Category Archives for Running

Change in Weight Performance Calculator

A legitimate change in body weight will make you faster. Wether you are carrying extra muscle mass or extra body fat, these additional pounds will slow you down on the run.  This calculator will give you a good estimate how a few extra pounds can improve your time.  Once again, this assumes that the weight loss is legitimate and not the result of a week long  starvation diet.  

 

Check out the calculator here

Not All Long Runs Are Created Equal

Is your long run designed to improve your weakness? The timing of intervals can impact the nature of your workout.  Find out how structuring your long run can impact the training effect it has on you as an athlete.

 

 

Like this? Sign up for updates.


 

Have You Ever Made this Running Mistake?

A few years back I decided that I would push beyond my limits and try  to run a faster pace in attempt for a new half marathon personal best.  Not just a little faster, but much faster.  I was going for hero status.  Things were going so well and I was on track for a new personal best. 

That is, until mile 8  when the wheels came off the bus. Every mile from that point on was slower and folks I passed in the first few miles  steadily breezed by with each additional mile of the race.

At mile six I was on top of the world. I glanced at my watch and realized I was about 2:30 ahead of my personal best half marathon.  Indeed, I was going to be a hero and crush my all time best.  Of course I chose to ignore the signs that this pace was much too fast to maintain as my mind only focused on crossing the finish line  imagining  the announcer commenting, “…and here comes Joby running this race at whopping 2 minutes ahead of his all time best!!!!Wow”[crowd cheering].

Here is a look at my thoughts during the last half.

Mile 7 – “Okay, this is a little fast, but I need to be tough.  You’re good.”

Mile 8 – “Keep on pressing, be tough.”

Mile 9 – “Wow, this is tough. My legs don’t want to turn over. Ok, just keep moving.”

Mile 10 – “So maybe I went out too fast.  How slow can I run and still  beat my personal best, even it is only by a few seconds?”

Mile 11 – “Yup, I’m an idiot.  I am blowing up. Why did I think this strategy was a  good idea?”

Mil2 12 – 13.1 – “Can this race just end?  Okay, you win.  I will never try such a stupid maneuver again.”

 

I knew better that to run faster than I should, especially the first half.  This experience reinforced some lessons:

  1. You cannot bank time by running the first half faster because it will catch up to you and make you pay on the second half.
  2. Make  sure your training supports your faster race pace plan.  
  3. The first half will most always feel comfortable, so be patient and restrain yourself.
  4. The slowdown that happens in the second half of a half marathon or marathon is rarely nutrition related.  Often, it’s pace related.
  5. Leave the “hero” status to Superman and Captain America. 

If you enjoyed reading this, we can keep them coming.


 

Using TSS and IF Scores

Using the TSS  and IF scores provided by Training Peaks  can be valuable in your training. In order to calculate your TSS score, Training Peaks needs to know your Threshold pace for running and your threshold power for biking.  TSS then takes into account the time you spent below, above and at this threshold intensity.  The Intensity Factor (IF) rating is a percentage of your actual power or pace in relation to your threshold power or pace.  All of these scores are dependent upon the accuracy of your threshold pace and power logged into Training Peaks.

THRESHOLD

Using heart rate TSS (hrTSS ) is not as reliable unless you are riding at a very steady effort.  Intervals with spikes in heart rate and intensity will not translate well to an accurate hrTSS or IF.

Monitoring TSS

The best way to use TSS and IF is when you compare workouts; specifically, your harder sessions.  For example, let’s say I am coaching an athlete who’s TSS score is dropping on consecutive weekends.  Assuming they are doing the same volume or more from week to week,  then they are not recovering from their workouts and I will immediately cut their intensity and volume. Using IF is a great way to compare the intensity of workouts assuming they are the same volume.  

Using Hr TSS to monitor training is another metric to analyze performance, but I would not depend on it entirely. TSS generated by the use of a power meter is very precise and reliable.  rTSS is a close second to power TSS,  assuming  you have the correct Threshold pace identified.  rTSS allows you to accurately compare scores from multiple runs.

Racing by TSS and IF

This is completely an individual factor so to throw out targets for a race would be a generalization.  Personally, I do well when I race at a TSS score of a 285 and an IF of .75 for my Ironman.  For my half Ironman, my magic number is a TSS of 185 and IF of .83.  This allows me to run to my potential.  It’s important to note than in a race situation, I have the ability to go harder, but when I do it starts to cut into my run time.

Using HrTSS for racing is not nearly as predictable.

For much more information about TSS and IF, check out –http://support.trainingpeaks.com/athlete-edition/training-stress-scores.aspx#hrTSS

 

If you enjoyed this article, we can keep them coming your way.


 



Meet Osmo – My Hydration and Nutrition Strategy

My nutrition and hydration strategy has significantly evolved since I first started racing Ironman distance over 8 years ago.
OsmoAll of this changed when I discovered Osmo Hydration  back in July of 2012.  Dr. Stacy Sims, the founder and brains behind Osmo, introduced a concept of “food in the pocket and hydration in the bottle”. While the Osmo hydration does contain calories, it is a small amount designed to help with the fluid absorption once it enters the stomach.  Check out the attached video. This small amount of calories is not meant to be a calorie source. That’s where the “food in the pocket” comes into play.   Dr. Stacy Sims encourages the use of real food for  your calorie source, especially when on the bike.  In particular, relying on real food rather than engineered nutrition provides the best results and gives your stomach the best chance of keeping your gut in check.

Here’s a quick look at how I use the Osmo “food in the pocket and hydration in the bottle” principles while racing Ironman and half ironman tritathlons. Below is my Ironman strategy.

I always carry  two bottles when I race. I have a  26 ounce Speedfill aero bottle mounted on my bars which contains the recommended concentration of Osmo Hydration or Skratch Labs (almost the same exact formula as Osmo). I also carry a concentrated solution of Osmo/Skratch which includes  4 -5 servings for a full IM. These servings are calculated based on a 26 ounce bottle.  My concentrated solution in my   down tube bottle is marked  to show 5 equal servings. During the race I  simply add my pre-measured concentrate from my extra bottle into the Speedfill bottle and I refill  the remainder with water at  an aid station.    Depending on the weather, I aim for 23 – 30 ounces of fluid per hour. I stick to the fluid recommendations found on Osmo’s website. I also use the Osmo Pre Load for warmer weather racing.

For my solid calories, I use a homemade bar. Ingredients include oatmeal, small amount of white flour, protein powder, brown rice syrup, a few chocolate chips, some brown sugar.  I also add a some amino acids and sodium citrate.

I would highly recommend the Osmo products or Skratch Labs.  Formulas are similar.

Half Ironman Mental Game

You’re going to battle the demons at some point in the race and chances are it will be during the run.  Here are my suggestions to deal with this .

Half Ironman Mental Game

Want more information like this? Sign up to stay updated.



Exercising at Altitude

Here’s a good overview of the challenge of altitude.

“Ever wondered why you breathe harder and faster when you’re working out at a higher altitude than that to which you’re accustomed?  In colloquial terms, we often say that at elevation,the air is thin, or that there’s less oxygen in the air.  What does this mean, though, particularly in light of the fact that whether you’re at sea level or on top of Mount Everest, every breath you take is 21% oxygen?”

http://trailandultrarunning.com/the-chemistry-of-high-altitude-running/

Hydration and Nutrition Resources for Ironman Athletes

I am frequently asked about what I recommend for hydration and nutrition.  Nutrition is such an individual consideration, but there are some universal principles that are helpful.  I use many of the recommendations set forth in the articles/links below.    Take some time to review these and then experiment for yourself.

Gels – Why to avoid them
 
Hydration

Fueling

Want more information like this? Sign up to stay updated.


 



4 Reasons Dedicated Runners Struggle to Get Faster

There are a number of factors that influence your running speed.  Assuming you are already training on a regular basis, here are 4 reasons why runners struggle to get faster.  These are all factors we can control.

Body Composition – If you are carrying extra weight in the form of bulky muscle or fat, this will definitely slow you down, especially if the added weight comes in the form of fat. This slow down  is exponential as the distance increases. The solution is to take weight off gradually through  proper nutrition and balanced diet.  The off season is the best time to focus on active weight loss.

Muscle Imbalances – When placed under load, your muscles attempt to work together in unison to move you forward as efficiently as possible.  If one or more muscle groups is not cooperating, the entire kinetic train is derailed and other muscles will compensate.  Your efficient movement will become  labored, eventually slowing you down.  The greater the imbalance, the greater the degree of slowdown.  I would suggest a Functional Strength Assessment to determine your imbalances if you don’t already know them.

Too Much Speed –  The problem with too much speed  within your daily workouts is not only does  it increase your chance of injury, but it also limits your ability to run fast.  You end up running “fast” but not fast enough to bring about the changes you are looking for.  Keep you speed very focused and purposeful.  Not all of your  training runs need to be personal bests.  Limit your speed work to quality sessions that are very focused and fast.   I would also suggest working on running form drills.

Running at the Same Pace – While running too hard on a regular basis will limit you, so will running every run at the same easy pace.  Varying your speeds will keep you form being lulled into a comfortably slow pace.  Slow runs have their place but if that’s all you do,  that’s a perfect recipe for slow racing.  If you are new to speed work, then I would mix in short bursts of speed within the context of your regular runs.  For example, an acceleration (not a sprint) of 60 seconds every five or six minutes within your regular runs will help prime the body for more structured speed work in the future.

 

Want more like this? We can keep them coming.


 

Cadence Matters: Optimize Your Triathlon Run Performance

Cadence Matters

Trying to hold a respectable run pace in your half ironman or ironman race, but experience frustration when you see your times plummet?  What’s causing the slowdown?  More importantly, can you do anything to prevent it?  Your answer can be as simple as focusing on your cadence.

Every time your foot contacts the ground the weight of your body comes down with each landing.  The longer your foot is in contact with the ground the more gravitational force you have to contend with.  Fortunately, our muscular and skeletal structures allow us to resist breakdown and keep us upright.  However, there is a point where it becomes more difficult for your body to fight the force of gravity and this is right about the time your form starts to fall apart, your cadence slows, and each step becomes more difficult.

The less time each foot spends on the ground, the less this wicked gravitational force has a chance to wreak havoc on your body.  So, how do we spend less time on the ground? Increase your cadence and shorten your stride.  Cadence is determined by the amount of times your foot hits the ground in a certain period of  time.  You can measure this in total foot strikes or just pick one foot.  In order to increase your cadence without demanding more force production from your body, you should shorten your stride length.  You will have to train your muscles to respond to the faster firing patters of this quicker and shorter cadence, but let me assure you it’s worth it, especially you are a triathlete.

What Should my Cadence Be?

According to research in distance running, the optimal cadence range is about 180 – 200 total foot strikes per minute.  That’s 90 – 100 foot strikes on each foot in a minute.  A  quick way to assess your cadence while running is to pick one foot and count how many times it contacts the ground in 15 seconds.  Multiply this by 4 and this will give you your right/left foot strikes. Aim for 90-100.  Another option is to purchase a foot pod that will automatically register your cadence.

Build Slowly

Before you try and hit the 90-100 mark, take a few minutes to check what your natural cadence is and progress upward from there.  For example, If you are naturally at 80, then trying to reaching 86 rather than jumping up to 90 right away.  Start with small incremental increases to allow your body to adjust to the change.  Wear a heart rate monitor to make sure you are not working harder to obtain the increase in cadence.  If your heart rate spikes, there’s a good chance that your stride length has not changed and  your body is working overtime to maintain the same stride length at a higher cadence.

Long Course Triathletes

A quick cadence is even more important for triathletes.  Think about the amount of abuse your legs take during the bike portion of your events.  The amount of force your legs need to produce while running with a slow cadence is so much greater than with a quicker and more efficient cadence.  If your body only knows a slow cadence,the amount of energy and muscular force required to propel you forward will prove to be too much.  As a result, you will need to slow down the pace the your cadence will drop even more. Eventually the walking will begin.

Efficiency is a long course athlete’s best friend and efficiency  is exponentially more important as you make the jump to the Ironman distance. If you are slowing down more than 10% from your marathon to half marathon in a triathlon, take a look at the possible causes of this slowdown.

How to Incorporate Cadence Work

  • Long run – On your next long run check your cadence every 5 miles.  What feels like an easy relaxed cadence at mile 5 might not feel that way at mile 15.  Rather than try to stick to a certain pace, try holding your goal cadence.  You may have to shorten your stride even more while doing so.
  • Transition Run – Aim to hit your target cadence or even a little faster.  Don’t worry about pace too much.  Try and run as fast as you can without exerting a lot of effort. Think quick, light and compact strides.

While there are other factors impacting slowdown in a triathlon, this one has the most bang for the buck.  A high cadence can help you conserve the precious needed energy in your next ironman race.  Give it a shot and you might be surprised how much faster you can be.

Overstriding in the Marathon

I just read an interesting study  comparing the footstrike of marathon runners at different stages of the race.  Of 286 random runners studied, less than 88 percent were rear footstriking within the first 7 miles.  By the 20 mile mark this number increased to over 90 percent.  Factors influencing this breakdown can be attributed to muscular fatigue, which can be linked to training.  Muscular imbalances can also play a role.  Your take home message: address the firing patterns of proper form through the use of drills and make sure your training program is adequately preparing you for the muscle fatigue that you’ll; experience on race day.

Your cadence can also determine how long you are able to hang onto an optimal footstrike as well as help you conserve energy.

Orange County Running Coach Emphasizes Importance of Good Form

As a runner or triathlete, you spend hours logging in miles and training to be your absolute best. No matter what your current training level may be, if you do it with poor or inefficient form it will reinforce bad habits and this can limit your potential. Do you know if you’re working as efficiently as you can be?

Your running form can optimize your training time and help you to get more out of your workouts. We can improve your running form and consequently, your time and endurance. This means you can effectively, safely, and professionally take your training to the next level.

You do not have to be an elite athlete to take advantage of this. No matter what your current level is, everyone can improve their running with our Running Form Analysis.

If you are in the Orange County area and you are looking for a running coach to refine your training or take a look at your running form, give us a call.

 

Bike/Run Sessions

Our bike/run sessions will catapult your triathlon race specific fitness.  Specifically, these sessions will:

  • improve running efficiency off of the bike
  • improve running speed off of the bike
  • improve stamina off of the bike
  • develop a keen sense of pacing awareness
  • develop the mental skills necessary for a strong run split

These coached workouts are a combination of bike trainer intervals followed up with running intervals.  Duration, intensity, and the number you complete will be based on your goals, history in the sport, and current run fitness.

These sessions are currently only open to athletes receiving the highest level of our coaching services – Personal Coaching. These will be released to teammates and friends of  Team FC in the near future.  Stay tuned for details.

As with our running sessions, we will only open a limited number of spots.  If you are interested in these bike/run sessions, send us an email and we will notify you of the dates as soon as they are available.

Should I run faster than my tempo pace if I can?

Question: Should I run faster than my tempo pace if I can?
Answer: I still want you to stick to your tempo pace even if it’s killing you.  Next week I will do something to add to the challenge.  For the tempo efforts (especially under the 12 minute range) you should almost feel as if you have to actively hold yourself back from going faster – your body will want to “go”.  This is hard to do, but the payoff will be huge in the end.  Think of yourself as a lion stalking its prey.   A lion that pounces too soon will go hungry.  The patient lion who punces at the right time will feast.  Let your speed work(which will be faster) be the pouncing and your tempo be the stalking.

Are You Making Any of These Running Mistakes?

When new athletes approach me to help structure their training one of the first things I do is gather a thorough background on the athlete. The background gives me information about past performances and training. Here are the three most common training mistakes I see.

1) Too many race specific workouts – This will bury an athlete. Your body cannot always perform at its best and when you ask it to week after week, you are bound to start suffering. This suffering may come in the form of an injury or an inability to improve as a runner. You cannot push every workout. Your high intensity workouts should comprise about 10 – 30% of your total mileage, depending on the time of season

2) Racing too often – If you are looking for breakout performances, you should not be racing throughout the entire year. You need to focus on specific components of your fitness throughout the year. Racing year round will cause you to neglect the other areas that are crucial to success as a runner. It is far more beneficial to supplement your training with an off season strength program rather than just more racing throughout the year.

3) Not enough miles – This will vary from person to person, but I frequently meet athletes who simply are not doing enough base miles in the off season. As the season approaches, this problem is usually compounded because this athlete typically starts to do too many race specific workouts as a way to get ready for their next race. Without the proper base, very little improvement will occur. Gradually build your base over time, increasing mileage by 10 – 15% per week. Remember, you need to phase out your high intensity workouts while increasing mileage.

Do I Need To Prepare for the Downhill?

One of the most overlooked challenges of a hilly course  is the demand the downhill portion places on your muscles.  Of course, you have to prepare for the uphill and most people seem to do this well.  However, you also have to prepare to run downhill.  The uphill, although difficult, is not what sets you off.    Whenever you run there are concentric and eccentric contractions occurring in the leg muscles.  Running downhill places significantly more forceful eccentric loading on your legs than running on flat land.  After the repeated nature of these eccentric contractions, your legs will begin to lose contractile force, resulting in a slowdown and heavy legs.  That is, unless you specifically prepare for this in your training. The key is to incorporate small amounts of downhill running (at race pace) into your weekly runs.  Your body gradually begins to buffer this accumulation of eccentric warfare on your legs.  How much and how often will vary greatly from runner to runner.  In general, this should be progressive in nature.

Don’t ignore the demands of your next race.  Training should be purposeful and specific to the course you plan on racing.

Running Form Analysis: What Does it Matter?

As a runner or triathlete, you spend hours logging in miles and training to be your absolute best. No matter what your current training level may be, if you do it with poor or inefficient form it will reinforce bad habits and this can limit your potential. Do you know if you’re working as efficiently as you can be?

Your running form can optimize your training time and help you to get more out of your workouts. We can improve your running form and consequently, your time and endurance. This means you can effectively, safely, and professionally take your training to the next level.

You do not have to be an elite athlete to take advantage of this. No matter what your current level is, everyone can improve their running with our Running Form Analysis.

Here’s How It Works:

First, we capture video footage of you running at various speeds. After a short warm up, we have you run at a variety of paces as we record your process. Our goal here is to see what you look like as you run so we do ask you to be comfortable and try not to self-correct.

Second, we review footage of efficient running and identify common traits of efficient runners. We then transition into your video footage and together we will identify areas of strength and weakness in your own running form.

Third, we head back out on the road for some specialized and professional correction. We work on the areas that need attention and you practice running while implementing the new changes. This helps us ensure that you’re changing your form effectively and safely. We also introduce key running drills and forms for you to utilize in your workouts.

Finally, we capture additional footage and then we will once again look at the before and after video to see how you’ve improved and what you can do to move further ahead.

Contact us to schedule your  form analysis.

Marathon Pacing

Did you know that 80% of those running the marathon will post a slower second half than the first half?  This clearly indicates that the runner either started too fast or they did not have the conditioning to support the distance.

When questioned about why runners don’t slow down a little more at the beginning, the most common answers are

  1. I wanted to make sure I could bank some time so that when I slow down at the end my overall time will be okay.
  2. I felt good going at  “that pace”

Neither of these reasons are effective strategies.  Starting off slower than your goal finishing pace is so crucial for your overall success.  This is especially true for those new to the marathon distance (less than 5 marathons).

What does this pacing look like?  I am going to include a few examples below.  In my experience coaching runners, this has been so effective in helping runners hit their goal.

Goal      Sub 3:10 Goal –     Sub 3:48
1 7:20:00 1 8:50:00
2 7:20:00 2 8:50:00
3 7:20:00 3 8:50:00
4 7:15:00 4 8:50:00
5 7:15:00 5 8:50:00
6 7:15:00 6 8:50:00
7 7:15:00 7 8:40:00
8 7:15:00 8 8:40:00
9 7:15:00 9 8:40:00
10 7:15:00 10 8:40:00
11 7:15:00 11 8:40:00
12 7:10:00 12 8:40:00
13 7:10:00 13 8:40:00
14 7:10:00 14 8:40:00
15 7:10:00 15 8:40:00
16 7:10:00 16 8:40:00
17 7:10:00 17 8:35:00
18 7:10:00 18 8:35:00
19 7:10:00 19 8:35:00
20 7:10:00 20 8:35:00
21 7:10:00 21 8:35:00
22 7:00:00 22 8:35:00
23 7:00:00 23 8:35:00
24 7:00:00 24 8:35:00
25 7:00:00 25 8:35:00
26 7:00:00 26 8:35:00
0.2 1:30:00 0.2 1:30:00
188:10:00 227:00:00
Finishing time 3:08:10 3:47:00

Barefoot Running: Should You Do It?

Over the last few years the barefoot running trend has grown in popularitity. Part of this growth is largely due to the release of Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. So, does this new trend have any validity? Will runnning without shoes make you a better or more efficient runner? Are the new Vibram shoes the way to go? Will running without shoes revolutionize your running?

Probably not……

Don’t be so quick to part with you traditional running shoes. I would start by doing form drills with no shoes. Then progress to strides on grass. Finally, perhaps a mile on grass without shoes. Use barefoot running as a way to improve your form and not an alternative to traditional running (with shoes). Personally, I would never depart with my shoes, unless I’m working on form drills and strides. If you have great form, then complete a portion of your weekly mileage in the more minimalist type of running shoe.

Also, take time to notice that there are very few shoeless runners at the front of the pack or even in the top tier of a race. I’m sure there are exceptions, but remember that’s the exception.

Body Weight Will Impact Your Running and Cycling Performance

Your body weight will impact your performance in endurance events!!!! The longer the event, the bigger impact it will make. Carrying an extra 10 pounds over a 4, 5, or 6 hour race will definitely slow you down. This is especially true for runners and cyclists.

If you want to see big gains in your racing, make a serious effort to drop any excess weight you are carrying. Do this in the off season when you are not doing high intensity workouts. Keep the weight loss gradual over time. Assuming you do this in a healthy manner and at the right time of the season, you will be faster. Give it a shot and see what happens.

Here is a cool calculator that will predict how your body weight can impact your running performance. I have found this to be fairly accurate
http://www.runningforfitness.org/calc/weighteffect.php

Crossfit Workout: Will This Help My Running?

The Crossfit workout is a great way to get into shape and develop your strength. The Crossfit workout will target numerous aspects of your fitness and if you stick with it, you will have a broad fitness base. This workout is not for the faint of heart and it definitely will challenge you and elevate your fitness

“Will Crossfit benefit my running or triathlon performances?” I often hear this question from runners and triathletes. The answer depends on a few things.

YES – If you have any muscle imbalances or you are lacking some basic strength, then the crossfit program can help target these areas and contribute to your improvement. However, for most this would be most appropriately placed in the off season when your running or triathlon specific fitness is not as important.

NO – If you are getting ready to compete, then the crossfit workouts will not provide any real benefit to you as a runner or triathlete. In fact, they may take away from your performance. Here is the reason. Crossfitters state that their “specialty is not specializing.” This is the complete opposite goal of the build up and peaking phase of a sound running program (your running program should not be the same year round). As you get closer to your goal race many of your workouts begin to take on a very specific purpose. Ignoring the specific and targeted nature of your run workouts will result in substandard performance. If you expect to complete mile repeats or a tempo on the bike the day after a challenging crossfit workout, then you can kiss your run/bike workout goodbye because your body will not be able to perform the intensity of work required to reach your full potential. When this happens week after week your race specific fitness will begin to fade or slightly improve at best.

To be a fast runner you need fitness specific to running. To be a fast cyclist you need fitness specific to cycling. Your max squat potential, your ability to hang clean, snatch, or run a fast 800 does not matter if you cannot do the work required that is specific to your race.

So if you’re considering a Crossfit workout, I would recommend these in the off season when you are targeting a different component of your fitness. As you transition into the competitive part of your season, then slowly phase out these workouts and focus your energy on the demands of your upcoming races.

If you’re interested in improving your running speed, check out these posts Plyometrics and Running, Common Running Mistakes, Body Weight: Impact on Running, Core Exercises for Runners

The 5 Most Common Running Injuries

The biggest weapon against  falling prey to a running injury is PREVENTION.  Follow a good plan, be smart about your recovery, listen to your body, and know your limitations to prevent the onset of these common injuries.  Ignoring the initial warning signs can lead to an extended break from running or worse – a chronic injury.  The top 5 most common running injuries are:

  1. achilles tendonitis
  2. chondromalacia (runner’s knee)
  3. illotibial band syndrome
  4. plantar fasciitis
  5. shinsplints.

Here is a great link describing the sings, symptoms and treatment of these overuse injuries. http://www.time-to-run.com/injuries/thebig5/index.htm