In the previous Run Training posts, I described the tools which runners typically use to improve their running performance. Whether elite or recreational, all runners bodies respond to the training effects of Base Training, Hill Training, Strides, and Intervals. In regards to interval training, many folks just beginning their exercise journey may engage in interval training to increase calorie burn. And almost all sports use some form of interval drills to improve athletes’ aerobic and anaerobic exercise thresholds. So what does interval training involve? Basically, interval training uses measured bouts of hard-easy repetitions to help athletes adapt to higher levels of aerobic and/or anaerobic exercise. For runners, interval training is meting out hard-easy running in bouts measured by time or distance (minutes or meters). Unlike tempo training (comfortably hard effort) interval training involves running at a high level (near red-line) of exertion for a short amount of time, followed by a recovery interval equal to or greater than the work interval. Novice and recreational runners should begin interval training only after they have laid down their base training. While extremely effective to improve a runner’s running form, economy, endurance, and fat-burning, interval training need only be included once a week if the runner also performs other training methods (strides, hills, tempo) in their weekly runs. Read this article from Active.com about interval training. This is an excellent resource which describes the science of intervals together with interval training plans for runners who want to improve their 5K or 10K race times.
If faith were for sale, how much would we be willing to spend for an ounce of faith? Would an ounce of faith be enough to carry us through one dark night of the soul? Would a gallon of faith be enough to carry us safely through that illness that threatens my life or the life of a loved one. Can I stockpile or horde enough faith to stay the storms and stresses of this life which afflict and assail from every vector? Usually, when people talk about having faith, they imply a positive attachment to it. Faith is generally thought to be something of value in one’s life. Faith is not usually associated in negative terms. Remember the definitions of faith: 1) confidence or trust in a person or thing; 2) belief that is not based on proof; 3) a belief in anything: God, a religious system, a code of ethics, etc. This is why we look to our ‘faith’ to carry us, to work for us, when the storms of life test and try us. If faith is to be of an any assistance to us, then it must be sturdy enough to maintain itself when it is assaulted and scrutinized. So when faced with uncertainty, why do we question the quality of our faith? Why do we assume that our faith is weak or that we have lost faith in the face of severe challenge. Either our faith works for us or it doesn’t. We can’t purchase or acquire ‘more faith’ when we feel our reserves are running low. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that our faith is weak because it is untested. Consider this, if an athlete doesn’t show up for his race, he will never know if his weeks and months of training were enough to get him across the finish line. Doesn’t a strong faith require similar training? If our faith is short-winded and flimsy, then the likely source of its impotence is lack of conditioning. A faith that wears combat boots is a faith that has been strengthened by quality exercise and discipline. I like to think of faith as a life force ~ it has breath, it has power to sustain. But faith, like breath and life, cannot be hoarded and stored in a warehouse like some commodity. If we want a faith that supports, protects and comforts us in the midst of life’s challenges, then we must realize that our faith is made strong and reliable only when it gets to work in Boot Camp.
It’s time to mix things up a bit in your running workouts as you near the end of your 500 mile base training. In a previous post, I discussed the value of tempo training for runners of every fitness level. In today’s post, I would like to introduce you to another tool for your running toolbox: strides. By definition, strides are short bursts of swift running usually held for 60 to 100 meters. Strides are valuable for runners who want to improve or promote better running form while also engaging fast twitch muscle fibers. Also known as pick-ups, strides can be interspersed into any of your conversational pace training runs. Perform 3-5 strides after your initial warm-up; divide your each stride into thirds (first 10-20 meters at conversational pace; increase speed and intensity over the next 20-60 meters; slowly decelerate to conversational pace for the last 10-20 meters). If you are not sure what 100 meters looks or feels like, go to the nearest running track a jog the straight sections. These sections are roughly 100 meters long. So one stride (divided into three parts) would last as long as that straight section of track (give or take several meters). Once you have a feeling for how long 100 meters is, you can add strides to your next easy run. Practice these once or twice a week and you will surely build your strength, stamina and speed! Want to read more about strides? Go to this article from Runner’s World.
After laying down a running base of 500 miles, serious run training (i.e. intensity) can now be safely added to a runners training program. Hill repeats are drills that build runners’ stamina and strength quickly. Here’s a link to an article regarding the specifics of hill training from Competitor.com magazine.
Today I ran with a small group of local (Oracle) runners and we ran hills today… again…why? Because no matter where we run in our little mountain town, we run hills. Up hills, down hills, there is no relief from the rolling, undulating topography. We have no choice but to run hills for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of us like to complain about our hills; and I don’t know any local runners who do the ‘hill drills’ we so often find in those spiffy half marathon training plans. I think it’s because we’re too tired from running the ‘hills’ we find before us the moment we jog out our front doors. The only place we get to run flat and fast in our town is around the junior high school dirt track. Funny thing is though, most of us local runners prefer the hills to the track…go figure. Even though we love to complain about our mountain geography, lately some of us have noticed that our hill training has made us stronger runners; and maybe even a tad bit faster too…especially when we go down the mountain to run the big city races. So all in all, hill running clearly has its own reward, and it also makes for beautiful metaphors and parallels when we compare the hill running life to our non-running life. Running the hills is not only good run training it’s good life training too!