Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What Happens When You Take Time Off From Running?

Physiological effects of 2-4 weeks of detraining

VO2 max: down 4-10%
Blood volume: down 5-10%
Heart rate: up 5-10%
Stroke volume: down 6-12%
Flexibility: Decreases
Lactate threshold: Decreases
Muscle glycogen levels: down 20-30%
Aerobic enzyme activity: Decreases
Running economy: Unchanged

-Pete Pfitzinger

MY COMMENT: According to Pfitzinger, "most elements of your fitness go down at about the same rate at which they go up."

My theory, based on personal experience, is that after 3 or so days off, you need 3 days of training for every additional day you miss before regaining your original level of fitness. In other words, miss 10 days and you'll be back to normal in about 3 weeks.

A Long Lost Training Partner is Found!

I recently reconnected with Sean Dunlap, an old training partner from my days in Okinawa. In those days, Sean was an enlisted airman with a beautiful running style and decent speed that made me jealous. Looks like nowadays he has changed gears by moving up to some very serious long stuff.

Not only is Sean a good runner, as you'll see by reading incleanair he is also a very talented, entertaining writer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moving to South Korea!

Tomorrow I head off to S. Korea to do health promotion for the US Army. I've been there once before- I raced the DMZ half marathon in 2005 or so. I have to say of every place I've lived, Sequim Washington has been my favorite place to train- the combination of moderate climate and soft wooded trails has me completely spoiled. I will miss it dearly.

I jogged 3 miles in the woods today one last time- and my hamstring seemed to hold up. Maybe this time off for travel is just what I need to get healthy. I'll keep you posted!

Check out the running club at seoulflyers.com.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Racing and Ibuprofen

Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories. The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream. -nytimes

MY COMMENT: Clearly ibuprofen intake prior to and during marathons and ultras poses some serious health risks and no benefit in terms of reducing inflammation or pain (this study looked at Western States 100 competitors).

Some general rules on taking ibuprofen are:

1. Do not take ibuprofen before, during, or shortly after lengthy endurance exercise, especially when there is potential for dehydration.

2. Take ibuprofen with a full glass of water or milk, ideally with meals to avoid stomach irritation.

3. Do not combine ibuprofen with alcohol.

4. Do not take in combination with other medicines, supplements, or herbal products without first consulting with your physician or pharmacist.

5. Avoid if you have a history of any reaction or allergy from another anti-inflammatory medication.

6. Discontinue use immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms: urine that is cloudy or bloody, pain or burning in the stomach, diarrhea or black tarry stools, severe nausea, indigestion or heartburn, vomiting blood.

7. Do not use if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

8. Talk to your doctor first if you have high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease, heart failure, ulcers or other stomach problems.

-Iburpofen- Friend of Foe (article I wrote a few years ago)

Running Without Shoes-Comparison

Watch the dramatic change in running style with and without shoes in the same runner! Some believe this is just one of many factors contributing to the dominance of African distance runners, many of whom reportedly do lots of barefoot running as youngsters.

Before you go off and try to convert to a mid or forefoot strker, read what The Science of Sport has to say.

Why would you want to change your foot landing to begin with? Science has little to offer you in support of this. And so my advice, having read this far (well done!), is to forget about the possibility that you're landing "wrongly", and just let your feet land where, and how they land, and worry about all the other things you can when you run!

If there is one thing you change in your running, don't focus on your footstrike, but rather on WHERE your feet land relative to your body

Frank Shorter Interview- 1980s

Entertaining 1980s interview with Olympic gold medal winner Frank Shorter as biomechanics expert Gideon Ariel analyzes Frank's running form. I like the point he made about the disadvantage of excessive head movement. Frank also points out the knowledge gap that existed in those days between research and runners.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Training Update

The news is not good. I've been trying to jog with this hamstring problem and realized that I am probably doing more harm than good. It's not getting any better and admittedly feels worse afterward. Against my better judgement, I jogged the 5K fun run last night but am paying for that now. I am shutting down the running until I feel it's completely healed.

The Myrtl Strength Routine for Runners

This is a nice exercise routine for runners by Jay Johnson. The focus is on improving general core strength in addition to hip range of motion, something that could benefit all runners, especially those who are over 40.

Running Times: Part 1 from CoachJayJohnson on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ryan Hall Runs "slightly uphill" Mile 13 in 4:27 For The Win

Ryan Hall's final race prior to the 2009 ING New York City marathon was a successful won as hammered the final 1.1 miles to break away from three Kenyan competitors and win the ING Philadelphia Distance run in 61:52. letsrun.com

1. Ryan Hall 1:01:52
2. Samuel Ndereba 1:01:57
3. Benjamin Limo 1:02:02
4. Valentine Orare 1:02:22
5. Mike Sayenko 1:05:05
6. Josh Cox 1:05:10
7. Andrew Dumm 1:05:42
8. Lee Troop 1:05:43
9. Joel Mwaura 1:05:48

Geb Hits "The Wall" But Still Wins Berlin

Great analysis of Geb's world record attempt at The Science of Sport. 15:57 for the last 5K (his 5K splits between 25K and 35K were 4:35 each!) 2:06:08 was the winning time.

The Economics of Big City Marathons

SEATTLE - (September 9, 2009) - The summer's inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon, a signature event in partnership with Seafair, produced an economic impact of $30.8 million, according to a third party study conducted by San Diego State University (SDSU) study.

Visiting runners alone brought over $18.9 million in direct spending from outside the region, including expenditures on food, travel, lodging and entertainment -runningusa

MY COMMENT: Very impressive for a sport that doesn't include touchdowns or home runs. Can we run our way out of a recession?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

10 x 800 Interval Workout - Ryan Hall

Olympics Day 16 - Athletics

Ryan Hall leads the workout- 10 x 800 meters with 60 seconds recovery- at 7,700' elevation! Forgetting the corny warm-up drills, this is a workout that I've been doing the last several years and consider an essential component of marathon training- right up there with long runs. Watch a video of Ryan's workout on flotrack.

By the way, what is Josh Cox training for next anyway? Another guy that seldom races.

High School Cross Country Individual Rankings


Check out the top 25 high school cross country runners in the US- according to www.dyestat.com. Then get out and watch a meet! High school cross country, in most if not all areas of the country, could use all the support it can get. Dyestat is the place on the web to follow high school cross country, regionally and nationally. You'll be amazed at the level of young talent out there!

boys rankings

girls rankings

Friday, September 18, 2009

2 Fastest Marathons of All Time Go Head to Head in Berlin This Weekend!

Great City Games

Marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (2:03:59) is facing a stiff challenge Sunday in Berlin. Not only will Gebrelassie be attempting to break his record once again, he'll be facing Kenyan Duncan Kibet, who has run the 2nd fastest marathon all-time with his 2:04:27 at Rotterdam.

Gebrselassie thinks that he can at least slice off another 30 seconds from
his present marathon record. "If everything fits together perfectly then
may be even 2:02:59 would be possible," says the Ethiopian, who is going
for a record fourth consecutive victory at the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON

You can watch this one live at universalsports.com starting at 2:50 am EST.

ING Philadelphia Distance Classic

This half marathon is shaping up to be a very good one that I'll want to watch. American record holder Ryan Hall (59:43), who only races 4 or 5 times a year, will get an opportunity to gauge his fitness leading up to the New York Marathon. A couple of other guys I'll be interested to watch:

Simon Bairu
, who is making his half marathon debut. As a Wisconsin Badger, Bairu was a 2 time NCAA cross country champion, and currently trains with "the Schumacher group" in Portland. He is also racing in New York.

Josh Rohatinsky, also an NCAA cross country champion for Brigham Young (coached by Ed Eyestone). I saw Rohatinsky racing quite a bit last year during the indoor season, clearly attempting to improve his speed over shorter distances. Rohatinsky got 9th in the US Olympic Trials marathon and 7th in the 2008 New York Marathon. He is also a member of the Nike "Schumacher group".

You can watch a podcast live at competitor.com. The race kicks off Sunday at 7:35 am EST.

Running With Injury

When can you run with an injury? You can sum up the answer to that question with the following: Listen to your body!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I developed some kind of hamstring strain on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I could tell there was no way that I could run, but the bike felt ok. Today, I went out for a very slow 50 minutes- and I mean not much faster than brisk walking.

I can feel discomfort with every step, however it didn't feel any worse the longer I went and I wasn't favoring it or limping. Unless it feels worse tomorrow, I will try to extend the distance. One fact is clear: it will be several days before I think about pushing the pace or any kind of interval workout.

I've always felt that complete rest until all symptoms or levels of discomfort are gone is not necessary, especially when soft tissue injury is involved. You do what you can, even it means walking, and then add cross training. Go for time and forget distance. The longer the better.

When should you NOT run?
- in the presence of sharp, uncomfortable pain
- when significant swelling is present
- when pain causes limping
- when pain becomes worse during or following a run

Icing the area afterward is also a good idea.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I've had tightness in my right hamstring for years. It's something that I just learned to live and run with. No pain, just tightness that on occasion feels tight enough that it throws off my bio mechanics on that side during hard running.

Recently I decided to attempt some electrical stimulation, heat, and stretching to loosen it up. Last night I had to shut down just short of 2 miles during a 5K time trial due to hamstring pain. It is still bothering me today but I was able to get in a 90 minute bike.

I don't think it's anything serious, but you never know. I probably overdid the stretching and have some micro tears in the muscle. I'll see how it feels tomorrow, but realistically I hope to be back running by Friday. The lesson? Don't do anything too extreme when it comes to stretching! Work into it gradually and don't force.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running Shoes Under $50

Today I decided it was time to order some new running shoes. Sticking to my policy of not paying more than $50, I eventually ordered 2 pair from Amazon- one for racing and one for training.

Men's Adidas Supernova CHS 7- $37.76

.... Brooks Mach 9 Spikeless -$34.95-

I also ordered a 3 pack of New Balance socks for $12

Training Update

Monday Sept 14: easy 30 min jog followed by 8 x 75 meter strides. I've been making it a point to include these strides on a regular basis on easy days. I stop before stressing my anaerobic system- advice from Arthur Lydiard. Tomorrow is the weekly 5K time trial.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Marathon Collapse Point Theory

I've been in the sport for a long time, and over the years have collected a substantial library of books about running and training.

Recently, I took at look at one called 1975 Marathon Handbook, which believe it or not includes a U.S. list of all sub-3 hour marathoners in 1974.

The 1975 Handbook includes an article that describes Ken Young's "Collapse Point Theory", which goes like this:

Training mileage over the previous 6-8 weeks sets the limit of how far one can hold a fast pace. That limit is about 3 times the daily average. After that point, the pace slows dramatically, and the runner may even have to stop.

In other words, a runner that averages 9 miles a day for 6-8 weeks has a collapse point of 27 miles.

Supporting the theory is a look at the old Oregon's Trail's End Marathon by researcher Paul Slovic. Generally, here is what he found:

1. Sub 3 hour runners averaged 9 miles a day
2. 3 to 3:30 hour runners averaged 6 miles a day
3. 3:31 to 4 hour runners averaged 5 miles a day
4. 4:01 and up runners averaged 4 miles a day

Further analysis showed that the average pace of Group One dropped 14% in the last 6 miles. Group Two slowed 22%, Group Three slowed 37%, and Group Four slowed down by 58% after the 20 mile mark.

Here is another way to look at it- if you average 40-50 miles a week, your collapse point will occur between 18-20 miles. You'll finish, but you are also likely to experience a significant slowdown the last 6 miles.

Clearly talent, pace, the number and length of long runs, environmental conditions, the course, and other factors play a role, but I wouldn't be surprised if this 70s Collapse Point Theory still applies to most marathon finishers today.

Training Update- Long Run

Sat Sept 13: Went for an easy run and discovered my legs were totally wiped out from yesterday's intervals. Barely made it 25 minutes. Went for an hour on the bike instead and felt wonderful!

Sun Sept 14:
12 miles in 90 minutes on pavement. Another long run off the trails. I plan to increase this gradually.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If You Think You Need Electrolytes- READ THIS!

1.Sweating causes some sodium loss, but because the sodium content of sweat is so low relative to body fluids, your sodium concentration will rise. And it is the concentration that is important, since this controls fluid shifts in the body. It is NOT possible, even for a "salty sweater" like Randy in these scenarios, to LOSE sodium through sweat.

2.Rather, we have demonstrated that the only possibly theoretical way that the sodium level can fall is if Randy drinks too much. If he drinks more than he sweats, then he will really be in a lot of troube. For example, if Randy took Gatorade's earlier advice and drank 40 Oz per hour (1.2 L), then his sodium levels would fall to 125mM

Anybody considering a marathon or beyond should read this interesting post on fluid and electrolyte replacement. Take the time to read through the facinating debate on this subject that follows. The Science of Sport

There are companies out there now (Enlyten, Ultima Replinisher) that market electrolyte replacement as essential for optimal performance, even more so than carbohydrate (which is absurd!)

Training Update 12 x 400

I went back to the 400s- a little easier on the body than those grueling 800s, and I wanted to work on turnover and biomechanics of running faster again. No expectations on times. I looked back at the 400s I did on July 23. I felt some tenderness in my right hamstring. Remember, these 400s are on the Oly Discovery Trail and a little short- you can do that once you are over 50!

Sept 12.....July 23


Friday, September 11, 2009

Hamstring Exercise for Runners

Last year I posted a youtube clip of a good exercise to increase hamstring eccentric strength.

I found another great clip using the Bosu Ball that takes this exerise one step further-using those hamstrings to bring yourself back up to the starting position- this woman (Ooos- second look and it appears to be a guy!) makes it look so easy!

I'd be doing this but just haven't figured out a way to anchor my feet.

Training Update- Sept 10

Today I did something I haven't done in months- a 10 miler on the roads! Nearly the entire summer, other than a handful of interval workouts, I have done every single run on trails. There is a huge difference- on the roads I probably average a min per mile faster at a similar heart rate.

This will take some time to get used to- ideally you should mix up your workouts so you get some of both. I also noticed today that my bum hamstring (I've had a right hamstring issue for years) was extremely tight today- I assume this is due to yesterday's bike ride.

Cereal and Milk After Your Workout

Walter Payton on Wheaties Box

Looking for a good post run snack? Researchers say a bowl of whole grain cereal and milk recharged muscles just as good as sports drinks, calling it a better option for amateur athletes than pricey drinks, but here’s the catch.

The study was sponsored by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition
-international society of sports nutrition

MY COMMENT: Makes sense to me. Protein and carbs in approximately a 1:4 ratio.

Avoid the Flu!

The last thing you need in the middle of your preparation for a big race is illness. Below you'll find recommendations from the CDC on Handwashing

When washing hands with soap and water:

Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.

Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.

Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice through to a friend!

Rinse hands well under running water

Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet

Remember: If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based gel to clean hands.

When using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

Apply product to the palm of one hand
Rub hands together
Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.

Deadly Drug-Resistant Staph Infections On The Rise In U.S

When should you wash your hands?

Before preparing or eating food
After going to the bathroom
After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom
Before and after tending to someone who is sick
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After handling an animal or animal waste
After handling garbage
Before and after treating a cut or wound

Keep your immune system strong by getting plenty of sleep, eat healthy (think vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein), limit alcohol and caffeine, and take a potent antioxidant supplement. Make sure you allow adequate recovery following a particularly hard or long workout.

The Cycling Alternative

(that's me in the Izena Triathlon, Okinawa Japan)

Today was one of those days I just did not feel like running- so I took out the bike for 15 miles or so, forcing the pace a few times just to give my legs and aerobic system a little workout. Cycling is a great complement to running- in fact if you are so inclined it wouldn't be a bad idea to bike and run an equal number of miles on a weekly basis. You should be able to do that comfortably on 2 rides a week- 40 miles running, and 2 x 20 mile bike rides. I think you'll find that after a few weeks your legs will feel fresher on your runs than when you ran daily.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday 5K Fun Run

Not real pleased with the way I ran tonight but not surprised. I have to work so hard these days to run sub 6 minute miles- my splits were 6:05, 6:00, 6:04 finishing in 18:48. I'll try to get back under 6 in the next couple of weeks- I think 800 meter 2 or 3 interval sessions will do it.

The Elger Archives- Golden Fun Days Half Marathon- (1977?)

This was a good race for me- as I recall there were some hills on this course.

Shawn Flanagan (2nd) was WI State University conference champ in the 6 mile run in 1975 & 1977 (I won in 1976) running 29:58 by himself in 1975. I never beat him in college.

Shawn is now coaching at Texas A&M Corpus Christi

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recovery from Workouts and Races

What should you do for recovery between hard workouts and races? The science behind routine easy days is sketchy, so here are my thoughts based on personal experience.

NO ACTIVITY: Complete rest is a good idea following something as strenuous as a marathon, or even a half if you have severe leg soreness. I usually wait up to 5-6 days before resuming normal activity, although there is nothing wrong with some easy cycling or swimming.

EASY 30 MIN: Pretty standard the day following up a hard workout or the day prior to a race. If it's pre-race, throw in 4-6 race pace strides after you finish.

Depends on your level of fitness, but some runners can use a longer easy day and still perform a hard interval or tempo session the following day. It's trial and error on what you can get away with. I would not use this before a race, however.

EASY 10 MIN/ 1 x 800 meter hard / EASY 10 min: I've used this prior to my last few marathons. Here is why.

CROSS TRAIN: I would bike or swim the day before or following long run workouts, but not before races. You could do some higher intensity work such as hills or a spin class or just go easy.

EASY 10 MIN/ 3-5 MIN RACE PACE / EASY 10 MIN: I have no reason to believe this works other than giving you peace of mind and a final reminder what race pace feels like. The shorter your race, the faster your pace on this for a shorter distance.

Training Update Sept 6

I did 2 hours of easy running on the trails, only the last 30 minute loop wasn't so easy. This the day following a hard 4 x 800s workout so I've gone from one extreme to the other.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Joe Newton and York High School Cross Country

The Long Green Line Movie Trailer from legendsoflala on Vimeo.

Order your copy of The Long Green Line here today!

York High School has won 24 state cross county titles under legendary coach Joe Newton.

Kids don’t care if you are an Olympic runner, the world’s greatest man, the strongest man in the world, or if you’ve got four PhD’s in exercise physiology. They don’t want to hear it until they find out that you care about them. Once they find out that you care about them, they will do anything for you. That is the secret
-Joe Newton (dyestat.com) The Dyestat interview is A MUST READ FOR HIGH SCHOOL COACHES AND ATHLETES!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Training Update- 4 x 800

Sept 5.....Aug 21.....Aug 6.....Apr 16


It's been too long since my last real interval session (2 weeks) so I knew going in I would be a little flat today. I took extra rest (3 full minutes) and was pretty wiped out after just 4. Looking forward to a long run tomorrow.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Run Less Run Faster- With PowerCranks!!!

I'm always looking for an edge when it comes to running faster- and recently stumbled onto PowerCranks. What are they? PowerCranks, which can be installed on any bicycle, allow the rider independent use of each pedal (see video)

“if I had used these when I was racing I would have won a lot more time trials in my career” -Greg LeMond

Go here for another video PowerCranks.

Not cheap (they cost as much or more than a good spin bike), but PowerCranks look interesting. In the meantime, I guess one legged pedaling drills would be closest to the real thing.

Matt Tegenkamp Runs 12:58!

Imagine 2 Americans dipping under 13 minutes in the span a week? Other Americans who ran well in Brussels include Anna Willard who won the 800 meters in 1:59.14 and Daniel Huling who turned in a huge PR in the 3000 steeple to take 4th in 8:14. Full results.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Will Solinsky or Tegenkamp Run Sub-13?

Has Dathan Ritzenhein awakened the Americans? Or maybe Jerry Schumacher is beginning to figure out that his athletes won't run fast if all they do is train then sit home and watch races on TV.

I'm mildly surprised that Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp are entered in the 5,000 meter run at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme - ÅF Golden League track meet in Brussels. World record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia is in the race along with 15 Kenyans. (Solinsky on Twitter- Big night tomorrow night. Race time 2:25pm central time catch it on www.universalsports.com. Great field, fitness, lets go get it done!!)

Unfortunately, according to the IAAF website, rain clouds are threatening and temperatures are dropping.

You can watch the meet live at universalsports.com starting at 1:50 pm EST today. World record holder Usain Bolt is running the 200 meters, with Tyson Gay in the 100. Nick Symmonds is in the 800. The US also has a team entered in the rarely run 4 x 1500 meter relay. Apparently teams are gunning for the world record of 14:38.8 set by Germany way back in 1977. On the women's side, American Maggie Vessey will be attempting to bounce back following her poor showing at the World Championships in the 800. Anna Willard, who recently broke 4:00 in the 1500 is also entered.

The Hard Easy Principle

Runners are generally aware of the hard easy principle- you reap the rewards of hard workouts by allowing your body to recover and rebuild to a higher level of fitness.

What about recovery? Should you take complete rest and not run at all? Is there any benefit to easy running? How fast or slow should your recovery runs be?

Opinions on this topic vary- check out this interesting thread on the letsrun.com message board.

My two cents on the subject? Here is the post I submitted to letsrun.

Very good discussion here- clearly there are many variations you can apply to the hard easy principle, and it won't be the same for every runner. The key I think may be to evaluate your method of recovery by focusing on your key workouts (intervals, tempo runs, or races). It is there is where you will be able to tell immediately whether or not your recovery runs are too fast or too long. Another twist to consider- not everybody responds to high miles or might be injury prone- if you are one of those then hitting the bike on recovery days after particularly hard workouts is not a bad idea. I think you'll find triathetes in agreement that to some extent cycling can improve running (Ed Eystone has done some decent research on the benefits of cross training). I like to take a mountain bike and find a hill someplace- 2-3 minute climb, and do repeats. Your running muscles get to recover while you can still give your aerobic/anaerobic system a decent workout. I've also heard of ancedotal evidence of spinning classes improving running performance. You can also use other forms of cross training-
You may have read about Lukas Verzbicas- the freshman from Illinois that ran 14:18 for 5K indoors and 8:53 for 2 miles-his primary sport
is triathlon.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nice Website for Masters Runners- Get Ranked!

I found this website (Younger Legs for Older Runners) that allows you to input your best times at various distances and get ranked by age! You'll also find that it automatically calculates your age graded score. Interesting that I put in 2 races- the Napa Valley Marathon and 12K Rhody Run. My age graded score on each was 83%.