HIIT(ing) the trails!

This week, I noticed my countdown go from three months to two months. It’s sort of strange to have one goal in mind that I’m working hard to accomplish while at the same time pursuing several other goals. I guess this is how I keep things exciting and keep the motivation fresh!

One of my upcoming other goals is the Rugged Red half marathon in Red River Gorge in Kentucky. This is a trail half, so it will be quite challenging and will take longer than my current half marathon PR of 2:05:10. I’m trying to wrap my head around that as being an okay thing. Even though I know that trail running is more technical, typically resulting in a slower overall pace, I never really like to see that happen. With this disappointment serving as motivation to run stronger on trails, I’ve compiled a trail running conditioning workout that works really well with high intensity interval training (HIIT – you thought that was a typo, didn’t you? Well, shame on you.). This particular HIIT routine involves 30 seconds of fast, intense effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, which is really just enough time to get ready for the next 30 seconds of fast, intense effort for a different exercise. HIIT is time based, rather than repetitions based, but the idea is to do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds. As an added bonus, I do this routine barefoot outside in a nice patch of grass.

HIIT the Trails Conditioning
30 sec effort
10 sec rest
Four rounds
1. Pistol squats (15 secs right, 15 secs left)
2. Haybales
3. Walking lunge w/weight
4. Step ups (15 secs right, 15 secs left)
5. Stair hops
6. High knees/butt kicks (15 sec each)
7. Bounding
8. Four-square drill

I put this routine together from info gathered from Doug Hay at rockcreekrunner.com and from Jason Fitzgerald at strengthrunning.com. Both excellent sources of running information! Trail running typically involves hills with steeper grades than roads, sharp curves around trees or other obstacles, hopping over roots and fallen trees, and sometimes even splashing through creeks. It’s a great way to mix up a running routine, especially if you like to be in the woods, which I do – quite a bit.

This week was a fairly standard week of training. I found a great running speed calculator that I got fairly excited about. I know that I want to run my marathon in around 4:30, and I knew what pace I would want to get that, but I wasn’t sure what kind of paces I should be training at in order to be best prepared for the big day. So, McMillan’s running calculator helped me find out I was right on pace for the most part, and showed me a few places were I could make adjustments. The information was surprisingly motivating as I hit the roads this week.

On Saturday, we went to the zoo to run a 5k called Dash for Donna, honoring what was once the world’s oldest hippo in captivity. Sadly, after turning 54, Donna died. Now the zoo is raising money for a memorial, and the race is one way of raising those funds. I finished 4th in my age category, which is pretty tough age category to place in, so 4th ain’t too shabby.

At least I was faster than these guys.  Turtle joke.
At least I was faster than these guys.
Turtle joke.

It was a one-mile loop around the zoo that we ran three times, so we got to see a lot of the zoo over and over again. Some of the animals seemed alarmed by the pack of charging people, but as far as I know, no one fell victim to any creature’s resort to instinctual behavior – though it looked like the emus wanted to show us what real running looks like.

Next weekend, we’re off to go camping! We’ll be running a 5k in a small town east of here, and I’m pretty excited about that. My long run next weekend is 12 miles, and I’ll be doing that on the trails in Lincoln State Park. I’ve never run 12 miles on a trail before, and I’m looking forward to it, especially knowing that there is a lake that I’ll be able to cool off in afterword.

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