Author Topic: Running Primer  (Read 6224 times)

Offline AtADeadRun

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Running Primer
« on: September 07, 2010, 08:32:22 PM »
Pivoting off this thread and some questions asked in PMs/emails about running, I figured I'd put together a primer on running.  I look at running as the most basic of the physical survival skills:  if you can't run away from trouble, you've lost a huge chunk of your options in dealing with it.  It's one of the better, simpler cardiovascular conditioning methods, too.  Do it wrong, though, and you're liable to end up hurt.

So, what's the goal when we run?  It's to get from point A to point B, as fast as possible.  Note that "as fast as possible" is hugely variable, from "cover those fifty yards *right now* or die," which is all-out balls-to-the-wall, to "cover these twenty miles as a training run, knowing you have to be on your feet all day tomorrow," which is a slow jog that just covers distance.  In any case, point A to point B as fast as possible means using all the energy you're expending while running to get from A to B, and not wasting any of it moving in other directions.  We'll come back to that several times before we're done.

What should running look like?  If you said, "One foot in front of the other, dummy!" well, you're right.  But it goes a little further than that.  Proper form is as important in running as it is in any sport, and possibly more so, since it's so easy to get injured in distance running.  Proper form looks something like running at attention, for the military-minded out there:  head should be up, shoulders should be back, spine should be straight.  Hunching over or having the shoulders forward actually restricts the expansion volume of the lungs, which makes it more difficult than it needs to be to get oxygen to the muscles.  The arms should be low to the sides, and relaxed (if they're balled up in fists or otherwise held tightly, it tenses up your entire upper body, which wastes energy and again makes breathing more of a chore).  Ideally, hands should feel like you're putting them in your pockets over and over.  If they're up too high, you're going to be swinging them across your body, and that's wasting energy at right angles to your direction of motion from A to B.  Not good for moving as fast as possible!

When running, each foot should, optimally, strike the ground ~90 times a minute (last time I counted mine, probably a decade ago, I had 88).  This is true no matter how fast or slow you're going while running.  Speed is a function of how long your stride is and how much power you're getting in each push.  If you're "stretching it out" consciously -- as some high-school coaches and drill instructors are known to demand -- and getting significantly less than that ~180 foot strikes per minute, you're asking for injury, for a number of reasons.  One, you're wasting a lot of energy in staying airborne longer.  Look at elite distance runners during a race:  it almost looks like they're on wheels, with vertical movement that can be measured in millimeters.  Two, pushing yourself higher to stay airborne longer to get a longer stride means your body has more time to accelerate from gravity before it touches down again, which puts a great deal more impact force on your legs.  No good.  Three, you're throwing your legs out further than they're currently conditioned to accept, so you put a lot of strain on the muscles and connective tissues.

So, to sum up this part:  head up, arms down, shoulders back, breathing deeply, and keep your feet turning over pretty rapidly, no matter how fast you're going.  Later,  if there's interest, I'll toss up some basic train-to-run-3-miles plans and suggestions for further reading.  Right now, though, it's late and the wife wants me to come to bed.

Offline daveinmichigan

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2010, 07:03:37 AM »
Great idea for a topic. Maybe down the road we can have a TSP 5k. Everyone can pick a day and run/walk/crawl (a bar crawl doesn't count) a 5k and post their own results and experiences.

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2010, 08:15:01 AM »
I'm not racing again unless it's for distance, not speed.  My goal is to be doing 15+ miles a week by this time next year without injury.  I don't care if it's 12 minute miles, I just want to recapture the consistency in my routine that's been thrashed in the past with stress fractures and other problems because I worried too much about speed over enjoyment.

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2010, 10:38:51 AM »
Heh.  I won't race 5k anymore at all.  I just warm up too slowly to make it fun, and I hurt myself pretty badly at the end of the last one I ran.  5 mile/10k are about the bottom of my race bag.  The most fun I ever had in a marathon was the slowest one I ran, not pushing myself like a madman but taking it (relatively) easy, chatting with other runners and hollerin' at the spectators.

That's a pretty cool idea, Dave, though maybe it'd work better just as TSP Race Day, and let everyone pick their own distance (since I have such an allergy to the 5k).

Offline daveinmichigan

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2010, 11:16:32 AM »
We don't have to do it as a race. We could just pick a specific day that we would all be exercising together in our own home towns. For people that are just starting out as runners, this could provide them with motivation (and support) to complete their first 5k distance. Those of us that are runners could encourage the rookies and maybe expand our own passion for running. Just a thought...

As for racing a 5k, that just hurts too much. I much prefer Half Marathons so I can take my time and enjoy the journey.

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2010, 02:23:05 PM »
Sounds like fun.

What might be good as well is a TSP Footmarch.  Say twelve miles with your BOB.  Twelve takes just long enough folks need to start thinking about managing their water intake and getting some calories down their neck but isnt as arduous and time consuming as doing 15-20 miles.  You may develop a new idea of "not too heavy" if you had to hump it that far.  It also may change your idea of adequate padding and straps for the pack and how broke in your footware is.

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2010, 02:35:24 PM »
What might be good as well is a TSP Footmarch.  Say twelve miles with your BOB.  Twelve takes just long enough folks need to start thinking about managing their water intake and getting some calories down their neck but isnt as arduous and time consuming as doing 15-20 miles.  You may develop a new idea of "not too heavy" if you had to hump it that far.  It also may change your idea of adequate padding and straps for the pack and how broke in your footware is.
Amen.  Everytime I look at one of these 50 pound BOBs I just wonder how in the hell they'd hump that pack 30 miles to get home if their car broke down or roads were jammed.

Actually, what would be fun is if we could all have a linked blog to track weekly progress at attaining personal goals.  My goal isn't to beat anyone here; it's to survive and thrive in good times and bad.  Walking four miles a day, running three days a week, getting out on the bike on the weekends; that's a winning combination to improve my endurance, reduce my risk of CVD, and serve as insurance that I can get home no matter how wonky things get.

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2010, 02:48:14 PM »
I've taken to humping my pack for at least half an hour a couple times a week, both as training in case I have to leg it someplace and because I'm looking at joining a VFD, and haven't worn an SCBA or FFA since I got out of the Navy three years ago.

Offline Sarendt

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 04:59:19 AM »
I would be interested in a exercise day as well, being in Afghanistan has given me more time to work out, and I have been making some improvements but any extra motivation is always welcome!

Cheers,
Scott

Offline Cullie

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 09:31:44 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but last spring I started running and the cool air was burning my upper airway.   Now that it's getting cooler again (at least here), is there anything I can do about this?

Offline AtADeadRun

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2010, 12:33:39 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but last spring I started running and the cool air was burning my upper airway.   Now that it's getting cooler again (at least here), is there anything I can do about this?

My mother used to have trouble with asthma in cold weather when biking and running; she ended up getting a lightweight, machine-washable balaclava from a bicycle store and that helped immensely.  I've worn one in extremely cold weather myself, and it works out pretty well both for improving respiration and not freezing my nose off.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2010, 01:11:40 PM »
For anyone interested in a 5k training plan, I started running the Couch to 5k plan a couple weeks ago.  I'm not really going from couch, but the last time I ran was many years ago.  I'm up to week 4 and it's tough to do.  This is time based, not distance, and should probably be called couch to 30 minutes running, but that doesn't flow off the tongue.


Offline Cullie

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2010, 07:06:45 PM »
My mother used to have trouble with asthma in cold weather when biking and running; she ended up getting a lightweight, machine-washable balaclava from a bicycle store and that helped immensely.  I've worn one in extremely cold weather myself, and it works out pretty well both for improving respiration and not freezing my nose off.

Thank you for your response.   I've got asthma and I figured I needed to warm the air first and started by using a scarf and felt like an idiot.   A balaclava may be better, thank you.

Offline daveinmichigan

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2010, 07:45:35 AM »
This may be a stupid question, but last spring I started running and the cool air was burning my upper airway.   Now that it's getting cooler again (at least here), is there anything I can do about this?

I had trouble with that too. I found that over time I started to breathe thru my nose and that helped a lot. I air was warmed before getting to my upper airway. I assume the transition from mouth to nose breathing was a result of my fitness increasing. If you are going hard (5k pace) you will have to breath thru your mouth, but on those cold days (here in Michigan it seems like that is Oct. to April) slow down and try to "smell" the roses.

Offline Cullie

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2010, 06:40:15 PM »
I had trouble with that too. I found that over time I started to breathe thru my nose and that helped a lot. I air was warmed before getting to my upper airway. I assume the transition from mouth to nose breathing was a result of my fitness increasing. If you are going hard (5k pace) you will have to breath thru your mouth, but on those cold days (here in Michigan it seems like that is Oct. to April) slow down and try to "smell" the roses.

daveinmichigan,

I've never been really good at breathing through my nose, its been broken too many times.   I can appreciate the issues with the cold days, Southern Ontario is basically the same as Michigan for running, I think.   I'll try a combination of nose breathing and something like a balaclava.

Thanks

Offline ag2

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Re: Running Primer
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2010, 04:55:47 PM »
Quote
Actually, what would be fun is if we could all have a linked blog to track weekly progress at attaining personal goals.  My goal isn't to beat anyone here; it's to survive and thrive in good times and bad.  Walking four miles a day, running three days a week, getting out on the bike on the weekends; that's a winning combination to improve my endurance, reduce my risk of CVD, and serve as insurance that I can get home no matter how wonky things get.

Endurance,
You might enjoy the Fort Collins downtown half marathon in May every year.  I did it once.  My wife beat me, so I think we have to do it again. :-)  She's the runner though; I'm the fair weather jogger.

Years ago, I wanted to build a get-me-rich-quick website to track, log and chart individuals exercise progress.  As soon as I looked into it, I realized I was late to the party.  (Although I still have not found one as good as the one I envision, but nor do I have the talent to build it, or the brains to market it, so I'm just another yahoo with what I call a "beer idea".  Funny because I don't drink beer.)  Perhaps if someone lurking these forums wants to build one for TSP members with sorta a group viewing capability so we can encourage each other.......