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All in the Family!

Reposted from Far North Endurance

Finishing the Cape Cod Marathon relay

Seven-year-old Ruby Denning nears the finish line of the Cape Cod Marathon.

Around noon on October 27, Lucas Denning and his mother, Becky, were near the finish line of the Cape Cod Marathon, where they were waiting for Lucas’s sister, Ruby, to come into sight. As it turns out, they didn’t have to worry about missing her.

“Every time a runner passed, everyone watching clapped,” Lucas says. “Then as Ruby came by, everybody was like ‘Yeaaa! Woooo!’” The excitement was understandable; it’s not every day that you see a seven-year-old finish a marathon. Of course, Ruby did have some help from her family.

The Dennings’ running adventure on Cape Cod actually began months earlier, when Chad Denning, Lucas and Ruby’s father and Becky’s husband, made an unusual request for his birthday. He wanted the whole family to run a race together, and after a little research, the family settled on the Cape Cod Marathon relay. This presented an interesting change of routine for the whole family. Usually Chad, an accomplished ultrarunner and adventure racer, has to leave his family behind when he sets out on the race course. This time, the family would be joining Chad at the race and also in some of the training runs leading up to it. But it wasn’t only Becky and the kids who would be trying something new. In all his years of running, Chad had never taken on a road marathon.

Summit of Mount Major

Usually their adventures are off road, such as this trip up New Hampshire’s Mount Major, but the Dennings made an exception for the marathon.

It was definitely a unique birthday request, but the family agreed. So in late October, the Dennings headed to the Cape. At 8:30 on that Sunday morning, Lucas got the race started. After the ceremonial cannon went off, he joined the other runners on the start of a big loop that would eventually bring them all back to the village of Falmouth.

Along the way, Lucas got a lot of questions from his fellow runners, mostly about his age. “A lot of people came up to me and said, ‘How old are you?’” he says. When he told them he’s 10, they’d reply, “Wow, I think I’ve been running longer than you’ve been alive. You’re doing great. Keep going.”

At the three-mile mark, Lucas handed the baton (yes, there are actual batons) to Becky, who had six miles ahead of her. “The most I’ve ever run is nine, so I knew I could do six, but I was trying to run faster than normal,” she says.

She ended up completing the leg five or six minutes faster than she had planned and then handed the baton to Chad. Even after running, Becky had one more challenge to face: getting herself, Lucas, and Ruby to the handoff station in Woods Hole before Chad made it. Although Chad was taking on two legs and had about 12 miles to go, the Dennings had to take a shuttle to the Woods Hole checkpoint rather than drive themselves, and Chad didn’t plan to take long to get there.

The Denning family at the Cape Cod Marathon

Lucas and Ruby after the race.

But even with Chad running ahead of schedule, his family was waiting for him when he pulled into Woods Hole. Ruby, who was chewing on Shot Blocks as she waited for her turn, grabbed the baton and took off. She hadn’t wanted anyone to run with her, so Becky and Chad had planned to let her run alone. But as they watched her go, they made a quick change of plans. Chad jumped back on the course and trailed her from a distance.

“She ran the whole way,” he says proudly. “I stayed probably a quarter mile behind her until about three miles into it. She never walked.”

After those first three miles, with about two miles left to go, Chad pulled up alongside her. “I had my water bottle with me and I asked if she wanted some water,” Chad says. “She was looking down at the ground and goes, ‘No, I’m good.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’ and put my water bottle in front of her. Then she looked up and said ‘Daddy, what are you doing here?’”

After that, Chad dropped back again and let Ruby head toward the finish line alone. Three hours, forty-five minutes, and thirty seconds after Lucas started the race, Ruby finished it.

Although it was the farthest she has ever run (so far), Ruby says she had a great time doing it. Like Lucas, she too faced a lot of questions from other runners.

Chad noticed that as he followed along, he could hear bystanders marveling at the fact that someone so young was running. “They were saying things like, ‘That little girl can do that? I’m going to do this next year,’” he says.

“It was just a great experience,” Becky says. “Everyone was so happy. I’m so proud of these guys.”

Advice from the Dennings on running a marathon relay with kids:

  • Scout the course ahead of time. The Dennings went to all the checkpoints the day before the race. “We planned it all out, so there was no panic,” Chad says. “It was so calm.”
  • Go to a well-organized race. The Dennings really appreciated how easy it was to get from one checkpoint to another and felt the race is definitely organized with relay teams in mind.
  • Pick an event that isn’t too large. The Cape Cod Marathon, which had about 850 marathon finishers and 175 relay teams, was large enough to get the experience of running with lots of other people but small enough that Becky and Chad didn’t worry about missing Ruby and Lucas in a sea of runners.

 

Winter Motivation

 

Reposted from: Beginner Triathlete

Feeling blah? Tempted to miss a workout? Here are some practices as well as on-the-spot tricks to get you into your workouts when you're just not feeling it.

Ah, it's difficult for all of us - especially in the long winter months! Here are tips and tricks for getting going when it's the last thing you want to do.

1. Focus on your goals and dreams

Put them in writing and post them up somewhere so if you need some inspiration, you can look at them and remember the big picture of what you're aiming for. A corollary here is to log your workouts - go look at all those milestones, those pretty colors (or that you need to reach for the bar) for a boost.

2. Focus on instant gratification

You're going to feel so much better once you get going, and especially after, when the endorphins, sense of accomplishment, and post-workout glow really hit. Most of your workouts will actually be energizing. Think of what you're getting: health, wellness, a fantastically fit body!

3. Join a support group

Whether it's your local tri or training club, group workouts, getting a training partner, signing up for a challenge group here on BT (or mentor group if you're new and one is open), the support is wonderful and as you see others building towards their goals, it's very inspiring to do the same. Knowing that others are depending on you or expecting something of you can really give you that little push you need to get out the door, on the trainer, or in the water.

4. Use a training plan

There are many free ones to choose from here, and if you find a paid-membership plan that you might prefer, it is definitely more than worth the money to become a paid member. You won't find better plans or support for cheaper anywhere, and the plans are customizable. It's a lot easier to show up for a workout when it's already all spelled out for you and you know exactly what it's going to be.

5. Don't use the training plan

Don't let the fact that you won't be able to fit in the whole workout or do it exactly as planned stop you. It's a lot easier to get out there and do it if you know it's fine to do something rather than nothing and one or a couple altered days is perfectly okay. 

6. Mental training helps.

The practice of meditation or focused/guided visualization can be very helpful for keeping your motivation levels up. On the spot, if you're balking before a specific session, even a couple of minutes of meditation, focus, or thinking about the benefits can do marvels for motivating you to actually get up, go, and grab those gifts.

7. Read inspirational literature.

It's wonderful to read about heroes and/or people like yourself who attempted similar things and succeeded. It's also great to read training tips you can put into practice right away.

8. Raise money for a cause

If you're training for a race and raising money, it's some good motivation either by knowing you are helping so many more people than just yourself - or conversely, avoiding guilt.

9. Put your gear on

When all else fails, I put on my running shoes and go outside. I tell myself, I do not have to run. All I'm going to do is put on my shoes and go outside. If I still want to just go back inside, I will. But at that point, if I've put the equipment on (or packed my swim bag, or taken the bike out and put a helmet on), I've usually cleared the hardest hurdle, which is just to get going.

 

Post exercise stiffness......

Now that we have officially changed seasons and are trying out sports that we have been dreaming about for the past few months here are a few things that I am thinking about as I sit here contemplating the stiffness that I will have in a few hours.

Lactic acid build-up is the cause of post hard-run stiffness ……. Wrong! Most runners believe that the stiffness and muscle pain felt after a marathon or hard effort is caused by lactic acid. While this was believed correct some decades ago, we now know that lactic acid, or more correctly, lactate, is not the cause of stiffness.

Although the precise cause of delayed onset muscle soreness remains unknown, all runners are aware that the degree of pain depends on the intensity and duration of the activity. For example, you have probably noticed that your muscles are more painful after a long or hard downhill run than after running over flat terrain. Comrades runners, particularly, will have noticed that the post-race stiffness is worse after a “down” run than an “up” run. In fact, it is this very phenomenon that begins to exclude a build-up of lactic acid as a cause of the pain. In downhill running the concentration of lactate in the blood and muscle is very low compared to running at the same speed on the flat. Thus, the most painful post-race stiffness occurs when the lactate concentration is lowest.

If we take a blood sample from a runner the day after a marathon, especially an ultra-marathon such as the Two-Oceans or Comrades, we find that the levels of an enzyme called creatine kinase are very high. This is a marker of muscle damage as this particular enzyme “leaks” from damaged muscle. The “damage” is in the form of minute tears or ruptures of the muscle fibres. We can see this trauma to the muscle if a sample of muscle is examined microscopically.

However, it is not just the muscle that is damaged. By measuring hydroxyproline, it is possible to show that the connective tissue in and around the muscles is also disrupted. What this shows is that stiffness results from muscle damage and breakdown of connective tissue.

Running fast or running downhill places greater strain on the muscle fibres and connective tissue compared with running over a flat route. Downhill running is particularly damaging because of the greater so-called eccentric muscle contractions that occur. When your foot contacts the ground after the air-borne phase of the gait cycle, the muscles in the thigh contract to support you. But the nature of the running action is such that although the muscle is contracting, it is forced to lengthen at the same time. It is this simultaneous contracting while lengthening that is called an eccentric contraction and is most damaging to muscle fibres.

What does this mean for the runner? Firstly, after the muscles have recovered from the damage that caused the stiffness and the adaptive process is complete, the muscle is more resistant to damage from subsequent exercise for up to six weeks. It may therefore be beneficial to include a short downhill race or training run 4 to 6 weeks prior to a race such as the Two-oceans or Comrades. Secondly, allowing adequate recovery after a marathon that has resulted in post-race soreness is important so as to allow complete healing to take place so that you can benefit by being “stronger” than before. Thirdly, a well-trained muscle is less prone to damage than a lesser trained one, so hard but scientific training is important.

It has been suggested that vitamin E may help to reduce muscle soreness, but there is little evidence to support this idea. Vitamin E is thought to act as an antioxidant that may blunt the damaging action of free radicals that attack the cell membrane of the muscle fibre. It has also been suggested that stretching the painful muscle or muscles may be beneficial, but this has not consistently been shown to alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness. Similarly, an easy “loosening up” run “to flush out the lactic acid” is unlikely to speed up recovery. To the contrary, running when the muscle is still damaged may delay full recovery. I often tell runners that while it is possible to run when there is still some post run stiffness, they will be running better some weeks later if they delay their return to full training until they no longer feel sore.

The real cause of muscle stiffness after a hard run is clearly not due to lactic acid in the muscle. Once this is well known, runners will be in a better position to manage their return to normal training after a marathon.

What do I take home from this article from Andrew Dolten?  Keep at it as the training is needed to harden me up!  Recovery plays a HUGE part of this...  In the meantime, thank you winter for the snow sports!!

 

Are runners always hard on themselves?

When you ask a runner what their best time for a particular distance is, there is normally an embarrassed pause, perhaps some shuffling of the feet and finally a quiet response. No matter what ability level, most runners are never really satisfied with their personal bests. Even right after a runner has gone out and set a new personal best, in their mind they are recounting the race and figuring out how they could have run faster.

Photo by: Andy Holden

Photo: Andy Holden

As soon as the race is completed the heart rate monitor is deprogrammed of its lap interval times and the results entered into a chart. And now the analysis of each race interval according to its race pace is done.

A part of the reason for this is that no matter how fast we run, there is always someone who can run faster. It is really impossible to feel dominant as a runner; because we all know the stopwatch tells no lies.

Another reason for the internal dissatisfaction comes from our desire to attain certain personal goals. Perhaps someone wants to break 20 minutes for 5 km. Or perhaps it is the need to go under four hours in a marathon. A time of 3:59:59 seems a million times better than 4:00:01 in this case, and yet 2 seconds can easily be caused by a slight miss measurement of the course or a crowded starting line slowing the first part of the race, or a headwind we have to fight in the second half. Still, the barrier exists in one’s mind in a very real way.

The problem doesn’t stop once you have broken through a particular time barrier, though. If someone runs a 3:59:59, it becomes obvious just how far away they are from a 3:59:00 marathon. So it doesn’t matter what level you are at or what times you are running, there are always unattained time goals sitting out there in front of you.

Our times are only part of the story. Weather, course difficulty and other factors greatly influence our final time. The next thing we look at is how we placed in the race. Runners never seem satisfied. Failure to place in one’s age group may be reason to feel failure, no matter how well the race was run or how fast the time. Upon placing third in an age category, a runner may be disappointed they didn’t run a bit quicker and nip the second place runner at the line. Winning an age group may be only partially satisfying if you feel you could have won the race. Even winning the race isn’t enough, because there may have been someone much faster who decided not to show up for the race.

It’s great that we all want to constantly improve and attain new goals as runners. This is what motivates us in training and racing. But, we should all be proud of our achievements, too. Don’t allow yourself to feel inferior just because there are runners who are faster, who log more kms each week, or who take home more medals and trophies than you. Remember that there are always time barriers in front of every runner. If you ran 4:08:23 and that was a good, strong effort for you, then feel proud. Sure, you could have run faster. Nobody will ever run the perfect race. So what?

If you permit yourself a little pride, and feel a bit of satisfaction, you might just feel a boost of the old ego. Maybe you’ll feel a little more confidence at the starting line of your next race. Maybe you’ll even crash though a barrier or two as a result. More importantly, maybe you can relax and enjoy the effort a little more. It’s okay to stay humble, but there’s nothing wrong with a little quiet self-confidence

source: David Spence

 

Bum hamstring, now what?

Two weeks ago I thought it would be fun to run with one of the Colby Sawyer XC members at race pace on a real 8K course.  Mind you this was the number 1 runner on the team at a mere 19 years old.  Well judging from the title you know exactly what happened.  Yes, I have been dealt my first injury of the season.  I am bummed but more importantly is how do I heal up and get ready to participate in the next upcoming season..  WINTER!

Doing a little research online I came across some great information on how to best deal with a Bum Hamstring...

 

Treatment of Recurrent Hamstring Strains

Treatment of Recurrent Hamstring Strains

Injuries to the hamstrings are the most common soft tissue injuries to the thigh. Symptoms of a hamstring strain include pain, muscle spasm, swelling, and inhibition of movement.

Treatment of acute injury

  • stop running, especially in the case of severe pain
  • if pain is mild, then reduce training load and intensity, and avoid running on cambered surfaces
  • take a course (5 – 7 days) of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen/voltaren/cataflam/mobic) available from your general practitioner or pharmacist
  • apply ice to the hamstrings – for 10 minutes every 2 hours, in order to reduce the inflammation
  • self-massage, using arnica oil or an anti-inflammatory gel, to the hamstrings
  • stretching of the hamstrings.

It is important to stretch both the top and bottom of the hamstrings.
1) Lying on back. Pull leg to chest with hands under the knee. Keep your leg as close to your chest as possible, and straighten your knee as much as possible. 2) Lying on back, wrap a towel around your foot. Straighten your knee and use the towel to raise your leg and to pull your toes up towards you. Hold each stretch for 30 sec. Relax slowly. Repeat to opposite side. Repeat stretch two – three times per day. Remember to stretch well before running

  • return to running gradually
  • full recovery is usually between three to six weeks

Medical treatment

  • physiotherapy. Soft tissue massage, dry needling (acupuncture), and electrotherapy modalities will speed up the rate of recovery from a hamstring injury. Progressive stretching and strengthening of the hamstrings will enhance the recovery process
  • orthotist or podiatrist for custom-made orthotics to control overpronation
  • in the case of severe strains, surgery is usually not indicated. The use of crutches, as well as a supportive brace may be necessary for pain reliefAlternative exercises
  • swimming
  • pool running
  • cycling (in low gear)

Preventative measures

  • stretching of the ITB, quadriceps, hamstring, and gluteal muscles. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, relax slowly. Repeat stretches two – three times per day. Remember to stretch well before running. Remember good flexibility must be obtained before effective strengthening can occur
  • strengthening of the hamstrings
  • correction of muscle imbalances (quadriceps:hamstrings ratio)
  • strengthening of the “stabilisers” (the transversus abdominus, rectus abdominus, gluteal and adductor (groin) muscles
  • correct shoes, specifically motion-control shoes and orthotics to correct overpronation
  • avoid cambered roads (stay on the flattest part of the road)
  • gradually progression of training programme
  • incorporate rest into training programme

Other factors
Recurrent hamstring injuries may also develop after a number of removed causes. These causes may include:

  • referral of pain from the lumbar spine. This may occur due to disc bulges at the L4/5 or L5/S1 levels, or due to joint stiffness of the lumbar spine or sacro-iliac joints, which may result in nerve root irritation. The irritation of the nerves may cause local muscle pain, spasm or a more prolonged, generalised increase in tension of the hamstrings. Local treatment of the lumbar spine and sacro-iliac joints is necessary
  • meniscal (cartilage) problems at the knee. The hamstrings work to stabilise the knee joint during the running cycle. An alteration in the biomechanics of the knee joint due to meniscal tears or degeneration may lead to excessive loading of the hamstrings, and recurrent injury. Restoration of full knee function is required to avoid recurrent strains of the hamstrings
  • adhesions (tightness) of neural tissue. The loss of mobility and subsequent increased sensitivity of neural tissue (particularly the lumbo-sacral nerve roots) may predispose runners to recurrent hamstring strains. This is especially relevant when sprinting or changing pace. Mobilisation of the neural tissues by a physiotherapist and stretches are indicated to reduce the incidence of neural tension
  • postural variations. An increased lumbar lordosis (curvature of the lumbar spine) causes an increase in the resting tension of the hamstrings. This results in the hamstrings being functionally tighter, and more inclined to fatigue early. Postural abnormalities should be addressed through the correction of muscle imbalances by stretching and strengthening
  • poor running style. As mentioned previously, the hamstrings work strongly throughout the running cycle. A running style which is poorly co-ordinated may result in early fatigue, and injury. An altered stride pattern may be necessary. Over-striding should be corrected, especially when running uphill/downhill
  • loss of the normal quadriceps/hamstring ratio. Excessive quadriceps development may produce an abnormal force in the hamstrings, particularly when there is a loss of co-ordination due to fatigue. This is more of a problem in athletes who mix cycling with running (e.g. triathletes). Cycling results in increased quadriceps development which may predispose the athlete to hamstring injuries, particularly when running. There may also be a pre-existing weakness of the hamstrings. The imbalance in the ratio of strength between the quadriceps and hamstrings must be corrected to avoid recurrent injury. Isokinetic strength testing and an effective rehabilitation programme are essential

Isokinetic testing
Isokinetic strength testing is widely used as an indicator of recovery following muscle injuries. The testing is performed using a machine known as an isokinetic dynamometer. This equipment is available at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and at biokinetics practices around South Africa. The machine allows the hamstrings to be tested through the full range of knee movement, and concentric, eccentric, and isometric (static) strength in assessed. The muscle endurance of the hamstrings may be assessed, which together with the eccentric strength and the quadriceps/hamstring ratio, is particularly relevant for runners. Isokinetic testing allows for specific weakness to be identified. This will allow for an individual strengthening programme to be drawn up to treat your specific problems, and will assist in effective rehabilitation.

Finally, once all the various factors have been identified and you have completed the rehabilitation process, remember to get back onto the road slowly and steadily. And remain injury-free!

 

12 Commandments of Training

David does such an amazing job of speaking to athletes in laymans terms.  These may seem simple and trivial but they are so TRUE!  See if you are obeying the 12 Commandments.....

By: David Spence

There are as many different training plans as there are coaches. Every successful training programme has a number of common rules. I have developed these twelve commandments using over 20 years of coaching experience and many conversations with fellow coaches. Try to incorporate each of these rules into whatever programme you follow and your results will improve.

1. Begin Slowly
This rule is really like two rules in one. It has two separate, but related meanings. If you are just beginning a training programme – start slow and easy. Even if you are in good condition; a new sport or programme will stress different muscles and stress joints and connective tissue in different ways. You must let your body strengthen and adapt before you attack it with intense training.

This rule also applies to your daily training runs. If your workout calls for speed work or a moderate intensity run, start out at an easy pace. Your body needs to warm up before you throw any high intensity work at it. If you do not properly warm up, you run the risk of injury. When racing you would usually want to start the race at a pace that is slightly slower than your goal pace. Most athletes perform best when they run “negative splits”, which means running the second half of the race faster than the first. If you begin at a pace that is too fast, you may not be able to finish strongly.

2. Train Your Mind
Your body will attempt to do whatever your mind asks it to do. With any sport or fitness programme, there are challenges that you must prepare yourself mentally for. The most strenuous mental and physical difficulties will occur at the beginning of a training program. You should use positive thinking and imagery. Toughen your mind for the challenge that is ahead and your body will follow to the best of its ability. A major difference between those of us that succeed in a programme and those that fail is the ability to overcome the mental blocks and negative thoughts that sabotage our success. Before you can overcome the physical challenges, you must overcome any mental challenges that present themselves.

3. Train Consistently
One of the most important aspects of training is to train often and year round. It is better to exercise a little all of the time than to exercise a lot infrequently. It is especially important for beginners to train consistently so that the exercise becomes a habit and part of their everyday life. All lifelong runners have made running an important part of their daily routine. Each of those runners has had to force themselves to run everyday when they were first starting. Running or any other form of daily exercise starts to become more of a daily habit after the first couple of months of the programme. The hardest part is the first 30 days. Try to force yourself to do some exercise everyday; even a walk around the block. Usually, once you get out there and get moving, it becomes easier to keep going. The hard part is getting out the door. If you find it tough to motivate yourself, take heart. It will soon become easier and you will even feel as if you are missing something if you don’t get your daily run in.

What happens if you do not train consistently? Fitness gains happen slowly. Loss of fitness happens at a faster rate. If you stop training for a couple of weeks, you will lose the fitness gains of a full month. If you stop running for a couple of months, you will lose almost all of your fitness gains. The popular saying “use it or lose it” is very true when applied to fitness. There will be times when you decrease the amount and intensity of your training as a part of a planned rest and recovery period. During your rest periods, you should still run on a consistent basis in order to maintain a base level of fitness.

4. Don’t Have a Strict Schedule
You should follow a formal training programme and have a scheduled routine, but it should not be a strict daily one. A weekly schedule is a better idea. Most training programmes will give you a workout for each day. You do not have to follow that schedule day for day. Just try to follow the overall structure of the week. Feel free to move the workouts around to fit your schedule. Try to complete each of the workouts and allow the appropriate rest days, but it is not necessary to strictly follow it each day. With the variables of weather, work and social schedules, health and stress levels, a daily schedule is almost impossible to keep. With a weekly schedule you can fit each work out and rest day in where you can.

There are many times that something unforeseen related to weather, work or social commitments may force you to change or cancel a scheduled workout. If you have a strict daily workout, this may totally disrupt your schedule. With a more informal weekly schedule, you can move workouts around and still meet your training goals for the week.

5. Set Goals
If you just train aimlessly with no real goal in mind, you will soon lose interest and probably quit exercising. You should set both short and long-term goals. Once you have goals set, your workout will take on new meaning. You will have a reason to go out and exercise.

For beginning runners, possible goals include completing a 5 km race, increasing the distance you can run, weight loss, or health and fitness gains. An experienced runner may set goals such as finishing a marathon, improving race performance or using a specific local race as a target.
You can use anything you wish as a goal, but you must set one. You will have a much easier time in following a training program when your workouts have a purpose.

6. Alternate Hard and Easy Days
You shouldn’t run at the same intensity every day. If you have a hard workout on one day, either work out easy on the next day or even take the day off. Your muscles and connective tissue will recover and grow stronger on the easy days. If you stress your muscles intensely every day, they will never have a chance recover and grow stronger. Too much high intensity training will also lead to burnout, injury and illness. You should not, necessarily, work out at a hard pace every other day. Most training programmes call for high intensity workouts two to three times per week.

7. Train Specifically
Most of your training should be of the type of sport or activity that you are training for. If your goal is to run a marathon, you should tailor your training specifically for the marathon. Since you are a beginning runner, most of your training should be running and strength training. Cross training has become very popular in the past few years. Cross training is simply engaging in other types of training, such as cycling and swimming. Cross training does have some benefit because it strengthens some muscles that are not used extensively in running. This will help keep your bodies muscles in balance and help avoid injury. But, as a new runner, you will want to concentrate on running. Running should dominate your training. Your most frequent form of cross training should be strength training. When properly done, strength training will take care of any possible muscle imbalances.

When you graduate from the beginning stage and become an intermediate or advanced runner, training specifically become even more important. You will be training for races of various distances from 5 km to the marathon. The training requirements for each distance are very different. You cannot reach your peak at both the 5 km and the marathon at the same time. You must train specifically for each distance.

8. Use a Periodized Training Schedule
Periodization refers to varying your training during the year. This type of schedule can take on many forms. A high school or cross country athlete has a relatively short racing season. A periodized programme for this athlete would be one that concentrates on building a base of easy km in its early stages and would gradually increase in speed, strength, specificity and intensity. The athlete in this programme would reach a peak or top level of fitness at the beginning of their race season. The training programme would then be designed to maintain the fitness level throughout the race season. After the race season there would be a period or rest before starting the sequence again for the next season.

Recreational runners that run for fitness, along with an occasional race, would follow a very different periodized schedule. The scheduled would be less structured, but would still provide for periods of rest, easy runs, strength and speed. The important thing to remember is that you do not want to run at the same intensity all of the time. Too much speed work or high intensity training will lead to burnout or injury. Too many easy runs will result in a lower level of fitness and poor race performance.

9. Listen to Your Body
Your body will always let you know when it needs rest and when it is ready for a hard work out. Do not let an overly strict training schedule force you to exercise intensely when your body is not prepared for it. Weather, illness, time of day, stress level and time of last meal will all affect your body’s ability to perform work. Listen to your body and you will avoid injury and make maximum fitness gains. There will be days when you have a difficult speed workout planned and you just do not feel up to it. You may feel lethargic, tired and sore. This is your body telling you it needs rest. On days like that, just do an easy run or rest completely. You will need to learn your body’s signals. As a society, we have made it a habit to ignore what our bodies are telling us. This is a bad habit that running will help you unlearn.

10. Cross train
You should obey the law of specificity of training, which is described above. However, you should always add strength training to your routine. Strong muscles will help support your joints and assist your connective tissue. Almost all running injuries are caused by weak, tight or imbalanced muscles. A properly designed strength training programme will strengthen the muscles used in running and improve your overall strength levels. When you start to compete in road races, the strength training will greatly improve your performance.

On your easy or rest days, you can do a different type of exercise such as swimming, cycling and walking. This will help develop muscles that are not used in your primary running activity. Be sure that you do not exercise at an intense level on your rest days. The purpose of these rest days are to provide you body with the time it needs to recover and strengthen. If you cross train at too hard of a pace, your muscles will not get that opportunity to recover.

11. Quality Not Quantity
At one time it was believed that more weekly mileage would result in better performance. Many athletes would run well over 160 km per week to prepare for relatively short races. Today, we know that it is the quality of your training that matters, not the quantity. You want to train smartly. Excessive mileage or “junk kms” will only result in overtraining, burnout and injury. The mileage required to maximize performance will vary according to the distance you are training for and your current ability level. As a rule of thumb – any kms that you do not have a reason to run are junk kms.

12. Educate Yourself
Researchers are making new discoveries in the fields of running and fitness every month. Some of these new findings will make previous training methods obsolete and will uncover new ways of training. You should make it a habit to check running publications and web sites on a regular basis for the results of the latest research. You are responsible for educating yourself on all aspects of your physical and mental health.

 

Monday Motivation

Climbing Pike's PeakHere's a question that often comes up in endurance events: Is it fun? One writer tries to figure that out while bicycling the 5,000-foot climb up Pike's Peak, one of Colorado's 14ers. 
I will not fail.
 
I will not fail.
 
I cling to that phrase, that monosyllabic mantra, at 12,000 feet, where the sign reads Timberline. I am above Glen Cove but still below something called the Devil's Playground, and up here where the boulders are red like Mars and even the brown grass can't catch enough of a breath to grow, I'm flailing. I'm doing everything you're not supposed to do when you climb hills on a bike: swaying back and forth like a heavy mast, straining to maintain a cadence in the upper 40s, feeling my heart jackhammer in my ears, all while going a mere 3 miles per hour. Over my left shoulder, down below and foreshortened the way only enormous mountains can foreshorten things, are switchbacks piled on top of each other like the coils of a snake. Ahead of me, a man stopped on the shoulder rests his head on his handlebar, his body heaving. Just beyond him, where pewter storm clouds smudge the sky, the road turns and becomes steeper.
 
Alex HonnoldClimber Alex Honnold has been getting all kinds of attention lately for his willingness to scale vertical rock faces without letting those pesky ropes get in the way of the experience. His latest feat is soloing El Capitan, Half Dome, and Mount Watkins--all at Yosemite--in under 24 hours. His sponsor, North Face, posted an interview with Honnold, revealing Honnold's disdain for boredom and love of pizza.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nick Clark and his beard
The relationship between shaving and performance seem to be on people's minds. Outside answers the timeless question, will shaving my legs make me a faster cyclist, or just make sure everyone knows I'm a cyclist? And ultrarunner Ian Sharman examines whether beards are a help or hindrance to ultramarathon success.

Monday Motivation

Amantle  Montsho The New York Times is running a three-part series on Amantle Montsho, one of the fastest women in the world and a contender for gold in the 400 at the Olympics this summer. The story of how she made it from the small country of Botswana to Senegal, where she currently trains, and of how she will eventually find her way to London is a great read:

Today that girl, Amantle Montsho, 28, is one of the fastest women in the world. The reigning world champion in the 400 meters, she is the favorite to win gold at the Summer Games in London, despite being one of the most unlikely Olympians. Botswana, a country born 46 years ago out of British colonial rule, has never won an Olympic medal in any sport. Should Montsho earn a place on the podium, her already pioneering role in this country of 2 million would be cemented. Yet little is known of Montsho’s journey from this remote village to the biggest stage in sports.

Comrades Marathon

Yesterday, thousands of runners completed the famed Comrades Marathon in South Africa, the largest ultramarathon in the world. Several years ago, Amby Burfoot ran the race and wrote an inspiring account for Runner’s World

Every run is a new adventure, and every race, like a Rorschach, exists only to expose some piece of us. The greater the race distance, the deeper the unpeeling. This makes South Africa's mountainous 55-mile Comrades Marathon a long and probing quest. I first heard about Comrades' length, hills, and amazing traditions four decades ago. Since then I have considered it the world's greatest footrace. But until last June, I didn't realize how much a race could reveal to me. Of me. Some races are humbling; this one stripped me bare.

Writing for Outside, Katie Arnold discusses training for her first ultramarathon, the Jemez Mountains 50k, and what it means to run from the inside.

I was going to write this post last week, but I was too busy eating my weight in chocolate chip cookies and lentil salad to get ready for the Jemez Mountains 50 Kilometer Trail Run. The race, which took place on Saturday in Los Alamos, was my first “ultra.” I’ve trained for other runs and mountain bike races, and always, in the days leading up to the event, I’ve felt immeasurable gratitude at the realization that, after it’s over, I can quit training and go back to real life. Not unlike the feeling you get after you give birth, and you look down and can finally see your toenails again and all you can think is, Thank God I’m not pregnant anymore. But not this time. I can honestly say that I’ve had a blast these past three months, logging long hours on my favorite trails in the mountains around Santa Fe. So what was different? I’m still trying to understand what happened, but the best I can describe it is: I ran for the feeling, not for the results. I ran from the inside.

Curing the tapering blues

If you're one of the many people signed up for a long-distance race this weekend (like the Vermont City Marathon or Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival), you have probably spent the last two or three weeks tapering to make sure you're well rested for the race. And perhaps instead of enjoying all that extra free time, you have instead—like many other runners—begun to feel increasingly sluggish, out of shape, and grumpy.

Fortunately, there are two well-established treatments for tapering. One is to read a lot of of race reports, such as those posted by Chad earlier this week. Another is to sign up for a new race even before finishing the upcoming race. Tonight, coincidentally, registration opens for one of the best ultras in the northeast—the Vermont 50. The race is open to both mountain bikers and runners. If you hope to bike the course, you have to be ready to sign up at 7:00 tonight when registration opens or you probably won't get in. If you're a runner, you can take a more leisurely approach. But if you're a runner who has a big race coming up this weekend, then I say take the plunge and enter the Vermont 50 before you have a chance to think about it. If your upcoming race goes well, you'll be even more excited to have another race to look forward to. If you get halfway through your race this weekend and feel like you can't take another step, well, you can treat it like a training run for the Vermont 50.

Or, if you're not in the mood to commit to 50 miles or kilometers, sign up for a more reasonable race. There's always the Western NH Trail Running Series, of course. The WNHTRS is 100 percent tapering-free. Finish one race and there's another just a couple of weeks away. Other challenging-but-fun races coming up soon are the race up the Ascutney auto road and the second annual Okemo Mountain Challenge.

(Late) Monday Motivation

“What makes a person want to row across an ocean? Why would somebody leave everything behind, everything they love and enjoy, everything comfortable and safe, and risk it all in a tiny rowing boat out on an enormous pitching ocean?” Adventurer Alastair Humphreys asks this question at the start of this video about rowing across the Atlantic. I don’t know whether he first started asking this question before or after he and some friends embarked on their own trans-Atlantic rowing expedition. Either way, it’s an inspiring ode to random adventure.

How fit are you?How fit are you? Fit enough to climb Denali? National Geographic’s Beyond the Edge blog lists three simple workouts that test your overall fitness. It’s part of a series about getting ready to climb North America’s highest peak (but you can do the tests even if you don’t plan to head to 20,000 feet).

Miwok 100kWriter and runner Sarah Lavender Smith ran the 2012 Miwok 100k a couple of weeks ago and has a long recap of it here.

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