Running in Ireland

We have seen the sun for just a few hours since our arrival in Ireland, but this is why this island country is so green…

The Irish people are extremely friendly and they make you feel right at home. Our Irish host from Clifden, John Wallace, is a typical Irish bloke full of love and Irish humor (and his favorite Guinness). Here’s a photo of Sekyen and John in front of beautiful Kylemore Abbey:




Our first race in Galway county mixed a bit of wind, rain, and slippery roads, but it was a good start to the tour. I ran a 4:49 and was very thankful for another part of our Irish crew – driver Lukas Pietraszewski who kept me protected the whole way. Here is a photo of Lukas after the race:





We fly to Iceland on Sunday ready for more rain next week. We will miss the picturesque countryside of Connemara and the warm Irish folks who have made our week here a very special memory.

Running: 5 Steps to Run A Better Time Trial

The last part for my speed preparation is a time trial. Just me against the clock. Unfortunately, some of my races are just like a time trial (in some of my strange locations) with no other competitors. It is I vs. the clock – that is how my time trials are set up. It does not have to be that way – you can have competitors at a time trial, but for me to properly measure my training and my shape, I prefer to run a time trial solo. I do this to build my mental strength. This is why I find time trials much more difficult than running against other competitors. In a race, you can draft, pace, and use other competitors in your event. In my time trial, I am alone and want to feel that loneliness over a measured distance.

We have set up a half mile time trial on the roads behind my house that I run every year before my tours begin. It helps me build confidence in my body, mind, and spirit. I do not run this time trial all out, instead I use it as a dress rehearsal for my mile race. I warm-up the same way and put my toe on the line just like it is my first race. I want to “feel” what the first half mile should feel like in my mile race. I practice my strong start, my first quarter mile, and then run my second quarter just as I would like in the mile – smooth, relaxed, and rhythmic. I should be around 2:20 for the first half mile.

I ran time trials the last two Saturday mornings running right around 2:20. This practice allows me to race with confidence next week. Here are some points to remember for a good time trial:

1) Warm up fully
2) Race solo or with others – your choice.
3) Choose the same course in order to measure improvement
4) Have a purpose – what are your performance goals?
5) Reflect and repeat the following week

All the best with your speed workouts to help you better prepare for your racing distance. We are off to Ireland on Monday for our first race. Let’s hope the rain will stop just before I put my toe on the line…

Running: 7 Steps to a Better Start

Working on my “start” is part of my speed training. I remember my mistake at The National Masters Indoor Championships in 2006. When the gun went off for the start of the race, I went backwards and not forwards giving up position on the tight 200 meter track. I wanted to start off in a certain group for the mile, but they were already gone. I ran a 4:46 just before my 43rd birthday. I corrected my “start” mistake the following year at the same track in Boston at The National Masters Indoor Championships. After working repeatedly on my start and the initial 100 meters of the one-mile race, I ran a 4:37 just before my 44th birthday. I had earned my qualifying spot for this National Championship and wanted to stay with the leaders for the first 1/2 mile. My good “start” helped me establish position in the lead group and allowed me to keep my race strategy for an improved time in 2007. Now that I am soon embarking on my 5th tour for, I am working on my “starts” this month as I prepare for my first race on July 1st.

The shorter the race, the more importance is given to the start. Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 meters knows how important his “start” is going to be in London next month. From 400 meters and below, sprinters use “starting blocks” to begin their races. Events longer than 400 meters (one lap around the track) do not use “starting blocks”. Even though in longer races the start is not as important, it is still fun speed training and certainly gets you focused on the task at hand.

Here are the 7 keys to a fast start for races that do not use a starting block:

  1. Line up your feet in a sprint position one ahead of the other. (Decide which foot you would like to have in front – this will be your push off leg).
  2. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart with your front foot flat and the back foot just touching with your toe. (If you begin with a base too wide, it can cause you to retract backwards at the shot of the gun).
  3. Whatever foot you have in front, raise your opposite arm up high in a full arm swing position.
  4. Lean over the starting line (yes, it is legal to lean over) with almost all your body weight on your front foot.
  5. At the shot of the gun, thrust down and back with raised arm and push off with your front foot at the same time. This will literally launch you off the line to begin your race.
  6. Keep yourself in full sprint mode to get position at the start of your race and to avoid collisions with other participants’ legs and elbows.
  7. Maintain your sprint speed for a desired length (somewhere between 60-200 meters depending on the race).

Enjoy the power of your new “start” and begin your race with a bang!

Preparing For The Speed Of The Mile

One of the reasons why I love the workouts for the mile is that every day is different training. Besides all the full body strength training that I do to prepare for the abuse of racing every week, this month of June focuses on training the speed required for the mile. The week started for me in Arizona, where I began my week on Monday with repetitions of 8×1/8 mile sprints, returned to Florida to run a 3 mile tempo run on Thursday, and concluded my speed training on Saturday with 7×1/4 mile on a straight road. This coming Tuesday, I hit the bridge to take advantage of one of the few hills in the city.

Let’s go over each of these different speed workouts so you can understand why you should add them to your workouts:

  1. 1/8 mile sprints –  all-out sprints preparing your muscles to load and explode
  2. Tempo runs –  roughly 20 minutes of  “hard running at ease” (breathing is easier) to raise lactate threshold (the breaking point where your muscles fatigue)
  3. 1/4 mile repetitions –  slightly slower than your sprint speed teaching your body to work harder and increase your running efficiency
  4. Hill repeats – working against gravity improving the strength of muscles and tendons

At 49 years old, I follow my hard runs with a recovery run (30-50 minutes) the next day allowing time for my body to mend, strengthen, and absorb the quality speed workouts. Of course, before you begin your speed workouts get properly warmed-up with light jogging and mobilization exercises, and then conclude the workout with a cool-down of jogging mixed with striding (easy lengthening of your stride) and stretching movements to remove lactic acid created by the speed workout. Please let me know how any of these various speed themes help you to go faster.