Mercer Island Half Marathon – Add Speed

February 11, 2016 | by Denise Thomas

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Today we continue our series focused on running the Mercer Island Half Marathon.  Last month we shared the importance of following a plan, cross-training ideas, and simple tips for training.  We hope you are registered for the big race and are well on your way with training.

By now you have been steadily building mileage and have been running consistently during the week.  If you are like me, the weekday runs can become mundane.  When motivation lags, you begin to find a million reasons not to lace up your shoes.  Lucky for us Mercer Island has many open space areas to take your run into the woods.  Running on a trail once a week is great change of scenery and also gives your legs a bit of break.  After pounding the pavement during long weekend runs, the cushioned trails offer your legs and feet a chance to recover.  Plus, it’s a great way to lift your spirits.  Check out this list of Mercer Island open space areas, click on a trail map, and plan your next run.

set a goalYou may also be ready to set your race time goal.  If your goal is to just simply finish, stay consistent with your training and you will be sure to cross the finish line.  However, some of you may want to set a goal finish time or run a personal best.  If that is the case, speed workouts should become part of your weekly schedule.  Last August, I had a personal goal to break the 1:50 mark.  Incorporating speed workouts into my training helped me accomplish this goal with just 10 seconds to spare!
Lucky for us Ginny Pietila, owner of Mercer Island Athletic Club and USAT certified Triathlon coach, has great tips regarding speed workouts.

Training Tip #2
Are you looking to PR in this year’s MI Half Marathon?  Do you have a base level of training of at least 60-75 minutes for a weekly long run?
Get FAST!  This gets a bit technical . . . bear with me. High-intensity intervals and speed work are one of the key catalysts for increasing the size and number of mitochondria in your muscle cells. Mitochondria are fat and carbohydrate burning machines. Increasing the number and size of mitochondria in your muscles translates into an increase in the workload you can sustain before reaching lactate threshold. Increased mitochondrial density also means you can reintegrate lactate into normal aerobic metabolism more quickly, and thus recover faster from surges over lactate threshold. (i.e. the sprints and hills won’t hurt so much!)

Additionally, speed work builds resiliency in not only the muscles, but in the connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, IT Band etc). This allows your body to train harder and run faster with less recovery.  Resiliency = less injury.

Speed workout #1:
(this can be performed either outdoors or on the treadmill
– Warm up 10 minutes easy
– Complete 5×20-second running strides (faster than warm up pace) with 1-minute easy running between each interval.
– 10×2 minutes at 110% of ½ marathon goal pace with 2 minutes easy running for recovery between intervals
– Cool down 10 minutes easy

Speed workout #2:
Ideally find a repeatable course that you can run weekly to measure progress.
– Warm up 10 minutes easy
– Run a measured and repeatable loop/course of approx. 1 mile at the fastest pace you can sustain for that 1 mile (given that you will have approx. 3-5 minutes recovery before repeating)
– Repeat this course aiming for the SAME lap time for 3 laps (week #1), 4 laps (week #2) and 5 laps (week #3)
Your goal is to keep your lap times within 15 seconds of each other. Maintain your “recovery” between each lap consistent, anywhere from 3-5 minutes.

Remember, Ginny is also offering a series free seminars for all registered runners.  The next seminar is happening the last Saturday of the month.

Seminar 2:  Nutrition and hydration strategies for distance athletes.
Saturday, February 27th.  Noon at MI Athletic Club
Nutrition and Hydration in . . . optimal results achieved!  We will cover optimal training AND racing fuel strategies.  When training for an endurance event, it is helpful to think of your body as a high-performance vehicle.  In order to get the best results out of your vehicle, you must supply it with the highest quality fuel.  As your training progresses, changes, ramps up then tapers down, your nutrition and hydration needs change as well.  Come learn a few tricks and tips of the trade to ease some of the confusion as to “what should I be eating?!”

There is still time to register for the Mercer Island Half!  Click here to register.  (Remember there is also a 10k, 5k, and a Kids’ Dash).   Race day a is huge community event.  If you aren’t a runner, consider volunteering with the Mercer Island Rotary and be part of the fun!  Visit the Mercer Island Half website for more information.
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This post is co-sponsored by Mercer Island Rotary and Mercer Island Athletic Club.  Thank you for supporting organizations and businesses that support My Mercer Island.