So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Friday, August 27, 2010

When The Training Triad Fails...

This weekend has been a challenge and a joy when it comes to my own training. I had a couple of local hare-and-hounds runners (two different kennels) socially (network) commit to the weekly Sunday morning long(ish) run, so I was really looking forward to the motivational benefits of running with a couple of guys who are closer to my pace.

Usually, the long run is an opportunity for some time with my wife. I'll run a few miles solo, then trail back to where my wife is on the course. Eventually my run turns into a walk with her. Some suggest I should take my "very easy" days and do those with Suzanne. Love my wife, but she's just a little bit slower than I; running with her in the past has come at a cost. A jaunt around Ala Moana Park in Waikiki , just months after a horrible marathon experience, not only reminded me of the fragile state of my achilles' tendon but tied up my hamstring in the process...to the degree I had to hunt down the Hilton's massage therapist mid-week.
So, we both agree she can not an active part of my training triad. She's an elemental part of the training group I coach, and of my coaching process, though.

The rainy conditions which began in earnest this week dropped the temperatures a few degrees, from nearly-infernal to what I've found a temperature on the high end of tolerable, somewhere around 82 degrees. I'm not certain what the temps were this morning when I got to the park where we normally start our loop, but the rain was a cool rain, making me think a little about several things:
"Should I wear a shirt for the run?" I had worn a long-sleeved technical top on the drive, and thought it might help to retain some warmth. If it was a month ending in "R" the decision might have been wise. But, we're still talking August. Also, I began to think about how heavy that shirt would have felt about 45 minutes after the start of the run. Yeah...that's okay.
Before that question, though, I was asking myself, "Should I bag the idea of a solo run on the loop, drive to the gym near the house, and give my new iPod application from Marathon Nation, Run Roulette, a go?" The Run Roulette app provides up-to-40 different workouts in five categories, ranging from 30-to-90 minutes in duration. Run Roulette also tracks which workouts you've completed, and - if you're the type of person who likes to publicize your super-secret training runs - sends status messages by way of Twitter and/or Facebook. I don't use a lot of applications and really am not at a loss for workout ideas for myself, but I downloaded the free Lite version from the iTunes Store for those days when I get stuck on the treadmill and need a little diversity in my running. Who knows? My F.A.S.T. Pensacola athletes might see something from RR in the future.
So, in spite of Chris Carmichael's advice to ensure someone to train with on a regular basis by developing a training triad, Murphy has a great deal of influence (or anti-influence) on a drizzly Sunday morning. It's always easier to hit the snooze button and roll over when you hear the hiss of rain outside the bedroom window. That's not an indictment of anyone. That's fact. I've done it on more than my share of occasions.
When the triad fails, your catchphrase needs to change from "Leave No Man Behind" to "Semper Gumby". "Always flexible"...another way to say "suck it up, buttercup; you got to do something on a Sunday morning."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rockin' In The Free Will

"There's colors on the street / Red, white and blue / People shufflin' their feet / People sleepin' in their shoes / But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead / There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead / Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them / So I try to forget it, any way I can. / Keep on rockin' in the free world..." - Neil Young (1989)
My coaching focus is and has always been on adult runners. It's not that I don't like youth, I just prefer to deal directly with the athlete goals, limitations, choices, & strengths without the filter or static of well-meaning (but often meddlsome) parent-figures. It's enough of a challenge to explain the concept of patience and steady progress over the long haul with a new or inexperienced runner who shows great potential; a parent or grandparent who believes their ward is the next great hope for American running always wonders two things:

What can you do to make my child faster?

Why isn't their present coach doing anything?I've had parents who had the nerve to ask me - within earshot of their child's present coach - to work with the child. The last thing I want to be is the guy blamed for a good kid leaving a perfectly good coach.

Adults, on the other hand, have the option of free will. As long as there are no financial or educational constraints they are pretty much free to come and go as they please from training group to training group, from coach to coach. I'd like to say adults are easier to coach because you can be completely honest with them. But sometimes, honesty can be the biggest problem with coaching adults.Sometimes it's too much honesty: My wife reminds me on a regular basis to love and appreciate the people who continue to train regularly with me after five years. There have been times in the past I've stood at the side of the track with an apparently sour look on my face, more to do with nearsightedness coupled with watching running form from 200 meters away. Just like a grimace from a distance can masquerade as a grin, a squint can look like a scowl from afar. Not like my former coach was one to show his hand during a workout; inscrutability was his watchword. I, on the other hand, come from demonstrative fields of endeavor - drama, music, and education - and I'm genetically disinclined to to hold back with my opinion (regular readers are crying out "noooooo...").

Sometimes it's a lack of it: I recall a couple of former training mates/athletes, who when asked about the degree of injury or "beat-upness" before or during a workout, responded with a level much, much less acute than my perception. Others would hold back and appear to struggle during the front end of a workout, then cut loose with a repeat (usually the last ones) at an intensity far beyond what I assigned. After time, I learned whose word to take at face value and whose evaluation needed a little adjustment to the high or low. The "face value" athletes are refreshing, even when they decide to move on, they will tell you exactly what you need to know about how you're doing as a coach.Coaches, unfortunately, don't have the option of having as free a will as the athlete. We can't assign workouts just to see if we can break athletes - our "profession" is much like that of a doctor, with the guideline "First Do No Harm" indelibly etched into our mind. In fact, every action and decision should be made with the best interest of the athletes who have trusted themselves to us. I have a coaching partner who's more laid-back in nature than I am; in the interest of expanding our training group we talked about and instituted a group workout in the community close to his home on a weeknight. He has a good turnout, depending on the time of the year...very few during the winter, more during the spring and summer. While we don't directly collaborate on what workouts we're going to assign, the similarity between his workout and mine on many occasions can be astounding. Blame it on good coaching, I guess.

But, moving back to free will...a coach can't just take a night off because they feel like it, or because they hear (second-or-thirdhand) an old coaching friend has hit town. When I say with honesty, "I'm sorry, I have athletes to coach," it means, "while I would like to spend the evening drinking beer with an old friend, the marathon training of this athlete...the fitness level of this athlete...and the triathlon performance of this athlete...are more important to me - and to them."

"And their goals and desires, their free will, have become mine."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three (At Least) Is A Magic Number

"And if one prevail against him two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Solomon (Ecclesiastes, ch.4, v.12, King James Bible)
I consider my wife, Suzanne, the ideal sounding board or test platform for a training progression on which I might be working out the details. She also serves as a first-line critique of how I am doing as a coach. It doesn't matter that she's not a top-shelf or elite athlete; she provides (brutally) honest feedback in the diplomatic manner that only a spouse can get away with saying...once I've replaced my "coach" hat with my "husband" hat. I began learning to coach runners about the same time we married, so our relationship and my coaching have developed (and hit rough patches) in varying degrees over that time.

Suzanne is often like every athlete; sometimes they will come to me with a situation or a problem which has been over-analyzed & I have to say, "no, I think the problem really is this..." Other times she reminds me to pay attention to what she (or the athletes) are saying/doing/not saying/not doing.
There also are days, especially the ones when we show up to the venue where we intend to run & it's too hot/cold/humid/windy/crowded/dark - at least in the minds of the group, because they didn't show - leaving only a pair (us) standing in the parking lot. Those days are the most depressing for me, because then I feel time I spent commuting could have been more effectively used as a warm-up/cool-down walk to/from the gym only a few blocks away. I can suck it up & hammer out a workout on my own, but often it's not that much fun...alone. I'm more likely to say "stuff it, I'll go hit the gym rather than it be just us two out here." Suzanne will gently goad me into sticking it out, & most of the time it will be a decent workout...but I'm not really happy about it at the start.

Yesterday morning, she decided to run our Sunday morning loop the opposite direction from me, so she could turn around & we could finish together. It gave me the opportunity to think about my training, the conditions (slowly!) changing from summer to autumn, & to focus on putting one foot in front of the other for a solid five miles. Then we walked, jogged, & ran the last three miles together, chatting during the slower moments. She asked me why I had not written much on the benefit of training in groups. Face it, humans are social creatures. That's the reason running clubs & training groups came to being. It's that "misery loves company" thing...the same reason we remember & often keep up with people we served with in the military, or took algebra with in high school. It's easier to look forward to a session of 800-meter repeats on the track, or hill repeats, or a long, grinding run in the middle of nowhere when you know there's going to be someone around to make you laugh at the worst places on the run. Yep, it could be 90 degrees & 90 percent humidity for 90 straight days, but you'll suck it up & do it because someone else is counting on you to show up & help make their run a little less miserable. And who knows? There might even be a meal & recapitulation of the event immediately following. That definitely gets me out of bed.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on the "three-fold cord", was focused more on the union of two with a divine third party joining in, but I like to believe that Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's coach, was more correct in the need for a union of three...especially when it comes to training. It's easy to hit the snooze button & roll over when you train alone, perhaps a little less so when a second person is involved. But it's almost guaranteed that if three athletes are going to show up at the same place & time the workout will certainly happen. A triad of training athletes also helps in the event life gets in the way...flat tire, sick child, power outage...odds are good in those situations there will be at least one other training partner showing up for that session.
Borrowing from Henry: In all things a union of individuals leads to success & safety. A union of three (or more) athletes is powerful because they assist each other by encouragement, or friendly reproof. They warm each other's hearts while they converse together, or rejoice in each others' accomplishments.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Runner's "Diet"

I had a conversation with my wife's sister the other week on the subject of weight loss. She feels the need to drop a few pounds in the coming months, and described a particular diet plan she was going to try. Naturally, when I hear the term diet immediately followed by the specific food item or items the potential dieter will be denying themselves I cannot help but put on my "coach" hat. The dietary needs of a person trying to lose weight isn't much different than that of an endurance athlete...at least not at the surface.

Since my wife's sister hasn't been around me all that long, I realized I'd have to be genteel in my recommendation; no use applying tough love until the recipient realizes I have their best interest at heart, right?

So I told her, "Sis, there are a number of factors I think are necessary when it comes to losing weight. First, you have to be active on a near-daily basis. The activity at first doesn't have to be intense, but you have to develop the positive habit of doing something where you're moving forward continuously."

"Second, when we're talking about food, you need to think about portion control. I love eating at Chinese buffet restaurants every so often, but I'd be able to retire if I had a dollar for every diner I've seen in the restaurant who was ample in the midsection and had a plate weighed down with enough food to feed an entire family."

"Third, which goes hand-in-hand with the second point, you need to eat a variety of food. It's useless to deny yourself from a particular type of food or group of foods. While it doesn't mean you have a license to pig out on everything, it's easier to back off and eat a much smaller portion - or just a taste - of a less-than-healthy food, or dessert, than to try to deny yourself, eventually fall into temptation, splurge and feel guilty about a perceived dietary failure."

"Last, set small, achievable goals. Thinking about how tough it's going to be to lose twenty or thirty pounds is enough to make you want to not start in the first place. Maybe you can look at the short term; doing an activity every day which burns 100 more calories - a mile of walking, more or less than you used to burn is 3100 calories - a pound - a month.

All this seemed to make perfect sense. And then, at the tail end of a Sunday morning run with my wife, I began to consider the parallels to what I would tell runners about their diet; diet being defined here as matter of living, what a person regularly does or takes in as part of their life:

Active on a Near-Daily Basis - rest and recovery cannot be over-emphasized, especially when talking about more-seasoned runners. Contrary to semi-popular belief, "easy" runs are not easy on the musculoskeletal system; the joints, tendons and muscles get beat up just as much by slow-paced running as it does at faster efforts. Walking, swimming, elliptical trainer, bicycling - all good stuff for the heart (at the right intensity level) without beating the limbs. And rest should not be considered a four-letter word.

Portion Control - new runners are more likely going to succumb to this problem, readily fixed by judicious use of the "ten-percent rule"; no increase in training distance or volume by more than ten percent. The problem of "too-much" or "too-soon" is often more a problem for the new runner, but I've seen bad decisions on distance and overall training volume, especially in the earliest part of training cycles, made by more-experienced runners. I'm not necessarily opposed to a two-hour long run as part of a marathon training cycle, but I wouldn't recommend it or schedule it four weeks into a twenty-week training plan...and definitely not in the middle of August.

Variety - every experienced runner has their favorite workout, and quite often their least favorite ones. I try hard when laying out a track workout to vary distances and the intensities, which comes clearly to mind when I observe other training groups going through their paces; they do the same distance at the same pace, week after week. I've had friends ask me what exactly I was doing during track workouts, with the comment of, "gee, perhaps I should come do your workouts - they appear to be easier than what I'm doing."

Every experienced runner should have a variety of workouts in their weekly training schedule:
- A long run of at least an hour, run at a pace which is conversational. It definitely helps to have one or more companions around to keep the conversation going and the pace relaxed.
- One or two speed workouts, with efforts which last anywhere from one to twenty minutes. Naturally, the longer efforts are going to be at a slightly lower intensity than the shorter ones. Recovery periods may be as little as 30 seconds or as long as needed to completely recover, depending on the intensity.
- Three-to-four runs of moderate intensity lasting anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour.

The specific distances and paces have much to do with the individual runner's goal event, baseline fitness level, time available per week to train without adversely affecting the rest of their life, and the ability to adapt from individual workouts.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I've Got You Onto My Skin: Heart Rate Monitors

I've used chest-strap heart rate monitors for probably the better part of six years, & seen the good, the bad & the ugly of them. In spite of it all I consider them one of the tools which should be in every endurance athlete's arsenal, for a number of reasons:

First, heart rate monitors are great for checking the resting heart rate first thing in the morning.
Second, you can use a heart rate monitor to determine whether the recovery period during hard "interval" workout sessions is sufficient...or if it's time to pull the plug on the session before you begin overtraining.
Third, the heart rate monitor can help you ensure your "easy" training days remain just that...easy.Some high-end monitors are capable of calculating the amount of oxygen taken in to restore the body to it's original resting state, the effect of the training on the athlete; some will even recommend the effort level of the next exercise session after a brief analysis of the data. Naturally, many of these calculators are closer to the one size fits many rather than the individual side of the training device continuum.
Even the most simple monitors, which can download data to the athlete's personal computer, need to be calibrated to the individual in order to be most effective.
The most common - and most commonly incorrect - formula to determine maximum heart rate (MHR) is the classic 220-minus age. If a guy like me uses this particular formula, then my maximum heart rate (then used to determine training heart rate levels) should be 220-47, or 173 beats per minute. This would make my "easy" day heart rate (50-60% MHR) somewhere in the range of 86-to-103 beats per minute. High aerobic pace (61-to-80% MHR) would be 104-to-137 beats per minute.

Now, let's place a wrinkle in the equation. This formula was calculated using men. What guidance do I use as a coach when dealing with a female athlete? A recent Northwestern University study gave me a whole new formula to memorize: 206-minus-88%-of-age. So, one of my female athletes recently purchased a heart rate monitor; she can use the Gulati, et. al. calculation to estimate her MHR: 206 - (48 x .88) = 206 - (42.24) = 163.76...OR...164. Her "easy" day training rate would be in the 82-to-98 range; her high aerobic pace would be 99-to-132.
Of course, that also assumes the ability to drop the heart rate down to zero. I'm no Zen Master, so I can guarantee my high-to-low heart rate range is definitely not 173 beats. My daytime resting HR (RHR), sitting in my office without any hassle, is 54...about two beats higher than my (highest) resting rate first thing in the morning (when I'm fit & race ready it's as low as 42). So, for purposes of this post, let's just say my RHR is 50. That gives me a heart rate reserve (HRR) of 123 beats.
Karvonen would say the lowest target heart rate for my "easy" day (50%) should be: (173 -50) x .50 + 50 = (123 x .50) + 50 = 61.5 + 50 = 111.5. So, my highest target heart rate for the "easy" day (60%) is probably around 122. Keeping the heart rate reserve in mind "justifies" that slightly more intense workout on the "easy" day, right? Maybe.
But, in order to really get the most out of a heart rate monitor, the athlete needs to ensure they do a few things:

First, learn their "true" resting heart rate. This might take strapping on the monitor for a couple of mornings in succession. A good way to do this is - if you're like me & have to get up in the middle of the night to "exchange" fluids - put the strap & receiver on. When the alarm goes off, start the monitor. After about four or five mornings you'll have a good idea of the average.

Second, find out their "true" maximum heart rate. There are physicians who will perform a stress test (for a few dollars) if you have nobody available to assist you. Sally Edwards (and a few other coaches) recommends the test be taken on a track, but I'm partial to using a treadmill because the speed can be increased incrementally through the test, & elements which are hard to control on a track can be controlled with a treadmill.

- Start the test with an easy warm-up of at least 5 minutes. The goal during the warm-up is to get the heart beating to 100-120 bpm.
- Without stopping, begin the test by gradually accelerating the speed so the heart rate climbs about 5 bpm every 15 seconds.
- At each 15-second interval, your partner should tell the exercise time, heart rate, and offer encouragement as they gradually increase the speed.
- Within a 2-to-4-minute period, the heart rate should cease to climb even with increased effort and pace.
- When you can no longer accelerate, or you hear your partner repeating the same number you've (probably) reached your maximum HR.
- At that point either you or your partner can call an end to the test.

Third, & most importantly, learn to correlate effort with number. I've learned the hard way that technology fails, & often at the worst possible moment...on race day. Believe it or not, the experienced runner or athlete can figure out, within a few percentage points, just how hard they are working in terms of their maximal heart rate; researchers proved a strong correlation between the Borg (perceived effort) Scale & the percentage of maximum heart rate. So if you're an experienced runner, running at a level of nine on a one-to-ten scale...chances are good you are fairly close, give or take a few points, to ninety percent of maximum heart rate.

Remember - the heart rate monitor, much like the GPS receiver, is a tool. You can place one in the hands of a child & wreck things, or you can place it in the hands of a craftsman & watch beautiful things happen. The right tool, in the right hands, at the right time, for the right purpose.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mind? Matter? Never Mind.

"Mind is everything. Muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind." - Paavo Nurmi (1897-1973)
So much of distance running - running, for that matter - has to do with the mind. Doesn't matter if the target event is something as brief as a 5,000-meter road race or as long as a marathon. You cannot check your mind at the door.
I've heard lots of friends talk about the stress release running provides; usually in terms of 'I step out the door & go, I don't think about anything...' But how many times do runners ask, 'what should I do?' or 'what pace should I go out in at this upcoming race?' So, you haven't thought about these details?

Even a stretch of workouts where you feel you're not doing well might be a sign of the need to think a little more about the running. A friend of mine wrote in a web log posting about improving swim times...but it makes perfect sense for running, also...something one of his coaches used to say: 'when you are running well maybe you really are not running well.' So, when you start to look at your time for a particular run distance, & compare to when your time was perhaps a few minutes faster months (years?) before...it might be high time to do something a little strange.

Go out & do something that's very simple.
I'm not certain whether the root of a long string of 'oh, gosh, I am really doing lousy at this stuff' has to do with only physical or mental burnout, over-training or over-reaching...most likely it's a combination of most of those factors. When performance that doesn't quite match your expectations for the time of the year/training cycle gets into your head, it's probably a good time to hit the reset button for a time.

This could be something as simple as engaging in another type of exercise, or cross-training for a few weeks until the hunger for that sport returns. A new venue, time of day, change in conditions or modality can switch things up in a positive manner. Perhaps putting the training log & techy-schmecky electronic equipment to the side, doing a few days or weeks of caveman exercise, with little more than a route and a time of day to go by? Even a little bit of - gasp - rest might not hurt in the most extreme cases.
Of course, the aging/slowing processes might be a historical inevitability. Wrapping our minds around the fact we might not be as good now as we were when we were ten years younger; does it matter? Maybe? Perhaps not?

Never mind. Just keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Coaching Legend on Training in the Heat

One of the first running books I acquired was a cast-off from one of my present athletes. He purchased it to see what great advice & counsel he could glean from its pages, but was immediately scared off by a couple of the formulas printed at the front end of the text. I gladly lightened his load, sat down for a brief read one fine weekend, & subsequently informed him of his folly.

It doesn't take a degree in physiology or a USATF Level III coach certification to understand or appreciate Dr. Jack Daniels seminal work, Daniels' Running Formula (Human Kinetics). In fact, if a runner did not want to invest in Timothy Noakes' Lore of Running I would recommend Daniels' work as an 80-percent (plus!) solution to the (as I wrote previously) one running book only question.
In fact, Daniels is (probably) one of the few former Olympian & Olympic medal-winning athletes who have gone on to coach (24) NCAA national individual champions, (7) NCAA national team championships, (110) collegiate All-Americans, and (4) Olympic marathon medalists. In my humble opinion, those are bona fides.
So, I'm shamelessly borrowing some his advice to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team In Training participants on running in the heat.
Respect the Heat - Of all the adversities that distance athletes face, heat is one of the worst. Although not necessarily so, excess heat often leads to dehydration, another major enemy of endurance athletes. It is possible to be adversely affected by the heat without becoming dehydrated, you can also become dehydrated without getting overheated. These two conditions affect the body independently.
Overheating - An overheated body is the result of inadequate cooling. Adequate body cooling depends on evaporation of water from the skin. The fluid must evaporate from the body's surface. So, when the body heats up, it starts to sweat and also starts to send more blood to the skin where it is cooled by coming in contact with the relatively cooler skin. The cooler blood then circulates, picking up heat from exercising muscles, which allows them to continue contracting more efficiently. When cooling cannot keep up with heat buildup, core temperature rises, and body functions start to suffer. When the temperature rises more than just a degree or two, function is adversely affected. When blood flow increases to the skin for cooling, less blood is being directed to the muscles. With less blood going to the muscles, less oxygen gets to the muscles, which affects performance. The body is more interested in self-preservation than in ideal race performance, so it usually chooses to maintain a desirable temperature before it allows you to keep a particular pace which would interfere with cooling. It's either go at a pace slower than you want, or overheat.
Give in to your body under these circumstances - it knows best. Slow down in the heat, if you must be in the heat.
Minimize the Effects of Hot Weather - You can acclimatize somewhat to hot weather, and exercising in the heat will speed up that process. However, it is not advisable to purposely exercise in the hottest part of the day. Rather, seek out the cooler times of hot days - early morning and evening. Early mornings are the coolest part of the day, but are often more humid. Evenings are often less humid, but considerably warmer. It is really a matter of personal choice - higher humidity and lower temperature or higher temperature and lower humidity. Either is certainly better than exercising when the sun is up. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing. Experiment with different types of garments, caps, socks, etc.
Dehydration - Dehydration is most often associated with the heat, but occurs even in cool weather. It is simply the process of losing fluid from the body. Again, the body knows what is best for it; when fluid levels get below a certain desired amount the body slows down in hopes of lowering the stress. If fluid levels get low enough, the body will just about stop functioning and you will pass out. Dehydration is a terrible way to go and must be avoided at all costs. Among healthy individuals, exercise is the most usual cause of becoming dehydrated, as a result of loss of fluid (via sweat) as you work to maintain desired temperature. Different people react differently to the same set of conditions. A loss of about 5 percent will negatively affect performance; more than 7 percent or 8 percent will not be tolerated.
Minimize the Effects of Fluid Loss - First, learn to drink during long runs or walks. Drink a lot with higher ambient temperatures. Your body can absorb about 1,000ml of fluid per hour, so learn to be able to take in that much, if necessary - just over a cup every 15 minutes. Drinking more than about 1,000ml per hour may not be beneficial, if not more than that can be absorbed anyway. If you lose 240ml per km (10 liters) and drink 4 liters in a 4-hour marathon, the net loss is 6 liters (13.2 pounds - 8 percent of a 165-pound runner's body weight - not good).
Some people will have real trouble completing a marathon, others very well may not. But, if it is hot enough, almost everyone will have trouble, and under some conditions, a run must be given up or the approach altered (walk/jog or just walk, which will lengthen the time taken to complete the distance, but which allows for greater fluid intake).
More To Sweat Than Water - As you sweat, you lose water and electrolytes, which is the reason specialized sport drinks have become popular - they provide you with water, electrolytes and energy. Unfortunately, many distance athletes become serious about what they consume only during races, but the body can gradually become lacking in electrolytes if fluid intake during daily training sessions is water only. Get in the habit of consuming a reputable sport drink during practice sessions. This will get you used to that particular drink and will also keep your body supplied with needed nutrients. The trouble some endurance athletes have in competitions is brought on by inadequate attention to what they do during practice, and they go into a competitive effort already partially depleted in some important nutrients.
How To Calculate Your Reaction To Warm Weather - Follow these steps to prepare your own guide to determine how much you need to drink to avoid dehydration during a marathon:
1. Record your nude body weight prior to and following runs or walks of 40 to 60 minutes at the intensity you expect to perform.
2. Record the temperature and humidity conditions for each of these test efforts.
3. If you drink, record exactly how much you drink.
4. Generate a table that presents the rate at which your body loses fluid under different temperature conditions, and what the loss would be over the course of a full marathon.
5. Take the steps necessary to counteract the predicted loss, to stay under a 5-percent loss.
The table below indicates how much slower you might expect to complete a marathon under different temperature conditions (compared to a nice day of about 55 degrees and moderate humidity). Under the indicated temperatures and with abnormally high humidity, these adjustments may underestimate the effect. Walkers will face similar reductions in time, but they have more time to ingest and absorb fluids so the problem should not be as great.
TEMP (F*) - RACE DURATION IN MINUTES
55 - - - - - - -2h10m (130’) - 2h30m (150’) - 3h (180’) - 4h (240’) - 5h (300’)
70 - - - - - - -2m - - - - - - - - 2.5m - - - - - - -3m - - - - -4m - - - - - 5m
81 - - - - - - -4m - - - - - - - - 4.5m - - - - - - -5.5m - - - -7.5m - - - - 9.5m
90 - - - - - - -6m - - - - - - - - 7m - - - - - - - - 8.5m - - - -11.5m - - - 14.5m
100 - - - - - -8m - - - - - - - - 10m - - - - - - - 12.5m - - - 17.5m - - - 22.5m

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Slow Ride...Take It Easy

The conditions we've endured this summer (thanks to a wicked El NiƱo) have made training very entertaining. Coaches - if they believe there is one present - are often accustomed to looking for the location & quantity of the silver lining within the dark cloud of the athlete. It could be a short-term body habitus change or a change in a fitness level...sometimes both issues at the same time, if the coach works with a female athlete. In those sorts of situations the best thing anyone can hear is the need for patience, & the true hope that given enough time things will get better.
Of course, it's hard when the coach is the person in question losing confidence in their fitness. There are coaches who are self-coached, but sometimes everyone needs an ear to bend when the days are a little less than sunny. When it comes to swimming I have a couple of good friends/coaches I can turn to. As for running...I'm more likely to talk to my wife; she seems to have a good perspective on what I'm doing wrong since she hears me provide advice and counsel to others. I don't always like to hear what she has to say, but she's more likely going to initiate a plan of action to fix my problem.
So, rather than beat myself needlessly over the conditions & the fitness I decided to adapt my training plan. I figured, rather than try to accelerate a marathon training plan by two or three weeks in order to run a local marathon I had not registered for yet, I'd spin the dial all of the way back to base-building...something I could have done from mid-April until early June rather than taking so much time off. So yesterday I got on the treadmill and ran six miles at ten-minute per mile pace...very slow for me. It felt quite good when I finished but the real lessons of running slowly hit home at five o'clock this morning.
First, if your shoes are old, beat-up or beyond their best days, running slowly will make you realize the fact. And the fact? What else? It's time to spend money on another pair.

Second, & this is more of an opinion than anything, you find out how efficiently - or inefficiently - you run, form-wise. Shortening your stride, which works well on the roadways, isn't so effective on a treadmill. So there is such a thing as a too-slow pace on a treadmill. I learned yesterday I was probably a solid minute-per-mile too slow...at probably the last minute of the run. One minute of the "right" dead-slow (easy) pace certainly does NOT make up for the previous 59 where you were at the wrong pace.
The nice thing is, out of the whole situation...you live...you learn. And I got some very easy miles out of the process. Really it was nice to run for an hour without sweat flying all over, the ability to really enjoy the music and look out the window at folks coming into and leaving from the gym.

Now comes the adjustments...the way my back felt this morning it might involve a chiropractor.