Thursday, June 13, 2013

FAQ #2 - How should I train for my first 5K?

Once someone figures out that they are going to continue a new running habit, the itch to measure their improvement doesn't take long to emerge. One of the most common ways to measure improvement is to do something that would have previously been impossible or terribly painful. A popular way for novice runners to do this is to race a 5k.

First off, this is a excellent goal. 5k's (3.1 mile races) are a great way to give yourself a boost of enthusiasm for your new hobby and get to know other runners in your area. I wager that I've done close to 50 5k's over the years, and I still enjoy doing them.

If you've just started running and are following something like what I recommend in Running FAQ 1, you are probably already covering between 1-1.5 miles every time you run. Since your goal is to conquer a set distance, you'll need to find out just how far you have to go to be able to complete 3.1 miles.

Measure out a 1 mile course with a tool like MapMyRun. If you are running on a trail, find a park map or something of that nature that you can guess'timate off of.  Once you have your course, start by running the length of time of your typical jog on your measured course and confirm how far you are actually making it on any normal run. This is your baseline distance.

On your next workout, run 2 minutes past that point. Why 2 minutes? Because I said so. Why not say something like "run an extra 200 yards"? Do you want to eyeball 200 yards at the end of a run?

 Let's say you ran exactly 1 mile on your baseline test. The next run should be 1 mile (one complete course) and 2 minutes. Use a landmark (tree, mailbox, street lamp) to remember this middle finish point. On your next run, run 2 minutes past that point, and so on until you reach 3 miles.

As you may have realized, this means some of your runs will end a bit out from where you started. Walking is a great way to cool down and ease out of a workout. Eventually you will switch from walking back to the start to walking the rest of the course and completing another mile.

 Add 2 minutes until you get can complete 3 miles. Complete 3 miles at least twice before your race so you aren't worried about being able to do it on race day. This will also give you the confidence to turn on the juice coming into the finish and sprint past that snarky neighbor of yours.

Feel free to post questions if you have any.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Running FAQ # 1 - How often should I run?

Running FAQ # 1 - How often should I run?

I've been running for over 10 years now, and I've had a lot of people ask me questions about running during that time. One of the questions I am most frequently asked is how often should a person run?

This is a loaded question, because it often comes without any added details, like "I'm running because I want to..." or "I have/haven't run on a regular basis before", "my left ACL isn't 100% intact" and the like.

Assuming the person is in "good" health (read: I don't think they'll pass out bending over to put on their shoes), I generally advise them to start running every other day for 10 minutes. Just head out the door whenever you like and run at your own pace for 10 minutes.

Why 10 minutes? 5 seems like a waste of effort to most people, and 15 sounds too much like 20, which to most people sounds like an hour. 10 minutes doesn't seem like too much of a challenge, but it isn't something that everyone is 100% sure they can do. They seem to want to try it just to prove they can.

The next questions is invariably "So, I just run?". Yes. Take a nod from Nike and just do it.

Don't worry about speed or distance; focus on how running makes you feel. Do you have consistent pain in one area? Does one leg or shoulder cramp up near the end of your jog? How measured is your breathing? Signs like these will help you figure out what you need to focus on as you add more time to your every other day routine.

Next FAQ - How do I prepare for my first 5K?