Training — Running In Your Discomfort Zone

running-advice-bugThere are a lot of things in life in which we strive to get into our “comfort zone”. Training to improve our performance as runners requires us to train in a different place: our discomfort zone. Let me spend a few minutes today telling you why.

The Clock Is Ticking

In my post a few days ago, I wrote about training to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In that post, I essentially said that what’s required is to push harder, spend more time running faster, and increase the intensity of your workouts. What all of these things have in common is that they place the body under stress during workouts. It’s the response to that stress that makes you faster. The other thing that these things have in common is that they fall outside of what we’d consider “easy” running. Intense workouts take us to the a place of discomfort. They push us physically, but they also push us mentally.

Discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean pain. Discomfort, as Webster’s Dictionary defines it means “to make uncomfortable or uneasy.” I think this a really appropriate way to define how hard interval, tempo runs and pace runs should make us feel. When we’re pushing out of the “easy” zone, we start to feel uncomfortable. The effort starts to feel hard. It’s in this hard place that we get better. But a lot of runners don’t like that hard place. The hard place feels yucky.

Finding strategies that make us feel more comfortable with the discomfort will take us a few steps toward making these kinds of workouts more manageable. Let me give you a few ideas on how to get control of the discomfort zone:
Start Small — instead of jumping in with mega track workouts, start with just a few intervals at the end of a workout. Doing just one or two quarter-mile repeats at the end of your run will give you a taste of what it feels like — and what it doesn’t feel like. You’ll find that these workouts won’t kill you. Work up slowly until the intervals become the main set with the rest of the run becoming just the warm-up and warm-down. As you go through this ramp up, you’ll get more comfortable with your ability to handle the workouts.
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Running Terminology Series — Paces and Workout Intensities

running-advice-bugAs we continue our series on the various types of running workouts, we’ll now explore the intensity or pace of each of the various types of runs. To start at the beginning of the series with Part I, click here.

Long-distance Running Terminology Part II — Paces and Intensity of Running Workouts

By Coach Joe English
with Coach Dean Hebert
(C) 2010 Running Advice and News

Introduction
In the previous section of this series, we looked at eight major types of running workouts. Each of the workouts that fall in what we would call the “quality” or “goal pace” categories has a specific intensity range attached to it. In other words, each of these types of workouts comes with a pace target attached to it. If the workout is done too fast, the runner will not be able to maintain the pace through the entire distance of the workout. If the pace is too slow, then the runner doesn’t reap the full benefit from the workout.

Intensities and Types of Long Distance Workouts

Gauging pace may seem like a difficult exercise, but through practice everyone can learn the “feeling” of these paces. The key here is “practice”. Runners need to spend time running at each of these paces to learn the feel of the pace. Over time they will become more confident and be able to replicate the target pace for a particular workout on their on volition.
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Running Terminology Series — Types of Long Distance Workouts

running-advice-bugWhether you are new to running or just confused by terms like “speed workouts” and “tempo runs”, this series of articles is for you. We’ve distilled some of the most important terms related to running workouts, paces and lingo related to the track into a series of three short articles. Here in part I we tackle the different types of long-distance running workouts.

Long-distance Running Terminology Part I — Types of Workouts

By Coach Joe English
with Coach Dean Hebert
(C) 2010 Running Advice and News

Introduction
Runners build fitness by doing a variety of different workouts. No matter whether they are training for their first 5K or to trying to qualify for the Olympic Marathon, a workout plan built on a variety of different types of workouts makes runners faster, more efficient and keeps them progressing toward their fitness goals.

Just like a diet built of many different foods will help provide the many different kinds of nutrients that we need to stay healthy, providing the body with a variety of different running workouts helps make a stronger and healthier runner. And, to take the analogy one step further, doing the same workouts over and over leads runners down a path toward diminishing returns. Too many runners force-feed themselves with a steady diet of slow miles run every day and this is like eating junk food for lunch every day – it yields little in the way of nutrition or happiness in the long-run.

What follows below is a description of several types of run workouts and their place among the “diet” of the healthy runner. Building a training plan should be viewed like putting together a puzzle. As you place each workout into the puzzle, eventually the picture of a runner comes into place. What that runner looks like depends on the puzzle pieces – which are the number, length and intensity of the workouts themselves.
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