Shake It Up, Baby!

So far, I'm enjoying my summer shake up in terms of training/working out! I think I was just bored with the same ol' same ol'. CHANGE IS GOOD!

I've recently started reading Running Times magazine in addition to Runners' World. Both are good, but Running Times is much more technical and focuses more on elite high school, college, and even masters runners. If you wade through all the technical/elite stuff, you can still glean some great information for the recreational runner, however.

I discovered a great set of general strength exercises by reading this month's issue of Running Times. They were mentioned in an article, then I had to look them up on their website. It was an article about running faster--something I'm a little obsessed with at the moment, as I seem to be traveling in the OPPOSITE direction. It was refreshing to read the story of an elite masters runner who said something like, "Speed doesn't come naturally to me. I have to overcome that with training."

I came to the conclusion that my weak spot is leg strength. I have been doing much too little lower body strength training. These exercises include plyometrics, squats, and lunges. My goal is to do them twice per week. (A little discovery about doing plyometrics after the non-cesarean birth of 3 large babies--wear a diaper! Jumping up and down is not my friend.) I also found a group of form exercises--bounding, skipping, etc. to do once a week before or after a run. They look rather ridiculous, but I can do them in the front yard while my 4 year old plays.

Running Times has made several things clear about building speed that were unclear before. I have a much better understanding of strides and have been running 20-second ones at about a 7:30 pace at the end of some runs. I don't think I had ventured up to 8 mph on my treadmill before this. I didn't know I could run that fast for 20 or 30 seconds. The goal is to recruit/activate fast-twitch muscle fibers and to do that, you have to run faster than 5K or even 1 mile race pace in short bursts. Good to know.

Next on my agenda: hill repeats. The article said to build some strength with the strength exercises mentioned above for a few weeks BEFORE starting some regular hill training.

In terms of training phases, this is my strength-building phase. The emphasis is getting stronger on hills and in general, not mileage. I'm probably going to average only 15 miles per week with 3 days of running and one day of crosstraining on the arc trainer or bike. I will run a tempo run, intervals, and a long run each week and that's it. I can't remember the last time I only ran 3 days per week!

Around July 1, I will start with a mileage build up by increasing distance and maybe adding in a 4th day of running. I'll begin adding serious distance in August and September, culminating with half marathons on Sept. 25 and October 16 on the road to a November or December MARATHON!

Well, I guess the rest of my year is planned out.

Tomorrow is my first 5K race since August of last year--the one in my hometown. Last August's race was a PR day--28:01. I'm tempted to go for a PR again, but after my performances this past month in the 10K and half-marathon (going out at an aggressive pace, then falling apart), I'm thinking MODERATION is key. I plan to go easy-ish on the first mile (not so easy that I put myself totally out of PR range if I'm having a good day, but not fast enough to cause pain later in the race), then gain speed throughout. My main goal is just to beat the time I ran this course in one year ago. That's doable for sure, as last year I was only 2 weeks post-first marathon and my bruised toenails hurt throughout the race! My legs were still smoked for sure. It's even going to be much cooler tomorrow, which works in my favor. I can handle the low 60's!

Sadly, my mom backed out of the race. She worked up to walking 2 miles at a time, but never made it to three and was afraid to attempt to walk 3 miles for the first time in the race. :-( But, she will be sitting on the front porch cheering me on as I pass right in front of her house during the race, and she'll probably bring my kiddos across the street to the finish to see me cross. I'll get to run past my parents' home, the home where my grandparents lived, my elementary school, the church I attended as a child and where I was baptised---it'll be a fun hometown race.
The kids and I are traveling to spend a couple of days there later this afternoon.

On a side note, my community has been devastated in the Tennessee flooding this week. So many businesses and families lost everything. My children have been out of school the past 5 days as many, many road and bridge closures prohibited the running of school buses. Please keep the flood victims in your prayers. Two older women about my mom's age lost their lives when their vehicles were overcome by water. As this Mother's Day approaches, I'm really thankful to have my mom.


Sorry about the flooding. Must be awful.

Hope you have a great time at the race and beat last year's time!