Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sonnet for a foam roller

Yep. It’s foam rolling time. Loosening out my knots and bumps before race day.

Ouch! What choice words I would have to say to the inventor of said foam roller if I had their email address…

Instead, I thought I’d butcher some Shakespeare:

Alas! What pain my Roller brings forth,
Though even with such scope to dent my pride,
This instrument here is of more worth
Than what my unkind words say beside!
Oh! Blame me not, if I no more can roll!
Look in my mirror, there appears a face
That over-cast in pain describes the toll,
Dulling mine eyes, stripping my grace.
Why so painful, while striving to mend,
To release a muscle that before was unwell?
But for no other tool my legs will bend
Thanks to your graces my knots you do quell;
So more, much more, before I will sit
But my mirror, I no more look in it.

 

On a more serious note, foam rolling is one of the most painful but most beneficial exercises a runner can do. Akin to a combination of stretching and deep tissue massage, foam rolling provides serious myofascial release to ease out knots, smooth muscles and increase circulation. Great stuff for runners!

Happy running and rolling everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

Related articles:
Sonnet CIII by William Shakespeare – Wikipedia
Roll Away Injuries: The Benefits Of Using A Foam Roller – Running Competitor
Full-Body Rolling Out Routine – Perfect Form With Ashley Borden

 

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Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon : 4 days to go

The sneaky half is almost upon me, but I’m feeling ready. So far this week I’ve run twice, both have been hard sessions but not too much distance as I go through a ‘mini-taper’ before the half marathon on Sunday.

Yesterday’s run was along the beach in Forte dei Marmi. It’s the middle of winter in Europe but something aligned to provide a warm day and bright sunshine while on my work trip. After the day’s meetings I was able to go for a run along the coast as the sun set, in just shorts and a t-shirt. It’s been ages since I ran in just shorts and shirt, and even longer since I ran on a beach, and being an Aussie by birth both are something I’ve missed. There is just something special about running on the beach. The air, the smell, the rhythmic sound of the waves that seem to sympathise with the rhythm of your breathing…
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Apologies to everyone for waxing lyrical just now – I had a moment but I’m over it.

It’s also hard on the beach. The sand absorbs your impact but robs you of any spring and your push-off is soaked up as the sand compresses behind you. I ran close to 4km on the beach but it felt like much more and I was glad to be on the road for the 4km back to my hotel.
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This morning’s run was flat, shorter and away from the cloying sand. Forte dei Marmi is a coastal town and has a long, straight, perfectly flat road running parallel to the beach, which is perfect for speed work. This morning was cool and overcast, perfect running weather, and after roughly a one mile warmup I did 3x1km repeats with 1 1/2 minute walking between each rep. By staying on the beach side path I was able to run non-stop for each kilometre, something that is almost impossible when road running in my home town of London. That and a good tail wind are almost certainly the reason for setting a new 1km PB, but it was still nice to hit stop on my Garmin and have it flash up with a new record.

Tonight I will do some strength work on my glutes and hip flexors, with tomorrow being a very light recovery run of about 3km. Friday and Saturday are dedicated to rest, foam rolling and stretching. On Saturday I have signed up to volunteer at my local Parkrun as I’m not going to race, and I’m skipping football training just so I’m not tempted to get out there and chase the ball. Sometimes I think I might be part Kelpie because I just can’t help chasing the ball if it’s there…

All in all I’m feeling that despite the hiccough with my calf at the start of this marathon training schedule it is starting to come together and, with fingers fully crossed, this weekend’s half-marathon will go well and put me in good shape for a successful run in Paris.

Is anyone else racing this weekend?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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A sneaky half approaches…

The Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon has snuck up on me. I mean, I knew the date, I knew it was coming, but it has still come around faster than expected. It’s also a build-up race to Paris, so I admit I haven’t been focussing on it as much as I should have been. 

The reason is probably my calf and subsequent interrupted training schedule. As many of you know I’ve been recovering from a calf injury which was caused by weak glutes and a resultant biomechanical flaw, meaning my training this year has been focussing more on technique and strength rather than mileage. That said, I have done long runs over 21km/13miles in the last few weeks so the distance of the half doesn’t phase me, it’s just that I don’t really know what my goal time or pace should be. 

Adidas Half Marathon '14 race-pack

Adidas Half Marathon ’14 race-pack

This is unusual for me because in the past almost all of my training has been pace-based. However, when you’re doing intervals or hill sprints, pace loses importance over ‘perceived effort’. Also, my longer runs have been on trail (where pace changes drastically depending on ground condition and gradient) to avoid long, same-pace runs in favour of more challenging runs to build strength. My work with The Running School has been about reinforcing my body to build strength and avoid overuse injuries, not go faster.

This has however left me without a good idea of a goal time or pace for the half-marathon. to try and fix this, for my run on Sunday I decided to return to the road to try and convert ‘perceived effort’ into ‘pace’. My plan called for a 16km/10mile run, so after my warmup I did 5km at an easy-ish pace before ramping up to what I thought my half-marathon pace would be – ‘comfortably hard’ – and holding it for 11km/6.5miles. I define ‘comfortably hard’ as breathing deeply and fully in a 3-3 or 2-2 rhythm, but not pushing like in a 10km, or slow like in a marathon. In terms of the talk-test, I would be able to talk a few words at a time, but not hold a conversation.

As my Garmin has a page for heart rate and training zone, I figured ‘comfortably hard’ would equate to about zone 4.5, the bottom of zone 4 being for a marathon pace and the top of zone 4 being threshold or a bit quicker than 10k pace. On the run I tried keeping my heart rate around zone 4.5, the result being my paces were roughly 5:05 – 5:10/km, with a few slightly faster sections under 5:00/km. I obviously had a tail wind in those sections…

Last night I plugged 5:05/km and 5:10/km into the Cool Running pace calculator and it gave me a goal time of 1:47 to 1:50 for the half marathon. Recently my long runs have been about 2:10 for half marathon distance including walk and refuelling breaks, plus they’ve been slower due to being on trail, so to be aiming for about 1:50 in road race conditions feels about right. I also felt comfortable in the run and could have gone on for the next 5km without too much issue, albeit I would have needed a water break and a gel to keep that pace up. Overall, recovery has been good too. This morning I was stiff but did my Ekhart yoga for runners (thanks Fit for 365 for the tip on this one) and as a write this I feel quite good, certainly recovered enough that I’ll be able to run tomorrow.

So, now I have a goal pace and time for the race the sneaky half-marathon is out in the open and has nowhere to hide. I’m facing it head on and I’ve decided to set out at 5:10/km pace for a 1:50 finish, with the optimum result to negative-split and finish in the high 1:40’s. Fingers crossed of course, but I think with a taper this week, proper rest and the race-day performance addition of aid stations and gels this should be achievable. But like I said, fingers crossed!

Is anyone else racing this weekend? How are your plans going?
Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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A running hangover : and one that’s not alcohol induced

Today is a rest day for me and for that I am glad. I’m shattered. My legs are leaden even when walking. I’ve been feeling dehydrated for the last 36 hours. No amount of coffee and cups of tea (ok, and cake) are clearing my fuzzy head. I’m not feeling like I’m going to recover before tomorrow’s planned session.

Yep. I’ve got a running hangover. They happen sometimes, but this one is telling me I’ve been overtraining and need to rest.

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You know you’re a runner when…

you can tell you’ve found ‘the one’ because instead of chocolates on Valentines day, she buys you a Petzl NAO Reactive Lighting head torch, and let’s you go on a pre-dawn 10k trail run to test it out…

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Did anyone else get running kit instead of flowers or chocolate today?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Thursday Training Tip : Strong Running Needs Strong Glutes

Most runners know that core work and general strength work is an important tool for making you a better runner and preventing injuries. Almost every book, website and forum tells us that ‘core is king’ and we need to focus on this area.

I think they are still right – I do core and general strength workouts as part of my weekly training – but due to a recent calf injury I’ve found out about the importance of strengthening your glutes to help prevent injury – particularly overuse type injuries and lower limb injuries.

The reason the glutes are so important is because they form a key link between your lower limbs and your torso, especially when running. A weak gluteal area will cause imbalances in your whole kinetic chain, increasing your risk of injury. Your glutes are also responsible for providing rearward drive through your legs. Stronger glutes mean faster turnover and faster running.

However, glutes are hard to train as most exercises don’t isolate the area, allowing other muscles to be recruited to take the load. Plus, for those with desk jobs your hip flexors are often tight due to the hours of sitting, further inhibiting activation of the glutes. Adding glute strength exercises and hip flexor stretches into your routine will help you build strength in this key area and hopefully reduce your chance of injuries caused by a weak gluteal area.

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Running recap, and : Still learning from my mistakes…

Life has been hectic lately, but I’m still getting some running in. It doesn’t resemble my marathon training plan that much, but at least I’m still running. More than I’ve been blogging at any rate…

Another thing I’ve noted is that I’m still learning. Unfortunately, largely through making mistakes…
Since my last post I’ve managed to keep up my ‘two-for-Tuesday‘ workout of hard run (usually hill sprints) followed by Yoga. I really like this combo – a hard run after my rest day, followed by an hour of enforced stretching and core work. I’m the first to admit it, I don’t stretch or do enough core work, so yoga is a good way for me to get in a flexibility and core workout.

Mental note #1: Stretch more. Like everyday, not just after a run.

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