Thursday, October 27, 2005

More hill phase benefits and some inspiration

Coach Glenn McCarthy from Boulder, who I've mentioned before, shared some good insights about the benefits of hill work I thought some might find interesting. Previously he had mentioned keeping the "work" on the uphill to three minutes, which I started doing, but then I continue on to the top of the hill (which takes another 2 minutes) before heading down. During these last two minutes I try to relax and use the slow-twitch muscles, while trying to straighten out my take-off leg to gain force and stride with each step (see my get out of the bucket post for more on this). This past week something else in Glenn's email came to mind, specifically when he commented that "the new strength gained by the hill work allows the knees to raise higher. The foot pulls through closer to the gluteus. Overall efficiency is enhanced."

I started thinking about this in terms of physics and it makes sense. By raising your knee higher, you bend your leg more, and you are in effect shortening the lever of your leg, which means you can bring your front leg through your stride quickly and with less resistance. Think about taking a low "frankenstein" step where you don't bend your knee, then compare it to a higher step with exaggerated knee-lift. The latter is easily more efficient. This is of course what Glenn was saying, but it took a few days for it to sink in. So today I really tried to focus on keeping my knee-lift up even after the interval, and I hope to remember to do the same during the race on Saturday. Thanks again, Glenn.

I also just got some more motivational material in the mail, specifically, Ron Daws' book "Running Your Best". This was at Zeke's suggestion, and I certainly appreciate it. I'm only on the first chapter, but his writing in incredibly motivating, much like the article on the right about Lorraine Moller. Here's just a bit from the first chapter-

"Making a commitment to run comes down to how badly you want to explore your limits. It means honestly confronting your excuses. It means making time to train. Unless you go all out for something, you may conclude your life without actually having lived it. It doesn't have to be running, but it should be a quest for excellence...That's how your find out what you are made of. That's how you find out who you are. To live your life your way, to reach for the goals you have set for yourself, to be the you that you want to be, that is success."

He writes that as athletes and individuals, we as a species inherently sell ourselves short and seldom reach our potential, but that potential exists. I used to run with a fellow (who coached me in my triathlon days), and we were very close to the same level. We were trying to break 3 hours in a marathon, and our 10K times were in the mid-37's. I remember discussing 100 mile weeks (we were lucky to go 50 back then), and we figured that it would really be something to do that...once. I also remember seeing an article titled Sub 35 by 35, which had a plan to (you guessed it) get your 10K time under 35 minutes by the time you reached 35 years of age. I laughed at the article, and I dismissed even one 100 mile week as fantasy.

Well, here I am three or four years later, I've managed to meet that 100 mile barrier regularly, I'm shooting for a January marathon at 2:40, and last month I finally won my first race, a 10K, with a time under what the article promised to teach (even though the course was short, I still feel my 32:58 as validation). I give Arthur Lydiard and his methods credit, but I also feel credit is due to Nobby Hashizume, Glenn McCarthy, Mark Coughlin, and others who have been kind enough to share their training wisdom with me. I obviously have a long ways to go, and Ron Daws' words help keep the fire lit to keep reaching for more. I'm 34 now, and as corny as it sounds, I am seriously trying to reach my ultimate potential in this sport while I am in my best years. We'll see how it goes.

Training: 10 miles, 1:24:27, 8:26 pace. 4 hill circuits at 13 minutes each, 3 minute uphill efforts. Felt good today, but I'm ready for an easy day and maybe a muffin run tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

What's a muffin run?

Mike said...

I posted about it a week ago or so, here's the link to the post. It's basically a real easy run where I take my daughter along in the jogging stroller. We stop for a muffin in the middle of our 6-8 miles and talk about stuff. Tomorrow will no doubt be about her cat costume for Halloween, which she is quite excited about.

Andrew said...

Great post Mike. I like it when you share the inspiration you find along the way. It lets us all take part.

Scooter said...

Another way to think about the faster leg recovery is one that I use when teaching walking, but in that case it relates to arm position. I discuss it in terms of playing baseball/softball and having a bat that's too heavy. What do you get told? Choke up on it. Here, to permit you to accelerate the bat faster, you move its center of mass closer to your hands. To move the legs faster, you move the center of mass up towards the muscles driving them - the glutes. The walkers get the lesson with bending arms moving the C of M closer to the shoulder. The mechanics are all the same. Nice job in picking that up. (I always struggled with why speedwork works, then in a race I was suddenly fast - it changes your mechanics.

D said...

That book sounds great.

I swear I learn something new everytime I visit your site ~ whether it is from your posts or comments on your site!

Zeke said...

Glad you got the book Mike. I'm sure you'll enjoy it, learn lots and be more inspired as you keep reading.

Zeke said...

Mike, I was thinking more about your post during my run this morning. You know, I could have written that whole paragraph on talking with a training partner about breaking 3 and wondering what it'd be like to run 100 mpw. I still tell one of my college teammates that there's no reason we shouldn't be running sub-2:50, or better yet sub-2:45.

I just want to say how much I enjoy and appreciate your blog. There are a lot of great blogs out there for various reasons, but it's rare that you find someone in a similar situation doing exactly what you want to do. So that's for sharing your experiences. My goal for the weekend is to go back through all your posts and copy all your key points into a word document.

Not that you need this anymore but here's sub-35 by 35.

Zeke said...

That should read "thanks for sharing" not "that's for sharing".