Posts Tagged ‘strength running’

Now that 2012 is a little over a week in the bag it’s time to get serious about planning for 2013.  About three months ago I started mentally preparing for 2013, especially since my first half marathon is right around the corner. But before we get any farther into the New Year why not go ahead and throw down a preliminary look on paper, if you will, of what the entire year might look like.

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  1. January 27, 2013 – ING Miami Half Marathon – This race basically represents the culmination of my 2012 training, as haphazard as it was. Originally I had hoped to pursue roughly a 2:10 finish time based on McMillan’s calculator analyzing my 54 minute finish in a 6 mile race. Unfortunately my training, as well as my injury downtime, held me back from properly preparing for the distance in a manner that would allow me to attack and sustain that goal pace for the duration.  Being flexible and realistic, I look forward to now using the ING Miami as a training race, an experience that will give me valuable practice at properly pacing and understanding my body’s feedback during a 13.1 mile effort. I will consider any sub 2:30:00 finish a victory.basilica de los angeles
  2. February 10, 2013 – La Candelaria 10k – A classic race in Costa Rica that everyone here should run at least once. 2013 will be the 32nd running of the fast course with a major downhill bias, dropping approximately 300 feet from beginning to end, after a mild 65 feet of elevation gain during the first 2 miles. La Candelaria passes through downtown Cartago, which was the original capital of Costa Rica until 1823. Cartago sits at an elevation of roughly 4700 feet above sea level. How I approach this race will completely depend on my recuperation from the ING Miami Half Marathon. If I feel energetic and full of bounce then I will attack the course early and hold on for dear life.  If still feeling a bit tight, brittle or fatigued from Miami then I will enjoy the 10k simply as a fun training run through an area of Costa Rica that I have not explored on foot before.
  3. March 2, 2013 – Chattahoochee Road Runners Club 10k – The CRR 10k will prove to be a challenge; I’m sure of it. Although the course is primarily flat, with a modest elevation gain during miles 4 and 5, and finishing with an aggressive downhill surge, this trip back to the United States will also be somewhat of an emotional event as well as a physical test.  Two of my older brothers and my sister in law will also be racing. I haven’t seen one brother in over 5 years, and the other in close to 10 years. All three of my competitors have raced this course on multiple occasions, and as runners have years of experience more than I. This event is potentially a trap for any specific goal, other perhaps than the challenge of reigning in my pride and running my race.rock clev
  4. October 5, 2013 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Cleveland Half MarathonThis is my 2013 A race!  The October race date provides plenty of time for me to focus on expanding my aerobic base as well as fine tuning my strength program before diving into one of Jason Fitzgerald’s custom, half marathon training plans. There is no course map yet, however Rock ‘n’ Roll describes the course as flat and fast. Cleveland has an average temperature of 52.8 ° F, with an average maximum temperature of 62.1 ° F, and an average minimum temperature of 43.5 ° F. In Cleveland I will aim to apply all the lessons learned from the ING Miami Half Marathon, as well as taking advantage of the course, climate and a much better chassis and engine combo to blow through a 2:15:00 finish and target the original McMillan goal of approximately 2:07:00 or thereabouts.

So there you have it. A quick, preliminary view of what’s facing me in 2013. Keeping these dates and races in mind will give me a broader context within which I can plan my training and analyze my progress and or challenges, as they might arise.

Let’s see how much better 2013 can be!

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Ancient geometers proposed a challenge known as Squaring the Circle, in which one had to construct a square with the same area as a given circle, using a compass and a straightedge, and within a certain number of finite steps. By 1882 the task was proven to be impossible.

As the expression is used in causal conversation and more specifically in regards to my running it may be interpreted to mean that success will prove impossible if I limit myself to the proverbial aids of only a compass and straightedge, and a finite number of steps. No pun intended.

And with that observation tucked away in my magician’s top hot, it’s time for a major adjustment in my training. You might say I am coming full circle.

I have improved noticeably over the past 8 months in terms of fitness and performance. The progress has come however at a substantial cost calculated in time lost due to multiple injuries and lesions, including bone spurs and plantar fasciitis.  As best I can determine, these injuries were the result of the common runner’s plague of trying to do too much too soon.

My primary influences up to this point have been the POSE Method for technique, combined with the knowledge, tactics and strategy employed by the likes of Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running, as well as what I consider a running bible: Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon, a book by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald.

There is no fault to be laid at the feet of these individuals or their methods for my injuries and setbacks. Those are all completely and entirely due to my negligence, ego and contempt for one the most basic tenants of running success: build a proper foundation via base training.

My eagerness to run farther and faster bypassed the basics and I paid dearly for it. Instead of learning from my mistakes I compounded them. With each new injury or week of recovery I felt more desperate to make up for lost time, and though I might give a cursory acknowledgement to ‘easing back into my training,’ I would inevitably overextend my current level of fitness and experience only to find myself in the same situation three to four weeks down the road.

Enter stage left: Phil Maffetone and heart rate training. As per his biographical intro at naturalrunningcenter.com:

Dr. Philip Maffetone is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, clinician and author in the field of food and nutrition, exercise, sports medicine, and biofeedback. He was named coach of the year by Triathlete Magazine, and honored by Inside Triathlon magazine as one of the top 20 most influential people in endurance sports.

Following Dr. Maffetone’s method I can attempt to build the base and foundation that I most likely never acquired while playing ping pong between running too fast and too far, and recovering from aches and pains. Read the specifics regarding Dr. Maffetone’s method known as The 180 Formula.

Being the supremely hard-headed, wanna-be athlete that I am, I could never completely commit 100% to the 180 Formula and run at an uninspiring slow pace on every run. So below we shall review my new and improved bag of tricks.

Each week I will alternate running either three or four times per week. Weeks that call for four runs will be broken down into the following schedule: 3 runs that implement Dr. Maffetone’s heart rate monitoring, forcing me to remain below 150 beats per minute. One run per week will be at any pace I desire based on how I feel that given day, and it may include any of the techniques advocated by Jason and Matt Fitzgerald (no relation) and Brad Hudson such as negative splits, strides or hill sprints. The distance of the four runs is to be considered short to moderate and should be completed in a time ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

During weeks in which I run three times, 2 runs will be short or moderate in length and will fall under the 180 Formula. The long(er) run of the week will be approached via the methods of Fitzgerald and Hudson.

My expectations with this approach are to address my need to build aerobic fitness and efficiency via slow, controlled running within a certain heart rate percentage of my max HR. In addition, with 5 of every 7 runs conducted at a more conservative pace I am much less likely to self inflict stress injuries on my bones and joints. In contrast, a single shorter run and the long run both will be conducted on a perceived effort basis, allowing me to continue to build strength and the ability to improve and sustain pace.

Wish me luck.

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Don’t Stress Over Changes – Just Adapt

Since finishing my rehab and recovery I’ve completed three full weeks of running in preparation for the ING Miami Half Marathon in January 2013.  I made a decision to run only on the treadmill until I was covering distances of 10k or more, in order to give my body time to strengthen after the six weeks of mostly non and low-impact recovery.  My plan was to swap out a single weekly run to the road, and every other week I would swap out an additional treadmill run for the pavement.

Today my wife returned early from our association’s gym to inform me that the treadmill was dead.  Out of order.  No mas.

Lacking choices, I laced up the Inov-8s and headed out the door, eager to finish before the sun had a chance to rise too high in the sky.  I am already sunburned from attending my daughter’s first track and field event on Saturday. Honestly, I wasn’t excited about running on the road.  I’m paranoid about all of the different variables that could have contributed to my original injury: too many hills, running  too fast, shoes that are too minimalist, overpronation, muscle imbalances.  The list goes on and on.

But sometimes a lack of choices is just what you need.  The ING Miami Half Marathon is run on the road after all, not on a treadmill.

First road run in over 2 months

The challenges were immediate and pronounced as I took my first steps.  I use a metronome to help me lock in an efficient cadence of 180 strides per minute.  This is also a great tool to prevent over striding and makes mid or forefoot landing more natural and not something you have to waste a lot of energy focusing on during a run.

It literally took me the entire first mile to find the proper rhythm, stride and cadence.  By that time it was too late, I had already burned my powder.  I ran three progressively slower splits. No clearer evidence exists of a runner who leaves the gate too fast, finds the pace unsustainable and eventually labors through the finish of the run.  And I still had 3 hill sprints waiting for me at the finish, courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald.

So how does the death of my previously preferred training device impact my race preparation?  Simple, there are a few key areas I need to adjust and monitor:

stride cadence

stride length

pace management and awareness

recovery ability

The simple truth is that I eventually had to face this transition at some point in my training anyway.  So I choose to embrace it now, earlier than planned or expected, but inevitable nonetheless.

The only constant in life is change.

 

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I had an ultrasound performed on my ankles and feet this week.  The results were normal in all aspects and I was given the clear to run, as long as I used any discomfort as an immediate warning sign to stop and take at least the next day off.

I really took some time during my rehab to examine my training plan and realized that as far as running was concerned it didn’t consist of anything more than following a popular half marathon program by a respected coach.  The cookie cutter approach just wasn’t going to cut it and I looked high and low for a few additional resources that resonated with my outlook, personality and fitness level.

Paleo diet satire

The simplest things can sometimes make a world of difference.  One of the resources I discovered was Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running, and he has a few links to a variety of pre and post run routines that emphasize dynamic mobility and core strength.  Two routines that are helping me tremendously are the Standard Warm Up and the Cannonball.  Performing these routines has significantly decreased post run soreness and stiffness, and also prepare me much better for a workout than my previous grab bag of leg swings and knee bends.

4.79 miles in 1 hour

Tonight’s run was supposed to be a test to see how my legs would respond to running on consecutive days instead of after the normal one day of rest between runs.  I expected things to be over fairly quickly because I was very flat at the start, a combination of yesterday’s run and recovering from the Mother’s Day party we hosted last night that included entirely way too much red wine.

Instead, after about the first mile I discovered that my intervals were getting longer and I was not tiring, not muscularly nor aerobically.  What a pleasant surprise!  I continued to run until I had no water left to quench my thirst and called it a night.

While I am very happy with this week’s progress I know better than to push my luck too far or too fast.  Tomorrow will be an active recovery day with maybe a 30 minute stationary bike ride and the same amount of time for some free play in the pool.  Saturday is a strength training day: dead lifts and military press.  I’ll wrap up the week on Sunday with a fairly easy 30 to 40 minute run.

Nice to report good news for a change.

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Photo Credit

Detailed training log for the week is here.  I knocked out a 4+ mile run today and feel that I am slowly, but finally getting back into training instead of injury rehab.

The Olympic Games are coming to a close, I’m sad to say.  The luxury I have of working from home extended me the opportunity to leave the television tuned into the action practically from start to finish.  This morning I woke at 4am local time in order to watch the men’s marathon live and in its entirety.

Congratulations go out to the winner Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, who held off two powerful Kenyans, Abel Kirui and Wilson Kiprotich, crossing the finish in 2:08:01 and averaging a blistering 4:53 per mile.

I had high hopes for the U.S. marathon squad, and Meb Keflezighi did not fail to deliver, finishing fourth with a time of 2:11:06, only three minutes and five seconds off the winning pace.  Unfortunately both Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman succumbed to injury and were unable to finish the race.

Cesar Lizano, the local representative from my adopted nation of Costa Rica made the country proud by finishing strong in 2:24:16.  Lizano was trained by Mario Fraioli, the senior producer at Competitor.com.  Fraioli wrote a series of articles chronicling the coaching process with Lizano as they prepared for the Olympic games, the latest of which you can read here.

Kenyan runners in action

photo credit: john burnett/npr

John Burnett with NPR has an interesting article about the dietary habits of the elite Kenyan runners.

“It is a paleolithic diet,” says Dr. Vincent Onywera, senior lecturer at Kenyatta University’s Department of Exercise Science. “It borrows heavily from our forefathers who lived on fruits, vegetables, roots and lean meat.”

That should be good news to those who follow the Paleo diet, Primal Blueprint, as well as vegetarians and vegans.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to two people who are proving invaluable in my injury recovery and half marathon training.  Jeff Galloway was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team and is also a monthly columnist for Runner’s World Magazine.  He is the founder of the Galloway Marathon Training Program, and emphasizes a run/walk interval method for both training and race day.  I highly recommend that you take a look through his website and give the run/walk intervals a try, especially on your long, slow run day where you will most likely be able to run farther and recover faster with this technique.

Jeff Galloway at Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon

Jason Fitzgerald is a competitive runner, published author and personal coach.  His website, Strength Running, is full of no nonsense, detailed information designed to make you the best runner you can be.  The links, articles and resources on the website will give you an entirely different understanding into the mind of a professional running coach and how to design programs that are appropriate for your goals and adaptive enough to change as you do, both mentally and physically.  A+ plus information organized and delivered in a clear and concise manner!

Here’s a quick excerpt from a recent article:

Elite distance races prove that you can’t be “just a distance runner” anymore. The ability to kick is mandatory in today’s racing world.

But just because it’s necessary for elite runners doesn’t mean that you can avoid sprinting during your training. Besides being able to negative split your race, sprinting also helps your running in many ways: it recruits more muscle fibers, makes you stronger, improves your running economy, and lessens the chance of injury.

Training suggestions:

  • Run 4-8 strides after your easy distance runs. Strides are about 100m long and have you start at a jog, build to about 95% of max effort, and slow to a stop. Run them barefoot on a grass field for increased foot and lower leg strength.
  • If you can run hill sprints, you can do them 1-2 times weekly on a moderate effort day (these are a bit more advanced!)

I hope everyone enjoyed the Olympic games and that at least a few of your favorite athletes were able to bring home the gold.

Make the coming week your best week of training ever!