Thursday, March 01, 2007

Steal Shamelessly

I work for a small division of a huge corporate entity based in Minnesota. Our previous chairman/CEO was a huge advocate of Six Sigma. All most everyone throughout the organization went through what is known as green belt training. One of hallmarks of the six sigma methodology is that everyone across the corporation would be using the same tools and language to make continuous improvements and most importantly to share holders, cut cost. One motto of the training was "steal shamelessly", not in the unethical, criminal sense but in the sense of why reinvent the wheel. There was a huge corporate database that tracked all the projects. We were encouraged to search the database for projects similar to ours and to replicate and use the best practices.

Running blogs are a huge database of training ideas and techniques. Rather than learning everything the hard way we can learn from others what works, or not, races to try, routes to take, and training plans for every distance just to name a few. You name it we write and read about it daily.

Today was my planned speed work day. At spend at least part of my lunch hour most days reading a blog or two before heating up the days leftovers or frozen lunch. I read Steven's approach to speed work this week. He ran fartleks in some pretty tough conditions. As much as I "love" going to the track I decided to steal shamelessly and give the fartleks a try today. To replicate Steven's run, I planned on doing the 1-2-3-2-1 minute speed session, but separated with 3 minutes of slower running, which is closer to what I would get during a 400 meter at the track.

I wanted to figure out a fairly straight out and back 8 miler. When I got home from work, I spent about 2 minutes mapping out a route on gmaps pedometer. My route started out on the equestrian trail on Puente, left up the hill on Via Verde the left again down Raging Waters Drive. That made a 6 mile round trip so I quickly added some more on the end of the run with the gmaps. The warm up included getting all the way up the hill. I set my watch for one minute intervals and off I went. The fartleks went pretty well and were actually kind of fun. I had to double back on Raging Waters to get the last 1 minute speed in before I headed back down the hill and on to the extra add on to get me to 8 miles. My heart was sure beating in my throat and the 3 minutes seemed to last an eternity.

When I got back to the car my watch read 1:03. I was shocked. I had taken the 1.5 warm up pretty easy and it had included the hill. This meant a sub 8 pace. That just didn't seem right. After getting home, having dinner and showering, I sat back down at the computer and checked out the route I'd done before I left. I then realized that my add on was only 1/2 mile out and 1/2 back. My run was only 7 miles not 8. The new pace of 9:03 was in line with the way I felt. Other than the speedy 9 minutes, I had taken the run easy, even walking for a bit after each speed segment.

All in all it was a more enjoyable way to get in some speed and my Six Sigma coach should be happy that I learned at least something. Steal shamelessly and have some fun.


Backofpack said...

Yeah, bloggers are a good resource! People look at you funny when you suggest something read on a blog. It's always worth a try, and often quite successful. We have half the running club tying their shoes a new way because of something I read on a blog!

Wes said...

I luv having access to all you guys too! There is still so much to learn. I'm definitely adding fartleks to my running after the half marathon. The backs of my legs are stinging a bit today after doing 7 MPH on the treadmill for 3 minutes yesterday! Happened the last time I did fartleks too. Just goes to show you they could use a bit of strengthning, but after the HM.

Ryan said...

So true! I like the analogy. Running blogs are a great place to learn plus you get some positive feedback. It helps to get creative with speed work make something fun and you'll be motivated to do it again!

Anne said...

What a great take on a business model's application to other areas. It's true, one reason we read each other's blogs is to find out what training techniques worked and why and then see if we can apply them. Great post, D!

Joe said...

Oh you DMAIC dog you, Darrell. I knew I could count on someone who recognized PDCA could apply Six Sigma to running.

Yeah...the application is clear and I really like the idea of running blogs being a huge database of best practices.

Could be a good PhD thesis for somone to automate the searching???

Sarah said...

Nice! Oh yeah, I've learned a lot from other bloggers. Reading about how others incorporate different elements into there own training is so much more valuable then simply reading about it in a training book.

David said...

If I ran another day of the week I'd do those fartleks. They sound very helpful in building up the speed and endurance.
As it is, you're running about 50% more than I did for February and it was near my third highest month ever. You sure have the time and dedication.

robtherunner said...

You can use me as a non-example of how to train for a marathon. I like fartleks over the track work as well. It's good to mix things up.

marmot said...

You have a great blog here. Keep it up,, more power!