Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ashton Eaton - Decathlon World Record at the Trials in Eugene!

Ashton Eaton, amazing young man!  Read ESPN Olympic Sports' story here.

My friend Dottie just told me her husband went to high school with his mom.  She sent me a couple photos..
Ashton Eaton

Ashton with his fiance and mom

The 1500m..

Ashton after..

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mindful Running

What I like about running on trails is how it keeps you focused on what you're doing, and thus you stay right in the moment.  If your mind starts to wander off into the past or the future and you stop paying attention to your surroundings, you will inevitably trip on a tree root, step too hard on a rock, run into a low-hanging tree branch, go off the trail, or any number of things.  It's not that you have a constant spoken narrative going on in your head--in fact, it's NO narrative going on in your head...  what happens is you start to have a "mindful alertness" where you just become "one" with your running, right here, right now.  And it feels like you can go forever.

Here's a little clip of just walking on the Croom Trail; when running, even at a slow pace, you will come upon the roots and other changes a lot more quickly, so you must, literally, stay on your toes, running light and easy..

That "one with the run" feeling happens when you do any kind of speed work too, when you have a relaxed, "mindful" focus.  It's that being "focused" that's the key.  Paying attention in a joyful relaxed way.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sitting All Day Leads To...

A contributing factor to running injuries is our modern lifestyle..   the fact that most of us sit for hours on end--at our desks, at our computers, watching TV, or whatever.  All this sitting can cause muscle imbalances, which develop over time--weakened deep abdominals, tight hip flexors, weak glutes and hips, tight hams, weak quads.

Doing a few simple exercises and stretches several times a week can help counterbalance the sitting.  Here are a few you probably already know:

Bridges (for glutes, hams, core) - Lie on your back, arms by your sides, knees bent with feet flat on floor, feet directly under your knees.  Contract deep abs and butt muscles, then raise your hips up, creating a straight line from knees to shoulders.  Keeping your navel pulled in toward spine hold for a count of 10, then slowly lower your body back down and relax.  Repeat for a total of 10-15 reps. 

Hip Flexor Stretch - Kneel on left knee with right foot out in front in the 'lunge' position, with left hand reaching up toward ceiling.  Contract deep abs (navel in toward spine) and roll pelvis backward.  Lean forward into the lunge so that you feel the stretch in your left hip flexors.  Hold 20-30 seconds.  Repeat on other side.  Do 3 times each side.

Cat Stretch (for lower back) - Kneel on hands and knees, spine in neutral position.  Round your back up, like a cat stretching, pushing your mid-back up toward ceiling as high as you can.  Hold for a count of 10.  Repeat 5 or so more times.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Core Conditioning for Runners

What do you think of when you think of "working your core?"  Doing a gazillion crunches?

In running, developing your core is more about stabilizing your pelvis...   which will make you a more efficient runner, less prone to overuse injuries.  What are your pelvic stabilizing muscles?  The deep abdominals (transverse abdominus, internal obliques) and the hip stabilizers (hip abductors, external rotators).  It's more about developing proper "neuromuscular communication" between your brain and these muscles than strengthening them.

First, you want to locate your deep abs...
Stand tall but relaxed and reach both arms straight up over your head.  Pull your navel in toward your spine as you try to reach up higher.  You are now contracting your deep abs.  Hold that position for a count of 10 then relax.  Do it again and then again five or so more times.  You can do this little exercise whenever you think of it.  Now, when you go out for your run, think about doing this...   run tall, engage your deep abs--pull your navel in toward your spine. 

An exercise we all know--the clam, for your hip abductors and external rotators.  Lie on your side, both legs bent 90 degrees, knees together, bottom arm either bent at elbow and up under your head (as shown below) or head propped up with your hand, arm bent.  Now slowly rotate your top leg up (knee stays bent and foot stays in contact with bottom foot), and then slowly lower it back down.  Do another 10-15 times, then do the same on the other side.  Do this exercise two or three times a week.

You can also keep your legs straight, which will work the muscles slightly differently.  Again, lie on your side, with legs straight, feet together, head propped or arm up under your head.  Slowly lift top leg straight up, foot dorsiflexed, as high as you can, and then bring it back down slowly.  10-15 reps and repeat on other side.
These two exercises (plus finding your deep abs) will get you on your way.  You'll want to add increasingly difficult exercises as you go along in your training.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Watching Elite Runners Run - Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene

 Matt Fitzgerald writes in his book Brain Training for Runners that one way to help improve your form is to watch the best runners run or, in other words, emulate the elites in our sport.  We will be given an opportunity to do that this summer. 

First, NBC will be broadcasting the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials which are being held June 22 - July 1, at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.  

TV Schedule:

6/22/12    9:00 PM    NBC Sports Net   
6/23/12    8:00 PM    NBC   
6/24/12    7:00 PM    NBC   
6/25/12    9:00 PM    NBC Sports Net   
6/28/12    9:00 PM    NBC Sports Net   
6/29/12    6:00 PM    NBC Sports Net   
6/30/12    9:00 PM    NBC   
7/1/12      7:00 PM    NBC   

Then, of course, the 2012 Olympics in London will be July 27 - August 12, again covered by NBC.  Which I am so totally psyched about...   I LOVE watching the Olympics--ALL of the events!  So much fun!  But, I am also planning to watch some of the track and field trials.  On USA Track & Field website it shows the schedule of events. 

Looking at the longer running distance events, men's and women's 10,000m finals are both on June 22, men's at 6:45 pm, women's at 7:20 pm.  The 5,000m finals for both men and women are scheduled for June 28, 7:15 pm - women and 7:38 pm - men.  And the 1,500m finals for both will be held on the last day, July 1, 4:23 - women and 4:37 pm - men.  I'll be watching those elite runners...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's Your Running... Embrace Who You Are

From modern dance choreographer Martha Graham...  
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy...
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all of time,
this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium
and it will be lost.
The world will not have it."

She goes on...

"It is not your business to determine how good it is
nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly,
to keep the channels open."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How We Love Our Gadgets!

All the running measuring gadgets we use these days--the GPS Garmin Forerunner, Timex's GPS Global Trainer and Bodylink, Nike +, Suunto T4 GPS--can be valuable tools in our training.  I love my Garmin Forerunner--no matter where I am I can go out for a run and know how far I went and at what pace.  It also stores all my runs and then spits all its information about each run into my computer, so I can analyze my training to my heart's content!  Before the days of Garmin, I knew generally what the distances of the routes I ran were and how fast I usually ran them.  When I traveled and went out on a run somewhere I had never been before, I would just run a certain amount of time, not knowing the distance, and write in my log that I ran "about six miles" or whatever.

Nowadays we all have our favorite device and I think it's easy to get into the habit of "over-relying" on them.  Most elite runners do not use them; they run by "feel," not needing that constant external feedback.  Your body doesn't know what a mile is--don't let a device on your wrist define your time spent running.  Use it to let you know that you are progressing in the direction you want to go--and leave it at that.  You'll enjoy your training and racing much more if you learn to run by feel.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

5k Run This Morning in Boca - Lynn Cancer Institute

Hot and humid at the Run 4 the Ribbons 5k benefiting the Lynn Cancer Institute here in Boca this morning.  Harrie Olsthoorn won the men's race.  Harrie is a phenomenal runner!  At 51 years old, he's been winning local races now for 20 years!

The women's winner was Andrea Mascaro.  And 2nd place went to Sara Gomez, just 10 seconds behind Adriana.  Here's the start...     Harrie is on the left side in front near the median, in yellow with blue shorts; Andrea and Sara are on the right side, near the median in the front, in white and orange.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Improving Form - Video from Merrell

As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I believe one of the benefits of doing some of your running barefoot is helping to improve your form.  Watch this short video from Merrell on what professional trainer Walt Reynolds calls "bare form" for a clear demonstration..

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