Beginner Running Group 19 November 2011

Hello Runners,

These emails must be getting boring for you – every week it’s the same old thing….  you’re brilliant, you did so well this week, you’re turning into some serious runners, etc.  ….. but it’s true.  What else can I say?  You’re fabulous – all of you.  This week we saw a bit of pace variation in the group.  I’m thrilled to watch that happen.  Continue to try to find your own natural pace.  Somewhere in the run when you are feeling comfortable (I know, I know… it’s never really “comfortable”), look around you.  Who are you running with?  Try to remember that pace – create some rhythm in your mind or maybe think of a song that seems to go with the beat of your footsteps.  As you are honing in on your natural pace/speed, make sure you are not pushing yourself to go too fast particularly on our long runs.  When you finish your long run, you should not be completely spent.  I would rather hear you say, “That felt good.  I think I could have kept on running a bit more”.  If you love that feeling of complete exhaustion, do it on your weekly short run.  On the long run, try to restrain yourself a bit – pull in the reins and see what happens.
We have adjusted our program for this week to repeat last week’s run.  So, we will be doing 3 x 15 minute running intervals separated by walking breaks.  I am away for the next two weeks but Syma, Bonnie and Becky will be at Starbucks on Thursday at 8:15am for the long run.  We are expecting a small group with it being Thanksgiving.  If you end up doing this run by yourself or with a friend, you could repeat the route we did this past Thursday or just go into Regent’s Park or on the canal to do your 3 x 15 minute run.  The following week (1 Dec), we will be doing 2 x 25 minute intervals on a route that has a lot of street crossings (so you’ll have some breaks even though they are not official walk intervals).  You should be trying to get in another two runs each week – one of 45 minutes and one of 35 minutes.  Both of those runs can be broken down into whatever length running intervals you want.  Again, I would encourage you to try tackling the shorter run by doing a 5 minute walking warm-up then just slowly, slowly run without looking down at your watch.  I mean really, really slow.  Once you think you’ve had enough, look at your watch and only then decide how to break up the remaining time into run/walk intervals.  Let me know how it goes!
Thursday, 8 December, will be our first non-stop run (50 minutes).  Please don’t worry about it.  I promise you are ready for it.  We will chose routes with street crossings and collectively pray for the little red man lights.  We’ll be fine.  It is important before then to get your pace just right.  If you’ve been killing yourself with a fast pace and plan on continuing that, these long, non-stop runs will be very uncomfortable.  We aren’t racing – there is no need to go fast.  We’re learning how to run long-distances.  It’s really about the distance, not the pace.
OK, for Lisbon, you still have plenty of time to decide about this trip.  I just wanted to let you know the plane fares are increasing (I think they are up to about £217 now) and the registration fee for the race does increase if you sign up after 1 December (from €33 to €44).  The race will not over-subscribe so that is no concern and the hotel has plenty of rooms available so no worries there.
Have a great couple of weeks.  I’ll miss you but you’re in good hands with Bonnie, Syma and Becky!

Beginner Running Group 14 November 2011

Hello Team!

We’ve got kit!!! We must be the best-looking running group out there!  I think we all enjoyed running to Runner’s Need last week and everyone seemed to go home with some sort of hydration system as well as clothes/shoes/trousers/etc.  So we’re ready to go!  Hydration needs vary wildly from athlete to athlete, but a general guideline is to try to drink 150ml every 15-20 minutes of exercise.  An easier way to think about that might be targeting 500ml of water (one standard-size bottle of water) for every hour of exercise.  These guidelines are for high intensity activity so most long distance runners (lower intensity exercise) don’t drink that much.  The guideline also needs to be adjusted for temperature/climate and each individual’s sweat-rate.  So, if you sweat a lot, drink a lot and the old adage about if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated is true.  I can tell you that there is a 10:1 ratio in terms of hydration and performance.  If an athlete is 1-2% dehydrated (which is nothing – basically a glass of wine the night before can get you there), their performance suffers by 10-20%.  We aren’t so concerned about “performance”, but we are concerned about effort.  The same ratio applies – if you are 1-2% dehydrated, you are having to work 10-20% harder than someone not dehydrated.  Most of you will find that you don’t need water except for on your weekly long run.  Again, that is athlete-specific, but most of you will be fine not carrying water on your 45 and 35 minute runs.
This Thursday we will be running down into Hyde Park, along the Serpentine, then under Wellington Arch, into Green Park where we’ll finish at the Green Park tube station (Jubilee Line).  There is a large Starbucks close to the station.  Our schedule is 3 x 15 minute running intervals separated by walking breaks.  The run down to Hyde Park will have lots of street crossings so we’ll have some little breaks and we’ll have another nice break crossing over from Hyde to Green Park.  We’ll keep the pace slow so everyone can handle these longer intervals.  I will be encouraging you to start noticing who you like running beside.  Try to group yourselves up based on pace.  If you are one of our quicker runners, get in the front of the pack.  I know sometimes this is difficult because you’re in conversations and it’s difficult to switch around, but give it a try.  Also, make note of this route – with some little adjustments it could be a great route for your Tuesday runs.
I’ll send out a Lisbon update in the next few days.  I understand the flights are going up in price and the registration fee for the race increases if you sign up after 1 December.  As far as I know, only one of you has committed to the race – thank you Amy for taking the plunge!  I will reiterate that you CAN do this.  I understand that you don’t quite believe it yet – but you CAN do it.  Commit yourself to running regularly, particularly the long Thursday runs, and you’ll be ready.  You still have a couple of weeks before the Thursday runs become absolutely critical.  Beginning sometime around the 2nd week of December, if you are not able to regularly join us for the Thursday runs, a half-marathon in the spring is near impossible.  We are fine missing a Thursday run every now and then so please don’t worry if you’re traveling, or sick, or have a sick child, etc.  No worries – it happens.  We also adjust our schedule over the holidays as we are scattered all over the globe.  I’ll be in London for most of the holidays and am happy to meet up with whoever else is here.
For the next few weeks, you are doing the weekly long run, then two other runs if possible.  One of those runs should be 45 minutes (total exercise time).  Warm-up for 5 minutes then break down the remaining 40 minutes into whatever length intervals you want.  If you do a third run, it should be 35 minutes (total exercise time).  Same concept applies – 5 min warm-up, then break up the 30 minutes however you chose.  For now, run down to Hyde Park, or run in Regent’s Park or run along the canal.  Let me know when those routes get boring and I’ll give you some new ideas.
See you Thursday,

Beginner Running Group 4 November 2011

Hello Uber-runners!

Well, that was quite a run to Whole Foods this week.  We make a fabulous team!  I know it’s not easy – learning to run is challenging, but think of where you’ve come from.  Remember running 60 seconds those first weeks and we all thought we were going to die.  Then two minutes…. well, it might as well have been a lifetime.  We’re putting in an hour now – it’s amazing what you’re doing.  We are at a critical point in our training where the routine begins to change… so I’ll just jump right in and start explaining.
  • 3 runs a week?  If you are aiming to do the half-marathon in the spring, you might consider adding a third run each week.  It is not required.  You can complete the half-marathon distance running twice a week, but it will make the race a lot easier if you can get in a third run at least from time to time.  Let’s be clear – it’s never easy running 13.1 miles, but the more miles you’ve put in, the more comfortable your body will be running that distance.
  • Varying each run – This is the good news….. We have progressed to the point where our runs/routes will begin to vary.  Next Tuesday (or whichever day you are doing your second run) will be the last time that you will be asked to simply repeat the route we did together the previous Thursday.  So next Tuesday, many of you may decide to run to Whole Foods which is great.  After next week, you will be doing one long run with myself, Syma, Bonnie and Becky on Thursdays, one medium run and if you want a third weekly run, you will do a short run.  The medium run (beginning Tuesday, 15 Nov) will be 45 minutes total exercise time.  Feel free to break that up into whatever intervals you are comfortable with.  If you’re not sure where to start, you could try doing a 5 minute warm-up walk followed by three 12 minute jogging intervals separated by 2 minute walking breaks.  The third run (if you do one) should be 30-35 minutes total exercise time.  This also can be broken down into whatever length intervals make you happy.  A place to start may be….  5 minute warm-up walk followed by three 8-9 minute intervals separated by 2 minute walks.  Particularly for this 30-35 minute session, some of you may be interested in doing a walking warm-up then just jogging slowly until you feel you need a break.  Then walk for a couple of minutes and jog some more until you reach the 30-35 minute total time.  If you want to try that, could I offer a couple of tips?  First of all, run SLOW, like what we do on Thursdays.  Second, don’t look at your watch.  Do your 5 min warm-up then start jogging.  Look around, watch the people on the streets or in the park, think about anything but running, notice the yellow/gold/red leaves, make a grocery list in your mind, think about what book you want to read next or where you want to go on holiday….  anything but running.  When you’ve had enough, then check your watch to see how much time you did, take a walking break and carry on.  You may just amaze yourself.  On these additional runs, go wherever you want.  You know how to get to Hyde Park now, Regent’s Park is right there, and access to the canal is super easy.  I’ll help you come up with some other ideas if those routes get boring.
  • Consistent Training – You know me well enough by now to know I am ever-encouraging and always trying to put a positive spin on things.  For just a minute here I’m going to be a little bit more tough.  These Thursday long runs are getting more and more important.  If there is any way you can get there, please join us.  I know some of you have things you have committed to ages ago and I get it.  I understand.  Until now it has not been a problem because we are simply repeating the Thursday run on the following Tuesday.  I’m not asking you to cancel travel plans or quit courses.  That’s not what I mean at all – we are all busy and there are always weeks here and there when we can’t run.  Not a problem!  The bottomline is this…  if you cannot make the majority of the Thursday runs, particularly in the new year, but truly even throughout December, it will be very difficult for you to contemplate doing a half-marathon.  I’m not trying to be mean or demanding, just realistic.  As our Thursday long run lengthens, you will want and need help, advice, pacing and someone to complain to.  We will be discussing fueling/hydration and trying out different options in that regard.  Those are things we need to learn/practice together – it’s not the same as reading it in an email.  The other one or two runs each week are much, much less important.  That’s the end of that speech….. back to nice Paula…..
  • What’s your pace?  We are beginning to settle into pace groups.  This is natural and is not a reflection of your fitness level.  We need to each find the pace that feels comfortable.  Some of you have longer strides, some take smaller steps, some of you have long legs, some of you are tiny and have to take two steps to every one stride of a taller runner.  It’s not only down to height – some tall people have a natural up and down movement with less forward propulsion.  Most runners say that if they are asked to adjust their natural pace, things start hurting so it is important to find your natural speed.  We need to start thinking about where in the group you are pace-wise.  For the race, we will divide ourselves up based on these training paces so everyone will have a group and a trainer to run with.  During our training runs start trying to identify others in the group who are running your pace.  Who do you seem to naturally fall in sync with?  You probably have noticed that we don’t talk about pace in terms of numbers or precise times in this group.  It’s not important to have a specific number – it is important to know what feels comfortable to you…. not too fast, not too slow, but just right!
  • Hydration – As our runs get longer, we need to start taking in fluids while we’re running.  Hydration requirements vary vastly from runner to runner, but experts suggest targeting about 500ml of fluid for each hour of exercise.  Our needs are probably less than that as we are operating at a lower intensity level doing long distance training.  Let’s chat about this sometime while we’re running – I can help you determine what your requirements may be.  You may consider buying a belt that holds little bottles, a tiny camelback (one that sits very high up on your back), or one of those bottles that slips over your hand.  I wouldn’t recommend a large backpack like what I run with – it changes your gait.  This need to carry water applies only to your weekly long run.  You are fine running 30-45 minutes if you drink before and after your session.
  • Next week’s route – On Thursday we will run out the canal east to Islington then cut down Farringdon Road ending up at Holborn tube station.  I wanted to make sure you know how to run the canal east past Camden as it’s a great option for some of your medium runs.  There is a Runners Need shop by the Holborn tube station so if you are interested we could go in there after coffee and see if they have hydration belts and/or camelbacks.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am with our training.  This is the strongest beginner group I’ve ever had (let’s keep that between ourselves or previous beginner groups will get their feelings hurt!!!).  I understand that you have no point of reference, so you have no idea how well you are doing.  We’re running 4 miles now, over and over again.  I know it’s not easy, but you are doing it.  You have the worst of it behind you.  It’s A LOT harder going from 0 running minutes to 1 running minute, or from 1 to 2 minutes – those are difficult beyond belief.  In the next few weeks, we are transitioning into straight running, no designated walking breaks.  That may sound scary, but think about where we run.  Yesterday we only had one 10 minute interval when we really didn’t get a break (I don’t know… maybe you remember that one interval on the north side of Hyde Park when Sujatha was ready to take me down????).  So, even though I say we are running 50 or 60 minutes non-stop, there will be street crossings.  You will learn to pray for the little “red-man light”.  My message is that you can do this.  You have each other to lean on and Becky, Bonnie, Syma and myself to help out however we can.
Have a great weekend and I’ll look forward to seeing you next week,
Happy Running,