Friday, October 31, 2008

October Review & New Article

Total mileage for the month of October was 94 miles for a year total of 1014 miles! That is averaging almost exactly 100 miles/month. Not really that much when you do the math but when you divide by number of workouts I am averaging about 7.25 miles per run since January.

I recently wrote a new article for the High Desert Runner newsletter and I thought I would give my blog readers a sneak peak.

How Can I become a Faster Runner? By Karl Stutelberg, PT

Think about this mathematical formula. Speed=stride length x stride frequency. There are two simple answers: An increased stride length will increase speed and an increase in stride frequency will also increase speed. Can you do this without expending more energy? The answer is YES (with training of course). The question of “how” is a little more complicated.

You could take longer steps or take many quick steps and you will certainly run faster, but you will not be able to maintain that change in stride over a long period of time. It simply is not efficient. An excessive increase in your stride length will cause more vertical movement and therefore decrease forward propulsion. Any rotational movement can also cause more energy expenditure and thus slow you down.

A more effective method is to increase your stride length through a combination of flexibility training and strength training. This type of training will allow for greater ROM, especially in the hips, and a stronger push off with each step. Exercise physiologists have found that the most efficient runners have a stride frequency of about 180 steps per minute. Too many or too few steps will waste precious energy.

Just as important as steps per minute is time spent on the ground. During the running stride there is either one leg on the ground or no legs on the ground. This time spent with one leg on the ground includes a deceleration phase where the body is slowing down.

One of the best ways to become a faster runner is to decrease the time spent on the ground. Muscles have an elastic recoil property that allows them to contract forcefully which transfers energy quickly and maintains forward movement. The best way to train the body to respond quickly and forcefully is plyometric training. Plyometric exercises include: squat jumps, split squat jumps, and single leg squat jumps with the goal of spending minimal time on the ground. Be mindful of the fact that you should always have an appropriate strength base before attempting plyometric exercises.

Recent studies show that plyometric training improves distance running performance by increasing running economy, meaning you can run at higher speeds with less effort. If ground contact time is improved by .01 seconds per step and you are running at 180 steps per minute, that equates to an improvement of 14.4 seconds per mile (on an 8:00 mile pace), or a 45 second improvement in 5K time, without doing any extra running. Is it possible, with consistent training and a proper strength base? I think so.

Matt Fitzgerald’s book Brain Training for Runners lists “the five characteristics of good running technique” as stiffness, compactness, ballistic action, stability, and symmetry. Plyometrics trains stiffness and ballistic action. On November 8th at 12 noon, at Valley Physical Therapy Group, Clay Patten and I will be presenting Circuit Strength Training for Runners. Come learn how to improve on the other three: compactness, stability, and symmetry through specific strength training exercises and become a faster, more efficient runner.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

6 mile easy run (46:39)

I went on a 6 mile easy run this morning in 46:39 (avg pace 7:47) as my first run since my half marathon on Sunday. I felt great about two days later but just haven't got out on the road since. At least I thought I felt great until after 6 miles this morning. Both of my calves have been sore all day with a few other aches here and there. At least it is symmetrical soreness (more normal type delayed onset muscle soreness). They say it takes one day to recover for every mile that you race, and I was pretty close to racing on Sunday. So it should take about 13 days to completely recover from that run.

The Runnersworld "Running Doc" Dr. Lewis G. Maharam answers the question of how to treat yourself immediately after a race to lessen muscle soreness here.

The hottest news this week is the build up for the New York City Marathon on Sunday November 2 (my son Micah's birthday). This is definitely a race that I want to do some day. See course map here. There are qualifying standards that I could meet (at least their half marathon standard 1:23:00). The race will be televised on Universal Sports and also live 8:45 ET on their website

It will be worth a watch, especially the women's field, which includes many of the top women in the world (including WR holder Paula Radcliffe) and two debut's with great potential: Kara Goucher and Kim Smith. Someone even tried to predict what their debut times would be here.
See the list of elite women here.
And a list of the elite men here.

Runnersworld finally caught up with "a winner" with the fastest time at the Nike Women's Marathon in San Fransisco. Catch that interview here.

See Andy Samberg as the Out of Breath Jogger from 1982
and the Out of Breath Jogger from 1992

OK, that should be enough links to keep you busy for a while.

Finally, a great video of elite track athlete Lauren Fleshman of nearby Canyon Country, CA (Canyon High class of '99) going over running form drills. She explains them well and makes perfect form look easy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Annual Aqueduct Half Marathon (1:24:33)

Since I didn't get to race yeserday, and I am probably not racing any distance over 5k for the rest of the year I decided to do a Garmin measured half marathon on the California Aqueduct this morning. Clay rode his son's mountain bike as support and carried my water (thanks Clay) and we started at 60th W at about 6:15am. The first 20 minutes were in the dark but Clay had his headlamp (thanks again Clay). I thought I would be around 1:26 based on how I was feeling the last few weeks, and the conditions were great. I also wanted to try and run negative splits on the out and back course (the turn around was at 110th W).

I felt great on the way out and settled comfortably around 6:40 for the first few miles. Clay had to yell at me to slow down, but I was able to converse with him for the first half pretty well.

The last 4 miles were pretty tough and it really helped to have Clay on his bike just a few steps ahead of me, pulling me along. I tried to just keep an even pace and then attempted a final push on the last mile finishing in 1:24:33 (average pace 6:27)! I think that is my 5th or 6th fastest half marathon time ever! Although at least three of those times were on the old Las Vegas Marathon course which is mostly down hill. The aqueduct is about as flat as you can get (over the 13 miles today there was a net ascent/decent of 70ft).

My mile splits were:

The other splits that I remember were 40:30 for 10k and 65:00 for 10 miles.

I was very pleased with the final time, I had nothing left in the tank (I took one GU at mile 7). And I did negative split!

PS: Last 6 miles was in 37:47!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Boney Mountain postponed!

DUE TO HIGH FIRE DANGER, this event is postponed until January 10, 2009.

Guess I'll have to change my weekend plans.
How about a half marathon time trial on Sunday?
Anyone want to try and run a sub 1:30 on the aqueduct?

4 mile easy run (30:27)

Last run before the race on Saturday. 4 miles at 30:27 (7:34 pace) with a few short surges in the last two miles. My legs feel pretty good this week. We'll see how the do on Boney Mountain!

For those of you daily readers here are two follow ups to previous stories I reported on earlier this week.

Remember the woman who had the fastest time at the Nike Women's Marathon, but didn't win? Here is the follow up article. And Nike's statement here.

Remember the guy at the Chicago Marathon that collapsed near the finish line? Well Runnersworld caught up with him for an interview after he was recovered. He says he was found to have low potassium levels or hypokalemia. But the weather was a little on the hot side and I am guessing he was also hypernatremic or dehydrated. This is one of the hardest parts of a marathon, especially a hot one, is finding a balance in your fluid and electrolyte levels and keeping your body near equilibrium.
Read his interview here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

5 mile easy run (38:28)

I got in an easy 5 miles this morning. The temperatures have been perfect for the last week, and NO WIND! You have to take advantage of these days around here. 5 miles took 38:28 this morning for an average pace of 7:41. I tend to increase speed on these short easy runs because it is up hill slightly on the way out and down hill on the way back, plus there is the warm up factor. I think my last mile was around 7:00. 4 days to race day!

The Nike Women's Marathon was this weekend in San Fransisco, and the woman with the fastest time DID NOT win the race, go figure that one out. Race officials can sure be morons. Read about her here.

Interesting Nutrition Tips for Runners on

A bio on world record holder Haile Gebrselassie.

And a college cross country runner that ran a race with a nail in his foot!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

13.1 mile long run (1:38:58)

On Saturday morning I did my long run for the weekend before leaving to go camping in Carpinteria (see family blog). I ran to Clay's house which is 4 miles away, then we ran about 5 miles together, and then I took the long way home to make it an even 13.1 miles (you can't just run 13, might as well make it a half marathon) which is the distance I will be running next weekend.

It was perfect weather, and in my long sleeves and pants I was almost over dressed. Most of the run was in the dark, so I have been getting good use of my headlamp (yes I am that nerdy).

Mile splits were: 7:56, 7:44, 7:21, 7:31, 8:09, 8:15, 7:42, 7:30, 7:24, 7:17, 7:15, 7:14, 6:53. Average pace was 7:33.

Miles 5 and 6 were mostly up hill with the furthest point from home being M and 70th West.

This week will be full of easy runs in preparation for Saturdays race.

I enjoyed Dean Karnazes blog entry this week and wanted to share it here.

November 8th is our next running clinic on Strength Circuit Training for runners! On that note, there are some great US runners in this years NYC Marathon including Kara Goucher, Abdi Abdirahman, and Chris Graff. A year ago, Chris dropped out of the Olympic Trials Marathon and was all but retired from competitive running. He took up coaching at the University of Maryland. Now he is back racing at the NYC Marathon and says this about his turn-around,
"I just started feeling better and better and I wasn't running much but doing a lot of the strength work," Graff explains. "By the end of the summer, I started feeling great on my two-hour runs. I was running two to three days briskly, easy on the others." Amazing what a little strength training can do!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday half mile hills 3x+half mile flat 2x (total 9mi)

I got my last hill workout in before the race on the 25th, although after talking with my buddy Arnie I don't think anything I have done will prepare me for the single track switchbacks for 13 miles that I will experience in a week.

I did my normal hill route starting on 47th at L10, running up to the end of 47th, making a left and then up to the joshua tree at the peak (half mile). I did this route 3x in 3:20, 3:15, and then broke my record again in 3:09. I was pretty spent after the third one, but did 2 more half mile intervals on the way home in 2:47 and 2:50 followed by a 2 mile cool down.

Total mileage was 9 in 1:08:13 with an average pace of 7:34.

On the half mile hill route, the real grade increase doesn't start until the quarter mile. When I am ready to do hills again I am going to do quarter mile intervals which would start on 47th at L12 and finish at the same joshua tree. I will probably start with 6-8 times and build on that. It would be a tough workout for sure.

I found another cool running/pace calculator/estimator. Check it out here.

Did you see the video of this guy struggling to finish the Chicago Marathon this year?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5 mile easy run 38:26

Tuesday morning I ran an easy 5 miles increasing each mile starting at 8:28 and ending at 6:59. Average pace was 7:41. The route was an out and back on 45th west, so it was slightly uphill on the way out and slightly downhill on the way back. I did 2x100m accelerations in the last mile. Hills on Thursday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

10 miles total with 3 threshold pace miles

I did not get a run in on Saturday. It has been getting cooler here in the morning (low 40s) and those pre-sunrise runs are harder to make happen. I had to dig out my running pants for my run on Sunday morning. We still slept in and I left about 7:30. I wanted to get in a few miles at threshold pace again so I went out to Lane Park for my warm up. It is exactly 1 mile around the block there so I did that twice, then a 2.5 min recovery, followed by one more mile, for a total of three mile at threshold pace.

My threshold pace should be about 6:20, although I haven't raced since July 4th, and I haven't done any time trials to gauge my fitness. My first two laps (miles) around Lane Park were 6:11 min each and my last mile (after that 2.5 min recovery) was 5:55. It didn't feel like my HR was up too high (my HR at threshold pace is around 165-170) so maybe I am getting a little fitter. I was pretty well rested too since I only ran once during the work week, which was an easy run. Total distance for the day was 10 miles in 1:11:32 (average pace 7:09). This was a similar workout to September 13, 2008 when I was running 6:20-6:30 pace on my threshold runs.

If I do another workout similar to that one again I will start to add one more mile (with about 1-2 min recovery in between) at the same pace until I am up to 6 or so. That would be a pretty killer workout. Since I only have two weeks until my next race I will probably do some more hills this week, and maybe one more tempo run either next weekend or early next week. Probably only two more quality workouts before race day.

My dad sent me the newspaper from Minnesota after the Twin Cities Marathon. They also run a 10 miler and 5k that day. Olympian Kara Goucher won the 10 miler in a course record 53:15. She was using this race as a tune up for her marathon debut in New York City on November 2nd. Her coach, former NYC and Boston Marathon winner, Alberto Salazar, who had a heart attack last year and a defibrillator placement, ran the 10 miler as well in 1:08 and change!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

8 mile easy run (59:48)

My left calf has been sore again since my hilly 14 miler in Prescott, AZ. This time it is on the medial head at the proximal insertion (near the knee). I took Tuesday off and it has been feeling better each day, so I ran today (8 miles with average pace of 7:28). I ran over to Joe Walker Middle Schoool, did a loop around the block, and then headed home. I will post splits at home tonight. Each mile was faster than the previous with the last mile just under 7:00 (8:10, 8:02, 7:42, 7:26, 7:15, 7:07, 7:01, 6:57). My left calf was a little sore but it seems to be loosening up as the day goes on.

There is just over two weeks until the Boney Mountain 21k (half marathon). I looked at previous results and it is either a REALLY tough course, or I have a good shot at placing. There were only two guys last year under 1:40. I should be able to do that (famous last words).

In other news: My son Micah (11 months) took his first steps this week. He is so proud of himself. He can stand up in the middle of the floor and take 3-4 steps and then fall into my arms with a big grin on his face. It is pretty cute. I'll try and get some video to post. He'll be running in no time.

There is a Turkey Trot in Palmdale this year put on by HDR Dale Lister. Should be a good time. Andi and I are talking about pushing the boys, or maybe running together, if we can get baby-sitters.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Prescott, AZ 7 miles + 7 miles =14 miles

I am in Prescott, AZ for the weekend for my grandpa's funeral spending time with family. My grandmother is living in an assisted living facility that her and my grandpa moved into about 2 months ago. Their house is nearly empty but my uncle John and his wife Linnea stayed there over the weekend. I decided I would run from my hotel to the house and back. Mapquest said it was 7.2 miles each way.

Prescott is a mile high city, so the elevation is a little higher than I am used to but it did not seen to affect me too much. The temperature and weather were near perfect (around 50 degrees at my 7:00 am start). I ran to the house in 52:36 (avg 7:31). It is quite hilly around here too. I then spent an hour at the house visiting, then ran back to the hotel the same way in 49:57 (avg 7:08). I thought it would be harder coming back and it was (the last two miles were almost all up hill) but I was pushing it a little bit on the way back running around marathon pace. I will post miles splits and elevation changes when I get home. 14 miles total with an hour break half way. Total time for 14 miles was around 1:42 minutes.

Mile splits for the first 7 miles: 7:29, 7:72, 7:19, 7:15, 7:19, 7:51, 8:00

Mile spits for the second 7 miles: 7:04, 6:50, 6:56, 7:02, 7:20, 7:27, 7:15

The start and finish elevation for each run was about 5700ft with the low point about half way at 5300ft (the elevation chart looks like a "U"). There was about 800ft of ascent and descent on each run.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Half mile intervals 2x hill, 2x flat

I got out EARLY today (5:30am) for my weekly hill workout. I did the normal 2.5 mile warm up and then started my half mile hill. I ran the first in 3:26 and then broke my record on the second in 3:13. After those two I realized I had to get back home so I cut the hills off at two and decided to do two more half mile intervals on the way home, which is relatively flat or downhill. The last two times were 2:52 and 2:55. I felt like I could have gone a little faster but it was still dark out and I was being cautious of my footing, even with my headlamp. I had a mile cool down at the end for a total of 7 miles with total time of 51:56 (avg pace 7:25). I think from now on I will add one or two flat half mile intervals after the hill repeats. I really feel like I am flying after burning out the legs on the hills. Rest time between the hills was about 4 minutes running down, but only about 2.5 minutes in between the flat half miles on the way home.

This is my first post for October so I have mileage totals for September. I ran 114 miles in September, which is up from 82 in August. I did have two pretty long runs (16 and 18 miles) but mostly I was more consistent with 4x/wk running which helps with the mileage totals. My legs are feeling pretty good right now. Clay and I have also been stepping up our lunch circuit workouts with increased intensity and more cowbell, I mean kettlebell.