Some personal news: I have signed up to run the Liberty Mile road race, which apparently is an annual thing here in town.
The way I figure it, what better way to motivate myself on my four-minute quest than to introduce the possibility of public shame. I mean … having a tangible goal with a deadline is a good way to push oneself.
I stumbled upon this idea while talking with my friend Gar Bercury (real name), an avid fortysomething runner and recent participant in the Boston Marathon. Most of my friends are out of shape — just being real, folks — so I don’t have many confidants when it comes to things like, say, trying to run a mile faster than 99.5 percent of the American population.
Simply, I sent a Facebook message to Gar looking for advice on how to improve my top running speed, and he responded with, “Looks like somebody’s trying to run the Liberty Mile.” Uh, sure!
(Thanks to Gar’s timely inspiration, I was able to register hours before the price jumped from $25 to $30. Hey, every little bit counts.)
It turns out there are three separate races included in this thing: The pro race, the ‘Fun Run’ and something in-between called the ‘Unstoppable Mile.’ That last one sounded a little grandiose for my taste, but the six-minute-mile standard to qualify sounded perfect for someone like me, who’s a novice at that distance.
I had to provide actual proof that I could run a mile in six minutes, so I hope my 6:20/mile pace in the 2015 Pirates Home Run 5K at PNC Park is enough for the race committee. (Edit: It was good enough. I’m in!)
Getting back to Gar, he let me know that I need to make sure of a few things as I train for this distance.
• First, don’t run at maximum pace more than twice per week, to avoid injury. “Can’t run hurt,” he said. I agree, although it’ll be tough for me to not go full bore if I’m feeling even halfway decent. I suppose it’ll be a lesson in patience.
• Second, include one ‘strength day’ per week for the lower body, whether it includes squats, lunges, hill runs or all of the above. I went with all of the above today, with an emphasis on hills at Gar’s request. Not only does additional strength mitigate the chance of injury, it’ll give a little extra burst to one’s top speed.
• Third, run at an ‘easy’ pace on at least two days per week, so as to allow for proper recovery, while also building endurance.
The challenge of the mile will be adding enough fast-twitch to an activity that typically is more of a slow-burn exercise for me. Thanks to Gar, I have some semblance of a blueprint for my first mile under the fire of competition, plus he’ll be on hand for questions and input throughout.
Oh, and before I forget, I wasn’t far off from estimating the workout details that are standard for this type of training. We’re looking at several ‘repeats’ of 400 meters (one lap around the track) at intended race pace, with 200-meter jogs embedded between the bursts.
I’m gunning for a five-minute mile for the race, just so we’re clear.
I have the will. I have the plan. I have five weeks. Oh, man. Here we go.
Calories burned (active): 798
Minutes exercised: 66
Hours stood: 17
Steps taken: 12,169
Activity: Hill repeats (six 90-second reps at 10 mph, 8 percent grade)
Hours shirtless: One
Semicolon Count: 0