Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Midweek Motivation

A collection of quotes to give y'all a bit of motivation!

"We all have dreams, in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort."

- Jesse Owens
Olympic gold-medalist runner

"I succeed on my own personal motivation, dedication, and commitment. My mindset is: If I'm not out there training, someone else is."

- Lynn Jennings
American long-distance runner

Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose."

- Wilma Rudolph
Olympic gold-medalist sprinter

"Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet."

- Doris Brown Heritage
First woman to run sub 5-minute indoor mile

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

- Steve Prefontaine
Legendary long-distance runner who held seven American track records

"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."

- Doug Larson
English gold-medalist runner

"Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic."

- Tim Noakes
Professor, runner in more than 70 marathon and ultra-distance events

"Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running."

- Sarah Condor

Got any of your own?

Run for your lives,

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Essential Strength Training for Runners

Last week I posted a response to a question I received about strength training. As I mentioned, it's a common misconception for runners to think they don't need to strength train. But adding strengthening exercises to your weekly regimen has a plethora of benefits, including reducing the chance of injury and making you a faster, more efficient runners.
Here are 10 exercises that you should only take you about 30 minutes. Try to do them twice a week if you have, but you can see benefits from doing the routine just once a week. However, try to avoid doing strength training on the same day you have a run scheduled. Both are what is known as eccentric muscle tearing activities and are best separated by 24 to 48 hours.
Do the exercises in order for 3 to 5 sets as time permits. Rest one minute between sets.  It's ideal if you can warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretching.

1. Planks
This is a classic, right? Lie in a prone position and prop yourself up on the elbows with your feet slightly apart. Make sure your body is aligned, your abs are nice and tight and your shoulders are directly above your elbows. Hold this position for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Russian Twist
Lie on your back with your upper legs perpendicular to the floor and your knees bent at 90-degrees. Without changing the bend in your hips or knees, lower your legs to the left side of your body while keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor. Lift them back to the starting position and repeat to the right side of your body. That's one repetition. Do 10-12 reps.

3. Scorpion
Get into pushup position but with your feet on a bench. Raise your right knee toward your left shoulder as you rotate your hips up and to the left as far as you can. Then reverse directions, rotating your hips up and to the right, and try to touch your right foot to the back of your left shoulder (you won't be able to do it). That's one repetition. Continue for 30 seconds with your right leg, then switch legs.

4. Back Extensions
Lie facedown on a stability ball with your feet spread wide for balance. Your elbows should be bent with your hands lightly touching the ground for initial support. Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. As you lift your torso, allow your hands to come off the ground, keeping your elbows bent. Extend your arms overhead. Hold for one or two seconds. Release your arms and then your torso back down to the start position. That's one rep. Aim for 10-12. No stability ball? You can do the movement on an exercise mat: Raise your thighs and arms off the ground while your torso stays in contact with the ground. Do 10-12 reps.

5. Squats with overhead press
Hold a pair of dumbbells or a barbell with both hands in front of your chest. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back, and lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press the weights above your head, and as you stand back up, return the weights to the original position. Do 10-12 reps.

6. Lunge
Another oldie but goodie! Step forward with your left leg, and lower your body until your front knee is bent to 90 degrees. returning to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. That is one rep. Do 10-12 reps.

7. Jacknife
Get into pushup position but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on a stability ball. Pull the stability ball toward your chest by raising your hips and rounding your back as you roll the ball forward with your feet. Do 10-12 reps.

8. Hip extension
This is one of my personal favorites because you can really feel your glutes working! Butt burn is the best! Lie on your back on the floor, and place your calves on a stability ball. Extend your arms to your sides to help support and balance your body. Push your hips up so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Without allowing your hips to sag (keep with your body at all times), roll the ball as close as you can to your hips by bending your knees and pulling your heels toward you. Do 8-10 reps.

9. Shoulder press with rotation
Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm's length in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Keeping your back naturally arched, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it's nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your arms straight as you bend your hips so that the dumbbells hang straight down [1]. Pull the dumbbell in your left hand by bending your elbow and raising your upper arm toward the middle of your back [2]. Lower and repeat with your right arm. That's one repetition. Guess 10-12 reps.

10. Row
Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm's length in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Keeping your back naturally arched, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it's nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your arms straight as you bend your hips so that the dumbbells hang straight down [1]. Pull the dumbbell in your left hand by bending your elbow and raising your upper arm toward the middle of your back [2]. Lower and repeat with your right arm. That's one repetition. Once again, 10-12 reps.

Now go admire yourself in the mirror.

Run for your lives,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Quickie: Five Prerace Nutrition Mistakes

Here is a link to a recent post on Runner's World
Five Prerace Nutrition Mistakes

Some good stuff in here folks!
Run for your lives,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Training Weeks 5 - 8

Four weeks checked off already and the countdown continues!
Last week you should have completed a 2 mile time trial to determine your training pace for speed work and tempo runs that play an important part in the rest of the plan. 
I'd love to consult each of you on the results of your time trial and your training paces, but clearly That's not possible. In lieu of the one-on-one, there are a number of good calculators online that will give you your training paces. 
This one from McMillian running is a great one; it's clean and simple. But there are also calculators from Runner's World and Cool Running

5K and 10K refer to your paces at each of those distances and race pace is your goal pace for the half marathon. Note that what the calculators give you are just a guideline. If you find that your 10K pace is either far too hard or too easy, make adjustments in 15 second increments. For example, if your time trial predicts a 10K pace of 7:45, but you're finding it hard to keep up, simply adjust it to 8:00 and see how that goes. 
With the addition of speed and tempo workouts and your long runs growing longer, you need to really take rest and recovery seriously. 
See this post on how to recover from last year's blog. 
And for those beginners out there, here are weeks 5 - 8 of the beginner's plan.
Run for your lives,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Q&A: Why do I need to do strength training for my legs when I'm running so much?

Someone asked me the other day about how to incorporate upper body strength training into his running regimen. When I asked him why he only wanted upper body he said he didn't need to do his legs because he was already working them by running.  Cue cartoon eye bugging and dramatic gasp. This is a common misconception and entirely not the case. 
As runners, it's important to all major muscle groups, but it is particularly important to focus on the core (chest, shoulders, abdominals and back) and upper and lower leg muscles. 
Regular strength training can correct natural imbalances, such as differences in your left and right sides, unequal flexion and general overall strength. Strength training can also improve your overall form, making you run more efficiently for the long haul.  And, it should go without saying that correcting these issues can significant reduce your chance of injury. 
Plus, don't you want to avoid that dreaded skinny runner look?

In an upcoming post, I will give details on some great exercises and routines for runners. 

Run for your lives,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Staying on track while away from home

First of all, sorry about that last post. I suppose some of you are blaming me for the decidedly nasty turn in the weather. In fairness, I had the idea for that post during one of those glorious 70+ degree days.  But if you need a scapegoat for the 180 turn from fair to downright awful, I can take it.

On a happier note, summer often marks a season of travel for many folks as they take advantage of school holidays and the like. While travel is obviously a great time, it can cause concern for those of you who may be trying to stick to a training or fitness regimen.
Here are a few tips to keep on track without unraveling your fitness while keeping your travel companions happy.

1. Modify your long run schedule – look ahead to the week of your vacation and see how you can modify the week ahead or week behind such that your travel week is a recovery or week of lesser mileage.
Here is an example:
Example planned long run schedule: 
Long Run: 10
Long Run: 11 miles
Long Run (vacation): 12 miles
Long Run: 8 miles
Long Run: 12 miles
Modified long run schedule: 
Long Run: 10
Long Run: 11
Long Run (vacation): 5 miles
Long Run: 12 miles
Long Run: 10 miles

2. Make is a recovery week – Consider the whole week of travel a maintenance or recovery week and focus on getting in 3 quality runs. Three runs of as short as 30 minutes is plenty to maintain your fitness and not lose ground in the overall scheme.

3. Run early – Try to run early in the morning while everyone is still sleeping or enjoying their morning coffee. You can check it off your list, run guilt free and still have the rest of the day to enjoy time with your family and friends. 

4. Keep in short and quick – Reduce the time of your runs but make them harder so you get the most bank for your buck!. For example:
30 minute ladder run – Repeat this cycle 2 times through
5 minutes easy
4 minutes moderate
3 minutes somewhat hard
2 minutes hard
1 minute very hard

5. Take advantage of playful cross training opportunities – swimming, water skiing, cycling, and more can all be fun family activities that get your heart pumping and contribute to your over all cardiovascular fitness.

6. Use your runs to explore your destination and scope out fun shops and restaurants that you can visit with your family later in the day.

Most importantly, have fun….you’re on vacation for crying out loud!

Run for your lives,

Friday, August 9, 2013

News flash: The most effective core exercises

I came across a recent study that looked at the most effective exercises for strengthening your core. I'm sure you're thinking it's got to be those awful planks or bicycle crunches, but those are both incorrect. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that very few of you would guess what the best exercises are.  The winners are (drum roll please)...

Wait for it...

I'm sure you're dying to know...

Is this getting old yet...

Alright, it's the squat and the deadlift! 

Surprised? I was. But the squat and the deadlift are both exceptional whole body exercises that engage all of the key muscles in your core. So, if they are not a part of your regular strength routine, they should be! Both of these, the dead lift especially, do require proper form to avoid injury and execute to their full benefit. 
See these links for videos on proper form and, if possible, do these in front of a mirror to check yourself. 
Run for your lives,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chill out!

I never would have foreseen the need to write a blog post on dealing with heat and keeping cool while training in Kodiak, but with multiple 70+ degree days it is seeming useful and necessary! Who would have thought?!
While those of us in the more northern latitudes don’t face the extreme heat and humidity as our southern neighbors, dangers of heat exposure can show up in temps below 60 degrees.  Interestingly, since we are not acclimatized to warmer temps, Alaskan may actually be more susceptible to heat related illnesses. 
So here are a few tips to beating the heat.
  1. Plan your runs for cooler times of the day, particularly in the morning.
  2. If you have a long run planned, opt for a series of shorter loops so that you can stash ice or water at your own personal aid station.
  3. Wear light colored and lose fitting clothing that wicks moisture away from the body (NO COTTON PLEASE!!). 
  4.  30 to 45 minutes before your run, drink a slushy. Mix water or sports drink with ice and blend in a blender. This will not only hydrate you but will also lower your core temperature so you start a bit ahead of the game going into a workout.
  5. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded or even chills. STOP RUNNING, seek shade and find the quickest way to cool yourself down. Jump in the ocean if you have to!
  6. Know that the heat may impact your ability to hit a certain pace. Save a tempo run or speed work for a cooler day. Your body and your brain will thank you. 
Run for your lives,