Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday sprint workout

Jog to park
1x200 sprint
30 pushups
2x200 sprint (20 secs rest)
30 situps
30 squats
30 pushups, 30 situps
30 squats
jog back to start

Total running distance: 5 miles

Cross training for the injured runner

There's been some good discussion herein and elsewhere about GPP vs. SPP (general physical preparation vs. specific physical preparation) for endurance training.

The hardcore GPP believers feel that one can train for a marathon, triathlon, or even an ultra by doing little more than GPP exercises Crossfit, cross training, metabolic conditioning weight training, etc.

My question is this. Can a runner who is already in ultra aerobic condition, but injured to the point that 50+ mile weeks are out of the question, train for and successfully complete an ultradistance race (50-100 miles) on a combination of GPP and sport specific training?

How about a plan like this:

  • M-F: GPP training (cycling, rowing, metabolic conditioning, swimming, crossfit, sprinting, hill repeats, Tabata intervals, etc.)
  • Sat-Sun: SPP (LSD, running on forgiving surfaces, long slow trail runs, etc.)

Total weekly mileage would be around 30-40 miles, all from two or three runs.

Is it possible?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday is Sprint day

Today's workout:

Sprinting makes me Burpee.

Jog to park
10 burpees
5x220, 20 second rest
10 burpees
5x220, 20-30 second rest
10 burpees
1 more 220m sprint for good measure
Jog/walk back to start.

That's 1.5 miles of 95% effort sprinting. And quite a fun workout.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday's workout

Not much time to post, as Wipeout is about to come on.

Today's workout:

  • Run 2.25 miles to park
  • 5 repeats up and down steep grassy hill (about 100 yards in length)
  • 50 push-ups in sets of 10, resting in plank position
  • Run back to downtown.

Total distance about 5 miles. It was 95-degrees hot.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crosstraining for Ultrarunners (pt 2)

Let me first say that in yesterday's post, I was not saying that we should all give up running long in exchange for sprints and pushups and still expect to be successful ultrarunners. In fact, I thought I was presenting some interesting opinions with a hint of skepticisim, and emphasizing my personal belief that too much long slow running in the absence of speed, hill, or strength training is not ideal.

I hear many runners, ultra or not, lament that they just keep getting slower and they don't understand why. The most obvious reason (beside the inevitable fact that we are getting older) is that their training is day after day after day of slow running. Specificity is a key principle. You have to train long to run long. You also have to train fast (sometimes) to run fast. There are, however, other principles.

Tabata (or sprinting in general), I believe, has a place in any athlete's toolbox. Sure sprinting down a football field at 100% effort 8 times might not be the best interval workout to improve ultradistance speed. But just try it once and tell me honestly that you don't think it would improve fitness. Studies show that it improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness quicker than steady-state exercise.

Ultrarunning is oxidative, and it does require "training in the oxidative pathway." But the argument that some ultra-endurance athletes who have adopted the "Crossfit principles" are making is that strength also plays a role in ultradistance performance and recovery.

The strength that I get from sprinting, squats, pushups and other bodyweight exercises might not directly help my endurance. But will I be better off 19 hours into a hundred miler than my fellow runner who has done nothing more than run LSD? I think so.

Another aspect of this type of crosstraining is that it keeps running interesting. Go out for your daily run or even your LSD, but halfway through it, drop down and do 30 pushups, or sprint HARD up that hill a couple times, or run up and down those steps 5 times. Then finish your run. You are still getting the oxidative training, but you are also having fun. One of my running buddies today told me that her running was feeling kind of stale. But she also said that today's workout was a lot of fun. Which brings me to today's workout.

  • Warmup Jog to the park (1.25 miles)
  • 5 x 200 yard sprints (95% effort up and down a groomed soccer field) rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 50 pushups
  • 50 squats (bodyweight only)
  • 50 situps or crunches
  • 5 x 200 yard sprints (rest 30 seconds between sprints)
  • Cooldown Jog/walk back to starting point.

It was a little more than 4 miles of running -- about what we would normally do during a group lunch run. But it included over a mile of sprinting. And it was fun. And if it helps me run a better ultra, then that's icing on the cake.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Crossfit for Ultrarunners (or, no more LSD?)

Is it time to trade out the long slow run for 20 minutes of sprints, pushups, and squats? The ever-growing Crossfit community thinks so. But who is this Crossfit community anyway? A bunch of cops, firefighters and soldiers? What do they know about ultrarunning.

You might be surprised.

Crossfit Endurance is a group of endurance athletes, Ironmen and ultramarathoners who believe that LSD does little more than slow us down and make us look like a bunch of overaged, emaciated drug addicts. I don't know about the drug addict part (I look more like an overaged beer drinker), but I have preached for years that too much long slow running will turn us all into long slow runners.

Consider this quote from Crossfit Endurance specialist, Brian Mackenzie:

While our approach starts with mechanics, it is based on strength and conditioning... Or CrossFit. The endurance training is a supplement. Our athletes eat the conventional endurance geeks for lunch every time... And we have story after story that explains how their friends either stayed the same, got slower and can't walk after the race. When we are the exact opposite. On almost a 1/3 of the training. How is this not a better approach?

Endurance geeks? And this teaser from the Crossfit Endurance site:

Why should I start training this way?

Are your times CONSISTENTLY getting faster at ALL distances (what was your last 5k time compared to a year ago)?

How high can you jump? (Many marathoners cannot jump onto a 12 inch box).

How many push ups/pull ups/squats/etc can you do? We can do more.

Have you or are you suffering from chronic use injuries (plantar fasciatis, IT Syndrome, runners knee, etc)?

How many hours do you train a week? How many hours does your spouse/family wish you trained? (This program only requires 6-8 hours per week to COMPETE at Ultra/Ironman distances.

Hmmm. Want to learn more about how running shorter and faster *could* make us better ultrarunners? Conditioning Research has a nice post on this very subject.

From my own personal experience, I've incorporated more "crossfit" style workouts into my overall training in the last year, with positive results (e.g., PRs at some tough races, more muscle, less fat) averaging just under 40-miles of running per week. That doesn't prove anything, and I'm not about to give up those epic-long training runs, but I am sold on the idea that too much LSD makes a long slow runner.

Try it for two weeks, and judge for yourself. I'll post a daily workout (not Crossfit per se, but something along those lines), follow along if you want. You might be sore at first... but soreness turns into strength. Strength turns into PRs in running, and other places too.

Run hard out there, and run long too. But run harder more than you run longer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I hope you're watching Le Tour!

The Tour de France is about to get exciting... Starting today with Stage 10.

Watch it. Stretch and do sit-ups/push-ups during alternating commercial breaks. Keep track of how many you do, and let me know!

Update: Great stage! I did a sprint interval workout before, then 200 each push-ups and sit-ups. Fun stuff.

Run hard out there...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Today's workout: 1 mile of sprinting

Wow! Thursday is interval day for our lunchtime running group. My first inclination was to do hills, but then I remembered an old favorite: Tabata Sprints.

Here's the protocol:

Run at 100% effort for 20 seconds
(that's a bit longer than a football field for me)
rest for 10 seconds
Repeat for a total of 8 repetitions.
Emphasize 100% effort and be strict on the 10 seconds of rest.

It's a 4-minute all out, minimal-rest workout that will leave you grabbing your knees.

Studies have shown that this protocol alone will boost aerobic and anaerobic fitness quicker than steady-state exercise. Skeptical? Try it for yourself. Or at least google it. At a minimum, it will improve your speed. I've been doing these sporadically for over a year now, and my running has improved at all distances.

Anyway, I digress. So here was the workout today:

Jog to the park (1.5 miles)
Tabata sprints.
50 pushups
50 air squats (body weight only)
50 crunches
another set of Tabata sprints.
Jog back to start (1.5 miles)

We did our sprints along the length of a very well groomed soccer field. It was so smooth -- one of the kindest running surfaces we have around town. Over the course of the workout, we did 16 lengths of that field -- or about a mile of all out sprinting. Then we walked home. Literally. We did not want to run for more than 2 blocks at a time after this one.

It was one of the hardest (and most rewarding) workouts I have done in a while, and it only lasted 45 minutes from door to door. The hard part lasted less than 20 minutes. But then there was the EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption: the part that leaves you huffing and sweating as you are changing back into your street clothes). That's all part of the protocol and one of the reasons it works. Your cardiovacular activity is elevated, as it would be in steady state running, even as you are standing in the shower. It's the same thing you might feel after a hard 5k. If you really run it hard. One of my running mates was still sweating 20 minutes after returning to the office. Tabata. EPOC. What a way to spend a lunch hour.

Run hard out there...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Back at it

Over four weeks after the OD 100, I am finally back to 90% running ability. After a weekend of about 20 miles in three runs, I went out for a 10 mile trail run this evening, and despite some PF in my right foot, had a really good time. We got caught in a pretty severe thunder storm, but we felt protected in by the trees, and I really enjoyed the downpour. I'm about to snuggle up with an ice bag on the foot (I'd rather be snuggling with my wife, but she does little to diminish the swelling in my foot, and after 15 years of marriage, foot massages are hard to come by), watch Le Tour stage 4 time trial, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that 50 mile weeks are just around the corner. I hope.

Run hard out there...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grindstone Training

Sophie is organizing some training runs for the 2008 Grindstone 100 Miler. Let me know if you need contact information for her, or better yet, post a comment to her blog. Also be sure to follow along as she blogs her training for this beast of an event.

July 12, meet at noon for run from Elliott's Knob to Rte 250. We will figure out cars, etc. as it approaches. Should be fairly easy to do so. Total run, 24 miles or so.

Saturday July 19 Trayfoot Loop in SNP (near C'Ville) 21 miles, 4,000+ feet of climb.

Sunday July 20, TWOT loop, 25 miles, 8,000 feet of climb.

Saturday Aug 2, repeats of Elliotts Knob. I want to run as many as I can in three hours.

Sat/Sun Aug 9, 10 Horton is planning a Gstone training run (I think).

Sat Aug 16 Dennis is directing JET 50 (Jerkemtight 50 mile) on the original Gstone course (south of Rte 250).

Labor Day weekend Aug 30, 31...
Sat. run from TWOT parking to Grindstone turn-around and back (30 miles).
Sunday run a loop of TWOT (25 miles).

September 13 or 14: Priest/Three Ridges (24 miles).