Archive for the ‘fitness’ Category

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: 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,┬áin 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