Q: I currently run a mile or more but my rate is somewhere in the 150 to 170 range. I try to maintain a stride turnover of 70 to 80 rpms. I know I probably started out too hard. When I get out of the high target zone should I walk until I am back in the normal range? Also, can you help me develop a running program? I would like to be able to run 5k and 10k.
A: It is best to start a new program easy. It is very tempting to go hard when beginning. With your age and health history, it is very important to ease on the cautious side when training. As for your knees hurting, I recommend purchasing a very cushioned running show to help absorb the impact. A running store will have many types of good shoes, with a salesman who is knowledgeable about each type of shoe. Another thing to consider is to run on grass, or a soft field (inside the track), instead of a track or concrete. Hard surfaces are very hard on the joints for everyone.
I think you are on the right track with your 4 minute run, 2 minute walk. Your heart rate you report is at 90-100% of your predicted max. Either you were really tired when running or your max heart rate might be higher than using prediction equations, which can result from training. Although I’m not a fan of HR training, but a fan of GPS systems, HR monitors can give you feedback on the intensity of your run.
Training for your 5K this summer is a realistic goal. For a training schedule, I’d recommend the following:
Monday: Interval work: 1/2 mile repeats. Start with 3 easy ones and get an idea of pace based on your HR response. I would try to keep it below 145 bpm, even if that means going at a snail pace. Overtime, you will be able to run faster at that same HR. After 2 weeks, increase reps to 4 if your knees feel well and the runs aren’t difficult. Once at 4 reps, focus on increasing the speed (pace) of the 1/2 mile runs.
Tuesday: easy light jog, used for recovery and to loosen the legs. (or a possible day off, see Thursday)
Wednesday: 5K run. Start easy and each week try to improve your time by a few seconds.
Thursday: same as Tuesday or day off. You could even just walk this day instead of run to give your knees a little break
Friday: Jog easy for about 10 minutes, then perform 2, 5-minute interval runs of 4 minutes easy, 1 minute hard followed by an easy jog/cool down.
Saturday/Sunday: Off/active recovery (play tennis, basketball, some other sport you enjoy at a leisure level).
If you find your knees giving you trouble, ease back on the volume first (the distance run/umber of runs per week), not the intensity (the pace), then build up more slowly. What I recommend is simply a template that can be adjusted on any day depending on how you feel.
Another suggestion for your knees would be to use a foam roller before you run. This will help loosen up your quads and hamstrings and may help your knee pain. I know it worked for me when I had knee pain. In my case the muscles in the quadricep were tight and pulled on my knee, causing patellar pain. You can find a foam roller at Dick’s. It includes an instructional DVD as well. It’s about 18 inches long and 6 inches in diameter made of white Styrofoam.
With your weight training, for an endurance effect I would keep the reps high (12-20) and the weight low, especially for the legs due to the running you are doing. I you don’t run (or run less) in the winter, this would be the time to work the legs more and cutback on the running. If you want to work the legs hard now, do it on Saturday if possible where you Sunday off. I don’t recommend weights on your off days during the week, but if it fits your schedule that way, that is fine.
Best of luck!
Roger White BS, CSCS
GHF’s Sports Specific Training Expert
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