Monday, April 30, 2012

Running Learnings

After Marathon, I was looking for a quick fix to resolve my fatigue/tiredness issue in last one hour, looking for some magic pill. I read a lot of stuff on internet for various products, this blog was the best in class, as per my opinion.

The link below is part 5 of Muscle Cramp article. If anyone of you buy their book, do share with me the gist of what you find. I did not find it in local library. Also, feel free to share any other learnings in comment column below

Apart from muscle cramp, there are lot of other articles as well, which I had gone through. This was the gist I remember, feel free to correct me, if you find something else, I just want to have all the information to make informed decision.

1. Do not take Tylenol or Mortrin before the race, it messes up with water in the body somewhat.

2. New shoes, with a newer cushion do help

3. 75% of elite runners are heel striker, 20% are mid-foot and around 5 % are ball striker. So do not mess with your natural running style or whatever is working for you. (There were some statistics for this)

4. Runner cramps in legs have nothing to do with salt, and sports drink do not help, apart from giving you some energy for which you can take the cheaper version of sugar or regular food. Sweat is isotonic, i.e. percentage of salt in sweat is much less than % of salt retain in body fluid. So your body, after losing some sweat would have higher percentage of salt. If you just drink water, that is fine, it would not dilute the salt in body where you would get into trouble. Also, if salt are really less in your body, your whole body should cramp, not just running muscles of leg.

5. Cramps, most likely occur, because at extreme fatigue, your neurons are not firing correctly to send information to muscles. Training at that tiredness help.

6. Lot more injury cases are coming to forth for now for barefoot runner.

7. For over 95% of runner, neutral shoe would be good, very few people need orthotics.

8. There is some truth in mind over body, but if body is disintegrated, mind cannot do anything, so think about what are the real limits.

9. June 25, 2013 - Changed my training to increase slow mileage to over 50 miles a week. A new world opened up for me, running faster than I could ever imagine. Results are coming fast. Barely 15% of mileage is quality runs, and that too at HM pace.

Lydiard -

1. Shifting daily distance from 15 miles/day to 20 miles on one day and 10 on next day, you would get better results. Simply, longer runs develops greater muscular endurance, shorter provides recovery and consolidation.

2. EZ runs - Besides building general cardiac efficiency or higher maximum steady state, helps in capacity to exercise anaerobically.

3. As per Lydiard, anaerobic intervals are needed, but he did not time them, both recovery and interval paces, and number of repetitions. Focus should be keeping your aerobic fitness up, and anaerobic to stimulate it so that you run faster aerobically at higher speeds. Much more focus on building aerobic fitness, and doing long distance run 3 days a week for 4-6 weeks, along with smaller/hill runs on other days; all at aerobic pace; before one should think about speed. (Note: Seemed to work for me, when I was injured and could not run intervals because of thigh strain, I kept aerobic running for 6 weeks, and did a race much faster than I ran ever before). He even discourages frequent racing during this build up phase, time trials might be OK.

4. 100 miles/week

5.Muscle cramps are due to deficiency of Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium. Do not take salt tablets during run, as they deplete Potassium.

Again, feel free to share your learnings in comments below.

Lore of running (Excellent book by Tim Noakes - best I have read on running)

1. Base training - 8-12 weeks of base training with less or no emphasis on speed work.
2. Sharpening - Hard training (speed intervals) generally for 6-10 weeks, beyond  that performance start going worse. This period is followed by 3-5 weeks of racing, before performance goes down. During racing, no need to do hard training.

Daniel's running formula

Daniel divided the running season into 24 weeks, 4 phases, with each phase of 6 weeks.

Phase 1 - Foundation and Injury Prevention Training
1.1 Just Lydiard, first 6 weeks is just base training at EZ pace. He defines EZ pace at around 2 minutes slower than 5 K pace.

1.2 Phase 1 is to build base and injury prevention. Do not be tempted to run fast in this phase. Though primary purpose of phase 1 is injury prevention, but you can try to increase mileage in this phase but not too aggressively, i.e., not to increase the mileage sooner than every 3rd week.

1.3 See the sign of fatigue, and take  a day off, whenever needed. He further mentions that it is mistake to caught on weekly mileage, that it dominates your training. He further goes on, if you do not learn to take day off, it might hurt in later phases, when you bring quality run into your program. He further mentions that benefits of higher mileage are well preserved once attained, so do not fear dropping some mileage later on during the season when you are emphasizing other types of training.

Phase 2 - Early Quality Training

2.1 Dominated by Strides and reps of 200-400 m, or 20-40 seconds of strides at mile pace.

2.2. Idea is to build cadence, running economy and prepare body for next phase of training which is considered most brutal, because of Interval Training.

2.3 5-6 strides, 2-3 times a week is recommended. Strides could be done during warm up or cool down or during middle or end of long run

Phase 3 - Transition Quality Training

3.1 Considered most stressful event-specific training.

3.2 800 or mile training, you have to include anaerobic work out, but 5 K or 10 K, regular Invervals (Vo2 max training would work).

3.3 Do not become cocky here in this phase and try to run faster than training paces, as it could lead to injury and you would lose 12 weeks of solid base.

3.4 Intervals are mentally and physically challenging, so you can do them day later or earlier than your schedule permit. However, try to do them, if you do not have any injury scare.

3.5 Small races are mentally better sometimes and could replace one of interval workout. If you are training for mile, longer races are good, and if you are training for HM or M, smaller distances are good. For 19:17 5 K (6:13 pace), intervals could be 400 m at 91 second, 1200 4:33 (almost 6 min pace). These intervals are faster than 5 k pace.

3.6. Recommended that intervals should last between 3-5 minutes. It takes around 2 minute before body start functioning at VO2 max. 5 minute is recommended as you can take 3-5 minutes recovery time, and you are guaranteed that you spent 3 minutes per interval in VO2 max. Shorter interval, would require shorter recovery. For shorter intervals of 400, it is recommended that you start your next 400 in 2 minutes, i.e. if you run your 400 in 80 seconds, then the following one should be in 40 seconds; making it 2 minute start cycle.

3.7 Jogging during recovery is much more beneficial than walking or standing, as it clears the lactate and keep the muscle loose. Recoveries should always be equal or shorter than the interval run period.

3.8 Remember not to run 400 m intervals faster than 1600 m, as the purpose is to spend time in VO2 max. Shorter interval would require much shorter recoveries.

3.9 Quality portion of interval should not be more than 8% of weekly mileage with non-negotiable upper limit of 10 K or 30 minutes of interval running.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oakland Marathon – March 25, 2012

After I ran my first Marathon exactly a year ago, I thought what a tough Marathon to run as my first one, and I promised myself that I would chose next one very carefully. Through rest of the 2011, I struggle to get back to running, injured myself once and I was out till November. I went to India and ran few days a week with my brother, and he was in good shape to beat me on most days. Came back, and ran Turkey Trot in November, and then carefully started increasing my mileage. However, I was struggling to recover from my long runs 12 miles or more.

Minh and Dave, looking at my blue nails, after one such long run, advised me to try a bigger size shoe. I took their advise, and bought a neutral running shoe with half size more. 10 years ago, I used to wear size 9, and now this one was size 11. Your feet swell during long runs and so it is generally advisable to buy a 1 size bigger as your running shoe. New shoe helped quite a bit, I could immediately see the difference in my recovery and I have to admit that apart from shoe size, new support helped too. I was of the opinion, older shoes, with worn out support, help making your feet stronger. I do not think this reasoning worked for me, as apart from blue nails, I would have feet pains too.

With new shoes, I started my training in February, and able to get to put couple 20 milers in Feb and early March. I thought that after I have couple 20 milers in long runs, I would register for a Marathon. And as the luck would have it, Oakland was fitting in the schedule perfectly, and 8 people, I knew, were running in it. During my 20 miles long runs, I was not able to keep my goal pace of 9 min/mile, so this time, I knew I could not keep up with 3:50 pace group. Vimal (who ran 2 half and 1 full marathon with me earlier) and I started behind 3:50 pace group and stayed behind it and ahead of 4 hour pace group for around 20 miles. Last 6 miles for me were much slower, but nothing comparison to what happened last year. Starting with realistic pace helped. And I was able to finish at 4:11:13, a new PR for me. Vimal finished at exact 4 hours, a great achievement considering he did not do a single training run of over 2 hours. I was not in much pain and was just feeling tired after the race. One of the goal for the race was not to get injured this time. I was able to run properly after couple of days of the Marathon and did another long run following weekend, indicating that I had a quick and complete recovery.

My training was to run intervals of 1 miles (1 mile warm up and 4 miles of intervals) on Tuesday, Tempo run (1 mile warm up, 3-5 mile of hard run under 8 min pace) on Thursday and Sunday long run (10 plus miles). This time, I tried to keep my long runs at 9 minute/mile pace, but pace would progressively slow down after 2 hours of running. My intervals and tempo run indicated that I should be able to do a faster Marathon, but not the long runs. I think it requires more training at that pace. Besides 3 days of running a week (20 – 30 miles/week), I was able to put two swims of 45 minutes as a cross training. I think swim helped me in recovering from hard and long runs quickly, and kept my aerobic levels up. I felt immediate relief from sore/stiff muscles after swimming. Marathon training is hard and I am glad to be done with one Marathon for the year, and now looking forward to do some hiking. Personally, I feel much better till 2 hours of running, body takes a beating beyond that and require some recovery time.

Marathon is still a big challenge for me. There are so many parameters, like diet, cross training, nutrition during run, hydration, shoes, fatigue, cramps, recovery, injury. And only way to learn what works for you is by trial and error, and running those miles. It is a path to self discovery and that is what keeping me come back to it.