Friday, March 30, 2012

Strong Irish Team for World 100k, 2012.

Pictured: Dan Doherty, Irish 100km Team Captain
Ireland will send a very strong team to the European & World 100km Championships in Italy on 22nd April.
The men's team will be captained by Daniel Doherty, who finished 14th in the 2011 World Championships.
Doherty, along with Irish 50km Champion John Byrne and Irish 100km record holder Thomas Maguire make up a trio of Irish runners with sub-7:10hr PBs.
The team, which also includes Keith Whyte (sub 7:30hrs), Michael Collins (World veteran bronze medallist) and John O'Regan (Irish 24-Hour Champion) will be among the favourites to medal in Europe. The cumulative time of the top three finishers for each nation decides the outccome of the team competiion.
In addition to the team, Jim McCormick will represent Ireland as an individual and should be among the top contenders in the vets competition (which is run concurrently).
In the women's race, Ireland will be represented by Helen Lavin, who has recently posted some very good ultra performances in the USA.
John Byrne
Michael Collins
Daniel Doherty
Thomas Maguire
John O'Regan
Keith Whyte
Jim McCormick*
Helen Lavin*

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's more than just one foot in front of the other..

My weekly routine includes at least 2 sessions in the Gym concentrating on Core Stability, Functional Strength and Muscle Endurane. Without doubt this element of my training has improved my overall strength and more importantly has helped with staying injury free.

Walk Outs for Mobility & Flexibility.

Hip Flexor Stretch using Resistance Bands.


Ring Rows

Rope Climbing.


Back Extension.

Foam Rolling.
Photos thanks to and owned by Alan Rowlette.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kildare Senior Road Race Championships 2012.

And they're off!

Hosted by my club Le Cheile for the second year we had almost perfect conditions for this 10K Race even though I felt like I was in less than perfect condition for racing as a result of my recent training volume.  Keeping my eye on a more important race I couldn't afford to Taper or miss one of my weekly gym sessions and I've been suffering with the DOMS since Friday caused by a cumulative effect from strength training on Tuesday & Thursday.
Not expecting a peak performance but still feeling like I should run sub 37 mins which was slower than my PB (Personal Best) I decided to throw caution to the wind and run with the lead runners for as long as possible and then try a little bit harder rather than just pace myself as I would if running for a PB.
The race started and thats what I did.  All went well until almost 6K when my pace started to falter and I'm not sure if I fell back or the lead runners increased the pace but I could feel my legs were heavy and I was unable to push harder and stay with the pack.  The distance started to increase and with so many twists and turns in the last stages of the race I lost sight of the pack and the gap started to increase.

Approaching the last 2 K they were back in sight and with a target to focus on I managed to make up 2 places and even managed a sprint finish over the last 200 M.  Not sure of my position but I finished in 36:19 which after checking is only 2 seconds slower than last year so all in all I'm very happy with the result and still have the DOMS...

Well done to John Canning from Newbridge Athletic Club for a super win.

Photos thanks to Willie Murphy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A mixed week.

With Jim McCormick.

It's been 3 weeks since the Donadea 50K and following the training principle of stress / recover / adapt I've started to increase my training volume ever so slightly without doing too much as it's almost time to peak and taper yet again.  My Gym sessions were the same but different in that I'm doing the same exercises but with less weight and more reps.  This I'm told is to work on my muscle endurance  following on from strengthening these same muscles.
On Friday I met with Jim McCormick and we had planned on running a 65K long run but a strong headwind for the first 20K slowed our pace significantly and we ran out of time at 58K.  Slightly shorter than planned but finishing and knowing that you can keep going is a good confidence boost.

Today I took part in a charity relay run from Lurgan to Croke Park with St Paul's GFC, I joined the team somewhere on the old Belfast road and ran a few legs towards the city centre at a mixed pace which was a perfect end to the week.

Next week I'm running a 10K for my club in the Kildare Road Race Championships and I'm now trying to work out how I can tweak my training to include even a small bit of speed work.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Recover, Adapt and Continue

Photo copyright Alan Rowlette.
In the days after the Donadea 50K I took a slight step back and reduced my training volume and ran shorter and easier than usual to allow my body adapt to the Training Effect which I should have got from the race. You don't get fit during training and you certainly don't get fit while racing but instead the fitness gains happen while recovering so it's important to allow your body adapt to the stresses you put it under.
My Gym sessions in the week following the race were weight free and consisted mostly of mobility exercises, easy core work and foam rolling.  I find that in the days following a race or hard training session that wearing compression shorts or running tights do help with getting back into a regular training routine while still allowing the body recover.
Next week my Gym sessions will change slightly and I'm told the weight and reps will increase but this will only be for a short period as I prepare for my next race and following on from that I'll again Recover / Adapt and Continue as I prepare for yet another race but each time I start from a higher level with a progressive overload.

Before a race I do a simple test using my Heart Rate Monitor to get a measure of my cardio fitness and I do the same test a few days after the race.  Comparing the results I can tell how much fitness I've lost and I use this to gauge when I can return to my regular routine.  A HRM won't pick up on muscle fatigue or damage but your legs will tell you if that's an issue.

The Test:
Run 50 - 60 mins at a heart rate zone that you would consider easy and keep the parameters tight as in only a 5 beat difference between upper and lower end of zone.  Note the distance covered pre race and do the exact same post race.  If you cover less distance for same HR then you need to take it easy for another few days.  Using auto lap if available can make the comparison easier to make.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CrossFit Endurance

We often tell you that the long run is the cornerstone of marathon training, and with good reason. The physiological and psychological benefits are well established when it comes to prepping for the distance.

However, the long run does trip up many runners. It could be the practicalities of finding four hours to run on days already packed with work, kids and all the other demands of your life. Or it could be that once you start ramping up the volume, your body starts shutting down. Another 26.2 dream dashed. Or is it?

Goodbye long runs

According to Brian MacKenzie, a power lifter turned ultra endurance athlete based in California, US, to go long, you have to be strong. To that end, MacKenzie, along with cycling champion Doug Katona, created CrossFit Endurance (CFE), a high-intensity, low-volume training plan that blends CrossFit conditioning (heavy, explosive strength training) with sprints, time trials and tempo workouts. Goodbye, long runs.

CFE reduces mileage to as much as quarter of that in a typical marathon programme.MacKenzie developed CFE while training for Ironman and ultra marathon events. Following long, slow distance (LSD) training while preparing for an Ironman, he experienced knee problems and plantar fasciitis. So he tried something radical.

He replaced LSD workouts and easy runs with 20-minute CrossFit workouts, a conditioning programme developed by former gymnast Greg Glassman that takes functional training to the extreme by combining power lifting, gymnastics, kettlebell training and other muscle-pummelling strength training. He kept the high-intensity speedwork found in many 26.2 plans, such as 400m and 800m repeats. It definitely worked for him.

His high-test training twist helped MacKenzie dodge injury and finish ultra marathons on less than 10 hours of training a week. So he launched CFE, believing passionately that a strong – really strong – body will carry you as far as you want to go.

A word of warning: some experts are concerned that forfeiting the long run does not adequately prepare marathoners – especially newcomers – to the rigours of extended time on their feet. However, even the most sceptical scientists acknowledge there’s wisdom behind CFE and that – like most plans – it may work for some runners.

Build your base — faster  

Runners spend a lot of time talking about ‘base’ – the aerobic fitness foundation characterised by stronger heart muscles, thicker capillary webbing and improved enzyme production – necessary for optimum endurance performance. Traditionally, you’ve been told the best way to build your base is with long, slow aerobic workouts.

Yet some experts argue such adaptations can occur in less time with high-intensity runs. “If you do 400m repeats, the vast majority of energy is coming from aerobic metabolism, making sprints a very potent aerobic stimulus,” says Dr Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology (the scientific study of human movement) at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Gibala and his colleagues found that people who did short (25-minute) cycling workouts with a series of 30-second sprints improved their fitness over two weeks at the same rate as those who rode for two hours at a lesser intensity. “Pretty much every adaptation we measured could be realised through high-intensity interval training [HIIT] and lower volume,” explains Gibala.

He acknowledges that his study reflects a short period of training. “What we don’t know is how this plays out long term,” he says. “If you have 50 runners doing traditional training and 50 doing HIIT for a full year, who turns out better trained? We haven’t done that study. But I bet they’re close.”

Build a really strong body

The other half of MacKenzie’s programme is building strength through CrossFit. Workouts average a life-friendly 10-20 minutes, and combine ‘metabolic conditioning’ exercises such as kettlebell swings, handstand press-ups and pull-ups with classic moves such as deadlifts and squats.

We know what you’re thinking, but the scientists argue that all the heavy lifting can translate to distance running. For one, it increases the force of your stride, and the more powerful your push-off, the less effort you exert with each stride, and the easier running fast feels, says Dr Stephen Cheung, professor of kinesiology at Brock University, Canada. “It also makes you more balanced and less prone to injury.”

It may also make you faster. In one study, highly trained runners who replaced a third of their running workouts with explosive, sport-specific strength training shaved 30-40 seconds off their 5K times after nine weeks compared with those who ran and did minimal strength training.

Put it together

For runners, a typical CFE workout week might look like this: three double days consisting of a strength-building session followed several hours later (to allow for recovery) by a short, high-intensity run; and one or two days of longer endurance workouts such as tempo runs or time trials. There are no easy days or recovery runs in CFE. You’re either on or you’re off.

“The act of taking real rest might be enough to help many runners improve performance,” says Gibala. “Runners often go out for these recovery runs, but they’re just making themselves tired. You’re better off reducing the total training load, getting rid of the junk and getting real rest.” It’s the tantalising promise of achieving more by doing less (at least in terms of time and distance, anyway).

Is it for you?

If you’re a longtime runner who’s feeling worn down, a programme like CFE could be just what you need, says James Herrera, owner of Performance Driven coaching and consulting in Colorado Springs, US.

“Most experienced runners have trained in the classic format for many years and have developed a huge volume base,” he says.

“If you drastically reduce volume and increase strength and training intensity, you will improve on many fronts: speed, power, economy of movement, lean body mass, as well as confidence. I’ve taken 40-60-year-old clients who’ve done endurance training for 20-plus years, cut their volume in half – though that’s still more volume than CFE prescribes – while increasing intensity, and they’ve all posted PBs, some better than their 25-year-old times.”

What’s not as clear is how well it works for less-seasoned runners, particularly those gunning for the marathon and beyond. CFE claims that by following the programme to the letter, you can compete in – not just complete – ultra and Ironman distances on just six to eight hours of training per week.

It’s an amazing promise, particularly as it includes ‘long’ runs that never exceed 90 minutes. But if you’ve never done a really long run, race day could prove challenging, says Herrera, an ultra runner himself.

“Long runs prepare you for time on your feet, pacing, mental toughness and how to fuel yourself for multiple hours – you don’t really need to eat for a 90-minute training session,” he says. “I’m a firm believer in HIIT, but I still feel a runner – especially a beginner – has to cover 75 per cent of the distance in training for 26.2 to prepare for those elements.”

What is clear is that for some runners, particularly the experienced, time-pressed and plateauing, CFE may be the key to taking performance to another level. And that most runners can benefit from some components of CFE – after all, who doesn’t want stronger glutes, more stable hips and faster times? And with the cold, dark winter days still hanging around, now is the perfect time to hit the gym and try something new.

Give it just four weeks and you should notice a marked improvement in fitness. Then you might just want to see how much further it can take you.
Mix and match three to four of the following eight crossfit exercises once a week to boost your strength and endurance.
Copied from Runner's World.