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Posts tagged ‘speed workouts’

Workout Fears

Sometimes I’m afraid of workouts. Strange, perhaps. But when I see some of the track workouts my coach has planned out for me, I can’t help but to experience a little anxiety. It’s not the distance that has ever bothered me. It’s the speed.



Yesterday I decided there are two main reasons I’m “afraid” of my speed workouts…

Reason #1: Pain

Track workouts can be intense. Right now, because we are so early into my training, we are doing shorter, faster intervals. (Not my thing.)  Tuesday, I was reminded why I like long distances.  Short and fast equals painful. The workout was 4-5 sets of “split 1000s,” which means a 200, 300, and 500 at around 5:30-5:40 pace with a one minute break between intervals. The 200 interval – not too bad. The 300 – a little more painful. The 500?? Oh my gosh, I have to do how many of these!?!?  By the 4th set, I was done. Not even 3 miles and my legs has a nice little burn going on.  The 85 degree weather and hot track didn’t help make the workout any less painful. I asked coach how do you get over the pain? His response, embrace it and know it’s making your stronger. Okay, I’ll do my best coach.

Reasons #2: Failure

When I saw my Tuesday workouts for the next month, I started to tell myself, I can’t do this. This is too fast for me. Well if that’s not setting myself up for failure , I don’t know what is. I’m not use to doing a lot of speed work on the track and I’m afraid of not meeting my goals. What if I can’t run the splits that I’m aiming for? What if my last interval is significantly slower than my first? What if I fail? Before we started on Tuesday coach said to me, I think you’re faster than you give yourself credit for. And that got me thinking… Who cares if I don’t meet my time goals as long as I try my best? I am fast and I know I can be faster. Pushing myself to the point of failure is the only way I’m going to know how fast I really am.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: Tuesday’s track workout is here followed by yesterday’s 8 miles. I was amazed at how easy and fast 8 miles felt after Tuesday. Today is an easy 6 mile run. It’s been a great running week. 🙂

Running: An Individual Sport

Running is an individual sport. That’s why I’m a runner. Anything that involves working with other people… well, I’m kind of bad at that. Just ask my family. As a child, anything from Monopoly to playing frisbee – I didn’t work well with other people. Whether it was playing on their team or playing against someone, I needed something that happened on my own terms in my own time. That still holds true today. 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

Three Types of Interval Training: Tabata, Little, Turbulence

This morning on the way to work I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about three different types of interval training: the Tabata method, the Little Method, and the Turbulence method. I’m pretty familiar with the tabata method and have done quite a few tabata workouts. When you’re short on time, it’s perfect. I had never heard of the Little method but after learning what it was, I realized that I had been doing my own version of this workout for quite sometime. The Turbulence method includes weights and cardio and is a longer workout than a Tabata or Little session. This awesome infographic from gives an overall view of the three sessions and helps you figure out which one is best for you. I tried to insert the image into the post but it came out super tiny. Just click on the link – it’s very informative:

For the complete description, click here

To sum up the Little method, it’s basically a warm up of 3-5 minutes followed by one minute all out at max effort and then 75 seconds easy effort. These intervals should be repeated 12 times, for a total of 27 minutes. The Turbulence method is a combination of weights and cardio. It includes a 5 minute warm up followed by an 8 rep set of weight lifting and then one minute of cardio (mountain climbers, jump rope, burpees, etc.). This should be repeated through a full body routine for a 45 minute workout. I bet you’d be pretty sore after that one. This sounds like a good Wednesday workout (that’s my do something different day).

I love intervals. They are the only reason I’ve ever been somewhat fast at running. And due to my injury rate, I’ve become the master of intervals on an elliptical and spinning bike. I even broke an elliptical once going a little too fast 🙂 Opps!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


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,


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,


Heart Rate Training

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time I get use to the weather having an impact on my performance.  I am the worst for using the watch as a deciding factor in my runs.  Forget what my body says, it’s what the watch tells me that matters.  Perhaps that is why I end up injured a little more than I would like.  Fortunately, I have a heart rate monitor that I can use with my Garmin.  I just never seem to want to use it.  I think that is because the few times I did actually use it, it said my heart rate was much higher than I would have thought for the pace I was running.  In other words, the HRM was telling me I was working much harder than I thought.  And since I am so addicted to the numbers, I quit using the monitor.  But I’ve decided it’s time to pull back out the HRM and actually put it to use.  Therefore, I need to know…

What is my RHR? My max HR? And what are my training zones?

To determine RHR, it is best to do it first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.  Ideally, I would strap the HRM across my chest and take the lowest pulse as my RHR.  However, I didn’t do that first thing this morning, so I’m doing it right now.  I relaxed for a while before beginning to write this with my HRM and Garmin.  The lowest recorded pulse was 53 beats / minute.  It might read a little lower in the morning, but I think this is a good guesstimate.

To determine MHR, I found a couple of formulas.  The most common and simple one is to subtract your age from 220, but of course this is very general.  To really find out your MHR, it is recommended finding a hill of about 200 – 300 meters and sprinting the hill, then jogging back down.  Repeat this a few times and your highest recorded pulse is your MHR.  All of the different formulas I found, put my MHR at around 190 beats / minute.

During training, whether it be for a marathon, 5K, or a triathlon, each workout has its purpose.  Perhaps it is for speed, recovery, or endurance.  To achieve this, your heart is obviously working in different zones.  If you are doing an easy run, there is no need for you to be training close to your MHR.  There are five different heart rate zones (1-5).  Zone one is 50-60% of your MHR and you should feel comfortable and be able to have a conversation in this zone.  Zone two is 60-70% of your MHR and you will be breathing a little heavier, but still carry on a conversation.   Zone three is 70-80% of your MHR and you will be breathing harder while actually increasing the number and size of your blood vessels.  Zone 4 is 80-90% of your MHR and this is where you go hard.  And at the same time, you get faster and fitter.  Finally, Zone 5 is 90-100% MHR and this is when you go all out.  This zone is mainly used for interval sessions and it is the zone that is probably the most uncomfortable / painful.  (But it makes you faster!).

To determine your zones, use the following formula:

[(Maximum Heart Rate – Resting Heart Rate) × %Intensity] + Resting Heart Rate

My target heart rate is the following for each zone (and this is using 55%, 65,% etc. of intensity):
Zone 1: 128
Zone 2: 142
Zone 3: 155
Zone 4: 169
Zone 5: 183

This website has a great chart describing how long a workout should be for each zone and even breaks down interval and recovery sessions.

I think using a heart rate monitor can be a very valuable tool.  It can tell you if you are working too hard, too easy, and if you are over training.  Raleigh, NC is quickly warming up and I know my times will slow down.  Instead of focusing on the pace per mile, I plan to start using heart rate zones as a way to monitor my efforts.  Maybe it will help to keep me off the injured list a little longer too.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,