Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gonzal-EZ does it.

Taking it easy, is the best way to get in shape without getting hurt. For me, I've found that the more gradual my approach, the better results I get. Just like I wouldn't lunge to touch your toes during a hamstring stretch, I don't believe that getting on a treadmill, and starting off at 7.5 MPH is also too rapid, and too excessive to begin your run.

For the last few years, I've had trouble adhering to the "tortoise beat hare" mentality, especially when it comes to running, & doubly so when it's treadmill running.

Too often, when I run on at the gym, I would lose focus of the goal, and wind up abandoning my mission. I would start by doing what I'm supposed to do, like going to do a slow 5K jog, but then I'd see that the person next to me is blowing me away on the treadmill. When I see that, I either want to beat that person, or at least not be held back. In any case, I wind up doing fast sprints all too often, and as you probably know where this article is leading to, I wind up getting 2 more miles in through speed, just to give them back, and a lot more, by being injured for the next 4 days.

Especially after the injuries of the last two years, I may have finally learned my lesson, and decided to just be gradual in my running. If you look at the chart above, you'll see that each of my miles are a little bit faster (or slower) than the last.

What I have figured out it that I can run very fast and for much longer periods of time, if I don't blast out of the gate. I learned this at the 2005 Brooklyn Half-Marathon, but did not apply it till this year. During that race, my shins were killing me (later to find out that I was running on a broken left leg-yep that's a good blog, but for another day). Fearful of the sensation, I started out under running, or going slower than my normal pace for about the first 6 miles. I felt so well after that period that I was not only able to sustain my normal pace thereafter, but exceed it, and without tiring out.

Well, this year, after the heartache of last year's dissapointing (albeit courageous & foolish) finish at the 2006 NYC Marathon, I decided I would no longer just blast off. And thus, when I am on a treadmill, rather than starting at 6.7 or even 7.3 MPH, I start at 5.5 MPH and work my way up. The way I do this is a bit tedious, yet simple. Let me explain:

I get on the treadmill (after my warm up stretches), and start walking at about 3.4 to 3.8 MPH. After about 2 minutes, I reset the workout, and restart manually at 5.5 MPH. Then, with each tenth (.1) of a mile completed, I up the speed by a tenth. So, when I've hit 1 mile completed, I am now at 6.5 MPH, and so on.

Today, I went to the LA Fitness in Farmingdale during my late lunch. I started at 5.5 MPH, and since I knew I was going to run 5 miles, I upped myself by .1 MPH for every .1 of a mile completed. So, when I got to having completed 2.5 miles, I was at my max speed of 8.0 MPH. Then, in order to not finish at a high speed, I reversed the progress by the same rate. In other words, I decreased the speed by a tenth, for every tenth of a mile completed thereafter. So, I was at 7.5 MPH at mile 3, and 6.5 MPH @ mile 4, and so on.

The result was no pain, and all gain. I sweated a lot because I only passed my lactate threshold when I got past 7.3 MPH. In fact, by moving my speeds up and down ever so gently, I may have even taught my body to burn fat at faster than normal speeds. I felt great afterwards, and thought that I had finally shaken the "The Faster I Go The More I Would Impress The Woman Around Me"....not to mention that my girlfriend would probably want to kick my butt for even thinking it.....umm errr, I am blogging....Oh well. Got to live dangerously ever so often!

One last note. If you are a serious runner, and take documenting your workouts seriously, then YOU'VE GOT TO GO TO WWW.RUNNINGAHEAD.COM.

I've tried all the websites out there to include Nike, Runner'sWorld, Polar (the watch company), and CoolRunnings, and while they all have nice features, nothing comes even close to the granular level of detail that that site provides. Another thing is that it is very easy to use, very addictive, and the user community that's there today, is great! I only wish that there were others from my Metro Area (NYC) that would use this site. If they did, they'd never go back to anything else!! I think Eric Yee (I hope that it's okay if I use his name), is the creator of this site, and I think he has done a spectacular job of providing incredibly simple to use tools to help us be better runners. Thanks Eric!!!

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