There are two types of runners out there, the ones that love to run intervals and hills, and the ones that hate them. If you are one of the latter, fartleks are your kind of speed workout. Fartlek is Swedish for speed play, and it is a great way to integrate interval training into your running arsenal. It is perfect for first time marathoners because of it’s relaxed style. You’re also at less risk of injury because you are less likely to over exert yourself. They will help increase both your speed and your endurance, and there is no track required, you can do them anywhere.

So how do you fartlek??? On a speed workout day, go out at your normal pace for about 10 minutes. Then pick a landmark in the distance, a mailbox. a lightpole, a McDonald’s drive thru, whatever. Run at a fast pace, almost your max, but leave a little reserved so you can finish the workout. Once you reach your landmark, return to a normal pace until your breath is no longer labored, and start all over with a new landmark. Keep this cycle going, and finish your run with a 10 minute cool down at a relaxed pace. You can vary the speed part as you wish, doing one at a full out pace, and one a little slower. Vary your distance too, pick something 200 yards away, or the Starbucks a half a mile down the road. The great thing about a fartlek run: you will never get bored, even for a 9 mile workout.

However, if you’re like me, and slightly type A, you may need something a little more structured. A variation of fartleks are pickups. These are great if you want to do a fartlek style workout on the treadmill, or in my case, you’re a control freak and can’t imagine not knowing exactly how far you ran! They are the same basic concept, but increase your speed for a time, rather than a landmark. You can increase speed for one minute, recover for one minute. You can also do pyramid pickups, running fast for 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes, each time recovering for an equal amount of time. Or recover for just half your speed time if your feeling great that day.

Really, you can tailor fartleks and pickups to be whatever you want them to be. They are great to do with a friend for a little competition and motivation. The one caveat to these kinds of runs: you are your own coach. You are in charge of how much you get out of the run, not the stopwatch on your wrist. So be sure to push yourself to make sure you get the benefits of the workout.

Next week: My favorite, HILLS!!!

Happy running,

One question often asked by new runners is “How much water do it need to drink while I run?”. The answer I always give is “It depends”. But one thing is clear: long runs + hot summer temperatures=potential for dehydration. Did you know being dehydrated causes your heart to beat faster and thus, your body struggles to keep up with the physical demands of your run? So, it’s important to stay hydrated both during your run AND in your day-to-day life.

There is a great article on hydration in the July 2010 issue of Runner’s World magazine. To summarize their recommendations based on length of the run…
One hour or less – 3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine.
One to four hours – 3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Sports drinks will replenish electrolytes.
More than 4 hours – 3 to 6 ounces every 15 minutes and use thirst as your guide for additional fluids.
Postrun – 8 to 24 ounces.

So, that means you are going to have to take some water with you. What is the best way to do that? If you are lucky enough to live in a city with a running trail, they may have water fountains every mile or two. If not, you will most likely need some type of water belt. There are a several different kinds – one with several small (3-4 ounce) bottles and another that holds one or two big (20-24 ounce) bottles. Unfortunately, both types can bounce. I personally like the belt that holds the big bottle – you can take more fluid with you this way. Another option is the backpack. All are good options and choice really depends on individual preference.

Brands of sports drinks to try: Gatorade, HEED by Hammer Nutrition, Accelerade, Powerade

Brands of water belts: Nathan Sports, Camelback, Amphipod

Next week – stretching!

Happy running!

Not the illegal kind, the running kind: Long Slow Distance. By far the most important training run for a marathon is the LSD run. These runs help prepare you mentally and physically for the challenge of race day. They also teach your body to store glycogen and burn fat. Not a bad thing, especially if you’re trying to shed the baby weight like me! This in turn allows you to maintain your pace on race day, and delay the onset of fatigue. It also strengthens your heart and leg muscles, building your overall endurance. I stress that last part again: the long run is meant to build your ENDURANCE, not your speed. This is not a speed run. You should be running roughly 2-minutes slower than race pace. In other words, it should be a conversational pace. If you can’t talk to your running buddy, you’re going too fast. This slower pace conserves glycogen and reduces the risk of injury.

Be prepared for some tough runs. I promise, at some point in your training, you will have a long run that just sucks. This is a good thing. It teaches you the mental toughness you will need on race day to persevere through the pain and cross that finish line. But to avoid too many of these bad runs, be prepared. Get a good night’s sleep before your long runs. Stay hydrated, not just during the run, all the time. Have fuel (Gu, Hammer Gel, Cliff shots, etc.) and don’t run on an empty stomach. Don’t do a hard workout or lift weights the day before. And don’t increase your long runs by more than 10% each week.

Lastly, and just as important, the long runs are your dress rehearsal for the race. You will learn along the way what breakfasts to avoid, what socks keep your feet dry, which shorts chafe your inner thigh, and how to plan your potty breaks (trust me this is a must!) Never, ever, ever do something on race day that you haven’t tried out on a long run.

Next week: Fartleks

Happy running,


As a pharmacist who spends all day taking care of cancer patients, I would be failing in my professional duties if I didn’t talk about sun protection (same goes for smoking – don’t do that either!). One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lives. In addition to skin cancer, the sun also significantly contributes to aging and wrinkles. When you train for a marathon, you may spend 3 or more hours outside running – sun protection is important!

Tips to remember for sunscreen use
1. Make sure your suncreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
2. Apply the right amount – to cover your entire body, you need about 1 ounce (the size of a shot glass).
3. Don’t forget your scalp and ears! Hats are a good way to help protect the scalp.
4. Since you will be wearing this while exercising, make sure to get a sweatproof formula.
5. Check the expiration date – that bottle from last summer may not be good anymore.
6. Reapply every 1-2 hours.
7. Try to schedule long workouts for early in the morning or after 5 PM when the sun’s rays are not as strong.
8. Super high SPFs are not always better. SPF 100 doesn’t provide twice the protection as SPF 50. Use at least SPF 30.
9. Good brands to try – Aveeno, Neutrogena, Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic

Now, more and more companies are providing UPF ratings on their clothing. This stands for ultraviolet protection factor. Fabrics can provide good protection from the sun’s rays. The ratings are similar to SPF ratings (you see UPF ranges from 15-50). Fabrics, density of the construction, dye, and even UV absorbing chemicals are all used in UPF clothing.

Don’t forget your eyes! Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays and most HEV rays (high-energy visible). A close-fitting, wrap-around style is good for running.

In addition to potentially causing long term damage, sunburns hurt! So, protect yourself!

Next week, hydration and water belts.
Happy running!


Now onto training… I’ve posted a beginner’s plan and an experienced marathoner’s plan, and I’m sure a lot of you are thinking neither one seems quite right for you. Here is an intermediate plan. If you are a first timer and have some confidence in your running, and more time to commit, you could follow this plan as well. It is also great for someone with a few marathons under their belt, who has a goal in mind for Twin Cities, but doesn’t quite have enough time to follow the advanced plan from last week.

If any of you get Runner’s World magazine, there is an article in the July 2010 issue with training plans and tips based on your goal time. If you have a particular time in mind and want to know how to meet your goal check it out:,7120,s6-238-517–13533-1-1X2X3X4X5X6-7,00.html

Next week: Endurance Runs

Happy running,