Since graduating from college, I have competed in long-distance running and the NPC. I originally was drawn to running as a way to train/compete after playing collegiate athletics (softball at the University of Michigan). From 2008-2013, I competed in 3 half marathons (my PR was 1:27), and 3 full marathons (PR was 3:10).
From 2014-2016 (the fall), I tried out competing in the NPC…. I did enjoy it, but found that I really prefer the race training. What I did learn from competing in the NPC is how vital weight lifting and nutrition is to getting the “look” I prefer for myself. I also saw how important lift and food are to staying HEALTHY as a runner, preventing injury, and also to help improve performance.
So this past November, I did a half- marathon. I used a running plan from Jason Fitzgerald and went from lifting weights 5days a week (what I did for NPC) to lifting 3 times a week. My lifts are now full body — I’ve put them into a program called CARVE (along with some nutrition tips on IIFYM) for anyone interested.
I didn’t PR in my half marathon this past fall, but did better than I expected for having trained just 4months for!
I am currently planning to do another half this coming March, using my CARVE “running plan” program to train. I also joined a Winter Training Team to do my Saturday Long runs with. So far it has been a really Valuable experience!
In my first run, I observed several of the older, more experienced runners… I was trying to keep up with them so I didn’t get lost!! I noticed their cadence was really FAST.. Their actually strides looked more like a fast walk, but they were making a lot of steps per minute, and I was having trouble keeping up. I had the chance to talk with a couple women after the run and they explained how the steps they take are small, but frequent — this helps them to go at a faster pace and also prevent injury. One woman said she runs at about 200 steps per minute!
I incorporated it on my next run on my own and was able to hit the same pace I did on Saturday! It takes a bit of mental effort to think about making more steps than I’m used to (I shoot for 180-200 steps per minute), but I am hoping it will become a habit over the course of training for this next race!
The way to increase speed is to either increase frequency (steps per minute) or stride length. Most elite runners have a very high frequency (over 180spm) and they just make bigger strides in order to speed up. So the hope is that by focusing on my frequency, 180-200spm will become a norm for me. And over time, my strides will increase gradually as my strength training improves my body strength 🙂 …. My goal is to improve gradually and consistently with consistent nutrition, lifting, and running. I’m trying to avoid what I’ve done in the past in both running and the NPC where I train HARD for an event, then am a little lost after the event and don’t feel I can match my training or performance without another event to look ahead to.
So, the point of training for LIFE is to be consistent, gradually improving as a result of exercise/nutrition habits that I enjoy using and doing daily (running, lifting, IIFYM), and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle — one that I can see myself keeping up with for my whole life, not just for events.
The Nutrition coach I have chosen to go with is based on the premise of “An open minded diet philosophy that creates sustainability for the individual” – ADOFitness
I plan to blog a little more — hopefully each week or couple of weeks — with new running insights, nutrition insights, and training tips! 🙂
(pic below from my first week with the winter training team)