Monday, January 19, 2015

Run Faster?

When I worked as an exercise physiologist on the Air Force base, one of my main jobs was teaching classes and advising the people who failed their fitness tests. There was a wide range of reasons and deficiencies, of course, but the 1.5 mile run test was a common source of concern. And "failure." I don't have the standards in front of me, but it seems for women in their 30s, a 9:30 pace (that means per mile) for that mile and a half was passing. Passing this test isn't just for the accolades; if they keep failing they can actually lose rank and eventually be kicked out of the military.

I asked a lot of questions of the people who failed, trying to figure out what was keeping them from reaching their goals. Sometimes it was simply motivation, which I had a hard time helping. If the threat of losing your job isn't enough, I'm not sure anything is. I actually went through 15 minutes of workouts with a woman who came to me asking how to improve. She then told me, "I'm probably not going to do any of that." Well ok then.

But for those who want to improve on their running, I have summed up ways that you might change what you are doing to increase speed and endurance. This mostly focuses on beginners, since achieving a 9:30 pace for 2400m isn't exactly what elite runners are working toward.

1. Run more. Doing 1.5 miles twice a week won't prepare you for a 1.5 mile race, for example. Add a few minutes here and there to your usual runs. Work up to 4 or 5 runs per week. Build slowly.

2. Don't run as fast as you can every run. Pace yourself. Lose the watch and Garmin sometimes (or often).

3. But on the other hand, run fast sometimes. It can be between light posts or mailboxes. Run to 3 mailboxes easy, then run to the next one hard. These are fartleks, and you can time them if you want to, but it's really not necessary.

4. Run with friends who are faster. Run with friends who are slower. Enjoy it a little.

5. Run hills.

6. Look at your body composition. On base, if a person failed the waist circumference, it made it easier to objectively correlate the run with weight. Look at your BMI for starters. If it is in the overweight range, you might think about losing a few pounds. BUT if you are of normal BMI and body fat percentage, maybe you  need to gain muscle.

7. Do strength training. Especially if you are female, over 40, or have an ectomorphic body type. Plyometrics are gold. Jump, climb, squat, press. Lift heavy weights quickly (and carefully).

8. Fuel yourself properly. You wouldn't pour Coke in your car's gas tank and expect it to run well, now would you?

9. Triathletes? Do bricks often. They can be short.

Now go enjoy yourself while you get faster.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year!

The year ended without so much as a peep from this blog. Oops! I am slowly realizing that we are one of the last houses in the neighborhood to still have decorations up, but that could be due to the variety of cultures here, some of which do not celebrate with lights and trees to begin with. While it is still so dark outside so early in the evening, I use every ray of the twinkling lights on the tree for ambiance and warmth. The cloudiness that I should be accustomed to during the winter months in the southeast is still a little surprising to me after three years of daily, bright sunshine, literally about 360 days of the year. If it weren't for the noticeably growing daylight hours, and the fact that Target already has miniature pots of strawberry seeds and bikinis out on display, I would be more inclined to believe that winter is going to last forever. I can't get on facebook without the local weatherman's page telling me more about the arctic blast that will leave us all frozen after a few weeks. It starts tomorrow. Keep telling me that running in freezing temps is not so bad, ok?

So Christmas came! We had a cozy Christmas Eve and Day with the three of us celebrating by first going to a candlelight service, through which we made it approximately 10 minutes. Hunter hadn't napped, and all the excitement and darkness and music was putting him to sleep at 6 pm (most likely to wake around 8 pm for many hours), which would not have aligned well with Santa's plans. Instead we booked it  back home to feed the reindeer and put Santa's cookies out.

Two and a half is just the right age to start to understand how exciting Christmas can be, but I still think I was more excited than Hunter was. That sweet boy didn't tear through presents, but would find one and open it and play with it so long that we had to convince him to look at others.


The joy

And then we can cook soup, and baked potatoes, and ....

Rescue cars? Cool!

They actually fit?

You got measuring cups? Perfect, because I got food.

Just before New Year's Eve, we drove to Germantown to see my family and celebrate with them: Christmas Part 2. It was cold, so there was no horsebackriding this time, but seeing the cousins and Nana and Granddaddy of course, was plenty of entertainment for Hunter.

We are missing Ethelyn and Ethan and Austin, and most of Jeremy, and I'm a little shaky with my panoramas, but you get the idea.

H and I started to develop a nasty cold on New Year's Eve, which thankfully explained his crankiness from the day. Unfortunately it is probably the worst one he has ever had, and we are both still sick almost a week later. Happy New Year!

Next up for us is a weekend trip to Kentucky to see Jeremy's family: Christmas Part 3. I am more than a little thankful that the toddler and I will be flying while Jeremy drives the 6 or so hours. No carseat! 

A kiss for the angel

We are looking forward to an exciting 2015! Happy New Year!