Reflecting on my first half marathon

I can’t believe more than a week has passed since I ran my very first half marathon. I feel like I’ve needed the time though to fully digest the entire experience. While to some of my more experienced runner friends, running a half marathon may not seem like a big deal but it was a huge milestone for me.

I started running only eight months ago, in March, the goal of running a 5K. When I started running I didn’t expect to fall in love with it like I have but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was actually getting good at it. So, in June, after only having been a runner for four months, I decided to register for the 2012 Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon.

Many of my friends and family tried to discourage me from registering because they thought I didn’t have enough experience as a runner yet. My dad, a 16-time marathon veteran (3:09 PR), said I needed more experience racing and building up mileage. But, I ignored their opinions and decided I had the capability and drive to build up my mileage to be able to run the 13.1 miles and cross the finish line on Sept. 30.

After months of training, some injuries, and some amazing runs, I crossed the finish line without stopping once. The race was amazing and the course was a breeze. Although the weather was awful, it was the most amazing experience.

When I hit the 11-mile mark I even started to get emotional and thought I was going to start crying. I couldn’t believe how far I had come as a runner in just eight months. In eight months I went from being able to run 0 miles to running more than 13 miles. Not only did I develop into a “runner,” I’ve noticed other changes in myself over the past eight months. My body has changed quite a bit, my muscles are much for toned and I have a much higher level of endurance but I’ve also changed emotionally. I’ve learned to use running as an outlet for when I’m angry, stressed or happy and excited. While I may not have started running for the best reason, it has literally transformed me into a different person and I love it.

As I started to speed up during the last 2 miles of the half marathon, all of these thoughts were whirling around in my head and just then, I saw my parents with all of the spectators and nearly lost it. I feel so lucky to have had such an amazing support system throughout this journey and although they had their reservations in the beginning, they never doubted me. The same goes to my friends who have also supported me through all of this and showed up at the finish line to congratulate me.

As I said in my last post about the half, my first thought upon crossing the finish line was I can’t wait to do it again and I’ve been looking for some more to register for in the near future. I think once I get a few more halfs under my belt, a full marathon is not too far off :)

What was your biggest race accomplishment? How did it feel when you crossed that finish line? Please share your stories in the comments section below!

Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon race recap

After months of training, the race day finally came last Sunday and I ran my very first half marathon. I feel like I have so, so much to share about the experience of running this half that it frankly will not fit into one post. Therefore, I’m going to break it up into two- a race recap (this one!) and then a lessons learned reflection.

For those of you who have been following my running escapades over the last eight-ish months, you know where I started- a couch to 5k program last March. Before starting this program, I could barely run a mile and the only running I ever did was for sports in high school. But for some reason, I decided I needed to start, so I started slowly. Before I knew it I was running more than 3.1 miles and my cousin, Paige, convinced me in June to register for a half marathon with her- the Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon. At this point, the most I had ever run was just under 6 miles, but we were both convinced we’d have plenty of time to train in the four months before the half.

Turns out we had plenty of time and before we knew it we were running even more than 13.1 miles on our weekend long runs! All of our hard work and dedicated training finally came to fruition this past Sunday when we crossed the finish line on Hampton Beach.

We planned out our weekend accordingly. Because we would have to travel to New Hampshire for the race, I stayed over Paige’s apartment on the North Shore (of Massachusetts) with our friend Lindsey, who was also running with us. This would be the first half for Paige and myself but Lindsey had run a few before. Once we were all settled in at Paige’s we decided to head up to NH to pick up our bib numbers so we wouldn’t have to deal with picking them up before the race. Turns out, that was a great decision and the packet pickup was also super easy.

My lovely number after the packet pickup.

We came home after and made a delish baked ziti, drank one glass of red wine each to calm the nerves and watched a few episodes of some trashy reality television before heading to bed at 10:30 p.m. Of course, I had a hard time falling asleep because I was thinking about what was about to go down the next day but eventually I fell asleep and woke up to my alarm blaring at 5 a.m. After making our breakfast and fueling up on coffee, we headed out of the house by 6 a.m. to get to the race with enough time to spare.

We arrived at the race around 7:15 and spent most of the time before the race waiting in line for the port-a-potty. When we were all set and warmed up, we headed to the start line. I couldn’t believe how many runners there were (more than 5,000!) and the start line was a little claustrophobic because of it, but the mass of bodies helped to keep us warm.

Awkward pre-race selfie at the start line.

That was the other problem. I think we may have had the WORST weather ever with temperatures in the low 50s and a steady, cold rain falling the entire time. Needless to say, after I crossed the finish line and stopped moving I was a frozen popsicle.

The race itself was pretty amazing and the course was pretty easy. It started off with a roughly 1-mile loop around the corner which crossed back over the start line. This was great because we were able to run through the crowd of spectators for a second time. The course then traveled down the beach road for about 2 miles before it cut off into the neighborhoods of Hampton, NH. This was kind of weird because we were literally running through residential neighborhoods and for awhile there were hardly any spectators which was not fun. However, because there were so many runners, the morale along the course was really high and we were even able to talk to a bunch of other runners along the route.

We had decided at mile 7 we would pick up our first cups of water and take our gels. This proved to be a little more difficult than we had anticipated because the water station was so crowded and some runners kept stopping before we could get to the water. Water in hand, we took off, ripping our gels open and refueling. After taking the gels I definitely had some fresh energy and felt great. However, some point right after mile 7 I got lost in the pack and Paige and Lindsey went on ahead. This was ok for me though because I knew they were going to speed off eventually (they are a lot faster than me) but I felt good at my pace and wanted to maintain it.

The last few miles went pretty smoothly. The course was extremely flat except for a moderately steep hill around mile 9, but once I got to the top of the hill I had a breathtaking view of the ocean and could almost make out the finish line down on the beach. I felt really good at this point but had to take it easy going down the hill because the pavement had gotten SO slippery because of the rain.

As I crossed into mile 11 I heard someone screaming my name and saw my parents jumping up and down on the side of the road. I knew they were going to be there but I wasn’t sure where they would be along the route because it wasn’t super well-routed for spectators. It was incredible to see them though and it gave me the extra encouragement I needed to blast to the finish line. With two miles left, my legs were started to feel crampy and heavy, mostly because of the cold. My hands were also freezing so I kept having to shake them to try to keep them warm. But overall, the last two miles were fantastic. With about a half mile left, the spectator crowd got thicker and I saw my parents again screaming my name. As I pushed hard to get across the finish line and pass a few more people I started to get emotional because I honestly could not believe I had done it! I crossed the finish line at 2:18:09 (not my best but the weather definitely took a toll) and someone placed a medal around my neck and I was ecstatic!

Finisher’s medal!

After finding my parents, I was walking around to find water and I heard two people call out my name and all of a sudden I was embraced by my two best friends Sydney and Angela! They had come all the way up to NH from Boston to see me cross the finish line. I’m getting emotional now as I write this because I was just so happy that they had come out to see me. They’ve been with me this whole time and have even wondered if I was going a little overboard with running but have been supportive no matter what. It meant so much to me that they were there.

At the finish line with my mom, and two best friends, Angela and Sydney!

Unfortunately because it was so cold and Paige, Lindsey and I were soaking wet, we didn’t want to stay around too much for the race after-party so we decided to all go out to lunch somewhere warm. I’ll talk more about the lessons learned in another post but overall the half was an amazing experience and the first thought I had after crossing the finish line: I can’t wait to do it again!

Picking the perfect pre-race breakfast

(via Pinterest)

After months of training, I am now three days away from running my first ever half marathon. I can’t believe how fast it has come but I feel so confident in my training and ready to run happy. However, one of my biggest concerns this past week has been how to fuel my body before the race.

I asked some friends and sought advice from Runner’s World and Active.com and the one major take away from everything- don’t change anything. I’ve known this all along, the worst time to try something new is on race day but I have a problem. In my training thus far, I really haven’t had much to eat on long-run days besides a cup of coffee and some water. Even when I did my 14-miler, the only thing I ate beforehand was a pack of Chomps and Gatorade.

However, I have fueled before some smaller races before with a slice of whole grain toast, some fruit (usually strawberries or oranges) and some coffee. This has always been a pretty good pre-race meal to me so I think I’m going to stick to this for the half as well.

After further research however, I had questions like, how much time should I leave between breakfast and start time. The answer I found from Runner’s World was at least two to three hours before. Although this will mean a very early morning for me (the race starts at 8 a.m. but I’ll have to be there at 7 a.m. and it’s an hour away) but it will allot enough time for digestion so I can start feeling nourished but not full and heavy.

According to the Runner’s World article as well I should sip water up to a half and hour before the race starts, this way I’ll be hydrated but not over-hydrated and have to stop at a port-a-pottie along the course.

Since I’ve basically already decided on doing my toast-fruit-coffee routine, I’m not planning on trying anything different but I’m interested in why this has worked for me in the past? According to an Active.com article, a solid pre-race meal should consist of 80 percent carbohydrates. The article said the type of carbs isn’t as important but many runners, like myself, tend to choose more bland foods like a whole grain toast or some runners like oatmeal.

Some ideas for pre-race fuel could be:

  • Bagel or toast topped with either peanut butter or a low-fat spread- many people eat this for breakfast routinely so it’s always good to stick to routine come race morning. Also, bagels and toast are chalk-full of carbs which are needed for fuel during a race.
  • Bananas- lots of runners love bananas as an addition to any pre-race meal (personally, I hate bananas so I can’t speak to this very much) but they have 30 grams of carbohydrates, low in fat and high in potassium which is lost while sweating during running.
  • Energy Bar- a lot of runners eat energy bars before a race but this is something you really have to be careful with in terms of not trying anything new. Stick to a bar you know that’s rich in carbohydrates but not too high in fat or protein (save those bars for after the race).
  • Shakes- there are a lot of runners who like to make a real-replacement shake before a race. I’ve never tried this but there are tons of recipes out there for these kinds of shakes.
  • Oatmeal- this is another good fuel-boosting carbohydrate option. It’s bland but won’t upset your stomach while racing.

I would also recommend drinking some kind of caffeine if you’re a frequent morning caffeine-drinker. I have coffee every morning so I try not to change this on race day but sometimes I’ll opt for caffeinated tea on race day instead of coffee (because I like cream in my coffee and that can be weird).

As always, DON’T try anything new on race day. A poorly picked pre-race meal could possibly wipe out all of those months of training and preparation. Stick to what you know, race hard and look forward to that amazing post-race meal!

What is your go-to pre-race breakfast fuel? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!

Week 16: Half-marathon training update

(via Pinterest)

I can’t believe my first half-marathon is now only one week away! That being said, this past week I started to taper my miles so I’ll be prepped and ready to go for next weekend.

This week as super busy and hectic for a variety of reasons, one of which I will announce tomorrow because it’s a HUGE deal!! But training-wise I did pretty well. I’ve never run a half obviously so it was weird to taper because after running a 14-miler last Saturday I just wanted to do it again. But in the spirit of not getting injured and storing my energy, I did what my training plan told me to do and tapered.

Monday was my crazy busy day so unfortunately I only had enough time to do a quick yoga session and ab workout in the morning. I was on the move for the rest of the day which I will talk about later..

On Tuesday I did a 2-mile pick up run with quicker paces of 8:03/mile and even some 7’s thrown in there. I was really tired from work and the day before but I knew I had to get this run in so I sucked it up.

I had planned to run 3 miles on Wednesday but my foot was really bothering me for some reason so I ended up just doing 2-miles (and change). However, because I cut my mileage I decided to do some strength training which included squats, lunges and some lifting. Also, I did ab work as well.

Thursday was shaping up to be another busy day at work (I had to cover a meeting until 10:30 p.m.) so I knew I could only get in a quick workout in the morning. I did two Tone It Up workouts, as well as my own arm workouts and abs.

I got out of work early on Friday so when I got home at noon, I quickly changed into my running clothes and went out. I did a quick 3-mile run and the route included some pretty ridiculous hills so this run gave my buns a run for their money. It felt really great though to push up the hills.

Saturday I had to work all day so I couldn’t get in a run but decided I needed a rest day after the week I had.

I went out for my “long” run on Sunday and I put “long” in quotes because the run was only supposed to be 6 miles, which felt like nothing compared to last week’s 14-mile run. This run went really well though and I tested out a new route which is always exciting. I took it really easy pace-wise with this run because with the half only a week away, I’m not taking ANY chances.

Overall it was a really great week for training. I’m looking forward to the half-marathon next Sunday because I feel like I’m really prepared (knock on wood!) Also I can’t wait to tell everyone my big news tomorrow so be sure to check back here to find out!!

How is your training going? What are your thoughts on tapering before a big race?

Week 15: half-marathon training update

Oh my goodness I am so sorry this has taken me so long to post! Last weekend was a tad bit crazy for me and work has been out of control but I really wanted to update everyone on my training last week because it was nothing short of AMAZING!

For one, I hit a huge milestone and ran the farthest I’ve ever run- 14 miles! It felt so incredibly amazing, I almost didn’t want to stop (but my legs clearly had other plans!). I also was about to do the first track workout I had done in a very long time and that was pretty amazing as well. Before I go on, let me backtrack.

On Monday I started out my day with a little yoga for recovery on Lululemon’s YouTube channel. I wanted to do this because my legs were a little tight from the weekend before. After work, my cousin and fantastic training partner, met me at my office and we headed over to the local high school track to do a sprint interval workout. Neither of us had done this in weeks so it really felt great to get “back on track” and do some sprints. Her legs were also tired from the weekend before so we took it easy and did 4×800 sprints at 7:12 pace with about 400m of jogging in between.

On Tuesday I did some more yoga, as well as weight training for my arms and core exercises. Last week I didn’t get a chance to lift as much as I like to because I had some late nights at work, so I tried to get in some lifting on “rest” days.

On Wednesday I was able to get up early and head to the gym. I ran 4 miles at 9:33 pace and then did 1 mile on the elliptical. After that I hit the weights and did some squats and lunges. I also did a bunch of core exercises.

Thursday I did yoga and core exercises in the morning before work. I had to stay late for a meeting so I wanted to get in some exercise before. I did a power vinyasa yoga exercise and felt great after.

I drove up to my cousin’s new apartment in Marblehead on Friday because we had a long run planned for early Saturday morning. We had a great night checking out the local digs and carbo-loading, if you will, at the Barnacle, located right on Marblehead Harbor. However, we probably stayed out a little too late because the Saturday morning alarm clock came way too early!

Saturday was a big day for me because I had my longest run ever planned. My cousin is also training for a full marathon right now and according to her training schedule, she had to run 14 miles on Saturday. She wanted me to run it as well, and so I thought, 14 is only 1 more mile, why not? Our friend met us to do the run as well and we left the apartment around 9 a.m. (an hour after our planned start time.) We ran at a very comfortable and conversational pace and I felt like the miles just flew by. We made it to the halfway point and I couldn’t believe it was almost over! We had one problem though with hydration at mile 10. We had planned to quickly stop at a local beachside shack that usually has water but as we approached it, we saw that it was closed. Lucky for us the owner was standing right outside and said she would go in and get us water! After we had our water in hand we had some gels and were off again.

The last 4 miles were definitely a little more difficult after stopping but once the gels kicked in I felt great. The views on the run also helped to motivate us because we ran along the ocean and the weather was perfect. I was so excited to have ran a full 14 miles and it gave me even more confidence in my upcoming half marathon. I think it’s official, I’m addicted to distance running.

I took a complete rest day on Sunday after the long run the day before because my calf muscles were pretty sore.

Overall, it was a really great week of training. I felt strong and had tons of energy for my runs. This week I’ll be tapering in preparation for the half marathon which is now only a week and a half away!

What are you training for and how has it been going? Share your training stories in the comments below!

Twitter talk: Getting injured while training for a race

Getting injured while training for a big race is not easy. It’s hard to figure out if you should keep training, seek advice from a doctor, or just rest. I’m training for a half marathon and marathon now and an IT band issue cropped up. I decided to ask my Twitter followers for advice.

  1. FitHappyGirl
    How do you stay positive after an injury during training? #runchat #fitfluential
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 11:55:42
  2. RunningBecause
    @FitHappyGirl I focus on what went wrong first of all. Then enjoy the downtime. Then plot out a strong comeback.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 11:57:57
  3. FitHappyGirl
    @RunningBecause good tip! I’m dealing with an IT band issue but have a half on Sept. 30. I’m trying to rest but I hate it haha #runchat
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:05:38
  4. RunningBecause
    @FitHappyGirl I had an ITB injury 2 years ago. Came back stronger and faster, but not after stupidly trying to run through it
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:12:15
  5. FitHappyGirl
    @RunningBecause good to hear. I was nervous if I rested too long I’d loose everything I’ve worked for.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:17:50
  6. JWLevitt
    @FitHappyGirl I’m looking for answers on this one too. Have a stress issue in one of my arms. Not fun.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:18:03
  7. ryanjknapp
    @fithappygirl What sort of injury do you have? I get my clients into another activity to keep them fit and happy!
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:25:29
  8. ryanjknapp
    @fithappygirl IT band..let’s look at cause and not treatment. Are you a heel striker at all?
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:38:01
  9. ryanjknapp
    @fithappygirl That is why you have the issue. Pronation only is an issue when you heel strike because of the roll from heel to toe.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:53:27
  10. FitHappyGirl
    RT @ryanjknapp: Running injuries: If you have an injury don’t look at how to treat it. Instead, find the root cause and fix that! #runchat
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:58:42
  11. nathan7264
    @FitHappyGirl Mental counts a lot. If you have access to pool, consider pool running, did that with prior IT injury, not last year,&foamrllr
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 13:48:20
  12. Andrea_runs
    @FitHappyGirl you have lots of time. Don’t panic yet!!
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:27:06

Monday Motivation: Do what others say cannot be done

When I first started running, I was focused on just finishing a 5k. I was not a runner and just started last March but I knew if I set that goal for myself, I could accomplish it. Pretty soon, I realized I could run farther and longer than a lot of other people. I remember the day when I broke through the mysterious “wall” and was able to just keep running, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had never been really good at anything athletic but now I was able to run 4 miles and then 6 miles and pretty soon, a half marathon.

But when I told some of my family and friends about my dream to run a marathon, a few doubted me. They told me it was too ambitious, I hadn’t raced enough smaller races yet, I could hurt myself and I just wasn’t ready. It’s hard to hear this form people you love, especially when you just want them to be happy for you. But it gives you a choice. You can either listen to what they say and change your mind about your goals, or you can ignore them and go full speed ahead with confidence in your ability to reach your goal. I did the latter.

Week 9: Half-marathon training update

I’ve never appreciated these beauties more than after my runs!

First off I want to apologize for the tardiness of this post! I was on a mini vacation this weekend and work has been crazy busy since I’ve been back so I didn’t get to post about last week’s training. If you read any of my posts last week you know I tweaked my knee during a race on July 28 so last week was kind of a dud training-wise.

I knew I had hurt my knee the minute I started feeling the pain. While I’m still not completely sure what I hurt, it felt like an IT band syndrome flare up. So, in an effort to avoid hurting myself even more I decided to take a break from training for a few days and focus on strengthening and cross training.

Most of my week consisted of cross-training, yoga and strengthening exercises. However, after resting for a few days I decided to try an easy run with my knee on Tuesday. Bad, BAD idea. I wasn’t two minutes into the run when I felt the sharp pain in the outer side of my right knee. I stopped after only a mile, feeling defeated, upset and  kind of concerned. I abandoned the run and turned to some strengthening exercises instead.

I took another few days off, making sure to ice my knee every day and stretch a lot. I focused on doing yoga for runners from Lululemon and other strengthening exercises. On Friday, I decided to try running again because I thought my knee was feeling a little better. I was on vacation in Maine and decided to take a 3-mile run along the beach, staying on the sidewalk. My knee was still sore but I was able to make it through the run, stopping halfway to stretch. I knew this was a good sign and that my knee was starting to heal.

After my run I did some yoga outside which was really good because I was able to stretch out my IT band. Saturday, after watching the women’s Olympic marathon, I was motivated to get out on the road again. I decided to do a longer, easy run that circled a 5.5-mile loop on the road, a gravel trail and a natural trail. This was really great on my knee because incorporating the trails lessoned the impact on my knee.

I felt really great on this run, especially towards the end when I really got my stride back and felt like I was just coasting. I wrote about it in another post but I think this injury has helped me to appreciate the gift of running. Having to take a few days off killed me but once I got back on the road I was able to cherish every stride. I also am lucky to be able to go running in beautiful places and I was able to enjoy my surroundings and really take it all in. I think sometimes us runners take our gift for granted. But having to be out of running commission for a little bit I was able to really appreciate every step I took. And I’m sooo happy to be back on the road! Happy running!

Week 8: Half-marathon update

via Pinterest

This was quite a crazy training week. It involved only three days of running unfortunately, one race and a whole bunch of yoga and strength training.

Monday was technically a rest day so I decided to do my typical rest day routine of recovery yoga and core exercises. It was uneventful but a good workout. Tuesday I planned to run a tempo run after work but I ended up having to stay at work much later than usual and consequentially got stuck in traffic so I decided to nix the run because I was exhausted. Instead, I came home and did some core exercises and rest up for the next day.

Wednesday was my day and to be honest I went hard with my training. I went to the gym after work with my sister and did my first ever pick-up run which was pretty intense. I wrote a post about it earlier in the week that you can check out if you’re interested in trying out a pick-up run, but basically this is what I did:

3-mile run with one interval each of 60s, 120s, 120s, 60s, 45s, 30s and 15s

I really enjoyed the pick-up run because it pushed me to test myself and my speed. I was able to keep up an intensity level of ‘8’ during each interval. After running, I did a whole bunch of strengthening exercises with my sister, including some lifting. As a runner, it’s just as important to build muscle as it is to work on speed and mileage. Muscles will help your body respond to runs and support your joints.

Thursday I woke up early and did a 3-mile run that included some hill workouts. It went really well but after the run, my right knee was bothering me a little. I did some post-run stretches which seemed to ease the pain.

I took a break on Friday with some power strength yoga and core exercises, which was perfect because it was a long week at work so it felt great to relax and sweat it out at the same time. I also had to gear up for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics!

Post Color Run color madness!

Saturday I had to wake up super early to get ready to run the New England Color Run in Amesbury, MA (post to follow). In short, the race was tons of fun! I ran it with a group of friends and we were doused in color. We came away with some great photos and memories. Unfortunately, I also came away with a pretty significant knee strain on my right knee. I’m hoping it’s just a strain and nothing serious but it’s pretty painful right now.

Due to the knee strain I decided to make the smart decision to skip my 12-mile run I was supposed to do today. I still have two months until the Smuttynose Half Marathon and risking injuring myself even more is not worth it right now. I was bummed though because I’ve been looking forward to this run all week. After icing my knee all morning I went to the gym and did some cross training (3 miles on the elliptical in 25 minutes) and then a ton of strengthening exercises for my arms and core.

In this week of training what I’ve come away with is, it’s so important to listen to your body and if you have a strain or pain it’s better to take it easy rather than pushing your limits and your luck. Fingers crossed my knee will be better by tomorrow and I can get back on track! (No pun intended!)

Happy running!

Pick Up Runs: Increase speed over long distances

Throughout my training for the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in September, I’ve been doing various interval workouts and tempo runs to increase my the speed of my mile times. I’ve written about tempo runs in previous posts and explained some of my interval training but the one speedwork run I didn’t mention was the pick up run.

Admittedly, my training has been calling for me to work in pick-up runs throughout the last seven weeks but instead of doing them I did longer runs or other kinds of speedwork. I didn’t do them because I wasn’t really sure what they were and I was already doing two kinds of speedwork training so I thought, why add another? Turns out, they are the best way to increase speed over longer distances. Last night however I did my first pick-up run on the treadmill and it was pretty hard but it felt great after!

Similar to an interval run, a pick up run helps to increase your body’s tolerance to lactic acid buildup without cooling down completely in between intervals. Through this practice, your body will become better able to run at higher speeds without getting tired. The difference between a pick up run and a regular interval run is the total distance of the run and the amount of time spent at the interval speed.

How do you tackle a pick up run you may ask? Well, to begin, start with an easy warm-up running at a comfortable jog. Once you’re warmed up, pick up your speed to a “controlled sprint.” This is another difference between an interval or tempo run and a pick up run. With a tempo run you want to run the intervals at a “comfortably hard” pace, not a sprint. With a pick up run you want to run at a “controlled sprint” during the intervals. What’s a controlled sprint, you’re now asking? A controlled sprint means you’re running at a very hard pace, an “8” or “9” intensity level, but not dying basically.

After you run the interval for the designated amount of time you want to slow your pace down to a comfortable jog, but do not stop running. With an interval run you can get away with walking in between intervals but with a pick up run you want to keep running. Another great thing about pick up runs is you can take as much time as you need in between intervals. This is important because during each interval you have to stay at the “controlled sprint” pace, so resting in between is crucial.

Here’s are some examples of pick up runs to test out:

  • A 4-mile run with 1 set of 60s, 120s, 120s, 60s, 45s, 30s, 15s sprints. (Translation: A 4-mile run with 1 set of 60 second sprints, then slow to a jog to rest for however long you need, then 1 set of 120 second sprints, then slow to a jog, etc.)
  • 10 sets of 60s sprints with 90s jog in between sets, 2-mile cool down run
  • 1-mile warm-up with 6 sets of 90s sprints and 120s of jogging in between sets, 1-mile cool down

As always, stretch after! If you have any questions or comments, write them in the comment section below!