The iRun / New Balance Mile — NO RUNNING Strikes Again

February 7th, 2012 in NO RUNNING by 0 Comments

 

The iRun / New Balance Mile proved to be another successful test for the NO RUNNING movement.

In what seemed like self-sabotage, we intentionally fielded a team with greatly-diminished distance training under our collective belts. Everyone on the team had recently traded in mileage for sprints, strength training, form work, injury-prevention, a race-specific diet, lessons on race strategy, and a host of other NO RUNNING principles.

The result was fantastic. We posted four multi-year PRs and five of our six runners finished in the top 20.

Among them was a heroic effort by Daniel Potter. Potter added NO RUNNING to his training program last month. He made room for the workouts by sacrificing a few of his weekly miles. The results have been immediate. Over the past two weeks, he has run a multi-year PR in the 5K (18:44) and a lifetime PR in the half-marathon (1:31). Last night, his hope was to break 5:00 for the first time since 2004.

One problem – he was suffering from an illness that had sidelined him for the past several days.

Despite this, he made his way to the race and asked for a team uniform. He’ll take no offense when I say that he didn’t look so hot. We took him through a warm-up routine and discussed some key race tactics (another important aspect of the NO RUNNING philosophy). After some drills and strides, he decided to give it a go.

When the gun went off, it was mayhem. Potter got off to a strong start, but I soon lost him in the mob. It didn’t matter. He had laced up his flats and manned up. After that, nothing else mattered. You can see a photo of the start here.

As for me, I swore off distance running last July to test the benefits of NO RUNNING without the benefit of any endurance runs. In fact, over the past six months I’ve logged a total of 20 miles (and have gained a few pounds in the process). My “training” has consisted of the following (specifically designed to target my strengths and weaknesses – don’t try this at home!):

  • A targeted workout on Tuesday nights incorporating a variety of drills, 50M strides, weight training and stair-climbing (total workout: 60 minutes).
  • A high-speed workout on Thursdays, focusing on drills and 50M – 200M sprints (total workout: 45 minutes).
  • Two hours of flag football with a group of athletic youngsters on Sunday mornings.

I also walk or ride a bike when I have errands to run, but that’s about it. No Sunday runs. No repeat quarters. Despite this, I was hoping to break 4:50. My old high school coach was skeptical. He introduced me to the rewards of incorporating non-running activities into a standard training program (sprints, weights, jumping, basketball, etc). However, without any real distance he predicted I could do no better than 4:53.

I respectfully accepted his prediction. After all, NO RUNNING is supposed to be a part of a complete training program, not the program itself. My extreme approach was meant to determine how well someone can expect to run 1) under a traditional program, 2) under a NO RUNNING program, and 3) combining the two.

This race completed the experiment with resounding results. Thanks in part to the competitive encouragement of FIU standout Jason Alexander, I finished the mile in 4:38. This was just a second off of last year’s course record time and one of the fastest times by an American Master in 2012.

Obviously, distance training would have made a big difference. However, who would expect a 41 year old to run 4:38 on a thrice-a-week diet of football, weights, stairs, and 50M – 200M sprints? Needless to say, I was pleased with the result.

A few second after crossing the line, I turned to cheer the oncoming finishers. Incredibly, there was Potter, about 60 meters from the finish with the clock reading 4:50. “Oh man, this is gonna be close”, I thought.

I screamed out to him, but I doubt he heard a thing. His eyes were glued to the clock and his legs were in full stride. I could see that he had taken his NO RUNNING lessons seriously – his sprinting form was near-perfect. Chest forward. Arms pumping. Toes extended. Still, I couldn’t tell if he was going to make it. It was just too close to call.

As he crossed the line, his eyes turned away from the clock and closed. His face was half grimaced…

…and half smile. The clock read 4:58.

NO RUNNING strikes again.

The takeaway is clear. Distance running and speed work are critical to running good times, but it’s only half of the equation if you wish to run great times. Figure 1 depicts my performance utilizing each approach.

Figure 1: The yin and yang of optimal race performance.

 

As you can see, a traditional regimen of distance running and speed workouts got me into great shape. Under that program, I was able to run 2:00 for the 800M and 4:29 for the Mile. However, a regimen consisting of nothing but “NO RUNNING” activities provided similar results (2:00 for the 800M and 4:38 for the Mile)…but with a lot less training!

Both methods worked well, but the real benefit came when I combined the two programs into one. My 800M time dropped 4-seconds. That was the difference between finishing 4th at the 2011 Masters World Championships and finishing out of the top 10. It was also the difference between winning the Gold medal at the 2011 Masters U.S. Outdoor Championships and settling for the Silver, as I did at the 2011 Masters U.S. Indoor Championships.

I’ll unveil more details of the NO RUNNING program in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.

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Congratulations are in order for the rest of the NO RUNNING team (in alphabetical order): John Cormier, Bryan Huberty, and Elliot Kimbrough. Each of their successes was a story onto itself.

Special thanks are also in order for iRun Miami. They put on a heck of a show and created a truly unique race experience. See our race recap for more. I’m looking forward to the next event.

You should too. To hit new PRs, be sure to jump on the NO RUNNING bandwagon. You can join our group on Facebook. You can also get free updates by texting the words FOLLOW NORUNMARK to 40404.

Mark Gomes, this Web site’s co-founder, ran track and cross country at Northeastern University.  In 2011, Gomes won the silver medal at the U.S. USATF Indoor Masters National Championships and gold at the USATF Outdoor Masters National Championships.


Author: Mark

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