Thursday, June 28, 2007

How to Break 18 min for 3 miles

"I had a question. As you know, I am a Marine and our fitness test requires a 3 mile run in 18 min. I want to improve my current time. With all you years of experience, I thought to get some tips to reach a targeted time, who would be better then to ask you.
What would you suggest? How do you improve your running time on a set distance?"

Assuming that you are already doing some consistent training, I refer back to the May article I posted on interval training.

The following is a sample 6 week progression that you could use leading to a sub 18 minute 3 mile target:

Week 1: 6 x 400 in 85-87 sec 2 min rest
Week 2: 6 x 400 in 85-87 sec 90 sec rest
Week 3: 8 x 400 in 82-85 sec 2 min rest
Week 4: 8 x 400 in 82-85 90 sec rest
Week 5: 4 x 800 in 2:50-2:52 2 min rest (longer rest is ok!)
Week 6: 6 x 400 in 80-82 sec 2 min rest

Interval workouts are generally run during the middle of a week, however you could do them on a weekend if you are not racing. As you become more comfortable with this type of training and your 3 mile test is about 4 weeks out, you can also add another tempo run on the weekend. Use it as a race simulation- go for 1 mile at your 6 min goal pace, rest 5 min, then repeat.

Another option would be a 1.5 mile time trial- bringing that time down should translate to a faster 3 mile. I've found that a 1.5 mile time trial is a great way to simulate racing a 5K - you are exposed to a fast pace and the same type of fatigue you'll experience running a 5K but the shorter distance is much easier to handle. Three or 4 of these before your test will make a big difference.

Remember, you need to be fresh going into these tempo and interval workouts- nothing too long the day before.

Finally, for additional strength you can slow increase one run per week so that you are going 60 min or longer. Run these at an easy pace- you are building resistance to fatigue and not speed.

This gives you 3 key workouts per week to focus on- 1 interval session, one tempo session, and one easier, longer session. Give it some time and let me know how you are doing!

(c) Dave Elger 2007 All rights reserved

Monday, June 25, 2007

Are You Addicted to Running?

"It was not easy but once you start it is very difficult to stop. I always have a goal to do something. That way I keep running. It's an addiction to winning. But it's also an addiction to run - it is like a drug. If I'm not sweating I don't feel good."

- Haile Gebrselassie - Olympic Champion and former world record holder

How do you know if you are addicted to running? According to this column published on the McAlister Psychology Dept. website, you must exhibit 3 of the following criteria in order to be considered dependent:

1. Increased Tolerence: You must run longer or faster to produce the same effects

2. Withdrawl: You are grumpy if you do not get to run.

3. You run long or hard on planned easy days. Tapering is very difficult.

4. Your running takes priority over work, social life, and other recreational activites.

5. You continue to run despite injury and potential further harm.

Guilty as charged!

(c) Dave Elger, All rights reserved 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Don't Get Carried Away with Exercise Props

One of my pet peeves these days is the number of new fangled ways to exercise. One perfect example is found here- Alternating Chest Press on the Ball.

I understand the concept; you are required to recruit some additional muscles for balance, and so on.

The bottom line for most people is to optimize their time strength training- maximize the benefits in the least amount of time. Fooling around with dumbells on an exercise ball to me is counterproductive- you are going to have a much more difficult time fatiguing those muscles if you have to focus on balance at the same time you are performing a strength exercise. Your weight will also have to be lighter relative to when you do this exercise on a bench.

The PushUpPowerRack is an example of one exercise prop that can help you maximize the efficiency of your workout- 10 repetitions at each grip with no fooling around will fatigue those muscles in no time, with no worries about position on the ball, balance, or which dumbells to use. As I mentioned earlier, you do achieve secondary benefits by recruiting several other muscle groups at the same time.

The bottom line is this- if you cannot work your muscles to fatigue with the prop that you are using in 15-20 reps, , then you are not maximizing the benefits of your workout. Bringing it too many other factors to worry about is inefficient and time consuming.

(c) Dave Elger 2007 All rights reserved

Friday, June 15, 2007

Push-ups: Great for Everybody!

Unless you are a serious body-builder, there is no real reason for you to isolate on one muscle group at a time while lifting weights. While there is nothing wrong with the bench press or chest press, they are examples of strength exercises that do a good job of isolating on the chest area and not much else.

If you are just a regular person looking for some added strength, push-ups are a far better option. Besides working the chest and arms, push-ups require trunk stability, involving back, gluts, and abdominal muscles. When you think about it, the muscles in your neck are also required to hold your head in a neutral position.

Of course, the biggest plus about push-ups is that you can do them anywhere anytime, without any special equipment.

Not that equipment isn't available. Pictured here is a push-up power rack (, allowing the user to vary width and angle of grip. You can also make them more difficult and recruit muscles differently by resting your feet on a bench or chair. To make push-ups easier, beginners can start with their knees resting on the floor rather than their feet.

Finally, because push-ups are more of a muscle endurance exercise than a pure, high intensity strength exercise, you are less prone to packing on too much upper body muscle weight, something runners and cyclists don't really need.

(c) Dave Elger, 2007 All rights reserved

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ladies Shoes Should be Different

According to this article by Owen Anderson published in Peak Performance online, wider hips cause women to land more on the outside of their soles when compared to men.

For this reason, Ray Frederickson, who has a PhD in Biomechanics says , "Women's shoes should have more support on the outside edges of the midsoles, because the outside is where the first impact with the ground takes place."

Women with narrow heels may also have a problem finding a good fitting shoe that does not slip.

Ned Frederick, PhD, another running shoe expert, thinks women need a more flexible shoe because they typically weigh less than men and therefore have more trouble flexing the shoe.

(c) Dave Elger 2007 All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Running Shoe Prescription

Don't know which running shoe to buy? This article published in the January 2005 issue of Physician and Sports Medicine titled The Running Shoe Prescription does a great job of explaining just about everything you need to know.

If you are lucky enough to live in a community with a good running shoe store, (Striders Specialty Running Store here in Layton, Utah has the best customer service I've seen and offers a free computerized foot and gait analysis) you should always go there to make your purchase.

As you become more familiar with the type of shoes that work for you and you know your size, you might be able to save some money by shopping online.

Another excellent source for help picking out shoes is Road RunnerSports. If you find a shoe you think may be for you, I would always check the runner's reviews here first.

(c) Dave Elger 2007 All rights reserved

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Is Your Community Runner Friendly?

This is beautiful for runners, joggers, and bladers, and receational cyclists. opposed to concrete! Runners and joggers will want to stick to the asphalt road here, so what purpose does this sidewalk serve?
What a waste.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

XTERRA Running Trail Series - "A Blast!"

If you are still fretting over the concrete vs asphalt controversy, consider hitting the trails. I raced today in the Bonneville 12 k Basher in Ogden, Utah, sponsored by XTERRA, an organization traditionally known for off-road running and triathlon races. XTERRA has organized a number of trail races in communities across the country, and my guess is the popularity of this sport is going to mirror that of marathoning in the U.S. Check the XTERRA website for a race in your area! I can't wait for the XTERRA Mountain Championships in Ogden Aug 18!

I found out one thing- I am OK on the flats like this but really need work on my uphill running! Stay tuned for future workouts designed to improve my uphill running strength.