Tag Archives: speed work

Yasso 800s + Super Long Run

There are less than 50 days until my spring marathon and this week was a tough one.  I kicked it off with a full round of Yasso 800s Monday and threw my long run in two days early for the sake of better weather on Thursday.  Both workouts were tough but surprisingly fun.

Yasso 800s are a famous workout that can be varied all training cycle long.  This was my peak week with a full dose of 10 repeats and they went well.  Used as a reasonably close predictor of marathon finishing times, each repeat features 800M of work and an easy jog of the same duration for recovery.  Since the prediction tends to be about 5 minutes off of actual finish times, I was aiming for each 800 to be at a 6:50 pace.  This would theoretically get me across the line in 3:25 and an adjusted 3:30, my goal time.yasso 800s

I had a great time getting back into action after a down week with this one.  My goal was to run each repeat in 3:25, 6:50 pace, on fresher than usual legs to simulate somewhat of a taper.  It worked!  I was contending with some headwind and benefiting from a tailwind at different points but my repeats were 3:22, 22, 18, 23, 18, 18, 17, 22, 16, 16.  The session left me feeling really excited for race day.

The week rolled on with some 400M repeats Wednesday and my longest training run of the cycle on Thursday.  It was a test with lots of marathon pace miles early then a few faster ones at the end.  I started this 5-4-3-2-1 run with a one mile warm up then 5 miles at marathon pace.  The next two segments, 4 miles and 3 miles, were each separated by an easy mile.  The two mile section was at half marathon pace.  After a painful easy mile 18, I rocked Mile 19 at 10k pace, finishing with a nice easy cool down.  It was definitely a challenging but enjoyable workout.


What are your favorite marathon training workouts?  Do you like Yasso 800s?

Fit Friday: Running Faster

Ultimately the goal of any runner who wants to hit a competitive goal, from breaking a 2 hour half marathon to nailing a sub-15 minute 5k, will have to work on earning quicker feet.  With my current long term goal to break a 1:30 half marathon a ways away and a 20-minute 5k a little closer (this year?), I definitely spend time working on running faster.  Here are my four key elements of training to get faster.running faster

Form.  Running fast is hard work.  It’s even harder if your elbows are swinging way out, you’re heel striking or breaking at the hip.  Developing proper posture, a mid-foot landing and quick turnover were the first things I worked on to start getting faster.  Better form immediately made a positive difference and that’s what I spend time every day doing things to make sure it stays solid.  Mobility and drills specific to my body’s needs on that day, where I’m sore, what was tight on my last run, etc., all add up to a quality default running form.

Turnover.  When I used to run on the gym treadmill, I’d notice a difference between what was happening when I was warming up and what happened when I was working hard.  Turned out it was the change in my turnover rate when running faster that caused these changes.  When my stride rate increased my heel striking stopped, my posture improved and my hips opened up.  Learning how to maintain a stride rate of roughly 180 steps per minute was a challenge and I use at least one workout each week to keep improving because it lowers my risk of injury, makes me more efficient and a faster runner whose head doesn’t bob on the treadmill anymore.

Power.  The more power you put into the ground with each step, the more will be returned to your legs for the next one.  Strength training is the best way to build power.  I owe Crossfit a lot of credit for helping me become a stronger, more powerful and efficient athlete.  Deadlifting, squatting, box jumping and hammering away at those double unders have undoubtedly made me faster.

Practice.  To run fast, you have to run faster.  If I want to hit that 1:30 half marathon, I need to spend some time running faster than the required 6:50/mile pace.  I’m not built for top end speed but I still spend one workout a week chipping away at it.  Building my VO2Max, increasing my turnover even if only for one mile at a time and getting comfortable at higher speeds all add up to my running faster.


How do you work on running faster?  Speed work, strength work or both?

Christmas Workouts Part II and More Beer

The first half of my Christmas Vacation 2014 was a success and the second half was just as fun filled.  In addition to getting back on my original workout schedule, I enjoyed a new Crossfit box, more beer with Doug, more quality family time and two safe, on-time flights on the way home.  Here’s the second half of my Christmas Vacation:

I returned to my training schedule with Crossfit at Wichita Old Town Crossfit on Tuesday morning.  It was a small class with just two regulars, myself and one other drop-in for a WOD made up of my used-to-be arch nemesis double unders, sit-ups and power snatches.  The workout left my shoulders fried but the people were great and if you happen to be in the area, find the time to stop by.

Wednesday morning another trip to the treadmill for speed work was on tap.  After a mile warm-up it was alternating 800s for five miles and a mile cool down.  It had been a while since I’d run 800s with 800M rest and I felt really good pushing the hard work to 15 seconds faster than 5k pace.  It was very solid workout that left my legs feeling surprisingly good afterwards.  Sometime running fast makes everything better, even if it is only for three minutes at a time.  Of course, I was starving when I stepped of the dreadmill and got lucky that Doug was feeling famished as well.

Because we were both hungry, and it was on the way back to Christmas house, Doug and I made another trip to Wichita Brewing Company for lunch and more beer.  While we didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying another round off the Beeramid, we did take a deeper dive into a few more beerfavorites from our previous visit.  Along with more beer, we had big glasses of water and two of WBC’s wood fired oven pizzas.  I chose the Hopperoni and he went with the Honeysuckulant BBQ but we couldn’t help sharing.  Both selections were excellent.  The thin crust perfectly complimented the heavier beers we were drinking (Belgian Dubbel and V6) while the pizza’s individual flavors came bursting through with their toppings.  I recommended Wichita Old Town Crossfit but if you’re not feeling in the mood, head to Wichita Brewing Company instead.  The people are great, the beer is delicious, the food is tasty and the vibe is perfect for a casual, friendly cocktail.

Doug and I departed early Christmas morning with two on-time flights and a layover in Denver just long enough to enjoy even more beer, though this time we kept it simple with Blue Moon and Ranger IPA.  Now it’s time to settle back into work for Rock n Roll Arizona and finalize my 2015 race schedule.


How was your Christmas?  Did you try any new gyms or restaurants?  What’s on tap as 2015 rolls in?

A New Workout + Myrtle Week 3

Myrtle Week 3 isn’t technically finished yet, with Rock n Roll Virginia Beach coming up on Sunday, but since both the race and its expo will get their own reports, I wanted to share myrtle week 3two other exciting things about this week.  1. I overcame a slight injury and 2. I completed an awesome new speed workout on Wednesday.

Let’s start with the injury.  At some point during last week’s GHDs and sit-ups, I strained the transverse abdominal on my right side.  I rested Saturday, did a long run Sunday and a light recovery run Monday which meant I didn’t notice anything more than normal muscle fatigue until I went to strength train on Tuesday.  As soon as I went to powerfully engage my core (tuck jumps) or anteriorly tilt my hips (pull-ups), I knew what I had done.  The Myrtle Week 3 Core Muscle Strain of 2014.  Combine the fact that I hadn’t noticed the strain for three days and the lack of pain when I wasn’t trying to use that muscle, I knew my little injury wasn’t serious and I’d be just fine after resting it.  At least I could still run and do some things in the gym.  I bailed on my planned workout to avoid making things worse and settled for heavy back squats.

When Wednesday morning rolled around, I was excited to take on a new speed workout.  My legs felt pretty good for having an unexpected heavy lifting session Tuesday and  cooler, low humidity weather was on my side for a day.  This is what the as yet unnamed 6.5 mile workout looked like:

1 mile warm up
4 x 400M 5k pace with 200M recovery
1 x 800M 10k pace with 400M recovery
4 x 400M 5k pace with 200M recovery
1 x 800M 10k pace with 400M recovery
1 mile cool down

I was fried by the time I finished but ecstatic with how the session had gone.  My 400M and 800M laps were fast, steady and consistent which made me happy since I hadn’t done a hard track style workout in a over three weeks.  This is a tough one but definitely deserves a try!

A light shakeout run Thursday helped my tired legs get back on track for this morning’s Race Pace 5k.  The heat had returned and it was definitely not the run I wanted to get in on a sun baked, crowded boardwalk.  I fought through it, knowing that I was paying for going so hard on Tuesday and Wednesday and that I was a little bit dehydrated.  Even though it wasn’t the outing I had hoped for, I’m glad I gutted it out and made myself a little bit stronger.

Tomorrow is a rest day then it’s long run Pace Day on Sunday.  I’m really excited to wrap up Myrtle Week 3 with the 2:15 group and looking forward to meeting lots of awesome runners while hopefully helping them accomplish their PR goals.  I’ll also be at the Expo Saturday until noon at the Pacer Booth, right next to Garmin.  Come visit me!


Are you running RnRVB?  Have you tried any new workouts lately?

Good Speed Work, Good Week

Good speed work topped off a week that hadn’t gone so well and I’m glad I ended on a good note.  In spite of the 20 mile an hour head wind for my 800M repeats yesterday, they cheered me up a bit after Friday’s disastrous run, which I needed heading GoRuck Light week.

Friday’s bad run left me feeling pretty bummed out, and I spent the evening thinking about resting instead of doing five plus miles Saturday.  Maybe my body was trying to tell me something?  Getting back in the gym before my usual seven day post-half marathon rest period was up didn’t give my body the opportunity to recover as long as it normally does, and I thought if it asked for a little more rest, I’d oblige.  Unfortunately, with the Eagles and Hokies both off this weekend, I didn’t have any sports to look forward to and knew I’d just sit around feeling crappy about running if I didn’t get a good one in before Monday.  I decided to wait until seeing how I felt Saturday morning before making a final choice.  If my legs didn’t feel fresh when I woke up, the run was out.

Luckily, my legs felt surprisingly good Saturday morning.  Not what I was expecting after a pair of rough days, but the speed work was in.  I hit the Boardwalk and started to warm up with a slow jog that felt fine, did some calf stretching and gradually picked up the pace for another 1.5 miles before starting my first 800.  I was happy just to have a pain free warm up, but as I ran that first 800, everything gelled and it felt great.  A light tailwind helped me a bit for the first two repeats and I turned around to head home with the next four.  The wind was gusting, and when you’re already running hard, the wind is even worse than it would normally be.  My visor was blown off once all the way and I caught it the second time it tried to get away, but feeling like you’re running into a wall gets old quite quickly.  I worked very hard to turn in splits that were a minute per mile slower pace than they had been in the other direction, but as I ran an easy cool down mile, I was really happy.  My legs were tired from good speed work, not from soreness, and powering through a tough workout almost made me forget completely about Friday’s terrible ten miler.

Good speed work yesterday morning was a great rebound from Friday’s awful outing and put a positive spin on a less than stellar week of workouts.  Tomorrow kicks off Thanksgiving week, which features a 45 minute tempo run tomorrow, a Turkey Trot on Thursday and GoRuck Light on Saturday.  I know it’ll be better than last week and I’m ready.

Meredithgood speed work

What are your Thanksgiving plans?  Are you doing a Turkey Trot?

Priority One, Two…

My only priority Fall Season 2013 was to hit a new half marathon PR, and when I laid out my Fall schedule, Savannah was that race I planned to do that in.  That changed when I learned the course had more hills than I initially expected and was reenforced by my decision to run the fast and flat Rock n Roll Philly.  I set my new PR in Philly, 1:43:32, and in a bout of insanity because I still want to perform well (1:45:00) in Savannah, left a weekly long run in my schedule even during two upcoming Race Weeks.

This is the first of those Race Weeks, and I want to hit Sunday’s Crawlin’ Crab 5K hard.  Running a sub 22:30 5K is my second priority of the Fall 2013 season.  Running for 105 minutes three days before Race Day didn’t concern me much a few weeks ago because I thought I’d still have a half marathon goal to hit and the long run would be more important.  Not anymore.  Already having my new half marathon PR, plenty of really good miles behind me, including a great training run Sunday, and four more long runs coming up before Savannah, I’ve readjusted.  I’d debated about tossing out the long run all week and if my run Sunday hadn’t met my goals, I likely would have dug in and done 105 minutes today.  Thankfully, Sunday did, so today I didn’t have to.

It is also true, however, that I was a little beat up from yesterday’s strength training, Unmotivated would have been an understatement of my mood this morning and by the time I could get to running, it was close to 80 degrees out.  I’m done with doing long runs in weather over 75 degrees this year, yes, but mainly I really didn’t want to push the envelope.  Risking a bad performance on Race Day with legs that weren’t fully recovered from both a long run and only one day of rest didn’t appeal to me at all.  Dropping the long run left my calendar open for normal Wednesday to Sunday Race Week Training: two days of speed work and two days of rest.  I decided to drop this week’s long run, stick with Race Week Training I know works and went out for some of that speed work this afternoon.

Feeling like I should still give my legs some serious work today, I warmed up for my speed work with an easy six mile bike ride.  My kind of beat up legs felt OK riding the bike, but when I hopped off they felt like lead.  Not sore, not tight, just dead.  I slid on my running shoes and fired up the intervals feature on my Garmin 210 thinking, wholeheartedly, my legs would wake on up as I ran a warm up mile.  Well, mind over matter is great, but this time my matter won and the first of my six 400M repeats felt slow.  I was running as hard as I could, but not getting anywhere on legs that seemed nothing if not lethargic.  After completing my second 400M repeat, I was ecstatic that I had decided to drop my long, endurance building 105 minute run.  My legs were just giving up and my breathing was more labored than its been in a long time as I finished repeat number three.  It was more of the same for repeats four, five and six, hard work and confusingly slow times.  In the end, my 400s were fifteen seconds slower than I wanted, but very consistent, and it could have been worse.  It’s clear this, not a long run, was exactly the type of workout I needed before ‘Priority Number Two: Hit a new 5K PR’ Race Day.

I’ll spend as much time as I can tolerate rubbing, rolling, stretching and otherwise cajoling my body to recover tonight and tomorrow, or Friday, I face a hard two miler.  If my legs are still exhausted tomorrow, I’ll rest and push my hard two miler to Friday, but either way a Saturday of rest will get these grouchy legs back on track and I’ll be ready to turn in a new PR on Sunday.


Good to Be Back

Today is Fit Friday and after missing two in a row for pre- and post-race Rest, it felt good to be back.  The Hokies won last night (yay), I was suitably recovered from this week’s earlier workouts and I wanted to finish up my ‘it’s good to be back at training’ week with a strong long run today and good speed work tomorrow.

When I decided to schedule my long run for this morning, there was no rain in the forecast and planned a later start to Friday morning because I knew I would stay up late to watch the Hokies win.  I did stay up late, and had a restless night, but woke up ready to go anyway.  That’s when I heard it.  The rain.  Wait a minute.  I pulled out my Weather Channel app and yup, no rain predicted.  That threw me for a loop since I could hear, smell and see the water coming from the sky outside my window.  OK, I thought, I have time to wait for this to pass (snooze) and still get a run in before my clients.  Snooze I did not and when I woke up an hour later, I no longer had time to get my run in before work.  Off I went, figuring I could just do my 90 minute run this afternoon, even knowing I had plans to run with a client for this week’s second Two a Day.  Run we did and all 3.5 miles of it were lovely, especially since we ran next to the Neptune Festival vendors on the Boardwalk and had plenty of things to see.  Even after that short, easy run, I lost my motivation to do 90 more minutes today and decided to do tomorrow’s three mile race pace run instead, leaving both Saturday and Sunday open for a long outing.

I waited until evening to get my three mile race pace run in and it was great.  I got a twenty minute power nap that totally re-energized me and was pumped to go.  My legs had tightened up a little bit between running 3.5 with my client and heading out for my own run, so I ran an extra half mile and spent five minutes stretching before picking up the pace.  I jogged off, accelerated into my 5K pace, hit the Start button and was moving right along when at just past the first half mile, I got stuck at an intersection and had to wait for about 15 seconds.  I was bummed, but got right back into it and ended up running a full 5K rather than just three miles.  It felt good to get my legs fired up and I finished in 22:10, which is exactly where I want to be next Sunday for the race.  A big stretch/foam roll and another day of running was in the books.

I will likely do my long run after Beach Boot Camp tomorrow morning to get it out of the way so I can have a restful Sunday heading into Crawlin’ Crab 5K Race Week.  It’s going to be a relaxing Friday night tonight, a not too early Saturday, an Eagles filled Sunday and I can’t wait.

Happy Weekend!


Race Week Two

Race Week Two has begun!  If you haven’t checked out my review of Race One, the Bay Days 8K, you can check it out here.

Saturday’s Race One was a huge success and before a Recovery Sunday afternoon full of football, the day started with seeing Saturday clients I had missed for my race.  Next on the list was a little post race recovery run, but after work, I changed my plans.  Instead of an easy run, I took my mountain bike, which was skipping gears and had a brake line issue during last week’s 3.5 miler, to get all fixed up.  With the brake line back in order and a freshly lubricated chain, off I went for a five mile recovery cruise.  What a difference.  Guess it’s time to learn a little bit about bike maintenance.  After loosening up my legs with a bike ride and a big stretch, I spent the rest of Recovery Sunday settled in for a relaxing afternoon of NFL football and the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire.

Race Week Two kicked off today after a Recovery Sunday that featured the first Sunday Fun Day with NFL football in too long, even though my team doesn’t play until 6:55 tonight.  We’re opening with a big rivalry game against the Redskins, and I need a victory.  Living in enemy territory, I hear plenty of Eagles trash talk on a daily basis, and it becomes almost unbearable to leave home if those pesky DCers beat us.  The Hokies turned in a wonderful performance Saturday afternoon, winning 45-3 and just covering Vegas’ 41 point spread, so here’s hoping the Birds continue the trend.  The odds makers aren’t in favor of them, but with a paltry line of 3 for the ‘Skins, it should be a good show.

Before game time, Race Week Two’s workouts began with speed work, and my 6 x 400M repeats were lovely.  I checked them off the list this afternoon and even with a few little hills on my route, they were both fast and consistent.  A mile warm up and a half mile cool down left my fully recovered legs feeling good.

I’ll teach Boot Camp this evening, then it’s time to get ready for Game Night.  Tomorrow is my last strength training day before Philly, and I’ll be taking it fairly easy to make sure my legs are ready to help me go two for two setting PRs this season on Sunday.

Fly, Eagles, fly!


Ready For Race Day

Two days until Race Day and Race Week One presses on!  I had a good last long training run for Philly yesterday morning and did a 3.5 mile bike ride to really loosen up in the evening.  The bike route was flat and easy, my legs felt great when I hopped off and I did a 30 minute stretching session right after.  Even with this little bit of added work, the stretching and foam rolling made my muscles feel great.  I knew I’d recover enough to feel fresh for today’s speed work and ready to go on Race Day.

Today’s intervals were my last workout before Race Day on Saturday.  Usually my long run is followed by a strength workout or tempo run, so this was a different kind of challenge, especially since I wanted to get my pace locked down for Race Day.  It was a lovely morning for Beach Boot Camp, but by the time I had my shoes tied on the morning fog had burned off and it was a little warmer than I would have liked since I was wearing capri pants rather than shorts and a dark grey tank top.

Clothing, temperature and beaming sunlight aside, I felt good after my ten miler and recovery bike ride yesterday.  I normally do speed work to help my long run, and heading out I wasn’t sure how they would work in reverse order.  I figured I’d probably be a hair slower than normal because my legs were more tired than usual and I had a slower pace, rather than a faster one, heading into the day’s session.  An extra half mile warm up helped turn my legs on, getting them nice and loose for my six 800M repeats.  Doing a lot of speed work on the Boardwalk scares me a bit because the surface is so hard and if anything bothers my sore shins, it’s boardwalk speed work.  As my last run before race day, and with no shin soreness or pain, I decided to push it today and if my shins flared up, head out onto the streets.  My goal was to be fast and consistent through all six reps.  I almost did it.  The first four were right where I wanted them to be, but I dropped about ten seconds off my pace in reps five and six, but all of them were completed painlessly on the rock hard Boardwalk.  I wasn’t surprised to loose a little steam, with a ten miler leading to these repeats, and was overall very happy with my outing.

I nailed down my pace for Saturday with this workout and have a Race Day strategy ready to go.  I’m excited for the opportunity to set an 8K PR and will be taking full advantage of tomorrow’s total rest day.


Scrapped Again

It’s Fit Friday!  Fridays are great.  This one hasn’t been unusually exceptional, but my run was good and I’ll take that.  After cutting yesterday’s outing short due to shoulder pain and going with a five mile race pace run rather than my two hour long run, I had my pick of doing the long run or speed work today.  Doing my speed work, 5x800M repeats, today would mean a 4am wake up call to get my long run in before Saturday morning Boot Camp tomorrow.  In light of that, I went to bed last night fully intending to wake up with a perfectly normal shoulder and get two hours of running under my belt this morning.

Even with my good intentions, I awoke after a sleepless night to a still aching shoulder and a little bit of a headache, so getting out of bed was a more of a challenge than usual.  I conquered getting out of bed, and, still dreading a 4am rise and shine tomorrow, managed to check the weather.  The moment in popped up, I immediately gave in.  With higher than initially reported temperatures this morning and high humidity, that dreaded Saturday 4am wake up became a winner.  With my long run scrapped again and pushed to tomorrow morning at zero ‘it’s still dark out’ o’clock, I had five 800M repeats on my plate.

I dislike 800M repeats, though there are things I enjoy even less, but today’s 5x800M repeats weren’t so bad.  It was hot and humid, and, of course, the only time the sun peeked out all day was during my heart rate increasing, core temperature rising intervals.  The good news was that my legs felt fantastic, my toe didn’t bleed enough to warrant a sock bleaching and I clocked five times I’m really happy with.  My shoulder had loosened up as the morning moved on, and was just fine during my warm up.  It barked a little bit during my second rep, but was fine after a stretch during my rest.  The single upside to my still slightly sore shoulder is that it definitely let me know if I got tense.  Get tight in my shoulders?  Clench my hands?  How about my jaw?  Hello, shoulder pain.  I guess that’s one way to make sure your form doesn’t fall apart.

Tomorrow it’s a 4am wake up to run for two hours before Boot Camp.  I’m not too keen on the idea, but as I mentioned before, I want a total rest day Sunday and am willing to suffer for it.  Here’s to laziness!  Kicking off my run at 5am sharp means with sunrise is scheduled for 628am, I’ll be spending at least an hour running on the lit Boardwalk.  A boring route, but it has lights, water fountains, is pretty darn flat and by 6am there should be at least a few other people out there with me.