Some new things to work into the training

July 3, 2009

Working anything new into a training routine can be tricky. Working too many in can be outright dangerous for endurance events like marathons. I have a few things starting up over the next week, some a little riskier than others. I feel comfortable working them in because I think I’ve built a good base and been very careful up to now to get the kinks out of my body. Yesterday I had my massage with Lisa and apart from a minor twinge in my right hamstring my upper legs and lower legs are better than they have in over two years.

So what’s changing:

Crazy Times at Work
Yes this needs to be factored in as well. July is going to be an extremely busy time at work. NI holds it’s annual user conference, NI Week, every year in August. My team is holding some meetings with lead users for features and products we’re developing and also has demo’s for the keynote that previews future products and features. Let’s just say it’ll be a crazy few weeks. Based on how things at work are going I may need to adjust all of the things below as well as my mileage goals. I think Steve refers to this overall balance as “global load”.

Steady State and Tempo Runs
Starting next week we move into the next phase of training with more steady state and tempo runs. Till now we’ve been running Easy and building our base. The added strain from increased speed can be pretty significant. I’ll likely ease into the paces and do it by feel. In theory I should be able to plug in my goal into some calculators and see what I “should” be running at these paces but that doesn’t seem wise. Let’s say I feel like I’m looking for a 2:55 marathon, that would make my tempo or half marathon pace a 6:20 min/mile pace. I’ve been running 7:40 average paces and even one run during the week getting close to 6:20 paces is going to be tough, both from turnover and stress on the muscles in the body. I may be there cardio wise but I’m not sure about if physically my legs and body are ready. I’ll see how I feel on the first run on Thursday and pay close attention to any soreness, making sure I control my paces more based on my physical conditioning and not necessarily on “if I can hold the paces”.

We were doing Strides during our runs on Tuesdays but now with Tuesdays being our medium long runs Steve wants us to get strides in two other days. I think I’ll try for Sunday and Wednesday and see how that goes.

New Strength Training Routine
After working for two months focusing on alignment and balance issues with my body I’ll now be working on some strength work. No crazy weights but one of the weekly workouts will push my body quite a bit. I’ve been doing my heavier gym work on Sundays and Wednesdays till now. Wednesdays may become iffy given Thursday is when we’ll have the faster steady state/tempo pace work so the positioning of my gym work may need to change. I’ll also error initially on the lighter side of the weights and lower number of sets and build up to the normal amount over 3 weeks. There’s no point straining something by going crazy the first week.

Nutrition Plan
New nutrition plan that I need to work in over the next two weeks. This shouldn’t really add any risk of injury, it’s more of a time management challenge. Overall I think being better about planning my meals out will be useful given the increased stress at work. This should help me get each week planned out up front and be able to have the right food ready on days with long work hours and time a the gym. I’ll be trying to cook a little more and in general reduce sugar and fat … but I do need to eat more during a couple of meals than I have been … who doesn’t like to have that problem!?!?

This is the one I’m most uncertain about. I have been meaning to work in some of the drills I used to do into my easier and shorter runs on Mondays but haven’t so far. They do help with my range of motion and running form so I’m hoping to get them in once a week, maybe Mondays since Sunday and Wednesday will be strides. There are videos of the different drills on the Rogue Running  youtube page or you can view them below.


Seeing improved hip alignment from strength training

July 1, 2009

One of the simplest exercises I’ve been doing the last few months (based on the program from Mark) is a step up with a knee lift. An issue Mark found was a very slight hip drop. This would generally be more pronounced on one side. I had a number of imbalances that have gotten much better over the last two months of regular exercise and this exercise has helped improve the issue and provide a way to gauge my progress.

Hip Drop

Hip Drop

You can see an example of what the drop looks like in this image on the right. There are a number of exercises as part of the routine that helped fix this but one that was very simple and relatively relaxing was a step up with a knee lift. I used a 1.5 to 2 foot step instead of the smaller one shown here. The part of the workout is 3 sets of 15 to 20 hanging knee raises with an arm sling and 10 set ups with knee lifts on each side.

The step ups are done slowly and controlled, not what you’d do in an aerobics class. If I can do them in front of a mirror to keep an eye on my form. I’ll keep my arms at 90 degrees on my sides, I haven’t been able to work in running arm motion yet. During the exercise one of the important things has been to really focus on how each muscle is engaged in the process, seeing any dips, bending or leaning and adjusting the motion. The weight bearing side should be straight, the knee shouldn’t bow in or out. The hips should be straight and not stick out.  The upper body upright and the shoulders level.

When I started doing these exercises I could tell that when I stood on my right leg my left hip would dip down and my shoulders would do the opposite to compensate. My right hip would dip down when standing on the left foot but not as much. After two months I can keep things pretty much aligned at most speeds … unless I go very slowly. It isn’t this exercise alone that has helped with the alignment but this one has been a good way to see my progress and get some mental checks for my running form that help me remember what good running posture should feel like.

Give it a try, it’s very simple, provides some good mental queues on form and is a relaxing exercise towards the end of a gym workout.

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