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In early 2014 I was feeling pretty good. My lupus was being mostly managed and I had a pretty good workout habit going with Beachbody programs. I was in my early 40’s and was thinking to myself – maybe you need a new challenge. I had never and I mean NEVER been a runner. I had always danced growing up but never ran and runner fascinated me. They all talked about this feeling they got when they ran; how it cleared their heads and they were able to get enjoyment out of a long run. The whole thing sounded awful but I wanted to try something new. I asked around and found Couch to 5k. I gave it a try and totally disliked it. My joints were dying after a short run and I was beginning to think this was a bad idea. Then I heard about Run Disney. Y’all know – I LOVE DISNEY – and they host races there – where other Disney fans get dressed in costumes and run through the parks. That did it – I wanted to do a Disney race. Mind you – I still haven’t run a full mile yet – but being that I’m an optimist and nothing motivates me like a crazy goal that everyone thinks is unachievable I decided I wanted to do a half marathon. Taylor, my oldest son who started running as part of the Corps of Cadets program at Texas A&M but had to switch to a regular student after a series of injuries and a knee surgery actually agreed to do it with me. My husband and other son thought I was crazy. On Mar 4th, 2014 I registered us for the Wine and Dine half marathon in November that year. It was time to go a mile and then some.
Disney had teamed up with Jeff Galloway to create training programs and calendars for each of their race distances. I downloaded the Wine and Dine program and read Jeff Galloway’s half marathon book. Now Jeff Galloway is a former Olympian – He’s a runner but along the way, he’s realized that you don’t necessarily need to run straight from the start line to the finish line to run a race. He actually says that if you run-walk-run you will not only finish feeling better, recover faster but potentially even become faster. It all sounded better than what I was trying with Couch to 5k and after joining the Team Run Disney Facebook Group I quickly realized this was one of the most popular methods of training and racing within these Disney races.
Let me break down the finer points for Jeff Galloway’s method. You start with your Magic Mile. A Magic Mile is a method to determine what your run/walk intervals should be.
- Standard warmup: walk for 3-5 minutes, then, run for a few seconds and walk for a minute for 5 minutes. Then, gradually increase the amount of running,
reducing the amount of walking for 5 minutes—until you reach the ratio that feels comfortable for you.
- Run around a track if at all possible (or a very accurately measured one-mile segment) Time yourself for 4 laps (1600 meters). Start the watch at the beginning, and keep it running until you cross the finish at 1.0 miles.
- On the first MM, don’t run all-out: run at a pace that is slightly faster than your current gentle pace.
- Don’t ever run so hard that you hurt your feet, knees, etc. Maintain a short stride, picking up the cadence or turnover to run faster.
What was your time? When I did this for the first time – I walked a lot more than I ran but you need to remember this is your starting time – you are going to improve with training. Using the table below as a guideline – find your pace per mile and the suggested run amount and walk amount. This is your starting interval. This table was taken from the Half Marathon: A Complete Guide for Women book by Jeff & Barbara Galloway.
|Pace Per Mile||Run Amount||Walk Amount|
|7:00 min mile||6 Minutes||30 Seconds (or run a mile and walk 40 seconds)|
|7:30||5 Minutes||30 seconds|
|8:00||4 minutes||30 seconds|
|8:30||4 minutes||45 seconds|
|9:00||4 minutes||1 minute|
|9:30||3 minutes||45 seconds|
|10:00 – 10:45||3 minutes||1 minute|
|10:45 – 11:45||2:30 minutes||1 minute|
|11:45 – 12:45||2:00 minutes||1 minute|
|12:45 – 13:30||1 minute||1 minute|
|13:30 – 14:30||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|14:30 – 15:30||20 seconds||40 seconds|
|15:30 – 17:00||15 seconds||45 seconds|
|17:00 – 18:30||10 seconds||50 seconds|
|18:30 – 20:00||5 seconds||55 seconds|
This guideline is true whether you are running a 5k, or full marathon. Now you might be asking – How do you run for example for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds without staring at your watch? There are lots of phone apps, watches and interval trackers that can help you. Personally, I started with an app on my phone called Runkeeper, then I moved to a Garmin 920xt, and now I have a Garmin 935 and I love it.
One thing Galloway talks about is always being able to hold a conversation while you are going. In the beginning, this may be hard but this is where you build your base for endurance. Since my initial training, I’ve read many books on Endurance running and Triathlon. All of these books tell you to build up a base in your HR Zone 2. This allows you to primarily focus on aerobic system training 90% while training about 10% in the anaerobic system. In the book Be IronFit: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for ultimate fitness, the author Don Fink talks about the importance of training the aerobic system. He says, that most athletes make the mistake of thinking that this is too comfortable to be offering any type of training benefit when in fact it’s building your endurance capability the whole time. He also suggests you could estimate your heart rate zones by taking 220-your age and that becomes your maximum. Women, he said, tend to have a higher maximum than men and suggests subtracting our age from 226 instead. Once you have that number you can identify four distinct zones; Zone 5 96-100%, Zone 4 90-95%, Zone 3 86- 89% Zone 2 75-85% higher end aerobic training and Zone 1 65-74% lower end aerobic training. Using me as an example at 40 years old I would take 226-40 = 186 beats per minute (BPM) Using that number I could calculate Zone 4 to be 167 to 176, Zone 3 to be 159.96 to 166, Zone 2 to be 139 to 165 and Zone 1 to be 122 to 138. I did some rounding in there but you get the idea.
My watch had allowed me to customize my heart rate zones so I uploaded them there and then I could also set an alert to let me know when I was in Zone 3 so I could walk a little more. The book goes on to introduce zone 3 training later in your training cycle (about 2-3 months) but it stresses the importance of staying in zone 2 to build your base. Initially, this was very frustrating as I was walking more than before – but I have to say it made all the difference in the world for me. Last year when training for the Dopey Challenge I got sick – or rather I stopped absorbing iron. My iron was really low and I was exhausted. I basically didn’t train a whole month – as this was close to my actual race – I was really worried that this was going to be a major setback. When I started running again – it was quicker for me to ramp up again than before. I also found that over time longer distances became easier for me and I had fewer injuries than when I had initially trained for my first half marathon in 2014. Can this all be related to zone 2 training? It sure felt different to me as I progressed in distance.
So bottom line where do I recommend you start? After checking with your doctor – I’d start with Jeff Galloway’s program. Get yourself some good running shoes, I recommend visiting an actual dedicated running store to get fitted properly, get yourself an app to help you with intervals or if you are ready to make an investment a good running watch and a heart rate strap to monitor your heart as you go.
I hope to see you at a Run Disney Race someday!
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