Good Form Running Seminar

Saturday I took a Good Form Running seminar at my local Fleet Feet.

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Good Form Running focuses on 4 areas of running in order to prevent injury and run more efficiently.  I took a Chi Running clinic about 5 years ago and found it overwhelming, but GFR takes some of the concepts from Chi Running and simplifies it a bit to focus on the most important aspects – Posture, Midfoot, Cadence and Lean.

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Here you can see how most people run vs. what we should look like when we run

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I attended the seminar as a refresher and to take away some tips to run more efficiently.  After a full marathon and several half marathons, I’ve got the distance and endurance down. But now I was to get faster, more efficient and prevent injuries. The most important thing I took away from the session was cadence. By shortening my stride and running at 180 BPM (beats per minute), my stride will naturally look more like the one on the right above. The average/comfortable cadence for most people is 150 BPM. That slower cadence gives the stride time to lengthen and leads to heel striking.

We practiced running at 180 BPM and compared it to 150 BPM and the difference was quite noticeable.  Our instructor suggested adding just a few BPM each run and not jumping right into running at 180 BPM. What was surprising to me was that the studies people have done prove that 180 BPM is the ideal cadence whether you are a 12 minute miler or a 5 minute miler.

There are cadence apps you can download to check in with your cadence and also MP3s you can download to come up on your iPod during a run. Checking in at the beginning of a run and then again later on when you are tired.  You should still be at 180 BPM.

I am not going to go out and change anything tomorrow, but the class was great for a refresher and I will definitely keep the tips in mind and be more conscious of my posture, midfoot and cadence.

Have you ever taken a class on running or other sport?

Race Prep – The Week Of

With race day for the Sactown 10 Miler 1 week away, this is an important week. Training for weeks on end doesn’t make any difference if you don’t take care of yourself the week before the race. Getting sick, wearing yourself down or pushing your body too hard can ruin a race. Since one of my New Years Resolutions was to take every race seriously through training, I am taking this week leading up to the race seriously, as well.  Here is my plan:

  • Get more sleep. In general I get more sleep than I think most people do.  But I think my body needs it. So this week I am going to make an effort to get to bed just 15 minutes earlier than normal. And allow myself to sleep in a little more than usual.
  • Hydrate! Hydrating on race day is not as important as leading up to the race. A couple weeks ago I picked up four big bottles of coconut water on sale at Whole Foods. I am going to make sure to have one glass every morning and evening along with my normal H2O intake.
  • Massage – today I got a 90 minute massage to help restore my muscles after training for 8 weeks.
  • Daily foam rolling and stretching. As I write this I am rolling my eyes at myself. How many times have I proclaimed that I would start stretching and foam rolling daily? But I think I can do it. I am only committing to 7 days of daily stretching and rolling. And I know it will make a big difference.
  • Yoga x 2: I am going to try to make it to two yoga classes this week to get nice and loose. I plan to shoot for the beginner classes so I don’t get sore.
  • Fuel my body. I always try to focus on fueling my body with the best possible stuff, but race week it is uber-important. No wine (increases dehydration), no dessert (not the sugars I need). As I type this I am missing my evening glass of wine and ice cream already!
  • Keep moving – But don’t push it. It is often tempting the week of a race to not run at all. You want to rest your body, but there is fine line. Pushing yourself means you can arrive at the start line exhausted and not rested. Doing too little means your muscles might be stale. It is important to go easy but still run. I will be doing a combination of short speedwork and short tempo runs at race pace to keep my legs fresh and ready to run fast without wearing them out.
  • Mentally prepare  and pump myself up! Reading old race recaps and Runners World always gets me pumped up!

 

 

A Run With A Theme

We are 10 days away from race day. That means time to start checking the 10 day forecast!  Spring races in Sacramento are a crap shoot as far as weather goes. And time to start doing whatever the opposite of a rain dance is:

This morning was my last long run before the big day and it was pretty important. Since being sick a couple weeks ago, I hadn’t ran more than 6 miles for a few weeks. Today called for 10 miles and my mind was just not into it this morning. We had a volunteer appreciation event last night for Girls on the Run, so I was on my feet all night and didn’t properly fuel (a glass of red wine, cheese and chocolate covered strawberries are not ideal).  Luckily I did plan ahead and made an early dinner of quinoa pasta with tomatoes, spinach and capers so that I could avoid the really bad food at the event. On top of that, we were woken up in the middle of the night by Cash who was having ear issues and wouldn’t stop shaking his whole body. Cue 3AM ear cleaning and more shaking and that made for not the best night’s sleep.

But I was determined. And so began the theme for today’s run – determination. I had my usual PB and Banana toast, coffee and programmed my Garmin with the goal of 10 miles at 10 minute per mile pace. I couldn’t imagine running faster than that this morning. While Aaron was still sleeping (he spent the night on the couch with the dog so I could sleep), I leash Cash up and brought him with me for the first 2.5 miles.

After dropping Cash off, I took off for the final 7.5 miles. With potty breaks and sniffing, Cash and I averaged 10:28 pace, so I had some making up to do to get to my 10 minute pace goal. It was a perfect morning for running – cool and crisp but sunny. I was determined to get all 10 miles in because I knew it was my last chance before the rain rolled in for the weekend. I sort of kissed my pace goal goodbye and was just focused on getting in the miles, not matter the pace. I have a Hammer Gel at mile 5 and continued on my way.

At the turnaround point, with 3.75 miles to go, I was at 10:15 pace and then I scrolled to the virtual partner screen on my Garmin. When you set a distance and pace goal, Garmin provides you with a little virtual partner to race. I never think much of the little guy, but this morning he was laughing at me.

I was .15 miles behind him and at the moment I was determined to catch up to him. I really pushed it the last 3.75 miles and with 2 miles to go I was only 335 feet behind him. Right around the 9 mile mark I finally passed him! It was as if I was really racing someone rather than a stick figure. Whatever it take, right?

I wound up finishing the 10 miles (accomplishment #1) with a 9:55 pace (accomplishment #2).  Determination is often what it takes to get through a race, and definitely what it takes to have a successful race. And it is all worthwhile when I come home and my fantastic husband makes me this delicious breakfast sammie!

2 slices Udi’s, 1 scrambled egg, ham, spinach, cheese, tomato. Doesn’t it look like the sandwich is sticking its ham tongue out at me? I showed him – I bit his tongue right off!

What situation have you needed lots of determination to get through recently? 

 

3 in 1

Today’s workout was a three-fer. Hills, speedwork AND stairs. Yowza. Since I am less than two weeks away from my 10 mile race, this is my last hard week. I decided to cram it all in to one day by heading to the parking structure at Sac State. Aaron and I warmed up with some trips up and down the stairs, then ran a few stories inside before doing some sprints on the roof. My legs were Jello within 10 minutes. We did it all again a few times for 35 minutes and 2 miles of heart-pounding, sweat-inducing interval work.

On Friday I have 10 miles on the schedule as my last long run before the race. I am really looking forward to the race and how my training has prepared me for this year’s 10 miles. Last year I was under prepared, but still loved the race and finished in a pretty good time. This course is different this year, but still looks really good:

I love that we go through neighborhoods I am familiar with but where I don’t run everyday. It makes it easy for Aaron and Cash to walk to cheer me on and still have time to get in the car and come pick me up at the Capitol.

I have a loose time goal that would be ideal – finishing in under 1:30.  That would be 9 minute miles and an over 3 minute improvement from last year’s race. I plan to push it and leave it all on the road to try to achieve my goal. And I will be focused on smart training, tapering and nutrition the next couple weeks. I am planning to schedule a massage on Sunday and head to yoga a few times in the next couple weeks. Sounds like a recipe for success!

My Friend the Dreadmill

Coming back from a week off of running (allergies knocked me out last week) is hard enough.  Add in weather like this and I am getting really friendly with the dreadmill:

We have been so lucky this winter with such mild weather that it has felt more like Spring or Fall most of the time than winter.  And we are also lucky since winter means rain, not ice and snow. While running in the rain is not impossible, it is just not ideal. So this week I have been hitting the treadmill.

The pros of treadmill running include:

  • Lower impact surface – my knees and hips are happier.
  • Consistent speed – takes the guess work out of pacing
  • Great for speedwork – especially if you do not have access to a Garmin or a track
  • Hill training

The cons:

  • Running form – trying not to catch my hand on my headphone cord or bump into the display means my form is often unnatural.
  • Lack of wind/road resistance – this can be an issue if you train for a race solely on the mill.
  • Boredom – some people love the treadmill, but for the minutes tick by so slowly.

To combat boredom on the treadmill, I like to do intervals.  Even if I am not doing speedwork, I like to change things up by walking at an incline, running at an incline, mixing in some different speed runs.

Luckily today was a speedwork day, so my workout flew by.  I did a 1 mile warm up at 9:40 pace and then did 6 400s at sub-8 minutes pace, alternating between 7.5-8.0 MPH on each.  In between I walked at 4MPH for .10 miles. To cool down, I alternated between walking and jogging at a 9:40 pace until I hit 4 miles.  The consistent pace definitely helps during speedwork. On the track, my pace often drops a little each set, but today I actually did each 400 a little faster. The treadmill takes the mental guessing game out of the equation.

To really make sure I will not be able to walk tomorrow, I tacked on some lower body strength moves.  That is another benefit of doing my speedwork at the gym. Normally, on speedwork days that is all I do since it is tiring enough. But since I was already at the gym, I figured go big or go home. I did walking lunges while holding a 10 pound plate, reverse lunges with 10 pound plate and squats with 40 pounds.  My legs were screaming at the end and that was all I could take. I foam rolled and then we got the heck out of there!

Do you love or hate the treadmill? I love it for what I use it for. I am not sure I would ever be able to do a long run on it, though. 5 miles is about my max on treadmill. But it is convenient, safe and gets the job done.