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Posts tagged ‘running performance’

Performance vs. Injury Prevention

A few days ago I received my copy of Becoming a Supple Leopard. Tonight I finally had the chance to sit down and start reading it and holy cow, is it a lot of information to take in! But I love it.

I’d like to share some thoughts after reading the first chapter:

I look at any training (weights, dynamic stretching, etc.) other than running as injury prevention. Something to keep me running a little longer and with a little less pain.  Being the hard headed Taurus I am, in my mind, when I’m not injured, I’m not doing it. (And that would be a fail on my part.) But I know I should be doing these things, all for the sake of preventing an injury. Right?

Here is a simple shift in this view, proposed my Starrett, that kind of has me rethinking my thought process… Training for performance, not for injury prevention.

What if we looked at the weight training and functional exercises as increasing performance and not preventing injuries? What if we understood how proper overhead squats translated into better running economy? And what if we understood how addressing our limited range of motion would allow for a more efficient stride, while also preventing our tendonitis that continues to plague us? For me personally, I might be doing a few more squats, varying the intensity, varying the reps, sprinting before (or after), all in an effort to discover weaknesses. And I would be doing it to increase my performance, not preventing an injury. (But luckily, fewer injuries just may come second.) 😉

I like this quote from the book:

“Athletes are both greedy and smart – greedy in that they will do whatever it takes to get better in the shortest amount of time possible, and smart in that they will absolutely repeat specific practices and interventions that improve their performance or take away their pain. ” –Becoming a Supple Leopard

How do you look at the training that you do other than running? As injury prevention or increasing performance? I’ve always been an injury prevention thinker. I think it’s time for a paradigm shift.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


The Benefits of a Cold Drink on Exercise Performance

A few months ago back in August, on a very hot and humid Saturday, I was out for a long run. I don’t like to carry a lot of water or gels with me because I feel like it alters my stride. I was out on the Tobacco Trail which is an out and back with no water fountain in sight. Three miles from finishing my 19 miles, I thought I was going to fall over into the trees and start praying someone found me and carried me back to my car. I was thirsty. Then I remembered the two girls selling lemonade along the trail. If I could just make it to them, I would beg them for some lemonade (I was carrying no money) and then go back and pay them when I got to my car. Those two girls and their lemonade stand saved me. The lemonade they gave me was sooooooooo cold and so delicious. I knocked out that last mile at 7:20 and then drove back to give them $5 for the best lemonade I’d ever had. I had a new appreciation for cold lemonade after that day.

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Elite Marathoners and Low Carb Training

A while back, I wrote a blog about intermittent fasting and the benefits of teaching the body to burn fat for fuel over carbs. As a runner, this could be important because your body can only hold a limited amount of carbs and once you burn through them, you are more susceptible to fatigue. On the other hand, your body has way more fat than you could ever burn through on a 26.2 mile run. Therefore, if you can teach your body to burn fat for fuel, you potentially have an unlimited fuel source. Personally, I enjoy carbs so I’m pretty sure I could never completely transition to fat over carbs. Nevertheless, I do think there is something to be said for doing a workout in a carb depleted state.

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Three Types of Interval Training: Tabata, Little, Turbulence

This morning on the way to work I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about three different types of interval training: the Tabata method, the Little Method, and the Turbulence method. I’m pretty familiar with the tabata method and have done quite a few tabata workouts. When you’re short on time, it’s perfect. I had never heard of the Little method but after learning what it was, I realized that I had been doing my own version of this workout for quite sometime. The Turbulence method includes weights and cardio and is a longer workout than a Tabata or Little session. This awesome infographic from gives an overall view of the three sessions and helps you figure out which one is best for you. I tried to insert the image into the post but it came out super tiny. Just click on the link – it’s very informative:

For the complete description, click here

To sum up the Little method, it’s basically a warm up of 3-5 minutes followed by one minute all out at max effort and then 75 seconds easy effort. These intervals should be repeated 12 times, for a total of 27 minutes. The Turbulence method is a combination of weights and cardio. It includes a 5 minute warm up followed by an 8 rep set of weight lifting and then one minute of cardio (mountain climbers, jump rope, burpees, etc.). This should be repeated through a full body routine for a 45 minute workout. I bet you’d be pretty sore after that one. This sounds like a good Wednesday workout (that’s my do something different day).

I love intervals. They are the only reason I’ve ever been somewhat fast at running. And due to my injury rate, I’ve become the master of intervals on an elliptical and spinning bike. I even broke an elliptical once going a little too fast 🙂 Opps!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Tara Stiles and Yoga for Athletes

This past weekend if I learned anything, it would be that I want to be the Tara Stiles of running. If you don’t know who Tara Stiles is and are remotely interested in yoga as an athlete, you should definitely check out her website. She is a model turned yoga instructor and her stuff is amazing. Basically Tara Stiles makes yoga easily accessible to all of us through awesome videos, podcasts, and her blog. And what is great about her yoga videos is that they are short and easy to follow.

Being that today is Sunday and my day of rest, I wanted to share one of my favorite yoga videos from Mrs. Stiles. It’s simple, doesn’t require a lot of time, and is great for stretching me out after a long run the day before. Granted, I do not look anywhere near as graceful as she does, it is still an awesome stretch and worth my 10 minutes.



My favorite thing about this yoga sequence: it makes my hips feel normal and back in alignment. As someone who has struggled with hip injuries for many years, this is exactly what I need. She has a great website and I highly recommend checking it out. She also has great cooking videos too 🙂  Check her out and let me know what you think.

Happy trails and happy running,



Tara Stiles

Sleep and Training

Everybody has different sleep requirements. My sister is more on the 8+ hour side and I’m on the 6 hour side. When I was younger, I put a lot of emphasis on sleep. If I didn’t get 8-9 hours, I started to stress out which made quality sleep even more difficult. However, life happens and because I have to wake up so early for work (4:45am), 6 hours is about all I can manage. And actually, this works quite well for me. Personally, I think it has something to do with my spinach smoothies with VEGA energizing smoothie powder plus coffee first thing in the morning, but who knows.

I just woke up from an awesome 2 hour nap after my 21 mile run this morning. (I miscalculated my route and didn’t make it to 22 but I will still happy with the run.) My fabulous nap got me thinking about the importance of sleep during marathon training. Every training season I seem to get worn down and sick right when training is at its peak and I really want to avoid that this fall. I found a very interesting article from Running Times and there are two points I find to be particularly noteworthy:

First, it is during the 3rd and 4th stages of a sleep cycle when the body repairs itself. This is when the human growth hormone HGH is released from the pituitary gland and it is this hormone that helps rebuild muscle tissue and bones. In other words, uninterrupted sleep is important.

Second, the quality of sleep might be more important than the quantity. Apparently the more fit you become, the more your quality of sleep improves.

“For the highly trained athlete, sleep becomes more important but the hours might be less because their sleep is more effective sleep,”

Here is a link to the article and it’s a quick read. Check it out if you can.

I don’t know about you but when I get in the bed, maybe 5 minutes pass before I’m sound asleep. And sometimes I even wake up in the exact same position where I fell asleep. Making the bed is super quick those mornings. 😉


An old pic of me falling asleep in a hotel lobby. I’m so good at this.


Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Squats are one of those exercises I do when I get injured and then hit myself for not doing them as a preventive exercise beforehand.  I know I always need to do them, but fail to take the time.  This Saturday I woke up and got to enjoy the sun rising while doing a nice 5 mile run.  I’m still taking it easy because of my leg, and since we rescheduled our Saturday run club meeting, I went to the gym with Mario.  “Must strength train” I kept telling myself.  I did a lot of squats a lot of different ways and I’m still struggling to sit down.  However, today I went for a little run after the gym, and my form felt great.  I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the squats or my New Balance Minimus shoes, but it encouraged me to look into this exercise for today’s blog post. Read more

Chocolate Milk and Exercise

This morning while helping some fellow teachers in the testing office (it’s that time of year again – end of course tests), a colleague suggested a blog topic – what to drink after a workout.  Well that can include soooo many things so we narrowed it down to chocolate milk.  She had heard that chocolate milk is good after a workout.  I had read the same thing and I actually drink chocolate milk after a Saturday long run.  It’s so delicious!  But I’m not exactly sure why I’m drinking it…

So why is it recommended to drink chocolate milk after a long workout?

There is A LOT of information out there about chocolate milk and exercise.  Much more than I would have thought.  As many people know, nutrition post exercise is super important.  It is what gives your muscles what they need in order to repair themselves and to replace glycogen stores.  Apparently chocolate milk seems to be just the perfect beverage to do all the right things.  Chocolate milk has an ideal protein to carb ratio for an endurance athlete.  That ideal range can vary from 3:1 to 4:1 (depending on the person).  When comparing chocolate milk to regular milk or a sports drink, it has double the proteins and carbohydrates.  In addition, chocolate milk has calcium, sodium, and sugar.  These are all benefits for the long distance runner.

I found a great article citing a study from the University of Texas, where Dr. John Ivy compared the performance of athletes who drank chocolate milk to those who drank a typical sports drink.  He concluded that those who drank chocolate milk had a better body composition (more muscle, less fat), and a better maximal oxygen uptake, which is an indicator of endurance performance, than those who drank a sports drink. In the comments section of Dr. Ivy’s article, a lot of people had questions about the study and Dr. Ivy responded to some of their concerns.  First, he clarified that the amount of CM consumed was dependant upon the weight of the individual.  Also he stated that dairy protein has been found to be best for exercise recovery and promoting training adaptation, although soy protein is also beneficial.  And finally, he mentioned that his study was sponsored by the National Dairy Council.

A recent article in Time magazine supports Dr. Ivy’s findings.  “A study from three universities, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that those who drank fat-free chocolate milk after a hard run were able to run 23% longer than those who drank sports drink.”  Physiologist Joel Stager also had similar findings to Dr. Ivy in comparing chocolate milk with water and sports drinks. He found chocolate milk to be an “incredibly effective recovery drink.”

One piece of advice that I continued to see in my reading was that chocolate milk isn’t the best after a nice stroll through the park.  It is best after long, intense exercise.   Fat free milk was always recommended over full fat milk.   For me personally, I never drink it during the week.  I wait until after I have “earned” it with a long Saturday run.  And then it goes perfectly with a bagel and is oh so delicious!

I definitely need to remember to buy some chocolate milk next time I’m at Trader Joe’s…

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Progressive Muscle Relaxation

One of my favorite podcasts by far (along with This American Life) is the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.  Ben Greenfield is an endless supply of awesome fitness and nutrition information.  Every morning when I’m getting ready for work, I get my daily dose of Mr. Greenfield and I always learn something new.  Today, a listener had called in with a question about his breathing (or inability to breathe) during his triathlon because he would get so nervous and tense.  In giving him advice, Ben mentioned a relaxation technique that many athletes use to help with the anxiety, muscle tightness, and working through those hard efforts.  It’s called progressive muscle relaxation.   Read more