Workout Wednesday – What Goes Up …

Workout Wednesday – What Goes Up …

I know how much you love hills! Pushing yourself up the hill to build that strength and endurance that only a hill workout can give you is FUN! In reality, you are sweating profusely and cursing Coach Jeremy. Trust me, I feel your pain.

But have you ever done the work in reverse? No, not running backward, although I may try that for next week’s Workout Wednesday. I’m talking about running down the hill instead of up. Downhill workouts usually get overlooked because it seems too easy. Just cruise down the hill, right? Wrong.

If you have ever run the Baltimore Marathon or the Boston Marathon, you know that the first half of each starts downhill. You fly down those hills with reckless abandon thinking how easy the second half will be. Then “BAM!” you start to feel your quads burning as you get to mile 16. By mile 20, you are toast. Calves cramping, hamstrings tingling. Why? You probably did not work on your downhill running to help your quads and calves adapt to the stress of running a decline.

Your body’s natural reaction to running down a hill is to lean back toward the hill and use your heels as a brake. Your stride also elongates because gravity is helping you cover more distance in each stride. This change in your stride creates a lot of stress on your muscles and joints. To avoid this, try to tighten up your stride and take quicker, choppier steps down the hill. Lean forward from the hips and keep your body’s center of mass over your feet as best as possible, not behind. Remain in 100% control of your body and your running form. Don’t let the pull of gravity helping you down the hill cause you to get sloppy form. Control the chaos and focus on your form to minimize the chance of injury.

Hills, whether uphill or downhill, are sometimes where races are made or broken.

A downhill workout you can try to learn how to fall in control:

  • 1-2 mile warm up to the top of a decent hill. Not a crazy drop in elevation, but a gradual, steady decline.
  • Run hard, but under control, down the hill for 30 seconds. Walk or jog back to the top. Take advantage of this recovery time.
  • Repeat this 6-10 times. If you work this into your normal routine, add a rep each time you do it.
  • Finish with a 1-2 mile cool down.

Just think of that burning sensation in your quads the first time you do this workout as a hug from the hill. You two have become such good friends recently! Admit it. You love hills!

Workout Wednesday – Jump Rope Fun!

Workout Wednesday – Jump Rope Fun!

This week’s Workout Wednesday is a full body plyometric workout that can help with your overall conditioning, coordination and cadence. You will need a jump rope and a towel (I was sweating like a pig after this one). I purchased my jump ropes from CrossRope.com, but any rope will do.

I like to add jumping rope as a form of cross training into my routine for several reasons. Jumping rope helps me stay on my toes, be light on my feet, build calf strength and increase the elasticity of the Achilles. The fast cadence of the rope also helps to improve stride turnover by training the lower legs to decrease ground contact time—a major component of speed. In addition, your upper body muscles get a workout as well as your abs since you must maintain good posture.

This is a good workout to do on your rest day when you are having that “I need to run, but coach said to take a break” moment.

A couple tips:

  • Be springy! Your heels should not touch the ground or should touch very softly.
  • Jumps should be very soft and rhythmic. Focus on quality and not quantity. Instead of 100 jumps at once, you can break down into 5 sets of 20.

Below is a workout I did recently. It took me around 16-20 minutes to complete. You can vary this workout to meet your own preferences. My workout consisted of 5 sets of 100 jumps with an exercise in between to create a circuit-type full-body workout. Some days I do sets of 200 jumps or switch to a heavy rope.

100 Jumps
20 Burpees
100 Jumps
20 Lunges (10 each side)
100 Jumps
20 Push ups
100 Jumps
20 Air Squats
100 Jumps
20 Burpees

Feel free to change the number of repetitions and adjust the exercises to suit your fitness level. Get creative! Put your variations in the comments and maybe I can learn from you!

Here is a video of my workout. The whole family, even the dog, joined in.

Please pay attention to your form on any exercises you do. Our form is not perfect and should not be taken for an example of the right way to perform the exercises.

Workout Wednesday – Yasso 800’s

Workout Wednesday – Yasso 800’s

With less than a week to go before the Boston Marathon, I figured I would toss out a great workout that I use to help determine overall fitness and gauges marathon goal pace. This is a workout I did weeks ago and was very pleased with the results.

Yasso 800’s.

Named after Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World Magazine, Bart Yasso, this workout is a staple of marathon preparation. Just Google “Yasso 800s” and you will find a bevy of info about this workout. (more…)

Can I race during my marathon training?

Can I race during my marathon training?

I have a lot of athletes ask if they should skip a race if it falls in their marathon training plan. It is a tough decision if you really like to race. When you race, you are giving your best effort, which leaves you quite drained. The problem with this is that most races are on weekends. Weekends are usually when long training runs happen. So how do you do both? Is it safe to do both? Here are a couple suggestions. (more…)

‘Tis Almost Treadmill Season. Get the Most Out of Your Treadmill Workout

‘Tis Almost Treadmill Season. Get the Most Out of Your Treadmill Workout

Days are growing shorter. Temperatures are dropping. Running outside is not as fun as it was just a few weeks ago. For most runners, that means running less, or taking their running indoors. I try and run outside as much as I can. Icy roads and bitter cold can force even the toughest runner inside to do their workouts on a treadmill. You can still get a great workout without the stimulation of the great outdoors. Check out these great tips and ideas from Fix.com. AND DON’T FORGET to use the safety tether. I have scars on my shins from a nasty spill a few years ago. (more…)

Running tip: Don’t sweat the race photos. Your form is not that bad (hopefully).

Running tip: Don’t sweat the race photos. Your form is not that bad (hopefully).

Photos don’t lie, but they can be misleading. An athlete who I train sent me a message saying that after she saw her photos from a recent race, she really needs to work on her running form. I looked at the photos and they did look like she was overextending her stride and heel striking. While a heel strike is not necessarily bad running form, the over extension, over striding is. But those photos don’t tell the whole story. If you watch videos of top runners, Meb Keflezighi for example, and freeze-frame it when his front foot is getting ready to hit the ground, it looks like he will heel strike, with his leg more extended than what it should be, out in front of his body. But in those milliseconds before impact, his foot completes the gait cycle and is squarely under his center of gravity, landing mid- to-forefoot.

To prove that photos can be misleading, see below.

This photo MAY look like I am pooping my pants, but in reality, I was just running hard and my shorts were totally safe.
dontpoop1

On the other hand, Shane was was not so fortunate. Sorry, buddy.

dontpoop2

Back on topic.

Since she was concerned, I gave her a couple things to work on during her easy runs. First was to slow down. If you are going too fast, you increase your chance of injury. Second was to increase her cadence. More steps per minute. What this does is shortens your stride and forces you to land more toward your center of gravity. Once you get used to doing this, it actually makes your easy runs feel easier, lighter on your feet, and less like you are pounding the pavement. A good way to check your cadence is to time yourself for one minute and count how many times your right foot hits the ground. Then multiply by two. That is your cadence. Use this as a baseline and see if you can increase it by a few steps each easy run for a few days until you find the cadence that feels just right. Third was to not worry about how her form looks on camera. Everyone runs different and a photo at the wrong time can exaggerate every little flaw in your running form.

Just smile, relax and run – even when there are no cameras pointed at you.