Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sun and Rain

Training is back in full swing! I am back for season number 3 with Team in Training, running the NYC Marathon! I am very excited, especially since I get to be a mentor for the program again :)

So far, we have mainly been doing fun, "get to know the park" runs. I have met some amazing people who have made these runs much easier and more interesting.

Considering how much time we have to train for the NYC marathon (november 7th), it's really crazy to jump into intense training this soon. I was reading "Runner's World" yesterday (I know, I'm a geek), and according to their training calendar, people training for NYC shouldn't begin until July 17th! I guess this extra training cushion is a good thing, as long as you don't over-do it.

Our last three practices have consisted of a 5 mile tempo run, a long run on the Hudson, and a 5 mile interval run.

Last Tuesday (6/15) the advanced group did a 5 mile tempo run. The other groups were working on form, mainly upper body control. These are Coach Christine's tips on upper body form:

Keep your arms bent at a 90 degree angle.
Your arms should swing back and forth from your shoulder joint, not your elbow joint.
Arms should swing from the hip to chest high.
Keep your shoulders low (to prevent tightness of the neck area), back (not hunched forward), and relaxed (to open the chest area to facilitate breathing).
Keep your wrists relaxed. Your hands should be in a loose fist (as if you're holding an egg and don't want to break it.)
Avoid side-to-side arm swinging. Your arms should never cross the center of chest area.
Keep your posture tall and upright with a slight forward lean coming from the ankles, not your hips.
Keep your head up, looking in the same direction you're running (not looking down towards the ground or at your feet). Look forward in front of you approximately 10-20 meters.

I feel like after two seasons of TNT, I am pretty confident with my upper body form. So I went all out for the advanced group! This was our workout:

If you're not already familiar with them, tempo runs are important workouts in marathon training, especially if you're aiming for a specific time. A tempo run is a "comfortably hard" run. We run tempo runs at just slightly above our lactate threshold (when lactic acid starts to accumulate, causing our aerobic system to work harder). Doing regular tempo runs (properly) pushes our lactate threshold higher, helping us run faster and longer.
Course: 5 mile lower loop. From W. 62nd St., head north to the 102nd St. transverse. Make a right onto the 102nd St. transverse. Once you cross the transverse, make a right to head south on East Drive. Run all the way down East Drive, along the south end of the park. Come back up West Drive back to W. 62nd.

How to run it: Warm up (easy running) from W. 62nd St to W. 81nd (look for the lamppost or Delacorte Theater). From there, you'll start your tempo run. Continue tempo run across the 102nd St. transverse, down to E. 72nd (at the end of the 72nd St. transverse). From there, cool down (easy running) back to W. 62nd. Your tempo run pace should be a hard but controlled effort. If you've run a 10K recently, run about 15 seconds slower than your average pace. If you don’t have a 10K pace, run at about 80-85% effort. You should feel like you're working, but not racing. The effort should basically make you think, "It would feel pretty good to stop right now, but I can maintain this for longer." If you're able to maintain the same effort and close to an even pace throughout the 3 mile tempo, you did it right. If you're really struggling during the last tempo mile, you went too fast.

This run went surprisingly well. The trick is to not push it too hard in the beginning, which is something I (and most runners) make the mistake of doing. If you leave some energy in the tank for later in your run, you can run fast at the end! It is hard for our minds to trust and believe that, but it is true. A big part of our training consists of learning to trust that "negative split"- having a faster end than beginning.

ANYWAY, the point is I took it out easy, and ended strong. It felt good to run fast. Maybe I was pushing it too hard for the beginning of the season. Whatever, I don't care. It felt so good.

Our next practice was Saturday, June 19th. Instead of our usual run in Central Park, we were branching out to the West Side Highway, a gorgeous (and flat!) run along the Hudson. When I was preparing for my run, I was impressed with and proud of myself for remembering my "Body Glide" (for anti-chafing) and my sunglasses for my sensative eyes.

Lauren (my running buddy) and I decided on seven miles, which would take us from 72nd street to Charles street and back. A nice flat, slow run (We build up these long Saturday runs until we eventually get to 20 miles by the end of the season- yuck!). I didn't realize how incredibly sunny it would be. I have VERY sensative eyes. I had to keep them closed for at least three miles of this run. Luckily the path wasn't too crowded...I would have run into everybody! Even with my sunglasses, my eyeballs were sweating like crazy. I guess next time I'll need a visor! I think we are looking at a very hot summer...

Our most recent practice was last night, Tuesday June 22nd. I ran with the advanced group again for two reasons- because the other groups were doing the same workout as last week, and because Lauren made me. My stomach was feeling a little funny so I didn't want to push it, but she knew that I would feel better after I did.

This was our workout:

Advanced workout: We're assuming again that you don't need to work on your form (but feel free to join the other groups if you want to), so you're going to do a speed workout. You'll be doing the upper 5 mile loop (72nd transverse to the north end of the park). Warm up from Cherry Hill heading east across the transverse, make a left to head north, continuing to warm up to E. 82nd (behind the Met). After your warm up, pick up the pace to your 5K race pace for 2 minutes, then recover for 2 minutes. Your 5K pace interval should feel like a hard effort – about 85% effort. Your breathing should get accelerated, but not completely out of control. Continue this pattern of running hard/recovering until you get to W. 81st St. (Delacorte Theater). From there, cool down back to Cherry Hill (don't miss the turn onto the 72nd St. transverse). Make sure you have a watch to time your intervals!

This workout involved the upper five mile loop- which is scary because of all the hills! the top of the park involves "Harlem Hill"- a nemesis for most of the NYC runners I know. I'm sure Harlem Hill and I will become much more friendly later in the season when we get some hill repeat practices in :)

It was a hard, hard run. I love intervals, and when you say "two minutes" I will run really fast for two minutes. It was much easier to do that in the beginning. Once we got to the hill and beyond, it got a little rough and nauseating. The weather was disgusting- very hot and VERY humid. We got through the run though, just in time to exit the park and walk home during the torrential downpour. I have never been so soaked in my life. Ahh, the runner's life :)

And we ended with a 9:07 average pace for the 5 miles! Not so bad considering we took walk breaks during the off intervals....

This weekend: My brother's graduation from high school (and 18th birthday! wow!), and the 5-mile "Achilles Hope and Possibility" Race in the park on Sunday.

Have a great week!

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