IT'S YOUR MOVE! Consider training for a Thanksgiving Day Race in 2020, likely to be virtual.
CHECK OUT THE TRAINING PLANS (see PDF links below or RESOURCES page) for beginner runners and walkers in 2020, designed to help first-timers prepare to participate in one of the many Thanksgiving Day events that are likely this year to be held as virtual events across the USA. Not much has changed from 2019 except that they are a week shorter. As before, runners have the option of training on a 400 meter track one day a week.
The first day of each plan is tomorrow September 21, 2020. There’s no time to ponder making the decision in advance of the start this year, due to the lateness of our posting. With no preview, consider jumping in and performing the first day’s scheduled workout of either one, letting that experience help you commit to the full 9+ weeks leading to November 26. The running plan was adapted from one developed by Mario Fraioli for Competitor.com (now organized as PodiumRunner.com). The walker plan was adapted from plans offered free online by Hal Higdon.
The fact that Fraioli ‘s 5K running plan had a track day scheduled each week was one of the reasons it was selected by Earned Runs for beginners. The TRACK DAY option provides motivation to investigate where to find a regulation track and take advantage of the potential benefits to be gained from feeling comfortable using one to train. The following is an updated explanation for this choice that was initially posted in 2017.
“Why TRACK DAYS?”
A TRACK IS A TYPE OF FITNESS EQUIPMENT
Many beginning or would-be runners, may not have ever run, trained, or walked on a standard track. They may not know where the nearest or most accessible high school, college, or community facility is located. It may seem to be a training site that is off bounds to them, and more appropriately used by younger or more ‘serious’ athletes, who are fast, highly competitive, and in top physical shape. I felt this way about myself as this type of runner until 2014.
In my experience as a recreational walker/runner, there are three characteristics that make a track an essential piece of equipment that all runners and walkers should learn to consider a training ‘home’.
A track is MEASURED, SAFE, and ATHLETIC.
Specific distance assignments in a plan can be difficult to mentally assess for those accustomed to ‘just running’ rather than training, especially shorter rather than longer stretches. A car can be used to chart a road course in miles, and a mobile device app to determine shorter distances, but it’s not always easy to be precise with lesser distances on paths or trails. Marking exact distances by these methods is problematic too, as rarely are there memorable physical features at needed points to help runners visually recall the start and end of a set distance. (“Which tree marks 400 meters?”). If a training plan calls for varying distances the measurement difficulties are compounded.
A standard track lap or fraction of a lap is a limited distance that looks the same every time you run or walk it. Memorizing a series of landmarks isn’t required to determine the exact distance run or walked. Mentally it’s nearly effortless to use.
The track’s straight lengths are easily distinguished from the curved ends. The time it takes to cover specific distances is relatively easy to measure with a clock function on a watch or a phone app. Using a track regularly for training helps your body to develop a ‘memory’ for different distances too.
Safety is a life quality that has several dimensions: training safety, weather safety, endurance safety, traffic safety..
Training: A running surface can be more or less safe from a training injury prevention perspective, especially when workouts will be performed at higher speeds or in adverse weather conditions. A running track used for competition tends to be even, consistent, textured, slightly cushioned, and appropriately drained. This type of surface, designed specifically for officially certified events, is more likely than others to be safe for running faster-paced, precise intervals.
Weather: A running course can offer more or less protection from harsh weather elements, especially when environmental conditions are extreme or are expected to change over the duration of a single workout.
On days in which the atmosphere might be hotter, colder, windier, or wetter than is desirable for performance or health a track session may be the top safety pick. Although running or walking multiple loops of a neighborhood street course has been my preferred approach on such days, a track will do nicely when one is not readily available.
On the toughest weather days a track may beat a street course because hydrating fluids, nutrition, and dry, cooling, or warming clothes can be stowed in a bag and left in full view at the edge of the track or on bleacher seats, only a single lap away. Or, support items can be made more accessible in a nearby parked car.
Endurance: When a runner/walker is uncertain about being able to complete a given workout in its entirety, especially if longer or more difficult than previously experienced, the track can be a great place to safely test individual limits of endurance. You aren't as likely to find yourself miles from the end of tougher than expected finish during a never-before attempted session.
Traffic: Personal safety in traffic is another concern of outdoor runners and walkers. Compared to busier urban thoroughfares, a track open only to foot traffic poses minimal to no risk of bodily harm from accidents caused by faster moving vehicles. Especially now that dedicated lanes near the street curb have been marked off for the use of bicycling commuters, rush hour exercise requires environmental awareness of all traffic dangers including those related to poor visibility in lowlight conditions.
Some runners and walkers prefer isolated paths or suburban and country roads for avoidance of crowds. However, in cases of emergency these are places where the likelihood of receiving timely assistance from passers-by is diminished. A track can also be unsafe if in an area that is poorly lighted, out of the sight of others, or without security monitoring. Checkout the active.com article by Lauren Hargrave, which provides personal safety tips for runners.
Performing a workout on a track is one way for beginners to feel and act like the athletes they aspire to become. Acquiring this mental attitude will help a runner persevere in the tougher training regimens and possibly adopt healthier eating and sleeping habits.
The track is also a user-friendly place to perform pre-run dynamic stretching and mobility routines and to get in post-run static stretches as well as body-weight strength exercises (step-ups and step-downs, plank variations, and push-ups, etc) on benches and stairs. Holding to the rule that you cannot start the running portion of the workout or depart from the premises before completing necessary routines increases the chances they will NOT be skipped.
In some races the finish line is located on a track and the very last portion of the race includes a partial lap. Performing some workouts on a track can help beginners to visualize a successful goal race finish.
Despite the encouragement of Earned Runs, the track may not be a desirable place to train for some. The Track Day Schedule identifies the approximate distances that should be run that day to help you accomplish the session goals without utilizing a track.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
RUNNERS PLAN FREE PDF
WALKERS PLAN FREE PDF
2019 TRACK DAY SCHEDULE
2017 Mintues to Miles calculations
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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