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.