You know you’re a running nerd when you consider professional runners a celebrity sighting ;) I belong to a local track club, which happens to be located in one of the running Mecca’s of the country. So last night’s stormy track workout brought more than thunder. Olympians Ryan Hall and Shalane Flanagan as well as professional athletes Sarah Hall and Emily Infeld graced us with their presence!
As an aspiring marathoner, meeting the fastest American female marathoner Shalane Flanagan was pretty darn cool. She is currently training for Berlin, where she hopes to break the American record. Which would equate to 5:19 miles (26.2 of them in a row…). I need to find out what that girl puts in her coffee to make her so stinkin’ fast! ;)
After we finished playing paparazzi, we had an actual work out to get to. Most of us amateurs were not-so-subtly trying to “impress” our elite onlookers (Ha! key word trying.)
The workout: (described as “simple, old school rep workout)
4 x 200 meter sprints (with 1 minute rest between)
immediately followed by
4 x 350 meter sprints (with 2 minute rest between)
immediately followed by
4 x 200 meter sprints (with 1 minute rest between)
Holy Heart Rate!
This speedy “All Out” effort workout is similar to HIIT because it pairs bursts of intensity with bouts of rest (although the rest in this situation was a bit long). The sprints make my heart pound faster than any long run can do. Such great cardiovascular strength building!
Fun fact: Emily and Shalane are members of the Bowerman Track Club. Bowerman, as in Bill Bowerman. As in track coach of University of Oregon in the 1970’s and subsequent co-founder of Nike, Inc. He created shoes for then-athlete Steve Prefontaine. Steve Prefontaine, as in the legendary long-distance runner who once held seven American records. Just a little running history for ya!
The rain is done! Muddy trails await :)
Mountain tops, pine trees, wild flowers, puffy clouds, dirt trails, thin air. Runners dig this stuff ;)
Altitude training is a staple for Olympic and professional-level endurance athletes. (Some even go so far as installing specific chambers for sleeping that simulate altitude conditions…)
I have over three years experience with living and training in high altitude. Actually, the 7,000 ft. elevation and forest trails were one of the main attractions of the collegiate cross country program I selected. For a runner, pine-lined dirt trails are the ultimate training landscape.
Altitude training is an incredible tool for cross country training. The effects of a decreased oxygen supply are immediately noticeable….you will find yourself breathing deeper and your heart beating faster after climbing a flight of stairs. (Now try moving into a top-floor dorm room with no elevator!) Every summer I spend at sea-level, and every August I have to re-adjust all over again.
When I moved back to school on Saturday, I was unsure of how my ‘Sunday Long Run’ would fair….I had 13 miles on the menu. I decided that I would not be concerned with pace. I just hoped I could breathe!
But I did have some snazzy new shoes to motivate me even more ;)
To be honest, it was one of the BEST long runs of the summer. I didn’t feel the effects of the air until after my run, most likely due to the fact that I was so happy to be running along such a beautiful route in the perfect weather. My happiness converted to adrenaline and I was done with 13 miles in no time! My 7:27 average pace which had me PUMPED! (I will admit that severe fatigue set in a couple hours later…)
Endurance sports are as much mental as they are physical. Something about being outside on a trail, surrounded by massive trees and rows and rows of yellow flowers has a calming power. Of course there are days when I struggle to get through a few miles. But there are also others where the miles fly by with such ease. I full-heartedly believe that having a positive mental state is the most influential aspect to long-distance running. :)
The Science Behind the Strategy:
As elevation increases, the atmosphere has a lower supply of oxygen. When we exercise (particularly cardio exercises) we begin to breathe heavier (duh.) because our body needs to convert oxygen to CO2 at a faster rate to keep up with our activity.
Exercising at altitude decreases the amount of oxygen available in each breath, and over time the body acclimates to these conditions. Your respiratory system becomes more efficient at the O –> CO2 conversion. Therefore, returning to sea-level (more oxygenated air) allows an athlete to perform with more ease or with more speed.
Some Factors to Consider:
- The air is also typically more dry at altitude. It is easier to become dehydrated. Fuel and water are muy importanto!
- The sun also seems to be a little harsher. If you’re not a sunscreen queen already, lather up and protect your skin! There are plenty of “Sport” sunscreens on the market that are reportedly sweat-proof.
- Mountains and trails mean nature, and nature usually includes creatures… snakes, bugs, foxes, skunks, bears, elk (oh my!). Running on trails is also secluded. If I can’t coordinate with a running buddy, I like to stick to a route that is around a residential area or main road. I carry pepper spray and stay alert!
The hype about altitude training is really all it’s cracked up to be. It definitely requires more effort and includes more fatigue in the initial weeks. But after your body begins to acclimate and your breathing is less dramatic, you can see significant improvement in endurance performance from training in elevation.
Plus, it’s just pretty!
*My new apartment isn’t quite ready yet but I can’t wait to share all of my decorative touches with you when it is :) I think this year is going to be the best one yet.*
Tempo Run Tuesday:
Last week I reintroduced “Tempo Tuesdays” into my weekly running schedule. The morning starts like this: wake up at 4:36am, down a half a cup of coffee with almond milk, lace up the tennies, turn on the Garmin and jog a warm up mile. It’s dark for the first 20 minutes which I love.
Lucky for me, my daddy/pacer/crossing guard rides along on his bike. It seriously helps to have someone out there with me! He rides a few meters ahead, which gives me someone to chase!
My pace for the first 3-mile tempo of the summer was a good starting point. 18:39 for three miles (average 6:13 mile). By end of August I will be in the mid-17’s which will put me in good cross country racing shape :)
As for now, I will take it one Tuesday at a time and keep shaving off a few seconds each week!
BUT waking up at 4:30am and evening gym sessions are wearing me out. Time to listen to the body and give it a little break tomorrow!
Which is perfect timing because I have a very exciting day ahead.
I’M MOVING INTO MY NEW APARTMENT!
Well….I’m moving my stuff in. I have a great full-time job at home for the rest of the summer so the celebration in the new digs will be short-lived. But still……it means picking up keys, buying furniture, setting up my space and getting everything cleaned. Very grown up, no? ;)
My past week has been FULL of grown-up” (i.e. NOT FUN) chores like signing a lease, paying rent, setting up insurance, gas and electricity. Exciting stuff. Very exciting. I would like to eat some skittles for breakfast and relive my youth again now please.
Fueling the Future:
To me, thinking about the future is so……exhilerating. I can’t stop researching graduate schools, Masters programs, sports marketing internships, potential jobs, and new cities like Boise and Charlotte.
Everything in my life through senior year of college was part of a plan. I knew in advance what city I would be in, where I would be living, who I would be living with, what I would be doing, how I would earn money. It had a feeling of safety knowing that I was guaranteed 4 years in college with the support of my parents being a full-time student.
The day I graduate college (10 months and counting!), all of that “safety” goes away. But for some reason I am not scared at all. I am thrilled. Not knowing if I’ll have a job, where I’ll have a job, where I will live. This is the first time in my life when I don’t have a plan to tell me what the future looks like.
At the same time…that just means so many POSSIBILITIES.
A few things are certain:
Wherever I am, I will always be a runner (so the city better be pretty!).
My plan is still to race 1 marathon each year. :)
I will adopt a dog. A new running buddy, roommate, best friend.
My passion for health, fitness, exercise, nutrition, exploring, and enjoying scenic beauties will only grow.
A far-off goal is to become a personal trainer or fitness class instructor as a hobby because I love sharing all of the POSITIVE aspects of working out.
It’s funny because my family watches House Hunters…a lot. I remember going on a recruiting visit to Chico State during senior year of high school. The coach had me stay with some seniors on the cross country team, who had a “pasta party” and meet-n-greet. After everyone left, I made up my bed on the couch and watched a couple hours of House Hunters with my hosts. Scandelous first college experience right? ;)
The show has me excited to do my own search for a home (well, apartment but same difference) and I’m loving the East Coast right now thanks to several amazing posts by Julie at PBFingers.com and Taralynn at Simplytaralynn.com!
I think all of this anxiousness and urgency is natural for such a transitional period in our lives.
From dependent to independent. From student to worker. From a plan to the unknown.
And now I will stop day dreaming about my future, refill my mug with some Vienna Cinnamon brew from Sprout’s and get back to some important projects.
What are you daydreaming about today?