Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Hills Have Eyes

Want to improve your running? Want to improve your form and technique? Want to get faster?

Then, run hills, hills, hills, take a break, then run more hills, hills, hills and more hills!!!!!

Make hills your best friend. My performance has increased tremendously since I started doing my long run, all on hills . . . actually massive hills with short hills in-between but at least 10-12 miles of hills, hills and more hills.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's Your Strength?

I've been working to find out if my strength is distance/endurance or pace/speed. I haven't answered the question completely but it's starting to look like pace/speed is my strength as compared to distance (obviously, the elites have both although the great elite distance runners are known for their bursts of speed also). With my coach, we've found the range where there's a drop in performance which for me is at 2 points: a minimal drop at the 10-11 mile range and a noticeable drop at the 14 mile mark. My strongest performance is between miles 4-10.

Now, of course, it's also about what you love and what drives your soul. When I started running, my favorite run was the 45 min. to 1 hr. comfortably hard run. However, I got so wrapped up in distance and wanting to run a marathon that I forgot what I loved about running. But now, I'm starting to come back full circle to what I loved about running when I first started. I may never run another marathon and I'm not sure about the half either and I'm find with that because I've re-discovered my love for running . . . shorter, hard runs fuels my soul.

This is why I'm only concentrating on the 5k and 10k distances. I'm posting this because there may be others out there that have similar experiences. The talk many times is about how we are engineered to run long distances and I don't debate that but it's not an absolute. I imagine that with many indigenous peoples where running was part of live and survival, they had great distance runners and great sprinters and used each skill for the benefit of the group.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Continuing to Improve

At this point, I'm stronger and faster than I've ever been since I started running. This is due to many changes including a new running schedule, more speed work, more quality running, and the new Evo shoes that allow me to run pretty close to barefoot. I've started to consistently run sub 6:00 pace and it feels great. The challenge is running easy on easy days and I'm still working on that. I also believe the decision to not think about the marathon distance and just concentrate and train for the 5k/10k races this summer has been a smart choice.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Running Shuffle

I've had some interesting experiences over the past 3-4 weeks as I've
changed my running schedule and focused more on shorter distances (5k
and 10k), as well the adding speed work back to my schedule. Recently
I've noticed that my stride is more relaxed and I don't shuffle as
much as I did in years past. Then, interesting enough, I read an
article comparing ultra runners to the elite short and long distance

With respect to endurance runners, the author said he observed a very
fast stride rate of 190-200, with a relatively short stride; upright
posture without much forward lean into gravity; and very little air
time. He said this is a relatively safe stride and way to run as
these mechanics diminish contractile force and impact. However, these
mechanics offer little improvement for pace or speed, without some
sort of mechanic intervention.

This is interesting because one key to running faster is to reduce the
length of time your feet spend on the ground. This may be the
difference between ultra runners and elite short/long distance
runners. With that said, the one similarity is the "quick touch,"
that is lifting that foot off the ground as quickly as possible and
running close to the ground.

I'm finding this to be true for me as I don't shuffle nearly as much
and my cadence is down slightly but my speed in increasing, however,
I'm landing softly and coming off the ground quickly, and there's no
over-striding. I definitely have more air time and it feels really
relaxed. I'm expending less energy than I did with the shuffle,
probably because I'm more relaxed.

This is a very delicate issue but interesting nonetheless.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Endurance - A different perspective

Over the past few weeks, I've changed my running
schedule to a long hard run of 10-12 miles on Saturday, followed by a
long easy run of 8-12 miles on Sunday (it's easy because I'm too
fatigued to run fast as a result of the Saturday run). Then, mid week
is all easy runs except for 1 day of speed work or faster tempo
surges. I've cut back my miles a bit, concentrating on quality over

What I've noticed is, for the first time in the 3 years since I
started running, that I'm starting to "learn" how to run (form/
technique) and how to listen to my body. But, it's the reduction in
miles in favor of quality running that has made the big difference.
I'm the strongest I've been since I started running. Again, the Evo
addressed the PF and AT which is huge. However, I had an interesting
discussion with a runner (not from the U.S.) a few weeks ago as we were talking
about injuries, pace, speed, and all sorts of stuff.

But, what hit me was when he said (I'm paraphrasing), "you Americans
wake up one day and decide to start running which is great, however,
the first thing that pops in your mind is to run a half marathon or
full marathon, and that's your problem." He encouraged me to
concentrate on short distance running, specifically 5k and 10k, and
maybe a 10-miler or half marathon at the end of the each year and to
do this for a few years, then, if I want, ramp up to longer
distances. His opinion was that you learn how to run with the shorter
distances. This doesn't mean you don't do a long run (8-12 miles) but
the focus should be on perfecting your running form and technique in
the shorter distances. He basically said, you have to earn the right
to run the longer distances and you should build the strong running
base with shorter runs.

I got to thinking. We talk about the East Africans and essentially
they run 5k/10k each day for many years before even thinking about the
half or full marathon. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the
Olympic structure but the point remains. Then, I thought about Native
Americans and the Tarahumara and it's probably safe to say, the young
children run constantly but not super long distances until they get
older but, by that time, they know how to run and then it's just an
endurance issue.

This goes back to the patience issue we've talked about. I'm not
judging, just opening this up for discussion. It may be arrogant in
our case when many start running much later in their lives but then
initially focus on the big long distance events. I know I did . . . I
started running and in the first 12 months, I did a half and full
marathon. Maybe, I should have spent a few years focusing on 5k and
10k races and once that felt really good, then moved up in distances.

Again, just some thoughts. I know for me, my 6-10 miles runs are
heavenly as I'm leaning to control my body, control pace down to the :
15 second increments as I almost don't need my garmin to tell me my
pace. I'm also finding that shorter distances where I run slow are
where I learn to run, especially running while fatigued. I know none
of us are elite runners, but when I told the gentlemen I run about 40
miles per week, he smiled and said that's barely enough miles for the
5k/10k . . . of course, he was partially kidding but, in the elite
world, we was correct . . . he logs 70-80 and is a 10k specialist.

Sorry for rambling but maybe the patience issue is as big as anything
else we talk about. Many recreational runners, start out and buy
fancy shoes and immediately talk about long distances (not everyone
but many I know).

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