Sunday, February 27, 2011

Week 4 of Half Marathon Program

Welcome to Week Four of the 12 Week Half Marathon Program.

This week you get rewarded for all of your hard work to date. No Tempo, Speed or Long Runs. Four days of training instead of the 5 day training week. Enjoy the change.

Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday - off
Monday, 6 miles Easy Run (under 70% HRM)

Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday - 5 miles easy (under 70% HRM)

You might be tempted to put in extra miles on your Long Run, but don't. This week is to help your body recover. Again, enjoy the day and miles off.

For those of you that contacted me asking for the total 12 week program, sorry, I've been chasing my tail but will get it out in the next 48 hours to you. Promise. For those of you that want to be copied, you can still contact me at , and I will email an Excel spreadsheet with all of your workouts and schedules for the 12 Week Schedule.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plan for Week Three of Half Marathon Training

Welcome to Week Three of the 12 Week Half Marathon Program.

So now to the third week's program.

Sunday, Friday - off
Monday, 5 mile Easy Run (under 70% HRM)
Tuesday, Thursday - 4 miles easy (under 70% HRM)
Wednesday - 5 miles Tempo (80-88% HRM) This you will do by warming up one mile under 70% MHR, then alternate between 2 minutes under 70% HRM and 7 minutes 80-88%, then again between 2 minutes under 70% HRM and 7 minutes 80-88%of your HRM, etc., to a distance of 4.5 miles and then a half mile cool down.
Saturday - 10 miles (under 70% first 8 miles, 70-80% last two miles)

You will note that on the Tempo Run, you running for time instead of distance. You should've built up to 7 minutes for a Tempo Workout with the last two weeks as your base. If you haven't guessed it by now, you will be going longer (both time and distance) in future Tempo Workouts.

This week will be testing you. But stay with this, next week is a recovery week. You'll enjoy that when you get there.

For any of you that need a 12 Week Complete Workout please feel free to contact me at , and I will email an Excel spreadsheet with all of your workouts and schedules for the 12 Week Schedule.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Running on a Low Carb diet

I was asked to summarize my experiment of running on a Low Carb Diet last fall. I only lasted one week, but my Running Diary should tell you all you need to know.

"Day One - got back from the club, weight training and weighted in on the scale. 208 lbs. This is like a four week high, ouch. I'm hoping some of this is from the weight you gain initially from weight training. If not, I could be in trouble.

Day Two - ran a slow 7 miler and weighed in 203.5. Okay, now I'm not so worried about yesterday's weigh in. I know this is after a run, and that yesterday may have been at a bad time of day, but I like Day Two vs. Day One.

I still am having trouble keeping up with Bonnie, but I did better than last Saturday when we did a six miler instead of a seven. But I know I'm no where near were I was earlier in the year, so the jury is still out.

Review of the diet. It's hard to be break old habits in the eating department. But one thing I can say about this diet is that I'm not hungry. I'm able to do a hard boiled egg and a piece of fruit and be satisfied. Don't know how long that will last but good so far.

They say you can lose mental acuity on a Low Carb diet. So far, I'm still winning my chess games and Words With Friends on the iPad. If that starts slipping, that will be my first indication.

Day Three - woke up and checked my urine with a Ketosis strip. Doesn't look like I've entered any Ketosis phase - still negative.

Again, did not wake up hungry. I thought maybe that the ketosis would kick in but as evidence in the ketosis strip test, that's a negatory. This was the first day that I actually got tempted by carbohydrates. I'm on a weekend and you figure what the heck?.

Weighed in at 204.5. I'm okay with increased weight though. My justification is that if I can under 208 ( the first day's weight) I'm doing better. I can do this if I should be able to keep going.

Day Four - okay, still not hungry but getting tired. Not for day-to-day things but for running. Don't know if I can keep this up but the weight loss is very encouraging. Down to 203 today.

Day Five - 201? I didn't run today and I weighed in at 201? I'll be at 170 in five weeks at this rate. Running? If I just want to do weight loss, this is the diet to use.

Day Six - Scale must've been off yesterday. I made it 3.5 miles and had to route my run back because of being tired. The weight showed 202 and there should be no way that I'm gaining weight. I don't have a carving for carbs like I thought I would but I don't have an appetite at all. Pretty amazing and scary at the same time.

Day Seven - I can't stay on this diet. Yes, I like the weight loss [even though there's that voice inside my head that keeps saying 'More than 2 lbs a week isn't good'.] But my urge for running is gone, too much energy needed.

Day Eight - gave up today. Added carbohydrates in the morning and ran an easy 3.5 miler in the afternoon. Low Carbs do work for losing weight but I can't count on training for any races if I stay on it for any amount of time. I truly believe that it probably works for some runners, but not for this one."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review of running with an IPhone 4 vs. iPod Touch

Yes, I was one of the lucky ones that picked up the first Verizon iPhones. I am glad that I didn't get there any earlier than 6:30 for a 7 am opening. There was a guy I talked to that had been there since 4 am. Standing in -13 temps for 30 minutes was bad enough, can't imagine being there for 3 hours....

I've been asked about using the iPhone 4 in regards to running and keeping track of distance. There are probably more running apps that you can purchased than I can survey in the 8 months since the iPhone 4 has come out. So I will focus on using it with two of the more popular ones, RunKeeper and Nike Plus.

Both apps work great for running. I like the integration of the iPhone with Nike [playing from your music playlists]. Yet the RunKeeper has the same functionality. Run Keeper also keeps more accurate track of your mileage [yes, I'm aware of the Nike Plus now has a GPS function but my results with that has varied - run-to-run]. RunKeeper also allows you to upload your data without a computer hook up. You maintain your own website that you can easily share with others.

Cons to both: Nike Plus sometimes misses uploading my runs. Not all the time but enough to make me question it as a life long partner to your training. Also, I was surprised that Nike allowed heart rate monitoring with a new Polar Belt with the iPod Nano but didn't with the iPhone. Don't know what the thought process was there but they should had that functionality with all iPod products. As I stated on an earlier blog, I also didn't like that I have a Radio with the Nano but not with the iPod Touch or iPhone 4.

RunKeeper is number one in my evaluation. The app developers are constantly updating the app and are even [as I write this] developing heart rate monitor capabilities with the latest update. They show a lot of dedication to keeping up with all the phones also. I switched to a Droid X in October and found the Droid app very similar to the Apple app. It's nice to have that flexibility and not worry about losing the app. As you already know, I've just left the Droid X for the iPhone 4, but again, the app seemed to work fantastic on both phones.

But I would like to point out my overall view of running with any phone [I will be following up with a review of the Droid X]. Given my choice, I would think that if you are serious about running, the iPod Touch would be a better option for a couple of reasons. One, weight and size. The iPod Touch is lighter and doesn't take up much space.

So if size and weight matter to you, I would suggest the iPod Touch. If you are struggling between the iPod Nano vs. iPod Touch, get the iPod Touch. It's additional functionality pays for itself in the long run.

If its accuracy you are going for, then I would recommend the RunKeeper app with any smart phone that accepts apps. It's fun, accurate, and dependable for keeping track of all your runs throughout the year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Running in the snow and ice - Yaktrax Pro

If you are struggling with running in the snow and/or ice (and with most every state experiencing that this year) I have a product that will help you tackle the task of getting out the door without breaking your neck for each run.

Yaktrax Pro is shoe traction accessory that literally slips over the shoe before your go out each morning. It comes in three sizes and I wear a Size 13, so if it fits my size, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there's one that would work for you.

I've tried others and I like Yaktrax Pro the best. The reason is that the bottom contains a strong wire spring/coil that can take a beating and still not lose its grip. Other brands usually have a set of small spikes on the bottom of the rubber sole, but this usually wears down quickly. The other brands also seem to snap off my running shoe easier in deep snow.

One of the season's tests this year in Minnesota has been the number of multiple 2 inch snowfalls occurring every 3 days. This product has held up well in running on streets before and after the plow has gone by, as well as the walk/bike paths that only get done if there is a snow depth exceeds 5 inches.

So if you are looking for a little help skating/skiing, or sloshing through the season in maintaining your running program, Yakima

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Apple Nano, Nike Plus, and bumps in the road

A couple of comments I wanted to respond to on runners that have said that they have problems with the Nike Plus App on their Nano, iPod Touch or iPhone (are any of you using it on an iPad? I'm waiting to see that at the club next...)

The main complaint I hear is that a runner will be running with the Nano and then, all of a sudden they hear the spoken feedback say: "Workout Paused" or "Workout Resumed" or the dreaded "Workout Ended". There are variations of this problem, such as the music they are listening to has the song keep restarting or the skipping to the next song.

So normally, a runner has to slow down or stop to try to correct the problem. But backing out of Nike Plus or doing a hard reboot of the Apple device seems to have no effect. Even if later on that day, you delete the app and reinstall it, within the next couple of days the problem is back. What's worse, is that the problem continues if you start using your iPhone/iPod instead of your Nano.

About now, you are ready to quit Nike Plus altogether. It must be a bad app, right? Well, I'm thinking that's not the case.

If you are one of these runners, I have good news, I know what's causing your problem. It's not your Nano, it's your earbuds.

I found this out the hard way. Trips to the Genius Bar even had them stumped. Replacing my Nano didn't help. Okay, initally for a few days the problem went away, but sooner of later it would come back.

What I noticed about the earphones is that I was using the Apple stereo earbuds. I loved using them because they allowed you to skip a song, pause the music, change volume, etc. But I have a theory [that I prove in practice] that if you generate a charge through the earbuds, by something as simple as your running shoes on the moving treadmill belt, it causes your Nano and any other device to read the earbuds as if they are sending a pause, stop, or advance order. I even experienced this when I had a Timex iPod watch.

I've noticed that this also happens if you use a Nike or Apple device, such as a wrist band remote, or any other type of remote. That static electricity will do wonders for your frustration level.

The simple answer is to change your earbuds. I now only wear ones that do not allow for advancing, pausing or resuming the songs.

Hope that helps many of you that are having this problem. And if you gave up on the Nike Plus app, hopefully this will give you incentive to try it again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grandma's Half Marathon Lottery Opened Today

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Registration for June’s Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon began this morning. The race entry process is conducted through a lottery in which 5,700 participants will be randomly selected.

Beginning Feb. 14 and continuing through Feb. 25, registration will be available at for all half-marathon hopefuls. Lottery participants can submit their registration any time during the 12-day online registration period. Participants will be randomly selected and their acceptance into the race will be confirmed via e-mail during the week of Feb. 28. Runners not selected will receive an e-mail notifying them that their entry was not among those chosen.

The entry fee for the 2011 race is $75, plus a processing charge. Only those 5,700 runners selected through the lottery will have their credit cards charged.

The 21st annual Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is Saturday, June 18, at 6:30 a.m., and is run on the second half of the Grandma’s Marathon course.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guaranteed Entry to the New York City Half Marathon March 20th

I wanted to send out a shout out to any runners that are planning to run the New York City Half Marathon next month. There is a worthy cause that you can add to your effort by joining The Fresh Air Fund. The Fresh Air Fund is looking for runners to join their Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Half-Marathon on March 20th. This is a great way to participate in NYC's premier road race while helping Fresh Air Fund children.

Information is on their website:

You get a guaranteed entry in the race in exchange for helping them with their fund raising for a very worthy cause, getting kids a one or two week experience that they will remember the rest of their lives. You can email or call (212) 897-8890 for more information.

If you also want to open your home this summer, Fresh Air Fund is also in need of host families. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and homes to a child from the city to give them a fresh air experience they never forget.

It's a great way to give something back to what running has given you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Surviving Week One of Half Marathon Training

Hopefully if you are reading this, you've completed your Saturday Long Run and are looking forward to a day off tomorrow.

The long run usually is the one run that gets runners to a point of realizing that not only can they complete the Half Marathon Planned in the future but also run it for a predicted time. You probably noticed that your last two miles, in which I had you step up the pace a bit, gave you a sense of whether you are an endurance runner or a speed runner. If you felt like you could've gone faster, keep that thought, as later long runs in the coming week are going to test it. If you felt like you couldn't set it up, that was your body telling you that you may not be built for endurance. Don't let that bother you, all runners have good and bad long runs. This program will get you over the bad ones.

So now to next week's program. I'm not going to give you day-by-day instructions like I did this past week. Hopefully you can just go back over the past blog entries for any refresher information that you need. But here's the mileage plan for the coming days:

Sunday, Friday - off
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 4 miles easy (under 70% HRM)
Wednesday - 5 miles Speed (90-100% HRM) This you will do by warming up one mile under 70% MHR, then alternate between ¼ mile 90-100% of your MHR and ¼ mile walking or slight jog 7 times, and then a half mile cool down.
Saturday - 9 miles (under 70% first 7 miles, 70-80% last two miles)

You may be already noticing some changes in you first week. For any of you that have been over-training, some extra energy. You might actually feel by the end of the week that you wonder if you are going fast enough because you only do a Tempo/Speed once a week. Believe me, this is enough to get you where you need to be. As I written about in the past, Half Marathoners only need 5%, at the most 10%, of their total running distance with speed exceeding an Easy run speed. Runners do have a problem with this concept as a lot of them believe "More is Better". But again, my advice is that you show up to the starting line uninjured and ready to give it your best effort.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tempo and Long Run

So how did your Tempo run go? If your experience is anything like most runners in training, you should've found that you can run a half mile at a 2-3 minute pace faster than than your easy runs. Your 12 MPM turns into a 10 to 9 MPM.

This week was just the start of your Tempo Runs. Each week, you will notice that we will be increasing the length of the run as we acclimate to endurance that allows us to keep this as our long race pace.

A word about tomorrow's long run. You will run the first 80% of your distance at your easy run pace, again, staying at less than 70% of your MHR. The last 20%, you will increase it 7 to 10 seconds per mile until your hit your Tempo pace in the last .25 mile of the 9 mile run. What this will train your body to do is to prepare to bring your race home in the last 5K of your Half Marathon.

If you're doing this on a treadmill, you can increase the speed .1 each minute to get you home. For instance, if you are keeping a 5.2 pace, you would increase the speed .1 each minute starting with mile 8, until you get to a 7.0 pace at the end of the run of 9 miles.

I will recap the week with summary tomorrow and give you next week's runs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First week on 12 week Half Marathon Plan - Easy and Tempo

So it's Tuesday in the first week. You've run your first run by now, how'd it go? If you had a hard time with the run, you may want to incorporate walking breaks (idea first mainstreamed by Jeff Galloway) into your runs. You might want to try these if you had trouble just staying under the 70% HRM.

To try these, there are a number of ways but I'll simplify it by asking you to run 5 minutes at > 70% and then walk 30 seconds, run to the 10 minute mark, walk 30 seconds and just repeat until your 4 miles are done. These walking breaks help your body adjust to the new stress. These walking breaks can be incorporate the same way for your long runs if you find them difficult also.

Tomorrow you are slated for a Tempo workout. For Week One, move into these carefully by warming up for one mile at >70%, run a mile in the 80-88% range, .25 mile walk or easy running, mile at 80-88%, .25 mile walk/easy run, 80-88% mile, finish with a half mile walk easy run.

Remember, you need to stay in these zones in the training. You may find that you last Tempo mile is at a slower pace than your first Tempo mile. That's okay, what's important is that you stay in that zone 80-88% during the mile. We're looking at heart rate zone, not timed speed for this exercise.

I will have another update for you Friday before the Long Run, so that you get started with a good first long run.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Week One of 12 Week Half Marathon Plan

Alright, here is the Half Marathon Plan in a nutshell. You will run 5 days a week. Sunday and Friday you have off (how great is a plan that starts you off with a day off?!). Monday, Tuesday, Thursday are easy days (my defintion of easy might be different than yours if you are beginning runner, but they will become easier as you acclimate to the training). Wedenesday is a Tempo or Speed Workout. Saturday is your long run.

A couple of items to point out. Your easy and long run days are run at 70% of your HRM (see yesterdays blog on how to figure this out if you need a reference point). But I want to stress that while reaching this running might seem easy, stayin below it will be the real challenge. If you are a Type A (like I am) when it comes to training, it is very difficult to not go above that number. But I ask you to please follow this for the 12 weeks and see if it doesn't make a difference in your Half Marathon results.

To give you a personal example of the struggle, after running the Walt Disney Marathon four weeks ago, I gave myself a couple of weeks to receover and then got back on the treadmill. I set the speed to a 10:32 minutes per mile (5.7 on the treadmill). I felt I needed this to slowly get back into training. After a mile and a half, I couldn't keep my heart rate under 146 if my life depended on it. Every couple of minutes, I would lower it... 5.6, 5.5, 5.4, 5.3, etc. until I finally got down to 4.8 (that's a pedestrian 12:30 minutes per mile!). I wasn't crazy about running that slow (my average pace is usually a 10:30 in easy training) but I knew the run would be worthless if I didn't keep my HR to under 146.

So what caused me to be so out of shape? Well, it could be I took too long off from training or made it too easy the last couple of weeks. Could be me getting older. Could be the pounds I picked up on the vacation that we took in Hawaii. The point is that they body doesn't lie. You can lie to yourself but you must train in the right heart rate zones or you will never truly get better in future training. You need to check the ego at the door going into the health club before going in. It's better to train smart than just train.

The good news, is that from running for over 25 years, I have learned that my heart rate average will get better. I know that soon, as the pounds melt off, my body gets back into training mode. Soon, I will be back closer on my easy days to the 10:30 mpm that I was running a couple of months ago. The key is patience and persistence. I know that this will be hard for a lot of you (as it is for me) but remember my goal is to keep you running. And if you don't follow the under 70% rule for you easy/long runs, you will not run your potential. You will either injure yourself or show up to your half marathon tired on race day.

So here's the first week's plan:
Sunday, Friday - off
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 4 miles easy (under 70% HRM)
Wednesday - 5 miles Tempo (80-88% HRM)
Saturday - 9 miles (under 70% first 7 miles, 70-80% last two miles)

-I will check in during the week with more on the Tempo run and Long run descriptions.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Getting Ready for a Spring Half Marathon

I'm already registered for a spring Half Marathon and want to give my readers a great running plan in case any of you are planning to run one in the next months. The plan I'll lay out will cover a 12 week period. This plan is tied to Heart Rate Running, so if you need a refresher on how to determine your heart rate percentages, please read over my earlier articles.

This is a very simple plan. Each Sunday, starting tomorrow, I will give you that week's plan. The week I'm setting is from Sunday through Saturday. This doesn't have to be those days, you can adjust accordingly, but follow the basic tenets of the plan if you want to use it successfully.

There are five running days a week. Saturday is the long run. Wednesday is reserved for either a Tempo Run or Speed Workout. You will note that about every 3rd or 4th week, I back off of mileage for the week as well as each day's mileage. That is to help you recover for the training stresses that your body will be going through.

Before I send out next week's plan tomorrow, I ask that you find the following heart rate ranges for all three workouts - Easy/everyday and Long Runs (less than 70% HRM), Tempo (80-88% of HRM) and Speed ( 90-100% HRM). Remember, the HRM (Heart Rate Max) is the following formula = (Max Heart Rate - Resting Heart Rate (difference) x percent + Resting Heart Rate.

Just a quick example to help you. My heart rate max is 185 beats per minute. My resting heart rate is 55. So the difference is 130 beats per minute. So my everyday rate would be 146, determined by 130 x 70% = 91 plus 55 = 146. For Tempo, it ends up being between 159-169 and Speed 172-185.

This means that I won't let my heart rate go over 146 in my easy runs and most of my long run (there is something that I add to the long run different than what you see in other plans but I will share that with you later).

This plan can be used by essentially everyone, beginner, veteran or expert. I can't guarantee your fastest PR (Personal Record) race(no one can), but you will run it at your best potential if you follow this plan. I've used it to run a 2:00 marathon last year when my best Half Marathon to date was a 2:08. So I'm not promising to take 30 minutes off your last Half Marathon, but it could take almost 7% off your last Half Marathon time.

Look for the first week's running plan tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad