|June 7, 2011||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
Since I started running marathons in the Fall of 2007, I’ve dropped an hour and twenty minutes from my time (and am seriously gunning to drop another 10 minutes…I’ve got my eye on you Long Beach).
Similarly, I’ve improved greatly in triathlons since I started dabbling in them a couple of years ago. My recent half ironman was over 30 minutes faster than my first triathlon of the same distance last summer. I only wish we could measure the improvement since my college years when I would occasionally ride my roommate’s bike for fitness…at the same. exact. speed. I could run the same route. Yeah…
I thought it would be fun (and hopefully useful) to do a series of posts on my top secret methods to improve speed and endurance in order to rock out at races. (Warning: these aren’t really big secrets, but they do work!)
First up, a three step process:
1) Befriend people who are faster than you.
2) Be brave.
3) Crash their workouts.
This may come as a shock to you, considering I share my life with strangers on the internet on a daily basis, but I do not consider myself a naturally outgoing person.
The thought of showing up to a group workout where I may not know people or could get run over by some speed demons on a fancy bike still makes me nervous.
But I’ve also learned over the last few years, that working out with other people DOES make me a better athlete. (And our fellow athletes are generally not scary nor are they aiming to plow you over).
You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how easily you will perform better while training with friends.
For instance, when I go swimming with this girl, my 100 meter pace is 5-10 seconds faster than when I swim on my own but I don’t feel like I’m exerting any extra effort.
And when I bike with boys who are faster than me, sure I may be staring at their backsides for the entire 90 miles, but I’m still going to average a faster pace than I would on a solo ride.
When I first moved to DC, I was training for my first BQ attempt and I’m fairly certain that I owe my success at meeting that goal to the people I ran with in the weeks leading up to the race. One of my best training partners in DC is a guy I picked up at a water cooler at a local race. When we run together, I tell him that he’s pushing me and he swears I’m pushing him. In the end, he decided to deem the phenomenon “mutual acceleration.”
Training with people who are faster than you forces you to go outside of your comfort zone and you will be amazed at the gains you make and how quickly your uncomfortable zone becomes very comfy.
Plus, it’s just plain more fun to spend training hours in the company of others. Coming from the girl who spends 15-20 hours a week getting my sweat on, trust me on this one.
Some of the best ways that I’ve met training partners who push me include:
1) Local running clubs. Every city has great running clubs that offer group runs. Don’t be afraid of them, be excited! Most offer a variety of paces and abilities to accommodate everyone who shows up. The worst thing that will happen is you’ll get a good workout and meet new friends. Check out local athletic stores or google road running clubs in your area.
3) Gym/Fitness Classes. I met one of my best running/triathlon friends in Vermont by starting a conversation with the girl on the Pilates mat next to mine. As soon as we discovered we both loved anything and everything swim/bike/running we were hitting the pool and lacing up our shoes to train together. I’ve also met many of my DC training buds by chatting up people in my swim lane or on the spin bike next to mine.
4) Races. There is NO shame in asking the girl who crossed the finish line just ahead of you where she lives. I’ve been known to attack people after races who passed me on the bike and I passed on the run to suggest teaming up and helping each other out.
So, take it from me, it may seem scary at first, but it will be much less terrible than you think to workout with people who will push you and you WILL become a better athlete.
Let’s hear from you guys: Do you train with people faster than you to go fast or are you a solo sweater? If you do, is it working? And if not, what’s holding you back?