Runners On Your Mark

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." --Hebrews 12:1

Read: Hebrews 12

Even though we were in a different city with an unfamiliar course, I found my favorite and familiar spot, the finish line. See, long before the runners ever cross the tape and well before the crowds, you can always find me there early to survey the land, to test the angles and find the best views. So just before sunrise, I did my thing, because I didn't want to miss my babe complete a test that began 16 weeks earlier.

Sure, while the official clock started that early morning, anyone who's ever run a marathon knows the big race is run in the small, unseen moments of preparation. Like the other runners on the mark, Loretta started that clock when she accepted the invitation. Everything she did after that was a direct reflection of that commitment. Like I've said before, it's easy to see God in a marathon.

So with my stake claimed and seeing as she wasn't due for a few hours, I got comfortable. And over the next few days, I'll share some of the notes I scribbled as I hunkered down with my heart's eyes open. I hope you'll join us as the runners come in.

--Jimmy Peña

RUN LONGER BY RUNNING FASTER Think the only way to become a better distance runner is to run for distance? Think again. While the importance of event-specific training can not be marginalized, there is a growing body of research to suggest that interval training may have value as well.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario (London) found that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week (with 3-4 minutes of rest between sprints) burned twice as much fat as those who jogged for 30-60 minutes at a steady pace. Both groups gained an average of 1% lean mass. But what’s even more interesting is that the endurance markers — time trials in 2000-meter run and VO2 max performance — were similar with both groups.

So while intervals are highly touted for their ability to burn fat, they are also a solid option for decreasing your times on your long runs. Intervals boost your heart’s stroke volume, or total blood pumped per beat. That means longer times to fatigue, which is critical for distance runners. So don’t feel guilty if you can’t make it out for your five-miler today — 15 minutes worth of high-intensity intervals will provide you with plenty of benefits to take on your next run.

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