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3 Tips to Getting Faster Right Now!

It’s spring time, and all of the local 5K races are cropping up.  You are motivated to get out there and run, and motivated to try and get a faster time from your last 5K.  So what is your plan?  Most of us think that we should hit the pavement, time every run, and try to get faster each time we get out there.  Right?  That might work for a little while, but as a long term plan it is inefficient and may even cause injuries.  So what should you do?  Here are 3 tips to get faster now! DCIM103GOPRO

  1. Train at the correct training pace for each run.  You shouldn’t run every run as fast as you can, but you also need to include some speed work to break through any plateaus you may have reached.  Aim to do two-thirds of your running at an easy pace, and the other third a speed work run.  And make sure there is some easy running in the speed work days too: warm up, cool down, and recovery intervals.
  2. Vary the length of your runs.  If you are training for a 5K, should you run 3.1 miles every time you lace up?  No.  Varying your distance will help build a better aerobic base when you run longer, and allow you to recover faster when you run shorter.  Try upping the mileage on one run a week, and cutting back to a short run a different day of the week, with the same weekly mileage.
  3. Train on different terrain.  Are you a road runner always heading out your front door?  Or maybe a treadmill runner for convenience?  It is okay to have a preference, by choose different terrain to run on at least once a week.  This may be finding a route that is hilly, or finding an off road trail.  I am a big fan of trail running, and I believe it will make you a stronger and faster running just by adding a trail run once a week.

Tell me what changes you can make this week to help improve your running!  Want more tips like this?  Sign up for JennysFitness newsletter here.

 

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What’s Stopping You from Your Goal?

My Running Story

I’ve accomplished many things during my running journey:  I’ve completed  six marathons, including qualifying for and running Boston Marathon; I’ve run two trail ultra marathon runs and several other trail races; I’ve taken my 5K time from a 32:00 to a PR of 21:49;  I’ve run so many 1/2 marathons I lost count; and I became a RRCA running coach and Newton Natural Running Form coach.  If it seems like I am boasting, I am not… because if it seems as if all of this came easy for me, it did not.  I once believed I “just wasn’t a runner” or, “my body is made for sprinting, not distance.”  (Any of these strike a chord with you?)  Let me go back…

In high school I moved to Texas.  I joined the Cross Country team to meet new friends and also because I always wanted to try distance running.  I had done different sports growing up, never very competitively, but I thought Cross Country would be a great transition.  The thing I LOVED about Cross Country:  when I went out on the trail, behind the trees, no one could see me taking a walk break.  The thing I hated about Cross Country:  The coach considered a 1 mile lap around the school just the warm up.  What??  Distance running was a hard transition and I never was able to get any better during that one season of Cross Country.  So I told myself the excuse that I was just not meant for distance, my body did better at short sprints.  End of story.

But it wasn’t the end of the story.  In the back of my head, I always WANTED to run.  I wanted to run those local 5K’s and enjoy it (or at least enjoy some of it).  I wanted to be able to finish one without having to walk nearly all of it with a painful side stitch and a bright red out-of-breath face.  So every now and then I would try and go out to run, yet fail everytime.  So my same excuses would justify it for me.  This pattern repeated itself for several years: I would want to succeed, want to run…I would try and fail, and justify my failure. (Again, does this sound familiar?)   I stayed active in other ways (my body liked sprinting, remember?), and I became a regular in the weight room.  I would sometimes run a little on the treadmill “for cardio”, but not very much.  I started training for and competing in an Obstacle Course competition, so my fitness level grew, but the running was still mostly at a sprint level (the obstacle course took me about 1 minute to complete).

Then something changed that wouldn’t allow my excuses to hold anymore.  My mom wanted to run a half marathon to celebrate her 65th birthday.  She had never done one, it was a year away, and she wanted me and my three sisters to try it with her.  I was ready to try something different from the obstacle course training, so I signed up with my mom and sisters.  We had a whole year, right?  Time to finally see if I could really be a runner.  I went out for my first run to celebrate us signing up and… I came home crying and walking.  I couldn’t even make it one mile without feeling horrible.  How was I going to do 13 miles?  The excuses could not justify quitting anymore, I wanted to do this for my mom.  So I finally made a commitment and made a plan.

First, I made peace with myself.  I was not going to feel defeated every time I had to take a walk break, or anytime my run “didn’t go well” (there were a lot of those).  Second, I poured over training plans, running books, running magazines, etc.  to learn how to plan and train.  Lastly, I made small goals to achieve along the way.  My first small goal was conquering the local 5K.  After a few weeks of working patiently on my running, I entered a nearby 5K with a reasonable goal: run easy enough that you don’t take a walk break.  For the first time, I finally completed a 5K feeling accomplished! The patient training was working.  I continued following my plan, not listening to my excuses, and moving forward literally one foot after the other, mile after mile.  It helped that my mom and sisters were also going through the same thing.  By the time the year past, and I was lined up for the half marathon: I WAS A RUNNER.  I was finally  the distance runner that I had always wanted to be.

I’m sharing this because I am here to motivate and inspire you NOT to give up on your goals.  They will not come easy.  They may cause frustration, tears, excuses, and struggle.  But through patience and persistence, you CAN achieve what you want.  Tell me what your goals are.  I am here to show you how they can be done!  If you need help, contact me now and let me teach you how to achieve your fitness goals.  Sign up for JennysFitness email updates here.

 


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Run Better! Form Technique Drill

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If you want to run better, then you want to learn how to run more efficiently. This way, your energy is used moving yourself forward instead of used in any wasted movements. Take the time during your run to tune into yourself and practice using good technique. One technique you can work on, is reducing your vertical oscillation or, bouncing. If your running stride it too bouncy, you are also adding extra stress and impact onto your joints, as well as reducing the efficiency of your running stride. Instead of pushing off the ground hard, focus on lifting the knee and increasing your stride rate. Concentrate on landing softly and quietly on the ground. Visualize your body moving forward instead of up and down.

I often like to run with my dog, Nikyo, with his leash attached to my waist. When he runs in front (as he often does), I notice that I easily run without any extra bounce, and my motion is forward moving. When I run solo, I do take the time to practice keeping that same efficient running stride that comes easily with the nudge from having Nikyo tied to my waist: My stride rate turnover is quick, I am lifting the knee instead of pushing off the ground, I’m landing soft, and (with the leash attached), my motions are definitely moving forward.

You don’t need to worry about form and form drills for your entire run, but taking a few seconds every mile or so to “check in” with your running stride will help you run better, run more efficiently, and run faster. For more for drills, see my video of Running Form Drills.


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Get Faster For Your Next 5K

It’s spring time, and that means there are a lot of local 5K’s popping up everywhere.  Local 5K races are a great way to get outside, get some exercise, and get involved.  But they are also a great way to test your speed too.  To really race a 5K and improve your time, you need a training plan that incorporates speedwork.  If you have the time, 8 weeks is ideal.  That gives you enough time to develop your aerobic base (getting back in shape from the winter),  work on some speed and endurance, and finally to dial in for race preparation.  Ideally, your training plan will include race pace workouts, intervals at faster than race pace, lactate threshold tempo runs, and easy paced endurance builders.  Not sure where to start?  Here’s an example of a key race pace workout.  This one is best used in the race preparation phase, about 1-2 weeks away from your race:

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  • 1K Repeats
  • Warm up with 1/2 mile to 1 mile of easy running
  • 1K Repeats:  Run 1000 meters at your goal 5 K race pace.  Jog easy 400 meters in between
  • Repeat for a total of 5,  1000 meter repeats (5K)
  • Cool Down with 1/2 mile to 1 mile of easy running

Do you want a personalized training plan made just for you?  My online training now incorporates all of my Running Coaching Plans that I have designed for my clients.  Whether you are a new runner, or more a more seasoned one who needs some direction, each plan is designed after you and I have gone over your current training, your goals, and your schedule.  Distances range from 5K through marathons and even ultra-marathons.  Go to my Online Training Page and sign up today to get faster this spring!