Back To The Future Of Running - Training Techniques
This is a movie made by Colin McPhail, which took 4 months in the making. We think you may learn some useful tips from this movie. Pay attention to the key areas which are the individual chapters of the movie.
Some Key Points For a Training Formula
Colin McPhail demonstrates the main points needed in this 2 min video which has all the major skills subtitled to allow you to replay and learn these in a calculated fashion.
The Principles of a Good Training Formula
Training Do It. But Make It Work For You
Training is not just working out but working out PLUS rest. The harder you push your body, whether via distance training, intensity, or strength conditioning, the more you have to rest to recover. We all know about the benefits of quality recovery sleep, active recovery, as well as a healthy diet and what I like to call the aerobic lifestyle. Essentially, the less stress youre under in other aspects of your daily life, the harder and longer you can train. If youre parenting some kids (or kid) during the day, eating poorly, and not sleeping well, then youre living a less aerobic or more anaerobic lifestyle and that means your training will be compromised. To account for this, Ive changed the way I look at the training equation; heres the new Sock Doc formula:
Training = (Working Out + Daily Stress)/Rest & Recovery
You can see from this new formula that the more external daily stress, (work, family obligations, & poor diet, for example), you have in your life, the more it will affect your training, and the more rest and recovery you will need. Many athletes do not take into account their external stresses, so they get injured, sick, or underperform. You can handle longer workouts, be it a long run or a long power session, more often if youre under less stress. You can obviously handle those more if you have more time to rest and recover. So the idea here is to try to reduce or eliminate as much external stress as you possibly can while also making sure you are recovering and resting efficiently. I like to tell patients to fix what you can fix. This means there are some things you can change in your life, and some you cannot at this point in time. For example, everybody can change their diet. You can reduce or eliminate refined carbs, unhealthy vegetable oils, caffeine if you need to things like that. Dietary changes have huge impacts on a persons life not just their daily activities but their workouts and their sleep too. So its a great place to start. No need to go into that more here; theres plenty of info on this site to help you address your diet but just remember that diet is huge when it comes to training properly; its a significant factor in the recovery part of the equation. The healthier your diet, the faster youll recover, and the more your body can handle working out and daily stressors. Daily stressors such as work, family, and other daily obligations can perhaps be changed to some degree to lower your overall stress load. Many may like to tell their boss at work what they really think but its not often the best idea. So you fix what you can fix. Maybe you can adjust your commute to work or how efficiently you work, freeing up more time and thus lowering your stress. This in turn makes your life more aerobic so you can handle more of other types of stress such as the stress of anaerobic workouts. And yes, the less rest your body will require. Rest and recovery means actual rest such as sleep but also active recovery. Sometimes a very easy aerobic exercise such as an easy run or balance work is much better than just taking the day off and lounging around. I think we should all be moving every day exercising every day. This is not plausible for everybody, and as addressed in Part II, various forms of exercise and intensity need to be taken into account. Even just walking can be considered active recovery. Do some bear crawls (MovNat training) to mix up the walk (depending on where youre walking), or do some squats and one leg balancing while youre brushing your teeth. One of the many reasons I like MovNat so much is because it can be scaled towards anyones training. Balancing and barefoot running (or walking) are great on easy days with lifting, throwing, climbing, and carrying heavy objects left for harder days. Sleep of course is a major factor in recovery and as the equation states, the more working out and the more stress youre under, the more rest you will need. The obvious problem here is that often the opposite occurs. The more someone trains the less they sleep or the less theyre able to sleep. This is especially true for those who are under a lot of stress they sleep less and not as well most often due to spikes in cortisol throughout the night. My sleep article addresses several sleep conditions, but essentially dealing with daily stress, including dietary stress, will lead to better sleep. This, as you can see, has multidimensional ramifications because the less stress youre under during the day and the more healthy your diet is, the better you sleep all leading to more productive workouts.
Health First, Performance Second
Health and performance (fitness) are often closely associated with one another, though they shouldnt be so closely intertwined. Health is not just the absence of some known disease, but your entire body functioning without any problems that means your body is free of aches and pains, has abundant energy, and your mind is sharp and clear. A healthy individual isnt injured, constantly sick, or sleeping poorly. Your impression of this may be that nobody is healthy. The fact is that a lot of people arent very healthy, but they may be very fit. As you become more and more fit your health should also improve, and vice-versa. If you change your diet and lifestyle for the better you will see some positive changes in fitness. You will move more efficiently when youre healthy and youll naturally be more fit. Unfortunately as many become more fit their health suffers, because they are stressing their bodies out too much (anaerobically) or not recovering properly. This excess anaerobic syndrome is the same one that many link with chronic, damaging cardio as discussed in Part I. Most train too much, too hard, and since the majority of us arent professional athletes, we dont get to rest and recover as much as wed like. Overtraining is easy. Those who only do hard CrossFit workouts and the chronic anaerobic endurance athletes are not very healthy. When the vast majority of workouts are cortisol inducing activities the body will break down because there is not enough time in the day to recover. Although that professional athlete may last longer when they have someone training, feeding, and managing their schedule it eventually catches up with them. So whatever training program you want to support, or bash, remember it all should come down to two things what youre trying to accomplish and how it affects your health. Too often these two parameters do not complement one another. I unfortunately see way too many injured and unhealthy athletes who are training for or have just competed in a half or full marathon. The general public conception is a misconception that these athletes are healthy. Far from the truth. (More on this in Part V.) A similar situation of being fit but not healthy occurs with those who only do some hard weights and sprints a few times a week as their only workouts.
Overtrained, Under Conditioned, or Under Rested?
Overtraining is not possible, youre just under conditioned. I remember first hearing a statement like this during the 2006 Tour de France by Floyd Landis, who of course was later disqualified for doping. Its the glass half empty, glass half full idea. Whether you think overtraining is a possibility or not, is up to you. I understand some now use the term overreaching which is when one is pushing themselves too much and performance is starting to plateau or suffer but theyre not in the full blown stage of overtraining. Call it what you like overtrained, overreached, under conditioned, or under rested if youre in any of these categories youre doing something wrong. Injuries typically dont come out of nowhere. Sure, there are exceptions traumatic accidents for example. You may step in a hole while running and sprain your ankle. You may slip while performing a lift. If youre playing a contact sport youre obviously at risk. But the majority of injuries that occur do so because of muscle imbalances as a result of some stress to the nervous system. This is the forte of Sock Doc, and how I am able to address injuries and health problems faster than most could ever expect. Dietary stress, hormonal stress, emotional stress, and physical stress (past unresolved injuries, improper footwear, orthotics, and yes, even harmful <Actinic:Variable Name = 'static'/> stretching habits) all impact the nervous system causing imbalances in the sympathetic and parasympathetic system which in turn results in patterns of muscle imbalances. Its these muscle imbalances that cause injures, either locally or elsewhere in your body especially if they affect how you move (your gait). So yes, you could be under conditioned to perform a certain activity and end up with an injury. This happens if youre training at too high of a heart rate too often and for too long and never developed your aerobic base. Itll also happen if youre lifting too much weight too often without sufficient recovery. It could happen if youre not incorporating any, or very little, aerobic activity into your daily routine. And it can happen if youre doing too much aerobic and not incorporating sufficient anaerobic endurance or strength into your training. When youre injured (or ill), youre forced to rest. So its important to realize some of the warning signs of overtraining or under conditioning. Read up on them so you can back off and adjust before its too late.
Build Your Aerobic with The Sock Doc.
Sock Doc Training: Build Your Aerobic System (Move Your Ass Often, But Not Too Quickly)
These articles are from The Sock Doc aka Steve Gangemi (sockdoc.com)
Sock Doc Training Part I: Aerobic Activity Is the Foundation to Your Health AND Fitness Building your aerobic system is vital whether youre in a highly anaerobic sport such as professional hockey, a long distance marathoner, or an average guy or gal looking to be as healthy as possible. But you have to actually develop this aerobic system, which is not done by pushing your heart rate (HR) to extreme levels and holding it for a prolonged period of time. Actually, you want to keep your HR low such as the 180-age formula or a Zone 2 or Zone 3 heart rate. (Finding your aerobic training zone is discussed here.) This is how you develop your aerobic base for optimum fat burning, overall health, and eventually a strong anaerobic system. Those who shun aerobic exercise are missing out on these vital benefits benefits that will not be achieved by interval training alone. Ive treated several NHL players who stay strong well into the third period because they have effectively developed their aerobic system not just by skating hard but by doing some prolonged, low HR workouts. Look at another very anaerobic sport such as boxing. I love to watch Manny Pacquio train and fight. He does some 800 meter repeats but he, like other fighters, go out and run long slow distances, just like Rocky. Hes got a superior aerobic system to get him through twelve rounds of a very anaerobic event. In high school, wrestling was my main sport. For those of you who have wrestled, youll probably agree that its the most demanding six minutes youll even endure. Wrestling is very anaerobic, but lasting six minutes and keeping that anaerobic strength is dependent on a strong aerobic foundation. The amount of aerobic base you need will be dependent on your sport. If youre interested in all around fitness then your goal is to develop your aerobic system to the max as well as your anaerobic system. If youre more of a strength and power athlete, then your aerobic conditioning will not need to be as developed as a long distance runner. This may seem obvious to some, but many fail to realize the importance of aerobic for ALL athletes.
Too Much Aerobic?
Aerobic conditioning is best achieved via long workouts several times a week. To some degree, the more the better, (depending on the aerobic capacity youre seeking to achieve based upon your sport), as long as it is truly aerobic, and eventually anaerobic endurance is incorporated once the base is built. But can you do too much aerobic? You bet you can. There are two main problems I see with those who overdo true aerobics. Ill point out that overtraining the aerobic system is much less common than overtraining the anaerobic system because most people want to go too hard, too fast, too soon in their exercise program. (I will discuss overtraining more in Part IV.) First are the people who go way too slow and actually never even get into their aerobic training zone. These people train at or below Zone 1 too often, which is best suited for recovery and super-easy days. Running slowly will increase cardiac efficiency but too slowly has what I all diminishing returns on your investment it will take much longer to achieve the same results than if you were training at faster aerobic levels, if youre able to achieve them at all. It can take years to develop aerobic efficiency, which is why you see many great long distance athletes peaking in the late 30s. If youre always walking thats great but eventually you need to walk faster, or up and down some hills, or walk/run. Second, and more common, are distance training athletes who do way too much aerobic for too long and dont add in some anaerobic training either via intervals or strength work. They fail to maintain an aerobic/anaerobic balance. I have overtrained aerobically twice (that I know of). The overtraining of the aerobic system comes with symptoms a bit different than those of overtraining the anaerobic system. See signs of symptoms of overtraining. Clinically, the thyroid gland gets run down when there is too much aerobic involvement, as opposed to the adrenal glands taking the hit with too much anaerobic (at least initially). Someone overtraining aerobically will lose some body leanness and muscle mass, theyll be more mentally fatigued, more physically fatigued, and may have a deep chill bones are cold. Anaerobic overtraining may have similar symptoms but typically results in an injury that just came out of nowhere or you woke up with, as well as frequent illness/infection or getting a cold that will not remedy easily. Interestingly, rest doesnt correct this aerobic excess problem but rather some anaerobic activity does. So the prescription is often some hard intervals, hill repeats, and/or strength training to get the individual out of the aerobic excess syndrome. (For the therapists out there and others too, you can read my clinical research paper on evaluating the aerobic and anaerobic system.)
HIIT High Intensity Interval Training: Good & Evil
I dont want to call this a fad but it sure does seem to be the new in workout though interval training is nothing new. High intensity interval training is basically alternating between a period of high intensity activity, say for 5-60 seconds, and then recovering inbetween each set, typically by walking, for a period of time. Yes, these workouts can be very effective at increasing your performance AND your health. They can even increase your aerobic capacity though they are primarily very anaerobic workouts. Despite the aerobic benefits, continued implementation of these types of workouts over time will break you down; your immune system, your hormonal system all the systems of your body will all suffer. Additionally, oxidative stress (free radical damage) occurs with anaerobic excess and that can lead to premature aging and many diseases, such as autoimmune diseases and cancer. These workouts will improve your lactate threshold and even improve how well your body uses glucose in tissues known as insulin sensitivity. Mitochondria, those energy powerhouses of your cells, are most prevalent in the slow twitch aerobic muscle fibers, but anaerobic training will increase them too thats called biogenesis. Youll also burn fat during these workouts, as well as glucose, and youll recruit a high amount of Type II muscle fibers leading to development of your anaerobic endurance. So yeah, high intensity anaerobic intervals are super cool, when youre ready for them. Now remember that at low intensity aerobic workouts youll burn more fat than glucose but at higher intensity you end up burning more calories over the long run, which can lead to more fat loss. These are all good things, but realize that HIIT workouts, being promoted by some as the only cardio you need to do can be very harmful to your health and your fitness if done too often or for some too soon in a training program. Lets not all forget, especially with the huge focus today on Paleo and the health and lifestyle of our ancestors millions of years ago, we didnt just sprint, lift, sprint, lift, repeat all day long. Hunter-gatherers traveled across vast areas over time thats an aerobic quality. They didnt run as hard as they could, but they maintained a steady aerobic pace. Look at persistent hunting one had to be in superb physical conditioning, especially aerobic conditioning, to track an animal for so long, and then utilize the anaerobic system for the sprint in for the final kill (and the throwing of the spear). Although I feel that a person can begin strength training (discussed next in Part III) relatively early in a training program, HIIT workouts should be excluded from any program until there is a sufficient aerobic base. Unfortunately though, many start these workouts immediately due to time constraints as advocates say theyre more practical. Its a time crunch issue, much like a person looking to take a pill for a quick fix rather than address their health problem. Many people dont want to, or dont know how to, develop some aerobic endurance. Many of the studies, such as this one from 2006 in the Journal of Physiology, make special note that HIIT workouts are time efficient strategies. That doesnt mean they should replace all aerobic conditioning workouts. Plus, these studies are short theyre not following participants for months after the study to see how their health and fitness are progressing. And theyre not advocating they continue in such an exercise fashion either. HIIT workouts dramatically increase stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, which over time can lead to health problems and injuries. Low testosterone levels in men and low progesterone levels in women occur from training too hard, too often, with insufficient rest. This can come from too many HIIT workouts or too much high intensity cardio as discussed in Part I. True aerobic exercise, however, can not only lower stress hormones but increase anabolic hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Anaerobic sprints are touted as a great way to increase human growth hormone (HGH), but aerobic exercise, when done properly, wont deplete it. Excessive anaerobic can deplete growth hormone as much as proper anaerobic can increase it. Essentially, without a sufficient aerobic base, youll overtrain (Part IV). Once you are ready to implement HIIT workouts into your training, you should follow common sense anaerobic guidelines adequate recovery (often 48 hours in between workouts), and adequate breaks (cycle weeks on/off depending on your program). In other words, you should not be doing HIIT workouts 3-4 times a week for several weeks (5-6+) without a change in intensity or a break, or youre destined for problems. The amount of HIIT workouts you can handle is determined by your health, recovery, aerobic capacity, and overall stress in your life. So remember those who want to talk anti-aerobic are often the same groups that bash long slow distance training and unhealthy looking, muscle-wasted skinny runners. If done properly, your aerobic workouts should be relatively not too easy but not too difficult; some say you should finish an aerobic workout pleasantly tired. But for many its not low intensity because their health and fitness sucks (yeah, its true) and theyre impatient to develop their aerobic system. Oddly enough, if youre in a time crunch as most are, HIIT workouts can be one of the worst things for your health, (I underlined that for emphasis). Sure youll develop some aerobic and anaerobic conditioning faster than if you just logged in a bunch of miles, but when youre already producing a lot of stress hormones from being in that time crunch and also most likely eating poorly and not sleeping well, more anaerobic activity in your already anaerobic life is not a good thing. Its a great way to soon be injured or develop some health condition. Thats fitness achieved by compromising health. Its not just <Actinic:Variable Name = 'all'/> about looking buff. You might not care to run a 10K in 40min but you should be able to run one in roughly one hour and not all out anaerobic, which an unfit person wouldnt be able to sustain anyway. To me, thats a level of fitness. Youre not going to get there doing just speed work.
Build Your Strength With The Sock Doc.
Sock Doc Training Part: Strength Training Do It. But Make It Work For You
We all can agree (hopefully) that strength is important. There is some disagreement as to when one should add in, or begin strength training. Some say to develop the aerobic system first and shun weights initially one hundred percent as it will impair proper aerobic development. Others say the opposite start with weights because youll burn more calories and see results quicker than when training your aerobic system alone. I feel its very individualized but I dont see strength training to be harmful as anaerobic endurance workouts can be when there is an insufficient aerobic base. For example, if I saw a person who was doing absolutely zero daily exercise I would first encourage him to start walking. Thats going to be aerobic. Moving its fairly important. I also want to know what hed like to do so hed hopefully stick with an exercise routine. So although Id love it if he were walking and doing some dynamic, natural movements every day and eventually also some strength work too; but that may not happen for some time for some folks. If the person is already under a tremendous amount of stress and eating poorly hes living an anaerobic lifestyle already, so no way do I want him training too hard either via anaerobic endurance or heavy strength training. Deep squats, balance work, and maybe some carrying of weighted objects would be a good way to get this individual integrated into more strength training. Now if the person just doesnt know where to start and he is eating well and under very little stress then Im all for some weight training to start. So the point here take a look at the whole picture and dont just do what everybody else is doing; do what works for you, do what you like to do, and make sure your body is able to handle the workout. Unfortunately, if youre often involved in group training sessions, this may be difficult to do as you will be pressured to train with the group versus doing what is ideal for you. Therefore, the group setting is often not best at least for the majority of your training program, especially if you start in a class that is above your current fitness level. People often go from one extreme to another. Its somewhat like diets, going from the high carb, low fat diet to a low carb, high fat diet. Endurance athletes fear strength work and too much anaerobic while sprinters, lifters, and power athletes fear workouts that are overly aerobic. The marathoner wants to steer clear of the weight room. The powerlifter avoids the treadmill, track, or trail. Strength training is very important for every athlete, even a long distance endurance athlete. That doesnt mean the runner needs to be squatting massive weight just as a shot putter shouldnt be running several miles every day. How much weight and how many miles respectively? That depends on the individual what hes trying to accomplish and what their goals are. Clearly a long distance runner doesnt want the over-development of Type II muscle fibers or use a lot of energy trying to develop such; and a strength athlete doesnt want to expend too much energy into his aerobic system. But for the runner, power developed by carrying a heavy load up a hill can be very beneficial at various times in ones training just as a strength athlete can achieve some benefits by running for a prolonged period of time even 30 minutes to develop ones aerobic capacity. That brings us to the next point:
Train Your Weaknesses Focus on Your Goal
Train your weakness is stressed as a MovNat principle. Training your weakness is important in becoming a well rounded athlete. This can mean training your body more on the weaker side (the less dominant side) so you become more balanced, but it also means you should train what youre not very good at so you can become a more fit and healthy individual. So if youre more into lifting weights, work on some easy long runs to develop your aerobic system. Youre not going to lose your strength and develop skinny legs! Im talking some 30 minute runs, maybe even up to 60 minutes every so often. Keep it slow; walk if you need to. Carry a kettle bell or a log if it makes you feel better (or cooler), or benefits your training. If youre more of an endurance athlete as I am, work on strength carry heavy objects, lift, throw, and jump things that help develop power. Find the fine balance between what your goals are, what you like to do making yourself a well-rounded athlete. Aerobic conditioning may not benefit the strength-only athlete as much as the endurance athlete can benefit from strength, but they can both can help (or hinder) to various degrees. The strength-only athlete will lack many of the health benefits of true aerobic training, such as reduced stress hormone levels, increased immunity, and resistance to fatigue. Those incorporating aerobic activity are thought to live longer too (see Part V). On the other hand, the endurance athlete shunning anaerobic will lack power and speed, impaired glucose metabolism, and might not live as long if they have to climb a tree to escape a tiger chasing them. (!) Im not going to lift heavy everyday even if I was able to keep my running up. That would impair my ability to run a one to three hour race as fast and as efficiently as I possibly can. But I do want to develop power and anaerobic endurance, so I incorporate strength training at different times in my training cycles during the year. Strength training is fine but the more you do, the less time and energy will go into your endurance training (which will hopefully be primarily aerobic) and the greater chance youll develop an aerobic/anaerobic imbalance. These aerobic/anaerobic imbalances lead to muscle imbalances resulting in pain, injury, illness, and lackluster performance. Lackluster is an old word; thought Id bring it back. Likewise, if you want to lift a whole lot of weight, integrate some aerobic activity into your workouts but not so much that it impairs your strength. The more developed your aerobic system the longer youll be able to sustain certain workouts and the faster youll recover. Even in a very anaerobic sport, such as ice hockey, soccer, boxing, or MMA fighting, the athlete who is going to still be strong physically and sharp mentally til the end is the one with superior aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
Training - That Marathon May Kill You
A marathon or any event for that matter can be a very stressful to the human body if not prepared for properly, and especially if an unhealthy diet, training, and lifestyle factors are too much for the body to bear. High caliber long distance athletes and sports icons have died, perhaps as a result of their running and other factors. Jim Fixx, the author of the 1977 best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running, died of a heart attack at the age of 52. Fixx is credited with popularizing the sport of running and demonstrating the health benefits of regular jogging. His autopsy revealed that atherosclerosis had blocked three of his coronary arteries by 70% or more. This lead to the belief by many that running was not as beneficial as once thought. However, Fixx was genetically predisposed (his father died of a heart attack at age 43 and Fixx himself had a congenitally enlarged heart), and had several lifestyle issues he had a stressful occupation, just went through a second divorce, and was overweight and a smoker before he began running. Ryan Shay was an American professional long-distance runner who collapsed five miles into the 2007 Olympic marathon trials. He died of a heart attack due to a pre-existing cardiomegaly (enlarged heart). This is not as uncommon as you may think in distance athletes. A good friend of my brothers growing up died of a sudden heart attack while out on a training run one day with his fellow cross country team. He was only 24 and a national level runner. Steve Larson, the professional mountain biker, road biker, and eventually-turned triathlete who won Ironman USA in 2001, died suddenly in 2009 at age 39. Recently, (March 2012), the famous ultrarunner Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco died of cardiac arrest while on a training run. A recent study (Jan 2012) in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at the incidence and outcomes of cardiac arrest. (Cardiac arrest is when the body doesnt efficient pump blood due to poor heart contractions whereas a heart attack is lack of blood flow to the actual heart muscle.) The study found that atherosclerotic coronary disease and hypertrophic cardiomegaly accounted for the majority of cardiac arrests and the incidence rate was significantly higher during marathons, and in men over women. The atherosclerotic coronary disease does not result in the traditional plaque rupture leading to an embolism (blockage in a blood vessel), but ischemia lack of oxygen that is unable to meet the demand the body requires.
In December of 2011 an article published in the European Heart Journal found that marathon runners and others engaging in extreme endurance exercise may temporarily damage the right ventricle of their heart. This was reversed one week later in most of the 40 athletes they studied but five of them showed lasting damage. These cardiovascular damaging effects of long, hard training and racing are in-line with what many long distance athletes put on their bodies. Athletes are taxing their cardiovascular systems throughout a distance event much like its a chronic high intensity interval session over a very long period with inadequate recovery. And everybody has to sprint to the finish even if theyre last. If youre training aerobically and will have built a sufficient aerobic base, then youll be racing primarily aerobically and be able to withstand anaerobic periods during the race. The chance of any ischemic incidence is greatly lowered, perhaps eliminated, in such a conditioned athlete. I think, based off the groups of people I associate with as well as the types of patients I see in my office, that the boom of half and full marathon racing is creating more and more unhealthy people. Too many people should not be doing these events as theyre not healthy enough even for a 10K. I say healthy, not fit as they have the fitness to stick out the miles, but their health suffers because their lives and training are too anaerobic. Interestingly, those doing ultras and Ironman distance triathlons seem to be healthier and my thought there is it is because they are training much more aerobically since these events can last in the 10-20 hour range, if not longer. There are of course still a lot of unhealthy long distance triathletes and ultra runners, but from my experience, its the people who want an obtainable goal and sign up for a half or full marathon that end up injuring themselves and decreasing their overall health. Perhaps those who put the stickers 13.1 or 26.2 on the back of their vehicles to say they went the distance should also include their heart rate, maybe their time too but heart rate is more important. Its much more respectful to the body for a 40 year old to run a marathon in 4:00 at a 140-150 HR than do the same race in 3:30 at a 155-165 HR. A marathon run by a Kenyan in 2 hours is often going to be much less stressful on his body than someone running a 4-6 hour marathon. Extreme racing and training can take a toll on an athletes body; even a highly fit individual. But this doesnt mean that aerobic conditioning is bad as discussed in Part I. Dietary and lifestyle factors play a huge roll here. Inflammation is clearly one main factor that will raise your risk of not just performing poorly, but perhaps dying from working out or racing. Inflammation of the body can be measured via a blood test to test for Creactive protein. CRP levels increase dramatically in acute inflammation and remain high when there is chronic inflammation. Elevated CRP levels are associated with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Inflammation is often dramatically increased following a marathon. Although the inflammation may subside in many, if there are several other health factors involved then the athlete could be in a chronic state of inflammation. A healthy CRP level should be <1.0 mg/L, although normal is allowed up to 3.0 mg/L. Ive raced 20 Ironman races and check my CRP at least once a year. It is always well below 1.0 mg/L , often <0.5 mg/L. If you keep it aerobic the majority of the time, running long distance can be very beneficial to your overall health and longevity. In 2010, researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas published a review of fourteen studies comparing longevity and mortality in elite athletes with that of the general population. Included in these studies were data for endurance athletes, power athletes and mixed-sport athletes. They concluded that elite endurance (aerobic) athletes and mixed-sports (aerobic and anaerobic) athletes survive longer than the general population, as indicated by lower mortality and higher longevity. The studies of power (anaerobic only) athletes were inconsistent. Long-distance runners and cross-country skiers lived significantly longer than the general population (2.85.7 years longer). Soccer, ice-hockey and basketball players, track and field jumpers, short-and middle-distance runners, and hurdlers also survived longer than the general population (4.0 years longer). Though the studies looked at elite athletes and not the average Joe running marathons or playing a hard weekend soccer game, it does provide merit that aerobic activity is very beneficial to the body but it has to be true aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise combined with aerobic exercise is beneficial too, but only when a sufficient aerobic base has been built, (Part II). Its most likely safe to say these types of elite athletes have a superior aerobic base. Keeping inflammation at bay is highly dependent on diet. Zero partially hydrogenated oils and as few refined vegetable oils (corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, canola, peanut) as possible are important steps in keeping inflammation down. Good fats from extra virgin oil, fish oil, coconut oil/milk, eggs, and avocados are also vital, as is a diet low in refined sugars and carbohydrates. (Think Paleo Diet.) Obviously, most long distance athletes are carb-junkies. They drink sugary fluid replacement drinks and consume gel packs often, usually daily. Due to improper training (lack of an adequate aerobic base) theyre burning predominantly sugar when training rather than fat so they must consume more and more sugar to fuel this cycle. This all provokes and sustains inflammation and makes their tissues insulin resistant, rather than insulin sensitive. Insulin resistance is very, very bad. How long can you train without food or some sugar water before having blood sugar handling problems such as cramping, lightheadedness, or even bonking? If its less than one hour then youre very anaerobic. Aerobically conditioned athletes wont break down and bonk or hit the wall as the miles add up. Some note a general guideline for a well conditioned aerobic athlete can be seen in their race times over various distances. Generally, for example, if your one mile run is at 7:00 then your 5K race time should be around 22:30 (7:15/mile), your 10K time around 46:30 (7:30/mile), your half-marathon 1:41:30 (7:45/mile) and your marathon time around 3:30:30 (8:00/mile). Though genetics play some role here, if youre running your 5K at 23 minutes and your marathon time is around four hours (or more), youre not aerobically conditioned to run so far. Youre running the race too anaerobically (inefficiently), period. As discussed in Part II, the more you develop your aerobic system the more you develop your mitochondria. The more mitochondria you have, the less lactate your body makes at a given intensity. This raises your lactate threshold, so what was once mostly anaerobic is now less (and more aerobic). The net result? Youre faster, more efficient, and much healthier. Developing the aerobic system is important actually its vital. There is no shortcut to it. It takes consistency and discipline in training. Consistency means you have to stick with it and give it time. If youve never developed your aerobic base then it could take several months, maybe a year. Follow the aerobic & anaerobic training guidelines to know when you should add in some anaerobic training and/or weights. The discipline is not just to stick with it, but to keep yourself from going too hard. A heart rate monitor becomes very important with aerobic training and you may not be able to train with your friends, unless they want to go your pace. Running long and hard too often, just like many people training for a half or full marathon, can definitely kill you, but so can a life of no running or little movement activity. Slow down, and take the time to develop superior fitness and health.
The Potty Squat
5 Reasons To Full Squat September 24, 2012 by James Speck
The full squat is one of the most basic and fundamental human postures. Due to industrialized society's heavy reliance on chairs and modern footwear however, it has become a position that many people have difficulty achieving.
Born To Squat
The full or deep squat refers to a position where the knees are flexed to the point that the back of the thighs rest against the calves with the heels remaining flat on the floor. Young children under the age of four will instinctively go into a deep squat when they want to reach for something low, and often hold themselves in a stable squatting position to engage in play. Among Asian adults, squatting often replaces sitting.1 So what happens to Westerners, as we grow into adults, that causes us to lose this ability? This is primarily a case of use it or lose it. Many cultures throughout history would rely on the squatting posture as a means of performing work, eating meals, or resting. Modern society has all but eliminated the need to squat in our daily lives.
A second reason relates to the design of modern footwear that often features an elevated or raised heel. Habitual shoe wearing causes a shortening of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, and a gradual loss of the ankle mobility required to properly do a squat. This often leads people to perform a variation called the Western squat, where the heels remain propped up in the air.
Fortunately, many of the adverse effects brought on from frequent sitting, improper footwear, and squat avoidance are reversible. When performed correctly, the full squat carries many benefits for physical health. Squatting can be performed as a body weight exercise, to reach something on the ground, or simply as a rest position.
5 Health Benefits of the Full Squat
1. Ankle Mobility Limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion is a common problem linked to a number of other issues in the body, including overpronation, bad posture, and runner's knee. A loss of ankle mobility is caused by both inflexibility in the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, and stiffness in the joint. A proper squat, with the heels flat on the floor, requires good flexibility at the ankle. Getting into and maintaining a full squat is a great way to improve ankle mobility and restore full range of motion.
2. Back Pain Relief Many people have an excessive curvature in their low back as a result of the pelvis being pulled down in the front by tight hip flexor muscles. During a full depth squat the pelvis rotates backward, allowing the spine to elongate. This stretches the tight or shortened muscles in the low back. The body's position in a deep squat also produces a traction effect that decompresses the spine by creating space between the individual segments of the back.
3. Hip Strengthening In a person whose hip muscles are weak, you'll often see their legs move inward (adduct) and internally rotate when they perform closed-chain movements, like jumping or going down stairs. This adducted, internally rotated position puts the knee at an awkward angle and can lead to injuries. A full squat moves the hips in the opposite position, abduction and external rotation. The squat strengthens the muscle groups responsible for performing these actions, allowing them to better control the position of the entire leg.
4. Glute Strengthening The gluteus maximus is one of the largest muscles in the body, and with good reason. The muscle comprises the bulk of the buttock region and is integral to performing many activities we do on a daily basis like walking, lifting, and running. The glute max is also an important stabilizer muscle of the trunk and leg. EMG studies have shown that during a squat the glute muscles become targeted only after descending past the half way point.2 This means the same strengthening benefit cannot be achieved from only squatting in a partial range of motion. Coming in and out of a deep squat is by far one of the most effective ways to strengthen the glutes. Not many people are going to complain about having a firmer backside.
5. Posture Correction The cumulative effect of working on the areas listed above is an overall improvement in both static and dynamic posture. When joint mobility and lower body strength are restored the entire musculo-skeletal system will naturally be able to assume better alignment, which has a tremendous impact on the way we look, feel, and move. The full squat is a way to reverse some of the bad habits the body has assembled from our modern lifestyle.
Potty Squat Continued..............
The Modern Squat When a person not used to performing a full squat attempts to squat down, often times their heels will lift off the floor, or they will fall backwards. These are two signs of a loss of ankle flexibility. Here is a picture demonstrating the difference between a full depth squat and the Westernized squat that occurs when the ankles are stiff. Notice how in the Western squat the ankle remains at about a 90 degree angle. Without adequate ankle mobility, attempting to go any lower would move the center of gravity behind the base of support, and the person would lose their balance and tip over backward. The disadvantages of remaining up on the toes include: " a higher center of gravity and smaller base of support (the toes), making this a less stable position. " an overuse of the calf muscles to stay in the position, making it unsuitable for resting " increased compression of the soft tissue between the upper and lower leg Many adults instinctively go into the Western squat because it has become physically impossible for them to get their heels down. Correctly performing a full depth squat is a sign of good mobility and strength and can be a reasonable goal for anyone looking to improve their fitness.
Preparing to Squat
Since the squat is such a basic and functional movement, simply practicing getting into the position is often all that is needed to achieve proper form. For anyone unfamiliar with the squatting movement it would be wise to work on the smaller components first, to build up the necessary strength and motor control needed to get in and out of the position. Here is an article and video showing the fundamentals of good squatting technique and providing some recommendation on ways to progress for beginners.
For someone who finds they have the strength to squat down but then have difficulty getting their heels flat without losing their balance it might be necessary to do some extra calf and ankle stretching to gain flexibility. Here is an article that goes over some helpful ways to increase ankle dorsiflexion.
Are Squats Bad for Your Knees?
Some people may have heard advice that performing a full squat is dangerous or bad for the knees. Squatting like most exercises carries a certain degree of risk, but the notion that squats hurt the knees is largely a myth. When performed properly the risks are greatly reduced and usually outweighed by the benefits that can be gained from regular squatting.
Based on current evidence, full range of motion squatting using your own body weight is not only a safe activity, but one that can have a great influence on overall physical health. Still, it is important to be aware of the risks to lower any potential for injury before performing any movement the body is not accustomed to doing. The two major concerns usually voiced over squatting are the potential for joint wear leading to arthritis and ligament injuries.
Squats may actually decrease the risk of arthritis
During a squat there are increased comprehensiveness forces on the joints of the knee. Very few studies however have shown that squatting can cause damage to the joint. One retrospective study on a group of elderly subjects in Beijing found that those who reported squatting several hours a day in their youth were more likely to demonstrate osteoarthritis of the tibiofemoral (TF) joint.3 A later study however found that squatting actually decreased the risk of TF arthritis when performed at least 30 minutes a day.4
The reason for these contradictory findings is not clear. The important thing to remember is that, as is true for most activities, moderation is key. The body is certainly capable of adapting to a natural squatting position, and almost all of us were able to do it at some point in our lives.
The other joint in the knee subject to increased loads during squatting is the patellofemoral (PF) articulation, between the underside of the knee cap and the femur. The compressive forces at the PF joint increase as the knee moves into flexion (depth of squat). However, during that time the contact surface of the joint also increases.5 The increase in contact area distributes the joint forces over a larger surface area, which maintains, or even reduces, joint stress as you get deeper in your squat. Patellofemoral compression force should still be a consideration though for anyone with a history of anterior knee problems or cartilage damage of the patellofemoral joint.
In regards to ligament injuries, the idea the deep squatting when performed as a weightlifting exercise causes ligament laxity in the knee can be traced back to an older study performed in the 1960s. Later studies have refuting these results and actually found that squatting enhances knee stability.6,7
The same principles that apply to other forms of exercise also apply for squats. Squatting too often, holding the position for hours on end, or not allowing your body to recover between squatting session can place you at risk for injury.
The full squat is a natural human posture often used as an alternative to sitting in Asian cultures and among young children, but rarely performed by adults in Westernized countries. Spending time in a squat position offers many health benefits and can serve as way to correct postural imbalances. Squatting is a safe activity when performed properly. Someone who is healthy and in relatively good physical shape without a history of knee injuries should be able to squat safely with minimal risk. Individuals with a history of knee injury need to give consideration to the increased forces placed on the structures of the knee when squatting. A lack of ankle mobility is usually the limiting factor that would prevent an individual from reaching full depth. The ability to do a full depth squat is a sign of good physical health. References 1. Dobrzynski J. "An Eye on China's Not So Rich and Famous". The New York Times. Retrieved Sep 23 2012. 2. Caterisano A, Moss RF, Pellinger TK, Woodruff K, Lewis VC, Booth W, Khadra T. The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and thigh muscles. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Aug;16(3):428-32. 3. Liu CM, Xu L. Retrospective study of squatting with prevalence of knee osteoarthritis. Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi. 2007 Feb;28(2):177-9. 4. Lin J, Li R, Kang X, Li H. Risk factors for radiographic tibiofemoral knee osteoarthritis: the wuchuan osteoarthritis study. Int J Rheumatol. 2010;2010:385826. 5. Besier TF, Draper CE, Gold GE, Beaupré GS, Delp SL. Patellofemoral joint contact area increases with knee flexion and weight-bearing. J Orthop Res. 2005 Mar;23(2):345-50. 6. Chandler T, Wilson G, Stone M. The effect of the squat exercise on knee stability. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 21(3). Pp 299-303. 1989. 7. Escamilla RF. Knee biomechanics of the dynamic squat exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jan;33(1):127-41.
How Far How Soon "The Ultra Dilemma"
The Ultra Dilemma October 21, 2013 by Sock Doc In todays endurance world, covering longer distances has become the new and expected normal. Gone are the days when racing a fast 5K or 10K meant something and were even starting to lose the concept that running one marathon is a big deal. Yet much like triathletes feel its imperative to race an Ironman as soon as possible regardless of ones current fitness level, trail runners are viewing ultras the same way the more distance the better. But for most, more training and racing eventually leads to poor health and even lowered fitness levels. More Isnt Necessarily Better How much is too much when it comes to training and especially racing? Well that depends on you the individual and what your body is capable of handing in regards to the stress demands you choose to put yourself through. As Ive addressed in the Sock Doc Training Principles, the more frequent and the more intense your training, the more you need to rest and recover. For most competing in long distance events, such as marathons and ultras, recovery is going to be affected by the demands of everyday life. Most athletes have work, family, and other life responsibilities beyond training and racing. Simply put, if your only job isnt to train and race, then youre already at some disadvantage because your recovery (and training) time and energy are required elsewhere. Many endurance athletes are Type-A personalities who excel in what they do outside of racing. They work long hours and have active families. These athletes are already stretched for time and energy resources, and theyre often lacking proper sleep and recovery. So when they add in more and more distance, it quickly can, and does, take its toll on the body. How Much Distance Can a Body Handle? Professional athletes are more likely able to handle longer distance events more often than amateur athletes. The time commitment to properly train for these events is huge. Unfortunately, many athletes today do not put in the necessary time needed to train adequately for these events; yes that includes recovery. Running a couple short distances during the week and logging in some massive miles over the weekend doesnt teach your body to adapt properly to cover distances in a safe, efficient, or fast manner. At best youll get fit quick enough to race the distance while most likely having to deal with some nagging health and injury-related problems along the way, or soon thereafter. Ive been in the endurance racing scene since the early 1990s. Back then, (and sorry if I sound like your reminiscing grandpa), there werent marathons or ultra-distance events every weekend, or even every month. You trained for the one big long distance event of the year, and for many that was a race lasting a few hours. In my opinion, I dont think its just a coincidence that during that era we saw athletes such as Mark Allen and Paula Newby-Fraser win the Ironman World Championship multiple times (six and eight respectively). They werent racing big events throughout the year as athletes are doing today, and part of the reason they werent was because those events just werent available. But now these events are, and with the increased amount of endurance events we are seeing more athletes racing more often and ultimately they inevitably break down and their careers end way sooner than anticipated. You can only race so fast, so often, for so long. So next time you think youre not performing well because of old age perhaps consider youre not training properly, and that could mean youre just training and racing way too much. Humans Evolved to Run, Not Race Im all for endurance racing, but Im more for training properly and racing to the point where your health doesnt suffer permanently. I say permanently because running these types of races too often can result in permanent injuries and health problems. Yes, being outside and active for long periods of time often is very healthy, not just for your body but for your mind too. But when you ramp it up to the point of trying to get from point A to point B at a pace above a certain threshold, (defined by each individuals fitness level), then youre inversely affecting your health. Many athletes are training improperly to the point where they are chronically affecting their health in a negative way with more and more training. If we look back to how humans are thought to have developed as persistence hunters, we see that our hunter-gather ancestors didnt just run hard for hours upon hours to track down their food. They tracked their food at a slow, aerobic, fat-burning pace rather than pushing their bodies hard for prolonged periods. Now sure Ill entertain the idea that there were some stellar human athletes back then, (probably more than there are today), and they could perhaps comfortably cover ten miles of harsh terrain in an hour or so. But just like the small handful of elites today, they are just that the minority. Humans arent evolving in the same linear fashion to run these longer distances faster and more often. Ive discussed previously that for elite marathoners running a sub 2:30 they are most likely creating less damaging stress on their body than the average amateur running a four to five-hour race. Its all about how efficient you are and how quickly your body breaks, (or doesnt break), down. Breaking Down Your Body Everybody has their breaking point in a race. If youre healthy and you trained properly and follow your race plan (pace and nutrition) then ideally you wont break down until the very end of the race, if at all. I define this point of breaking down when your body no longer can keep up with the demand you are placing on it and muscle imbalances begin to occur. Your muscles will be affected by the stress placed on your nervous system which is constantly monitoring each and every system in your body particularly your digestive, hormonal, and cardiovascular systems when it comes to racing. How do you know when youre starting to break down? Its happening way before you bonk and even before you start to feel fatigued. Little signs such as misjudging a rock and almost tripping is a good way to tell youre starting to falter. A tight muscle that comes out of nowhere say in your calf or maybe a side stitch more signs of your body fading. A change in your gait is also another huge sign of a broken athlete as gait is so closely influenced by glucose regulation, yet you might not realize this until you literally fall or see a photo of yourself and see an altered posture. The problem with breaking down is not just a loss of performance but also impaired health. Oxidative damage (from excess free radicals), inflammation, and high levels of stress hormones (particularly cortisol), go hand-in-hand with racing hard (and for many training hard too). The more you train broken, and the longer you race broken, the more you run the risk of not just injury and illness but also other health problems, particularly immune system issues such as auto-immune diseases and yeah, even cancer. Plan For the Big One Yup, I threw out the Big C there in that last sentence because chronic stress will slowly but surely take its toll on your immune system. It may take years for you to realize the negative effects of training too hard, too often, and racing too long, too often, but it will eventually catch up with you if you dont balance the intensity and duration with rest, recovery, and the adequate fitness necessary to train at these high levels. If you want to safely participate in long-distance events then you have to put in the time and effort to build stellar aerobic endurance. The longer you train and race in a fatburning mode the less likely you are to break down resulting in better performance. Once you build your aerobic fitness, (which can take years for most people), then you can add more and more distance, to a certain extent, to take your fitness to the next level without compromising health. Dont get sucked into racing such long distances so often, especially early on if youre new to the sport. Ultras require a high level of fitness as well as mental stamina which takes significant time to develop. Personally, I think that one race a year over 50K is more than most can safely handle, yet we hear of so many doing multiple centuries. Aint nothing wrong with going shorter. Speed and strength are healthy attributes every human should have to some degree, lets not forget that. Theres more to this game than just being effective (covering the distance and finishing). You want to be an efficient human athlete which means you can cover the distance in a manner where you can still function the next day and next week and youre better for it all around mentally and physically.
Sandal Running in Edinburgh with Teaching Tips (Subtitled)
Click to view Luna Venado Huaraches Sandal a subtitled teaching film with some hot tips on foot placement using the LUNA VENADO huaraches running sandal, by BarefootworksTV. Filmed on location in on Blackford Hill Edinburgh. Some spectacular scenery on this early morning run to work.
Vibram fivefingers Spyridon in Action on Multi Terrain
This is the one of the latest additions to the Vibram fivefingers range, the Spyridon is an off road fourwheel drive supergrip piece of technology. It is as versatile as a Range Rover Sport but will keep you healthier by default!!! Barefoot running, trailrunning, with the feel of nakedness, its a dream come true for the natural runners out there.
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