Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pace Yourself Part 1

This post is the first in a series on posts about pacing. For and in-depth look at all the factors, Here are the other posts on pace
Here in Minnesota, we're getting more and more into racing season. There has already been several half marathons, a couple of marathons, and plenty of 5k and 10k races this spring. Fall racing (believe it or not) will be here before you know it. An important thing to consider when running your races (and training runs) is pacing.

Whether you're aiming for a shiny new PR or trying to finish your first half marathon (or any other distance), the proper pace can make or break your distance. "Learn to pace Like a Pro," from Runner's World, lays pacing out in detail, but the gist of the article comes from this quote:
"Every current world record, from the 1500m to the marathon, has been set by an athlete running negative splits."
For those that aren't familiar, a negative split means you run the first half of your race faster than the second half. Fortunately, I think most runners, especially those with some experience, know that a negative split is the best way to run a race. I used to hear runners talking about "banking time," meaning they would plan to run faster in the first half of a race and then have time "banked" so they can slow down in the second half.

Experienced racers will tell you that "banking time" doesn't work. Any time you "bank," you'll end up paying interest. Say you were planning to run a four hour marathon, so you run the first half in 1:55 and plan to run the second half in 2:05. Nine times out of ten that second half is going to be more like 2:10. Fortunately, I rarely hear runners talking about banking time any more.

So, if you know running a negative split or as even of splits as possible, how do you get ready? Here's a couple of workouts to try:

Progression Run: Start out at an easy pace, then increase your speed by segments. For example: run 2 miles at easy pace, 2 miles at moderate pace, then 2 miles at your goal marathon pace. This will give you a good feeling of finishing faster than you started.

Long Intervals: If you're running a marathon, try doing a workout where you do intervals of your goal marathon pace. As your training progresses, you can increase the length of these intervals. Run them by time or distance. For example: 2 miles easy, then 2 X 3 miles at goal marathon pace with a 2 minute rest in between. If you are training for a half marathon, you could do a similar workout with a 2 mile warm up, then 2 X 2 miles at goal half marathon pace with a 2 minute rest.

Fast Finish Long Run: In this workout, you simulate the last part of a marathon by running a significant distance of your long run at marathon pace. For example: Run 8-10 miles easy, then 6 - 8 miles at your goal marathon pace.

If you've had trouble running even or negative splits in the past, give these workouts a try to nail your pace in your next race.

Run well.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Runner's High? It might not be what you think


http://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.M1cd7e5481c6cb9eb25d4ae23c1d19faco0&pid=15.1
For years, I was under the impression that a runner's high was a sense of well-being brought about by endorphins. It makes sense--your body releases endorphins as a response to pain, and the endorphins act as a natural opiate, bringing about a sense of euphoria.

Well, move over endorphins--you don't get all the credit anymore. The real chemical hero of the runner's high? Endocannabinoids. If this term sounds suspiciously like cannabis, that's because endocannabinoids are basically chemicals similar to marijuana, only they're produced naturally by the body.

If you're more interested in the topic, the blog post, "Honing in on the Source of the Runner's High" from the New York Times gives a pretty good explanation of the science behind endocannabinoids and endorphins, and how the runner's high could be produced. Another interesting article from NPR called, "How Runner's Get High" also does a nice job of explaining that elusive feeling of euphoria sometimes experienced while running.

Some runners don't wait for a natural high. Recently, I've seen more and more articles about running under the influence of marijuana. While this may sound counter intuitive, knowing how a runner's high is produced, it might make more sense. Weed could be acting as a shortcut to get a runner's high, and may enable some athletes to reduce their pain perception and run longer and harder.

Below are a couple interesting articles about running under the influence of marijuana. Please don't take this as a recommendation--running after getting high is definitely not something I'm thinking of doing.

"The Health Benefits of Running While High"
"Can Marijuana Make You a Better Runner?"

Again, don't take these articles as a recommendation from me. I'll continue to pursue my runner's high through my body's natural endocannabinoids--not from smoking dope. But to each their own.

Run well.

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