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,