How to Run

If you are anything like me you aren’t a fan of stretching. Ive grown to enjoy it more over time but still, not what I love spending my time doing. After all, runners want to run! The “sit and reach” exercise was always the crusher of my Presidential Physical Fitness Award dreams, throughout elementary school, despite easily achieving many of the other standards. I’m also certain that most of the injuries I’ve sustained over my career could be traced back to this error of laziness.

Part 2 (How to Start Running, continued)

In my previous post I talked about setting yourself up for success and getting out there. Now, lets get a little more specific, and dive into the logistics a bit.

Warm up

Warming up is extremely important! Especially as we age, the hopes of staying injury free, becomes a goal in itself. I’m a mess when I cant run due to injury. Exercise is definitely my therapy at times, so all sorts of issues arise when I can no longer crush myself out on the pavement.

Stretch!

If you are anything like me you aren’t a fan of stretching. Ive grown to enjoy it more over time but still, not what I love spending my time doing. After all, runners want to run! The “sit and reach” exercise was always the crusher of my Presidential Physical Fitness Award dreams, throughout elementary school, despite easily achieving many of the other standards. I’m also certain that most of the injuries I’ve sustained over my career could be traced back to this error of laziness. The Appalachian State Cross Country Camp, I attending over the summers of my high school days, was my first experience with dynamic stretching. It seemed bizarre at the time, but is now just considered, the way.

Dynamics

A fluid stretching routine after an easy jog or brisk walk is the way to go. Dynamic stretching, unlike static stretching, is a safer and better option. Static stretching, the old school way we were always taught growing up, should be reserved until afterwards. Many of the moves performed during this routine are very similar to their static counterparts but separated by bouts of skipping or one to three steps. Each stretching motion is only a second or two, but repeated a handful of times, while covering a distance of 10-40 meters. Shown below are a few dynamic moves commonly used by runners and other athletes.

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 Run/Walk method

Even if you have already progressed to a place where you are able to run for the desired distance, without a walk break, you can still squeeze in the “Run/Walk method”  from time to time. This is a great way to keep your easy days EASY and your hard days HARD. I often struggle with running easy enough, on my recovery days, between workouts and long runs. Seven minute per mile pace has long been engrained into my body, as what an easy run should be. However, there is a major difference in fitness level when comparing my current state against my high school and college self. Seven minute pace back then might have been too easy of a pace for my off days but is likely, too fast for me now. Forcing yourself to run for 3-5 mins and then walking for a minute at a brisk pace will help regulate this issue. I’ll often run with my watch only showing heart rate or power output (connected to Stryd Power Meter), so that I don’t worry about pace. This allows me to better see and feel the feedback my body is giving me and how I’m adapting to the training.

Every other day or every 3rd day

Don’t overdo it, especially at the beginning! The biggest mistake most new runners/ fitness enthusiasts make, is going too hard and for too long. The early motivation and desire to improve, causes this to compound. Experiencing an overwhelming desire to improve can cause us to dive in as if we had been training consistently for years. A great way to manage this excitement is to hold yourself to a strict, every other day or every third day, run/walk for the first 2-4 weeks. If you must do something on the non running days, it would be more beneficial to get in strength, mobility and core work. Strengthening the major muscle groups and core along with getting your body working in a more efficient manner, are just as important, if not more important, to keeping you fit and healthy longer.

Work your core

Running alone is not enough. Even at the recreational level, runners should mix in a few core strengthening routines, each week. This can include moves such as: planks (prone, lateral and supine), glute or hip bridge, clams, hip circles, leg raises and v-ups to name a few. Stability exercises are also a big part of fending off injury and keeping your core and legs solid. The more you can mix athletic movements into your fitness routine, the better off you will be. See a few examples below and click here for a Free pdf of a post-run, core routine that I use.

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Next up, the third and final piece to this extremely long blog post, ill get into some options for cross training and into the “tech” available to us for training and tracking. Also, I’ve already finished the final piece of this so you wont be left on the edge of your seat, holding your breath for months, like you had to for this one! 🙂

I’m a Certified Personal Trainer and offer personalized coaching services to fit the needs of runners and athletes of all kinds and at all levels, both local and at-a-distance. Follow me on social media @adamsruns or visit adamsrunning.com.

It’s Hot

There are studies out there have compared the benefits of heat training to that of altitude training. While altitude training has been found to increase the body’s red blood cell count, training in extreme heat while slightly dehydrated can stimulate the body to produce more plasma. 

I think it’s a little unreasonable to have to wring your shorts off after and easy paced run. This has become an everyday thing lately as it’s been 90+ degrees with 612% humidity. I try my best to get my run in before 8 am, but because of other obligations it’s not always possible. I struggled through 6 miles (8 scheduled) the other day. I did, after all, run at 1 pm out of necessity but I was unaware that it might have been the hottest hour of the summer thus far. My weather app read a “real feel” of 119•F.

There are studies out there have compared the benefits of heat training to that of altitude training. While altitude training has been found to increase the body’s red blood cell count, training in extreme heat while slightly dehydrated can stimulate the body to produce more plasma.

I truly hope that all of us are gaining a little more plasma and not just a layer of mental toughness. Either way, if you are out at anytime in the South Carolina summer I applaud your effort, because at a minimum that is very impressive.

I have yet to do many structured workouts as the summer is typically base-ville for everyone’s fall racing; a little speed here and  there just to keep the legs active. But I am personally going to extend my base until September in hopes of staying motivated through November.  I’m keeping my hopes of a fast 5k alive for at least one more fall season, and there will be plenty of updates along the way!

One Month, One Mile

So as I am patiently waiting for the start of my race I look down and notice that the soles of my shoes are melting off. The same happened with the backup pair! Granted it is in the upper 90s in South Carolina which usually means that it feels closer to 200 degrees and I have been standing on the track for over an hour. I traveled 4 hours from Bluffton to Greenville to race in the South Carolina Open and Masters Track Classic. I was already working with a handicap after that drive but a one hour delay didn’t help either. Needless to say I did not finish this race season the way I would have liked but it did however start with some promise.

So as I am patiently waiting for the start of my race I look down and notice that the soles of my shoes are melting off. The same happened with the backup pair! Granted it is in the upper 90s in South Carolina which usually means that it feels closer to 200 degrees and I have been standing on the track for over an hour. I traveled 4 hours from Bluffton to Greenville to race in the South Carolina Open and Masters Track Classic. I was already working with a handicap after that drive but a one hour delay didn’t help either. Needless to say I did not finish this race season the way I would have liked but it did however start with some promise.

In early May I travelled to Columbia to compete in the Governors Cup Main Street Mile. I figured this would be a good opportunity to have some solid competition which would help push me to a good time. A Kenyan runner and a few post collegiate Americans were in the race who I had no business hanging with and therefor I did not try. My finishing time was 4 mins and 30 seconds. I was more than pleased considering there was a U-Turn around a cone at 800 meters and a slightly uphill finish. Mentally I gave myself credit for at least 5 seconds faster.

A little over a week later I traveled to Atlanta with my family so my wife could take part in a conference for her new business venture. I won my heat in 4 minutes and 31 seconds but was extremely satisfied because of the way the race unfolded. I sat back in the pack for the first two laps and then negative split the last 800 (2:20/ 2:10). I enjoyed a more tactical race for a change. Again this performance pointed towards promising fitness levels.

Just four days later I put on all of my firefighter bunker gear and air pack and raced past Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah in the Hero’s Heat of the 11th Savannah Mile. The race was made almost entirely of Army Rangers. I was the only firefighter that was treating it as a race. I came in 2nd to an Army Ranger. We went one and two last year as well but we both dropped our times significantly. I finished in 5 mins and 30 seconds. Every second of the race felt like I was carrying a car and it was terrible and I hated it and as usual I will run it again next year!

Overall I am happy with this short season of faster races. I truly didn’t know what to expect of myself and still feel I’m better than or more capable than the stopwatch read but I’m trying to remember that it’s all a process. One day or one full training cycle is building for the next. My journey in running has evolved and is no longer just about being the best. Im learning to enjoy the process and focus on becoming the best that I’m capable of being given all the obstacles and accumulation of life. Don’t get me wrong I still want to win… But I’m finally in a place with myself that I understand it’s not the only thing that matters.

“the race that got away”

I plan to attempt to run the 1 mile race distance a few times this spring and summer.  I’ve been consistent in my training for some time now, and I’ve started to see some results in my level of fitness hinting at good things to come. Even though success in the 1 mile race is historically enjoyed by younger runners, it was always my least impressive personal record. Of the standard middle distance events I raced in high school, the mile was the one for which I was never fully trained or rested. It’s “the race that got away”.

When my comeback began four years ago the idea of creating a new personal record for myself was constantly on my mind and kept me, literally, moving forward each day. As I struggled through the humid summer days, barely able to run each of my 2 or 3 miles at a pace 2 minutes slower than what I would’ve considered acceptable in the past, I daydreamed about the possibility of setting a personal record at this stage of life. Deep down I knew there was a possibility it was unrealistic and maybe even unattainable given how high I had set the bar for myself over a decade earlier. However, I’d always thrived on challenges; both those others set for me, and especially those I set for myself (as my own biggest critic). I was challenging myself again. This time around, it was going to be more difficult to reach the same shock value I enjoyed in my younger days, but the challenge was set just the same.

I plan to attempt to run the 1 mile race distance a few times this spring and summer.  I’ve been consistent in my training for some time now, and I’ve started to see some results in my level of fitness hinting at good things to come. Even though success in the 1 mile race is historically enjoyed by younger runners, it was always my least impressive personal record. Of the standard middle distance events I raced in high school, the mile was the one for which I was never fully trained or rested. It’s “the race that got away”.

Most people who hear “one mile in four minutes” hear just that; no distinction is made between 4 minutes and 14 seconds, and 4 minutes and 57 seconds. But the distinction in my mind is monumental: the former is my high school PR in the mile; the latter is the pace my now 34-year-old body can sustain for a 5k.  Most runners in their mid-30’s (except those running professionally) tend to focus on longer- distance races, like half and full marathons. Although I know my greatest potential now lies in those longer, grinding-type runs, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the breathlessness and lactic-acid nightmare of shorter distances.

Will I be able to tame “the race that got away” those years ago in the peak of my running career? Today, I have a chance to be both well-rested and well-trained for the mile, and I’m looking forward to seeing how fast I can go!  In my next entry I will dive back into my training over the last few months as it lead up to this shift in pace.