Q: I am fourteen years old and I love to run. I get up early every morning and do 200 crunches, 150 push-ups, stretching, run 2 miles, and some jumping exercises. On the days I don't do push-ups and crunches, which is every other day, I train for the 1600 meter run. My routine is to run a whole lap at a fast pace then jog a half until I get 8 whole laps and 7 half laps in. At my whole laps, I average 1:16 a lap. I would like to improve my time on my mile and get it down to 4:30. At this moment, my time on my mile is 5:30. Is this the right routine for me to do? I come from a small school and our track team does not practice year around. These push-ups and running routines are things I have came up with on my own to succeed since I was not told of anything to do by my coach. Also, I am having trouble breathing. It is hard for me to breathe through my nose when I run. Do you have any suggestions on how to make breathing when I run easier?

A: Let's start with the breathing part of your question. The answer is, breathe. Forget about the breathe through the nose thing. When you run intervals, practice taking in lots of oxygen and don't be bashful about opening your mouth and making noise. Your body needs oxygen and the amount it needs can't fit through those two smaller holes in the middle of your face. Go for the big one just below it. Trust me.

For me, when I run at race pace, I try to manage my effort out to my "anaerobic threshold" and hold it there for the entire race. That means, I am right on the edge of going into oxygen debt...which is uncontrolled breathing. Believe me, you don't want to push past your anaerobic threshold at the wrong time...like in a race. The only way to get your breath back is to slow down or, worse yet, totally bonk. Breathing is one of the things I work on at the track to avoid this unpleasant experience. I run hard intervals to (1)find out where my anaerobic threshold is and (2) work harder to push it out further. In this way, I hope to hold on to my goal pace for the entire race and finish strong.

About the 4:30 thing. This is an excellent goal. But, be realistic on how much work that it will take you to get there. If you are an eighth grader now, this is something that might be accomplished by your junior or senior year in high school if things go really well. I say this because Bruce ran in high school and was running where you are headed for and was about where you are now when he was an eighth grader. But he had to work his butt off, and you are doing all the right stuff. Basically, a 4:30 mile is 68 second laps. You are running 76 second laps now, which is fantastic for an eighth grader. The important thing to remember is you need to run your intervals faster than your target race pace. So, something in the mid to low 60's would be what you should be running each of your laps at if you want to average 68's. Look at what you are doing now, for example: A 5:30 is roughly 83 second laps, which is about where you are right now. To get there, you ran your intervals at 76...a seven second difference. If you applied this same differential to a4:30 mile, that would be running your intervals at 60-61 second laps. Don't worry. This might seem out of reach at this point, but in high school, your coaching will be a lot different than it is now, because your body will be ready to take on more miles. Don't attempt to increase your mileage or intensity yet. Your body is not ready for it. Listen to your coaching.

I have never run a 4:30 and couldn't come close now. You'll have to talk to someone who has done that for an up close and personal perspective. I have broke 5 minutes several times and here's roughly what I did about a week before I ran my best...a 4:56 (which is a 74 second average pace/lap). My final tune up workout: (1 x 1600 @ 5:25);(1 x 1200 @ 3:56); (1 x 800 @ 2:36) and (1 x 400 @ 68). I jogged 200 meters between each of these. I found this be an excellent workout to get me ready for the mile. It might work for you on running a fast 1600. Also, one of the things you will need to do to run the mile successfully is to learn how to run each lap. Check out our training tips page for running the mile. Good luck. - The Rage

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10kTruth.com is a place for runners who have the attitude to train harder and smarter, who want to race faster and stronger, to better their race times and lower the chance of injury. The Rage and Manciata answer running and training questions with their own unique insight and spew. You'll also find running advice and inspirational quotes by sports legends and others who epitomize the spirit of 10k Truth.