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Posts from the ‘speed work’ Category

Running Slow

Today I went out for my my first run (other than a few miles here and there), in about a week.  As soon as I stepped outside, my Garmin started beeping low battery.  My initial reaction was NOOOO! But then I realized this was a good thing, as I wouldn’t be constantly checking my pace. My leg still doesn’t feel 100% so I needed to take it easy.  I tried going slow and I did a good job at that for the first mile or so. After that, I’m certain I was going about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes too fast. Why can’t I slow down?? I think part of my problem is my pride. I don’t want other people thinking geez, she’s really slow or to get passed by the grandpa behind me. For some reason, I feel like I have something to prove to the random cars driving by because I know judging runners is exactly what I’m doing while driving down the road. (I’m kidding.  The only thing that crosses my mind is to yell Go runner, go!)

Easy runs are good for us and there is nothing wrong with going slow.  I really need to get over myself…

Matt Forsman,

Running slow applies “gentle” stress to the key physiological systems required to run at a high level. Gentle, easy running helps to let the healing begin. Think of it as “active recovery” that helps facilitate blood flow gently to the damaged muscles that need help.

Independent of expediting the healing process, running slow is the most effective way to build a base. There are a million different training philosophies and approaches that you can utilize to get into quality running shape. Virtually all of them include some kind of base building phase comprised largely of easy runs.

This blog entry from The Lola Papers does a great job of summarizing the slow recovery run – it’s for recovery. No race and no competition. The author describes the run as a vacation, a siesta of sorts. Just giving your legs a break while still doing what you love.

Tomorrow is a track workout and Wednesday will be a slow day – I insist. I’m pretty sure if I can master the slow run, my rate of in juries will decrease. Now I’m off to do my alignment exercises and back stretches. I have to keep proactive with the injury prevention 🙂

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


On a side note, today was the first day back for the students. I have 90+ students and I can already tell they’re fabulous. I wholeheartedly believe that when given the opportunity and in the right environment, kids really do want to excel. Here is to a great school year!


Must slow down!
Photo Source: Parutakupiu, Wikimedia Commons

Yasso 800s

This morning I met my lovely friends Emily and Courtney out at the track bright and early.  My goal was to warm up for a mile and then to focus on 800 meter repeats.  I only planned to do four repeats and then run a few more miles afterwards.  While I was running I started thinking about Yasso 800s.  Yes, I know that Yasso 800s are 800 meter repeats, but how many should I do?  And do they really work?

If you don’t know what Yasso 800s are, you can read about them here.  Some say they can be a good predictor of your actual marathon time.  Want to run a 3:00 marathon? Run a bunch of 800 meter repeats in 3 minutes.  I’ve never used them as a training tool so I really have no idea if they work or not.  However, in perusing through the internet, I found some who were a big fan of this workout, and others who thought they were a great speed workout, but maybe not the best for a marathon.

One of the bloggers that I follow, Predawn Runner, suggests that 1600 meter repeats are a little better suited for the marathon.  HillRunner also agrees that longer repeats of 1200 – 1600 meters are more beneficial when training for longer distances.  However, Amby Burfoot from spoke with about 100 runners and he found that this workout was in fact a good predictor of finish times.

The Flying Pig Marathon has this to say on their website:

This is a workout developed by a Runner’s World employee, Bart Yasso. It accurately allows you to predict the time that you are capable of running a marathon. If you want to run a 3:30 marathon, train to run a session of 800s in 3:30 each. Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats. This method holds for all speeds whether you are 2:30 or a 5:30 marathoner. The 800 paces that you are able to complete is a good predictor of your marathon time. 2 minute 30 second 800s equal a 2:30 marathon; 5:30 800s equal 5 hours and 30 minutes for the marathon.

I’m not sure how exactly I feel about the workout (or the work accurately in the definition above).  I do know that 26.2 miles is a LONG distance to be running and 10×800 isn’t quite the same.  It is my personal opinion that longer intervals, such as mile or two mile repeats, teaches you how to pace yourself and how to handle discomfort for a longer period of time.  But on the flip side, I think doing 800 meter repeats can also be a very beneficial speed workout.  I’m not just sure how much confidence I have in it being a good predictor of my finish time.


I wonder how fast Usain Bolt can run a few Yasso 800s…
Photo from Jmex60, Wikimedia Commons


Happy Trails and Happy Running,


A Hard Workout and Getting Sick

Let me preface this blog by saying if you prefer not to read about people getting sick, stop reading and go listen to this awesome new workout song I found. It’s much more entertaining. Although not my favorite video, the song gets me pumped up and running a little faster. Maybe that’s why I’m writing about puking and working out. And I digress…

For the past two weeks my fabulous friend Emily has been meeting me Tuesday mornings for speed workouts. Last week we were on the track, but today it was locked so we made the most out of a long straight road on NC State’s campus. My planned workout was to to do 8 X 600 with 200 meters recovery in preparation for a 5K this weekend. Well after a 7.4 mile run in 85% humidity followed by a one hour high intensity interval class at HEAT studios yesterday, 600 meters seemed like 2 miles and the leg turnover just wasn’t there. During last week’s workout, I could maintain around a 5:45 pace and it felt tolerable and not too difficult. This morning? Yeah, different story completely. Although the distance was a little longer and there were some slight inclines, I was happy to do an interval sub 6:00. And the 600 meters were more like 400 meters. But thanks to my new workout music (here is my other new song), I was determined to find my limit. Six repeats in, and I think I came close to finding it. Although I didn’t actually puke (maybe because I hadn’t eaten since last night), I was having some serious gag reflexes. It was the closest I had ever come to getting sick from exerting so much effort, and I felt like I earned a badge of honor. (Yes, I got sick in Boston, but that was due more to hydration issues and the heat). I couldn’t wait to tell Emily. She gave me a high five.

Anyway, it led me to my question today…

Why do people get sick when working out really hard?

This article on explains that getting sick can come from four things:
1) Dehydration
2) Heat Exhaustion
3) Vagal Reaction
4) Hyponatremia

Personally, I didn’t feel like I belonged in any of these four categories so I kept looking. This article, which describes contestants on The Biggest Loser puking while working out, sums up how I felt today: “you’re overexerting yourself for your current level of fitness.” Yep. That sounds about right. It goes on to explain that as your muscles start to demand more oxygen, blood supply is diverted from its normal route and towards the muscles in need of oxygen. As a result, there is less blood flow to other organs such as the kidneys, liver, stomach, and intestines. This can make you nauseous or even make you puke. I guess there wasn’t enough blood getting to my digestive system this morning.

I’m sure some people say I’m crazy for thinking this is a good thing. However, I’ve been really motivated lately, especially in watching the Olympic Trials. You may say pushing yourself so hard is a bad thing, but I say it’s how I come closer to finding my limits.

Here is my run today:
Warm up with repeats, recovery, and easy jog with Em
Two more miles once I drove back home

AND since there has been so much about the positive effects of beet juice in the news lately, and my G+ friend Otto mentioned Ryan Hall is also touting the benefits, I went shopping this morning…

Yay for Earth Fare having beet juice!!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Interval Training – Embrace the Pain

I’ve been thinking all day about what exactly I was going to say about intervals for this blog post.  There is just so much to say, it’s practically impossible to cover it all.  From tabata intervals and mile repeats,  to Emil Zatopek’s unconventional approach to training.  Intervals make us faster and although they suck, they are oh so worth it.  For example, even though I’ve had a month off from running, Read more

Hill Running

Hill running.  You either hate it or you love it.  I doubt there are many people who, when turning a corner and see a long steep incline, see it the same way as they do a nice, long, flat road.  Perhaps if they’ve always lived in a hilly part of the world and don’t realize flat roads exist, maybe….  But for many of us, this is just not the case.  Read more

Boston Vlog #2

I’ll be blogging later tonight about some other things, but just wanted to go ahead and put this up.

Happy Tuesday!


(Why can’t I change the thumbnail??)

Run Fast, Run Far,


An experiment…

In the spirit of doing things out of my comfort zone, I decided to start making a few videos about (my) running.  Not really sure what the end goal is, but I have to start somewhere, right? Just don’t laugh =)

More on Interval Training and its Benefits

Last week I posted about my experience with intervals and how they helped me to achieve my half marathon and marathon PR.  Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble and read quite a bit about Emil Zatopek in The Lore of Running and now I am even further convinced of the power of interval training.  Consider this: In 1952 Zatopek won the gold medal in the 5,000m, 10,000m, and the marathon, all within 8 days and all Olympic records.  Oh, and to add to that, he had never run a marathon before in his life and it was a last minute decision to enter the event. His training method? Intervals. He introduced interval training to the running world and this method has become an integral part of every athlete’s training schedule – regardless of ability.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, interval training alternates high intensity work periods with lower intensity rest and recovery periods.

Why you should do it:

  1. It burns fat and increases increases cardiovascular fitness more quickly than moderate exercise
  2. You will be able to exercise longer and/or at a higher intensity because of improved cardiovascular fitness
  3. It spices up your workout so boredom is a nonissue

(Read More)

If you’re new to running and interval training, try this workout:

  • Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace
  • Run faster for 1 minute, followed by a 2 minute recovery interval
  • Repeat 4 to 6 times
  • Cool down with a jog for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Stretch!

If you’re more advanced and are training for a 10K – Marathon, try this:

  • Warm up for 10 minutes
  • 2 to 6 mile repeats with 1 -2 minutes recovery between each repeat
  • Mile repeats should be run at half-marathon pace or 30 seconds slower than 5K pace
  • Cool down with a jog for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Stretch!

Interval workouts should only be done 2 times a week at most, and it is important to allow for adequate recovery between workouts (48 hours normally).  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start to see results.

Today during my interval workout, I kept reciting a quote by Emil Zatopek in my head:
“Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast.”
Too bad learning to run fast has to hurt so much, but I guess it’s all a question of how bad do you want it?

(Emil Zatopek)

How I met “Speedwork”

When I first started to run, speed was not something on my mind.  I instead started running as a preventive measure – I didn’t want to gain those dreaded Freshman 15. Then I ran my first 5K and I actually came in 3rd place for females (it was a small race).  I attributed this speed to intervals on an elliptical (odd, I know).  Maybe actually running some intervals would be a little more effective? I finally decided to try some speed work and in 2009 I ran my fastest half marathon by 13 minutes and my fastest marathon by almost 20 minutes.  This was the product of a workout I read in Runner’s World, and that I know for certain because it was the only speed work I ever did at that time (other than bike intervals once a week for 30 minutes). I loved my Tuesday speed workouts because the distance never seemed as long as it did when I was running at a steady pace. Perhaps due to the fact that I didn’t have the energy to think about how far I was actually running.  The workout hurt, but I knew it was coming every week, so I just did it with no complaints.  The results were evident.

This workout can be tweaked to any distance, as long as the goal is the same – run hard for x amount of minutes, rest for y amount of minutes.  I was training for a marathon so my workout went like this:

2 mile warm up
Run 6 minutes 15 seconds slower than 5K pace
Jog 3 minutes
Run 6 minutes 15 seconds slower than 5K pace
Jog or 3 minutes
Run 5 minutes 10 seconds slower than 5K pace
Jog 2 minutes
Run 5 minutes 10 seconds slower than 5K pace
Jog 2 minutes
Run 4 minutes at 5K pace
Jog 1 minute
Run 4 minutes at 5K pace
Jog 1 minute
Cool down for 1 – 2 miles (depending on goal race distance).

(If your race distance is shorter, only do one repeat of each interval and shorten the warmup and cool down.)

Why I like this workout:

  1. It goes by fast
  2. If I forget my Garmin, the number of songs played is a good way to judge number of minutes ran
  3. My calorie burn was super high afterward so I got to eat lots of yummy food (I’m always about the food),
  4. It produces results.

There are plenty of other speed workouts I do, and I’ll share them in the weeks to come, but this one holds a special place in my heart.  I feel like it really introduced me to being a “fast” runner.

(First half marathon after I started speed work – I definitely wasn’t expecting this.)

(Fastest marathon – speed work and lower mileage than previous training)

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Happy trails and Happy Running,