Thursday, March 29, 2012

Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers.........

      I have always been prideful to head out the door to knock out miles and all sorts of weather by myself. Doing that builds my base all year round. Not always the fastest miles but miles in general.

      Over the past year, I have noticed that my best performances are in the numbers. Meaning when I'm in a group or a race setting with others, I step up my performance. The first time I noticed this was when I was in an 8k race on the very same trail I use for weekly training runs. Usually I run along at an 8 minute range. Well this time was different, I covered the 8k in 32 minutes (a low 6 minute pace.) Chasing down as many high school runners was my goal and pushed me harder. That told me I have been holding back on my training way too much. The next time I noticed a difference in my performance was about a few weeks later, I ran a mile in 4:54. The pacer on the bike was the key to this performance. A few months earlier I had just set a new mile pr on the track in 5:19. Having the pacers encouragement and guidance helped me shave that additional 25 seconds off my time. 

      There have even been some group runs where I just hung tight when the pace quickened down to a 6 minute mile pace. Knowing if I was solo, those same runs would have been between 7:15 and 7:30 pace. Much is said to training with others and especially with ones that are faster.

     Now I have a personal trainer for strength training. She pushes me to muscle fatigue on a daily basis. She told me the other day what a normal client does in an hour, we complete in a 30 minute session. I have tried to mimic her workouts on my own and come nowhere close to the same results. Again the strength of someone pushing more from me than I can in a solo performance.

     Looking back at 2009-2011 I ran as a pace group leader for several marathons. Now i hope that the runners I paced were able to get further because of my help. Not all of them made it to the finish line with me. Some I went back to find to bring back in to the finish. While others eventually powered themselves in without me in the later miles.

     Knowing I have a competitive side when it comes to running I am seeing the root cause of my abilities lies in the strength of numbers. Meaning the company I run with and race.  To all my friends that run with me, people that have paced me, or groups I have ran with and the competition from races. I just want to say thanks for making me a better runner.

No Frills 5 Mile

Pushing to an 8th place overall finish

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Humbling Hazing


     Setting up camp at Maybury
     for some quality running time

     March is a month of a humbling hazing. Making it through 300 miles and eight very intense & humbling personal training sessions will set me for the final stage of training for the Massanutten 100. It feels like I am going Greek and pledging to be a part of the Massanutten Fraternity, lol.

      This month the training is being intensified. My base running mileage weeks are 70, 75, 85 & 70. Once this month is over the miles will hover around 70 per week with two speed work sessions & more tempo pace running.  With the base mile building phase it is more focused on time on my feet and distance vs. covering miles in as little time as possible. April will also play host to three 50K races where I will be able to gauge my training for Massanutten. It worked out so that they are each 14 days apart. Each race I will push harder to see if my training paid off. In the the past several weeks I did two 4 mile races and improved my overall time by 1 minute 38 seconds in a three week period. That is a good sign. Secondly, my first mile in the second race I was able to push off a lot faster.

       Having friends to run with helps a lot with all the running time. This month I would estimate that I will spend about 50 hours in total. Conversating during the runs makes the time pass by much quicker & more enjoyable. The weather has been much more tolerable too this year in Michigan compared to the past few years. Yesterday it was 61F with sun during the run at Maybury.

      On top of that I added eight personal training sessions with a very intense trainer. So far we have completed three sessions and each one has been challenging. Within ten minutes I am sweating and by 20 minutes I am pouring sweat. My only goal is to just make it through the workout. It is very humbling to struggle through these 30 minute sessons. When normally I am use to running for hours and not even close to feeling the same level of suffering.  She has been using plyometerics, cross-fit and intervals to keep it fresh and new with each workout. The other day while I was jumping rope I could feel the burning in my calves. On top of that DOMS set in and made my run the other day even tougher. Glad that it is base miles and not speed miles.
     She has also revamped my diet with healthly foods and protein. A basic breakfast is now a cup of oatmeal, six eggs, greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. Then every two hours small snacks in between meals. Almonds, cottage cheese, rice cakes, peanut butter, chicken, fish and all those wonderful good for you goods. I do miss the peeps, raw cookie dough & ice cream! On a side note I do feel full all day long though. Although it costs a lot more money to buy all healthly food too.