Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

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Get “Up”!

June 23, 2012

Anyone can be a runner. Lace up some sneakers (or not) and put some bounce in your step. It is that easy, right? We agonize over everything from footwear to underwear to nipple-wear. Hydration, nutrition, and compression are meticulously prepared. The problem is that we rarely stop to think about how we are running. It is easy to focus on tangible things- objects that can be acquired and then strapped on, taped up, or rubbed over various body parts. When injuries still occur, it is easy to blame a faulty or worn out product. Not to worry, we all do it. I do it plenty.

This is not to suggest that those things are not important. They are all crucial in their own ways. What we need to realize is that once we start calling ourselves runners and logging increased mileage, we also have to pay attention to the mechanics of that motion. Even a novice runner should be able to notice differences in posture between the start of a run and its end. Form can change throughout a run, and throughout a lifetime. Runners should try to focus more on their movements than on what their GPS watch is displaying. Paying attention to form has the potential to reduce injury, maximize efficiency, and increase speed.

Doing the 100 Up exercise on grass after a speed workout (should have ditched the sneakers, I know)

The importance of form in running is why I recently started doing the 100-Up exercise. There was a challenge that began in mid-April 2012, hosted by a Richmond store that specializes in minimalist sneakers and natural running. Folks from all over joined the aptly-named Natural Running Store to find out whether performing one drill for 30 days could change the way they ran. For me, this repetitive motion exercise would focus on better posture and leg motion. It would also help teach my legs a better technique for how to land on my feet. With plenty of recent knee and Achilles pains, I had my share of skepticism. But having read the New York times article by Born to Run author Christopher McDougall that supported the exercise, I was optimistic about the potential to help my form.
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My First Barefoot Experiment

January 17, 2012

All of us runners are a little strange in one way or another, right? Our non-runner friends always inquire why we would want to be on our feet for so long only to end up at the same place we started, exhausted and malodorous. At times, I cannot figure it out either. We keep at it through cold weather, extreme fatigue, dehydration, and stomach problems. Then there are the injuries. Oh, the injuries. Sore knees, twisted ankles, angry IT bands, and pulled hamstrings to name just some of the common runner ailments.

Recently, I wrote about hurting my Achilles by stupidly running on sneakers with worn out support. It started feeling better after a week of rest, ice, and a healthy (but safe) does of ibuprofen. Then I ran on it for about an hour on a nearby trail with a buddy. Though it felt good during the run, by the time I got back home it was screaming once again. That was a Monday. By the subsequent weekend I was fed up with the prospective of this once-a-week run pattern. Or worse. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Time to Change the Tires

December 26, 2011

(Caveat: I do not work for a sneaker company, nor do I receive any benefit, save the occasional Tweet, from them.)

Hello, my name is Runner and I am a heel striker. Although there is no official diagnosis anywhere in my medical history, I have engaged in this type of activity ever since I can remember.

According to a Harvard study, which I am inclined to believe, this is not a healthy habit. My feet hit the ground hard, but the ground hits back even harder. This makes it all the more obvious to my legs when the support cushioning in my running sneakers begins to give way. Conventional wisdom says to change your running shoes after 300-400 miles. This is variable, of course, depending on body type, running form, running surface, and the shoes themselves. Regardless, the importance of knowing when it is time to switch out the old ones for a shiny new set of sneaks may mean the difference between solid performance and disastrous injury.

Part of my Adrenaline collection, old and new

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Running Math

December 18, 2011

Running does crazy things to your mind. Or is it just that every runner is generally a little messed up in the head from the beginning? Let us assume the former and shelve the latter for another discussion. When runs get long, painful, or just plain boring, it is easy to convince yourself out of finishing a pre-planned distance. I will often try some simple “running math” to easily transform a bonk into a successful run. It probably will not work for everyone every time (it does not for me either), but maybe it will pop into your head during a run and inspire you.

Running Math

Running math up on the chalk board

Since I do a good amount of out and back runs—head out to a point, turn around and come back—there is one thing I keep in mind to help push myself further. My golden rule of running math: If you take one extra step, you are doubling your total distance.

Stop to think and it is quite obvious. If you run one mile out you have to run another to get back, pretty simple. Though who actually thinks like that during a run? But remembering this weird little mental trick may help you go farther. Running is often about figuring out how to will your body to greater lengths. Whether you are training for a marathon or brand new to the sport, being able to engage your internal psychological firepower will always help you achieve those personal goals. Read the rest of this entry ?

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I Love Running Uphill (Why You Should Too)

November 21, 2011

“Hills are speedwork in disguise.”
-Frank Shorter

If you can’t bear to look at a race training plan with hill workouts, or find yourself avoiding local loops that you know are not totally flat, stop making excuses. Hill running is all sorts of important and I think it is time we stopped complaining. At the very least runners need to view hills similarly to how we ask kids to act towards Brussels sprouts, a necessary but valuable evil. So whether or not you are training for a race, these are a few good reasons why every runner should rethink their gradient grouchiness.

Practice like you play

How many times have you heard a runner blame poor performance on a hilly course, or complained of that yourself? We have all done that at some point. But then look back to your training and how many specific hill repeats did you do? Even in some of my preferred training plans there are scarce hill workouts. This is not to say that the novice runner needs to start scheduling mountain runs every third day, just keep it in mind if you are training for a race. So let us not take the topography of a race for granted and be prepared for some bumpy runs. Find a nearby hill that challenges you, run hard up and then jog back down for recovery. Rinse and repeat. If you have an upcoming local race, go out to the course and do the same thing. You will be better off and not surprised when you get there on race day. Read the rest of this entry ?

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