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 – A fartlek by any other name …

Workout Wednesday – A fartlek by any other name …

As you know by now, “fartlek” is one of my favorite vocabulary words. Several of the athletes I am currently training for upcoming marathons have seen a lot of this word recently on their workout calendars. As I was thinking about and planning their upcoming workouts, I remembered a challenging workout that Calum Neff shared with me a while back. If you don’t know, Cal is the World Record Holder for the fastest marathon while pushing a stroller. The dude is fast.

So here it is, in his words.

“My favorite workout has been the Moneghetti Fartlek: 2 x 90 seconds, 4 x 60 seconds, 4 x 30 seconds, 4 x 15 seconds; all with equal but fast recovery in between. The first rep usually starts out around 5k pace and gets faster from there. It’s a great workout because it only takes 20 minutes total, hits on a ton of paces and energy systems. I think my best has been to cover 6,100 meters, that’s 5:17 per mile average INCLUDING the recoveries.”

Wow. Here is how I would prescribe the workout to my athletes:

Easy 2 mile warmup
2 x (90sec HARD, 90 sec REST)
4 x (60 sec HARD, 60 sec REST)
4 x (30 sec HARD, 30 sec REST)
4 x (15 sec HARD, 15 sec REST)
Easy 1-2 mile cooldown

For the HARD sections, progressively pick up your pace, starting around a 5k effort, until the last one is your best effort. For the REST come to a walking pace or jogging pace to gather your self for the next rep. Stop if you need to between reps. You can perform this workout on a track or on the road. The hillier the terrain, the harder the workout of course. So choose wisely, or just hit the hills and be a badass.

This workout makes you work hard, with a short period of rest in between. A lot of bang for your buck in this workout. It’s quick; you will build speed endurance and you will also be challenged to keep an efficient running form in order to hold those hard efforts. If your form gets sloppy, your times will not be as good. Once you have done this workout several times, you can compare to see if you have made improvements.

Good luck getting down to a 5:17 overall pace, but you never know (let us know if you do so we can recognize your badass-ery).

Want to impress someone? If anyone asks you what you are doing, you can tell them “Just the Moneghetti Fartlek.” They will nod and say, “Oh, yeah, the Moneghetti Fartlek, I love that one!” Then, they will most likely go straight to Google to find out what the hell a “Mona-whatever” fartlek is.

The workout is named after an Australian runner, Steve Moneghetti, by the way. More info and his bio here in case you get called out.

So get out there and kick it like Running Dad Cal! Post your distance and pace in the comments below.

Workout Wednesday – Cadence

Workout Wednesday – Cadence

A runner’s cadence is the number of strides in a minute. Having a quicker cadence can help to improve running form and prevent injury.

Shorter, lighter, quicker strides aid in preventing over-striding and encourage a mid-foot strike. Over-striding can lead to injury. You are more likely to hit the ground with your heel, which adds more impact to your joints. Having your body weight over your foot when it hits the ground, not behind it, will utilize your legs as shock absorbers instead of focusing blunt force on your legs and body. Shoe padding can only do so much.

A quicker cadence will also help you tackle hills; both the ups and the downs. Shorter strides on the up slope help conserve energy. On the decline, they keep you from reaching too far forward with your feet and using your heels as a breaking mechanism. Trust me, your quads will thank you.

Think “quiet” – you want to be as light on your feet as possible and if your feet are going slap, slap, slap, you are sending that force up through your whole body.

To figure out your cadence, count the number of times your right foot hits the ground in a minute. Then multiply that by two. That will give you the number of strides per minute.

An ideal cadence for most runners is 170 – 190 strides per minute. A lot of the elite runners have a cadence of over 200 strides per minute. I try and stay in the 180 range. When I focus on cadence in my tempo runs, I see improvements in my race times and overall conditioning.

If you listen to music while you run, pick something with a fast beat. There are even stations on internet radio or iTunes that have mixes specifically for runners that tell you the beats per minute.

What does a cadence of 180 steps per minute sound like? Listen below:

Want some music suggestions with 180 beats per minute? Click here

I’m a counter. I get a pattern going with steps and breaths. 1, 2, 3, breathe, 1, 2, 3, breathe, 1, 2, 3, breathe … It’s a great way to quiet some of those voices in your head during a run or race.
“Man, it’s hot.”
“4 more miles?”
“Why am I doing this?”
“I gotta poop.”
“1, 2, 3, breathe, 1, 2, 3, breathe, 1, 2, 3, breathe …”

Like any new exercise, it should be added gradually into your routine. For this Workout Wednesday, do a mile or two warmup to reach a comfortable pace, then use the counting method described above. Come back here or to facebook and share your cadence.

After you have established your baseline cadence, you can start working on improving it. Start adding longer periods of time at an elevated cadence until it feels effortless. It is interesting to see how your cadence changes over time.

And you never know when your coach will call you out on it …

Connor’s Corner – Boston Marathon Recap

Connor’s Corner – Boston Marathon Recap

My Boston Experience

Boston 2017 was amazing! I loved seeing all the cool sights and the outrageous runners. Every day was a new experience! We ate good food, ran super well, and saw so many amazing things!

The 5k was a really good experience! We talked to Mike Wardian before the run and I got to see him in his famous Elvis costume! He passed us near the finish of the race. I got to see Rick and Dick Hoyt just after the start! But the best part was that I came across that finish line with a nice new pr! I ended up getting a 20:32! I also got 503 overall and got 15th in my age group!

Before we went to the expo we had lunch and yelled at Dean Karnazes from out the window! At the expo we got to see Mike Wardian, again, and we got his autograph!

When it came to marathon day we watched some of the Team Running Dad runners finish. I got right up at the gate on the side of the road right across from the Expo Center. Mario came in in front of my dad. Dad came in at a 3:14:35. They all ran their best due to the bad running weather.

I had so many cool things to show off at my school when I came back. I got the 2017 Boston jacket for my birthday. It was an amazing experience, but I am still waiting for my trip back to be one of the runners in the marathon.

2017 Boston Marathon Race Recap & More!

2017 Boston Marathon Race Recap & More!

I have written race recaps for the Boston Marathon twice now. (2015 Recap, 2016 Recap) This year was my third year and not a whole lot changes when recapping the race. Lots of runners. Awesome spectator support. Heartbreak Hill … ugh. My time was 3:14:35. The slowest of my three Bostons. I still had a great time running the race, but the real fun came from the events leading up to race day. I could write a novel about the weekend as a whole, so I’ll break it down into highlights. I will start with the race, though, since that is what you came for. (more…)