Tag Archives: training

Ground-breaking news: runners who are faster than you have longer strides

This year, I got to present along an all-star cast at the USATF SPEED Summit in NJ. Basically, the goal is to breakdown the elements of coaching based on science, and then use this science to bolster what we do on track. Smarter plan = better results. Or maybe I should say smarter people help us develop better plans? This is the conference I was most looking forward to this year, and it did not disappoint.

So let’s get past the sarcasm in the title, and go straight to the big picture: if you run slow, you take short strides and your turn over isn’t that quick. The only way to run faster is to increase your turnover and your stride length. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when you hear that faster runners have a longer stride length than slower runners. But now we get into an interesting question…..is stride length the cause or the effect? Or more specifically, why do some runners appear to bound effortlessly over the ground?

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They are stronger. About 80% of the cost of running comes from holding your body up against gravity. If you have strength reserves, it’s easy to combat gravity and float from step to step.  This extra strength enables more “hang-time” which translates to a longer stride length with less effort. Take home here? Get stronger.

How can you develop running specific strength? You can run. Collegiate and sponsored athletes get two workouts a day, and are racking up big miles. You know what else they do? They lift weights to develop strength reserves. Its highly likely that you don’t have the time and energy to rack up monster miles each week. But take a look at your week. Can you examine your training program and budget 30 min 2x’s a week for some strength work? If the answer is no, take a look back at the Achievement Triangle post…..and ask yourself where you’d like to be.  And if you are over 40, this is not optional. Get strong to get faster.

Want more? Check out this reference: Weyand

Announcing the REP Triathlon Camp! – immerse yourself with the best, and achieve the best

Its just like the summer camp you went to as a kid. Except that……
Instead of eating hot dogs, we’ve got fully catered meals.
Instead of “being prepared” like a good Scout, we’ve got full sag on every workout.
Instead of dodgeball, we start each day with body work, strength training, or yoga. 
Instead of “trying harder” to make it through the obstacle course, we’ll coach you to “move smarter” through the most efficient mechanics for your sports.
Instead of a councilor that reads comic books, your camp leaders wrote the book on training, and teach nationally.
Instead of cheesy sing-alongs, we’ll show you all the secrets to training, equipment, and recovery for you are fully prepared for every race scenario.
Instead of fruit punch, you’ll be surrounded by the most thriving microbrew scene around. 
And we’ve even got a campfire for nightime chats with professional athletes and experts. 
So like we said, its just like summer camp when you were a kid.
 
 
The REP tri camp was born out of a simple idea. Build the best possible experience for our athletes. Period. 
Knowledge. Tools. Decades of and coaching and clinical experience. Passion. 
Thus summer, take your body to a whole different level. 

Elevator Up? The Mindset Behind a Champion

A few weeks ago, I got to present along side Dr. Joe Vigil at a USA Track and Field conference in LA. For those of you who have to ask “who is Joe Vigil?”…..this man is to coaches as Rolex is to watches: the best.

Dr Vigil always has the uncanny ability to break down complex tasks and ask you the “right” introspective questions to help you reach your next milestone. We don’t just train the body in isolation. We’ve always heard that the body can handle more than the mind wants to give. So with that, I’m going to leave you with the following picture. Is it time to take the elevator up the “achievement triangle?” – What’s holding you back from reaching your goals? Change all starts with the desire to change.

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In fact, lets move beyond kumbaya and start this process in motion right now. Turn the computer off. Get out a sheet of paper and make 3 columns. Write down your goals in column 1. Then write down the obstacles that stand in the way of each of your goals. Then make a 3rd column of exactly what you are going to do to beat each of those obstacles.  Stick it on your fridge and remember your passion. When one of those obstacles seems like its standing in your way, make your tiger face and beat it down. Mental Tough = Body Tough.

And if you need help with your plan, give me a ring – I’ll help you find your tiger face.

From General to Specific: thinking through your yearly training plan

OK. Gut check time. a few weeks ago, I asked you to take a look at your past, and identify your performance limiters.  While both “Type A” and “Type B” training plans can be incredibly successful, even the most open minded Type B person takes a step back to look at their needs. After all, you’ll never reach your goal without a road map to guide you along the way.

To help you organize your road map, I’d like you to keep in mind a general plan: “from general to specific.” What does this mean? Well, if you are a cyclist, the best, most specific way to train leading up to your competition season is to pedal your bike…..often! But if you are 4 months out from your season, there are about a million other things you could be doing besides biking, that will still help you pedal well come competition season.

There’s no substitute for working hard, but there’s also no reason to work hard at the same thing. I know some of you say, “sure – I do this. I lift weights in the offseason.” Well, if you know anything about modern training theory, weights, plyometrics, and drills aren’t just for the off season (another topic for another time). When I say general, I’m not talking about all this kind of stuff. I’m talking about other kinds of stuff.

When you are 4 months out from race day, your body doesn’t really care if you did 2 hours on the trainer, or 2 hours XC skiing out in the woods. But your brain just might be a whole lot happier shushing though the snow covered trees instead of watching another 15 yr old Spinervals video. If you feel like going to a rock gym – go for it. The balance, coordination, and muscle stabilization you gain from rock climbing will improve areas of your body you never existed. And so what if you aren’t good at it? You aren’t a professional rock climber, its just something fun to do while you’ve got time, and all-cycling-all-the-time isn’t the sole focus of your day.

Me? I’m tackling my nemesis…..trying to ride my unicycle. Previously, its been successful at tacking me instead. But this is all supposed to be fun right? We do this stuff for a challenge. Repeat after me: “It’s January.” You know your friend who is putting in 20 hr training weeks right about now? He’s in for a massive blow-up come about June, and will be spending the peak of race season burt out and destroyed. So expand your skills and expand your mind. This winter, what are you doing to work on your “general?”

Think backwards to go forwards

So its the second week of the new year. Did your 19 New Year’s resolutions you had planned make it through week #1? This time of year, we all get caught in a trap: “Im going to do more base training, more speed work, more intervals, more weights, sleep more, eat healthier….the list goes on and on. While it would be great to have the luxury of time to make us all into training animals, we have this thing called life that gets in the way sometimes. And then a lot of us become discouraged when things don’t work out the way we planned, and we don’t achieve “more” of everything we set out to. Instead of doing “more” in 2013, let’s ask a simple question to help you do “better” in 2013.

Hard questions = best answers

When I work with a patient or athlete, I always discuss THEIR goals for the upcoming season. There really isn’t any right answer here – it may be to make the Olympic Trials, simply to PR at your half marathon, or just be able to get to the point where you can train consistently – your goals are your goals. My job is just to help you achieve them. After you tell me your goals, I ask one simple, but humbling question:  “what’s the biggest thing that stood in the way of your goals the past season?”

Ouch. This is typically the point where eyes roll back in your head. Every day you hit snooze and didn’t get up to train is flashing before your eyes. Why you didn’t dig deep for a finishing kick in your last race becomes more painful now than it did when you got passed with 50 feet to go. However, this question is not meant to punish you, its to get the the root of the problem. You don’t drive to grandma’s house aimlessly, you have directions and a plan to get to your destination. Training is the same thing.

Think backwards form your previous season. What went well? What were the defining workouts for you? Were you rested properly going into big races? How was your pacing? Did you do a good job of timing your weight sessions in relation to the rest of your workweek? Was your total volume of training time realistic with everything else you have going on in life? Did you pick the right races? Did you start oyur intinse training at the right time of the season? Wish you would have done more basework in the off season? Wish you would have taken more time off in the off-season to avoid burnout? What things stand out that didn’t go well? Were your goals too ambitious given your current life situation? If so, can other things be altered to allow you to train appropriately? Did you have fun?

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Note: this image is for figurative purposes only. If you see a lion in the mirror, you should probably run away.

This simple question can help you identify important things that often get lost in the shuffle. If you want to improve as an athlete, you need to train. Period. But your training should be focused for you, and “more” training is rarely the answer. Everyone wants to have some voice come along and say “just do this and you’ll achieve what you desire” Well, if you are honest with yourself, you’ll find that voice is you. With your limiters in front of you, you can now focus on specific ways to attack it. Looking backwards helps define where we need to move forward in 2013.

Bodybuilding Looks at Running

So I got a call from Nick Collias, a writer for Bodybuilding.com a few weeks ago. He was reading Anatomy for Runners, and was impressed with the way that I stressed the importance of comprehensive athlete development. He asked a bunch of questions, and put together a very nice feature article called Strength Training for Runners, How to Do It Right that you can check out here.

Sure, some of the models in their stock photos can lift you and your entire running group while squatting, but don’t be put off. The insights of a group of folks who aren’t first foremost runners is pretty refreshing. I should note that some of the pics and videos in here aren’t mine, and a few are a bit different that the correct form…..I recommend referring to your copy of Anatomy for Runners for the correct form explanations and pics.

In addition to some very insightful Q & A from bodybuilding.com, I wrote a basic strength progression that I highly recommend checking out!

Merry Merry Everyone!