Ok, so I don't race as much as I used to. But at age 50, with injuries and very inconsistent training the last 6 years,I'm glad for the last 6 months of pain free running where I've run 3 out of every 4 days during this time. Most of these runs have been on the dreaded treadmill, which has been much more forgiving on my knees. I had planned to run the Milton Independence Run on 7/4, but had no idea what to expect. All my treadmill runs were btw 7:45 and 8:15 pace, and my longest run was just 7 miles. My feeling was I could probably hold 7:00 pace, but would likely fall off in the last few miles due to my lack of overall mileage. I was right about that.
The findings of this research suggest that exposure to the color blue improves performance of a muscular endurance based task. Such a simple and inexpensive performance enhancement warrants further investigation to explore different exercise modalities as well as effects of different colored lenses, and the mechanisms as to how color affects performance.
Note: This is an article I first wrote around the 2002-2004 timeframe for the articles section of HillRunner.com. As I'm in the process of retiring that section, I'm moving all articles to the blog in their original form. I have one more to move after this. I would likely write this somewhat differently if I were to rewrite it today but I want to keep it in its original form as I know this one, especially, has gained some popularity (and been copied without reference by some other sites).
In an ironic twist, a day after my post on summer running went live I came across a study on what about the heat affects us. Also this week, pre-exercise static stretching and a better way to warm up?
First, what is it about the heat that affects our running? For the longest time, we've been told it's that our core temperature rises to near dangerous levels and our bodies shut down to protect themselves.
Summer is here. In the past week or so, I've seen a number of runners comment on the heat and/or humidity hitting them. I've also noticed mostly the humidity (it hasn't been terribly hot here in the past week) hitting me hard. I think it's time to make sure we all remember a few key points about running in the summer.
1) It sucks. It sucks for all of us. There's no way around it. Whether we're in Wisconsin suffering through the 80s with high humidity or in the southeast suffering through 20 degrees warmer with even higher humidity, it's something our bodies aren't used to handling and it's tough on us. I think it's even tougher this year after the winter we had. We're all suffering out there. Those of us who tough it out are the ones who will thrive in the fall, though. Accept the difficulties and embrace the suck. Wear it as a badge of honor, be proud that you're hanging tough through it and keep plowing on.
Because I didn't post on Monday last week due to a weekend trip with the family, I have two weeks worth of reading to catch up on. Hopefully, that means what I'm picking will be the best of the best. Twice as good? We can hope.
Cramps and Gatorade
I never thought I'd be linking to Deadspin but here you go (warning: some use of "adult" language included).
Here's the thing: We actually don't know for sure what causes a muscle cramp, despite what you may have heard from your high school football coach, or your half-marathoning buddy, or your gym-rat friend, or a sports-drink commercial. And the reason we don't know has a lot to do with Gatorade and the "science" of hydration.
I had a couple conversations recently that made me realize that some of my past statements about cross training may have given a false impression of my current opinion on it. I'd like to take a few moments to clear up any misconceptions and to explain where I believe there is value in cross training and where there isn't.
First, though, a little on the history of my views on cross training. I think maybe my history will shed some light on how I've come to my current viewpoint and maybe how these misconceptions about my current viewpoint happened.
For as long as HillRunner.com has been around, I've been asked why there are no training plans posted on the site. You know the type people are asking about, your "12 weeks to a 5K" plan that you can find in many books and on many websites. My usual answer is "Cookie cutter plans work for cookie cutter people and I have yet to meet a cookie cutter person."
Getting a little more personalized, these days you have these interesting little automated training plan programs. Punch in a few facts about yourself and a program will spit out a 12 week training plan. Not completely cookie cutter but there's a reason you won't find one of those on HillRunner.com. No program can take all possible variables and how they interact with each other into account. You need a person for that.
Last year, I bloggedtwice about the latest trends in running shoes. Essentially, that the minimal shoe market was reverting back to the mean and the pendulum was beginning to swing toward the "maximal" end.
Ever since my last race, things haven't gone quite to plan. In that race, I had to make a last second maneuver to make a left turn as the lead bike nearly led me off the course. To make that turn, I had to plant my right foot hard. Two days later, I got chased by a kamikaze goose that actually took flight and was aiming right at my head. Once again, I planted my right foot hard to turn around. The next day, my upper ankle/lower shin were hurting. Based on everything I heard of high ankle sprains, this fit the description. This was very frustrating because it was something essentially out of my control, not due to some training mistake I made or anything like that. I wouldn't even call it a running injury really but it messed with my training for weeks. I only took one day off but my training wasn't quite normal for about 2-3 weeks.
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