Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chapter 2 page 390 - half marathon class week #4 - #7

Sorry it's been a month since I've posted "what I learned this week" in my half marathon class, but better late than never, right?  I will say that one of the biggest reasons I have been remiss was that I haven't learned very much these past few weeks and I'm sure that most all of you also know the stuff too, but here are some of the things I learned/was reminded of the past month:

Week 4 "Safety and Cross Training":
1.  A list of running surfaces (softest to hardest):
dirt paths/trails
rubberized outdoor track
asphalt or indoor track
cement or concrete

2.  Long runs should be done on like surfaces of the race you plan to run.

3.  When cross training, you should cross train for the same amount of time and at the same intensity that you would run/walk to complete the day's mileage (i.e. if you were going to run 3 miles in 30 minutes at a moderate intensity, but instead you're going to swim instead, then you should swim for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity).

4.  Cross training normally doesn't count toward your weekly mileage, but it is necessary to maintain fitness.  (Not new, but a nice reminder nonetheless); however, Xtraining exposes more soft tissue to "stress" and thus we increase our risk of developing injury (as opposed to sitting on the couch - no activity = no increased risk of injury; swimming = an increased risk of shoulder injuries that you would not have put at risk if you only ran).

5.  When selecting cross training activities, you are best to select activities that stimulate running motion because (and this is pretty interesting) your heart and lungs don't know the difference between running and cross training (both Xtraining and running make your heart and lungs work harder), but your running muscles will know the difference.

Week 5 "Running/Walking Mechanics and Core Strength Training":

This week's class was really an analysis of the proper biomechanics of running/walking.  I think most of you reading this blog know the general "do's" and "don'ts" on the head/face/eyes, shoulders/chest, arms, hands, legs, and feet.  The only somewhat interesting "cue" we were taught was related to your arms while running - imagine your hands brushing the side of your leg where your pants pockets would be located.  This will keep your arms from crossing the mid line or being drawn up closer to your chin.  Not life changing, but a good self-check as you're running.  The only other thing I learned was if you are trying to make changes to your form, that you should only focus on one thing at a time and only do so for 30 seconds.  Pick just one or two tips of biomechanical elements to work on during a run - picking too many tips during a single run can be overwhelming and does not correct form issues.

About core strength exercises - 
1.  Do exercises for no more than 1 minute per exercise.

2.  Do core exercises 2 or 3 days a week with a rest day in between.

3.  Doing 8-10 exercises is all that's needed (2 for the abs, 2 for hips, 2 for back, and 2 for hams/glutes) to achieve good core strength for running.

4.  Select different core exercises every 3-4 weeks to stimulate different muscles and prevent muscle adaptation.

5.  2 weeks before a big race, reduce your core exercise routine by 25-50%.  1 week before your big race, completely eliminate or reduce core exercises to only 1 day a week.

Week 6 "Injury Prevention"
This lesson was taught by a physical therapist who is an ultra runner (seriously, he's training for a 100 miler - who does that?  So impressive!!!)

1.  He reviewed the normal "rules" - 48 hours rest between high-intensity runs (including speed work, hills, long runs), increase mileage by no more than 10% each week, don't run more than 25% of your weekly mileage in one run.

2.  When you run, your foot hits the ground approximately 800 times per mile at 2.5 times your body weight.

3.  Surely we knew it, but maybe never said quite like this:  injured tissues cannot withstand as much stress as healthy tissue.

4.  Also known, but nice to hear -especially now when we're all in the midst of Fall half mary training:  Consistency is the key to progress!

5.  Training pains (usually go away or are significantly better within 48 hours and are usually in the muscle) VS. overuse/injury pain (usually start at the joint and may feel better with more prolonged rest - 7-10+ days)

6.  Again, I think we all know RICE, but do it at the earliest sign of injury, don't increase mileage or speed work, maintain current program or decrease intensity/duration.

7.  When to seek help?  Don't run through pain.  Stop running if pain persists beyond the warm up.  Stop running if you begin to limp.  Get help if symptoms aren't improving with rest and self-management.

8.  Following a run, it's important hold the static stretch for 30 seconds and do 3-5 repetitions (but here's the part I learned - you don't have to stretch your calf 3 times in a row, you can rotate through your stretch routine and hit the different muscles once then repeat the entire routine.

Week 7 "Warm-up/Cool-down"
Again, who reading this doesn't know about wu & cd?  Anyway, here are some of more interesting things:

1.  More intense activities (speed work, 5Ks, etc) need a seperate warm up session before beginning as opposed to less intense activities (half marathons, long runs, easy runs) which can have the warm up built into the first .5-1 mile of the activity.

2.  Before a race, it is recommended to begin the warm up 30 minutes prior to the time you need to report to the start line.

3.  No static (stretch and hold) stretches at all before a training session or a race - the result of the stretch is the opposite of what you are about to ask the muscle to do in the race/training (i.e. if you stretch your calf, like I do, on the curb before a race, you're lengthening it out and getting it to relax which is opposite of what it will need to do during the race which is contract and fire quickly).  This means that you're not even suppose to run a little then stretch before your race, rather an easy .5 mile run before hand would be adequate or the use of dynamic warm up exercises (ex:  hip swings, trunk twists, arm swings, walking knee pulls, jogging high knees, or jogging tail kicks) accomplish muscle warm up all while preparing the muscle to do what it will soon be asked to do. 

4.  For recreational runners warm ups and cool downs can be incorporated directly into the daily activity (i.e if you're doing a 4 miler today - then the first .5 can be a walk or EASY run for your warm up then do 3 miles at your work out pace followed by doing the last .5 at a slow run or a walk for your cool down).

Well, there you have it.  You are now up-to-date on my half marathon class.  Anything on this list news to you?


  1. Week 7, #3. Well I had that COMPLETELY wrong.

    Thanks for this post! I enjoyed the update/refresher.

  2. Wow, this was a VERY informative post. I didn't realize that a treadmill has a softer surface than a dirt trail. No wonder why I don't mind running on treadmills during the winter. :)

    Thanks for all of the advice. I'll need to take the stretching ones to heart, although I haven't been stretching as much before and after my runs as I used to.