HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com The site for everyone who loves running. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://www.hillrunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/hr-icon-100x100.png HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com 32 32 SMART goals for the runner https://www.hillrunner.com/smart-goals-runner/938/ https://www.hillrunner.com/smart-goals-runner/938/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=938 It’s the time of the year where we’re planning out our racing seasons for next year and setting our goals. How do you go about setting a good goal, though? You want a goal that will challenge you without feeling overwhelming. In other fields, you may have heard of SMART goals. I think the SMART …

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It’s the time of the year where we’re planning out our racing seasons for next year and setting our goals. How do you go about setting a good goal, though? You want a goal that will challenge you without feeling overwhelming.

In other fields, you may have heard of SMART goals. I think the SMART goal concept works very well for runners. But how does it apply to runners?

There are five aspects to a SMART goal. A smart goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results focused, and Time bound. Some of these aspects have a very clear application to runners, others don’t. Here’s how I recommend you think of these aspects:

Specific

For the runner, what does a specific goal look like? Well, it’s not “I want to run a fast 5K”. That’s a very vague goal. What’s fast?

A specific goal needs to be more clear. “I want to run a 5K PR” or “I want to break 20 minutes in the 5K” is a much more specific goal. You know without question what you’re trying to do.

A specific goal doesn’t need to be a time goal, though. Maybe you’ve finished just outside of the age group awards several times at a race you do every year. Your goal can be to win an age group prize. Or you can go for the win in a race where you’ve come close but not quite made it. Just realize that these goals can be tricky because they aren’t all within your control.

So let’s say your goal is “I want to break 20 minutes in the 5K”.

Measurable

What does it mean for a goal to be measurable? Well, it means you have a way to measure whether you’ve made it or not.

As a runner, this is likely accomplished by making it specific. In our example, you have a specific time at a specific distance. You can measure whether you’ve run a 5K in 19:59 or faster.

Attainable

This is a tricky one. We want to set a goal that is challenging but it should also be attainable.

If you ran 25:30 in 2016 and improved to 20:01 in 2017, how challenging does breaking 20:00 really look? You should probably be looking for a harder goal.

If, on the other hand, you ran 25:30 in 2016 and improved to 25:25 in 2017, how attainable is sub-20? Unless you can clearly see a path to huge improvements, something a little less ambitious might be a good idea.

Results focused

What is a results focused goal? It’s essentially outcome based, not process based.

This means you’re not setting a goal for your training. That’s the process. You should set plans for training but your training is the means to the end. Your goal should revolve around that end, the race result or other result you’re striving for.

Time bound

This is probably the easiest part for many runners. When specifically do you want to accomplish your goal? Unlike some pursuits, we as runners have a clear deadline in most cases: race day.

If you’re not targeting a specific race, just make sure you set some deadline for this goal. Don’t say “I want to break 20 minutes in the 5K some day”. Say “I want to break 20 minutes in the 5K in 2018”.

Why does this matter? If you don’t set a deadline, it can be too easy to put it off. “So I didn’t get under 20 minutes this year. I’ll get there next year or the year after or…”

Eventually, it just doesn’t happen.

It’s good to have long term goals but it’s important to have incremental short term goals with clear deadlines that will lead you toward those longer term goals. Your long term goal may be to break 18 minutes in the 5K but your 2018 goal is to get under 20 minutes, an important step on the way to going under 18 minutes.

It’s OK if you don’t get all of your goals. Things happen. But make sure you’re not leaving open ended time frames on your goals. Do that and things can slip too easily.

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Ask me anything https://www.hillrunner.com/ask-me-anything-8/936/ https://www.hillrunner.com/ask-me-anything-8/936/#comments Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=936 Another six months have passed, which means it’s that time again. This is one of my favorite things to do. Ask me anything you would like! Within reason, nothing is off limits. Ask about training, racing, my thoughts on any news in the sport. Ask about the site, including the major changes we’ve recently seen, …

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Another six months have passed, which means it’s that time again. This is one of my favorite things to do. Ask me anything you would like!

Within reason, nothing is off limits. Ask about training, racing, my thoughts on any news in the sport. Ask about the site, including the major changes we’ve recently seen, the coaching service, Club HillRunner.com or anything else that’s going on.

If you want to ask publicly, you can do so in the comments, on Facebook or you can tweet at HillRunner.com (or tweet at my personal account). If you want to ask more privately, you can use the contact form or, if you’re friends with me on Facebook or you know my email address, you can reach me through those options.

So what have you been thinking about and wanting to ask?

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Monthly roundup: November 2017 https://www.hillrunner.com/monthly-roundup-november-2017/908/ https://www.hillrunner.com/monthly-roundup-november-2017/908/#comments Thu, 30 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=908 I think the format of last month’s recap was pretty nice. I’d like to continue it, especially as the best (or most important) links I have this month are not science. Go for incremental gains I’ve always been a fan of incremental gains. Ask the runners I coach and I hope most, if not all, …

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I think the format of last month’s recap was pretty nice. I’d like to continue it, especially as the best (or most important) links I have this month are not science.

Go for incremental gains

I’ve always been a fan of incremental gains. Ask the runners I coach and I hope most, if not all, of them will tell you one of the biggest principles I preach is incremental gains. Take small steps every day and, after months, they add up to big gains.

On the flip side, try to take huge steps with monumentally challenging workouts and you can end up pushing yourself in the wrong direction. That’s essentially the point in this article by Brad Stulberg.

Skip the monumental workouts. Go for consistency by keeping things manageable. Take a lot of small steps to reach your big goals.

Avoiding burnout

Collegiate runner Allie Ostrander shared her thoughts on fighting burnout. As anyone who has experience with collegiate running knows, burnout is a real problem. Physically and mentally, the collegiate schedule is daunting.

Of course, all of us can face these challenges. Allie has some great thoughts on keeping things fresh.

Take care of yourself

Running is a healthy pursuit, unless you take it too far. Bobby Clay shares her heartbreaking story as an example of what it looks like when you take it too far.

If you see signs that someone you know is going too far, please don’t ignore them. If you see signs of this in yourself, please seek help.

You can be competitive and healthy. In fact, in the long run, you need your health to be your best competitively. Please don’t sacrifice your health for short term gains.

Running and your heart

Speaking of running being a healthy pursuit, how healthy is it for you?

I’ve often stated that I know the competitive style of running I do is probably not ideal for my health but I believe it is better than a sedentary lifestyle. Is there evidence for that, though?

This study looked at men who have completed 25 consecutive Twin Cities Marathons. The runners filled out surveys about their training, lifestyles, and health histories. Then they had heart scans to look for plaque in their arteries.

The result? Well, it’s complicated. Some runners looked extremely healthy, others have concerning amounts of plaques. It appeared that there was no connection between the amount they ran and those plaques. There was a connection between other lifestyle choices, even well in the past, and the amount of plaques found.

The takeaway appears to be that, while running does appear to be good for your health, it doesn’t erase other bad health choices. You still have to take care of yourself.

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Thank YOU https://www.hillrunner.com/thank-you/701/ https://www.hillrunner.com/thank-you/701/#comments Thu, 23 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=701 A little different, maybe starting a new tradition. I wanted to thank all of you for making HillRunner.com what it is. A lot has happened here over the past few months, much less the past year, and I appreciate every member of the community who has been a part of this journey. To the kind …

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A little different, maybe starting a new tradition. I wanted to thank all of you for making HillRunner.com what it is. A lot has happened here over the past few months, much less the past year, and I appreciate every member of the community who has been a part of this journey.

To the kind souls who trust me to coach you, thank you for placing your trust in me. I work hard every day, whether or not you receive an email, to earn your trust. You drive me to be my best.

To the Club HillRunner.com members, thank you for your interest in the additional tools and advice club membership offers.

To both above groups, I believe all of us owe a debt of gratitude. Without their financial support, HillRunner.com would not be what it is. I wouldn’t be able to justify the amount of time I put into it without loading it up with annoying ads.

To Team HillRunner.com members, thank you for representing this community as not just high performing runners but also great people. I’m incredibly proud of the people who, over the years, have represented HillRunner.com at races.

To all visitors, thank you for being a part of the community. HillRunner.com would be a very small community with just the above people. The community would be so small it would not survive. All of you, no matter what role you play in this community, make it what it is and keep it going.

Finally, a big thanks to my family. They may not be active members of the HillRunner.com community and I try to make my time working on it impact our family life as little as possible but keeping it completely out of our family life would be impossible. They have always been very understanding and cooperative with whatever I’ve asked and I’m very grateful to them for that (as I hope everyone here is).

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, enjoy your Turkey Trots if you’re participating, and I look forward to seeing this community continue to thrive and prosper long into the future.

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Winter running https://www.hillrunner.com/winter-running/86/ https://www.hillrunner.com/winter-running/86/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/2016/11/17/winter-running/   You CAN run through the winter! We had a good taste of winter here in Wisconsin just last week when we got wind chills, if not temperatures, in the single digits. Winter is on its way. That means, for many of us in the northern hemisphere, the joys of winter running! Yes, I mean …

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You CAN run through the winter!

We had a good taste of winter here in Wisconsin just last week when we got wind chills, if not temperatures, in the single digits. Winter is on its way. That means, for many of us in the northern hemisphere, the joys of winter running! Yes, I mean that with a minimal amount of sarcasm. Sure, there are struggles but there are a lot of good aspects to winter running. Now, though, I’d like to dispel a few myths about running in winter and discuss how we can make winter running in the great outdoors as safe and comfortable as possible.

Frozen lungs?

First, let’s put to rest one of the most popular but most inaccurate myths about running in the winter, the idea that you can freeze your lungs. This is a completely false myth.

The fact is that you can’t freeze your lungs in any climate found in any populated parts of this planet. By the time the air you breathe in reaches your throat, just passing through your mouth warms it up to near your body temperature. By the time it passes through your windpipe and into your lungs, it is up to your body temperature.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some side effects to breathing in this cold air but it is important to stress that there is no evidence that the side effects are long term dangers.

Handling the cold, dry air

The main side effect is that the cold air is very dry. As your body warms it, your body also has to humidify it. This can lead to a dry, raw throat and at times a dry cough after running.

Some people claim that running in cold weather makes their lungs cold. The best explanation I can come up with is that the air they are breathing in is still dry when it gets to their lungs and their lung tissue may be drying out as it humidifies the air. This is not a long term problem, though, as your body tissues will recover with no long term damage once they are not being subjected to the dry air.

So what can we do about this dry air issue? The best advice I can offer is to look into a balaclava or ski mask. Cover your mouth and possibly nose and more of the warmth and humidity will be held in. This can be a significant help if you experience a sore throat or dry cough after your cold weather runs.

Cold air and exercise induced asthma

Another popular myth about breathing in the cold air is that this will give you exercise induced asthma (EIA). While there is minimal evidence that this won’t happen, there is no evidence that this will happen. The question simply hasn’t been given much attention by researchers.

The most likely explanation is that breathing in the cold air increases the symptoms of mild cases of EIA enough to make themselves known, while running in warmer temperatures might not be enough for the symptoms to be noticeable or a bother.

The best solution I’m aware of would be the same as for the dry air issue. Cover your mouth with a balaclava or ski mask.

Dressing for the cold

The next big question is always how to dress. This has gotten much easier in the past decade or so with all the great tech fabrics available to us now. Wicking, thermal fabrics may not be cheap but, if you run in tough weather, they are worth every cent.

Of course, if you don’t have the budget, you can work with the methods we used in the 1990s. One good wicking layer against the skin to get your sweat away from your body, then layers of whatever material you have available.

There is one rule that applies no matter what you’re wearing: layer. Instead of one bulky layer, go for two or more lighter layers. This will greatly help in the case that the temperature warms up as you’re out running or you go from running into the wind to running with the wind (more on that later). You can just take off a layer or two and aren’t left either over dressed or under dressed.

Running in the dark

Make yourself visible

With the winter weather come short days and long nights. That means running in the dark.

For running in the dark, the rule is pretty simple. If you are around traffic, make sure drivers can see you.

There are a lot of wonderful products on the market that are bright, reflective, have lights in them, and probably have other ways to make you visible. Take a look around at your local or online running store and you will find plenty of gear designed to make you very visible on dark mornings and evenings.

Depending on where you live, you may want to take other safety precautions. Ideally, having a running partner would be perfect but it’s not realistic for everyone. Other precautions involve running on well lit routes, carrying personal safety products such as pepper spray, and running in areas where there are other people or that are well patrolled by police. Of course, your needs and options would depend on where you live.

Make sure you can see

Depending on the ambient light available, you may also find that you need a source of light to see with. There are a lot of head lamps available these days. I picked up a cheap one a few years ago and, for approximately $10, it gives me all the light I need to see the road in front of me and, as a bonus, makes me much more visible to drivers.

Snow and ice

For many of us, winter weather means snow and ice. Running on snow and ice. That’s a recipe for disaster, right? Well, there are precautions that can be taken to minimize or possibly even eliminate the risk of these potential dangers.

When running on snow and ice, there are two factors to consider: equipment and strategy.

Equipment

For running on snow, the best solution I have found is to run with a shoe that has good tread. Trail shoes are great. The lugs are big enough to dig into the snow and give you traction and there is enough space between the lugs to allow the snow to fall out between steps. Road flats can be very poor on snow.

For running on ice, you want something that will cut into the ice to get traction. There are a lot of devices that are designed for this. Check out an outdoor sporting goods store and you’ll see various products that slip over your shoes and have metal spikes or coils to cut into the ice. You can also give the screw shoe a try.

Strategy

As for running on questionable surfaces, that’s something that is best figured out with experience. The best advice is to be too cautious at first. After you gain some experience, you will learn how to run on slippery surfaces and what is slippery and what isn’t.

If I could offer a few quick tips, here they are:

  1. Take it very easy on corners if you aren’t positive they are clear.
  2. Every route has its trouble spots. Get to know those spots and be extra careful at those places.
  3. Sometimes it’s better to have a planned slide than an unplanned one. In other words, the best way to get past some slick spots is to actually purposely slide across them so you don’t unexpectedly lose footing and go for a tumble.

Wind

During the summer months, a nice breeze can feel great. During the winter months, even a gentle breeze could be dangerous if you’re not prepared for it.

The first rule of the wind is simple. Always start by running into the wind and return with the wind.

Sometimes I modify this to start for a short period with the wind, then turn into the wind after 5-10 minutes.

The idea is simple. You don’t want to warm up, work up a sweat, then turn into the wind and have that sweat freeze on you. Also, if you get in trouble, it’s better to walk back to shelter with the wind at your back than with the wind in your face.

If you absolutely can’t start into the wind, try to change direction frequently so you don’t spend too much time all at once running into the wind after working up a sweat.

Be safe!

Finally, there will always be some times when it’s just not safe to run outside. Running in the middle of a blizzard, unless you have a very controlled area where you can be certain a car won’t slide into you, is a bad idea. No traction device helps on a half inch of glare ice and, even if you have good traction, dodging sliding cars isn’t my idea of fun.

Don’t be afraid to take the occasional day off or use indoor options (the treadmill of course being the most convenient for most of us). It’s not the end of the world and it’s far better than getting hit by an out of control car.

So get out there and run this winter! I’ve been running through the Wisconsin winter for over 20 years now and have survived to tell my story. If you just take a few precautions and give it a try, you might decide you like winter running as much as I do.

Note: This is my annual winter running post, updated and resurfaced every November. If you have read it before, I hope the updates and reminders have been helpful.

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How to keep a good training log https://www.hillrunner.com/how-to-keep-a-good-training-log/694/ https://www.hillrunner.com/how-to-keep-a-good-training-log/694/#respond Thu, 09 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=694 Last week, I encouraged you to keep a training log. But what do you put in the training log to make it useful for your future self? There are many things that can go into a training log. Some are pretty obvious, some are less so. Let’s go through some of what I would encourage …

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The form doesn’t matter, the content does.

Last week, I encouraged you to keep a training log.

But what do you put in the training log to make it useful for your future self?

There are many things that can go into a training log. Some are pretty obvious, some are less so. Let’s go through some of what I would encourage you to keep.

The numbers

Obviously, for every run, you want to record at least the basic stats you have. Distance, time, and so on. If you have a modern device like a GPS watch, this might be very easy. If you want to use the tools made available by the manufacturer, you’ll probably have an online training log with this already filled out. Obviously, you can also manually record these things.

Really, only time or distance are necessary. If you tracked both, then obviously recording both paints a more complete picture. Modern devices give us many more data points and some of those can be useful at times but I’ve seen people also get too caught up in meaningless numbers and miss the big picture so be careful if you’re recording a lot of data points. Don’t get so caught up in the details that you miss the big picture.

Comments

These are far more important than all but the most basic numbers. Being able to look back on your training and see how you felt, what you were thinking, and generally how you responded to the training is one of the most powerful aspects of having a training log. You only get that when you fill in the comments.

I strongly suggest filling in at least a few comments on every run. This can be as simple as “Felt good, ran relaxed.” on an uneventful easy run or it could be a multiple paragraph story on a more eventful run.

What do you want in your comments? Here are a few thoughts:

  • How did it feel?
  • Any aches or soreness?
  • What was the effort level?

These are just a few ideas. Obviously, you can put anything in there.

The most important thing is that you record something on how you felt on the run and how you responded to it.

Auxiliary training

What did you do besides running? Some notes on what you did and how it went in terms of non-running activities can shed some valuable light on what works and what doesn’t in your auxiliary training.

Other items to track

A few training logs let you fill out a numerical representation of your effort level and “how did it feel/comfort/discomfort” level, maybe on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale. If you are given these options, I’d encourage you to use them.

Some logs also give you the ability to record weather. This can be useful as it will allow you to track how the weather affected your training. Maybe that’s not something you have control over but it gives you a more complete picture of what happened and why.

Shoe tracking can be nice. You can see how many miles you have on a given pair of shoes and maybe notice a pattern that alerts you to when you need to replace your shoes.

Obviously, you can always manually record these things in any log that allows comments.

Beyond that, there are numerous things you can record. I’d actually encourage you to not get too carried away recording everything possible. Remember, the big picture matters more than the details.

Summary

To sum it up, I’d say the following:

Definitely log:

  • Distance
  • Time
  • How did it feel?
  • What was your effort level?
  • Any aches that should be monitored?

Optionally log:

  • Other data points your watch or app may make available (heart rate, cadence, etc.)
  • Numerical representation of how the run felt
  • Numerical representation of your effort level
  • Shoe usage
  • Weather
  • Stresses outside of running (family, work, etc.)

Be careful logging other things. I’m not saying don’t log them but think about whether looking back months or years from now will help you plan your training any better.

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2017 NYCM: Shalane! Meb! https://www.hillrunner.com/2017-nycm-shalane-meb/892/ https://www.hillrunner.com/2017-nycm-shalane-meb/892/#respond Sun, 05 Nov 2017 19:41:47 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=892 What a race, especially for American fans! We saw two long time American distance running greats in very memorable runs. Shalane! It feels like Shalane Flanagan has been around forever. I remember becoming a fan of hers during her college years. Later, when she joined former Badgers coach (and many former Badgers runners) as a …

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Shalane Flanagan, winning the 2017 New York City Marathon

What a race, especially for American fans! We saw two long time American distance running greats in very memorable runs.

Shalane!

It feels like Shalane Flanagan has been around forever. I remember becoming a fan of hers during her college years. Later, when she joined former Badgers coach (and many former Badgers runners) as a member of what would become the Bowerman Track Club, my fandom grew.

Throughout her career, she’s taken her (long) turn as the top American in about everything she has tried. From cross country to the track to the roads, she has been virtually unbeatable against all other Americans.

Unfortunately, the same can’t quite be said on the international scene. From her Olympic silver medal in the 2008 10,000 to her close call marathon attempts in Boston and New York, including her second place finish in New York in 2010, she has always been an amazing competitor and among the best in the world. But she never got that major international victory. Until today!

Meb!

What hasn’t Meb done in his career? From his own Olympic silver in the 2004 marathon to his own ending of not one but two long time American marathon droughts (New York in 2009 and Boston in 2014), he was one of America’s top runners for at least as long as Shalane.

We knew for some time time that this would be Meb’s last race as a pro. He was going to go out after running 26 marathons. The #TYMeb campaign took off (just see Twitter, even Kobe Bryant took part). Rightfully so. His finish today might not have been storybook but it was classic Meb. Good or bad, he always inspires.

Goodbye(?)

We know this is goodbye for Meb. Shalane offered some hints that this could be a goodbye for her. If so, what a way to go out!

If this is Shalane’s last race as a pro, how fitting that they both go out in the same race. There are so many parallels to their careers. The longevity of both is simply amazing. Both are Olympic silver medalists. Both brought a long American drought at NYCM to an end. Both are incredibly inspiring. And both are the classiest people you could ask for to be leaders in the sport. Outstanding role models for the next generation.

We know this is the last we are going to see of Meb as a pro. It’s possible this is the last we will see of Shalane as a pro. I have no doubt, though, that both will continue running for the rest of their lives.

To Shalane, congratulations on finally getting that big win!

To both Shalane and Meb, THANK YOU for being who you are. This sport is far better because you are a part of it.

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Why your training log matters https://www.hillrunner.com/why-your-training-log-matters/692/ https://www.hillrunner.com/why-your-training-log-matters/692/#comments Thu, 02 Nov 2017 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=692 “Why do I have to keep a training log?” That’s a question I often hear. The runners I coach get it. It’s our key medium of communication. You let me know how you’re responding to the training, I learn about you and what works for you from that, then I adjust your training accordingly. But …

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In whatever form, keep a training log!

“Why do I have to keep a training log?”

That’s a question I often hear. The runners I coach get it. It’s our key medium of communication. You let me know how you’re responding to the training, I learn about you and what works for you from that, then I adjust your training accordingly.

But what if you don’t have a coach? Does the training log still matter?

Yes!

Why? Because, at the very least, you’re communicating with your future self.

Over time, we all have good and bad stretches of running. How do we look back and figure out why the good stretches went so well and the bad stretches didn’t? We look at our training logs.

We look at what workouts we were doing, what our long runs looked like, what our training volume was, what our easy runs looked like, what auxiliary training we were doing.

We look at how we felt (why I stress some comments on how the run went). At least as important as what we were doing is how we responded, physically and mentally, to it. Did our bodies get beat up or feel invincible? Were we bursting with confidence or doubt?

We pour over this information after the fact and put the pieces together. We look for patterns and consistencies in both what worked and what didn’t work.

Then we build our training plan going forward with the information we have on what worked and what didn’t in the past.

So how do you keep a good training log? There are many ways but I’ll share some thoughts on that next week. However, the most important thing is that you do keep a training log. In this case, something is clearly better than nothing.

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Compression for recovery, warmups and sleep, Kipchoge’s training https://www.hillrunner.com/compression-for-recovery-warmups-and-sleep-kipchoges-training/700/ https://www.hillrunner.com/compression-for-recovery-warmups-and-sleep-kipchoges-training/700/#respond Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=700 I’m going to try something a little different this month. I read more than just research and I think the research just touches on a fraction of the valuable things I read in any given month. So I’m going to share more than just research this month. Compression for recovery This showed up in my …

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I’m going to try something a little different this month. I read more than just research and I think the research just touches on a fraction of the valuable things I read in any given month. So I’m going to share more than just research this month.

Compression for recovery

This showed up in my feed just yesterday. Do compression garments (most runners would think of compression socks) aid in recovery?

The study was done with rugby players but the results are pretty clear. Both perceived muscle soreness and a biochemical measure of recovery improved with the compression garments. However, actual performance parameters did not improve.

Interesting results, suggesting that your muscles actually do recover better with compression garments but that may not lead to performance improvements.

Warming up and sleeping matter…a lot

We all place such importance on so many things. Doing the workout just right. Getting the latest gadget that can calculate some fitness parameter or measure some metric related to our running. Recovery aids of various types (even compression garments…).

But what if we’re overlooking basics that have even more effect on remaining healthy and performing at our highest level? Such as warming up and sleeping?

These things matter a lot. Don’t pass over the simple things that lead to big gains because you’re too focused on complex, expensive things that only provide incremental gains.

Eliud Kipchoge’s training

What can we learn from an elite runner’s training? Well, typically not much because the training is treated as top secret. Fortunately, Eliud Kipchoge is more open.

Two things stood out to me and another seemed to get the most attention from others I have seen discussing this article.

First, Kipchoge doesn’t do barn burner workouts. All his training was generally sustainable. He did some harder workouts but nothing I see in his training would lead a 2:03 marathoner to finish doubled over in fatigue.

Second, the balance. He’s training for a marathon so there is a lot of endurance based work. However, he’s also doing repeats as short as 300 meters and he’s doing 400s in 62 seconds. Not frequently but enough to keep sharp. It’s important to touch on all aspects of fitness.

As for what others noticed, it was his flexibility or lack thereof. He’s no gymnast. In fact, he can’t stand and touch his toes. This does matter. It’s pretty well established now that optimal flexibility is enough to allow you to comfortably pass through a full range of motion but not more. If you’re not flexible enough, you get hurt. If you’re too flexible (yes, there is such a thing if you’re a runner who cares about your times) you’re less efficient.

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Race report: Shooting for 22 years https://www.hillrunner.com/race-report-shooting-for-22-years/835/ https://www.hillrunner.com/race-report-shooting-for-22-years/835/#comments Sat, 21 Oct 2017 23:30:38 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=835 As many of you probably know, I take incredible pride in my streak of running at least one 5K every year in under 17 minutes. Before today, that streak stood at 21 years and counting. After today, it would either stand at 22 years and counting or end at 21 years. Before today, I was …

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As many of you probably know, I take incredible pride in my streak of running at least one 5K every year in under 17 minutes. Before today, that streak stood at 21 years and counting. After today, it would either stand at 22 years and counting or end at 21 years.

Before today, I was already thinking of sharing why sub-17 means so much to me so let me start there. Then I’ll get into today’s report.

When I was in high school, I had the best coaching a high schooler could ask for. In the fall, I had a hall of fame coach (Dan Conway, inducted 1998) who knew how to motivate runners and get them to do what was necessary, as well as seemingly had a sixth sense for knowing exactly what a runner needed to get the most out of his or her ability. In the spring, I had a coach who, in my opinion, was hall of fame caliber and was a master of getting runners to peak at the right time. That’s a task that any coach knows can be a bigger struggle than it seems like it should be.

Even with this outstanding coaching and, thanks to Coach Conway’s motivational skills, some extremely hard work, I never broke 17:00 in a 5K during my high school years. My 5K PR upon high school graduation was 17:06.

Once I broke 17 during track season of my freshman year of college, though, there was no looking back. I’ve always taken pride in my consistent training and the best indication of my consistent training was the fact that, from my freshman year of college on, I ran under 17 minutes, breaking a barrier I could not in high school, for 21 consecutive years and counting.

No injury ever sidelined me badly enough to keep me from breaking 17 minutes. No life event kept me from breaking 17 minutes. Nothing. At 39 years old, I was still running faster than I had in high school. At 40, I lined up today eyeing my 22nd consecutive year breaking that barrier that, even with great coaching and a lot of hard work, I could never do even as a 17-18 year old high school senior.

This year was not the year I was looking for in some ways. I had a good but not great winter of training that led to a good but not great spring of racing. Over the summer, I made a few training mistakes, trying to squeeze a little more out of these 40 year old legs than they were ready for.

This led to an interesting fall. My racing was bad. Last year, my racing wasn’t great heading into my final 5K of the year but I felt like I had a small miracle in the final month and I managed to pull out a 16:51. It felt like a miracle to get under 17 minutes last year.

This year, both of my races leading up to this were almost exactly 10 seconds per mile slower than last year. I needed to find the same miracle as last year plus some to pull this out. However, when you’re staring at a 21 year streak, you’ll go out in search of a miracle and then some.

I did everything I could in the final month. My workouts were coming around but not quite where I needed them. I felt like my final workout had me close. I had run the same workout at the same time last year and was only 3 seconds per mile faster than this workout. That meant, if the workout was an indication of race fitness, I was ready for exactly 17:00. How about that for cutting it close?

However, the day after that workout, I knew I extended myself more than last year. I was beat up from that workout like you wouldn’t believe. Fortunately, I had a week and a half to race day and I took advantage of that time with a serious taper to get my legs under me. I felt like I had a shot. I knew it was a long shot as I woke up on race day but it was a shot and I was going to take it. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

Race Day

As I warmed up, I could feel that my legs weren’t great. However, as the warmup continued, my confidence built. As I was doing some strides as race time approached, I felt quick and smooth. Was it quick enough? I wasn’t completely sure.

As we lined up for the race, the horn sounded before anyone was ready. I wasn’t even facing forward, kind of off to the side instead. Still, this didn’t affect me much. I heard the horn and I was off. Not being ready couldn’t have cost me more than a second.

I quickly settled into the lead and found a rhythm. I didn’t know whether this rhythm was fast enough but I knew it was the fastest I could possibly sustain. If anything, it was faster than I could sustain. Again, I’m going to take risks and not go down without a fight.

By the ~1 mile split, I heard a 5:43. I knew this split was a little high from previous years, I think they have that split a little long. What I know more, though, is that I have probably a little over 30 seconds of running on this out and back course from the time I cross the start line on the way back until I get to the finish line. So I set my goal. I want to be to this spot on the way back in 10:30 or faster. If I do that, with another 6:15-6:20 to go, I’ll be in line for that sub-17 if I can finish at the same pace I started at.

I get to the turnaround, the only turn on the course that is any trouble at high speed, and cruise through. I swing a little wide coming out of it but otherwise get through fine and am on my way back. Seeing some traffic on the way back, I try to give a thumbs up to some people but mostly am just focused on simply running as fast as possible through this stretch. For me, I want to think of that ~2 mile split being my finish line. Get to there at 10:30 at all cost. If I blow up after, I gave myself a chance and just didn’t have it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a split at that point. It just wasn’t called out. So I was running blind. By this time, though, the mission is simple. Run every step as fast as I can. I hit some traffic with walkers in the last mile and had one close call but I don’t think it cost me more than a second.

As I came around a gradual bend, not yet knowing what the clock could read, I saw what I feared. The clock was already reading 17. I still booked it in with all I had, probably the slowest pace I ran in the race but “kicking” for all I could, and finished in 17:36.

To be honest, I probably slowed in that final mile. Not because of the walkers or the close call but because I just didn’t have it. However, I gave it my best shot. I just didn’t have it.

In some way, 17:36 is kind of a relief. If it had been 17:01, I probably would have been second guessing everything I did today. At 17:36, I know it wasn’t there. I still have lessons to be learned from this year’s training but, as for today’s running, I gave myself the best shot I could and I came up short. It wasn’t going to happen no matter what I did.

So the streak ends at 21 years. I’m confident I haven’t run my last sub-17 5K but it’s not going to happen this year. That’s life. I’ve come to grips with this. In some ways, I began preparing for the streak to end over a year ago since I didn’t think I was going to get it last year. I’m disappointed the streak came to an end but I don’t view this as a failure. It just wasn’t meant to be.

The biggest issue I have right now is setting goals for 2018. For the past several years, I had a pre-built goal. Now…I don’t know actually. I might do something different for 2018.

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