Monday, 14 September 2015

Recovery Run

By Matt Fitzgerald, Published Mar. 19, 2014

Recovery runs will do just as much to enhance your race performances as any other type of workout. 

Table of Contents:

Workout Of The Week: Recovery Runs
Practical Guidelines For Recovery Runs

Recovery runs don’t actually accelerate muscle recovery, but they do have other important benefits.

If you asked a stadium-size crowd of other runners to name the most important type of running workout, some would say tempo runs, others would say long runs, and still others would say intervals of one kind or another. None would mention recovery runs. Unless I happened to be in that stadium.

I won’t go quite so far as to say that recovery runs are more important than tempo runs, long runs, and intervals, but I do believe they are no less important. Why? Because recovery runs, if properly integrated into your training regimen, will do just as much to enhance your race performances as any other type of workout. Seriously.

RELATED: Improve Tomorrow’s Workout Today

It is widely assumed that the purpose of recovery runs—which we may define as relatively short, slow runs undertaken within a day after a harder run—is to facilitate recovery from preceding hard training. You hear coaches talk about how recovery runs increase blood flow to the legs, clearing away lactic acid, and so forth. The truth is that lactic acid levels return to normal within an hour after even the most brutal workouts. Nor does lactic acid cause muscle fatigue in the first place. Nor is there any evidence that the sort of light activity that a recovery run entails promotes muscle tissue repair, glycogen replenishment, or any other physiological response that actually is relevant to muscle recovery.

In short, recovery runs do not enhance recovery. The real benefit of recovery runs is that they allow you to find the optimal balance between the two factors that have the greatest effect on your fitness and performance: training stress and running volume. Here’s how:

Training stress is what your body experiences in workouts that test the present limits of your running fitness. You can be fairly sure a workout has delivered a training stress when it leaves you severely fatigued or completely exhausted. The two basic categories of workouts that deliver a training stress are high-intensity runs (intervals, tempo runs, hill repeats) and long runs. A training program whose objective is to prepare you for a peak race performance must feature plenty of “key workouts” that challenge your body’s capacity to resist the various causes of high-intensity fatigue (muscular acidosis, etc.) and long-duration fatigue (muscle tissue damage, etc). By exposing your body to fatigue and exhaustion, key workouts stimulate adaptations that enable you to resist fatigue better the next time.

Running volume, on the other hand, has a positive effect on running fitness and performance even in the absence of exhaustive key workouts. In other words, the more running you do (within the limit of what your body can handle before breaking down), the fitter you become, even if you never do any workouts that are especially taxing. The reason is that increases in running economy are very closely correlated with increases in running mileage. Research by Tim Noakes, M.D., and others suggests that while improvement in other performance-related factors such as VO2max ceases before a runner achieves his or her volume limit, running economy continues to improve as running mileage increases, all the way to the limit. For example, if the highest running volume your body can handle is 50 miles per week, you are all but certain to achieve greater running economy at 50 miles per week than at 40 miles per week, even though your VO2max may stop increasing at 40 miles.

You see, running is a bit like juggling. It is a motor skill that requires communication between your brain and your muscles. A great juggler has developed highly refined communication between his brain and muscles during the act of jugging, which enables him to juggle three plates with one hand while blindfolded. A well-trained runner has developed super-efficient communication between her brain and muscles during the act of running, allowing her to run at a high sustained speed with a remarkably low rate of energy expenditure. Sure, the improvements that a runner makes in neuromuscular coordination are less visible than those made by a juggler, but they are no less real.

For both the juggler and the runner, it is time spent simply practicing the relevant action that improves communication between the brain and the muscles. It’s not a matter of testing physiological limits, but of developing a skill through repetition. Thus, the juggler who juggles an hour a day will improve faster than the juggler who juggles five minutes a day, even if the former practices in a dozen separate five-minute sessions and therefore never gets tired. And the same is true for the runner.

Now, training stress—especially key workouts inflicting high-intensity fatigue—and running volume sort of work at cross-purposes. If you go for a bona fide training stress in every workout, you won’t be able to do a huge total amount of running before breaking down. By the same token, if you want to achieve the maximum volume of running, you have to keep the pace slow and avoid single long runs in favor of multiple short runs. But then you won’t get those big fitness boosts that only exhaustive runs can deliver. In other words, you can’t maximize training stress and running volume simultaneously. For the best results, you need to find the optimal balance between these two factors, and that’s where recovery runs come in.

By sprinkling your training regimen with relatively short, easy runs, you can achieve a higher total running volume than you could if you always ran hard. Yet because recovery runs are gentle enough not to create a need for additional recovery, they allow you to perform at a high level in your key workouts and therefore get the most out of them.

I believe that recovery runs also yield improvements in running economy by challenging the neuromuscular system to perform in a pre-fatigued state. Key workouts themselves deliver a training stress that stimulates positive fitness adaptations by forcing a runner to perform beyond the point of initial fatigue. As the motor units that are used preferentially when you run begin to fatigue, other motor units that are less often called upon must be recruited to take up the slack so the athlete can keep running. In general, “slow-twitch” muscle fibers are recruited first and then “fast-twitch” fibers become increasingly active as the slow-twitch fibers wear out. By encountering this challenge, your neuromuscular system is able to find new efficiencies that enable you to run more economically.

Recovery runs, I believe, achieve a similar effect in a slightly different way. In a key workout you experience fatigued running by starting fresh and running hard or far. In a recovery run you start fatigued from your last key workout and therefore experience a healthy dose of fatigued running without having to run hard or far. For this reason, although recovery runs are often referred to as “easy runs”, if they’re planned and executed properly they usually don’t feel very easy. Speaking from personal experience, while my recovery runs are the shortest and slowest runs I do, I still feel rather miserable in many of them because I am already fatigued when I start them. This miserable feeling is, I think, indicative of the fact that the run is accomplishing some real, productive work that will enhance my fitness perhaps almost as much as the key workout that preceded it. Viewed in this way, recovery runs become essentially a way of squeezing more out of your key workouts.

Practical Guidelines For Recovery Runs

Now that I’ve sold you on the benefits of recovery runs, let’s look at how to do them so that they most effectively serve their purpose of balancing training stress and running volume in your training. There are five specific guidelines I suggest you follow.

1. If you run fewer than five times a week, recovery runs are generally unnecessary. Recovery runs can only serve their purpose of balancing training stress with running volume if you run five or more times per week. If you run just three or four times per week, you’re better off going for a training stress in each run, or at least in three out of four.

2. Whenever you run again within 24 hours of completing a “key” workout (i.e., a workout that has left you severely fatigued or exhausted), the follow-up run should usually be a recovery run.

3. Do key workouts and recovery runs in a 1:1 ratio. There’s seldom a need to insert two easy runs between hard runs, and it’s seldom advisable to do two consecutive hard runs within 24 hours. A good schedule for runners who run six days a week is three key workouts alternating with three recovery runs, as in the following example:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Off Key Workout (High Intensity) Recovery Run Key Workout (High Intensity) Recovery Run Key Workout (Long Duration) Recovery Run
Most elite runners who train twice a day do a hard run in the morning followed by a recovery run in the afternoon or a hard run in the afternoon followed by a recovery run the next morning. The frequency is twice that of the above example but the ratio of key workouts to recovery runs remains 1:1.

4. Recovery runs are largely unnecessary during base training, when most of your workouts are moderate in both intensity and duration. When you begin doing formal high-intensity workouts and exhaustive long runs, it’s time to begin doing recovery runs in a 1:1 ratio with these key workouts.

5. There are no absolute rules governing the appropriate duration and pace of recovery runs. A recovery run can be as long and fast as you want, provided it does not affect your performance in your next scheduled key workout (which is not particularly long or fast, in most cases). Indeed, because the purpose of recovery runs is to maximize running volume without sacrificing training stress, your recovery runs should generally be as long as you can make them short of affecting your next key workout. A little experimentation is needed to find the recovery run formula that works best for each individual runner.

6. Don’t be too proud to run very slowly in your recovery runs, as Kenya’s runners are famous for doing. Even very slow running counts as practice of the running stride that will yield improvements in your running economy, and running very slowly allows you to run longer (i.e. maximize volume) without sabotaging your next key workout.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Pain in the Rear: High Hamstring Tendinitis

What it is and the exercises you can do to fix this frustrating injury.

Ian McMahan
March 9, 2012

The hamstring muscles are responsible for propelling you forward, but high hamstring tendinitis can hinder your stride and be a real pain in the rear.

Get together with any group of runners and it's like a convention of orthopedic surgeons. Long, complex-sounding conditions are referred to and discussed at length. Treatment options, like night splints, orthotics and various braces are compared and suggested by injury veterans who have survived common running maladies such as plantar fasciitis and sore kneecaps.

There is one injury, however, that is spoken about in whispers, often since the inflicted runner no longer makes it to the group runs or track workouts. The condition is known in the medical jargon as proximal hamstring tendinopathy or high hamstring tendinitis and refers to inflammation of the common origin of the three hamstring muscles. To the rest of us it is quite literally a pain in the … rear.

Among its many functions, the hamstring complex is responsible for propelling your body forward with every step. The hamstring complex is actually composed of three separate muscles that share the same origin at the bottom of the pelvis but all attach to different areas after crossing behind the knee joint. If you were a car, your quads would be the springs and your hamstrings would be the engine. Needless to say, like the engine of a car, more miles frequently means greater chance of the engine breaking down. Despite both the potential seriousness of the injury and its prevalence among runners, it is largely ignored in the orthopedic literature, with much greater attention focused on traumatic injuries of the hamstring.

In one of the few articles that investigates high hamstring tendinopathy in a runner, Dr. Michael Fredericson notes that the basic anatomy and function of the hamstring muscle complex predisposes it to running injury. As the muscle is largely composed of "fast-twitch" Type II muscle fibers, capable of generating a high degree of tension on the tendon with every contraction, a great deal of tension is generated within the common tendon of the three muscles. Additionally, while running, the hamstring muscle contracts while in a stretched position as the leg strides out in front of the body. This forces the hamstring to begin contracting with the hamstring muscles and tendon already under significant tension from the stretch.

Functionally, the hamstring muscle complex has three basic roles with running: slowing the striding leg down as it approaches the ground; extending the hip and propulsion of the body forward; and assisting the calf muscle as it helps to move the knee.

After seeing literally thousands of patients over the past 12 years in sports physical therapy, one fact has become very apparent: high hamstring tendinitis is almost exclusively a runner's injury. In this it is unique, as "tennis elbow" is found equally in common mechanics and tennis players, and "jumper's knee," is not only suffered by basketball and volleyball players. High hamstring tendinopathy is also characterized by several other factors, some of which are critical to the initial diagnosis and subsequent management of the condition.

The predisposing factor for many runners can be a known or unidentified level of sciatic nerve irritation. This nerve irritation can be caused by lower back dysfunction, overstretching of the nerves in the leg or because of swelling in the area of the tendon. In addition to his findings described above, Fredericson observed the inclusion of nerve and lower back irritation with the presentation of hamstring dysfunction in an elite runner. The initial introduction of tendon pain is often preceded by a sometimes subtle level of low back discomfort and radiating tingling, numbness or pain in the back of the leg. This ensuing nerve irritation may weaken the hamstring muscle and leave the muscle and tendon vulnerable to injury.

Case Study:

Mary, a 45-year-old runner and triathlete, has been unable to train for the New York City Marathon because of a pain in the buttock and sit bone region. She works at a computer and frequently sits for six to eight hours a day. She will sometimes feel lower back pain that includes a sharp tingling down the back of her leg. She is able to run at a very slow place but cannot complete her long runs or perform any speed work due to pain at her sit bone.

As exhibited by Mary's case, the injury is characterized by a deep pain at the site of the ischial tuberosity or "sit bone." The condition begins with soreness after running but progresses to pain with activity and often soreness with the direct pressure of sitting. In most cases the pain comes on without any acute event but rather increases over time with continued running. As the runner can often have a history of lower back pain, the symptoms frequently include a radiating pain that crosses the knee, suggestive of nerve inflammation from the lower back. After a longer period of high hamstring injury, changes in running gait are sometimes apparent as the runner begins to "ride" over the leg and not use the hamstring complex to propel the body forward.

The three hamstring muscles (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus) have a common origin on the ischial tuberosity of the pelvis. This common tendon is subjected to a high degree of tension as the hamstring muscle group propels the body forward during running. This repetitive tension can lead to an overuse injury of the high hamstring tendon.

Treatment of the injury should initially address identification and treatment of any lower back involvement with a visit to an orthopedic surgeon or spine specialist. Once lower back pathology has been ruled out or treated, treatment of the high hamstring can begin. The important areas to address are strength of the hamstring, hip and leg, flexibility, and soft-tissue mobilization of the tendon and hamstring. Since running is an aggravating factor and is likely preventing the healing process from beginning, it is best to find other means of cardiovascular exercise.

Mary makes several ergonomic changes to address her lower back symptoms, including avoiding the slumped position, not sitting for longer than 15-20 minutes without a short standing break and temporarily avoiding hamstring stretching to allow the sciatic nerve to heal. Mary also begins an exercise program that emphasizes general leg strengthening and avoids direct hamstring exercise. She stops running and starts riding a stationary bike and swimming to cross train.

The purpose of the initial phase of the treatment process is focused on cross-training and general hip and leg strengthening (quad, calf, gluteal muscles, hip abductor). Special care should be taken early in the reconditioning process to avoid too much stress on the healing tendon. Direct hamstring work, as with a hamstring curl machine, can be aggravating to the tendon and should be avoided at this stage. Direct hamstring stretching should also be avoided or done cautiously to prevent overstretching an inflamed sciatic nerve or hamstring tendon.

After a reconditioning and healing period of six weeks, Mary no longer feels the same level of soreness at her high hamstring tendon. She is able to begin full weight-bearing training on the Stairmaster and elliptical trainer and adds direct hamstring strengthening exercise into her rehabilitation program. Mary also starts to stretch her hamstring and uses a foam cylinder to massage the hamstring muscle and tendon.

After this protective phase is completed, more specific hamstring work can begin, as detailed in the included exercise program. As a general criterion, once hamstring strength is nearly equal, a light running program can be initiated.

Prevention of hamstring problems mirror the later phases of the rehabilitation program. Those without any hamstring problems will benefit from maintaining or improving hamstring and leg strength and can incorporate direct hamstring work into the initial exercise program. All phases of exercises, as detailed in the exercise program, can be used. Another important factor in preventing high hamstring problems is avoiding excessive stress to the lower back. As in the case of Mary, being mindful of sitting ergonomics can help with those who sit for long periods of the day. The important factors are avoiding the slumped position when sitting and taking frequent sitting breaks.

The process of returning to running after an extended period of high hamstring injury can be a long one but can be done successfully with a patient and thorough reconditioning program. As with any injury, early intervention is the key to minimizing time away from running. Many studies have shown the importance of resistance training for endurance athletes, especially as they age.


These exercises are not meant to take the place of either an evaluation by a physician or a guided treatment program by a physical therapist. If any difficulties are experienced with the program, seek the guidance of a sports medicine professional.

Level 1 Exercises:

This initial level of exercise is focused on general hip and leg strength without specifically isolating the hamstring muscles. Cycling or swimming should be used for cardiovascular training. At this point, running should be stopped so that the hamstring tendon can begin to heal.

                                         Flat Bridge (Glute muscles)

  • Tighten abs, lift hips off of floor and tighten glute muscles.
  • Hold position, taking care not to lift too high and arch lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then try 15 repetitions, lifting hips up and down as pictured below.
  • Continue holds and repetitions until glutes are fully fatigued and are burning.
  • 3-4 sets
  • Can be performed with one leg for extra difficulty.

                                                              Leg Press (quadriceps) 

  • Using 30-40 pounds, position foot and lower leg so that knee and foot are at the same height as pictured below.
  • Keeping weight on heel of foot, press out and hold position
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then try 15 small repetitions.
  • Continue holds and repetitions until quad is fatigued and is burning.
  • Do 3-4 sets with a short break between each.
  • Side-lying Hip (Hip abductors)
  • 10-15 repetitions in each of the below positions without stopping in between.
  • Fatigue/burn should be felt in outside of hip.
  • 3-4 sets.

                                                Foam Roll Hamstring Massage

Use foam roller to massage hamstring and tendon for 5-10 minutes.
Level 2 Exercises

This second level of exercise should be started when the hamstring tendon area becomes less sore to direct pressure and when the previous level of exercises can be performed without any significant discomfort. Cardiovascular training can be moved to the Stairmaster or elliptical.

                                             Hamstring Bridge (Hamstring muscles)

  • Tighten abs, lift hips off of floor and tighten hamstring muscles by trying to pull heels toward hips.
  • Hold position, taking care not to lift too high and arch lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then try 15 repetitions, lifting hips up and down as pictured below.
  • Continue holds and repetitions until hamstring muscles are fully fatigued and are burning.
  • 3-4 sets.
  • Can be performed with one leg for extra difficulty.

Squat (quads, glutes, hamstring)

  • Squat down while reaching hips back.
  • Weight should be on heels.
  • Hold position slightly above 90 degrees for 20-30 seconds, then move up and down for 10 repetitions.
  • 3-4 sets

Hamstring Stretch:

  • Lie on back with stretching leg slightly bent at the knee.
  • Point foot
  • Bring leg back until a stretch is felt in the hamstrings, hold for 30 seconds.
  • Stretch should not be felt in calf or foot.

Level 3 Exercises

This final level of exercise can begin when the hamstring-specific exercises of Level 2 do not elicit any soreness at the high hamstring area. Two to four weeks of the direct hamstring strengthening exercises of Level 2 should be finished before moving to Level 3.

Hamstring Curl (Hamstrings)

  • Select a lighter weight so that a higher number of repetitions can be performed.
  • Bar should be set at the end of the lower leg.
  • 3-4 sets of 15

Treadmill Pull (Hamstring, glutes)

  • Stand on the side of treadmill with the involved leg on the belt and the treadmill off.
  • Keep opposite hip against side rail.
  • Keeping foot flat and knee fully extended, pull belt backwards until heel begins to lift off of belt.
  • 3-4 sets of 10-15.
  • Additional resistance can be provided by having someone rest one foot on belt for extra friction.

Hamstring Squat (Hamstrings, quads, glutes)

  • Squat down while reaching hips back, back should be parallel to floor.
  • Weight should be on heels.
  • Hold position slightly above 90 degrees for 20-30 seconds, then move up and down for 10 repetitions.
  • 3-4 sets.

General Program Guidelines:

Exercises should be performed three to four days a week, with at least one day of rest in between.
After advancing to the next level of exercise, continue to do the previous levels
The goal of each exercise is to reach muscular fatigue and burn. After performing the exercises several times they should begin to get easier. In order to keep them challenging, add time and repetitions to each set as necessary.
Each exercise should be done to at least a moderate level of fatigue/burn and should be felt in the indicated muscle. It is common for an injured leg to fatigue/burn less than the uninjured leg, despite the fact that it is usually much weaker. After each exercise, fatigue should be experienced equally in both legs. Care should be taken to focus on using both legs evenly to ensure that the injured leg's muscles can be strengthened.
For those with the goal of establishing a program for injury prevention, perform Level 1 and 2 exercises for one to two weeks apiece before starting Level 3 exercises.

Ian McMahan is head athletic trainer at Active Care Physical Therapy in San Francisco and has worked with runners and endurance athletes of all ages and ability levels. He has a master's degree in exercise physiology from the University of Maryland. Since having to walk half of his first 5K in college, he has run five marathons, including two Boston Marathons.

Lisa Giannone is the founder of Active Care Physical Therapy in San Francisco and has worked with professional and elite athletes from all over the U.S. She is responsible for developing the exercise theory and technique of many of the exercises in the hamstring program.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Trail Running Tips

9 Trail Running Tips for Beginners 

By Marty Munson | For

If you want to go off-road running and enjoy the peace and quiet of the trails, hurry up;     it's about to get crowded out there.

With the weather getting warmer, more people are ditching the gym and heading outside for a run or hike.
Trail running benefits include new scenery, no car-exhaust and, if you want it, some extra-challenging terrain that can add a whole new energy to your running experience. But roadies are often surprised by how different off-road running is. Here's what to know before you head out:

More: 5 Reasons to Try Trail Running


"Trails force you to use your body in a way that road running often doesn't," says movement specialist and elite triathlete Jessi Stensland

The uneven surface makes you engage your core and lateral stabilizing muscles, says Stensland, who also founded MovementU, nationwide workshops about movement efficiency, injury prevention and endurance performance.

"On the trail, you need to make decisions about foot placement more often and respond to the terrain quickly," Stensland says. "What facilitates that is a stable core."

It doesn't take long to get confident. "At first, you're worried about where to put your feet and you're worried about falling. Once you get more experienced, you're not going to stare at everything but you'll see it anyway," says Joe Prusaitis, ultrarunner, race director, and trail running coach for the Austin, Texas-based Tejas Trails.
"It's like driving a car: You're not concentrating on every little thing in front of you, but you're paying attention to it. As long as you keep scanning, you'll be fine."
"The road runner might be fit from running, but they're not fit for trail running," Prusaitis says. "Most road runners are used to the same foot plant every single strike and they don't realize
that on the trail, you land differently [each time]."

"The first few times out, you don't want to do a lot of mileage because it can trash you pretty good," he adds.


"On the road, you can take the shortest distance between two points," Prusaitis says. "But on the trail, you're looking for the path that requires the least amount of energy. That might mean you're taking switchbacks up the face of a mountain rather than climbing straight up a hill like you might on the road." Especially at first, plan on a trail run taking longer than the same distance on the road.

Part of the joy and challenge of trail running is planning a route. Lots of people go out on a trail and plan on turning around and coming back the same way. The problem? "Things look different when you're coming the other way," Prusaitis says. "Every time you turn on a trail, you need to turn around and look behind you so you'll recognize it when you're coming back."

More: Hitting the Trail


This is a must, even if you're just going out for a short time. Remember that you can't just stop at the local deli once on the trail.

"On the trail, there's so much more to see than when you're on the road," says Stensland. "I often bring a camera. At one race, in particular, I shoved a camera in my sports bra at the last minute-that's something I never would have done in a road race. I didn't know just how epic the course would be-it finished atop Mt. Baldy outside of Los Angeles-and I was so stoked to have my camera to capture that memory."

More: iPhone Photography: Tips for Your Adventures


Off road running shoes are designed to protect you from rocks; they have more support on the bottom and bumpers on the front. But you don't have to buy them for the very first time you go off road, Prusaitis says. "You can wear the shoes you're already comfortable in. I think it's more important to have the right shoe for your foot than the right shoe for the terrain," he says. "If you're running on a manicured trail that doesn't have rocks or roots, you may not need trail shoes at all."

More: Choose the Right Trail Running Shoes


"I think trail running makes your legs stronger since you're usually either going uphill or downhill. And since you're doing a lot of jockeying around to position yourself, trail runners use their upper bodies more," Prusaitis says. Does this make you better on the roads? "I'm not sure it makes you run the roads better, but I think it makes you finish better. If you have a firmer core and a stronger upper body, these help you finish a race better when your legs start to tire than someone who doesn't have this strength."

More: 3 Reasons Strength Training Will Benefit Your Run

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Friday, 15 February 2013

Distance Running: How Many Miles Should You Run?

By Jason Karp.For Active.Com

Jason Karp, Ph.D. Dr. Jason Karp is a nationally-recognized coach, 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, and owner of Run Coach  He holds a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and is founder and coach of REVO2LT Running Team and Dr. Karp's Run-Fit Boot Camp. He writes for international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of five books, including101 Developmental Concepts & Workouts for Cross Country Runners,101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners,Running for Women and Running a Marathon for Dummies, and is a frequent presenter at national fitness and coaching conferences.

One of the "rules" of distance running is that you must run lots of miles. Indeed, most runners link their fitness level to the number of miles they run, inevitably believing that more is better. A friend of mine who missed the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials in the 1500 meters by four seconds ran 100 miles per week. Frankly, I thought he was nuts. And I began to wonder, is it really necessary to run 100 miles per week to run a race that takes less than four minutes?
As legendary coach Arthur Lydiard so ardently claimed, lots of aerobic running forms the basis of any distance runner's training program. Whether you're training for the mile or the marathon, it all starts with mileage. That's because endurance training stimulates many physiological, biochemical and molecular adaptations. All of these adaptations can be thought of as your body's attempt to cope with the demand placed on it by running every day. For example, endurance training:

  1. stimulates more fuel (glycogen) to be stored in your muscles
  2. increases the use of intramuscular fat at the same speed to spare glycogen
  3. improves your blood vessels' oxygen-carrying capability by increasing the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin
  4. creates a greater capillary network for a more rapid diffusion of oxygen into the muscles
  5. increases mitochondrial density and the number of aerobic enzymes through the complex activation of gene expression. This increases your aerobic metabolic capacity. 

The link between an increase in mitochondrial enzyme activity and an increase in mitochondria's capacity to consume oxygen, first made in 1967 in the muscles of rats, has provided much insight into the adaptability of skeletal muscle. Generally, the greater the demand, the greater the adaptations. Although many scientists have acknowledged there is an upper limit to the volume of training that will cause further adaptations, research has not documented at what point these adaptations stop occurring in response to the demand. In other words, how much mileage is enough?

How Many Miles Are Enough?

The answer depends on a number of factors, primary among them your genetically determined propensity to adapt continually to greater amounts of running. In other words, how much running can you physically and psychologically handle? "It's very hard to say how much mileage is ideal to maximize the various cellular adaptations that take place as a function of time spent running," says exercise physiologist and coach Jack Daniels, Ph.D., author of Daniels' Running Formula. "The best answer might be to do as much as you can without losing interest or getting sick or injured."

Thursday, 11 October 2012

How to become a morning RUNNER!

If you think that morning runners are miracle workers, think again! Yes, they deserve two thumbs up for ignoring the irresistible temptation of their cozy beds and choosing to hit the streets instead. And yes, we admit that becoming a morning runner is no smooth sailing especially if you are not a morning person at the first place. Still, we bet that after reading this article you will become a passionate Am runner

Let’s get started…

Why would you consider morning running in the first place?

The rewards of morning runs are well worth the effort you initially put into them. Here are some of them:Ensuring that you will stick to your running schedule since no work, family, or any other obligations will ever be needed very early in the day
  • Kicking off your day with a metabolism boost
  • Enjoying optimal weather especially in the summer
  • Feeling energized and uplifted the entire day
  • Running across the streets care-free due to the limited traffic
  • Above all, races take place in the morning. So, if you are not used to morning runs, your race performance could be substantially affected

Now that you fully grasped why morning runs are good for you, Let talk about the “how to do it” part…

Mental and motivational tips for Am running wannabes

Create a compelling reason to do it. For example, if you are training for a marathon, it is a clever idea to include morning runs in your training schedule. With the rush and excitation of the big day, you will have every reason to follow through

  1. Make a commitment that you will run in the morning right before going to bed
  2. Have a clear plan about your morning run including your target distance, pace, and wake up time
  3. Tell your close friend that you decided to run in the morning and ask him to follow up with you
  4. If you are competitive by nature, here is a great tip for you: Remind yourself that if you didn’t do it, others will which translate into them outperforming you
  5. Have a motivational self-talk: “I didn’t sacrifice sleeping early on a Friday night to end up “ditching” this run. I will get up and go in a heartbeat. If others can do it, I can do it”
  6. Be realistic: Anything is hard in the beginning. So, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by deciding to wake up at 4 Am and hit the streets instantly if you haven’t done it before or have gone to bed after midnight! Some runners find it easier to wake up and do some morning activities for an hour or so and start running later

Common sense advises

  1. Lay out your clothes and running gear the night before
  2. Keep your clothes in the bathroom so you have to get up and wear them (Added bonus: your spouse will be happy that your healthy Am running addiction doesn’t translate into disturbing his/her sleep : ) )
  3. Go to bed early (11 pm maximum if you are aiming for a 5 am run)
  4. Do NOT hit snooze when the alarm rings. Even better, keep the arm far enough that you have to get out of bed to turn it off
  5. If you can’t keep your alarm away for fear it would disturb your spouse, here is a great tip: once you turn off the alarm, sit crossing your legs in bed for a minute or so. That’s it, if you can sit, then you can get up. As simple as that!
  6. Find fellow morning runners in your area so you help each other out on this “holy” mission
  7. Here is the best tip of all: don’t put too much thought into the process. Just get up, dress up and off you go. Make it automatic like washing your teeth and don’t second guess it

Funny Tips That WORK like magic!

  • Sleep in your running clothes
  • If your spouse was a morning person, ask him/her to throw cold water in your face if you didn’t wake up on your own
  • Set up 3 different alarms at 3 different times. Caution: this tip is only recommended for singles or those who miss being so : ) )
  • Drink a lot, and I mean a lot, of water before going to bed so that after visiting the bathroom at least 5 time throughout the night, getting up for a morning run will be a piece of cake
  • Here is my favorite tip of all:
  • Hit the snooze button every 5 minutes and do NOT run
  • Prepare to be showered with an avalanche of swear words form your spouse in the morning!
  • Repeat the same disaster for another 2 days
  • On the 3rd day, I bet getting out of bed and running would seem like a better alternative
  • Now I am saving the best for last: Visit right before going to bed for a healthy dose of motivation and inspiration

Final Advises

Definitely your body is not likely not be fully awake in the beginning, especially if you start running right after you woke up. Make sure to get enough warming up right take it easy during your first mile
And hey, enjoy the runner’s high you’ll be sure to experience with the fresh breeze of the morning

We have been there and we can tell you that once you manage to break free from your old habits and become a morning runner, you will feel ecstatic. How would it feel if you are hearing the moaning and groaning your sleepy co-workers when you can proudly say: I ran 5 miles today?

So, did we win our bet with you? Did you decide to become a morning runner after reading this article? We can’t wait to find out : )

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Running and Running History

Running and Running History 

Author: Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

What is running?

Here's the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of running: to go steadily by springing steps so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in each step. That's the key: both feet are in the air at once. During walking, one foot is always on the ground. Jogging is running slowly, and sprinting is running fast. I'll discuss both jogging and running in this article.

What's the history of running?

Human beings started walking and running some 4-6 million years ago when we evolved and rose from all fours. Ten thousand years ago, hunter-gatherers like the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, ran 15-75 miles a day on the hunt. But it was Pheidippides (490 BC), an ancient "day-runner," who put running on the map. Pheidippides is purported to have run 149 miles to carry the news of the Persian landing at Marathon to Sparta in order to enlist help for the battle. Scholars believe the story of Pheidippides may be a myth (if the Athenians wanted to send an urgent message to Athens, there was no reason why they could not have sent a messenger on horseback), yet the myth had legs (no pun intended) and was the genesis of the modern marathon. It was the first running of the marathon (26 miles 385 yard) in the modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens that commemorated Pheidippides' historic run. Throughout the latter part of the 19th century, track and field, including running, took a prominent place in the field of sport. By the late 1800s, children in school were competing in running races. In the 20th century, it was the famous black sprinter Jesse Owens who, in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, shattered Hitler's dream of proving the superiority of the Aryan race by winning gold medals in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and the 400-meter relay. More American were spectators of running than they were participants during the era of Jesse Owens, but that has changed in the past 35 years. Runners like George Sheehan, Bill Rodgers, Jeff Galloway, Alberto Salazar, and Grete Waitz (winner of nine NYC marathons from 1978-1988 and inspiration to all women to get out there and run!) promoted running through their athletic success, and now running is solidly a popular activity for exercise as well as for sport.

What are the health benefits of running?

The benefits of vigorous exercise are well described. The American College of Sports Medicine Position Statement on Exercise is a document chock-full of studies proving that vigorous exercise yields plenty of health benefits. One of the major points of the position statement is that there is a dose response to exercise; that is, the more you do, or the harder you do it, the more benefit you accrue. But this point is not to discount moderate exercise. You get plenty of benefit from moderate exercise, it's just that vigorous exercise seems to accrue even more benefit. The ACSM report makes it clear that "many significant health benefits are achieved by going from a sedentary state to a minimal level of physical activity; [but] programs involving higher intensities and/or greater frequency/durations provide additional benefits. For example, it was shown in one study that individuals who ran more than 50 miles per week had significantly greater increases in HDL cholesterol(the good fat) and significantly greater decreases in body fat, triglyceridelevels, and the risk of coronary heart disease than individuals who ran less than 10 miles per week. In addition, the long-distance runners had a nearly 50% reduction in high blood pressure and more than a 50% reduction in the use of medications to lower blood pressure and plasma cholesterol levels."

What are the fitness benefits of running?

Cardiorespiratory fitness (aerobic fitness or "cardio") is the ability of your heart to pump stronger and more efficiently and your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. As you get more aerobically fit, your heart will pump more blood and oxygen with each beat (this is called "stroke volume") and your muscles will extract (or consume) more oxygen. For instance, if you have 100 oxygen molecules floating around in your bloodstream, a conditioned muscle might consume 75 molecules, whereas a deconditioned muscle might only consume 30, or even fewer than that. In fact, elite distance runners can be as much as three times more efficient at consuming oxygen than sedentary individuals. Running improves your aerobic fitness by increasing the activity of enzymes and hormones that stimulate the muscles and the heart to work more efficiently.

Friday, 20 July 2012

My Wish Movie

My Wish Movie: I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

How Fast Should You Run?

If you really want to improve, you need to break out of the jogging rut.

Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

Most runners are essentially joggers. They do all of their runs at the same, steady, moderate pace. They might go a bit slower on their longest runs than they do on their shortest ones, and a bit faster on their best days than they do on their worst days, but they make no conscious effort to vary the pace of their training.

And that’s fine, as long as it works in relation to your goals and preferences. Specifically, if you enjoy jogging and if improving your race times is not especially important to you, then by all means, keep on jogging. However, if running at the same, steady, moderate pace all the time gets to be a little too monotonous for you, and/or you’re willing to put more effort into improving your performance, then you should incorporate pace variation into your training.

Even the most highly competitive runners jog most of the time. Easy running is great because the more of it you do, the fitter you get, and because it’s not terribly taxing you can do a lot of it. Faster running is more taxing, so it can only be done in small amounts. But a little goes a long way, especially when faster running is layered on top of a high volume of easy running.

Most competitive runners do two faster workouts per week. Some also add a small amount of faster running to a third workout—for example, a few wind sprints at the end of an easy run. This weekly schedule has become standard because it works better than any alternative for the majority of runners. If they do less, they don’t get as fast or race as well; if they do more, they burn out or get injured.

All fast running is not the same. There are a few speeds exceeding the natural jogging pace that competitive runners routinely hit in their training. It’s good to hit them all because each contributes to fitness development in a slightly different way than the others.

What’s often referred to as “tempo” pace is only moderately faster than your natural jogging pace. To find it, start at a jog and imagine shifting one gear up, pushing yourself just a little but remaining comfortable.

The next faster pace is known as threshold pace. This is the fastest pace at which you can remain fully in control of your breathing. At your threshold pace you’re breathing deeply, but not straining to get enough oxygen. For highly trained runners, threshold pace can be sustained for about one hour in race conditions. For beginners, it’s closer to a 30-minute maximum pace.

Faster still is VO2max pace. This is the pace at which you breathe as hard as you can. Actually, it’s the slowest pace at which you breathe as hard as you can. For most of us, it corresponds to the fastest speed we can sustain for six to 10 minutes. It’s very uncomfortable, but you can get used to it. VO2max running is almost always done in interval format. So, instead of going out and running six or seven minutes straight at this pace, at the end of which you’re completely exhausted, you might run 5 x 3:00 at VO2max pace with a 3:00 rest interval of easy jogging after each segment. The rationale here is that you can do a much greater total volume of VO2max pace running if you break it up into intervals than you can if you do one block straight to exhaustion.

Your next gear has no conventional name other than “speed”. It’s really a range of speeds faster than VO2max pace and slower than a full sprint. Runners usually incorporate speed work into their training in the form of intervals ranging between 200 and 400 meters in distance, or between 30 and 80 seconds in duration. For example, Nike coach Alberto Salazar like to have his athletes run 7 x 300 meters with jogging recoveries after each interval.

The fastest training pace is a full sprint—the fastest speed you can sustain for no more than 20 seconds. Even most competitive runners do no real sprinting, but they should, because it’s a terrific power builder and it’s fun.

The title of this article is, “How Fast Should You Run?” Perhaps you've noticed that I still haven’t answered this question. I've made the case for running at a variety of speeds, but what you need to know is exactly how fast you should run your threshold workouts, your VO2max intervals, and so forth.

There are two complementary ways to find the right pace for each workout. The first is to let the workout itself guide you. For example, an appropriate threshold workout for many runners consists of 20 minutes at threshold pace between a jogging warm up and a jogging cool down. Those 20 minutes should feel challenging but not exhausting. Your breathing should be heavy but controlled. If you run this workout using these guidelines and monitor your pace as you go, then whatever pace you wind up running is your current threshold pace. You can then use that numerical information to help guide future threshold efforts. Note that this pace will improve over time as you get fitter.

There are also various systems that prescribe appropriate target paces for individual runners based on their current fitness level. These require that you enter a recent race time or estimated current race performance capacity. They then run a calculation and spit out target paces for various types of workouts. The best workout pace calculators are very reliable, but they should not be treated as gospel. You still need to listen to your body when running appropriately formatted workouts and either speed up from your target pace or slow down as necessary.