Monday Motivation

17 Dec

Check out this retro race video:

Runners World wrote a sad, compelling, and well written article on the woman who ran it here —> Debbie Heald

Here is a quick summary of that article: A cold war track meet between US and USSR. 4 women in the 1 mile (160 meter wooden board track in Richmond Coliseum – where we had a cfars race) 16 yr old girl up against Olympic champion, world record holder, and best American ever at that point. The girl’s dad committed suicide day before her 8th birthday, stepfather was a drunk who beat her, she was molested for multiple years, and had a 4th grade teacher who changed her life and continues to take an interest in the now schizophrenic and troubled woman who still loves to exercise. She won the race with a new world record and set what is now the longest standing high school record.

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Taking a Break

15 Aug

The Olympics are over. That’s what goes through my head about fifteen times a day now that the athletes have finished their exploits and are back to their normal schedules. So now, I will be back to scavenging the web for just a morsel of media on these athletes and their astounding training and accomplishments. I repeatedly hear interviews mentioning that phrase “in four years.” Four years! Obviously, there is going to be an enormous amount of work before Rio, 2016, but first, they finally get to rest.

Ever had one of those workouts that made the previous night’s sleep irrelevant? You know, that long run you finished that was followed by some banana pancakes, a five minute attempt at yard work, and then realizing it’s been two hours since you came in and lay down on the floor. I have to say, I love it when that happens. No thinking is required, your body just demands rest and there is nothing you can do about it. I think I would be a much better runner if my body decided to take over like that all the time. I would always be ready for the next run, wouldn’t worry about overtraining, and would definitely never be grumpy or lackadaisical due to sleep deprivation. I also probably wouldn’t do a whole lot more than running and would most likely end up napping during half of the races I wanted to watch online. Instead, I am left in this position of having to actually be diligent in the way I formulate my training plans.

What’s the most important aspect of those plans? Rest. Go ask an Olympian about the importance of their rest these next couple of weeks and they will probably tell you it is as much for the mental aspect as it is the physical. However, even when they get back into the full swing of training, they are going to put recovery at the top of their priorities.

Now, rest for an Olympian might mean a week with only two workouts and only about 85 miles for those seven days and it might mean you should opt for a 20 minute walk for the next three days instead of the 3 mile runs you were planning. The difference lies within the body, and they key to improving that body’s capabilities is knowing what it likes, what it doesn’t like, and what encourages it. You might not be sure if you are overtraining, anemic, or are feeling about what a hardworking person should feel like. But, if you become intentional about discovering how you physically react to the stimuli you throw at it, you will at least start to understand the basics. Once you know those basics, I am sure the details will fall into place.

If you want a little head start on how to best listen to your physical requirements, this article will help.  http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=26761&PageNum=1

Walking While Running

2 Aug

When running alone, it is easy– you just start to walk. No one cares. No one notices. And, you aren’t embarrassed. That, my friend, is why I like running alone. When I run alone, I can walk anytime I want. My mind masterfully talks me into all the reasons why I should walk. I think that I may even have my most creative moments when running alone. Anything from loose gravel to humidity can give reason to slow my strides.

 

The problems begin when I run with people. But, since I do like to occasionally take a stroll, I have developed several strategies for including walking on a group run.

 

1. Ask Short Questions- Early in the run, ask a decent runner with you questions like “What’s new in life?” Or, “Tell me about the Presidential Race.” Or, “What’s on your weekly grocery list?” Something short for you, but long for them. If they answer the question, it will surely cause a cramp and then they will suggest walking.

 

2. Get Lost- Ask to be the lead runner and then take people on a new path, that no one knows. Get lost. Get so lost that you have to stop and check the maps on your iPhone. This will even go beyond a walk and into a full out stop.

 

3. Fake an Injury- This can be as simple as a leg cramp to a full on fall into someone’s hedges.

 

4. Listen- Someone in your group wants to walk too. Listen closely to people breathing. When you find the weak link, run close to them, loudly proclaim your pity for the struggling athlete, and plead with the group to slow down for this poor runner. Then, you can be the servant hero that is willing to walk with them while the other continue.

 

5. Make it a Game- Call it sprint/walk. Light poles are excellent for this. Find a light pole and ask people to pick it up a little until the next pole, then you will walk the next three. The key to this is to not sprint but maintain your speed. Everyone else will run hard and you can affirm them for their speed as a sprinter while you explain to them that you are “more of a distance guy.”

-Mark 

 

What are your creative walking ideas?

Moments of Inspiration

20 Jul

Artists have a reputation for being a little odd. Freewheeling words and colors. They seem to create pieces out of nothing. Oftentimes people wonder what artists actually do all day, and many feel that they can never be an artist because they lack the moment of inspiration for creating “it.” But, what any artist, musician, or writer will tell you is that the moment of inspiration is really a myth.

Inspiration comes through perspiration.

Writers sit down at the keyboard every day and pound through thousands of words that will be edited away never to be read.

Ask an author what the hardest part of being a writer is, and they will answer that it is sitting down to do the work.

Ever walked past a practice room at a university to hear horrible music on its way to being a beautiful piece of art? Musicians play unrecognizable forms, not notes, in their process of discovering the right melody.

They start over, throw out their work, and get frustrated. But, artists are consistent about their passion. And, they actually put in the work. Every day.

Running is like that for me. I keep waiting for the moment of inspiration to get up early for a run. I wait for the inspiration to run after work. I buy new shoes, watches, and other gear in hopes of a little inspiration to actually run.

But, if I can learn anything from artists, the moment of inspiration is a myth.

It’s their consistency that I crave, and the process that brings enjoyment.

That is why I covet seasoned runners that have been practicing their art for decades.

These running artists are the shoulders on which we stand. Let’s be admirable artists in our own running.
Our inspiration will come through our perspiration.

Mark

My Favorite Landform

19 Jul

Jack Handy once told me that, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Not lifting weights doesn’t kill you. Therefore, not lifting weights makes you stronger.” As someone who avoids weight rooms like the plague and despises squats, burpees, and leg presses, I love that advice. So, I flee from those large artificially lit rooms full of strange men grunting, wildly moving weights, the constant thumping and whirring of people on treadmills and fans circulating their sweat, and I run to the hills.

It’s easy to follow me. As soon as you hear a teenage kid with a giant RaceTrac coke hanging out a truck, yelling, and mistaking you for some guy named Forrest, then you know you’re headed the right direction. You can find short abrupt hills, long steep hills, short gradual hills, hills that wind around for miles, soft sandy hills, rocky uneven hills, Mississippi mole hills, Montana’s mountains, and undulating hill sections that include outrageous climbs, gradual inclines, flat reprieves and nice rolling topography. There aren’t necessarily any rules, no must haves or precise measurements, just nice simple running on something other than a track.

What they help:

If nothing else, practicing hills alleviates that feeling in a race where you round a turn at the bottom a giant elevation change and think “Oh snap! I’m gonna die!” Furthermore, while hill training can have wildly different forms, all of them are going to train your hip flexors to lift with more energy, encourage your glutes and calves to push off with more force, and increase your cardiovascular capabilities. The pronounced toe off, exaggerated arm swing, and driving knee lift necessary to carry you up an incline can tax your body just as much as any weight room session and do it in a fashion that many argue is much more natural, specific, and useful to the runner. In other words, hill training will force your body to become more efficient and build better running form. Hills will facilitate both speed and strength training in a way that reduces the amount of pounding on your legs and decrease risk of injury. Also, don’t just think about the uphills. Going downhill is a huge help as well. When you get sore after a hilly run, the main reason is often actually because of the downhills. Our muscles are great at contracting and generating force, but it is a little trickier to allow a muscle to lengthen under an extreme amount of force. That flexibility is exactly what we need to train when running downhill. As you descend, you tend to land with a fair amount of force, and, unless you have perfect form, your quads act as a break. It will flex to slow you down, relax a bit, flex, relax, etc. until you finally toe off at the end of the stride. That movement of course, works your quadriceps very hard and also tends to cause scores of tiny micro-tears in your muscles that can take a day or two to repair. However, it is that process of tearing and rebuilding that fortifies your body. All of that is just to say, either way you do them, hills make you stronger.

Where they take you:

As a rule, short hills of any repeat under three minutes will do more for increasing your Vo2 max (anaerobic capabilities and processing of oxygen), while repeats longer than that or mid-run hills will mainly improve your lactate threshold (your ability to get rid of lactic acid).

Short hills are meant to be run fast. You can design your own workout of say 2 sets of 10 repeats, tack a few on at the end of another workout altogether, or just add a few to the end of a normal run once or twice a week. Keep them less than 200 meters (even just 10 seconds of hill works well), pick the slightly steeper hills, and make sure that your jog back to the start gives you enough time to catch your breath. Also, as with any workout, take a few minutes of jogging to warm up before you start the hard stuff and do the same for a cool down. You will quickly notice how much these shorter hills in particular require of your abs, lower back, hamstrings, and core muscles in general and understand why they develop your explosive fast twitched muscles. You’ll also find that they’re great for speed training while still building up your mileage.

Long Hills are great for overall strength and stamina in a slightly different way. They still work your core, but serve as a sort of replacement for the mid-range (600-1200 meter) repeats you may do on the track once your big race nears. Try to run these hills at about 5k or 10k race pace and back off to about 75 percent of that pace while running back down the hill. The point here is to keep going. Don’t stop. You will naturally catch your breath by the time you reach the bottom of the hill and the continuous nature of the workout does wonders for your aerobic system, mental strength, and ensures that you don’t fall apart at your next race’s final miles or mid-route hill.

How it looks:

You can find all sorts of advice an instruction on perfect form and what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to running. But really, we all know that you just get up, put one foot in front of the other, and move as quickly as you can. The human body is an amazing machine and is excellent at searching out its own best way of accomplishing the tasks set before it. However, if you are one of those interested in aiding that development, then there are a few basic tips. When you encounter a hill during a normal run or race, maintain the same effort level. In doing this, your pace will decrease slightly as you go up the hills, accordion back out to its normal cadence as you crest the incline, and you will conserve much more energy than those who feel like they have something to prove to gravity. Also, it is good to remember that just a little focus on form can go a long way when it comes to hills. Run tall. By this, I mean that you want to keep you center of mass underneath you at all times. If you keep your hips tall, you will be less likely to run hunched over and will consequently breath much easier. Also, this practice helps keep your ankles, hips, and shoulders in a straight and erect line upon toe-off. Picture a vertical plank. Now, tilt that plank just slightly forward. If your three main pivot points (ankles, hips, shoulders) are in line like that plank, then your stride will be much more efficient. You don’t really have to focus too much on how much shorter your stride gets or how well you hold your center of mass – if you are over-striding up hill, you will know and you’ll get tired real quick.

Finally, if all else fails and there really are no hills to be found, then I pity you. But, don’t worry, stairs can work too! So, as you get ready to train and watch the upcoming Olympics, remember that previously mentioned comedian’s advice. “When Armageddon comes, it would be good to be an Olympic athlete, because running real fast and jumping over stuff could come in handy.”

Check out a video of my friends and elite runners, Josh and Sara, doing their own hill training on the way up to Lake Mary (Mammoth Lakes, CA): http://gogorunning.com/building-hill-climbing-strength/

Fuel Is Your Friend

18 Jul

This is a Guest Post from our friend Natalie Wynn. You can read her blog at :: http://freshlifefindings.com

If you have ever run a race of any distance you know the importance of fuel for your run. However, showing up to the starting line of a race and snagging a bagel from the sponsor table probably isn’t the best way to ensure that you are prepared. I unfortunately learned the hard way when I set out for a 10 mile run one morning with only a tablespoon of peanut butter as my fuel. Let’s just say I was thankful for those energy bites that I had stored in my water bottle pouch, otherwise you would have seen me on a bench somewhere along the path.

There are many different expert opinions and articles you can read that tell you all about the amount of food you should eat, at what time, and what types of foods. But only you know your body and just like any normal person, I wanted to find out what best worked for me. So I opened my pantry.

The best part about fueling for a run is that you don’t need to go buy some high-performance drink or drop $50 at your local sporting goods store on the “best” fuel.  What is natural and wholesome will sustain you. You have all the resources you need in your kitchen!

My top 3 recipes for race day or a long training run are listed below. They are each less than 300 calories, (especially if you use lower calorie milk), and will give you the energy you need to start off your run right. A good rule is to consume 300-calories/150lb athlete an hour before your exercise. (Source)

Morning Runners Oats

–       ¼ cup of Rolled Oats

–       ½ cup of Almond/Coconut Milk

–       ½ Banana (sliced)

–       1 tbsp of Honey/Agave

–       Pinch of Cinnamon

Add ingredients to a jar with a lid or glass, and cover. Leave the jar in the fridge overnight and it will be waiting for you in the morning.

Banana Bites Energy Bowl

–       1/2 Banana (sliced)

–       1 Tbsp of Peanut Butter

–       ¼ cup of Oats

–       1 Tbsp of Honey/Agave

Mix together ingredients in a bowl and grab a spoon!

Pump Me Up Pancakes

–       1 Egg

–       ½ Cup of Almond/Coconut Milk

–       ½ Banana (mashed)

–       ½ Cup of Oats (ground into oat flour)

Mix ingredients and cook in griddle. Top with peanut butter & honey for a little extra kick!

 

For me personally, I like to eat one hour before I run so that my food has time to settle and kick in for energy. You want enough carbs to sustain you and a little bit of protein, but not too much. Dairy products can sometimes make your stomach feel sick so I suggest Almond or Coconut Milk with the above recipes.

Remember, fuel is your friend and one of the best ones you will find on race day.

Want to learn more about fueling for a run? Here are some helpful articles I have learned from:

How to Fuel for Your Workout

Source

Marathon Fueling Q & A

Source

Quick Bites

Source

The Old Man and the… Magazine

13 Jul

Running magazines will mess you up.

My roommate has started to get a running magazine– and I sneak it into my pile of reading every chance I get.

It is full of advice on everything from shorts to shoes to snacks. You can have a new diet every month with magazines like that. Every month it is full of the “new” findings on running everything. So what happens?

I try it.

Went for a run a few days ago. A mile in I was thinking about an article on stride length. Next thing I know is that I am galloping like a horse and teenagers in cars passing me are shouting names at me.

I am a sucker for trends of all sorts. Magazines and running blogs will mess me up.

But a while back I was at the YMCA. An ancient man that runs 6 miles a day, and has for decades was putting his shoes on. I asked him how he maintained running every day.

“Take care of your feet.”

Lieutenant Dan told Forrest Gump the same thing, so I decided to probe a little further.

The ancient man said, “Tie your shoes comfortable after you’ve broken them in for a week, then never tie them again. Leave them tied just tight enough you can slide your shoe on and off. That’s the first step to taking care of your feet.”

And then he walked away without another word– not much of the conversationalist in the middle of the men’s locker room at the YMCA.

But since he told me, I’ve done it. And my feet are fine.

A magazine will change from month to month. But the ancient tends to last a little longer.

Do you have an old runner to talk to?

Mark