Just like my bike post about improvements I've gain in speed, I had another one of those days, that made me reflect on how far I've come in my running pace. I had a 2hr run, and had to maintain a heart rate right in my aerobic zone. I peeled off 6:50's for 2hrs, at a HR 26 beats below my LT!!! Again, it made me reflect back to my first 1/2 marathon 5 years ago, where I trained my butt off, and raced hard, and ended up with a 7:10 pace. So what happened over the last 5 yrs.:
(side note: I swam all through high school and college, at 21 I didn't do anything aerobic in nature for 9yrs, so I probably have the aerobic network in place from all those years gasping for air every single day. In terms of body structure, I'm built to run, and not swim. Didn't realize this until we had to run a mile for time after my first week of college swimming. I was the worst swimmer on the team, I was not built to be a swimmer, I have small hands, small feet, long legs, and a small torso, which happens to be a great build for a runner. So I guess the way I'm structured allows me to run pretty well)
1. I've been able to run injury free for the last 3yrs. There have been 6 weeks over the last 3yrs, in which I didn't run at all, and this wasn't due to injuries, just required rest.
2. I increased my cadence. I use to run with a cadence in the mid to upper 80's, and now I keep it around 92-95. Quicker shorter strides, due to a more of a forward lean, as opposed to just moving my feet faster. This quicker cadence has decreased the force exerted on my entire body.
3. Consistency. The reason I've been able to maintain my running day in and day out, is by controlling my effort levels with HR (I use HR, pace could be used as well). My slow days are VERY SLOW, my tempo days are STEADY, and my hard days are HARD. I use to run consistently moderately hard all the time, and as a result I was not able to maintain any sort of consistency week/week, due to fatigue and overuse injuries. Slowing down was a hard pill to swallow. The old guys in the neighborhood were blowing by me.
4. I strengthened my core. I had to get my hip adjusted weekly, due to a pelvic tilt, this would put tons of strain on my hammies and quads. After a year of doing a core routine once a week (abs, back, hip flexors, piriformis, abductors/adductors, all with resistance cords), my pelvis is rock solid. My tilt has not been an issue all year. Having a strong core, allows for a stronger stride.
5. Long runs. Easy/Steady long efforts, so important. Too much to get into, the human body is amazing in its ability to adapt to longer efforts, it just takes time and patience.
6. Lost weight. Free speed=Fat loss. Every pound of extra fat, corresponds to 3sec/mile. Lose 20pds, lose a minute off of your pace.
7. Hill bounding. Great way to strengthen your stride. Run up a hill (should take a minute) as fast as you can, but use the longest stride as possible, at the quickest cadence possible. You will look like a complete idiot, but very effective. You should feel like/look like a triple jumper. Take a 3min easy jog, then run down the hill as fast as possible with the shortest/quickest stride as possible. Start with just 4, and increase every week up to a max of 9 (BE CAREFUL, this is quite stressful)
After a set of three, do 2 15sec wind sprints.