Summer XC Running Tips + Sample Schedule

running

Hey guys! Sorry, but I’ve been super busy with my internship + other busy work that I haven’t had real time to sit down and just write. Thankfully, I managed to carve out a bit of time today to sit down a jot a bit of my thoughts down.

Firstly, I can’t believe a month of summer has already gone by! It seems like just days ago I got off on summer break. Admittedly, I don’t feel like I spent my month as productively as I could’ve, but I guess that’s why it’s called summer break, right?  

At least my summer running has been going pretty well! Having gotten injured last summer in preparation for XC and also this past track season (which is so dreadful), I knew I did not want to risk any injury this summer. So, I decided to be super careful with my buildup, and make the effort to track all my runs (miles, workout, comments) in a google spreadsheet to track my weekly progress and see how I was feeling. Surprisingly, it has worked really well for me so far (crossing my fingers) and though I’m nowhere near optimal shape/speed for XC season yet, I’m getting there slowly but surely.

I wanted to share a few of my key workouts/runs I do each week, and also a brief sample/overview of my current training schedule. Everyone’s running fitness and level is different, but I hope this can give you just a little glimpse and inspiration!

Here are some of the more major workouts/runs I’ve been doing, and that you can try out too:

#1) Fartlek Workout

Fartlek, the swedish word for “speed play”, is just like what it sounds like: it’s basically a continuous run where you vary your speed in between, interchanging between running hard and running easy. Fartlek workouts are great for people of any fitness level because you can make it as easy or as hard as you want, depending on your current shape/how you’re feeling that day. Fartleks are usually run outside on a trail/route, preferably with some rolling hills. These runs are great because they are challenging, but you finish feeling refreshed rather than fatigued.

A sample of some fartlek workout ideas are:

  • Hilly Route: Run hard uphill, easy run on flats, run hard on downhills
  • 4 mins “on” (faster pace, I usually run it at tempo pace, a pace I can hold for around 40 minutes) , 2 mins “off” ( recovery pace) x 4 times  + warmup and cooldown
  • 3 mins “on”, 2 mins “off” x5 + warmup and cooldown
  • Song: During the chorus, run hard, during the other parts, run slow

 

The great thing about this is that you can really adjust it to your own level. For some people, the “on” part may be a jog/run and “off” a simple walk, while for others the “on” would be run at 5k/tempo pace and “off” at recovery pace. You can also vary the number of times you run the fartlek ( thus adjusting the number of minutes you run). This run is especially great for cross country runners because during a race, you don’t know how far you’ve gone, so you really have to rely on feel for judgement.

 

#2) Tempo Run / Tempo Intervals

Tempo runs are one of the most important runs for cross country training. A tempo run is basically a steady effort/pace, usually somewhere around 10k pace or a bit slower. Tempo runs are great for developing your Lactate Threshold (LT), which basically determines how fast your body can clear lactic acid from your muscles. Tempo runs are great for developing strength, speed, and also stamina and mentality, as it really is learning to be comfortable in the “uncomfortable”. You should feel that the run is “comfortably hard”.

 

I like to run my tempo runs in 2 variations: sustained tempo runs or tempo intervals. Sustained tempo runs are anywhere from 15-30 minutes long at a tempo effort, while tempo intervals are interval runs at a tempo pace (or slightly faster). Depending on where your fitness level is, it’s easy to build up your tempo runs to a greater mileage/faster pace.

 

Some Tempo Run Ideas are:

  • 10 mins warm up, 20 mins sustained tempo, 10 mins cooldown
  • 10 mins warm up, gradual tempo (increasing pace), 10 mins cooldown
  • Warmup + 4x 1000m at Tempo Pace + Cooldown
  • Warmup + 3x1500m at Tempo Pace + Cooldown
  • Warmup + 4x1000m at increasing pace, slower than faster (start slightly slower than tempo pace, finish slightly faster than tempo pace) + Cooldown

 

I like to run my tempo runs either on a trail outside or sometimes even on the treadmill, as it is easier to determine my pace and keep my pace. Tempo runs take lots of mental toughness, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get to where you want on your first try. Remember, gradual buildup is key.

#3) Long Run

The long run is arguably the most important run for a cross country runner (and even more so for half marathon/marathon runners). Long runs are what they sound like: runs that are long. This varies from person to person, of course, but long runs are normally 1.25 – 1.5 times of your normal recovery run length. For example, I run an average of 8 km per day, and my long run is usually around 11-12km (1.35-1.5 times). These runs can be run at a sustained tempo pace (a bit harder) or at a recovery pace. I usually run my runs at the pace I would run a easy run, as I know that the length of the run is enough of a challenge for me.

For some elites, long runs can go up to 2 hours long or more, but I would say for high school cross country, your long runs should definitely by under 1 and a half hours, but that’s just me. Long runs are crucial for building endurance (duh) and not to mention increases your capillary growth, number of mitochondria (which produces ATP!), myoglobin concentration, maximum VO2, and a lot more.

Sample Long Run:

  • 1 hour at easy pace, preferably on trails or course with hills
  • Progression Long Run: Start a conversation pace and finish at tempo pace
  • Tempo Long Run: Run the entire course at a sustained pace, not as fast as tempo but you should finish quite tired.

It is crucial that you don’t increase your long run length too much every week. The maximum increase should be about 10%, so if you ran 10km last week, the longest run this week should be 11km.

 

#4) Hill Repeats/ Hill Sprints

One of my most dreaded workouts is hills. Hill repeats/hill sprints basically fill my legs up with so much lactic acid and I always feel like quitting in the middle. But, hills are a very important part of cross country training, and many race courses contain at least 1 big hill or various rolling hills. Hill workouts are important because they act as speed workouts, help improve your form, and have a lower risk of injury than speed workouts.

There are 2 types of hill workouts: Longer hill repeats or short hill sprints. While the longer hill repeats are usually run at a tempo pace and help improve your lactate threshold, hill sprints are key in improving your fast twitch muscle fibers. Both are important for you to power through your race!

Sample Hill Workouts:

  • 8 x 200m Longer Hills, 6 x 50m hill sprints
  • 8 x 1 min hill repeats, 3 min recovery jog
  • 30 min run + 8 x 15 second hill sprints
  • Continuous hill run

 

So here is a sample of my week of summer training:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday
40 mins easy 4 mins on, 2 mins off x 4 fartlek + 6 x 30 second strides 45 minute recovery Run 3 x 1500m Tempo Pace 45 minute Recovery run 7 mile (11.2km) Long Run Rest

Hope you enjoyed my post and learned something new. If you guys have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email at christinay1213@gmail.com. I would love to help out! Let’s all get after it! After all, cross country champions are made in the summer 🙂 

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Pic Creds: Mark Callon 

Have a great rest of the week. Peace out!

 

Life/Running Updates  + My 10 Minute Core Routine

Life, running

How are you guys doing? Sadly, I’m feeling sick today, so decided to not go to work. I feel like these past few weeks have been super busy and I haven’t really had much time to rest, so I guess today is much-needed. My plan is to literally sit at home all day, sleep, eat, and do whatever I want 🙂 I decided that I wanted to take this extra time to update you guys on my life + give you a glimpse of my core routine (if you want to skip all the blabber, go to the end of the post for the core routine)

So I’ve actually been doing an internship for the past few weeks now at a sensory science research center. It’s kind of complicated to explain what I actually do, but it’s basically a field related to food science and involves researching people’s sensory evaluation of food/products and combining that with consumer needs to create the best food/products. It’s actually quite intriguing, but when you do multiple trials over and over again about the same product, it gets a bit tedious. Even more, I have to commute over an hour every morning at 7:30 to the other side of Singapore to get to where I work. I know that’s nothing to a lot of people, but for me, who is fortunate enough to live in the central part of SG and have my parents drive me/take a taxi everywhere, that 1 hour public commute is something I had to get used to. On the flip side, it’s really opened my eyes up to the realities of a normal life that I will eventually have to lead and also the realities of working. To be honest, compared to working, I’m starting to appreciate school a lot more (I never thought I would ever say that)!

Running wise, I’ve been quite happy with my progress. Getting injured during track season really has made me a lot cautious towards my approach to running/training. I’ve been doing a lot more easy miles and making sure I feel 100% recovered before I attempt any other tempo/faster paced workout. For example, I’ve normally been doing 1-2 tempo workouts and 1 longer run each week, with the other days all consisting of easy running/rest. Being able to tune in with my body has kept me completely injury-free so far (crossing my fingers), and I’m feeling really good with my progress!

If you guys would like a more comprehensive overview of my summer XC base training, drop a comment/like below!

I’ve also found that a really crucial part of keeping myself injury-free and in shape so far has been doing supplemental training like prehab exercises, strength-training, and core. I’ve tried to commit to doing my core routine at least every other day, and I’m happy to say I’ve been doing quite well so far! Core is always sometime that I tend to miss out because I’m just lazy to do it after my workout, but by establishing a set 10-minute core routine, it’s been helping me stick to doing the exercises. There are billions of core exercises out there, but I’ve just compiled a few of my own favorites to create my own core routine. You guys can follow my routine or mix and match your own favorite exercises to create your own!

My 10 Minute Core Routine

1. Front Plank

Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Position your forearms on the floor with your elbows aligned with your shoulder and your arms bent at 90 degrees. Engage your core while keeping your back straight from head to toe, with your head in a neutral position (looking down). Hold this for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. If you can’t do this yet, try 30 second intervals with 10 seconds in between, then build up as you progress!

2. Side Planks

Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Then, engage your core while bringing up your hips until you body is in a straight line from head to toe. Hold this position for 1 min 15 seconds, making sure your hips don’t drop. Switch sides.

3. Bicycle

Lie face up with your hands cupped behind your head. Tuck in your abs while raising your shoulder blades off the floor and knees to your chest. Alternate your legs and shoulders, rotating your left shoulder to your right knee and right shoulder to your left knee as you extend the other leg in the air. Repeat this motion in a controlled manner for 50 seconds.

4. Double Leg Drop

Start by lying on your back, with your legs extended overhead (straight above your hips) and your arms along the side of your body. Then, tigthen your core as you lower both legs as far as you can, making sure your lower back doesn’t lift up (if it does, stop and lift your legs up from there). Then, slowly lift your legs up again to the start position and repeat for 50 seconds.

5. Dead Bug

Start by lying on your back, with your hands extended directly above you (towards ceiling). Then, bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees. Extend one leg out, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg to hover just above the ground, while your opposite arms extends out. Make sure to keep your core engaged and back pressed to the floor. Then, return to starting position, and repeat on alternate sides for 50 seconds.

6. Crunches (Advanced)

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your legs crossed. Place your arms on the back on your head. As you crunch up, lift your upper back towards your knees, then lower. Repeat for 50 seconds.

Done! Hope you all enjoyed this ab workout. Peace out!

Top 8 Summer Running Gear 2018

running

Sun’s out, guns out! Ok not really (I don’t have any guns), but summer means time to WORK. There a saying that goes, “Cross country champions are made in the summer”, and I definitely second that. Though I’ve only seriously run cross country for 3 years now, there’s no doubt that my summer has largely defined my cross country season.

But let’s get things straight. Willingly dragging myself out of the comfort of my air-conditioned home into the summer heat is in NO WAY easy. I’ll admit that sometimes, I have to put quite a bit of effort into convincing myself to go out on that run. Not only is running in the summer heat tedious and tiring, it’s also quite draining to your body.

That’s why it’s important for me to have running gear that help both motivative me to run and keep me healthy and injury free throughout the summer miles. Today I’ll be sharing my Top 8 Summer Running Gear Items of 2018! So in no particular order, here it goes:

Image result for brooks ghost 10 womenBrooks Ghost 10

Hands down one of the greatest running shoes EVER. A solid neutral running shoe, it’s great for running on roads and pavements (most of Singapore’s routes) and is very cushioning, providing ample support for those long runs. Don’t be fooled by it’s size – it’s actually super light, and for me personally, light enough to even do some up-tempo workouts in. I would say the only downside is that it’s quite pricey (depends on when/where you buy it, but mine was around $200 SGD) but I would say that it’s a really great investment. (Brooks Ghost 10, Brooks)

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Women's Running ShoeNike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 

To be honest, I’ve only had this shoe for a little over a week now, but let me tell you, I’m in LOVE. I don’t know the exact science behind all the features of the shoe, but what I do know is that it makes me feel light and fast. The shoe has a super smooth ride, especially great for uptempo/speedier workouts. Not to mention it’s also very fashionable, which is a plus! (Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35, Nike) 

Nathan “The Hipster” Running Belt

Yes, I wear a ‘fanny pack’ when I run. But hear me out, this is one of my most used, most versatile running essentials of all time. It’s essentially a super soft and stretch running belt that fits snugly across your waist (not too loose, not too tight), and contains multiple pockets for you to hide your stuff in. What I love about this belt especially compared to others is that it is sized to fit different body types/shapes, not like other belts which are usually too loose for me and swing around when I run. With this belt, I can bring my phone around for music and some cash/my MRT card! (The Hipster Waist Belt with Pockets, Nathan) 

Forerunner® 35

Garmin Forerunner 35

Though GPS watches are not a necessity, they are definitely a novelty and an awesome item to have. There are many running watches out there, but the one I use is the Garmin Forerunner 35. It’s cheaper compared to the other Garmin watches, yet still has great functionalities such as wrist-based heart rate, GPS (tracks distance, pace, intervals), steps and activity tracking, and even gives you notifications when connected to your phone. What I love especially about this watch is that it’s very lightweight and has a slim fit, which is great for a smaller wrist like mine. The color is also a plus : ) (Forerunner 35, Garmin) 

Image result for nuun electrolyte tablets

Nuun Electrolyte Tablets

During the summer (especially in sunny singapore where I live), I sweat. A lot. That’s why it’s important to take electrolyte tablets to make sure you stay hydrated and maintain optimal fluid balance. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate, and are essential to normal functioning of the human body. When you sweat, you lose a lot of these electrolytes, so it’s important to replenish them, and the easiest and tastiest way is through electrolyte tablets. I use these Nuun Electrolyte Tablets which you put into water, and they fizz up, resulting in a sports drink without all the added sugars. My favorite flavors are tropical and lemon+lime!  (Electrolyte tablets, Nuun) 

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Balega Socks

Socks don’t seem like something important, but trust me, when you start getting those painful blisters all over your feet and have to run with them, it is complete SH*T (pardon my language). But honestly, running with blisters in one of the worst things for me. That’s why I think good socks are really important. One of my favorites are socks from the company Balega. They wick away sweat, help me avoid painful blisters, and most important, are SUPER comfortable. It’s literally like running on a cloud. My favorites are from the “hidden comfort” line; these socks are super thin, no-show, yet super comfy. (Hidden running socks, Balega) 

Image result for JBL reflect mini 2

Wireless Earphones

Music is a MUST in running, especially when lugging those lonely miles in the summer. I prefer wireless earphones, because they make listening to music hassle-free on the go. The ones I am (or were, at least, I just lost them a few days ago 😦 ) using is the JBL Reflect Mini 2, which are sweat-proof wireless sport in-ear earphones. TBH, I bought these because they were on a major sale (50% off!) but they turned out amazing. Super lightweight, stays in your ear, and has really good sound quality, these are a quality investment to make. (JBL Reflect Mini 2, JBL)

Image result for trigger ball spiky

Trigger Ball/Roller

All runners know that recovery is crucial, and a huge part of this is to loosen up your tight muscles after a run/workout. I try to roll out everyday, or at least after every workout.  One item that I’ve found to be super effective is a spiky trigger ball (not really sure what brand, got it from my physio). This trigger ball is basically a spiky plastic ball a little bigger than a tennis ball, and what you do is use it to roll out your tight/sore muscles (you can find lots of videos on how to do this online). Admittedly, it’s quiteeee painful, but you’ll thank me the next day when your workout goes 100x better than it would’ve if you didn’t roll out.

 

So that’s my top 8 summer running essentials! I haven’t included everything I use (that would take wayy too long) but these are my favorite 🙂 What are your summer running essentials? Comment below!

Happy running, and peace out!