and effectively? Members can watch Coach Sean Wade’s instructional video on the topic. Or members might want to watch his multi-part video series on building your core strength with essential core exercises.

Wade Running Technique
Is your running technique flawed? Do you tend to get injured as you ramp up your training? The Wade Running Technique describes and promotes an ideal style of running that helps reduce injuries and improves economy and efficiency. Just think – faster running with less injuries! Give it a try!

Online Training Log
Keeping a running log is a great way to keep track of your training and further motivate you to stick to your training schedule. Members of Kenyan Way programs each receive a complimentary online training log. The training log is easy to use, cuts down on paper clutter, and allows you to quickly navigate through your past training.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Runners are Strange Creatures

As a long-time listener to running-oriented podcasts I've thoroughly enjoyed Runners Roundtable and Phedippidations.

Through my periodic interactions with Toni Harvey, Steve Runner and BuckeyeOutdoors' Ben Deutschle, I was invited to join a Roundtable panel on June 10th entitled "Runners are Strange Creatures". This episode focuses on the quirkiness of we runners, i.e. counting miles, mapping out runs, agonizing over training schedule or even trying to plan family vacation around running events.

In preparing for the dialog I began thinking about my own running-passion (admittedly bordering on an obsession), and have compiled a partial listing of these behavioral traits below:

  1. Whenever I happen upon any portion of a marathon route that I'd previously run I immediately find myself contemplating the approximate mileage on the course and my physical/emotional condition at that point;
  2. Continually daydreaming about my next training run or race (including while I'm already running);
  3. When reviewing the nutrition information on any meal or snack, I find myself automatically converting the calories into equivalent running miles (and feeling guilty if my morning run distance didn't burn as many calories as the food item);
  4. Frequently reviewing detailed weather information solely to know what's in-store on my next run;
  5. When traveling for business or pleasure choosing a hotel that offers the best nearby running routes;
  6. Calculating all discretionary purchases as multiples of my favorite new running shoes or running-related gadget;
  7. Using daily via manually recording every run or exercise session within 30-minutes of its completion, then posting a link to my Garmin Forerunner upload. Not being able to fully relax until I perform this ritual;
  8. Upon returning home from a race, regardless of its outcome, of feeling compelled to both perform this Garmin ritual and to post a detailed blog entry regaring the event;
  9. Reading at least one book per month on the general subject of running;
  10. Reading several running-focused blogs per week;
  11. Listening to three or more running-focused podcasts per week;
  12. Obsessively charting every possible element from my running log, from my weight to my pace to my distance run;
  13. Targeting weight loss not for health or vanity reasons, but instead to make myself faster at my next race (P.S. - for each pound of fat that a runner sensibly loses they can expect to be approximately one minute faster over a marathon);
  14. Making the decision about whether to attend a social event on the assessed likelihood of meeting another runner;
  15. Continually dreaming about running at night;
  16. Continually daydreaming about running, including while running;
  17. Maintaining a detailed blog solely focused on running;
  18. Beginning every run by first deciding its purpose (i.e. tempo, interval, hills, distance, recovery), then setting my Forerunner GPS watch's 'Virtual Partner' feature so-as to continually remind me of my appropriate pace;
  19. Whenever hearing the city Boston referenced, immediately thinking about its (fantastic) marathon.
Items I hope to bring-up during the podcast if time allows:
  • I wish 'running advisor' John Ellis a full and complete recovery. I look forward to many additional contributions from John, and am eager to identify how his life experience shapes his training and especially nutrition-related advice;
  • I recommend that all runners - casual, committed (or those who should be committed!) - use the superb on-line running diary, or find another means of recording their training runs, races, and successes. Notably, failures (either the rare DNF and/or injuries which may occur) provide excellent opportunities to reflect upon the cause, and what we can/should be done differently so-as to prevent such problems in the future;
  • If training for a specific competitive event, then be sure to utilize the wisdom of the most knowledgeable in planning your training. One of the many reasons why I am a supporter is that by using that on-line tool it is extremely easy to create a training program from one of several top-notch sources. Through the following weeks this will then serve as a day-by-day reminder to you as to what is your appropriate day's activity. Marathon training programs which I personally have used (though strongly recommend that each runner evaluate what's appropriate for themselves) are: Hal Higdon's Advanced Marathon Training Plan; and Hansons-Brooks Advanced Training Plan. I'm currently close to finishing the below-referenced Matt Fitzgerald book, following which I intend to utilize its recommended training program for my next marathon;
  • Additionally, maintain a running-focused blog, or optionally produce a podcast. This exercise will provide you additional means of expression thereby allowing you to help others by sharing your own experiences;
  • Read some excellent running books, which will inspire you, provide encouragement, and help you avoid many pratfalls which would otherwise occur. Highly recommended: Running and Being: The Total Experience by George Sheehan; Masters Running: A Guide to Running and Staying Fit After 40 by Hal Higdon; Lore of Running by Tim Noakes; Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich; and Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results by Matt Fitzgerald;
  • Run, whenever possible, with others. Doing so, especially on casual, recovery and/or long runs will make them more enjoyable, allow you to tap the collective when encountering inevitable running-related challenges, broaden your social network, make your runs fly-by, and improve your personal safety. Additionally, through talking periodically during your runs you will be demonstrating that you are running at the appropriate aerobic cardiovascular zone (where-as when running solo it is all to easy to make an intended long-run become an inappropriate tempo effort).