Training and Racing Questions with Jeff Galloway - December 2011
PR at 45 years old?
Q: Is it realistic to think I can still PR at the age of 45? I was never super fast, but ran decent PRs of 19:10, 39:45 and 1:28 in my 30s. I stopped running for awhile, but now I am motivated to get back into it and want to come close to or set new PRs. Am I crazy? And what do I need to do to get there? Gerald Henderson, Niles, Michigan
A: While personal records become much more difficult to achieve as the years go by, I've worked with dozens of runners who made a comeback around age 45. Some have been able to break several of their PRs set 10-15 years earlier. I strongly suggest, however, that top priority be the enjoyment of the attitude boost and empowerment that is unique to running. With better focus, pacing and strategy, older runners can enjoy the challenge (and not the obsession) of beating one's earlier records. Longer long runs and focused speed training tend to produce the greatest improvement and you'll find the specifics in my book YEAR ROUND PLAN, 5K/10K and HALF MARATHON at www.JeffGalloway.com. Rest days and strategic walk breaks have also improved performances in all events for those over 45. Adjustments for age have been noted in my book RUNNING UNTIL YOU'RE 100. Above all, find a way to enjoy every run.
The Value of Hills
Q: Are hill workouts really all that important? I am just a beginner and our coach has us run up and down this steep hill 5-6 times every week. What does this do for me and can I substitute something else that isn't quite as painful? Anita Espinosa, Coppell, Texas
A: Hill workouts can provide significant benefit without being painful and still prepare you for races (most race courses have at least one hill). Hill workouts should help you develop a good technique for running hills while also strengthening the legs for all types of running. I've had success in alternating hill workouts: one week more repeats (up to 8 hills) and the next week only 2-3 longer hills. If you walk down the hill, you should be energized to take the next hill. You'll find in my book GALLOWAY'S BOOK ON RUNNING, & CROSS COUNTRY a successful hill technique: shorten stride as you go up the hill, with feet low to the ground. In hill workouts you can pick up the cadence of your feet to get a good workout, but back off if you feel pain. For best results, the hills run during workouts should be similar in distance and elevation to those on your race courses.
Hit the Pool for Stress Fracture
Q: I have been diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot. My doctors says I can't run for at least another month and yet don't want to lose my fitness. I have heard a lot about pool running. Does it really help? If you think helps, how can I go about doing it? Billy Borsey, Darien, Connecticut
A: Pool running has been a very successful exercise mode to maintain running fitness when injured. This is the only cross-training exercise I know that can improve running form. Some injuries, however, will not heal as well or as fast when running in the water--so get clearance from your doctor. Get a flotation belt. (I use Aquajogger.) Float into the deep end of the pool so that your feet don't touch the bottom. Run with the same motion you would use when running on land: leg comes behind you and then moves forward until the foot is underneath. Don't lift the knees. When using the right stride, one should feel smooth while moving the legs through the resistance of the water. This should result in a breathing rate similar to that of an average run (you should not be gasping for air). On the first day, run gently for 5-8 minutes, take a 10-15 minute rest break, and then do another 5-8 minutes. On each successive workout, day or two, increase the total amount of water running time by 10-14 minutes. After two weeks. most of my runners have been able to aqua-jog for two hours or more on the long run weekend and 60 minutes on the shorter workout weekend. On two maintenance days during the week, you can run in the water for 30-45 minutes. To keep your faster running adaptations in place, portions of the short runs could be done with quicker turnover, to simulate race pace rhythm. To maintain endurance, you want to increase the long workout, every other week, to approximately the time you would be running during a long run, at that stage of training.
Heart rate monitors?
Q: Do you recommend training with a heart rate monitor? I'm a newbie who just wants to finish her first marathon. If I buy a heart rate monitor, what can I expect to get from it and will it be of value to me? Melissa Williams, Mesa, Arizona
A: No, I don't believe heart monitors are necessary for most runners. Most runners I've worked with who've used these devices have found that my "magic mile" time trial and run-walk-run method have provided the bio-feedback needed to monitor training and racing effort. These components are detailed in A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO RUNNING, 5K/10K, HALF MARATHON & RUNNING UNTIL YOU'RE 100. The ‘magic mile" can identify an appropriate pace for long runs, and target a realistic goal. Avoid huffing and puffing, as this indicates a pace that is too fast. Walk breaks can be adjusted to avoid excess fatigue, aches, pains and injuries. I've met a few "type A" runners who don't listen to their bodies and have used a heart rate monitor to keep them from exceeding their speed limit. World-class athletes may also benefit because of the severe consequences of overtraining at that level.
Q: I will be running my first Boston Marathon in April. Needless to say, I am very excited and want to have a great race. I've read so much about the uniqueness of the course and heard a great deal about the downhills in the early miles and uphills in the middle miles. What can I do to specifically train for the Boston ups and downs during the next four or five months? Mariano Sanchez, Laguna Beach, California
A: First of all, congratulations on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Only a small percentage of marathoners can actually qualify and get into Boston. I suggest that you run your first Boston at a conservative pace. With the pressure off, you can enjoy the glorious weekend, the crowds, the scenery, the experience. It is still wise to gather information on the course. You'll find a mile-by-mile course description in my book BOSTON--HOW TO QUALIF. This is based primarily on the advice of my friend Bill Rodgers, a four-time winner of this great race. The toughest part of the course, in my opinion, is the section from 17-20 miles. There are four hills in a row, leading to the famed Heartbreak Hill. You don't need to include a lot of hills on your long runs--flatter courses are best for increasing endurance. During one of your shorter runs each week, run a hilly, 7-8-mile course. Run the second half of each hill at about the pace you ran to qualify (or slightly faster). Do this by slightly shortening your stride, increasing the cadence of your feet and staying low to the ground. Jog and walk at the top for 2-3 minutes and practice downhill running. My recommended technique is to keep feet low to the ground, touch lightly, and don't let the stride get too long. Most can run quite fast without pounding and without using the quads. I wish you the best!
OLYMPIAN JEFF GALLOWAY HAS COACHED OVER A MILLION RUNNERS THROUGH HIS TRAINING GROUPS, RUNNING SCHOOLS, RETREATS, BOOKS AND INDIVIDUAL E-COACHING. FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT www.JeffGalloway.com
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