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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Running Induced Back Pain

For the past couple of months I've been dealing with dull back pain after my runs. It hasn't gotten worse, but it hasn't gotten better either...until just a few days ago. In case any of you are experiencing the same thing, I thought I'd share my experience with you and hopefully it will help alleviate your pain.

At first I wasn't sure what was the cause until I noticed that I didn't have any pain on my "off" days. So the dull pain was directly related to my running. From a physical therapy point of view, my immediate thoughts were that my core muscles must be weak or tight so I needed to do some stretching and strengthening. Maybe...although all through the winter months I did a lot of core work after my treadmill runs. Hmmm, so what have I done differently lately that would cause this? Two things came to mind.

1 - I started my training outside a couple months ago and have been incorporating a lot of hills. The biomechanics of running up hills and at unusual angles leads to postural changes which demands greater stress on your back muscles. Obviously I'm experiencing some muscular strain and I think this is the culprit. Living at the base of a mountain range makes running hills unavoidable (plus I like them) but now when I'm attacking one I focus on my posture and then make sure to stretch AFTER my run when my muscles are warm. Plus, I could have been better at introducing the hills more progressively. I'll keep that in mind next spring. Here's some great things to remember when running hills.

  • You will run slower going uphill, so slow the pace down as best as possible, don't push your pace or even try to attack the hill by going real fast.
  • Shorten your stride, which by not pumping your arms as hard, actually will happen subconsciously... its weird how that works, but it does.
  • Keep good form, especially by keeping your back straight. posture, posture, posture.
  • When going downhill, lean forward and keep the short strides. If you lean back and try to break yourself, you'll kill your quads. (1)
2 - I'm horrible at staying adequately hydrated. I've always been bad at this. I was thinking back to my high school years the other day and I can't even remember having water breaks during soccer or track practice. Well, 12 years later the bad habit still exists. So I have to make a conscience effort to keep a water bottle by my side. Better yet, I also keep a cup by all my sinks at home so when I'm in that room I fill it up and take a swig. This has helped immensely! Dehydration is a common denominator in muscle soreness, spasms, and cramps and is so easily avoidable! How much water do you specifically need in a day? Visit this website to plug in your weight, exercise time, and environmental conditions to see your daily water requirement.

Changing a few of my bad habits and adding a few good ones has alleviated my back pain and now I can more fully enjoy my runs knowing that I won't be achin' for the rest of the day.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Types of Runs

I stumbled upon this reference that includes all different kind of training runs.
I found it helpful and thought I would share.

All of these types of runs are done to accomplish different goals and objectives.

The easy run or recovery run is simply a run at an easy pace done for recovery purposes or just simply enjoyment. Most of a beginner’s runs should be easy runs. These runs improve a runner’s aerobic conditioning. The intensity of these runs should permit conversing using complete sentences (60-75% of your maximum heart rate).

Jogs usually refer to slow running done to recover between intervals. Runners and (especially) non-runners will sometimes use the term "jog" for a slow run for exercise. Runners tend to prefer to refer to what they do as running; but usually know that if a non-runner refers to you as a jogger, they probably don't mean any harm.

Long Runs are typically 25-30% of your weekly mileage or so and are usually done once a week. These are usually done at a comfortable, fairly easy pace. We often refer to them here as LSD -- long, slow distance or long steady distance. An appropriate long run distance is determined by your goals. A long run might be anywhere from 5 miles to 25 or more (for an ultra marathoner).

"_______ pace runs" refer to running your predicted or expected race pace. So if a workout were to call for doing miles at "marathon pace," that means running at your predicted marathon pace per mile. That could be anything from 5:00/mile for someone fast to 12:00 minutes a mile for someone slower. A 5K race plan may call for doing intervals (explained below) at your 1 mile race pace. A good way to figure out your expected paces is to use an online calculator. The McMillian Calculator is excellent.

A tempo run is a run at around your 10-15K race pace (or about 80-85% of your maximum heart rate or so). Traditionally tempo runs were 20 minutes or so in length, but they vary. It's often described as being "comfortably hard" -- it's a challenging, but manageable pace. You want to finish a tempo feeling challenged, but not exhausted. Most tempo runs consist of ten to fifteen minutes of easy running, then the tempo part, then ten to fifteen minutes to cool down. Tempo runs build speed and teach your body to run at a certain pace.

Related to tempo runs are cruise intervals. Like tempo runs, these runs are designed to help you learn to deal with the accumulation of blood lactate; they are sometimes called lactate threshold (see Physiological Terms) runs. Cruise intervals are usually 3 to 15 minutes in length, with 1 minute or so of recovery for each five minutes of run time.

A fartlek is a fun word that you can say and make non-runners snicker. It simply is an informal way of doing speed work. It's a Swedish word meaning "speed play." In a fartlek, you would run hard to say the next telephone pole, then slow down, then run hard again to the next object. It's just basically bursts of speed in the middle of a workout. It can be easy or hard. There's no set distance or speed, it's very loose and informal. Fartleks are good for a beginning runner who wants to dabble in speedwork.

Intervals (sometimes called "repeats") usually refer to track work, though you can do them elsewhere. Usually intervals consist of a set distance (say 400 meters, 800 meters, a mile) that you run at a set, usually fast pace. Between the intervals, you would recover by either jogging slowly or walking. People often do them on the track because the track is obviously measured. An example of an interval workout might be 4x800. This means you are going to run four sets of 800 meters (or about a half mile) at a certain pace. Between those faster runs, you will walk or jog to recover. Often an interval workout will give you the pace you're supposed to run and the time you should take to rest. Usually rest time is roughly equivalent to how much time it takes you to run the distance. So in our 4x800 example, if you were doing the 800s in 4:00 minutes (8:00 mpm pace), you would take about 4:00 rest. Intervals build speed and improve aerobic capacity (See Physiological terms).

Just a brief word about the track .... If you visit the track to do a workout, know that most tracks are 400 meters in length. (There are some quarter mile tracks, but most are 400 meters.) A mile is roughly equivalent to 4 laps around the track. A mile is actually a little longer than 1600 meters. If you want to do a true timed mile, find the common finish line. (It's usually located at or near the end of the straightaway in front of the home stands. Usually has numbers painted there.) Go back 9 meters and there should be a line. That’s where the mile would end.

Repetitions are a form of repeats that are faster and shorter than intervals with full recovery between them (usually 4-6 times as long as the repetition). These are used for improvement of anaerobic capacity, running form and running economy.

A ladder is an interval workout of increasing interval lengths, such as 200-400-600-800 meters.

A cutdown is the opposite of a ladder or an interval workout of decreasing interval lengths, such as 800-600-400-200 meters.

A pyramid is a combination of a ladder and a cutdown, such as 200-400-600-800-600-400-200 meters.

You will also hear about hill repeats -- these typically are runs up a hill at a fast pace to build strength. I personally hate hill repeats, so I prefer to run hilly courses instead.

Strides are short, controlled bursts of running of 50 to 150 meters designed to improve efficiency, work on form, etc. Often done at the end of a run.

Warm Up is a period of slower running prior to faster running. Cool down, sometimes called warm down, is slower running at the end of faster running.

Reference ~

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Race Recaps

Race Against Child Abuse 10k

I mentioned this race in my previous post but I have a few pictures to share. This wasn't a very big race and probably 1/2 of the runners did the 5k. While I was running I ended up bridging a big gap between the top two male finishers and the rest of the field so it was different trying to run my fastest without having someone in front of me I was trying to catch or someone right behind me to hold off. I still ran a pretty good time of 46.57 which barely met my goal of sub 47 min. I originally thought this might be a PR but then I saw a old tweet on Twitter about a 10k I ran last year in 45.34 minutes. Oh well. It IS just the beginning of the season (that's what I keep telling myself). I'm gonna crush that time by the end right? At least it's good motivation to train harder. And good motivation to keep track of my race times. Thank you Dailymile. On with the pics!

Starting line. I'm number 87.

Trying to finish strong. Do my arms really look like that when I run?

High fives from two of my kiddos. (The other one was playing a soccer game on a field right next to us. Pretty convenient.)

Some post-race lovin'.

Conquer the Canyon 5k - PR!

This was the test to see if my goal of sub 22 was reasonable after running a baseline of 23.59 the first part of April. Unlike the 10k, this race was MUCH bigger. There was 199 women participating in the 5k alone. The field started out really fast and I was a little worried but still tried to keep up without overdoing it. At the turn around for the 5k I was surprised to find myself in 2nd place! The few women in front of me had kept going for the 10k. YEAH! I knew there was one gal in front of me but she was WAY in front so I did the best I could to pick off the two guys up ahead. I ended up finishing in 22.07 (7.08 pace) which was a PR for me. The little gal that beat me was only 13 years old and finished around 20.15 min. WOW! Impressive huh. I searched her out and told her that she needed to stick with running because she had a gift. I've got another 5k planned on Memorial Day so wish me luck! I'm determined to get this goal conquered. Then I can focus on breaking that 10k PR!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

To Garmin...Or NOT to Garmin

That is the question!

This is the great debate that has been going on inside me for the past couple of months.  Last Christmas I got some cash to put towards a Garmin and I've been setting a little money aside each month ever since.  Well by next month I'll have the cash, I'm just not sure I have the desire anymore.

My current tool is my Ipod Nano.  It has my tunes, a timer, a lap button (helpful at the track or if I know the mile-posts..which I don't usually), and keeps track of my workouts.  It has served me well.  It is kinda a pain to have to hit the lap button everytime I complete a lap but maybe I'm just kinda lazy. ;)

After setting my goals at the first of this year I was sure that the Garmin 305 would be key in helping me attain them.  It would spit out my mileage, pace, and heart rate if so desired.  However, since discovering DailyMile I have mapped my runs and it spits out this information for me (except for the HR but I'm not totally interested in that anyways).  I have been running for so long now...about 15 years...that I'm pretty good at reading my body and judging how fast I can push myself.  Is checking my pace going to help or hinder me? 

During my 10k last Saturday I felt great!  I was running with energy, I was happy with my performance, and in the lead of the ladies!  I ended up finishing the race at 46.57 and pretty satisfied for the first race of the year.  As I was running I asked myself if I wish I new my pace and surprisingly the answer was NO.  I wanted to just act on how good I was doing at that moment and ride it to the end.  I didn't want to focus on how much faster I should be going or worrying if I was off my goal pace.  Should I just listen to how my body wants to run? 


One ~ I can totally see the potential the Garmin provides in training for longer distances.  I think it more critical to have a pace in mind in a 1/2 or marathon so that you can make it to the finish line or get a BQ.

Two ~ I think it could be beneficial to use in training, i.e. training against my virtual partner, setting a pace for interval training, etc...

Maybe I just don't know all the things I could do with the Garmin and so that's the main reason for this post.  I want some opinions.  Do you love/dislike your Garmin?  What is your favorite thing about it?  Do you think it would do me some good to have it in the 5/10k's?  HELP!!!