Week 4 is in the books, and my first quarter of training is over! The hardest part of this quarter has been the VO2 max work. My endurance is usually the easy part, adding mileage each week to my long run, but the Tempo Runs and Speed Work are tough!
A Tempo Run is a faster-paced workout also known as a lactate-threshold, LT, or threshold run. Tempo pace is often described as "comfortably hard." Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness.
Why it works: by increasing your LT, or the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace. During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions — by-products of metabolism — are released into the muscles. The ions make the muscles acidic, eventually leading to fatigue. The better trained you become, the higher you push your "threshold," meaning your muscles become better at using these by-products. The result is less-acidic muscles, (that is, muscles that haven't reached their new "threshold") so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster.
Trains the cardiorespiratory system and muscular systems to efficiently absorb, deliver and utilize oxygen while moving carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
Improves endurance with low muscle stress.
Promotes a more efficient running form.
Teaches patience while managing low grade physical discomfort.
Increases strength, improves form, less chance of injury due to less strain on ligaments and tendons.
Great for all types of runners.
An excellent way to intro effort sessions for new run/walkers.
Great for gaining strength.
Helps by increasing mental fitness for all types of runners.
Can be done anywhere, on any terrain, any distance, grade, pace recovery, etc.
MONDAY: Recovery and Cross Training
I was pretty sore from my long run of 17 miles on Sunday, so I decided to skip the resistance training and go for some Cross Training/Swimming. When I say swimming, I mean kicking with the kick-board for 35 minutes without resting. This gets the blood flowing to my sore legs and helps them recover. I try and remember to use my hips and glutes to propel my body instead of bending and kicking my legs. This is also a great way to stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles. Personally, I hate swimming, but using the kick-board and floating feels great after all the hours of pounding! I am all for non-impact cross training!
TUESDAY: Resistance Training and Speed work - Hill Run
Upper body and lower body resistance training with 10lb. dumbbells and core training. I have a client that I train on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so I get a good workout in with her. Today we did lunges (forward, backward, and sideways) plus some squats. I like to incorporate some upper body moves with the lower body exercises for a total body workout. We did some biceps curls, overhead press, kickbacks, and rows.
For some added core training, we used a balance disc and did some single leg balance, step ups, side squats, and reverse lunges.
I was scheduled for some speed work today, so I opted for a hill run. It is known that hill runs are speed work in disguise. Since Boston has a lot of hills, I want to be prepared for them. Fortunately, I live in the hills of Southern California, so it is easy for me to incorporate hill training. Today was a 5-mile loop with 10 different hills. Always be careful on the down hill, you don't want to end up with a stress fracture like I did! I learned that one the hard way. Also, choose the softest ground possible when running down hill (dirt, or grass being the softest, followed by asphalt, then concrete being the worst).
WEDNESDAY: PiYo (Pilates Yoga) in the morning and a Spin Class in the evening.
I really enjoy the PiYo class because it helps to strengthen my core and lengthen and stretch my muscles. Plus it is fun to exercise in a group with my best friend and great music! The spin class is my non-impact cross training. Cross training is important for runners because it challenges your body to use your muscles in a different way than you do when you run. If running is your only form of exercise, your chances for an overuse injury are quite high. Have you ever tried a spin class? I hated it for about the first three months, then I started to enjoy it, and now I actually love it! Spin is excellent for building your quads, which you will need for all those down hills at the beginning of the Boston Marathon. The uphills don't begin until around mile 17 and the worst hill being at mile 21, a.k.a. Heartbreak Hill. Strong quads are a must for Boston.
THURSDAY: Tempo Run
I began with a warm up of one mile at an easy pace, then completed four miles at 7:47 average pace per mile without stopping and finished with a one-mile run at an easy pace for a cool down. Here is how it went:
Mile 1 @ 7:40
Mile 2 @ 7:43
Mile 3 @ 7:56
Mile 4 @ 7:49
I chose a flat 1-mile stretch on my trail. I ran one mile out, then turned around and ran one mile back. This way I was able to stay within the same running conditions, without any hills. I was running into the wind on mile 1 and 3, but the resistance wasn't too bad and it didn't slow me down too much. Tempo runs are hard; you want to stop and catch your breath, but you can't. You are pushing yourself almost to your limit, and you have to keep your head in the game, otherwise it is too easy to walk or slow down and stop. This is where mind over matter comes into play. One thing that has helped me stay focused, CogniTea. I drink a cup before every run to help me stay focused and give me a little extra boost of energy.
FRIDAY: Day of Rest! Praise the Lord and halleluiah!
SATURDAY: Resistance Training and Cross Training
I teach a group workout class at my local park on Saturday mornings. I like to switch it up each week, so we used our Kettlebells and medicine balls for a total body workout. We also did some push ups with our legs elevated on a step and then raised each leg off the step after each push up.
For Cross Training, I went to the gym and used the Row Machine for 35 minutes. Here is how I break it down: 5 minutes easy, 5 minutes hard, repeat.