Book Review: “Run Less, Run Faster”

Before I get too into this review, I would like to say I really, really, really loved this book. BUT, I’m not entirely sure I would use the plan yet and I would like your opinion (yes, you!) on what you think about the training method. Or, if you or anyone you know has tried this method to train for a race, what they thought.

I read. A lot! I usually, almost always, have more than one book going at a time. Generally, it’s a combination of one fiction/fun book, one non-fiction/informative book and random books I store in my bag or purse for down time.

Lately, I’ve been reading through zombie fictions books like they’re going out of style, so I’ve completed multiple fictions while still reading my non-fiction book.

8721183If you want to know how “Zombie Apocalypse!” by Stephen Jones was or “Zombie Versus Fairy Featuring Albinos” (yes, that’s a real book) by James Marshall was, you can email me at racingthestates@gmail.com and we’ll have an intense conversation. However, this is a running blog and I have ALSO been reading “Run Less, Run Faster” by the experts at FIRST: Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss.

I absolute loved this book for many reasons. I was originally interested in it because of the idea that you can still train for races (i.e. a marathon) without running as much and thus less stress on your joints and bones and body. I STILL feel like I’m almost recovering from my first marathon last MAY! I know this is not true, it’s a been a series of events that have made me not fully “healed,” but if there’s a way to reduce all that stress, I’m all for it.

Run Less Run Faster Book coverLet me explain the FIRST program, first. No pun intended. FIRST stands for the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (how do I get a job there!?) and they have developed a training program that has been proven to minimize the stress on one’s body WHILE improving your racing performance. Hard to believe, right? But the program is designed and tested from scientific principles, which is one of the reasons I loved this book.

As crazy as it sounds, I have a degree in Zoology. It’s a long story, but basically I used to dream of becoming a veterinarian but after working in the field, I changed my mind. Although I don’t want to do surgery on animals anymore, I still have a strong love for science in general. My mind works in a very scientific way and I like to combine that with my passion for health and fitness.  This book uses so many science principles that it is hard to have any doubts that this program works. I also love that it took definitions and words straight from my personal training book and applied the science to those principles as well. For example, right in the first chapter, they talk  about exercise pricinples like The Progressive Overload (the principle that as you gradually increase the training stress this will cause the body to adapt to that overload. I.e., gradually increase the distance of your long run will help you train for a marathon). The book is very “smart” for lack of better words.

Anyway, back to the idea of FIRST. The philopsohy is to make running easier, and limit overtraining, thus cutting the risk of injury but also producing results. FIRST is a 3plus2 training program. This means that there are three key running workouts and two cross training workouts.

Yes, you read that right. You only RUN three days a week. Keep in mind, and it’s repeated constantly in the book, it is NOT an easy program. A typical boston qualifying goal (for my age) training week, mid plan, would look like this: Workout 1 – 2 x 1600 in 6:51 (60 second rest), 2 x 800 in 3:17; Workout 2 – swimming 10 x 2 lengths, kick 4 lengths, 10 x 2 lengths; Workout 3 – 1 mile easy, 4 miles at 7:38, 1 mile easy; Workout 4 – cycling 20 min easy, 10 min temp, 10 min easy; Workout 5 – 20 miles at 8:40 pace.

That seems pretty intense if you ask me!

The science behind it: You are running fast at high intensity because this increases the muscles ability to metabolize lactate. You are training your body to use lactate as an energy source. It’s about intensity rather than time. You cross train in between to allow the body to FULLY recover from the stress of running and in the end you are reducing the chance for overuse injuries. Simple, right?

Proof? Well, there’s dozens of success stories throughout the whole book, but they also detail the running studies they conducted right in the first couple chapters. They tested maximal oxygen consumption, running speed at lactate threshold and running speed at peak oxygen consumption. And in all the studies, the data proves and supports the success stories. I wont detail the data here – although I am tempted because it reminds of writing dozens of science research reports in college.

Benefits: 1. People who have limited time to exercise can still train for a marathon. 2. Like I said before, reduces injuries. 3. Improves running times and performances.

Doezens and dozens of charts like this

Doezens and dozens of charts like this

But that’s not to say there aren’t downsides: 1. It’s hard! In order to benefit from the plan, you have to stick to the listed paces. There’s an million and a half charts in the book, one lists comparable 5K, 10K, half and marathon times. Basically, you determine your current 5K time, and using the chart, find what paces you should be running in your training.

I’ll visualize it for you. My most recent 5K time was 26:10 (or something like that – but this is not my PR). The book strongly urges you to choose your most recent time, not your PR, to prevent injuries. For a simple non-boston qualifying marathon training plan, my first day of training would be 3 x 1600 track workouts. My 1600 would be at an 8:09 pace. That’s pretty fast, for me, but probably doable. If I were to stick to this plan, based on my current 5K pace, NOT my goal time, it will improve my performance, according to this book.

The book goes on to breakdown how to use the plan and pick a training schedule and what to do on the cross training days. There are charts for that including cycling, rowing and swimming crossing training for every week of training. It talks about realistic goals, year-round training, and a little bit on nutrition. What I also really like about this book is that is gives you a little bit on strength training, including key exercises for the runners, and flexibility and form, including essential stretches. However, I would have like to have seen more on how to incorporate the strength training into your training week. I wish it would have discussed which days to actually do the exercises.

The book concludes with boston-qualifying training plans for EVERY age group (and gender). That is actually pretty awesome and makes it pretty easy to find a plan just for you and your goal.

My thoughts? Sign me up…. I think! It sounds like a great plan, all the evidence is there..my only concern isn’t really a concern. This plan is made for people who are VERY goal oriented. That’s not to say I’m NOT goal oriented, but my goals don’t really consist too much based on time or performance. Yes, I want to run a marathon in every state, but I’m not going for gold in these races. I just want to finish, to check the states off my belt. Although, EVENTUALLY, maybe a few years down the road, I do want to try for BQing.

There is a teeny tinny section of running multiple marathons a year. They barely address it and strongly encourage readers to only stick to 1 to 2 marathons a year to reduce injury and peak performance. But like I say, they address the question assuming people are trying to PR at every marathon they run, even the noted Marathon Maniacs trying to running 3 marathons in 3 months. So take from that what you will.

I really LOVE the idea of reducing stress on the body, especially with how I felt after my first marathon. That is want made me purchase the book. But i’m still not entirely sure about it or if it is ideal for everyone or all goals.

What are YOUR thoughts? Has anyone tried one of these plans? Do you think it is still an ideal plan for someone, like me, not trying to PR but to just finish a race? Comment! 

Other book reviews I’ve done: “50/50 – “Secretes I learned running 50 marathons in 50 days…” by Dean Karnazes

Addendum: I would like to point out that if you are interested in doing one of the training plans, the book does suggest that if you are not used to this type of high intensity training that you slowly start to incorporate speed work into your weekly running.

Happy Halloween – Zombie Running Fun!

224994_511010345586089_1724897080_nIt’s not secret that I love zombies. But I wanted to sort something out for you all.

It’s not that I love zombies themselves….that would be gross. It’s the idea of a zombie apocalypse and what it would take to survive it. (Although, I do enjoy a good, gory, zombie kill in a movie)

I love zombie movies, books, tv shows (helllllooo Walking Dead!), games, clothes, posters, comics, etc, etc, etc….

I like almost all apocalyptic stories and you’ll usually find me with my nose in some dystopian post-apocalyptic novel (think Hunger Games), but my favorite above all is a zombie apocalypse.

why??

I DON’T KNOW!!

A few things in my zombie collection..posters, books, t-shirts...and much more!

A few things in my zombie collection..posters, books, t-shirts…and much more!

running saves livesI have no idea when this fascination came from, but all I know is it’s something I think about often. For example, when in a new place, or just out and about, I imagine what would happen if someone in the room turned into a zombie and it all started. Right then and there. I figure out what I would use as my zombie weapon and my escape route!

Yes, I really do think about that stuff.

Yes, I have an active imagination.

I’ve even dressed up as a zombie!

Ribbet collage 2

Last’s year’s was pretty good!

Ribbet collage 3

This year, I didn’t do as good of a job for last weekend’s Halloween Party, but clearly I still had fun!

I just love zombies! So much, I’m forcing myself to drink the eight beers on the Old Chicago Mini Beer tour to “earn” my Zombie t-shirt! hahaha! (If that made no sense to you, check this link out for info on Old Chicago’s Beer Tours)

Anyway, to avoid further weird-ing you all out….I just wanted to wish you all Happy Halloween! It’s probably my favorite holiday!!

I don’t work tomorrow, so I will be enjoying some pumpkin carving, handing out candy, and then I will be going out on the town dress as a ……

Masquerade Girl………

What? You thought I was going to say zombie? No way! I’m choosing the cute factor this time….. I AM single again after all!

Ribbet collage 3

Sedona Marathon Training – Week 2 Recap

My weeks just keep getting crazier and crazier! I thought with a career change my life was supposed to be LESS stressful.

That is not the case right now!

Anyway.

Let’s talk about running!

sedona marathon event logoSedona Marathon Training – Week 2:

Monday: 4 miles easy due, 4 miles easy complete. It was a lovely fall day and a lovely run.

Tuesday: I was supposed to do 4 x 800 but it ended up being 2 x 800. I started my workout. Ran my first 800 (a small 2 block loop I mapped out around my house – the neighbors probably think I’m crazy), then added some abs and pushups up in the mix, kinda cross fit style. I ran my second 800 (in the opposite direction) and followed up with my exercises. As soon as I started my 3rd loop, I felt super nauseous and turned about after the first block. No idea what was wrong. So, I went back inside, ate and felt better. Who knows!

Wednesday: Rest Day!

Thursday: I was supposed to do a tempo run with a 2 mile warm up, 2 mile temp, and 2 mile cool down. Just like last week, I keep running out of time on Thursdays and had a marketing event I had to go to. I only got in a quick 3 mile run. At least it was something.

Friday: 4 miles easy. 4 miles done. I actually had a running “buddy” on this one and we ran in Wash Park in Denver. If you’re in CO you’re probably familiar with the area. I, however, live under a rock, and had never been there. It’s a very lovely park with a two mile loop around. Lots of young runners and walkers enjoying the sunset.

joan jet

Me as Joan Jet!

zombie

Yes, this is me too…

Saturday: Rest day! This was actually a very fun day!  The bootcamp I coach (Camp MissFits), has a big annual event called the Pumpkin Bootcamp! It’s a fundraiser to raise money for the Arapahoe Community College Fitness Center, which is where our bootcamps are held. It’s a fun event where our members, staff of the college and the community all come for a workout with exercises that all involve using pumpkins…..as if they are medicines balls! I was in charge of the lower body exercises. The theme was rockstars and I dressed up as Joan Jet! After working out with my pumpkin, I went home to rest and changed in my zombie costume for a halloween party! It was a blast!

Sunday: RACE DAY! I actually did a race, the Halloween Hustle, a 5K down in littleton, CO. Expect to see a post this week on my recap! It was a great race!

DSCN3979

Week 2 total miles: 15.1 miles

Other than that, work has been keeping me SUPER busy! I barely have had time to breathe/think!

I did want to share something fun/exciting/motivational for me that happened over the weekend. During the Pumpkin Bootcamp, a lot of the attendees were our Camp MissFit Members and their family. One woman, who isn’t much older than myself, I feel pretty close to. We get along very well and have the same hyper, talkative personalities. She brought her husband to Pumpkin Bootcamp. When she came up to me introduced her husband, she introduced me as her “running coach.” Over the few months that she’s been a member, I have given her running plans, tips and advice. A huge smile came over my face when she gave me that title! I really want to be a running coach in general and plan on getting my RRCA cert, but even without it and my current personal training and running knowledge, I’ve been able to help a client and that’s when I knew I picked the right career. 🙂

Your turn: Tell me about something that someone has said to you recently that has just brightened your day! Additional, are you in the fitness industry? Did you have a moment that made you realized you did indeed pick the right career??

Welcome New Followers!

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 9.03.38 AM copy 2Why Heeeelllloooo there!!!    (In a Mrs. Doubtfire Voice)

Let me introduce myself:  I’m Whitney! I like to run.

Anyway,

I recently passed the 200 blog follower mark (not including the twitter and Facebook followers)! It makes me feel super special! (still surprised I even have one follower)

Just Kidding! I actually really do enjoy writing this blog, even if it’s only to keep my family posted on my adventures and myself accountable for training. But clearly I must entertain 200 people.

Before, I hit 200, I was nominated or the Liebster award, only I was in the middle of Personal Training school, and took a long break from the blogging world to concentrate on my studies.

With the Liebster award people had to fit these qualifications:

“this is an award for smaller blogs, with fewer than 200 followers. the hope is that it will get us networking and talking to one another, and meeting more awesome people! the rules (per se) are as follows:

  • recognize the blogger who nominated you
  • leibster awardwrite 11 things about yourself
  • answer the 11 questions  your nominator asked
  • nominate some new peeps
  • come up with 11 more questions for your nominees to answer”

I was nominated by this lovely writer Jenn at be infinite. Her blog is one of the first blogs I started following and she was one of my first followers as well.  I love her writing style and hope to get to run a race with her in the grand state of Kentucky! She is currently training for a powerlifting but still is a runner at heart.

Even though I’m not under 200 followers anymore (really this is my way of getting out of nominating new “peeps,” because I really hate picking people out), I thought it would be a good way to introduce myself to the new followers as well as tell everyone a little bit more about myself. So here it goes:

11 Things About ME:

1. Clearly I like running. No, but really, I LOVE running. Like, I’m constantly thinking about things I can do with my life that involve running. It’s pretty obsessive.

Yeah, my cake would resemble something like this...

Yeah, my cake would resemble something like this…

2. Something that I think about MORE than running? Zombies. Yes, Zombies. Big zombie fan. Like scary zombies, funny zombie, zombie books, zombie movies, zombie comics, zombie pictures. I want a zombie inspired tattoo. And I even declared that if I do ever decide to get married some day, I will have a zombie themed cake, much to my mom’s protests. (I was also a zombie for halloween last year).

3. I’ve recently gotten certified as a Personal Trainer, but I previously have a bachelors degree in Zoology.

4. I have 3.5 tattoos. I have three spots on my body that are tattooed, but one is a cover up, hence the point five.

5. I also have a handful of piercings, including two dermals. Which I feel makes me pretty tough.

6. I’m an only child (explains a lot, huh?).

7. I used to hate cooking. Like, hated it! In the last year or two, I have really taken up a liking for it, and one might even say I love it now.

Vermont City Marathon pro photo 38. I read a lot of teen books. Like, all the supernatural teen series: vampires, werewolves, and my new favorite theme: Distopian Societies (i.e. hunger games, the Matched series, and I really want to read the Divergent series next). Yes, you’re allowed to make fun of me.

9. I really do love to travel. Literally (almost) anywhere. I know a lot of people say that, but I will be a sad person if I don’t get to travel a lot before I’m old. I’m one of those people that would rather live in a tiny house and spend my money on traveling.

This is from a couple years ago...hehehe

This is from a couple years ago…hehehe

10.  I have a doggie named Tristan. He is a border collie/australian shepherd mix. I also have a beautiful, white fluffy cat, Una. They are named from (one of) my favorite movies, “Stardust.”

11. I’m pretty crafty when I want to be. I used to be really into scrapbooking; preserving my memories and such. But that has been put on hold due to lack of my own space and funds. I recently turned some old tshirts into new shirts! That was pretty fun!

Here are the 11 questions I was asked:

1. if nutrition weren’t a concern, and you could only eat three meals/dishes/items for the next year, what would they be?

-Oh god, hardest question ever! I love food way to much to just pick three! But I’ll go with sushi of some sort, pho and pesto pasta with sautéed veggies.

2. what was your favorite class or subject in school?

-Science. All types of science.

3. you get to spend an entire day with one celebrity or otherwise famous person (even if they’re not currently alive – let’s be imaginative!) – who would it be?

-Michael Crichton, the author. I love his books (except Rising Sun and Disclosure, those were law mystery type of books). He’s super smart, great writing style and has fun stories. I’m currently reading Congo.

4. favorite animal to visit at the zoo?

-Polar Bears

5. how many tries did it take you to pass your driving test?

– Just one

6. you’re going to the movies – what snacks do you get to bring in with you?

-CANDY!!! A gummy, sour type AND a chocolate type. The boyfriend always gets popcorn, so i’ll sneak a couple handfuls of that too.

224994_511010345586089_1724897080_n7. speaking of movies – what’s your absolute favorite?

-Right now?? WORLD WAR Z. Seriously, I’ve seen it once, and it was instantly added to my favorites list.

8. if i were to go through the dashboard of your car right now, what would i find?

-A ton of maps from all the states I’ve personally driven through, my ice scaper, two flashlights, my car maintance book, and my car insurance proof. I only know this so detailed because I was literally just in there a couple hours ago.

9. do you speak any other languages besides english? (we all know you know at least one word of german!)

-Not really. I took 4 years of spanish and barely remember it. Actually, I can listen decently, I just can’t speak it back.

10. favorite board game?

-Clue!

11. what was your dream job as a kid? (aka, what did you want to be when you grew up??)

-A veterinarian. I really did. Strange path life takes us on, huh? I got my zoology degree thinking that’s what I wanted to do, but after working as a tech for a handful of years and seeing up close and personal what the job responsibilities were, I opted out. Couldn’t handle surgeries.

After this part, I was supposed to nominate some other bloggers that have less that 200 followers and asked them 11 question, but I have a hard time picking, so, you can check out the blogs I read on my blog roll. However, I do have ONE question that I would like all of you to answer:

1. Leave me a comment telling me who you are, how you found my blog and one quick, weird fact about yourself!

Now that you know a little bit more about me, I hope you continue to follow my blog. I know I’m a little crazy, but luckily for you, I mostly write about running and fitness.

You can read more about me and my history with running here. Also, the main reason I started this blog was to stay accountable for tyring to run a race in every state. You can read about that and my project here. I’m up to 10 states, and recently just finished my first marathon.

I’m also pretty active in the facebook, twitter, instagram and pinterest worlds. You can catch fitness/running articles/pictures/inspirational quotes/workouts I like and more pictures of my crazy life.