Monday, October 29, 2012

More Running Research Part 2

So a few month ago I posted a blog that discussed the science of running as well as endurance sports in general.  I continue with this post with more interesting scientific, nerdy, research on running.   

We begin with pacing strategy.  According to research found at PLOS One, apparently, " data support the concept that the muscular power output during high intensity exercise performance is actively regulated in an anticipatory manner that accounts for both the momentary sensations the athlete is experiencing as well as the relative amount of a competition to be completed."  

In other words, a person can subconsciously regulate their pace according to when they expect to finish.  This shows while training is extremely important, the psychological aspect of pacing strategy during the race is just as important.  

Continuing with the physiologic aspects of running, this article also in PLOS One "suggest that athletes are actively regulating their relative physiologic strain during competition, although there is evidence of poor regulation in the case of competitive failures."

So if you run all out at the beginning of a race; don't expect to reach your PR.  Balance and moderation are important through all stages of the race, and this is where pacing comes in.

Finally on a second topic, near and dear to why I need to run and bicycle as much as I do, this final research article in PLOS One discusses the correlation with exercise and inherited obesity and concludes, "Exceeding the minimum exercise dose currently recommended for general health benefits (energy equivalent to running 2–3 km/day) may substantially diminish the risk for inherited obesity. The results are consistent with other research suggesting the physical activity dose required to prevent unhealthy weight gain is greater than that recommended for other health benefits."

So this also explains why just doing the minimum suggested dose of exercise, or even more exercise than most people, doesn't necessarily equal unhealthy weight gain.

Hope everyone enjoyed the science lesson.  Back to running.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Using Phone Apps Wisely

From my earlier posts on running and cycling apps, you can tell I am a big fan of Strava.  I love being able to both track my accomplishments and be able to compare my stats to other Strava users.  So you can understand why I thought the following story was a bit interesting.

Apparently Strava is being sued by a family of a cyclist that was killed in an accident. The cyclist was going 10 miles over the speed limit on Grizzly Peak in the Berkeley Hills, trying to beat someone else time and lost control of his bicycle.

As with any app, program, MP3 player, or piece of equipment that you use in any activity, the operator of the device needs to use it responsibly.  So what struck me with this story is that, while the rider was trying to use Strava to "beat" another cyclist time going down a dangerous stretch of road, he bears the responsibility of his actions.

Having come across a similar accident a few years back in the Oakland Hills.  The cyclist had been going down hill to fast and slid on wet pavement that was in the shadow of some trees.  We drove him to the hospital where we learned that he had broken his hip.

It is unfortunate that we allow others suffer for our own poor judgement; however, I think it is interesting to blame a piece of software.

To sum up the point I am making, use your GPS, phone app, IPod responsibly.  Know your limits and be modest in your capabilities.  It is OK not to be the crazy one that has the best time.  Push yourself; however, in the realms of reason.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hill Running - Accents and Descents

Victor, Tim Long, and Lucho
So as I had stated in previous posts, one of the areas that I really need work on is my descents.  I am fine with short distances; however, if I am running hard downhill for a few miles my quads are useless three to five days after.  I know that a lot of it has to do with conditioning; however, a lot of it has to do with technique. 

 So I really was excited when my wife signed us up for a hill running clinic that Tim Long's (a.k.a. Footfeathers) was conducting in the Marin Headlands.  He brought friends to this clinic, Tim Waggoner (a.k.a. Lucho) and Victor Ballesteros, so you got a full breadth of experience.

Climbing our practice hill.
Lucho, was still recovering from his record performance at the Leadman series, so he was still recovering.  It was nice to see though that these guys are mortal and go through some of the same aches and pains that we all do; even though his effort was a magnitude 11 compared to the magnitude 5 that I am used to!

It was a pretty cold day; however, there was a pretty good turnout.  In fact there were several that had run the Rocky Ridge half-marathon and 10K the day before, so we were in great company.  

Even Victor got into the action.  Notice one foot stays on the ground always.
Tim Long took us up a hill above Rodeo Beach and demonstrated downhill technique.  Basically, you keep your upper body perpendicular to the hill while you are running down in a sitting position.  The best comparison is adapting mogul skiing technique to running.  Your feet are not extended out but make very short but quick steps, with one foot on the ground at all time so that you minimize the force of all of your weight on one leg.

Tim Waggoner illustrated his method, which was similar with the exception that instead you are standing a bit more.  Short quick steps again, keeping one foot on the ground also.

After everyone took turns with feedback from Tim Long, we worked on our ascents.  Basically it is very much like speed walking up hill; however, using your upper body to propel you up the mountain.  Tim Waggoner then showed the method currently being used on the European circuit, which is basically done by placing your hands on your knees and pushing up.

After the clinic, everyone went for a run towards Tennessee Valley. I ran with them a bit; however, decided to cut back to meet Beth who was exploring another part of the trail.  All in all, it is definitely worth the $30 and I learned a lot. Tim does a series of these clinics every month or two and cover subjects like hill training, nutrition, and race planning and strategy.  Check here on a regular basis if you are interested.

Truman is a very happy pup with Cat Corbett!  Photo Brazen Photographer
However, my training wasn’t complete for the weekend.  As I mentioned on my Rocky Ridge post; I was able to run some of the race with Catra Corbett and her dog Truman.  For downhill she recommended that I Google pose running.  Basically it is where you again lean forward, perpendicular to the hill.  You can also find videos on YouTube. The key here is that your feet stay below you so that you are never pounding your quads.  I actually tried this during the race and did not have any quad problems .
So ideally, for me, I will be using the method that Cat Corbett suggested for long downhill firetrails and the Tim Long and Tim Waggoner’s method for technical stuff. 

 At the end of it all, everyone develops their own technique; however, it is great to revisit and refine it every once and a while.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rocky Ridge 2012

So it was an awesome day for running at Brazen Racing Rocky Ridge Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K!!!  The temperature was just right for our families fourth run at this race.  Emma and me would run the 10K and Sophie and Myles would run the 5K with Beth.  In fact this would be my first attempt at this distance at this race with Beth running it last year.

To be frank, this is a tough race with over 1,900 feet of elevation gain, mostly between mile 2 and 3.  The first two miles though is great!!  It takes me back to high school when I used to run the trails below Stadium High School in Tacoma.  Pretty much all single track, rolling through the Oak Trees, it can be sometimes technical but full of fun!!  Since this is also part of the 5K course my youngest daughter and son treat it like a roller coaster.
Here comes Emma!!

After you run through this section, followed with a bit of downhill fire road you come to the first aid station.  Emma had started out strong; however, she began to drop back after the first mile.  I made it to the aid station about the same time I saw our son and Beth running by on the 5K. 
Cat Corbett with Truman, who won the age division medal!!

After the aid station we began the 1 mile, 1,495 foot elevation gain.  This is where Catra Corbett caught up with me.  She had been running with her dachshund Truman who she recently adopted.  It was nice that I could keep up with her going up the hill and basically run within eye shot of her the rest of the race. At different points I was able to ask some pointers, such as how best to do down hill running.  I notoriously have quad problems after hill runs, so it was nice to ask how she was able to complete over 80 runs over 100 miles without having quad problems.  In fact she will completing another 100-miler next week, Javelina Jundred. For more on Cat Corbet, listen to her interview on ULTRARunnerpodcast.

Wonderful foggy moister!!!
It was really foggy at the top of the ridge, with the trees catching the moisture and dropping down on the trail like rain.  I loved this part, even though it was cold and wet.  It reminded me of when I would ski in Washington when you could only see a couple of feet in front of your face.  But, it was still pretty refreshing.  

Then I began the downhill.  It was wonderful.  It was just steep enough to pull me down the hill but not steep enough to tear up my quads.  In fact I feel great.  Once the finish line was in sight, I left it all on the hill and ran as fast as I could.  My best time on a trail 10K was 1:11:56 on Brazen's Wildcat course last year.  I knew I was close to beating that time and I did at 1:11:12.  This is quite an accomplishment since this  seems to be a much tougher course.

Just as I was finishing I saw Myles, he had just finished (at 53 minutes); and Sophie finished a few seconds behind me (at 56 minutes).  Emma came in at 1:28, which bests her last trail 10K by 15 minutes.  All kids did great with each of them receiving age division medals. For a breakdown of Sophie and Myles run, check out Beth's blog.

To summarize, this is a challenging course; however, because Brazen Racing does such a excellent job in support, it is definitely worth a try.  The only negative was that we missed our friends who were running the half-marathon (its not the same with Mr. and Mrs. NotThatLucas) .  We hope you had most excellent runs and see you at the next adventure!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Trail Running feels soo sweet!

So this past weekend, Beth took me on a run to Burma Rd. up at Mt. Diablo.  It is so gorgeous back there that I was really excited to do it.  Especially since this would be the first run in awhile that we could do together, without the kids.

The run starts in the Castle Rock Regional Park in Walnut Creek and continues out the park into Mt. Diablo State Park along Stage Rd. After about two miles, we took a single track up Sunrise Trail to the main fire road that would take us up to Burma.  In all, there is about 1,900 feet of elevation gain.  

We saw nine deer this morning, and the weather was perfect.  Everywhere else in the Bay Area appeared to be socked in with fog, but not where we were.  Once we got to the top of the tough climb up Burma, we could see the entire Diablo Valley, the China Wall, and back over to Castle Rock.  Going down Burma Rd. trail was tougher than going up requiring us to sidestep most of the way.

Once we got back to Sunrise, we decided to run the ridge behind Castle Rock.  The prior week, Beth had found a trail down from the ridge and we attempted to find an easier way down.  Unfortunately, I am not the greatest trailblazer, so my way ended up being harder than the way Beth had discovered.  It required again, sidestepping down the mountain and climbing over two barbwire fences to get back to the main trail.  It was funny to see after our excursion the Contra Costa Search and Rescue practicing at the base of the trail.

That said, the view from the ridge is beautiful, with plenty wonderful rock formations to see; though, I wouldn't recommend the trail we used to come down.

So this weekend includes the much anticipated Rocky Ridge Trail run.  I will be running the 10K with my daughter and Sophie and Myles will be running the 5K with Beth.  The next day, Beth and I will get some long awaited hill training Clinic by Tim Long's (a.k.a. Footfeathers) ,Tim Waggoner (a.k.a. Lucho), and Victor Ballesteros   in the Marin Headlands. I will post on Monday how it all went!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wake Me Up When September Ends.....

So to say that September was a monster is an understatement.  Two rounds of colds, insomnia, magnitude 11 self-induced anxiety, meant not a lot of running or cycling.  And even though I tried to run the Diablo Half-marathon to the top of Mt. Diablo, I could only manage 4 messily miles to mess up my Athlinks profile.
1 mile down, really can I climb another 3,000 feet?

And as you can tell by my  non-existent blogging I really haven't been in the running mood.  It is really funny what your body does when it is under stress and how much exercise is tied up more with your psychological state than your physical state.  I have always known that about myself.  It basically comes down to letting the "I can'ts" outnumber the "I cans." The scary thing is that I know my ability and limits, I just loose my confidence in what I know.
Crazy can didn't.

So last week I was able to finally break out of the doldrums and ran a couple of times.  It was nice and it really felt good; however, I could definitely see that I have lost some of my base.  Meanwhile, my wife is blazing trails all over Mt. Diablo, which for me means I have a lot of catching up to do!!

Anxiety is a killer.  The solution is balance with a spiritual feeding program as well as physical exercise.  But isn't funny that the things that would help us out the most are the things that we minimize.

So later this month I will be running the Rocky Ridge 10K with my daughter followed the next day with a Footfeathers hill running clinic (which my wife got for me for our 15th wedding anniversary, I am so very excited thank you love!!).   However, I have a lot of re-conditioning on my plate till then.  So I am glad that the "I can'ts" are under control for the time being. 

To more blogging and running this month!!
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