How to train with Strava segments

How do you know if you are improving as a runner?

When I was growing up, the best way to do this was to get a fancy running watch, like a Timex Indiglo (I had two!) with a lap feature, and use it to track your time running laps around the block in your neighborhood. Of course, after your run, you had to write down your lap times in a notebook or type them into a spreadsheet if you wanted to be able to compare your performance over time!

Timex IndigloNowadays, we have a huge variety of running apps we can use on our smart phones, as well as some sophisticated pieces of hardware we can wear on our wrists. But believe it or not, many of these do not have a simple “lap” feature.

Enter “Strava Segments”.

If you’re not already a Strava user, I suggest you download the free app and log in with your Facebook account, if you have one. Then check out the segments feature. This handy tool makes tracking your performance over time a piece of cake, without having to use a lap feature of any kind. Once a segment is created, you can literally “set it and forget it!” This is because every time you happen to run the same segment, the app will track you speed, pace, etc. without you having to do anything. Then, you can review your performance over time.

Here’s an example of a segment I have run a few times at the North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area and how the app displays my performance. You can also change the view to show how your results compare to other men and women who have run the same route. And watch out, you may just be crowned “King of the Mountain” if you get the course record on that particular segment!

Strava Segment 1Strava Segments 2

And creating a new segment couldn’t be simpler.

Here’s how it works. Simply go for a run in one of your favorite locations and track it using the app. Then, log in to strava.com on a computer and click on the activity (from Training/My Activities). Once you are viewing the activity, click on the small wrench icon on the left and select “Create Segment”. This will bring up a map of your activity. Once you do this the instructions on the page will tell you exactly what to do but here are some tips.

  1. Change to Satellite view and zoom in.
  2. Click on the green and red start and end points on the slider at the top, and you will be able to pinpoint exactly where you want your segment to start and end.
  3. Click next, and give your segment a name that makes sense not only to you, but to other Strava users who may also run along that same route. (Uncheck “make the segment private” box.)
  4. Click Create.

And that’s it! From this point on, every time you run over that segment during any of your runs while using the app, it will record your performance. Oh, and your past performances will show up too, as long as you recorded them with the app. And viewing your performance over a segment is really easy to do using the smartphone app too.

So give it a try..what do you have to lose, except maybe a course record if someone faster than you tries it too!

Keep running to the beat!

Jeanette

Measure Twice, Cut Once

These are words to live by, for sure! But do they apply to the world of digital publishing? I’d say yes!

Test Twice, Publish Once!

I’m so happy I was able to publish my first running workout album on all of the major music sites, and from all of the preliminary reports I’ve seen, it’s doing well out there in the market. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can purchase it on iTunes, stream it on Spotify, or download it for free from my website for a limited time.

But now that the album is done and “out there”, the more I listen to it, the more I want to tweak it, modify it…edit it. But what’s done is done! That’s why I’m taking even more time to “test twice” before I publish my next one. And I could use some help.

The Cadence Booster Core Program

I’m currently working on a 4-part workout series that’s designed to teach the fundamentals of running form and cadence. I’m calling it my “Cadence Booster Core Program” and I plan on releasing it in April (2018). As you can imagine, there are many components that go into creating something like this, not the least of which are the music tracks that guide the runner to stepping at the right cadence (steps per minute).

running in sand
Sometimes you have to drop your cadence while running on different types of terrain, like sand.

My original idea was to have three basic levels: Beginner (166–170 BPM), Intermediate (171–175 BPM), and Advanced (176–180 BPM). But as a result of testing, I’ve determined that I should create a fourth level. So now I’m adding a new level to my plan that will be called “Expert”. The music for the expert level will be in the 181–185 BPM range. This is because most expert runners run at this cadence during longer runs, and I want to ensure I am providing a level for anyone who wants to try the program.

You might be saying to yourself, “But why would an expert runner need a core training program?” and to that I’d say, “That’s a great question!”.

The reason is because a lot of runners I know have never received formal training. And what you’ll learn in my program are the fundamentals of good running form, and a lot about running cadence. And , running cadence is really important, and not a lot of people know about it! So the information that I’ll provide in my program could help just about anyone, no matter how expert!

Drop Your Cadence!

One more thing I should mention. Sometimes your cadence will drop, meaning, you won’t be able to take as many steps-per-minute as you normally would, if the terrain is particularly challenging. So if you’re running up a steep hill, over technical terrain, or on soft, sandy trails, your cadence might slow down a little and this is normal. But that’s another reason I am providing several different program levels. If you normally run at the Advanced level, you may want to use a track from the Intermediate level if you plan on running on a softer, technical trail.

A Little Testing Goes a Long Way

If you know what your typical running cadence is, post it in a comment. below If you don’t, just count your steps the next time you go out for a run for thirty seconds and double what you get.  Then let me know.

And if you’d be willing to test out some of the music files, you can download them here. You can follow along with the program development on Facebook by following @cadenceboostertraining and joining the community! I hope to see you around.

Keep running to the beat!

Jeanette

How to do a Speed Workout

On Thursdays, I try to do a speed workout, to achieve two main objectives, to learn to move my feet very quickly and use efficient running technique.

And the best way I know to do a fun, motivating speed session is to do a 30-minute Cadence Burst workout. So today I headed out to the closest park near my house to unwind after a long day at work.

Nature Trail
The nature trail at North Jupiter Flatwoods.

The best place to do a Cadence Burst session is a sidewalk or non-technical trail that doesn’t usually have a lot of people on it. I like to go to North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area, where there is a nice ¼-mile paved nature trail loop that is perfect for this type of workout.

Each Cadence Burst session starts with 4-5 minutes of warm-up walking, plus an additional 2-minute walk that starts off the intervals. I usually start my watch when the first sprinting interval begins, and hit the “lap” button every time I change speed.

Cadence Burst intervals consist of alternating two-minute walks and one-minute sprints, for a total of ten intervals. Today I ran four of my one-minute sprints at a sub-7 minute/mile pace! The fastest was 6:46. Now, if I could only maintain that pace for a whole mile! Someday…

Today I ran to the fastest track on the album, Run Like the Wind (up to 194 BPM).

Special Offer for my Readers

Right now, I am offering my entire Cadence Burst album for free, to anyone who requests it. I don’t know how much longer I will have this promotion active so take advantage while you still can! And if you do decide to try one, please leave a comment so others can benefit from your experience. And if you have any feedback about how I can make them even better, just let me know!

Keep running to the beat!

Jeanette

Speed Work, without a Track?

At least once a week for the past few months, I’ve been running speedwork sessions, without going to a track. I’ve been using my Cadence Burst workouts, (that are now available on iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, and many other music distribution services). These workouts are great, and they are really helping me run faster! All you need is a somewhat flat and firm surface, like a sidewalk, road, or non-technical trail, and you’re all set! Continue reading “Speed Work, without a Track?”

Race Report: DTR Full Moon Night Trail Run

I would be remiss if I didn’t write a race report following my first-ever Down to Run trail race! Last Saturday I “competed” (I use that term loosely) in this event, known as the Full Moon Night Trail Run. The whole experience was magical! As you can see from the photos, everyone wore a headlamp, as well as various other types of luminescent devices, and headed out from Kitching Creek, at Jonathan Dickinson State Park around 8 PM for two hours of soggy, wet madness!

DTR Full Moon Race Directors
Race Directors, Andre & Ludi Chaves

Our race directors, Andre and Ludi Chaves, were as gracious and supportive as ever, as was DTR co-founder Diego Mey. They all put on one heck of an event! Special thanks to all of the people who volunteered at the registration/packet pickup station, aid stations, as well as the photographers and medal hander-outers! And a special shout-out to Jenny Q for manning the microphone and welcoming in all of the finishers with charm and grace!

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One of the most memorable aspects of this race, in particular, was the amount of water runners had to traverse throughout the dark and somewhat treacherous terrain. This photo shows what a typical water crossing looked like, and I estimate that approximately 20-25% of the course had some kind of deep water over it, which made it difficult to keep your footing and maintain a quick running pace. Somehow the winners managed to do it, however, as they crossed the finish line with miles averaging in the 8-min pace! Unbelievable!

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Me, two miles in, after only having to make a few water crossings…there would be many more to come before my two hours of running were over!

All in all it was a terrific experience. I can now say I have an official DTR trail race under my belt and I didn’t twist an ankle or break a leg in the process! I came in under my goal time of two hours and couldn’t be happier!

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Crossing the finish line in under two hours!

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