Thursday, January 26, 2012

Progression run and a girls' night.

Hello!  I hope you are all doing well!  It's a little damp and rainy here today, but it's nothing a hot cup of tea can't fix...

Yesterday I really, really REALLY, wanted to get in a long run, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, it didn’t happen.  I finally got to run after I accomplished the few things I had to do.  Because I only had a limited amount of daylight available, I decided to do my progression run for the week.

Here I am getting ready for my run.  It was such a nice day here in the Lehigh Valley!

By the way, I love these types of shirts where the sleeves have the thumb loop built in.  They are perfect for chilly days when you want to cover your hands, but don’t want to wear gloves.

Here it is worn as a regular sleeve.  Cute, right?  It’s the little things that make me happy!! 

Ok, enough about sleeves….

Meet Coach Jesse...

He is the new Director of Cross-Country and Track & Field at my alma mater, Moravian College, and he is currently serving as my training “advisor.” Coach Jesse believes that progression runs are an essential part of a runner’s training.  Here’s what he has to say:

What is a progression run?
There are a few benefits/purposes.  The first is to simulate the end of a race.  You’ll be more tired in the last 3rd of the race, so by doing a progression, you recreate that scenario.  You’ve accumulated some fatigue (not as much as in a race, but still), and now you’ve got to physically and mentally prepare to fight through that fatigue.  In a race, this requires you to focus on driving your knees forward, getting good heel recovery so you have a faster swing phase in your stride, rolling up onto the balls of your feet, and maintaining good upper body posture, all while you’re a little tired…a progression run recreates this scenario and requires you to do all of these things.

What I like about progression runs, though, is that you should keep them “aerobic,” meaning not dipping too close to your lactate threshold.  You can get in a high quality run, without accumulating a lot of the metabolic wastes that would come with a faster run (e.g. lactate accumulation in the legs which can take 36 hours to remove via the liver, or substantially depleting your glycogen)…so you get in a hard effort that simulates a race, but without being too taxing on the body.  For this reason, I do these a lot 2 days before a race – I can sneak in another workout without beating up athletes.  And usually you feel good about yourself when you can blast out a few good miles at the end of a run that don’t feel too terribly hard.

Additionally, by training at a faster pace that is still predominantly aerobic, you more effectively develop your capillaries within your working muscles, which means more blood is getting to the muscles.  This also means more oxygen than if you ran at a slower pace.  It increases some enzymes and mitochondria within the muscle as well…so basically it enhances a lot of the process that you utilize to deliver oxygen to the working muscles, and use it as an energy source…but again, it’s not overly taxing either from a mental, or physiologic standpoint.

Thanks, Jesse.  Your input was great!  You rock!

So today I decided to do a 5-mile progression run on a course that I like to run.  Here’s the run-down: I did the first 2 ½ miles at a decent pace (about 7:42) and ended up at the turn around point in 19:15.  I stopped for a few seconds to stretch and then immediately began my return home.  My second half was faster, just like I planned.  I completed the second 2 ½ miles in 16:34, which brought me to a final time of 35:49.  Coming back, my pace was just under 6:40 pace, with my last mile at 6:20.  I felt pretty good, the weather was perfect, and my muscles were ready. 

When I got home, I did the normal routine…stretched, foam rolled, and fed Willsey.  Then my daughter and I had a girls’ night complete with Panera Bread soup and a chocolate chip cookie to share.  It was the perfect ending to a good day!  


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