Here are a few questions that have been emailed to me recently. Keep them coming and I will do my best to get answers out to you.
Questions and Answers
Q: Should I run more mileage or faster miles?
A: No runner or athlete will maximize their performance potential without considering all the variables that go into their performance. Aerobic capacity, speed, and muscle strength and stamina are all key variables to achieving optimal performance levels. Without aerobic capacity you won’t have the stamina to finish the race and the speed you desire. Without muscle strength and stamina, speed is impossible. By mixing quantity and quality at the correct times, one can achieve all the pieces to the puzzle for peak performance. Training is about math in the simplest form, quantity plus quality equals optimal performance.
Quantity – You must be able to cover the distance that you want to race. Base training is about running the mileage and becoming more efficient and comfortable with the distances covered.
After 2-3 months you are ready to start including some quality workouts.
Quality – Once prepared to cover the distance you can begin to focus on building the “speed endurance” to allow you to cover the distance at a faster pace and maintain that pace throughout the entire duration of the race. This is the time to start with longer intervals at your lactate threshold and hill repeats to gain muscular strength while improving your LT and VO2max. As your race gets closer, you will add some shorter more intense intervals to get your leg turnover sharpened up and those fast twitch muscles firing.
Your final result is the ability to run at your fastest pace while maintaining that pace throughout the entire distance covered during the race. If you want to perform your best, it is about balancing quantity and quality.
Q: How do I train to run faster?
A: To run faster, you need to improve your “speed endurance.” Speed endurance is the ability to run at a sustained pace for longer amounts of time. You must train your body to be able to handle this effort. To do this you need to incorporate intervals and tempo runs into your weekly schedule. An example of an interval session is 4 x 5 min at 10K race pace with 1:00 recoveries or 4 x 8 min with 1:30 recoveries between hard efforts. A tempo run is run at “lactate threshold pace”. LT pace based on perceived exertion is, the fastest pace you can go covering the entire distance without slowing. Try running 20, 30, and 40-minute tempo runs once a week. Make sure to warm-up for 1-2 miles before all of theses sessions and cool-down 1-2 miles after each session. A complete cool-down is just as important as a complete warm-up and will help minimize soreness during your next workout.
Q: How often should I change my running shoes?
A: According to manufacturers and sports medicine specialists, 450-500 miles is the maximum amount the shoes should be used. After that time the midsole cushioning material is broken down and does not offer adequate cushion and injury risk increases. Do not judge your shoes by simply looking at the outsole. It is the midsole that breaks down, the outsole could look almost new and the midsole (cushioning of the shoe) could be completely broken down. Simply keeping track of your mileage could save you months of injury rehabilitation.
Q: Are ice baths beneficial? What is the best way to do an ice bath?
A: Ice baths are used after hard training sessions to decrease inflammation and promote recovery. Fill your bathtub or a huge plastic Rubbermaid with cold water; climb in so that you are submerged to the top of your legs. Add one or two bags of ice. Yes, you will be cold but you will survive. Try to stay in there about 12 minutes. Dry off…and don’t immediately get into a hot shower. Wait about an hour if you can.
Q: I want to cross-train this winter/summer (when injured) but am afraid it will hurt my running?
A: Cross training and functional strength training will not hurt but will help you remain injury free and allow you to be a more efficient runner. Cross training can supplement your running, be used as an active recovery, or as an injury recovery strategy. Some of the best cross-training activities for runners are deep-water running, elliptical trainers, cycling with a high cadence (over 90rpm’s), XC skiing, and functional strength training and plyometrics.
Q: How do I avoid side stitches?
A: A stitch is a spasm of the diaphragm. We use our diaphragm when we breathe, and we tend to breath more rapidly when we run. These spasms occur for a number of reasons; drinking too much or too fast prior to running, or going into oxygen debt to quickly, swallowing too much air, which increases pressure on the diaphragm. The best way to relax the spasm is to breath deeply and slowly and gently put some pressure with your hand on the area you are experiencing pain.