Training from the mile to the marathon.
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  • PRs at Veterans Day Races

    Posted on November 15th, 2011 CoachGreg No comments

    Noah and Peyton at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime MuseumCongratulations to Coach Noah Moore, his son, Peyton, and to Chris Barnes on dropping their PRs (personal records) in 5K races last weekend. First up was Noah at the Run the Runway 5K at the airfield at Joint Base Charleston on Veterans Day. He dropped his PR to 22:59 - Noah said, “I was just kind of cruising along, enjoying running at the Air Force Base which is normally closed to civilains. As I came into the final stretch and saw the clock was ticking up towards 23:00, I realized I could set a new PR if picked it up.” If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll realize that Noah had run the Savannah Marathon the previous week. Read more about Noah’s race.

    At the Run for the Yorktown 5K on Saturday, the family tradition continued. Peyton Moore (8 years old) set a new PR for the 5K distance, placed third in 13 and under division, and finished his 100-mile Kids’ Ultra. Peyton started running because his dad started running and Noah does all he can to cultivate and encourage those healthy habits. You can read more about Coach Noah’s kids programs on his blog. In the future, he’ll write some more about kids’ programs and how you can encourage your children as well.

    Also, at the Run for the Yorktown, Chris Barnes shattered his 5K PR by running 18 flat, 1:10 better than his previous best. (5th overall, 1st in his age group) He seemed to be a little surprised at this but still felt great after the run. If you remember, he shattered his marathon PR by 20 minutes just two weeks previously. (3:38 - 3:18).

    As a coach, I don’t recommend racing - meaning an all out effort - within a month of a marathon. That’s a lot of stress on the body that’s still recovering from a 26 mile race. Notice that the PRs were a surprise to both athletes. They didn’t go into the race expecting to hit their best times. In fact, Noah was completely unaware about his speed until the final meters of the race. Last year, one of our other runners ran her best 5K and placed in her age group at the Race for the Cure. She was in the middle of training for the Kiawah Marathon. Again, even though she raced hard, she was surprised at how well she had done.

    Nailing the PR

    What did the runners have in common?

    Strong Runners - Each had trained consistently for at least three years and had completed multiple marathons. You don’t need to run marathons to be a strong runner but running longer miles helps a lot. If you’re training for a 5K race, you don’t run 5K each week and stop. Up the half-marathon, run beyond the distance for which you are training.

    Track Workouts - Each runner adopted a discipline of running track workouts consistently. Some athletes run track workouts as they can. Others don’t run them at all. The ones that are consistently at the top of the list are the ones who are consistently on the track, even when they know it’s going to be difficult. Ever run 5 x 2000m with minimal recovery between repeats in the middle of the summer? Noah and Chris did.

    Tempo Runs - Each of these three runners consistently do tempo runs where they combine speed and distance. They do them once each week and they push themselves. They try to run with others who won’t let them back off of the pace but at the same time they don’t run each other into the dirt.

    Disciplined - Each runner is disciplined in their approach to training. They work with a coach and at times they disagree with the coach and change what the coach gives them. As their coach, I think that’s a good thing because when they tell me what worked and what didn’t work, we both learn. Disciplined doesn’t imply rigidity but refers to what’s going on in your head. The best training plans are devised by the coach and the athlete.

  • Palmetto 200

    Posted on December 30th, 2009 CoachGreg 1 comment

    The Palmetto 200 is a new race for South Carolina. It’s a 200 mile relay race from Congaree National Forrest, near Columbia, to Folly Beach. Teams can range from 4-12 and there are two divisions: Ultra Teams (4-6 runners) and Relay Teams. My friend, Jeff, and I are putting together two teams. I’ll keep you informed about the training and what we’re doing as we move to the race start on April 30.

    In general, for a 12-person team, the race organizers suggest that runners be trained for a half-marathon and work on the speed for a 10K. I see the biggest challenge in getting runners who aren’t used to big distances or 2-a-day workouts to work on dialing in their nutrition. There is some experimentation needed in putting in a 10K race effort in the morning and then putting in the same kind of effort twice in the next 24 hours.

  • Are You Piling On?

    Posted on October 6th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    toomuchstuffThe last 21 days of marathon training are critical. As Charleston Runs athletes approach the Marine Corps Marathon, they need to keep careful track of their training and how they’re progressing. We cutting miles but we’re not cutting back on effort.

    I’ve put together a one-page document that might help you track your taper. On each day, write down your workout, mark whether it was an easy, medium, or hard effort. Also keep track of your food using the categories poor, ok, or great. Visually look and see if you’re piling hard effort on top of hard effort. Check to see if you’re eating junk for days on end. Only you will see this so be honest and use what you’re learning to make adjustments.

    One more thing - SLEEP. It does a body good. You are in the rest, recovery, and restoration phase. Each week, you should go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you did the week before. If 10 pm is your normal bedtime, then by the time the marathon is here, you should have been retiring at 8.30 for a week. Yes, life gets in the way but you’ve spent the last four months or more diligently preparing for this race. Don’t let the lack of sleep and recovery slow you down.

  • 16-Mile Long Run

    Posted on September 6th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    We’re now just 48 days away from the Marine Corps Marathon. If you have built a good base during the summer, then bumping up the mileage every two weeks over the next two months shouldn’t be an issue. When Charleston Runs athletes are finished with the longer runs, everybody is worn out but they do recover nicely over the next few days.

    Yesterday, we ran from Mount Pleasant to the Coast Guard Station downtown and back. It was a beautiful day to run. Running across the Cooper River Bridge was tough but in the Marine Corps Marathon, there is one significant hill at the 8-mile point. Somebody running for time needs to have a strategy to not only attack that hill but also a strategy to deal with the ups and downs of the highway ramps that are part of the last 5 miles of the course.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Hell Hole Swamp 10K Gator Run

    Posted on May 4th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    I’m sad to say that my athlete didn’t do as well as we expected. The day was not hot and there were about 100 people in the field. There were three things that contributed to not meeting his goal time of 50 minutes.

    • Road Surface - 4 of the 6.2 miles were run on dirt/gravel roads. Maintaining a smooth stride is not possible.
    • Preparation - As a coach, I didn’t have the athlete running as fast as maybe I should have. However, I don’t push athletes beyond a level that hasn’t been demonstrated.
    • Pacing - The athlete started out running a 7.45 first mile and his goal was an 8 minute mile. He never really recovered and wasn’t able to adjust his pace adequately.

    Obviously, we can’t do anything about the road surface, it is what it is. Preparation - we’ve already begun addressing this for the next race. I’m pushing him a little faster in workouts but not so fast that he’ll break down. For me, it means carefully monitoring his workouts and races. The pacing will come with race experience. He was very excited and the field was small which meant he ran his own race most of the way.

  • Refining Pace

    Posted on May 1st, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    Today’s workout was for my athlete running the Hell Hole Swamp 10K Gator Run tomorrow. The day before the race the only thing we’re working on is race pace. This is a chance for the athlete to listen to his body and to concentrate on breathing, leg turnover, and form.

    The workout was 5×400m and 2×800m at race pace. If he was having problems dialing in the pace we would have continued to do 400m repeats and if he was really off we would have cut it down to 200m repeats.

    This is the value of a coach. A coach can read what’s going on with an athlete and make on the fly adjustments to a workout. Personally, for me, when I set out to do my own workout, I write it all down and go for it. I don’t make adjustments to the plan - On one hand, it’s good that I follow the plan through to the end. On the other hand, if I’m doing well, I’m not really objective about ramping  up the workout and if I’m sucking wind or off in any way, I’m not good about changing the workout.

  • 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.

  • From the Mile to the 5K - Attacking Short Distance Runs

    Posted on March 19th, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    To race well in a short distance run, your mind must push your body. Your body will start whining & crying and beg you to stop. Your body knows that it cannot run long distances at the pace you’ve set. The problem is that your body assumes you will try to keep this pace up for hours.

    Do a good warm up before the race. I try to run at least a 1/2 mile and usually run a mile before a 5K race. My bones and joints creak and protest if I try to jump right out there at speed if I don’t.

    The key is practicing at race pace. In races as short as a mile, you should not be able to get out more than a word or two at a time if asked a question. You should be struggling without losing form or focus. You must force yourself to maintain the hard pace. Ultra Marathoner and Navy Seal David Goggin says that when your mind is telling you that you are done, you probably have a 40% reserve still left.

    Maintaing pace is especially crucial in the 3rd quarter of a race. This is the place where it can all fall apart. You must dig even deeper and increase your intensity. When you finish the 3rd quarter, you’ll find that you’ve only maintained your pace - that you didn’t go any faster. Once you’ve told your body that it can maintain the pace and it does, it will be much easier mentally in the last quarter of the race.

    As you approach the finish, depending on the distance, you can once again reach deep and push yourself harder again to speed up just a bit. It only takes a bit of a surge to speed up and drop more seconds from your time.

    Doing the Boot Camp PFT?

    For those of you in Boot Camp that run a mile PFT, push yourselves through the first three laps, checking your pace on your watch. When you hit lap four, dig deeper and push to maintain your pace during that lap - you’ll be surprised at two things - 1. You were able to push harder and 2. You only maintained your pace. You didn’t speed up and you didn’t collapse. Keep on going hard into the 5th lap. When you hit lap six, give yourself a just a bit of a speed boost. You might even focus on somebody ahead of you and work hard to overtake them. You will definitely drop seconds off your time if you do.