We'll talk more about the blog title (and one of my favourite Rod Stewart songs :-) in a bit, but here's the important stuff!.
There have been lots of Renegades racing these days. First we'd like to congratulate Kirsten on a great Bridge Race, pacing her sister. Alice and Frank both had great runs at the Boys Home Run (Alice won her age group and Frank had his best 10k time in several years) while Mark did a great job pacing family members. Mike gutted it out in the recent MEC 10k on a brutally hot day and Nadine / Sig / Coach Scott all did a great job at the Woodstock Duathlon. Last, but certainly not least, we want to congratulate Lynn on a great effort in the Niagara Falls 50k, and Terry with another 'iron tough' performance at the Mont Tremblant 70.3. Lynn hung tough and bettered last year's time and Terry had a great prep for his upcoming full ironman. Hope I haven't forgotten anyone!! July will be another busy month with Patricia competing today and many Renegades participating in the St. Clair River Run / Bluewater Triathlon, and of course Terry's Ironman at Lake Placid.
When we asked you about topics for the blog, you said you wanted to see info on various aspects of training. Below you'll find excerpts from a really good Runner's World article which focuses on Masters Running and although it focuses on Masters, the info / advice is applicable to everyone, so here goes....
Loss of muscle mass is a natural part of getting older, and is one of the main reasons we slow as we age. Masters runners, however, often aren’t the sort to go gently into that good night. They want to slow the rate of slowing as much as possible. Here’s what such runners can do to address the loss of leg-muscle mass, as well as some surprising reasons why it might be happening.
The technical term for age-related muscle loss is sarcopenia. It usually starts in one’s 30s. Generally accepted theoretical culprits include lower levels of anabolic (muscle-building) hormones; a decrease in neuromuscular efficiency, or the quality of communication among the brain, central nervous system, and muscles; and reduced ability to synthesize protein.
Scott Trappe, Ph.D., director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University has found that aging seems to target fast-twitch muscle fibers, the ones used for short, explosive motions like sprinting, more than slow-twitch fibers, the ones used for lower-intensity endurance activities like distance running. “This provides a bit of explanation for the common observation of speed going before endurance,” he says.
There are other causes more specific to runners. Perhaps partly because of fast-twitch fibers deteriorating earlier, many older runners gravitate toward longer races and easier running. Doing so, of course, only encourages fast-twitch fibers to decline. Related, a steady diet of almost all aerobic running can contribute to the neurological changes that are already happening. “It’s not just whether you still have that lean muscle, but also the activation of the muscle,” says physiotherapist Phil Wharton, who has worked with dozens of elite runners over the years. “Can your central nervous system still get it to signal?” When it can’t, atrophy is likely.
Adding to the snowball effect for runners is an accompanying loss of muscle elasticity with age.
“That’s likely the primary factor for a decrease in stride length,” says Daniel Frey, D.P.T., a physical therapist and competitive runner in Portland, Maine.
If you care about your running times, none of this good. But even if you’re the rare runner who is nonchalant about performance, you should care. “As these changes accumulate, they can increase your risk for injury,” because you’re distributing more of the load of running from your muscles to your joints and tendons, Frey says. “People don’t seem to accept that we’re in a contact sport when we hit the ground,” Wharton says. “Like in any contact sport, you need a baseline of muscular strength or you’re going to get hurt.”
“You have to do more strengthening to build back what’s lost,” says Frey. “If you’re doing it properly, you almost can’t do enough resistance training to offset what’s happening,” says Wharton.
“Twice a week is sufficient if it’s of good quality,” says Trappe. “You don’t need to be exotic if your goal is basic strengthening to build muscle—three sets of eight to 10 reps at 70 to 75 percent effort with good form. If you’re using the right amount of weight, it’s going to feel heavy. If you can do only six reps, it’s too heavy. If you can do 15, it’s too light.” Target the large muscle groups most affected with exercises such as leg lifts, squats, dead lifts, and calf raises.
Do Your Drills: “You want to get the synapses working a little cleaner to get some of that neural communication back,” says Wharton. With their emphasis on quick, light, coordinated movement, running form drills can help with that. They can also improve muscle elasticity, helping you to regain the smoother gait of your youth and place more of the running load on your major muscles. Basic drills that incorporate skipping, quick landing, and light bounding are helpful here. If you’re pressed for time, cut a couple runs a week short by a mile and spend that time doing drills.
Regularly Run Fast: “Even if you’re not going to compete, do something to recruit fast-twitch fibers,” says Trappe. “They don’t need a lot of work to stay viable.” He recommends short spurts during a regular run or short hill repeats for non-competitors.
Plan Your Protein: When people think about building muscle, eating more protein usually comes to mind. Does doing so work? “There’s a lot of information that suggests yes and a lot that suggests no,” Trappe says. “Protein is important, no doubt, but as long as you’re getting a quality diet and an adequate diet, the protein follows. If I were hedging my bets I would say you don’t need protein supplements.
“That said, if you have a busy lifestyle—you run, you go back to the office and immediately start to work for several hours—you can start to make a case for portable nutrition with protein soon after a workout to allow muscle recovery.” That’s because, Wharton says, what’s known as “the glycotic window,” or the period immediately following exercise during which your muscles are more receptive to refueling, becomes more important with age. “Get some good, high-quality protein within 30 minutes after a hard or long run to help with rebuilding,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to keep a food journal, to find out what types of protein you best respond to.”
So there you have it Renegades. Hopefully you'll see that some of the things we do on our warm ups i.e. incorporating strides / 200m / 400m reps in training plans, and core work to strengthen key muscle groups / exercise neural pathways, fit really well with the info presented here. And here's a closing thought. All the suggestions above about incorporating speed / faster movements into our running are absolutely the right way to go, but PLEASE make sure that you're well warmed up before you do some of these workouts and also remember that speed is relative......you don't need threaten Usain Bolt's 9.62 second 100m in your strides to get benefit from them!!
Enjoy the summer!