Week #1 Wisdom

25 06 2009

As we start our new Summer/ Fall Season, here’s some excellent advice from veteran F4 Coach Scott Gurst:

Congrats on completing your first workout of the new training season!  It was great to see some old friends, meet some new running partners, and enjoy a nice easy run last night.  Hopefully, you enjoyed it too, and were able to run at a nice comfortable, conversational pace.

As I mentioned last night, we will do a significant percentage (about 65% by volume) of running in Zone 1.  This pace allows us to build a strong base, and get in some good mileage without taxing our aerobic systems too much.  We will eventually do some harder work, but we don’t want to jump into it without having a good base first.  Building a good base will help prevent injury, and enable us to be more effective, and get greater benefits from the harder workouts to come.  And, as a bonus, the Zone 1 runs just happen to be the best workouts for burning fat, and teaching our bodies to select fat as the preferred fuel for our longer runs.  (If you like that sort of thing.)

If you think of your training as a pyramid, with Zone 1 at the base, you’ll quickly realize that the bigger the base, the more you can build on top of it.  Thus, the more Zone 1 you do, the more Zone 2 you can do, and the more Zone 2 you do, the more Zone 3 you can do, etc.

The guidelines for Zone 1 are as follows:

•         Easy

•         Able to hold a conversation while running

•         100+ sec/mi slower than threshold (5K) pace

•         35+ BPM less than heart rate at lactate threshold

•         Should be able to run at this pace indefinitely

•         Stresses muscular and skeletal system, not aerobic system

•         Benefits:  core strength, fat-burning, base-building

During a workout, your body has three main sources of fuel to choose from to generate energy:

  • Fat – you (not you personally, but in general) have a large supply of this, though it takes longer for your body to convert this to energy than the other fuel sources
  • Carbohydrates – you have a moderate store of this, depending on what you’ve been eating in the past few days, and it takes less time to convert to energy than fat, but longer than glycogen
  • Glycogen – this is rocket fuel, converts to energy very fast, very high octane for high effort for short periods of time, but you don’t have very much of it

The largest source of fuel available is fat, but because it takes longer to convert fat to energy, your body will only choose fat as a fuel source if you are going easy enough to allow enough time for the energy to be converted.  In case you haven’t already figured it out, that’s Zone 1.  As soon as you start going harder than Zone 1, your body will no longer choose fat as a fuel source, since it can’t convert it to energy fast enough to keep up with your needs.  The more you run in Zone 1, the more your body adapts to using fat as a primary fuel source, and the more fat you will burn!

On Thursday, the main set (the part between the warm-up and cool-down) is the same as we had last night, 2 x 18 minutes in Zone 1, with a 2 minute break in between.  The only difference is that the 6 x 15 second strides at the end will be on a slight uphill.  On Saturday, we have 70 minutes total of easy running.  Note that the total time includes warm-up and cool-down.  Feel free to join the Thursday and Saturday groups if you would like to have company for your workouts.  It’s always nice to have a group to run with to provide a little extra motivation and accountability.

Topic of the Week – Personal Responsibility

As I mentioned last night, there is more to training than just running.  Each week, I’ll try to touch on a topic that I believe is important to having a successful training program, highlighting the habits and personality characteristics of successful runners.  As we start a new training program, I want to stress the importance of taking personal responsibility for your training.  This manifests itself in a few ways:

  1. Take responsibility for your pacing.  As I mentioned last night, within our sub-9 group, there will be some people running slightly faster, and others running slightly slower.  Run the pace that’s right for you.  Workouts are not intended to be races.  If you try to keep up with someone who is running too fast for you, you won’t be doing the right workout for you.  Walk if you need to.  There is no penalty for doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, and getting what you need out of the workouts.
  2. Take responsibility for getting healthy.  If you want to get the full benefits of a training program, you might consider taking a more holistic view of your life beyond the workouts.  Now might be a good time to make some changes.  Can you eat better, hydrate better, minimize stress, or get more sleep?  Every small change counts.
  3. Take responsibility for staying healthy.  In training, growth only comes if you are willing to put up with some discomfort.  However, there is a big difference between discomfort and pain.  The first indicates that you are in the growing zone.  The second indicates that you are injuring yourself.  Nobody can know how you are feeling except for you.  If you feel like you are in pain, then stop running!  There is no stigma for stopping and walking if necessary.  In fact, if you feel like you are injured, then you should do whatever it takes to take care of yourself, even if it means missing workouts until you are healthy again.
  4. Take responsibility for doing your workouts.  There are great benefits to be gained by sticking with a training program, benefits way beyond anything you might have imagined when you signed up.  Unfortunately, those benefits don’t come for free, and they don’t just come from signing up.  There are no shortcuts.  You actually have to do the work.  (Shocking.)  The more you can make time for your training, and stick to the schedule, the greater your chances of having some amazing things happen to you before we’re all through.  So, if you miss a workout, don’t apologize to me.  Apologize to the person in the mirror.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I will be happy to be your coach, I won’t be your mom, or your drill sergeant.  Hopefully, you signed up for this program for a reason, and know what you want to get out of it.  If you’re here to socialize and run easy, that’s fine.  If you want to work hard, push yourself toward a lofty goal, and see what you’re capable of, that’s good too.  Regardless of your reason for being here, I will support that, try to help however I can, and give you whatever you feel you need to succeed.  But in the end, whether you really push yourself or not, and whether you do 90% of the workouts or only 20% is totally up to you.  You’ll get out what you put in.

Hope that helps.  Have a great week of training, and as usual, feel free to e-mail with any questions, comments, or concerns …

– Scott

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One response

27 06 2009
Rich

Week #1 Wisdom. Great philosophical and mentoring post!

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