Running With Confidence

I’ve had many runners lately inquire regarding their running fitness and how they can improve.  While the holidays and off season will likely set us back a bit in our fitness, we can improve running form easily and start the training season right.

I’ve yet to have a runner with an injury throughout my years of coaching.  While I may be lucky as a coach, I believe in a simple training regimen and strict adherence to the basics.

Running Form

There are innumerable debates regarding running form.  Do we heel strike or not, what types of shoes to wear, orthodics, bare feet, etc.  I fall into the mid sole striking category.  I’ve found that it, combined with a running cadence of 180 bpm allows for the best form for injury prevention and easy speed.  I recently had an athlete complete a 5 hour marathon before coming to me for advice.  Once I completed his VO2 max assessment and performed a rudimentary running form analysis, I recommended two things and had him try it out on the treadmill.  He was a heel striker and had a very low cadence of around 120 bpm.  The long stride and poor form not only caused him to run slower, but let to early muscle fatigue in endurance races.

Once he corrected those two things, he was easily able to run 8 min miles for long durations with only 2 weeks of adaptation.

The easiest way to correct the deficiencies is to download a metronome app on your phone which beeps at 180 bpm.  While you’re changing your cadence, you listen to the beeps.  It will amaze you at how much different you feel and how much more solid you run.  Running at that [...]

By |November 27th, 2015|Gear, Run, Safety|0 Comments|

Recovery Tips and Techniques

For those of us doing an early season Ironman or other race this year, we’re now starting, or well into the build phases of our training.  If you’re like me, and have responsibilities during the day, that means 2 or 3 workouts on quality days.  That’s a lot of training stress!  If you’re like many others, you’re doing a Sat/Sun block and then hitting the work week again.

As overtraining can ruin the build for several months of your season, or cause a sub-optimal performance on your A race, it is essential that you are recovering properly.  Here are a few methods which I’ve found via research and practice to be most effective.  I would bore you with studies and scientific results, but I’ve found that they muddy the waters and that most studies weren’t intended to be applied to working athletes.  Plus, if you want to know, just Google it.  I’ll let Google consume your time.  This article is quick and easy.
Recovery Days
Training and timing is essential to building, peaking, and preventing overtraining syndrome or injury.  Recovery schedules depend on what phase you’re in.  I’ll paraphrase it as much as possible:
Base Phase (12-24 weeks)- Long and Steady with strength mingled.  During the base phase, you’re building your aerobic endurance.  Zone 1 or Zone 2 efforts increase blood flow, the number of mitochondria in your muscle systems, and the amount of oxidative enzymes in your blood.  You may wonder why you’re being given so many long and easy workouts during this phase.  Don’t worry.  Enjoy them!  Once you start building and peaking, you’ll miss them.
Build Phase (4-8 weeks)-  Higher Intensities and Bricks – The build phase is where your effort really ramps up.  There is a mix weighted toward the use of high [...]

Running Injury Free – Stretching, Tips, and Techniques

So, we’re going into the off season and many of you, like me are going to focus on a discipline.   If you’re like the majority of triathletes, your eye is on a half or full marathon for that off season run training or race.  I’ve just signed up for the New Year’s Double.  It’s a two day event where you can choose from anywhere between a 5k to a marathon each day.  As I’m not a super over achiever, I’ve chosen to do a half marathon on New Year’s Eve, and a marathon on New Year’s Day.  My wife has made me commit to having a fun New Year’s Eve with her.  Like that would be tough!

I’ve also got several colleagues who want to lose some pounds and have committed to doing the half.  As they are doing a couch to half marathon plan, it is essential that they work on form, technique, and especially stretching.  I remember the shin splints, calf sprains, and plantar fasciitis all too well.  I wish I would’ve known these few tips when I was starting my Ironman journey.

So for all of you who want more improvement with less pain, this is well worth your time.

I stumbled across this video during my research into my illiotibial (IT) band difficulties after my first marathon.  It’s a presentation by Jeff Horowitz, author of Smarter Marathon Training.  (   In this video, Jeff teaches  the basics of the running motion and the deficiencies in form and strength that lead to the most common injuries.   He also shares exercises and drills that athletes need to do to stay strong, fast and healthy. Also presented are:

•Causes of the most common running injuries

•Drills to improve form [...]

By |September 22nd, 2013|Efficiency, Run, Safety|0 Comments|

How to Cope with Missed Workouts

So I traveled to corporate for work last week leaving a gaping hole in my training schedule and ambitions.  I went with bright-eyed plans to work out daily, eat well, post a few blog additions, and complete some more coach specific education, but to no avail.  I had no energy at the end of the day and dragged myself through a 45 mile Saturday ride with one of my local groups.

While I was training for the Ironman, I learned a lot about workout schedules.  I can’t say I’m the overanxious type, but here are a few tips and tidbits from those who have been around for awhile.

1- Fitness is a Journey – I read that it takes an average of 9 years to peak in your endurance fitness.  There’s a good reason why the 40-44 age group is the most competitive in Ironman. Experience and years of aerobic fitness, technique, and slow twitch muscle efficiency development really add up in this sport.

If you’re sick or miss a day in your schedule, look at the larger picture and keep moving forward.  If anything, we tend to overtrain.  Give yourself a well deserved break when other priorities or sickness comes calling.

2- The 14 Day Rule – According to the GAS Adaptation Syndrome, after your body is subjected to stress (exercise), your body adapts to that stress during the resistance phase.  The adaptation comes in the form of aerobic, neuro, and muscular development which will better enable you to perform during your next stress phase.

The 14 days come into play as your body takes roughly 14 days to fully adapt to a workout session or block.  Missing a day may decrease to total adaptation, but not as [...]

Running in the Heat

I couldn’t sleep this morning for many reasons.  It’s been a long week, even with the holiday.  I decided to start my endurance run for the week which is customarily 13.1 miles.  This time of year, I typically average between 7:30 and 8:00 miles.  What’s interesting is that, in cooler temperatures, I can run at 7:15 – 7:30 and maintain the same heart rate levels.

“Well duh, you should know that!”  Many of you are likely saying right now.  And it makes perfect sense to me too… but what are the why’s?  I’m always curious like that.

I’m also reminded of my experience with the Texas Ironman this year.  The Houston temperature was 94 degrees with humidity in the upper 80%+.  Adjusted temp was a whopping 107!  It felt like hitting a wall on the run.  Average finish times were 13:40 with a 17% DNF (Did Not Finish) result.  (The only race which was worse was the last St. George IM where the storm forced many out of the water.)  Average run time was 5:35.  I came in at 12:39 happy to finish after such a long and hot day.  We spoke with another IM triathlete who’s PR was 10:14 and he was cruising for a 14+ hour time.  Brutal…

So what do the scientists say?
Exercise in the heat (40c) increases muscle glycogen oxidation and reduces whole-body fat oxidation (Febbraio et al. 1994), in comparison to the same exercise intensity performed at 20 C.
According to Alex Hutchinson in an article titled “How Does Heat Affect Fat Burning?”
In general, you burn a mix of fat and carbs when you exercise. The more intense the exercise, the more that mix shifts toward carbs and away from [...]