Pushing it a little more this morning

Goal: Follow the previous 8 km with a little extra as part of the training plan

Approach:

  • Previous night – moderately heavy but early dinner
  • Morning – a liter of water after waking up
  • Dynamic stretches – lunges, side-lunge, high-knee, knee bends, butt-kicks
  • Kept a tall upright posture with a very slight forward bent, while consciously engaging the core muscles.
  • Even pace all along, making sure that I enjoyed the run.
  • The goal was only to ensure that I exceeded the last run distance.

fitbit run timing - 29 Jun '17

After run:

  • As I kept the pace very easy, there was no pains at all – it thrills me that I’m able to do this distance more easily now.
  • Engaged in some stretching post run – static stretches for calves and quadriceps.
  • Energy levels were good through the day
  • Super Happy to have done the 9 kms today – a few years back when I was much younger, I couldn’t do it.
  • Looking forward to the week long run – targeting 12 km!!!

Morning run – 27 June 2017

Goal: Complete first 8 km training run as part of plan

Approach:

  • Previous night – light and early dinner
  • Morning – a liter of water after waking up
  • Dynamic stretches – lunges, side-lunge, high-knee, knee bends, butt-kicks
  • Kept a tall upright posture with a very slight forward bend and engaged core muscles – all along the run, I made sure that the posture was correct.
  • Even pace all along, with slightly increased pace towards the end
  • All along, I made sure that the breathing was even, at the cost of effort.
  • Unlike my earlier runs where the goal was only to ensure that I exceeded a certain threshold step count, this run was clearly aimed at doing the distance.

morning-run27062017

After run:

  • There was a slight pain in the right knee. Rested it and did not engage in any further treatment. The pain was gone is a few hours
  • Energy levels were ok through the day
  • I’m now optimistic about going 10k on my next run

Weekend long run

As per the plan today was to be the 2nd weekend long run:Training progress - 11th June '17.png

The Thu, 4.8 km run was a disaster. I barely managed the distance. I just got the cadence up, up to 180 bpm, on this run assisted by the metronome app on the phone. The distraction of holding the phone in the hand (as it wouldn’t work under a locked screen) and the higher cadence wore me down much faster than I’d expected. While I kept the cadence up after every step on this run, I was very disappointed. The run wasn’t satisfying, I was cramping, the knee was hurting and towards the last part I just walked.

After Friday’s rest, I decided to start easy and try a negative split for a 10K run. 1 liter of water immediately after waking up and intentionally remaining hydrated all the day on Friday was a right step. I don’t carry water on the run as I find that holding the water bottle is not helping me with my rhythm.

I started slow and easy after a quick warm up. The initial phase was slow as usual and then without any conscious effort I was running smoothly with barely any effort. I kept the focus and and a check on my pace ensuring there wasn’t any sudden acceleration. After the 1/2 way mark, I picked up the cadence slightly and it was only at closing in on the final distance did any effort come in.

10K practise - easy - 10th Jun'17

The run was satisfying and gave me the confidence that I can manage this distance at a better pace.

Drawing inspiration from the only virtual running group I’m subscribed to and with some smart eating and drinking, I should be good for another 10 K on Tue, 13th Jun ’17.

 

Prep to run my fastest 5K

The areas I’ll need to focus are

  1. Effortless movement
  2. Brisk pace – around 3 min/km
  3. Constant pace with enough in the tank for a 500 meter sprint
  4. Focus on proper form and good breathing
  5. Joy of running

Effortless movement: Drills and strength training are very important to hit this focus area. From my swimming experience, drills help to accelerate the improvement of form and motion range. The current specific issues which need to be corrected to improve the efficiency include occasional heel strike, over striding and very heavy landing.

Brisk pace: This is the toughest of all the focus areas as the body is not used to this pace. I still have not consistently recorded my 1 km pace. Speed drills and tempo runs with a metronome (@180 steps/min) have still not been included in the training. This week, I intend to have at least one speed drill – 1200 x 4  at a moderate pace followed by a good stretch.

Constant pace:  tempo runs with the metronome should surely help.

Form mindfulness: Open chest, standing tall, landing mid-foot and relaxing the back and chest should work here.

Joy of Running:  As I child, I loved to run and running meant unbridled joy. I still crave for that lost joy and during the course of each run, I try to discover a piece of that pure happiness without being overwhelmed my techniques, form and the other event in life. Meditate and be grateful for all the runs till date and the more that are lined up for you.

 

Chi running drills

My 2nd 10K, 3 weeks back; At around the 6k mark just as the end goal of completing without issues seemed to be possible, my left knee felt sore. It wasn’t the 1st time I was experiencing this pain. It does come by during the “training runs” like an old unwelcome guest every now and then. To me, someone who is jut getting used to running long distances, my breath was already labored at this stage – this is the time when ( I’m aware of it) the mind is playing tricks giving you excuses to quit running. But, on the other hand I have been carrying the tendinitis pains on my right calf. The rationalization I had was that unconsciously my left leg was over compensating to prevent the right from having to commit fully to the stride so that the stretch during the stride does not cause a flare up of the tendinitis pain in the right calf.

Post the run, the pain was mildly present over the next couple of days. I avoided running fearing it could make things worse.

On the next run, exactly 3 days after, the knee pain was back. I realized that this was now a posture issue which needed correction along with strengthening the muscles around the knee that can absorb the impact thereby protect the knee from further damage.  The search and reading cycle on the internet ensued and along the way I rediscovered Chi running, something I’d read about a few years back. The Chi running technique is supposed to minimize the impact on your joints while improving the efficiency of the run. To get started, it is recommended to correct the posture, coupled with a set of drills to imbibe the right Chi running form. Here are some of the drills that seemed to be easier to adopt for beginners that I will include in my training:

Heel Strike killer: (from: the guardian)

1) Stand with your feet pointing straight ahead, a hip-width apart.

2) Lengthen your spine so you’re feeling tall – raising your hands in the air above your head and allowing them to fall back can help, especially for corrections as you run.

3) Level your pelvis, which is generally tilted forwards. To do this, place one hand face down on your tummy with the thumb in your belly button and the other hand face up on your back directly opposite, then gently tip your pelvis back to a level position. You should feel your core muscles engage – but don’t go so far that your core becomes tense or that your glutes tighten.

4) Place both thumbs on the prominent front hip bone at the top of your legs and pivot forwards from there until you are balanced over your centre of gravity. For me, that meant leaning my top half forwards until I could just see the knot in the laces of my shoes when looking down – an extremely useful reference point which is key to the method for me.

5) Set a metronome at 180 beats per minute lean forwards (pivoting at the ankles) and let gravity do the work of moving you forwards.

Walking Spiderman Balancer :(from: running competitor)

From a standing position, take a long stride forward into a deep lunge position and lower the same-side elbow to the heel on the forward leg. From this position, drive off the forward foot, return to the upright position, and pull your trailing leg even with your forward leg. Repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg. Continue lunging forward in a walking manner. Keep your chest up and try not to let the lower back round as you lunge.

Lander : (from: running competitor)

Concentrate on squeezing your right buttock the instant before your right foot touches the ground when you run, and doing the same on the left side. With the increase in stride rate, this one cannot be made permanent unless you do it consciously on every stride until it starts to happen automatically, which could take a few weeks.

Peg Leg: (ref: chirunning.com)

This exercise is best done walking. Use it as a warm up for a run; during the walking portion of your walk-run training plan; or whenever you’re just walking somewhere.

Walk as if you don’t have feet, as if your knees are what are directly in touch with the ground. Another image you could use is that you are walking on stilts. You should feel a set of muscles engage that you probably don’t feel while you are running. You’ll also probably notice your hips and hips flexors more than usual.

This drill helps engage your core, keeps your upper body forward, shortens your stride and helps you to completely relax your lower legs. All of these key components of good running form are contained in this simple exercise.

Walk using the Peg Leg image for a few minutes at a time, then run or walk while focusing on being aware of engaging the same muscles and a similar movement in the hips. Feel your posture while walking with Peg Legs, and maintain the same posture.

This is just a drill. It is not the way you want to run or walk all the time, but it helps inform your body of a more beneficial way to move.

Hold the Chi Ball:  (ref: chirunning.com)

This exercise can be practiced first while standing, then while ChiWalking® or ChiRunning® in small intervals. Practice in first or second gear when you are running (not a good idea for 3rd or 4th gear).

Begin by aligning your posture with shoulders, hips and ankles in a line. Then, curve your arms out in front of you, chest-high, as if you’re holding a big exercise ball. Notice how bringing your arms into this position brings your upper body slightly forward and engages your core muscles. Holding the Chi Ball puts your body into a perfect posture that is ideal for walking and running. Just hold the Chi ball for 5-10 seconds at a time. Then, try to hold onto the same posture feeling as you let your arms fall slowly to your sides. Finally, bend your arms to 90 degrees and resume the normal rearward ChiRunning and ChiWalking arm swing.

Throughout this exercise keep your shoulders relaxed and your core will engage even more. Allow your legs to relax as well. When you focus on holding the Chi ball, your legs will naturally relax and you’ll feel your body pulled forward by gravity. Try to memorize that sensation and duplicate it.

Do the Chi Ball Exercise for ten seconds every two minutes, until your body moves naturally and with good posture.

Morning Run : 3rd Jun ’17

The goal was to run longer, more than the usual 3.10 miles, and try to get close to 10,000 steps without worrying too much about the time.  Hydration can be a challenge as I do not quite enjoy running carrying a bottle of water, so I drank up before I ran – about 500 ml of water. Luckily, the weather was cooler so I did not really struggle with water loss. After a mild stretch, and a few lunges, I hit the road at 6:10. Very easy with a conscious effort to stay relaxed and breathe well. The calf was ok all along. The left knee was a little painful, looks like there is some compensation happening unconsciously to protect the right calf. Even earlier when I ran on the treadmill, I’ve noticed that my landing is very heavy and this could also be the reason why the knees are  little sore.

A technique I grabbed from here to ensure smoother landing and avoiding injury, and also according to the article, making your run more enjoyable is to increase the cadence. The drill to improve the cadence to 180 strides/min is to use a metronome application on the phone – a brilliant idea! I’ve been using the gravity assisted forward leaning Chi technique – you can find it here. I hope to compile a set of drills shortly to improve the Chi running technique as there are obvious benefits from adopting it.

As for the run, I wasn’t winded as I kept the pace very easy.  Over the last mile the left knee hurt but it was ok post the run. I did not stretch after the run as I got busy with other things. I will use tomorrow to stretch well as I’m also working towards improving my overall flexibility. The training is on target currently and today’s run complete one week of this schedule.

Training progress - 3rd June '17

In terms of gains, the weight is down to 71.1 kgs, the stamina has vastly improved and so has the mood. Eating habits which I have been historically inconsistent with have also improved significantly:

  • the stuffing up at breakfast is not existent now
  • the snacking is barely there.
  • carbs are for recycling – I try to time the carb intake to the day before a run only.
  • completely avoiding sweets and sugar intake overall is very controlled
  • fruits have become the newest go to cap the sugar craving
  • water intake is much better

Some of the rewards on hitting my goals are:

  • a weight training equipment if I hit the 70kg mark by the end of next week.
  • a new pair of shoes when I complete my training schedule
  • a phone when I hit the 21 km mark during training

The goal to run the SCMM is what should be central to the training. During the warm ups today another plan is to incorporate drills everyday before the weekday 3.10 km run.

Good night and happy and injury free running!