Tag Archives: techniques

Take it in your Stride

It’s the last day of the month so I thought I’d finish it with a bang. 

I’m doing a lot of work on the house at the moment, so I wanted to ensure that I had enough energy left after my run to actually achieve some things today; therefore I chose to run a mid-distance,  eighteen mile route. 

The Perkiomen Trail was beautiful this morning with a temp in the low 70s. The humidity, however, was close to 100%. I was essentially dripping with sweat within a mile. It is a shame that water weight doesn’t count as weight-loss. 🙂

The trail greeted me with many wild animal sightings in the first mile: a doe and her fawn, a fox, a groundhog, some rabbits, a buck and then a heron. 

Clearly I hit that perfect time in the early morning when they are all about the business of getting breakfast. Silflay was the word used in Watership down, I believe. 

It was quite busy out for being so early. At one point (around mile five) I passed the chap that overtook me a couple of weeks ago. He was sitting resting so it didn’t count. But, he did start heading my direction.

I stopped to clear some branches from the trail and glanced behind me about a mile further up the trail and, sure enough, there he was stalking me. 

Not again, my friend. Not again!  

As it happens I could see another runner in the distance and decided I’d use him as my quarry. I increased my pace to pass him. 

It took me close to a three-quarters of a mile to catch up with him. He said he was doing five miles out and about to hit his turn around. This was now about mile eight and I decided I’d do another mile before turning. 

Determined not to be passed now that I had no direct target before me, I tried a few tricks to help keep my pace up:

  • Light on my feet
  • Pushing back as if on a skateboard
  • Standing straight
  • Powering with my arms
  • Engaging my abs. 

It seemed to work as I reached nine miles without being hunted down. 

This list reminds me that my LumoRun is supposed to arrive this week. A cool new gadget to test out. 🙂

Once I started heading back down the trail I saw him about half a mile back. Clearly I’d actually be putting more distance between us. Yes!

The rest of my run was at a more relaxed pace as I took in the lovely scenery and feed across the river. 

I stopped to refill my water bottle with two miles to go. The humidity was really oppressive by this point and I was looking forward to the bottle of Gatorade that awaited me in my car. 

I was basically out of running juice by this time and jogged at a slower pace for the remainder. 

The Gatorade was like nectar and I had soon consumed the entire bottle. 

Now, sitting eating my well-earned lunch on the last day of the month I thought I should check-out my annual mileage thus far. 

Today’s run pushed me upto 156.07 miles for the month and to a total of 921 miles for the year. My second biggest month of the year thus far (March = 170). 

I got a text from my friend that I train with and he said he managed to do 116.5 miles this month which is his highest ever. Having a dog to run with twice a day is really ramping up his mileage and helping him shed some extra pounds. 

Here’s a screencap from a video I took of them them other week. She’s a lovely dog. 

Now I need to get back home and carry on decorating my garage. Some patches to smooth off on the wall and then to put a second coat of primer on to drown out the brown (why’d they choose brown?) drywall. 

My wife is away at the moment but had this t-shirt shipped to me. Funny. 

I guess that’s a good point to finish for now. 

Living the dream, man. 

Living. That. Dream. 

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Yes it’s Hot; Run Anyway and Help Win Others Over.

But before you do be sure to choose an appropriate route that doesn’t put undue additional stress on your body, perhaps a route that glides along by a gentle river with a shaded canopy of trees. Do you have a water bottle and belt? Use them. Also take some snacks as you’ll likely tire more quickly.

Beware of your body’s core temperature getting too high. This is more likely to cause you problems than dehydration. If you find this starts to happen, slow down or even stop.

Wear thin bright clothes that will not absorb the heat and will let your sweat evaporate away.

Make sure that someone knows where you are going and how long you should be. Ensure that they will call for help if they don’t hear from you then make sure you do contact them when you are done. Run with someone if you can.

If you do all this then you can get out there and enjoy the weather. There’s only one thing that prepares you for running in the heat and that is running in the heat!

Don’t be surprised that you run slower; quite a lot slower, in fact, but if you are running for distance then that is the main thing.

Enjoy running on the scenic trails and luxuriating in the naturally cooler environs by the river. Be sure to smile at the other runners and cyclists, and don’t forget the walkers, miniature horses and traps (yes, weird), and the regular horse riders. Remember, it is our job to win people over to the crazy side on trail use.

I was slower today, but that’s okay. The weather channel running app rates it as a 3/10 day for running, but I think that is a bit harsh. I ended up with an 8:38 pace over 13.3 miles.

On the way I saw many beautiful sights along the northern parts of the Perkiomen Trail from just south of Schwenksville, PA to very nearly at Green Lane reservoir. I rarely get out this way and it is lovely.

The Other Runner: They Talk!

Finally, after nine months of seeing someone out running in the nearby housing development and with me always saying “mornin’!”, I have been acknowledged!

The other runner said “Hello”. Amazing. I feel like I’ve finally warn them down. Hehehe.

Today’s rearranged schedule called for a six mile tempo run with four miles @7:39 pace. Mission accomplished.

20140130-064113.jpgAt times I felt like I was running too hard and the graph shows that there were periods where I was going faster but I had to account for the hills on the route.

20140130-064332.jpgAm I the only one who thinks that their “calories burned” symbol looks like burning dog poo? Stamp it out.

Anyhoooo, it was a good run and I feel like I can handle the speed again. A couple of weeks ago I was worried the tempo workouts were set too fast.

As for some techniques, I’ve been employing a couple of things that I read lately and they seem to help so I thought I’d put them in here:
1) when using your arms to ‘power you faster’ put the emphasis on the push backwards as this helps thrust you forwards, and
2) think about leading with your big toe while you are running. This seems to have helped me to stop rolling my foot quite so much. The wear on my shoes seems a little tempered since I’ve employed this technique.

Good stuff. Now to get a warm shower as it was 7F (real and actual) today.

Have a good one!

Sprint to the Line

While I was out on my run today I was thinking about whether people should sprint to the finish line at the end of their short training runs.

Pros: you get to practice a sprint interval and race finish
Cons: it skews your average pace if you are tracking this closely; really you are supposed to warm down at the end of a normal run and not push harder; potential for injury increases so be even more wary near a race date.

Given that I’m tracking things so closely I think I should probably avoid the finish line sprints in my daily runs as it affects the data collected. I’ll get my sprint practice doing intervals at the track or fartleks (which I shall begin experimenting with soon). If you have any thoughts to add to the list, post them below.

My run today was another 4 miler but with fresh legs from taking yesterday off and a couple of days of larger meals, and it felt soooo good. I was able to focus on lifting my legs through the step today and I think that helped achieve my pace of 7:41 with my heart rate safely in the 75-85% range, except for the one hill where I still stayed below 90%. Good stuff!

Come Together, Right Now.

I managed to ignore the Blue Moon today and concentrate on my run from the outset. It all came together.

I’ve found that my new running style now feels quite natural and that I don’t have to concentrate on all of the components the whole time. I increased my strides per minute from 188 spm to 190 spm as yesterday I found that I was keeping the cadence easily. I was able to cope with this small change without a problem. I found that my mid foot strike was very natural and that my arms were moving correctly throughout.

This allowed me to start to think about pushing back with my feet, pulling forward with my thighs and increasing my stride length a little, while maintaining the cadence. I think I still need to do some more exercises to build these muscles more, but I’m pretty happy with how I was performing.

My pace for today was 7:01 and two of the half mile segments were at 6:33, so clearly I can still improve.

I think now that I need to start paying attention to stride length and reducing my heart rate. I have been monitoring my HR for a week now during my runs and it is quite high and I suspect would be unsustainable for a longer distance run. It is easily in the max range for most of the run. I hope that increasing the stride length slightly (while ensuring I don’t slip back to a heel strike) will allow me to get to a lower heart rate. Part of this will also be about conditioning and increasing the distance a little may help here.

Let the experiments begin…

Gimme the Beat, Boys, and Free My Soul?

[beep] [beep] [beep] [beep].

That is how the day started and it didn’t “free my soul”. Today I thought I would try running with a metronome set to the 194 strides per minute (spm) that i calculated the other day. Very interesting.

Firstly, it seems that during a normal run I must vary my spm quite a bit as I found it hard to maintain the regimented beat throughout the entire run. When I was going uphill or feeling a little weary then I naturally slow my cadence and elongate my gait.

Secondly, I believe that when I did the test to measure my spm that I must have exaggerated my footfalls because it was hard to do a normal run at that pace. It felt like I had to reduce the length of my stride to make the footfalls in that time.

Thirdly, because of concentrating on the beat I was unable to keep all the other techniques inline. I guess that isn’t surprising. I think I was running on my mid-foot but not falling back through my heel correctly, and I definitely wasn’t pushing my foot backwards for the lift, my breathing and arm swings were also out of whack.

But this was the first time I’ve tried it. I think I shall start with a slightly slower spm next time (perhaps 185) and see how that feels and see whether I can workout where I really should be.

I used the application called SilverDial on the iPhone as it is a simple and elegant interface that seems to have all the features I need. Plus the beep sound was nice and gentle (the ‘digital’ tone set). It was free which is the best price of all and it has no adverts. I will eventually adjust it to indicate the breathing pattern that I should use (set a 5/4 time signature) but I think I’ll try to get used to running with it first. I switched off all downbeat indication and display artefacts as they aren’t needed for this situation.

To use this, set you metronome up before you start your running tracker app.

My pace today slipped to 7:36, but that seems to happen whenever I introduce another technique. It will be interesting to see how this can be integrated over time.