Wednesday, May 30, 2012

YBS' Amazing, Slightly Boring, But Very Beneficial Running Strength Workout

I recently hit up my hubs  (YBS) - a former varsity decathlete, marine and runner - for some advice on strength training for distance running. He has run marathons, which tend to look easy when you compare it with some of the 20 mile training jogs he would do in the marine corps (with 200 lbs of gear on his back). He knows a thing or two about running a long ways. I have combined this with research I have done and advice I have gleaned from other runners, to develop a set of strength exercises that will (hopefully!) keep me running long, fast and injury free.

The general consensus about running strength routines - especially for distance running - is that they should be relatively light. If your muscles are burning and you can barely finish a rep, then you're probably doing them wrong. At the end of an exercise the targeted muscle groups should be fatigued, but not hurting.
The weights I used were specific to my height and weight. I am fairly strong, but the key here is to provide enough resistance to make the exercises work, but not so that they are nearly impossible to get through. While I get that women lifting heavy weights is sototallyinfitnessfashion, the key for runners is high reps and lighter weight. This is not even really a workout, and it can be rather boring, but a little commitment to strength goes a long way to preventing injury, which prevents runng. Yay for boring stuff that keeps us running!

Finally, acccording to the hubs, the order here is important; you are working from the major muscle groups to the smaller muscle groups. I try to do the first five exercises (in order) twice a week, and then the core or the weightless options after I run, or whenever I can fit them in (especially if I cannot get to the gym).

Forward lunges
Works: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings,
Weights: 15lb weights in each hand
Reps: 3 x 13-20 reps
Form: Holding weights by your sides, take a step forward so your feet are a a couple of feet apart, feet facing forwardt. Lower intoo a regular lunge, making sure each leg is forming a 90 degree angle (square) when you go down. Keep feet straight ahead and back straight. Take two seconds to go down. Touch your knee lightly to the floor. 1 second to go up.

Good Mornings
Works: hamstrings, glutes
Weights: 7lb in each hand
Reps: 3 x 13-20
Form: stand straight, knees slightly bent. With an arched back, lean forward, pushing your bum out, dropping your hands in front of you. When you reach around 90 degree angle to the floor, you should start to feel a pull on your hamstrings and glutes. Go a bit further, but as soon as your back starts to straighten, pull up to standing position. This feels more like a stretch than an exercise, but it works your hammies and glutes very well. It also looks extraordinarily daft.

Leg Extensions
Weights: I use a machine for this one, and use the lowest weight setting. See below* for a machine-less option.
Reps: 3x13-20
Form: This machine enables you to sit down, and tuck your feet behind a large bar. You then move your lower legs from this 90 degree sitting position, and raise the bar to where they are straight out in front on you.

Lateral Squats
Works: Quads (especially inner), glutes, hamstrings
Weights: none
Reps: 3x13-20 on each side
Form: Take a large step diagonally, into a side lunge. The reason you take it diagonally is doing a side lunge directly outward will ensure that your knee lands well past your toes – a big form no-no! Taking it diagonally allows you to get a deep squat/side lunge, while keeping your knee above your toes, and your leg at right angles to the floor. Step as far as you can without overbalancing. Keep feet straight ahead. Keeping your back straight, lean forward into the squat [I usually keep my arms in a sort of boxing pose, with fists out, for balance]. Use your bending leg –quad and glute – to push you back up to standing position. Lunge for two seconds, and recover for 1 second.

 Calf Raises / Dips
Works: Calf muscles (v. helpful for the obstreperous Achilles tendon)
Weights: 15lbs on one side (you could do this with lighter weight on each side, but you may need to hold onto something to balance)
Reps: 3x13-20
Form: on any kind of step/chair/bench stand on the edge with both heels hanging over the side. Lower your body weight down, so your heels dip below the level of the step, then raise so that you are on your tippy toes. Keep your knees straight and flex your quads. Swap weight between your hands.

Plank: Get into a push-up position. Make sure your shoulders are directly above your hands, your back is straight and your butt is not sticking up (your body should create a straight line). Hold for 30 seconds, or as long as you can.

Lumbar plank: Lie on your side. Lift your body up with the arm closest to the ground, until it is straight. Then lift your hips off the floor so that your body is straight and only your one hand and feet are touching the floor. Hold for a few seconds and lower your hips down again. Repeat 15 times on each side.

Oblique Bends: In a standing position hold 7-10lb weight at your side. Bending at the waist, lower the weight toward the floor. You should feel a pull in your oblique. Be careful not to stick your hip out. Bend until you feel the pull in your obliques and bring it up again. Repeat 3x13-20 times on each side.

 Weightless Options
These are weightless options I have found in my research. You can use them to change things up, or if you’re injured. You can do a quick round of these before going to bed or after a run, to get a little bit of strength without having to stay in the gym for hours.

Clam Shells (I call these Hullo Boys):
Works: Hip adductors and abductors
Form: laying on your side, bend your knees and bring them forward so they are at about a 45 degree angle to your body. Raise your top knee/leg into the air (still bent in the same position) and hold at about a 60 degree angle for 3 seconds. Lower and repeat.
Reps: 3x15 on each side.

Lateral Leg Lifts:
Works: Hip adductors (inner thigh), hip abductors (outer hip), hip flexors and glutes.
Laying on your side, raise one leg straight into the air, knee facing forward as high as it can go. Hold for 1-2 seconds and lower until it is just above the leg on the floor.
Reps: 3x15 on each side.

 Side step-ups:
Works: Quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings
Form: Stand next to a chair or bench. Step up onto the bench with the leg closest to it, so you’re standing on it. Raise the other knee up to form a right angle to your body. Lower that leg to step down again.
Reps: 3x 15 on each side.

 Straight Leg Lifts
*Works: This is a good option for a machine-less leg extension (above) (albeit slightly less effective, because of the lack of weight). Works the quads, particular the inner medial quad that stabilizes the knee cap.
Form: two options:
(a) lying flat on your back, one leg bent with that foot flat on the floor. Keeping the other leg straight, lift it to around 75 degree angle to the ground, hold for 3 seconds lower to 10 degrees and repeat; or
(b) (to really target that inner quad) place a 6-12inch foam roller, or equivalent hard, round object (TWSS) beneath both of your knees. Lying flat on your back, raise your lower legs until your legs are straight and just resting on the roller. Hold for 3 seconds, and lower. Repeat either of these as many times as you want.
Reps: 3x15 on each side.

VMO Dips
Works: Another good weightless option for quads, especially that inner medial quad again.
Form: Stand on  a step (anything raised more than about 6 inches) on one foot, with the other in mid-air. Bend the knee of the leg on the step, lowering the leg in the air to the floor, heel first. Straighten the knee slowly and bring the lowered leg back up to standing position.
Repeat: 3x15 on each side.

*****Please keep in mind that I am neither a trained medical professional, nor a fitness instructor. All of the above works for me, and my running routine and you may be in need of something entirely different. Talk to your doctor, physcial therapist or fitness professional before starting any new fitness routine!*****

#LR1 Penny

Monday, May 28, 2012

LR#1 Week of Wily, Wonderful and Woop-ass Workouts

May 20-26
Sunday: 10 miles progression; an easy pace (8:30-9) with the last 3 miles at 7:45-8mins/mile.
Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 3 miles easy + Insanity Cardio Power and Balance (fairly intense whole body-weight workout)
Wednesday: Easy run: 6 miles
Thursday: Rest - where is LR#1, and who is this imposter who is being kind to her body, and making good long-term decisions for her running health, rather than going balls to the walls until injury inevitably strikes??? Also, this new chick writes unreasonably long sentences.
Friday: 8 mile progression run at San Diego harbor; about 8:30, progressing to 7:45-8mins per mile in the last three miles.

Saturday: 65 mins elliptical + the hub's amazing running strength routine (actually its really boring, but its doing good things for your body. Kind of like brocolli.)

Sunday: Long run at about 9 mins/mile. This. Felt. Slow. As. Ass. I didnt even feel like I got a workout! But I was totally good, and tucked my endorphins back in my pocket for when I really need them.

Monday: Like for today! But this workout is for next week. I know, the anticipation and excitement for these posts rivals that of the next Hunger Games movie. What can we say, we're awesome. :)

LR#2 Weekly Wrap Up: 25 miles

Somewhat of a taper week this week to give my legs a little rest before the San Diego Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon next weekend. Took down the miles and the intensity and took a few more rest days. I kept myself from running too fast by hitting the trails where it takes a lot of effort to go faster than an 8:00 pace, compared to running on the pavement.

Monday: complete rest. 

Tuesday: 6 miles on the treadmill; core strength training. 

Wednesday: complete rest.

Thursday: 5 miles on trails in Balboa Park, intervals on hills and stairs; yoga. 

Friday: 30 minutes elliptical, intervals; upper body strength training. 

Saturday: 7 mile easy run in Solana Beach and trails in San Dieguito Lagoon; tennis.

Sunday: 7 mile easy run in Solana Beach and trails in San Elijo Lagoon.

The lagoons were green from the spring rains and filled with wildflowers! 

Del Mar Fairgrounds from the San Dieguito River Trail
San Elijo Lagoon


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Traveling Runner

(Garmin charger, not pictured, lesson learned!)
Sign of a dedicated runner: 50% of suitcase devoted to running gear.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last Week's Weekly Roundup of the Week

May 13th-19th

Sunday: 50 mins elliptical intervals. Today the hubs took me to a gym, and taught me all his strength training and weight exercises for distance running. Yessssss. Sometimes its annoying having a husband who knows everything and is a great athlete along with being good at everything he does. Other times, its awesome :)

Monday: 3 miles easy run along San Diego Harbor; Insanity Core Cardio and Balance (light cardio with a good amount of core and upper body strength). Bonus: Shaun T's biceps.

Tuesday: Complete rest. I took my own advice from last week, and didnt push it. 10 points to #LR1.

Wednesday: Eff resting. 7 mile fartlek run wtih 6x50 seconds at 10K pace. Im still figuring out where that actual pace is. Somewhere between 7-7:30 possibly? Who knows.
Thursday: 6 miles easy.
Friday: I was scheduled to do an 8 mile progression run. Feeling a bit sore from Wednesday, I opted for 70 miserable minutes on the elliptical instead (roughly the equivalent physical effort of the 8 miler; roughly double the mental anguish). I did 5 mins warmup, 2 mins hard, 1 min easy for 30 minutes, 3 mins easy, then 1 min hard, 1 min easy for the rest of the time, with 5 mins warmdown.

Saturday: 5 miles easy + strength training, with the routine the hubs showed me. Will share soon when I can be bothered writing it down..

#LR1 Penny

Sunday, May 20, 2012

LR#2 Weekly Wrap Up: 29 miles

This week I added some light speed training back into my workouts with two progression runs, where I did 80% of the run at a base pace (1/2 marathon pace), and the last 20% of the run fast (10K pace). This is the first speed training I've done since the foot injury.

Monday (5/14): 1:1 intervals on the elliptical, 30 minutes; upper body strength training.

Tuesday (5/15): 5.78 mile progression run in Central Park at 7:25 average pace.

Wednesday (5/16): complete rest.

Thursday (5/17): 3.63 easy run through Balboa Park at 7:50 average pace.

Friday (5/18): 2:1 intervals on the elliptical, 20 minutes; core strength training; 30 minute yoga class.

Saturday (5/19): 5.0 mile progression run at Lake Miramar at 7:21 average pace.

Sunday (5/20): 15 mile long run at 8:00 average pace in Mission Bay Park.

Lake Miramar

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Running Central Park

I get lost very easily, so when I am running in a new spot, I try to keep it simple (and carry my iPhone). The first time I ran Central Park, I stuck to the loop road that runs all the way from the south end of the park at 59th Street to 110th Street to the north. (Stay on the loop road by following the bike path. Bikes are not allowed on any other path in the park.) This long loop is 6 miles.

As I became more adventurous, I started adding loops to my loop road route. I discovered that there are a series of “cross town trails” (my term) that connect with the loop road, each of which makes a smaller loop. There are 7 smaller loops within the big loop. Plus there is a bridle trail that roughly parallels the loop road, most of the way. 

Map adapted from Central Park app for iPhone. This is a simplified map; there are many more side trails.

The southern-most cross town trail goes by the Carousel (1). 

The next loop goes around Sheep Meadow (2).

The Sheep Meadow on a gorgeous spring Sunday afternoon.

Then the next by Belvedere Castle and The Lake (3).

The Lake

Then around the Great Lawn (4).

Then the Reservoir (5). The Reservoir itself is loop of 1.58 miles. This is my favorite place to run in the park and is probably the most iconic run in NYC. From the northern edge of the Reservoir, there is an epic view of the NYC skyline.

Skyline from the Reservoir.

Then the North Meadow loop (6).

And finally the North Woods loop (7).

Wander freely, add loops, and you won't get lost!

Getting there: I usually find the main loop road by entering the park at 59th St. and 8th Ave. But you can find it from every single point of entrance in to the park.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Discovery Park, Seattle

Discovery Park in Seattle is an old military base now open to the public. It sits at the tip of a peninsula overlooking the Puget Sound. The main trail in Discovery Park is the Loop Trail, which is about 3 or 3.5 miles around. The trails in Discovery Park are very well marked; even I could not get lost in there!

The Loop Trail takes you through dense forest near the visitor’s center.

It looks like Twilight could have been filmed in here.

And along the cliffs overlooking the sound.

And through flat, grassy meadows.

[Meadows are not very photogenic.]

I also took a side trip on the beach trail that leads down the cliffs (lots of stairs) to an old light house.

And along the beach. This ain’t no SoCal beach! The beach was very narrow, rocky, and was covered with enormous drift wood trees. Down and back to the lighthouse on the beach trail adds another 1.5 miles.

Route on Runkeeper, about 4.75 miles.

Getting there:  Bus #33 (catch it on 4th from downtown) straight into the park. The visitor’s center is close to the stop at 36th & Government. Bus fare is $2.00-$2.50 depending on the time of the day. You need exact change.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This pain is your reward!

Marc Parent
The Newbie Chronicles
If you don't want to discover your pain threshold, don't run with a Navy SEAL
Runners World
May 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rest Days

They're hard to take; especially when you've recovered from injury and you're ramping back up. Even harder are unscheduled rest days. Diverging from a training plan can be daunting and irritating.

But they're important, MOST especially when increasing mileage or embarking on a new training plan.

Yesterday I ran an easy 3 miles at well over 9 min pace, and then did a core cardio and balance workout (from the recovery week of insanity). While neither workout was intense, my body felt heavy and achey, likely pains from increasing mileage. Looking back on last week, I probably did not take enough rest. Even my "rest day" contained a fairly hefty strength workout.

Because my main focus is staying injury free while increasing mileage, I need to be utterly vigilant when my muscles and bones begin giving me those "pre-injury" signals. 

But rest days are also emotionally and mentally important. A day of rest, in my faith, is a day to take stock, give thanks for the blessings in your life, and spend time with the people you love.  Acknowledging internally that it's ok to take a rest day from running is a struggle; but one worth fighting. I know I'll be thanking myself later this week when my body feels strong and rested. But its also good knowing that today, I'll have a little bit of extra time to catch up on some work, to spend time with my gorgeous husband, and to give thanks for having two legs and being able to run in the first place.

#LR1 Penny

Monday, May 14, 2012

. . . if I hadn't been so fit and strong from running.

Alex Solis, Jockey
Runner's World 
June 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

LR#2 Weekly Wrap Up: 33 miles in Seattle, San Diego, and New York

Monday (5/7): 5.46 miles at 9:00 pace. An easy run to recover from the weekend deep sand running. Flat, dirt trail/sidewalk along Seattle’s waterfront.

Tuesday (5/8): 4.75 miles at 10:00 pace. Sightseeing run through Seattle’s Discovery Park. Mostly dirt trail, lots of hills and stairs.

Wednesday (5/9): Total rest.

Thursday (5/10): 1 hour intense yoga.

Friday (5/11): 3.58 miles at 7:50 pace. Medium intensity run. Sidewalk/trail in Balboa Park, lots of hills, stairs.

Saturday (5/12): 15.0 miles at 8:00 pace. Long, hard run on the 101 from Torrey Pines to Swamis and back.

Sunday (5/13): 4.75 miles at 9:43 pace. Recovery run, wandering through Central Park in NYC.

Routes on my Runkeeper page


Saturday Run In the Sun

Is there anything better than a Saturday run at the beach?
Its a tough bloody life. 
 Yesterday's run was an 8 mile progression run; the week's "long run". Im in a sort of base-training, foundational period right now, after The Injuries. Yes, they're significant enough to necessitate capitalization.

Thus my mileage build-up (unlike LR#2 - woohoo for 15 miles yesterday!) is very slow, as is the pace at which I am doing most of my runs. While lacking speed and a true long run is frustrating, it can be very comforting to put in those lazy miles, feeling no pain, in the knowledge that your body is just happy to build slowly.

I ran a little faster than I should have in the easy portion of the run, and slightly slower than I expected in the progression ("moderate") portion; around miles 6-8. However, I was going up hill in the last two miles, so it felt more like a 7:45 effort.

SplitAvg Pace

 To wrap up the week's workouts!

May 6-12, 2012
  • Sunday: 45 mins elliptical intervals (5 mins warm up, 2 mins hard, 1 min easy, 5 mins warmdown) and strength training
  • Monday: 5 miles easy + 3 hill sprints (Balboa Park)
  • Tuesday: 8 miles fartlek run (easy + 6x40 seconds at 3K-10K pace)
  • Wednesday: strength train (overdid it; was sore for days!)
  • Thursday: 8 miles easy + 4 hill sprints (San Diego harbor)
  • Friday: Elliptical 45 mins
  • Saturday: 8 miles easy progression run, with 20 mins moderate
 #LR1 Penny

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hello Long Run, I'm Back

My injury is officially over. The foot feels back to 100%, and I don’t have any little aches and pains lingering from overcompensating and losing flexibility during my 2 week injury period.  While I was injured, I continued to stretch and do yoga daily, and even had some intense stretch/yoga sessions at the gym, but nevertheless, my calves turned to rocks. Then when I took my first short run, my IT band became tight, and pulled on my left outer knee, probably due to imbalances created by limping around. 

But after some hard work on flexibility, I am mostly balanced again . . . so TIME FOR A LONG RUN, HOORAY!

I ran a 15 miler from Torrey Pines to Swamis Beach and back.  And it felt great. Back to my old running self . . . almost!

The route is mostly flat.  A straight shot up the 101 through Del Mar, 

Solana Beach,

and Cardiff.

At mile 11, I was feeling pretty spent. And at that point, I was running by my house. (Only 4 more miles, that’s just 32 more minutes . . . I know better than to present the counterarguments to myself!) But I stayed on and finished!  I was thankful that mile 14 in Del Mar was completely downhill!

My perceived effort level on this run was probably at an 8 of 10.  I’ve done this distance and this very route before with less difficulty.  So I could have lost some fitness.  But it could have been a thousand other things:  it was hot (70 F) and sunny and the middle of the day, I didn’t use any Gu, I probably didn’t eat enough, I got up early, I worked for 4 hours before running, and etc.

I am just glad to be back!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Joy Run

Some days I run to train--speed, endurance, miles. Other days I run to feel joy. Today's run was a joy run. I had no particular speed or distance in mind. No Garmin, no Runkeeper audio cues, no limits. Just me, my shoes, and one goal:  run to feel good.

Lunch time, 70 degrees, sunny, out of the office, my favorite route through Balboa Park, about 30 minutes, about 3.6 miles, about 7:50 pace, life's good.

Mission accomplished. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cinqo De Runno

My training schedule had me down for an 8 mile progression run on Saturday - Cinqo de Mayo. After a few injuries, and a hard run during Ragnar, Im being cautious about long or hard runs. A progression run takes you on a medium-long distance at an easy pace, with the last 20 minutes or so at moderate-race pace preferrably on a hill. This is a perfect run when you're building up distance or speed after time out; its building slowly, giving you a good workout while keeping risk of injury low.

I usually run fasted if Im running around an hour or so, so I downed a coffee to get "things" rolling, then headed out.
I stopped in at Road Runners to change out my Mizunos to a half-size bigger. Note: I usually run in an 8.5s (Asics) but Mizuno Inspire 8s have a slightly turned up toe and narrower toe box. This makes for a really smooth mid-foot/heel to toe transition, but also means my big toe was bumping uglies with the end of the shoe. Gotta hand it to Roadrunners; they do have a grand return policy. Also grabbed a packet of lollies Clif Shot Blocks just cos, and chomped one before heading down to Cardiff by the Sea for my run.

The route is beautiful.

My aim for this run was to keep an easy pace for 6-7 miles and run the last 15 minutes at a moderate pace. According to the McMillan Calculator, my Easy Runs should be between 8:30 and 9:50 mins/mile, based on a 7:30 10K race pace. That 7:30 is an old time, but Im keeping to it at the moment, to be cautious.
This run, I did an 8:45min/mile average pace, but the first 6 miles I tried to keep at around 9 mins, the perfect long-run pocket. The last two miles or so were uphill, and I tried to crank it up, but stay feeling very comfortable where I could have held a conversation with someone. They came in at 7:50-8mins according to my garmin.
After sweating all over my car, and then my husband when I came home, I refueled on a ginormous smoothie: 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1/2 frozen banana, two handfulls of spinach, 1 packet stevia,  and loooooads of ice. Brain freeze!!!!!!!!!!!

LR #1 Penny

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Deep Sand Running

Coming off an injury this week--a bone bruise on my right foot, outer edge. I unexpectedly stepped into a hole running FAST at night on a dirt road during Ragnar. My last real run was April 21! I took nine days completely off--no cardio, no strength training. Only stretching. Doctor's advice.

Slowly ramped back up last week with a few stationary bike rides and the elliptical. It turns out that you CAN get a great workout from cardio activities other than running. TRUTH. I got my heart rate up over 160, believe it! Now it is not as satisfying as a good run. But it is an adequate substitute while on injury.

Finally, I was ready for the treadmill . . . I have never been so happy to treadmill as I was on Friday when I joyously ran 30 minutes and then had to peel myself off of the thing.

The foot felt good on the soft, safe treadmill. Still feeling a bit wary, I took to another soft surface for my weekend runs. Deep sand. Not the wet stuff. This is the deep, dry sand at the edge, edge, edge away from the water.

Deep sand running is a great transition from injury back to pavement. It is easier on the joints in some ways--soft surface, so less pounding. It is also IMPOSSIBLE to run fast or far. I usually lack the discipline to make myself run slow, and I can always talk myself into a 10 mile run when I set out for 5. Deep sand running is so hard . . . you won't be able to run even close to your warm-up pace. And I certainly wasn't even thinking about running extra miles! Still a short deep sand run takes a lot of effort and is therefore highly satisfying!

Saturday's scene was Coronado beach. I ran a 3.65 miler, which is the entire length of the beach (out and back) that is open to the public. Coronado is a great place for a beach run. The beach is wide and flat. Not to mention beautiful!

Coronado Beach, view of Point Loma
And historic!

Hotel Del Coronado
Sunday I went to Mission Beach for my second deep sand run. Another wide, flat beach. Ideal. Plus, the boardwalk is an option if the run gets too intense!

Mission Beach, view of Crystal Pier
I ran 4 miles on Mission Beach, but the beach goes on and on. Probably up to 8 miles as an out and back if you have it in you!

Coincidentally, I ran both of my deep sand runs at an average pace of 9:34, a pace far slower than even my warm-up or cool-down pace. And 4 miles is normally a very easy run for me. But in the deep sand, it takes a lot of effort to power those legs! My perceived effort level was comparable to that of a 7:00 pace, which is my 10K race pace.

And I am definitely feeling my deep sand runs in the little tiny balancing muscles in the feet and lower legs. And the quads got a nice burn from powering through all that sand!

Routes available on my Runkeeper page: Coronado, Mission Beach.