Posts Tagged ‘training’

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.

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?

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 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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The No-Brainer-Nutrition-Plan
Solid nutrition principles for those not wanting to put a lot of thought into eating healthy.

 

I’ve tried understanding nutrition. I’ve read articles and had people try to explain to me what a healthy diet encompasses. But it all sounds like chemistry to me – a subject which I almost failed miserably in high school and college.

I needed a simple nutrition plan. Something I could follow easily without having to think too much.  A couple of years ago, a nutritionist friend (who understood my simple ways) sketched out the No-Brainer-Nutrition-Plan.
 
Guidelines
I’m not into nutrition plans with rules. Rules make everything complex. However, guidelines are different. You haven’t failed if you don’t follow these guidelines. They’re ideas to aim for…lifestyle changes you can work your way toward little by little:

  • Eat 4-6 times a day. Eat three large meals, with two or three smaller snack meals interspersed in-between.
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.

Runners TrainingIn case you’re wondering if half marathon training is easy, it isn’t. In fact, it isn’t considered a training season until you’ve had some tough, humbling runs. But before you start asking yourself, “Why did I sign up for this?,” there are little things you can do along the way to improve the journey.

Personalize it. There are lots of ways to prepare for a half marathon, but the plan that will work best for you should line up with your goals, interests and life schedule. Your program may look a little different than your friend’s, but when it aligns with the things you enjoy, you’ll stick with it, have more fun and are more likely to succeed. Do you like pilates? Blend it into your training plan twice a week to stay happy and balanced. Only have time for four days of training a week? No worries. Follow or find a program that fits your schedule.  Make your own recipe to the half marathon start line, and you’ll look forward to the next workout and many more.

Mix and match.  Burn out and lack of motivation can arise from doing the same thing over and over again. Keep your program fresh by finding a new trail or running your normal route backwards. Toss in some of your favorite cross-training activities (cycling, stand-up paddle boarding, yoga, Zumba) a few times a week to work a variety of muscles, decrease the wear and tear on your body, and refresh your running spirit. A simple change of scenery can renew your motivation for the program.

Invest in rest. The difference between running for fitness and for a long-distance event is the former remains similar in terms of workouts week to week and the latter continues to progress in mileage and intensity.  Rest days and cutback weeks are woven into the program to give you time to recover from the demands of training and adapt and grow stronger. Rest is to training as sleep is to life. Invest in the down time and your body will reward you with stronger performances down the road.

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Run and BrainCould running faster make you a better learner? Maybe—but one thing’s for sure: They both use the same brain waves, according to a new study in PloS ONE.

Researchers at UCLA monitored learning-related brain waves called gamma rhythms in mice, and found that the waves got stronger as the mice ran faster.

When we learn, certain brain chemicals are released that speed up the gamma rhythms, explains lead author Mayank Mehta, Ph.D., a neuroscience professor at UCLA. The same chemicals may be released when we run, though Mehta says more research is needed.

The researchers hope the spike they saw means that running can boost your brainpower, but they’ll need a little more time in the lab to make sure. Previous research does show that regular exercise improves your cognitive skills and lowers your risk for age-related mental decline. A 2007 study in Neurobiology of Memory and Learning found that participants learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster after high-intensity exercise.

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