Monday, March 29, 2010

Resistance Training for Runners to Prevent Injury, Run Faster and Further

This morning I was listening to one of my favorite new podcasts, the Runners Round Table.  The podcast from this morning was an old one, about resistance training.   I would recommend listening to it, as it has some advice that I think could become very helpful for runners looking set a PR at their next marathon or half-marathon.  Below is a post from the "expert" on the panel, Amelia Burton, all about resistance training and various exercises you can try to start out.
What’s your training program like? Do you focus on increasing your miles each week, maybe a bit of speed work here and there, and of course a token stretch at the end of each session? Well hats off to you because unlike 85% of the population at least you are doing something! But whether you are an amateur runner or a competitive athlete, adding a resistance session each week might just be the thing you need to take your further, faster and with fewer injuries.  This article looks at the reasoning behind resistance training for runners and identifies the top resistance training exercises all runners should do.
What is Resistance training for distance running?

Conventionally we think of resistance training as weights machines, dumbbells, slow movements and heavy weights (with lots of grunting).  Resistance training for runners is quite different. It’s about loading the muscles in a manner that replicates running to improve their strength power, endurance and most importantly coordination. It’s about identifying the weaker muscles in the body and developing them to prevent injury. It is NOT about building unnecessary bulk or damaging already fatigued tissue and I must stress that incorrect resistance training can tighten you up and slow you down.

What purpose does it serve?

There are four key areas that resistance training will help you with: Speed, muscular endurance, efficiency of running technique, and injury prevention.

  •  Increase strength of your prime movers for speed and distance: The stronger your quads, glutes and hamstrings are the faster your will go and the longer you will be able to maintain your pace. Obviously nothing beats running to strengthen these,  but resistance work involving sprints, uphill and downhill running improve their strength much faster.
  • Prevents injury by Increase strength of your stabilisers: Your prime movers can only work as hard as your stabilisers will allow. It doesn’t matter how strong/fit you are, if you have poor hip knee and ankle stability, you will never reach your full potential in both speed and endurance.
  • Increase coordination: Similar to stability, the faster you fatigue the sooner your coordination goes. Look at a distance athlete and how smooth their running style is. That is good coordination. All muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint actions are working in smooth unison to create effortless strides. The more fatigued you get the worse these actions interrelate creating a less economical stride which slows you down and increases your chance of injury.
  • Increase stride length: As you fatigue, your stride naturally shortens, your muscles tighten and you slow down. By increasing your stride length (within reason) you can maintain a faster pace and waste less energy through excessive foot strikes.

Two Training Programs for Runners

Core Stability for Runners
Click here for a printable program you can take to the park/oval for your resistance session. Ideally you will need a stop watch and a skipping rope, but exercises can be performed without them.

Click here for a printable program for Core Stability and VMO/Glute Activation. You will need a swiss ball and leg extension machine for these.

The below animations will help you understand the exercises in the programs. Familiarize yourself with these exercises before printing out your workout sheets:



Jumping on/off step

Plyometric Lunges


1. Start in a standing position and bend your knees and place your hands on the ground.
2. Extend your legs back into a push up position. Bring your knees back in towards chest and explosively jump in the air.
3. This should be a continuous motion and be fluid.
Walking Lunges (Hand weights optional)

Single Leg Squat (Try not to hold on and I prefer foot to balance in air not across other leg)
What are the best muscle balancing exercises for injury prone runners?

postit2 (2) 
Leg Extension: from 15-30degrees, toes turned out slightly, focusing on VMO activation. Light weight. 3 x 15-20 reps.

Lunges: Focus on the VMO of the front leg and glutes of the front leg. Keep your knees tracking straight and don’t let them internally rotate as you lower.

Core Stability exercises: Click here for a printable program 

1. Alternating Single Leg Bridge
3 x 15 reps
2.Double Leg Pike:
2 x 2 min

3. Alternate Arm Swings and Single Leg Raises
3 x 15 reps

4. Side Raises on Ball
3 x 12 each side
Click here for Printable resistance program. Click here for printable Core and VMO/Glute activation program
For more detailed core stability exercises,  click on my core stability four part series linked here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Guide to the Boston Marathon

Today we are 22 days until the 114th Boston Marathon!  While I won't be running Boston this year (or likely any year in the near future) I will be watching it on TV and I have a few friends that qualified so I wanted to make sure I shared a course guide that I have.  My sister ran the race back in 2008 as a charity runner, and her company helped train them and gave them a guide to the race.

I joined my sister at about mile 15-16 and helped run her in for the last 10 miles, the one piece of advice that I remember her repeating while I was with her was that you should not look at 13.1 as your halfway point in Boston.  The hills from 16-21 are all pretty brutal and, and don't think you are half way done until about mile 20, might sound a little strange but it seemed to help her.

I hope this guide to the course helps you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25th - Pacers Greenberry AM Run

Time: 46.37
Distance: 5.82
Pace: 8:00
Weather:  Entire course was dry
Temp: 47
Time: 5:00 AM
Terrain: Pretty flat except at the the end

I ran with Ken again this morning, he has become a really good running partner and we have definitely begun to push ourselves a little harder each run.  We seem to improve our time each run, but it doesn't seem like we are racing each other, we are just pushing each other to really know our ability.

The route starts on a downhill and when we were in Georgetown Ken noted that we were really booking it, our pace at that point was a 7:15.  I didn't notice that we purposely slowed up but we did lower our speed a little bit just so that we didn't kill ourselves.  When we were heading over Memorial Bridge the two of us were talking about pushing each other and trying to add a new test into our runs, doing things like adding part of the National Mall...I tricked him and got him to agree to add the second hill at the end before he realized I was committing him to it.

When we got to the base of all the hills we were at 4.2 miles in a time of 32:35 which is a pace of 7:45, over the next 1.5 miles when we were running purely up hills we killed out time a bit.  At our normal finishing point we had run 5.3 miles in 41:30, a pace of 7:49, not a bad drop if you ask me.  In the last half mile though, we definitely took a hit and lowered our pace to an 8 minute miles overall...although has the route at 5.95 miles which would put our pace at 7:47 a mile.

Want to race in April or May?

If you want to get into a race in April or May check out these great 5K's and even a half marathon!

March 24, 2010 - Short run around apt

Time: 23:06
Distance: 3.0
Pace: 7:42
Weather:  Sunny
Temp: 65ish
Time: 2:00 PM
Terrain: Flat

Today it was a gorgeous day out and I decided to out on a run in the parking lot that circles my apartment complex.  I haven't run in a full week because last Friday's run was canceled due to my wife's contractions coming very close to each other.  I figured if I asked for permission to go running I would have gotten in some SERIOUS trouble.

When I started running I really didn't have a "goal distance" or any clue how far I'd run.  I was thinking somewhere in the 5-7 mile range and at times thought maybe I'd go with a nice 9-10 miles...after all I had zero time constraints unless the newborn baby girl in my life started throwing a complete fit and Erin needed help.  When I was at about mile 1.5 I started to feel light headed and the fact that I hadn't eaten lunch was starting to hit me so I decided I was going to call the run short and only do 3 miles.  It felt nice to run again, my knee hurt for the first 1/4 of a mile but then went away.  I'm definitely thinking it's my feet yelling at me for a new pair of shoes...hopefully that will happen soon.

Since I did a half mile loop I did 1/2 mile splits and here they are:
0.5 - 3:48
1.0 - 3:52
1.5 - 4:01
2.0 - 4:00
2.5 - 4:00
3.0 - 3:22

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pictures from Pacers Greenberry Run!

Due to the special run yesterday some of the people brought camera's with them, here are some of the pictures from the post-run festivities.

This is the most of the group that came out for the run...some people still showed up a few minutes late, but they're forgiven this was 5 AM after all!
This is me with Caitlin after the run, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon with her and we coached each other to the finish, she beat me in chip time by 1 second...darn her!
Here I am with Sandy, she works for Pacers and is one of the coaches.  Anytime I have questions or need some running advice, I go to her.  She's also the one that frequently can say 'I told you so' when I don't listen to a tid-bit of advice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17th - Pacers Greenberry AM Run

Time: 42:17
Distance: 5.3
Pace: 7:59
Weather:  Entire course was dry
Temp: 49
Time: 5:00 AM
Terrain: Pretty flat except at the the end

This morning the Pacers AM group had the annual St. Patrick's Day run.  We had a really large group (about 25) show up for a 5 AM run, which is really impressive if ya ask me.

I ran with my group of 4, Ken, Julia, and Wally.  (Wally is a really fast runner that usually is leaps and bounds ahead of me but he decided to take it easy today I think.)  We started at a pretty decent pace on the downhill, but were really just talking and letting our legs go at whatever pace felt comfortable.  We didn't start to slow up until we started to his the up-hills near the end near the Marine Corps memorial at which point I really think having 4 runners helped us out dramatically to keep pushing each other.  As we started up the first incline (Marine Corp Hill) the other 3 started to slow up and I surged ahead to set the pace.  On the second half of the up-hill the peloton swallowed me and Wally and Julia started to set the pace to pull us up the hill.  As we flattened out in between the next set of hills we all just pushed ahead until the next set of hills.  Here Wally and I set the pace until we hit the crest.  This is when I turned to Wally and decided to turn it into a little bit of a race.  When I got to the finish with the large push I put in at the end I felt the need to throw up, but don't worry I didn't.

All in all, I beat my recorded time by about 15 seconds, nothing fantastic but each run I have felt great and have felt like I keep getting in slightly better shape.  I think that with a little more work I'll be good to go for the half marathon I want to do. 

And to answer the million dollar question right now, yes my wife is still pregnant and we're hoping she'll give birth any day now.

My yearly mileage count is currently at 65.21 with an average distance of 5.93 miles at a pace of 8:32 per mile.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12th - Pacers Pentagon City 'Recovery Run'

Time: 29:00
Distance: 3.14
Pace: 9:04
Weather:  Raining
Temp: 54
Time: 5:30 AM
Terrain: Flat the whole way

This morning I did a run out of the Pentagon City store, I have the best intentions to run with them on a regular basis, but they have a 5:30 start, which makes it slightly harder to get ready for work in time.

I ran with a friend from the hill, he's still finding his way when it comes to running, but it doing an 8K on Sunday.  I finally convinced him to come out for a run with me and I did 3 miles with him, at his pace and I coached him a bit on the way on various aspects of running and races.  In the end we finished our 3 mile loop in just under 30 minutes, I got a decent recovery run in and got a chance to help a friend along the way.  All in all I consider that to equate to a great run!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Mizuno Running shoes

These are my good friends, my Mizuno Wave Rider running shoes.  They have already gotten me through a 10 miler and a Marathon...and I'm getting pretty close to that should have replaced a while ago period.  I never advocate someone running on shoes that are in need of replacing, but sometimes you have no choice and you keep on going until you find a way to get them replaced.  On the top, they look fine, a little dirty from the mud I've run through these past few weeks...but when you get to the bottom it's a whole different story.

Here you can see WHY they need replacing...that Gray part up wear all the rubber has slowly come off my shoes, causing me to lose some much needed cushioning.  I promise I will replace them before I put to many more miles on them, hopefully by late April when I do either than 10 miler or by early June when I do the half marathon...

When I do kiss them good bye though, I will certainly miss the racing tags on these shoes, I keep them partly because I think it's a cool momento to keep on the shoes, but also in case anything happens to me they have my name and age on the shoe, running with some sort of ID is VERY important, we've had 2 runners in DC get hit while running and it can take some time for them to figure out who you are without some sort of ID....always carry one.

March 11th - Pacers Greenberry AM Run

Time: 42:29
Distance: 5.3
Pace: 8:01
Weather:  Nice and dry the entire course
Temp: 51
Time: 5:00 AM
Terrain: Pretty flat except at the the end

I was FINALLY able to run in shorts and a t-shirt for an AM run again, and it felt fantastic!  I ran with Ken again this morning, we talked most of the way and had someone in front of us that kept us at a pretty decent pace, even though we weren't running with her.  As a whole the run was uneventful, near the end as we were approaching the hilly finish I looked to Ken and asked if he thought we could catch the runner in front of us.  After thinking for a moment we decided we mine as well try so off we went on the uphill to try and catch Julia, I got her about half way up the hill and just kept on trucking past.  It then hit me like a freight train that their was still a flat portion left and I had used up most of my energy on that up hill, oops.

On a separate note, on Saturday morning Pacers is having their Four Court Four Miler race, and it ends on the double up hill from my old Thursday route, which I promise you will be pretty brutal for those not prepared.

I'm also planning on running tomorrow a nice and easy 4 miles with a friend at the Pentagon City store...I'll let you know if he bails on me!

I took pictures of my shoes this morning, to show how badly worn they are, I'll post them later today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PACERS Running Tips - Hills

Let me make a confession, through all my training for 2 marathons I have never done a "hill workout" or a "track workout" not once, not never.  I've had the INTENTIONS to do one or the other but I have never committed a workout purely to hills, that I can think of.  Don't get me wrong, I run routes sometimes and will pick it purely because it is hilly in nature, such as my new favorite, Lake Barcroft loop.  Regardless, today Pacers newsletter had a side article about training on hills and figured it was a great article to pass on.  If you have not already, I strongly recommend going to the Pacers web-site and signing up for the newsletter here

Hill training and it's benefits

Hill training promotes the development of lower leg and quad strength; a good hill training session combines the benefits of weight training with the aerobic and anaerobic conditioning of running.  In addition, hill training strengthens you mentally; completing these tough workouts will help you deal with the physical discomfort of racing.


As a general rule, hill training is done once per week - done properly, these sessions are very demanding.


Obviously the geography of where you live and train will dictate the type of hill you can train on; you've got to work with what you've got.  The ideal hill for a strength and stamina hill workout should take you about 90 seconds to climb.  The grade should be steep enough that you "feel the burn" in your legs over the last half or quarter of the hill repeat, yet not so steep that your normal running form is significantly compromised.


There is nothing wrong with running  up and down hills as part of your everyday runs. However, like almost anything else, you can overdo it.  You should avoid hilly terrain on your recovery runs.  Also, more than three days in a row on a hilly course is more than most runners can handle.


Climbing hills requires a slightly modified running technique.  This involves shortening your normal stride, dropping your shoulders to ensure a lower arm carriage, and leaning slightly forward into the hill.  You should aim for a strong, steady and consistent pace throughout the hill rep.

Running downhill also requires some modifications.  Again, shortening the stride and leaning slightly forward is helpful.  For steep down hills, thinking about leaping from one foot to the other can be an effective way to quickly negotiate the hill.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9th - Pacers Greenberry AM Run

Time: 43:11
Distance: 5.3
Weather:  Nice and dry the entire course
Temp: 46
Time: 5:00 AM
Terrain: Pretty flat except at the the end

This morning I woke up bright and early to go on a 5 mile run with the Pacers group over in Greenberry.  It's easy to get up and head out for this run typically, because they have a lot of people show up and typically someone at my pace for me to run with.  This morning I ran with a guy Ken, we met a few weeks ago during a run and have become pretty good running partners since we both run at about the same pace and he doesn't mind a little talking along the run which is always good with me.

The weather was great for 5 AM, I left my house and it was about 40, by the time I got to Greenberry's it was already 46 and by the time I was heading home it hit about 53.

I didn't feel much fatigue along the run, although that uphill near the end always gets me.  I don't know if I could maintain the 8 minute pace for another 5-6 miles but I am hoping that soon, even with the baby coming, I'll be able to get some decent runs in to help me prepare for the half marathon I'm hoping to do in May.  (NOTE: I really don't EXPECT that I'll be able to train well for it, just wishful thinking)

Two additional thing I observed.
1) I desperately need new shoes again.  I have mastered wearing the shoe down until their is pretty much nothing left to provide cushion, hopefully I get a break in the next couple of weeks and find a fresh pair of shoes on my feet.  I'll take a picture of them tonight for a quick post.

2) By looking at my last run at Greenberry I cut my time since last time by a full minute and I remember last time I felt extremely fatigued at the end, I think I'm slowly getting my conditioning back!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lake Barcroft Long Run - March 7, 2010

Time: 1:28:57
Distance: 9.8
Pace: 9:04
Weather: Warm and Sunny
Time:1 :22 PM
Terrain: Rolling hills.

Today I took advantage of the GORGEOUS weather and went out on a long run.  I haven't run in a week because of a combination of doctors appointments and getting a cold.  I did the loop around Lake Barcroft, the lake around my house.  By going into the side streets I make the run over 9 miles and add quite a bit of elevation, though the elevation chart certainly does not do this route justice because trust me it's brutal.

The run started off really well with some small ups and downs for about the first 4 miles.  Right after mile 4 theirs a pretty big hill (note not seen in the elevation chart AT ALL) after that it subsides a bit and it's pretty flat until you get onto Sleep Hollow Road for a short spot.  When I got here their was another guy running on the opposite side of the road and I felt it necessary to make sure he knew I was faster, even though it totally wore me out going up the hill faster than I needed to.  I then headed back into the lake community where it got really hilly, to the point I feel like the hills were just taunting me.  I would see a downhill and actually start to dread it, because I knew that at the end of that I would need to eventually go back up.

After I got back on Columbia Pike I did my best to pick up the pace a bit and I turned down a side road to finish off my run in a sprint...or something that tried to appear that way because I was beat!

Today I also tried out cytomax for the first time, it was recommended to me as a better alternative than Gatorade.  It tasted better, not sure how much more it helped, I definitely did the route faster than last time so maybe I had a little more spring in my step.  I look forward to testing it out more when I get quality runs in and get back into better conditioning, then I'll really know if it's adding to my runs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

SWPL - Marathons

For Christmas my sister-in-law and her fiance gave me a calendar entitled 'Stuff White People Like.'  Now typically I am not that person that REALLY likes the message a day type calendars, as usually by January 15th or so I've completely lost interest in it, but this calendar is different.  It's legitimately funny and I can usually find someone to relate each days item to, today it defined me as the item of the day was Marathons.  I have posted the full piece from their web-site, hopefully you can relate too.  I have emphasized the parts most relevant to me.

In life, there are certain milestones of physical activity that can define you.  A sub 5 second 40 yard dash, a 40 inch vertical leap and so forth.  To a white person, the absolute pinnacle of fitness is to run a marathon.  Not to win, just to run.

White people will train for months, telling everyone who will listen about how they get up early in the morning, they run when it rains, how it makes them feels so great and gives them energy.

When they finish the marathon, they will generally take a photo of themselves in a pair of New Balance sneakers, running shorts, and their marathon number with both hands over their head in triumph (seriously, look it up, this is universal).

They will then set goals like running in the Boston Marathon or the New York Marathon.

If you find yourself in a situation where a white person is talking about a marathon, you must be impressed or you will lose favor with them immediately.  Running for a certain length of time on a specific day is a very important thing to a white person and should not be demeaned.

Also worth nothing, more competitive white people prefer triathlons because Kenyans can’t afford $10,000 specialty bicycles.  If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players.  It’s not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial.
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pacers Running Stores = Best of DC

Go here to vote for Pacers as the top running store in DC.

If that link doesn't work, try voting through this link: