Posts Tagged ‘running’

Three Major Types of Speed Workouts

Lady Doing Speed Work in the Woods

 

Fartlek Workouts are not only fun to say out loud, but they’re fun to run. Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” and that is exactly what it’s all about. Unlike tempo and interval work, fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts with easy throughout. After a warmup, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover. It’s fun in a group setting as you can alternate the leader and mix up the pace and time. And in doing so, you reap the mental benefits of being pushed by your buddies through an unpredictable workout. The goal is to keep it free-flowing so you’re untethered to the watch or a plan, and to run at harder efforts but not a specific pace.

Bennies = Stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, and stamina.

Tempo Workouts are like an Oreo cookie, with the warmup and cooldown as the cookie, and a run at an effort at or slightly above your anaerobic threshold (the place where your body shifts to using more glycogen for energy) as the filling. This is the effort level just outside your comfort zone—you can hear your breathing, but you’re not gasping for air. If you can talk easily, you’re not in the tempo zone, and if you can’t talk at all, you’re above the zone. It should be at an effort somewhere in the middle, so you can talk in broken words. Pace is not an effective means for running a tempo workout, as there are many variables that can affect pace including heat, wind, fatigue, and terrain. Learn how to find your threshold and run a tempo workout that is spot on every time here.

Bennies = Increased lactate threshold to run faster at easier effort levels. Improves focus, race simulation, and mental strength.

Interval Workouts are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. For example, after a warmup, run two minutes at a hard effort, followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging or walking to catch your breath. Unlike tempo workouts, you’re running above your red line and at an effort where you are reaching hard for air and counting the seconds until you can stop—a controlled fast effort followed by a truly easy jog. The secret is in the recovery as patience and discipline while you’re running easy allows you to run the next interval strong and finish the entire workout fatigued but not completely spent. Just like rest, your body adapts and gets stronger in the recovery mode.

Bennies = Improved running form and economy, endurance, mind-body coordination, motivation, and fat-burning.

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ING NYC Marathon

Reposted from: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/running-marathon-training-tips/

In high school, I could barely run the timed mile test, walking most of it.

Three years ago, I ran my first marathon after losing 50 pounds. I finished in 4:59, and I was happy just to have finished. But I knew I had more in me.

A few weeks ago, I ran my fourth marathon in 3:56. I took more than an hour off my time in three years, without devoting my entire life to running. I work a full-time job, volunteer and have an active social life, but I never felt like I was giving anything up for running. If anything, it added to the quality of my life.

I trained hard to get there, but there are also a few important tweaks I made that helped. Of course, the marathon is a special beast, and anything can happen on race day. But most coaches agree that training smarter physically and mentally can get you to the starting line stronger and ready to tackle 26.2. Here are five strategies that can be effective across the board, along with insights from Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World.

1. Add Speedwork

When I started training for my first marathon, I was still pretty new to running. I’d been at it for about a year, and the thought of intentionally running faster sounded terrifying. I just wanted to finish. During subsequent training cycles, I learned that speedwork (pushing harder in the middle of a workout at a specific speed for a specific amount of time) would change everything. That’s right, running faster… helps you get faster. Crazy, right? Speedwork works best when you’re running hard at a distance relative to your race distance, so tempo runs or mile repeats are best for marathoners. “I always felt like I was getting a little bit of speed but lots of endurance from mile repeats,” says Yasso.

2. Log Race Pace Miles

How are you going to run your goal pace for hours on end if you don’t know what it feels like to run at that pace? Speedwork paces and goal race paces should be fairly different. Your speedwork pace is typically your pace for a 10K or a half-marathon, or, a pace you can hold for roughly one to two hours. Your race pace is something that you’re trying to hold for 3-plus hours, unless you’re an elite athlete.

I practiced at my goal pace for mid-distance runs and at the end of long runs, so that I knew what it felt like to hold it for a sustained amount of time, and what it felt like to hold it on tired legs. On race day, while I checked my watch obsessively, I easily could have told you if I were running faster or slower than my goal pace by how I felt the cadence in my legs. By running race pace miles, says Yasso, “I always felt that innate sense of rhythm that I can carry this pace on race day.”

3. Up Your Days and Your Mileage

The first time around, I ran between two and three times per week, supplementing that with other forms of cardio at the gym and lifting with a trainer. I finished that marathon at an 11:25 pace, hitting the wall colossally at mile 18. I knew if I wanted to get faster, though, that I would need to run more. I used to be terrified of running two days in a row, but this year I typically ran five days per week, and I maxed out my mileage at 47 miles one week. I got to run on tired legs quite often, which was a huge mental boost at mile 22 of the marathon, when my legs felt like someone had strapped massive sandbags to them.

Though there are many variables to determining weekly mileage, says Yasso, the key is to listen to your body and not overtrain. Experts generally recommend not increasing your weekly mileage more than 10 percent each week.

4. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Running is hard. Running fast(er) is even harder. Miles 21 to 24 of the New York City Marathon were incredibly uncomfortable. Of course they were. I’d just run 20 miles! I reminded myself it was supposed to be uncomfortable and not to walk.

“The only way to advance in our sport,” says Yasso, “is to go to the uncomfortable zone. Embrace the pain, and you will be rewarded at the finish line.”

5. Never Set Limits

I took off 40 minutes between marathons 1 and 2. If I had believed that was impossible, I wouldn’t have had the guts to go for that time and make gutsier goals from there. But I thought about what I could do and shot high. I missed the mark last year, but if I hadn’t set such an audacious goal, it wouldn’t have lit the fire in my belly to chase the 3:56 this year.

Tips for Running in Humidity

Posted: August 22, 2013 in Fitness
Tags: , ,

It’s not (just) the heat that matters! How to cope with the muggy weather.

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       Published        

July 10, 2013

Mind Body Aug 2013

Runners often obsess over weather reports, tracking the coolest time of day in which to run. But as anyone who’s ever tried to finish a five-miler in steamy conditions knows, it’s not just the temperature that matters, it’s the humidity.
“Of all the climate measurements we take to assess heat risk for our runners, humidity is the biggest factor,” says George Chiampas, D.O., the medical director of the Chicago Marathon. Humidity makes warm summer runs even more taxing because the higher the moisture content of the air, the hotter it feels. An 88-degree day with a relative humidity just under 40 percent, for example, will feel like 88 degrees. Hot, yes, but when humidity reaches 70 percent, that same 88 temperature feels like 100 degrees.
Unless you’re lucky enough to live in Paradise, Nevada—the least humid city in the U.S.—here’s how to cope when running in steamy conditions.
Why Humidity Matters When you run, your core body temperature naturally rises, and your sweat glands produce droplets that carry excess heat to the surface of the skin, where it evaporates. But humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, so the heat stays put. “On a hot, humid day with no breeze, you have lost a key way to get rid of your building body heat, which can make running dangerous,” says Michael Bergeron, Ph.D., a professor at the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota.
If your body heats up and gets more and more dehydrated, it goes into survival mode, maintaining blood flow to your essential organs (to keep you alive) and to your skin (to regulate temperature). Less blood will flow to your GI tract, which will make the digestion of sports drinks or gels difficult, and you may feel nauseous as a result. You may also find you are more prone to side stitches when you are overheated—especially if your breathing becomes shallow and uneven. And your heart rate will escalate as your ticker and lungs work overtime trying to deliver oxygen throughout your body, Dr. Chiampas says.
But wait, there’s (ugh!) more. If you continue to gut it out, your brain temperature will rise, which makes matters worse: Your ability to assess your own body temperature will become difficult (runners often report feeling chilled or goosebumpy when they’re overheating). You can also start to lose control over body mechanics (your form and footing will get sloppy), and your mental abilities may start to break down (you may feel dizzy or disoriented).
“Your temperature can spike in minutes,” Bergeron says. “If you’re running a 5-K or a 10-K on a hot day, you can jack up your body temperature quickly.” Also, it’s a myth that newbies or not-fit-enough runners are the ones who suffer in hot, humid conditions. In fact, competitive athletes may be more prone to heat-related illnesses because the faster you run, the more body heat you generate. “As humidity increases, thermal strain and premature fatigue increase exponentially, and so running at your normal pace will feel very difficult,” Dr. Chiampas says. It’s also important to recognize that feeling sluggish on a sticky day doesn’t indicate a lack of fitness or a lapse in mental toughness—it’s your body’s physical response to a stressful environment.
Of course, some people handle heat and humidity better than others. Body size is one factor—the more body mass you have, the more insulation and load you carry and the more heat your body generates, which makes it easier for you to overheat. Age is another variable—over time, your body becomes less adaptable to heat; age-related changes to sweat glands can decrease sweat production and reduce the body’s ability to cool itself effectively. Also, sweat content varies: Some people lose more sodium in their perspiration than others, and that can impact performance and increase risk of cramps if these salty sweaters don’t take in enough electrolytes. Where you live also plays a role: It takes generally 10 to 14 days to acclimatize to hot and humid conditions. People who train in humid parts of the country will become naturally used to muggy conditions and probably fare better at, say, an August East-Coast race than someone who travels in from the West Coast, where humidity is generally lower.
Slogging On You might think the best times to run are early morning or evening, or cloudy, rainy, or not-crazy-hot days. But all of those can be incredibly humid. When you check the weather report, don’t pay attention to just the temperature. The Heat Index combines temperature with relative humidity to give you apparent temperature—how it actually feels outside. Relative humidity doesn’t become a factor until it reaches about 40 percent—below that, you’ll have a comfortable run; above that, it could impact your performance. For example, a 75-degree day with zero percent humidity will feel like 69 degrees. But in 100-percent humidity, 75 degrees will feel like 80. (Though there is no simple formula for calculating Heat Index on your own, it’s easy to find on weather Web sites and apps.) The National Weather Service issues a Heat Advisory when the Index is expected to exceed 105 for at least two consecutive days.
In those conditions, if you are intent on getting in a quality workout, your best bet is a treadmill in an air-conditioned room. Otherwise, opt for a shaded path (versus heat-absorbing roads), run close to water (bodies of water offer breezier conditions), and take walk breaks. It’s essential to hydrate properly and let go of any time-based goals—run by feel instead of pace. When temperatures go from 75 to 90 degrees, heart rate can increase by 10 to 20 beats per minute, which will make your perceived effort much greater. Add humidity to the mix, and the effect will be even more significant, Bergeron says.
Be mindful of the early warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke: fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headaches, tingly skin, and confusion. Call it quits if you experience any of them—even if you haven’t reached the end of your run or the finish line yet.
The good news? You can teach your body to respond more efficiently in the heat. Signing up for a race in the second half of the summer will give you a few weeks of heat training under your fuel belt, so you’ll struggle less than you would at the beginning of the season. And any training you do now will only make your fall runs all the more enjoyable.

by Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

      Image      Recently, there has been debate in triathlon circles about the benefit of brick runs. A new school of thought has swept in claiming that running off the bike in training serves no purpose and is of little use. After years of thought on this topic as a coach, and much personal experimentation as an athlete and movement specialist here in our gait analysis lab, here is my perspective on the debate.

In brief, I believe brick runs have great value, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. In my opinion, the issue of running off the bike should not be presented as a training dilemma or time-saving problem to be solved. Brick runs, in fact, present the opportunity to solve a very important physical MOVEMENT issue for triathletes.

What I know from my work in our gait analysis lab, and confirmed from my own experience, is that it is VERY challenging to get the posterior chain-the glutes, in particular-working properly to be able to run well after cycling. I have personally spent a lot of time practicing and experimenting with ways to trigger better glute activation and involvement before a brick run. I have worked on correct hip flexor stretching, and various dynamic stretching of the entire anterior hip region in order to better activate the posterior chain. I can tell you with certainty that it is very difficult to get the back side of our body going after being on a bike for any length of time. And, to be clear, to run to your potential your posterior chain-including the glutes-has to not only be firing, but must be strong.

But why do the glutes stubbornly refuse to activate off the bike? It is due to a real physiologic phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition causes the muscles on one side of a joint to relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. The posture of cycling involves sustained hip flexion, making the hip flexors short and tight. Reciprocal inhibition then causes the hip extensors, especially the gluteus maximus, to shut down markedly. As we discuss further, you will see how brick runs work effectively to counter this phenomenon.

The discoveries I have made in my own training, as well as what I see in the athletes I coach, prove to me that the following elements are absolutely crucial to one’s ability to optimize the run portion of a triathlon:

– You must first understand how important the glutes are in running. And its NOT enough that your glutes are strong (although they MUST be STRONG), they must also be able to act as the PRIMARY extendor of the hip, which is their role. Sometimes the hamstring or low back, due to compensation, tries to over take the role of the glute. First order of business for you is to eliminate compensation wherever possible so that the glutes are doing their job, and then via a platform of functional strength training, get them strong.

– You must understand that the glutes work to create hip extension when running to power you down the road. When coming off the bike, the glutes are not doing that job well at all due to reciprocal inhibition. The longer the ride, the greater the inhibition. Therefore…

– It is imperative to PRACTICE running off the bike frequently to develop a precise, in-tune FEEL of what it takes to get the glutes working effectively. How can you do that?

(Read More)

By Jessi Stensland For Active.com

Having the ability to run downhill fast does not happen by chance. The same rules of efficient running apply whether you’re on the open road or a rocky trail, uphill or downhill.

In simple terms, when the foot hits the ground with a certain amount of force, the better the body is at scooping that energy back up as the foot leaves the ground and not letting it “leak out”, the more efficient, fast and powerful your running can be.

When running efficiently downhill, gravity is your friend. If the body is unable to handle the momentum, it will be forced to put on the brakes to maintain control down the hill. This means a runner will miss out on the advantage of gravity, and will actually have to use some of their energy to fight the force that could be helping them downhill!

There are a few factors that come into play during efficient downhill running, both on and off-road. It’s not about different mechanics or a different style of running than when on flat ground. Think about it as maintaining proper running mechanics and keeping your legs under you as long as you can at the highest speed you can handle.

In the case of extreme trail running, it is also important not only to have the leg speed, but also the coordination and quick reaction time needed to either utilize and/or avoid obstacles along the way.

To do all of this requires proper running mechanics, key muscles activated, stability through the joints and strong, elastic muscles.

1. Proper Running Mechanics As in all running, the foundation of running efficiently downhill relies upon maintaining tall posture and a strong circular motion of the legs underneath the body. In its simplest terms, this means lifting the knees out in front, foot striking directly beneath the body and then pulling the heel back around to start again.

In general, I see many people running lower-leg dominant instead of from their hips, with minimal knee raise. This alone would greatly reduce the ability to keep up with momentum while running downhill and certainly make it necessary to put on the brakes very early on.

2. Activating the Abs and Glutes In any type of movement, the abdominals and the glutes are important to both force production and overall control of the body. Activating and utilizing them properly within your running mechanics gives the body much greater control over the legs. It also minimizes the impact on the quadriceps and knees that so often take most of the beating during downhill running.

Having that control is pivotal to taking advantage of gravity and keeping control over the momentum, especially while avoiding obstacles when on the trail. Be sure to integrate core strength and stability work along with glute activation exercises in your training.

3. Joint Stability Your ability to maintain stability through your spine, hips, knees and ankles during each step is crucial to controlling you body’s direction and forward speed as you hit the ground. Having strong muscles surrounding the joints is key to creating this stability.

Your joint muscles can be strengthened with single- and double-leg strength and balance exercises that challenge both linear and lateral movements. Especially for extreme trail running, being able to remain stable during quick changes in direction is not only great for preventing injury, but helps with quickness and agility.

(Read More)

 Do You Want to Lose Weight?

Break away from bad eating habits and find new ways to shed pounds for good. By Nicole Falcone Image by Ann E. Cutting Published 11/29/2010

Q: How can I benefit from a session with a regular dietitian, and how do I find a good one? A: A registered dietitian (R.D.) can help you whether you need a few nutritional pointers or you want a complete diet overhaul. To be an R.D. one must have a college degree in dietetics, as well as clinical experience, and must be certified by the American Dietetic Association. Many R.D.s are well versed in sports nutrition, but they often also specialize in such areas as diabetes, weight loss, or heart health.
In one or more sessions with an R.D., you should be provided with eating plans and specific food guidelines tailored to your dietary needs. Some dietitians may even join you in the grocery store to teach you how to shop for optimal health.
To find a dietitian in your area, go to eatright.org. Call a few dietitians and discuss their rates (which can range from $75 to $250 per hour), as well as their views on eating, foods, and supplements. I suggest you avoid dietitians who push supplements over food. Also be wary of “food cops” who exclude food groups or pit good foods against bad foods.

Q: Neither my weight nor my diet nor my running habits have changed for 20 years—but my waist measurement has steadily grown. What gives? A: Even runners who stay in top shape as they age may see their waistlines expand due to declining levels of “youth” hormones, such as growth hormone, which alter where body fat is stored as well as declining muscle mass. While your diet may not have changed much, certain foods can have a bigger impact on weight gain as you age. Keep your belt buckle in the same hole with these strategies:
Pack in produce. Studies show that people who eat ample fruits and vegetables have smaller waists than those who skimp on produce. Researchers theorize a diet rich in fruits and veggies helps curb blood-sugar swings, which can influence the hormones that make fat.
Keep it whole. Eating whole-grain over refined-grain products keeps waistlines trim. Research reveals refined-grain eaters have larger waists, which may be related to a lower fiber intake and its impact on controlling body fat.
Easy on the alcohol. Studies show heavy alcohol consumption leads to fat accumulation around the middle. Women should drink no more than one drink daily, and men should limit themselves to two drinks per day.
Stay fit. Studies show people lose specifically from their waist when exercise is part of their weight-loss program. Upping your mileage or occasionally adding other cross-training workouts may help shave off inches.

Q: What’s the best race distance to train for to lose weight? A: Many runners assume marathon training is the fastest way to lose weight, because all those extra miles add up to lots of burned calories. But the additional miles will also increase appetite, leading some runners to eat too many calories to lose weight.
So rather than running longer, I suggest concentrating on pace. Specifically, try speeding up on one to three of your runs per week (alternating your faster days with easy days). Running faster burns more calories and helps you lose weight in three ways.
(1) You burn about 100 calories for every mile you run. But as intensity increases, so does calorie burning—up to 10 calories per minute per mile. That may sound like a small difference, but it adds up. (2) After a run, you burn additional calories as your body recovers. The harder you run, the more energy you’ll expend post-exercise. One study showed that a high-effort exercise session boosted the “afterburn” by more than double compared with a low-effort session. (3) High-intensity running puts a damper on your appetite. After a longer, slower jog you may well be hungry, while after a hard run, you usually don’t feel like eating. Researchers theorize that a high-intensity effort heats up the body more, which affects temperature-sensitive appetite controls in the central nervous system.
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Foam Rolling – The Basics

By Nicole Drummer

As a coach, I encourage all my athletes to utilize a foam roller in their training — the recovery part of training. Many of you have probably heard of foam rolling and have certainly seen these dense foam cylinders in your favorite running or cycling store, and perhaps also at the gym. This article will take a quick look at the purpose of foam rolling and how a triathlete can use it to aid in recovery. Let’s start with the basics:

What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a foam cylinder, approximately 6 inches in diameter. They vary in length and density. They can be purchased online or at running/cycling/tri or other sport specialty stores.

Why do you want to foam roll?
Getting a regular massage is something a lot of us know we should do, but don’t. Foam rolling is an inexpensive way to provide self massage. It’s not as good as a “hands-on” massage from a  licensed massage therapist, but proper utilization of a foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia can help you recover faster and keep your muscles ready to train. In layman’s terms, breaking up the adhesions in the soft tissue aids in decreasing trigger points from forming and brings blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow will bring nutrients and assist in repairing damaged muscle that your last workout may have caused.

How do you foam roll?
There are several methods to foam rolling – you can find a trigger point (tight, painful spot) and just apply pressure there, or you can roll along the muscle (like the sweeping strokes of a massage therapist). You can also do a combination of the above. One thing to note — don’t foam roll joints or injured tissue.

How often should you foam roll?
Athletes training 5-6 times a week can probably foam roll daily, and right after a workout if possible. If you can spend 15-20 minutes foam rolling and 10-15 minutes stretching before bed, you’ll probably sleep better, feel better and recover faster, which means your next workout will be more effective. Note: foam rolling might be painful on chronic tight spots, but listen to your body as it shouldn’t feel like injury pain. If it does, go see a physical therapist!

Now that the basics are covered, here are some major muscle groups triathletes should consider foam rolling:

 

 

Glutes: One of the largest muscle groups and a primary driver in our sport, having a healthy gluteus maximus, minimums, medius is important.

This position helps isolate the piriformis.

 

 

 

IT Band: While Illiotibial band (a thick section of fascia from the hip to knee) issues usually stem from a muscle imbalance somewhere, keeping the ITB and the muscles around it loose is quite helpful to our running and cycling performance.

 

 

 

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