I have been thrilled with all your races thus far in the season, and all your hard work is paying off!
You have been training hard at varying levels of intensity, but with quality time spent actually at race intensity, which helps you to be able to hit race efforts on the day, when it counts the most. One of the biggest mistakes an athlete can make is to train at intensities that don’t prepare you for the rigors of race day physically or mentally- often training above or below race specific intensities. Of course, the flip side of this is that the athlete trains at what they believe will be race day intensity, but then on the day of the race gets overexcited, overconfident, and falls prey to the greatest race day sin: racing way harder than s/he trained! No matter how hard and long you trained for your event, if you race harder than your goal pace/ intensity then you are actually UNTRAINED for your race. The rigors of training prepare you mentally and physically for what you will encounter on race day, from how to eat and drink during the event, to how to mentally handle the tough parts, and of course, how to pace yourself for the duration. Each one of these elements is very specific, and if you change the intensity on race day then you seriously risk a DNF (did not finish) as your body and mind are not actually prepared for the event. So, whether you are currently working with a coach or not, be sure that you have spent time at specific race intensities and then follow the plan on race day!
And just a reminder that while racing always involves at least a little bit of discomfort and suffering (the more you care, the harder you try, the more pain is involved), this “unpleasantness” is simply your body letting you know you are achieving your goals. Your training taught you to handle it, to embrace it and to love it, and your racing will teach you it was worth it all.
Train smart, race hard, and have fun my friends.
For those of you getting ready for the New York City Marathon, one of my clients found this great race pacing link- thank you, Cicily and good luck at the race!
Heel or mid-foot strike- is there a right and wrong? An interesting article in the New York Times about whether we should try to change our foot-strike if we are heel strikers. This study at least says, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” In other words, if you are running strong and pain free, then there is no need to change to a mid-foot strike. I can run with that.
Injury prevention checklist from USA Triathlon.
Some good ideas from Tri-Hard.com. However, the power workout in season, without ample training to prepare your body for that is not such a good idea as I feel it may set you up for injury and will be counter-productive for other, tri specific, workout that follow. Power workouts in the off-season are a great idea, but not in season or near races.
For those trail-runners among us: http://www.buzzfeed.com/melaniepoloff/38-things-that-make-you-a-trailrunner-dhod
For those ultra runners amongst us: http://whatisultra.tumblr.com/
Are you mentally set up for success? a short piece from USA Cycling: http://www.usacycling.org/are-you-mentally-set-up-for-success.htm
Are you nutritionally set up for a yummy snack?
Homemade Vegan Energy Bar Recipe
The “dry” Ingredients: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 2/3 cup oats 1 cup Grape Nuts cereal 3/4 cup raisins (I used golden) 1 cup shredded coconut (I could only find sweetened) 1/3 cup unsalted almonds, chopped 1/3 cup unsalted cashews, chopped 1 cinnamon stick, ground (or 2 tsp ground, but I totally recommend the taste of freshly ground!)
The “wet” ingredients: 2 tbs flax seed 1/4 cup warm water 1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern Beans (or 1 15 oz can) 15 dates, seeds removed and chopped (about 1 cup or 1/2 a lb) 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbs honey 1 tbs canola oil 1/2 cup applesauce (I made mine on the stove by cooking two peeled and diced apples for about 30 minutes with 1/4 cup of water, 2 tbs pomegranate molasses, and 1 tbs maple syrup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
If starting with dry beans, soak a half pound over night, then simmer for about one hour or until soft. If starting with canned, rinse well to remove saltiness. Chop the beans roughly either by hand or in a food processor. They don’t need to be processed into a puree, just tiny pieces.
Grind the flax seed and mix it with the water, set aside to thicken.
Combine the dry ingredients together first and mix well. Add the wet ingredients and mix until uniformly incorporated. Press into a greased 9×13 pan or casserole dish. Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. (Mine were finished at about 23 minutes). Cool completely, then cut into 24 bars. I cut a line down the middle of the pan lengthwise then 12 cuts across. Leave unwrapped for harder bars; put in airtight container for softer bars. Toast cut bars in the toaster oven for a crispy outside. If keeping longer than one week, wrap and freeze.
Nutrition facts for whole pan / one bar
calories from fat: 919 / 38.3 calories: 3779.3 / 157 fat: 105 / 4.4 sat fat: 30 / 1.25 protein: 109.2 / 4.6 sodium: 1584.3 / 66 total carbs: 713 / 29.7 sugar: 333 / 13.9 fiber: 178.2 / 7.4
I know, I know, I may have already have shared this one with you: a little Ironman humor….http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=triathlon+cartoon&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=triathlon+cartoon&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=467DFBB05B9A2653926B467DFBB05B9A2653926B
Breathing rhythm and your stride rate.
I often ask my athletes to try to find the rhythm between their breathing and their cadence as there are many benefits to doing this. I recently came across an article that talks about this very thing. Written by Coach Jeff Gaudette on runnersconnect.net
|For both beginners and advanced runners alike, improving running form and technique is one of the most asked questions I get as a coach.Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most complex and variable components of training, both to adequately explain and for the runner to implement. Foot strike, turnover, paw back, knee lift, these are just a few of the terms used to describe the multitude of muscle movements, both conscious and subconscious, that go into every step you take. Isolating and improving these processes is difficult and can often distract a runner from the ultimate goal – running faster, running longer and staying injury-free.
Consider a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina . When researchers interviewed 35 runners who wore minimalist shoes and asked them whether they were heel or forefoot strikers, all 35 responded that they were forefoot strikers. However, after analyzing footstrike patterns with a slow-motion camera, 33% of the runners were actually heel strikers.
First, this study is a good demonstration of how difficult it can be to identify your specific running form issues when your foot strikes the ground so quickly. More importantly, it’s a good example of the risks associated with thinking you’re doing something right, when you’re actually doing it wrong.
The accepted theory is that running in minimalist footwear decreases the impact forces on your legs because the lack of cushioning encourages you land on your forefoot. This is definitely true, but if you wear minimalist shoes and you don’t land on your forefoot when you think you are, vertical loading rates can be up to 37% higher than heel striking in traditional shoes and 50% higher than forefoot striking in minimalist shoes. It doesn’t take a PhD to realize that increasing your ground impact with each step by 50% can lead to some serious injuries.
So, how can you determine if you’re running with the correct form during the middle of a run when no one is around? I recommend counting your stride rate. Research has shown that stride rate helps runners land with their foot properly beneath them, which promotes forefoot striking and reduces loading rates.
Luckily, to get started on improving your running form, you can implement one simple trick that will help you develop a foundation for optimal running form and provide a building block for future improvements. So, what’s this “secret” building block? Improving your stride rate.
What is stride rate
Your stride rate is the number of steps you take per minute. Stride rate could also be called your running cadence or turnover. Calculating your stride rate is easy, simply count how many times your right foot hits the ground while running, and then multiply by two. This number is your stride rate.
Why is stride rate important
Improves your form
As previously mentioned, your stride rate is a fundamental building-block to establishing good form. By implementing the proper turnover rate, you increase your chances of striking the ground at the correct angle and moving through the proper range of motion when your leg moves back, up and forward.
Improves your running economy
Running economy is a measure of how efficiently you use energy when running. It’s exactly like the way a car measures miles per gallon. The more efficient you run, the longer you can go before getting tired, and the less effort you will use to run fast. Running with the optimal stride length maximizes your force on toe off (when your foot pushes you off the ground to move forward) and minimizes the time you spend in the air by controlling your stride length. These elements contribute to improving your efficiency.
Reduces your chance of injury
One of the main causes of running injuries is shock absorption, or lack thereof. If your stride rate is too low, you will spend more time moving up in the air, moving up and down as opposed to forward, and consequently land on the ground with more force. With the proper stride rate, you take lighter, quicker steps and reduce your chance of injury.
So what is the optimal stride rate?
As the subject of stride rate has become more main-stream, so too has the emergence of the “magic” optimum stride-rate of 180spm. The reason for this is as follows: at the 1984 Olympics, famous running coach Jack Daniels counted the stride rates among elite distance runners. Of the 46 he studied, only one took less than 180spm (176spm). Daniels also noted that in his 20 years of coaching college students, he never had a beginner runner with a stride rate of over 180spm.
Unfortunately, Daniels’ studies have been misquoted and as a result lead to all too frequent claims that everybody should be running at 180spm. These claims ignore the fact that Daniels noted stride rates of at least 180spm, not exactly 180spm. History clearly shows Haile Gebrselassie running 197spm en route to his world record time of 2:03:59 at the 2008 Berlin Marathon, and Abebe Bikila used a 217spm to become the first man to run a 2:12 marathon (2:12:13, Tokyo 1964).
Differences in our biological make-up means what works for one runner will not necessarily work for all. If you do one day become an elite distance runner (and we sincerely hope you do!) it is highly likely your race cadence will be over 180spm. However, and this is the important part, your journey to 180spm and beyond needs to be gradual.
The average recreational runner has a cadence closer to 150-170 spm. How quickly you progress and in what direction your running form develops will be affected by factors unique to you – your height, hip mobility, level of general fitness, to name a few.
The safest and most appropriate way to increase your cadence is to try and improve by 5% to 10% at a time.
How do I increase my cadence gradually?
How to improve your stride rate
If you want to improve your stride rate, focus on developing a 180 steps per minute turnover during your easy runs. On easy days, you have less to think about than tempo workouts or speed days.
Imagine you’re running on a road made of eggshells and you don’t want to break them. Picture yourself floating over the ground quickly, with light, purposeful steps. Focus on running over the ground, not into it.
If you run with music or a smartphone, consider installing a metronome app that you can set to a 180 bpm range. Focus on taking one step for every click of the metronome. You’ll quickly fall into a natural 180 stride per minute rhythm and can turn off the metronome.
Likewise, music can throw off your stride rate. Many runners tend to naturally move to the beat of the music. If you want to improve your form, consider running sans music or with a metronome app instead.
If you’re like me and do most of your runs technology free, you can simply count the number of steps you take with your right foot. Count for a minute and see how close to 90 steps per minute you get. Speed up or slow down your stride rate accordingly and you’ll soon find yourself running in a natural rhythm.
Of course, you don’t need to be exactly 180. A slight deviation like 175 or 185 is ok too, as long as it feels comfortable for you. Stay close to the 180 range and you’ll be on your way to improved running form before you know it.