November 26, 2012

distance or speed?

Before I get any further in this post, please remember, I am NOT an expert.  At anything really.  But the main point is I haven't done much research on running unless it directly pertains to me, and I just kind of go with the flow.  So there is that...

Amanda and I have e-mailed back and forth on and off since she started her get healthy/running journey.  I am always happy to give help, opinions and inspiration if you need it, so never hesitate to e-mail me!  Anyway, one of the last e-mails Amanda sent me had some great questions, and I decided to answer them here on the blog.

First up, the easy one.  Do I run on an incline when on the treadmill?  Yes, sort of.  When training on the treadmill I always set the incline to 1%.  It is barely anything, but enough that I'm not completely slacking.  Occasionally (if I'm feeling incredibly motivated, which, um,  is rarely on a treadmill) I'll toggle up to maybe 3% or so while running, but that is about it.  Just making it through a treadmill run is an accomplishment for me, so I try not to push it too hard.  But there is a reason hills kick my butt during races, I don't do enough of them.  Just saying...

The other question Amanda asked that I wanted to tackle is, "Would you try to increase distance or speed after completing the C25K program?"  In my personal opinion, there isn't a right answer to that question.  First you have to ask yourself a couple of questions.
  1. Which goal do I want to accomplish first?  A longer distance race or a faster 5k time?
  2. How much time do I want to commit to running?
Both questions are really important.  You may really REALLY want to start increasing your distance, but training for a half marathon is quite the time commitment.  At first, it isn't so bad, but it is roughly a 12-15 week process depending on your current fitness level.  In the last weeks of training for a half you'll most likely be spending 4-5 hours out of your week running.  At least.  It may not sound too bad, but if you have a lot of other commitments, it is tough to fit that in.

If time is an issue, increasing your 5k speed might be a better immediate option.  Plus, the faster you get, the less time consuming training for a long distance race would be.  And I will say running became a lot more 'fun' for me once I got faster.  It is amazing how much less daunting going for a three mile run is, when you know you can finish in 27 minutes as opposed to 34-36 or something.  The easiest way I know to improve your speed is to focus on interval training.  I'll follow with an example of what I did, but for more ideas on speed work just google it.  There are several articles written by people who actually know what they are talking about that you can read :o).

Now, my version of intervals.  I believe I mentioned this before, but I have no idea where so I'll just go through it again.  I spend a LOT of time running on the treadmill.  I'm not one to run in the dark (or rain, or snow, or any other element for that matter :o), and my husband has a crazy schedule.  So it is the treadmill or nothing.  But I hate the treadmill, it is BORING.  One easy way to combat the bordem is to constantly mess with the buttons.  So I do what I'm going to call a 'wave' workout.

Say the speed I can manage relatively easily for 30 minutes is 6.0 mph.  I'll start out with a 2 minute walk at 4.0, then I'll change the speed to 6.0mph for the next 2 minutes, 6.1mph for the next 2 minutes, 6.2mph for the next 2, and 6.3mph for 2 more minutes.  At that point I'll have hit the 10 minute mark and I'll drop back down, but only to 6.1mph.  And then repeat the process for another 10 minutes, increasing my speed by .1 every two minutes until I hit the 20 minute mark.  Drop down to 6.2, and repeat the process one last time.  When I hit the 30 minute mark I would then spend a minute at 6.0mph, and then walk for 4 minutes at 4.0mph.  A 35 minute workout.

I would do that same workout for a week (assuming probably 3 runs a week).  And then the next week I would change my starting speed (not the walking, just the running).  Maybe that week I would start with 6.1 or 6.2 as my base speed, and just do a 35 minute workout in the same fashion.  Obviously you would use whatever speeds were comfortable for you, this was just an easy example.  In theory, by the end of the month your base speed would be .4mph faster than at the beginning.  You may have to stretch it out a little depending on how your body takes it, but it is a pretty gradual and easy to follow approach if you are going to be on the treadmill.

Ultimately, if it was me, what would I do?  If I had the time, I'd work up to the 10k distance.  I LOVE 10ks.  Not too long, not too short, and definitely doable.  Plus, as you increase your distance and become a more seasoned runner your speed will most likely naturally increase.  Without doing any structured speed work, while training for my first half marathon my pace went from around a 9:45 minute pace to a 9:15 minute pace on race day.  Obviously adrenaline on race day had a bit to do with it, but the more I ran, the easier it was.

Just listen to your body and do what is best for you.  Some people can increase their distance while incorporating lots of speed work.  Some people's bodies can't handle it and they need to choose one or the other to start off with.  Whatever you decide, good luck!

What goals are working on right now?


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Amanda said...

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions and putting up with all of the (most likely) annoying ones too!

Crazycurls said...

Great workout idea! I too get so bored on the treadmill. My gym is so small it doesn't have a tv so I end up just people watching through the mirrors :-)

Elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for this post! I've been struggling with staying on the c25k plan & I think it's because I know I can only train on the treadmill. Mine is a 2nd hand Craigslist find that is stuck on 1.5% incline :) so that makes me feel better knowing I'm doing something right without even trying. Haha! But seriously, thanks for the motivation & inspiration!!