Treadmill Running to Avoid the Weather #RunFormFriday

Treadmill Running to Avoid the Weather #RunFormFriday

With the weather becoming increasingly nasty, there are different ways that you can approach your winter running. You could go for a winter training camp . You could wrap up, get off road and enjoy the extra resistance – and cushioning that the mud provides. Or you can run on the treadmill…

The running machine can be a great tool for running generally. You can still get that same endorphin high, a great sweat, and an awesome session – even if you lose the scenic element.

Treadmill

Treadmill running doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom!

For the days that I run on the treadmill, here are some of my tricks to make it the best experience possible.

1) Wear the right clothes. You are bound to get hot while running on the treadmill because, unlike outdoors, there will not be any wind to cool you off. I stick with lightweight tops and shorts to keep me nice and cool.

2) Have everything that you need in the cup holders of the treadmill. Water, fuel, more water, a towel, your music, and whatever else you need to finish your run without having to stop. Being able to have all of your stuff at arm’s length (especially lots of water) in the cup holders while you run is really convenient.

3) Distract yourself. In the same way that you might watch videos on your turbo, you can do the same with the treadmill. You can now even get treadmill training videos – we reviewed the first by www.thesufferfest.com a few months back.

4) Test yourself. I love playing around with the speed and testing out my current fitness level. Most of my runs on the treadmill are progressive runs where I turn up the speed each mile. I also love throwing in fartleks or doing 400/800/mile repeats. Try some chorus sprints where you set the treadmill to a sprint during the chorus of the songs that you listen to!

5) Switch up the incline. Do you have an upcoming hilly race? Try to mimic the course by creating similar hills on the treadmill. You can bring the race elevation chart with you so you can mimic the course. Hill repeats are an incredible workout, the treadmill may be your best option to do them. It is amazing how quickly heart rate goes up when you throw in a few hills on the treadmill.

6) Focus on your form. For every 1/2 mile of your run, focus on different parts of your form (arm swing, legs, stride, posture) and try to improve them. For the last mile of your run on the treadmill, put all of those parts together for some good looking running form.

7) Use the treadmill to force yourself to slow down. Are you one of those runners that loves going fast every single day, and are feeling burned out or constantly injured? Then try using a treadmill to slow you down on those days. You can set it at a slower speed, zone out and force yourself to relax.

8) Use it as mental training. If the treadmill is really hard for you, then every time you do have to use it, just think of it as great mental training. You are accomplishing something that is really hard, which is making you mentally tougher. If you can run miles and miles on a treadmill, just think of how easy it will be mentally when you are running outside again.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

Don’t forget, if running is getting you down (or the runner/triathlete in your life!) we do run technique 121 sessions, and we can always do gift vouchers as well!

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Lactic Acid, Lactate, Effect & Training #RunFormFriday

There’s a lot of fuss in the running world about lactate. Or, depending on who you ask, lactic acid. It’s been blamed for fatigue, soreness, overtraining, and probably more. Until recently, the phenomenon of lactate accumulation during intense exercise was poorly understood.

This article will dispel some of the myths about lactate, lactic acid, and how they relate to exercise and fatigue.

lactic acid

How lactic acid got a bad reputation

The association of lactic acid and lactate with fatigue during exercise has a long history. During intense effort, muscles lose power. The growing fatigue with exercise can be resisted for a while through great concentration and mental effort, but eventually everyone falls to fatigue.

Early physiologists studied the origins of muscular fatigue using electric impulses sent to muscles from frogs. Even these dismembered muscles fatigue after a while, proving that there is a chemical component to fatigue. When these muscle fibers are analyzed, they show a high concentration of lactate and acid (hydrogen) ions. Therefore, physiologists concluded, the reason for muscular fatigue during exercise is accumulation of a compound called lactic acid.

This theory remained more or less unchallenged for much of the last 100 years. It was only after the body’s energy supply systems were subjected to rigorous biochemical accounting that some discrepancies turned up. For one thing, the body doesn’t actually produce lactic acid, just the negatively-charged ion, lactate. “Acid” (hydrogen ions) is indeed produced, but not from the exact same biochemical step.

Furthermore, the ratio of lactate to hydrogen ions produced during exercise isn’t 1:1, as you would expect if lactic acid was being produced. These ambiguities led to a reexamination and eventual overhaul of the “lactate paradigm” in the early 2000s.

lactic acid

The real science behind lactate

Biochemists took a hard look at each step in the metabolic process that turns sugars (glucose in the blood and glycogen in the muscles) into energy when you exercise. Most runners have heard the following story about energy pathways: Aerobic respiration turns sugars into fuel using oxygen, and doesn’t have any harmful byproducts. Anaerobic respiration, which doesn’t kick in until you’re operating past your aerobic limit, can generate energy from sugar without using oxygen, but results in waste products—lactate and acid.

They showed that this common understanding has some flaws. It turns out that anaerobic respiration functions all the time, turning sugar into a compound called pyruvate, releasing some hydrogen ions at the same time. Aerobic respiration works to clean up the pyruvate, using oxygen to burn the pyruvate into carbon dioxide and water, which is then breathed out. The aerobic process also consumes acid (hydrogen ions), which slows the buildup of acid in the muscles.

The production of lactate is actually a side reaction: when excess pyruvate and acid start to accumulate (when anaerobic respiration overtakes the aerobic system’s ability to remove the waste), the body uses a pyruvate molecule and a hydrogen ion to create lactate, another way in which it can slow down the buildup of acid. The lactate can also be shuttled out of the muscles, into the blood, and burned in other areas of the body for more energy.

 

Practical implications of our new understanding of fatigue

All of this biochemistry is jolly interesting to a physiologist, but are there any practical applications of all this? We can take a few lessons from this right off the bat:

A better understanding of fatigue reinforces the concept that your aerobic strength is a huge factor in your performance. While your body has various ways to buffer the acid produced during high-intensity efforts, all of these are limited. Only increasing your aerobic fitness will allow you to substantially increase how far and how fast you can run.

Additionally, knowing that lactate has a greater role than simply causing fatigue allows you to better understand the place of high-intensity workouts at or faster than the “lactate threshold.” These workouts aren’t just running hard for the sake of running hard—they train your body to produce, process, and burn lactate (as a fuel!) at a greater rate. This can improve your stamina over short and medium races like 5k and 10k.

Finally, there is still the inescapable fatigue that comes with acid overload. There really is no getting around this in shorter races. You can run hard interval workouts and races to improve your ability to buffer the acid produced when running at very fast speeds, but everyone is ultimately limited by the acidity in their muscles and blood.

So, is there such a thing as “lactic acid production” during exercise? Not really. Your body certainly produces acid during exercise, and it produces lactate as well. But it’s the former, not the latter, that’s the main culprit for fatigue. Regardless, it will likely still be a long time before we stop hearing about lactic acid buildup and so on. Understanding the real mechanisms at work when we run hard and get tired can help understand the purpose and importance of the various workouts you use in training.

Preventing Shin Splints #RunFormFriday

Preventing Shin Splints #RunFormFriday

You don’t think about your shins until they hurt. And by then, you could be looking at some major downtime. A recent study found that it takes, on average, 71 days to rehab shin splints. Shin splints (the term for pain that occurs on the front outside part of the lower leg) often occurs when your legs are overworked. That’s sometimes from a jump in mileage. And sometimes because your shins pick up the slack for body parts that are weak. Protect yourself by strengthening your feet, ankles, calves, and hips, which support your shins. Do two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps daily (but not before a run, you don’t want to over fatigue your lower limb muscles):

Toe Curls

Stand with feet hip-width apart at the edge of a towel. With the toes of your left foot, gather the towel and slowly pull it toward you. Return to start and repeat with the other foot.

Toe curls

Monster Walks

With feet shoulder-width apart, place a resistance band around your thighs and step forward and toward the right with your right leg. Bring your left leg up to meet your right, then step out toward the left. Then walk backward in the same way to return to the start. Repeat.

Heel Drop

Stand on your toes on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your right leg, take your left foot off the step, and lower your right heel down. Return to start, and then repeat with your left leg.

One-Legged Bridges

Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up off the floor. Extend your left leg out and hold for 30 seconds (work up to 60-second holds), then lower it. Repeat with your other leg.

Here are some tips that will help alleviate your shin pain:

Massage with Ice

Freeze a paper cup filled with water, tear off the top edge of the cup, and massage with comfortable pressure along the inside of the shinbone for 10 to 15 minutes after running to reduce inflammation of the shin splints.

Stretch & Rest

Loosen up tight calves and Achilles tendons–both can contribute to shin splints. Reduce running mileage and do low-impact cross-training (biking, swimming, elliptical) instead. When you resume your training, ease in gradually. Too much too soon could cause a relapse.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

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Heel Strike V Forefoot Strike #RunFormFriday

Heel Strike V Forefoot Strike #RunFormFriday

One of the most common questions I am asked by runners of all standards is “What part of the foot should I land on? Should I land on the heel or the forefoot”? This is also the topics of many running articles, theories, advertising campaigns and debates.

My short answer, which surprises 99% of people is…

“It doesn’t matter”

Should Your Heel or Forefoot Strike First

Which part of the foot touches the ground first is not a reflection of good technique. It is entirely possible – and unfortunately quite common, for people to land on the ‘right’ part of the foot and still have poor technique or be creating injury inducing stresses or loads. The most common of these are people that focus on landing on the toes or forefoot. It is quite easy to land on your forefoot with zero knee lift and jam the foot into the ground. Watch the last couple of km of Kimetto’s WR marathon, and some of the time he’s almost heel striking.

Yet the runner thinks they are running correctly ’because they are landing on their toes’. Blisters around the forefoot or bruised toes are normally a give away as the foot ‘brakes’ into the ground moving in the shoes against the direction of travel – and constantly applying brakes in a run is never a good thing for your body or run time.

The long answer to the question “Which part of the foot I should land on?” is that if the rest of the mechanics of the run are correct then your foot really has no choice about where it lands. Good knee lift (note the word ‘lift’ – not push), good extension through the hips, square chest with lack of shoulder twisting etc means that the foot will typically land around the midfoot. Try running like this (focussing on knee, hips etc) and try to land on your heels – it is virtually impossible.

How Can You Work On This?

I encourage running on the spot to focus on the correct technique and striking directly under the hips.

So, rather than focus on the foot strike spend your time analysing the main area of your run technique. If you get your knee, chest and hip position and your foot strike will quite literally fall into place.

By the way – for the triathletes. What I have found is that when the technique is correct, the part of the foot that hits the ground is exactly the same as the position of the pedal axle when a bike fit is correctly performed.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For a more in-depth understanding of how to put this into practice, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

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Trail Running, Go Get Muddy! #RunFormFriday

Trail Running, Go Get Muddy! #RunFormFriday

Why Get Trail Running?

Trail running, like off road driving, presents similar challenges. Road running, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, won’t prepare your body or mind for what awaits after you step off those smooth, flat surfaces. Read on for the top six challenges experienced road runners face when they venture away from the pavement. You’ll also learn how to develop the skills needed to master these challenges, and how these skills will benefit you, not only trail running, but on any surface you choose to run.

Rehab And Prehab In Disguise

Don’t want to convert? Scared trail running will sabotage your road or race prowess? Have no fear, the two disciplines are complementary. Elite runners see trail running as beneficial to all running. You can actually used the trails to your advantage while recovering from an injury. The slower paces don’t aggravate injury, but you are able to maintain fitness because of the effort level trail running requires. You can find that the way to get the most out of training is to do focused workouts on the road or track and recovery on the trails. This combination will allow you to stay healthy and focused. Doing road and track workouts allows you to get the maximum benefit from each quality session, while the trail excursions can let your body and mind recover as you enjoy the beauty of local forests.

 

The drills and exercises recommended to improve your skills on the trails mirror those you’d do as part of a rehabilitation program for some of the most common running injuries and are advised for those who want to avoid such injuries. Facing the challenges of off road running provides a more immediate and tangible motivation than preventing a potential injury and is a whole lot more fun than doing drills and exercises after an injury has occurred. Regardless of the motivation, developing these skills will make you stronger, faster and healthier wherever you run.

1 – TECHNICAL DESCENTS

Road, track, and even cross country runners rarely face the long, steep and technically challenging descents frequently found in trail running. Often these new-to-trail runners hit the brakes and gingerly make their way down, or they may surge and reach high speeds, but then find themselves stumbling out of control and suffering stride-altering soreness later in the race. Runners who struggle with this specific skill must learn to negotiate obstacles quickly while maintaining good balance with the least amount of effort.

2 – SUDDEN TURNS

Road runners are good at running in one direction: straight ahead. Negotiating sharp turns and dodging rocks and vegetation off-road takes lateral movement. This was the toughest thing for me when I first started spending a lot of time on the trails. My stabilizer muscles really took a toll from all the side-to-side movement. In order to counteract all the extra muscle-fatiguing movement, you can hit the gym to challenge core, hamstrings, glutes and quads to increase overall stability.

3 – STEEP, ERRATIC ASCENTS

“It’s an energy allowance game,” says Trent Briney, a 2:12 marathoner who was an alternate for the 2004 Olympic marathon team and recently placed third on the jumbled slick-rock at Moab’s Red Hot 33K. “You need to know how to judge your output so you still have the power to jump up and over foot-and-a-half-tall steps or rocks when you encounter them. That’s exhausting if you’re not used to it.”

4 – WIDELY VARIED EFFORT AND THE LACK OF RHYTHM

The best road racers are able to dial in pace, or rhythm, for long periods of time so they feel comfortable and controlled on race day. Rhythm, however, is virtually impossible to come by while running on the trails. Running the trails taxes multiple systems – mover and stabilizer muscles, motor nerves and the brain – and this fatigue may play a greater role in one’s ability to maintain or re-establish pace.

Trail running

Trail running

 

 

5 – MUDDY, ICE/SNOW-COVERED AND SANDY/SOFT TRAILS

We’ve all seen the post-race photos of the mud-encrusted trail runner. Though it’s considered a badge of honor in the off-road world, it’s often a game-changer on race day. Unpleasant trail conditions, like mud, snow, ice and sand, slow runners down and force muscles and limbs to withstand unnatural angles and loads.

Trail running

6 – NUTRITION/HYDRATION ON THE RUN

Trail runs deplete glycogen reserves more quickly than running the same distance on the roads.

Road running feels different. You think that if you slow down to an 9/10/12-minute mile pace that you can run forever. It takes significant training time for your body to adapt and use fuel differently. The extra demands of the terrain on the body mean additional fueling considerations. Uphill running and all of the other dancing you do on the trails require more calories. New-to-trail road runners don’t understand that you use way more energy on shorter runs due to the terrain and changing of gears.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

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Running With Music #RunFormFriday

Running With Music #RunFormFriday

I’ve always felt that running with music makes things easier, and if you’re like me, then you probably will grab a music player and headphones before you head out for a run and potentially your favorite playlist. The question is, can music make you a better runner?

How Running With Music Affects The Brain

Though there have been a number of recent studies on the relationship between music and exercise, research on this subject dates back until at least 1911 when Leonard Ayres found that cyclists pedalled faster while music was playing than when things were silent. Over 100 years later, in 2012, another piece of research showed that cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those who cycled in silence without music. So not only does music help us to push ourselves further and faster, it can also help us use our energy more efficiently.

Studies have also shown that when athletes work with music they often work harder for more sustained periods of time, as illustrated below.

Running with music

 

A type of legal performance-enhancing drug

Music changes people’s perception of their own effort throughout a workout. Simply put, music distracts us from pain and fatigue, elevates our mood and increases endurance. Dr Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”

 

The image below shows our brain at rest vs. our brain when reacting to music. You see a much wider region that is activated when music is playing.

Running with music

Emotion

Another way music increases endurance is by bringing out our emotions. We all have certain songs that remind us of special occasions, motivate us and make us awash with emotion. Music competes for the brain’s conscious attention and helps us get lost in the moment—instead of our focus being on the miles we’re covering and the distance to go, we can instead escape to a place the music takes us. If we strongly identify with the song we’re listening to it can increase our motivation and focus too.

What’s the most popular workout music? According to a study of college students the most popular types of music listened to during exercise are Hip Hop (27.7%), Rock (24%), Pop (20.3%), and Country (12.7%).

 

Music Tempo and Volume

It’s clear that music does affect our running ability, but can different types of music have different affects on us? A study by Judy Edworthy and Hannah Waring at the University of Plymouth looked to answer that exact question. Using the two variables, tempo and loudness they tested 30 physically active participants in five conditions (loud/fast, loud/slow, quiet/fast, quiet/slow, and no music) at a self-selected pace for 10min on a treadmill.

What they found was that loudness and tempo boosted the participants’ speeds and heart rates in a predictable manner. Louder and faster music resulted in the subjects selecting a faster treadmill pace than slower and quieter music.

Tip: While compiling your next running playlist it could be worth keeping in mind that there’s a ceiling effect on music at around 145 bpm – anything higher doesn’t seem to add much motivation.

Take Away

Music doesn’t make the strain exercise puts on our bodies any less severe, but it makes it more bearable. It gives us a way to escape from the signals of fatigue and helps us to become stronger, faster and even braver in the pursuit of the finish line. At the highest levels, where athletes are finely tuned for performance and at the top of their game the effects of music are minimal, but for those of us who aren’t professional runners it can make a profound difference to our mentality and results.

 

So what is on YOUR list? Let us know, I’m always on the lookout for more tunes to add to the list! Here’s a sample of my play list:

Bloc Party – Eating Glass

I See Monstas – Evolution

Madeon – The City

High Contrast – Hometown Glory

Avicii – Levels

Oliver Heldens – Overdrive

DJ Fresh – Hypercaine & Gold Dust

Chase & Status – Count On Me

Sub Focus – Tidal Wave

Jakwob – Fade

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

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