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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you want to build a stronger running foundation you should rotate your shoes.
I’d like to begin with a Disclaimer: I’m not a Podiatrist, nor a Physical Therapist not even a Foot Magician. Everything I’m describing in this post is from my own personal experience as well as knowledge I have gained from running experts.
Running increases the muscular endurance of our feet, legs and even the hips. Using the same shoes on every run will work on the same group of muscles all the time. If you used one or even two pairs in rotation on different days you could benefit.
A Shoe for each run.
Personally, I rotate between three sometimes even four pairs in a week. I run my Long Runs with a cushioned 10mm drop (heel to toe offset). A flatter 4mm drop and less cushioned for faster runs. A zero drop less cushioned for medium long runs and easy runs. And from time to time a barefoot shoe for easy short runs and recovery.
By mixing up the shoes gives my legs and feet a more complete workout. It truly builds your lower legs much stronger. Something that I can definitely notice. Although the cushioned shoes are comfy, the more minimal zero drop do more good to your muscles. They stretch the fascia muscles and makes them more flexible. Also the Achilles and Soleus and many more muscles will benefit.
Rotate what you already have
Don’t go out and buy three different pair of shoes all at the once. Rotate what you have in your closet first. Take out maybe an older shoe that has some life still left on its sole. If you already have a shoe that has more than 100 miles on it now is the time to shop for a new pair. Talk to your local running store experts. Ask them for a different drop shoe than the one you already own. Make sure the shoe is the right one for your feet (Pronation). Once this pair reaches the 100 mile mark is time to shop for a new one. Throw that in the rotation, Soon you will have choices to make on your runs. Remember since you are rotating your shoes they will last you for a longer time till they reach their end.
Choose the right shoe carefully
Although I own a few pair of shoes from many different brands they are all the same in one way. When it comes to Pronation Control they all fall in the Neutral category. They may vary in drop, cushion and style, but they are all Neutral. You should know your Pronation Control category and always stick with it. If you decide to buy a pair with a different drop than you are used to make the change slowly. Allow for transition time. The bigger the difference in drop the longer the transition. Remember you will be stressing tissue that has not been stressed and you will be risking injury.
I believe shoe rotation is a great way to build an injury free running body!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.