For the last 8 weeks, I’ve had the honor of coaching a group of amazing people that had a desire to improve their running. The Dave’s Running PR5K program is designed to help runners set BIG GOALS and achieve BIG RESULTS! Basically, the runners train for 8-weeks, then on the last Saturday of the program, they run a real race. For the last three years it been the Tiger Town 5000 in Liberty Center Ohio.
No matter what pace you run, this 8-week program gives runners a detailed, daily plan with two group training opportunities lead by coaches like myself, each week.
This year’s program consisted of abut 200 runners that were untimely placed into seven different “Pace Groups”. The idea being that they will meet or maybe slightly exceed the time for the pace group.
The Pace Groups Were:
20 minutes and under
27 minutes (My Group)
First Time Runners
On the first night we met, a simple Time Trial was used to give the runners and idea of what pace group they should be in.
Like I said, we met with our groups twice a week. Our Monday workout was considered our “strength” workout.
We begin with structured fartlek (Yea that’s a real word, its Swedish for “Speed Play”) runs to build up the necessary cardio strength to complete a 5K at their goal pace. These sessions are tough and force you to run out of your comfort zone for a set period of time with a brief rest only to take you right back out of your comfort zone again. This helps in building the cardio “strength” needed to maintain a hard pace for the 5K.
We mixed it up with tempo runs for the same purpose as the fartlek workouts. The difference between the two workout sessions is that the tempo run will have you running for one block of time or distance unlike the fartlek which has multiple, shorter time periods of harder running.
On Thursday our track workouts consisted of three varying “speed” sessions that begin with Threshold pace workouts then move into Interval sessions and finished with Repetition training.
Threshold training allows your body to elevate its lactate and improve upon cardio strength that will help you sustain a hard pace longer for the workload of the 5K, much like the fartlek sessions but a bit quicker. The purpose of Interval training is to raise your body’s ability to consume and utilize oxygen or VO2 max. The intervals were quicker than Threshold pace to get you close to 100% max VO2. Lastly, we finished off the program with Repetition pace workouts that had us running quicker than our goal 5K pace for brief distances, and then a short recovery between sessions. The purpose behind the Repetition workout is to sharpen your “sprinting” abilities, and those fast twitch muscle fibers that may have been dormant for quite some time over the winter months.
On an early, unseasonable cool (59 degree and low humidity) Saturday in July, some 200ish of our runners met at the Liberty Center High School for the 15th running of the Tiger Town 5000, undoubtedly named after their High school Football Team the Liberty Center Tigers. We joined some 300 to 400 other runners that were registered for the race.
The most interesting thing about this race is that is has two, yes TWO start lines! One on EAST side of the school and one on the WEST side of the school. Both starts merge together at about the 1/4 mile mark. My best guess is that it’s to reduce the number of runners at a single start, not sure how well it worked, but the runners seemed to like it.
Since I was coaching, I agreed to “Pace” my group, meaning that it was my job to run exactly at 27 minute 5k, (Nailed IT!! 26:59!!) so that my runners would have a person setting the pace so that they knew how fast to run.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that I had help! Actually, lots of help! Joan Mathews (See pic above), a very seasoned runner and coach was my Co-Coach during this entire journey, which was a god send, since this was my first time coaching. Unfortunately, Joan had to deal with an injury for the second half the program and was sidelined. But true to form, she showed up at every workout and the race and was our #1 Cheerleader.
The course was basically a big rectangle, which ran through part of the town, out to the county past a city park and a cemetery. Why is it that every race always passes a cemetery? Ever notice that? Anyway, then it circles back to the opposite end off town and finishes back at the start. The WEST start! LOL
At precisely 9:00 am, the gun (actually a TRAIN horn) sounded and we were off. The race started out pretty uneventful, but at about the 3/4 mile point our Head Coach, Bob Masters ran up to our group of about 8 or 10 and offered to carry our Pace Sign to allow me to pace the race. Not that I actually need that, but it was cool to have him with us. Bob is the life of the running party. With his “Nice Job” and “Way to go” words of encouragement to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE we came accost! LOL. Loved it and it made the miles fly by!
At about the 2 1/2 mile point, several of my runner started to test their wings and were leaving the nest so to speak. I was excited to see them pull way, I knew they could do it, I just wasn’t sure THEY knew they could do it. It was so gratifying to see this unfold.
As we rounded the final corner to the music and the announcer calling off the name of the runners that were crossing the finish line, i looked back to see that ALL of my little group had passed me and meaning that had met their goal of running a 27 minute 5K.
What an amazing experience I’ve had these last eight weeks and can’t want to do it again. WAIT! I am, actually on Sunday, the NEXT day, I start to coach the Fall Marathon In Training (MIT) Program. 16 weeks … wish me luck and follow allowing to see how that goes!
Until next time …. Happy Running!
Ever run a race with Two Start lines?
Ever ran by a cemetery?
Ever coached a running group?
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