Category Archives: Marathon

The Long Run

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Running Long

It doesn’t matter if you are training for a 5K, an Ultra Marathon or any distance in between, your weekly training plan will have one workout in common, the Long Run. It is the bread and butter of running. The Long Run, if it is done right, will increase your aerobic base, will build up your endurance and will boost your confidence. Is the Keystone of any running training program.

Slow and easy is something we hear a lot from coaches when it comes to Long Runs. You see, the Long run has many benefits and here are some of them:

  • Improves Oxygen use and Glycogen stores.
  • Trains the cardio, respiratory and muscular systems to work more efficiently.
  • Maximizes our ability to burn fat and spare our limited muscle carbohydrate (glycogen) stores as well as improving our leg strength.
  • It helps with resistance to fatigue both physical and mental.
  • Teaches patience and discipline.
  • Adapts tendons, ligaments, joints and bones to the stress of running (reduces chance of injury).
  • Increases the quantity of mitochondria (responsible for the conversion of food to usable energy).
  • Improves our focus and determination (especially in longer races).

And the list could possible go on a little longer (pun intended).

How long is the Long Run?

When it comes to the Long Run distance and pace aren’t so important. Time spent on your feet is! Anything between 45-90 minutes our body learns to increase its ability to transfer and use oxygen more efficiently (aerobic). It also builds muscle strength without too much stress.

Anything over 90 minutes our body learns to depend more on fat usage for energy instead of Glycogen (running efficiency). We all have almost an unlimited energy supply from fat but only a couple of hours of Glycogen.

If you are training for long races it is recommended to run no more than 180 minutes during your Long Run. Running for this long helps us accomplish two things. First, your legs will get very tired but will become stronger and better able to handle running for such long periods. Second, you will experience fatigue and have to be mentally strong to simply keep going, knowing that you are going to continue to feel tired. However, it’s important to remember that feeling tired is what training is about.

Besides all of these different benefits, you are also avoiding one of the number-one risk factors for injury. Going too fast, too far too quickly can be a recipe that doesn’t taste too good. If you are new to running start with 45 minutes and add 10 minutes every other week to your Long Run. Every three to four weeks cut back the time of your Long Run to give your legs and body some rest. Consistency and variety will keep you running for a long time!

Run Long

Takis

 

 

Running Nutrition

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Running Nutrition.

For any long distance runner, a Running Nutrition strategy is an absolute necessity. Do this wrong or don’t practice it before race day and you are risking failure. Is hard enough for our running bodies to cover the long distance add dehydration and/or lack of Carbohydrates and you have the “Bonk”. But not all fuel is created equally and not all runners can follow the same fueling techniques.

Practice Hydration

You should practice your hydration strategy during your long runs. After a few of those runs you should be able to dial in to exactly what works for you. Carry your hydration so you can sip along the course. This way you can avoid the slowing crowded runners at the water stops. Besides, the race may not be offering the same products you are used to hydrate with. If you don’t want to carry a bottle (or two) with you check with the race administrators to find out what they will be offering at the race. During your long runs practice with those same products. If you don’t want to carry your bottle, you may want to place water bottles along your route or park your car on a loop of 3-4 miles long so that you have access to your hydration . I personally carry my own bottle. On longer runs I double the concentration so I don’t have to carry more than one bottle. It works for me but may not for you. Practice it!

Fueling your Long Run

Glucose, sugar-the simplest of all Carbohydrates, is the main source of fuel in our body. Stored as Glycogen in our muscles and liver is the fasted burning fuel. A well-trained runner has about two hours of Glycogen supply to burn. It is very important to replenish the stores of it to avoid hitting the “Wall”. Again something you have to practice on your long runs along with hydration. Fuel is easy to carry with you. Raisins, dates, gummy bears, gels etc. all should fit in your short pockets. Find out what the race will be offering and practice with it if you don’t want to carry it. Always take 3-4 ounces of water (2-3 sips) with any fuel, it will be distributed to your muscles quicker.

Glycemic indexes for common sugars Scale: 0-100 where 100 raises blood glucose levels fastest

glucose ~99

maltodextrin ~85

high fructose corn syrup ~78

sucrose ~68

agave nectar, raw honey ~30

brown rice syrup ~25

fructose ~20

Choose your sugars wisely. Slow burning sugars (low glycemic) will burn slower and will sit in your stomach longer which can give you digestive problems while running.

Dialing in your Nutrition is never easy but with practice you will find what works the best for you. As with Everything else don’t try anything new on race day.

avoid the Bonk

Takis

Easy runs, too fast or too slow?

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Struggling with the easy!

Easy runs are supposed to be Easy. Right, I get it! But how slow or fast is easy? Recently I have been struggling with this. I think I have been running my easy-slow runs a bit too fast. My heart rate is higher than 65% of Max and the “talk-test” well, is almost there but not exactly. But I feel somewhat comfortable running at this, a little faster, pace (around 09:30-09:40m/mile). The McMillan Running Calculator and Daniel’s Running Formula have my easy runs at 10:20-10:30m/mile. I have made myself go that slow and not only feels “un-natural” but it almost hurts. It feels like I can run longer at a faster pace than a slow one! I know at a slower pace we tend to lose our running form but I have paid attention and I think I maintain my form. Not sure if this is a “mental” thing or what!

Running at different paces

One would think that going faster would be tough – not going slower. I run two or three days per week at “slow easy” pace and every other week I add ‘Strides” to one of those runs. During the week I have a Tempo/Intervals or Steady State run and of course the Long run (a little slower than easy pace). I feel that I run my body at different paces enough that it should adapt and not get stuck at a single gear.

I have been running for over eight years and have enjoyed some success. But I feel that my easy running may be sabotaging my overall training.

Run EZ.

Takis

Sub Two Marathon

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With Adidas announcing their newest product the Adizero Sub2 shoe makes the race to the Sub Two Marathon official. It is Nike with the Breaking2 vs Adizero Sub2 . Or is it Kipchoge for Nike vs Kipsang for Adidas? Kenyan vs Kenyan.

Tokyo Marathon

Adidas claims they have perfected the shoe that will take a runner to the finish line in less than two hours. A much lighter, still cushioned enough shoe to carry us for the 20,000 steps to the 26.2 mark. Kipsang will have a first shot at the record tomorrow Sunday 2/26/2017 in Tokyo. Will this day be Historic? We will have to wait and see!

Regardless the outcome of the Tokyo Marathon the shoe will become available to the rest of us mortals later this year.

Run fast

Takis

 

Is running a competitive sport?

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After a Sunday’s group run we gather for coffee. Needless to say we flood the coffee bar with sweaty, smelly bodies and for some reason we feel welcomed. Even the other patrons don’t seem to mind us but we do get curiously examining looks all the time. Usually there are running discussions buzzing all around the coffee bar. Different subjects depending on the table you’re sitting at. But there was one that became more of a general discussion “Is running a competitive sport or individual”?

With Boston around the corner and with a few of our group going to the prestigious running event, this was a timely subject. Of course ideas are like assholes, everybody has one! And there was not a shortage of them.

Competitive Sport

So what is a competitive sport? Here’s what wikipedia has to say: 

Sport (UK) or sports (US) are all usually forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators.

That definitely describes any running event from the 100m Sprint to the Marathon and more. A group of athlete’s competing for 1st place and there’s never a lack of entertainment nor spectators who can reach over a million at some events. So there you have it running is a competitive sport. Or is it?

You vs You

Let’s take another look at this. You don’t hear someone ask you “Did you Win the Marathon?” But, you do hear “Did you set a PR ?”(or a PB depending on the Continent you are at that moment). I personally think is rude to so blatantly ask a runner the PR question unless you know them well. But you can always drug it out of by asking “how was the course?”,”how was the weather?” or “how did you feel during the race”. If that runner set a personal best you’d know by now! I think all of us strive for a PR. We may even place at the top in our age group from time to time but a personal record shines better than that reward.

So if you run for a Personal Record (or a Personal Best) seems that those are individual goals and don’t have much to do with competing with other runners. Right? Let’s face it, in any race but especially the Marathon you have the front-runners or the leading group or simply the Elites. It’s the pack of runners that are competing and they are about 30 to 50 of them and as the race goes on the pack thins down to about 6-8 runners. They are competing for 1st place and a very generous reward most races. The rest of us are trying to beat our own Best, we are running for a new PR. It is You against You on the course. Can’t care less about the runner in front or behind you.

I think it all comes down to each one of us. If we all run at six minutes pace then we would be competing at races. Personally I think running is an Individual sport for the majority of runners and a Competitive one for the Select few.

Here’s to a new PR

Cheers,  Takis

 

 

The Road That Leads to Athens

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Athens Marathon start

If you are standing at the Start Line in the small town of Marathon, Greece on the second Sunday of November you are exactly 26.2 miles from Athens. It doesn’t matter what part of the World you are coming from. That distance on that day is the same for all. I live in a small city in the South Eastern U.S. close to 6,000 miles from Athens. For me is a long trip to reach that destination. But it’s not the miles you log on the trip that lands you at the airport before Race week, it’s the miles you log with your feet to get you ready for that Sunday in November that will lead you to Athens. This is my journey to the Athens Authentic Marathon.

The History of Marathon

Over 2,000 years ago the ancient Greeks heroically defended their land against the invading Persians. You can read more about the battle here:  History of Marathon.  On the day they pushed the Persians back into their ships, a soldier/messenger named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the Victory. The distance he covered is unknown to this day. If Pheidippides ran straight to Athens over the mountain of Penteli, then he ran about 20 miles, the shortest possible way. But Historians believe that he took the more flat route either to the South or the North of the mountain and that distance would have been about 25 miles.

26.2

In the late 1800’s the distance of Marathon became an Olympic event but the actual distance varied between events. Early 1900’s during the London Olympics the route was extended so that the Finish Line was in front of the Royal Box. That year the distance was 26.2 miles. The organizers decided to make that distance Official for accurate records.

Okay enough about History, let’s get to the Marathon business. And for now is actually more like Half Marathon. I want to run the Palmetto Bluff 13.1 on March 12th. This race will give me a pretty good idea of my current fitness and set a starting training benchmark.

You can follow my training on Strava. It is also updated daily on the right sidebar on this blog’s main page.

 

Takis

 

 

 

Run a Faster Marathon, train like a Kenyan.

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A couple of months ago Nike made an announcement. It has put together a team of diverse leaders in all aspects of training in order to achieve the so-far humanly impossible Sub 2 hour Marathon the so-called Breaking2 .

They have targeted three runners that are capable (according to Nike) of achieving the impossible. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea.

On January 26th. 2017, Ed Caesar from Wired magazine traveled to Kenya and had the opportunity to train and observe Kipchoge.

One of the days he spent there went on a run with Kipchoge and his training group:

 It was during this period that I reflected upon the happy fact that I was not dead. Kipchoge has run whole marathons almost twice as fast as we were moving at that moment. Why had he chosen not to crank up the pace? Why hadn’t he killed us? Kipchoge is polite to a fault. Was he simply humoring his guests? When we returned to his training camp, another possibility emerged. This was a recovery run, and Kipchoge really does take his recovery runs that slowly. The data the Nike science team analyzed from his GPS watch shows that the kind of run he had done with us was exactly the kind of run he would have done anyway.

Caesar goes on:

I knew Kipchoge was fast. I didn’t understand how slow he could be. This, I thought, might be a moment to learn something.

You can read more here the article as it appeared in WIRED It is a very well written article by Ed Caesar.

Run Slow!!

Are your Easy Runs ruining your training?

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Most of us follow some kind of a training program. It can be a couch to 5K, a Half training program or even a Marathon. As you already know, if you are following a program, most of your workouts are “Easy Run” days. The purpose of those days are to either help your body recover from a previous hard workout or to prepare you for an upcoming one.  They are great workouts that help rebuild our muscles from tiny tears that occurred during hard training and make those muscles stronger. So to reap the full benefits of an Easy day you must slow down.

How slow do you go on Easy days? The answer is simple: You can not go “too slow” but you can go too fast and that will add to the stress and muscle fatigue and your next workout will suffer from it. Continue doing this and not only your training will become counteractive but you also risk injury.

Greg McMillan shares a great post on Easy running and other workouts by doing The Talk Test while running.

The Talk Test Zones

Endurance Zone – carry on a full conversation

Stamina Zone – speak in 1-2 sentences

Speed Zone – speak 1-2 words but definitely not a lot of talking

Sprint Zone – grunts, moans, aack.

As you see here the EZ zone is pretty much a relaxing run that you could actually carry on a conversation without having to gasp for air. Now if you are not running with a partner talking to yourself may seem as a sign of insanity to innocent by passers. But then again when they see you running they already think you’re half crazy.

Run Slow

Takis

 

To Pee or not to Pee

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Okay I know the title grabbed your curiosity but this question comes up often in many runners heads while doing long distance races. I have witnessed more than once, especially during Ultras, runners shorts been soaked with pee. Gross, I know but is a fact that some runners rather sacrifice a pair of shorts than seconds off the clock. It happens to a lot of us, that sudden urge to pee especially when we are out for a long time. During training runs is not a real issue but in a race it can be. Port-a-potties aplenty on the course but who has time for that, right? There is actually a scientific explanation for this urge and is called: stress incontinence

stress in·con·ti·nence
noun
  1. a condition (found chiefly in women) in which there is involuntary emission of urine when pressure within the abdomen increases suddenly, as in coughing or jumping.
    If you have ever experienced this condition you may want to read this: peeing on the run . Now as far as the other nature call while running, well you guys are your own…..I’m not even going there.
    Run Strong

Masters Runners

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When you hit 40 and you are a runner you are a Masters Runner. It doesn’t matter if you are a forever long time runner or a College Track star who took 20 years off running and now coming back or you decided to run for the first time in your life after your 40th Birthday. All Master Runners are not created equal of course but same rules apply to all.

First and foremost Be Kind to your body. At an older age your body is not as forgiving as it once was when you were 20 something. For newer runners choose your shoes carefully. Make sure they are made for your style of running and your particular gait. Shoes off the shelf at Target may be a great deal but don’t usually “match” every runners feet and although you could get away with it as a younger runner you will increase your chances of injury as a Masters. A gait analysis at your local running store will point you to the right shoes and your feet will thank you!

Run for the Hills. There is no better running strength workout than running hills. From Hill Repeats to incorporating hills into your Long Runs is a great way to strengthen your running body. For the Masters athlete this should be sufficient strength training.

For your Need for Speed. Schedule one day for Speedwork  and add a set of 6-10 Strides of 20 seconds long (5K to Mile Race pace) towards the end of one of your weekly EZ runs and that should be sufficient speed training for the week.

Less is More.  Junk miles are no longer on your training menu. Cut back on your miles. As we age we take longer to recover, avoid over-training due to miles pileup. For your Long Runs make sure the day before and after are OFF days. Add running drills once a week and yoga for runners after your hard runs.   Yoga Recovery for Runners

Recovery, Recovery, Recovery. Do not skip on the most crucial day of your training. Even for the younger runners is important to take a day off after a hard workout but for us Masters is Mandatory. Your body needs the time to rebuild and extend the gains from the work out. Add days OFF to your training schedule even if it means you create an “extended cycle”. Instead of the typical 7 day training schedule you can extend yours to 8,9 or 10 days, so your Long Run is every 8,9 or 10 days and not every Saturday or Sunday.

So running in as a Masters is not all gloom and doom. You will need to adjust and in doing so you can enjoy a long running and racing career well into your retirement years.

savvyrunning

Further Reading