Sunday, February 27, 2011

Colorado Marathon 2011: Training Week 6&7 Summary

Not much to report really. I'm completely off schedule now, due to some chronic tendinitis in my left posterior tibialis. I'm quite frustrated by it, but I have no choice but to rest it, cross train, strength train, and do short test runs now and then to see where I'm at.  So far...  I haven't seen any improvement in two weeks, even with a round of Prednisone and a full round of NSAID treatment combined with Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE).  The NSAIDS and compression seem to help quite a bit, but they are the only things that seem to help.

So....  Not much to report, as I said. I hope to ease back into training and still be position to finish the marathon, but I'll need to wait until I can train without the resulting pain and inflammation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dailymile Team 2011!

During approximately one week in early February, the members of the dailymile community cast up to five votes each (those who voted at least), for a subset of 83 (I think) candidates who submitted video applications to become part of the Dailymile Team. The votes were tallied, and I am pleased that I was among the 30 top vote getters, and so I will be participating in community-building as a member of the dailymile team. I'll also likely contribute in other ways, if I'm allowed. I'm just very pleased to be able to give back something extra to an online community that helped sustain my health and fitness through motivating comments and inspirational stories, and by making me accountable to myself and in a small way to the many friends I've found through the sites unique blend of social networking and fitness journaling.

Come see what I'm talking about. Join dailymile today and start logging your workouts. Before you know it, you'll begin receiving motivational and supportive comments from a range of people you'll quickly come to appreciate. You have to find the motivation within yourself to get out and do your workouts each day, but it's sure a lot easier when you have the support of so many.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Muscles: it's not just their strength, but how you use them

Running form Dec 2009 - one good step among many worseI have said to many people, that core strengthening the core muscles is key to improving on some of the biomechanical problems people have that contribute to a variety of overuse injuries in the knees, ankles, and feet. I usually also tell the same people that neuromuscular coordination is also key. This all sounds great, but the fact is it's much easier to strengthen the core muscles, those that stabilize the trunk hips and upper legs, than to train your brain to fire them with the right force and coordination to really make changes in lower leg biomechanics. In fact, there is no obvious way to work on neuromuscular coordination for the average person, other than to simply practice learning to sense the position and of different parts of the body, and which muscles are engaged at each stage of each movement - not a very easy skill to learn, really.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Posterior tibialis tendinitis

Have you ever had pain right at the instep and at the bony protrusion on the inner side of your ankle when walking or running?  If so, you might have had a strain of the posterior tibialis tendon. If the pain spreads up the back of your leg, but isn't in your achilles, the posterior tibialis muscle itself could be involved as well. That's what has happened to me recently.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Colorado Marathon 2011: Training Week 5 Summary

Week 5 of my Colorado Marathon 2011 training (week 6 of the Pfitzinger/Douglas 18 week 55-70 mi/wk plan) was supposed to be a "recovery week" in which mileage and training intensity was reduced from the previous couple of weeks. It started out badly, however, with a cold snap and some slippery conditions on the first run of the which, which I did Monday, because the temperatures were supposed to be coldest on Tuesday. Since it was a recovery week, I was going to do a recovery run on Monday, bag the Tuesday general aerobic miles, move the 10 X 100 m strides scheduled that day to the next recovery run, and just make sure to hit the two medium-long runs for the week, and do recovery runs on the in-between days.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sometimes we cling to things because... well, who knows why?

Have you ever noticed how many people take advice so much to heart and trust the source so much, that they will continue to follow the advice despite strong evidence that it isn't any good?

I've noticed that about quite a few things. Lots of natural supplements make quasi-scientifically based claims about what this or that supplement or herb will do for you. A friend of mine has some struggles with anxiety. I've been there. Anxiety has been a major problem in my life at different times, so I know how desperately she wanted to find a solution.

Of course, she wasn't willing to try any of the solutions that real scientific research has shown to be effective (yes, there are some and they include pharmaceutical agents, mindfulness meditation, and exercise). She claimed pharmaceutical agents do more for the pharmaceutical company than you, and because they aren't from natural sources they must be harmful (Yes, I pointed out that lots of natural chemicals are actually quite harmful, even poisonous), and she just didn't have time to meditate or exercise.

What she did do was follow the advice of a supposed expert (a chiropractor), who had her taking some phytochemical substances that are marketed as effective treatments for her problems. Meanwhile, she clearly still suffered from the problems and just saw that as just further evidence she needed the substance, so she kept paying the chiropractor for the stuff, and kept being anxious, getting only an occasional placebo effect for a little while after she took it (maybe). Maybe the placebo effect is enough to satisfy some folks, but in my view, if a biochemical effect is being claimed, there should be one.

Another woman, was taking a substance that was supposed to prevent breast cancer, which runs in her family. It was said that this substance would practically eliminate her risk of cancer... What happened? She was diagnosed with breast cancer after taking the stuff for two years. What was her response? Oh, she should have been taking much more of the stuff!

My point? Most claims made about substances marketed as nutraceuticals or supplements or herbal remedies have little to now effect when they are really put to the test. Those who want to believe the conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies and physicians being in bed together and endangering their health with drugs, but fail to see the conspiracy in efforts to separate them from their dollars by selling them ineffective treatments based on quasi-scientific "clinical studies," that actually qualify neither as clinical or study, will likely go on believing what they want, despite the evidence.

That first friend's chiropractor...  Well, he makes money for selling the supplements he sells in his practice. He even receives gifts from the companies he buys them from because he's such a good customer for them.  The same thing happens with physicians and drug companies, to be sure, but honestly... I don't see a difference. Both are trying to sell chemicals to treat problems that can probably best be prevented by ordinary, healthy living (in the mental and physical senses).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reflections on VO2 Max, Lactate Threshold, Goals, and Priorities

Running by Coolidge Corner

Lately, I have not been at a loss for things to write, but unfortunately, I have found myself spiraling more and more into highly technical topics, so I have been reluctant to post things on the blog. Most of what has been on my mind is physiology. As many of you may know, I have advanced training as an animal physiologist, and I spent quite a few years of my life conducting physiological research. In one way or another, most of that research was related to energetics, and a good chunk to aspects of energetics and locomotion in small mammals. I wouldn't say that makes me an expert on running or human exercise science, per se, but metabolically speaking the energetics of running in a mouse or rat are pretty similar to that of humans. so I have some familiarity with the concepts and jargon that help me sift through all the stuff one can find on VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold and various other things we're all told we have to improve in order to run our fastest.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dailymiler of the week

I was flattered to be selected as this week's Dailymiler of the week for the dailymile online community. It was fun to anticipate the questions and then sit down and think about the answers, and fun to see the general vibe of support from other community members. I know there are a lot of others out there who are worthy of the honor, and I am fortunate to have been selected this time. I'm looking forward to finding out who's next. Looking for the Dailymiler of the week post every week is a great new way to find another potential friend to network with.

A couple of side notes about this week. After putting nearly 700 miles now on my first pair of Saucony ProGrid Kivara shoes, I've finally ordered another pair. The shoes have been great for me, so I'm sticking with the model for now. I'm also working on getting a pair of GoLite Flash Lite shoes for trail running. These latter shoes are of interest to me because they are one of just a handful of zero-drop (no difference in heel and forefoot thickness) running shoes currently available, and because I wore out my last pair of trail runners a loooong time ago, and it's about time I got back into some and hit the trails for some longer runs than my Saucony Kilkenny XC flats are comfortable for!

Plus, the GoLite shoes will give me a chance to finally review another pair of shoes for the blog...  Bonus...

That's not all of the fun news from this week, however. I also submitted an application to become a member of the dailymile team earlier today. The application consistent of a short written description and a video. I've had a lot of fun with dailymile and feel I've gotten a lot out of being involved in the dailymile community, so hopefully, I'll get enough votes to make the team.  Voting runs from February 8-15, and I'll know if I made the team sometime on February 16.

... AND, after having picked up loads of blueberries at an awesome price last week, I have enough blueberries now to enjoy scones and muffins and all sorts of blueberry superfood goodness for the next week or so.  :)  Good stuff.

Colorado Marathon 2011: Training Week 4 Summary

Well, week four on the Pfitzinger/Douglas 18-week, 55-70 mile/week training plan is behind me (actually week 5 of the plan, since I started on the second week), and I feel like it was a pretty spectacular week. I thought with the highest mileage load to date in the plan, I'd have a really hard time with completing all of the workouts, but in the end, I just went out each day, and did what was on the schedule.

the week started with a 9 mile run with 5 miles at lactate threshold, which turned out to be a steady 6:50 pace, followed the next day by a 14 mile Medium-Long run that went quite well, then a 5 mile recovery run, a 12 mile MLR that went swimmingly, another 5 mile recovery run, then ann 18 miles long run with 10 miles at Marathon race pace.

This last workout I was sure would kill me, but in the end, I just kept running until it was done. I planned the 10 miles at Marathon Pace to be mostly downhill, although the terrain was rolling, in an attempt to emulate the downhill that I'll experience over most of the Colorado Marathon Course. It turned out to be the fastest 10 miles I've ever run, with an average pace of 7:14 (surprise, surprise).  Of course, I realize if I will have any chance of averaging something around 7:30 over 26.2 miles on race day, I will need to be a little faster than 7:30 on the downhills, so I saw the 7:14 average as pretty promising.

As far as what those 10 miles felt like...  I would never have thought that I was running them that fast. I was just running steady and cruising the miles out. No hard push up to lactate threshold or anything like that. Just a good solid, gradual downhill run.

It was a good lead into this week, which is a "recovery" week on the schedule. Lower mileage and lower overall intensity programmed into the workouts. I'll summarize my experience of this week once it's over.

Cheers all!

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