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January 14, 2009

LEARNING HOW TO RUN...THE RIGHT WAY

Last night I held true to my New Year's Resolution and showed up for our track club's speed workout. I was actually excited to go this time because I knew my new running coach would be there. Although we haven't "officially" sat down and mapped out a game plan for how I'm going to be a smarter, faster runner, I was certain that he'd be giving me tips throughout the night.

And I was right!

The plan was to do 400's at a "repetition rate." I was told that this meant to run hard enough that I didn't want to necessarily do another one, but not too fast that I thought I was going to die (I'm paraphrasing, by the way). We'd do a one a lap recovery and repeat from 6 times (totally doable) to 20 (who's smoking crack?). I felt strong on the first 4 running anywhere from a 1:44 to a 1:46. I may not be fast, but I'm really consistent. On the last two Sam (running coach) decided to run with me. Along the way he explained more to me about running than I think I've learned cumulatively over the last three years. I was amazed.

For example, I learned that I should be running more on time rather than mileage. He explained how taxing it is on the body to run for hours upon hours, maintaining that specific heart rate for the run that I'm doing (long, marathon, etc) for hours upon hours. I had never even thought about the fact that in a marathon I may be maintaining that 160 heart rate for over 5 hours!

After the 6 repetitions (thank goodness no one wanted to do 20!) he explained that at a minimum I should be doing 3/4 to a mile cool down. He and I began the cool down and after a lap or so he asked what my heart rate was (yes, first time I'd worn the ole' heart rate monitor in 8 or 9 months!). I looked down and said 180. He said "WHAT??" I repeated and he ordered me to slow down. Even to a walk to get my heart rate back down.

See, here's where I learned so much. If I hadn't had that monitor on I would have just kept on running. I didn't feel winded or tired or out of breath. I felt fine. I've naturally got a high heart rate, but I've never paid attention to what my max is, what I should be running certain runs at, etc. I've just run for overall pace and mileage. Period. And now I see why I've gotten absolutely no results over the last three years. He explained that in the recovery run I needed to get my heart rate down enough so that I was letting all that lactic acid that had built up, dissipate. Really? I had never actually thought about what I was doing before now.

That's when he said: "every run must have a purpose."

Wow. What rock have I been hiding under?

We finally got my heart back down to the 120s and began a slow jog. Just based on the jog speed and my heart rate, he determined that I need to be running about an 11:25 pace as an easy pace.

Really? I am just amazed at how much I have not paid attention to my heart through all of this.

All in all it was the most productive speed workout I've ever done. I began to learn what the purpose of it was, rather than just thinking "showing up + running = getting faster."

I'm really excited to start this new journey with running. It's going to be a long, hard road but I'm up for the challenge and can't wait to see the results of the hard work begin to pay off.

Goal? To run the City of Oaks Half Marathon as a smart runner and in under 2 hours.

Have a great Wednesday!

2 comments:

Anne said...

I'm just now catching up on all your posts. I ran Disney in 2004, and it doesn't look like much has changed with the course except the BioFreeze came in squirt bottles back then -- much easier to apply. Hooray for Troy breaking 4 hours!!

Your experience at track is one reason I miss my own workouts at our track. You really discover a lot about yourself and your limitations and how to overcome them.

Laura Lohr said...

That sounds awesome. Like Anne, I miss our track workouts. Perhaps, it is time to get back out there.

You always inspire me! :)