25/01/2015

Sunday Summary W/b 19/01/15

Okay. Here's the deal. I got's really nothing to say about this week.

On Monday I did Kettlebells. I went back up to 12/14kgs.
On Tuesday I ran 3 miles with sprints at an 8:36 average on my favourite bridges run.
On Wednesday I went to meta box and...
On Thursday I ran 5 miles, 4 miles at a HR zone, and it was the most frustrating thing on earth (more about this later).
Friday and Saturday I was out of town, then working, so did very little exercise unless you count clearing out a house. I do, I was knackered.

Today (Sunday) Kat and I are off to knock out 8 miles as a long run. So if there are any nice photos/details from that I will add them here!

23/01/2015

How to: Dynamic Warm Ups for Running

Warming up is important in running. There is good evidence that those who warm up...

  • perform better in races
  • get less injuries
  • look sexier in running tights 

Okay, okay, maybe I made that last one up.

Beautiful sunrise over the river


While I am currently trying to ramp up my training using more speed, hills and tempo work, I am also trying to train smarter. This means I must stretch afterwards, I I must foam roll, and now... I must warm up.

Warming up before hitting the harder runs alerts your poor muscles that you are about to apply them to something that isn't sitting on a sofa. Warm ups heat up the body and the core, and specific warm ups like the following are also useful to prepare the muscles to fire in the specific way they will be asked to do in the race or workout. This fancy process is known as "neuromuscular activation". For a typical easy miles run this isn't required- the first mile or so at a comfortable pace will do that for you. This is for the runs where you are pushing it- the sprints, hill repetitions, tempos, fartleks, and any other runner-only glossary words you can think of.

Here's a good quote on it from this interesting article:

...The aerobic system is only one of two factors involved in developing running performance. The other is neuromuscular fitness, the ability of your brain to communicate and activate muscles whilst you are running. Though traditionally training focuses on developing the efficiency of the heart, lungs, muscles, etc, it is your brain that controls all of these, controls everything in fact. Your running form, efficiency, economy, power, stride length, stride frequency and ultimately fatigue resistance – all of these are neuromuscular in nature. None of them will be developed just by focusing on aerobic fitness.

On Tuesday morning I was doing a tempo/sprint reps run. It was -6 degrees Celsius outside and I knew I'd need a warm up to perform well. I also did not fancy freezing to death. The following are some warm up exercises I like. I never do them all. Ain't nobody got time for that. But I do try to do at least 8 or so each time I run a hard run. Some of them I certainly prefer to others, probably because of my own weaknesses.

Chances are many of my names for these exercises are not the correct ones. This list was also heavily inspired by Googling 'dynamic running warm up'. Please try not to laugh at my glamorous assistant*. You can laugh at me.

T Run with twisting hips

Nike tights || Brooks Pure Cadence || SOs old T-Shirt (No brand info) || Buff unknown


Jog forward, twisting the hips to face one side then the other for 20s. Keep your arms lifted up and out so the upper body is in a T shape.

Side Steps

Step sideways to your left for 10s then your right for 10s.

Butt Kicks

Nike tights || Nike top || Asics jacket || Nike Frees


In place, kick your heels up to your butt for 20s. Place hands on your butt, palms facing out if you don't want a muddy bum.

High Knees



In place, jog with knees high (up to hip ideally) for 20s- this one will raise your heart rate!

Hip Openers

At a walk, lift knee up towards the midline then swing the whole leg, hinging outwards from the hip joint so you have a knee still up but the whole leg 90 degrees from its initial position. Return leg to floor and do the other one. Repeat for 20s.

Leg Swings (back to front, side to side)

Standing holding something, swing each leg in its hip joint directly in front of and behind you, keeping upper body straight. Do each leg for 10s. Repeat, but facing what you are holding onto and swinging the leg horizontally in front of your body, left to right. 10s per leg.

Lunge Quad

Lunge forward with left leg; return to centre; lunge to the side with left leg; return to centre; lunge backward with left leg; centre; backward with right leg; centre; side with right leg; centre; forward with right leg. Repeat 3 times.

Backwards Run



Jog backwards for 20s. Look behind you to avoid crushing small children.

Skips

Skip for 20s, driving the knee upwards should be your main focus. Think proper meadow prancing with unicorns.

Front Kicks

With foot flexed, not pointing, kick your leg forward. Aim for your hands extended straight in front of you but avoid spraining the hamstrings. Do this exercise later in the set so you are already warmed up. Switch legs every kick, do for 20s.

Hacky Sack



Prepare to look ridiculous. K couldn't stop laughing as I did these.

Switching from foot to foot dynamically, raise the knee and allow it to fall outwards. With your hand, touch your inside calf on the same leg, which will have raised towards you. Change quickly to the other leg so your legs are in constant motion. Do so for 20s.

Bounding

I look like a pretty pony!


Bounds are similar to skipping, in that they are large strides, however the emphasis is on pushing off of the landing foot fast so you are bounding from foot to foot in big strides forwards. Do for 20s.

Single Leg Hop Quad

On one leg, hop forwards, centre, left, centre, backwards, centre, right, centre for 10s then change to the other leg for 10s.

If you did all of these for 20s each (lunge quad is 40s), that's still only 5 minutes total out of your run time. You can get out of bed 5 minutes early.

Throughout all of these it is important that your posture is good- upright as if a string is being pulled through your skull upwards with you attached, shoulders back. Because you are training good movement here, your movements should therefore be exact. With this (and I'd argue with any strength training), correctness comes high above repetition on a list of must-haves.

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Is there anything you guys think I should add or remove? 

What do you do to warm up? 

* She said she'd cut me if I didn't put her in the blog**
** She said she'd cut me twice if I told you all that***
** I'll take my chances****
**** This is the risk of making friends with Islanders...


20/01/2015

Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Image from author's UK site

A LONG time ago now, I bought the Haruki Murakami book 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' and promised to review it. But then I lost it. And then found it under my bed when I bothered cleaning the bursting cave of dust that is our flat. Firstly, in case anyone wants to stop reading my drivel ASAP: its good. Case closed. Probably my favourite ever running book.

I already held Murakami in great regard before reading this, as I have positively inhaled many of his fictional novels. I found this book to be an incredible mix of training information; philosophical musings about the nature of running; and an emotional insight into a private man and how he feels about running- his obsessions, worries, and his own work.

Murakami started running when he started writing, to give himself some movement away from his desk and a sedentary life and has now completed multiple marathons and ultramarathons. The book covers his preparation for the NYC marathon; discusses the famous 'wall'; describes the religious experience of nearing the end of a 62 mile race; and muses about the nature of running and of people.

It is also full of wonderful quotes about running:

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”

“Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It's precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive--or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.”

and of course, my favourite, used in We Do Run Run's profile of me:

Image by WeDoRunRun


I would recommend the book not just to runners, but also to anyone who is a fan of Murakami. If you're looking for training tips on how to improve your marathon time, its definitely not the book to read. You are unlikely to gain anything to contribute to your training, but very likely to gain something you can contribute to how you feel about running. If you're looking to feel understood, and to feel like jogging about on your branded sneaks is a part of something bigger, it is. Honestly I only wish it was a longer book.

If you are interested in Murakami as a general runner, there's a RunnersWorld interview with him here.

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Have you read this book? What did you think?

Any other running novels you'd recommend?