Intensity

I mentioned Intensity during training. Generally intensity can be divided into the following:

  • Rest or Zero Intensity
  • Aerobic – physical activity that can be sustained for long periods, where body is using oxygen and carbohydrates and fat for energy. Usually you can speak during this activities.
  • Anaerobic – physical activity that is intensive that air breathed is not enough to use up fat, so the body will use up mostly carbohydrates.

Aerobic activity is important for stamina. speed and strength will cause you to go into anaerobic mode and reduce aerobic activity. Endurance athletes usually train within their aerobic activity to stretch into their anaerobic levels, in order to sustain their speed and strength.

A sure way to measure your intensity is a heart rate monitor. The idea is the heart will beat faster as the body needs more oxygen. Most heart rate monitors will have guidelines on measuring your aerobic and anaerobic levels.

heart rate monitor

Alternatively, you can just do without an equipment and leave it to personal test. A simple one is a scale of 1-10 or percentage, where

  • 0 – rest, not doing anything.
  • 1-2 easy physical activity
  • 3-4 slow jog
  • 5-6 jog to a run, you can still talk while running
  • 7-8 fast run, you can barely talk while running
  • 9-10 sprint run, you can’t talk, you can barely catch your breath.

Just to link to training. Generally, in Long Slow Distance Training, you  need to maintain an aerobic level, never go to anaerobic. High Intensity workouts will require you to push yourself even upto 100% sometimes mixed with rest.

 

Run Training Technique

Generally my technique involves a mixture of interval and distance training, and ensuring rest days. Some people have claimed that Interval training is all they need for even a distance run, and then there are those that claim that in order to do a long run you need long runs. And finally there those that goes for a balance between the two. And with many things, I like to find balance.

High Intensity Interval Training.

I got this technique from reading the four hour body, the simplest way I can put it is as follows:

  • Choose a 400m running track, and bring a stopwatch or wrist watch with stop watch
  • Run 50-75% intensity for 400m (1 round), and rest for 1 min 30 sec, do this twice
  • Run 75-90% intensity for every 100m with 10 seconds rest (stop) repeat 16 times (or the next 4 rounds.

So you would be running for 2.4km, takes about 20 minutes, for 5 times a week, once you get used to in you may be able to do the extreme 10 time a week, doing it twice a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Due to the intensity of the course, you may feel aches and pains after the work out. But due to the short distance of 2.4km, the recovery is faster. Delay Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) occurs only in the beginning, but reduces or disappears after a month of conditioning.

After a month of the HIIT interval, and employing the chirunning method, I found that a relax, aerobic run of 10km on the weekend to be relatively easy. Mind that I do finish just over an hour. The 10km doesn’t feel as tiring as it used to, and my time was still an improvement.

The only part that troubled me a few times, and maybe a few people is that the HIIT may push you hard. So may need to clock it down if you feel it is too much. Generally, HIIT is very good for improving your speed, and maintaining that speed for longer distances. The author claims that HIIT may be the only training you need to do any distance. Check the four hour body by Tim Ferriss

four hour body.

Others have criticize that the reliance on the HIIT programme may not improve your ability to do long distance. So there is the Long Slow Distance Training.

Long Slow Distance Training or Over Distance Training.

The basic idea of this training is to actually slowly do or overdo the distance  in order to get used to the race distance. this is one of the main ways most marathoners train. and this is a safe way for you to run your first race with the focus on completing the run as opposed to finishing fast.

Based on The Honolulu Marathon Clinic the rules are:

  • Train for at least an hour, three times a week.
  • Train no more than four times a week.
  • Pass the “talk” test while training.
  • Drink water every 20 minutes

The talk test is as what it states, you can actually hold a conversation while running. This will ensure that you are in aerobic state and stop you from going off into an aerobic state.

The aerobic state is also an an important factor in your body being able to use up the fats in our bodies. Which are actually a more potent energy source.

One proponent of the Long Slow Distance training is Jeff Galloway, he has coached a lot of people and wrote a few books on Long Distance Running Training.

jeff galloway on marathon trainingrun-walk-run method

My Training

Initially in 2006, I did a version of the LSD training for six months, which I then completed my first marathon after 7 hours. I did a simple Intensity training in 2007, which was mostly roughly 1km warm up, and 1km sprint for 3-4 times a week. with occasional medium runs of 5-10km. I did get my pace down to 6min/km, but I experienced my first ankle sprain during training a few weeks before the marathon, which it then popped up during my marathon, which caused me to quit.

When I picked up running again after 2012. I subscribed to the HIIT method above to do decent 10km runs. I only built up distance again when I decided to do a triathlon in 2013, and a 70.3 ironman in April 2014, which included a 21km run I did in 3 hours and 13 minutes. Recently, I completed a half-marathon in 2 hour 45 minutes (I would have arrived earlier if I wasn’t accompanying my friend who suffered from muschle cramps in the last 5km). I haven’t been able to sign up for a full Marathon run since 2007. But now I have an opportunity this November 2014.

My training is a bit random. Even though I use endomondo training workouts as training schedule, I go off of it a lot. Early this year I have been running 5-10km runs 3-4 times a week with a Long Slow Distance on Weekends, along with my swimming and cycling exercises for my triathlon. Now I have a triathlon in October and a Marathon in November. I will keep my mix short interval weekdays training with an LSD every weekend.

Next few topics will be on the science and specific jargons of training, which includes defining intensity and aerobic vs anaerobic exercise.

Running Technique

You would think that the only to know about running is just to put one leg over the other and just do it faster and repeat. It is interesting to note that we weren’t born running, nor were we born to walk. But walking we learned by ourselves and by looking at other people. Running was the same.  Some people had the advantage of practicing it more frequently, as they were growing up. But essentially, we are Physically and Biologically built to run. All animals with two legs can run significantly fast.

The best way to run is probably the way that you find most comfortable. Different people and different body types may use different techniques. If we run enough, we would probably find the right technique for ourselves. But if you want to find out more about better running techniques then it would pay to read up a bit.

The first technique I found was Chirunning technique. The founder was inspired by the Total Immersion Technique for Swimming, and decided it could be done for running. The idea is to use the available energy around us as well within us to run. It’s main objective is to run as comfortable as possible for a long time, if not forever. You can probably get enough information from their website, but you can read more about it from the chirunning book.

chirunning

 Another method I learned was the POSE technique. It is usually practiced by Interval runners or Crossfit runners. I read about it from the four hour body. The main objective is to transfer your strength and speed effectively through your legs. There are a lot of resource on the POSE method. You can get the book to find out more.

POSE method book

Both techniques have their similarities. Chirunning focuses more on endurance and comfort, while POSE method focuses on effective uses of strength and speed. Chirunning is more on volume, and POSE is more on speed.

An addition, to these methods, I have taken up Barefoot running, the chirunning was helpful in the beginning ensuring a safe transition from shod (Shode? shoed?) running to barefoot running. the POSE method was a bit challenging barefoot, and a few times had blisters. but as I practiced, I found ways to adapt. One of the things that I really got to focus on was how my feet landed onto the ground. Despite the occasional blisters, my legs, my knees and calf muscles rarely ached as it had when I was running with shoes. Try at your own peril, or be safe and read a few barefoot running books to find out more.

barefoot running book

 

Generally I have summed up what I learn into as follows:

  • Physically
    • You lean forward to fall, and one leg catches you from falling. Lean further to increase speed. This essentially uses the weight of the body to give forward momentum. But do not lean by bending your back, if you feel lower back pain then you need to straighten your back.
    • Your head will be looking below thehorizon. This ensures leaning forward. Also it helps to see where you are going.
    • Land your feet either forefoot or flatfoot, just under centre of gravity.
    • Shift weight of front leg and pick up the back leg without pushing yourself with your back leg. In POSE technique the heel will be trying to kick the ass.
    • Ensure hands are not tight, relaxed but still straightened wrist,
    • Keep elbow 90 degrees, and movements ensure that shoulder do not swing too much. The more the upper body swings, the more energy is used and not transferred to the forward motion.
    • High Cadence of run is 80-100 bpm, with small strides. Ensures the feet spend as little time as possible with the floor. also ensuring forward motion is maintained.
    • Breathing in and out through the nose, close your mouth. Causes less thirst. Although in sprints runners often breath in nose, breath out through mouth. Short distances can be forgiven, but long distance you may need to conserve your water.
  • Focus on:-
    • where you are running
    • your movement or technique
    • Your breathing and your steps
    • Focus your cadence and your pace
    • How your body feels through the run.
  • Pace
    • Maintain aerobic pace

When done right will:

  • Reduced tightness of the calf muscle
  • Relatively easy to climb a hill 
  • help recovery while running fast downhill
  • Reduce injury

These are what I got from my research and practice, you may find your own methods from your own. Good luck trying.

After this I will write an article on Training Technique to increase speed and stamina so you can run faster and further.

 

Learning to let go

On occasion I do get insights from running. Previous was about how barefoot running reflects life in a way that I need to look where I’m stepping, and in the case I do step on something sharp and or hard I need to react quickly. This run I got myself a hydration system for long run. I was planning for half marathon today.
On the way back, my feet started to become tender and the paved roads was getting hot from the sun. At some point I stepped onto a thorn, looking at my feet I saw how tiny and thin the thorn was, how easy it is to miss those little things. I actually had ran a few more steps thinking the thorn would drop off, like the sharp small rocks that I usually step on, but it lingered. Apparently it wasn’t enough for me to passively wait for it to drop off. Had I continued on, the thorn would have gotten deeper. I needed to stop, take a look at it, and take it out.
After that I realize there this little things in the past we could easily let go, but there are those thing that come back to bite us. The longer we leave it there, the deeper it gets. The more difficult it is to take it out, in some cases they become a part of the us. For better or for worse.
There are thing I need to deal with that I have postponed for so long, it upsets me when I remember that I haven’t done what I planned to do, for one reason or another. I need to organize myself. I have been pondering on how to organize myself better, I have researched on time management. I need to find the time to pick this small thorns out of my life, and run my life the way I want.<p

Race day

Despite the race event being on one day, it actually extends beyond that. There are 3 parts of race day
– before the race (pre-race day)
– during the race (race day)
– after the race (post-race)

Before the race
you obviously have prepared with training, most people would be tapering within a week to two weeks of the race. Lowering down intensity and distance, some people maintain short, medium to fast runs.
The 24 hours before some people do carbo loading, that is to eat and drink carbohydrates before the run. I would suggest to do no differently from what you have in the past during training. A common recommendation is to eat a full meal at the least 3 hours before the event, and hydrate youself 1 hour before. What I usually do is the night before i have a fullfilling late supper, and the moment i wake, drink 1-1.5 litre of warm or room temperature water, and the some bites to eat, e.g. Two peanut butter sandwich, a can of tuna, and maybe some fruits (usually bananas). The water drinking may initiate your bowel movement, and cause you to urinate. Do so before going off to the race location. The race organizers may have a warm up session, usually an aerobics session, I rarely join and i just do my own sets of warm ups and stretches.

During the run
During training i may have pushed myself to go further or faster. I am not racing against the elite runners, I am racing to complete the event and do my best. So for the first few kilometers i would really pace myself, sort of warming myself up. Trying not to be to excited by the crowd and speeding up. After that I just maintain my form and focus on that and my pace, a gps watch or smartphone app, or heart rate monitor, can help you maintain your pace. I sometimes admire the crowd filling up the road, and saying hello to the runners i often meet. When there is a supporting crowd, their applause often energizes, but becareful not to get too excited or else you would push yourself harder than necessary. At the the last few kilometers you may gauge yourself and decide whether you can speed it up, or just maintain your pace. Seeing the finishing line often tempts you to go for it though.
On hydration, for long distance runs i try not to rely on organizers and bring my own hydration pack, i take a sip almost every 15 mins, and everytime i feel thirsty. The only problem with this is i rarely bring extra weight during my runs. Some people can run without hydration pack, most elite runners don’t, they take from the water points, but in my my past experience the laggards often suffer from no water left at the waterpoints, therefore i keep myself ready.

After the run
At the end of the run, depending on the organizer, you may receive extra fruits or drinks, a finishers medal and/ or a certificate. Their usually is a prize presentation ceremony that may include entertainment, announcing the top runners, and lucky draw prizes. During this time i would be doing my own stretches, which includes squats for my gluts and hamstring, and lunges for my calf, i may even do arm stretches for my arms and shoulders. You’d be surprised how those would be affected. An ideal event organizer would prepare a meal, but rarely is the case. It is highly recommended for you to rehydrate and op up yourself with carbohydrate and protein within 30 mins of you event. This would also reduce the effect of DOMS, or delay onset muscle soreness syndrome. Basically the muscle pain you feel in the next 48 hours. You would feel the strain you place on different muscles of the body. I highly recommend stretching those parts up. Some people would go for a full body massage instead.
When I get back home or into my hotel room I would usually have my power nap. This usually to compensate for my early wake up for the race.
The next day i would rarely do a workout, give myself a rest, but at times i would like to go for a relax swim, it would give me a work out without straining my muscles. I do see people still running the day after a long run, I have only done that a few times. I would stretch the morning and night for the next 2 days. Then start my training again for the next race.
On hydration, I weigh myself before and after the run, and usually notice. 2kg difference, so i usually try to drink that much to replace the water i have lost.

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