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Spring running season near

Charlie Lincoln

It still feels like winter, but the spring racing season is upon us. Down in the valley, the daffodils are popping their heads up all over and runners are putting their tights away and pulling out the shorts.

I was skimming through the “Runners Schedule” recently and I was amazed at the number of races that are fast approaching. For the marathon crowd, the Catalina Island Marathon on March 22 and the Big Sur Marathon on April 27. For the many cyclists among you, the ever-popular Solvang Century Ride is Saturday, March 1. The ultra-running season gets off to a bang with the Cool Canyon Crawl 50-kilometer trail run on March 15, followed by the American River 50 Miler on April 5. The American River 50 is the largest ultra-run in the United States with more than 500 entries. For those sprinters and 5K runners, the world’s fastest 5K is the Carlsbad 5000 on April 13.

If this has you feeling a little out of shape and concerned about it like I am, it is time to push your training into a higher gear. If you have been running relaxed throughout the winter and you feel the need for speed, then tempo training is the place to start. Unlike interval training, tempo training does not overstress your body and it is not so demanding that you dread the next one. The simplest tempo run is a 20- to 25-minute run at a pace that is 15 to 20 seconds slower than your 10K race pace. An example would be if you are currently racing a 10K in 45 minutes or at a 7:15 pace, you would run three miles at a 7:30 pace after a one-mile warm-up. If you prefer to run on a track, another example would be to run four one-mile repeats at a 15K race pace with a five-minute recovery between each rep. Every tempo run should be followed by a one-mile cool down, too.

The physiological side of this means that you are trying to increase your lactate acid threshold. When you reach your lactate threshold, you can no longer breathe in enough oxygen to stop the buildup of lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle use and the major cause of muscle stiffness and soreness. Once lactic acid begins to accumulate in your bloodstream, it becomes harder and harder to run, let alone run fast. By increasing or raising your lactate threshold, you will be able to run faster and longer without pain. If you run one tempo run per week, you will be amazed at the results and how soon they do accumulate.

The day after a tempo run, I recommend everyone do a long, slow run for recovery. Run relaxed and at a pace slow enough to allow for a great philosophical discussion with your favorite running partner. This will flush any buildup of lactic acid out of your system and refresh your attitude as well. If you feel tired, shorten your run but get out there and run no matter how sore you are. A run is the best medicine for sore and stiff muscles.

Most coaches recommend that you slowly increase your tempo runs until they represent 15 percent of your weekly mileage before an upcoming race. If you are running 20 miles per week, that would equate to one three-mile tempo run per week. If you are running 40 miles per week, you should be running two three-mile tempo runs per week. There are always exceptions to every rule so you must pay attention to your body and how it is reacting to your training. Flexibility in your training schedule is of utmost importance if you want to run injury-free. So if you are tired, skip the tempo run and go for a long trail run to refresh you.

If you have questions about training, nutrition, shoes or anything else to do with running, stop by World’s Toughest Endurance Sports or call me at 542-6296. For those runners on-line, my e-mail address is Wtough@oakweb.com

Run long and keep smiling!


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