Run The Rock: Skateboarding and Strength Training to be a Better Runner

Skateboarding to running

During the past two weeks my total mileage has been less than the 13.1 that I will have to run on race day. Due to a busy schedule and a lack of motivation, 13 days have passed since I last wore the Vibram Five Fingers that I run in. Today the running drought was broken by a flood, as I saw major improvements during my run. It seems that a break from running, a lot of skateboarding, and a familiar training plan did me some good.

My last run, on September 27th, was 5.86 miles long and took me 55 minutes to run. I remember feeling awesome during this run, to which I credited my newly created, home made energy bars. That was followed by two weeks of intermittent strength training, much like One Workout Per Hour, without the rigorous schedule. This period also included about 9 total hours of skateboarding at a couple of local skate parks. Today my run lasted 51 minutes while I covered exactly 6 miles. I cut off almost one minute per mile in two weeks, without running!

In addition to cutting minutes off of my time, I also felt much more comfortable and relaxed while running today. A couple of miles into the workout I became unusually aware of my short stride and sagging posture. By pushing my hips forward under my shoulders and lifting my head high I was able to breathe more deeply, lengthen my stride, and return to running comfortably.

Although this is a dramatic example, it helps to prove that strength training and cross training are crucial to reaching your potential, even for runners.

You can check out all of the details for the runs mentioned here, as well as the rest of my training at iMapMyRun.

Run The Rock: Short On Training Time

This past week has been a bit hectic, although that is no excuse for slacking. I am now only two months out from my first half marathon and missed almost an entire week of running. Fortunately, the time restraints that have kept me from putting in mileage have not kept me from training all together. Instead I fell back on a training technique that I tested in a previous weeks endeavor.

Early this past week I realized that life was getting in the way of my normal training. Without enough time to workout all at once I had to get some training in. This was a subtle reminder of a previous endeavor where I did one workout per hour for an entire week. This would be a great way to continue my training even though I didn’t have enough free time to go running.

With this plan I was able to accumulate 30-45 minutes a day of exercise without having that much time to set aside. It allowed me to take advantage of less than 5 minutes free time at work, or a few minutes before I jumped into the shower. As I noted in the wrap up for One Workout Per Hour, this was a great way to exercise everyday without having to commit a one hour block to a workout. Unfortunately I don’t believe that it was the most productive week considering that none of it was cardio based, but it was certainly better than missing the week all together.

On a side note, I have noticed that my overall sports performance has greatly increased since I have began training. My bowling average has increase from a 190 to a 201 in the past month alone, and I have added at least 40 feet to my disc golf drives. I believe that this is due to an overall increase in activity level and muscular control.

Do you think that sport specific training in one area can have such an effect on other sports?

Run The Rock: The Energy to Run

Yesterday, before my run, I wrote a short post about my pre-workout eating habits. Meanwhile I made my second attempt at home-made energy bars, which happened to be quite delicious. Unfortunately, the photos that I had taken did not turn out so well, so I am currently cooking up another batch as I write the instructions on how to make them.

For these high carb energy bars I will be using the following ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup wheat flour

1/2 cup whey protein

2 eggs

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

1/4 cup fruit juice

1/4 cup unsalted butter Continue reading

Run The Rock: Eating For Efficiency

As long as I have been running I have known better than to eat a meal within an hour or two of start time. This was especially difficult in high school, when practice began at 5:45 AM. Since before I can remember I have eaten a large breakfast first thing in the morning. Early on I continued to eat in the morning, just as I always had, with the assumption that my body would adapt, but the result was always the same. I would start my run feeling sluggish and bloated, which soon became a feeling of sickness. From here I had a choice, I could slow to a walk for a while or surrender my breakfast to the grass. (Which surprisingly made me feel more energetic.)

It goes without saying that I couldn’t continue to eat a large breakfast. On the other hand if I ate nothing, or not enough, I dreaded running and I was unable to stay awake through much of the day. After a bit of trial and error I found that a granola bar or two provided enough energy for a good run, without filling me up too much.

Now that I am running again I still eat a small snack before setting off, only now they call them energy bars. Unfortunately, with the new name comes a higher price so the other day I decided to make my own. My first attempt was less than promising, when the cooking was done I was left with a dry, flavorless, cake-like sponge. This time around  I am aiming for something more like the Nature Valley Granola Bars.

In The Energy to Run you can find instructions to make these high-carb energy bars.

Run The Rock: Better Breathing

High school cross country practice was almost exclusively running with a small amount of weight training. Distance days we learned the layout of the city, running the streets around town to put in mileage. Speed work was always done on the track, mostly in the form of 800 or 400 repeats. If you want to build speed an endurance then you should work on running fast and far right? After six years of cross country I certainly didn’t know any better, but as it turns out running isn’t the only way to a faster race time.

One thing that was never taken into account when I was trained to run was technique, specifically when it comes to breathing. What is the most energy efficient way to breathe while running? What should I be doing to provide my body with the most fresh oxygen in every breath? These are the questions that occurred to me the other day, and I found the answer… one answer any way. HowToRunAMarathon.net provided me with an article called ‘Belly Breathing‘ that I decided to put to the test.

Wednesday evening I set out on a short run to train for a half marathon and practice this new breathing strategy. Half of a mile into my run, I had just broken a sweat and settled into a comfortable pace, I turned my attention to my breathing. Shallow and harsh,¬†in and out through my gaping mouth. I don’t know how I was getting enough oxygen to stay conscious much less active.

Taking advice from the article I began forcing air out of my lungs by tightening my stomach muscles as I exhaled. This required constant focus specifically on breathing. Gasping for air when my lungs were at capacity I would realize that I had quit belly breathing and would again have to focus. As the next few miles passed beneath my feet it took less concentration, and even became comfortable. The same pace seemed much less demanding and I was able to breath strictly through my nose for the first time. With only one run of practice belly breathing is a method that I intend to adopt permanently. In addition to the increased endurance that I am sure will result, the effectiveness of this technique has inspired me to work on my form in the near future.

Do any runners know where I could find running technique suggestions?

Run The Rock: Time to Train

When my friend Charlie asked me if I would like to run the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon in December I couldn’t imagine saying no. I have always enjoyed running, even the days that I barely forced myself to put running shoes on I took them off feeling invigorated. A half marathon would be a great reason to start training again, and with fourteen weeks to train I would have plenty of time for a good program. So I had him sign me up and began searching the internet for a suitable training schedule.

After just two weeks of procrastination, as I began to fear that I might not finish the race and receive my 13.1 sticker, I began training on September 12th. Having spent hours over two weeks trying to decide on the best way to train and how to schedule my runs, two minutes is all that it took to find a basic training program online. Continue reading

Webster In A Week: A lesson in procrastination

    After procrastinating for the entire week I was in a rush on Sunday to land a webster and complete this weeks endeavor. Unfortunately, as I learned in school, waiting until the last-minute and rushing to be done returns half-assed results. So, as you can see in yesterdays post, and video, I had not completed a webster in the good-looking fashion that I had hoped.

    When I went back out yesterday evening I viewed it as one last opportunity to land a smooth webster before the end of the week. After a few more attempts on flat ground I was still landing in a squatted position which doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal that I am looking for. Walking through the park behind my house I was hoping to find a small ledge or hill that I could flip off of. This would add some extra height and time to rotate allowing me to land in a standing position. Continue reading

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