Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday Thoughts: Importance of High Intensity Interval Training for Runners

Today it rained. I mean it poured. Literally all day. So much for cross country practice, right? NOPE!!!! The rain day during tryout week provided me a perfect opportunity to expose the girls to a high intensity interval workout that we were able to do inside. Not only did this mean I could guarantee my athletes were kept active for about two hours, but I could really test how well-rounded they were in their fitness levels, which is so important to running.

First some definitions:

Aerobic running: Aerobic running occurs when you have enough oxygen in your body to supply energy to your muscles to complete your exercise. When your body uses oxygen as a source of energy, it produces a waste product of carbon dioxide and water, which you expel simply by breathing.

Anaerobic running: Anaerobic running occurs when there is not enough oxygen in your body to supply enough energy to complete your exercise. This is typically seen in short, powerful races which last less than 90 seconds, or an all-out sprint to the finish. The waste product is lactic acid, which is very difficult for your body to break down and causes your body to have extreme fatigue.

Why should endurance athletes, who function off aerobic energy (oxygen) resources for their sport still need to condition themselves in anaerobic exercise? So many reasons, so I'll highlight just a few.

  • Increase speed and power characteristics in muscle fibers
By developing the fast-twitch muscle fibers in our bodies, we encourage reaction time and therefore a faster turnover in our strides. The stride is more powerful and allows the body to be propelled forward by energy in the body AND force of impact. By including the power from the force of impact, more free energy is stored in the body, allowing for an increased amount of endurance.

  • Develop a higher lactic threshold
Runners who include anaerobic training into their workouts will develop stronger muscles which will gain a higher lactic threshold, and therefore be more resistant to fatigue.

  • Avoid injury
Runners with stronger muscles, which have had multiple types of fibers developed and trained, and less likely to get injured. Also, when the muscles are properly trained to resist fatigue, it is more difficult to over train the muscles by asking them to do work they are not capable of doing.

I want my athletes and clients to be the best versions of themselves and be capable of any work presented to them. By exposing their muscles to exercises which target multiple energy types, I can ensure that they are properly (and SAFELY) developing.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Running in the Cold and Maintaining Flexibility


2014 has arrived and it is FREEZING!!!!!!!! One of the downfalls to it being so cold outside is that we often get stiff muscles and joints, avoid warming up and cooling down properly, and when we do choose to go outside in the cold, we are properly prepared.

For any of you brave enough to go outside in these very cold temperatures we are having to get your runs in, I have provided the following tips for running outside just to make sure you are extra careful:

1. Sometimes our long runs can fall on days when it is just too cold to be outside for prolonged periods of times. If this is the case, split up your mileage and do the different sections within 6 to 8 hours of each other. If need be, such as the streets are covered with snow, split your mileage so that parts are done before the streets or sidewalks are covered, and the other section (even if it's a day later) are after the plows have gone through. No race is more important than your safety and the safety of others!

2. Take it to the treadmill. That's a tough one for me to put out there, but again, safety first. Even incorporate this into Tip 1. Run part of your workout outside, the remaining inside.

3. Mix in cross-training. Break up your runs with spinning classes or simply your own bike workouts. This is a great idea for those of us who don't care for running on treadmills, and adding cross-training into your running workouts or race preparations is always a good idea for injury prevention and all-around conditioning.

4. Wear synthetic clothing (NOT COTTON!) and multiple layers, ensuring that outer layer is windproof and ventable.

5. Wear a hood or balaclava.

6. Wear a cold weather shoe to keep your feet warm and dry, and also make sure you have traction, such as by using YakTrax.

7. Wear reflective bright clothing!!

Alright, now for the second part of this entry....flexibility. I've declared 2014 the year I regain my flexibility and the subzero temperatures definitely do not help in this. I have been dedicated to do the Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings, and Lower Back video from which I mentioned in the last post, and I cannot stress how much better I feel after only do the video five or six times now. It has increased my performance level immensely, and I had one of the best leg lifting days on Friday than I have had in a long time because how well prepared my legs were. Here's the link again:

Now this website also offers videos geared towards runners pre and post their run. This is key to remember especially when we want to spend less time outside and just get the runs over with because its so cold. DO NOT MISS YOUR WARMUP OR COOLDOWN!!

Here's the Pre-Run (it's about 20 minutes):

Here's the Post-Run (it's about 20 minutes):

Take care yourselves, stay warm, and stay healthy!!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Inspiration and Stretches: Starting 2014 off Right!

Happy New Year everybody!!

This post is going to have to be a short one, I had no idea what time it was because I was so into the stretching video I'm sharing below.

I've learned a lot about myself and where I want to see my life going in 2014, and today I wanted to make sure I started off on the right foot. After an injury, my right hamstring and left hip have been extremely tight and I really need to work on my flexibility to get back into my running game because I miss it so much. I stumbled across this gem on the internet and it did exactly what it said it would, gave me a fantastic deep stretch to my hips, legs, and lower back, and boy did I need it! Between needing to gain back my flexibility and a high repetition leg workout today, I was tight!!! I could really feel the imbalances between my right and left sides.

Even though this is a slower paced stretch/yoga, as it is meant to be because of its recovery focus, the video seems to go by quickly and can easily be completed by people of all ranges of flexibility. I'll be incorporating this into my practice as much as I can!

2014 is a year to be happy! What are one of the things YOU are doing to maintain and spread a positive attitude this year???

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