I recognized that I hit the first plateau in my 18-week training program when my training and nutrition regimen were dialed-in but my leg strength seemed to be deteriorating instead of building. In need of either cross-training or performance-enhancingexercises to counter this common stage, I came across the following article which helped me get my training back on track.
This featured article is for the runner,triathlete or adventure racer looking to develop the strength of their stride without logging additional miles or hitting the gym. These simple exercises will benefit both sprinters and ultra-distance runners alike, and can be performed in the comfort of the home. Read the following story to learn four exercises to increase your running speed.
Last week, Paul Staso canceled his transcontinental-campaign, P.A.C.E. Bike 2007, due to a series of unfortunate events. Less than one week after retuning home to his family, Staso has vowed to continue promoting youth fitness in America. This time, he won?t be traveling by foot or bike -- he'll be driving. On April 30, Staso will travel to Delaware and begin a one-month, cross-country speaking tour at schools along the route that he ran during his P.A.C.E Run 2006.
Staso has shifted gears from fitness to logistics in a last-minute effort to raise funds for his journey. Six-thousand miles of driving in a month is a daunting task, but nothing like his 3,260-mile east-to-west-coast run in 2006. Without the physical burden, Staso will benefit from increased energy during P.A.C.E. Tour 2007 and will make frequent stops to conduct quality motivational presentations and raise awareness in children about the importance of health and fitness.
[series of unfortunate events|http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/05/08/pacetour.jpg] Staso's real-life struggle during his attempt to cycle across the country has created a more endearing persona. Instead of Staso being viewed as an athlete that is capable of the extraordinary, he now has more human-like characteristics associated with him. This new platform will allow Staso to reach a greater audience of children who have experienced a similar struggle with setting and reaching goals. Our thoughts and support are with Staso as he continues Promoting Active Children Everywhere.
Spring is here and athletes are emerging from confines of the gym much like spring flowers from the darkness of winter. Soon, scores of brightly colored spandex outfits will sprout along the streets as the sun washes away pale memories of treadmill and bike-trainer workouts. As exciting as it is to trade the smell of chlorine for the freshness of open-water swims, this transition is known for leaving overly eager athletes high and dry. It is important that we respect the vulnerability of our bodies during this adjustment period. Conduct your own Preseason Check-up and be sure to keep yourself on track toward your fitness goals.
Robert Cheruiyot won the 111th Boston Marathon today. This is his third win and second in two years. The Kenyan defended his title in a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, 13 seconds, which was seven minutes slower than 2006.
Russia's Lidiya Grigoryeva won the women's race finishing in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 18 seconds. Grigoryeva finished 40 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.
This year, course times were slowed by the harsh New England weather. Of the total 23,903 register-runners, 2,449 chose not to pick up their bib numbers over the weekend and even more no-shows were recorded on race day.
My best friend Johnny ran the race this morning with his girlfriend. They trained for 18 weeks and crossed the finish line together, a little over two hours behind the winner. I spoke with John on the phone afterward and he described the race as difficult due to the high winds and steady rain. He also expressed the importance of in-race nutrition and thanked me for the advice I provided in my previous blog, Nutrition: What Fuels You?
Yesterday I wrote about Bill Nawn and Sean Luitjens who plan to run the 111th Boston Marathon twice. Their double-marathon distance is for a charitable cause and very similar to the this story, but 1,500 miles shorter.
There is a group of 20 runners who will not stop after they run the Boston Marathon on Monday. These athletes make up two teams of 10 participants in the TREK II East Coast Relay. On Wednesday they will embark on an 11-day, 1,568-mile relay run to West Palm Beach, FL. Each team will average 143 miles a day while each runner will cover 15 to 17 miles a day.
Teams will be running at the same time, but each will raise funds for a different charity. Each runner is responsible for raising a minimum of $5,000 for their respective organization. Classrooms across the country will be monitoring as Team DMSE and TEAM POL pass through 11 states and the District of Columbia on their way to Florida. The teams hope to motivate kids and raise awareness about child obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
This year, I've come across a few unconventional plans for running the Boston Marathon. I've read of soldiers running in Iraq, an astronaut running in space and two athletes who will run the race twice. Although these runners all share a passion for the sport, each must find their own source of motivation to endure while preparing for such a challenging event.
On Monday, 40-year-old Bill Nawn of Bedford, N.H will add a fourth double-marathon distance to his impressive endurance sports resume consisting of 13 normal-length marathons. Nawn will be accompanied by close friend, Sean Luitjens, a 34-year-old from Crestwood, Ky., who has completed over 150 triathlons, including nine Ironman triathlons.
In addition to training, the pair has been raising awareness of heart disease and $10,000 for the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation in Brookline, Mass. Heart disease is the deadliest in our nation and Nawn has had a personal encounter with the disease. Four years ago, Nawn experienced abnormal heart beats, called cardiac arrhythmia, during a race and was forced to stop running. After extensive testing, Nawn eased his way back into the sport as an ambassador, encouraging people with potential heart problems to stop ignoring signs and go see their doctors.
Nawn feels fortunate that his condition was not life-threatening and will continue his double-marathon tradition on Monday at the 111th Boston Marathon. He and Luitjens will start their race day at 7 a.m. and run the 26.2 miles from the finish line on Boylston Street to the official starting line in Hopkinton. Upon their arrival, the two will have an hour of rest to refuel before running the 26.2 miles back to Boylston Street--a 52.4-mile total.
Astronaut Sunita Williams qualified for the 2007 Boston Marathon in 2006 when she ran a 3 hour, 29 minutes, 57 second marathon in Houston. Williams is on board the International Space Station(ISS) in orbit more than 200 miles above earth. With a return date set for summer, the NASA flight engineer did not want her qualifying performance to expire while executing Expedition 14.
On April 14, Williams will run the 111th Boston Marathon, becoming the first Boston Marathon qualifier to run the prestigious race in space. The Boston Athletic Association issued Williams bib number 14,000 to honor her current mission.
Williams has been training on a special treadmill since she arrived at the ISS in December. The system incorporates a harness of bungee cords that pull on her hips and shoulders, and is designed to reduce impact on the space station.
Williams has benefited from all her training by maintaining bone and muscle density, a serious issue in reduced gravity.
Fitness has never been an issue for this endurance athlete who recently set the record for women's space walking at more than 29 hours.
As per part I, "Required gear includes a survival blanket, sleeping bag, compass, whistle plus the minimum 2,000 calories per day. The race enforces strict water rations while temperatures routinely reach 120°F during the day, amplifying the difficulty of this race."
Monday marked the end of the 6-day, 151-mile Marathon des Sables. This race is considered one of the toughest foot races in the world as competitors struggle against the ruthless conditions of the southern Moroccan Desert.
Throughout the 22nd edition of the Marathon of the Sands, the group lessened from 756 to 727. Among those who did not finish the competition was France's Bernard Julé, who passed away in his sleep following the most difficult stage in the competition. Julé, showed no signs of risk after the 70.5-km Stage 5. Teammates found him dead at dawn on Saturday before Stage 6. This unfortunate loss was difficult news for competitors who were moments away from beginning their second straight 70.5-km stage.
For most competitors, just crossing the finish line is considered a victory for an experience of this magnitude. Despite the odds, Morocco's Lahcen Ahansal secured his 10th victory of this marathon and earned the title, "Prince of the Desert". As Ahansal passed through the finish line, he carried a piece of paper with the number "53" written on it to honor Julé, who wore that number on his race bib.
A group of British soldiers serving in Bosnia, called the "Iron Guardsmen" have returned from their tour of duty in a newsworthy fashion. This group of 10 soldiers from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards cycled, kayaked and ran the entire 1,300 miles back to the Wellington Barracks in London!
This triathlon of epic proportions began on March 1st in Bosnia as the team cycled through the Alps as they made their way across Europe, kayaked across the English Channel and ran three consecutive marathons from Dover to the capital city. The tour designed to honor of the 25th anniversary of Britain's Falklands conflict also raised funds for The South Atlantic Medal Association 82, the Army Benevolent Fund, and the male cancer charity; Everyman.
Team spokesman, Capt. James Westropp, described the final leg of the journey to be the most challenging. "It was wet, cold and miserable,and, for all concerned, a bit of a low point," he told reporters. "The Iron Guardsmen really dug in and I was proud to be part of such a resilient team. The human body is not designed to take this sort of pressure, but there was no complaining. Just a few silent tears. "Despite suffering delays due to broken equipment and injuries, the "Iron Guardsmen" managed to persevere and complete their highly anticipated return on Saturday.
As per Part I, "Saturday morning is supposed to be a 20 mile training run according to my over-the-counter training regiment for the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Instead, I will be upping the ante and attempting my first ultramarathon." Click here to read Part I of II
With temperatures nearing to 80 degrees, my 31.2-mile endeavor on Saturday was nothing short of epic. The first 16.2 miles were quick and maybe a bit too ambitious for never having completed a training run greater than 18 miles. Perhaps it was the beautiful singletrack on the north shore of Lake Hodges or maybe even fear of being eaten by the legendary lake monster "Hodgee" that propelled me to complete the western leg of the course in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
Upon leaving the drop-bag station at mile 16.2, temperatures had already climbed 20 degrees since the start of the race at 7:30 a.m. I could feel electrolytes being sucked from my cells as the sun baked the San Pasqual Valley. My ration of electrolyte replacement capsules was depleted and they had materialized as a coating of salt on my skin. By mile 22, I began to experience muscle contractions in my quadriceps and calf muscles. Fortunately, this was the beginning of Raptor Ridge, where I would be forced to walk because of the acute elevation gain. Once I reached the summit, my plan of making up time on the downhill was thwarted by full-on cramps in my quads and calves. Instead of racing down the back of the ridge and into the flats, I was forced to employ my original run and walk ratio. Thus, my 10-minute-per-mile pace deteriorated to 15 minutes per mile during the final leg of the journey.
My projected finishing time of six hours was right on as I crossed the finish line in 6:15. I learned a few lessons that will lead to a stronger marathon in June as well as better preparedness for future ultra endeavors.
First and foremost, my gastrointestinal system(GI) handled the predominantly liquid diet without complication. My fuel of choice did seem to lack the calorie content that my body craved during such high output. Thankfully, the aid stations were fully stocked with fruit, cookies, pretzels, PB&J sandwiches and potatoes. One pleasant surprise for me was the container of chopped potatoes served alongside a large bowl of salt. This was new for me and proved very important as my salt levels were nearly depleted. I made sure to ingest a handful of salt at each of these aid stations. For my next race, I will carry a full supply of electrolyte capsules. This will be a major preventative measure to ensure that I do not experience the effects of electrolyte depletion. With this measure in place, I could maintain a 10-minute pace and finish in less than six hours. This will also prove effective during the high heat and intensity of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on June 3.
I have now ventured to the other side of 26.2 and enjoyed the scenery. Perhaps it was the moderate pace that provided more time to appreciate the local lore or maybe it was the solitude of the trail. What I am sure of is a feeling of satisfaction for achieving a goal that I once considered out of reach.
NBA superstar LeBron James has recently purchased an undisclosed ownership stake in The Cannondale Bicycle Corporation. The privately held company has worked with James before; providing bicycles for the James Family Foundation's annual "King for Kids Bike-a-thon" in Akron, Ohio. This charity bike ride event in James' hometown benefits children and single mothers. The bike that was custom built for the 6 foot 8 inch Cleveland Cavaliers forward was later incorporated into James' off season cross-training workout routine. James often rides 2 to 3 hours at a time during his sessions in the saddle.
To become an internationally recognized NBA superstar like LeBron James or a sub-2:10 marathoner, it is quite obvious that an athlete must train within their discipline. The very best athletes also recognize cross-training as an important component in avoiding injury from repetitive strain or overuse.
I use rock climbing as my cross-training activity. I find that the combination of long and stretchy core power and stability movements without impact is a great compliment to the high pavement-pounding mileage I log each week. Plus, the required upper body strength and endurance helps maintain my muscle mass.
Whether you are looking to excel within your sport or you are more interested in maintaining a high level of overall fitness, cross-training will keep you healthy and motivated.
The 22nd Marathon des Sables, or Marathon of the Sands, began on Sunday in the Sahara Desert with 756 competitors from over 30 countries embarking upon the 6 day, 151-mile endurance race. Participants are required to carry all of their own gear in their packs with the exception of tents, which are assembled by race organizers at the end of each stage. Required gear includes a survival blanket, sleeping bag, compass, whistle plus the minimum 2000 calories per day. The race enforces strict water rations while temperatures routinely reach 120°F during the day, amplifying the difficulty of this race. By the end of the third day, the field has dropped to 749 competitors, many who withdrew from the race due to foot problems. The extreme conditions of the contest have attracted athletes of all abilities who pay upwards of $3000 to participate. With the 2007 race underway, the 2008 and 2009 races are already sold out with only a wait list option available. The following video captures the truly epic atmosphere of this event:
In light of this month's blockbusting release of 300, the epic action film which retells the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, I thought it would be appropriate to visit the history books and touch upon the origins of what the running world describes as "the world's most grueling race"; the Spartathlon.
There is the classic tale of the Greek solider, Pheidippides, who was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to deliver the message that the massive Persian army had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. Legend tells that Pheidippides ran the entire distance without stopping and upon delivery of the message, collapsed dead. It was proclaimed that this distance was the furthest a man could run and was later integrated into modern day Olympic Games in 1896 and later becoming our beloved 26.2.
There is a version of this story which has stayed under the mainstream radar and was recorded by the Greek Historian, Herodotus. This account describes a messenger, also called Pheidippides, who ran from Athens to Sparta, covering 246 kilometers (152.85 miles), and arriving the next morning to secure reinforcement for the battle.
This legendary distance and feat of human endurance was merely a fable found in history books ever since 490 B.C. until it captured the curiosity of British RAF Wing Commander John Foden. On October 8th 1982, Foden and a team of four colleagues from the RAF set off to follow the route in which Greek historian, Herodotus, described in great detail centuries ago. 36 hours later, Foden arrived in Sparta at the base of the statue of the Spartan King Leonidas, confirming that man could run 246 kms in less than 2 days!
Sparathlon was born and a year later when 45 long distance runners from 11 countries including Greece followed the tracks of the ancient runner. By 1984, the "International Spartathlon Association" (I.S.A.) was created and has held the race every September, the time which is said to have been when Pheidippides made his journey. The historical significance of this unique race attracts the world's finest competitors, demanding years of physical and mental training for their dream to come true. The course record of 20:25 belongs to Yiannis Kouros, a Greek-born ultra-marathon runner. Kouros has competed in four Spartahlons and won all four with the four fastest times ever recorded. This year, top American ultra runner, Scott Jurek, won the race in 22:52:18.
Beginning in Oregon and ending 108 days later in Delaware, Paul Staso completed his 3,260 mile run across the U.S.A. on October, 20, 2006. Paul Staso was running to promote his campaign called P.A.C.E. Run 2006, which stands for "Promoting Active Children Everywhere". In addition to becoming the seventh person to successfully complete the unsupportedtrans-continental crossing, Staso was able to encourage active and healthy lifestyles in the lives of many young people from coast-to-coast. His 30 mile per day effort took much training and planning which was not new to this ultra endurance athlete. Click the link to read in more detail of Paul Staso's P.A.C.E. Run 2006.
On April 11, 2007, Staso will embark upon a brand new challenge: to complete a solo crossing of the U.S.A. on a bicycle. Following the same route as the P.A.C.E. Run 2006, Paul will retrace the 3,260 mile route during his newest campaign, P.A.C.E. Bike 2007. Staso will continue to promote youth fitness through motivational presentations as he passes through 15 U.S. states during his voyage from east to west. At an average of 55 miles per day, Staso plans to complete this journey by June, 17. Upon completion, he will become the first person to ever run solo, from coast to coast and then bicycle back across the U.S.A. alone, within one year for a total of 6,520 miles! Stay tuned for updates this spring as we follow his ultra-endurance quest.
On my way to track practice on Tuesday night, I was in bumper to bumper traffic and decided to place a call to my closest childhood friend who still lives on the east coast. He is a former college football player who used to weigh 260lbs. Now, 6'3", 210 pounds and less than a month away from the Boston Marathon, Johnny has found a new passion; running. Although he and his girlfriend did not qualify for the race, they still plan to run the course after the main group of participants is underway. The two of them have found this training to be a great way to spend time together and work towards accomplishing a formidable life goal. When I asked him how their long run went this past Saturday, he told me that the 15 miles went alright, but he was completely spent and was close to failure by the end of his run. He felt as though he wouldn't be able to go on after that 15. I then asked him about what he ate, drank and ingested during his run. It turns out, he ran for 2 hours and 10 minutes in 60 degree temperatures without consuming any energy fuel, or water at the very least. Wondering why his muscles felt sore and his joints ached, I said to him, "Johnny, what I'm about to tell you is going to change your life."
I explained that running is just one of the elements in the equation of marathon. I used the example that when I run at my threshold, I burn 1,100 calories per hour. At this rate, I would have burned well over 2000 calories* *during that training run. I stressed that a well thought out nutrition plan must accompany his training plan in order to successfully reach the finish line.
Yesterday, he called me from a specialty running shop in Boston and listed off the range of endurance fuels that they had in stock. He checked out of the store with a water bottle with a hand strap, a variety of drink mixes, and a dozen energy gels. By sampling different varieties and flavors to use over the course of the next few weeks, he'll be able to see what will work best for his race. It's often said that one should not introduce something new to their training plan at this late of a stage. In this case, no matter what he chooses to go with at this point, he will be better off than he was before. I suggested that he keeps track of which fuels taste good, provide the most energy, and do not upset his stomach. Once the magic combination has been discovered, stock up and stick with it through training and on race day.
The lesson here is what is consumed before, during and after training and events is crucial for an athlete to unlock their potential. When it comes time to fuel during either training or an event, the 60 to 90 minutes of glycogen energy stores in your body will start you off on the right path. It is crucial to begin consuming calories, carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain your optimal performance level well before these stores run out. If not properly fueled, you will experience "the wall" and risk the dreaded, "DNF" (Did Not Finish). To prevent this common mistake, remember to practice in training what you will use during an event. It's important not to try something completely new during the race because your body may not react correctly. Make sure you are in tune with how you feel at these important times. These fuels absorb very quickly and should make a noticeable difference within minutes.