Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday Got You Stressed? Oil up my friend!!

Knock knock.  Who's there?  Nemo. Nemo who?  I NEMO FISH OIL FOOL!! Yeah I made that up.  Don't be jello.  But for real though.  The holidays are upon us so you know what that means.  Shopping. Which means lines which means waiting which means being late which means craziness which means stress which means a too few many eggnogs which means a headache .....the list goes on.  I know we all tend to get a little stressed around the holidays and I have just the thing for you to prevent you from stroking out.  FISH OIL!! Yes that's right.  People that eat a lot of fish oil are healthier and live longer and have less cardiovasvular disease.  Look it up. Think Inuit.  Be Inuit.  Be the eskimo.  If yo don't take fish oil go buy some and start taking it.  Everybody in America should do it. Everyone. (yes, that means you)  Nutritional experts say that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 should be as close to a ratio of 1:1 and certainly no more than 4:1.  Most of us Americans are way over the 4:1.  Just think, when was the last time you had a nice slab of salmon?  How about the last time you had some walnuts?  I thought so.  Hey no one is perfect but we can all benefit from taking this stuff.  Your brain loves it, improves memory.  Your heart loves it, prevents Cardiovascular Disease and the stiffening of the arteries.  Your kid that can't pay attention to jack loves it, some studies have show it helps those with ADHD focus.  And your muscles love it, it's an anti-imflammatory.  Next time you run a 50 miler, or do a slamming workout on the track take some fish oil and call me in the morning.  I am not a doctor.  That being said don't blame me if any of the advice I give you on this site doesn't make you a superstar or has adverse effects.  Different strokes for different folks my running renegades.  But those strokes will be few and far between if you take your fish oil (see what I did there?).  Peace and good things!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Runaway the right way like Kanye

OK first things first.  Go listen to the new Kanye West album.  Great stuff!!  Something about his music gets me pumped.  Watch the full length runaway video too.  It's pretty good.  He runs a bit in the video and it looks like he has some decent speed.  Go Kanye!!  That being said his form could use a lot of work.  Sitting at the switchboard has definitely left him with some tight hips and probably really tight hammies too.  You can tell just from watching him run...but I digress, let's keep it positive shall we? 
The pic above is from the Crossfit Endurance Certification I attended last weekend in Santa Cruz.  I am the guy in blue ( I didn't get the memo about wearing black apparently).  I learned so many great things about running technique and would like to share some things with you.  I have been running POSE method for a few months and have transitioned from a heel striker to a forefoot striker and feel great about it. My knees feel great about it too!  The main thing I took away from the Cert is this.  NO ONE TAUGHT ME HOW TO RUN.  Most assume running comes naturally and does not need to be taught but if you observe different people running you will notice a vast difference in their styles.  However if you look at different baseball players fielding a ground ball you will see they all do it almost identically.  Did the coach give them a glove and just let them play?  No way!  They did thousands of drills going over the proper mechanics of fielding a ground ball and setting up those neural pathways.  As runners we need to change the way we train.  The old paradigm of building Volume (more miles) then Intensity (intervals) then  Technique (form) is gone and has been flipped upside down.  We should be training  Technique first then  Intensity and Volume.  So let's get down to it.  How should you run?  First thing you probably should get new shoes.  Avoid a shoe with a large heel.  That large heel is just going to encourage you to heel strike and we want to be forefoot strikers.  Were you born with shoes on?  Those big heels are unnatural.  Get something with a low heel.  Landing on the forefoot allows you to use your arch to absorb a lot of the impact and distribute it rather than sending that shock up your leg like when you heel strike.  Many books have been written on how to run so I can't explain everything in detail here but here are the basics:

1.  Posture: Ears above shoulders above hips above ankles.  All in a straight line
2.  Lean:  Lean ever so slightly from your ankles.  We are using gravity here people
3.  Pull:  Think of pulling your foot off the ground rather than pushing off.  You should pull the foot up directly underneath your center of mass using your hamstrings.
4.  Land: Land on a softly bent knee and do not reach for the ground.  This is perhaps the hardest part of running injury free.  You must relax your ankle and wait for gravity to pull your foot towards the ground.  Your foot will strike just ahead of your center of mass on the ball of the foot with the heel just kissing the ground.  At the moment it hits the ground pull the foot up again and the process repeats itself.

It's a lot to think about but if you practice approaching running as a skill your body will thank you.  I highly recommend running barefoot occasionally to help as well.  Here is an absolutely great video I found on youtube that will help set those neural pathways. 

Run on friends!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

RICE Rockets

Hey Running Renegades, I know what you are thinking and I am sorry but this in not my Aunt Barbara's recipe for Rice Pudding.  What this is is an acronym my know like NASA? 

Get it? Ok so you have a sore knee.  Rest a bit throw some ice on it with an ice compress and put your feet up while you watch some TV. DO IT!!

Sometimes it is Halloween.  Sometimes you dress up like a Cowboy.  Sometimes you have to sprint wearing cowboy boots to evade a marauding Zombie.  It happens.  In such a scenario I rolled my ankle and ended up with a sore ankle or "sankle" as I called it the following day.  Did I go running? NO I rested.  I iced it and put it up and read a good book.  These are the basics!! It works wonders. Most would rather pop a few advil and than spend time icing their shit.  Most would rather complain about their injury.  If you are not attempting to fix the problem stop complaining.  Next time you are sore Ice it for 15 min on 15 min off a few times and see the difference.  You will recover more quickly guaranteed! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Want a H.I.T.? How about some L.S.D? vomit inducing workout follows

I have spent the majority of my running career running long distance.  When I decided to go for a marathon I knew I needed to run longer.  It just makes sense right?  If I am going to run 26.2 miles I need to practice running 26.2 miles.   So I set up a training routine and started in with the LSD (long slow day). I maxed out on a long run of 23 miles.  I had read that after running only 15 miles your body will prepare itself for 26.2 but also read that running over twenty would have beneficial mental strength gains.  Up until now my training has typically consisted of 2 or 3 types of training.  Long Slow Days, Tempo Runs and Interval Training.  I ran a 2:56 PR in the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon using this strategy and thousands of other runners prescribe to giving priority to the long run with a sprinkling of speed work.  It has its merits.

However, I am currently under an experiment of my own using Crossfit Endurance.  It is a combination of weight training and anaerobic High Intensity interval Training that is in one word BRUTAL.  I am only running three times a week and lifting 4 days a week.  I am following the WOD on their website and it is working.  I feel stronger and have definitely gained speed and quickness running. Research has show, that for trained athletes, HIT (High Intensity Training) is the best way to increase endurance. "It seems that, for athletes who are already trained, improvements in endurance performance can be achieved only through high-intensity interval training (HIT). " ( That is what Crossfit Endurance prescribes.  Train hard and intense.  This means that I spend less time training which gives me more free time.  It also means I train harder which kicks my ass. Gone are the leisurely 2.5 hour runs and it seems here to stay are the vomit inducing Tabatas.  I will be running a Half Mary next month and will let you know how it goes.  I will also be running a marathon in the near future using these methods and will keep you informed. 

So your asking what are Tabatas? Well they are evil and they are righteous.  Painful and powerful but very simple so here it is.  Izumi Tabata came up with it and says it is the best supra-aerobic (anaerobic) cardio workout.  Here's what you do:
  • 5 minutes of warm-up
  • 8 intervals of 20 seconds running all-out followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • 2 minutes cool-down
This is an intense workout and you should only try it if you are in great shape.  If not I suggest you ease into this and start by doing just 2-4 intervals and see how you feel the rest of the day/next day.  This will get your heart rate through the roof and may induce some dry heaving/nausea (it did for me at least).  Make sure to fuel back up after this workout with some carbs and protein (milk) so you're not wiped for the rest of the day.  Be safe Kids and Run Hard!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I have decided to write about my race experiences along with training advice in this blog and what follows is one such story.  Last Saturday I ran The Redwood Park trail run put on by PC Trail Runs.  They are a great outfit that puts on races frequently here in the bay area.  I ran the 10K.  I have been running POSE for a few months now so I was excited to see how my form held up in a race.  With a little over 1,000 feet of elevation there were some brutal hills involved.  I was wearing my Asics Hyperspeed II which provided little traction and made me more than a bit weary on a couple downhills.  It was a crisp morning, perfect for running.  Mist in the air and the scent of redwoods made the smell fresh and feel rejuvinating.  One siren from a bullhorn later and about 50 of us darted off and I quickly settled into 4th place.  Somehow the trail was double booked and bout 2 miles in we had some traffic. . . HORSES.  About 8 horses were galavanting down the trail opposite us and we had to step to the side to make room.  My head was a bit flustered after this and I was following a bald man.  We came to a split in the trail.  We could go left or straight.  To go straight was to cross a thick white chalk line, to go left was to avoid said line.  We took a left and bolted down the hill.  After 3 or 4 minutes I felt alone.  no longer did I hear the trampling footsteps behind me or hear the labored breaths of my running commrades.  There were 4 of us spread out and I bolted up to the 2 men ahead of me and asked "Are we lost?" "There was a big chalk line, didn't you see it?" the bald man said in an answer of sorts.  Followig this man we bolted back up the hill following the alleged course.  Looking at my watch the time read 38 minutes.  "We're almost done" I though to myself and thought about picking up the pace.  2 minutes later and I see the asphalt leading back to the finish line.  I drop it down a gear and kick home for a strong finish.  Along the last 800 meters a I pass my pals and the finish line comes into site.  It is a ghost town, unadulterated, untouched and no one is in the chute.  Elated, girlfriend screaming, I cross the finish line and dry heave for a few seconds, head between my knees, Kali congratulating me on my first place finish.  The race director comes by and gives me my medal.  I smile and take Kali aside.  "I think we cut the course" I say der my breath not knowing if I am a low life cheater or not.  I converse with the bald man who is posistive we ran the right way.  One minute later a man that passed me earlier in the race finishes with a lack luster response.  I think to myself, "Hey wait, how did he pass and I still get 1st place?" Turns out he ran the course the day before and new exactly where he was going.  The chalk line was actually for the horse riders, not the racers, and we accidentally cut the course.  Bald man led us astray.  Luckily only four of us were lemmings and the others figured out the right course.  So that is how I was disqualified for getting first place.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Urine Trouble Mr.!!

OK.  Cute pics and double entendres aside here is the deal: Drink water until your pee is clear.  JUST DO IT!  A lot of people have trouble with this.  Maybe you have a cup a joe in the morning and next thing you know it's lunch and you haven't had anything else to drink yet.  You go to the restroom and notice your pee is bright yellow and maybe even smells like coffee.  That's ALL BAD!!  Water is important and I know I don't have to explain why but click here to see some things water does for your body.  No water makes Jimmy a  thirsty, brittle boned, squeaky jointed, low blood volume/high blood pressure, stoke prone boy.  How much you ask?  ENOUGH TO MAKE YOUR PEE CLEAR AND ENOUGH SO YOU ARE NOT THIRSTY.How easy is that? No math no statistics just simple observation.  You want some math? OK.  Next time you go out for a run weigh yourself (nekkid) before you go out. Don't drink water during the workout and weigh yourself when you get home (nekkid).  How much weight did you lose?  Divide that number by however many minutes you ran and shazaam! That is your sweat rate.  That is the amount of water you should be taking in during exercise.  If you are trying to stay hydrated you should never be thirsty and your pee should be clear.  What else can I say? Don't be like these guys. Chill off the kool-aid and just drink the water my friends.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Running Cadence

Left right left right left right.....Ok I am gonna make a short post on cadence. How many steps should you take? How long should your stride be? We come in all different sizes and shapes but everyone agrees the most efficient runners in the world take between 170 and 180 strides per minute. What does that mean for you? COUNT YOUR STEPS! Sound boring? It is. Daunting? Perhaps but bear down and do it my friend. It may help that knee pain you have from overstriding. So here’s what you do: Get a watch and go running. Once you are running at a comfortable pace start counting each time your right foot hits the ground. Count for a minute. Multiply that number by two (you do have two feet don’t you?) There it is! That’s your stride per minute. So if you count your right foot hitting the ground 70 times in that minute your cadence is 140 strides per minute. This would mean you should be taking more strides per minute so shorten that stride and see that knee pain vanish! If you come up with a number greater than 180 you may be able to lengthen your stride a bit but don’t overdo it. If this is you, I recommend stretching those hip flexors regularly (click here for a killer stretch) and try to stay relaxed whilst running.  Have a great weekend kids!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

REST to be your BEST

OK I agree.  That is a lame ass title but let's move on.  This dog is chilling; perhaps even chillaxing and so should you.  I recently read a post where a man was looking for bodybuilding advice.  He said he had been working out everyday yet had not seen the gains he was expecting.  His question was, "What can I do to see some real gains?"  Of course the answer was unanimous. REST!!  You've gotta rest to be your best.  OK I apologize. I just had to say it one more time :). But seriously, you may run hard and you may run long but it is all for not if you don't take some days off.  I ran a 10 mile tempo run yesterday and what did I do today?  Not a damn thing, son! Today I woke up a little sleepier than usual and decided to take the day off since the run took a little more out of me than I expected.  Always remember that it is during days off, NOT during the workouts, that we get stronger.  On days off our muscles rebuild themselves and recover from tearing them down.  Ever put in an extra 10 miler even though you are dog tired just so you can get to you goal of an 80 mile week?  "I'll take it easy" you say to yourself.  "Once I get out the door I won't be so tired."  Then what happens?  The next week you start getting knee pain or catch a cold or something else happens that puts you out of commission.  Rest is of the utmost important whether you are a weekend warrior or you are placing in the Boston Marathon.  So how often should you rest? Great question!  As often as you need.  We are all different.  I recommend a 4 day cycle of 3 days on 1 day off.  Some like a hard day followed by an easy day during the week and taking the weekdays off.  Some monitor their heart rate to see how fatigued they are from the day prior.  Listen to your body folks!  It is  SO important.  Take inventory on how you feel.  Was it hard to wake up this morning?  Are you feeling irritable and short tempered.  Are you starting to feel that twinge you get when you overdo it?  Then you are probably overtraining.  Take a day off or two and get back in the game fresh and injury free.  Because it's like my Momma used to always say.  You've gotta REST to be your BEST (3rd times a charm).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Burden of Blisters

Today I went out on a jovial 10 mile jaunt excited to go out and run fast.  I ran a 50 miler (PCTR Headlands 50) last month and have been keeping my mileage low and pretty easy since.  Anyway, I decide I am going to give it a pretty good go and slap my racing flats on my feet sans socks.  Why no socks you ask?  Great question!  For the past year or so I have been consciously working on my running form as way to prevent injury and increase my running efficiency and speed.  I have read the Pose Method and think everyone who wants to run without injury should pick up a copy.  Part of the pose method is about wearing minimalist shoes that let you get a good ground feel so you can focus on how and when your foot is hitting the ground.  So my logic goes something like this.  If I wear my racing flats (which have less than  half an inch of cushioning without socks it will increase my foot feel more than if I wear socks.  So out the door I go sock free and ready to go!  It is a beautiful day in San Francisco and I am going along my usual 10 mile route out to Fort Point and back.  The sun in shining, the seagulls are squawking and all is right with the world.  All except for the 15 mph winds I am fighting.  It's OK I think; just lean into it and pump those arms.  I get to fort point paying not much attention to my feet up til now and turn around for the home stretch.  5 miles to go.  I get to the Marina Green and I start to feel something.  Hey is that an itch on my left big toe?  No.  That is an incessant rubbing of shoe on skin. I get to Van Ness.  Hmmm...still there and my rub a dub friction friend has cloned on the other foot except this foot, the right, is getting rubbed the wrong way near the heel.  With a little over a mile left I consider hobbling to avoid more friction but grind my teeth and continue since I am trying to keep my pace.  Finally I arrive home run upstairs and take of my shoes, toes a burning and heel ablaze.  I have a small blister on my big toe and a small blister on my heel.  Luckily they are not big enough to cause much of a ruckus so I let them be for now.  If needed they will get a visit from mister sterile safety pin but we'll play it by ear.  My message dear friends is this: Don't go on a 10 mile run without socks.  Socks protect your feet and limit friction.  If you are looking into going sans socks test it out on a short run and see how your feet like it.  Will I run without socks again. Certainly I will give it another try and see how it goes.  But 98% of the time I am on those trails or roads I will be socked up my friend!

Talking about blisters makes me think about shoes and shoe fit.  It is very important to have shoes that fit you right.  I highly recommend you go to a running specialty store like Fleet Feet Sports and have them watch you run and give you suggestions.  They are trained to notice whether you pronate or suppinate and recommend shoes accordingly.  You can always shop yourself but I highly recommend you at least to the wet foot test to see your arch type before getting shoes.  In my opinion running shoes should feel comfortable the first time you put them on.  If there is any thing that rubs you the wrong way put them back on the shelf and try another. We put our feet through enough stress running miles upon miles each week.  We should at least let them enjoy the ride.  Run on my friends...or else.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Running Dirty

Running should be fun, running should be smooth, running should be easy.  I enjoy getting out on the trail and getting my feet dirty just as much as the next guy so I enjoy running dirty.  When it comes to your form and technique however, those are things that should be clean.  In this blog I will expand on how to become a better, more efficient runner using techniques I have learned through various mediums (coaching, education, observation, trial and error) over the course of almost 20 years of running experience.

This picture of my feet was taken after the Dick Collins' Firetrails 50 last October.  It was a brutal course with close to 8,000 ft of elevation and plenty of dirt.  Running for 10 plus hours allows your mind to do all sorts of things. was during one of these episodes where I decided to create a running blog.  Little did I know it would take close to a year to act on the idea but here we are.  In the posts that follow I will address common running issues with answers to questions and solutions to everyday problems whether they be side aches, mental fatigue, plantar fasciitis or any of the vast quantity of running hindrances I have seen in my life.  There will also be details of my personal everyday running life as well. I look forward to answer many running related questions and sharing my experiences giving you all the ability to Run for your Life.