Let me introduce myself, I am George (Geep) Filliter (aka the “badistic sastard” or “Coach Diablo”) and I want to be your trainer, coach, confidant, friend, enemy, supporter, encourager, challenger, joker, butt of all your jokes and most importantly admirer. I have been asked to put to paper some thoughts about running and in so doing I encourage honest discussion and questions (there are no stupid questions … just stupid answers). Remember “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep”.
So, first of all, if I was paid a mere nickel for every time over the last 30 odd years I was asked why I ran, I would be a very rich man indeed. I run because I can and I feel blessed to be able to put one foot in front of the other. However, two of my heroes are now deceased, but each in their own way influenced my way of thinking. First of all there was Fred Lebow, the long time director of the New York Marathon (1970 to 1993), who some say is responsible for the resurgence of distance running, passed away in 1994 from cancer. In the early 1990’s after being diagnosed with cancer, he was asked a question as to why the numbers of participants registering for the New York Marathon were increasing in exponential numbers he answered, in a matter of fact manner he answered – “In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” Next, my favourite runner-philosopher, Dr. George Sheehan summed up the reasons for running in a very simplistic, yet profound manner when he wrote “There are as many reasons for running as there are days in a year, years in a life. But I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.”
So to begin, the first most important thing to remember is the equipment that you wear. Although it has been said by many much wiser persons than me that you are how you look, I do NOT subscribe to the theory that you should buy equipment on the basis of how it looks. All equipment is important from socks, to shorts, to tops, to undergarments and even a runners best friend …. Vaseline (I will speak about this later in the training). In particular however, running shoes are the most important of all pieces of equipment and you all should make certain that you buy the right shoes for yourselves. To purchase a running shoe does not mean going to a generic running shop and buying the most expensive, the cheapest, the prettiest or the most colourful. Each of you are individuals and as such you have an individual gait that requires separate attention when it comes to purchasing shoes. To properly purchase a running shoe you first must determine what type of runner you are, are you a pronator, a neutral runner, a suppinator. Combine this with your individualized body make up and the choices of shoes acceptable to you should be at least reduced. The best advice that I have is that you should ALWAYS consult with a qualified person in a specialty store.
Next, throughout the progression of my emails you will hear me speak of various types of training methods so I thought this would be a good place to start by defining what I will be referring to during this process.
1. Hill Training:– You should find a hill that is about a 6-8% grade. The hill should be long enough that you can run up the hill at quite a hard pace (85%) for 2 to 2.5 minutes. Once you have located the hill then after a 10 to 15 minute warm up you run up the hill at a pace that makes you work (you should be able to still speak at least one or two words as you are running, i.e. keep it somewhat aerobic in nature) for 2 minutes and jog slowly back down to run up again. Remember to concentrate on form, not speed during these sessions – LET THE HILL DO THE WORK FOR YOU. You should start by doing 4 repeats followed by a 10 to 15 minute cool down. As the summer progresses the length of the repeat should increase from 2 minutes to 3 minutes and the number of repeats should increase from 4 to 8 to 10. This should be done once a week as it improves your overall strength and assists in developing a more efficient running style. You jog slowly down for two reasons, one to recover between runs and the second so as to limit the possibility of injury as running down a hill is the hardest on the body.
2. Interval Training:– This is normally done at a track and is done for the purposes of increasing the body’s ability to efficiently utilize oxygen by working the body into the zone of oxygen depletion, to increase the speed of the leg turn over which increases speed and to improve running efficiency. So go to a track and run around the track 3 to 4 times at a slow warm up pace (each lap is supposed to be 400 meters). After your warm up, the interval training starts by you running 800 meters (twice around the track) in a time that will be determined in discussions between each of us. After exactly a one minute rest, then you repeat an 800 interval in the same time. The first workout should consist of 4 repeats and you should record your times. Eventually we will determine the appropriate pace for you to be running these repeats and over the summer the speed will increase slightly and the number of repeats will increase to 8. This is called Yassoo training and has been proven to be effective. Again this should be done once a week.
3. Base Running:– Two to three days a week you should be running anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Note these runs are not designed to be based on distance but at the same time by running these times you are increasing your base distance.
4. Tempo Runs:– During the Base runs, on one day a week you should build in what we call a tempo run, which is a 5 to 15 minute hard run in the middle of your otherwise enjoyable pace. It should be aerobic in nature (i.e. you can speak, albeit only one or two words at a time) and should be consistent in speed. This builds strength and endurance, and has a small impact on oxygen efficiency. At the end of such a run you should not feel tired, but rather invigorated and wishing to do more.
5. Long Slow Distance LSD:– For the beginner, I recommend that your long runs be based on time not distance, and at no time should you run/walk longer than 3 hours and 15 minutes. It is during these times that you do the entire run as a run/walk portion be it 9/1 or 9/2 or whatever ratio you are comfortable with. Do it slowly, in fact if you think you are going too slow then SLOW DOWN.
Finally, there are some rules that apply to you all, the most important one being “If you want to go fast, you have to slow down“. Let me close by some wise comments. First of all remember “Don’t let yourself be concerned by what other runners are doing. By trial and error, find out what works for you.” – Gayle Barron, marathoner, as Joan Benoit-Samuelson (from Maine), the winner of the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon said “Keep varying the program. Your body will tell you what to do.”
Each of you will be much more in touch with your bodies. as well as, your mind and spirit, so enjoy yourselves and your new found sense of freedom and victory. You have entered a world of peace and fulfillment that if you keep at it will be your friend and your source of strength for a life time, it is best summarized in these words “If people are physically fit, they are better adjusted for life. Running is the greatest anodyne. It’s mental therapy. While running, one develops a rhythm. The mind becomes detached.“