Twice the Fun

Lots and lots of you are familiar with one of my favorite track workouts: Mile Repeats. I did these a lot when I was chained to training mostly on a treadmill in years past while I was sick.

Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the neon machine woman!

Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the neon machine woman!

But there are other types of repeats that marathon runners should consider adding into their track workout rotation.

Yes, yes, the shorter distances are well and good but don’t forget, the marathon is a loooooooooong run. Adding 2-mile repeats to your schedule will have you working closer to your lactate threshold while not exceeding it, which is exactly what you hope to do during your race.

-What: 2 mile repeats

-When: On a track workout day about halfway through training, after you’ve built a solid base

-Where: On a flat surface or a track

-Details:

  • Warm up for 2 miles, rest.
  • Hit your first 2-mile repeat at 5K pace or better. Rest for 3-5 minutes.
  • Hit your second 2-mile repeat at the SAME pace, whatever it was. Rest.
  • 1-2 mile cool down.

-Goal: Maintain a consistent pace from Mile 1 to Mile 2 and then repeat those paces in your second set.

2-mile repeats are twice the fun! Just kidding, they kinda suck cuz they’re long enough at a hard enough pace to make you wonder when they’ll end. I do it on the road instead of the track because 8 laps makes me dizzy and frustrated.

Mile repeats in the mountains of Vermont? No thanks. I'll stick to the track.

Mile repeats in the mountains of Vermont? No thanks. I’ll stick to the West Side Highway.

It’s important to start these after you have a solid foundation of miles under your belt. They are designed to help you simulate fatigue in your legs while maintaining a tough pace and you’ll need to be conditioned for that kind of effort.

Give ‘em a shot and let me know how it goes!

Now go out and run.

Deceivingly beautiful view. Don't be fooled. It's cold as hell and windy to boot.

Wednesday Workouts

I love Wednesdays.

First, they are my Thursdays since I don’t have class on Fridays, so HOORAY! It’s almost “Friday”!

Second, I don’t have class til the afternoon on Wednesdays and it’s the perfect morning for me to lazy around in my PJs and catch up on homework or whatever before I run at whatevertimeIwant o’clock.

Skinny mini Abby.

I prefer PJs until about noon.

Most of my Wednesdays are cluttered with doctors appointments, work, annoying phone calls to insurance companies/school offices, and other grown-up type tasks. But when I get a Wednesday morning all to myself, I am a pig in, well…you know.

images

Pretty much me this morning.

Today’s workout will be my first official speed workout since my second surgery on October 5th. Since my surgeries were both operations on my abdomen, I have to wait the requisite 3 months til I am allowed to lift more than 20 pounds. Hence, why my husband had to carry our beautiful tree all my himself.

photo (2)

Lies. He has never, ever let me help him carry our tree home. Even when it was 50% larger than the one we bought this year. Isn’t it preeeeetty?

But they said I could start doing speed work in two months if I didn’t feel any pulling or pain in my abdomen.

Woohoo!

Today’s workout will be shorter on the repetition side since I’m not exactly in the best of running shape. But these sprints are good for anyone at any time since you push that VO2 max and make your body stronger whenever you do anaerobic workouts (speed work).

  • 2 mile warm up
  • 6-8 x 400 meters (one lap on the track), all-out.
  • 1 mile recovery shake-out
Yay for track workouts!!!!!

It will not be sunny and warm on the track today, but that’s cool. Git ‘er done!

Whenever doing speed work, it’s important to warm up beforehand so that your pre-capillary sphincters near your peripheral limbs open up and increase blood flow to your muscles. Blood flow = oxygen = food for muscles. Otherwise, you will tire out MUCH faster and fail to reach your potential in the workout.

I know, I’m blinding you with science. Don’t you feel smarter already?

I want to give myself a good workout, but also the freedom to cut it at 6 repeats since it’s my first day back. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get every.single.repeat. done that day. It’s not worth the energy to feel guilty about a workout.

Guilt? About a workout? That’s stupid. Yes, stupid. Not “silly”. Stupid.

526843_475120079197532_808701995_n

BOOM.

I also like to shake it out afterwards. No real science there, it just feels good.

What’s your workout today? Are you headed to the track like me or are you kickin’ it treadmill-style on this fine Hump Day? Have you ever done a 400m x _______ workout? Killer! See you on the track.

Now go out and run!

I’m Not Always the Boss

JB’s best friend shared a story during his best man speech at our wedding. He told of our list of “rules” that we used to have hanging on our wall when we first moved in together several years ago. I had 4 rules for JB. He had 1 for me: “Abigail  is not the boss all the time.”

True story.

I let him think he’s the boss sometimes. You know, cuz we’re married and stuff.

And so it goes for coaching. I am not the boss all the time.

My friend asked me the other day if I coached/trained myself or if I had some input from other coaches or joined other teams for my training. It’s honestly been so long since I was able to join another human being outside for a run that I hadn’t given much thought to getting back into social running.

Mostly, I’m ashamed of my slow-ass right now. Maybe my new shoes will make it look like I’m going faster?

Neon shoes = speedy Abby

Getting back to running and exercise in general hasn’t been easy. Physical restrictions from the surgery and doctor-imposed restrictions keep me from jumping out there every day and going balls to the wall. My body just can’t take it these days, so my 5 miles and 20 pounds will have to do.

I think I’ll be ready to hit the heavier stuff right around the time the doc gives me the ok to go over 20 pounds. It all works out.

As far as running goes, I am definitely not the boss all the time. I seek out advice from people who are faster than me and who have been running for longer than I have. Success means a lot to me and those coaches who repeatedly get clients to reach their goals are the guys/gals I want to run with.

I’ve successfully coached dozens of runners through races of all kinds. But sometimes a girl just needs some help!

I like a team run for tempo and speed work. I never want to set my own speed work and I really prefer to be a part of a speedy pack of runners for tempo runs. My long runs are my time, though. I run by myself, just me and the road, and try to relax into the solitude.

Here’s the thing, all the pros have coaches. There’s something about having someone else give you an impossibly hard workout that they believe you can do and that translates into you believing you can do it, too. Not that any of us has low running self-esteem, but it’s too easy to say, “I’m just going to run 5 easy miles” instead of, “My workout today is 400, 800, and 1600 repeats on the track at X pace.”

So, yes, I have help. Not a lot, but as much as I want/can tolerate being who I am (see above anecdote for reference).

I am, among other things, the girl who will find any way at all not to sit in her chair all damn day. JB says I’m “owling”.

Coaches can be a great asset to your training. Just find one whose attitude about running gels with yours and who treats you in a way that is productive for you to run your best. Me? I don’t respond to threats or yelling. Only nice coaches need apply. Do you have a coach? Do you love him/her or are you running for the hills as soon as your paid time is up?

If you’re looking for a coach, check out your local running club, running shoe stores, and lululemon for the running coaches in your community.

Now go out and run!

The “Hills Make You Fast” Workout

I talk about it a lot, speed work, and I think most people are cool with Mile Repeats, Yasso 800s and Tempo Runs. What most runners shy away from are HILLS. Oh yeah, those dreaded HILLS.

But why? Well, to be honest with you, no workout in the world makes me want to vomit than a good old fashioned hill workout. Pushing your body on a flat surface is only about one thing: speed. Pushing your body on a hill is about speed AND power. It’s brutal but worth it.

So, how do you go about putting together a hill workout? I’ll share my most brutal favorite one with you.

There is this hill in Central Park called Cat Hill. Why is it called Cat Hill? Because there is a very large cat on the hill. You have to see it. Anyway, the hill is about a quarter of a mile (.25 mi) from the Boathouse to the stop light at the top of the hill. Here’s what I do on Hill Day:

  • 1-1.5 mi easy warm up
  • Sprint up the hill, jog slowly down (4-6 times)
  • 1.5-2 miles at race pace

The warm up is an absolute necessity with this type of workout. If you don’t warm up, you won’t be able to reach your max speed on the hills. The idea is to run each hill repeat in the same amount of time as the one before. Don’t forget to find a hill that is at least .15 mi long so that you get more than a minute on each hill. I think I did 5 last time before I was sure I couldn’t do anymore. I was totally trashed. Those last few miles are to stretch your legs out, find a comfortable breathing rhythm and let your muscles relax before you stop dead in your tracks and collapse on your couch.

It may feel like you didn’t run all that far–and you didn’t. However, distance isn’t the goal here, intensity IS. If you are hitting those hills with everything you’ve got, you will see an improvement in your distance running. If you are loafing about and phoning in your hill workouts, you will see no improvement whatsoever.

Got guts? Hit the hills. They will rock your *running* world.

Now go out and run!

Dream Gym

I’ve posted about Team Abby who keep me in good health and all that jazz. I’ve posted about some of my favorite boutique gyms in the city that I cannot get enough of. In keeping with telling you guys about people, places, and workouts I love, I have to share a really cool new workout I did at Chelsea Piers last week.

Meghan from Chelsea Piers contacted me to see if I’d be interested in coming down to their Performance Center and giving their new high-speed treadmills a go. First thought, “Ummmm, I’m not really fast enough to require a high-speed treadmill.” But I figured, what the heck? May as well give it a shot. Told JB what I was doing and after a long pause he said, “I just have this vision of you jumping on and flying off the back of it.” You doubt my abilities? Pshh. Check yourself.

I brought along someone who would require a high-speed treadmill for her runs, Speedy Elite, to test run the ‘mills and give me the perspective of a pro athlete. Off we went to New Jersey the Hudson River to run fast.

Fancy sign = fancy gym

The Performance Center at Chelsea Piers is all official and stuff. Hidden in the back near the rock climbing wall, the room boasts two high-speed treadmills and a Computrainer set up for a classroom of bikes. Indoor cycling at it’s craziest! They have the machines to measure VO2 max, lactic threshold and a whole physiological assessment center for those of you who want to get down and dirty with your body’s numbers. The treadmills look deceptively bare.

No TV. No music. No nuthin.

This is imperative. Why? Because, unlike the ‘mills at your local gym, these high-speed treadmills are capable of going up to 29 MILES PER HOUR and up to a 40% INCLINE! No distractions necessary. There’s even a special way to get on and off because it’s going so fast.

One. Two. Three. JUMP!

John, our trainer, was all about safety and form. A man after my own gym-etiquette heart. As I’ve said countless times before, treadmill running can be extremely beneficial to all runners. Why? Exhibit A: When you run fast on a treadmill, your stride is stronger, longer, more natural and your foot strike is more efficient (mid-sole to toe instead of heel-toe).

12.0 incline + 7.0 speed = more powerful stride

Stronger legs = better form, fewer injuries and faster times. Simple as that. The other benefit is that you absolutely cannot slouch at this speed and incline. If you do, you fall over. So, you are training to run tall which will, in turn, actually allow you to have a better stride on your long runs. Oh, and you MUST use your arms, which I am constantly reminding my run club to do during our speed workouts (you know who you are). Win, win.

High knees are an old favorite of running coaches everywhere. We all strive to have stronger hip flexors and the quick pace of a high knee drill provides just such an exercise for this overused muscles group. The look a little different on the high-speed treadmill.

25.0 incline + 6.0 speed = DON'T LET GO!!!

I am really impressed by the thought that went into the design of these machines and the workouts that come along with them. I’m a big proponent of running drills for EVERY runner, not just the speed demons like Speedy Elite. Too many casual runners are missing the basics of form and strength required to have good form. And good form while running is just as important as having good form in the weight room.

Some purists say treadmill running isn’t “REAL” running. Call me. Let’s talk that one out. Drills, speed work, hill work, form, foot turnover and pushing your anaerobic max are all things you want to do in a controlled, safe environment. You can run faster on a treadmill–that’s a good thing. Faster workouts translate to faster race times.

No, you’re not propelling yourself forward like you are doing outside or on a track. But the beauty of drills like these is that you do them and then jump down to the indoor track below to test the newfound speed on land.

1/4 mile indoor track in Manhattan. What?!?

Oh, but if you desire another sort of cardio machine, they have those, too.

Cardio anyone?

And an awesome lounge area where you can kick back and have a post-workout juice. Or sushi.

Sushi, juice, coffee, nap?

This gym really has it all. They have a 25 meter indoor pool, two sun decks, the rock climbing wall I told you about, crazy amounts of cardio and weight equipment, a sand volleyball court, several full-length basketball courts, every class and club sport you can think of and everything else that goes along with Chelsea Piers (driving range, ice skating rink, etc.). This is my Dream Gym.

They didn’t pay me to say any of this. The demonstration was complimentary. You must have one of their trainers work with you to run on the treadmills, but you do not have to be a member to do that, which is cool. Many thanks to Speedy Elite for coming along with me and running waaaaaay faster than I did on those things.

For those of you looking to improve your running times this Fall, think about investing in a couple of sessions on the high-speed treadmill. Kick-ass workouts = results.

Now go out and run!