Friday, April 30, 2010

3-3-3 Frequently Asked Questions?

Ok explain those workouts and what the heck does 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, etc. mean? This program is designed to help you build up your running endurance through planned walk breaks (a technique perhaps made most famous by the great Jeff Galloway, who encourages even elite marathoners to take walk breaks to improve their performance. See. I told you you wouldn't be the only one walking!).

The theory works a little like this: You will eventually get tired. By taking planned walk breaks, you are anticipating that this will in fact be happening and running your workout accordingly. Think of it as saving a little in the tank, so you can finish the entire workout of 15, 20, 30 minutes or more as opposed to running for as long as you can (which might not be too long at the get go) and then pooping out and going home. What we’re trying to do at first is make sure you do get in a good quality workout, while at the same time increasing the amount of time you are able to run continuously. 1:1, 2:1 3:1, etc indicates the intervals of running to walking you’ll be doing. For example: the first workout is 15 minutes, Run/Walk 1:1. So in other words you’re running one minute, then walking one minute, running one minute, then walking one minute for the entire 15 minutes. When that first number changes (ie. 2:1) you increase the running interval to that many minutes. The walk break, in this program, will always stay at 1 minute.

Begin each workout with a short walk to warm up your muscles before running and end each workout them same way allowing your breathing and your heart rate to return to normal. Stretch when you're done.

How fast should I be running? Run at a pace you can talk at. Remember we want to COMPLETE each workout not necessarily see how fast or how far we can get in each workout.

How slow should I be walking? As slow as you like. It’s your recovery period so get what you need out of it. Just keep moving.

Am I really “going for a run” if I have to walk or am I just going to embarrass myself? Listen. Nobody is immune from having to take a walk break every now and then. I’ve run in 3 marathons and all sorts of other races and I promise you other people walk too! In fact, my OBGYN who is in his mid 50’s qualified for the Boston Marathon on his first attempt by taking scheduled walk breaks during his race.

You are “going for a run” if the pace you are moving at is faster than the pace you walk at. Any runner who suggests to you otherwise, would do well to remember that there will ALWAYS be somebody faster even than them. And chances are, the pace they run at would be considered something of a walk for somebody else.

What if I’m not tired after running a minute or when I’m scheduled to walk? Should I just keep running? Nope. Remember, you are anticipating you’ll be tired. That doesn’t necessarily mean you WILL be tired for the first few walk breaks. Give it at least the whole first workout to see where you’re at before adjusting the run/walk intervals. Otherwise you might be in for a surprise. If your not tired at all at the end of the workout, rock on. You’re ahead of the game a bit. Adjust as necessary. But be careful you don’t try to do too much too soon or try to go too fast or too far right out of the gate. Adjust only a little bit at a time and never change more than one thing in a workout (ie. speed, distance, interval, course) so that you can evaluate the effects of changing one variable at a time.

I’m not really tired at the end of the workout. Should I be? You shouldn’t feel like you just got hit by a bus or anything, but you should feel like you got something of a workout. If not, no problem, just advance yourself a little bit. Pick up your pace on the runs, increase the run portion of the interval or length of the entire run on your next workout. But just pick one and be sure whatever changes you make in the intensity of the workout are modest. Cardinal Rule #1: Too much too soon is too much.

I don't think I can increase the intervals or the length of the workout yet and on the schedule it says I’m supposed to. What do I do? No big deal. Just repeat the same workout until the increase feels doable. It might take you a little bit longer to get through the training schedule or perhaps you just had a bad day and will be able to catch yourself back up. Either way it doesn’t matter, as long you get it though it!

Warmups? Cool downs? How come I don’t see any of that lingo on your program? Because I hate them. No, really I do. Despite all the research showing the benefits of both and try as I might, I still can’t help but feel like they’re a waste of my very extremely limited time (but yes, I still do them). And that is a sentiment I know I’m not alone in. So I’m not dedicating precious space, to something most people are going to skip or cut short. Here’s the rule of thumb for beginners: sandwich your runs with some period of walking to get warmed up and cooled down. You’ll be fine.

Do I have to stretch? Welcome to a very highly debated issue: stretching prior to running. Some say absolutely or risk injury others say absolutely not or risk injury. So what to do? One thing "the experts" seem to agree upon is that you do not stretch cold muscles. So if you're going to stretch before you run, then warmup first. Walk or jog. After your run, your muscles are plenty warmed up, so feel free to stretch away.

Are there better training programs for new runners out there? Probably. Couch to 5K is a very popular program. Galloway’s got one, Run Less Run Faster has one too and if you do a little search I’m sure you’ll be able to find tons more out there much more scientifically researched by people with far more credentials than I. I’m just sharing with you what I did following baby #1 and #2 and what I pass on to my friends and family when asked since people do like to ask and I suspect there’s more of you out there that would like to know how to get started but are perhaps a little on the shy side.

Do people really listen to you? Nope. Ok my kids, but usually only when I threaten them or put a popsicle on the line ;-)

Will this help me lose weight? Yes! YAY! Exercise helps you lose weight (shocking the things you learn here right?). BUT you are going to have to eat sensibly to see significant results (dangit).

How come it doesn’t seem like I’m losing any weight? Because you are also building muscle and muscle weighs more than fat which is something your scale won’t accurately reflect (unless you’ve equipped yourself with a body mass scale). My suggestion…stay off the scale, watch what you eat and stick to the training plan. You’ll start to notice changes in the way your clothes fit. When the changes become significant, then hop back on and take a little peek.

I hate this. What can I do? Awww….really? Is it that bad? I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s just a bad day or even a couple of them. It was too hot. The kids wouldn’t stay in bed last night. Nothing went right at work and it drifted into your run. If that’s the case, then stick with it my friend. Things will look up soon. But if that’s not the case, there’s a good chance you’re trying to do more or run faster than your body is ready for. Try this…go out for a run/walk. Leave your watch at home. Don’t worry about the distance. Just run and walk for however long and far and whatever pace you feel like. Often times, this will do the trick.

How sore is too sore? Not being able to walk is probably a good indicator that you’ve done a little too much. Don’t get me wrong you should expect too feel sore, that is inevitable, but I’m not trying to render you useless as far as your other responsibilities go. If you’re finding yourself miserable the day after a run, I’d suggest perhaps slowing down or repeating a workout until it becomes a little more comfortable and a little less painful.

How do I know if I’m hurt or just sore? Ah….the age old question. For seasoned runners the answer is pretty simple: you just know. You’ve run enough to know what normal soreness from running feels like and when something you are feeling is, well, not normal. But when you first get started the hurt is one in the same. Generally speaking, soreness is going to kick in sometime after your run, while an injury is going to start hurting at the point when you get injured. Soreness will usually go away in a couple of days and injuries generally want to hang on a bit longer. Oh and if the pain started with a noise of some sort, chances are you are injured.

How can I make the soreness go away? Stretching, ice, and massage will all help. Oh…and chocolate. Chocolate helps too. Never forget that.

What do I do if I think I am hurt? Proceed directly to your doctor. Do not pass go (or spend 3 weeks searching on google for an answer other than injury while attempting to rest, ice, compress, and elevate the part that hurts eventually ending up at the dr’s anyway only having lost 3 weeks).

I really don’t like to sweat. What can I do? Suck it up. Runners sweat.

Where can I find a race? If you’re in Michigan, checkout for tons of races. If you’re not, search online, check rec centers, churches, and keep an eye out from about April-October races abound. November-March, depending on where you live exactly, they may be a little more scarce.

How can I get faster? STOP. Back up. Too soon. Right now we’re just trying to get your feet up under you as a runner. The good news is you will naturally find yourself picking up the pace a bit throughout the training program as you get stronger and your body adapts to running. Once you’re running a few miles continuously, then you can start to think about incorporating some speed workouts into your routine. My experience has been when people try to pick up the pace and do speed workouts right out of the gate before they’re physically ready, they wind up hurt.

How can I get these runs in when my kids WILL NOT cooperate? I have no idea. When you figure it out, let me know ;-) Until then, rejoice in the flexibility of your schedule. If you’re having one of THOSE days (like I did last night actually), take a deep breath. Put the running shoes away and take the kiddos outside for a game of tag or curl up on the couch and watch Tinkerbell. Some days it just isn’t happening and instead of being angry and frustrated and gosh darn it trying to cram that run in while your 1 year old is sobbing in the jogging stroller and your 5 year old on the bike won’t stop whining, just chock it up to one of THOSE days and slide your run to the next day. That’s the beauty of running three days a week. There’s actually 7 so you’ve left yourself plenty of back up.

Jogging strollers: yay or nay? YAY! As long as your kiddo enjoys it, or falls asleep in it, or will actually sit in it. Otherwise, you might just be adding a little more frustration to your run. Be sure to look for a jogging stoller that has a brake, because you’d never believe how fast those suckers get going on the slightest of inclines. Use your tether strap, just in case. You don’t want a runaway baby on your hands. I’d also recommend a fixed wheel on the front. Steering is a little more difficult, but that also means hitting a rock or a stick or is not going to send you off course. If you want to find one cheap, check online at Craig's List or Ebay. Keep an eye out at garage sales too.

Ipods yay or nay? Nay. Well, for me anyway. My husband would be lost without his on a run I believe. I think half the fun of a run is being outside and enjoying your surroundings. Then again, when I run outside I’m on the trails lost in nature. You may be running in a big city to the glorious hymn of rush hour traffic and foul mouthed cabbies. Um…maybe not so pleasant. Whatever you decide, headphone or no, just always remember to be aware of your surroundings for your own safety.

I’ve got to run on the treadmill to get my workouts in but I’m losing my mind it’s so boring. What can I do? SHUSH! I would be lost without my treadmill, so there is no tm bashing here. Just be majorly happy you have one at your disposal so you CAN run. That being said, I'm agreed. I'd much rather run outside. But when you can't, you can't. Playing around with the speed or incline might make the minutes pass by a little faster it does for me anyway. Listen to some music. Watch some tv. Or write me a sonnet. No one has ever done that before so you’d have the distinct pleasure of being the first. Just remember running is almost all mental. Master the mind and you'll master the run, treadmill or not.

Is it ok if I do all my running on a treadmill even though the race will be outside? Yep. Do what you gotta do to get ‘em in.

Is it safe to run outside alone? Depends on where you're at and how you do it. I strongly suggest running with a partner. Another runner, someone following you on a bike, in a car, or if no humans are available even a furry friend that bites will do. But at the very least, make sure you are running with identification and that someone knows when, where, and how long you'll be gone for. I also carry my cell phone and have used it on occassion to bail from a run. I've also run into quite a few runners who carry mace (In fact, I almost was maced on a run as I passed somebody once, but that is perhaps a story for another time). Always be aware of your surroundings (yep, I know I already said this, but it's worth repeating).

Can I run more than 3 days a week? Sure. But what was that cardinal rule? Let's see here...too much too soon is too much. Yes, there are people that run every single day, maybe one day you'll be one of them. But for now, take it sloooooooowly. So as not to risk injury or runner burn out (which is sometime much more fatal to your running dreams).

Can I run less than 3 days a week? Sure. It will probably take you longer to get through the training program though and you might need to pick up some sort of cross training to maintain your cardiovascular fitness in between runs.

What about strength training? Shouldn’t I do some of that? Sure. Strength training is an excellent way to build muscle and improve your running performance.

Is cross training ok? Absolutely. Swimming, biking, rowing are all excellent ways to give yourself a little break while improving cardiovascular fitness.

I’m so tired today. Can I skip my run? You can and shift it to the next day, BUT (and that's a mighty bold faced but there) I almost always feel better after I run even when I am dog tired. I've got to do a lot of my runs in the evening when my girls are asleep and I've found if I can just get my running shoes on, I'm making that run happen. It's just a matter of shutting off my head and not thinking of the nine million reasons I don't want to or even that I deserve not to run. I usually cut a deal with myself, if I'm still tired after 1/2 a mile or so, I'll call it a night. Have I? Yes. How often? Very rarely. About as often as my daughter actually catches the butterflies she chases.

I’m sick. Do I run anyway? This is a hard question to answer without knowing exactly how sick you are and what your body tolerates. Moderate exercise like what is included in this program does benefit the immune system. However, if you are just totally whipped or you can't stay out of the bathroom for one reason or another, you might want to put that run off for another day. I've also found that when a cold really seems to be hanging on, it's better to take that you'd spend running and rest, rather than have it keep dragging on. Really, though, this is gotta be your call.

Is it ever to hot or cold too run? My opinion. Yes, but then again, I have a treadmill so I've always got the indoor option. If I didn't, I probably tough it out outdoors more than I do, but do it safely. Make sure you are drinking extra fluids with electolytes like Gatorade and running EARLY when it's hot. Layer, layer, layer when it's cold.

Um…I’m chafing in weird places and it frickin’ hurts. Help me please? Body Glide.

If I missed a week of running am I sunk. Should I start over? Nah. Not just yet. Try to pick it back up where you left off. You might need to back up a touch.

What should I wear to run in? Just wear whatever you're comfortable in at first.

When should I register for a race? Now. Now. NOW! Don't push this off otherwise there's a tendency to not do it. Not doing it, not having a goal makes the training just THAT much harder. So stop reading this and go sign up for that race you're thinking about. Do it now. I promise this will still be here when you get back.

Why are they talking about bibs? Am I really going to have to wear one, I’m not planning on eating anything. Race bib. You'll be assigned a number. Your bib has your number on it. You wear it your front (shirt or leg). Get four safety pins and pin each corner so it's not flopping around annoying you.

It says this race is chip timed. What does that mean? It means they will give you a little timing chip which will either be on your bib or you will attach to your shoe. This will be how the race determines your finishing time.

What do I do with a chip? Put it on your shoe by using the little plastic tie thingys they give you and attach it to your shoelaces. I just tuck the extra long part under my laces (yep, I realize this doesn't make sense now, but it will on race day).

What's a race packet? You pick it up before your race. Sometimes the day of. Sometimes the day before. Sometimes either or. At the very least it has your bib in it. Other items may include: safety pins, timing chip, timing chip plastic thingies (yeah...somebody feel free to tell me what those are called), flyers for other races, coupons from race sponsors, a shirt, product samples.

Does it matter if I do a trail race or a road race? Nope. Remember though that if it's a trail race, unless it specifically says paved trail, they are talking uneven terrain, rocks, sticks, etc.

If the race description says hilly or challenging, should I stay away from it? Not necessarily, but you probably are going to want to make sure the course you are training on is also hilly and challenging.

When should I register for a race? Now. Now. NOW! Don't push this off otherwise there's a tendency to not do it. Not doing it, not having a goal makes the training just THAT much harder. So stop reading this and go sign up for that race you're thinking about. Do it now. I promise this will still be here when you get back.

How early should I get there? Depends on you. But ask yourself some of these questions while trying to decide: Do I need to pick up my packet? Is there lots of parking nearby? What will traffic be like? What do I like to do for a warmup? Where is the start relative to parking? I usually like to be in the general vicinity of my race an hour in advance. I might still be in my car looking for a parking spot, but I want to be at least in the area.

What do eat before I run and/or race? Exactly precisely whatever you've been eating before your runs. Do not change a thing on race day. You don't want to suddenly find out some food doesn't agree with your stomach when running in the middle of a race.

What should I be doing while I’m waiting for the race to start? Waiting in line to pee. No really. Wait 'til you get to your race, that's what nearly everyone will be doing. Besides that, take it in. Enjoy it. You only get to have your first race once!

Should I get in the front or the back of the pack near the start? For your first race, I'd opt for the back otherwise you might get plowed down by some of the take no prisoners I'm breaking my PR today super fasties at the start of the pack.

What if I can’t sleep the night before the race? Nobody can. Don't worry about. Try to get some sleep in the days leading up to the race if you can.

If my race gives out finishers’ medals what should I do with it? Wear that sucker proudly all day baby!

Ok I finished your training program. Now what? First, email me at Let me know how it went. I want to hear about it and maybe send you a little something to celebrate your fabulous accomplishment. Next think about what you want to accomplish next. Faster? Farther? Move onto trails? Pick up the bike too or swimming? But keep the ball rolling...

While it might have been a worthy effort, you totally have not answered any of my questions. If I email you, will you actually answer me? Absolutely :-)

1 comment:

Erica said...

I love all the Q and A lots of great info!