Don’t Become Stagnant

stagnation

Do you run the same routes and distances every week? I hope not, especially, if your goal is to improve your running. It’s important to change things up and challenge your body in new ways. The body learns to run the same old stuff very efficiently. Once it does this, you stop getting gains in your running.

Most training programs include a couple of easy runs, one speed work, and then a long run on the weekend. This is pretty much true regardless of distance.

Having a couple of easy days is important for your body to recover and I don’t think you need to mess with these. Easy days should be at conversation pace. The distance depends on the distance of the race you’re training for and if you’re not training for an event, it would be based upon the distance you like to run on the weekends.

Speed work is a wonderful way to work on your leg turnover even if your focus is not speed but endurance. Being able to move your feet quickly is helpful for steep descents and technical terrain. There are many different types of speed work including intervals, ladders, and tempo runs.

Interval runs consist of a specific distance of a mile or less run at a 90% effort and then either a 200 meter or 400 meter cool down. Then you repeat them. The number of repeats again is tied to the distance of your long run on the weekend.

Ladders are when you increase the distance with each interval. You still have the 200 or 400 meter rest, but the first interval would be 400, the second would be 800, the third one mile, and the fourth a mile and a half. You can create a pyramid by coming back down, one mile, 800 and 400 with the mile and half being the apex.

Tempo runs are when you run a 800 to one mile warm up (actually you should be running a warm up with all speed work) and then run 4 or 5 miles at about 80% effort or race pace.

Of course these are just a few examples, and if you google you will find a ton more. When doing speed work make sure you are not putting it back to back with another hard workout such as a long run. Speed work is hard on your body and it needs an easy run or rest day to follow.

Another way to mix up speed work is not to run speed at all, but hills. You can find a long gradual climb of a few miles or you can do hill repeats (gag). With hill repeats, your rest is on the downhill. So run hard up and then slow down, repeat.

Long runs are another essential part of training, but there are options here as well. You can add in Fartleks. Fartlek means, “speed play.” What you do is pick a point in front of you during a long run. It doesn’t have to be very far out. And then run it hard. You can do this as many times as you’d like and change up the distance each time. This is also good for those who get bored during long runs.

Change up your route for your long runs too. Add some hills, some trails, or run through a park or two. If you run through a park with a playground you can stop and do some pull ups or go down the slide (why not?).

My final suggestion to mix it up and prevent that stagnation is to throw in some other exercises every mile or so during a long run. Stop and do some pushups, burpees, or jumping jacks. Run with high knees or butt kicks.

Changing things up forces your body to adapt in new ways. This means it gets stronger, which is what you want.

Overtraining

recovery

I know I have harped on overtraining before, but I’m going to do it again because the runners prone to doing it, and tend to be the runners who have a difficult time taking it to heart and hearing the wisdom behind the advice.

I’ll make this seriously simple. Here is the bottom line, overtraining causes injuries and is the fastest way to put a stop to your running for three to six months.

That is all.

 

Endurance Sports Show: Take Away Part two

endurance sports

Part one includes information on running myths, low carb endurance, and running biomechanics and can be found by scrolling down after this post.

Here are the major points I took away from the lectures on Open Water Swimming and Transition Two in Triathlons at the Endurance Sports Show this past weekend.

Open Water Swimming: (1) You can draft in swimming just like in cycling; (2) an efficient way around a buoy is to cork screw, roll from front to back to front as you turn around the buoy; (3) sight on nearly every stroke, if you don’t see what you want just keep sighting don’t slow down; (4) you should do speed work in every swim even on recovery swims; (5) there are two main schools of swimming: Total immersion and straight arm turn over, they are not compatible; (6) get comfortable with other people in the water and in open water; (7) triathletes don’t want to build massive shoulders like elite swimmers because it slows them down on the bike and run; (8) swim until your hands brush the bottom when exiting the water, running through the water is a waste of energy.

Triathlon T2: (1) the tri-bike body position makes this transition a little easier than a road bike position; (2) do two sets of deep air squats every day; (3) keep your lower back limber; (4) keep your hip flexors and hamstrings limber; (5) everyone struggles through this transition because the back and core muscles are cramped up on the bike; (6) lacrosse balls make excellent massage tools for the Hamstring. Place the ball under your thigh on the hamstring while on a hard surface, then bend and extend your lower leg. This causes the hamstring to move over the ball; (7) tape two lacrosse balls together to make a massage tool for the back, use it against a wall rolling it up and down your spine.

My big take away: I have a lot of work to do.

I’m pretty solid on my running. I know how to improve in that area. I know quite a lot about running, gear, mechanics, training strategies, physiology, strength, and injury.

I’m sad to admit that I’ve been walking around with an enormous mental block about cycling and swimming: that I can just put in the miles/meters and I’d be just fine. This is probably fine for a goal of “just finish the race,” but if you want to challenge yourself and see, what you are capable of accomplishing, it won’t work.

In other words, I need to apply the knowledge I have about running to swimming and cycling. I need to train as hard at these two as I do with running.

Finally, I was also able to corner one of the physical therapists at the Endurance Sports Show and ask about the pop in my knee two weeks ago. He said if I had torn a ligament, it would have swollen like a grapefruit immediately, and the swelling would not have gone down after two-three days. Diagnosis: sprained knee. I’m clear to run so long as it does not cause pain.

Endurance Sports Show: Take Away Part one

endurance sports

I attended the Endurance Sports Show this past Friday and Saturday. I wandered through the exhibit hall looking at booths on cycling, running, and swimming. I spoke with athlete’s and experts in all three areas. I listened to lectures on popular running myths, low carb endurances, running biomechanics, open water swimming, and the transition from bike to run during a triathlon. There was so much information and amazing knowledgeable presenters. I’m excited for years to come because this will only get bigger.

I’m going to do this in two parts because I know everyone is busy and can’t read long blog posts.

Here are the major things I took away from each lecture:

Running Myths: (1)Stretching doesn’t reliably prevent injury; (2) warm-ups don’t reliably prevent injury (3) motion control shoes regardless of foot type have the highest injury rate among runners; (4) neutral and stability shoes, regardless of foot type have the lowest injury rate among runners; (5) you should choose your shoes by comfort not foot type; (6) orthotics and store bought insoles have the same injury prevention rate regardless of injury type.

Low Carb Endurance: (1) Low carb athletes are setting major records; (2) Low carb athletes add in carbs during racing and high volume training depending on their tolerance for carbs; (3) low carb athletes consume under 50 carbs a day during low volume days; (4) Low carb athletes process carbs more efficiently and get the most bang for their buck; (5) the product Vespa assist in the body’s transition between burning fat and carbs; (6) low carb runners should be eating a lot of liver or taking a liver supplement and they need to watch their electrolyte levels more than other athletes.

Running Biomechanics: (1) there are ways to reduce impact forces both externally and internally; (2) shoes and gear are external and running form is internal; (3) Cadence is the best way to reduce impact; (4) like everything in running, you don’t want to make major changes to your cadence all at once, so follow the 10% rule; (5) 180 steps a minute is ideal for most (but not all) runners. You can get metronome apps to help with this; (6) maintain a 6% forward lean and keep your feet below your center of gravity; (7) you should be landing with a bent knee. This is more important than the contact point of your foot (heel strike, mid-foot, or forefoot); (8) hip strength is a big deal in running form, it maintains your legs in the proper position beneath your body.

Part Two will be posted on Wednesday: including open water swimming and the struggle of the T2 (bike to run) transition during triathlons.