Monday, July 31, 2006

beating the heat

Running in the heat is a challenge but there are a number of ways to mitigate the effect.
  • Stay hydrated - drink fluids before you run. If you are running for an hour or more, take some fluids with you. Prepare for plenty of fluid replenishment after you run.
  • Run earlier in the day - usually before the sun gets too high in the sky
  • Wet shirt club - wet your t-shirt before you go out the door. Wear one of the cool weave fabric shirts and not the regular cotton t-shirt if you do this.
  • Choose the shady route - combined with an early morning run, choose a route with tree lined roads and stay in the shade, or choose this day to do a trail run through the woods.
  • Wear a hat - this achieves two purposes: one, it provides some protection from direct sun; two, the hat will retain water to help cool the head. When you take a drink of water, pour some on your head. The cooling effect on the head brings big benefits.
What would you add to this listing?

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Friday, July 28, 2006

VO2Max workout

An interesting workout to increase VO2Max is in the Active.Com newsletter this week. Matt Fitzgerald writes about this workout developed by Veronique Billat, an exercise physiologist at the University of Ille in France.
The workout format she settled on was highly unorthodox, consisting of 30-second bursts at vVO2max separated by 30-second floats and repeated to failure (that is, until vVO2max can no longer be sustained for 30 seconds). In testing this format Billat found that some runners were able to amass more than 18 total minutes at VO2max, almost one third of it occurring during their jogging recoveries! A group of moderately fit runners increased their VO2max by 10% (that's huge) in just 8-10 weeks when they added twice weekly 30-30 sessions to their training.
Read the full article for all the details.
The average runner can accomplish much the same with a little less complications. The 3-day FIRST workout provides for the pace work on the track, the tempo workout on the trail/roads and the distance workout to build strength. This combination carefully executed should provide a similar improvement in a whole lot simpler process.
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Two guys for four miles

Two of us ran the tempo run on Thursday. It was warm and humid but not as bad as we thought it was going to be as there was a decent breeze. We did a pretty good talk pace for the first two miles and then picked it up to close with a good finish.

The last stretch had a hill similar to what we will face at the Falmouth Road Race in a couple of weeks. We imagined we had completed the first 6 miles and the last mile was on the Falmouth course. We took the last mile up and over the hill and into the finish as if we were at Falmouth.

If you haven't done this kind of visualization for one of your workouts, you should consider it. Especially before your target race, this can be very effective.

If you think it, you can do it.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Beach view

The sand was warm, soft and good for exercise. Note the martial arts group circled in their white robes. It maybe hard to make out, but two people are in the center of the circle practicing their moves.

This hill would be good for running. It was exercise just walking up and down. We were there in the late afternoon on Saturday with the temperature in the 80's. One benefit to running here is that you can cool off quickly with a dip in the lake.

An important part of each workout is the recovery. Note also the tents and blankets with folks just plain relaxing. They may have already done their thing in the cool of the morning.

Make sure you take time to recover from one workout before you run the next.

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3 guys, 4 quarters

On the Franklin High School track tonight for our workout. Of the two Pacer buddies who joined me, one had been on vacation last week and the other was still struggling with a hip problem. My own legs were feeling the long run from Sunday and probably not helped by the short amount sleep the night before. (The flight back from Chicago was on schedule but by the time I settled into the bed it was about 1:00 AM and the alarm went off at 5:00 AM.) So the workout got adjusted to do four quarters. Three guys, four quarters.

We stayed on pace, hitting each 200 mark at 49-50 and finishing 1:39-1:40 except for the last which slipped down to 1:36.

Warm up, warm down, mile each and we called it a night.

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Long run down Long Grove

A E Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire was the destination for my run Sunday. Starting from my brother's house in Deer Park, I headed out Long Grove to Route 83 up to Altipaca and then along to Prairie turning left on Route 22. It was only a short way along 22 to the high school field. MapMyRun helped to calculate it out at 8.85 miles. I rounded it to 9 for my running log.

My nephew was scheduled to pitch for his Barrington American Legion Post 158 team. They were picking up the game that was halted by a thunderstorm the day before. He pitched the last 4 innings and was throwing well. Unfortunately, the other team managed to connect a couple of times to "hit 'em where they ain't" and eke out a 5-4 win with a 2 run rally in the bottom of the ninth.

So the run was memorable in many ways for me:
  • It was a point to point course in different terrain.
  • I saw many cyclists but only one other runner during the run.
  • I managed to get my long run in and get to the game without disturbing the rest of the schedule.
  • I got to a historical site of sorts; A E Stevenson was named for Adlai Stevenson, the noted statesmen from Illinois.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Quick Update

Just to provide a quick update, we'll be traveling back to MA today from Chicagoland where Dolores and I spent sometime with my brother and his family. I'll have some pictures as well to share of what we did this weekend.
  • Visited the Indiana Dunes National Park, climbed Mt Baldy, walked along Lake Michigan's shore 
  • Saw an American Legion baseball playoff game (my nephew was pitching).
  • Biked some trails in the Morain Hill State Park and visited the McHenry Dam (on the Fox River). Had a great meal at the Sagano's (a Japanese restaurant in Barrington, IL).
  • Walked in the Cuba Meadows Preserve.
A good long weekend, full of family and fun times. I return to work tomorrow. Dolores continues her summer vacation although since she has been away for the week (she went out before I did), she has some house chores to catch up on.
I got my long run in this weekend by running from my brother's house to the baseball game. Using MapMyRun, it clocked about at almost 9 miles.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hot Run

The temperature and humidity were both still in the upper 80's when we got to the track for this week's workout at 7:00 PM Decided to do less repetitions. To go at a slower pace. To still cover approx 1.5 miles of intervals. These self-imposed constraints lead to the selection of 3 x 800 as the workout.

We did our mile warm up before and the mile warm down after.

We walked 180 and jogged 220 between for our recovery usually taking about 5 minutes between intervals.

The 800's went very well. I ran 3:31, 3.26, and 3:28. Fairly consistent. Not bad at all considering the heat/humidity.

May the roads/trails (and weather) be kind to you!

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Readability Results - what they say to me

I posted the summary of the Readability results for each of my personal blogs. I do write on blog Synergy and 100Bloggers but both of these are group blogs. The results of these 5 tests would be more instructive for my own writing.
Here is what I think they say:
Gunning-Fog index, which is a rough measure of how many years of schooling it would take someone to understand the content. The lower the number, the more understandable the content will be to your visitors. Results over seventeen are reported as seventeen, where seventeen is considered post-graduate level.
I have a high score of 8.67 (P4GCE) with TE close at 8.61 and a low score of 7.42 (PR). I average 8.25. My work and education related writing tends to be more formal. My running writing tends to be the least formal. Overall I write for an 8th grade level.
Flesch Reading Ease is an index number that rates the text on a 100-point scale. The higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. Authors are encouraged to aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.
With the target at 60-70, and only two of mine below 70, I would say most of my writing is just a bit high on the scale but not far off.
Like the Gunning-Fog index, Flesch-Kincaid Grade is a rough measure of how many years of schooling it would take someone to understand the content.
I have a low score of 4.81 for PR and the others are all within 0.05 of each other. A real tight range. This says I write for a 5th grade level.
So what does this say for the bottom line? I think it says to keep on what I am doing.
You, of course as my readers, have the final say.
Do I need to change anything in how I write?
I look to you to be bold and provide your suggestions and comments either directly on the blog, or via email. You can reach me at shersteve at gmail dot com.
We are in this together. As much as I write for myself, I write for it to be read.
I welcome your advice.
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Running Basics - Tie the shoes properly

Since I hit my 500 milestone mark for this year, had done about 150 in Nov/Dec 2005, had purchased my current shoes pair of shoes in late October 2005 and have been alternating with one pair Tue/Thu and the other for Sun run, they each had about 300 miles on them. Hence, it was time to replace.
Miles of use is not my only factor. I have had good success with changing them with about this amount of wear. I also factor in how the cushioning feels. The soles on this pair have worn well but the inner soles are bottoming out. I might get some new inner soles and use them for spot runs here and there.
I have a tradition of lacing my shoes so the lace from the right side always goes over the left, and the left goes under the right. This harks back to a day when during an interview with Coach John Wooden who had great success with the UCLA basketball team in the 60's and 70's. Coach mentioned that he started each year by reviewing the basics. He did not assume that the players on the team knew his system. He started them all from scratch with the basics.
One of the most basic items was shoe selection. You needed to get sized properly to avoid blisters. You also needed to tie your shoes with the right over left procedure. By getting the players to think of tying their shoes in this way, he helped to reinforce thinking about doing things right the first time and every time. They also learned to tie with double knots so they would not need to stop during the game. The time in the game was important and he did not want to loose time for something as silly as tying a shoe. Hence, before they set foot on the court to practice, they learned how to tie their shoes.
Silly! Maybe but look at the success record he established.
How many NCAA championships did his teams capture?
I think there is something to the basics even at this level.
How do you tie your shoes?
If you do it haphazardly, I recommend undoing your laces and doing it right over left.
One small step.
The right over left laces will align with doing things right the first time, all the time.
The rest is up to you.
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504 Miles

Recent Running Chart
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Peter, Paul and Mary would sing

If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Lord I'm one, lord I'm two, lord I'm three, lord I'm four,
Lord I'm 500 miles from my home.

I am at home but the miles I have run year to date total 504 in 80 days of running. Normally three days a week, I am slightly behind plan to get to 1000 miles this year but if I continue to run healthy, I may still make it.

Ran 7 today with two Pacer buddies. It was hot and humid. Good thing we started early (7:30 AM) trying to do the same thing later would be harder. I like to have fun when I run. Running in this kind of heat is not fun.

Ran well enough to have something let to pick it up for the last half mile and close with a good finish. Still working on fluid replenishment. A small Dunkin Donut's "Strawberry Fruit Coolatta" got me some cold liquid with plenty of sweetness (290 calories for those counting).

The new Dunkin ad campaign could be an intro to get them to help sponsor the club: "America Runs on Dunkin".

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

A break in the rain and humidity

Caught a break in the rain and humidity to run the track workout this evening that was originally scheduled for Tuesday but due to the severe weather forecasted between 6:00 and 8:00 PM, I decided to forego.
Cruised through 8 x 200's. The first 6 at almost exactly the same split and then the last two coming down with the last one faster by over 5 seconds. It felt good to stride it out and finish strong.
One Pacer buddy was with me tonight to keep company. The Franklin High School boys cross country team had a captain's practice that was ending as we started. There was also some football (yes, real American football - not the soccer kind) on the field but other than the car on the track in lanes 3-5, they were not hindering our workout. They also left before we finished.
As nice a night as it turned out to be, it was also a realization that the days are noticeably getting shorter now. How quickly time flies!
May the roads/trails be kind to you!
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Weikert Ridge

Weikert Ridge
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

I got in a good run in Danville.PA last Sunday and then two good runs (Tuesday and Friday) in Weikert. This ridge was on the south side of the road I ran in Weikert. The road rolled up and down some good slopes as it wound its way amongst woods and farms.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Can you train low to run high?

The recent newsletter has an article by Matt Fitzgerald: Should you bonk on purpose?
Bonking is running out of gas either during a workout or a race. Not a good thing to do during a race but some research is indicating careful planning may turn a training bonk into a bonus.
Not that bad a concept. This really gets into some of the science behind the hard/easy day training concept. It does take time to recover from a run. The actual improvement from exercise is occurring during the recovery phase as the body recovers, rebuilding the muscles and glycogen stores.
In practical terms, she said, they should do some workouts within hours of having completed their last workout, such that there's not enough time to replenish muscle glycogen stores between workouts, and they should also leave their sports drinks and gels at home for some workouts (that is, intentionally under-fuel their muscles during training).
The benefits of this are more likely to be seen by endurance athletes. To me, this means more for those training to complete in triathlon or ultra long races. The average runner's training program would not call for sport drinks and gels during the workouts.
... athletes are able to perform at a higher level when they consume carbohydrate during training. Going five percent faster or farther in carbohydrate-fueled workouts will itself trigger greater training adaptations of certain kinds than going five percent slower or shorter in under-fueled workouts.
By extension, there are benefits to using this concept for the beginning runner. The challenge to the body coming from a sedentary life style to one where running is becoming a normal activity will be taxing the body. Providing moderate amounts of additional replenishment during the exercise should help the beginning runner get going. The recovery should be less painful and thereby the fun in running will be incentive to continue.
As with most advice
the best training recipe is probably a mixture of fully-fueled and under-fueled workouts. What constitutes the optimal balance between these two workout types is still unknown. You may need to experiment to find out what works best for you.
Do so carefully. Please don't plan to bonk frequently during your workouts. No matter how much it may benefit you, bonking takes the fun out of running.
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