Training from the mile to the marathon.
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  • Lordy, It’s Hot Out There!

    Posted on June 5th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments
    You'll never beat the summer heat in the Lowcountry but you can alleviate some of the effects by doing track workouts early in the morning.

    You'll never beat the summer heat in the Lowcountry but you can alleviate some of the effects by doing track workouts early in the morning.

    Being hot in the summertime isn’t news in Charleston. Heat and humidity go together here like butter and jam. Last week I was on the track in the evening. Being the smart guy I am, I was fully hydrated when I got to the track and I warmed up in the shade before I started my warm up laps. As I finished the warm up, I grabbed a swig of water and began.

    I was running 400’s. It’s one of my favorite repeats. If I’m doing them as a VO2 workout, I get gassed at about 250 meters but can hold on to my pace until the end of the repeat. Having not done these in awhile, I ran the first one for time and then tried to match the time in subsequent laps.

    Lap 2 was no problem and the first half of lap 3 wasn’t a problem but at about 250 meters, rather than feeling strung out, I began to feel ill. I knew the feeling well - I was pushing too hard and if I continued, I would end up on my hands and knees emptying what little was in my stomach. On this day, I backed off. I took off my watch, ran hard for 100 meters at a time and then recovered.

    In a nutshell, I wasn’t acclimated to that level of heat and humdity. Give me another week of exercising in this weather and I’ll be fine but last week, I wasn’t.

    Keys to Working Out in the Heat

    • Give yourself time to acclimate both seasonally and daily. Take your time warming up every day and give yourself at least two weeks to adapt to the onslaught of heat or humidity.
    • Hydrate. If your urine is any darker than lemon yellow before you start, you’re not hydrated enough to tackle the heat. Read my previous post on hydration.
    • Adjust your expectations. There’s a physiological phenomenon known as cardiac drift or cardiac creep. For the same effort level, your heart begins to beat faster due to the loss of blood volume caused by the decrease in body fluids due to sweating. In addition, your heart will beat faster so that more blood is circulated close to the skin to help keep you cool. When your heart is working harder, you can expect to slow down.
    • Seek to run by effort level. If you always run by the watch or GPS, you will get into trouble in the heat. When it’s not hot, learn what your effort levels feel like for each type of run. When it’s hot and your pace falters, make sure your effort level is consistent.

    What’s the one thing you do when working out in the heat?

  • What’s Your Pace?

    Posted on May 10th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments

    This week our run will be a little different. It’s usually a loop or out and back but this week, it’s point to point. We’ll start at St. Andrew’s Church and end at On the Run on Houston Northcutt. Coach Brian Johnson is leading a running clinic at the store at 8 am on Finding Your Pace. The clinic is free for Charleston Running Club members; all others pay just $5.



  • I Love Living Here

    Posted on December 6th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments
    'Winter' in Charleston

    'Winter' in Charleston

    I love living in Charleston. Recently, I received an email from a runner in Naples, Florida who is visiting here next week. She wanted to know if there were indoor tracks available to the general public. After telling her about the one I know of I pointed out that we’re in South Carolina, not Maine. We pretty much run outdoors year round. In three years, I’ve run indoors once because of the weather - we had 2.8 inches of rain in 1.5 hours, right at the time when I would have been running.

    This week, the Charleston Running Club began a Couch to 5K program. Part of our mission is to encourage running in our community. I’m coaching the clinic, along with Irv Batten from On the Run running store. Irv has been a fixture in the Charleston running scene for over twenty years and regularly at the top of the leaderboard. Many clubs wouldn’t start a training program at the beginning of winter. Here, it’s one of the best times to run.

    I also began track workouts again after taking November off. I have one new athlete and some returning. More will join us again after the first of the year. Not only are my athletes back on the track - I am as well! We’re all looking forward to cutting down those 5K times.

    Cooper River Bridge Run training begins in January. Sign up now.

  • Ready to Race

    Posted on June 12th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments
    You'll never beat the summer heat in the Lowcountry but you can alleviate some of the effects by doing track workouts early in the morning.

    You'll never beat the summer heat in the Lowcountry but you can alleviate some of the effects by doing track workouts early in the morning.

    We have four runners who all doing the Floppin Flounder Race tomorrow on Sullivans Island. Today’s workout was all about preparing for the race. Some might argue that to be truly primed for a PR, that the runner needs to take the day off. I wouldn’t disagree but I also would argue that you can’t run every race for a PR so today we simply worked on maintaining pace and feeling the pace so the runner knows what that feels like the next day.

    Every runner starts with an 800m warm up and ends with an 800m cool down.

    Group 1 - all repeats are at race pace

    • 2 x 400
    • 2 x 800
    • 2 x 1200
    • 2 x 400

    The athlete starts his next repeat when his heart rate falls below 120 in order to give him time for a more complete recovery. This is a passive recovery time. If he is not within 2 seconds of his split time on the first set of 400’s then he continues to do 400’s until he can nail that pace.

    Group 2 - The second group is working on maintaining intensity at their new 5K pace.

    2 x 2000m at race pace - Recovery=800m split time

    This workout lasts about the same amount of time as it should take the athlete to run 4800 meters but there is a break thrown in there for recovery. This is not a workout that I normally recommend the day before a race but the runner showed up and found that others were racing tomorrow and decided he wanted to race as well but also wanted to do this workout.

    We closed out the session by doing 100m repeats for form. A camera is very helpful to be able to show the athlete where he can improve.

  • Friday Track Workout

    Posted on June 5th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments
    • 800 m Warm-up
    • 6 x 200, 100 recovery
    • 6 x 300, 200 R
    • 5 x 400, 300 R
    • 800 m cool down

    Each athlete ran between 15 and 25 seconds faster than their 5K pace. The intensity of the workout strengthens the runner, making him or her faster. Stamina at speed is built by the amount of time each athlete runs at speed. When the runner can complete the workout at the proscribed pace, they run the next workout (in two weeks) at a faster pace.

  • What’s Right With This Picture?

    Posted on May 29th, 2009 CoachGreg 5 comments
    What's right with this picture?

    What's right with this picture?

    And what’s wrong with this picture? Last week, I posted a picture of  the same athlete demonstrating good uphill running form. Overall, his form is good but there are two flaws that students of running should be able to pick out.

    Tell me what you see that is right and wrong with this athlete’s stride?

  • Ready to Race?

    Posted on May 29th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    One athlete on the track this morning. Even though I have five runners who regularly do track workouts, only one was able to be there this morning. That’s good for him because he gets my full attention for an hour.

    Today’s workout was to dial in the pace for tomorrow evening’s 5K.

    • 800m warm-up
    • 2 x 400 m
    • 2 x 800 m
    • 2 x 1200 m
    • 2 x 400 m
    • 800 m cool down
    • Recovery - HR<120

    All of the repeats were done at race pace. The athlete was able to hit his pace until he got to the 1200 repeats. At first I thought it was because I had him running too fast but he was immediately able to nail his pace for the last two repeats. I think it had more to do with the mental part of it. We do these drills so that we learn to listen to what our body is saying. The runners needs to listen to the body and remember what that pace feels like. He needs to feel the slow accumulation of lactate in his legs. He needs to feel what the breathing feels like. The runner must gain a sense of what the body goes through when it’s being pushed to the brink of failure.

    Run at the red line and then beyond when racing a 5K.

  • Track Workout

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    This is a track workout that is good for almost every runner. One size never fits all and anybody just starting with track workouts should approach things cautiously. All of the Charleston Runs athletes doing this workout have been running consistently for at least two years and have been racing for at least one year.

    I start every athlete at a pace that is 15 seconds per mile faster than their 5K pace. As runners get used to this workout, I speed up their workout in subsequent weeks.

    The recovery interval should take just as long as the effort. For instance, if the runner does a 55 second 200 m, then they should take 55 seconds to recover during the 100 m. At first this was  difficult for the runners but by the time they’re doing the 400 m, they’re happy to take all of the time allotted. The workout should be continuous - effort - recovery - effort with no breaks.

    Today’s workout

    • 800 m warm-up
    • 6 x 200 m, 100 m recovery
    • 6 x 300 m, 200 m recovery
    • 6 x 400 m, 300 m recovery
    • 1 x 400 m, all out
    • 800 m cool down
  • Friday Track Workout

    Posted on April 24th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    I have one athlete training for  the Hell Hole Swamp 10K Gator Run and Walk on May 2. Last Friday we worked on speed - same thing today but we umped up the speed just a bit. We’re talking about literally a few seconds difference in split times between last week and this week. Last week, his 400m split time was 1.52. Today we started at 1.48. 4 seconds/lap = 16 seconds/mile = 1:40/10K. That’s a lot when you’re looking to better your PR by over 2 minutes.

    This workout was designed to further tax the athletes system and push his lactate threshold. We 3×400, 3×400, 2×1200 with a one-minute rest in between. He really blew his pace during the first 1200 and then got it together on the last 1200 and nailed his pace. Physically, he is ready for next week’s race. He’s now ready mentally as well, if he remembers what he learned today about how his body responds to the increased stress.

  • Weekly Track Workout

    Posted on April 17th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    A weekly track workout can really sharpen an athlete for an upcoming race. Endurance is built through weekly long runs at varying distances and paces and speed is built through tempo runs, intervals, and track workouts. They are actually more ways to build speed but they are all variation of tempo runs and intervals.

    I believe there are two big advantages of the track - the removal of the distractions of the road and having the athlete run a proscribed distance at an exact pace. Running on the road means paying attention to the surface, your surroundings, and the traffic. On the track, it’s just you and the distance.

    This morning I had two athletes at the track. One was continuing to work on her half-marathon pace and the other wanted to improve his time in an upcoming 10K race. My half-marathon runner, after an 800m warm up, ran 4×1200 at race pace with a one minute break between sets. All I want from her two weeks out from the race is for her to dial in her pace - she’s actually very good at intuitively figuring it out.

    The second runner ran an 800m warm up and then ran 2×400, 2×800, 2×1200, and 2×800. His paces were designed to stretch his capacity for speed by pushing him to a limit over a shorter distance. These were not race pace distances. We’ll do a similar workout next week and then the following week, we’ll do 6×400 at race pace the day before his race. This is an athlete who has a great capacity to improve and enter the age-group awards arena.