The Half Marathon Obsession: train to kill a 5K first! Part 1

In my quest to be relentlessly helpful, I wanted to chat about the very admirable goal of...

completing your first half marathon. Notice I didn't say running your first marathon...Why people pay to jog, walk and struggle through 13.1 miles to be able to slap that sticker on their car is beyond me.

A couple of the reasons I hear people sign up for their first half marathon:

- I need to lose weight and get healthy; marathon training will keep my accountable.

- I need to train to make up for my horrible diet - I'll burn a ton of calories running a lot of mileage.

Neither of those (independently) should dictate whether you pay an upwards of $100-$150 to run 13.1 miles. Running does not build health and it is certainly not a good weight loss solution on it's own (nutrition needs to be your focus).

I have seen countless amateur runners sign up for races and distances that are completely out of their capacity, leading to injury. They're wrecked for a week, even two after the race. Knees are swollen. Ankles are aching. Feet are on fire. Hips are tight. Back is shot.

Now, I'm not a running or endurance coach by any means. But I am a trainer... I teach people how to move and move well in space. How to squat, press, pull, jump, run, etc.

I would never advise someone who squats like crap with 10Ibs to suddenly increase the weight to 100Ibs - you must master the basics and develop the skill and strength before you increase the intensity.

The same principle applies to running: you must learn and develop the ability to increase your mileage SAFELY.

Running is a skill.

Running is... high-repetition single-leg plyometrics.

The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll realize you need to be strong enough to run consistently and you need to develop good technique to prevent injury. More on technique later.

Here is an example I use often: If you take around 10 minutes to run one mile, you shouldn't attempt two yet.

That's right...more mileage does not make you better.

If you stink at running 1 mile, then you simply need to get better at running one mile without adding volume.

You may ask...well then how will I ever get to run more than a mile?!

The safe, smart and efficient solution: drill, cadence and pacing work

I have the benefit of having one of the BEST endurance coaches in Florida work out of my facility:

Roy Foley of Aeropro Coaching. He's incredible. He's passionate about his craft. He cares deeply for his athletes. He also practices what he preaches: he'll kick your ass on a bike ANY DAY.

Check him out here: http://aeroprocoaching.com/

I see him training his athletes daily. His athletes are podium finishers. They kill it in the endurance world.

Do you know what their training consists of? drill, cadence and pacing work.

Even though he has Ironman slayers and marathon killers...they are doing interval work. And drills - developing and refining their running skills. They don't just run miles, on miles on miles. That's not quality, that's just quantity - a one way road to overuse and injury.

His athletes are doing 1/4 mile repeats, 1/2 mile repeats, mile repeats, mastering 5Ks- quality intervals.

They're EARNING THEIR MILEAGE.

So.. how is your one mile? Taking around 9-10 mins? If so, don't waste your money to simply "finish a half marathon" and risk serious injury. Build up to it. Earn that mileage. You need to master the smaller stuff before you tackle a HUGE challenge like a half marathon.

Train to kill a 5k instead!! Then you can build up to a 10K, 15K and so fourth. I enlisted the help of Roy  to help put together some progressions for you.

PART ONE OF YOUR QUEST TO KILL A 5K:

First and foremost - Form and cadence work.

Form: Pose Method. Pose method is the official running method of Crossfit for a reason - it works and it's easy to learn. Roy teaches 95% of his athletes the Pose method (or some form of it). This is about being aware of your body, moving with intention and viewing running as a skill...running is not about the shoes.

Pose breaks down running into three simple steps: The running pose, the fall and the pull.

POSE. FALL. PULL. This will be your mantra.

You can find a lot of good stuff on Pose running drills here.

Once you have the pose, fall, pull method down, then it is time to apply it to cadence drills. 

Cadence is the number of steps taken per minute, with the an optimal goal being 180 (90 each leg) strikes per minute.

**You keep the same cadence no matter how fast you're running. This way your body maintains a similar PRE (Perceived Rate of Exertion) no matter how fast you're running. Being that your cadence remains the same, your stride lengthens as you speed up and shortens as your slow down.

Download a metronome app on your smart phone (they have one ones synced to music).

Start out with periods of 30 seconds and work up from there. Work on this for about 10 minutes a few times per week. You will also be applying these drills as warm ups for your run during the first few weeks of your 5k training.

Become familiar with these basics and then we'll add some mileage... part 2 can be found here.