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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: progress

Muna’s Fitness Forum: Start Where You Are

Every BODY is different.  There, I said it.  We are all built differently.  The funny thing is that even though all of our bodies are so different, we want to look like the models or actresses on TV.  I, for example, would love to have the body of Pink.  But here’s something I know….. it is never gonna  happen! That is because my body is built differently.

As I venture further into my journey of becoming an ironwoman, I notice more and more how my body is different.  I don’t have the long, lean physique of so many fast runners.  I don’t have the small stature of so many famous cyclists.  I don’t have the long thick muscles with impeccable shoulders like many great swimmers.  I don’t have the small waist like many group fitness instructors.  But yet I have proven that I can become faster, more efficient, and stronger.  It has taken me many years to appreciate my short, stalky legs and learn to use them to my advantage.  I put heavy weights on them during squats and lunges.  I pile on my resistance during cycle class, and I put my risers up during step class. My motto is “Charge the Hills!” I gain momentum on the hills during runs and races.   I now love my legs! They make me strong and carry me for miles and miles.  They allow me to keep up with my daughter and run when she asks me to run with her (even the day after a marathon or long race).

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So today, when I got in the pool for my first of many swimming lessons, I found out that my legs were actually slowing me down in the water.  What?!?! My Powerhouse? Slowing me down?  Yes.  Oliver, my new swim coach, pointed it out immediately.  My legs are kicking, but not in the direction they needed to be kicking.  So when he tried to show me how to position my feet, they wouldn’t even go there.  No flexibility.  Then he put flippers on me.  I felt like Scuba Steve!  As I began using the kickboard and doing as he instructed, I went forward then stopped, then backwards.  That’s when he said I was doing it the wrong way again.  My legs had actually been fighting against my swim all this time.  NO WONDER IT TOOK ME 50 MINUTES TO SWIM 1500M!  I was pulling with my arms, but going the other way with my legs.  Sigh…..

I’ve been grounded.  I am not allowed to swim freestyle until he tells me.  This hurts my extremist fashion.  I know what my problem is, so I just wanna jump in the pool and fix it.  Nope.  Not allowed.  I’m only allowed to kick, using a kickboard.  Grrrrr! Coach Oliver had that look when he told me too.  He knew it would kill me.  He told me that we would nail the kick, and then we will get into the arms and rotations.

Ok, I can deal with that.

Remember This:

Every BODY is different, so we start at different levels. 

Start where you are and seek to improve.

I tell my members and clients that it’s ok not to start out being good at something, and that it’s best to learn the basic steps before jumping in to the advanced choreography.  In my step aerobics routines I give breakdowns and levels.  I see it with my steppers, they WANT to do the level 3 right away instead of mastering level 1 and 2 first.  Its instinct and we all want to do it.  This lesson has reinforced to me that level 1 and level 2 are very important!  Learn the proper form before doing any exercise! Otherwise, you are training the muscle or the body incorrectly.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

Muna Rodriguez

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My Personal Running Progress Since 2009

This post is not advice.  It is just a personal report of the progress that I have made over the last 4 years.

In the summer of 2009, my life was hitting some speed bumps [understatement].  To deal with the added stress, I hit the road running.  At first I just ran a few miles every two or three days.  I just ran when I felt like it.  I ran down backwoods country roads in the hot summer and it felt good.  I had given up competitive running back in 1985 because of some tendon issues that went unresolved.  Yet, here I was.  I was running… and running felt good.

Barely moving at the end of the Oak Rige Half Marathon, 2009

Barely moving at the end of the Oak Ridge Half Marathon, 2009

By the end of the summer, I decided that I would run a half marathon.  I was enjoying longer and longer runs and it just sounded good.  Besides, in 1984 I ran a half marathon in 1:20:48.  How hard could it be to get it back, right?  WRONG!

I continued to run erratically.  I had no plan.  I just ran what I felt like running.  The Oak Ridge Half Marathon was in November that year.  I had run a lot, or so I thought.  On race day, I felt strong and went out waaaay too fast.  By the half way point, I was quite tired.  Then came the killer hill.  By the time I came down that hill my pride was completely gone.  All I had to do is just survive the next 6 miles.  Survive I did.  Barely.  I had started the day in a sprint and ended barely moving.  Everything hurt.  The world was spinning a little bit.  Man, that was hard!

As tough as it was, I did manage to squeak in just under the two-hour mark.  That performance is roughly the equivalent of running a 26 minute 5K.

But this article is not about how fast I was or am.  It is about my progress and how long it has taken.  Hence that is just the beginning of the story.

Here are my race results

2013 KTC EXPO 10k  – 10K Run TN 5/25/13 1 24 28 6:23 39:43
Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon 2013 TN 4/7/13 3 49 57 6:55 1:30:41
Shamrock Marathon  2013 VA 3/16/13 13 107 121 7:22 3:13:22
Whitestone 30k TN 2/24/13 2 6 7 7:17 2:16:02
Strawberry Plains Half Marathon 2013 TN 2/9/13 5 12 14 6:41 1:27:42
Calhoun’s New Year’s Day 5K 2013 TN 1/1/13 1 19 20 5:58 18:35
Secret City Half Marathon  2012 TN 11/18/12 10 10 10 6:46 1:28:41
7 Bridges Marathon 2012 TN 10/21/12 22 22 22 7:44 3:22:44
THE HAL CANFIELD  5 MILE 2012 – Run-5Mi TN 9/3/12 2 9 12 7:06 35:33
THE HAL CANFIELD MEMORIAL MILE 2012 – Run-1Mi TN 9/3/12 3 23 26 5:43 05:43.00
The Butterfly Fund of East Tennessee 5K TN 8/18/12 2 14 17 6:31 20:14
29th Annual Carter Mill 10k 2012 TN 7/21/12 2 24 30 7:11 44:39
Pilot’s Fireball Classic 5K TN 7/3/12 5 78 89 6:36 20:31
Summer Solstice 8K TN 6/16/12 3 32 38 8:18 41:20
8th Annual Provision Health & Wellness Dogwood Classic 5k 2012 TN 4/28/12 4 24 24 6:10 19:11
Covenant Health Dogwood Mile 2012 TN 4/27/12 1 6 6 5:34 05:34.00
Strawberry Plains Half Marathon 2012 TN 2/11/12 3 20 22 7:01 1:32:01
New Year’s Day 5K 2012 TN 1/1/12 6 39 45 6:23 19:52
Secret City Half Marathon  2011 TN 11/20/11 4 22 26 7:08 1:33:31
Seven Bridges Marathon 2011 TN 10/16/11 5 19 20 7:55 3:27:27
27TH ANNUAL PILOT FIREBALL MOONLIGHT CLASSIC 5K RUN/WALK TN 7/3/11 3 80 88 6:39 20:41
34th Annual KTC EXPO 10K 2011
TN 5/28/11 6 40 45 6:56 43:09
Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 2011 TN 4/3/11 24 152 187 9:00 3:55:59
Secret City Half Marathon TN 11/21/10 6 47 66 8:18 1:48:53
Tennessee Sports Medicine Expo 5k 2010 TN 5/29/10 5 24 25 7:03 21:55
Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 2010 TN 3/28/10 62 330 479 12:46 5:34:38
Oak Ridge Half Marathon 2009 TN 11/21/09 7 87 112 9:07 1:59:27

If we just compare the half marathon from 2009 [1:59:27] to my PR in 2012 [1:27:42], then here is the progress:

  • 31 minutes and 45 seconds faster overall for the half marathon distance.
  • 2 minutes and 26 seconds faster pace per mile
  • VDOT score estimates went from 36.5 to 52.5

This 16 VDOT point progress was made in approximately 42 months.  Hence, I advanced about almost 4/10 of a VDOT point per month.  Considering that I was ill for 6 moths last year, that is pretty fast progress!  Under absolutely ideal conditions that none of us have, you could expect to progress at about .8 VDOT points per month.  Moreover, the pace per mile for the half marathon pace changed about 3.5 to 4 seconds per month of diligent labor.

If we only look at 5K races, then I ran a 21:55 in May of 2010 and a PR of 18:35 in January of 2013.  Here is the progress:

  • 3 minutes and 40 seconds faster over the 5K distance
  • 1 minute and 5 seconds faster pace per mile
  • VDOT score estimates of 45 to 54

Since this improvement happened over 32 months, that would be nearly 3/10 of a VDOT point per month average.  Moreover, the pace per mile changed about 2 seconds per month of diligent labor.

To Sum It Up

Over the last few years, my average progress for each month of training has been:

  • about 2 seconds faster pace for a 5K
  • about 3.75 seconds faster pace for a half marathon

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & future runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

Running Faster: Adjusting Your Training Schedule and Paces

I was up late last night looking at my training schedule.  Earlier in the day I had completed eight 400 meter intervals with a 250 meter jog between and no rest.  I had run them at the appointed pace and they felt quite easy.  I felt like I could do that workout all day.  On the one hand, this is a great sign.  It means that the assigned pace had become easy.  I am getting faster.  🙂

summer solstice 2013 legsOn the other hand, however, it also means that it is time for a change of pace, literally.  This was supposed to be one of my key workouts of the week, the ones that challenge me to grow.  Yesterday’s workout did not challenge me to grow; it was too easy.  I am in the middle of my “crazy speed training” time of year, so I was expecting to get faster.  The progress is just much faster than I expected.  Hence, I had to take the time last night to re-evaluate where I am now and what paces and workouts I should be doing for the next few months.

Remember This!

You should stick to your training plan without changing things too much except:

  • if you are injured or overly sore.  Then you must rest.  If you try to push through it, your progress will be slower in the long run.
  • if you are not getting any faster.  If you have gone for a month or two without noticing some progress, then it is time to change the program.  A change in routine often does the trick.
  • if you are getting faster than you expected.  This is where I find myself today.  In this case, it is time to increase the paces and/or distances at the prescribed pace.

Since I am in the third category, I have the choice of increasing my pace for the same workouts OR to hold the pace for longer distances.  I am specifically training to run a fast 1 mile race, so I choose to increase the pace.

Everyone runs their own pace, so do not judge yourself by my pace.  My run yesterday looked like this:

8 x 400 meter Intervals at 4:58 pace per mile
Jogged 250 meters between. No rest.
5 miles total with warmup/cooldown

I had planned on it taking another 2 months before that would have been comfortable.  Hence, I am cranking it up a notch.  Here are my next two key workouts planned:

For raw power/speed
4 x 400 meter Repeats at 4:22 pace per mileFull rest between.
3 miles total with warmup/cooldown.

For holding a fast pace longer
8 x 400 meter Intervals at 4:40 pace per mile
Jog 250 meters between. No rest.
5 miles total with warmup/cooldown.

These should be challenging.  As a matter of fact, I may or may not be able to do them the first time.  I will try, but I will prioritize being relaxed.  Relaxing while you work your hardest helps to avoid injury.  Over the next several weeks these workouts will gradually get easier.  Not easy, just easier.

Whatever your pace may be, the questions are these:

  1. Are you challenging yourself enough?
  2. Are you challenging yourself too much?

The answers are often evident in the progress you are seeing over time.  Look here to see approximate paces appropriate for you.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

wise running logo 7_25_12

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