Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What do I need to start the training?

For a new runner, you'll hear people talking about the newest gadget, apparel item, shoe design, water bottle holder, and so much more that it's bewildering.  Here's my list of what you definitely need, recommended stuff, and optional stuff.

Definitely need:

  • Running shoes.  I've already discussed this in a previous post, but get yourself some shoes, leave the barefoot running to those who have been doing this for quite a while and know what to expect.
  • Socks:  Most people don't give a lot of thought to their socks, but they are pretty important.  The main thing is you don't want cotton socks.  Cotton absorbs moisture, so when your feet start to sweat, cotton socks can give you blisters, no fun.  Get yourself a few pairs of performance athletic socks.  They may go by names like Coolmax, Dri-Fit, or any multitude of other names, and just about any of them will work fine.  Personally, I buy whatever's cheapest at TJMax/Ross/Marshalls/Amazon, normally they run about $2/pair and usually sold in 3-packs.  The new fad these days is compression socks.  I don't have a lot of experience with these personally, but some people seem to love them and others don't.  The scientific research shows there is a small benefit to wearing them (there's no difference while you're actually running, but you seem to recover a little faster the following days), but for a beginning runner the benefit is really minor/negligible, so wear them if you think they are comfortable or cute, but don't expect them to make a 10 mile run seem like 3 miles!
  • Shorts/tights/shirt/sportsbra:  There are a ton of options out there, and again it's really going to be personal preference.  Just like socks, my advice is to stay away from cotton, it just gets really heavy and clammy when you start sweating, whereas the performance fabrics will stay much lighter.  Try some on and see what feels comfortable
  • Watch:  Get a digital sportswatch that has an interval timer.  You'll have to look at the fine print to see if it has it, but it will make doing your run/walk intervals so much easier (you can set the intervals so it beeps at you when you should start/stop each interval).  Type "interval timer watch" on Amazon and a bunch of things come up around $25-$35.  There are also lots of free apps for smartphones that do the same thing these days, so that works as well if you want to carry your phone.
Recommended stuff:
  • Hat/Sunglasses/Sunscreen:  The bulk of summer is over, but a hat and sunglasses can give you protection from the sun.  
  • If you live in extreme weather conditions, you'll eventually probably want to get some gloves, a warm hat, etc.  They don't have to be expensive.  For gloves, I normally use the type you can buy at the dollar store, and cheap gardening gloves work great too.
  • Water bottle holder:  You won't need this early on, but it's pretty handy when you get to running 6+ miles at a time.  We'll talk about how much you should be drinking during the run later, but it is important to drink.  There are a ton of different styles (ones you hold in your hand, one big bottle at the small of your back, lots of little bottles that go around your waist, etc), personal preference as to what works best for you.  
  • Foam roller:  This will come in handy if you start getting tight muscles and your significant other doesn't want to give you daily massages.  Some people will never need it, and others will find they've got really tight hamstrings or hips or calves and a foam roller will keep them healthy.  Generally about $20 on Amazon, I've bought them at Target/WalMart before as well in the yoga/fitness section.
  • Sports gels:  You won't need these for at least a couple of months, but I'll recommend trying a variety of flavors and brands and pick the ones you like.  Some of the common brands are PowerGel, Gu, ShotBlocks, Cliffshots, and many others.  You don't need them for the short runs, but when you start going out there for 2+ hours, they are a huge help

    Optional stuff:
    • Just about everything else.  GPS watches, expensive running jackets, etc.  For example, a $300 GPS watch will tell you that you ran 7.0 miles.  Alternatively, you can go to a computer and use a website like, map out your route and it will tell you the same for free.  They are great and some people swear by them, but certainly they fall in the category of fun gadget rather than an essential need.
    • Smartphone apps:  I've really only used Nike Plus, it works great but I know there are a ton of other alternatives that others like.  
    Safety note:
    • Lots of people like to run with music, some claim they can't run without it.  The organization I coached with previously had someone who was hit by a car while listening to music during a run.  If you're going to do it, be smart and don't have the volume up so high that you can't hear anything around you. 
    • If you're going to be out at night, make sure to get some reflective stuff so cars can see you!

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    How fast should you run?

    I talked a little bit previously about run/walk intervals.  One of the common questions I get is how fast should I run during the run intervals, and nobody ever asks how fast should I walk the walk interval.  Well, here's the answer for both!

    Conversation pace:  During the run interval, you should be able to have a conversation with someone running next to you.  In other words, if you are huffing and puffing so much that, if someone were to ask how your weekend was, you could only respond in single word answers, then you're going too fast.  You should be able to hold a conversation the whole time (and in fact running with a friend and telling stories to each other is a great way to pass the time).

    Walk intervals:  The walk interval shouldn't be a slow, casual stroll.  It's not racewalking, but even though you are walking you are still training so it should be a brisk walk.  Keep your arms moving back and forward and that will help you keep the pace up.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Disney Half Marathon Training Schedule

    Hi all,

    Sorry this took a little longer than I had anticipated, but I wanted to make sure it was perfect for you!  Jeff Galloway is a former Olympic runner that has developed a great method for people brand new to running, so we are using a slightly modified version of his plan.  If you'd like to use his plan exactly, that's certainly fine and will work great as well.  Here is the plan I put together for this group:

    GP2C Princess Training Program

    And here is the Galloway plan from the Disney website (scroll down to the Disney Princess Training Programs section):

    Galloway plan

    Some important notes about this:

    • The schedule doesn't actually start until next month.  If you are raring to go and want to get started now, that's great!  The first week of the schedule I have you going 20-30 minutes, so if you're comfortable doing that already, start there.  If that seems like a long way to go initially, start with 10 minutes for a week or two, then go up to 20 minutes, whatever you are comfortable with.  And if you want to just gear yourself up mentally for now and wait on the actual training, that's great too.  Starting next month will give you plenty of time to be ready, there's no hurry.

    • I put 4 workouts a week on the schedule.  As I always tell my athletes, if you can train 3 times a week you'll finish the race, if you can do 4 times a week you'll finish and have a great experience.  You can move them around during the week as needed by your schedule, but try not to do all in 4 consecutive days and then nothing for 3 days.  
    • Don't worry too much about any one workout or week.  At some point during training you're likely going to get sick, or injured, or something will come up and you can't do the schedule perfectly. Totally fine, it's all about consistent training over a period of many weeks rather than any one specific workout.  If you get sick or injured, just let me know and we'll tweak it accordingly.  There's some buffer in there that I include purposely in case that happens, so don't feel that it's the end of the world. Really try to get the one long run in (the Sunday run on the schedule), and the rest of the week you can modify if needed.
    • Walk/Run:  I really recommend doing a combination of walking and running rather than trying to run the entire workout.  When I first started playing around with it I had my doubts, but now I'm a strong believer.  Jeff Galloway talks about it here on his website.  It really allows you to ramp up the mileage whereas trying to run the whole thing is much more difficult.  Figure out a run/walk interval that makes sense to you.  Since we have all abilities and backgrounds in this group, we'll range anywhere from 1:1 (1 minute running and 1 min walking) to 9:1 (9 min running, 1 min walking).  If you've never done this before, try out 2:1 or 3:1 and see how it goes.  What that means is if the schedule says 30 minutes, you run for 3 minutes, then walk 1 minute. Run 3 more minutes, walk a minute, and keep repeating until you've done 30 minutes total.  If you're feeling great and find it's too easy, try increasing it to 4:1, 5:1, 7:1 or whatever feels comfortable.  Keep in mind, though, that the training will get harder because we're increasing the mileage gradually, so increasing the intervals as well as the mileage may be too much to handle.  If you do 3:1 the whole season, that's great too.  Better that you err on shorter run intervals than too long of run intervals, especially in the beginning.  Most of you I'm going to guess will be somewhere between 2:1 and 4:1 intervals.  
    • Plan on doing your walk/run intervals during the race.  Lots of people say they want to do intervals during the training, but they want to run the whole race.  Sometimes it works fine, but other times they end up working so hard early on that they don't even finish.  For your first race, just finish, don't worry about how much you walked versus ran.  Trust me, doing the same intervals you did throughout the training will mean the difference between having fun on race day versus potentially not finishing.  And yes, you can still tell people you "ran" the race if you do intervals!
    • Cross training:  The fourth session each week (Thursday on the calendar) is cross training.  Really anything that elevates your heart rate and keeps it elevated will work.  Biking, skiing, climbing stairs, any of the cardio stuff at a gym, even a brisk walk (not a meandering walk mind you!).  If you're wondering if something counts as cross training, stop after you've been doing it for 10 minutes and take your pulse for 6 seconds.  If it's at least 10-12 beats over 6 seconds (so 100+ beats per minute), it's probably fine.  You can either do the same run/walk intervals or do it continuously.  As long as you're keeping your heart rate up for 30-40 minutes consecutively, perfect.
    • Treadmills versus going outside:  Treadmills are great if you prefer them.  The only suggestion I'd make is to try and do at least 1 session a week actually running outside.  Treadmills are softer than the roads, which is great to prevent injury in training, but you also need to get your body used to running on the roads on race day or your muscles will all cramp up.  I speak from personal experience on this one!
    I know this is a lot to absorb in one gulp.  Print it out and read through it a couple of times, and of course if you have questions, feel free to reach out to me!