SCIENCE FRIDAY: PLAY LIKE A KID
SKIP, HOP, AND BOUND, AND HIT THE PLAYGROUND FOR STRONG BONES
Last week's post (June 22, 2017) introduced FORM DRILLS as a way to become stronger and more efficient at running, just like elites who perform them before speed workouts and races. Earned Runs found that another benefit of running FORM DRILLS is improved BONE HEALTH AND STRENGTH.
The type of movement and impact involved in form drills has been recommended for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis (a medical condition in which bones are fragile and prone to fracture) in a position statement by the Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) published in 2016, written by Dr. Belinda R. Beck and her colleagues, who are from various Australian universities.
The statement explains that not all exercise activity is osteogenic (helps to build bones). Exercise movements that lead to increases in bone mass density (BMD), a measure of bone strength, has certain qualities; it should be:
- Dynamic not static
- Cyclic rather than continuous
- Able to induce relatively high bone strain
- Rapidly applied
- Performed with limited repetitions
One exercise mode, IMPACT LOADING, prescribed for individuals with both NORMAL and LOW BMD (osteopenia and osteoporosis) was detailed as: "vertical and multi-directional jumping, bounding, hopping, skipping rope, drop jumps, and bench stepping".
These are the SAME movements that are incorporated into running FORM DRILLS, which allow them to double as bone building exercises! Especially if the number of repetitions is kept relatively low, and if several different drills are consistently performed each week, exactly what trainers and coaches recommend.
BALANCE TRAINING is another exercise mode recommended by the position paper to improve bone health. Routines that incorporate backward walking/running, leg crossovers, and lateral/sideways movements are the most bone-friendly and are also part of the FORM DRILLS described in the Brian Metzler Competitor.com piece (grapevines, lateral bounding, running backward).
Resistance training (strength training), is also recommended, in the ESSA position statement and is a regular part of Earned Runs running training plans.
Why should runners or walkers be interested in doing anything else but running/walking for bone strength? Isn’t running a weight-bearing, high-impact activity? Yes. But according to the position paper and previous research, running in a continuous, unidirectional manner results in the desensitization of bone cells to the stimulating effects of impacts. Skeletal bones stop responding and adapting to movement once it becomes “customary”.*
The authors of this paper have provided a “tip” to help us remember the best types of activity for building bone. YAY! They say that exercises which are “appropriate to build bone in childhood mirror those that are most effective in adulthood (high impact, weight-bearing activities that engage large muscle groups).“
In non-science-speak, this means it’s KID-PLAY, the stop-and-go and multi-directional type of running, skipping, hopping, jumping, and darting about that stimulates the skeleton to develop. Little ones quickly expend lots of explosive energy in this kind of play, tire, rest for a bit, then play more. They tend not to run continuously for an hour or more, as adults do. This is how to successfully build (and strengthen) bones!
So, why don’t doctors prescribe kid-play for adults? Unfortunately, after decades of not playing like kids, adults have developed asymmetric muscle weaknesses, joint and mobility issues, poor balance, and other health problems, making this kind medical prescription impractical and possibly unsafe.
Are adults left with working to complete a list of physical therapy exercises?
No. Think about it. FORM DRILLS FORCE US TO PLAY LIKE KIDS!!! HOW GREAT IS THAT? Not only do they help us be better, faster, straight-line runners, they help us maintain and possibly re-build bones and muscles weakened by too many years of playing like adults. SKIPPING, BOUNDING, SHUFFLING, RUNNING BACKWARDS, DOING “GRAPEVINES’. Form drills ARE kid-play.
There is another way to stay in Neverland when it comes to child-like exercise: play games. The position paper says. “Cross-sectional studies consistently demonstrate that athletes engaged in high- or unusual-impact weight-bearing sports with rapid rates of loading such as gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, ballet dancing, football, power lifting, tennis/squash, and figure skating have superior bone mass at loaded skeletal sites compared to non-athletes or athletes in non-weight-bearing or lower-impact sports.”
In other words, the playground sports we enjoyed in youth are better for musculoskeletal health than plain running or walking. Congratulations to runners and others who still have fun on courts, dance floors, ice rinks, maybe even monkey-bars. Included in this group of activities are aerobics and dance classes.
I like the idea of trying to recapture some of the fun of childhood to build bone and muscle strength. I like that I’m encouraged to try other sports and routines, like FORM DRILLS, that elite runners perform. What will you do to return to childhood for health?
NOTE: A previous post presented information from scientific literature that interval and downhill running were beneficial to bone health. You can still enjoy ‘unidirectional’ running as your sport, if you mix-in these other sessions.
ASSESS YOURSELF: TWO fITNESS TESTS
KNOW YOUR FITNESS LEVEL BEFORE STARTING ON AN IMPROVEMENT PLAN.
Summertime is the season in which many like to spend extra time outdoors getting exercise. It can help to know your base level of fitness before beginning an extra effort to boost it. Re-testing at summer's end can increase self confidence when you see gains made!
The article, “4 Exercise Tests to Gauge Your Fitness” written by Tony Bonvechio for Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal.com, is one such test. Each exercise evaluates a different aspect of overall fitness, and only one requires special equipment:
Another test that may be a tougher assessment, especially for women (it’s designed for women) is provided in “How Fit Are You Really? Take These 4 Simple Tests to Find Out” by F. Aleisha Fetters for WomensHealthMag.com. It requires a gym with specific equipment:
These two are not the only tests out there for this purpose; there are many. Both attempt to instruct readers in test performance and interpretation, and how to improve in the area being assessed.
I see these kinds of tests as being similar to those that measure general knowledge of science, current events, movies, or mathematics, etc. “Passing” does not mean you are a genius or could hold a job in a field that demands competence in that particular area. Good fitness test results do not identify elite athletes. But performing poorly can point to areas of significant weakness that require extra work over time, not likely to be corrected by a single exercise or weekend of concentrated effort.
The Fetters tests are nicely explained and are more difficult in my opinion. The suggestions for boosting your score are very helpful.
The bar is set fairly low for the Bonvechio test result interpretations. If you struggled with the moves, consider joining a fitness center that includes an evaluation by a certified trainer and an exercise prescription. This is the easiest although not the least expensive path to improvement. Once you have been instructed in proper form and execution of the exercises in your program, you can do them at home on your own. Further research online can identify additional exercise routines. A big part of the process of becoming fit is becoming educated.
It only takes about 2-3 weeks of inactivity, or de-training, to begin to lose aerobic fitness (see February 6, 2017 blog post); attaining and maintaining fitness is a continuous lifelong effort. Just as we might regularly step on the scale to measure of body weight in an effort to control unintended gains or losses, it can help to measure fitness periodically. The results might be better than expected!
February 6, 2017 post: WHY NOT TO STOP TRAINING
WEBSITE WEDNESDAY: YOUR AWAY GAME
WEBSITE WEDNESDAY: MORE HOTELS WITH BENEFITS
There's more information for traveling runners and fitness buffs posted on the OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO! page.
HYATT: StayFit program; spotty website information
Last year my stay at the GRAND HYATT DENVER prompted a post about this hotel chain as one may be friendly to runners and exercise enthusiasts. I had been so very happy to find it had a roof-top oval track as well as indoor fitness center and pool.
A plaque on the wall next to the track announced the “StayFit” program. The Hyatt hotel information had been added to the OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Page. A search of the Hyatt website still does not include information about availability of this program system-wide. However, Hyatt hotels in select locations advertise this benefit. It would be wise to check with the desk before making reservations at the specific location at which you hope to stay to be assured a StayFit fitness center when traveling.
WESTIN: gear lending; New Balance + Peloton partnerships
Westin was the first hotel chain to be mentioned on this Earned Runs running + travel related webpage, for its partnership with New Balance to provide running shoes and apparel to needy patrons (for a $5 fee). According to an article in Competitor.com it now has added safety items like light-up shoe clips and reflective wrist-bands to its Gear Lending Program, although this is not mentioned on the system’s MOVE WELL webpage. The Starwood Hotel chain’s website indicates it also has a partnership with Peloton to provide cycling experiences. There also are 24/7 fitness studios, RunWESTIN Concierge services that include nearby safe 3-mile and 5-mile running routes, and in-room treadmills or stationary bikes advertised.
HILTON: proximity rules: "Five Feet to Fitness" rooms
Another hotel chain, Hilton, is reportedly pumping up its offerings to exercise buffs by introducing “Five Feet to Fitness” rooms, says its WELLNESS page. Select hotels will have rooms, for a $45 premium, with: GYM RAX storage bay containing all manner of equipment complete with a KIOSK of custom video workouts, a WATTBIKE, TRX equipment, and meditation apparatus. Also provided in-room is a “hydration station” with a selection of free re-hydrating fluids and Biofreeze topical analgesic for sore muscles. Why? The name says it all; some guests will want the convenience to perform workouts a mere 5 feet from their beds. Rooms in Hilton, Doubletree, and Curio are expected to offer this amenity.
It seems the competition is heating up to attract travelers who wish to continue with their regular exercise regimens while away from home, and perhaps pamper themselves during a potentially stressful trip with a special experience. Big city center hotels are most likely to be on the forefront of this movement, but smaller and more economical chains may get into the game as well, relatively soon.
NO CHOICE FITNESS STRATEGY
Some travelers might not have a choice in accommodations. You stay where companies dictate, at loyalty program member sites, where conventions or conference are hosted, or where deep discounts are offered. Your best fitness strategy is advance preparation.
Shopping for and bringing easily packable gear will insure you’ve got what you need when you need it. Checking online for the safest running routes/trails near your hotel’s location can determine whether you skip out the door, take a ride to, or find a nearby parking structure for a run. Running loops can be a very practical tactic under certain circumstances. Constructing a go-to ‘small space’ strength workout with resistance bands is another. Making use of the hotel hallway during quiet times of the morning can expand your exercise space.
Be creative. And be not afraid of what others might think! Big chains are courting exercise-loving travelers because there are many of you out there!!! Another traveler who gets a glimpse of you at 5am doing lateral bands walks in the hall outside your room might not be thinking how weird you look, but rather what a great idea for their next trip.
POSITIVE THINKING AND BEING SLOW
"IF YOU RUN SLOW WHO CARES?" Last week a follower/friend posted a lovely picture of her early morning run, indicating she was running it “slow”. I saw it just after returning from my own run which had been excruciatingly slow. Truthfully, I did not finish the full 3 miles running, but switched to a brisk ‘interval’ walk with about a half mile left. I finished the outdoor portion of that day’s work with two repeats of a few running form drills.
The humidity and temperatures were high, with heat index about 100 degrees. Three miles is THE SHORTEST distance of any run on my training schedule. How humiliating it seemed to be failing at this easy run, in spite of the heat excuse!
Then I saw her picture post. And I recalled reading the article by Jeff Gaudette, “If You Run Slow Who Cares?” for Competitor.com. Both gave me inspiration. After all, it was a huge effort for me to get out in the heat and complete the days’ assigned workout. Afterward I worked on strength building indoors. Three small workouts were accomplished that day: run, drills, strength. Not one was a complete full-on session, though. BUT WHO CARES? It was time spent making small improvements rather than thinking about making them.
“Positive thinking starts with how you frame every aspect of your running”, says Gaudette. If you’re having trouble believing in yourself, take a look at this article.
THOSE OF YOU FAMILIAR WITH USING A KETTLEBELL for exercise may have read about it in the book by author Tim Ferriss’, ”Four Hour Body”, also of ‘"The Four Hour Work Week" fame. Ferriss promoted performing the kettlebell swing to “get rock hard abs” and offers a YouTube demonstration of proper form.
Other workout guru’s have innovated and introduced modifications on the basic swing. Emily Abate presents a set of exercises using smaller-weighted equipment in an article forShape.com “6 Unconventional Kettlebell Exercises to Mix-up Your Exercise Routine”. These moves seem to require less technical skill to perform and some runners may find they are perfect for core and upper body work with weights. To me they seem to be an easy but effective way to progress beyond planks, push-ups, and dips. I’m in.
If you don’t have a set of kettlebells of different weights handy, I’ve seen some trainers use dumbbells like a goblet (grasp one end/endplate with both hands rather than the middle bar). Single arm exercises may not be easily converted in this way unless the weighted end is small enough to firmly grasp with one hand.
Check them out, and report back if you love or hate them.
WEEK 5: ACROSS AMERICA
WEEK 5 RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA STARTS TOMORROW
Segment 10: Helena MT to Bozeman MT
Segment 11: Bozeman MT to Columbus MT
Segment 12: Columbus MT to Lovell WY
Attention! You unofficially entered “Big Sky Country” once you made your way into Montana. It’s one of the nicknames given to this state. Information is sparse on exactly why this nickname was applied, but one explanation is that it the state is so sparsely populated with so few tall buildings that the sky dominates the vistas. It is roughly divided into a plains and badlands region east of the Rocky Mountains and the western mountainous region. The climate varies with elevation.
According to a Wikipedia entry, Montana contains a portion of Yellowstone National Park (3 entrances) as well as all of Glacier National Park and other federally protected and recognized sites (areas, a battlefield, a monument, and a bison range, describe a few). “Approximately 31,300,000 acres (127,000 km2), or 35 percent of Montana's land is administered by federal or state agencies”. Wow.
The route this week will take you along or near to the Missouri, Yellowstone, and Shoshone Rivers. The Missouri is the longest or the second longest river in the United States depending on which rivers are included in its system (Wikipedia, Britannica).
This river was “believed to be part of the Northwest Passage – a water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific “ before the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled it’s entire length. They could not confirm this legend to be true, finding that no such pathway to the Pacific Ocean existed. Some of the most notable cities of the Great Plains States are found near its banks (Great Fall MT, Bismarck ND, Omaha NE, Kansas City MO, and St. Louis MO)
This great river, which empties into the Mississippi River north of the city of St. Louis, at the border of Missouri and Illinois, “was one of the main routes for the westward expansion of the United States during the 19th century.” Fur trappers and traders first explored it in the 1700s and then pioneer families followed it westward in covered wagons in the 1800s.
The Yellowstone River: Native Americans knew the Yellowstone River as the Elk River and used it for a long time before explorer William Clark and his group returned on it from their expedition in the Pacific Northwest in 1806. The river runs through the Yellowstone National Park and has three dramatic waterfalls (Upper Falls, Lower Falls, and Tower Falls). The majority (96%) of the Park’s land lies in the state of Wyoming, but very small areas also lie in Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the United States, established March 1, 1872 by Congress to “preserve the wildlife and showcase the unique geothermic features throughout the Park.”
Beneath Yellowstone Lake exists a “super volcano causing large amounts of geothermic activity.” Related to the volcano’s presence are hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and more than 300 geysers. The most famous and spectacular include Old Faithful and Steamboat Springs.
The Shoshone River: runs for 100 miles in northern Wyoming, ending when it meets the Big Horn River near Lovell, Wyoming. In 2016 the Shoshone River, east of Yellowstone National Park, “suddenly and without warning started boiling, changed color and began to emit a sulfuric odor on March 25.” Witnesses reportedly feared for their lives at this time. The event, likely related to volcanic activity, lasted four days and led to recall of its history of smelling like sulfur two centuries ago, when it was called the Stinking Water River.
Your WEEK 5 route does not take you near this part of Wyoming where this event occurred, but knowledge of the Park and the geological origins of its famous geysers makes virtual travel through the area rather exciting. You can take a virtual side trip without any danger, to learn more!
6/28/17 NOTE: This week seems to be all about rivers. Although the book and movie scenes of fly fishing in “A River Runs Through It” were said to take place in Montana's Blackfoot River, the filming took place in the Gallatin River, north of the Segment 10 route from Helena to Bozeman MT. This fact was discovered in the article, “18 of the Biggest National Park Scenes and Cameos” by Laura Bailey for The Wilderness Society.
According to the piece, “The film is said to have changed the fly fishing landscape in Montana, and Redford has been quoted as saying he hoped the film would inspire people to keep more western places wild. Not surprisingly, A River Runs Through It won the 1993 Academy Award for best cinematography. “
LAST OF THE SUMMER CHALLENGES: IV
SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: WALKERS ‘SERIES SWEEP’
What’s the definition of a sports championship series sweep? It’s one team winning 4 straight games of a 7- game series, without a loss, and the championship awarded to the team that first wins 4 games total.
Why is this summer challenge for WALKERS called the “Series Sweep”?
It starts with science. In 2004 Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan led a team of researchers who studied the effects of a high intensity interval walking program on the fitness and health of older adults.
There were 3 groups, averaging 63 years in age, comprised of 60 men and 186 women: 1) non-walking, 2) walking at a continuous moderate level 5 pace (on a scale of 1-10 in intensity), and 3) an experimental high intensity interval group walking at a level 4 pace for 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of a harder level 7 pace, for 5 or more cycles. Each group was instructed to walk at least 30 minutes, in total, during these sessions, and to do so at least 4 days each week.
In the high intensity walking training (HIWT) group there were significant increases in isometric knee flexion and extension (measures of thigh muscle strength) and in peak aerobic capacity for cycling and for walking, as well as a reduction in resting systolic blood pressure. These were the findings when results for HIWT group were compared with those of the moderate intensity continuous walkers.
Taking the findings of this research into account, the SUMMER CHALLENGE IV was constructed for people who enjoy walking for exercise. It copies the study protocol that lead to improvements in aerobic capacity, thigh muscle strength, and blood pressure. Walkers are challenged to walk high intensity intervals, over at least 30 minutes each day, for most days of the week.
Committing to this SUMMER CHALLENGE IV can provide motivation to work towards a goal that helps walkers become stronger and healthier. To SWEEP this ‘championship series’, by Earned Runs RULES, means committing to the minimum 30-minute HIWT protocol on at least 4 of 7 days of the week, EACH WEEK from July to September without any ‘losses’ (skipped weeks). That’s only 9 weeks!
By the way, the original research paper by Dr. Nose and his research colleagues was published in 2007. A follow-up paper in 2014 showed that middle-aged and older persons were able to adhere to this protocol successfully for 22 MONTHS!!!. Although the Earned Runs SUMMER CHALLENGE IV requires commitment, it is do-able by young and old, and a reasonable goal, proven by scientific research!
REQUEST FREE EARNED RUNS BIBS NOW; you’ll receive 4, which allows you to ask someone in your family or at work to join you. Or, keep all 4 yourself and encourage the others to request their own free bibs. There will be a limited number of FREE stickers to those who make a request for the SUMMER CHALLENGE IV STICKERS (available after June 27). Keep track of the days you followed the protocol on your bib or on the calendar.
SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: WALKERS SERIES SWEEP
Perform the High Intensity Interval Walk (HIIW) Protocol 4 of 7 days each week,
July 1 - September 1
Warm-up: 5 minutes easy walking
Cycle 1 High Intensity Interval Walking (HIIW)
First 3 minutes: walk at LEVEL 4 PACE (on a scale of 1-10 in intensity, 10 being highest intensity)
Next 3 minutes, walk at a harder, LEVEL 7 PACE
REPEAT Cycle 1 at least 4 more times (for a total of 5 or more cycles),
to equal at least 30 minutes HIIW
Cool-down: 5 minutes easy walk!
You can do this! Try for every other day at first, as your legs may be a bit sore afterward. The protocol and a calendar are available for download, and also on the RESOURCES page.
NOTE: Runners can adapt this walking protocol to a running protocol.
RUN AND WALK HAPPY!
Easy to read article on this research in the NY Times WELL blog:
SCIENCE FRIDAY: BLISTER BUSTING
BLISTER PREVENTION AND TREATMENT FOR RUNNERS, RUCKERS,& WALKERS
An article from Competitor.com by Allison Patillo, “8 Blister-Busting Items For Happy Feet”, is something I ran across in early April 2016, just before starting to investigate ruck walking.
The medical literature contained a related, newly e-published article, “Paper Tape Prevents Foot Blisters: A Randomized Prevention Trial Assessing Paper Tape In Endurance Distances (Pre-Taped II)" by Grant S. Lipman M.D. from Stanford University,and colleagues.
Their study examined the blister-preventing effects of foot pre-taping on 128 ultra-distance runners competing in the 6-stage, 250K (155 mile), 2014 RacingThePlanet event. Foot races in this ultra-marathon took them through the Gobi Desert in China (35 runners), Atacama Desert of Chile (53 runners), and the Jordan (19) and Madagascar (21) Deserts.
In this event there were 25-mile long races on each of 4 consecutive days, a 50 mile race (combined on the 5th and 6th days), and a finishing 5-6 mile race on the last day. The mean age was 39.3 years and body mass index was 24.2, with 31 (22.5%) females. Participants carried their own equipment for the race duration, which included a minimum of 2000 calories/day, and every 6-7 miles, an offered 1.5 liters of water (mean pack weight was listed as "10.3"; not given as kg or lb. Would this be like light rucking?).
“The objective of this study was to examine whether paper tape could prevent hot spots and blisters on specific blister-prone areas”. A coin toss determined which ONE of the runner’s two feet was studied (the “intervention” foot; the opposite foot was not studied).
On the evening before the first day of racing, medical staff trained in application procedures plus an on-site researcher dried and brushed clean the intervention foot, then covered blister prone areas (directed by each individual runner according to his/her experience) with 2.5-cm (1-inch) 3M Micropore™ paper tape.
In roughly 3/4's of runners the blisters occurred at uncovered areas rather than underneath the paper tape; “paper tape had an absolute reduction of blister incidence of 40%”, according to the authors reported results.
Most of the study participants had 1 blister (78%), with the toes (50%) being the most common location, followed by the heel (23%). The greatest incidence of blister formation occurred early in the race (80% by stage 2) and on participants running in the wettest locations (Gobi and Madagascar). Blisters under the tape occurred early on (proof of the area being blister-prone) and those not under the tape developed towards the end of the event.
There was no correlation with blisters and Injinji brand™ socks (sock fabric separates the toes). The researchers thought this was likely because runners who wore them were not prone to getting blisters between the toes, so they did not direct the tape application to the toes. Forty-five percent of the compliant runners in the study wore Injinji socks; they “are popular among ultra-endurance runners”. The authors commented that “it seems reasonable to avoid the use of paper tape on the toes with Injinji™ socks.”
Why worry so much about blisters, other than they’re obviously painful and the pain may cause you not to complete a race? The authors indicate that a more subtle effect of running with blister pain may be that it leads to changes in gait, “which can exacerbate underlying injuries.”
Although runners claiming that sprains and other muscle injuries were the reason for withdrawing from a race, the researchers theorized that they “may in fact have blisters that are worsening these injuries. Military trainees with blisters were found to have a higher incidence of overuse injuries, particularly to their knees and ankles, and those with blisters were 50% more likely to experience additional injuries”.
BOTTOM LINE: it’s worth the time and effort to try various preventative measures to avoid developing blisters, ESPECIALLY if they are a problem for you or tend to form under certain conditions (longer or wetter runs, or those in which you carry a pack) . You may want to investigate the 8 items listed in the “blister-busting” piece from Competitor.com, AS WELL AS PLAIN PAPER TAPE, which may be an inexpensive and readily available solution!
RUN, WALK, and RUCK HAPPY!
FORM DRILLS AND THRILLS
DRILLS, THRILLS, AND BONE STRENGTH All Earned Runs training plans include directions to perform dynamic and walking warm-ups prior to running. The dynamic warm-up is done before starting a 10-minute walking warm-up. For runners accustomed to lacing on shoes and immediately taking off at a decent clip once out the door, these advance preparations may seem unnecessary. HOWEVER, there’s even more to running preparation: FORM DRILLS, which elite runners and athletes in other sports perform.
A reason to do a dynamic ‘warm-up’ is, literally, to increase blood circulation and body temperature, thereby warming muscles, tendons and ligaments in preparation for further, more intense movement. Other reasons are to activate muscles and nerves and increase the range of motion (mobility) of joints. All relate to injury prevention.
The reason behind doing FORM DRILLS is improved performance. The article “The Basics of A-Skips” by Mario Fraioli for Competitor.com, explains that the purpose of this specific drill is to achieve “better running form, functional strength, and efficiency” by developing “lower-leg strength, encouraging knee lift, and promoting an efficient foot-strike.”
There’s NO RULE that says you MUST DO form drills, do ALL the drills, or do all in ONE session. Elite runners might do this, especially at the urging of a coach or trainer. Their careers are centered on winning races and staying strong and healthy. Your running life might be centered on doing your best and staying strong and healthy. How THRILLING, you have something in common with the elites!
Initially, to dip your toe into the water of form drills, try this ONE that Fraioli recommends (A-Skips; 30-50 meter lengths, repeated twice, 2-3 times/week). Then you can experiment with others.
A link in Fraioli’s piece takes readers to another set of drills, discussed by Brian Metzler, “Essential Form Drills for Speed and Efficiency”,* for Competitor.com. Try one or more of these if you mastered the A-Skip, and are ready and willing to do more.
Metzler recommends his routine be followed consistently 3-4 times per week, with an emphasis placed on “CONSISTENTLY”. This number happens to be the times that a training plan is likely to incorporate speed work or runs that are not deemed “easy”: speed drills, intervals, tempo runs, hills. Perfect situations in which runners would benefit from starting off with, ”key muscles firing for faster running”.
Earned Runs has found by searching the medical literature that an ADDITIONAL benefit to be gained from performing these drills is improved BONE HEALTH AND STRENGTH, important to runners of all ages and both genders
This is a larger topic that will be discussed in a later blog post. Look for it next week.
This week, take a crack at learning just the one form drill, A-skips, that Mario Fraioli recommends. Try to be consistent in performing it before each speed workout and after longer easy runs. Check out the other drills that Brian Metzler writes about. Perhaps a couple will be more easily introduced initially into your warm-up routine, and the others can be added later.
What’s yet another THRILLING benefit of doing form drills? The body is the form of you the world sees. An improved running form can translate into an improved walking, standing, and sitting form. Add increased functional strength, and you have potentially forged a body that looks, feels, and functions better.
*NOTES: Here's a list for quick reference; read the article for specifics.
Butt Kicks: do 15 kicks with each leg; repeat 2-4 times
High Knees: do 15 kicks with each leg; repeat 2-4 times
Bounding: do 10 bounds on each leg; repeat 3-4 times
Grapevines: 50-meter length (about 50 yards) toward right then left; repeat 2-4 times
Slow Skipping: 50-meter length (about 50 yards); repeat 2-4 times
Lateral Bounding: 50-meter length (about 50 yards) toward right then left; repeat 2-4 times
Hamstring Extensions: do 10 extensions on each leg; repeat 2-4 times
Straight leg Shuffle: 50-meter length (about 50 yards); repeat 2-4 times
Running Backward: 50-100-meter length (about 50-100 yards); repeat 2-4 times
RUNNING SONGS OF SUMMER
SUMMER THEME MUSIC PLAYLIST
There are quite a few songs with “summer” in the title or lyrics, or have this theme. More than 100 over the decades fit into this category. But not all have a regular beat that make them easy to take on a run.
It’s commonly recommended that the best tunes to help runners pump up the pace possess rhythms with a high number of beats per minute (140-180 BPM range). However I haven’t ever paid attention to that number in the summer and added music that would provide good company on long hours+ runs.
My music playlist building skills are not top notch. But love of summertime running has motivated me over the years to collect summer- themed songs, most of which are oldies because they hold a beat and are energizing and fun. Some of the magic of this season lies in our expectations and fond recall of the best, and sometimes worst, summers of our past (“Cruel Summer” has been my #1 favorite for years…I almost always spent my teen summers working at horrid jobs).
These songs are evocative of my summers.
Please contribute your favorites.
RUNNING IN THE HEAT
HOT ZONE TRAINING (updated June 7, 2017) Temperatures are rising and, rather than to avoid snow, sleet or cold rain, our excuses for not running will shift, sometimes quickly, to those involving the avoidance of hot and humid weather conditions.
Although it’s tough to run outdoors these times, the increased physical demands on the body represent circumstances in which you are training harder and can come out of the summer “heat” season as a stronger autumn racer. Matt Fitzgerald has some good advice on how to successfully train in hot weather.
To understand the science behind his advice some of you may wish to first read Tawnee Prazak’s article, “ 5 Reasons Heat Affects Performance”. Generally, Fitzgerald’s advice includes how to cool before and stay cool during runs, adjust your running to allow for the physical effects of heat, and above all be alert to danger signs the body sends when heat becomes a problem.
Earned Runs summer strategies complement what Matt Fitzgerald recommends. Just as there are ways to deal with harsh winter weather there are similar tricks to summer running that can keep you safe and allow you to persevere with your training plan.
Map out a running route that 1) incorporates small “loops”, 2) maximizes shade and cool breezes, and 3) minimizes exposure to direct sunlight. However be mindful that if you rise early or wait until late to run to avoid the heat, low-light times of the day require extra attention to safety..
Find a 'loop' on a street of a neighborhood or park where you can readily seek help if needed, the traffic is low, and your line of sight is clear to detect potential danger. A shorter loop, about a half mile distance or so, will be easier to find than a longer loop of a mile or more.
If you cannot run before the sun rises or after it sets (you get a late weekend start or take a weekday lunch break to exercise), especially if it’s a long-distance workout, running multiple short loops in shaded or breezy areas can be a more comfortable option. Or running short out-and-backs on a linear route with the same qualities.
To stay near to a central safe point (car or building), I will start at that point, run “out” in one direction, turn around and run “back” to the start. Then run an “out-and-back” in the opposite direction, again retuning to the central start, repeating this centered linear ’loop’ as many times as needed for the miles I plan to run.
I am also a fan of parking structure loops. These buildings often have open walls and are well ventilated. In a big city, air movements through 'street canyons' can result in gusting winds that whip up breezes, depending on their location and orientation. Possibly the structure you avoided in the winter for this very reason is the one to seek out in summer! Those in which cars remain for the entire day will have the least traffic.
More benefits of loops: you can easily cut short your run should the heat cause more stress than anticipated, and you can stash fluids in one spot and hydrate liberally as needed during each circuit.
Running as uncovered as possible may not be the best strategy. Wearing light-colored, loose-fitting tops with sleeves that at least shield the shoulders can decrease the heat generated from direct sun exposure on the skin, especially in less humid conditions. A light-colored vented hat with a visor will keep direct sun off the head and face, and help lessen vision strain, even if you wear sunglasses; one with a neck flap offers more protection. Light-colored loose–fitting shorts may not always be figure flattering but will be cooler than black spandex.
Tie a white or light colored long-sleeved 100% cotton shirt around your waist. You can use it to wipe sweat from your face during your run. Afterward, in the cool-down walk or jog, you may feel uncomfortably cool when you stop generating heat. If you pass through or stop to get a snack/meal in air-conditioned buildings or drive in an air-conditioned car to get to your loop course, you’ll feel cooler on the return trip. If the sun is too much for you on a run, you can use the shirt in the middle of it as cover.
If you partially fill a bottle/container (about halfway) and put it in the freezer well before your run, at home or at work, you can top off the ice with fluid before you start out, and it will thaw gradually and provide you with a cooling drink for the duration of a mid-day run. The ice in a completely filled container may not thaw fast enough for you to drink while you run; the added fluid hastens the thawing process. Drink cool, iced fluids about 15-20 minutes before you start out; this allows time for a restroom visit, and for gastric emptying and absorption to occur (it’s delayed with cold fluids). If you replace electrolytes or fuel with a gel or gummies during longer runs rather than with a drink, take them with you too.
Liberally apply a barrier sunscreen (zinc oxide/titanium dioxide based, advertised for babies or for sensitive skin) to your entire face and neck at home each morning. You are likely to achieve better coverage if you do it before dressing. Re-apply before you start out on a run. Although this application may leave you with a not-so-attractive facial look, you’ll come back sweaty anyway. Best to protect yourself from harmful rays that speed aging and increase cancer risk. Runners spend so much time outdoors we receive more facial exposure than indoor types.
Make sure you have sufficient cash for unexpected needs and emergencies (to buy a drink or food, or catch a ride if you don’t use on-demand services).
IDENTITY PROOF AND RAIN PHONE PROTECTION
Make sure you have easily accessible identity and emergency contact information with you, even if carrying a phone. Llight summer running clothes won’t shield your phone from water when surprised by heavy rain. If bad weather threatens, have a quart-sized freezer bag handy to protect it; the bag can be used to stash cash and a business card with written ID info. I’ve carried one during downpours in my hand,
There’s nothing wrong with taking regular walk breaks during very hot weather runs. If you mentally make this allowance a rule for summer running, it may result in fewer skipped sessions!
Enjoy the SUMMER weather and….
"7 Hot Weather Training Tips" by Matt Fitzgerald
“5 Reasons Heat Affects Performance” by Tawnee Prazak
TODAY WE HONOR FATHERS!
Dads; we love them for their weaknesses as much as for their strengths.
WEEK 4: RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA
WEEK 4 RUN-WALK ACROSS AMERICA 2017 STARTS MONDAY
(this is an early posting because we will honor Father's Day tomorrow)
Segment 7: Kooskia ID to Lolo MT
Segment 8: Lolo MT to Missoula MT
Segment 9: Missoula MT to Helena MT
SEGMENT 7: Kooskia ID to Lolo MT
Lolo Pass, on the border between the states of Idaho and Montana, elevation 5,233 feet (1,595 meters), is a mountain pass through the Bitterroot Range of the northern Rocky Mountains, approximately 40 miles (64 km) west-southwest of Missoula, Montana.
It’s the highest point of the historic 200 mile long Lolo Trail a national Historical Landmark that is part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park. The Trail was used by the Lewis and Clark Expeditions of 1805 and 1806 and runs, westbound, between Lolo, MT and the beautiful Weippe Prairie in Idaho (a bit north of Kooskia ID). The Across America route is headed eastbound so we will travel from the prairie to Lolo.
This segment route follows historic US Highway 12, which crosses the pass and winds along the Lochsa River (pronounced “lock-saw”). This river is considered to have one of the worlds’ best and most dangerous stretches of continuous whitewater. It runs within the Clearwater National Forest. Lolo Hot Springs is 7 miles (11 km) east of the pass in Montana.
SEGMENT 8: Lolo MT to Missoula MT
This is a short downhill segment from Lolo Pass into the town of Missoula, Montana, home of the state’s first public university, the University of Montana. The city lies near the convergence of two rivers and five mountain ranges; thus, it is sometimes referred to as the “hub of five valleys”. If you’d like to know what life was like there early in the 20th century, you can read the 1976 book authored by Norman Maclean “A River Runs Through It” (see NOTE below for the Earned Runs connection to Maclean) The 1992 movie version was filmed in Bozeman, Livingston, and parts of Yellowstone, although the book's setting is Missoula.
SEGMENT 9: Missoula MT to Helena MT
Interstate-90 will take us from Missoula back to US 12 and then on to the capital city of Montana. Helena was established in 1864 as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush, although the original name given to it by gold miners was “Last Chance.” Today the city and surrounding area draws outdoor sports enthusiasts who enjoy mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and skiing.
Drivers may be interested in knowing that within Montana, according to a Wikipedia item, “in the period between 1995 and 1999, there was no numbered speed limit on I-90 “. Drivers were instructed to drive what was a “reasonable and prudent” speed!
Because I-90 is a transcontinental roadway that connects, from west to east, Seattle WA and Boston MA, farther east it passes through several large cities: Chicago IL, Cleveland OH, and Buffalo NY. Montana boasts the longest stretch of this major highway, about 551 miles (887 km). Next week we will resume travel on I-90 from Bozeman to Columbus MT.
NOTE: ONE OF THE REASONS THIS BICYCLE TOUR ROUTE was chosen to be adapted for a virtual path across the continent for runners and walkers (cyclists too), was that some of the segments passed though the state of Montana.
I love the movie, “A River Runs Through It”, which is based on the story written by author Norman F. Maclean. Panoramic vistas in the movie had been filmed in Montana and, to me, these kinds of sweeping scenes represented what I hoped to encounter on a huge cross-country trip, even if virtual, and would justify the effort expended to complete a summer long challenge. Way back in 1992, I bought the DVD (that’s what we did in the old days) and read the author’s other book “Young Men and Fire”.
A chance encounter about 20 years ago forged another connection between me and this region of the US. I happened to be seated next to a famous researcher at a pediatric pathology conference, who was leader of the team that first identified the existence atherosclerosis in the aortas of young adolescents. Prior to this research, it was felt that the disease had its origins at a much older age. However, autopsies on young people, who had died in tragic accidents with no clinical evidence of cardiovascular disease, revealed its silent origins much earlier in life than was thought possible. The results helped start the discussion about prevention in childhood.
The elegant elderly gentleman pathologist who headed the research was from the University of Chicago. He related details of the study to me at dinner, and from this conversation I was inspired to study the pediatric origins of adult disease in my own little area of research.
We also talked about other famous scholars who came out of U of Chicago, It happened that this researcher’s office mate at one time was NORMAN MACLEAN!!! (the ‘Norman’ character in the movie went off to join the faculty U of C: It was an autobiographical novella). I will always remember that conversation; the famous modest pathologist telling me all about his more famous humble friend, who loved to fly fish.
And that’s the Earned Runs connection to Montana that made this particular tour appealing as a virtual journey for runners and walkers. This week we venture into that state!
Wissler RW. USA multicenter study of the pathobiology of atherosclerosis in youth. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1991; 623:26–39 (PDF download if you are interested)
IN QUEST OF A BQ?
"BEST BETS FOR A BOSTON QUALIFIER" A RaceRaves.com article written by Mike Sohaskey identifies races most likely to lead to a qualifiying finish time that provides eligibility to run in the Boston Marathon, also known as a Boston Qualifier or “BQ”.
“Luckily for runners”, the item says, “in recent years the call of the unicorn has prompted more and more race directors to tailor their events to BQ hopefuls.” If you are not familiar with the Boston Athletic Association’s logo for the marathon, It’s a yellow profile of a unicorn against a blue background.
“With that in mind,” the RaceRaves writer says the organization has “done its homework/legwork to create a list of recommended BQ races”, that are held from the moment the marathon is run on Marathon Monday in April to the September closing day for registration in next year’s event. Another list for the remainder of the year is promised to be issued soon.
The Race Raves article provides information on race location, month held, course profile as well as insight into what about the race helps runners to earn a BQ and what makes it worth running. For some races, the percent of runners who earn a BQ is quoted. Sohaskey’s article is a wonderful service to those inspired to attempt this challenge in 2018 or beyond.
The list includes races that are part of a series, and those that are stand-alone marathons:
REVEL: Mt. Charleston, Rockies, Big Cottonwood
Sugarloaf Marathon and 15K
Mountains 2 Beach Marathon and Half
Utah Valley Marathon
Tunnel Marathons: Light at the End of the Tunnel, Tunnel Vision, Tunnel Light
Santa Rosa Marathon
Erie Marathon at Presque Isle
Last Chance 26.2 BQ: Grand Rapids, and Chicagoland (Geneva IL)
Even if you’re not in the market for a BQ, the ‘skinny’ on these marathons and accompanying events, makes this piece a valuable tool for destination race planning.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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