2012-01-23

Stretching seems not to be necessary for runners

I was just feeling curios about stretching and googled the phrase "is stretching good?".

Interestingly I did hit gold at the first attempt. What I was interested in were references to serious studies showing that stretching after a workout is (or not) important.

After reading "Born to Run" and learning that there are no studies whatsoever that support the claims of the shoe industry I just thought that there may be more things that we give for granted but are not based on hard facts. One of these is stretching.

Note that I am a big stretching fan. I know dozens of stretches and I am using some of them with success to correct protracted shoulders. But what is good for posture correction may not be good for something completely different as injury prevention and endurance running.

The hard facts is that there is no study showing a relation between pre or post workout stretching and injury and even less with regard to performance improvement and in fact there is some evidence or suspicion of rather the contrary.

I guess that stretching may be a good idea for those starting any sport, as they surely lack the very basic flexibility and some extra light exercise are never a bad thing to do.

In fact I did noticed an improvement of some soreness on my knees after changing my heavy training routine for the lighter one described in Pfizinger's "Advanced Marathoning". In fact the soreness completely disapeared, while my mileage increased during the same period.

For one week I will stop stretching after workouts. It shouldn be too much of a problem as I do a good cooldown after each run, consisting in 1-2 miles at recovery pace and at least 1 mile walking. Saving myself 30-40 minutes a day can be in fact a great improvement in regard to my agenda allowing me an extra buffer every morning before commuting to work.

Here the articles I was talking about, some with references to more detailed sutdies:

http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/RBC/stretch.shtml

http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-287--7001-0,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/health/nutrition/13Best.html?pagewanted=all



2012-01-20

X-Training: I'm hating it!

Read the title with the famous cola jingle melody.

Nope, I'm not hating it yet, but it's a way of saying that I'm tired as hell and everything burns as crazy. Actually, 60 mins of strength training is something I do every other day and in fact I do it as circuits while today it was more a "semi-circuit" throwing in some rest between sets.

The fact is that I am pretty tired; last week should have been an easy week with 36-37 miles but it ended with 46 and some extra speed intervals thanks to the genial idea of testing my heart rate and adding 10 minutes of barefoot running to the mix. To make matters worse I tried a Tabata weights interval and a HIIT interval on the elliptical. Not too bad. Except some extra tension on my left hamstring and knees but I feel rather tired, it doesn't affect my running at all but I feel it when lifting weight.

The Tabata intervals was a total fiasco: Despite doing an awful lot of reps (push ups, chin ups, dumbbell clean squat to press, squats with and without EZ bar) I did never reach more than a ridiculous 143 beats / min. My arms tired but I wasn't even close to oxygen debt :P

On the elliptical I can reach 175 or so which mightbe my max on this machine but during my trial sprinting up a hill (200m or so) I did only reach 171 which is good for a VO2max training but far from my max measured HR (185, actually measured with my Garmin, not just a theoretical value).

Tomorrow I face an 8x200m (8x 0.12mi) interval. It should have been 8x100 but the damn Garmin has a minimum value of 0.12mi for intervals, same in metric (0.2 km). It utterly sucks but the last time I drew a line on the dirt a fat idiot had no better idea than erasing it (!) when she passed. I was of course too spaced out to notice until I had run twice the distance, but well... this will teach me not to trust fat innocent looking women, I bet she belongs to some kind of anti-sport sect in the middle of a Jihad. Well, this time I will use my Garmin and do 200m, the only thing the fat anti-sport jihadists can do is sending an EMP pulse. Bwahahahaaaa!

And after the lung-searing 1600m interval an 18 mi long run on Sunday which will be 11 mi at recovery pace plus 7 miles at 8:02 (my new target marathon pace is 7:50). 

So that was my week so far.

2012-01-09

P Fucking R!

My first race of the season, PWN Egmond Halve Marathon. I PR at 13:30:15.
My training time was 1:43:xx (can't recall the seconds, but was rather on the upper limit).

However comparing the times fr Egmond from Wikipedia with the ones of a pancake race like Amsterdam I noticed the interesting fact that the times were lower in Egmond than in Amsterdam.

Ah, yeah, here it is:
PWN Egmond Halve Marathon 2012 | Uitslag Enric Martinez

The course has a widespread fame of being hard here in the Netherlands so that I prepared thoroughly for the worst. There is a hellish hill and terrible dunes... well, kinda. You really have to know the Dutch people, I only have met one culture that overstates things in the same way as the Dutch: the Andalusians who are famed in Spain for that. Maybe it's that the Dutch are traditionally fishers. Jokes apart, the fact is that running at a recreative level is extremely popular in this country and I assume that most of the reports about the hardness of the course comes from recreants. The weather has been a factor in the past too, but I can't figure out why a 13.1 miler would be too much harder at -8 or -12 C.

So, here I was working out miles on the "Galopp padden" roads of loose sand meant for horses to gallop, running in trail shoes through mud, dunes and the few available hills deserving this name in my neighbourhood... Just to find out what I almost expected:

Egmond is not a pancake but the hills are perfectly doable, long but not too steep. Indeed I only lost time at the water tents ricochetting all the people who stopped to drink and trying to pass all the turtles who do not understand the concept of "slow runners keep to the right". I do not know if it is that they were already spaced out or that they were thinking they were Gbrselassie himself.

And then there is the people with headphones: Yes, I know, you look extremely fashionable with your iPhone and your headphones, there is nothing hipper, but your exciting music does not make you any faster, so: Keep out of the fucking way!!


Annoyances aside the run resulted to be incredibly fun: The beach is long, wide and the sand is compact except in a few places and the slope towards the sea is practically depreciable, it is a real pleasure to run on it. A long slope down at the very start leads to the beach, but there are a few slopes at the start where some of the slower guys were already dropping out or slowing down, the same happened in the hills except in the first one up as people (as I commented before) do not understand that they are slow and have to run on the RIGHT side. I lost more breath screaming "left, left!!" than in my end sprint.

So Dutch guys, here is a rule of thumb: If you feel that your heart is going to explode, your are coughing your lungs out and you are breathing like a steam train... it's not that you are mutating into Superman or the running version of The Hulk, it's just that you are tired and slot, thus: Keep top your fucking RIGHT and let the FAST guys pass... yes, these that come from behind, do not breath loud and scream "left! Fast traffic!" LOL.

Next year I will maybe try a 1:30:00 on this course.

2012-01-06

Dirt Diva, \m/

I'm amazed by this girl Catra Corbett, aka. , Dirt Diva, 
She is hot, goth and a runner... well, I still have to find any runner male or female who is a metalhead like me, but she is really cool anyway.

Reading her blog I got almost convinced to try this crossfit stuff... well, I am starting to get bored and I need new ways of causing massive injury to myself, lol.

But mates, that's what heroes are for, to inspire you.