Saturday, July 31, 2010

Keeping the pace in the last couple of miles

The military has definitely figured this one out, in my opinion.  I grew up in a military family and when I was out running with my dad, he used to use some of the Army cadences that are used when running in formation. There are dirty cadences, but there are also simpler chants that match both the breathing rhythm and the footfall cadence.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Saucony Kinvara initial thoughts

I recently picked up a pair of Saucony Kinvara's and took them out for a test run. I paid for them, because I'm not one of those famous bloggers that get's special consideration from running shoe companies, so hopefully that will mean my review will be views as relatively unbiased, given that I have been subject to the same marketing everyone else has for this shoe.

My first impression of the shoe is that it is attractive and light weight. On my kitchen scale, each size 12 shoe weighed in at 8.8 ounces.  As previous reviewers have noted, there is very little substance to the uppers. Indeed the uppers are so unstructured, they remind me of the upper on my cross-country flats or a racing flat or spike. In fact, the upper is apparently derived from the Saucony Endorphin LE2 racing spike, while the lug design of the outsole/midsole is based on the Saucony Jazz original (based on Saucony's marketing information).

Side view of Saucony Kinvara lower shows instep - no posting for stability (this is a shoe for "neutral" runners)

Getting healthy: Where do I start?

I think a lot of people have a difficult time knowing where to start when they decide they want to get healthy (for whatever reason). Should they go on a diet? Take some kind of pill or supplement? Have some kind of surgery? Simply eat better? Exercise (gasp)?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What type of goals do you set?

I'll admit I'm an armchair psychologist, but through my interactions with athletes the world over, thanks to the magic of the internet, it's clear that there are a range of strategies for setting performance goals for races. Some runners (the "Dreamers") seem to pick aggressive goals that are externally validated, given value by being generally desirable goals (like Boston Qualifying time in a marathon). Some (the "Realists") select goals that are just a little bit faster than they think they can go based on their training and some previous performance. Still others (the "Timid") pick very modest goals that they are very likely to be able to achieve.

Monday, July 26, 2010

One beer per mile half marathon?

Ok, I don't recommend drinking a beer per mile over a half marathon distance, but here's a humerous reality-blog that describes a guy's experience doing just that while traversing one of the San Francisco Half Marathon courses.

Would I attempt anything like this? Probably not, but this is a pretty funny read.

WARNING: adult language.

Take to the hills, runner!

Since I started running seriously again, I have heard time and again how much benefit can be reaped from running hills in my training. I've heard that after a month of hill training, a flat land runner who isn't already in peak condition might expect to see up to a 1 min/mile decrease in their cruising pace on the flats. I've heard about the strength benefits, cardiovascular benefits, and even neuromuscular benefits and improvements in stride efficiency from running downhill on gentle grades. So, did I head for the hills straight off? Of course not. Like any self-respecting procrastinator, I avoided hills like the plague. I planned routes intentionally to exclude them.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Runner's coffee-brew at room temperature

I like coffee and I like to run, but running can sometimes lead to some sloshing around of coffee in my stomach and since hot brewed coffee is pretty acidic this can lead to some minor heartburn and indigestion. In fact, I have some problems with hot brewed coffee in this regard whether running or not. I can handle a cup or two of hot brewed coffee or espresso, but more than that can give me some acid reflux.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shoe type based on visual foot assessments off the mark

If you have read some of my earlier posts on the subjects of biomechanics, feet, or shoes, you know that I suggest people pick out shoes that are -LESS- stabilizing than those recommended at running shoes and most experts based on visual assessments, and even gait analyses. Recent research indicating that certain types of common running injuries increase with increasingly supportive shoes (e.g., see here) are what drives this recommendation, but it is also supported by a recent study done by the Army.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You'll never catch me alive, cop'r!

I post all of my running and cycling workouts on dailymile, so if you follow me there you may have seen me remark about the dangers of being unaware of your surroundings while running/cycling an MP3 Player and earbuds in. I also often post descriptions of fun or interesting things I hear and see, or interactions with people or wildlife I experience along the trail. I would completely miss out on many of these things if I were to run with earbuds.  Even with low volume, they just tend to limit awareness of your surroundings, and being of Buddhist persuasion, I tend to like to be as aware as I can in each moment, even while working out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My first Bolder Boulder 10K - 2010

The Bolder Boulder is a race many runners like, but find a little expensive to participate in, and which others hate for that same reason, while others enjoy it so much the cost doesn't matter much to them. I participated in the event for the first time in 2010, and overall my experience was quite positive. Here are some notes about my impressions/experiences.

What am I running for, or perhaps from?

In a recent Predawn Runner blog post, Greg Strosaker reviews a recent article published in Runner's World about using running as an escape from some stressful life situation, and poses the question of what happens to motivation once the stressful situation has passed. This should be an interesting question for the thousands of runners who run to get a break from life's challenges, and it led me to consider why I am running these days. Is it really just that I get a lot of fulfillment out of the improvements I have seen in my health and fitness, or do I have other reasons to run as well? Am I running from something?

Self-coaching half marathon prep

I decided recently, after running a string of 5K races that I had been neglecting my aerobic base for awhile, so I registered for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon, and vowed to take some time off from all the 5K's. It was a tough choice, because I'm just fast enough in a 5K to have a chance of placing overall or in my age group in the smaller races where the speed demon's don't show up--and I do like the bling.

LSD is not a drug to runners, or is it?

The phrase "doing LSD" means something different to me these days than it did when I was half my current age. Back then, doing LSD involved elicit drugs, while nowadays it involves running long distances at a slow/easy pace. The goals of these two activities are obviously quite different, and I'm happy about that. If I ever hallucinate from and LSD (Long Slow Distance) run, I'll know I've got problems!

I bring this up because yesterday I did my longest LSD run to date-18.4 miles. For me, that was kind of a big deal, so I was also happy to note that I did it at a pace that I couldn't possibly have managed if I had tried to push myself to 18 miles a few months ago. That's progress. I had been kind of addicted to running 5K races for the first half of the year, so my training had been focused on that, but after my last one I decided to take time out from the middle distance race training to work on my aerobic base, and as an incentive I registered for a half marathon for later in the summer.

So, I've taken to 'doing LSD' now. The running kind of course, as the elicit drug would most likely not help me run a 13.1 miles. My strategy is to regularly run distances longer than 13.1 miles, so that the half marathon seems like another day at the office when race day arrives. If I can't finish, I don't want it to be because my endurance wasn't up to snuff. Well, I don't want it to "be" at all. I want to finish, and do so with what I think is a pretty decent time! But, IF I have to walk, let it be because I made the mistake of trying to run too fast rather than because I didn't have the necessary endurance.

So, I'm doing LSD on a weekly basis now, and while I don't hallucinate from it, it does result in some pretty good feelings. So, in a sense, perhaps LSD is kind of like a drug to runners? If so, I hope it does more good than harm.

Happy Runnning!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sports energy supplements in trianing

I did an informal, rather unscientific poll/survey a couple of days ago on to see how people use energy gels/drinks/bars/whatever during training runs. About half responding said they either did not use them, or used them inconsistently for long workouts. The other half selected an option that suggested they use sports energy supplements consistently on long training runs.
I used to wonder how regular supplementation during long workouts would affect pure endurance. Pure endurance depends on the efficiency of the metabolic systems that convert glycogen and fats to metabolizable sugars that can be used to make "fuel" (ATP) in our cells. When we do endurance work, we place these systems under great demand and the theory goes that our bodies adapt over time to produce more power plants and restructure muscles tissues to become more efficient at delivering the sugars to the cells and processing the sugars to ATP at the cells, so we can keep working.
If we supplement these sugars routinely, I have wondered if we aren't reducing the effective stress on energy systems caused by a given intensity of exercise and possibly reducing the training effect on our energy systems. On the other hand, using the supplements may simply allow us to increase our performance enough so that the net same level of demand for production of sugars/energy from our internal stores is required anyway, in which case, there is a net benefit of training with gels, because it adapts our bodies to also use them for some performance benefit in a race.
Personally, I use sports energy supplements inconsistently on long workouts, because I have a suspicion that I might become dependent on them for good performance. I use them often enough to get used to using them, and otherwise just run with water. But maybe it doesn't matter, or maybe there is a real net benefit of using them consistently in training, and we all could see some fitness/peformance benefits from using them regularly on long workouts?
Anyway, I'm a science nerd.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nipple Chafing or Why do men have nipples?

The other day, I went out to join my wife in a conversation with our neighbor.  I had been out on a run, and was still trying to cool down some, so I went out shirtless. The neighbor could not take his eyes off my chest, so I pridefully puffed up and strutted like a peacock, flexing my pecs with pride. You see, my neighbor is a body builder, so I figured I must be doing something right in my workouts and he was just admiring the results. Then, my wife reached over and yanked one of the bandaids off, saying "What's this?" The air we all heard rushing out at that point wasn't leaking out of my nipple, though. It was me gasping in pain.

Monday, July 12, 2010

KRFC Radio Flyer 5K - Fort Collins

Photo of me running this event made the newspaper (I'm the white singlet in the foreground on the left)

The Radio Flyer 5K is a fundraiser for a local Community-Supported radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado - KRFC 88.9 FM. This year (2010) was the first time the event was held, so it was relatively small, though I suspect it may grow in popularity a little, because it was so well organized and executed, and the post-race pancake breakfast and award's 'ceremony' hosted by Avogadro's Number was fantastic. Other sponsor's included Odell Brewing Company, which provided pint glasses as prizes for overall and age group winners, and Go West T-Shirt Company, which must obviously have had something to do with the even t-shirts. I ran the event, while my wife volunteered at the mid-point water station.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Carry some ID when you're running/riding

For the last couple of years, I've always tried to remember to carry my ID when I go out for a run, but I haven't always succeeded. So, recently when I received a $15 gift certificate for volunteering at a race organized by members of my running club, I dug through my drawer and found the $2.00 off coupon attached to a race bib from a race earlier in the year, and used both to get a really good deal on a RoadID sport wristband. I figure, this way I won't have to worry about forgetting my ID (not that I was ever particularly stressed over it). Now, I can just kick myself for forgetting to donne the Road ID!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Intervals: back to the future!

With the help of flashy marketing and cherry picked supporting studies whose results are extrapolated a little beyond reason, a handful of cross-training systems have come to the forefront of fitness recently. Is this a major problem? Nah, not really. These things help people get healthy and fit, and they can result in significant changes in the body over a relatively short time. That's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I love the track for intervals and tempo runs

I hear a lot of subtle complaints from long distance runners about speed work and tempo runs, particularly when they are done on the track. I'm not sure why this is. I only recently started running on a track again, using it for interval sets and tempo runs, and I really enjoy it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Firekracker 5K - Volunteer

Because I've run a fair number of 5K's recently, I've been trying to back off on them so I could run some more moderate-pace miles to work on my aerobic base. So, I had a choice to run today's Firekracker 5K, or next week's KRFC Radio Flyer 5K Race. I chose the latter because my spouse (Cele) is a volunteer for the KRFC radio station and will be working the water station at mile 2. Plus, the Firekracker is a fundraiser held by my running club (Fort Collins Running Club), and it's a good opportunity to volunteer at an event. Some people both volunteer AND run, but I just wanted to volunteer.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt

Runner's have a range of attitudes about the shirts you get for registering for races, and these attitudes say something about how seriously many runner's take finishing what they start, or how disappointing it can be to train hard for an event and then fail to finish (or even start in some cases).

Being a running race spectator

I've decided to be a spectator in some events, since the cost of running all of them is prohibitive on my budget. So far I've been a spectator at The Colorado Marathon and the Lifestyle Centre 5K, and I've taken photos as both. Better than being a spectator, I suppose, is actually volunteering to help with the event, and I'm looking ahead to events I will be able to volunteer at.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Why worry about running form?

This is a very good question, and I guess if you never have problems with overuse injuries or syndromes, you are well-justified in not being concerned. For the rest of us, however--those of us who experience patellofemoral pain syndrome (PPS), iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), plantar fasciitis (PF), or tendinitis around hips, knee or ankle joints--there is some wisdom in asking whether we are doing this running thing correctly.

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