March 1, 2014

New site, new running year, new goals! Part 2

This is the second part of my 2013 recap and my outlook on my 2014 racing season.

So the last time we left off I had run the local Tely 10 race. Now, I ran this race solely on mileage without any speed work or proper conditioning. This race was the turning point for me as a runner. This was when I started to think, "How do I get faster?"

I started reading articles online, buying running books, and surfing some forums to get some answers. I started incorporating hill, rep, interval, and threshold workouts into my regimen, all of which were previously foreign to me as a runner.

Next race on the agenda was the provincial 5k, which I aimed for sub 20 minutes to beat my previous 5k race time of just over 23 minutes. I crossed the finish line in 19:58, leaving an anxious and nervous wife in suspense about my finish time. This was proof the training was working.

So to keep the train rolling, I upped my mileage, kept working out, and aimed for a sub 40 minute 10k to see if my speed and endurance had benefited from my training. I signed up for the local 10k and finished just under my goal with a time of 39:56.

The last race of my 2013 racing season was a bit of a unique one. It's called the Cape to Cabot. It's a 20km race that starts at Cape Spear and ends on top of Signal Hill. For those of you that aren't from Newfoundland and have no clue what that means, basically it's a gruelling, hilly, endurance run in which your stamina is really put to the test. It's named "The Toughest Race in Eastern North America".To give you a fair idea of what the course is like, I've attached an image of the elevation chart:



I finished this bad boy just over 1hr34mins. I take it as a strong effort and maybe would have done slightly better if I never had a respiratory infection going on (I was barking up a lung throughout the whole race, but I paid top dollar to run this sucka so I wasn't sitting it out!) I recommend anyone that enjoys a good challenge to sign up and give it a go. It's a liberating feeling to finish and earns you much more kudos in the running community than a standard half marathon finish. You can read more on the Cape to Cabot here.

That ended my 2013 racing season and meant it was time to look back on my year of running and how to tackle 2014 as an athlete.

The Plan

I'm a big fan of Daniels' Running Formula. It's my training bible. I depend on it for my training target paces, racing strategies, and any other running related info. So at the beginning of 2014, I looked up my race results, crunched my numbers, and wrote them in my running journal (something I recommend any runners who compete or train to invest in). Here's my eversohumbling race targets and training plan:
5K - 18:30
10K - 38:59
Tely 10 - sub 65 minute
13.1 - 1:25:00
26.2 - no plans

How I am planning to hit these targets is :

  • Building my weekly mileage beyond my current amount -  Near the end of 2013 I was running about 250kms a month, but in 2014, I want this to be closer to 350-400kms a week. I have been spending January and February upping my mileage gradually and this spring is when the next big jump in mileage will happen.

  • Incorporating Phase Training - This is another of Daniels' recommendations. Phase 1 consists of endurance training/raw mileage. Phase 2 incorporates weekly rep training. Phase 3 incorporates some vo2/interval training. Phase 4 incorporates threshold training.

  • Run my Ass off - self explanatory.


The beauty of this way of training is that every phase opens the door for the next level. In phase 1 you are strengthening your heart and legs, preparing them for what's to come. Phase 2 is rep based which helps with raw speed and basically partitions your fitness into physical ability to run faster. Phase 3 is interval, which is a slower pace than rep training but is a more demanding type that taxes your ability to maintain a fast pace for a prolonged time. Lastly there's phase 4 which brings in threshold training, which is yet again slower than interval. This phase is also slower for a reason; Threshold running is very close to your marathon pace and is slower than your 5k pace. The idea with this training is to teach your body to properly flush itself of lactic acid building(a byproduct of a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo that happens when you run).  Ever get a burning in your legs when you run? That's lactic acid and phase 4 is all about prolonging that feeling and preventing it during a race.

So that ends my long and maybe a little too technical(?) recap of 2013 and race plans for 2014.

Until next time,  You stay classy San Diego,

-The Running Father

February 7, 2014

Hypothermic Half Marathon Recap and Results

Hypothermic Half Marathon Results


This past sunday, I decided to run my first Half Marathon. By using a few quick runner formulas (cough daniels' running formula), I was able to narrow down my predicted finishing time for the half distance. Having a 39:56 10k put me sub 1:30 for the half. After scoping the course beforehand, I realized the elevation and conditions would not be favourable for me (a little more on that in a bit). This was my first race trying out my newly acquired Adidas Adios Boost sneakers. I spent most of 2013 racing season rocking my Adios 2 (as you can tell, I'm a big Adidas fan!)

hypothermic half marathon


Here is the course:




[caption id="attachment_148" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Map Map of race[/caption]

The half marathon I chose for my first race of that distance is the Hypothermic Half Marathon, which is put off by the good folks at the Running Room. The course was slightly over measured by around 300-400m so I had to take that into account as well. I estimated I would need to average around a 4:10 min/km pace or a 6:50min/mile to secure my goal of sub 1:30 half. I was decked in a long sleeve shirt, a singlet, matching shorts, compression socks, and my Adidas Adios Boost sneakers. People thought I was crazy running it in such little clothes. Time would tell!

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I started off the race, dialling in a 4:20-4:30 min/km pace to get the ball rolling, and to tackle the first incline of the race. I knew the first 5-6kms were fairly uphill with some cold headwind, so hitting target race pace was out of the question. The pack slowly separated, with one guy taking off ahead of every runner (he was targeting a 1:09 finish). The next group had myself, along with 4 other runners. After making some small talk, I found out two of them were targeting a 6:45 min/mile pace. They pushed it a little harder through the beginning elevation and I let them take that lead in hopes of preserving my energy for a strong finish.

Here is the elevation:




[caption id="attachment_147" align="aligncenter" width="300"]hypo2014elevation Elevation map[/caption]

The next group was the other 200+ runners, who seemed to be sticking together in a huge shuffling pack. I got the feeling that many of them were running it just for the challenge of the distance, without a target time to finish.

After we hit the first water station around the 5 or 6k point, the elevation began to smoothen out and I found my groove.

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At this point I was warmed up and I gave my jacket to my loving and supportive wife, who suprisingly greeted me at the water station. I declined water at the stop, mostly due to the slight hiccup in pace trying to manoeuvre my jacket off over my garmin watch! There would be another lap at this water station so I hoped to snag a drop of gatorade on the next loop. On the second loop, we would begin to lap the massive pack of "running roomers" we shall call them. This is where things got crazy. I saw one guy with a 600ml bottle of pepsi in his fuel belt, and saw another couple of runners having a mid race snack which consisted of cookies and muffins, stating "well, at least we won't be hungry!".  ..Sigh.

<hit fast forward button on recap player zzzzzzzziiiippppppp>

We arrive at the 10 mile mark and at this point my legs are beginning to feel sore. The elevation early in the race had pushed me more than I wanted to and I was feeling sluggish. At this point I was in fourth place. First place guy was long finished, and second and third were about 150 ft or so ahead. I was really hoping they would burn out by now and I would take a lead but they soldiered on. Props to those guys. I chugged through the fatigue only to be greeted by headwind along with blowing snow at mile 12 which made it hard to see. I have to admit, this is the only time the whole race I felt cold. My arms were getting numb. I guess they don't call it hypothermic half for nothing!

I soldiered on till I hit the last straight away on the final mile and .1 (or so I thought!) My garmin pegged me at around 1:29:03 for the correct distance but the race was measured slightly long and I had a little bit to go. I could spot the big running room finishing line ahead and I geared down into kick mode, bringing my pace down to a 2:43 min/km. I loves my kicks! The final time read 1:30:34. So according to their time I was slightly over my target time. I finished in 4th overall with a huge gap between me and the next finishers. I'll take it as a win. It was my first race at the half distance. It was very cold and windy (-8 celsius) and the course was not only measured long, but the elevation was horrible. On a good day with better conditions I would have ran under 1:28 so i'm pleased.

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After finishing, the runners were presented this sweet looking finisher's medal:

[caption id="attachment_137" align="alignnone" width="300"]hypothermic half marathon finisher medal Finishers medal, sweet![/caption]

The race was followed up by a delicious brunch consisting of bacon, eggs, sausages, yogurt, toast, fruit, and other yummy stuff.

Here are my mile splits from the race. You can see where I struggled with the hills at the start but slowly found my pace:

[caption id="attachment_149" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mile Splits Mile Splits[/caption]

This is my hypothermic half marathon of 2014 wrapped up and in the books. I hope you all enjoyed reading this and hope to see you for my next race recap. Until next time, stay strong,

Keep rocking in the free world,

Adam, aka, The Running Father

January 30, 2014

New site, new running year, new goals! Part 1

[runners_log]

2013 is over and in the books. Don't worry, I haven't forgot about this site. As you can all see I have recently revamped the whole site. It's still a work in progress and I have a few designs done for this site so if anyone has any feedback in their thoughts about the current design, feel free to comment or drop a message.

So it's the 2014 running season for all the runners out there. Also, 2014 is going to be the first running year for a lot of new runners that decided to lace up their sneakers for the first time this year. Hopefully 2014 brings everyone the race goals they aim for, be it a new PR or maybe someone doing their first couch to 5k program.

I often receive many questions from people I know who wish to start running but don't know where to start so look forward to some sample couch to 5k plans and getting started tutorials coming to therunningfather blog in the near future. I'm also going to incorporate some guest blogs from both beginner runners and some highly experienced runners so there's a bit of everything for everyone! Plus, I know as a runner that it's hard to remember what it was like to be out of breath from curb to curb or lamp post to lamp post so it's often hard to sympathize with those that are just beginning to run. I am hoping that incorporating some blog posts from those beginner runners may help everyone get a glimpse into the world of couch to 5k running and what it's like to learn to run. I know I am excited about touching on this area in the near future.

Now time to discuss my 2014 running season! So last year saw me upping my mileage from "lose weight, get in shape" mileage to " get fitter and get faster" mileage. Well, 2014 is more of an extension on that. Not only am I going to bring my mileage higher, I am going to be training harder, honing in on some more specific races, and even "dipping my toes in the water" for some new race distances (no I will not be swimming!). Last year brought some race times followed by some huge PRs. I have some 2014 running goals to be revealed in the next blog update.  Here's my 2013 running year.

Here is a quick recap:
5k - 2013 started with the Flatout 5k race when I finished just over 23 mins with a goal of breaking 23 mins. I was capable of doing it but as it being first race I didn't know how to run it properly and completely under ran the first lap. A strong second lap couldn't make up for it and the damage was done. This hit me hard on many levels. It showed my weaknesses and showed where to make improvements.

5k Mundy Pond - I was registered and ready for a sub 23 for this race but ended up with gastro about 2 days before race day (what's the odds?? I have had gastro maybe twice in my life). I didn't get to run this one.

Tely 10 2013 - I almost didn't run this one. It's our local annual 10 mile race. It's huge. We get about 3500 people running it each year and that number is growing. 10 miles is 16kms for those that aren't aware. It's a huge distance for anyone new to running. In the beginning of 2013 10 miles was out of my reach. My hips and legs would hurt before I could get that distance. But with increased mileage, training, and dedication I ran a 10 mile practice run and knew I could do it. I set my goal for 85 minutes and ended up running it in just over 74 minutes. I was initially happy with that result, but when I checked my splits I was infuriated with myself. I ran multiple miles at a slower pace and compensated way too much in the second half. For those that are unaware, the Tely 10 course is mostly downhill the first 10kms, so you wanna take advantage of that elevation drop and really make your first split the fastest. I dropped a 3:43 km in like the 14th km when most people around me were toast at that point. I finished the race knowing I beat my goal time but as reality set in, I realized I will run it a lot more efficiently in 2014.

This is the end of the first part of this post. It brings us up to the end of July and the first half of 2013. This was the turning point of my racing season and the beginning of a whole new outlook on running. It was the start of a new friendship with another local runner who helped me train and reach some new goals. Stay tuned for part two to follow in the next few days! I have my first half marathon this weekend and my daughter's first birthday party so I am going to be a busy running father this weekend!

Until next time, keep on rockin in the free world.

November 25, 2013

You Can't Be A Runner And A Wrestler


What this article will provide:




  • Information about different muscle types

  • Explanation why cross training may or may not be beneficial to you as a runner

  • Is weight lifting a good idea while training for races?



vs


The topic of this post comes from a recent discussion I had with a running buddy of mine. He is training to be a runner, while at the same time trying to lose weight and get in shape. He has succeeded in all his goals so far, having lost about 150lbs and also completing many local races ranging from 5k to 11k in the past year. There is only one problem with his perfect story: you can't be both a runner and a wrestler.

What I am referring to with that quote requires a hefty explanation so bear with me. This running buddy I told you about is in good physical shape to run. In fact he runs more miles a week than I do. He works out with weights multiple times a week, bikes probably twice as much as he runs, and has the diet of an elite athlete. He just doesn't understand why he isn't getting faster at running. To put it simply, muscles require oxygen to work. Without getting scientific, how long you can maintain your target pace comes down to how efficient your body uses oxygen and releases the oxygen and byproducts. More bulky muscles = more oxygen needed.

The problem with a lot of people that try to get faster at running is they are spending too much time doing things that are not beneficial to running. For example, 20km bike ride is an hour that you could have spent running. Three hours swimming is three hours you could have been running. An hour at the gym lifting weights is an hour you could have been running.









Image courtesy of vitacost.com

There are two types of muscles: slow twitch and fast twitch. The easiest way to describe them is slow twitch function at slower speeds than fast twitch muscles. Pop quiz time: You are running a workout on the track and you want to sprint a lap on the track, which muscle type is being used? Exactly, fast twitch! Second question, you are running your first half marathon and want to finish under two hours, which muscle type are you depending on? Right again, slow twitch. Last question and this one might be trickier. You are running a marathon and you want to finish under 3:30 and you are 200 yards from the finish line and there's a guy just ahead of you so you kick it up a gear and beat him across the line, which muscle type are you using? WRONG! It's the secret unexplainable mojo muscles. The type of muscles that science cannot explain when someone is so fatigued to the point of quitting but can still somehow manage to pull a blazing fast kick to the finish out of thin air. Just kidding, the real answer is both slow twitch and fast twitch. You are using your slow twitch for the duration of your marathon but that kick at the end is our good friend fast twitch. God love him for the adrenaline at the finish.

Now don't get the wrong message. I am not saying that there is a problem with cross training (i.e. biking, rowing, swimming etc), but if one is committed to being the fastest runner they want to be, it takes sacrifice. Sure, if you are happy running your local 5k at a moderate pace, finishing around mid pack, then this message will not apply to you. I am referring to the runners who want to win and will do anything it takes to reach their potential.

Firstly, weight lifting and strength training and running do not mix. Have you ever seen the body shape of the people who win races and marathons? They are like human rakes. In fact, if they were not runners, one would mistaken them for poor, ill fed individuals. But there's a reason they are so thin and let's say "unmuscular". Muscle weighs a lot. Like, a lot. And who needs to weigh more when trying to run faster? It doesn't take a genius to realize that if subject A weighs 200lbs and subject B only weighs 150, who is going to have the easier effort to run with their body? For some reason, people have an easier time imagining this 200lb subject A as carrying excess fat for body weight. But it actually works the same way with muscle.

If you want to leave feeling very optimistic about what you just read, here's something to inspire your running and training. Although Usain Bolt is referred to as the fastest man in the world, you may just actually beat him on a 5k or 10k race. Usain Bolt is primarily a sprinter, chocked to the gills with muscles of the fast twitch variety. Stick him in a local 5k race and he may be completely useless. I have no doubts he would finish the race but I would be highly surprised if he broke 20 minutes.

So if you want to get faster, put down the dumb bells and give up the pushups. Sure it will make you look good with your clothes off, but it's not gonna help you get to the finish line any faster.

You Can't Be A Runner And A Wrestler


What this article will provide:


  • Information about different muscle types
  • Explanation why cross training may or may not be beneficial to you as a runner
  • Is weight lifting a good idea while training for races?

vs

The topic of this post comes from a recent discussion I had with a running buddy of mine. He is training to be a runner, while at the same time trying to lose weight and get in shape. He has succeeded in all his goals so far, having lost about 150lbs and also completing many local races ranging from 5k to 11k in the past year. There is only one problem with his perfect story: you can't be both a runner and a wrestler.

What I am referring to with that quote requires a hefty explanation so bear with me. This running buddy I told you about is in good physical shape to run. In fact he runs more miles a week than I do. He works out with weights multiple times a week, bikes probably twice as much as he runs, and has the diet of an elite athlete. He just doesn't understand why he isn't getting faster at running. To put it simply, muscles require oxygen to work. Without getting scientific, how long you can maintain your target pace comes down to how efficient your body uses oxygen and releases the oxygen and byproducts. More bulky muscles = more oxygen needed.

The problem with a lot of people that try to get faster at running is they are spending too much time doing things that are not beneficial to running. For example, 20km bike ride is an hour that you could have spent running. Three hours swimming is three hours you could have been running. An hour at the gym lifting weights is an hour you could have been running.

Image courtesy of vitacost.com
There are two types of muscles: slow twitch and fast twitch. The easiest way to describe them is slow twitch function at slower speeds than fast twitch muscles. Pop quiz time: You are running a workout on the track and you want to sprint a lap on the track, which muscle type is being used? Exactly, fast twitch! Second question, you are running your first half marathon and want to finish under two hours, which muscle type are you depending on? Right again, slow twitch. Last question and this one might be trickier. You are running a marathon and you want to finish under 3:30 and you are 200 yards from the finish line and there's a guy just ahead of you so you kick it up a gear and beat him across the line, which muscle type are you using? WRONG! It's the secret unexplainable mojo muscles. The type of muscles that science cannot explain when someone is so fatigued to the point of quitting but can still somehow manage to pull a blazing fast kick to the finish out of thin air. Just kidding, the real answer is both slow twitch and fast twitch. You are using your slow twitch for the duration of your marathon but that kick at the end is our good friend fast twitch. God love him for the adrenaline at the finish.

Now don't get the wrong message. I am not saying that there is a problem with cross training (i.e. biking, rowing, swimming etc), but if one is committed to being the fastest runner they want to be, it takes sacrifice. Sure, if you are happy running your local 5k at a moderate pace, finishing around mid pack, then this message will not apply to you. I am referring to the runners who want to win and will do anything it takes to reach their potential.

Firstly, weight lifting and strength training and running do not mix. Have you ever seen the body shape of the people who win races and marathons? They are like human rakes. In fact, if they were not runners, one would mistaken them for poor, ill fed individuals. But there's a reason they are so thin and let's say "unmuscular". Muscle weighs a lot. Like, a lot. And who needs to weigh more when trying to run faster? It doesn't take a genius to realize that if subject A weighs 200lbs and subject B only weighs 150, who is going to have the easier effort to run with their body? For some reason, people have an easier time imagining this 200lb subject A as carrying excess fat for body weight. But it actually works the same way with muscle.

If you want to leave feeling very optimistic about what you just read, here's something to inspire your running and training. Although Usain Bolt is referred to as the fastest man in the world, you may just actually beat him on a 5k or 10k race. Usain Bolt is primarily a sprinter, chocked to the gills with muscles of the fast twitch variety. Stick him in a local 5k race and he may be completely useless. I have no doubts he would finish the race but I would be highly surprised if he broke 20 minutes.



So if you want to get faster, put down the dumb bells and give up the pushups. Sure it will make you look good with your clothes off, but it's not gonna help you get to the finish line any faster.

August 29, 2013

Saucony Kinvara 3 Review


Saucony Kinvara 3


Here's a review of one of my shoes currently in my rotation. I am probably a bit late to reviewing this seeing as I have about 300kms on the sneaker already. In a way, I am glad I waited to review it because this was definitely a shoe I grew to appreciate.

These shoes are considered neutral minimal trainers, weighing in at 7.7oz for a men's size 9, with a 4mm heel to toe drop (23 heel, 19 forefoot). Basically this means you shouldn't start out with a shoe this basic if you are new to running. If you are anything like I was when I began running, you associate squishy cushioned shoes with being the best ones. Over the last few years, I have learned this is not always the case, although it still may be for some *cough supinators cough* runners.

Enough about my taste in shoes and more stats about this shoe! Bear with me, this is my first shoe review and I am far from technical when I describe a shoe. Okay, here we go!

Upper


This shoe features a fairly thin upper. Saucony uses something called a flex film around the upper which helps keep the shoe a little more flexible, given that this upper is fairy soft. There's nothing to be found in terms of stability so if you overpronate a great deal then you might want to check out the Saucony Guide instead. The shoe has a fair bit of room in the toe box, but my foot is fairly narrow and this isn't usually an issue for me. One thing I will not about the upper and from what I read is a common problem is the shoe rubs the achilles tendon if you run sockless. A few times I ran with short socks or sockless and it gave me a bad blister on my achilles tendon. Apparently this issue has been fixed with the Saucony Kinvara 4, which I have not yet tried.


Midsole


The midsole of this shoe is a little cushioned. I have come to realize it is a little more squishy than I had previously thought. The first time I wore these shoes I was coming from mostly traditional shoes and they felt sort of harder on the feet. Over time, and being introduced to stiffer and more minimal shoes, I start to feel the cushioning moreso now and yearn for something with a little more ground feel. Also the midsole is fairly flexible which allows you to transition fairly well through your stride.

Outer Sole


The outer of this shoe is very minimal. There's little outer contact with the ground with most of the midsole being exposed. This is to keep weight down and to create a more ground contact feel.

 

Basically the black that you see is outer while the white is midsole. As you can see, it is designed for more of a forefoot strike with enough outer for a slight heel strike.

 

I find the grip to be decent but I don't know if they would perform well on icy conditions, so proceed with caution during winter use!


Final Thoughts


I would definitely recommend this shoe to other runners. I don't think I would recommend it to someone as their first running shoe, simply for the fact that it's a minimal trainer and a new runner may find it "boring" as a running shoe.

Who would I recommend it to? Someone that is looking for their next pair of sneakers to replace their clunky trainers. Overweight runners might go through these sneakers a little quicker as well. Also it is a very safe 'middle ground' *no pun intended* between barefoot and traditional. If you want a little more cushioning than the Kinvara currently provides, you might want to try the Saucony Mirage.

Like I said, originally this shoe didn't wow me. I hear rave reviews about it and heard about so many people using it. When I finally tried a pair, I didn't see the mass appeal. Fast forward about 50kms into these shoes and I love them. They disappear on my feet and they make me feel fast. I no longer get any rubbing on the heel and they fit so roomy on the toe box.

This is my go to shoe for anything from light speed work to long 20+ km runs. I would recommend them for the marathon distance if you are light enough or do not require a cushioning shoe.

Rating:


Pros



  • Light

  • Breathable, spacious upper

  • Huge selection of color options

  • Version 3 is last year's model so it may be found for fairly cheap online

  • Disappears on my foot (not literally!)



Cons





  • Maybe too minimal for inexperienced and heavier runners




I give this shoe a 4/5!