Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wayne's Top 8 Updates of RaceTwitch.com

A lot has been going on at RaceTwitch.com over the last few months and we are excited for the rollout of several new items for 2011.

It’s been amazing from the beginning concept of RaceTwitch during the 2009 Deca Ironman in Mexico (lot’s of time to think while racing for 10 days!) where we are today 11 months later.

1. Beyond The Ironman - My first book outlining what it takes to train and race in the world of ultra-triathlons. coming out beginning of 2011.

2. RaceTwitch.com Iphone Application - released the first version last month, check it out at Itunes Store

3. RaceTwitchreg.com - Our new unique Free Online Race Registration resource for Race Directors will be launched in another month or so.

4. RaceTwitch.com Training Camps - Slovenia - (July 2011) 3 separate comprehensive camps in an absolute amazing area of alp regions and of course exploring this beautiful country. Agenda/website coming soon!

5. RacePeak - New training/coaching resource coming in 2011

6. Mental Training Performance coaching - Coming in 2011

7. Comprehensive Marketing/Partnering services for worldwide races - Rolled out last month with the goal of exposing more people to great races.

8. RaceTwitch Club Meetup - First meeting in NYC last month - looking at adding more cities through 2011 - let me know if interested having one in your area.

If you need more information on anything above as well as idea’s or interests, please don’t hesitate to email me at wayne.kurtz@racetwitch.com

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mental Training Technique to Incorporate in your Racing

Have you incorporated mental training skills into your training and racing? We all hear professional athletes talk about how important it becomes to their overall performances!

Remember some of the the toughest mental athletes, Mark Allen, Dave Scott at the Hawaii Ironman years ago, of course Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong with all the Tour de France wins, and there are so many more.

The question is what specific mental performance training skills can you learn and use with your endurance racing. Personally, I use a bunch of different things and one I would like to pass on to you that you might want to use during your race.

I call it my “rope technique”. Other’s call it the magnet concept. It’s a very simple concept that has worked for me for years. The technique can be implemented when you are at a crucial part of your specific race - for example: the last 5-6 miles in a marathon, key part of a cycling race to maintain pace with the “pack” on a major climb, the middle sections of the run in a triathlon, etc., focus on a competitor that is in front of you that you can see up the road and imagine they have a rope around their wast and their energy is pulling you along.

The other thought is to think of them with a magnet on their back and you are “sticking” to them. It might sound crazy if you have not practiced this basic mental training technique, but it works! Just focus on the competitor and create a mental vision of them pulling you along.

If you tell yourself that they are doing all the work and use their energy to keep you maintaining their pace. Practice it regularly and you will see the results, especially late into a race when you are pushing the pace. Of course you can call it and create a picture of anything to have the same benefits of using a competitors energy to pull you along and the next thing you know you will be passing them!

Have fun and don’t forget to add mental performance training techniques into your overall training program. If interested in specific mental performance coaching, please free free to email me at wayne.kurtz@racetwitch.com.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Racetwitch Meetup kicked off in New York City

Last night in NYC we kicked off the first Racetwitch Meetup. Many friends around the country have asked me, are you having one near my home. Well the answer is yes and we are currently selecting the best locations with passionate endurance athletes.

In addition to meeting new endurance friends and learning about their backgrounds we listened to Jennifer Steinman discuss her adventures of filming the Racing The Planet 4 Desert Running Series. It sounded like plenty of life changing experiences for Jennifer and the athletes. These races sound brutal but of course sparked an interest from some of us attending last night, yes that would be me of course!

Carrying all supplies including water, etc. each day through the hot desserts sounds extremely difficult for sure.

We learned about Alejandra Reagan's CityTri racing series in NJ and NY areas. Definitely check out the series of triathlons/duathlons at www.citytri.com and their fall Duathlon is coming up November 7th.

Also, great info on training camps in the Hudson Valley from Ed at Open Sky Training, www.openskytraining.com

It was great to get things moving with the RaceTwitch Meetup and looking forward to growth in NYC and other cities year you.

Personally a big thanks to RaceTwitch Pro Team Member, Laura Demeo for all the help in coordinating everything and of course our guest speaker Jennifer Steinman. I can't wait to see the final product (movie or DVD) from Jennifer and we will get the word out to all of the RaceTwitch tribe, stay tuned.

Would you be interested in a Racetwitch Meetup near you? Please email me at Wayne.Kurtz@racetwitch.com

Mark you calendars - next NYC RaceTwitch Meetup - December 8th - Stay tuned for the location in the city!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winter Training Is Coming - 10 Endurance Workouts to Consider

For many of us the summer racing season is coming to an end and the peak races are over or within the next few months. Every year I look to add something different or and old training discipline to keep things interesting and fun during the sometimes long winters in Pittsburgh, PA. In 25 years, I have used many different workouts inside and out to add not only variety but also to improve different weaknesses. Here are a few to consider to add to your off-season or winter training program. Yes, I know there are plenty of you who focus on winter racing so your prime race season is coming up!

10 Activities to add some Variety:

  1.  Consider a video course for overall body strength, P90X, Insansity (great one - personally I love these workouts) or Wheel of Yoga for Cyclists, http://www.moryoga.com/dvd-release.html
  2.  Snowshoeing and participating in a race, (hill climb or longer race). 
  3. Mountain biking in the mud and snow for a long fat burning ride. 
  4. Speed Skating - even if you don’t have the higher end performance skates, just rent hockey skates and do a session after a bike or run. This is tough on the quads and lungs when combining with another workout!
  5. Winter mountain hiking/climbing.
  6. Cross Country skiing and either do a long trail: for example the Catamount Trail in Vermont or sign up for a race.
  7. Trail running in the snow - add some screws to the bottom of the shoe for additional traction.
  8. Long Workouts to build mental strength: 100 mile indoor bike ride or a 3 hour treadmill run (yes they can be brutal/boring but add in a specific interval set or a combination workout to keep it interesting). 
  9. Cyclo-Cross bike race - these are a lot of fun and absolutely exhausting.
  10. Long distance indoor swim.
These are just a few to consider for the upcoming off-season for many of us. What are you going to do this winter? Find a race on http://www.racetwitch.com Send over your workouts or races to consider!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Old Great Fitness Tool

Yes, there are so many training tools from years ago. Remember the Nordic Track cross country ski machine, how about the Abdominal wheel, of course there are many others. One that I continue to use regularly every week of the year is the jump rope.

Jumping rope and learning the various techniques improves so many area's that have cross over benefits for endurance based sports. Yes, even for ultra distance events! Jumping rope improves overall body strength and of course speed/turnover. If you travel on business, it's great to throw in the luggage. It's a great tool to use for warming up or combining with other workouts.

For example, add to hill repeats (running) and at the bottom of the hill after your recovery grab the rope for 2 minutes of quick jumping and then climb the hill (repeat several sets). Do this workout weekly and you will notice strength improvements in the calves along with an increase of your turnover when climbing the hill. Not easy, but huge benefits!

Combine jumping rope with bike intervals as well and build over time to several minutes. I highly recommend adding to your routine and the more you jump consistently the better you will become on technique and speed.

If you want a quality jump rope, check out Buddy Lee Jump Ropes. He is amazing and makes a great jump rope. If possible, I recommend jumping on a cushioned mat and start out slow and build over time.

Add jump roping to your weekly training routine and experience the significant strength and speed benefits.

Have fun, it works!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Endurance Racing in Comfort - Top 7 Idea's

An ongoing question we all face during racing in long distance endurance events is the compromise of lightweight shoes, bikes, etc. vs. maybe a bit more weight and less aerodynamics but more comfort. Of course in shorter events comfort becomes less of an issue (to some degree!) and it's all about speed via no socks while running in a triathlon, no change of clothes in the transition area, etc.

As the race becomes significantly longer, comfort becomes more of issue for many of us. Being comfortable can counter balance some of the intense fatigue that occurs in ultra distance events. Here are few items to consider for your next ultra distance events:

1. If your competing in an Ultra Distance Triathlon (Double, Triple, Quintuple, DECA Ironmans) the key is to stay on the bike and aerodynamics especially races over the Double Ironman distance become less of a factor. Many athletes use lightweight road bike geometry frames with aero bars and aero rims. The key is to STAY on the bike for as long as possible.

2. If your racing in a long distance trail running race consider using just a larger somewhat heavier shoe to protect those toes during the later stages of the race when many athletes are suffering with feet problems.

3. Consider using a two piece wetsuit while competing in an ultra distance open water swim or ultra distance triathlon. The advantage of the two piece suit is that if chafing occurs or overheating it's very easy to take off the top and keep the bottoms on and still have significant buoyancy from the legs which tend to sink!

4. Absolutely a must in long distance running, triathlons, adventure racing events - make sure there are no seam problems in shorts, pants, shirts that will cause ongoing chafing.

5. Carry small container of Glide, Bag Balm, or other anti-friction creme in cycling shirt pocket, or running pack during very long races.

6. For a race that entails a very long bike section or bike race (300 + miles) consider using a fuel pack attached to top tube as it's very difficult after 20 hours or so to reach back to the pocket in your cycling jersey - I know this one well!

7. Fix the feet early before the "hot spots" become serious problems.

Of course there are plenty others, let me know your thoughts or idea's on what works for you in the ultra distance events to remain as comfortable as possible.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Handheld Running Water Bottle Product Review

Recently I received the CAMELBAK QUICK GRIP® W/PODIUM® CHILL JACKET running water bottle at a recent race in the free "goodie" bag and found it to be of exceptional quality. Personally, I have run with a handheld water bottle for years and have tested many models with all of them functional but not many specific differentiators. Over the years, many of the manufacturers have continued to improve the holders by adding small compartments on the holder to allow room for gels, small energy bar, electrolytes, keys, etc. Also, there are several that promise non-slip from sweaty hands (in my opinion they don't work) and have used new types of materials to absorb sweat.

One continuous problem with handheld water bottles occurs during hot weather and the liquid gets very warm relatively quickly because of the body heat of the hand holding the bottle, no matter how much ice you add to the bottle. This is where the CAMELBAK QUICK GRIP® W/PODIUM® CHILL JACKET stands apart from the various models. Originally my thought was would it actually work in hot conditions for extended long runs. To my surprise, the bottle keeps liquids cold for extended periods of time. Recently, I used the bottle for a hot 100 mile run and the water remained cold from aid station to aid station in hot, humid conditions. In my opinion it's the best in the marketplace if you like to have cold liquids when running. The only item that could be improved is the size of the pouch to hold a gel. It's difficult to store even one gel and get it zippered when you have your hand in the holder.

Capacity and Weight:

Pack body: 70D diamond Ripstop and air mesh.
Hydration Capacity: 21 oz Podium™ Chill Jacket™ Bottle.
Dimensions: 7"H x 4"W x 3"D.
Weight: Full Bottle: 1.42 lbs.

This Camelbak product is definitely a winner in my opinion, check it out!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The 10% Factor for your Endurance Training

We have all hear the statement, "give an extra 10%" in all aspects of life. For example, if your in sales, make the extra 10% over the standard with sales calls, give a little more than 10% to charity, reduce calories by an extra 10%, etc. You get the point. The question is what's the impact of adding 10% to your workouts and the potential for improvement on race day.

The mental aspects of embedding the 10% rule into the daily workouts can provide significant advantages when the race gets difficult through the many "up's and down's". Some examples I like to use are the following:

1. Interval sets in any discipline. If the goal was to do 10, then focus mentally and push for one more or 10%
2. Strength training - add 10% more in terms of sets or reps
3. Hill repeats, add 10% more to the total
4. Add 10% of total time to every ride or run.
5. Visualization Training for race day - practice an an additional 10% every day in terms of time.

There are many other's to consider while working out. The improvements mentally by following the 10% addition rule can definitely have impact on race performance. Of course it's difficult to use the 10% rule to every workout, but think of incorporating into several workouts each week. No, it's not going to guarantee that when you are at mile 80 in a 100 mile run or mile 18 in the Ironman run that you can just turn it on and fly to the finish, but it can be an influencer to getting through the rough patches as the subconscious mind has been trained to go through tough spots in training.

Check out RaceTwitch.com for a new race for your schedule!

Also, we have just started RaceTwitch Club and a Meetup occuring Oct. 13th in NYC. Even if you can't make it, sign on for future updates and meeting locations!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top 5 Challenges To Add To Group Bike Rides

The weekend is almost here and time for the long training ride with a group of friends. In most cases the rides have one main goal which is to do over distance training with some tempo sections or significant accelerations up the hills. Over the years I have learned a few different idea's to spice up the miles and keep it challenging but not to turn every ride into a "slug fest time trail". Here are my 5 Challenges to consider for your weekend group rides:

1. Signs - The sign game should begin about a third of the way into the ride so everyone is warmed up and the key is to sprint to specific signs. For example, a Township, County, or State Road sign that is along your route. Define the specific signs before hand but it's up to each individual to spot the sign in the distance and then begin the sprint.

2. Road Kill Sprint/Jumping - This involves looking for road kill in the distance ( the road in the lane your riding - be safe!) which in my area could consist of dead raccoon, deer, groundhogs, opossums, etc. and the goal is to have everyone sprint to the road kill and the leader must successfully jump over the road kill. No scraping the back wheel on the animal allowed and focus on being safe for the jump over the road kill!

3. Big Chain Ring Climbs - These consist of several long gradual or short steep climbs preferably during the second half of the climb when the legs are getting tired. The goal is to have everyone shift into the big chain ring and climb the hill. The main focus is just to get to the top no matter how long it takes to crest the hill.

4. Big Chain Ring total rides - These rides are best when all the riders are have plenty of miles of training during the season. It's a difficult workout and if your legs are not strong there will be plenty of suffering. Pretty easy concept, everyone in the group shifts to the big chain ring and are not allowed to be in the small ring for any part of the ride. The climbing can be very tough!

5. Hill Climbs - Pretty basic, it's a sprint for everyone to see who can climb the hill the fastest. There is one twist to make it fun and embarrassing. The winner of every climb is required to circle back down the hill and laugh at everyone suffering to the top and will receive the added benefit of another hill climb.

Enjoy your long rides this weekend and hope you try some of these challenges to keep in interesting for everyone!! Don't forget to check out RaceTwitch.com http://www.racetwitch.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

Compression Running Socks - Just a Fad or Not?

Compression socks are everywhere and the question is do they provide benefits for athletes. It's interesting to see all the new fads come and go over the 25 years of my racing experience. Do you remember the trend of big heavy cushioned running shoes many years ago and now it's all about lightweight, barefoot running, lighter the better.

I first noticed a trend of these new compression running socks while competing in European ultra triathlons as many athletes not only used them during the run and also the bike. Many of my European friends and competitors mentioned that they provide benefits of reducing fatigue in the lower leg muscles specifically in the calf and Achilles area's.

So, I decided to test them to see if they do have any benefits while training and for recovery. After researching online, there are many models and styles to select with most priced in the $50-$60 range (Zensah, SL3S, CEP). So they are not cheap and the majority of the socks are made from different types of nylon. There are a couple models that blend in wool. The main differences is whether you look at an entire sock or the compression sleeve. I figured that the sleeve might be easier to put on especially with triathlon transitions and allow me to sleep with them without getting hot feet (from a whole sock. Also, during a race I can choose my own socks. I purchased the Zensah sleeves.

The first time I ran with the compression sleeves I noticed that it was a bit of a tight feeling around the calf area but after a few minutes they seemed fine. I did not notice much benefit in shorter 1 hour runs and then decided to try them for a long 6 hour run with greater fatigue in the lower legs. I noticed less tightness in my calves and overall they were not that that warm which was a concern and of course looking a little odd (I tested them during a trail run in the heat of the summer and they are black color). The next test was to wear them after a long workout running and this is where I think they provided the greatest benefits. They seemed to reduce some of the extensive fatigue and the next day the legs recovered very well. I figured they might be a a good recovering tool if I slept with them every night during last year's DECA Ultra Triathlon. After every day and completing the Ironman distance I put them on for sleeping and did notice benefits of reduction of the overall lower leg fatigue.

Overall, I think they do provide some recovery benefits after long workouts. I plan on using them this year again for the DECA Ultra Triathlon for active recovery during the few hours of sleep per day. Test them out as they might provide benefits for you during your training and racing, but remember that the best recovery starts immediately following the workout with your recovery drinks and quality food!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekend - Running Hill Repeat Workout!

For those of you not racing this weekend and want a different hill repeat routine try this workout to test your engine. This workout builds leg and lung power and several weeks of consistently doing the workout will improve your hill running and result in power increases in the legs.

Find a hill that is a steady climb that will take between 6-9 minutes in duration while keeping your heart rate in the 85-95% percent range of lactate threshold. So you will not be "red-lining" the heart rate but training right in the "sweet spot". The hill should not be so steep that you can't maintain the heart rate in this range. It can be done on trails or roads (I prefer roads).

After a 10-15 minute warm up including five 20 second "pickups" start the first set:

1. Climb the hill and keep you heels down (so you don't aggravate the Achilles) /while pumping arms - focus on solid breathing and staying in your heart rate zone.

2. Recover on the run down (should take you roughly the same time as going up)

3. When you reach the bottom, then start with 50-75 Hindu squats (error on the low side for the number of Squats). If you need a demonstration of a Hindu Squat (check out video on www.racetwitch.com home page or do a Google search and you will see plenty of examples on how to do it correctly). The Hindu squats should be done quickly and exploding up, but stay under control with good form.

4. After the Hindu Squats immediately head back up the hill for the second set.

For those of you who want a challenge, attempt the following set:

8-10 Hill Repeats followed by 175-200 Hindu Squats after each recovery downhill run. Alternatively, do half of the hill climbs and Hindu Squats with nose breathing only - this is very tough but teaches you how to belly breath and staying relaxed!

After completing your set, warm down with 20-30 minutes of running in the 65-70% Heart rate zone.

I love this workout and do it every week (mid week) the benefits are immense! Please let me know your thoughts.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race Specification Training - going Solo!

One common training practice is to add race specific training workouts to mirror the terrain or conditions of your upcoming race. The benefits are immense so there are no surprises on race day. How many times have you been in a race and even with all the various details on race websites with regards to elevation gains, heat, number of aid stations, etc. do you hear the comment "I was not aware that the race had so many hills!".

Race specific training can include many of the following: Heat training/acclimation, Hill training, downhill running on trails (Western States 100 Mile Run), roads vs. trails (running and cycling), training in the aerodynamic position for a triathlon vs. in an upright position (so your back does not spasm), learning how to walk fast in multi-day running races, training without headphones (biking and running) where it's not allowed in the race. There are many more, but one that is often overlooked is training solo.

Of course training with others is enjoyable but if your competing in a long race, mental strength becomes extremely important. The benefits of training alone for some of the long distance training will pay off come race day when you experience the "lows" as in many cases you will be alone without another athlete anywhere in close proximity. Social training is great, but in many cases athletes become "too" comfortable in having the security of another friend when training. When it's race day and they are facing a "bonk", mechanical problem with the bike, blisters, etc. you know what happens - yes they "crack" mentally and they end up on the DNF (Did Not Focus/Finish) list. I have seen this happen so often as athletes get so comfortable talking through the early miles of a long race with friends to make the "miles go by quickly" and then late into the race they have no mental strength to get to the finish when they are on their own. As you all know, the "real" race for most athletes begins late into the race. For example, during a 100 mile running event, the "real race" begins at mile 80-85 and in many cases it's all about your ability to push it hard to pass fellow competitors and finish strong while running alone.

I don't want to discount the fun of training with others, but if you prepare for your races with various race specific training techniques make sure you learn how to train alone to build your mental strength to get through the "lows" on your own!

Enjoy your workouts today!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Junk Miles - Not always Bad

Junk Miles - How many times have we all heard for years that it's all about quality, quality, quality miles! It continues to be an ongoing theme for years and I disagree that "junk miles" have no benefits and we should just take the day off. In my opinion the term should be changed to recovery miles. As we all know, the key to an effective long term training program is to balance hard efforts with recovery sessions to continuously "tear down" and rebuild the key muscles for the specific sport discipline. If you experience an injury be smart and cross train on the recovery mile session with a different sport discipline.

Moving back to the goals, each of us should have a focus of each workout. It might be any of the following: negative split workout, hard intervals, long slow distance for building endurance, hill repeats, etc. However, I feel that the the "day off" is not mandatory as many athletes won't workout on Friday so they save themselves for the long weekend workout, key speed session, etc. If you keep the heart rate in the 50-65% of range of (lactate threshold) there is no reason to take off days from training. The session might only be 30-45 minutes of very easy spinning on the bike, swim or running, yoga and it keeps the body "fresh". The body acclimates to working out every day. Of course, there are days when "life" gets crazy and we have to take a day off. It's an active recovery and not just "junk miles". Personally, I train 7 days a week and it works for me.

Consider adding recovery miles to the day(s) that you normally take off and especially if timing allows later in the day after a race. As we see with the Tour de France cyclists (ride on days off of the Tour) there are benefits of flushing the legs and body with recovery miles.

RaceTwitch.com is live - check it out www.racetwitch.com and let us know your thoughts!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Brick Workout - Variety for Endurance Athletes

The brick workout offers many benefits for triathletes and multi discipline endurance sport athletes. As Wikipedia states: Triathletes train for this phenomenon through transition workouts known as "bricks": back-to-back workouts involving two disciplines. For most triathletes the normal brick is to combine a bike followed by run workout to simulate race conditions. I am not sure how brick derived it's name for the workout, but just assumed it was that your legs feel like they have bricks in them when you begin running immediately following a bike ride.

It is key workout form many triathletes to simulate the feeling on running with tired legs. Many of you know what the feeling is like the first mile or two during an Ironman when you fly through the transition area and head out on the run. I add different bricks to my normal training program to "mix" it up and not just do the same bike/run bricks. They all have the benefit of training the body and mind to push through when your tired.

Here are a couple different bricks compared to the normal bike/run to add some variety to your training:

Swim/Bike - this workout is an important transition that is often overlooked by many of us.
Swim 3000-4000 meters straight swim (the last 500 meters pick up the pace to be faster than race pace) get out of the water and immediately get on the Bike and ride 75 miles above (Ironman race pace)

Run/Swim - This workout is tougher than you think. Run 3-4 hours (marathon pace) on trails (carry a pair of swim googles with you) and end the run if possible at a pool/lake and swim a set of 5X500 meters at Ironman swim pace. Make sure you keep up the electrolytes as it's easy to get those nasty calf cramps in the water!

Triple Brick - This is one of my favorites to build mental strength to push through the tired legs. Bike 3 hours hard pace and immediately follow with 1000 Hindu Squats (yes your quads will feel like mush) then head out to a 2 hour run on trails. The final 30 minutes of the run do 10 hill repeats (steep and short). These final hill repeats will be brutal but if you can build up to 10 over a period of time the long term strength benefits become significant and can help when you need to push at the end of race during the run.

There are so many versions of Brick workouts and consider different varieties to keep it fun! The brick workout's benefit are immense for all endurance athletes

Friday, May 7, 2010

Multi-Day Runs and 5 Quick Tips for the Feet

Going beyond a 24 hour running race or 100 miler significantly increases stress to the feet and the dreaded blisters. Again, as we all know blisters, "bad feet", etc. cause many athletes to DNF. In my opinion, dropping out of an event because of blisters is not an option. I am "old school" and believe in taping them up and keep moving because the pain is only temporary and they will heal. A few years ago at the DECA Ironman in Mexico (262 mile run) the second place finisher lost the entire bottom layer of both feet and there was no way it was going to stop him from his great performance. The pictures on the website were pretty grim and many hot races like Badwater, etc. have similar examples.

On the opposite spectrum, I participated in the Burning River 100 mile run last year and noticed a woman on a chair nursing her blister feet at 87 miles and she was experiencing a fair amount of pain. I offered her duct tape (yes always have a small roll on me just in case) and she was thinking of quitting with only 13 miles to go because of her blisters. I encouraged her the best that I could but she was not there mentally to overcome the blister. After a few minutes I shuffled along and eventually spoke to her at the finish later that day. She did DNF and was upset that she did not at least push on to the finish. She told me never again will a blister cause a DNF.

5 Quick Tips

1. Load up on Bag Balm (yes it's magic) for the feet or other ointments to reduction "friction". Feel the hot spot starting, stop (yes I know it's a pain to stop, but it will save you in the long run) and fix before they become a problem.
2. Test out the Finger type socks for example Injinji to reduce the toes from rubbing.
3. Increase the size of the shoes to allow for massive foot swelling that occurs in long multi-day races.
4. Duct Tape - Yes I know it does not breathe and is not technical stuff, but it works - stick two pieces together and then tape is on the blister area. I have used Duct Tape for 25 years racing and never fails when I get horrible blisters.
5. Popping blisters (especially water blisters) when they get very large then clean, tape and get moving.

Fix the feet early on and no matter what Don't DNF because of blisters unless it's a serious medical issue (use common sense, a skill we all sometimes lack in these events)!

Happy running everyone this weekend!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Top 5 Reasons To Add All-Night Runs to Your Training Program

For many of us, it's the time of the year to add some night runs to simulate running with a headlamp in preparation for the upcoming summer 100 mile or longer trail races. Summer time running at night in warm temperatures is just heaven. There is nothing like running in the evening and watching the sunrise after some of the "long" tough mental miles during the night. How many times have you said "Can't wait till it gets dark as the race really begins now" and "Can't wait till the sun comes up so I can turn this headlight/flashlight off and feel alive again".

1. Prepares you for getting used to watching the "bobbing or moving" light on the ground for hours and hours just like the race.
2. Nothing like doing an all night run on a Friday night through Sat. morning and then have the whole day Sat. for your spouse and kids.
3. Running at night provides amazing sites and sounds as the "night" animals come alive!
4. Falling and Stumbling experience at night so you know what to expect race day.
5. Sleep is overrated.

Think of adding an all-night run to your training program. They are a blast and also provides the added benefit of sleep deprivation training. Of course many benefits of all-night cycling as well especially with no traffic if your on the roads. Be safe out there and have a blast in the dark!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top 15 Marathon Changes - 25 Year Perspective

1. The use of electronic timing chips. Remember the old procedure of multiple volunteers pulling off the bottom of the race number when crossing the finish line and then they would put them in order on a wire hanger. For those of you veterans, remember this procedure!

2. The use of the Ipod. It's amazing the number of people running with Ipod's. It would be interesting to see the statistics of the percentage of people who run marathons use Ipod's.

3. Cell Phones - How many times do you pass someone and they are having a complete conversation with their family and friends on the cell phone during the race.

4. No more cotton tee shirts - everything is "wicking materials". Don't we all miss running in the old cotton race tee shirt and having the heavy weight sticking to our skin during a workout.

5. The lack of the smell of Ben Gay sports cream at the start of the race (especially during the bus ride to the start). Now there are so many different products today compared to 25 years ago with wide ranges of smells.

6. No as many garbage bags "attire" used for insulatation prior to the race. Today, many will leave their sweat pants, jackets as all items are provided to charities for the homeless. The first time I ran NYC marathon it was unbelievable the amount of clothing laying everywhere on the course during the first mile!

7. Explosion of pre-race expo's. Even small marathon's are adding pre-race expo's for athletes to pick up good deal's on every new gadget available in this second "boom" of running and fitness.

8. Trail Running Marathons - the advent of trail running is exploding and last year was ranked as the fastest growing outdoor sport in the U.S.A. Millions are taking to the trails.

9. The training programs have changed for many athletes. Other than the elite runners, how many are running 70+ miles per week on the roads?

10. Marathons are selling out very quickly even with the expansion of the total number of marathons.

11. Online Race Registration - more and more prevalent and in many cases no more paper and mailing of checks!

12. The packaging of the 1/2 marathon with the marathon during the same race to increase overall popularity and participation among runners.

13. Aid station selections - Gels, bars, energy drinks, fruits, etc. Don't we all remember when the aid station consisted of Gatorade/Exceed and water!

14. Fuel/Bottle belts - many runners today carry all their nutrition supplies to eliminate the "zoo" at the aid stations.

15. The growth of "running for charities".

I love change, but sometimes it's nice to reflect on the old days of the marathon when I started with this passion 25 years ago. I'm sure many of you can relate and remember when we just showed up with a loose fitting cotton tee shirt/tank top, running shorts, racing flats, and the desire to see how hard we could go without bonking!

Enjoy your spring Marathons and go hard!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hill Repeats - add to your weekly training schedule

Running and biking hill repeats can offer significant improvements to your racing even if your key races do not involve all climbing. Spring is a great time of the year to add the workout into your training program. How many times have we all read about the benefits of adding hill repeats to our training and say "I have to add some hill training to my program" and never get around to it. It seems every magazine, book, coach, etc. discusses the benefits of adding to the overall program. They are brutal when you first start them after the off-season. However, the benefits of gradually progessing with hill repeats enhances the aerobic engine (aerobic, anaerobic), power, overall body strength and mental toughness.

You will definitely uncover your weaker areas during these workouts: when running hill repeat's it's important maintain good form and "lean" into the hill and remember to use your core muscles. A strong arm drive while running will also help get you to the top a bit quicker but, will raise the heart rate quickly into the "red-zone" area. While biking, fatique will set in the upperbody and will be an eye-opener and remind us if we spent enough time with strength training in the off season.

After 4-6 weeks of consistent weekly hill repeats, it's amazing to me how much running/cycling strength improves each workout. Of course mix them up to add some variety. Here a few that I like to incorporate into my program:

1. Biking or Running - during an aerobic workout, push every hill to the top and then recover and get back to aerobic heart rate zone
2. Mountain Bike - pick a hill that takes around 3-5 minutes to climb and start with a series of 5 hill repeats and build over time. I like to add the mountain bike as it's pure quad power (no standing) with upper body strengthening, balance and technical skill benefits.
3. Running workout - roads or trails - Find a hill that will take around 5-7 minutes to climb but not so steep that it's hard to keep up a pace. After a solid 15-20 minute warmup for the run, start small with 3-5 hill repeats and recover with an easy jog down the hill. Add 3 minutes hard level running after the recovering jog (down the hill) on 1 or 2 of the reps and no recovery just head straight back up the hill. By incorporating this hard level running then automatically going back uphill without recovery will trash the legs so start slow and make sure you finish the workout.
4. Killer Combined Bike/Run Hill Repeat workout - either mountain bike/trail running or road option. I like to find a shorter hill and a bit steeper than the longer gradual climbs for this workout. Start with good 20 minutes of warmup with some short pickups then do 1-2 minutes climbing on the bike - standing only first set then seated while clicking into harder gears while climbing in the second set, coast down to the bottom and quickly change to running shoes and focus on a quick turnover while climbing. Yes you need a safe place to ditch the bike while running!! Recovery jog back to the bottom and repeat. Start with 2 -3 sets (One bike climb wand One Run climb is one set) and get up to 10-15 after some weeks of progression. This is an unbelievable workout with numerous benefits for racing.

Enjoy your climbing!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

5 Training Thoughts for the week

1. Make sure you have a goal at the beginning of every training session. This will provide focus for the workout vs. just slogging through some miles. We all know this and I am as guilty as everyone else to just put in some miles for any of the various disciplines. Of course easy aerobic days are necessary for recovery sessions but I think if we all look at our training schedule we tend to lack enough high quality workouts.

2. Get away from all the technology for a few days: no heart rate monitor, watch, cyclocomputer, GPS, etc. Just go out with a goal in mind on a different route than normal. Don’t worry, not monitoring avg. mph, watts, heart rate average, calories burned, miles, time, etc. will be ok for a few days!

3. For each of your workouts this week, consider adding an extra 10% of additional time on each workout. For those of you who adhere to number two (above)without all the “tools” just do a normal route and add some more distance. It’s surprising to me that just by adding such a small amount of time per workout can have significant benefits in overall fitness (consistently over a 6 week period).

4. For the hard bike or run session of the week (ok, yes it’s fine to pull out the technology tools for this session!), set a baseline distance to evaluate in 6 weeks: Example - 5 mile run at 80% target heart rate used to monitor in the future or hill repeat on bike or run – set a baseline and monitor in 6 weeks for next test.

5. After the specific training session, write down the following:
a. 3 things that you did well for the workout
b. Based on the session what do you need to improve
c. What is the one thing you could do differently that could help make the mentioned improvement (above)

Summer racing season is coming soon, hope you’re all fired up!

5 Training Thoughts for the Week

5 Training Thoughts for the week

1. Make sure you have a goal at the beginning of every training session. This will provide focus for the workout vs. just slogging through some miles. We all know this and I am as guilty as everyone else to just put in some miles for any of the various disciplines. Of course easy aerobic days are necessary for recovery sessions but I think if we all look at our training schedule we tend to lack enough high quality workouts.
2. Get away from all the technology for a few days: no heart rate monitor, watch, cyclocomputer, GPS, etc. Just go out with a goal in mind on a different route than normal. Don’t worry, not monitoring avg. mph, watts, heart rate average, calories burned, miles, time, etc. will be ok for a few days!
3. For each of your workouts this week, consider adding an extra 10% of additional time on each workout. For those of you who adhere to point number 2. without all the “tools” just do a normal route and add some more distance. It’s surprising to me that just by adding such a small amount of time per workout can have significant benefits in overall fitness (consistently over a 6 week period).
4. For the hard bike or run session of the week (ok, yes it’s fine to pull out the technology tools for this session!), set a baseline distance to evaluate in 6 weeks: Example - 5 mile run at 80% target heart rate used to monitor in the future or hill repeat on bike or run – set a baseline and monitor in 6 weeks for next test.
5. At the end of each the training session, write down the following:
a. 3 things that you did well for the workout
b. Based on the session what do you need to improve
c. What is the one thing you could do differently that could help make the mentioned improvement (above)

Summer racing season is coming soon, hope you’re all fired up!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trails - End-to-End

There are so many great trails that we all enjoy running and biking and I have been intrigued with the idea of an end-to-end trek on a famous trail to add to my training. There have been many individuals focused on speed records for end-to-end trail running. The various media channels have highlighted many of the recent accomplishments by gifted runners. No interest to me as it’s not a race, just my preference is the training aspect of multi-days. I am hoping to add an end-end trek over the next few years but not the length of Appalachian or Pacific Crest because of the time commitment required to complete. A few friends have told me that a 5-7 day fast trek – unsupported will get the body and mind in “tremendous shape”.

I would love to get a list going of everyone’s favorite End-To-End multi-day trails, please send them over to me: tricfp@aol.com.

Check out Trails.com which is a good resource.

These are just a couple I am considering:

Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal - Pennsylvania to Washington, DC 320 miles (bike or trek)

Long Trail – Vermont, 270 miles

Hut-to-Hut – Presidential Range – New Hampshire

Allegheny Trail – West Virginia 330 miles

Tahoe Rim Trail – California 165 miles

Laurel Highlands – Double Crossing – Johnstown, PA 140 miles

John Muir Trail – California 211 miles

Catamount Trail – Vermont (Snowshoeing), 300 miles

Enjoy your end-to-end Treks!

Friday, February 26, 2010

10 Favorite Body Weight Strength Exercises for Endurance Athletes

Many of us have incorporate strength training at this time of the year (pre-season) for preparation of the upcoming racing season. It’s always important to remember that intensive strength training (especially with the use of weights) should be reduced as the mileage and intervals are increased in preparation for the racing season. For example, during pre-season training strength training might include 3-4 sessions per week and will reduce to 1-2 sessions per week to ensure recovery for the specific sport discipline training. The various internet websites (YouTube) make it very easy to review the exercises to ensure that you have the correct form. For those with Iphone’s, check out a nifty application called iFitness ($1.99 download fee) and has over 230 exercises with video’s, descriptions and daily log.

Here are my top Ten (body weight) strength training exercises (no machines necessary):

1. Hindu Squats – Great quad power builder and aerobic work – build up to 200 or more reps! – check out link for description http://www.mattfurey.com/hindu_squats.html
2. Squat Thrusts – these are killer – see if you can build up to 75-100 (fast but good form) http://exercise.about.com/b/2005/02/23/exercise-of-the-week-squat-thrusts-2.htm
3. Wall Sit - Build to 2 minutes http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseworkouts/ss/howtosquat_8.htm
4. Pushups – there are so many different ways to do them, check out this site to get up to 100 pushups, www.hundredpushups.com, try pushup jacks (search on web)
5. Plank – build up to hold for 3 minutes and your abs will be very strong, http://www.abs-exercise-advice.com/plank.html
6. Jump Rope (speed sessions) – build up to 5 minutes, I just love this jump rope and watching the best – Buddy Lee (amazing!), http://www.buddyleejumpropes.com
7. Reverse Crunch – build to a set of 50, http://www.ehow.com/video_4433370_do-reverse-crunch.html
8. Mountain Climbers – build up to 100 total (50 for each leg), http://www.ehow.com/video_4433370_do-reverse-crunch.html
9. Superman’s, build to a set of 20 “holds”, http://www.criticalbench.com/exercises/supermans-exercise.htm
10. Bicycle Crunch, build to 1 minute (fast and high rev’s per minute), http://www.ehow.com/video_2351933_bicycle-crunch-exercises-abs.html

Of course there are so many exercises to add to your strength sessions. Try the above set 2 times through and you will enjoy the “burn”!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mixing Up Your Training Routine

We have all been there, lots of training miles and some mental/physical burnout in our specific sport disciplines. Consistently training over a series of weekly training blocks is so important for the best opportunities for a strong race performance. There is the “fine-line” of being over-trained. Sometimes it makes sense to add some variety for a workout of two just to mix it up and keep the mind and body fresh. For example, after 16-20 weeks of training with a mix of intervals, long endurance days, hill climbing strength workouts (bike and run) it’s fun to change the normal schedule. This always happens to me when its 90 degrees (being on the east coast of course we have 90% humidity as well) outside in the middle of summer as sometimes it’s hard to keep the mental focus for another long weekend workout.

Personally I have found value in adding completely different routines just for a few days then get back to the focus of the race specific training. Like most athletes, I would much rather be outside training, but on those rare occasions when the motivation is low especially when it’s freezing cold/dark outside, at 4AM sometimes a change is in order. There are so many indoor cycling, running, core, strength training, pylometrics, etc. dvd’s that are inexpensive but can be added into the normal schedule for some additional variety.

The use of a combination of training aids such as the standard jump rope, indoor bike trainer and room for floor work is all that is needed to have a challenging and beneficial workout. Of course the bike trainer could be replaced with a rowing machine, treadmill, ski machine, etc. you get the point.

Here are a couple programs to check out that I use regularly and of course there are plenty of others: Cyclocore, CycloZen , RunnerCore, Spinervals, and of course the killer workouts from Insanity (the workouts have direct impact on my cycling power as measured by increases on the power meter – check it out) and P90X. If you have any workout programs that you feel have a “cross-over” benefit please email me as I always like to see what else is working for athletes, tricfp@aol.com. The following workout is one of my favorites, give it a try for some fun and variety when it’s one of those stressful workdays, brutal weather and/or you just need a change in the routine (even if you’re a runner and or triathlete, etc. there are good crossover benefits):

Cross Training Workout:

45 minutes of Insanity (pick any of the DVD’s) in the kit – they are absolutely brutal, you could use whatever you like that offers a full body workout with strength, pylometrics, power yoga, but needs to have cardio as a key feature

Followed by:

65 minutes biking on the trainer with the following set:
10 minutes at 75% target Heart Rate, minimum 90 RPM’s
5 minutes steady jump rope (use a mat for cushion to prevent shin splints)
20 minutes at 80% target Heart rate, keep up the RPM’s
5 minutes easy spinning
5 X (3 minutes big gear at 85-90%, 2 minutes recovery very easy spinning)

Followed by:

15 minutes snowshoe hill climb running repeats (for those of you who have snow!) Do a series of as many repeats (recover on the downhill) with a steep trail hill. If no snow, grab the trail shoes. I am not a huge fan of the treadmill, but you could easily do the same hill repeats on the treadmill with a high elevation setting.

Of course training outside is where we would most train, but don’t discount the indoor workout. If you plan it out with variety, it won’t be the same old boring workout (especially sitting on the trainer for hours!). The above workout will definitely make you “feel it” the next day and most importantly have fun!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

First Race of the 2010 Season

Well it’s that time of the year – early season races are approaching for many athletes. Overall training volumes are now ramping up in anticipation of the first test of the season. We all face the normal list of questions in our heads such as: “Am I ready for the race physically”, “I have been swamped at work and my fitness is not where I want it”, “What is the goal for the race in perspective to the entire season”; “I don’t have enough long workouts for the race”. These are just a few of the many questions that cross our minds when getting ready for the first race.

What’s amazing is that when you have experience and muscle/mental memory of what it takes to race at the given distance it normally works out fine. All the pre-race questions are not an issue at all once the gun fires. Of course, PR’s might be difficult when fitness is lower this time in the season but long term racing experience will help you prepare for the “rough spots” during the first race. The subconscious reminds you that you have done it before many times.

Personally, I love the feeling of racing in a pack again and finishing more exhausted than just a training session. I think most would agree that the first race always offers us the pleasant “next-day” muscle soreness. It’s always fun to get the mental and physical engines back in gear for some competition from the recovery layoff after the end of last year’s race season. For all of you winter athletes participating in races such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter multi-day ultra running and winter mountain biking your already in peak shape and well ahead of our fitness levels!

8 items to keep in mind when gearing for the early-season race:

1. What is the goal, time, heart rate zone, power output average (on the bike). Write it down going into the race. Remember what your key race is for the season.
2. I always go into the first race with a little lower expectation as in many cases overall fitness is not near as strong mid summer.
3. Test a new nutrition product as the race while important is not the key race of the year. Yes, it’s against all advice, but testing nutrition strategy or equipment for this early race can provide a better baseline (vs. just training) on what works and what does not.
4. Begin the race slow and finish strong (usually tough when fitness levels are lower) and it becomes a mental challenge that will pay off big time later in the year
5. Test your limits a bit and make it a stretch goal. For example, if you are gearing for a 100 mile run, ultra tri, or long endurance event find a race that will test you while your fitness is building find a long snowshoe race, bike race, etc. If you pick a race shorter in distance compared to the race goals just go harder and if you blow up, no worries just shuffle on in to the finish. A marathon in a warm-weather climate might be just what you need to escape this unbelievable winter in many parts of the country.
6. Bonk Race this is an idea from good friend and hard core ultra runner Rick Freeman. Rick does these “forced bonks” in long training or non-key races. The goal is to keep the calorie intake to a low level and only use water and some electrolytes to maintain hydration. The huge benefit is that it forces you mentally and physically to push through the “down’s” that come from a low amount of calories. Pushing through bonk will become part of the subconscious and you can pull it out of the mind when you face the “down” in a race and rally the body and mind back quickly.
7. Pick a race that is completely different than your normal specific endurance event. A personal example occurred several years ago as I competed in snowshoe hill climb in Vail, Colorado as part of a ski trip. I rented some snowshoes (was not in race shape at all) and went out and had a blast with the race. Yes, I was crushed physically with the effort but it was the start of a new sport that I use throughout my off-season training. There are so many other examples such as adding a cross country ski race, stair climb race up a building, cyclocross race, winter ultra running race (extreme winter multi day – carrying sled), etc.
8. Always learn from the race. If you made a mistake make sure you remember it and don’t make the mistake twice.

Well this weekend is my first race of the season - 24 hour road bike race. Yes my fitness is just building so there will be plenty of “fun” up’s and down’s during the race. Good kick-start to the season!!


I would love to find out what type of race, location, and date for your first race of the season: Please send a comment below, email tricfp@aol.com, Facebook message, or twitter me: @waynekurtz : Plenty of social media options to choose for your quick response!!



Thursday, February 4, 2010

Training Thoughts - 100 mile run

As many of us have moved beyond the marathon for more challenges, we have all used many different types of training programs. However, there are some key ingredients to the training program that are consistent among runners. I have used many different programs for different goals in preparation for 100 mile runs and the ultra-triathlon running discipline.

Many runners look at the key weekend workouts (for those of us that are not retired yet) to include a combination of long runs (30+miles) followed by either another long run or a shorter time duration run with added speed. The key with either workout scenario is to learn to run with tired legs and more importantly with the challenges of keeping your mental state focused to push onward. Personally, I have found that more mileage with back to back workouts and training on similar terrain as the race has provided the necessary components to be ready race day. Learn to walk fast during the steep and long uphill’s and practice running downhill to feel the “quad” pain that you might experience if there are long downhill’s. Again, consistent training is so important but as we all know so many things can go differently than expected once the gun fires. Another alternative to save the legs on the second day of the long weekend of workouts by incorporating a long bike ride at a tempo pace the day following the longer run. An example could include a 30-40 mile run on Sat., followed by an easy 1 hour spin later in the day. Sunday would include a 10-15 miler harder paced run followed by a 5-6 hour bike ride.

The importance of experiencing running through the “lows” and rallying the body/mind back to a happy place for many athletes is the key to the training. It’s a substantial benefit to experience running/walking through a rough patch or bonk during a training run so that mentally you know how to handle it during race day. Everyone who has run a tough 100 mile race knows that there will be plenty of up’s and down’s and the key is to get through the down’s as quickly as possible. In many cases it becomes a mental challenge to move the legs forward.

In addition to the key long runs, I have always found that my best performances occur when I target several key weekly runs of 1.5-2 hours in length with the goal of a negative split. The key is to start at a reasonable pace, for the first half but make sure it’s not too slow and the negative split becomes to easy to complete. Challenge yourself with the first half so you have to work mentally and physically to get the second half at a faster split. It’s amazing to me how many runners go out so hard in every race distance and completely fall apart toward the end. This is so common within the last 10-15 miles of a 100 miler race. Yes, I have been there and have crumbled in races at the end many times! However, finishing at a steady pace later in the race will provide positive results as many people struggle and lose enormous amounts of times by walking while tired in the later stages of the race. Remember running lots of slow miles means you will most likely run slow on race day. Don’t understatement the benefits of adding speed work, hill repeats into your weekly training.

10 Key reminders:

1. Don’t waste time chit-chatting too long in the aid stations – get in and get out
2. Try not to sit in the chair – as someone quoted: “Be Aware of the Chair” don’t we all know that!
3. Fix the hot spots before the blisters start
4. Quick fix for the feet, carry some duct tape – it works
5. Bag Balm prevents chafing, blisters (yes it is greasy and a pain, but it works)
6. Don’t ever drop out of the race because of blisters – tape them up the pain will go away when you finish
7. Remember the stomach will calm down eventually after getting sick – start eating slowly at first, try the soup if available.
8. Make sure you practice running a night (for those of us who don’t finish in first place!)
9. Be sure to plan out your race not only on paper, but in your head (much more important)!
10. Have fun and make some lifetime memories.

Enjoy your 100’s!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Running Technique Thoughts

There has been an enormous amount of press recently on running techniques. Specifically, through the recent best-selling running book, Born To Run (McDougall) there is a growing list of runners that have focused on running technique and forefoot/mid-foot striking and using “minimalist shoes”. It seems every day, I read another report related to the “significant” benefits of minimalist shoes, lack of injuries, running barefoot, running with Five Finger shoes, running mid-foot/forefoot, landing on the heel, Chi Running, Pose Running, stride length, etc.

Many individuals have suggested that running injuries (knees and ankles) may be reduced through the use of lighter weight shoes and running while “tilting” forward from the ankles to use the effect of gravity pulling you down the road. One item that we all have noticed is the prevalence of the new lighter weight running shoes being promoted by the shoe manufacturers. It’s amazing how they have created this market overnight. Newton shoes, New Balance, Nike just to name a few have specific marketing focused on this trend toward lighter and feeling more natural running. It is interesting over my 25 years of running how the trends keep changing related to running shoes. We all remember, a big focus for the running shoe manufacturers in the 1980’s was to focus on shoes to assist with over-pronation. I remember buying several models of these shoes even though I was not much of a pronator but they were being promoted to prevent injuries. It was all the “hype” at the time, so I decided to run with these “heavy and lack of motion” shoes. They were definitely not for me as I found out immediately after several weeks of running.

There some good arguments against heel-striking with the goal of reducing injuries. Many runners who land on the heel strike the ground in front of their centre of mass actually create a braking effect until the foot is under their centre of mass. If you examine the running styles of the top marathoner’s and triathletes their running styles are all different. One common theme that they all incorporate and makes sense is to increase the turnover through a higher cadence. This will reduce the time the foot is on the ground which is where the running injuries occur. However, a big change that you will encounter with higher cadence is a higher heart rate. It’s important to practice to ensure your heart-rate states in the correct range for longer races. An additional benefit with forefoot/mid-foot striking is that the core will be engaged and you can use those muscles to drive the legs. It does allow the body to be more relaxed, especially when climbing hills.

Personally, I was concerned about moving to another running technique (have always been mainly a mid-foot strike but some heel striking as well when I become fatigued). My concern was the potential effect of increased fatigue with the higher turnover in the latter stages of a very long triathlon or ultra running race (50+ miles). After reading Chi and Pose Running techniques, I made some changes last year. Also, I did move to lighter weight running shoes, higher turnover (used a metronome to track turnover) and realized significant benefits with regards to late-stage running fatigue. It took many months, but my new running style allowed me to maintain roughly the same pace (not faster – which was the original goal) as my normal higher knees and a mix of forefoot and heel landing. The biggest benefit for my specific racing (ultra tri’s and ultra running) was that I had significantly less lower leg fatigue which allowed more running late into the races. Overall, with less walking and fatigue I experienced faster overall times.

Each runner has their own technique to generate the greatest amount of speed for racing. I do think there is some value in experimenting with the light shoes, different striking positions, etc. However, take each change gradually and progress over time to reduce the chances of injuries. It will be interesting to see what new trend will come out from the running community in another 10 years!! Happy Running.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snowshoeing - Cross Training

I have been snowshoeing for several years and just like the growth trend in all endurance activities (running, biking, triathlons,) snowshoeing is booming. It continues to receive a lot of press by all the various magazine and internet sources. There are significant benefits to enhance overall body fitness and strength to complement your cycling and running.

Considerations for selecting a running snowshoe

1. Look for a lightweight snowshoe that offers stability (check the racer models)
2. Consider a snowshoe comparable for all conditions (heavy powder – breaking trail and hard pack/ice trails)
3. If possible test a few of the different models at a resort that offers snowshoes – also many of the snowshoe races allow model testing
4. Here are a few companies to check out their racing snowshoes (there are plenty of others):

a. Havlick Snowshoe Company (personally I love their snowshoes) www.havlicksnowshoe.com
b. Dion Snowshoes (I use their racing snowshoe for hardpack races) www.dionsnowshoes.com
c. Redfeather – www.redfeather.com
d. Atlas – www.atlassnowshoe.com
e. Crescent Moon Snowshoes – www.crescentmoonsnowshoes.com
f. Northern Lites - www.nothernlites.com
g. Tubbs Snowshoes - www.tubbssnowshoes.com
h. TSL Outdoors – www.tsloutdoor.com

I find that snowshoeing in heavy powder complements cycling and running as it uses the quads and lower abdominals to drive the legs through the snow. If the conditions are hard packed powder or ice/granular your running pace will increase because of the lack of resistance compared to heavy powder. Depending on conditions snowshoes may provide better overall traction without the slippage that sometimes occurs with the various types of running cleat systems (Yaktrax, Stableicers, or screws attached to the bottom of running shoes). An idea for a tougher workout is to add the use of poles for an overall upper/lower body workout. If you are using a heart rate monitor the increase in overall average heart rate can be dramatic especially with the addition of poles. Personally, my heart rate average for a longer (2 hours or more) snowshoe will be about 25% higher than without poles. The legs will feel heavy the first few times out in the powder but like all the other sports, gradually you will get the heart rate under control especially when running hills. You may want to consider using poles to replicate your hard running (interval) workout and for a more aerobic heart rate zone eliminate the poles. Snowshoe in the evening with a headlamp on trails is just priceless!

A good tip is to shorten the running stride similar to trail running. When running downhill’s focus landing with a midfoot strike (which will come more naturally than normal running) and it will allow the cleats to dig into the snow and will enable you to fly on the downhills. Downhill snowshoe running is a blast and provides a good complement to the “time gaining” advantage of downhill trail running. As many of us know with trail running races, it’s so important to learn how to run the downhill’s hard later into a race when the quads are crushed. It’s a great way to gain time against other competitors. Also, snowshoeing provides a great complement without the same impact of running hard dirt trails because of the benefits of the fluffy snow.

Looking for a challenge, try a snowshoe race and here are a few websites to check out for races and calendars:

1. www.peak.com (great tough snowshoe marathon!)
2. www.runwmac.com (snowshoe race series)
3. www.snowshoeracing.com (calendar)
4. www.perkinstownsnowshoerace.com
5. www.fingerlakesrunners.org/races/forms/Snowshoe.html
6. www.snowshoemag.com (calendar)

2 Sample Workout’s

1. Hard 1 Hour Workout (use poles)

10 minutes warm-up
Set 1 – 4 sets of (4 minutes with a quick turnover at hard pace – 80% HR threshold pace), recover with slow jog for 2 minutes on a rolling or level area
Set 2 – find a short steep hill 5 repeats at 90% HR threshold and these are tough especially with poles and drive hard for the last part of the hill, recovery run down the hill. Take a full 100% recovery – for example if it takes 3 minutes to climb the hill then take 3 minutes recovery descending)

Run at aerobic pace for 5 -10 minutes

Set 3 – use the same hill in set 2 or another steep hill and do 5 repeats of hard running down the hill and focus on “falling forward” and lean down the hill to increase pace. Make sure to push off the poles. These should be hard. Walk up the hill easy after each set.

Recovery run 10 – 15 minutes

2. Long Snowshoe Workout (no poles)

The goal would be 2+ hours. As I mentioned, running with snowshoes requires more effort as compared to a regular trail run on dirt so start off easy especially if the course includes a significant amount of climbing.

The first hour focus on keeping the heart rate and effort in the aerobic zone 70-75% of threshold (it will be very hard to keep it low – add some power walking if necessary)

Second hour – every hill including small rises push hard and then get right back into the easy aerobic zone

Third hour and/or longer – keep the heart rate zone in aerobic range but increase pace so that the overall workout ends with a negative split. The legs and lungs will definitely feel tired and the key is to mentally focus on finishing strong (that’s why it’s so important to start at a reasonable pace!)

This workout is very hard mentally and physically so make sure you carry plenty of nutrition/drinks. My overall calorie burn is normally 40% vs. just running on dirt trails over the same course (and it will take significantly longer).

Snowshoeing is a lot of fun, challenging and provides numerous cross-training benefits. Think about adding it to your off-season and try a snowshoe race this year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Training Breakfast Idea's and Recipes

Breakfast as many of us know is such an important meal especially in relation to restoring energy after a morning workout. There are so many theories with regards to eating before the morning workout. We all face the questions of what should be consumed, what time, not eating before the workout - begin consuming calories after a few minutes of the workout.

For short (one hour) or less workouts, it’s not as important to consume a full meal before the workout. The body will have stored calories from the evening meal. Focus on eating the full breakfast after the completion of the workout (within 30 minutes of finishing). If the workout will be multiple hours (long training day) I will normally eat very little and begin consuming calories in the early stages of the workout. This eliminates the spike/crash effect that can occur when consuming a full breakfast too close to the workout. If the decision is to eat breakfast before the long workout, consume the calories at least two hours prior to workout start time. This will reduce stomach distress (because of the lack of digestion). Consuming calories two hours prior to my long (overnight) workouts beginning at 1AM or an early 4AM race start (many 100 mile running races have very early start times) is not possible for me (I do need some sleep!). There are many studies with respect to the effects of coffee (caffeine stimulation) and dehydration effect while consuming prior to the workout. I consume one cup of coffee prior to my long workouts and enjoy the “lift” from the caffeine.

Race breakfast tip – always bring your breakfast food items or research what the breakfast options (food choices, restaurants) are available at the race site. Many times, I have scrambled to find grocery stores near remote race sites or foreign countries (be prepared). During the DECA Ironman this year, calories were so crucial that my breakfast every day consisted of coffee and 4 pieces of cold pizza left over from the finish of the race (night before), yummy!

I do not like the taste of eggs so my breakfasts are normally cereal based with the addition of a cup of coffee. Below are two of my favorites.

Energy Breakfast
Healthy Cereal Recipes

No-Junk Granola
8-10 servings

6 Cups Whole Oats (do not use Quick Oats)
2 Cups assorted raw nuts and/or seeds (almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and pepitas)
1 Cup Unsweetened coconut
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 Cup light maple syrup
1 Cup raisins
1 Cup cran-raisins

In large bowl mix all ingredients except the raisins and cran-raisins. Spray a large cookie sheet with a no-stick spray (Pam), spread mixture on the cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lightly toss and add raisins, cran-raisins. Return to oven for another 15 minutes, then remove and enjoy. Store in air-tight container.

Stick-to-your-ribs Oatmeal
1 Serving

1/2 Cup Whole Oats (do not use Quick Oats)
1 Cup Almond Milk (or skim milk)
1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
½ cup fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries)
½ banana (mashed)
Optional – raisins

Mix all ingredients and cook until oats are cooked and mixture is thick, serve

Experiment with various quick breakfast items prior to or after your workout to find your best “food formula”.