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Monday, December 22, 2014

New Year 2015


Every year I try to remind myself of the 25 rules of running and adjust my training if necessary. My right knee injury reminded me to follow Rule 5 on several occasions in 2014. So instead of pounding the pavement I ended up in the gym on the elliptical. I have been religiously following Rule 7: a day of recovery for each mile of racing. That translates into recovering for at least 26 days after a marathon before resuming hard workouts or running another race. Indeed, it took over a month for my energy to return to a normal level after the latest MCM race in October. It's always tempting to stretch some of the rules and sometimes it's difficult to follow others. However, these rules provide us with a collective wisdom helping us improve, run faster and stay injury free.


Have a great holiday season and awesome injury-free running in 2015. Run Strong!
RPB

1. The Specificity Rule
The most effective training mimics the event for which you're training.
2. The 10-Percent Rule
Increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.
3. The 2-Hour Rule
Wait for about two hours after a meal before running.
4. The 10-Minute Rule
Start every run with 10 minutes of walking and slow running, and do the same to cool down.
5. The 2-Day Rule
If something hurts for two straight days while running, take two days off.
6. The Familiar-Food Rule
Don't eat or drink anything new before or during a race or hard workout.
7. The Race-Recovery Rule
For each mile that you race, allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing.
8. The Heads-Beats-Tails Rule
A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up.
9. The Conversation Rule
You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running.
10. The 20-Mile Rule
Build up to and run at least one 20-miler before a marathon.
11. The Carbs Rule
For a few days before a long race, emphasize carbohydrates in your diet.
12. The Seven-Year Rule
Runners improve for about seven years.
13. The Left-Side-Of-The-Road Rule
To keep safe, run facing traffic.
14. The Up-Beats-Down Rule
Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up.
15. The Sleep Rule
Sleep one extra minute per night for each mile per week that you train.
16. The Refueling Rule
Consume a combination carbohydrate-protein food or beverage within 30 to 60 minutes after any race, speed workout, or long run.
17. The Don't-Just-Run Rule
Runners who only run are prone to injury.
The Even-Pace Rule
The best way to race to a personal best is to maintain an even pace from start to finish.
19. The New-Shoes Rule
Replace running shoes once they've covered 400 to 500 miles.
20. The Hard/Easy Rule
Take at least one easy day after every hard day of training.
21. The 10-Degree Rule
Dress for runs as if it's 10 degrees warmer than the thermometer actually reads.
22. The Speedwork-Pace Rule
The most effective pace for VO2-max interval training is about 20 seconds faster per mile than your 5-K race pace.
23. The Tempo-Pace Rule
Lactate-threshold or tempo-run pace is about the pace you can maintain when running all-out for one hour.
24. The Long-Run-Pace Rule
Do your longest training runs at least three minutes per mile slower than your 5-K race pace.
25. The Finishing-Time Rule
The longer the race, the slower your pace.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Runner's Diet: Green Tea



Some foods are acidic (coffee or meat) and some are alkalizing (tea or apple). On a scale from 1 (completely acidic) to 14 (completely alkaline), our body tries to keep balance around 7. In the last couple of months I have been boosting my alkaline intake to maintain this balance. Alkaline diet is good for runners and endurance athletes who continuously produce lactic acid and are prone to inflammation. Alkaline foods also boost immune system. Viruses, bacteria, even cancer cells cannot survive in alkaline environment but thrive in acid. Lots of traditional wisdom in a phrase: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Green tea has quickly become part of my office routine. Instead of afternoon coffee, I reach for a cup of green tea which is considered one of the world's healthiest drinks and contains one of the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea. The natural chemicals called polyphenols in tea are what are thought to provide its anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects. 

My colleague at work also jumped on the green-tea-bandwagon and started drinking tea as a substitute for soda he likes so much due to its high caffeine content. However, green tea is not only healthy but also gives you an energy boost: 8oz cup includes 25mg of caffeine. Win-win, but at much healthier equilibrium point.

FYI 

This is a partial list of some of the alkaline foods as recommended by professional triathlon athlete and Vega-founder, Brendan Brazier:

Asparagus, Beets, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Dill, Green beans, Peas, Sprouts, Zucchini, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Wild rice, Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Cherries, Dates, Figs, Grapes, Oranges, Pears, Pineapple, Flax seed, Hemp, Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Coconut.



Run strong ... and alkaline!
RPB



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment


Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common and debilitating injuries. It's caused by repeated tissue strain. It's not an inflammation, but rather a degeneration: changing the thickness and substance of the facia.  There is no consensus on treatment of plantar fasciitis. 10 different runners would try 10 different ways of treatment. A friend from work who is coping with PF and unable to run asked recently what worked for me:
  • Nike Free. Truly therapeutic shoes that aim to strengthen feet. I started walking first for a couple of months then running initially for just 15 minutes and ramping up gradually every day. This transition to minimalist shoes may take up to 6 months.
  • Foot Roller http://goo.gl/ljWj7O Foot massage after each run followed by icing.
  • Graston Technique http://goo.gl/G4YLPK Treatment is often painful but allows to break down any scar tissue. It is offered by selected chiropractors.
  • Flexible Running Shoes. Running in shoes that are flexible is essential. Rigid sole constraints foot's natural motion and often results in foot injuries. I've been running in Saucony Kinvara since  since early 2010. 
It took several months but the dreadful PF eventually left and hope will never come back. Nowadays I always travel with my foot roller. It's an indespesable accessory that I still use after each run to prevent any flare-ups or maybe it's just a habit that became an integral part of my running routine.

Run Strong. Injury free.
RPB

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Carbo Loading Before the Race


Only three more sleeps until the race. We're tapering and getting ready for 42.2 km on Sunday. It's not our first marathon, but this time we spend noticeably more time in the kitchen loading up on carbs and trying to satisfy this unusual hunger every couple of hours. For example, late last night, we could not resist another "snack". Helen had a bowl of cereal. I had a bagel with Greek yogurt. Why this unusual appetite at the time we run much less than during regular training week?


Studies show that reducing mileage during the taper will allow muscle enzymes to store more carbs and build up energy reserves. Maybe those thirsty enzymes demand more calories to compensate for 20 weeks of deprivation during the training? Well, our plan is to quench this thirst and consume 4 grams of carbs per pound of body weight as recommended by Runners World. In my case, 170lbs x 4g = 680g of carbs daily. That's lots of carbs (approximately 15 bagels!). Bagels, pasta, rice, and bananas can help max out glycogen stores. Eating so much I suddenly feel heavy and overweight. Explanation from nutritional experts: runners should expect to gain a couple of pounds as extra glycogen absorbs more water. 

Another important nutritional pre-race recommendation I will try to follow for the first time is a breakfast four hours before the race. Doing a simple math it translates into 3AM meal for 7AM race. This graveyard breakfast should include 1g of carbs for every pound of body weight (in my case another 4 bagels!) and include only small amounts of fats and proteins which digest more slowly than carbs. 

Taper is not easy: running less is hard to accept and eating several bagels a day is hard to digest. Three more sleeps until the race. Can't wait!

Run Strong, and carbo-load before the race!
RPB

Friday, April 25, 2014

Boiling the frog




How can you possibly do all necessary type of training (cardio, lactate, endurance) when your parental duties allow you to have only one quality session a week? 

Necessity is the mother of all invention. My solution was a workout I called “progression run” that was recently described in RW as "boiling the frog". The idea is to gradually increase the pace to a level that otherwise would have been difficult (physically and mentally) to sustain right from the start.

That's how I "boil the frog", almost always on the treadmill: I run the first kilometer at 6:00 min/km pace. The next one at 5:30 followed by: 5:00, 4:30, 4:16, 4:06, 4:00, 3:55, 3:50,  3:45. Done. Two-minute break. Time to refuel and change a shirt. On a good day I can squeeze tree repeats. This workout is sort of 3-in-1 combo. With my target race pace of 4:10, the distance run at pace of around 4 min/km constitutes a tempo run, the sub-4 kilometers are mostly cardio, and the overall distance of 30km hopefully provides a benefit of a long run. 

BTW. The photo was taken by Helen in the Museum of Nature here in Ottawa. The museum had a special exhibit featuring frogs. We just learned that some of them were the most poisonous creatures on the planet, even more venomous than snakes or spiders.

Lesson learned: be careful when "boiling the frog", it's easy to overdo it!



Run Strong,
RPB

Friday, March 28, 2014

3plus2



Quality over quantity. Intensity over volume. Strength training over easy runs. Run less but race faster. These are principles of a new training philosophy inspired by findings that triathlon athletes get injured less than runners. Biking and swimming are integral part of triathlon training and provide athletes with systemic cross-training. Could runners follow a similar training regimen by doing more cross-training, run less and still achieve their personal best? 

A growing number of coaches believe so by allocating substantial amount of time for strength workouts as part of their training plans. One such training program calls for only 3 quality runs plus 2 cross-training workouts per week:
  • Run 1. Speed work intervals at 5k pace (improve cardio)
  • Run 2. Tempo run at target race pace (improve lactate-threshold)
  • Run 3. Long run at fast pace of only 30s per km slower than a race pace (improve endurance)
  • XT 1 and 2. Aerobic cross-training workouts (non-weight-bearing) that improve endurance but are "easy" on legs (swimming, rowing and biking are great, stair-master is not)
Despite only three runs per week, this program is not necessary easy. Intervals, tempo runs and long runs at relatively fast pace are hard workouts. As many of you know, I have always evangelized the importance to hop on the treadmill and do those very unpleasant tempo-runs as a necessary price of admission to Boston or New York Marathon. However, tempo runs are hard and require substantial time for proper recovery. To reduce a risk of injury or over-training, the new training philosophy proposes to do this recovery in the gym not on the road. As someone who almost always deals with a running injury, I find the promise of running faster and train “safer” as very appealing. Even now writing this blog, I can’t stop worrying about my sore left knee after the last week’s hard session on the treadmill.  Is it time to take a week off and do a spinning class or hit the pool?


Run Less, Race Strong

RPB

Saturday, January 25, 2014

5:20 Mile



Those 320 seconds on the treadmill felt like eternity. Painful. Very quickly I learned to appreciate the tolerance for pain the middle-distance runners have developed. Sustaining 95 percent heart rate on the borderline of puking was not pleasant. After a month of doing weekly speed work that included 10x400m sprint intervals, I can check off the first step of my experimental training plan. This plan is based on an assumption that in order to run the 26.2 faster, one needs to run 13.1 faster. To run half-marathon faster one needs to run 10k faster, etc. 

Eventually you need to run one "unit" faster. This one unit for me is one mile. December was dedicated to training for 1 mile at 5 minutes and 20 seconds. January will be focused on trying to run 5k under 18 minutes. February is all about racing 10k in 37 minutes, March will target half-marathon in 1:21. In April most of my runs on Sunday will be at race pace around 4 minutes per km. Those times are shown in performance prediction tables for my (as usual overly optimistic) target 2:50 marathon in Ottawa in May. This approach is introducing a systemic intensity (some may say quality) into my training routine and follows one of the rules of running: "to run fast you must run fast". And that's what I need (and in large quantities) hoping that one day I will be able to break my PB set in Eugene back in April 2011. 

Run strong and fast!
RPB

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rules of Running


Every year I try to remind myself of “25 golden rules of running” we all should follow. It's quite tempting to stretch some of them just a little bit. And sometimes it's difficult or even impossible to follow others. 

Replacing running shoes every 400 miles (Rule 19) would send me shopping for a new pair of runners every 6 weeks and would quickly break my budget. Sleeping extra time (Rule 15) to compensate for fatigue of training is an impossible although very desirable ideal when you have a baby. 


However, most of these rules give us a good baseline, standard or "best practices" we can try to comply with to improve, run faster and stay injury free.

1. The Specificity Rule
The most effective training mimics the event for which you're training.
2. The 10-Percent Rule
Increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week.
3. The 2-Hour Rule
Wait for about two hours after a meal before running.
4. The 10-Minute Rule
Start every run with 10 minutes of walking and slow running, and do the same to cool down.
5. The 2-Day Rule
If something hurts for two straight days while running, take two days off.
6. The Familiar-Food Rule
Don't eat or drink anything new before or during a race or hard workout.
7. The Race-Recovery Rule
For each mile that you race, allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing.
8. The Heads-Beats-Tails Rule
A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up.
9. The Conversation Rule
You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running.
10. The 20-Mile Rule
Build up to and run at least one 20-miler before a marathon.
11. The Carbs Rule
For a few days before a long race, emphasize carbohydrates in your diet.
12. The Seven-Year Rule
Runners improve for about seven years.
13. The Left-Side-Of-The-Road Rule
To keep safe, run facing traffic.
14. The Up-Beats-Down Rule
Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up.
15. The Sleep Rule
Sleep one extra minute per night for each mile per week that you train.
16. The Refueling Rule
Consume a combination carbohydrate-protein food or beverage within 30 to 60 minutes after any race, speed workout, or long run.
17. The Don't-Just-Run Rule
Runners who only run are prone to injury.
The Even-Pace Rule
The best way to race to a personal best is to maintain an even pace from start to finish.
19. The New-Shoes Rule
Replace running shoes once they've covered 400 to 500 miles.
20. The Hard/Easy Rule
Take at least one easy day after every hard day of training.
21. The 10-Degree Rule
Dress for runs as if it's 10 degrees warmer than the thermometer actually reads.
22. The Speedwork-Pace Rule
The most effective pace for VO2-max interval training is about 20 seconds faster per mile than your 5-K race pace.
23. The Tempo-Pace Rule
Lactate-threshold or tempo-run pace is about the pace you can maintain when running all-out for one hour.
24. The Long-Run-Pace Rule
Do your longest training runs at least three minutes per mile slower than your 5-K race pace.
25. The Finishing-Time Rule
The longer the race, the slower your pace.



Hope everyone will have injury-free training season and very successful racing experience in 2014. 

Run Strong,
RPB

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