January 25, 2008

Chill Music

I enjoy listening to all (well, almost all) types of music, but stripped down acoustic stuff is probably my favorite. MTV Unplugged, Cities 97 Studio C, Stripped Raw and Real, etc. Well, Boulder, Colorado has a radio station very similar to Cities 97, complete with Studio C performances. The big difference: KBCO has their entire Studio C library - several years worth - available for listening on demand online! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Goofy week training wise because of work schedule - missed a tempo run as well as some short easy stuff:

Sun: 10 miles on the treadmill - a new 'mill record! I hate the treadmill...
Mon: worked from the time I got up 'til the time I went to bed. I'm blaming it on my boss (me).
Tues: busy work day, managed to squeeze some strength training in - circuit style.
Weds: busy work day, managed to squeeze some biking in between appointments.
Thurs: Hill repeats 5 x 0.2 miles @ 8% incline - 4 miles total.
Fri: busy work day, did some strength training.

Hope to do a 9 miler outside tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

January 23, 2008

Hamstring Woes

I've been getting some questions from folks lately about nagging hamstring problems now that they've started adding hills or speedwork into their training after a few months of easy running. Their hamstrings feel tight or achy while running, or sore the next morning after a harder run, etc. Nothing bad enough to feel like it's an injury (yet), but... what the heck?
Usually, these annoying hamstring aches are the result of weak glutes and/or tight hip flexors.

Here's how it works in general:

Muscles can't push, they can only pull. This means that for every muscle that does something (agonist), there's another muscle that does the opposite (antagonist). We are wired neurologically such that when the agonists are causing a joint to move, the antagonists are inhibited (known as reciprocal inhibition). Yes, this is an oversimplification, but hopefully you get the idea.

Here's how tight hip flexors can cause weak glutes and strained hamstrings:

Muscles in front of the hip that help to raise the leg forward (hip flexors) become tight. This is especially common in people who sit alot, such as those who have jobs where they are required to sit at a desk or in meetings all day. Tightness in the hip flexors tends to inhibit the hip extensors (glutes), which in turn puts additional strain on the hamstrings (hamstrings flex the knee as well as assist the glutes in extending the hip). Basically, this means that the hamstrings are having to do the glute's job in addition to their own. Even if this doesn't cause an injury, it can affect running performance by decreasing stride length, which in turn results in slower running at a given stride rate.

So what to do about it? Try stretching hip flexors, followed by some bridging exercises to actively recruit the glutes.
If double leg bridges are too easy, try single leg. If single leg bridges cause the hamstrings to cramp or the inactive hip to drop, the glute is still too weak.
If single leg bridges are too easy, try an active lock bridge, where you actively engage the hip flexors of one leg to hold a small ball or towel against your abdomen while bridging with the other leg:
Keep practicing until you can do the active lock bridge without hamstring cramping. By improving your glute strength, you will probably notice that your hamstring aches disappear, your flexibility improves, your stridge length increases, and you ultimately have faster runs at the same stride rate as a result!

January 20, 2008

Another Day on the Treadmill

Current weather for Minneapolis, MN

Temp: -18°F Clear
Humidity: 75%
Wind Speed: SSW 6 MPH
Wind Chill: -32°F

Looks like I've got another date with the dreaded treadmill today - planned 10 miles. I've had frostbite about a half dozen times during my alpine ski racing days, so I'll pass on the "mosquito free" weather.

Since our last episode:

Fri: strength training + self myofascial release + stretching + easy biking
Sat: off. Hung out at the MDRA annual party and got caught up on how many miles everyone ran last year.

January 17, 2008

They're Baaaaack!

Oh joy! I've been running in Mizuno Wave Riders for my road shoes since 2001. Dream fit at the time...almost like they were custom made. Unfortunately every year since then, Mizuno has been tweakin' the shoe a little here and there so that by the time the #10 came out, I couldn't wear them any longer. I stopped by to see Adam Lindahl at TC Running Co in Eden Prairie today, and fortunately he had some #11's that have somehow morphed to the shape of my foot once again. My beloved Wave Riders are back :)))

Now, if only I can find trail shoes with the same outcome...

Training for the week:

Sat: planned an easy 9, but went stone cold insane on the TM and bailed after 4. Shame.
Sun: self myofascial release and a little stretching
Mon: strength training and an easy 3
Tues: Hill repeats 0.25 miles @ 6% incline x 4 and 1:1 work:rest ratio. Total miles = 4.
Weds: off
Thurs: 1 easy + 3 tempo + 1 easy

This Saturday is a biggie in the MN running community:

Several folks will be doing the marathon and half marathon events at the Northwoods Snowshoe Championships in Duluth in character building cold weather.
Carl and Allan will be running the HURT 100 in Hawaii in warm, humid weather.
I'll be eating free pizza and hangin' with some road running folks at the MDRA annual party.

Enjoy your weekend!

January 13, 2008

MN Trail Run Series

The races for the 2008 Minnesota Trail Run Series have been chosen (they are my current goal races listed on the right). Twelve races that cover distances ranging from 5K to marathon at various locations throughout the state.

I can't wait!

January 10, 2008

Style and Grace

RIP Sir Edmund Hillary

Spirit of the Marathon

Showing only on Thursday January 24, 2008 at 7:30 pm local time. Find a theatre here.

From their official website:

"NCM Fathom, in partnership with Active.com and Wasserman Media Group, is proud to present “Spirit of the Marathon” on the big screen in high-definition with Cinema Surround Sound on Thursday, January 24th at 7:30PM (local). Don’t miss your chance to see the Chicago International Film Festival’s “Audience Choice Award” winner!

“Spirit of the Marathon” is the first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, the production brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries. As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports program, “Spirit of the Marathon” is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike."

January 9, 2008

Midweek Training Report

The blisters are healing nicely and don't bother me at all in my road shoes.

Mon: 1 easy + 4 hill repeats 0.25 miles @ 6% incline, 1:1 work:rest ratio + 1 easy. 4 miles total.

Tues: strength training + rowing

Weds: planned off day because of busy work schedule, but did a few core exercises in between clients.

For short workouts, I tend to work as many body parts in as few exercises as possible.

In addition to hip abduction from T-Stand, I added push-ups with hip adduction using a stability ball,

and some easy dumb bell rows from a plank position.
That covers hip abductors, hip adductors, lats, rhomboids, pecs, biceps, triceps, deltoids, and core.

Tomorrow's plan is a 5 mile tempo run.

Hope you are all having a great week!

January 5, 2008

Heat Wave

Today's workout:

I did 4 laps in the slush and snow at Bredesen for 8.2 miles in 30-ish degree weather (scorcher). Wore my trail shoes since they are gortex and repel water somewhat. Unfortunately, both of my feet are full of blisters, so I guess the customized insoles haven't really helped much. I'm thinking it's the rubber "toe bumper" that is less flexible in cold and is causing more friction than usual.


January 4, 2008

Goal Setting

After spending a great deal of time the last couple of weeks helping my clients with their goals for the upcoming year, I realized: Many folks have a general idea of what they want to accomplish when it comes to setting goals, but they don't go far enough with the planning to actually improve their chances of achieving them.

Most of my clients are familiar with the SMART acronym:

S = Specific. Make your long and short term goals as specific as possible.
M = Measureable. Each goal must have a measureable way of tracking success.
A = Action oriented. What action will you take to achieve your goal?
R = Realistic.
T = Time. Give each goal an appropriate time frame.

This is a great start and they do pretty well up to this point, but it doesn't map out the specific details of how to actually accomplish the task. For example, one plans to run Boston Marathon this year in a sub 3 hour time, and they qualified for Boston by running Twin Cities in 3:02. It's specific, measureable, realistic, and they know the time frame that they have to get ready for the Boston Marathon. The action they plan to take to achieve this goal is to do lots of running. Unfortunately, this is where most people stop when it comes to planning their goals.

Here are a few tips to improve your success rate:

*Know exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish.

*Know exactly where you are starting from. This comes in the form of some type of assessment that allows you to measure your current strengths and weaknesses.

*Once you know where you are starting from and where you want to go, you'll be able to plan specific steps to get from "point A" to "point B".

*Break larger goals down into smaller and smaller goals, until it becomes a daily "to do" list. Have a specific reason for doing each and every thing on your daily training list. Why are you running this distance at this intensity on this day? This is a biggie!

*Focus on the positive (what you should do rather than shouldn't do).

*Be precise: put in dates, times, distances, goal pace, etc.

*Set priorities: some races will be more important than others, some may serve as supported training runs. Some things in life will be more important than running races.

*Set performance rather than outcome goals. Focus on things that you can control (your performance), and don't worry about things you cannot control (what the other runners are doing).

*Do not set your goals too low, which is just as important as not setting your goals too high. Make your goals challenging, but achievable.

*Be flexible. Have a "Plan B" in your daily training. You may need to adjust your training schedule based on weather, illness, injury, job/family time demands, etc.

*Learn from your experiences, including when you fail to meet a goal. What do you need to improve upon so that you can move closer to meeting this goal next time? Was the goal realistic to begin with? Was the goal irrelevant and you weren't really motivated to pursue it?

*Keep in mind that goals will change over time. If a goal no longer holds an attraction to you, let it go and focus your energy on something that is important to you.

I am in the process of beginning my goal setting for 2008. Currently, my key races are the Superior 25K in May and the Moose Mountain Marathon in September. I plan on running as many of the MN Trail Series races as possible, but the schedule has not been finalized yet. I sent off my registration for the Trail Mix 25K, which will most likely be my first race this year (unless there's an early MN Trail Series race that I don't know about). I've got my daily training plan scheduled out to 5/18/2008, which includes strength training and running based on my current strengths and weaknesses. I have a specific reason for each workout and exercise that I do, whether it's a strength training exercise, running a certain distance, pace, terrain, target heart rate, etc. My daily plans will most likely change somewhat, depending on what my results are as my training progresses. Since I'm new to trail running, I don't really have enough experience to know what realistic times will be for each distance (trails are harder for me to predict than road races since each trail is so different). Based on my Afton result last summer, I hope to beat 3 hours at Trail Mix.

Well, it's a start...

New Year Training Week

Since our last episode:

Tues (Happy New Year!): Ross submaximal treadmill test to estimate current VO2 max, followed by a few relatively low key hill repeats (0.2 miles @ 8% grade, speed 6.0 mph).
Weds: easy cross training day, but very busy work day (it's "resolution season" for the couch spuds ya know).
Thurs: 2 easy + 3 tempo + 1 easy
Fri: strength training + cross training (haven't decided what I'm going to do yet).
Planned for Sat or Sun: 8 mile run.

I've been extremely busy helping clients with their goal setting this week, now it's time for my own!