Posted on October 4, 2017
If you’re passionate about the sport, then signing up for your first marathon brings forth a variety of emotions, ranging from excitement to intimidation. However, more than the initial surge of emotions, it is what you do after signing up that will decide how your marathon experience will turn out to be.
Below are three important tips for first-time marathon runners to consider when they are training for their run of a lifetime:
1. Find a Suitable Training Plan
It is important to ensure that the training plan that you are following has been devised, specifically, for you. Sometimes, first-time marathon runners are found guilty of following training routines that are not suitable for their body types. As a result, their bodies suffer from injuries and their health deteriorates; meaning that running a marathon will be nothing more than a distant dream for them. It is important to neither be overstrained nor be undertrained, but to find the fine line between the two. In short, staying healthy is the name of the game. Consult professionals if you are unsure of what might work for you.
2. Recover and Refuel Your Body
The most important thing, for any kind of training, is to keep your body fueled up with the right nutrients. After training routines, especially, there is a window of about thirty minutes when the body is best able to utilize the proteins and carbohydrates that were consumed during the workout. Consequently, what you eat in this window is of, utmost, importance. It is important, also, to allow your body adequate time for recovery. Running a marathon is no joke, and you will need plenty of gas in the tank to complete one. Therefore, it is important to consult experts for an in-depth diet plan.
3. Keep Tabs
Training is continuous struggle rather than a, mere, day’s effort. It is important, therefore, to keep tabs on where you are and how you are doing. Your daily mileage, how you feel, any discomforts and injuries and time are all important pieces of information that need to be preserved for future reference. Since it is impossible to keep track of everything on your own, , it is imperative that you maintain a daily training log. This training log will also come in useful in case you need to consult a trainer in the future.
There are a lot of intricacies involved in training for a marathon, so it is better to seek professional help in order to ensure that you consistently improve, avoid costly mistakes and injuries, stay fit and healthy, delay plateaus, and seamlessly move from being good to great.
Posted on October 4, 2017
Hitting the gym everyday is the “in” thing, nowadays. A lot of people go to the gym, once in a while, hit a couple of sets on the bench, get those dead lifts going, or curl to add to those narrow peaks. Don’t believe me? Take a walk down the street and notice how many “fitness mongers” are showing off.
The problem with this kind of a fitness routine is that it might give you some visible gains, but it doesn’t make you mentally or physically tough or disciplined, at all. The point of the matter is that toughness runs much deeper than, merely, pumping up those biceps or quads, every once in a while. Here’s how you get it:
Running is, perhaps, the most beneficial exercise for, both, physical and mental endurance. However, it is ignored by the modern “fitness experts” just the same. Running requires you to, simply, go on, and that is exactly what being tough means. Should I take another step forward in this excruciating pain or should I just give up and go home? This is the question that you have to continuously battle with in your mind while running. If you defeat it however, it grants you the mental and physical toughness to go forward in, almost, every walk of life.
The word Routine is one of the most misunderstood words in English language, if you ask me. People, nowadays, tend to call whatever they do in their daily lives as routine, when this cannot be further away from it. Routine means predictably showing up and doing the same thing, every, single day with discipline. You cannot just skip gym one day because you got burned out at work and say that gym couldn’t fit into the day’s routine. Maintaining a routine means to “make time” for everything that is important to you—be it exercising, studying or…well…sleeping. Doing what you want to be good at, everyday, even when you don’t have enough strength to lift a nail, gives you the toughness that you need to follow, and ultimately achieve, your dreams.
The “Heavy” Walks
You know, an average Roman soldier used to carry more 13kg of equipment, armor and weapons, over a course 35 miles, into battle, everyday. And do you know what we carry? We carry our laptops to the office, in an unending struggle, until we decide, finally, to appoint someone to do the job for us.
In military, a basic part of soldiers’ training is for them to carry heavy loads, for no reason at all, on their backs and walk for excruciatingly long distances. Soldiers are allowed no excuses and are made to walk even after the weight has sucked life out of them. The mental and physical toughness that this “walking while your life is being sucked” infuses is surreal, to say the least.
Toughness requires endurance. It requires an exhibition of discipline in what you want to achieve. It requires, at times, for you to sacrifice a good night’s sleep because you have to follow up on that routine. The road to muscular gains might seem simple, nowadays, but the road to being rough and tough is still best explained by this simple, yet demanding, proverb: Strive!
Posted on September 21, 2017
As a distance runner, I’ve been obsessed with efficiency and aerobic base building, but there’s one piece of my workout I consider important not just to speed but to optimizing form, anaerobic endurance, and forging new neuromuscular connections. This important piece is speed work.
I roughly follow the 80/20 rule with my training, meaning that 80% of my running is done at an easy, conversational pace that lies just at the anaerobic threshold, and the other 20% is done at max intensity. It’s been show that the intensity between these two ends of the spectrum aren’t very effective (Journal of Applied Physiology). So this 80/20 rule works out nicely to 4 days of easy running and 1 day of track work.
I prefer the track because of the markings I use to measure time and distance. I also like the consistent terrain which minimizes the chance of injury. Also, it just gets me in the zone to be on the track with other athletes in their zones.
THE TEMPO REPEATS
The first track workout I’ll introduce you to is one that I use less often because of the relatively low intensity. It’s like an intense tempo run, but not as intense as max effort sprints. In this workout you would do 400 meters as fast as you can while keeping good form, then slow down to a recovery jog speed for 200 meters, and finally walk 200 meters. The recovery here is serious, I personally try to get my heart rate down to the 120bpm area (200bpm max) with controlled breathing during the walk. You’d repeat this 6 times depending on your fitness level. When I started, 4 was way too much, now I am thinking of progressing to 7 sets. The only thing I try to avoid is making this type of workout longer than an hour. If you’re truly giving it your all, there is plenty of stimulus for your body to adapt in under an hour.
It goes as follows:
5 Minute warmup-jog | 3 minutes of dynamic stretching
Max pace for 400m | 200m recovery jog | 200m walk and controlled breathing
Repeat 4-8 times
This workout is the most intense of the three workouts I choose between. As a HIIT workout it follows timed intervals of work and rest. The interval I like to use is 15/45. That’s 15 seconds of all out sprints (which is commensurate with the capacity of the phosphagen system), then 45 seconds of recovery jogging to keep the momentum and circulation while actively resting and recovering the phosphagen system. Although 45 seconds will not provide a full recovery to that system, it’s plenty of time to get you back to mobility. This workout should be done for 30 minutes or less and is effective in this duration if you are truly giving it your all during those 15 seconds. Word to the wise: don’t skimp on the very long warm-up period.
It goes as follows:
10 Minute warm-up jog | 5 Minutes of dynamic stretching | 3 Minutes of agility work
15 seconds maximum effort sprint | 45 seconds recovery jogging
Repeat 8-12 times
One of my favorite workouts, and the last one I cover in this post is something I refer to as strides. These are almost fartlek style in their approach meaning that on the recovery phase, it’s really up to you when to choose to accelerate. This is all about consistent and gradual adjustments in speed. After the warm-up, start at the end of the 100m mark on the track. This is only important in the beginning when you are fresh, midway through, this will be less relevant as the fartlek style of “how you feel” takes over. Start with 300m of your comfortable running pace and then as soon as you come around the corner to the beginning of the 100m mark, gradually start increasing your speed. Lean forward, stretch out your stride (without reaching), make sure those heels are almost reaching the glutes with each turnover. Getting the knees flexed all the way like this makes the pull through more efficient and quicker, which equates to quicker ground contact. By the 50m mark you should be nearing max speed and then, reaching the 100m mark bring the speed down slowly. Keep good form through this speed transition and avoid letting your feet stomp the ground.
It goes as follows:
5 Minute warm-up jog | 3 minutes of dynamic stretching | 1 lap at an easy pace
Nearing the 100m start: gradually increase speed | 50m: maximum speed |At 100m mark gradually slow down to a recovery pace |
Repeat 8 times as recovery FEELS optimal
IT’S UP TO YOU
Speed work isn’t necessary and definitely shouldn’t be a part of every distance runner’s routine. Unless you’re concerned with getting faster then I would nix the idea of track work and do tempo runs instead. But, if you are concerned with increasing your pace, anaerobic endurance, and mental fortitude, head to your local public track and have some fun. This is one of the workouts that my in-person clients choose to do with me as it’s a good idea for someone to be coaching your, pushing you, and timing your for this style workout. If you’re in the DC area, contact us and let’s set up a time to get in your speed work!
Posted on September 14, 2017
The image of stretching before a run is nearly as commonplace as the run itself, but this has not spared that stretch from controversy. Dynamic Stretching is a concept that has arisen as a response to this controversy, and as an exercise alternative to conventional or “Static” Stretching.
As discussed in the Stretching Exercise Guide, the crucial element in this form of stretch is that you shouldn’t hold your position at the full extent of motion, but should keep the joint moving – slowly – at all times. Begin, as always, from the neutral position of whatever joint you’re stretching. Then move your arm or leg to the extent of its range. Slowly return to neutral position using eccentric contraction. To illustrate this last point using a common bicep curl, eccentric contraction is what occurs as you are moving the dumbbell away from your torso. Its opposite, “concentric contraction,” is what occurs as you pull it up toward your shoulder. When you do this, the lengthening muscle naturally relaxes.
As might be expected, Dynamic Stretcing has its advantages and disadvantages relative to Static Stretching. An obvious advantage to Dynamic Stretching is that because of its continuous motion, it serves as a warm-up as well as a stretch. That much said, evidence suggests that, considered strictly as a stretch, Static Stretching does remain superior, with Bandy and Briggler finding a 7.1% edge to Static over Dynamic Stretching in enhancing range of motion. A more recent study (2009) in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders confirmed these findings.
But Dynamic Stretching offers demonstrable benefits as well, especially in terms of strength and sports performance. For instance, a study by Parsons, Maxwell, Elniff, Jacka, and Heerschee has demonstrated that compared to Static Stretching, Dynamic Stretching gives greater power, neuromuscular activation, endurance, balance, and coordination. It yields better gains in speed of contraction and even mental preparedness. Dynamic Stretching appears to work like a mini-weightlifting blast to augment your run. The good news is the obvious complementarity between these stretching techniques.
Examples of Dynamic Strething include Front Leg Swings, which stretch your hip flexors and hamstrings; Side Leg Swings, to stretch open your hips themselves; Lunge Exchanges, which stretch your hip flexors and glutes; Donkey Kicks, which stimulate circulation in your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes; the Fire Hydrant and Eagles, different stretches which both stimulate circulation in the hips; Plank Marches, to wake up your shoulder muscles as well as your core; and Plank-to-Knee Elbow Touches, to warm the same areas and hip flexors as well. Ten reps is standard, but if you feel you need more reps, go with your best judgment. All concur: The only mistake is not to stretch at all.
Posted on September 11, 2017
If you’re a runner, chances are you’ve experienced shin splints. Healthline.com describes shin splints as pain felt across the front of your lower leg (shinbone).
“The pain associated with shin splints results from excessive amounts of force on the shin bone and the tissues attaching the shin bone to the muscles surrounding it. The excessive force causes the muscles to swell and increases the pressure against the bone, leading to pain and inflammation.
If you’re just getting back into the swing of running or you are changing up your routine with speed work, strides, or trails, you’ll like experience this very common injury. Your body is very efficient, if you aren’t doing exercise or changing up your routine to stimulate tissue it will see no reason to keep what you aren’t using (bone density, muscle, aerobic capacity). The key to getting through this injury is not a quick one, I don’t suggest anyone stick to the “No pain, no gain” mantra here, that will only lead to more pain and possibly a more serious, and debilitating injury. So don’t go and chug a bottle of ibuprofen and try to do your tempo run if you’re in pain. Your body just needs time to adapt and build up the tissue that you’ve given stimulus to.
STRETCH IT OUT
In the image above I show you a great stretch for you anterior tibialis muscle. This muscle gets used quite a bit in running but we never really exercise it intentionally. Ankle curls anyone? Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, let the stretch reflex dull, then lean further back to get a little more stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds and relax. Get up slowly from this. Incorporate this into your post run cool down stretch and your shin muscles will get noticeably more flexible in a short amount of time.
Also remember to treat immediate pain with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). If you can get your hands on a 55 gallon drum, or trashcan, and a truckload of ice, then jump into that right after a run! Those logistics are difficult to workout but hugely beneficial if you can make it happen.
Time, patience, and ease are what you need to get through this and many other repetitive-stress injuries. You don’t have to stop running, but you should be running at no more than a conversational, or nasal breathing pace. Plus, this will help you build up your aerobic base! We may be “born to run” but it takes some upkeep and patience to build our bodies up to handle the task.
Posted on September 6, 2017
I’m not quite sure why I feel this way, but I’m feeling caged in by my life choices. I’m thinking about how to write that the right waywhich is weird because I’m supposed to be just shoveling my thoughts out on here. Alright, let’s shovel these thoughts out, whatver they are, this is part of mindfulness right? Noticing thoughts, feelings, presences, voids. I’m thinking about getting paid for just being myself. This is kind of a crazy idea right? Yet, it happens in life. I listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast because of what he’s created with those unedited conversations. His history notwithstanding, he has created a podcast where he can say and do what he wants, with whoever will come, and over a million people listen to him. I would love to make a podcast. But, I’d definitely have to become a better conversationalist and more critical thinker. It would be fantastic though. And I’d like to do it like his, just conversations with whoever I’m interrested in talking to, instead of doing a certain subject-matter show. Ian would be a great co-host, Ben would be okay. I want to take current events and break them down using logic and ciritcal thinking. Ok, I’ll dive into some news.
I have to come up with a podcast topic or direction, something that I can talk about for an hour. I know it’ll take a few hours to gather all the necessary materials. It has to be simple, yet relative and kind of controversial.
Sitting in english class rigtht now. I should be getting a good amount of knowledge out of this class instructor willing. The book will give me some good knowledge for writing. I don’t know what I’m going on about. I just did a 30 minute jog, it was tough but better than yesterday. I wore my minimalist shoes and it had me running lighter on my feet.
Posted on September 4, 2017
I am here in my apartment right now. The thoughts going through my mind are about my own conscious and unconscious self…or selves. Are those two asepcts of my psyche part of the same identity that is “I”, or is there someone else behind the wheel of the unconscious? Let’s start with what we define as conscious and unconscious and see if they are actually two sides to the same coin. So the unconscious mind is described as an inaccessible part of the psyche that is responsible for many fears, beliefs, emotions, impulses, etc., but I don’t like that “inacccessible” part. Maybe it is just difficult to access. I’ll come back to this later after a jog. Maybe if I can access the here and now, and perpetually live in the moment, I can stop this eternal ebb and flow of ambition. But, do I want that?
That run was interesting. My calves were so tight that I had to stop a few times, but they were bearable. I’m thinking about form too much, I’ve trained myself to cue my form so much that now it’s hard to run “naturally” and just let it be. Maybe through meditation I can find that rhythm again. One thing is for sure, the Nike’s that I wear are way too soft. I need to keep running in my Merrell trail gloves. Building my running body and mind will continue to be a process. I started a few years ago while trucking, but on my recent trip abroad I lost it. Now I’m back to it but it’s like tempering a blade, it takes time. It will take the rest of my life really, but it’s something that brings me pure joy. Even moreso than cycling. I think it’s because it’s simpler, more accessible, and less reliant on how big your pocket book is.
It is truly a beautiful day, but of course there is that presence that keeps me from being fully content. I think about how I don’t really own all my own time because I’m off to be an employee tomorrow. Speaking of which, I have to make a program for my client tomorrow morning, be right back…
I’ve learned a little about mindfulness today. Mindfulness is about capturing the present, letting it go, and then capturing the next. It’s about using time on the earth to decondition ourselves from the concept of time. To enjoy the vacillations of emotion, of being human, accepting all positive and negative experiences with the same amount of care and letting them be. I know this momentary living is achievable and it’s right in front of my nose but it’s sort of like arabic to me, I have no familiarity with which to grasp it, even a little. The only way to learn it is through practice, practice that, like running, will take a lifetime. There is that presence though, a steady hum if you will, something that I know is there but which I mostly ignore throughout the day. I feel this presence has something to do with my ego, my desires, my existential yearnings. I’d like to meet this presence, though I think that will take some time. But, if mindfulness ends that presence then I’ll never know what it truly is. My feeling is that it has something to do with the unconscious. I’ll have to dig deep into Freud and Jung to see if they can offer any insight. Or maybe some mushrooms.
Posted on September 2, 2017
The day feels sort of laxidaisical. I don’t know if I spelled that right. I’m here at work right now about to teach spin class. I think it will only be Omar and me. It’s not ideal, yet it is the Friday before labor day weekend so I presume many people are just not working today. Let’s see if Omar even shows. Spin doesn’t do great here but that’s only based on the past couple of months. After labor day it may pick up. Claudia’s class has her own following I guess, so she can keep that. Mine will have to get more interesting because I believe we need to keep that low-impact cardio option to break up the hiit workouts on Monday and Wednesday.
I almost want to dive deep into taking ownership of this place and I feel that I’ll need to if I want to keep this consistent employment. But my goals of being independent are constantly beckoning.
Not much logging happening today. Just drove around and checked out a few fitness centers.
Posted on August 31, 2017
I am so exhausted. It’s going to be hard to stay awake today. I wonder what kind of cognitive dissonance is caused by my perpetual lack of sleep.** I think some people come into the gym without much direction, they sort of walk around and look for interesting machines to use. I don’t doubt that they’re getting some muscular stimulation but it’s not extremely effective. Referring to the guy who comes in and mutes the music every morning. He seems like such an unsatisfied person. Complains a lot. It’s an easy trap to fall into.
I keep a daily log for introspection and guidance for my day’s agenda. Sure, it’s basically a journal but I keep it open all day and everytime I come back to it I note the time down like above. Instead of keeping it private I’m going to put it on here. I will be as candid as possible and remember that this is extremely subjective so take it as you will. With that said I’ll get on with the day’s log.
I work for a fitness center management company, we staff, provide personal training, and group instruction within the fitness centers located in various corporate buildings in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virgina. I like the company, I appreciate all of the opportunity I’ve received from this chance at working in the fitness industry but I’m constantly in flux about where I want to be in life. Always swinging from the pendulum of existential angst and contentment. My mind lives mostly in the ebbs and flows of ambitions. I don’t know if anyone will get what I’m trying to say there so I’ll explain what I think I really want. Autonomy, independence, and time. Basically I have to get self-employed because I will never be happy until I really own my own time.
Fitness is a huge part of my life and I have many aspirations of being great at what I do athletically and professionally. Therefore this daily log is appropriate for this website, which will basically just be an extension of my life and a doorway into my mind. I want to be absolutely candid and genuine. Authenticity is extremely important to me, which is why I am fascinated by people like Hunter S. Thompson, who will break every social rule without care. He will be an asshole but in the most genuine way. He, I feel, was interested in the underbelly of life, a place where people exist in their rawest, most encompassing form. Authenticity is a reason I like to travel to other countries. For example servers in America so cookie cutter in the way the deal with you that it’s refreshing when someone comes by and let’s their true colors shine. This happens in other countries as people don’t have as much social anxiety as we do. That observation was based on absolutely no data by the way.
I’m reading Tim Ferris’s book “The Four Hour Workweek” and it’s making me look for all kinds of inefficiencies in my life. I recognize more daily tedium than before. I also am looking for the thing to put most of my energy into that will give me my best return on investment. Since my passion is fitness, specifically endurance, I’ll try to focus all of my productivity on being the best. Maybe I should go read some studies…
Posted on July 20, 2017
If you’re obsessed with endurance sports (specifically running) like I am then you’ll be neck deep in the latest scientific data suggesting the most efficacious ways to increase performance. But I have this other side of me with a subtle, but firm pull. This side of me is the soul side. The side that all endurance athletes, novice to professional, innately possess. Mind over matter is huge in endurance sports and it’s a little ironic of us to throw out the mind part when it comes to our training approach; only focusing on neck down physiology. I wonder what would happen if I stopped worrying about heart rate, VO2 max, lactate threshold, shoes, pace, mileage, etc., and just started to “run how I feel”.
I recently did a VO2 max test at Composition ID, here in downtown D.C. The results were surprising, a Peak VO2 of 66.8, a max heart rate of 199 bpm, and a pretty quick recovery heart rate. What I found uninspiring was my lack of aerobic capacity: my anaerobic threshold started at 137 bpm. I can barely break into a run stride at that rate. And I want to run a 50 mile ultra in 3 months. This doesn’t bode well. But the next day I ran 12 miles at an 11:47 pace (slow, but steady), and felt awesome. My average heart rate during this run was 160 bpm, but I barely felt any blood lactate accumulation. It would seems that my range of 137-171 bpm for the anaerobic zone is a heavily mixed fuel zone if I can do my long runs at such apparently high intensity.
Still, I want to be able to run for 10 hours, or longer, days. The reason I love running is because it’s so simple, so human, and so free. I see myself bounding along the countryside like the Tarahumara or the Kenyans. Commuting with my own two feet for entirely practical, everyday purposes. And, in order to do this I believe I need a superior aerobic capacity. I thought getting a VO2 max text would provide some insight into this, but it’s only led my soul side to tug harder towards a non-technical approach. If I don’t get tired on long runs, but I’m in the anaerobic zone, then maybe it doesn’t really matter. Training at 137 bpm is sort of demoralizing, further adding to the stress I’m already putting on my body through exercise. And it makes for pretty inefficient form to go that slow, my muscles work harder, I can’t move my legs fast enough for the tendon-fascia spring energy. So, what do I do?
I’ve decided to try to go a month without worrying about technical data at all. I wear a Fitbit but I can just not look at the heart rate. I won’t worry about my threshold data. I will just do my runs based on how I feel, speed up when I feel like, slow down when I feel like, only look at mileage when I finish. And I will do all my runs based on time and not distance.