Updated: May 3, 2021
I will typically refer to the annual seasons and how it relates to Florida. Many of you may be experiencing Spring now, but we are finishing up the chapter and headed towards Summer! Therefore, it seems like a great time to recap our productive Spring.
February was the foundation of Mufasa Running Club and 3 runners came on board: Laura, Sarah, & Jennifer. Each runner had their own personal goals but joined because of their enjoyment for running (especially runDisney). Laura had experience with running coaches in the past; however, the relationship between them was not cohesive. Therefore, we decided to give this experience a short trial and train for a 5K with the goal of sub-30 minutes. Sarah seemed to be an experienced runner as she had just completed a virtual Dopey Challenge (kudos to that)! She had plans for the Princess Challenge and Star Wars Challenge but wanted to work on her pacing. She was looking for guidance in what paces should be used for what kind of workouts. Finally, Jennifer was looking for guidance towards running her first 13.1 Miles and runDisney Challenge (Star Wars)! She had completed a few 10Ks before but everything after 8 Miles was going to be new for her.
Each plan was built off of the foundation of 3 basic runs: Speed, Recovery, & Long. Speed builds strength in the quick twitch muscles we have in our legs. They are generally used to run shorter distances AT or FASTER than goal race pace. The more miles ran during the training session near goal race pace, then the easier it should be for you to just go out and run that set pace (mentally and physically you will remember the feeling to run a 10 minute mile vs an 8 minute mile). Recovery is by far the hardest run of the week. In theory it should be easy, go run for a length of time or predetermined distance at an EASY PACE. BUT, that is hardly the case. We naturally want to always go fast but then we are not giving our bodies the much needed recovery from an intense speed workout or a long run (it's very difficult to master the recovery run). Then there comes the Long Run. This is the LONGEST run of the week and usually done at an easy pace too BUT I like to shake things up sometimes and incorporate faster paces. Especially when you are training for a half marathon, you won't run that race at easy pace so why not run 6 out of 14 Miles at goal race pace (more miles at goal race pace the better!). Finally, the last component that was incorporated in their training was a Warm-Up, Dynamic Stretch, & Cool-Down. The warm-up was a Kilometer-Mile long at easy pace or slower, something to get the juices flowing and wake up the muscles. Then each runner would proceed into their stretch: Zombie Walks, Horse Kicks, Lunges, etc. These stretches versus the static "toe touching" stretches actively prepares the muscles, warms up the body and takes the muscles through their full range of motion. Finally, the cool-down is your final Kilometer-Mile at easy pace or even slower. You are bringing your heart rate down and letting your muscles recoup before finishing the workout. So quite a bit of a learning curve but definitely all beneficial towards your running abilities.
From there they were each given monthly individualized plans and we were able to work the amount of runs between 3 to 4 (alternating weeks). Laura was one of those runners who began with 3 runs a week and we initially maximized those 3 days with each of the aforementioned building block runs before running alternate weeks. I think 5K training is a lot of fun as you get to mix a lot of short distance speed work and long distance easy paced running together (no 2 runs are ever the same, you have a lot of variability and fun). So I had some fun creating her schedule as well as watching her grow. With that being said, Laura may have thought I was crazy to schedule her to run at such fast paces during training runs and not an actual race. She would enter each one of those speed workouts with some self-doubt and then leave with joy and excitement. It is
now one of her more favorite workouts to do. She continued on with the training plan, her self-confidence and speed growing as each week passed. A race plan was created (yes even for a 5K time trial) and I wanted her to run slightly slower than goal race pace in the first kilometer and then increase pace until an all out sprint the final kilometer. Idea is that our adrenaline is going to force us off of that start line to run faster than needed. We burn out too fast and then the race becomes a survival instead of a bliss of excitement and joy. Being that we have a 6 hour time difference between us, she couldn't ask any last minute questions the morning of, so she went out and followed the plan. And that she did! She not only crushed her sub-30 minute goal but also beat her 4 year old PR by almost 30 seconds!!! I was so excited to wake up to messages showing her new PR and that she followed the plan perfectly. I'd say that 3rd time was the charm for Laura with finding a running coach as we now prepare for the Mufasa Mile Challenge & improving her speed in the 5K & 10K events.
You can be the best chef, air traffic control, or coach but if the communication and relationships are poor then it's not going to work. I have been blessed to have my first 3 runners be different in every possible way and I enjoy their differences just as much. With Laura and Jennifer, we can talk for what seems to be hours after a run and planning for what is next. It gets me giddy as their coach seeing them excited about their progress and performances in previous runs. Sarah is awesome in her own way; our conversations are typically quick and to the point but still in a casual manner (sometimes I feel like I am shorting her on something but she always reassures me that I'm doing a great job as her coach). Oddly enough is that her running reflects this precision in some manner. One goal was to be more consistent with her paces for different training runs and races. During my standard list of questions I ask to get to know a new runner, I questioned about run/walking or what she currently does (absolutely nothing wrong with run/walking but I need to know how you go about your runs). She stated that at the end of each mile she would walk to fuel. I suggested fueling/walking after every 30 minutes or 3 Miles (whichever comes first), as that is what I do during training runs and Half Marathons/Marathons. And that was that, Princess
Challenge was the following weekend and she completed her first 3 days of running in a row with more consistent pacing and "fueling" less than she previously did (eating/drinking every mile is not necessary so I was not hindering her potential abilities by fueling less; our bodies can only take in so much water/calories while running). Training continued on with the main goal being Star Wars weekend and a potential 13.1 Mile PR while running all 3 races. Miles were logged, new set paces were comfortable, and away she went with setting a 13.1 Mile PR while running half of the miles at a conservative (easy) pace! What is amazing is that she also accomplished this PR while running the 5K and 10K the previous 2 days. Sarah now has her vision set on getting faster with Laura this summer during the Mufasa Mile Challenge and a Fall goal of sub-2 hour Half Marathon!
Last but not least, were the accomplishments Jennifer obtained this Spring. Jennifer has just recently moved to Florida and has learned that although flat, the training conditions are nothing like that of Ohio (LOL). I have a soft spot for those who train in Florida, as I have been told time and time again that it’s the most difficult state to train in the continental US (that’s why professionals don’t train there). Therefore, her training looked very different than Sarah’s even though they would both be running the Star Wars Challenge. As expected there were some hardships, the temperature would
fluctuate one day to the next and would leave Jennifer feeling a sense of success one day and then disappointed the next. Through it all I am very proud of her staying with the program and being open to adjust on the fly as Florida weather conditions force the issue. And that’s how she ran her first 13.1 Miles, on the fly. It was predicted to be the best weather conditions on the 3rd to last training weekend and instead of waiting/hoping for something better, she went for it! Jennifer's most important skill she learned was adaptability as going on a run needed to begin earlier and earlier with temperature change. She will need to continue to use this skill as the temperature continues to rise down there. Very proud of her reaching her spring goal and she too is motivated to build speed this summer with the Mufasa Mile Challenge.
Overall, Mufasa’s runners exceeded expectations this Spring and are motivated for Summer training while looking off to the horizon for a Fall Live Race. I hope that this segment motivates you towards your next goal and perhaps would like to be apart of our pride!