Tuesday, September 3, 2013

411 on a Few Running Terms

If you are like many of us when we started training to become endurance runners, we would see words and "running lingo" that was like a different language! 

Fartlek, tempo, interval, conversation pace? What?

In the heart of your training you may be coming across some of these words, curious or wanting an explanation. We want to simplify some of the running terms for you so that you can incorporate them  in your training. 

So, here's a quick breakdown of some of them.

Fartlek is not only fun to say out loud but it's actually fun to run! Fartlek is a Swedish word that means "speed play" and that is exactly what a fartlek workout is. It is a very unstructured run that has no plan or exact pace to keep up. After your warm-up, you play with speed by running faster efforts for short periods of time. Again, no set time or pace. Choose a tree, light pole, any landmark and go for it! Once you get there, follow that up with easy effort running to recover. Then go for it again! Wash, rinse, repeat! Do this for whatever length of time your run is to be that day. Of course end your workout with a cool down mile. As quoted from Runners World, the benefits include a  "stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, and stamina."

Tempo runs simply put are a controlled steady comfortably hard paced run done for anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour. They train the body to run farther and faster by teaching the muscles to utilize oxygen for metabolism more effectively. There is a point at which your body fatigues at a certain pace, called lactate threshold, by increasing your threshold your body can sustain more speed over distance. Tempo training increases your lactate threshold. Most running experts say that tempo running is the single most effective workout to train your body to sustain speed over distance. To make sure you are doing a tempo run at the right pace add 30 to 40 seconds to your 5k pace or 10-15 minutes to your 10k pace. If you are unsure of that do the talk test. You should be about to answer a simple question like "what's your pace?" but not be able to carry on a conversation. Again should be comfortably hard as in this is tough I can do this but I can't wait till it's over! 

Interval runs are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. Basically they are faster bursts of speed (1 mile to 5km speed) held for between 1 and 3mins. Recovery jog should be equal to the effort time (i.e. 1 min fast - 1 min slow - 1 min fast, etc) - repeat 10 to 20 times depending on length of your workout. Unlike tempo workouts, you’re pushing yourself at an effort where you are reaching hard for air and counting the seconds until you can stop—a controlled fast effort followed by a truly easy jog. You want to finish fatigued but not completely spent. By incorporating these into your training you will see improved  running form,  build endurance, and burn more fat. 

Conversation pace is exactly what it says. You should be able to run while carrying on a conversation. Simple enough!

Hope this helps you understand some of the running terms and the difference in a few speed workouts. What are some other terms you find confusing?

Happy Training!

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