Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Healthy travel food

from firstoffthebike.com

Have you ever traveled to a triathlon, pulled up to a grocery store in your rental car, fresh from the airport and starved for healthy travel food to take back to your hotel room, rented home, condo or apartment?

Text by Ben Greenfield

Have you ever been on a long road trip to a triathlon and needed healthy travel food for real meals to eat on the go? Have you ever wondered if there is a healthy travel food alternative to canned food, jerky and trail mix when you¹re camping on the go? Then this article was designed for you, because these are the top 13 healthy travel food items I grab at a grocery store to make quick
meals while I'm traveling.

These are all perfect energy sources to fuel racing on the road, so print this list and bring it with you on your next triathlon travel trip, and you¹ll feel more energy, perform better, and stay lean! You won¹t need
access to a fancy specialty grocery store, and as a bonus, you can also use any of these tips for your own quick and healthy home meal preparation.

Healthy Travel Food #1: Wraps ­ Wraps are perfect for preparing a quick snack from your hotel room, apartment, or condo, and are usually found near the bread section of the grocery store. The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing what you want to use as a wrap. I prefer gluten-free, sprouted wraps when I can get them. Spinach wraps or whole grain wraps are other popular variety that I use. If you are gluten intolerant, watching your waistline, or limiting carbohydrate, then get very large pieces of romaine
lettuce or cabbage that you can use as a wrap.

Healthy Travel Food #2: Spinach / Mixed Greens ­ During a week of travel, I use spinach and mixed greens for two primary recipes: salads and wraps. The darker greens are richer in iron, although some varieties like bok choy or kale can be a bit chewy and not good in a wrap. This is one ingredient of which I always buy more than I think I might need, because if it¹s around, I'll eat it quite often as a wrap-filler or salad-base, and thus be less likely to overeat on more calorie-dense foods.

Healthy Travel Food #3: Tomatoes ­ Chopped tomatoes can be thrown over a salad, and sliced tomatoes are perfect in a wrap. Because I often find myself on foot or bicycle when visiting the grocery store, I typically choose the small Romaine tomatoes, which travel better and bruise less than the juicy, plump variety.

Healthy Travel Food #4: Avocado - Full of appetite satiating fats and wrapped in a natural protective layer, avocados, like tomatoes, can be chopped and used as salad-topping, or sliced and placed into a wrap. Do not choose overly-soft avocadoes, which also do not travel well, and more quickly rot.

Healthy Travel Food #5: Cucumbers ­ 'Cukes' round out the 'Big Three' for salads and wraps. When included with tomatoes and avocadoes, along with a base of spinach and mixed greens, they add a perfect crunch and texture to the meal.

Healthy Travel Food #6: Cheese ­ If you are lactose intolerant, you may want to skip cheese, or double up on nuts, which can often be used in the same way as cheese. During a week of travel, I use cheese in wraps, melt cheese over an avocado for a quick snack, and top tomatoes with a slice of cheese
and splash of olive oil or salad dressing. My favorite varieties are feta, swiss and mozzerella.

Healthy Travel Food #7: Yogurt ­ Follow the same rules as cheese: if you are lactose intolerant, substitute soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Fat-freee, plain yogurt is useful as a low-calorie topping for a wrap, good with fruit and nuts for breakfast, and versatile enough to be used with almond butter and dark chocolate for dessert.

Healthy Travel Food #8: Almond Butter ­ Compared to peanut butter, almond butter is higher in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and lower in potentially inflammatory omega 6¹s. For this ingredient, I typically buy less than I think I need, because it is easy to eat too many calories from almond butter. Use with breakfasts and desserts, as mentioned earlier.

Healthy Travel Food #9: Cashews / Walnuts / Almonds ­ I typically mix these with fruit and yogurt for breakfast, toss into a wrap for extra calories and crunch, or grab a handful to satiate the appetite in the afternoon. Go for the unsalted, raw, unroasted option.

Healthy Travel Food #10: Salad Dressing ­ Perfect for salads and wraps, a salad dressing is a smart choice only if you can find a variety with A) an olive oil base; and B) no high fructose corn syrup and added sugars. Look along the top of the salad dressing shelf for the smaller designer varieties, which will more often fit these criteria. In a pinch, just grab a small container of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette instead.

Healthy Travel Food #11: Sweet Potatoes / Yams ­ If my travel involves physical activity, such as cycling, large amounts of walking, or a triathlon, then these tubers form the crux of my carbohydrate intake, since they 'burn clean' and also have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and beta-carotene. In a pinch, they can be microwaved for 5 minutes, but it is better to boil them for 20 minutes or bake for 40 minutes. Usually, I will salt and eat them plain or serve them with almond butter and honey.

Healthy Travel Food #12: Fruit ­ If I am traveling to a new or unique region, I usually experiment with varieties of fruit that are hard to get at home, in Washington state. For example, in Florida, I might stock up on juicy oranges and grapefruit; in Hawaii, stock up on fresh papaya or pineapple; and in Thailand, grab a handful of dragonfruit. Fruit is perfect for a mid-morning snack, salad topping, or breakfast addition.

Healthy Travel Food #13: Dark Chocolate ­ Chock full of antioxidants and lower in sugars and dairy than milk chocolate, a 70%+ dark chocolate bar is a good nightcap snack after a long day of travel, and is also useful for sweetening oatmeal, breaking chunks into yogurt, or dipping in almond butter. I keep mine in the freezer.

To wrap it up (no pun intended), I very often eat a primary diet of wraps and salads while traveling, supplemented with fruits, nuts, potatoes, yogurt or milk based snacks. You¹d be surprised at how healthy you can eat and how good meals can taste by simply using the 13 healthy travel foods listed
above. If you want just a little extra flavor, grab salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon. These four spices can really dress up any of the meals discussed in this article. Finally, if you hadn¹t noticed, any of these
healthy travel foods can be perfect for you to eat in the comfort of your own home too. Bon Appetit!

If you want more recipes, bonus access to Ben Greenfield's "Holistic Fueling For Triathletes" book, or 24-7 nutrition coach access to ask your questions, then you can find all that inside the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, at http://www.rockstartriathleteacademy.com.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Keys to Flawless Running Technique

By Gary Barber
Triathlete magazine

A triathlete's stride is critical to his or her running performance. Some athletes have a stride that eases across the ground with grace and composure while others appear to strain with every step.
However, if each component of the running action is carefully analyzed and developed, even the most ungainly runners can find improvement.

Stride Components

The stride consists of two parts: the stance phase, where the leg is in contact with the ground, and the flight phase, where the leg moves through the air and prepares for contact with the ground and the next stride.

The stance phase: When a runner's foot hits the pavement, it is only in contact with the ground for about one-tenth of a second. In that short time, all of the mechanical forces that produce forward propulsion must be transferred through the leg. The powerful extension of the leg downward and backward creates the horizontal movement forward.

As Isaac Newton wrote in his laws of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, the action of extending the leg backward creates a forward and upward movement (the flight phase).

The flight phase: As an athlete moves through the air, his leg swings backward and then moves rapidly forward. When the leading leg strikes, there can be a braking motion as speed is inhibited by the contact of the foot with the ground.

Athletes without efficient technique may be capable of generating substantial speed during the flight phase, but a jarring stance phase can hinder their forward progress. Overstriding is one of the key contributors to excessive braking during the stance phase.

Limb length, strength and running technique can affect stride length. Each athlete has an optimal stride length, so there is no one-size-fits-all rule; nonetheless, watch for excessive slapping of the feet on the pavement, and note that at most running speeds your right foot should strike the ground 21 times in 15 seconds.

Time yourself on your next run. If you are below 21 strikes for 15 seconds, you may be overstriding.

Doing it Right

Posture: Try to avoid exaggerated lean, either forward or back. Too much forward lean reduces the efficiency of the legs and can place strain on the hamstrings. Excessive backward lean can create muscular tension in the lower back and gluteal group, which can hasten fatigue and inhibit running efficiency.
Instead, focus on running tall. An athlete with a slouched posture places restrictions on the limbs' ability to move freely. Still, despite the need for good running posture, stay loose—not rigid. A rigid posture leads to muscular tension that, in turn, inhibits performance.

Relaxation: After spending an hour or six on the aerobars, many triathletes hop off the bike with tight, bunched shoulders. And, as fatigue mounts, athletes frequently shrug their shoulders up into their necks, limiting their arms' ability to swing freely.

Build physical relaxation techniques into your training program and race-day regimen. Work at keeping your fingers, hands and jaw relaxed; no clenched fists, as this creates stiffness and tension. Emphasize the backswing with your arms and stay smooth and symmetrical.

Cadence: Cadence, or leg turnover, is one of the keys to running quickly. Harry Wilson, coach of four-time mile world record holder Steve Ovett, once said, "If you want to run fast, you have to keep your legs moving fast."

Triathletes are well known for their dedication to high-mileage training, and while this may improve their overall strength and conditioning, it can be at the expense of leg speed.

To retain your quickness during the season, include weekly short-repeat speed sessions on either the track or the road. During the early season, before you begin your specific race-preparation phase, include several sets of 15 seconds of quick legs during every run: You needn't go hard—just increase your leg turnover.

Trunk stability: Good core, or trunk, strength provides stability to the torso and limits inefficient body movements such as twisting.

As many of the muscles that generate movement originate in the core area, good conditioning can help an athlete produce speed and cope with race-day fatigue. This conditioning can be acquired through a number of activities, including Pilates and exercises such as crunches.

Rhythm: As noted above, athletes who run with an exaggerated stride length tend to be inefficient and tire quickly. However, understriding is also inefficient. An economic stride length tries to extract the maximum amount of return for the minimum amount of effort. To this end, work on keeping your hamstrings loose, as tightness can increase fatigue and enhance the perception of fatigue.

If you try the above tips and still don't see any improvement in your running, consider having a training partner videotape you. From the tape, you should be able to pinpoint areas of tension that can reduce running efficiency.

And while running performance may not be quite as closely correlated with good technique as an activity such as swimming, getting it right on the roads will allow you to run flat-out with economy at your next race.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strength Training for Runners

by Tom Holland
Windy City Sports

If you're a runner who doesn't strength train, then I can almost guarantee that the question isn't if, but when you'll be sidelined due to injury.
The old belief that runners don't need to (and shouldn't) lift weights is outdated and usually put forth by runners who will defer marathon entries due to injury and/or become what I call "accidental triathletes" -- runners forced to swim and bike to rehabilitate running-related injuries.

I contend that running doesn't cause injuries, but rather illuminates our weak links and allows us to see what we need to improve upon. There's no greater way of determining how to improve our bodies than by listening to and accessing how we respond to running.

By pinpointing our weaknesses and working on strengthening them early on in life, we can build a strong musculoskeletal system that will carry us through our later years with little or no pain.
The problem with strength training and runners is that most have absolutely no idea what, when or how often to do it. The basic keys are as follows: runners need to lift weights consistently, correctly and at the right intensity:
  • Consistently means two or three times a week for several months to truly begin to build a proper base of strength.
  • Correctly refers to performing the exercises in a safe and effective manner with proper technique and muscle control.
  • Right intensity relates to the amount of weight used for each exercise as well as the difficulty of each training session.
All three of these concepts might seem simple but are rarely implemented by runners.  
What many runners don't seem to realize is that they're lifting for injury prevention and running performance and these sessions aren't like the workouts you would do to simply look good. These are not vanity workouts, where toning and building muscle is the end goal.

Rather, these workouts are focused first and foremost on strengthening weak muscle groups and creating balance throughout the entire body. These workouts need not be long with multiple sets for each exercise. Many of these exercises are multi-joint exercises, ones that work several muscle groups at a time, thereby reducing the time needed for each workout.

Strength-training exercises 

The following are three great running-specific exercises. As they are advanced, they should be performed after you've built a significant base of strength through more basic exercises such as the leg press, regular squats and leg extensions.

These exercises incorporate unilateral movements and unstable surfaces to more closely approximate the biomechanics of running. They'll improve your running economy, leg strength, balance and coordination, and work stabilizer muscles while helping to eliminate muscular imbalances. Perform one to two sets of 15 repetitions of each, one to three times a week.

1. One-legged ball squats
Stand on one leg with a stability ball pressed against a wall with your back. Slowly squat to just above 90 degrees of knee bend, pause, then return to start position. Be sure to keep your knee behind your toes throughout the exercise (shown above).

2. Balance board split squats
Stand with one foot on a circular balance disc (a Bosu will also work). Bend your leg to just above 90 degrees of knee bend, pause, then return to start position. Be sure to keep your knee behind your toes throughout the exercise. You can also hold dumbbells or place your back leg up on a bench for added difficulty.

3. One-legged dumbbell deadlifts
This is one of the harder exercises to maintain proper form. Stand on one leg while holding dumbbells with knee slightly bent and shoulders pulled back. Bend slowly at the waist, making sure to keep your shoulders back and your back from rounding.

Pause when you feel a tightness in the back of your legs (with dumbbells roughly halfway down your shins) pause, then return to start position. You may do this exercise without weights until you're accustomed to the movement, then add dumbbells.

Reprinted, courtesy of Windy City Sports Magazine.

Ground Forces

To lessen your aches and pains, choose your running surface wisely.

By Jenny Everett
From the October 2009 issue of Runner's World

The impact of running has its benefits: It builds bone and muscle strength. But it also has drawbacks: Each footfall sends strong forces up the leg with the potential of aggravating trouble spots. Luckily, runners can sidestep injuries by changing up their workout surfaces, says exercise physiologist and marathoner Tom Holland of Darien, Connecticut. "In the same way that you vary your mileage and intensity—short one day, long the next; hard one day, easy the next—you should also vary the terrain that you run on to minimize risk of injury," he says. If you're prone to shinsplints, for example, pounding the asphalt six days a week could cause a flare up. Mix in a trail or treadmill run here and there, and you could avoid a setback. Follow this guide to running grounds to log your miles safely.

Asphalt Roads

RUN FREELY: If you're not particularly injury prone and not rehabbing an injury—although Achilles tendinitis becomes less aggravated on asphalt's stiff surface, which keeps the Achilles in a shorter, less-tensed position.
TREAD LIGHTLY: If you've recently had shin or knee pain, or a fracture, muscle pull, or iliotibial-band syndrome (ITBS). Asphalt can rattle bones, joints, muscles.

Dirt Trail

RUN FREELY: If you've struggled with runner's knee, ITBS, shinsplints, or any injury aggravated by impact. Just be wary of technical trails that cause your feet to land at an angle.
TREAD LIGHTLY: If you've had an ankle sprain. The ligaments of that joint never recover 100 percent. That increases your risk of a repeat sprain, which is more likely to occur on soft, uneven surfaces.


RUN FREELY: Rarely. Sand is unstable and puts a ton of torque on the knee, ankle, and hip. That said, this surface requires the strength of muscles that are often neglected so it can be beneficial for strength building. Just keep the runs short.
TREAD LIGHTLY: If you have a history of ankle sprains or Achilles tendinitis. A 2008 study found that running on sand increases the risk of Achilles pain tenfold.

Synthetic Track

RUN FREELY: If you're prone to ankle sprains or just recovered from a fracture. The surface is predictable with no roots or curbs to trip over. It's also more cushiony than asphalt, but not so soft as to cause instability.
TREAD LIGHTLY: If you've had ITBS or calf strains. Your outside calf is shortened as you circle your way around. Tight corners can also stress your inside leg's ITB.


RUN FREELY: If you have knee pain or are returning to running after a fracture. On grass, the bulk of the energy from your footfall goes into the ground instead of reverberating back up your leg.
TREAD LIGHTLY: If you're prone to plantar fasciitis. You're more likely to overpronate on this soft, uneven surface, which puts extra torque on the ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot.


RUN FREELY: If you're recovering from injury or are increasing mileage and want a break from asphalt. The belt's cushioned surface reduces stress to your back, hips, knees, and feet. And it's a clear path free of obstacles.
TREAD LIGHTLY: If you're training for a road race. Running exclusively on a treadmill won't prepare you to navigate uneven terrain or cope with the impact of asphalt, and that could lead to injury.

Athletes who do plyometric drills on sand improve their sprinting ability compared to those who train on grass.

Monday, March 21, 2011

4 Steps to Your Perfect Pace

By Jeff Galloway
Runner's World (from Active.com)

When you run within your limits, every workout can be a pleasure. But start even a few seconds per mile too fast, and misery awaits: excess fatigue, loss of motivation, or even injury. That's why it's so important to know what pace is right for you. Happily, by doing a simple "magic mile" time trial, you can find the best speed for your runs, then set realistic goals and keep running—enjoyably—forever.

Run One Mile Hard
Go to a track and jog an easy lap or two for a warmup. Walk for three to four minutes. Then time yourself running four laps, which is about one mile. Don't run all out; just push a little faster than you usually do. Record your time. By running on a track—which is flat and provides the most accurate measurement of distance—you'll get a solid indication of your top speed. You can use it as a benchmark to determine what pace is appropriate for your current fitness level on daily runs. Do the time trial every two weeks or so; try to beat your previous time, and track your progress.

Slow Down Every Day
On your daily runs, aim to run two to three minutes slower per mile than your magic mile time. So if you do your magic mile in 10 minutes, aim to keep your pace around 12 to 13 minutes per mile on daily runs. At the perfect pace, you should feel comfortable and relaxed—like you can finish a sentence without having to catch your breath. If you're huffing and puffing, ease off. Don't worry about going too slow.

Set Race Goals
Signed up for a race? Use the magic mile to set realistic goals for different distances. Add 33 seconds to your mile time to determine a pace for a 5K. Multiply your mile time by 1.15 for a 10K, 1.2 for a half-marathon, and 1.3 to predict your marathon potential.

Get Used To It
At a race, you'll get the best results if you try to maintain a steady pace from start to finish. Here's how to practice: Once a week, try to run your goal race pace for a half to three-quarters of a mile. Each quarter mile, check your pace and adjust if you need to. Each week, run a little farther at your goal pace until you're running one-third to one-half of the race distance.

Time Trial
If you can run one mile in 10 minutes, here's your pace for other distances.

Distance: 5K
Pace per mile: 10:33

Distance: 10K
Pace per mile: 11:30

Distance: Half-Marathon
Pace per mile: 12:00

Distance: Marathon
Pace per mile: 13:00

Ask Jeff a question at jeffgalloway.com or jeffgallowayblog.com.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Customize Your Shoes With These Tricks

You went to a running specialty store, tested out several models, and bought a pair that felt great. So why are your new running shoes rubbing you the wrong way? Even if you are fitted with a pair that suits your arch type and weekly mileage, your feet may have characteristics that make the seemingly perfect shoe less than comfortable over the long haul. Luckily, the solution could be as easy as relacing your shoes, says Richard Bouché, D.P.M., of the Sports Medicine Clinic in Seattle, who provided the techniques below. "Before you get a new shoe, try adjusting the lacing to enhance the fit," Bouché says. "It's a small change that can make a big difference."

Solution: Eliminate pressure on a "hot spot" by lacing around it, not directly over it.

Place a lipstick smear on your hot spot. Slide your bare foot into your shoe and take it out. The mark on the underside of the tongue tells you which set(s) of eyelets to skip. Lace your shoe until you reach the eyelet before the spot. Take the lace back under and pull it up through the next eyelet on the same side. Take the lace across and continue to lace. Repeat this on the other side. You'll have an empty spot on the tongue where no laces cross it, which should eliminate your pressure point.

Solution: Lift the upper material above your big toe up and off it.

Thread one end of the lace through the eyelet next to your big toe. Pull the end of that lace up to the last eyelet on the opposite side, bringing the lace through to the outside. Leave just enough slack at the top to tie a bow. Take the remaining portion of the lace straight across toward the outside of the shoe and then diagonally up toward the inside of the shoe. Repeat until all of the eyelets are laced. When you tug on the outside lace, it will pull the material above your big toe up and off your nail.

Solution: Use parallel lacing to secure your foot without putting pressure on the top.

Lace the first two eyelets on the big-toe side of the tongue (not the first eyelet on either side of the tongue like you normally would). Bring the lace from the first eyelet straight across to the first eyelet on the other side of the tongue and push it through. Pull it straight up the side, skipping one eyelet, and thread it through the third eyelet. Pull it straight across the tongue, and push it through the third eyelet on the opposite side. Repeat until all eyelets are laced and tied.

Solution: Reduce forefoot constriction by using four shoelaces instead of two.

Remove the laces and measure them. Buy two sets (four laces) half that length. On both shoes, use one lace for the bottom three eyelets and a second lace for the upper three eyelets. The end result will be two bows on each shoe, allowing you to tie the bottom laces looser to accommodate your wider forefoot.

Solution: Create a more secure fit around the ankle without tightening the entire shoe.

Technique: Lace as normal until one eyelet remains on each side. Draw the lace straight up on the outside of the shoe and bring it through the last eyelet. This will create a loop. Repeat on the other side. Cross each lace over the tongue, thread it through the opposite loop, and tie. The loops help to cinch in the material around your ankle to prevent your heel from slipping without making the rest of your shoe any tighter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

4 Tips to Start Up Your Running Season

The first step out the door is often the hardest, and not just for beginners. Greg Hamilton was training for an ultramarathon when illness forced him to take a nine-month hiatus. In his first attempt to return to the roads, he made it 14 grueling blocks at a pace not much faster than a walk. "It was so bad," says the 24-year-old manager of Jack Rabbit Sports in Brooklyn. "I didn't think I'd be able to run again."

Whether you're returning to the sport after taking time off or you're just starting out, the mental and physiological barriers that stand between you and your inner runner may seem insurmountable. Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D., a human evolutionary biologist at Harvard University and marathoner, says most people seem to have a threshold to cross when they start—or restart—the sport. "It takes time for blood vessels to respond, for your heart to get bigger and stronger, to add mitochondria to your muscles," he says. "But the good news is that our bodies are incredibly adaptive."

Returning runners know there's a payoff to sticking with it. Eight months after his 14-block slog, Hamilton ran a 1:36 half-marathon. Still, it's easy to get discouraged, especially when other runners glide past you, breathing as if they have some secret supply of oxygen. Here's how to overcome common early frustrations.

The Second Week Feels Harder Than the First

Feeling a little stiffness a week into an exercise routine is normal. "Soreness can be a sign that your muscles are adapting," says John Henwood, a 2004 New Zealand Olympian (10,000 meters) who's a coach in New York City. But if you're so achy you're shuffling, it's likely you were a little too enthusiastic out of the starting blocks. "When you begin a running program, your muscles are fresh, and you may have a rush of adrenaline, so you might be a little too ambitious," Henwood says. "The next week, you can feel the consequences."

Art Liberman, co-author of The Everything Running Book and founder of marathontraining.com, says experienced runners can fall into this trap if they expect to pick up their mileage or their speed where they left off. "It can be easy to do too much before you're ready for it," he says. "You don't realize it because initially you might feel great." Liberman suggests starting with—and sticking to—a conservative goal, such as run/walking for 20 minutes. Ending a run feeling like you're capable of doing more boosts confidence and is better than feeling beat up and discouraged. As you build mileage, don't increase distance by more than 10 percent per week.

Three Miles is Still Hard

Maybe it's because three miles is the classic "easy run," or that it's practically a 5K, but being able to cover this distance comfortably is often viewed as a sign that you've "arrived" as a runner. Just remember: Getting to this point can take anywhere from one to five months, depending on your fitness level and previous running experience. Veterans returning to the sport won't take as long to reach this comfort zone, says Tony Ruiz, distance coach of the Central Park Track Club in New York City and a 2:34 marathoner. Brand-new or overweight runners usually need more time to adapt. "When you are learning a new activity, your brain needs to build neural pathways that will give the muscles a sense of memory," Ruiz says. "Eventually, you aren't thinking about each step you take. The movement becomes natural, which is when it can become relaxed."

That said, if you only know one pace—all out—three miles won't ever feel easy. Turning every run into a speed session will make every workout a challenge—and set you up for injury.

Even a Short Run Leaves Me Incredibly Sore

"Running demands movement from pretty much every part of your body," Ruiz says. "If many of those parts haven't been used in a while, if ever, you're bound to feel a little wrecked." To help ease these early discomforts, Ruiz recommends seeking out soft surfaces, such as dirt trails, as much as possible. Also, stick to flat routes since hills are extra taxing. Alternate running days with cross-training workouts, such as swimming, spinning, or yoga. Research shows that light exercise the day after a hard workout can alleviate soreness.

Lieberman also encourages runners to focus on their footstrike and try to land with softer, lighter steps. "A lot of people thump and crash," he says. "That high collisional force can cause damage."

Finally, take care of yourself: Stretch postrun, ice sore spots, get plenty of sleep.

Other Runners Chat, But I'm Out of Breath

Slow down, says Liberman. If you can't hold a conversation, you're going too fast. "There's a level that's comfortable for everyone—some runners might be able to talk while doing an eight-minute mile, others might be at a 12-minute mile," he says. Then, check your form. "Carrying tension can affect breathing," Liberman says. "Hold your hands loosely—don't make a fist—and keep your fingers cuffed but not clenched. Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Better on the Inside

Treadmill workouts that keep you focused—and fit.

By Jeff Galloway
From the January 2011 issue of Runner's World

The 'mill is a fine tool for staying fit when the mercury drops. But it's important to have a plan of action when you hit the machine. Not only will it make the time pass more quickly, but you'll get a greater fitness boost than you would if you did the same type of run every time you went inside. Here are four TM workouts to do on the days you'd rather not risk black ice—or blue toes.

THE "FAST 15"- Do this workout when you're pressed for time. Jog for three minutes. Then increase the speed to a faster pace and hold it for two minutes (it's okay if you're huffing and puffing a bit by the end). Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence. Next, extend the run portion to three minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat. Cool down with a short walk.

THE PACE BOOSTER- Warm up for six minutes by alternating 30 seconds jogging with 30 seconds walking. Then increase your speed slightly and run for 30 seconds. Walk for 30 seconds. Continue this 30/30 ratio. Increase your speed slightly with each successive run segment. Do as many cycles as you comfortably can.

THE DISTANCE RUN- ;Increase your speed until you're running comfortably. Run for two minutes, then walk for one minute. Repeat this 2:1 ratio three times. Bump up the ratio: Run for three minutes, then walk for one minute. Repeat three times. End the workout by running two 2:1 segments, followed by two 1:1 segments.

THE HILL CLIMB- Gradually increase your speed until you're at easy-run pace. Run for three minutes. Raise the incline to 2 percent for one minute, then to 4 for one minute. Lower the incline and rest for one minute. Raise to 4 percent and run for two minutes. Alternate running two minutes at an incline/jogging one minute on the flat for as long as you can.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Solving the Puzzle: 4 Tips for Injury-Free Running

By Matt Fitzgerald
Triathlete magazine

In March 2008, I ran a marathon for the first time in four years. The long hiatus was due to a maddening series of overuse injuries. During most of the four years between marathons I doubted I would ever again be able to train at a high level in this discipline, and indeed I quit running in despair at least half a dozen times.
What got me over the hump? It was not a single, all-encompassing cure. Since running-related injuries affect most triathletes, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you four key pieces of my injury-prevention puzzle.

First Piece: Targeted Stretching

Much has been made of recent research demonstrating that routine stretching does not prevent overuse injuries in endurance athletes. While it may be true that a general stretching routine does not prevent injuries in general, certain specific injuries are caused in part by abnormal tightness in particular muscles and tendons. Stretching everything is a little like trying to true a wheel by loosening the spokes on both sides. Stretch only what's too tight and you'll see better results.

Second Piece: Corrective Strength Training

Knee pain in runners is often linked to weakness in the hip abductors (the muscles that keep your pelvis from tilting laterally when you're supported by only one leg) on the affected side. A simple test you can use to determine whether your hip abductors are weaker on one side is to perform a single-leg squat with each leg.
As you lower your butt toward the floor, eventually your thigh will rotate inward, swinging your hip outward, which is a sign that your hip abductors have become overwhelmed and need help from other muscles. If this compensatory action happens earlier on one side than on the other, that side is weaker and you are more prone to knee pain in the corresponding knee.
I started to even out the strength of my hip abductors by doing single-leg squats, step-ups and other such exercises three times a week, challenging my right side more than my left so that the gap steadily closed.

Third Piece: Gait Retraining

Conventional wisdom holds that the running stride you're born with is the one you're stuck with. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Recent research has shown that particular running-related overuse injuries can be overcome by making key modifications to one's stride.

The most common injury-causing stride flaw is overstriding, or landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body's center of gravity, instead of landing flat-footed with your foot directly underneath your head. A simple way to correct his flaw is to tilt your entire body very slightly forward from the ankles (not the waist) as you run, as though you're constantly falling forward or running downhill.

This little tweak forces your foot to land flatter and closer to your center of gravity. Correcting the overstriding flaw makes it easier to maintain proper stability in your hips and pelvis on impact and reduces the likelihood of injuries, including iliotibial band friction syndrome and runner's knee.

Fourth Piece: High-tech Nutrition

Remarkably, doctors still do not know exactly what runner's knee is. They used to think it was chondromalacia, or damage to the knee cartilage, but many runners with chondromalacia run pain-free, and many runners with knee pain don't have chondromalacia.

The latest theory is that runner's knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is caused by the body's failure to fully repair trauma suffered during runs by the patella and the fat pad underneath it. Every runner experiences such trauma in every run, but some runners (especially those who overstride and have weak hip abductors) incur more than others, and the more you run, the less likely it is that the affected tissues will achieve complete homeostasis between runs.

By changing my shoes, strengthening my hip abductors and retraining my gait, I succeeded in reducing the amount of damage my right knee suffered during a run. Thus, I was able to run more before the pain became debilitating. But I still wasn't able to run enough.

The final piece of the puzzle: I needed some means of repairing the damage more quickly between runs. I found this in a special supplement called hyperimmunized milk factor (HIMF). HIMF is a collection of anti-inflammatory proteins derived from cow's milk. By reducing post-workout inflammation, it facilitates faster tissue repair in athletes for whom inflammation has become chronic.

As yet there are only a couple of HIMF supplements on the market: MicroLactin, which is marketed mainly to arthritis patients, and RX-98, which combines HIMF with a whey protein isolate and is made specifically for athletes.

The Real Cure

Earlier in this article I said that there was no single, all-encompassing cure for my injury woes. But it might be better to say that the true cure was research and experimentation. Once completed, the injury-prevention puzzle looks a little different for each athlete, but the only way for any athlete to put it together is by making an unflagging effort to dig up measures that are worth trying and giving each a fair try.

Active Expert Matt Fitzgerald is the author of several books on triathlon and running, including Brain Training for Runners and Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners (Rodale, 2005).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Exercise Your Way to Perfect Running Posture

You'll find that you don't need to do all that much work to improve postural muscle strength. Once you get these muscles in shape, it takes very little maintenance to keep them that way.

After a few weeks of diligent strengthening, you'll be more efficient, and your running will feel easier.
When I realized I needed help with my posture about 10 years ago, I did some research and eventually came up with a program of eight to 10 strength exercises.

As I combined or eliminated certain ones over the years in my search for efficiency, I worked my program down to two basic exercises. Call it Jeff Galloway's Posture Program, and you don't have to go to a gym to do it.

Bent-Knee Crunches

To do these, lie on your back with knees bent at about a 90-degree angle. (Doing crunches with legs straight puts too much stress on the lower back.) With each crunch, lift your shoulder blades off the floor without "dropping" your head forward. (Bringing your head forward puts too much strain on the neck and shoulders.)
Go up till your shoulder blades are just a couple of inches off the floor. Come down slowly each time, but not all the way down. Keeping your stomach tight throughout the exercise will really work those abdominals. Try to do crunches every other day, working up to 40 or so per session.

Arm Running

To balance abdominal strength, you need to build up your back and sides, too. A great way to do this is by "arm running" with hand-held weights. (If you don't have dumbbells for this, you can always use water-filled plastic jugs or anything else of appropriate weight that can be grasped.)
To do the exercise, stand erect, hold onto the weights and begin moving your arms as you do during running, while keeping your feet firmly planted. You might want to glance at a mirror while you do this, so you'll be sure to stay in the proper posture. As with running, keep your elbows bent at roughly 90 degrees as you pump your arms. Continue until fatigue sets in. Try to do this exercise every other day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mixed Intensity Workout for the Indoor Trainer

By Gale Bernhardt
For Active.com 

If you're at a point in your training where you need to move toward some higher intensity rides, but the weather is keeping you on the indoor trainer, this column can help. The indoor trainer workout shown below begins with pedaling form and then goes into a set that provides a mixed-intensity ride.

You can repeat the main set as many times as you please; but completing the recommended number of repeats shown makes the total workout time between 45 and 60 minutes.

Bad weather can't take your fitness away--ride on!

5-10 minutes Ride comfortably within the range of Zone 1 to 2 intensity or an easy, aerobic warm-up
10 minutes 5 x (30 second with the right leg doing most of the work, 30 seconds where the left leg does most of the work, 60 seconds with both legs working to form smooth, relaxed circles)
12 minutes 4 x (both legs working for 30 seconds at 90 rpm, 30 seconds at 100 rpm, 30 seconds spinning at more than 100 rpm (keep your fanny from bouncing off of the bicycle seat with controlled, high speed spinning), recover with 1:30 of easy spinning)

Main Set (20-30 minutes)
Repeat the set below 2 or 3 times:
2 minutes Zone 2 intensity (recover with easy spinning in Zone 1 for 2:00)
1 minute 30 seconds Zone 3 intensity (recover with easy spinning in Zone 1 for 1:30)
1 minute Zone 4-5a intensity (recover with easy spinning in Zone 1 for 1:00)
30 seconds Zone 5b intensity, powerful riding seated or out of the saddle standing (recover with easy spinning in Zone 1 for 0:30)

Cool Down
8-13 minutes
At a low resistance, spin easy at Zone 1-2 intensity

You can find intensity references here:

If your trainer provides power numbers, be certain your power output increases throughout the main set repeats. In other words, the power output for the one-minute work bout should be higher than it was for the two-minute work bout.

Record your average power outputs for each work bout in your journal.

If you repeat the workout once per week, or once every other week, aim to have a slight increase in the average power output within the main set, over the course of time.

Optimally, over the course of several weeks your average power output will increase while your heart rate remains the same, or slightly lower.

Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 Leg-Burning Bike Workouts

from Bicycling

Seven months of the year, Northern Vermont is a cyclists paradise. For the other five, its the coldest hell anyone's ever turned a pedal in. For the 65-member Green Mountain Bicycle Club/Excite/smartFUEL racing team, this means long hours on the trainer. So many, in fact, that the ceiling panels in team director Chris Lussiers basement have buckled and drooped from the sweat humidity. Lussier shares two of the teams favorite panel-bucklers.

King-of-the-Green-Mountain Hill Repeats

Time: 45+ minutes; Gearing: 53-12; Cadence: 50-55 rpm (moderate pace); Reps: Start with one, add one every week to four; Warning: Weak knees? Stay away.
Warm Up: light spinning for 15 minutes.
Workout: Elevate front wheel to stimulate climbing position of moderate (5 percent) grade. Set resistance that puts your cadence at about 50 rpm when pedaling in highest gear. On rollers, put a towel under one cylinder. Remain seated, relax your upper body and ride at a steady tempo for 5 minutes, then stand for 5 minutes (or as long as you can without shifting into a lower gear). rest: spin lightly for 10 minutes.
Cool Down: 10 minutes in a light gear.

Kicking-the-Dog Spin Sprints

Time: 1 hour+; Gearing: 39-17; Cadence: 100-125 rpm; Reps: Start with 5 or 6, build up to 10
Warm Up: light spinning for 15 minutes
Workout: Set your resistance light, but heavy enough to keep you from flying off the bike when you sprint. Sprints can be done seated or standing. Sitting allows you to attain a higher RPM, while standing provides a more realistic simulation. On rollers? Stay seated! Sprints should last 6-10 seconds. Concentrate on form and attaining the highest RPM possible. The key to this workout is focusing on pulling up and snapping over the top of the pedal stroke. Imagine kicking a dog that is nipping at your front wheel.
Rest: spin lightly for 5 minutes between each sprint.
Cool Down: 10 minutes in a light gear.