Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There are different types of runs?

When I started to run I only knew one way to run, struggle through it.  As I progressed, I started to run faster and had to struggle less with each week that passed.  After a while I started to train for my first half marathon.  My training plan was using lingo like tempo, Fartlek, and interval runs.  I asked myself, what the heck is a Fartlek and should I say “excuse me” afterward?  I wanted to give a breakdown of some different types of runs. 
First let’s talk about what you want to get out of running.  If your goal is to just run for fun, then you might not need vary your routine.  If you want to get stronger or reduce your risk of injury it is important to do several types of runs each week, especially if you are training for a race.  You should always warm up and cool down. The whole purpose of any speed workout is to help you get faster.  Just be careful to not do them too frequently.  I would suggest only doing intervals or tempo runs once a week.  I alternate weeks with intervals one week and tempo runs the next.  Easy runs are for helping increase your base miles (the amount of miles you run in a week) without stressing your body too much.  Let’s get started.

1) Easy Run Typically, easy runs should be at a pace where you can comfortably hold a conversation with someone without losing your breath (somewhere around 2 min/mile slower than your 5k pace).  Running slow might be difficult to do at first, but gets easier with practice.  It is still important to keep good running form.

2) Fartlek Run These are easy or moderate runs where you have some short periods of increased speed.  Fartlek is a Swedish term for “speed play.” While you are out for a run, look for a light pole, intersection, or other landmark that is about 100-200 feet away.  Start to run, but not at an all out sprint.  Slow back down to an easy run once you reach the landmark.  Your speed segments should be unstructured so you can space out your speed segments as you wish.  I tend to shoot for 10 speed sessions in a 30-45 minute easy run. Fartleks can be done in the same week as your speed workouts.

3) Interval Run Interval runs are where you are able to really build your speed.  There are many variations of interval runs.  You can do them at a track, on a trail, or anywhere else.  I find it easier to do my intervals on a track because I have a visual distance of how far I have left to run before I can rest.  For 400 meter intervals, you run one lap around the track at a 5k pace (the best min/mile pace you can run your 5k at).  If it takes 2:30 to run the lap, walk or slowly jog for 2:30 before your next interval set.  Start at 5 sets and add a set each time you do intervals. 

4) Hill Interval Run Find a somewhat steep hill (around 6% grade) that you can run up for 30-45 seconds.  Run fast, but not at an all out sprint (with good form) up the hill for 30 seconds.  Walk or jog back down the hill to where you started and repeat for 10-12 sets.

5) Tempo Run Think of a tempo run as run where you build speed gradually.  Typically tempo runs are 30-45 minutes.  Start with 10-15 minutes of easy running.  The next 15-20 minutes you should build your pace to your 10k pace (or 5k pace if you really want to push hard).  You can peak at the middle of the 15-20 minute segment or at the end, it’s up to you.    Then you will run at an easy pace for another 5-10 minutes to cool down.  

6) Long Run If you are training for a 10k, half marathon or full marathon, then this will be the most important run of the week.  You want to gradually build your distance and endurance, although you should not increase more than 10% per week.  For my half marathon training, I start with a 5 mile long run and add a mile each week.  Long runs should be run just like an easy run.  The idea is to get used to running longer distances, not hurt yourself.  

7) Race Runs Every third week in my half marathon training, I do a race pace run.  I will do an easy run for 5-10 minutes to warm up (untimed).  I will then run at my desired race pace for that run.  If I am running 5k, then I will run at my 5k race pace, 10k at my 10k race pace, etc.) You can do these runs in the same week as your speed workouts.  I try to break my PR’s (personal record) during these runs if I can.  If I want to run an 8:30 mile in my half marathon, my pace run should be at an 8:30 pace.

8) Pace Runs These are runs where you will run at your desired target race pace.

I know that there is a lot of information here and I probably went on a little long.  I hope that I helped if you had any questions about what types of runs there are.  If you have any questions, please comment.  You can also let me know what your favorite types of runs are. My next blog post will be a review of a few training plans that have used. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Would You Rock The Injinji Toe Sock?

Today I am going to review my favorite running sock.  To be honest, if they were cheaper, I would use them for everyday use.  Let’s talk about the obvious.  These socks are funny looking and the first time you use them, they feel a little weird.  With that being said, the weird feeling went away after about 5 minutes and they are the most comfortable socks that I own.

I originally got the light weight micro crew socks on Groupon.  I wish I could find that deal again because they were so cheap.  They normally start around $10 per sock and go up in price from there.  You can get them on the Injinji website, Amazon, or your favorite running store.  I really like the Performance Original weight.  It has the right amount of protection for my feet.

There are several benefits of using the Injinji toe socks.  The socks are anatomically designed for your foot, covering each toe and allowing them to spread out as they naturally want to.  Normal socks keep your feet restricted.  While you might not feel that this is a big deal, give the toe socks a try and you will realize what I am talking about.  You will gain stability and feel more comfortable as your feet learn to spread out.

They are great for people who get blisters.  By having no skin to skin contact between your toes, you eliminate that point of friction which can cause blistering.  Each sock is made of moisture wicking material and has seamless toes.  They have a mesh top for more breathability, an arch support band, and an enhanced cuff so your socks don’t slip down.

What are the different thickness socks you can get?

The Performance Lightweight sock is ultra-thin featuring a light and breathable mesh top for maximum ventilation. This sock is ideal for those who want as much ground feel as possible.

The Performance Original weight sock is not too thin, not too thick. It is great for everyday use in any shoe, climate, or terrain. It’s a great go-to sock for sport and casual use, and I do use it for both.

The Performance Midweight sock provides additional padding from the heel to the toes. It features a honeycomb design on top of the foot for added breathability and a light compression for proper fit. If you have sensitive feet and prefer more sock protection you’d like the Midweight.

If you don’t have a pair of Injinji toe socks, you are missing out.  They have socks for all types of activities, not just running.  They have different thicknesses, colors, and lengths of socks.  Please let me know what pair you get and what you think of them.  I hope you love them as much as I do.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nobody Likes Plantar Fasciitis!

So I have not had Plantar Fasciitis yet, and I feel very fortunate.  I have had friends who have had to take a significant amount of time away from running and some who have had to wear special boots as part of their recovery plan.  From what I have been told it is extremely painful.  I was asked by a friend to do a blog post on Plantar Fasciitis, so here you go. 

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the thick tissue (fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot.  People who are prone to this injury include runners who have chronically tight hamstrings, back, calves, and Achilles tendons.  Runners who do not use the proper type of arch support are also prone to getting Plantar Fasciitis.  The pain is typically a persistent pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel or foot.  It can be either a sharp pain or dull discomfort.

What are some treatments that you can do at home?

The best option is to stop or reduce running until the pain subsides.  In addition to this reduction there are five exercises that you can do to speed up your recovery. 

1) Stretch the fascia muscle.  Prop your toes up against a wall, keeping your arch and heal flat on the ground so the toes stretch.  Hold for 10 seconds at a time, repeating 10 sets, three times a day.

2) Roll a frozen water bottle under the arch. After you have stretched your fascia muscle, roll out the arch for 10 minutes.  

3) Freeze a golf ball and massage the fascia.  Roll the frozen golf ball under the foot.  Start at the front of your foot, near your toes, and work your way back toward your heal.  Put a decent amount of pressure on each spot for 15 seconds (front, middle, and back of the foot). Then roll back and forth over the entire foot.

4) Use the foam roller to work the rest of your legs.  It might surprise you, but having a tight back, shoulder, calf, or hamstring can cause Plantar Fasciitis.  Roll out your legs, hips, and back to loosen up the muscles. It is amazing how much of our bodies are interconnected.
5) Get an insole that will put pressure on the fascia muscle.  It doesn’t matter if you under or over pronate, an insole will help.  The idea is to keep the fascia muscle from flexing.  It needs to be supported while you are strengthening the muscle.  

Please comment and add any exercises that have worked to alleviate your 
Plantar Fasciitis.