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Tune Up Races

Spring race season is in full swing.  On any given weekend there are numerous races in which you can compete, from 5ks to ultramarathons.  The question is should you run a race before the main event at Cap City?  I believe that tune up races before a goal race are incredibly valuable.  They can be used for many reasons, not the least of which is to simply go through the exercise of race morning in an event in which you don’t have much emotional investment.  If you choose to run or walk in a tune up race, determine your goal for that day and stick to it.  It can be very easy to go too hard and leave it all out there in that early race, leaving nothing left in the tank come April 30.  Determine your goal for the tune up race and be disciplined enough to stick to your plan.

Race Predictor

An early race, about 4-6 weeks before your goal event can be successfully used as a race predictor for your goal race (half or quarter marathon).  You’d want to run a shorter distance than your goal.  For Cap City half marathoners use a 10k or 15k tune up race.  For quarter marathoners, run a lead up 5k or 4 miler.  There are many race prediction calculators out there that allow you to put in your race time at one distance and then predict your time/pace at a different distance.  They all make assumptions of some kind, but I find that a race within the last 6 weeks (but no closer than 2 weeks before) gives the best prediction because you are in good shape and ready to race.  I have my own tables and estimates, so if you want a personal prediction feel free to email me.  Note that your pace for your goal race will be slower than the shorter tune up race.

Pace Practice

Pacers

Maybe you don’t want to race or run hard in an early event but would like to get a feel for how you will perform on April 30.  In those situations, I like to use the tune up race as a pace specific workout.  Half marathoners would run a 10k or 15k with the first few miles at your easy run pace.  With 3 or 4 miles to go, gradually pick up the pace to your planned half marathon pace.  Quarter marathoners should pick a 5k or  4miler.  Run the first mile easy then pick it up the last 2-3 miles for your planned quarter marathon pace.  Feel how your body responds to that pace.  Is it comfortable?  It should be for 3 or 4 miles (or 2-3) at this point.  If not, think about reevaluating your pace goal for your goal.  Are you trying to run something that is faster than your current fitness level?  If it feels good, remember that feeling.  Use the finish line of this first race to prepare you for your goal race finish line feeling strong.

Practice Race Day

Even if Cap City was scheduled to be your first ever race, a tune up race is a good idea.  You will simply go out and run the miles that are on the schedule for the weekend at your NORMAL easy long run pace.  The only difference is that you will be doing it in a race setting.  There’s no better way to get over the race jitters by having gone through everything already in an early race.  You’ll practice your morning routine, warmup, and timing of the trip to the porta potty.  Additionally, it’ll give you a chance to practice running in a group and drinking/eating on the run.  Practice how you will go through aid stations.  Are you planning on running through them and drinking while running, or slowing to a walk to get your drink.  Drinking on the run takes practice and better to learn how NOT to get Gatorade up your nose now, then on Cap City day!

Schedule The Miles – How to fit a tune up race into the training plan

Good news!  The Scioto Miles Training Series was developed specifically to get athletes ready for Cap City.  It features a 5k loop course and runners can choose to run 5k, 10k, or 15k.  If you are following the Cap City online training schedules here’s how to adjust:

Beginner half marathoners – take Saturday off or very easy 2 miles, run the 10k on Sunday, take Monday and Tue off (no running), and then pick back up with the schedule on Wednesday as written.

Intermediate half marathoners – run very easy 2 miles on Saturday, run the 10k or 15k on Sunday, take Monday and Tue off (no running), and then pick back up with the schedule on Wednesday as written.

Quarter marathoners – take Saturday off or very easy 2 miles, run the 5k on Sunday, take Monday and Tue off (no running), and then pick back up with the schedule on Wed as written.

As we draw ever closer to race day, the nerves and questions may start to crop up.  That’s what we are here for, so feel free to email me or join our Twitter chat tomorrow at noon EDT using #CapCityHalf.  I cannot wait for race week to meet all of you and celebrate YOU at the finish line.

Happy Training!

Aimee – coachaimee@m3ssports.com

 

 

 

What should I eat (wear, do, etc.) on race day?

Training. We are training our bodies by stressing them a little bit more each week, then resting to let the body adapt to that work.  Then repeat.  We train our minds to handle the rigors of more miles and to get out of bed to get in our last snowy run of the season, because we need to be strong minded to reach our goal.  We’ve also trained our spouses, children, and coworkers to get used to seeing us head out the door in running clothes or show up to a meeting with a recovery drink instead of coffee.  All of this work IS training, but we are also practicing. Basketball teams practice inbound plays, soccer teams “set plays,” track relays handoffs over and over again until the simple action becomes part of their muscle memory, almost as unconscious as breathing (almost).

We don’t often call it practice, but that’s what it is.  Running events can be overwhelming.  Not only do we have to cover a long distance by our own power, but we have nutrition, hydration, clothing choices, parking, figuring out how to drink while running and not wear orange Gatorade down your shirt to think about.  Runners worry about EVERYTHING.  There’s even a name for checking the weather on race day, weather stalking, and it starts 10 days out from race day!  It’s easy to say don’t worry about it, but nearly impossible to take that advice.  So, let’s take control of that which we can: pre-run routine, hydration, nutrition (both before and during), proper drinking while running and let go of what we cannot.  PRACTICE all of it before race day.  Start now.

I’ve covered what to eat and what to wear many times.  You can read those here. The bottom line is that the old running coach mantra on race day is true, you should do nothing new on race day. The only way for it to feel normal is to practice it.  Set out your clothes the night before a long run, eat the same breakfast, and yes even try the same pre-run dinner the night before.  We have 7 weeks left, so if you make a mistake and your tummy dislikes broccoli and chicken with whole wheat pasta, you can try something else next week.  Do it until it becomes a habit, just part of your run.

This weekend will be a terrific opportunity to pull out the shorts and singlet to practice your race outfit.  With weather in the 60s and 70s, this is our first opportunity to run in conditions close to that on race day.  Eat your planned pre-race dinner on Friday, get in your chosen breakfast on Saturday, carry (and use) your gels or blocks or favorite fuel, and enjoy every mile.  Look around and smile!  While you are at it, practice your finish line pose.  If you see a bunch of runners with their arms in the air or flexing at the end of the run, you’ll know you are among fellow Cap City athletes!

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Cap City athletes celebrate their day in 2013.

 

Happy Training!

Aimee

coachaimee@m3ssports.com

 

 

Time for a Check In

We are in week 8 of our 17 week training program toward the Cap City half and quarter marathons.  The miles are beginning to climb, but the weather is starting to behave as well.  This past weekend in Columbus was a breath of fresh air, warm fresh air.  I hope you enjoyed every bit of it.

Now is a good time to evaluate how your training is progressing.  How do you feel?  Are you tired, but not wiped out?  Are you sleeping enough and well?  How is your nutrition?  Running and walking is not always about everything going well all the time.  Often it is about evaluating something that might be a little bit off and adjusting.  This is a lifestyle and not really about this 17 weeks.  We want to be fit and healthy for the rest of our lives, so really think about how your training is going.  Are you seeing progress?

If everything is going well, good for you!  Keep it up.  If not, think about what you want to try next.  Maybe that means getting a few more fruits and veggies in your diet or hydrating better before or during a workout.  Maybe it means paying attention to your sleep quality and setting a bedtime that is 30 minutes earlier than normal.  Maybe you can’t pin down what to do.  That’s ok too.  Just going through the exercise of thinking about your training is good mental work.  Being aware of how you feel and thinking about why helps us tune into our bodies more and more each time.  You might not know right now how sleep, water, or exercise makes you feel.  BUT the fact that you are thinking about it is the first step to making that connection.  Coaches talk about mental training all the time and often we think that means visualizing your race or goals or hard workouts.  That’s true and incredibly powerful.  However, I believe that learning to understand how the choices we make throughout the day make us feel mentally, physically, and emotionally can be just as insightful.  Being an endurance athlete means taking the leap from going through the motions of doing the work to understanding how our bodies and minds adapt to that work.  How it makes us feel and learning what we could do to feel better is as important as the work itself.

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all that lies before you, you are not alone!  Fitting training in with an already packed schedule is normal.  We don’t often talk about it, but it is hard.  Try and take it one week, or even one workout at a time.  If you find yourself needing to skip a workout or two, that’s ok.  If it becomes a habit, that’s when you have to reevaluate your goals.  Life is busy and yes we need to make time for ourselves, but when it becomes more of a chore to train than a blessing step back a little.  Take an extra day off for yourself or your family and then get back at it.

Listen to what your body is trying to tell you.  If it is happy and enjoying the training, soak that in.  Remember what you’ve been doing and keep going.  If something is off, really pay attention.  You know yourself best and if you think something is not right, stop and evaluate.  Don’t simply push through because the schedule says to run.  Take the time and make sure you are healthy, so that on race day your body feels its best.  Best thing I’ve ever heard a coach say is “You cannot win if you don’t finish, cannot finish if you don’t start” so make sure you really take heed of what your body is telling you.

 

Train Like a Champion!

There’s a lot of talk about the USA Half Marathon Championships this year and next here at our race, Cap City!  It’s amazing and such an honor for our race and our city.  I cannot wait for all of you to share the same course and finish line with the best half marathoners in our country!  But Cap City is about YOU.  It has always been and will always be YOUR race.  We run 3.1, 6.55, or 13.1 miles with many goals and reasons.  The connection is the love for the sport and the celebration of fitness.  The celebration this year happens to include some really fast runners!

Which distance and training plan is right for me?

What about our training?  We have 3 distances, each with two training schedule options.  The half and quarter intermediate schedules have a quality component that starts next week, but the beginner schedules do not.  Why?  Cap City, indeed all M3S events, are open to everyone who wants to celebrate fitness and get a little swag along the way.  Your goal may be to run your fastest half ever or it could be a long term goal of walking a 5k.  We celebrate everyone!  The reason for the two levels of schedules is to give options based on your current fitness level and goals.  At the bottom of each schedule we have a suggested minimum level of fitness for that particular plan.  We want everyone to get the most out of their training and having the proper background training helps ensure a healthy, fun, and successful season.  Running and walking should be lifetime endeavors and there is no need to rush.  If you aren’t at a particular level of fitness yet you will be soon!  Take a look at the bottom of your plan and make sure you fit that description, if not consider choosing a different plan.  If you have questions email me!

Distanct_training_level_which_one_for_me_table

Quality Workouts

The schedules that call for quality workouts will begin those next week, in week 6 of the training.  The goal of the quality or speed workouts is to introduce our bodies to faster running.  Once our bodies are used to the mileage, after several seasons of training, we get faster by varying both the pace and distance of our workouts.  It is important when introducing speed workouts to make sure that the other workouts are done slowly enough to give us time to recover.  Trying to race every single workout is a recipe for injury.  Follow the guidelines in the schedules and when it is time to run fast, do so!  When it is time to run easy, do that too.  Also, really tune into your body at this time.  If you need extra rest make sure to get it.

Enjoy the training.  We made it through January which in my opinion is the toughest month to train!  So we’re already through the hard part.  Keep going and we will see you at the finish line.  Happy Training!

Questions?  Email me at Coachaimee@m3ssports.com

Congrats_finishers_FBA

Shoes!

Running is a simple sport at heart.  Put one foot in front of the other; repeat.  We don’t need special equipment or a specific location.  It can be fast or slow.  We can run 1 mile or 20.  Just grab your running shoes and head out the door.  Sure, there are other pieces of gear that may make our runs more fun, enjoyable, or social media worthy but all we really need are our feet and a good pair of shoes.  Yes, some run barefoot.  I’m not going into that here!

Please, if you take anything away from this training season please make it this: be consistent with your training and run in shoes that are right for you.  It is very important to ensure that you are in the right shoe functionally for your foot and gait.  The best way to determine your functionality is to get professionally fit at a specialty running store.  They should take the time to ask you about your running, any injuries or nagging soreness, measure your feet, and then most importantly evaluate your gait by actually watching you walk and/or run.  A good fitter can determine if your gait is neutral, over pronated, or supinated (under pronated).  Basically, an over pronater’s ankle wants to roll inward and a supinator runs on the outside of their feet.  We can talk more about the details, but even better you can ask next time you are being fit at your local specialty running store!

If you are local to the Columbus area, my favorite (and full disclosure I work part time for) is Fleet Feet/Frontrunner in Polaris, Worthington, or Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington.  The most important thing however, is to go to a store that specializes in running/walking and that has good people with experience and knowledge in gait analysis.  They will suggest shoes that are right for YOU and your feet.

Shoes are the one NEED we have as runners.  The other need for female runners is a good sport bra.  Those two things are the foundation of your equipment for our sport.  Yes, specialty running shoes and a high quality sport bra will most likely cost more than what you could buy at a big box retailer.  The investment should pay dividends in healthier, more comfortable training now and down the road.

You should get 300-400 miles or 6 months from your running shoes.  The materials in the shoes that provide the cushioning break down over time and with the pounding from the miles.  All miles count.  That includes walking around in them so if possible keep them special for your training.  Additionally, I like to get a second pair for race day, run about 40 miles on them, then save them for race day.

Enjoy the upcoming warmer weather, grab your new shoes, and head out for a run!  Happy Training!

 

 

Schedule for Success

Start_here

Welcome to the start of Cap City Half Marathon, Patron Quarter Marathon, and Commit to be Fit 5k training for 2016. This year we will be running, walking, and racing alongside the country’s best elite half marathoners in the USA Half Marathon Championships! We are 15 weeks away from the best tour of Columbus on two feet, now we just have to train for it.

Whether this is your first race or your 100th, make yourself and your training a priority. The best thing you can do for yourself in these first few weeks of training is to schedule your workouts. Write them down or put them in your online calendar. Block out the training time at the beginning of the week. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your goals and the times you will be out getting your miles done. Not only will that give them a heads up about when you will be away, but it will also help keep you accountable.

What time of day you run doesn’t matter, just do it when it works best for you. Some like to start the day off with a run or walk to set their day up right. Others, like me, use training as a way to rid themselves of the stress of the day and work out in the evening. No matter when you want to train, find a time that you will commit to and write it down. Establishing a habit is the goal of the first few weeks of training. Remember to keep it fun! We are so excited to share in your success this season. If you have any questions email coachaimee@m3ssports.com. Happy Training!

Half_champs_sign

Race Week! Should I use a pacer?

pacers_preraceIt’s race week.  All your hard work is behind you and it’s time for the party to begin!  Sure there will be nerves but that’s good, it means you have worked hard for something and care about the result.  One question that comes up on race week is how to pace and should I use a pacer?  The answers are all over the map but there a few tried and true approaches.

Don’t Start Too Fast

No matter what your planned race pace is, don’t hammer that first mile or two.  If you are properly trained and tapered it is way too easy to blast through the first couple miles and then ruin your chances for a good day.  Take it easy initially.  Either start off right on pace or a few seconds per mile slower than your planned race pace.  You SHOULD feel good in the first few miles but hold off on trying to set the world on fire.  If you are still feeling like you have a lot in the tank come mile 8 or 10, by all means go for it.  Just not in mile 2.

 

We have wave starts so everyone should find room to run quickly, but there is still a little bit of congestion in that first mile or so.  Don’t feel the need to weave in and out of all the runners ahead of you.  It takes too much energy and really doesn’t do much for your time.  Take the opportunity to relax your shoulders and breathe.  Once the field opens up a bit find your pace and just settle in.

Pacers – The Fleet Feet MIT Pace Team

The pacers are out on the course for you.  They are experienced runners, many of whom pace or coach for Marathoner in Training throughout the year.  It is by volunteer only so they are there just to share their love of running with YOU!  Each of them will hold a consistent pace throughout and will get you to the finish right on time.  The pace teams start at 8 min/mile for the half and 8:25 min/mile for the quarter and go to 15:16 min/mile.  They will be in the proper corral for the finish times associated with their paces.  Please take the time to talk to them if you want to know what their plans are for the race, such as how they will handle water stops.

Should I run with a Pacer?

While pacers are not miracle workers, they can make pacing a race easier for you.  If you are trained and ready for a given pace, they will help you get through the race without the worry of nailing every mile split.  Most have 13.1+ miles worth of stories and laughs to share, so they will entertain you as well.  They are there to encourage, motivate, cheer, and of course pace.  They will have pace signs with their planned finish times.  pacers

If you want more information on the pace team, check them out here.

Enjoy Race Day

However you choose to get from the start line to the finish, whether it is on your own, with a group of friends, or with new found friends and the MIT Pace Team enjoy your day.  Cap City is set up to be a HUGE party.  We are here to celebrate YOU.  It is a huge honor to be part of your journey and we cannot wait to welcome you to the finish line.

See you on Race Day!  Happy Training (and tapering) – Coach Aimee

 

 

Taper Time!

cheerleaders_at_finish David_at_finish

Holy smokes!  It is officially 10 days until race day.  I cannot believe it.  The sun is shining, the trees are flowering, daffodils are out and it is WARM!  We have successfully made it through the worst winter that Central Ohio has seen in a looooong time.  Congratulations on pushing through and training throughout the cold, snowy, gray winter.  This is our reward!  I could not be prouder of all the Cap City runners and my MIT runners!  Shout out to team 9:45 for helping make the winter fun!  I hope you all have fun training partners that got you through this season too.

So now we are in the taper phase of training.  I wrote a very long article about taper last year and you can find it here.  Tapering is as much an art as it is a science.  Getting it right takes patience and support from those around you, because you might be a little grumpy!  Tapering means that we cut the volume of running way down from the recent training weeks.  The goal is to allow your legs and body the recovery time they need to be fresh on race day.  Rest gives you the opportunity to recover from any lingering fatigue.  Robb Kestner the winner of the 2007 Columbus Marathon once told me “You don’t peak until you rest.”  That is very true.  Giving yourself that downtime allows your body to peak on race day.  However it isn’t easy.  At this point we are used to the training schedule and the rhythm of train, recover, repeat.

Reduced Volume

Tapering does NOT mean that we stop running altogether.  If you are following our schedules then you will see that we have you running still in the next week, but the volume is reduced.  We want your legs to still be moving, but we don’t want to add too much stress.  If you are feeling especially tired or achy, take the day off.  You are not going to add fitness by running through it now.  The best thing you can do if you feel “off” is to rest.

PLEASE don’t go out and try to add extra miles or days to your training schedule now.  You cannot cram for an endurance event and extra miles in the few weeks leading up to a race like Cap City will not help, but they can hurt.  Either you have put in the work by now or you have not.  If you haven’t, do not fret.  That’s why we have other shorter distances and races later this year!  If you have put in the work, don’t question it.  You’ve done it, now simply rest.

Thank your supporters

Take the time to do something special for your support crew.  They have put in extra time over the next few months too.  Maybe they did extra laundry or quietly dealt with yours all of the house “drying.”  They’ve taken extra babysitting shifts and listened to you go on and on about the joys of Body Glide.  Whatever it was, now is the time to thank them.

Whatever you do, don’t …

Do not pick up a new sport in the next 10 days.  I know we are running less and you have extra energy, that’s the point!  Don’t start something new and that includes strenuous yard work!  No pulling hedges out of your garden for 10 days.  They will still be there on May 4.  Yes that’s a true story and she knows who she is!

Celebration Time

You’ve got this!  Now is the time to rest, enjoy, and celebrate.  We are so excited to see you all on race day and at the expo.  I will be waiting for you at the finish.

Happy Training (and tapering)!

-Coach Aimee

 

 

Relax – You’ve Got This!

Two weeks to go!  This weekend is the last long training run of the season.  Often this is the time of nerves, wondering if you can do the longest run of the season and then the RACE.  The good news is YOU’VE GOT THIS!  All of the training up to now has prepared you for this day and for May 3.  Your body is ready, now it’s time to get the mind ready and wrapped around the fact that you will be a finisher on May 3rd.

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Every week we’ve progressed, either in mileage or by giving your body a recovery week to rebuild.  If you’ve been following our schedules, or any appropriate half/quarter marathon schedule, you will have the base to get to the finish.  What seemed daunting on week one is simply just another week of training now.  Perspectives have changed, bodies are stronger.  The finish line is truly within reach.

I have one more request of you for this week during your long run.  As you are somewhere in the middle of your run, take a deep breath like the kind in high school gym class or better yet a yoga cleansing breath.  Then take another one.  And THEN look around you, take it all in.  Think back on where you started, both today and 4 months ago.  Remember all the cold, snowy, early morning workouts.  Soak in the warmth of today.  Let your mind wander to the last few miles of Cap City.  Picture the last turn and how you will feel when that finish line comes into view.  Relax.  You have done the work.  Enjoy your last long run.  Race day is a celebration but the long run is too.

Congratulations on getting through what has been the roughest training season in memory!  You all have certainly earned your medal and the party that awaits on May 3rd.  We cannot wait to welcome you to the finish line!

Happy Training (and remember RELAX)!

Aimee

Rhythm of Training

Running the hills of Grandview last night, I couldn’t help but think of the rhythm of our training season. At times you can see the city skyline, but of course it disappears at the bottom, only to reappear at the top. The rhythm of running hills is soothing. The push and increased heart rate up, the speed and ease on the way down are exhausting and exhilarating.  Similarly, so is the training cycle.  There is a definite rhythm to training.  Many call it structure and that is of course accurate, but structure is set up by the science of training.  Rhythm speaks to the feel.

If you are following my schedules on CapitalCityHalfMarathon.com you are all too familiar with the structure: Saturday long runs, Sunday active recovery/rest, Monday moderately long run, Tues off, Wed medium run or speedwork (intermediate group), Thurs short easy, Fri off, then repeat.  It may seem random, but it is all specific and for a reason.  The goal is to stress your body in specific ways on certain days, then recover from that stress.  Then we do it again, again, again.  We get stronger throughout the season.  There is science, experience, and a lot of obsessing about just how much we can ask of ourselves in training without asking too much or too little.  Goal is to get everyone to the starting line AND the finish line healthy, always.

A wonderful side effect of all that structure is the rhythm.  Our bodies and minds crave routine.  Have you ever noticed that as much as we anticipate a vacation and need the break, we often look forward to getting back to our schedule?  I have no data or research papers to quote.  I was originally trained as a chemist; in the sciences we need data and analysis to back up statements.  I have become an engineer and again we need data, analysis, statistics.  However, the longer one does something the more tuned in we become to our intuition.  Call it experience or whatever, my boss calls it engineering intuition.  I think that’s what is going on here.  The rhythm of training, sore muscles, recovery, training, etc. becomes part of our lives.  We need it or crave it just like that morning cup of coffee.  Could we do without it?  Absolutely, but we might feel “off” throughout the day.  I don’t have research to point to, but in my gut I know it is true.  What was once hard like speedwork on Wed evening and then having to get up and run a 30 minute recovery run, has simply become routine.  We feel better because we do it.

We are coming into the last month of training.  We are used to the rhythm and we are good at it now.  This what my friend and head coach of CERC, Teri calls “The Monster Month.”  It is indeed the month where our mileage peaks, both on the long runs and throughout the week.  It should not be scary because you have done the work leading up to it.  Each week is only slightly longer than the previous weeks.  However, it should not be taken lightly.  Respect the mileage and what you are asking of your body.  Fuel it with proper nutrition and hydrate appropriately.  Sleep.  Rest on your rest days, now is not the time to take up a new sport.  You can do that in late May!  Feel the rhythm and enjoy it.  We will shake it up again a little bit two weeks before your race, when we begin the taper phase.  I’ll cover that later;  the routine will be the same but the amount of running will be dramatically reduced.

Enjoy your last few weeks of training.  Now is the time where the fitness gains start becoming apparent.  Weekday runs are more enjoyable AND the thermometer reads above freezing!  I cannot wait to celebrate with you all on May 3rd!

Happy Training!