Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's Your Racing Weight?

As a follow-up to Weber-Gale's AthleticFoodie company, I stumble onto a new book by Matt Fitzgerald called Racing Weight: How to Get Lean For Peak Performance.

From what I read on amazon's "look inside" feature, this is a worthwhile read even if you aren't battling those last couple of pounds.

I also checked out Fitzgerald's website, and found it loaded with great information.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recipes by Garrett Weber-Gale

Garrett Weber-Gale is a Wisconsin born swimmer that won 2 gold medals in the Bejing Olympics in the 4x100 meter relay and the 4x100 medley. He is the first American to break 48 seconds in the 100 meter free style and the American record holder in the 50 meter.

Olympics Day 3 - Swimming

It turns out that he has another passion- cooking and nutrition. Weber-
Gale has founded a company called AthleticFoodie .

Great idea!- nutrition may be the most underrated and ignored component of any athlete's pursuit of excellence, whether it be running, swimming, or other sport (see this post on mile American record holder Alan Webb's diet, a runner who went into slump and did not even make the US Olympic team). If you are a runner having trouble coming up with ideas for dinner, check it out!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Spontaneous Pacing during Overground Hill Running

Abstract (Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise)

Purpose: To investigate speed regulation during overground running on undulating terrain

This study analyzed runners as they traversed over a course that included uphill, downhill, and level sections.

Results: Participants ran 23% slower on uphills and 13.8% faster on downhills compared with level sections. Speeds on level sections were significantly different for 78.4 ± 7.0 s following an uphill and 23.6 ± 2.2 s following a downhill. Speed changes were primarily regulated by stride length, which was 20.5% shorter uphill and 16.2% longer downhill, whereas stride frequency was relatively stable. Oxygen consumption averaged 100.4% of runner's individual ventilatory thresholds on uphills, 78.9% on downhills, and 89.3% on level sections. Approximately 89% of group-level speed was predicted using a modified gradient factor. Individuals adopted distinct pacing strategies, both across laps and as a function of gradient.

Conclusions: Speed was best predicted using a weighted factor to account for prior and current gradients. Oxygen consumption (V˙O2) limited runner's speeds only on uphill sections and was maintained in line with individual ventilatory thresholds. Running speed showed larger individual variation on downhill sections, whereas speed on the level was systematically influenced by the preceding gradient. Runners who varied their pace more as a function of gradient showed a more consistent level of oxygen consumption. These results suggest that optimizing time on the level sections after hills offers the greatest potential to minimize overall time when running over undulating terrain.

MY COMMENT: I can't imagine why or how they even came up with this design. I guess the conclusion is this: run your hardest on the flat portion AFTER the hills.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Heavy Squats May Help Your Run

What would you say to a training technique that resulted in a 5% improvement in running economy and an eye popping 21.3% improvement in time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed in as little as 8 weeks?

That's the results reported in a study published in the June 2008 issue of the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise (Maximal Strength Training Improves Running Economy in Distance Runners)

Subjects in the study (well trained distance runners) were asked to perform half squats, lifting 4 sets of 4 repetitions maximum. In other words, the weight they were using was so heavy they could only do 4 at a time.

While I still favor lighter resistance and more reps for distance runners, the results here are indeed intriguing.

Jenny Crain Update

"Jenny," says Anne Marie Letko, who ran against Crain in the Olympic Trials and finished 10th in the marathon in the 1996 Games, "emanates a sense of being alive in the moment."

I'm still deeply moved when I read something about Jenny since her terrible accident in 2007. With a marathon PR of 2:37:04, Crain had her sights set on the 2008 Olympic trials when she was struk by a car on a routine training run near her home on the east side of Milwaukee.

Suffering serious brain damage, she now struggles to walk 50 feet. Read the article linked above that was recently published in Runners World, and next time you go for a run, think of Jenny Crain.

You can make a contribution to the Jenny Crain- Make It Happen Fund , with proceeds going toward Jenny's care.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How do You Convert Minutes per Mile to Miles per Hour?

7 minutes per mile divided into 60 = 8.57

.57 x 60= 34 seconds, so 7 minute miles is 8:34 per mile

min/mile............miles per hour


There is a handy chart at FunFitnessSolutions that also gives you an equivelent pace by incline on a treadmill.

Remember, you have no wind resistance on a treadmill so the energy cost is less than running outside. According to this chart, you need to elevate the treadmill to about 1% at running speeds in order to equal the same speed outside.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chris Chataway was a Smoker!

"What didn’t help was the fact I smoked. During the season, when I was competing, I cut down to seven cigarettes a day — but I spent a large part of the day thinking about nicotine and how long it was until the next one. Harold Abrahams, “Mr Athletics”, wrote me a letter saying: “Once you have given up [running] you have the rest of your life in which you can smoke.” -Chris Chataway (


Chataway set a world record for 5,000 meters in 1955 with a 13:51, but he is perhaps better known as one of Roger Bannister's pacers on May 6, 1954 when Bannister became the first to break the 4 minute barrier for one mile.

MY COMMENT: Unbelievable! I am very curious if he smoked at all on race day, and also how good he may have been had he not smoked.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The One Mile Run

The mile is unique in that it requires a combination of 50 percent speed and 50 percent stamina. In other words, in order to be a good miler you need to be able to run a respectable 400 meter as well as a good 5K.

The one mile run has always held facination in the world of track and field. According to wikipedia, the first recorded world record was 4:28 by Charles Westhall back in 1852.

"With the exception of the mile run, races based on imperial distances are rarely run on the track anymore since most tracks have been converted from a quarter mile (402.3 m) to 400 m; almost all record keeping for imperial distances has been discontinued. However, the IAAF record book still includes the mile world record because of its worldwide historic significance" -wikepedia

note: When I graduated from U of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1976 we were still running track races measured in yards and miles.

It's been several years since we've seen a world record in the mile-
Hicham El Guerrouj
from Morocco last set the men's recored in 1999 running 3:43.13. On the women's side, Russian Svetlana Masterkova ran 4:12.56 in 1996.

The last time an American male held the world record was way back in 1966 when 20 year old Jim Ryun ran 3:51.3. Before Ryun, American Glenn Cunningham set the record in 1934 with a 4:06.7. American Mary Slaney ran 4:16.71 in 1985, and is still the only American woman to ever hold the mile world record (women didn't begin running that far competitively until 1967!)

More facts about the mile:

Roger Bannister was the first to break 4 minutes, running 3:59.4 on May 6, 1954. Watch this remarkable footage of the historic race!

One Mile Run Trivia

17- the age of Jim Ryun when he broke 4 minutes the first time

Polly Plumer holds the U.S. high school girls mile record- 4:35.24 set in 1984
Alan Webb holds the boys record - 3:53.53 set in 2001

1:50- an estimated 800 meter time that gives a runner an indication he has the tools to break 4 minutes, however according to the McMillan Running Calculator, a 3:59 mile is equivelant to a 1:47 800 meter and a 13:48 5,000.

3:48.45- current world indoor record set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1974

4- the number of Americans that broke 4 minutes in high school- Ryun (1964), Tim Danielson (1966), Marty Liquori (1967), and Alan Webb (2001).

Father/son combo to both run under 4 minutes: Barry and Darren Brown, Matt Centrowitz and Matt Jr., Kip and Martin Keino (Kenyans)

Don Bowden- first American to break 4 minutes, 1957

136- The number of sub 4 minute miles by Steve Scott

3:49.4- Time run by Kiwi John Walker in 1975, first to break 3:50.

3:49.78- Time run by Irishman Eamonn Coughlan in 1983, first to break 3:50 indoors.

3:58.15- Time run by Eamonn Coughlin in 1994 at 41 years of age, the only runner to ever break 4 after turning 40.

327 -number of members in the U.S. Sub- 4 Minute Mile Club (as of July 17, 2009

1,609 is the number of meters in a mile, so the high school 1,600 meter run falls about 9 meters short.

The mile record for running backward is 6:02.35 set by D. Joseph James (runningtimes)

The official Beer Mile Record is 5:09 by Jim Finlayson (Kingston Rules - 4 beers in 4 laps)

4:42.36- The Joggling World Record for 1 mile (running while juggling) set by Will Howard in 2003)

From beginners to elites to sideshows, and whether your goal is 4, 5,6, or 7 minutes, the one mile distance remains a favorite measuring stick for all middle and long distance runners.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Josh Cox 2nd in California!

Who is Josh Cox? If you follow running, you know Josh is best pals and running partners with American superstar Ryan Hall. He also is the guy you see at the Power Bar display in those convenience stores. Maybe you've seen him on the cover of a running magazine, or perhaps you recall his appearance on the TV show Bachelorette. He also set the American Record for 50K (2:47:17)in Phoenix last year.

U.S. Olympic Marathon Trails
Cox placed 2nd at the California International Marathon last weekend in a respectable 2:13:51 on a cold (high 20s) windy day (sarcramento bee).

Some might say running 120-160 miles a week is unusual. I enjoy jumping rope, usually I do it for 30 minutes a couple times a week. I did it once for 3 hours.- Josh Cox

Kenyan Luke Kebet Runs 2:11:24 in Singapore Heat!

I ran the Singapore Marathon a few years ago- they said it was 86 degrees when the gun went off at 6:30 am, no doubt not much different than this year, with conditions reportedly 31 degree C (87 F) and 77% humidity
Looking at the website, I see they wisely moved the start to 5:30 am, but the Singapore heat and humidity is still brutal even at that early hour.

Ten of the top 11 finishers were from Kenya, with Luke Kebet leading the way in a stunning 2:11:24, outsprinting 2nd place finisher Johnstone Chepkwony (2:11:33).

Not taking anything away from these guys, but the year I ran this course there was a wide sweeping left curve sometime after 20 miles, followed by a simple 180 degree turnaround and run back into the finish. At the turn we were instructed to run around a cone left to right and head back to the finish on the right hand side of the road, so imagine my surprise on the way out to see the 4 leaders coming back towards me actually off the road and running the sidewalk on my left! Clearly they cut several hundred yards, but who was I to turn them in with $15,000 at stake for the winner? I assumed they needed the money a lot more than I did.

This year, Kibet took home 35K, not to mention a probable course record bonus. I just hope he ran the full 26.2.

Sidenote: When I reached the cone at the turnaround and tried to follow the path of those Kenyans, I was instructed to "stay right!" I still somehow managed to run 2:59 and place 6th overall in the masters claiming 500 Sinapore dollars!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bill Rodgers 1975 Training Log: Don't Try It!

Check out this amazing summary of Bill Rodgers training log at his peak ( posted by Bob Hodge

Bill Rodgers is one of the best distance runners the U.S. has ever produced- winning New York and Boston 4 times each!

A typical Bill Rodgers week:

Mon- 15 miles @ 10:30am - slow, flat Warm out. legs tight so no 2nd workout

Tue- 12 miles @ 9 am - slow to OK pace, flat 18+ miles @ 3pm - flat - 30+ miles

Wed -10.5 miles @ 11:15 am - OK pace, flat 10+ miles @ 5 pm - OK pace, 20 miles

Thurs -10.5 miles in am - slow pace, flat 9.5 miles(?) - Track - 2m(9:49), 1m(4:36), 1.5m, 3/4m(3:22), 1m(4:47), 7 min. jogs - 20 miles

Fri- 10 miles @ noon - 12 miles @ 4 pm - 22 miles

-23+ miles @ noon - flat 3 miles(?) @ 8 pm - slow - 26 miles

Bill Rodgers ran 2:09:55 at Boston in 1975. Check out his race calendar for the year- 23 competitions. Quite a contrast to some of America's top marathoners today. This is how it was the days before major shoe company sponsorship- Rodgers had to race often just to make ends meet.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weight DOES Matter!

According to British middle/long distance coach Frank Horwill, Most coaches use the Stillman height/weight ratio table for distance runners. The average man is allocated 110 lbs (50kg) for the first 5 feet (1.524m) in height. Thereafter, he is allocated 5½ lbs (2.495 kg) for every additional inch (O.025m) in height.

Females are allocated 100 lbs (45kg) for the first 5 feet (1.524m) and 5lbs (2.268kg) for every inch thereafter.

According to Stillman, top middle distance runners should weigh in 12% lighter, while long distance runners should measure in at 15% less. (Peak Performance Online)

Clearly not everybody who runs can fit into Stillman's criteria, then again not many of us are good enough to challenge world records either. But if you are over and not following the best diet, losing a few pounds probably won't do anything but help your running.

Height Doesn't Matter

Think you can't run fast because you are too short? Check out the stats on 5K and 10K world record holder Kenensia Bekele-

Norwich Union London Grand Prix

In addition to his 2 Olympic gold medals from Bejing, he also owns a gold (10K) and silver (5K) from Athens. Bekele won three consecutive World Outdoor Championships in the 10,000 (2003-07) and the 3000 meters at the 2006 World Indoor Championships. He owns world records in both the 5000 (12:37.35) and the 10,000 (26:17.53). Bekele has an astounding total of 11 world cross country gold medals- 6 at 12K and 5 at 4K. On the track, Bekele has never lost at 10,000 meters.

The stats:
•Height: 5-3
•Weight: 119
•Age: 26
•Birth date: June 13, 1982
•Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
•World Championships: Six

By the way, Haile Gebrselassie, who holds the world record for the marathon, stands 5'5" tall.

Taking a Break From Long Runs?- Try This!

The present study showed that speed endurance training reduces energy expenditure during submaximal exercise, which is not mediated by lowered mitochondrial UCP3 expression. Furthermore, speed endurance training can maintain muscle oxidative capacity, capillarization, and endurance performance in already trained individuals despite significant reduction in the amount of training. -journal of applied physiology

MY COMMENT: For a 4-wk intervention period, SET (speed endurance training) replaced the ordinary training (45 km/wk) with frequent high-intensity sessions each consisting of 8–12 30-s sprint runs separated by 3 min of rest (5.7 ± 0.1 km/wk) with additional 9.9 ± 0.3 km/wk at low running speed,

So when you take time off, instead of a total layoff, do an easy warm up and 10 x 30 seconds hard, followed by a cool-down. As long as you don't gain any extra weight, you should maintain a high level of fitness and have a much easier time of it once you begin logging miles again. In this study, runners averaging 45 km per week (28 miles per week) dropped to 5.7 km per week of hard short runs (3.5 miles) and about 10 km (6.2 miles) of slow running, or about 10 miles a week total.

More On Breathing and Running

Long term analysis conducted by Jack Daniels has found that elite athletes in races up to and including the 10K use the 2-2 (breath in 2 steps and out 2 steps) breathing rhythm at the start of the race and after completing about two-thirds of the race they switch to a 2-1 breathing rhythm. For races longer than 10k the 2-2 breathing rhythm is used for the whole distance, perhaps shifting to a 2-1 breathing rhythm in the last minute or two for the sprint finish.

MY COMMENT: I've always started my exhale every other time my left foot strikes.

How Bad is Your Diet?

What you eat undoubtedly plays a role in how well you can run- never take that for granted. A typical American diet too high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium eventually takes it's toll even on the most highly trained athlete (Is Alan Webb's Diet the Problem?)

Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler explores the reason behind our facination with "bad for you" foods. Watch this short video promotion of his book The End of Overeating.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Two Ways to Reduce Tibial Stress Fracture Risk

1. “It does seem as if strengthening the calf muscles may be a very easy way to reduce fracture risk ” .

2. The researchers determined that reducing stride length by about 10 percent seemed to reduce the stress on the tibia enough to lower the risk of a stress fracture.

source: -nytimes

2008 New York City Marathon

MY COMMENT: Common sense might suggest strengthening the anterior leg muscles to reduce stress fracture risk, however this finding suggests weak calf muscles may be the culprit. Add simiple toe raises into your daily routine!

Reducing stride length is a no brainer for those who strike heel first out in front of their hips. (see my earlier post here).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Heart Muscle Fatigue

Man with heart-rate graph over chest (Digital Composite)

Since it's a muscle, have you ever wondered if your heart needs recovery during hard workouts just like skeletal muscle? I immediately think of triathletes who can train at high intensities on subsequent days by rotating cycling, running, and swimming workouts.

Don't worry- cardiac muscle has the advantage of being supplied with plenty of oxygenated blood, in addition to a greater ability to produce ATP (the compound used to create energy in muscle), giving it the ability the handle and recover quickly from high intensity workouts. In other words, your heart is VERY resistant to fatigue.

Check out the explanation here (Why does cardiac muscle not fatigue).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beardsley Update

London Marathon Press Conference and Photo Call

Dick Beardsley, knee replacement and all, ran 34:59 at the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving (4.748 miles). 7:22 per mile