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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

180 stride rate test

So it was too cold to run outside, so I headed for the treadmill for an easy run and decided to calculate my stride rate (for the heck of it).  This wasn't a race pace workout so my fastest pace was 6:42:

Pace     Stride Rate (average)
10:00    156-158
9:00      164-166
8:00      172-174
7:00      176
6:42      178-180

You'll hear may folks say that 180 strides per minute so stay consistent regardless of pace.  This is largely a lie and inaccurate.  I'm sure a few runners do but many runners will increase stride rate (and length) as they increase pace.  As reported by Steve Magness, here's some date from top NCAA runners at UTEP:

Pace     Stride Rate
7:40      175.68
6:43      181.76
5:58      185.82
5:22      191.83
4:58      196.93

Given that, I'm quite satisfied with my 178-180 strides per minute at 6:42 pace.  My 5k race pace is slightly sub 6:00 pace so it's safe to say, I would be over the 180 threshold.  Even Steve Magness (very accomplished runner in his own right) reported the following after testing himself:

Pace     Stride Rate
7:30      166
5:00      192-198

So why is there such a focus on the "180 stride rate?"  Well, because many recreational runner over-stride and that causes many problems and ultimately injuries.  However, after you achieve a certain level of competence with respect to your stride, you can start to focus on strength length and becoming an even more efficient runner.  Remember, the "180" comes from analysis provided by legendary coach Jack Daniels but he was analyzing elite level runners at tempo pace.  Many elite Kenyan runners has been measured as low as the mid 160's while warming up but they are all largely over 180 "at tempo pace," and that's the key.

There's nothing wrong with forcing shorter and quicker strides while learning to run but you'll hit a level of competence where a baby steps not only feel wrong but are inefficient and instead of over-striding, you will under-stride and that can also causes issues.

Remember, keep it in perspective.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What a typical speed day looks like for me . . .

I've had a few inquires as to what a speed day workout looks like for me.  So, today, I did a 5k trial run with a few folks on dirt.  Here's what my workout looks like:

1.  Wake up at 5:45am and do 5-10 min. of foot exercises consisting of towel crunches and rolling over a golf ball, both feet.

2.  Massage my calves with a tennis ball and hard form roller over the IT band

3.  Walk around the house for 5-10 min.

4.  45 min. of barefoot running on the treadmill.  I break it up in phases which helps mentally with running on the treadmill.  First 20 minutes is the warm-up, then I start to steadily increase pace.

5.  1 mile warm-up outdoors, running to the location for the 5k run on the trails

6.  5k run checking my form, feel and pace every 400 meters.  Completed the 5k in 18:39.  My goal was sub 19:00 so mission accomplished.

7.  .5 mile easy run back to the house

8.  15 min. of barefoot running on the treadmill as the cool down.

9.  10 min. of light stretching, mostly the quads and hamstrings + balancing exercises.

That's about it.  A lot of stuff just to run a 5k, huh?   Well, speed and hard runs are not to be messed with.  If you approach them wrong, the only guarantee is a guaranteed injury.  I basically had to run easy for more than 1 hr. in order to prepare for a hard 5k run.  As a masters runner, I have to pay even closer attention to properly prepare my body for hard workouts.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The journey to be what I want to be . . .

My 7+ years of dedicated running has been an amazing journey and I look forward to where it will take me next.  However, I've had to veer off in different directions to learn what I like and what works for me.  Recently, for the 2nd time in 7 yrs., I significantly increased my weekly mileage from 40-45 miles per week ("mpw") to 60-70 mpw and I learned (yet again) a few things about myself.

1.  The heavier mileage is very time consuming (well, that's obvious :) and I tend to shed another 5-7 lbs. which sounds great but I'm already thin and it really is the threshold between to types of bodies for different purposes.  When I'm at the lower mileage range, I do a lot more race pace training and I tend to do a lot more upper, lower and core training . . . long story short, I'm stronger at the lower mileage range although I don't have the level of endurance I have at the higher mileage range.  At the high mileage range, my body looks like a marathoner as opposed to more of the 800 meter to 1 mile runners who tend to be slightly heavier with more muscle and definition.   Well,  I like the latter.  I don't like the feel of the marathon body, plus I like speed so I'm returning to what I call my "5k body" vs. the "marathon body."

2.  Running is an important "part" of my life but not my life.  The more you push toward 100 mile weeks, running become more than just a part, especially for us folks with spouses and kids.  I run to be more fit, happier and a better person but running is something I do and weave into my life and not the reverse where I weave life into running.  So, in my world, that's the difference between a 5-6 mile weekly day run vs. a 8-10 mile weekly day run.  The former allows me to see my kids in the morning and watch them head out the door.  The latter requires me to leave before they get up and return after they've left for school.  I choose the former.

3.  I'm ultra competitive which is just in my DNA from being a high school and collegiate athlete so I admit I need something I can excel at and I can do very well at the 5k and still have a normal life vs. the time and training required to excel at the marathon.

4.  I don't like being injured and less miles reduces my chances for injury as well as it eliminates having to constantly run in a fatigued state.  That isn't fun.  I've gone months where I run every day in a fatigued state and I don't like it.

5.  I like running every day and with this approach, I'm stronger and it allows me to absorb workouts on a 7 day a week basis without overloading my body to maintain a level of fitness for the longer distances.

I've been reminded that you clearly need to answer, for yourself, "why do you run and what makes you smile"  While I try different things with my running, my answer tends to be the same.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chugging out the mileage isn't the answer (at least for me)

Isn't the relationship between running and emotions amazing?  I realized as I increased my mileage from 40-45 mpw to 60-65 mpw my emotional state changed for the worse.  Although my body was able to absorb the mileage increase (which is a big positive), running started to become a chore and it wasn't nearly as fun.  It's a reminder how we are all wired differently and you have to find your personal zone and identify what makes it fun b/c if it's fun, then everything else takes care of itself.

I think any of us can get caught up in the sheer numbers, that is, the weekly and monthly mileage number which shouldn't be focus.  Just hitting "a number" may result in destroying the love and fun of running.  It's why I seldom run with a watch (other than my race pace runs which only occur once every 7-10 days).  Data can be very useful but it can also be very harmful.

I've gone back and forth in my training over the years but it's pretty clear that I'm a 5k/10k runner and that's what I am.  While I have run, and can run, half marathons and full marathons (even one 50k to my credit), it just doesn't map to my emotional make-up and I'm coming to terms with that.  In a runner's world where many define running by the longer distances, I realize that's about money and popularity.  As one race director told me, "the 5k, 5 mile and 10 mile races are absolutely wonderful but they take the same amount of work to setup and maintain as the half or full marathon in many respects and the money is in the longer distances as that's why folks want to run."

I'd further state that many marathon runners are not equipped to run the marathon because they haven't become efficient runners yet and if they learned how to master the 5k, then 10k, then half, they would do much better but that's not our society.  We think "big" and want immediate satisfaction and this may also correlate to the very high yearly injury rate of runners.  Many folks know my story.  After many years of solid running, I came across an elite runner who ran along side me and we started talking and, long story short, he said if I wanted to become a good runner, I needed to learn how to "run one block efficiently, then 2 blocks, then 1 mile, then 2 miles, etc."  Talk about a blow to my ego but I so appreciated the honestly as I marveled at how smooth a runner he was and he reminded me he had been running "shorter" distances as a kid (to school and back) and over time became efficient enough to tackle longer distances.  He went on to recommend that I spend 1 full year "only" running 5k's which I did and that was the beginning of me become not yet a runner, but a pretty efficient and talented runner (from a recreational perspective :) of course).  Then I started to lower by 5k time to sub 20:00, sub 19:00, and sub 18:00.

So what's the point of this post?  Great question as I jumped all over the place.  You decide if there's any value in what I've said :)


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Indoor vs. Outdoor running

I utilize the treadmill as does many of my other cold weather running friends but never mistake the treadmill for outdoor running and understand the pro's, con's, advantages and disadvantages with treadmill vs. outdoor running.  This is an excellent article with lays it out in simple terms.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Running: 3 Things to Know About Treadmill Training
By Caitlin Chock • For
The rain is pelting down, hail slices through the night air like bullets, and the cracks of thunder and flashes of lightening set the backdrop for any great horror movie. The sounds of your footfalls are lost in the chaos, but the miles ticked off aren't done on the slick pavement, but rather, in an indoor haven on the treadmill.
The treadmill can be an excellent training tool for runners when weather conditions are uninviting or downright dangerous, or when running outside isn't an option. Not to be scoffed at by "running purists," there are times and places when a treadmill is a better bet:
  • Safety: When it is too dark out to safely navigate your route, or when the weather has left the terrain iced over or slick enough to invite a fall and possible injury.
  • Workout Quality: If the conditions outside don't allow you to run safely at a faster pace, you can turn to the treadmill to make sure you're able to hit the proper level of exertion.
  • Hills and Incline Training: If you don't have access to a steep hill or an incline that is long enough, you can create your own using the grade on a treadmill.
  • Injury Prevention: The belt of the treadmill is more forgiving than the hard pavement; running on a treadmill reduces impact and is easier on the body. This can be especially important for those coming back from an injury.
  • Family: Leaving the kids unattended to go out for a run isn't exactly a glowing parent strategy. "I use a treadmill because I need to be close to my family, and we got our treadmill the day our second son Grant was born. I watch both our sons most mornings and I can still do my workouts and spend time with them," explains Michael Wardian, an elite ultrarunner who does much of his training on the treadmill.
Indoor Versus Outdoor Running: The Differences
While there are treadmill benefits to boast of, there are still key differences runners need to be aware of between indoor and outdoor running.

Hamstrings: Because a machine powers the treadmill belt, the mechanics of your running stride differ when you run outside. When running on the treadmill, you use your quads to push off. But, unlike outdoor running, where you would typically rely on your hamstrings to finish the stride cycle and lift your leg behind you, the propulsion of the belt does much of that work for you. This means your hamstrings aren't firing as much and don't get worked running inside as they would outside. The extra effort demanded of your quads is also a factor to keep in mind.

Terrain: Or more correctly, the lack thereof. "Something that I try and keep in mind is that the treadmill is really consistent and even, but outside things are constantly changing. Each change takes energy and thought, so I remind myself not to zone out while outside and especially on trails, where a bad footfall can mean stitches and a new tooth," says Wardian. 
Outside of a potential fall due to unsteady outdoor footing, landing wrong on your foot can cause strains and other injuries. If you've been doing much of your running on a treadmill, your body is used to a nearly even and constant stride. Should you run outside, your risk of an injury from even a minor misstep would be higher because the small muscles, tendons and ligaments of your ankle haven't been forced to get used to a variety of landings. (i.e.: sharp turns, curbs, uneven pavement, trails, etc.). 

Wind Resistance: Even in ideal outdoor conditions you run against air resistance; you don't get inside, so the paces you run on a treadmill are a bit easier than they would be outside. To negate this, you can put the treadmill incline up to 1.5 percent to account for lost wind resistance and make the paces comparable to those run outdoors.
With these key elements in mind, you can adapt your training as need be. If you're doing much of your running indoors, make sure to supplement with extra hamstring-strengthening exercises. 
To safeguard your ankles, work on balance and mobility drills such as balancing on one leg on a Bosu ball or pillow. After you can hold there, test your balance further by moving your arms or reaching down with your opposite arm towards the foot you are balancing on. This will build strength in the ankle area.

How to Transition Between Indoor and Outdoor Running 
If you have been doing nearly all of your training indoors, you need to be especially cautious as you begin to move back outside. You need to transition gradually in order to avoid a resulting injury. So start with one or two of your easy, shorter runs per week outside and build from there; you can also split runs up—some miles can be completed on the treadmill and the rest outside. 
Of course it works both ways: If you're moving from all outdoor running to more treadmill running, rely on the gradual transition method.
As we head into the winter months, if the wind is hollering, the snow has left your running route only navigable by snow-shoe, or you need a training partner who doesn't care if you're tired and would like to slow down, the treadmill can be your respite.

Hope you enjoyed it and I'd be interested in your feedback.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Adaption rate, recovery and muscular stress cycles

Well, it's been interesting as I've increased my weekly mileage to the 60-70 miles per week ("mpw") range having exceed 70 mpw a few times.  To reach this threshold, I've also had to throw in 2-3 doubles per week.  My body has been able to absorb the increase, however, to no surprise, I've lost some leg punch given my legs are trashed at times.  It's been a great experience because it's forced me to reassess the recovery process as a masters runner.

Like it or not, I've over 40 years old and I have to recognize changes in my body, adaption capabilities, recovery and muscles stresses.  It's just life and you acknowledge and start to build a plan around it or you ignore and end up seriously injured and/or unhappy.  I just listened to a great interview on Masters Training by Coach Greg McMillan which you can pull up on iTunes in the podcast section (it's free).  Coach McMillan identifies 3 types of masters runners:

1.  the one that competed in high school and at the collegiate level, left the sport after college, and comes back
2.  the one that picks up runner later in life, generally in their mid to late 30's and realizes they are pretty good
3.  the one that competed in high school, college and never stops.

The #3 category is extremely rare as Coach McMillan points out.  #1 and #2 account for the vast majority of  masters runners and I'm clearly a #2.  Having played high school and college basketball, I picked up running around age 37 and realized as I was pretty good having regularly finished in the top 5-10% in races against my similar aged counterparts (and I've won a 5k outright against collegiate runners).  Coach McMillan had different advice for the #1 vs. #2 runner and I'll selfishly focus on the #2 runner because the #1 runner, as he pointed out, has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge from their prior running life which has pro's and con's.  The #2 runner has no mental remembrance so it's all new.

The key that he points out is focusing on the "adaption" cycle.  Generally speaking it will take a masters runner 1-2x additional days to recovery from hard and long runs so the key is to spread the stresses.  He recommended the following approach:

1.  decrease the number of total workouts and mileage
2.  focus on recovery
3.  focus on "key" workouts (speed and long runs for example) and make sure you are recovery before and after such key workouts

The basic message is to match the training to the adaption capabilities.  Just running sheer miles for the sake of miles will significantly increase your chances for injury and burnout.  The other factor to support that which another coach highlighted is that it can take 3-5x longer for a masters runner to recovery from injury.  A injury that might take a few days for a 20 something to recover can take 2-4 weeks for a masters runner to recovery so the message is clear that the best way to avoid injury is to "not" get injured, hence the focus on recovery and smart running.

All of this has me re-assessing the increase mileage against the ultimate strategy and goal of "quality over quantity."  At the simplistic level, I'm comparing my 40-45 mpw and hitting key workouts vs. 60-70 mpw and continuing to run in a fatigued state and not being able to incorporate as many key workouts (i.e., having to do more easy and medium effort runs).


Monday, December 10, 2012

A good article for folks that focus on the 180 steps per minute. Be careful as it is often over simplified. Speed is a combo of stride rate and length and, what is often disregarded, is the pace at which the spm were counted. Jack Daniels measured the 180 which has become religion with elite runners at tempo pace.  I see runners out take these extremely short baby steps, however, you can only increase your cadence by 5-10% as there's a point where you can take as many steps as you like but you'll quickly max out.  You can't disregard stride length and, regardless of what you hear, both stride rate and length increase as you get faster and it's the same for the vast majority of elite runners.  

This issue is the point in time in which we analyze elite runners.  It's one thing to watch a runner at 5:30 min. pace increase to 5:00 pace as they were already flying at the 5:30 pace :).  It's another to take a runner at a 9:30 warm-up pace and compare that to a 9:00 pace or 5:00 pace.  The fact is many elite runners are in the 160-170 range at slower paces (8:00 - 9:00 pace).  I tested myself on the treadmill and at a 9:30 pace, I'm around 164.  At that pace, if I try to force a 180 stride rate, not only does it feel wrong, it's inefficient especially for my body type as a slightly taller runner.  I don't hit 180 strides per minute until I'm around the 6:45 pace range and I'm around 184-186 at the 6:15 pace range.  The 6:00 min. mile is basically my aerobic threshold (although I can hold 5:45 for a 5k) and at that pace, I'm around 186-188 strides per minute.  My point is to keep the 180 gospel in perspective.   

Remember, you can have too long a stride but you can also have too short a stride (both can be inefficient):

Friday, December 7, 2012

Base mileage, trying to find the sweetspot

As I posted last month, I increased my weekly mileage from 40-50 miles per week ("mpw") to 50-60 mpw. On the high end, that's a 20 mpw difference and I can definitely feel the impact after 4 weeks of averaging 60 mpw.  Now I'm asking myself "why" and what's the advantage of maintaining a 60 mpw base as that's a heavy base for a 40-something :).  To maintain the 60 mpw, I have to throw in 1-2 doubles per week and it can take a toll in terms of limiting recovery time which can be an issue as you get older and, of course, there's always some differences based on the individuals make-up, including genetics.

As such, I'm taking a very close look at the impacts and value of the increased mileage.  It makes sense when I'm training for a half or full marathon but since I'm not training for a longer distance race, is it worth the increased weekly mileage just to increase my base mileage?  It's a tough question and something I'm looking at for myself.  I've also run 57 consecutive days and I'll also re-visit the value of a rest day although I'm less concerned about a rest day and more focused on the impact of the increased mileage.

My body has always responded and recovered from speed workouts faster than too many long runs and that may be an individual thing.  The deep question will be the "why" for me . . . why run 60 mpw vs. 40 mpw and it's a deeper analysis than just saying "because I can."  I've proven I can but I need to go deeper and correlate the mpw to happiness and health.  I'm in the process of doing that right now :).


Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Vivobarefoot reviews forthcoming

As a early supporter and proponent of the original Vivobarefoot Evo running shoe and later becoming one that heavily critized the design of the Evo, I've been in discussions with Vivobarefoot and I'll be testing several of their new models, specifically:  The One, Stealth and Evo Lite.  I look forward to trying them out and I'm hoping that, at a minimum, the blister issue is resolved with the Evo lite as well as the One and Stealth.

I'll keep you posted once I have a good feel and have logged enough miles to provide some level of substantive feedback.

In the meantime, here's pics of the models:


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Treadmill Paradox

So this coming winter has forced me to pull out my winter playbook of running workouts.  One of my favorite is the indoor/outdoor combination in which I start indoors on the treadmill running barefoot (today was 40 min.), then lace up the sneakers and do a shorter segment outdoors (today was 25 min. for a total 65 min. workout).  The point of the outdoor portion is to keep the body acclimated to the impacts of running outdoors because, as we all know, the treadmill is artificial in many respects especially regarding pace which creates a paradox.

The pace you think you are running on the treadmill according to the computer board does not translate second for second to outdoor running.  This is why I recommend you focus on "effort level" when running on the treadmill, that is, ignore the actual computer pace and run according to the effort you would give if running outside (I slowly increase pace as my body forces it).  Case in point, this morning the treadmill said I was running a 9:24 pace and then I immediately put on the shoes and headed outside and checked my garmin and I was running a 8:50 pace (I only used the garmin to prove this point as most of you know I don't generally run with a watch or garmin but I needed technology this time to validate what I'm posting).  This delta represents a 30 sec. difference which is material.

The treadmill can be a wonderful piece of technology if used correctly.  Remember to put the treadmill in proper context.  It is there as a great alternative when running outside is not a possibility, for whatever reason (in my case, I only revert to the treadmill when its too cold, snowy or icy).  The treadmill allows us to maintain our level of fitness which is a major asset, however, it should never been considered a legit replacement for outdoor running.  The treadmill, by in large, is too ideal . . .


Monday, December 3, 2012

Mach 14's - beautiful look, light, minimal but too much bounce

Last week I received a trial pair of Brooks Mach 14's (spikeless).  Let me start by saying they are beautiful to look at :) . . . great looking shoe.  Also, extremely light weight (my pair of 12's weighed in at just 6 oz.), very soft upper and much less toe spring than the previous Mach 12 and 13.  I did a few runs in the Mach 14 but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not a fan of shoe rotation so I won't be doing a ton of running in this shoe but I give it an early passing grade and would likely recommend it for "some" other runners.

For me, the combination of the midsole design and toe spring provide a high level of energy return and take a major burden off the legs and allow you to glide or bounce along, or almost fly by which, on the surface sounds great but there's another side to that.  When shoes provide too much spring for me, it puts pressure on my achilles because it can alter your stride by extending your stride to where you almost feel like your are bouncing along.  That bounce feeling is something I call "un-controlled" form (I know, I have weird terms and descriptions) but I like a very compact controlled stride and there's a fine line between that and bouncing along which can also result in the foot spending too much time on the ground and creating more of a push off (i.e., lower cadence and longer stride).

Anyway, check out the shoe.  I know this is a lame review but I can't spend too much time running in the shoe at the moment.  One red flag for me, and it's a red flag I identify in the vast majority of running shoes including so called minimalist shoes, and that's the design of the sole.  Even the new wave of minimalist shoes are still trying to over design the sole, all in an attempt to differentiate themselves but they generally suck.  Even as the vast majority of these companies move toward "zero drop" they continue to over-design the sole . . . they just can't help themselves :) . . . this is what happens when you turn your company over to engineers.

The problem is all we need is a simple layer of rubber, even if you add some EVA it should be flat and nothing more . . . no special grooves or midsole designs or special attention to certain areas of the foot, etc.  Just a piece of rubber (again, it can be EVA, I don't care) but just flat, flat, flat (no grooves or spikes unless it's a specific shoe for a specific terrain but I'm talking about general everyday running on hard surfaces or easy dirt roads and trails).  But, that wouldn't be sexy and then every shoe would start to look the same and shoe companies can't have that :) although they could differentiate with the design of the upper which is what it should be all about anyway . . . the sole is boring and it should be that way as it should just be a layer of protection for the foot (again, flat and simple).


Friday, November 30, 2012

Stride to keep your Stride

I assume I'm like many runners that spend 80% or so of their running at a nice easy aerobic level, which for me is the 8:00 - 8:30 pace range.   I don't spend a ton of time running at race pace which is the 5:45 - 6:20 pace for me (5k & 10k paces).  At my age (42 yrs. old) that would be a recipe for injury to run too much at race pace, however, I don't want to lose my speed nor my stride so how do you maintain it with a 80/20 or 85/15 allocation of easy running to race pace running?

The answer is strides, or some call them "pick ups," as part of your easy aerobic running.  Other than recovery runs, I throw in 8-15 strides as part of my easy runs which for me is 30-60 second spurts at a race pace "effort level."  Notice I said "effort level" and not actual pace.  It's about the feel and effort level of race pace.  I don't take it down to 5k race pace but anything between 10k and half marathon pace is fine for that short period of time.  One wrinkle for me, since I don't run very often with a watch or Garmin, is I know my body and stride well enough that I know my cadence account against pace range so for me that means 60-180 steps which will fall within that 30 sec. to 1 min. time range.  It's the strides (or pick ups) that keeps you body in race pace tune but remember it's not about actual time or pace.  The focus is effort and starting slow with the goal of feeling as if you are at the goal race pace by the last 5-10 seconds of the stride out (or pick up).

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  One final word of caution.  As you do the strides, you will start to loosen up and likely feel good but DO NOT allow yourself to turn a nice easy run with strides into a tempo or race pace run.  You'll need to exercise discipline otherwise you and your body will pay dearly a few days later and it's a recipe for injury.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Background on the Puma H-Street . . . my primary running shoe

So the Puma H-Street is my primary running shoe and effectively my exclusive running shoe (except for some rare days here and there when I pull out one of my other minimalist shoes).

As you may or may not know, the Puma H-Street was Anton Krupicka's primary running shoe for years until they discontinued it but turn the clock forward, Puma reintroduced the H-Street to the market earlier this year and it's such a beautiful shoe but enough from me as this is how it was described by Anton Krupicka (for those that don't know Anton, he is one of the best ultra runners on the planet):

"In August, I started running in Puma H-Streets very regularly---basically for all of my running. These are absolutely beautiful minimalist shoes that are, unfortunately, discontinued. They have been updated with the Puma Saloh that I am interested in trying out but I'm not interested in all of the new synthetic overlays. The H Street was such a great shoe (I would put 1000-1500 miles on a pair--long after my foot would start poking out the side of the upper) that I never really endeavored to go for anything lower than this. I once ran to the top of Pikes Peak and back in the H Streets, but couldn't go as fast as I wanted on the way down because of the lack of protection. However, in the spring/summer of 2005 I logged several 200 mile weeks and a couple 30 and 40 milers in nothing but H Streets. Their main drawback was their lack of traction. The outsole was nothing but little nubbins that I would wear down fairly quickly. These shoes look to me to be a good update to the H Street with greater traction and durability (but, probably a bit heavier).

If Anton wasn't currently sponsored by New Balance and if Puma had not discontinued the original H-Street, one has to wonder if Anton would have ever changed shoes and, most likely, he would be sponsored by Puma but New Balance's gain and Puma's loss but thank god Puma reintroduced the H-Street . . . it's a beautiful designed shoe because of the absolutely simplicity . . . just a soft light upper and a thin 10mm sole . . . no arch support, no stability support, NADA . . . nothing more, nothing less and that's exactly what my foot wants :)


There's a point where "trial and error" becomes harmful (+ a few other points)

A nice crisp 7 mile outside trail run with a 1 mile barefoot cool down. I almost reactivated my membership to the "idiots running club" :) but I canceled my membership before any real harm was done. You know, there's a point where you are running so many miles with no issues, injury free, running pretty fast, and it's about that point that you need to STOP any more trial and error or experimenting. I got lightly reminded of that.

Like many, things are going great so what do you do? Well, you try to tweak something and I decided to run in a few different minimalist shoes (Evo and Nike XC which I used heavily in the past), however, I've been running exclusively in Puma H-Streets while maintaining my heavier weekly mileage base with absolutely no issues and in fact, I feel great. But, by just throwing in a few days of running in different shoes, I got a pain in my left calf so I immediately went back to the H-Streets and the pain is gone but its stark reminder.
If it ain't broke don't fix it and this specifically applies to those runners that have figured things out. I had to go through years of trial and error but I'm at a point where trial and error is actually stupid. I'm accepting that what I thought is boring is actually the beauty and reward for years of trying to figure it out.

So, given my years of experience running both barefoot and in many types of minimalist shoes, why the issue with the Evo vs. Nike XC vs. H-Street, especially since I ran pretty well in the Evo and Nike XC in the past?  Well, it’s adaption as part of the trial and error process and ultimately as I adopted the “run by feel” approach and got more in-tune and achieved a higher connection with my body, I found that ever elusive “optimal baseline.”  To cut to the chase, about 10mm of cushion, assuming a pretty flat sole with minimal heel elevation (3-4mm) and light weight (6 oz. or less), is the perfect shoe for my body.  With these specifications, I get the perfect balance ratio of cushion to weight which ultimately allows me to run as natural as possible (of course, nothing is identical to actually running barefoot but this is as close as possible when considering the elements of weather and/or terrain) and as efficient as possible.  

In fact, there’s a study by Dr. Kram at the University of Colorado where they tested the energy impact of cushioning and found a point where you actually ran less efficient with no little cushioning but also less efficient with no much cushioning and the optimal baseline was about 10mm (note:  this was Dr. Kram’s second test and I was participant in the first test at his facilities so I’m quite familiar with the testing elements and conditions).

Back to my point, the Nike XC is about 20mm of cushion (too much for me) and the Evo is about 3-4mm of cushion, actually rubber if you remove the insole (too little for me).  On the “too much,” side, the extra cushion serves no benefit and actually reduces ground feel and ultimately creates too much imbalance as if I’m stepping on a big marshmallow the impact of which requires my legs to work harder to overcome the instability, imbalance and de-stabilizing effects of the cushion.  On the “too little” side, my body legs also have to work pretty hard to absorb the impact of the landing.  So, the optimal balance is a little cushion to reduce how much the legs have to work but not too much cushion which also requires the legs to work hard for different reasons but nevertheless, it has a energy cost impact as well as potential injury issues as you add too much cushion and create too much of an unstable platform (hence, it’s why gymnastics land on a hard surface). 

So what does all this mean?  Well, 90% of runners are running in terrible shoes with 20-30mm of cushion which is beyond harmless.  Conversely, the small minimalist community can go too far and I see runners with Vibram’s (for example) trotting along as if every step they take hurts.  At the end of the day, there’s nothing new here.  If you go back to the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, the classic running shoe was very similar to Bill Rodger’s and Jim Fixx’s “ruby red slippers” which were classic Asic’s with about 10mm of cushion, good ground feel, extremely light and flexible. 

Interesting . . . the more we develop, sometimes the dumber we get :)


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Shoe Rotation Myth

So the story goes that if you rotate shoes you get a couple benefits.  First, you prolong the life the shoe by giving it time to recovery, specifically the EVA sole which they argue needs 24-48 hrs. to decompress.  Second, you reduce the chances of repetitive stress injuries by moving stress points as each shoe will work different muscles and tendons.  Well, both points are extremely flawed.

First, there are numerous studies that validate the point that it only takes 2-6 hrs. for cushion to decompress and not 24-48 hrs. although that is a great marketing message to get you to buy more running shoes.  Second, repetitive stress injuries are very complex and if that was always a material issue then how did we run thousands of years ago when we either ran barefoot or in the same shoe until it literally self-destructed?  The real result of shoe rotation is that is hampers and reduces your ability to develop an optimal gait.  I say that will qualification because if you use a different shoe because of terrain, that's understandable, however, the vast majority of recreational runners run over the same easy surfaces which range from concrete/asphalt to easy packed dirt roads and trails, none of which require specialized technical running shoes (it's different if you are a hard core mountain runner then I understand switching to a shoe providing more protection).

However, let's go a bit deeper in the discussion.  There's no way to avoid a discussion about "cushion" in general, most of which is EVA.  This effectively leads the discussion to the impact of cushion on the human body.  Cushion is not to dissimilar from a sponge and if you step on a sponge if compresses and decompresses and during that process you are "not" in balance, and in fact, you are off balance and the body, muscles and tendons are at work to achieve balance during this process.  Furthermore, if you take that same step thousands of times, the cushion will mold to your foot, which as first sounds great but the impact is more imbalance and it magnifies the balancing process and not in a positive way.  So is all cushion bad?  No, I don't think so but the goal is to find a flat shoe (balance) with the least amount of cushion possible for your given body type.  The difference, for example, in 10mm vs. 20mm in stack height is enormous.

I'd further argue that once you find a flat (as possible) shoe with the least amount of cushion you run in happily, then use that same shoe over and over and over until it self destructs because you will develop an optimal gait in that shoe.  As for repetitive stress injuries, if you are running properly, then you are working the correct muscle groups (the big muscle groups) which were designed to support running.  Lastly, many injuries are directly related to "dumb" running, that is, running too far, too fast, or with too much intensity on a given day.  Learn how to adapt your running to what the body wants and needs on a specific day, and you'll be light years ahead of your comrades.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

No motivation - Goal one: just figure out how to get our that door (just one step)

So here's the story. Woke up in the beautiful Cuchara mountain range at the base of the mountains at about 8,000 ft. I had absolutely no motivation to run . . . there's hills everywhere (no way to avoid them) and there was a strong wind (ingredients to not do anything but you must fight that off) so when I feel like this, I do a few simple things.
First, I put on my running gear and that always helps. Second, I decide to run for 20-30 minutes very slow and see how I feel. Lastly, I'm fine with whatever happens and as is often the case, what I thought might be a short run turned into a long run (about 13 miles).
I was surrounded by 13,000 ft. mountains and just smiled as I continued to run through gods country . . . open country roads and nothing but the sound of the wind. No humans around, just deer, cows and a fox, and, oh yea, a country dog that followed me for about 10 miles (he followed me home). I called the owner, showered, then met the owner to return his dog (it was a herding dog).
No better way to start Thanksgiving. It took me many years to learn how to push through those non-motivation days. Don't take the day off . . . push yourself out that door . . . this is what separates the committed runners from the no so committed runners . . . the "all in" runners figure out how to get out that door (it's a mind game). Best thing is many times, these turn out to be your best runs!
Happy Thanksgiving (or Holiday) to all!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Understand the absorption process

I knew this was coming . . . the absorption run. After a few weeks of increasing my weekly mileage to the 60 mile per week range, I knew an absorption run was on the horizon. An absorption run is the result of any material increase in mileage, pace or intensity and while you may feel great right after such an increase, the fact is the body is in shock and there's a point where it needs to absorb the change, down to the muscles, fibers and tendons and this morning I could feel the absorption process in full effect during my run, hence why I made sure to run slow and easy.

The impact of big changes isn't necessarily felt immediately but otherwise weeks down the road.  How many times have you run unexpectedly fast or long and feel fine the next few days?  Well, that's the beginning of the absorption process but eventually you will feel the impacts of the changes and how you deal with that point in time will determine whether you benefit or suffer from the changes.  It's at this time, after a material change in your running, where if you do not completely and fully listen to your body, you can take a turn for the worse. But, if you are listening and understanding this process, your body and mind will come out stronger and will rebuild with the understanding and expectation that such an increase is a permanent thing so it will adjust accordingly.

As I made the decision to increase my weekly mileage from 40-50 to 60-70 miles per week, I understood that I would have to navigate through the absorption process.  This is one reason I've slightly backed off the number and intensity of my hard runs as I need to absorb the mileage and duration increase, allow my body and mind to adjust, then slowly add back other elements.  The absorption process can be a beautiful thing if you understand what's going on and respond accordingly.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Why do you run?

If you really deeply think about this question, it should take a while to formulate a complete and full response.  At the 10,000 ft. level, many of us run for fitness and health, but after that, if you dig deep, it's a bit complicated.  If I ask myself, I have to admit that I like to run "to escape," and running allows me to escape and enter a different world, even if it's only for 45 minutes or 2 hrs.  

Running also helps me shed negative feelings and toss that luggage out the door.  I would describe it as follows:

"There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore, and who always will.  So, don't worry about people from your past . . . there's a reason they didn't make it to your future."

Running gives me this chance to "realize" and put things in perspective.  It allows me to shed the past and leave the negative in the past and only carry over the positive into the future.  In order to realize, one needs to think with an open mind and running provides that forum.  Some of my deepest thoughts happen while running.  This is a stark reminder that we "were born to run," physically, emotionally and spiritually."

So ultimately I guess I run to find out who I truly am.  Each time my foot lands, I'm in the "now," and the next step is to the "future."  There's no running backwards as it's about moving forward.  With each breath, I'm moving forward and isn't that what live is really about?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Live in cold weather: Double Up

This is for my cold weather friends that live in cold weather states like myself.  For you lucky folks that live in warm weather places, well, we are jealous and there's no need for you to read this post but feel free to do so if you like :).  So, it's a challenge to maintain a solid weekly mileage base when you have to deal with below freezing temperatures, ice and/or snow.  So, here's some ideas and approaches that have allowed me to not only maintain mileage but also not lose the fitness levels I've acquired through the preceding spring and summer.

The basis theme is to "Double Up" and "leverage the treadmill," but don't forget the trails and/or roads as only running on the treadmill does not allow your body to adjust to the different impact forces of running outside . . . with that in mind, here's couple ideas:

1.  Using my 60 miles per week goal (as an example), run 6 miles in the morning (either outside or inside on the treadmill), followed by 6 miles in the evening (either outside or inside on the treadmill).  This gives you flexibility as to when to run outside (morning or evening) and it will equate to a good long run in terms of total mileage.

2.  Split up a single run into a 30-45 minute warm-up on the treadmill, then do 20-40 minutes outside.  The advantage is that you will be fully warmed up from the treadmill and you can generally brave the cold conditions for 20-30 minutes or so which also allows you body to maintain familiarity with running outside (again, only running on the treadmill does not allow you body to adjust to the different impact forces of running outside on dirt or roads; the treadmill is "fake" and the conditions are "too perfect," which is not the real world :)

Remember, you substitute your mileage, time and/or running goals into the equation but the basic principal is to double up whether running once or twice in a day (I just used times and goals based on what I do).

Hope this helps . . .


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ditch the foam roller and save $

Like many, I use the hard form roller for, among other things, massaging my IT band and calves muscles but if you want to both save money and have a more mobile alternative, use the tennis balls.  In fact, not only is it much easier to travel with but it's more effective due to the smaller round design which works the muscles better and deeper.  However, take note, that the tennis ball will effectively provide a deep muscle massage which, well, can hurt!!!  At least, it will likely hurt at first until you get through the transition phase but if you stay with it, there's big rewards.

A trouble area for me has always been my left calf which is suffered a slight tear several years back (I ran through deep snow, lot feeling in my feet, and ran several miles with a severe forehand strike which led to the tear . . . stupidity on my part but I'll provide another post on those runners that consciously try to forefoot land and end up landing on their toes which puts tremendous stress on the calf and achilles tendon but that's a topic for another day) and while I healed up, I can feel slight tension from time to time, especially when I ramp up my miles so I started using the hard form roller and it's been extremely effective and useful.  However, it's a pain when I travel, especially for more than 2-3 days so I discovered the tennis ball (I also tried a beer bottle) and it hurt a bit at first as it goes much deeper than the hard form roller but it was quite effective.

Anyway, give it a try.  It's cheap, lasts forever and is easy to travel with . . . of course, running stores and outlets would not want this to become a trend :)


Friday, November 9, 2012

Your problem may rest at the "core"

First of all, let me say I'm crazy excited about devoting more time to this blog.  I had to shed some negative stuff which is now in the past and I'm looking forward as the sun rises from the Rocky Mountains . . . no, literally, that's what's happening right now :).

Anyway, I've started to ramp up my weekly mileage (I have no idea where I'll stop but I'm interested in throwing in some 100 mile weeks but that will take work and time).  Anyway, I'm on track for 50-60 mile week (I've been in the 40-50 mile week the past 6 months or so) and while it may not seem like much of a jump, it is . . . trust me.  And, while ramping up, I was reminded about how important a strong core is to running and in fact, as I ramp my mile back up, I can feel the work being put on my core.  Lucky for me, I've always devoted 2-3x a week to core exercising but I may have to increase that in conjunction with the mileage increase.

I want to point out that if you have issues running and even if you are having injury issues, it may not be your running for per say as the root cause may be a weak core.  With a weak core, you can't run correctly, at least not for prolonged periods of time.  As skinny as elite runners may look, they have incredibly strong cores.  A strong core is like the trunk of a tree as it holds everything together allowing you to maintain proper balance and stability.

Before you make any wholesale changes, check your core . . . is it soft or strong?  weak or muscular?  If the answers are the former, get to work on that core.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No formula better than consistency

Each time I'm asked how to become a better runner, my first response is to "run every day or as much as possible."  Whether you run 10, 20 , 30, 40, 50, 60 or more miles per week, and you take 1 or more rest days, carve back the total mileage and reduce the rest days, even down to running 7 days a week if possible (that's what I've done as I run 7 days a week; about 50 miles per week).  It's the consistency that speeds up the muscle memory process .

If you think about, the great Kenyan runners start by running back and forth to school every day and after 5-6 years, they've not only established a solid base but they've mastered the mechanics and fundamentals of efficient running by doing it over and over and over and over.  You may need to work your way toward this goal but ultimately the concept of "we must have a rest day," is not based on science or fact but instead is based on tradition.  There's no reason we are not designed and equipped to run every single day.

However, the issue is controlling and managing 2 factors:  duration and intensity.  If you have the discipline to manage those factors, you should be able to run every day and not increase your chances of injury.  I have what I call a "rest day run," which is a day off and on that day I run for no longer than 30 minutes and a slow comfortable pace.  Some call this junk miles but I think that's completely wrong.  I get huge benefits from a 25-30 minute run.  First, it's just flat good for my heart, body and soul.  Second, it's just long enough for me to continue the hard coding process with respect to form and technique.  Third, it feels good mentally and physically and I believe it assists in the healing process without stressing the body.  Of course the trick is to practice "discipline," and not turn a easy run into either a longer run or higher intensity.

You may say, there's no difference between a 30 and 40 min. run.  Well, it's a huge difference . . . it's a 30% increase if you really look at it . . . that's not insignificant.  Practice discipline, control intensity and duration, and you'll be off to floating along every single day.

Happy trails.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Keep it simple

Someone asked me how I manage "running by feel," and I simply said, "it's easy," and that's the beauty of running because running and everything related to it should simple, easy and fun.  They asked what type of running I do and when/where/how and I said, I simply have a few combinations of running, based on "feel," which I think equate to 9 types of runs based on effort level and length of run which, by the way, is never pre-determined since I run by feel but I'll jot down what I did post-run.

Here's how I break down my running.  I have 3 effort levels:  easy effort, medium effort and hard effort, and don't ask me to define each level because it's inside and I know it "by feel," and by my stride, cadence, breathing and overall feel.  I also have 3 type of runs in terms of length which I base on time (not distance):  short (less than 40 min.), medium (40-60 min.) and long (60+ min.).  The efforts levels and run types provide for 9 types of runs (for example, today I ran for 45 min. at medium effort so it was a medium (effort)/medium (length) run; yesterday was a 40 min. easy run so it was a short/easy run).

That's as much science and data that I need as a runner.  Ninety percent (90%) of my running is some combination of the easy to medium efforts + short and medium length runs.  The "hard" effort and "long" length runs only comprise about 10% of my running otherwise I'd get injured because if that became the majority of my running, I would over-stress the body (and mind).

So there it is for what it's worth.  I don't follow complicated training programs and the like because I think they actually do more harm than good.  The thing is, if you "run by feel" your body actually does establish a program that is customized for you.  For example, if I look my log over the past 12 months, I pretty much do the following over a 12 day cycle of continuous running:  1 long run, 1 hard run, 2 medium run, and 8 easy runs (this is on average).  Of course, I have no idea when/where I do my runs as my body & mind decides it on the fly but over a period of time, my running becomes pretty consistent.  Then, of course, there's deviations where my body goes off and does things like 50% of my running hard for weeks or 100% easy running for weeks but these are uncommon deviations based on some physical or psychological factors that only my body and mind know and so they steer me a different way for a short period of time to satisfy some internal need and I have reason to question it because it's "based on feel," but over the long haul, definite patterns come to the surface.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There is no shoe worth $100

I don't care who designed it.  I don't care what it looks like.  I don't care what new cutting age features it might incorporate.  I don't care where it's manufactured.  I don't care how aesthetically pleasing it may be.  All I know is no shoe is worth $100, or anything near that price.  It only took me 6+ years to figure that out, all the while I continued to pay stupid amounts of money to various shoe companies.  I'll admit, they all are incredible marketing machines and they prey on our innate weakness to acquire the coolest looking thing on the planet, regardless of usability or performance.

I now run in a $29.99 pair of Puma H-Streets (one of the original minimalist running shoes that are basically designed identical to how shoes were designed in the late 60's/early 70's when runners were much healthier and much less injured but that's a topic for another day) and I have about 750 miles on them.  Yes, you heard me right.  $29.99 AND 750 miles.  Hmmm, let's see . . . that's less than $0.04 per mile and with the aid of some cheap shoe gu, they are still going strong and I'll definitely pass the 1,000 mile mark at which point, I'll have paid less than $0.03 per mile, and they'll likely still be going strong.  This is the dirty little secret that no shoe company wants you to know.  The fact is you don't need their expensive shoes but the vast majority of you will fail to see the light and your pocketbook will suffer as a result.

Forget the discussion about zero drop, minimalism, no heel differential, less cushioning, etc., and just think about the exorbitant prices you pay for running shoes.  You have to be kidding me.  We were born and designed to run barefoot and somehow we've been sold premier land in the swamps of Florida and we think we discovered the deal of a lifetime.  Now, I'll admit, generally the $29.99 was on sale but I never pay more than $50 for the H-Street's as they are commonly available for between $40 - $49.99.  Now, the Puma H-Street is not the only option but I'm using it as an example since it's my running shoe of choice.  If you think about this minimalist movement, all that's really happened is the shoe companies have made us victims again as they are charging the same high prices for "less" shoe.  That's right folks . . . less shoe and we pay the same or more.  Of course, that's a great business approach but you need an idiot consumer and there's plenty of those and I was a card carrying member for years until I finally discovered the light.  There's nothing pretty about my shoes except they feel great, allow me to run pretty natural and I still can bang out sub 6:00 min. miles, and do all of it injury free.  So, in other words they do the job and they do the job cheaply.

I beg of you . . . Free your mind and quit buying into the hype . . . it's all crap.  The major shoe companies have done nothing else than repackage crap, remove the smell of crap, and find more idiot consumers to take advantage of . . . quit it!!!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Why running plans just don't work!!!

I know for the vast majority of folks that read this post, it will fall on deaf ears.  However, running plans are useless, they really are but it is something we buy into.  If you really think about it, our bodies don't perform or adhere to set rules about distance, pace and intensity.  In fact, our bodies, being the exceptional devices they are, are too sophisticated for set running plans.  In other words, we are trying to dummy down as sophisticated device, which really doesn't make sense.

To tell, and ultimately force, your body to do a set workout on a set day makes no sense "unless" you are a professional elite runner that "must" peak on a specific day and time and, under course of action, you are teetering along the line of disaster and injury.  The goal of a professional runner is to push the body to the brink of disaster without crossing the line, all in hopes of peak performance on a specific day and time.  For the elite, the risk and reward ratio is worth it.  Heck, I would push my body to disaster to win a major professional race and/or an Olympic medal.  However, for us mere mortals, to adhere to a modified race plan doesn't make sense.

I spent years, like many of you, running according to a pre-set race plan that would tell me how long, how fast and how often to run.  Boy, was a blind but I had nothing else to guide me until I figured out how to "run by feel," which led me to re-discover the amazing structure and design of the human body.  When you really "let go," and learn to rely on your own body and natural instincts, a new world is uncovered.  I have no idea exactly how far or fast I will run each day but I figure it out during the run because I let me body and mind guide me.  Here's the genius in it, we runners often say the body says one thing but the mind say another and that's true when you have blocked communication messages.

When you learn to let go, actually the body and mind align.  I know when to take a rest day, for example, and it's based on feel, not how many consecutive days I've run or how fast or slow or how long.  It's a feel, that is deep and down to the muscles and tendons.  In fact, I can feel my body repair.  In fact, today is a prime example, which is why I'm writing this post.  Two days again, I was running sub 6:00 per mile pace and today I ran a 10:25 pace.  What a delta, right?  Well, no, it's because I run by feel.  My muscles were tight for Saturday's run and after a warm-up, I knew it was going to be a fast pace run.  I also knew by the feel of my "loose" muscles this morning as well as my mental feeling that today was what other runners call a recovery day.  I do keep a log and I took a glance, and low and beyond, I've run 9 of the last 10 days which included 2 fast pace days (note:  I had not looked at my log in any detail in a while).  The point is, I didn't need the data because the data was in my body and mind and the message is clear that tomorrow is a rest day, but not because some running plan pre-decided but my body and mind, in total alignment, decided.

Like I said, very few runners will be willing to take the time to actually learn their own bodies.  It's not easy because it takes a completing letting go and 99% of runners are not willing or capable of doing that.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Why I'm running fast and injury free

As I sipped my pre-run coffee this morning and had my standard discussion with my body before heading out for a run, my body let me know today would be a rest day so I poured a second cup of coffee, relaxed on the couch and watched TV before showering and heading to work.  The point is you must learn and understand your body and that takes years and extremely focus and dedication but if you do it, the rewards are huge . . . injuries will be very few and very far between . . . 

As fate would have it, this is the quote I read this morning as I decided to take a rest day:

"As I get older, I know I can't keep the same intensity I had when I was 18. But I trust my strength and endurance and know it's there. So I swim less, but when I get into the water, my time is more focused. I choose what I do more carefully to make every exercise and training session count. "Natalie Coughlin, U.S. Olympic swimmer

You just can't continue to put the same level of stress and expectations on your body as you get older "BUT" you can and should demand and strive for excellence . . . nothing changes as you get older except the output but the work, dedication and consistency remands the same . . . or it should.  "Output," is nothing more than the by-product of hard work, dedication and striving toward your goals.  If you do that, the output is the output and you can't fail.  In fact, there's no such thing as failure only setbacks.  If you have goals and give your best to achieve those goals, you win every day in life . . . again, output is the output.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We really don't get it . . .

I happened to run into a few of my neighbors as I was beginning my run the other day and something I've noticed is that 99% of runners have no clue how to warm up or even what a warm up is really all about.  I'm much faster than my neighbor friends at least at race pace and we were all beginning our run and I refused to keep up with them as they immediately started at something near a 8:00 - 8:30 pace.  Similarly, I watch a lot of runners jump out the door of their house and immediately start in the 8:30 pace range which I think is insane.  The body hasn't awaken much less warmed up.  I tend to start in the 11:00 pace range even on days I'm going to eventually do tempo runs in the 6:00 pace range.  I learned this from elite level runners who I watched prod along very slowly during warm-up.

And, another thing, the idea, even as promoted by our running magazines, that a 20 min. warm-up is sufficient is not only wrong, but short sided.  It was awhile to warm-up the body correctly before launching into a hard effort workout.  I tend to warm-up for 40-45 minutes, followed by some active stretching, before moving into hard effort running.  This is likely why I haven't suffered a serious injury in many years.  Maybe it's a cultural thing in that we are just too darn impatient to let our bodies warm-up.  Or, perhaps, we don't have time and just force the issue instead of waiting until maybe the weekends when we have more time to properly prepare.  Or, maybe it's a competitive thing where we can't prod along because our ego's can't handle other runners passing us while we are warming up.  I don't know but I do know this is one of the major reasons so many runners are injured on a yearly basis and it won't change because we refuse to practice patience.


Friday, May 11, 2012

And so the beat goes on . . . the next plateau

No question I've crossed another successful threshold in my running life.  It's amazing what you learn about life and yourself from running.  A few random things as I continue my journey.

1.  In the near ending quest for the perfect running shoe, I found a shoe that surpassed the Nike XC and it's old school.  It's the Puma H-Street.  Yes, they are back.  These are in that group of the original minimalist footwear and was an all-time favorite of ultra runner Anton K.  I started running in these puppies several weeks ago and they are excellent.  Just a big better than the Nike XC b/c they are lower to the ground, no arch support and they fit my foot like a glove (note:  these are not for wider foot folks).  This is the new Terra Plana failed to develop with the Evo.  This is what the Evo should have been.  And the best part, I bought 2 pair for $35 each and they'll last thousands of miles.

2.  I don't do the "pain" thing anymore.  I'll run hard, although 90% of my running is nice and very easy, but even when I run hard, I will "within my breath" as is preached by Fred Rohe in "The Zen of Running."  As a result, I've lost about :30 - :45 sec. per mile when I run hard.  I run in the 6:30 pace range vs. 5:45-6:00 pace range but I run longer at that pace and, more importantly, I run happier.

3.  I still "run by feel," and it's the best thing I ever decided to do.  I run 20, 30, 40 days consecutively and I'm able to do it b/c I run by feel.  I do what my body wants to do each day.  I don't run with a watch, garmin, heart rate monitor, or any of that crap.  All those devices do is block the natural communication path between the body and mind and that's dangerous, in my humble opinion.  I basically run for 1 hr. every day and every 7-10 days, I stretch out a 90-100 min. run and only when my body says "go," then I'll throw in some hard runs, generally in the 15-30 min. range.

4.  Trails rock, streets suck.  If you believe surfaces don't matter in terms of impact to the body, I think you are crazy, at least with respect to this subject.

5.  I love life!!! Of course, the main reason is my wonderful wife and beautiful kids but I'll include running b/c it has changed my life.  I'm about 5,000 hrs. into running and half way to meeting that 10,000 hr. threshold everyone talks about.  I look forward to the journey to that destination but running has made me a better husband, father and person.  God gave me the ability to run so I thank God . . . thanks God!!!

Ok, enough and back to life (and running).



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Un-friggin-believable - Pete Magill rocks

Pete Magill: 15:11 for 5K at Age 50

RSS   |   LIKE   |   TWEET
By Peter Gambaccini
Photos by Diana Hernandez
Californian Pete Magill was dominant in the 45-49 age group; for example, he ran 14:45 for 5000 meters in March 2011, three months before turning 50, to become the oldest American to break 15:00 for the distance. He's kept to his record-breaking ways since turning 50, including running 15:11.13 for 5000 meters at this weekend’s Oxy Invite in California, under the recognized 50-and-over American record. But, as you'll see in a bit, don't look for Magill's name in the record books for this mark.
There’s been an abundance of activity in the 50-plus 5000 in 2012. The American record of 15:41.67 by Mike Heffernan had stood for 20 years until it was lowered by Ken Ernst to 15:34.62 in March and then to a formidable 15:16.77 by Mike Blackmore just a week ago.
Blackmore and Magill will apparently be doing battle in the coming weeks to further lower their times, and ownership of it may pass back and forth between them, with Tony Young, who has just turned 50, possibly joining the fray. But Magill, who is also a terrific Running Times columnist, is making no small plans. Lamenting that he “just got started too late this year” and is “definitely not quite race-fit yet," he declares, "I'm going to try to find another 5000 in June, because I think I'm 3 to 4 weeks away from 14:45-14:50." His concern, he says, is that "I honestly think I might not find a decent race."
In any case, from what Magill tells us, his 15:11 may never be considered an "official" record because he finds the ratification procedure to be "a really demeaning process." He explains, "It ultimately requires multiple follow-up phone calls, lots of begging, last-minute reminders at the [USATF] annual meeting where records are ratified, and that's after running around a meet for a couple hours, trying to get people to sign off on all the things that need signing off on (the person who installed the track is supposed to sign off on the track being 400 meters, the starter for the race has to sign, the timer(s), somebody signs to guarantee that the track has proper rails, the meet director, etc.) ... and even then the applications aren't always accepted (and are often misplaced ... often)."
Magill concludes, "Anyway, all that counts is that it gets on the ARRS top times list (they keep selected track times too) and the American Records Wikipedia entry, and I don't need paperwork for that."
Magill is exceptionally fast at 50 but, he says, "The worst part about being a 50-year-old runner is this: The day before the race, for no apparent reason, my legs and feet suddenly got inflamed. It actually hurt to jog. They had improved by race time, but I still had to loosen the laces on my shoes to warm up (you know, just so my feet could fit into them!). It didn't affect my race (exhaustion was much more of a factor). But it was one of those annoying age things that really puts a damper on training and racing enthusiasm."

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    My Blog List

    My Blog List