Tag Archives: older running

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

 

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

 

 

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