We'd also like to shout out congrats to everyone who's raced in October:
- To start off the month, Deb and Yvette ran the Chicago Marathon and both PB'd....well done ladies!!
- Frank ran his best 10k in years at the MEC London 10k road race on October 22!
- Carol had a strong run at the Bruckelaufe 5k in Frankenmuth
- George competed in the SRR October 10k, running 51:04....way to go!
- Heather and Michelle both did a great job at the Vulture Bait 25k trail race in London. Michelle hit the trails again two weeks later at a MEC trail race in London.
- Renegades had a big day at the Niagara Falls half marathon and 10k. Lots of PB's, season's best and age group placings: Carol and Angela ran the 10k, while Alice, Kirsten, Lonna, George, Mike and Sig ran the half marathon. Congrats to all!
Although she may be far away, Patricia is always in our thoughts. It was great to hear this week, that she had an awesome 12k run in Stanley Park.....maybe Vancouver will become her new winter residence??
For the running information part of this month's blog, we're trying something new. Terry and I will continue to write most of these, but starting with this month's Coaches' Corner, we're reaching out to others in the local running community, for their thoughts on various aspects of training and racing.
This month, Alex Donnelly will share his thoughts on various running topics. For those of you who don't know Alex, he's an accomplished, experienced and respected local runner. Thanks to Alex for taking time to write this!!
That's all for me....enjoy these last spectacular days of fall....Cal
Right off the top, thanks to Cal for inviting me to contribute to the Renegade Blog, if nothing else in this world, I have opinions.
About myself. I don’t come to running from a running background. I played football at university and then rugby until I got tired of getting knocked down by bigger, younger players and my build reflects that. I am 6’3” and weigh somewhere between 200 and 210 pounds depending on the season, so I am constructed like a rugby flank forward and not a marathoner. I came to running for running’s sake later in life but since then I have run all the distances up to marathon and I’ve been under 19 mins in the 5k, under 40 in the 10k, 1:35 in the half and 3:40 in the marathon. I’ve completed triathlons from sprint to full Ironman distance. I did benefit from the coaching of Vic del Ben for a couple of seasons and I remember and use the things he taught in my own training and when I instructed the first three marathon clinics for the Running Room.
Cal gave me some suggestions for topics and since I am not sure I’ll ever get asked to contribute again, I’m going to comment on them all.
Topic 1: Diet and Nutrition
Right off the top, be cautious and be skeptical.
Be cautious because whenever you substantially change your diet you upset your body’s chemistry and it will take time, sometimes lots of time for your body to find its new equilibrium. So if you want to go ‘fat adapted’ or ‘high carb’, understand fully what that means and separate the ‘athlete’ you from the day-to-day ‘walking around you’. Athletically who benefits most from fat-adaption? The endurance and extreme endurance athletes I would suggest. Those athletes who need to output 5-8000 cal/day often for multiple days. So for those athletes it makes sense that as part of their training process to work their bodies over to fat-adapting for fuel rather than main-lining gels for 24 hrs at a time. For the rest of us, we can likely fuel our efforts just fine with carb-based products.
Now, if the ‘walking around you’ wants to make a lifestyle choice and adopt a diet that is more protein-based then the effort to get to ‘fat-adapted’ will be less if you can marry up your food choices and the time required to prepare those meals, but be prepared since it can take months to change your body’s chemistry and during that time you might not run very well at all.
Be skeptical of any program where someone wants to sell you something as part of a diet plan. There are no magic bullets out there otherwise every guy would have a 6-pack. If you are going to change diets, do it on your own.
Personally, I don’t have any food allergies or restrictions on what I can eat, so I try to eat a balanced diet. I am a big fan of being able to put ‘balanced’ in describing anything I do. When I went the Ironman distance I used carb products on the bike and on the run, but I had two peanut butter sandwiches in my bike turnaround bag that I ate to get me through the back half of the race.
Lots of shoes in the market now and some of them cost as much as my first car so what to make of all the choice? Assuming you have no mechanical issues that force you to a specific shoe type, excessive pronation for example the selection opens up to a very wide array.
When I look for shoes I look for two bits of information, stack and drop. Stack being the distance in mm between the bottom of your foot and the ground providing cushioning, and drop being the difference in height from your heel to your toe in the shoe.
Stack involves more of the heavy material that makes up the sole of the shoe and contributes to overall shoe weight, so racing flats or speed oriented shoes have a lower stack to take material and therefore weight out of the shoe. If you look at a New Balance 880 and New Balance 1400 you’ll see what I mean. I do most of my running in 880’s on account of my size but I race in 1400’s because they feel like slippers after the heavy shoes, and as everyone knows, when you feel fast, you go fast. At least in relative terms.
Drop is the more topical measurement though. An argument developed that the standard drop at that time, about 15 mm, created a mechanical imbalance contributing to heel striking and that heel striking being a braking and therefore a shearing action, contributed to foot and leg injury. Going to a 0 drop, either barefoot or in a minimalist shoe would force the runner to become a mid-foot or fore-foot striker and run as the foot was designed to run eliminating the braking and the resulting injury. Good theory, usual bad execution. While it doesn’t sound like much going from a 15 to a 0 can be crippling. I went from a Saucony Kinvara with a 4 drop to an Innov8 with a 0 drop, ran 30 mins and could hardly walk for two days my Achilles and calves hurt so much.
So here are my takeaways.
In my opinion, drop is the single most important feature of your shoe. Know the drop of your current shoe and if you change shoes make sure the drop stays the same, otherwise that pain you feel when you run in your new shoes could be self-inflicted.
Moving from a heel-strike to a fore-foot strike is a good thing especially if you can do it without messing with your running style, so go to the smallest drop you can handle. Switch drops slowly. Start by walking around in your new shoes then start by running for 10 minutes and work your way up slowly.
If you have shoes with different drops, rotate them through your running schedule. Changing drops is an easy way to stretch and strengthen your Achilles tendons and your calves. This will make your legs more adaptable especially when you run on uneven terrain.
Last topic: Race Training
Big topic but I want to deal specifically with speed work as part of your training. I know speed-play as part of training is a hot-button topic with how much speed work is too much but for me it always boiled down to this …. If I didn’t train at or near my race pace, how was I to expect to be able to race at that pace? If you run a 6min/k pace now, and you want to be able to run that race next year with the 5:30 min pace bunny, how do you do that? In my opinion you do that by training your body to be able to sustain that speed for the distance required.
So in my example how do you get to 5:30? You do the math, then you run speed-play 2x/wk.
Your current pace of 6min/k works out to 36 secs/100m. Your goal pace of 5:30min/k works out to 33 secs/100m. That makes your training goal working your /100m time down by 3 secs/100. If you can do that and you string 100m segments together, you’ll have your 5:30.
Speed play is never about quantity, but it is always about quality. They are short, focused work outs. Because they are hard the risk of injury increases so make sure you are nice and warm and well stretched out. Always take a walking start and never just bust into a sprint from a dead stop or else that popping sound you hear will be your hamstrings leaving your body.
Workout on a flat, marked course like Terry’s loop or the track on East St. for one workout because you’ll need to keep to pace. The second workout is a tempo workout so your course can be stretched out.
Speed-play is all about pace so use your watch as a stop watch to keep pace. Terry’s loop is ideal because it’s marked out in 100m sections so you can check your splits.
Workout 1 uses intervals of either 200 or 400 metres and after a warm up you go fast. As close to your new race pace as you can get, and once you can do 2x400 at your new pace, you keep dropping your pace second by second.
Workout 2 uses a tempo run of either 800 or 1000m as close to your race pace as you can get and hold for the entire 800 or 1000. So no going out at 33 and ending up at 47. If 35 is what you can do for the whole run, that is what you do. Try to gain a second the next run or the one after that.
Then as part of your long run, start to build in some running time working towards your new race pace. So if you LSR is at 6:30, do the last 3 mins up tempo and keep adding pace so that you work that LSR time down to 6:15 then to 6:00 etc and you go faster in your speed workouts.
If you do three focused workouts/week, anything else is just gravy. Don’t even wear your watch, just run around for the fun of it.
If you want a speed-play workout plan tell Cal and I’ll send him one.
Last observation. Garmin and Polar etc, make excellent training tools but in my opinion next to useless racing tools. In addition to the built in error in the device, for certified races there is only one race route that is exactly the race distance. If it’s marked on the course, then it’s a 4” wide line that the pro’s follow. For the rest of us maybe running with 20 or 30000 of our closest friends that race line might as well be on Mars and inevitably you end with your device saying you are at 10 km or 42 km and the race markers telling you you are at 9 or 40, followed by cussing and harsh opinions.
For non-certified races, the actual distance is a crapshoot with the distance determined by someone riding their bike, or driving their car along the route trying to get as close to 10k or whatever as they can.
Go old school and create a screen for your device that gives you average pace, current pace and time, then look for the race markers on the course because that’s what you are running to, not some mythical distance on your device. Your average pace, time and the race markers will tell you how close you are to your goal time. So if you want 5:30 pace and you hit the 8k marker your time should be 44 mins. Your current pace will help you to relax at the start when the urge is to take off at a sprint and will help you at the end when you start to tire and slow down.
Last thing, from my father:
When you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you always got.
So, you want different? Do different.