Q: I was an active teenager playing competitive soccer. I am now 30 years old and have spent the last year and a half exercising consistently. Last summer I decided to run the CRIM 10 mile race. It took me 1:44 min. This year my goals are to compete in some triathlons and duathlons & the Disney marathon in Jan 04. This winter I started to use a heart rate monitor. I am using a 195 max for running and find it very hard to keep my hr below 150. If I follow my HR my pace is around 14-15 min/mile. Last summer I could run at 160 and be around 10/miles but would feel over trained after a few weeks. I want to get faster. Some people say to run faster for shorter times. Others say to not worry about how fast you are going keep my hr down and build a base and later incorporate intervals after a sufficient base period and you will be faster. The rest say run as fast as you can and keep pushing yourself. Am I just not meant to go that fast? I just want to run my 10Ks at 8-9 min miles. HELP! Thanks. - T.H.

A: Wow. Before I point you to some unrealistic goals, you need to ask yourself some serious questions...like are you a runner or a jogger? Jeff Galloway has a great book called "Galloway's Book on Running." Buy it. Read it..especially the stages that you progress in developing your running. Don't get ahead of yourself. Know where you are starting from and set realistic goals. Going from where you are to 8-9 minute miles is a huge improvement, and perhaps unrealistic in the near term or what your abilities are. But, you are the only one who can find out whether or not that kind of speed is within you.

I can't advise you on how much to push yourself. Only you know what your limits are. I have never used a heart monitor. I learned the understand the difference between aerobic discomfort and pain bordering on injuring myself by doing hills and track intervals and knowing when I needed rest. You need to understand what your limits are.

Your friends are right to advise you about building base and strength first. Galloway emphasizes this. He speaks of strength, endurance and speed. Speed happens when you run fast. That requires effort and discomfort. It's as simple as that. To build speed, you can go to the track and start doing some quarters. Start with one. That's it. Do one lap a spirited pace, then stop and multiply your time by four. Then, go home. Set a goal to be able to do four of those in a row, walking 200 meters in between. From where you are, I suggest allowing 6-8 weeks to work your way up to four. Write down your times. Then, re-evaluate where you want to go from there.

It is important that you separate the purpose of your runs (strength, endurance and speed). Galloway covers that completely. His book lists some excellent workouts that prepare you for 10Ks. Rather than list them here, I suggest buying his book. Good luck. - The Rage (3/7/03)

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