Category Archives: form

Week in Review 5.9.16 to 5.15.16

Monday: 6 by 30 seconds hard uphill on the bike path. Humbling to try to do speed work when my legs are clunky! Legs after.

Tuesday: 5 mile recovery run in the woods. Got impressively lost and ended up on the side of 89.

Wednesday: Early morning combination workout with 5 minutes at tempo pace followed by 10 by 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy. Tempo felt great, interval work was hard but worked on staying smooth and engaging my glutes. 9 miles total.

Thursday: 6 mile recovery run in the woods. First really hot day! Arms after.

Friday: 7 mile run on the treadmill because I was being a wimp about it being cold and rainy again. Core after.

Saturday: 4 laps of 100 meter ins and out, 4 laps of 200 on, 200 off, 1 400 at I effort. 8 miles total.

Sunday: Freezing cold 10 miler along the lake. This weather is brutal for getting dressed in the morning!

Total Miles: 52

Spring in Vermont is such a fickle beast. This week had incredible days where it was 60 and sunny and awful days where it was 40 and raining. Looks better going forward but it is all-around difficult to acclimate when you’re wearing tights one day and a tank top the next!

Happy with this week of training, both because I got in reasonable miles and three good efficiency efforts. I’m 85% sure I’m in for Freihofer’s so want to keep focusing on speed while continuing to build overall fitness. I joked with Will last night that I must be recovered from my marathon (in 2014) because I’m starting to think about running another one.

Improvement Season: Strength

When I think about strength training, it splits into two categories: strength for injury prevention and strength for speed development. While I think I did a good job with the former, my form and turnover towards the end of my training cycle suggests that I was less successful at the latter.

What did I do this training cycle? Arms on recovery days, 20 minute legs on workout days and core with the team, which is to say a little more sporadically than desired. Going into Philly, I wasn’t injured but I also didn’t feel particularly strong.

I attribute part of this to the fact that I didn’t rotate routines or up my weights. When I make strength routines for my team, we do them for no more than 6 weeks then change it up so that muscles never have an opportunity to plateau. In the moderate chaos of coaching, training and classes, I didn’t spend enough time trying to diversify my strength routines.

Going forward, my goal is to do a different strength routine every day and to try to incorporate more movement and balance into those exercises. For example, rows from a plank position rather than bent over rows or single leg deadlifts instead of traditional deadlifts. One of my favorite resources for workout ideas is Pinterest. Although it’s not exactly the pinnacle of exercise science and the emphasis on “bikini bodies” or “blast those love handles” is a little nauseating, it does have tons of workouts and exercises from which it’s possible to make some great routines. I’ve spent the last week looking through all my workout pins, writing down exercises that I want to try and piecing together new routines.¬†As I work through them and figure out what ones I love, I’ll be sharing them here.

Where do you get new ideas for strength training? How often do you switch up your routine?

No Body’s Perfect

At first blush, running seems like it should be easy. After all, we’ve been doing it since we were running away from wooly mammoths and the like. Spend fifteen minutes at a race, however, and you’ll note that although there are many different ways to “run,” they are not all equivalent in terms of efficiency or speed. As a result, running form is a constant focus of coaches and athletes alike. We spend time doing drills, striders and looking through video and pictures to assess the progression in form from the first 400 to the finishing stretch.

Despite knowing that my running form needs work, I haven’t spent a lot of time on it in recent years. Some of that is just from my schedule but some of it is stubbornness; my knees haven’t driven for almost 32 years, why would they start now?! However, behind this stubbornness, I know that if I want to get to the next level, I can’t fight my forward progress with low knees and a twisting upper body.

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me...

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me…

Now that I have the luxury of more time, I’m starting and ending every run with a routine of hip swings, cycle steps and skips to enforce good form and practicing good form in spurts throughout my easy runs. During my striders, I’m focused on driving knees and open arm swing. Finally, I’m lifting daily to make sure my muscles are strong enough to support all these new patterns of motion.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

As a team, we are also working on posture this year. As most of us tire through a run or a race, we tend to collapse our shoulders inward which impedes our breathing and collapses our pelvis. Our taping project is the brain child of a team parent who is a PT. The tape (KT Tape) is placed such that you get a small tug on your lower back when you start to collapse inward. It definitely helps with running but I even notice its benefit when I’m just standing around and start to get lazy.

What parts of your form are you working on? Are you open to change or stubborn about your form? What drills do you do regularly?

Race Report: GMAA Mini Meet 3K

GMAA started hosting these mini-meets last year and I never managed to get to one so I made a pact to try to make all of them this year both to work on my speed and to get a chance to keep working on my pre-race nerves. I went into this race hoping to run around 11 minutes for the 3K. However, 20 mile per hour winds from the Southwest and 80 degree temperatures decided that none of us were moving that fast. I even had a moment while rounding the first curve where a gust knocked me off balance and I stutter-stepped not to fall over the rail.

Having never raced a 3K and been away from any kind of track race for 15 years, I barely remembered how to do it. I ended up not wearing spikes because they hurt my feet on the warmup so found myself on the 200 line in my trainers, surrounded by men. Literally. There was one other woman in the race. Kasie yelled go and we were off. The lead pack of men shot off and I was left by myself to work through the 7 1/2 laps. I kept my eyes on the guy in red ahead of me and just tried to focus through the first half of the race.

The first 1000 passed without much drama and by the beginning of the third lap, I’d closed the gap on red shirt. When I went to go around him, he fought a bit so I jumped behind him instead since we had plenty of the race left. After sitting on him for about 600 meters, he started to fade and I passed with confidence. With two laps to go, I focused on keeping my form together and tried to pick it up. At the bell lap, things got a little crowded as Eli and Binney were finishing while I was lapping a runner. I ended up squeaking through on the rail but put my elbow out so I wouldn’t get stepped on. Sorry Pascal! The last lap was hard but I still felt like my form held together. I crossed in 11:20, a little frustrated with the time but happy with the effort.

All in all, a fun way to get a hard effort in. I can’t wait for the next meet in July! Thanks to GMAA for a great idea.

When was the last time you raced on the track?

Move That Ass

Since starting 3rd year, I’ve been living some great combination of standing, sitting and running all over the hospital in heels, clogs and on rare days sneakers. Thanks to this, my a** has been killing me since about March. Right on cue, another blogger friend sent me a great followup post about how to fix butt pain when all you do is sit. This applies to almost all of us, regardless of profession. In our culture, we sit. All the time.

Since getting his email and getting fed up with constant pain, I’ve been much more diligent about taking care of my rear. I get up when I sit for a few hours, try to use good posture when I have to stand (in the OR, on Rounds, in the ED etc) and stretch whenever appropriate, especially focusing on my hamstrings and hip flexors. It’s hard to stay on top of it but I’m much happier when I do.

How do you handle sitting all the time?

Insanity

There’s a quote that states that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. A similar sentiment is captured by if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. I got to thinking about these two quotes when I was running around the track on Tuesday, dreading my next 200 meter repeat. I’ve been training for marathons so long that speed is almost theoretical at this point. I am still adjusting to running fast enough that I have to bend over at the finish to catch my breath.

This Spring has been/will be a marked deviation from my normal training. I’m happy with my progress in the marathon thus far, but also frustrated. I’m an endurance monster, I always have been. But it’s taken me 6 years to go from 3:17 to 2:54 and I recently had to admit that much of that is attributable to the fact that I haven’t developed my speed. With two surgeries and an almost annual marathon on the schedule, I’ve gotten really good at running moderately fast for long periods of time. The fact remains, however, that my 5K and 10K PR are way slower than my marathons would predict. It’s not I’m not capable of running fast; I can dummy Will in a 200. I just haven’t used those systems in a very long time.

In the past few weeks, my workouts have been a total deviation from normal. Instead of 2 hours at marathon pace or tempo miles, I’ve had workouts like 5 by 300 meters or 2 by 200, 200, 400. When I get my workout assignments, my reaction is almost always WHOA, that will be easy. Halfway through, however, my quads and lungs are burning and I temporarily miss tempo pace. All of my races for the first part of this season will be (relatively) short, with nothing over 15K on the schedule. The hope is that by working on my speed now, marathon pace will feel significantly easier (and get faster) come this fall.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be racing a 4 miler. After that, it’s a collection of track and road 5Ks, a 10K and a 15K. And as much as these workouts hurt, I’m really enjoying the change of pace both literally and figuratively.

Have you done a training cycle that focuses on something completely different from your normal? What’s your reaction to short, fast stuff?

Week in Review 3.9.15 to 3.15.15

Classic March weather here! Ran in shorts and a tee shirt for a few days and then just struggled through a snowy, slippery and windy long run in full winter gear.

Monday: Muddy 6 mile recovery run.

Tuesday: 5.85 mile recovery run where I accidentally ran up an enormous hill for 2 miles. Striders in the last mile. Core after.

Wednesday: 2 by (200, 200, 400) on the bike path. Really worked hard to nail the effort. Such hard work to learn to run fast but thrilled with the outcome. 7.5 miles total, legs after.

Thursday: 6.2 mile recovery run. Surprised at how good my legs felt. Arms after.

Friday: 6 by 3 minutes hard and 9.62 miles total. Right glute is really not firing well and starting to affect my stride. Legs after.

Saturday: 4.6 mile struggle fest run. So sore!

Sunday: 11.5 mile long run in the snow. Kicking myself for not wearing my Icebugs.

Total Miles 51.3

Really happy with this week of training; nice to start getting back to mileage that feels more normal for me and to get in two workouts. I’m enjoying the shorter speed work; it’s really hard for me since I haven’t done work like that in ages, but it’s fun to have 200 meter workouts instead of 2 hour steady state runs! I’m frustrated with my right glute but think it’s stemming from hip flexor tightness so I’m working hard to strengthen and stretch so it starts firing properly again.

 

20 Minute Leg Workout for Runners

This is my 20 minute, no BS leg workout that can be done at home or at the gym and hits the key muscle groups for building a strong drive train. Start with 8 to 10 reps of each exercise and 2 full sets. As you get stronger, add more reps in with an eventual goal of 20 reps per exercise. This is a little different from “traditional” weight training, where you usually top out around 12 before increasing weight. Endurance sports required a slightly different approach to lifting; because we primarily want muscle strength that helps us out when our bodies are exhausted, lifting for endurance tends to focus more on higher reps and lower weight. There are certainly times for lifting heavier weights (base building season, for example), but for in season strength training, stick to more reps and less weight.

One of the reasons I put videos** here (and WAY less than perfect videos) is to inject some reality into how hard it is to build real, functional strength. I’m not perfect at these exercises, they aren’t easy for me and it’s okay if they aren’t easy for you! #keepingitreal #nophonyrunningblogs

1. Single Leg Squat. It’s okay to hold onto something for balance here (I still do!) but your real focus is controlling your motion down and up and teaching your knee to track in the midline. Only go down as far as you can stay controlled.

2. Plie Squat.

3. Step-ups. Keep these to 10 reps and add an additional set once you feel fluid.

4. Plie Squat Jump. I don’t use weights for this because I like to use my arms to help get an explosive upward movement. Focus on landing lightly; if you are slamming into the ground, you’re missing a key part of the movement.

5. Donkey Kick.

6. Fire Hydrant.

7. Pendulum Squat.

8. Deadlift. You can do this with a straight bar or dumbbells. I usually use a straight bar at the gym, but don’t have one at home so use dumbbells at home. Focus on keeping your back flat (but not artificially straightened) and on driving hip bones up as you stand up.

9. Weighted Squat. If I’m at the gym, I use the Smith rack but at home, I rest the dumbbells on my shoulders for these. If you have a shoulder or rotator cuff injury, I’d recommend just using body weight instead. As with any squat, focus on keeping your knees midline and behind your big toe.

What other at-home exercises do you do? Hardest one of these for you?

**PS sorry the first two are sideways. It is just not my week for technology!

No More Knee Pain!

Apparently it’s body overhaul week everywhere! I’ve never (knock on wood) had knee issues save for one small flare of IT band syndrome in high school, when like every other 15 year old girl, my hips weren’t strong enough to support lots of running. However, knee valgus (colloquialism: knock kneed) is incredibly common and causes a ton of problems for men and women alike. Sometimes it’s an anatomical issue; rotated femurs aren’t an unusual finding. More commonly, it’s a functional issue. As with any muscle group, we tend to use our largest hip muscles and ignore firing the smaller ones that are critical for effective motion. One of my goals for this Spring is to get my left leg back on line. After two surgeries that required no weight bearing for a period of time, it’s gotten a little lazy and loves to roll inward.

James owns Body Resolution, a gym here in town, and I was psyched to read his post on preventing knee pain. I don’t know James personally but really admire both his facility and his strong use of science. As you’ll see in his post, the exercises are simple enough for almost anyone to do but also extremely effective tools for improving functional knee valgus. I’ll share my leg routine tomorrow, which has many similar movements to James’, but am definitely considering adding some of his moves in, especially the ball squat with abduction and glute bridge on foam roller.

What parts of your form need the most work?