Friday, November 25, 2011

Is Your Warm-up Too Long?

I think most individuals warm-up because everyone else does and believe that it improves performance. It is likely impossible to find a competitive athlete that does not warm-up today. The shocking thing is – despite how common warm-up is prior to competition, there is very little scientific evidence to support its use. -Is Your Pre-Race Warm-Up More Harm Than Good?

MY COMMENT: I remember years ago in college jogging for 30 minutes followed by a series of strides before a 6 mile race! Clearly I wasn't doing myself much good and in fact probably raced slower as a result.

This particular study uses a 30 second cycling sprint as a performance test- not very similar to a distance race, however as coauthor Elias Tomaris explains "our study has demonstrated that it is possible to do too much warm-up for a sprint event. The connection between our study and longer distance events is unclear."

My suggestion is to experiment with varying length and intensity of warm-up prior to hard interval workouts and less important races and try getting a feel for how your body reacts. My gut tells me you don't need to be doing more than 800 meters of jogging followed by a few short 50 meter strides at race pace until you feel comfortable.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Can Skechers Help You Run Faster?

Meb indicates that running in Skechers has altered his foot strike, and that the shoes have allowed him to ditch his orthotics for the first time in many years.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

American Wins World Cross Country!

MY COMMENT: What a fantastic race by Craig Virgin, one of the best American runners ever, who remains the only American to win a world cross country title (Virgin won 2x- 1980 and 1981!).

Heat Exahusion!

Not the first time I've seen something like this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Greg McMillan Suggests Running "Tall" to Improve Form

The first lesson that our coach taught us was to "run tall." It's the easiest cue to use for runners and will clear up about 90 percent of form issues. It's a simple idea that when consistently implemented results in significant improvements in running form


MY COMMENT: He is right- many of us develop bad habits like hunching over (we get hours of that daily!) Check your form in the reflection next time you run by a window.

Greg McMillan is a distance coach and contributor to Running Times magazine. Check out his site for more great articles on running.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Race Ryan Hall!

This is great! Get a real appreciation of how fast Ryan's sub 5 marathon pace actually is!

Run Sprint Interval Training Improves Aerobic Performance but Not Maximal Cardiac Output

Abstract: Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise

Repeated maximal-intensity short-duration exercise (sprint interval training, SIT) can produce muscle adaptations similar to endurance training (ET) despite a much reduced training volume. However, most SIT data use cycling, and little is known about its effects on body composition or maximal cardiac output (Q˙max).

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess body composition, 2000-m run time trial, V˙O2max, and Q˙max effects of run SIT versus ET.

Methods: Men and women (n = 10 per group; mean ± SD: age = 24 ± 3 yr) trained three times per week for 6 wk with SIT, 30-s all-out run sprints (manually driven treadmill), four to six bouts per session, 4-min recovery per bout, versus ET, 65% V˙O2max for 30 to 60 min·d−1.

Results: Training improved (P < 0.05) body composition, 2000-m run time trial performance, and V˙O2max in both groups. Fat mass decreased 12.4% with SIT (mean ± SEM; 13.7 ± 1.6 to 12.0 ± 1.6 kg) and 5.8% with ET (13.9 ± 1.7 to 13.1 ± 1.6 kg). Lean mass increased 1% in both groups. Time trial performance improved 4.6% with SIT (−25.6 ± 8.1 s) and 5.9% with ET (−31.9 ± 6.3 s). V˙O2max increased 11.5% with SIT (46.8 ± 1.6 to 52.2 ± 2.0 mL·kg·−1·min−1) and 12.5% with ET (44.0 ± 2.0 to 49.5 ± 2.6 mL·kg−1·min−1). None of these improvements differed between groups. In contrast, Q˙max increased by 9.5% with ET only (22.2 ± 2.0 to 24.3 ± 1.6 L·min−1).

Conclusions: Despite a fraction of the time commitment, run SIT induces similar body composition, V˙O2max, and performance adaptations as ET, but with no effect on Q˙max. These data suggest that adaptations with ET are of central origin primarily, whereas those with SIT are more peripheral.

MY COMMENT: More evidence of the benefits attributed to high intensity low volume training. This particular study suggests the benefits of sprint interval training (SIT) are "more peripheral", meaning neuruomuscular, biomechanics or leg muscle adaptation was enhanced rather than improvement in oxygen delivery.

These subjects trained 3 x week, 4-6 repetitions of 30 sec sprints with 4 min rest. I think there may be a place for this in the training program of any runner looking outside the box for an edge to improve run time.

Marathon Consistency

Check out my split comparison betweeen March and November Seoul marathons, both run in the rain:

........ Mar.....Nov

10K: 40:57...42:57

20k: 41:34...42:05

30K: 42:09...42:38

40K: 44:32...43:33

42K: 2:59:27...3:01:20

While it appears that I went out too slow in November, clearly I did a much better avoiding that slowdown the last 10K. I still think the course was long, probably in the first 10K.

Friday, November 11, 2011

65 Men Age 50-59 Sub 3 Hours in Korea!

Check out my official place in the recent JoongAng Marathon (race number 11051 in the second box).

Overall: 272
Age Group: 75


10K: 42:57

20K: 1:25:28 (42:31)

30K: 2:08:06 (42:38)

40K: 2:51:39 (43:33)

42K: 3:01:20

Sixty five men in the 50-59 age group were under 3 hours, along with 137 in the 40-49 group. That's 202- not leaving too many more under 40 finishing in front.

My hunch is there are more than a handful of these guys that have run sub 3 hours in 5 decades.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unconventional Marathon Taper

I knew early on last Sunday's marathon that I was feeling very good, and fortunately I was strong enough to maintain a (relatively) strong pace through the entire 26 miles.

Many factors go into a good marathon- long runs, tempo runs, intervals, diet, weather, hydration, etc. One often over-looked piece of the puzzle is a proper taper.

First of all, besides the obvious identify what are you trying to accomplish with your taper. You want to go into your marathon fully glycogen loaded, hydrated, and rested. You want an abundance of healthy, oxygen-rich red blood cells. You also do not want to taper down so much that your blood volume begins to drop or you begin to lose fitness.

I have no idea if what I did in the week prior to this marathon was optimal; all I know is it certainly did not hurt me and I felt great on race day.

Sun: 9.5 miles easy

Mon: 5 miles in 35 min (7 min pace)

Tues: 6 x 800s in 2:55, 2:53, 2:51, 2:54, 2:51, 2:49 with 2 min recovery

Wed: 5 miles at 7:20 pace feeling a little tired

Thurs: 3 miles in 18:44 pushing it pretty hard

Fri: 2 miles in 12:30 again pushing it

Sat: easy warm-up then 1 x 800 in 2:57 followed by 2 x 30 sec of hard running

Sun: race

See this post for some of the research behind this protocol.

The Measurement of Road Race Courses

Ever wonder how marathon courses are measured? Here is how they do it!

Measurement procedures outlined in this booklet are those prescribed by IAAF/AIMS for the measurement of IAAF and AIMS races. The IAAF will only recognise times on courses measured by this system for world records, qualifying times for Championships, etc. All races wishing to apply for an IAAF Road Race Label must have been measured by an approved A or B Measurer.
- The Measurement of Road Race Courses

Monday, November 7, 2011

3:01:20 at JoongAng Marathon in Seoul

I honestly had no idea going in how this marathon was going to turn out- I've had the worst hacking cough ever for 2 months now, making just about every training run an ordeal. It's only the last couple of weeks have I been able to ramp up any kind of intensity on 800 meter repeats, and as usual I don't have much in the training log over 13 miles.

On the positive side, I've done some solid work- the Pyeongtaek half marathon under 1:30 coughing all the way, a 1:30 half by myself in a workout, a sub 70 ten mile run, multiple sub 7 pace shorter runs of 5 miles or so, including one week with 40 total sub-7 min miles, and recently a 6 x 800 meter workout starting at 2:55 ending at 2:49 on turf.

JoongAng is a big race- 13,500 plus in the marathon, and according to my race number, I was assigned to section "D"- 4:40 or slower. I was told by American friends that they were starting each section seperately, and if I moved up I would be disqualified. There goes any shot at a sub-3, or so I thought. As soon as I saw the guys with the ropes clear out and the masses converging to the front, I realized that would not the case today.

I was able to move up as far as the 4:20 pacer when I heard the gun, and fortunately by the time I crossed the start I was free to run unimpeded. That's where the controversy begins.

International races, as everybody knows, use kilometers, and I prefer miles on my Garmin. I had a feeling that things weren't quite right with the kilometer splits, but I kept my focus primarily on ave pace with the GPS. Early on, I felt very, very comfortable and gained confidence as the miles clicked away. Why did those kilo splits seem so slow? I recall my 10K split at 43 min (that's 6:55), yet I definitely remember seeing 68 min at 10 miles on my GPS (6:48).

Back in my prime, the third 5 mile split was always the fastest in my best marathons, and that was what I had in mind today. I missed the 15 mile split, but do recall seeing 1:25 or 6 at 20K and even 2:08 at 30K, so at least I was not slowing down (now I realize that is only 6:53 pace).

My GPS told me I was still running a stong 6:47 mile pace at 20 miles, prompting me to believe that I was in good shape for a sub 3, despite mile after mile straight into an annnoying wind. As I pushed though those last few miles, I felt confused because on one hand my GPS was telling me I was on pace yet the kilometer splits were not adding up.

Sure enough, as I reached the stadium I had a hard time believing that the Garmin registered 26.2 miles and I was just approaching the Olympic Stadium entrance.

As good as I felt today, I'm pretty sure that I broke 3 hours, that my GPS was accurate, and this course is long. I stopped the GPS at 26.21 miles outside the stadium, while another American friend of mine stopped hers at the finish on 26.37 miles. Even THAT seemed short to me since my 3:01:20 would only translate to 6:54 pace.

The bottom line is that I am very happy to have run as well as I did, I can't run any better in the shape I am in now, but I am even more happy that I've already run a sub-3 this decade. The lesson here is while the GPS is a valuable tool and in fact may be more precise than the actual marathon kilometer marks, it does not determine your final pace or distance- unfortunately.

Sidenote: James Kwambai of Kenya won the race in 2:08:50. His personal best is 2:04:27. David Kemboi Kiyeng of Kenya finished second in 2:09:21. He won this race last year in 2:08:15 and has a PR of 2:06:30.

James Kwambai

Saturday, November 5, 2011

High School Cross Country-Inside Look at a Great Program: Stevens Point Area High School

We can celebrate the fact that we ran a good solid race and only 6 teams in our state finished ahead of us. All of our guys ran times close to their season average and our 16:50 team average was close to our season average of 16:47. In the 22 times we have run the state meet on this course we have only finished with a faster average 8 times. The state meet has been run here for the past 24 years and during that time 7 teams have won the meet with a slower average than the one we ran today.

I've been following progress of the Stevens Point Area Cross Country team all season at SPASH CC- coach Donn Behnke, a teammate of mine at UW-Stevens Point, has established somewhat of a dynasty with 9 Wisconsin state titles and 6 runner-up finishes. Check out the JV results, and you'll see how Donn is able to reload and stay competive year in and year out. The depth is amazing! The JV team has won every Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) meet since 1977! The varsity lost once- in 1987, and I think that is the year Donn did not coach.

This year SPASH finished 7th at the state meet- almost a disppointment by SPASH standards, but the future looks bright.

Only Madison West and LaCrosse Logan had better 6th runners than Hatton.

Only Madison West, Logan, and Marquette had better 7th runners than Hansen.

Arrowhead’s average time of 16:09 is the best average ever on this course. The previous record was set in 2008 when we averaged 16:23 for 1st, and Madison West 16:21 for 2nd.

Despite running an average time of 21 seconds faster Arrowhead scored only 11 fewer points than last year, an indication of the quality of the field and the fact that 8 of the top 10 runners were members of qualifying teams.

We are one of only 5 teams to return 6 runners for next season.

Of the 9 teams that return at least 5 runners we have the lowest point total (after removing seniors) with 103, Logan is next with 110, and then Waukesha South with 154.

Of the teams with 4 returners Logan has the best total with 64, we have 66.

Of the teams with 3 returners Arrowhead has the best total with 33, we have 36, Craig 39, and Logan 40.

Any high school coaches out there looking to see how it's done can start by surfing through SPASH CC