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Posts tagged ‘speed work’

Leg Turnover

One thing that I have noticed with this increase in mileage is that my running form feels better. I don’t feel like my hips are going all over the place or that my arms are swinging unnecessarily or that my posture is bad. It just feels really good and I like to think this is how Caballo Blanco felt while running throughout Mexico. Like this is what we were born to do.

I was talking about this tonight with Mario. I’m trying to figure out what has changed and why my running feels like it’s now at a different level. Is it because I’m running a few more miles? Is it because I do running drills at the track? Or does it have something to do with improving my overall strength? Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things. After all, it takes more than just running to be a good runner. However, while reflecting on this tonight, I started thinking that maybe my track workouts are doing more than to just increase my speed. I really think they are helping to increase my leg turnover. Read more

Pre Speed Workout Routine

I’m a big believer in the power of music. It can take me from point A to point B in one song and with running, it can get my mind ready for an intense effort. Today was my first track workout following my new program, and since I haven’t done any type of speed work since September, I was feeling nervous. I would like to share with you my absolute favorite pre speed workout song. You can thank me later when your interval times improve and you achieve a new PR. I need to go faster… Read more

A Pyramid Workout

I’ve mentioned previously that I will be working with a running coach starting tomorrow. Hopefully with his expert knowledge and my decision to work really hard for the next few months, I can achieve my running goals. Here’s to three months of discipline! He sent me my workouts for the next three weeks and I’ve probably looked at them no less than 20 times. Maybe I’m trying to mentally prep myself for all this running or psych myself up for our Tuesday speed workouts. I’m not sure but I’m just going to take it one workout at a time. Read more

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

The Fastest Human vs. The Fastest Animal

This morning I was doing a tempo run, and right before I started wishing it were over, I wondered to myself, how fast does the fastest human run?  And how much faster is the cheetah?  I mean, I think I run somewhat fast, but people like Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, and Justin Gatlin clearly run much faster.  Sometimes when I’m doing intervals I think about how much faster Usain Bolt would run a lap around the track.  And what if there were a cheetah (perhaps in its own lane/cage), running too?  I’d be lapped before I even got started.

As fate would have it, my Google Alerts sent me an article titled “What Runners can Learn from Cheetahs.”  Well, if there is one animal we can learn from to run faster, it’s obviously the cheetah.  The article basically goes through an analysis of the cheetah’s running form, and then compares it to the fastest human – Usain Bolt.  Before answering the question of how fast is man, I want to share a little about what makes the cheetah so dang fast.  First, it uses a rotary gallop, where its legs churn in a circular motion and its hind legs reach out almost past its ears in full stride.  (Us two legged humans will have to stick with our normal gallop.)  Second, when cheetahs pick up the speed, they increase their leg turnover dramatically and lengthen their stride even more.  In comparing the cheetah with the greyhound, it was observed that cheetahs leave their paws on the ground slightly longer, which allows for more shock absorption.  Also, the claws of the cheetah are never retracted.  They are always out so they act somewhat like the spikes of a sprinter.  The bones of the cheetah are lightweight, it has extra large nostrils to suck in more air, and it has extra large lungs and adrenal glands. The cheetah was truly born to run, and really fast at that.  Just how fast does the cheetah run?  It can run up to 65 mph and here is a video showing the world’s fastest animal in action:

Now how fast is the fastest human?  Usain Bolt, during his 100 meter sprint in 2009, ran an amazing speed of 28 mph.  Here he is, running faster than any other human:


So there you have it.  The fastest animal is over two times faster than the fastest human.  I really do feel for any animal that falls prey to the cheetah.  It never even had a chance.  Unless of course, it is running from this cheetah:


So cute!

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,


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 =)

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,