Training from the mile to the marathon.
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  • Standing Thigh Stretch

    Posted on December 28th, 2011 CoachNoah No comments

    As we continue to add mileage to the Couch to 5K group training, its important to increase the time spent stretching.

    In the past few articles I have focused on the calves, glutes and lower back.  Last week we added another stretch, but with the focus on the thighs.

    There are several stretches that will work for this area.  I like the standing thigh stretch, but it can be a little difficult to perform without something to help hold your balance.

    Standing Thigh Stretchthigh-stretch1

    Stand on your left leg and bend your right leg back.  Grasp your right foot with your right hand and extend your left arm for balance.  You will feel the stretch in the front part of the thigh on your bent leg.  Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and then switch legs.

    If you have a wall or chair nearby use it to maintain your balance.

    You can also modify this stretch by lying on the floor.  Just turn on your side and perform the same stretch.

    Again, you should never bounce while stretching.  It should be one long, gentle, stretch.

    Read these articles to find out more about the other stretches in our routine:

    Coach Noah

  • 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.

  • Book #2: Daniels’ Running Formula

    Posted on March 6th, 2011 CoachGreg 1 comment

    Note: I’ve set a goal of reading a book every two weeks during 2011. I’ll review the running related books on this website and others on another blog I maintain for those who work behind the scenes in an organization: Be A Finisher.

    daniels-running-formulaRunner’s World once named Jack Daniels the World’s Best Running Coach and after reading Daniels’ Running Formula - 2nd Edition, I understand why. In the book, I’ve recognized the debt that others owe Coach Daniels. The Road Runners Club of America teaches many of the same principles as does Coach Greg McMillan.

    Coach Daniels provides programs for those running 800 meter races all the way up to the marathon but more than half of the book explains the programs and the science behind them. Certainly, any runner could pick up the book and skip right to the training program that they think is right for them. And they could slog through it but if they don’t understand the program, it’s doing things by rote. If that’s you, save yourself some money and time and go download a training program somewhere on the web.

    I’m an exercise science geek and I appreciate all of the technical explanations of  the body’s adaptation to training stress and the progression of workouts. As a coach who is always looking to learn more from other coaches about how their athletes train, this is a valuable resource but I believe it can be a valuable resource for anybody who wants to understand their training or who wish to self-coach.

    5/5 stars.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Last Bridge Run Clinic

    Posted on April 1st, 2009 CoachGreg No comments

    For our last workout, we spent time practicing running at race pace. We ended the session with Bridge Run Trivia for race schwag.