Tag Archives: Running

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

 

Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon Race

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 The Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon and 10K 2017

This race takes place in Bluffton South Carolina, USA, in a beautiful setting at the Palmetto Bluff exclusive gated community. Not fully built yet so most of the route is on nice wide paved roads surrounded with nothing but Southern Oaks, Pine trees, Palm trees and of course a lot of Palmettos. Starting the race early on Sunday morning adds to the serenity until the roads are overtaken by runners. About 700 registered runners take part, with the majority running the Half.

Race Report

This is the 3rd year I’m running the Half Marathon here. The first year I set a PR on this course. Last year I ended up walking a lot (bad choice of running shoes…a long story). This year my goal was to finish the course at a good pace without hurting my knee. As you may already know I have had knee issues the last couple of months. Not looking for a PR but a good solid run. A benchmark, if you’d like, to build on from here.

The weather

Overcast with light rain in spots and mostly misty. The temperature at start time 51F degrees. Breezy most of the time with gusts of 15 to 20 m/h. This could be a problem.

The Race

Runners were summoned to the Start line. The race is chip-timed so it doesn’t matter where you start from. it times you from the moment you cross the Start line till you cross it again on the way back to Finish. A very young lady (13 y.o) delivered us the National Anthem in an Amazing way and the race started shortly after that.

A thick crowd of runners made its way through the picturesque Town Center of the community. Within a few minutes we were out on open road with nothing but trees surrounding the course. The runners starting to settle into their paces. I was between 8:50 and 9:05. It felt within my comfort zone and wanted to keep it there. The first 4 miles went by quickly. The wind was not so bad. The tall trees that surrounded us blocked most of it. Rain and mist had cleared but it was still overcast. Miles 5 through 7 the course turned and the wind started to be noticeable but not too bad, yet. At mile 8 we came upon a surprise, the road pavement ended and now we were on a hard packed dirt road with loose gravel. Not good! It was about a third of a mile and we got back on pavement. Until now I had been pretty steady holding the pace around 8:50-9:05.

Later in the race

Suddenly the route turns slightly to the left and at an open field we have the wind head on for a mile and a half. There were moments that the wind was literally stopping me. My quads started to burn trying to push through this wall of resistance. Finally, mile 11 and we turned again from the wind and gave me a chance to compose myself but I had burned a lot to get at this point. At mile 12 we turned again and again facing the wind.

The last part of the race

By now we were back at the Town Center and the wind channelling through the buildings was coming strong at us. This was the worst part. Now the wind was at it’s strongest and I was spent. With only less than a couple of hundred of yards left we made a turn to the Finish to realize the course was short by almost a quarter of a mile, 12.89 miles to be exact not 13.1. Much to my surprise because the course had been spot on the last two years and it was USATF certified. This year they had to change the Start/Finish line and someone messed up. Official time 01:58:25. Happy with the knee and the effort!

Race support

Aid stations were placed throughout the course from 2 to 3 miles apart all offered water and Gatorade and with two of them stocked with GU. As far as I know they had enough to supply all runners. Volunteers were great directing the race but crowd support almost non existent.

Post race

The medals were nice as usual. The event provides everyone with water bottles, coffee and bananas. With your race entry you also get a coupon for a cup of beer crafted by a local brewery and a coupon for a BBQ sandwich. Sorry vegetarians you can have all you can eat bananas and maybe that is what happened since they ran out early.

Overall this is a good small venue and most likely I will be back next year!

My fuel: GenU (x2 servings) 30 minutes pre-race, water during the race, one Humma Plus Gel at mile 10. Water, a banana and a bagel (I brought my own) post race.

Takis

 

 

 

 

Fats and your running body

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Our main source of energy has a bad name! If Fats were discovered today I’m sure they would be named differently. More like “energy nutrients” or the “9 calories per gram fuel cells” or “slow burning fuel” anything but Fats. We have painted a bad picture for the most important nutrient not only for runners but every person. Without them our body would not be able to absorb certain Vitamins and as mentioned already they are our main source of energy. Having said that not all Fats are created equal!

There’s the Good the Bad and the Ugly when it comes to Fats.

The Good…

These are the healthy Fats. Also known as the Unsaturated (both mono- and poly-). Found mainly in vegetable oils (olive oil, canola, soy, corn…etc) and in nuts, seeds and fish. They should be available and consumed in your daily diet.

The Bad…

These Fats will kill you! They are the Trans Fats. Found in all processed foods and all the Junk food of course. Even at very small quantities they will cause all kinds of problems like coronary disease and more. These are the ones to avoid completely.

… and The Ugly

Known as Saturated Fats they are not as bad as their cousins the Trans Fats, but they can cause problems too. Moderation is the key here! I’m sure you’ve heard a Doctor talking about cutting back on red meats, butter, cheese and ice cream right?

Grilled Salmon

So there you have it. Consume most of your Fats from the Unsaturated list (mono- and poly-). Cut back on the Saturated and eliminate all Trans Fats from your daily diet.

Choose Wisely!

Saturated Fat Trans Fat Mono- unsaturated Fat
• Red Meat • Margarine • Olive Oil
• Coconut Oil • Imitation Cheese • Canola Oil
• Butter • Cakes, Cookies • Peanut Oil
• Palm Oil • Doughnuts • Peanuts
• Whole Milk • Crackers • Almonds
• Ice Cream • Meats/Dairy • Cashews
• Cheese • Snack Chips • Avocados
• Chocolate • Peanut Butter
• Seafood • Deep-Fried Food

 

Poly-unsaturated Fat
• Fish • Safflower Oil • Soybean Oil
• Corn Oil • Fish Oil • Cottonseed Oil

 

Related information

Eat Smart

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

Carbohydrates and your running body.

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Carbs, a Runner’s Best Friend.

As a runner you may already know the importance of Carbohydrates in running performance. Some of us tend to think a lot about our fueling process (Carbs) during training and racing. Others very little and some not at all. For the large majority of runners we are probably consuming enough Carbs during the day to support our needs. But fine-tuning our Carb intake can make for greater results in our performance.

Personalizing your Carbohydrate intake

My general rule when it comes to my personal Nutrition is 60-20-20. That translates to 60% of total Calories come from Carbs, 20% from Protein and 20% from Fat. Although the percentages don’t change, the amounts do, depending on the day’s activities. For instance on a complete rest day I would try to consume enough Carbs to equal my minimum requirement of 2,100 Cals per day. That will be 2,100 x 60% (or 0.6) =  1,260 Cals from Carbs. On a different day, let’s say after a two-hour Long run I would burn approx. 1,100 Calories. So the day’s minimum total Caloric consumption would be 2,100+1,100=3,200 Cals. For that day the Carb requirement would be 3,200 x 60% (0.6) = 1,920 Cals from Carbs. It is really very simple to calculate. And if you use My Fitness Pal is very easy to keep up with your daily Nutrition. It is a free app by the good folks at Under Armor that tracks your Calories and adjusts the total daily requirements according to your activity. Even if you tracked your Caloric intake for a few days you will get a good idea of your Nutritional habits.

Best times to take Carbs
             Carbohydrates = Energy.

Generally you should consume most of your Carbs earlier in the day.  Especially if you run/work out in the mornings is important to refuel early.

  • Before a hard workout. Your body will respond better to the workout when its fuel reserves are topped.
  • During a Long run. Your body will thank you for re-stocking some of its fuel while is working so hard for you.
  • Always after your run. Post run, Carbs are important for recovery  with a small amount of Protein (more about Protein on another Post) will feed your muscles.
  • Remember that Carbohydrates = Energy. When you feel you’re running (no pun intended) low is time to refuel.

Read more about Carbohydrates:
Runners World      Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle

 

Feed your running body!

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

 

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

 

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