Welcome to the My Race Ragz blog! Here you'll find tips, tricks, stories, inspirational quotes, hilarious anecdotes and awesome deals on customized running shirts, updated weekly for your pleasure.

Race Specific Fitness for a 5K

February 17th, 2014

Many many people often tackle a 5K race as their first running event. I know I did. I weighed 225 pounds and participated in a 5K with my local Weight Watchers in April, 2010. I  loved it. It was hard, it was challenging, and I felt motivated and inspired to keep losing weight so I could get better, faster, stronger.

I continued to work hard, run, cycle, lift weights, and did my 2nd 5K in February, 2011. I trained for that race for 10 months. I loved running and really my running career peaked in November, 2011 with the Women’s 1/2 Marathon in St. Pete which I finished in 2:17.

During this time I really focused on race specific fitness. What does that mean exactly??

As the name implies, race-specific training means training to the specific physiological demands of your race distance. While this might sound simplistic, the difference between the physiological demands of commonly run race distances can be quite different. Certainly, there is some overlap between distances in close proximity, like the 5k and 10k, but there is a large difference between the specific demands of the marathon and half marathon. Understanding these differences and applying the correct workouts is the founding principle behind race-specific training.

We’re focusing on race specific fitness for a 5K.

Race-specific training should start anywhere from 4-8 weeks out from your goal race. And again, I’m looking at April, so there is plenty of time! The precise starting date will depend on your experience level, training load, and how quickly you generally respond to workouts (some runners respond and adapt to training quickly, i.e. they “get in shape quickly” while others need longer build-ups). I’m thinking I’m going to need the full 8 weeks because while I am in shape, I am more of a CrossFitter rather than a runner.

In a 5k specific training phase, your goal should be to improve your speed endurance – your ability to maintain a fast 5k pace for the entire race. You’re more than capable of running much faster than your current 5k pace for one mile already, so you need to work on holding that pace for 3.1 miles. My favorite starting workout is:

12 x 300 meters at 5k pace with 100 meter jog rest in 30-35 seconds (“jog” 100 meters in 30-35 seconds as your “rest”).

Once you get comfortable with this workout, you can run 12-16 x 400 or 600 meters at 5k pace with a 100m jog rest.

My current 5K pace is S.L.O.W. but that’s okay. That is the goal of the training. To get faster.

Speed work for a 5K PR

February 6th, 2014

Last week I wrote of trying to go after a 5K PR at Iron Girl. There were three things I need to focus on in order to make this happen.

  • speed
  • race specific fitness
  • endurance

Today I’m going to talk about how to go after a PR by doing speed work. All the research I’ve done says you only need one day per week to do speed work. I think I can handle one day per week. I found this very interesting plan from Runner’s World Magazine, and I am confident I can follow it.

5K-specific workouts should be run once a week. This is a typical progression of sessions. All reps are followed by three minutes of jogging unless otherwise indicated:

* 5-10 x 1 minute (2-minute recovery)
* 5 x 2 minutes
* 5 x 3 minutes
* 4 x 4 minutes
* 5 x 4 minutes
* 4 x 5 minutes
* 5 x 5 minutes

I think I could start with a run/jog combo, I know it’s supposed to be SPEED work, but when you’re dealing with an injury you need to come back slowly, and I have 2 1/2 months until Iron Girl, so there is some time to build.

I live in a community that has a 1/4 mile fenced track, so that means I can bring the kids and they can play along, too. Makes sense since my middle daughter is running the race with me. She can work on her speed as well.

If you’ve ever worked on 5K speed work, what sort of plan did you follow?

Running towards a PR

February 2nd, 2014

What’s a PR? A PR is a “personal record.”  Once you’ve run your first race, you have a PR. It refers to your best time in a race of a specific distance. So, if you run a 5K race in 28:45, that’s your PR for the 5K distance. If you run faster than 28:45 in a subsequent 5K race, then you have a new PR for that distance. So you’ll have PRs for different race distances, from 1-milers to marathons.

Not all races are “chip timed” so I only count official chip timed races. Last week I participated in The Color Run. The Color Run is not chip timed, so I didn’t even bother with tracking how long it took me to complete the race.

Yesterday I participated in the Best Damn Race. It’s an official chip timed race. But what’s chip time?

Chip time is another way of saying “net time,” or the actual amount of time it takes a runner to go from the starting line of a race to the finish line. Many races feature a timing technology in which all participants run with a computer chip attached to their running shoe OR to their racing bib (this is what I prefer.)  As you move across a special mat at the starting line, the chip registers that you’ve started the race. Then, as you cross the finishing line, the chip registers that you’ve finished the race. So, in other words, the amount of time that it takes you to reach the starting line (since most people are not right at the front of the race) doesn’t count in your overall time. In some cases of very large races, it can take runners at least 20 minutes to reach the starting line. Your chip time is different than your “gun time,” which is the amount of time it took you to finish the race from the moment the gun (or horn) went off.

I personally went through my PR setting stage in 2012. I hurt myself in a 1/2 marathon in early 2013, so I spent most of 2013 just trying to finish races, not concerned at all with setting any new PR’s. Now that we’re a full month into 2014 and I’ve run two races, I’m not really seeing 2014 being a year of PR setting either. But maybe it could be? What would I need to do to run towards a new PR in 2014? I’ll be running Iron Girl Clearwater in late April and I ran this same course last year, and that seems like a good enough time as any to try for a new PR.

I’ve done my research and in order to set a new 5K PR there are three things I need to focus on:

  • speed
  • race-specific fitness
  • endurance

Now I just need to figure out how badly  I want it?  Can I fit any extra running into my typical workout routine? I guess that’s a decision I’m going to have to really think about.

Gasparilla: Tampa’s Hometown Race

January 26th, 2014

36 years. Almost as old as I am (I’m 42!!) That’s how long the Gasparilla Distance Classic has been challenging runners from locations near and far. More than 635,000 people have participated in a Gasparilla run. That’s a lot of people.

Throughout the years the Gasparilla Distance Classic has gone through it’s shares of ups and downs. Adding new race distances, removing distances, adding challenges, removing challenges.

It’s a race organization that always listens to the runners/walkers that participate in the events.

This year will be my third Gasparilla. My first was 2011. I ran the 5K with the Tampa Trio. They were 4, 5, and 6 and had a great time! I mean, how can you not have a great time when you get to run a race with PIRATES?!?!?!

In 2013 I ran the 1/2 marathon and wow…THE BLING for that race was fantastic!

But a 1/2 marathon is no joke, and I wasn’t properly prepared last year. I walked away from that race with an injury that I’m still recovering from (and 2 lost toenails), but that won’t keep me from the 2014 Gasparilla Distance Classic!

This year I have signed up for my first ever Gasparilla CHALLENGE!! That’s right. A challenge. Me, along with several friends will be doing the Lime Cactus Challenge.  The Lime Cactus Challenge consists of a 15K on Saturday and an 8K on Sunday, totaling more than 14 miles combined. That’s more than the 1/2 marathon, but dividing it up over two days *should* be easier on my injured body.

But you know that’s not the real reason I signed up for the challenge, right? Of course not. It’s all about the BLING!!

When you participate (and finish) a Gasparilla challenge you earn the finishers medals from the races you complete PLUS a special challenge medal (I haven’t seen what that one looks like yet.) That means for my two races I’ll earn 3 medals! Plus 2 shirts, and a jacket!! SWEET!

Gasparilla also partners with some local charities to give back to our community. This year’s charities, from the Gasparilla Distance Classic page:

Hope For The Warriors

The mission of Hope For The Warriors® is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.  Check out Fish Tales and learn about a ‘Tampa’ Hope For The Warriors® event.  Join Team Hope For The Warriors® as they unite to run and/or walk a Gasparilla event to improve the rehabilitation of combat wounded service members and military families!

Metropolitan Ministries

Join Metropolitan Ministries’ Team MetroMin as we “Race 4 Hope” during the 2014 Gasparilla Distance Classic Races! Hope starts with a meal, and the goal is to raise $25K to provide more than 14,200 hot meals for those in need in our community. Please visit: www.metromin.org/race4hope for information on how you can help bring hope to thousands of hungry people in Tampa Bay!

2013 Recap: 52 runners for Team MetroMin raised more than $12,700 to provide 7,219 meals

Richard’s Run For Life

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. – Patanjali

This quote was a great motivator for me and still is. Using my experience as a runner and my desire to find a cure for cancer, in 2001, I created “Richard’s Run for Life” under the Gonzmart Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to fine a cure for cancer. Creating Richard’s run was a way to fulfill this goal of finding a cure. – Richard Gonzmart

Also in 2001, Richard established the Columbia Restaurant Endowment for research at Moffitt Cancer & Research Center.  Over the last 11-years, Richard’s Run has raised more than $400,000 for cancer research.  Join Richard’s Team and help Richard fulfill his goal of finding a cure.

Local races do so much more than just providing bling. They give back to the community in so many ways; through charitable donations, stimulating the local economy and team building. Why team building? Knowing that Gasparilla always occurs on the same weekend in February friends can work together throughout the year to train, to offer support, and so much more!

How do races in your community support local charities?

Run Local, Support Local and a Giveaway

January 19th, 2014

In my area of Florida, race season is in full swing.  My Facebook feed is full of updates from friends who are running and swimming their way through the Tampa Bay area.  Actually, many are racing throughout the state, but for the next 2 weeks I want to talk to you about 2 upcoming local races and why you should support your local race organizations.

The Best Damn Race touts itself as “a race for runners by runners.”  Having run this race myself, last year during the inaugural race, I can tell you without a doubt that this is true. A beautiful course, nice changes in elevation, well marked, plentiful water stations, course bathrooms, and a great post-race party.  The post-race party includes food, massages, music, and plentiful amounts of beer. In addition, you get a beautiful medal (and you know me, I love to run for bling!!)and this year they are also including FREE finishers photos. Awesome.

The Best Damn Race supports two charities: Miles for Hope and the Ronald McDonald House Tampa Bay. In addition, the BDR is also locally owned and managed. Supporting the BDR helps to support local businesses, and that’s so important for the economy in our area.

As reason season approaches in your area, take a peek to see if any races are being organized by local organizations. The money stays in the community, and that will help your local economy to grow.

The Best Damn Race will be in Safety Harbor on February 1, 2014, and there is space available in all the races EXCEPT the 10K+5K Challenge. I’ll be there doing the 10K. I did the 10K last year and had a great time.

My Race Ragz is a locally owned business in the Tampa Bay area and we’d love to give away one of our custom made race shirts to one of our blog readers.

Simply leave a comment telling me what local races you’ve done in your community, or what local races are on your agenda for 2014! I’ll pick a winner next Friday January 24th, 2014 and will notify the winner by email.

Next week, I’ll discuss Gasparilla!!