How Fast is too Fast?

Greg’s Corner


How fast is too fast?

One of the biggest questions I get during training cycles is: “how fast should I be going on my runs?” Most people are surprised by the answer I give them, because it’s usually, “slower than you are currently.” One of the key pieces of a training plan is consistency, not only with running but with your paces. Make easy days easy and hard days hard.

To start this conversation we want to look at why you should slow your easy days down. The simplest answer is that it keeps your legs more fresh for workout days so you can really get after your goal paces and splits. You want to think about how your body is working during your run. What is your body burning and using for energy?

When your body becomes more aerobic during your easy runs, you teach your body how to use more fat efficiently. The majority of the time on your easy (slow) runs are spent in this aerobic (oxidative) phase. You can stay in this phase for long periods of time vs going anaerobic (no oxygen). The more you train in the aerobic phase, the more efficient your body will be at using oxygen to produce energy. In turn you will be able to run longer and feel more comfortable as you begin to build your base miles.

Your body will also learn to integrate the cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems more effectively. This will allow you to run with less effort on your faster days because all systems will be firing together. When your body is comfortable with this, your runs will depend mainly on slow twitch muscle fibers, which are the ones that work aerobically, allowing you to run longer at a more consistent pace.

Slower runs also help to develop bones, tendons, and ligaments vs faster runs which focus mainly on muscles. These slower runs stress these tissues just enough to actually help them get stronger and lubricate the joints.

So how do you know how slow is slow enough? Well that’s the easy part, all you have to do is be able to have a conversation while you’re running without being super winded. If you find yourself gasping for air, slow down. You can get very scientific and figure out resting heart rate and max heart rate and do some math but we can save that for another post. Take it easy out there and keep your mind open and relaxed. Think about this on your next run when you are asking yourself if you are going fast enough. You are probably going too fast!


Greg Laraia

ATC

Speed Kills

The thing about speed is it is all relative until it is not. A 18 minute 5K is ‘speedier’ than a 20 minute 5K and Usain Bolt has more speed than anyone. The trouble comes down to how it is used relative to the person it is being imposed on.

Here is the issue with group programming, cookie cutter plans, or one size fits all workouts; they will never actually work for everyone. Speed is just one aspect of that, how speed is defined for me is different than you. The key is that it is not about the distance you complete (workout, race, etc.) but it is about the pace (time) that you complete it in. To some mile repeats can be considered “speed” work but for others it will not be, maybe you need some half mile or quarter miles to actually get down to your true relative speed.

The pace that you complete it in… here is where the relative aspect come in. The faster you are as in individual the longer distances you can include in your “speed” work block and actually the shorter distances you can stay away from. Now relatively as your pace slows down you will have the opposite issue, you won’t be adding in to many longer distances and will have to increase the time spent at shorter distances and build up. The reason why is because the faster your times the relative less you have to actually improve. For someone that runs a 16 second 100m you really only have maybe a second or three you can improve vs. someone that runs it in 23 seconds you have maybe four to eight seconds you can realistically improve on. These numbers just extrapolate exponentially as you increase the distance.

Now that it is the ‘offseason’ for most runners it is a perfect time to add some speed work into your weeks, especially since the current volume and intensity tends to be lower. Once you jump into your marathon program you really don’t have much time to get faster so invest the time now while you do.

If you have any questions about how to build speed into your offseason or build it into your early weeks in your race plans please ask.

Andy Wegman

MSATC

Just Breathe

A runner asked me the other day “when will I stop breathing heavy while running.” I am not sure I answered it well enough so I figured a blog post may help. 

Short Answer: Never

Long Answer: Never

Life Answer: Depends on your goals

I see the answer as a multifaceted approach to how you currently are as a runner and where you are looking to be. Getting out of breath is hardly a bad thing (note: unless you have a medical issue then go and get it checked out) but something that needs to happen in order to not get out of breath later on. A few of my previous articles tend to focus on paces and goal, which is where the answer to this question lies. 

Let's say that you are running to have fun, socialize and get a good workout in, well then you may become out of breath or you may not. This would depend on maybe running with some faster friends, or joining their workout. Your goal is to just have fun and roll with the run as it unfolds.

Now say you are training for a race, or have a specific goal in mind. Becoming out of breath here will always happen no matter what shape you are in. The key is how RELATIVE it is between two different runners. Workouts do not necessarily become easier the faster you become, they just become faster; but you are still giving 100% in the moment. At the same time you also recover faster, which means you may appear not out of breath but if you are using being out of breath as a measure of improvement it is going to be very hard to judge it appropriately.

Out of breath should be something you expect to happen when certain runs are on the daily goal list. Hill workouts for example, depending on how hard they are suppose to be, should make you out of breath. Whether it takes you 60 seconds or 55 seconds 2 weeks later because you are faster; being out of breath still happens. An Easy/Recovery run, for example, should not make you out of breath, done at a conversation pace and slower than normal you should finish feeling strong and in control. 

Type of Run: Out Of Breath:

  • Easy/Recovery Run: No; your pace is to fast if you do

  • Long Run: No; might increase at end, but ideally no

  • Tempo Runs: Probably; will build, depends on tempo setup

  • Hills: Most likely; will build as the workout unfolds

  • Strength: Probably; at end of workout, but nothing too intense

  • Speed: Yes; will build as the workout unfolds

  • Race: Yes

What it boils down too is you need to know your goals, goals for the day, week, month, year, etc. This will allow you to go out and perform as you are capable today and build to what you are capable in the future. If you are unsure of your current paces and what they should be building to in the future please ask.

Andy Wegman

MSATC

Pace. Pace. Pace.

Now that marathon season is in full force it is time to take an honest approach to how you are going to pace your marathon. There are going to be many factors that you need to take into account leading up to race day but being honest to yourself is going to set you up for success both in this race and everyone after.

Let us take a few into account without actually mentioning paces…

  • Weather

  • Injuries

  • Travel

  • Work

  • Course - Elevation

  • Life

  • Race Development

  • Nutrition

  • Training Plan

Now all of these factors are important, some more than others; some you can control and others are out of your control and that is okay. What you need to do is be honest (<-- key word here) about how each one may affect your pacing strategy or how maybe it already has.

So now you have made it to race day, how are you planning to run (pace) your race? Most research articles that look at marathon pacing strategies all have the same conclusion, the more even pacing you have throughout the race the faster you run. If you look at most world records they are set with a negative split of the race, this is true from elite runners to recreational runners.

To set the pacing, for example, if you are looking to run a 3:30 min marathon (8:00 min/mile) you should start the first 5k around 8:00-8:10 min/mile pace. This will give you time to get out of the crowds, stay healthy, find your space, get your legs moving and the most important not let the adrenaline ruin your race from the get go and save that energy for when you need it 3hrs later. The next 18-20 miles is just a mental toughness game; get your fluids in, take your nutrition (just like you practiced), and trust your training. The last 5k-10k will all depend on your race experience and how you feel in that moment. 

In this current example, if you have been running the race on pace you will be about 20s behind your goal (behind from your first 5k) and your instinct will be to try and make it up in 2-3 miles. Do not try that, it will zap all your remaining energy and leave you hurting for the last 5k. All you need to do is take 3-5 seconds off each mile for the remaining 6 miles and you will have just ran a sub 3:30. The marathon is a big race but break it down into small goals and you will start checking them off one at a time.

The last thing is to make sure you have an accurate and honest predicted time, use your training to help you gauge and create reachable goals for the race. If you run an 18 miler and were a consistent 8:15 min/mile pace through the first 15 miles then blew up for the last 3 miles you might want to adjust your goal pace to 8:30 min/mile. If during the same 18 mile race your friend started at 7:45 min/mile pace then dropped to a 8:15 min/mile pace and died but hit the 8:00 min/mile pace average they wanted, spend the next few weeks working on locking in the 8:00 min/mile pace from the get go to lock it in.

Andy Wegman

M.S. ATC

How much do MILES matter...

Miles.Do.Not.Matter.

 

 

In this blog we will dive deeper into the realm of mileage and why they do not (or maybe do) matter...

 

How many miles is enough miles for me is always a question that gets thrown around. Some people run 20 miles or less, some 40, and some aim for 70+ miles a week. The key is how you feel running them. You are going to have a hell of a time training for a marathon on 20 miles a week but if you always get injured trying to get to 70 miles then clearly that should be avoided as well.

 

This is where I will argue that it is not the total mileage that you run that matters but the time and pace(s) you complete them in. In a couple of previous blogs I have listed the types of runs available and how they should be paced depending on your level.

 

Instead of looking at the previous week and being like “my goal was 40 miles and I ran 42, therefore I succeeded,” what you really need to look at first are the types of runs completed, paces ran, how you felt, then mileage. The WHY behind this is that 40 miles can look completely different week to week.

 

If your goal is an 8 min/mi pace in a marathon and your furthest run that week was 12 miles at 8 min/mi pace than you DID NOT have a long run in your week. That type of run would be called a tempo run, a long run would be like 15 miles around 9 min/mile pace. Here’s where it gets tricky.

 

Example 1:

  • 15 miles at 9 min pace = Long Run

  • 5 miles at 9 min pace = Long Run

  • 10 miles at 9 min pace = Long Run  Total Mileage: 30      Average Pace: 9 min/mi pace

Example 2:

  • 15 miles at 9 min pace = Long Run

  • 5 miles at 9:30 min pace = Easy Run

  • 10 miles at 8:15 min pace = Tempo Run Total Mileage: 30  Average Pace: 9 min/mi pace

 

The distinguishing factor here was not the miles ran but the PACE you ran them at. You have to differentiate pacing, miles and types of run, they ARE NOT the same. Labeling a run is important so that you can keep track, but no one said that miles were what determined the label.

 

So as you continue to plan out your weeks (decades) of running make sure that pacing has an equal (or greater) emphasis than miles ran when you determine the why behind it.

 

*OBVIOUSLY monitoring your weekly mileage is extremely important and you should always do so. I wanted to present a scenario where maybe why and how you are monitoring them is misguided*

Andy Wegman M.S.ATC

Programming 101

“Think long term, your goal race should always be the race after your next race”

 

Designing your program can become a daunting task with all the resources out there trying push a certain philosophy onto your laps. Here are my top 3 considerations you must have when attempting this build:

 

  1. What is YOUR schedule
  2. What race are you training for
  3. How well do you actually want to run this race

 

  1. Your schedule is going to be the sole determinant in what plan you make/choose to use. 

Keep It Stupidly Simple. If you only have 3 days available to run make your program for 3 days (not recommended for marathon training), and if you have 7 days available program for 7 (not recommended for life training). Do not set yourself up to fail before you leave the blocks.

 

For example: If you are training for a 10k on a 4 day a week program and after the race is over you feel great and like you could be faster, then try 5 days for your next plan. BUT do not start with 5 days then bonk out halfway through because your schedule is too busy to complete the runs.

 

2.   What type of race are you training for.

If you are training for a 5k and it is your first race or first time running you do not need to go on a 10 mile run. What you should have is some walk/jog or walk/run build ups throughout the program to work on your speed and comfortability to run for longer time periods.

 

Now if you are training for a marathon that 10 mile run will be on the short end and you need to have at least a 4 day per week plan. You need to have variability in your weekly workouts to prevent staleness and a long run of up to 18 miles or so. [see: Running Menu Blog]

 

3.    How well do you actually want to run this race… in other terms, What Are Your Goals?!

I think this is a trickier subject because it can be perceived that something is better or worse than that other thing you are doing. It would be very challenging, for example, to excel in dance, weightlifting, and running all at the same time. But that is not to say that they don’t compliment each other well in a program. In fact you might reach your best results when you are doing all of the above.

 

The trickier part comes with having to do less of some for the benefit of the others. Doing a hard dance class the night before a hard running workout might leave that running workout less than par. Now which one should be your focus? That would depend on if you are training for a 5k at the end of the month or a dance recital. Same thing applies to a weight lifting competition. You may have to sacrifice some running workouts in order to save energy for the competition and the workouts needed before hand.

 

All I am trying to say is make sure you know your goal(s), then take a deep breath and go out and get them.

 

Andy Wegman

@awegman_msatc

Brooklyn Half Marathon

TRUST. YOUR. TRAINING

 

About 1 week left until the Brooklyn Half Marathon and whether it is your 1st or 7th attempt the work has been put in. For better or worse you will toe the starting line at 7am and give it your best.

 

A couple tips to take into account right now…

  1. Practice your hydration – if you need a specific drink, BRING IT, don’t trust the courses Gatorade on your delicate stomach
  2. Practice your morning nutrition – make sure you do a couple practice runs on the nutrition you plan on having on race day morning
  3. Practice your race nutrition – make sure you try a couple of those Science in Sport Gels ;-), or whatever you use, to confirm that your stomach can handle the fuel

 

 

VROOM. VROOM. BABY.

 

What is your race plan? Let’s Keep It Simple Superstar…

 

The first 10k or so in the park is beautiful and the cheer squads are out in full force, this tends to get people out of their paces and into something unsustainable for the long haul. Races are rarely won in the beginning but are frequently lost.

 

Know your goal race pace, the one your trained for (or didn’t train for… its okay the next race is around the corner) and whether you need a wristband to keep track or can do it in your head it is important to plan it out.

 

Scenario 1: You go out at 7:45min/mile pace but your goal is 8:00min/mile pace…

Your first instinct is to say “I feel great, let’s see if I can maintain this pace.” Nope, hold your horses and get back to 8:00min/mile pace. Re-assess later in race (miles 7+) to see if you have the fitness to increase pace. Note: if you decide that 8:00min/mile pace is good through the finish line you just raced 15seconds faster than your goal…

 

Scenario 2: You go out at 8:15min/mile pace but your goal is 8:00min/mile pace…

Your first instinct is to say “Crap! Now I need to run a 7:45min mile for mile 2 to make up.” Nope, speed up bit to get you back to your 8:00min/mile pace and get that groove back. Re-assess later in the race (mile 7+) to see when you can bring the pace slightly faster than 8:00min/mile pace. Note: 15seconds over 6 miles is 7:57min/mile pace, you have plenty of time to make up time…

 

 

 

 

 

ALL. THE. FEELS.

 

The best way to attack this, most likely, will be to gauge your inner RPE. RATE of PERCIEVED EXERETION.  This is a scale on 1-5 where 1 is like your warmup and 5 is going to be that last mile you just ran to set that PR, congrats…

 

Miles 1-7 should be like a 3/5 -  challenging but you know you could dominate a mile or two if you needed to (you do not need to at this moment though)

 

Miles 7-10 should be like a 4/5 -  obviously you have run at least a 10k already but you have at least a 5k to go. So, you should have another gear left here or trouble is a brewing. It is flat, downhill, and open; again, don’t let your pace trend down (or too far down) yet.

 

Miles 10-13.1 should build to a 5/5 – at the 10 mile mark you have a choice, continue at current pace and hit the PR or if the body still feels like a 4/5 you can take off a couple seconds and shoot for that bigger PR. The choice is yours, just make that choice then continuing to monitor your perceived output for the rest of the race.

 

Now enjoy those fans cheering you on as you cruise down the boardwalk leading you to finish the race that you started.

ANDY WEGMAN, M.S. ATC

@awegman

Red Hook Crit

Definitely the race I look forward to the most during the year. Not many races (anywhere) allow you to attempt a 4 lap 1.25km race course with 180 degree hairpin turns and multiple ‘S’ corners throughout each loop.

For all intent and purposes it is a 5K just like any 5K is, 5,000 meters is 5,000 meters so the distance you are covering does not change. The fun part becomes all the turns and how it affects your pace.

Now normally as a runner you are moving in a very linear (straightforward) direction at almost all times of any race. Very few races have any other components of movement in it, this 5K contains both acceleration, deceleration and change of direction in it through each turn.

In my previous blog I listed different types of running workouts and by choosing this race you have added in one more… Multidirectional

These components are a completely different skill set and something most runners lack so building them up over the course of a few workouts will greatly improve your time. Through each turn you will be slowing down as you enter it (deceleration), going through the turn (change of direction), and then speeding up out of it (acceleration). 

It is easy to add these components into your training plan, all you have to do is spend 5 minutes after your run or workout and complete these following workouts…

Figure 8 Running:

Find two trees or objects and run a figure 8 in between them, always making sure you are going clockwise around one tree and counterclockwise around the other tree, always accelerating out of the turn.

Think of these like mini speed workouts, shoot for 5 reps of :30 seconds, you can alter of course on your ability but to start less is more.

Shuttle Runs:

Find two trees or objects and run back in forth between them, do not circle around them, just stop then cut back and run towards the other tree and repeat, accelerating out of each turn

NOTE: always make sure to cut facing the same direction in order to work both right and left sides of body

Think of these like mini speed workouts, shoot for 5 reps of :30 seconds, you can alter of course based on your ability but to start less is more.

Andy wegman

@AWEGMAN_MSATC

Chafing

Chafing… A runners worst enemy.

As most runners today know there are a few things that are uncomfortable to run with, one that is also unpleasant to talk about it chafing. It is probably one of the last things you want to happen during a race, workout of even your every day run. Chafing is not comfortable and it always happens in the worst of places. Here we will look deep into chafing, why its caused, where it happens and how to help prevent it!

What is chafing… 

Chafing is irritation of the skin caused by friction, from either other body parts or an article of clothing you may be wearing. There are a few different areas of the body were chafing usually occurs including, inner thigh, groin, waist band, rib cage (sports bra), nipple or arm pit. Sometimes you wont even realize you chafed until that post run show comes and all of a sudden your skin feels like its on fire from the lightest sprinkle of water.

Here are a few key tips to help you prevent this awfulness from happening in the first place. 

Pick the right clothing - first off it has to fit, something to tight can dig into your skin especially something like a sports bra or running belt. 

  • Seems and tags are also no good, they tend to be points of friction.
  • Compression shorts tend to help when it comes to the inner thigh chafing as it will help create a barrier from skin to skin contact. 
  • Should I wear cotton clothing? Nope. 
    • Moisture wicking clothing is best, as moist or wet clothes are hot spots for chafing to occur

Protect and Cover - Yup I'm taking about those nipples, I would recommend covering them up, Nip Guards, Band Aids, Tape, whatever you want to use but trust me this is one of the more uncomfortable spots for this to happen.

Lubricate - there are products out there like BodyGlides, Vaseline, or any petroleum based products that will help prevent chafing. Apply these greasy lubricants to prone chafing areas before your runs. ChapStick is a small but common solution to any mid run chafing problem. 

Hydrate - drinking minimizes the salt concentration in sweat, salt creates a sand paper feeling, sand paper - skin, that doesn't sound good. 

Make sure to treat any chafed areas, especially if the begin to bleed at all. Most of the time chafing comes as a result of being physically active you are likely sweating or in a sense “getting dirty”. You want to clean these irritated areas shortly after any activity and treat them as open wounds. Wash gently to not further irritate the area, pat dry, do not rub, that wouldn't feel to good. I would also recommend putting some type of over the counter ointment to get those chafed areas healed up quickly so you can get out there to rock your next activity without pain. 

Good Luck out there. 

Greg Laraia, ATC

@greglaraia

The Running Menu

The Running Menu:

Why are you running tomorrow? Whether you are in the midst of marathon training or have a 5k coming up soon it is important to know why you are running and what you are looking to get out of each run.

“An Investment In Knowledge Pays the Best Interest”

  • Ben Franklin

What are your goals for each run you are doing…?

  • Speed
  • Strength
  • Hills
  • Tempo
  • Long
  • Easy (Recovery)

To know the WHY behind each run is going to allow you to fully buy in and commit to each part of your program...

  • Speed: at 8:00m/mile pace or faster, can’t get under… run shorter distances ;) put some work in
  • Strength: more volume then speed, faster than tempo pace but should be able to maintain an easy jog between each effort
  • Hills: They are in your race so they need to be in your runs
  • Tempo: ½ marathon or marathon pace usually, practice, practice, practice (shouldn’t be challenging)
  • Long Runs: 2-3hr max, %25 of your weekly volume, based of off cumulative (weekly) fatigue
  • Easy (Recovery): the most important part of your marathon (or any) training, builds your base and may be upto %50 of your total miles (yes %50) DO NOT SKIP THESE

These are just the beginning outlines as you build up your program for your next race. Even if you do not “program” and just run races whenever it is still important to have a why behind each run.

Stay tuned for the next posts which will dive into each run and give you more of a feel of how to plan ahead.

Andy Wegman MS, ATC

@awegman_msatc