November 27, 2007

Burning Question

Question from an Aussie Mate:

Why is it that when you go into a bank in America, the door to the vault is left wide open, but the pens are chained to the desk?

This is the same Aussie Mate that informed me that what we refer to as a man's pot belly, they call "the awning over the toy shop."

Getting Back on Track

After going out of town for Thanksgiving and missing what sounds like a stellar Fat Ass run out at Afton, I'm finally getting back on track. Last week was spent raking leaves and hanging out with a basset hound in Michigan. It was fun, but no running took place.

Yesterday I got in some strength training and an easy 2 mile run.

Today was a hill pyramid on the treadmill - just walking at 4.0 mph from zero to 15% grade and back down again over 45 minutes.

The plan for the rest of this week is an easy 4 on Thursday, strength and cross training on Friday, easy 6 on Saturday, strength and cross training on Sunday.

I have 3 more weeks of early off season training (easy running, low weight/high reps strength training) until I start adding hill repeats, tempo runs, and a little higher intensity strength training. I'll start gradually increasing my total mileage and long runs too, with the first major race currently being Trail Mix 25K on April 19.

November 17, 2007

The Exercise Every Runner Needs To Do

My phone's been ringin' and my email's been pingin' with lots of runners suffering some type of ache or pain - and they want to know what to do about it. Many of the common overuse injuries incurred by distance runners can be caused by the same problem: weak hip abductors, especially the gluteus medius. In my 10+ years of professional experience working with distance runners, every single athlete I have evaluated has been weak in this area.

Here's why:

We like to spend what free time we have running on the trails, which works the "front to back" muscles, but neglects the "side to side" muscles like the hip abductors. When the hip abductors are weak or fatigued, it becomes difficult to stabilize the pelvis in the frontal plane, especially since we are only in contact with one foot on the ground at any given time while running. Because everything is connected, weak outer hip muscles cause the entire leg to overpronate: opposite hip "drops", knees "cave in" (potential cause of anterior knee pain aka patellofemoral joint pain, patellar tendonitis, IT band syndrome), foot overpronates (potential cause of achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, peroneal tendonitis, posterior tibialis tendonitis), etc. It also means that something else has to try to compensate for the weakness (TFL, quadratus lumborum, piriformis). This is a bigger problem for women because we have a wider pelvis, and therefore a longer moment arm.

Good alignment

Weak gluteus medius

The good news is, it's easy to strengthen these muscles, even without any special equipment. There are several ways to accomplish this, the easiest being side lying straight leg raises. Be sure that you maintain proper alignment - an easy way to do that is to lay on your side with your back against a wall. As you raise your top leg, make sure that your foot remains in contact with the wall (kind of like doing snow angels with one leg).

A more advanced version will also strengthen the core, especially the quadratus lumborum in the low back: hip abduction from a T stand.

Other options include lateral tube walking (put a loop of elastic tubing around your ankles and walk sideways) or standing hip abduction using a low cable (try not to hold on to anything with your hands).

These are just a few options for strengthening the hip abductors. Remember, their job is primarily stabilization, so go for endurance rather than maximal strength. Try just one, or do them all if you wish.
As Nike says, Just Do It.

November 14, 2007

Training Week So Far

Workout #1: 10K trail run at Hyland. Beautiful day - the only other souls I saw on the trail were a white tail deer bounding through the woods and a pair of wild turkeys. The turkeys didn't chase me this time.

Workout #2: multiple bicep curls trying to settle a debate between Tyranena Hop Whore vs Surly Furious vs Summit Extra Pale Ale. They all won.

Rock climbing for the first time since May. Note to self: must make an effort to improve flexibility.

Strength training circuit followed by an easy 3 mile run on the treadmill.

Gotta get up early tomorrow and try to score a copy of the Cities 97 sampler!

November 10, 2007

RT Anderson Fat Ass

What a blast! Very nice trail (kind of like a condensed Afton) almost in my backyard, and I never even knew it was there. I only did 3 laps and left early, but I will definately be back for some hilly runs on that trail.

Thanks to Adam and Matt for organizing the event. It was nice to meet many of the Minnesota Dead Runners folks and put names with faces. I'm a slow runner, so I usually only see the backs of peoples heads as they pass me on the trail :)

Here are a few pictures I snapped while out on the trail:

November 9, 2007

The Rest of the Week

Wednesday: off day as usual. For some reason, Wednesdays are ridiculously busy with work right now, but at least this was a planned off day. Oh yeah, and the space shuttle Discovery came home.

Thursday: hoped to get a run in, but got sidelined with work and stuff that had to get done around the house. Ended up being an unplanned off day. Bummer.

Friday: easy biking and barefoot Kettlebell strength training session.

Tomorrow: planning on a trail run, but here's my dilema:

Do I go out to Baker Park and run with the MDRA Polar Bear group on the cross country ski trails while I can before the snow flies and the runners get kicked to the curb?


Do I go for the Fat Ass run with the Minnesota Dead Runners at RT Anderson in Eden Prarie?

Post suggestions to comments.

November 6, 2007

Autumn Colors From Another Angle

Check out the fall colors around Lake Superior last month - from 220 miles above the Earth!

Photo courtesy of European Space Agency

Short Runs Are Better Than No Runs

With all the excitement of an epic EVA on the International Space Station (ISS) this past Saturday, I've only managed to get a few short runs in (2-3 miles). Haven't been out trail running since last weekend at Carver, so my short runs have been at Bredesen on asphalt or (gasp!), the dreadmill yesterday. It's the beginning of my official early off season anyway, so I'm really not off track at this point. Here's what I've done the last few days:

Saturday: watched an epic EVA all day, with astronaut Scott Parazynski out on the end of a boom.... which was being grappled at the end of another boom... then being carefully maneuvered out to fix a solar array wing while it had 100 volts of electicity running through it... in a procedure that had never been simulated or practiced before. I didn't do any running, but I think my heart rate was up.

Sunday: the crew of Discovery said goodbye to the Exp 16 crew on the ISS, but remained docked with hatches closed until all the leak checks, etc were completed on Monday. Managed to get a 2 mile run in at Bredesen.

Monday: Discovery undocks from the ISS. Check out how large the station is getting! Very windy outside, so I did 3 miles on the dreadmill after weight lifting at the gym.

All photos courtesy of NASA.
Today is a cross training day - combo of biking and rowing. Discovery is scheduled to land tomorrow, so maybe my training will become a little more focused by the end of the week :)

November 1, 2007

World View

I've been almost too busy watching the current STS-120/Exp 16 mission (space shuttle and space station joint ops) this past week to get much running in. Especially since they hit a few speed bumps and are now scrambling to come up with a contingency plan to fix the P6 solar array. I'll be tuned in to NASA TV this Saturday to see what they come up with! The EVA's (space walks) are fun to watch because the astronauts have helmet cameras, so you can see exactly what they're doing. And the view is incredible!

This photo was taken just before sunset over the Pacific Ocean by the Expedition 7 crew on the International Space Station. You can even see the anvil tops of thunderclouds if you look closely. Photo courtesy of NASA.