Tag Archives: Beginner runner

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

 

 

The Importance of the Warm Up

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Warm Up to a better performance.

Have you ever started a run and felt sluggish, heavy and thinking “I don’t think I can do this today”? But you stick with the run and things progress, eventually you start feeling a little more confident. Your legs loosen up and you start to gain speed slowly without too much extra effort. Then you enter the specific stage (speed, tempo, stamina workout) of your training run and things are just not happening. If you have felt all this you are not alone. Most of us roll out of bed in the morning or get back home from work and head out the door to “get this run over with” without much preparation. We skip the Warm Up part of our workout.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you skip the Warm Up you are cheating yourself of your best performance. Don’t fool yourself by saying “I’m not a fast runner or an elite”. It doesn’t matter if you are a 17 minute 5K athlete or a 30 minute one. You may have noticed the “fast kids” warming up before a race and you think “Well their coach tells them they have to”. Yes, and they also run sub 20 minute 5Ks.

A proper Warm Up gets your body and mind ready of what is about to take place. It can be broken down in three parts.

1. Mobility

So what do you need to do for a proper Warm Up? Here are some things I do before every run. First I do some hip-openers, chest-openers, squats, leg swings and lunges about 2-4 sets. These exercises open up my chest so my lungs fill up with more air during my run. Loosen up my hips and joints so they don’t stiffen my run. Mobility workouts, here Matt Fitzgerald describes a few of the workouts you could do before your runs.

2. Energy Delivery system

Right after that I head out the door for an easy mile or two. That gets the heart pumping and Oxygen-rich blood flowing to the working muscles. Warming up the muscles and tendons gets them ready for the hard work to come and will prevent injury. Next, is time for a few running form drills. These will “wake up” the nervous system which is an important part of the Warm-Up. They are great co-ordination exercises. Jason Fitzgerald demonstrates the basic Running Drills in a short video. You’d want to do these on key-workout days and not before Easy or Long runs.

3. Practice race/training pace

After the energy delivery system is set up and the muscles warmed is time for a few Strides. I only do those before a race or a speed workout. I run the pace that I will race or train for 20-25 seconds to see what it “feels” like for that day. And I only do 3-4 repeats. You’d want to do this right before the race (2-3 min before the start) or the start of your workout and not every time you run.

Once you incorporate this Warm-Up routine into your training it will become part of it and it will feel natural. Not only your performance will improve but your running Form will too.

Run Strong.

Takis

 

The terrible toos in running.

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Too soon, Too many, Too fast.

Mostly a beginner’s offense to the basic rules of running. Also seasoned runners coming from a running break or a race commit the offense of increasing their mileage Too Soon. Ignoring the “build a base” rule of training can quickly lead to injuries. Adding Too Many miles to their weekly totals and not observing the 10-20% increase per cycle also spells trouble. Coming back to training feeling rested and eager to run and piling up excess miles could sideline the runner. Also following the three cycle increase in mileage and the fourth cycle running less is the proper way to longer happier miles. And just because a runner can run Too Fast, he/she shouldn’t. Most of our running during training should be easy. As the matter of fact about 80% of the time spent running should be slow! The other 20% is a mix of controlled faster running workouts. Save it for race day! So here you have it: “the terrible toos”. Add any of these Toos to your running and you’ll be experiencing the terrible Shin Splints, Runner’s Knee, ITB Syndrome etc.

Run easy,

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

Protein and your running body

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Protein with every meal

Protein, not just for runners but everyone striving for a balanced diet or planning to shed a few pounds should know a few things about it. According to the World Health Organization, humans need to get only 10 percent of their daily calories from Protein to maintain good health. But as runners we need more of it because running breaks down muscle and damages our muscle fibers.

Protein with every meal

According to researchers, by spreading your Protein intake throughout the day, your muscles receive a constant supply of the amino acids needed to build muscle and boost metabolism. However, if you consume too little at breakfast and too much at dinner, your body can’t build muscle throughout the day and is forced to store Protein as glucose or fat at night.

Protein intake timing for runners

After a hard run or workout timing your Protein intake is important. Within 30 minutes from your workout and up to 2 hours is the ideal window for recovery. For every pound of body weight you should consume 0.25gr of Protein for proper muscle Recovery. For example a 100lb runner should consume 25gr. and a 160lb runner 40gr. Of course you should include Carbohydrates with your recovery meal or shake and don’t forget to hydrate immediately after your workout. You should continue consuming more Protein with all your meals and snacks for the rest of the day. You want to aim for a total daily intake at 0.50gr per pound of body weight for light days. On heavier workout days or long mileage runs you should aim for 0.80gr. Although this is not a magic formula it works for me. I even add more Protein on days that I feel extra sore or sense an injury coming.

Read :More on this.

Refuel Smart

Takis

Cross Training for runners

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We all know how important cross training is for runners. Any type of cardio workout that does not involve much use of our feet is a great way to “rest while maintaining”.

As runners we have to run a lot to improve our performance. The problem is that risk of injury increases the more we run. By adding a day or two of cross training in a week gives our over-worked muscles time to repair themselves. But doing so does not increase our running performance. Cross training can only improve our total fitness.

One Study of two groups of runners followed a specific running program for six-week. One group only ran while the second group cross train as well. At the end of the study both groups showed the same improvements. Another study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise proved the same results as the first one.

Let’s not forget that the exact meaning of cross training (source: wikipedia ) is to take part in two different sports. So naturally we would not become better runners by swimming or the other way around.  To become a better runners, we have to run regularly, consistently, and with a good training plan that gradually increases in distance and speed.

So, will cross training increase your performance as runner?  I don’t think so. Will it make you less prone to injuries and more complete as an athlete?  Definitely

Train smart

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