Monday, December 24, 2012

December 17-23 in Review and Barefoot Running and Running Economy

December 17-23 in Review and Barefoot Running and Running Economy

Monday: 5 hours telemark skiing, ~45,000'

Tuesday: 6 hours telemark skiiing, ~55,000'

Wednesday: X-country skiing in the flats of the valley. 1:42, 500' gain, 9 miles.

Thursday: 5 hours telemark skiing, ~50,000'

Friday: 7 hours standing and walking. Night fartleks on the Winter Park hill course. Worked on both short and longer intervals during the run, mostly on all of the hills really pushed as well as some shorter sprints on a couple flats. 1:04, 1,000' gain, 8 miles.

Saturday: 7 hours standing and walking. Cross training at the gym. Mostly high reps, cross-fit stuff, stretches, etc.

Sunday: 7 hours standing and walking. Night hill run on the WP hill course. :54, 1,000' gain, 8 miles.

Trying to keep a good base for when spring rolls around, but right now simply getting in lots and lots of vert skiing. Really works the legs, requires some good endurance, and is a nice break from the pounding of running. I think I will be much better off then last spring, when I didn't start running until April 1. I have a couple FKT's that I want to do this summer, as well as continue to dabble in racing, and keeping a base over the winter will really help when I start to ramp up the miles, unlike last spring when I took a crash course in racing and running.

I've posted several times on new articles on barefoot running (on forefoot striking and lumbar spine range of motion; on barefoot running and ground forces; on barefoot running and lower extremity movement; and a meta analysis on barefoot running). Well, now another study has been published on barefoot running and running economy. Based on this single experiment with fifteen runners over four weeks, barefoot running or running with a forefoot striking patterns is better for running economy then classical heel striking. The difference is significant, but the study fails to examine the longer-term effects, as well as whether the four week period is long enough to really change running economy over an athletes career. Still, another study that emphasizes the benefits of forefoot striking compared to heel striking in terms of running economy, ground forces, lumbar spine range of motion, among other things.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 10-16 in Review and Strength and Endurance Training for Running Economy

December 10-16 in Review and Strength and Endurance Training for Running Economy

Monday: Cross-country off of St. Louis to Kings Creek to Leland and back. Everything is now fairly good to go, so the cross-country tracks are starting to get packed. 9 miles, ~1,000' gain, 1:20

Tuesday: 5 hours of telemark skiing, ~25,000'

Wednesday: Cross-country at night. Broke trail for around 4 miles, which was a lot of work on the skis I have. Unless the track is packed, they seem to be a bit short. Still fun at night. 8 miles, ~500' gain, 1:32

Thursday: 5 hours of telemark skiing, ~30,000'

Friday: Cross-training in the gym. Doing one day a week of cross-training, stretching, and core strength stuff. Pretty mellow, but the active stretching and strength training seems to be good.

Saturday: Fartlek training in the dark. 8.5 miles, 500' gain, 1:13. Mostly did 2 minute intervals.

Sunday: WP Hills. A new run from home that incorporates all of the hills in town. 7 miles, 900' gain, :54 minutes. Tired and my calves were burning. Running on packed snow works the calves quite a bit - hope it pays off come spring/summer.

A new article has come out that advocates for a combination of strength and endurance training in improving one's running economy. The study examined master marathon runners, and found that those who incorporated concurrent strength and endurance training significantly improved their running economy. The authors hypothesize that this may be because the rate of force development (speed at which force can be produced) may be crucial for running economy improvement, which is one of the major determinants of endurance performance. So a combination of strength and endurance training seems to be better then just endurance training alone, at least at the marathon length.
 Breaking trail at night...
Byers Peak looking good

Monday, December 10, 2012

Week Of December 3-9

Week of Dec. 3-9

Monday: 5 hours of telemark skiing, ~25,000'.

Tuesday: Same thing, 5 hours of telemark skiing, ~25,000'.

Wednesday: Ran the Rocky Point Loop. Tried to get out and do one more "adventure" run since the snow has been lacking. This is a fun, 11 mile loop off of Crooked Creek. The gate is closed, so you have to park at the winter gate. The entire run was on snow, so it took a bit longer, but still a nice, seldom done run. 1:49, 11 miles, 1,300' gain.

Thursday: More telemark skiing, ~25,000'.

Friday: 7 hours standing and walking. Did some cross-training in the gym, as a major storm hit and dumped around 9 inches.

Saturday: 7 hours standing and walking. Still dumping snow, so did the 15x15 run in the gym. After warming up for 15 minutes, did the 15x15 test and got 1.05 miles. Hard today, but still about the same as earlier this fall. After 15 minutes at 9:00 minute pace, did another 15x15 and only got to 1.02. Tired.

Sunday: 7 hours standing and walking. Did a nice cross-country workout in the new snow. 8 miles, 1:11, 900' gain. Went up the Leland road to Kings Creek, then back down. Then went up St. Louis for a bit. Skiing at night is pretty fun, but it is really dark and quiet in the valley, and there are some extra dark spots that have a different energy to them. I tend to ski really fast through these spots.

 The Rocky Point Loop trail with plenty of snow on it.
Looking down Crooked Creek to the Divide.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Week in Review and How Aerobic Exercise helps with Muscle Strength Over the Life Span

Week in Review and How Aerobic Exercise helps with Muscle Strength Over the Life Span

Monday: 5 hours telemark skiing. Nothing special, just laps.

Tuesday: Longish run - 2:09, 14 miles, 1,000' gain. Up Northwest and then Crooked Creek for an out-and-back. It's hard to put together long loops right now in the valley, so out-and-backs on dirt roads.

Wednesday: 5 hours telemark skiing.

Thursday: 5 hours telemark skiing. Quads are tired, but with each day averaging around 30,000' it's great for building mellow endurance in the legs.

Friday: Off - 7 hours standing and walking.

Saturday: 7 hours standing and walking. Intervals workout on the waterboard road. Lately I've been doing my fartlek run on the St. Louis road, but switched it up to the waterboard road. It has a few more rolling hills, as well as changes up the night time visuals (or lack thereof). 5x:30 and 10:1:00-1:30 for a total of 8 miles in 1:02.

Sunday: 7 hours standing and walking. Run up the Corona Road. Really dark tonight as a storm was rolling in, no ambient light at all. Had to use the headlamp for the entire run, which is a first. 7 miles, :45, 500' gain.

Basic routine for now, as most of the fun adventurous runs are shut down for the winter and the cross-country is not happening until we get some snow.

A new article was published looking at whether aerobic exercise helps with muscle mass and strength as one ages. As one ages there is a progressive decline in muscle strength, muscle mass, and aerobic capacity, which in turn reduces mobility and impairs quality of life. The authors of this study wanted to know if aerobic exercise helps attenuate this decline in muscle mass and strength, or if it only helps with aerobic capacity. Turns out that "chronic" or regular aerobic exercise does help with muscle mass and strength during aging, which is good news for runners as it means that running not only helps with aerobic capacity, but also muscle strength and mass during aging.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Fun rainbow box in the park right now...
Most people didn't hear, but Governor Hickenlooper proclaimed November 26 as Telemark Ski Day in Colorado. I wrote up a short piece on it for Free Heel Granola. The Governor invited the US Telemark team to attend the announcement. I think it is pretty cool - pays tribute to the roots of winter sports and how much they mean to Colorado's economy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week in Review, Running Helps Sleep, and More on Altitude Training

Week in Review, Running Helps Sleep, and More on Altitude Training

Monday: 2 hours cross-country. Skied up Elk Creek and then along the water board road. Snow was thin, but manageable. Nice day of cross-training.

Tuesday: Telemark skiing at the resort. Nothing is open, so mostly just doing laps, practicing switch and playing in the park.

Wednesday: Longish run - 2:17, 1,300' gain, 15 miles. Givelo/Creekside/Fools Creek/Creekside/Northwest/back. Felt great all the way until about 1:45, then started to get tired and my pace slowed. First longish run in some time.

Thursday: More tele skiing at the resort.

Friday: Off - 6 hours walking and standing.

Saturday: 6 hours walking and standing. Interval/fartlek workout at night. 5x:30, 12x1:00-1:30. Really starting to enjoy these speed workouts. I run them at night, which makes them pretty fun. 8 miles, :58 minutes.

Sunday: 6 hours walking and standing. Mellow run with ~8 miles, 1,200' gain, :56 minutes.

A fun week, with some good cross-training mixed in. There is no snow, so it has been hard to mix in the cross-country, but on the other hand, running has still been good. However, the trails still have snow, especially the higher ones, so it has been a challenge to run anything that is longer then 5ish miles (without making it an out-and-back). We really need snow, as the drought conditions continue to get worse. However, the sunsets continue to be spectacular every night (see below).

Two new studies have been published. The first is some good news about running in general, and specifically running in adolescents. The study looked at whether daily running in the morning helps adolescents and their sleep patterns. Turns out it does. In the group of kids that did daily running, within 3 weeks the authors found that slow-wave sleep increased while sleep onset latency decreased. Slow-wave sleep is critical in the developing brain, as this is the time when the body recovers from the days activities, but also when short-term memories are consolidated into long-term memories. That is, the actual final process in learning takes place during slow-wave sleep. So in young kids, fostering components that help with slow-wave sleep helps them learn, as everything they "learned" during the day must be consolidated from the day's short-term memory into the longer-term memory.

The other study looked at the benefits of altitude training. Although there have been many studies on this, and the science on altitude training is still out, there are some results that point to its benefits if done correctly. The most recent study looked at whether a pre-season altitude camp would improve time-trial performance and haemoglobin mass in elite athletes. After 19 days, the authors found that most players gained benefits, and that after four weeks of returning to a lower altitude, benefits still persisted.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend And Night Running

Weekend and Night Running

Friday: Off - 6 hours walking and standing

Saturday: 6 hours walking and standing. Interval workout at night. Started my first speed training this week. Since there is no track in the valley, I basically did fartleks on the St. Louis road in the dark. Started with a 10 minute warmup, then 4 x :30 seconds sprint, 10 x 1:00-1:30 sprints, then 3 mile cool down. Total of around 8 miles in 56:29. I wanted to do 4x30, 4x1:00, and 4x2:00 but since it was dark out I couldn't really time myself so I went on perceived time, which ended up being more between 1:00 and 1:30 with a couple near 2:00. Really enjoyed the workout, and plan on doing a speed workout once a week since I obviously need it. Ran the entire thing in stealth mode, except for the last 3 mile cool down which was on the Northwest trail.

Sunday: 6 hours walking and standing. Another night run, this time up Zoom, then along the waterboard road to Elk Creek and back down. ~8.5 miles, 1,400' gain, 58:16. Lots of snow on Zoom, with no tracks, so it was a fun slog run up. Once on the waterboard road, the running was smoother, but everything is snow covered, which slowed things down some. Felt surprisingly good after 3 days of standing and walking and last nights workout. Trying to figure out a good long run for this winter, which will be hard because of the snow...

Really enjoy running at night. An entirely different experience, which lots more "mystery" in the run. I wear a Tikka headlamp, but try and run as much in stealth mode as possible for skills development.
 Just a bit of light at the start of the run, enough for stealth mode.
Only a sliver of a moon for light by the end - it gets real dark out in the valley at night!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Floaty 180s

Floaty 180s

I love doing big floaty 180s in the Park. Right now there is a fun one over a spine/rail that you can tap when landing switch. I need to up the photo quality on my camera, however, as the resolution is not very good. The cross-country has helped me find my tele edges and has allowed me to feel pretty comfortable so far this season. Night running training starts this weekend - should be fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Running

Winter Running

The winter season is in full swing here in the valley. Both Winter Park and Fraser have their holiday lights up, snow is on the ground, and the resort opened today. Depending on how much snow we get, it will be interesting to see how well I am able to keep up the running over the winter. The plan, as mentioned prior, is to get in as much telemark and cross-country skiing as possible to keep up a solid fitness. However, I plan on running still a couple times a week. I did the standard 8 mile Creekside/Fools/Flume loop the other day, which normally takes me between :54 and 1:08 (:54 is my PR, :58 is my average, and 1:08 is my slowest), and it took me 1:08 to complete. With anywhere from 3" to 10" of snow on the trail, my time was significantly slowed despite feeling really good. However, snow running does require more work, and also works the legs slightly differently (almost like running on the beach, with more calf muscle use), so a slower time is expected. Either way, it will be interesting to see what I can pull together. Today we skied around 20,000' at the resort. 20,000' of lunges gets a nice burn in the quads going, that is for sure.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The History of Telemark Skiing in North America - Old Photos Of Ski-Runners

The History of Telemark Skiing In North America - Old Photos of Ski-Runners

I wrote up a small article on the history of telemark skiing in North America based on Vivian Caulfeild's 1914 book “How to Ski and How Not To" for the webzine Free Heel Granola. The book is the third book to be published in English on skiing. The other two that were published slightly earlier also contain a bunch of old cool photos, which I have extracted and published below. Telemark skiing has come a long, long way since these early pioneers. However, what I like about these old photos is that just like running, although the technology has radically changed over the last 100 years, the technique and style are still pretty much the same. Also, I really like that early on skiing, and specifically telemark skiing was referred to as "ski-running" and a skier was a "ski-runner." You see, 100 years ago skiing was not just about going downhill. It was about “running” across hills, climbing snow-covered mountains, exploring powder filled valleys, and enjoying peaceful winter days in the woods. The downhill aspect of our sport was only one component; the uphill was just as important. A good skier was a “runner” who could handle the most difficult terrain and snow conditions, both on the downhill as well as the uphill. In the spirit of these early ski-runners, I went out this morning and skied 8 miles, 1,200' gain in 1:15. Still plenty of rocks out, but stuff is slowly getting covered - let the ski-running season begin!

E.C. Richardson's "Ski-Running" (1905) 

W.R. Rickmer's "Ski-ing for Beginners and Mountaineers" (1910)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter Has Hit - Cross-Country Skiing

Winter Has Hit - Cross-Country Skiing

Well, this last storm really finally delivered the goods. Everything got pretty covered, with between 8" and 12" on all the trails. We decided to go out and try some cross-country skiing in the new snow. The plan this winter is to try and do a lot of cross-country skiing to keep up the endurance fitness. If one can sustain a good kick-and-glide over a distance, that should help keep a solid endurance fitness level over the winter that will transition nicely back into running. Similarly, it is a good form of cross-training which will be nice. Went up on the Deadhorse climb and skied 7 miles with 1,200' gain. Pretty fun to be out in the woods getting a nice, low impact cardio workout when it is 13 degrees out and dumping.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week Summary and Energy Drinks

Week Summary and Energy Drinks

Monday and Tuesday: here.

Wednesday: Creekside/Fools/Flume - 7.5 miles, ~500', 1:08 - Still recovering. Amazing how slow this recovery is. The race day effort really got to me, which is good. Shows I tried.

Thursday: Elk/D2/WTB/D4/D2/Elk - ~9.5, 1,500', 1:21 - Feeling better. Ran some familiar trails, found two more "secret" trails. Not sure where they go.

Friday: Off, 6 hours standing and walking.

Saturday: 6 hours standing and walking. Treadmill 15/15 challenge. After work, it was dark and snowing, so I decided to try another 15/15 challenge. My legs were not feeling it, but it was still fun. 15 minutes at 15 incline - got 1.2 miles again. Didn't have the motivation to try a second time.

Still slowly recovering from Sunday's race. The more I reflect on my performance, the happier I am. I think averaging 7:45 pace over 10.4 miles with some hills is fairly good, especially since I don't train speed. However, the effort has made my recovery a bit longer then normal.

A new study was just published on energy drinks. The study is kinda interesting, in that the authors looked at whether energy drinks (red bull, Monster, etc.) contained any active components other then caffeine that might boost performance (both cognitive and physical). After conducting a literature search and doing a meta-analysis, the authors found that no, energy drinks do not contain any active components (taurine, guaraná, ginseng, glucuronolactone, B-vitamins, etc.) in amounts that enhance mental or physical performance. The only ingredient that boosts performance - with some scientific evidence - found in energy drinks is caffeine. Personally, I like to get my caffeine from coffee or tea, without the added sugar found in energy drinks. If I want sugar, such as on long runs, I prefer Sprite or some other lemon lime soda.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Skiing At Eldorado Springs

Skiing At Eldorado Springs

I'm excited to be writing for a new publication - Free Heel Granola - on the many exciting aspects of telemark skiing. Most of my writing has been in the field of academics, and I am excited to try my hand at writing about the sports I do on a daily basis. I love telemark skiing, and find it a perfect compliment to mountain running in the winter. Now, on to the title of this post. I ran across an old booklet on the Rocky Mountain Ski Club of Denver published in 1920 that has information on a ski hill at Eldorado Springs. I grew up in Boulder and know about the ski cut at Chautauqua, but didn't know there was also one at Eldo. Looking at the picture, I can't place it. I assume it is somewhere up the old Mesa Trail/Shadow Canyon trail. If anyone knows, I would love to find out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Recovery and Interval Training

Recovery and Interval Training

Slow recovery from Sunday's race. Since I don't do much speed training/running, the race really made me sore. I have plenty of energy, but my legs don't want to do much more then a shuffle.

Monday: Recovery run up Elk Creek. 5 miles, 500' - 45 minutes.

Tuesday: More recover running around on animal trails off of D2. ~6 miles, 1,000' - 1:08.

Sunday's race showed me that I need to do some speed work. Interestingly, a new study was published recently that makes the same argument. Entitled "Running Interval Training and Estimated Plasma Volume Variation" the study looked at whether interval training increased plasma volume in runners. After 7 weeks of training, doing intervals three times per week, those that did do intervals had a significant increase in plasma volume. This increase in plasma volume the authors believe contributed to the observed increase of aerobic fitness (maximal aerobic power and maximal aerobic speed) among those runners who did intervals, versus those that maintained their regular training. So, speed work - interval training - leads to an increase of aerobic fitness. This is well known already in terms of lactate threshold, but here is more evidence (in terms of increased plasma volume) in support of adding interval training to your running. After Sunday's race, I clearly need to do this. I just need to figure out a fun way to do so - perhaps fartleks of some kind? There is no track up here in the valley, and I don't think I could get myself to consistently do workouts if there was. However, there are plenty of miles of trails, so adding in a once a week fartlek training (instead of just hills), may be beneficial.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bear Creek 10 Spot

Bear Creek 10 Spot

Fast! That about sums up the Bear Creek 10 Spot race. Yesterday was the 4th annual race, and boy was it fast. Held right outside of Morrison, the race is 10.4 miles (two laps) on a fairly flat course of trails and dirt roads. I've never run a race this short, nor this flat, but with the goal of getting more race experience, I figured it would be a fun time. Now, I don't do much, if any, speed work. I try and push myself on certain loops up in the valley, but otherwise, I train for longer events. So, when the gun went off, I knew right away that I had no chance of placing anywhere in the top 20. The lead group took off at a full on sprint, and the guy that won ran an average of 6:02 pace! Pretty darn fast. After the first couple hundred yards, I was in 29th place, and I kept that place almost until the end, where I finished in 1:20:27 good for 32 overall (out of 116). My average pace was 7:45, which may be the fastest I've ever run at that distance.

A couple of interesting observations. One, within literally a few hundred yards my overall place in the race was decided. I never passed anyone, and no one passed me. I find it very interesting that my overall place was already decided from the beginning. Of course, if I had crashed and burned, I would have dropped back, but again, this shows to me just how important the start is. I've also noticed this in the ultras that I ran, in that I was basically in the place I finished right from the start.

Also, the race was impacting. By that I mean both Tara and I noticed that after the race it felt like we had run on pavement, not trails. The trails at Bear Creek are fairly hard, Front Range compacted mud/dirt. The surface may have played a part, but also the speed at which I ran also made the race impacting. As I said, I don't do speed, and running all out for 10 miles really hard puts a big impact on one's knees, feet, etc.

All in all, a great race. It is fun to run these faster races with the speedsters of the Front Range, simply because you get to toe the line with some really fast people, but also because it really pushes you as a runner. Obviously, I'll never place good at these races unless I spend some time training speed, but I still think I learned so many lessons - lessons that I am still processing - that when it comes to the longer races next summer, I'll be much better at them. If you are looking for a fast 10 mile trail race to do in the fall, and you want to see how you will stack up with some of the faster runners in the Denver area, I definitely recommend this race.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dehydration And Endurance Performance

Dehydration and Endurance Performance

Dehydration is a constant concern among endurance athletes, and runners are no exception. A lot has been written and discussed about how much water must one drink to prevent dehydration, and after numerous scientific studies and Dr. Noak's recent book Waterlogged, there still seems to be no clear-cut answer. However, some consensus does seem to be forming, as a new study backs up Dr. Noak's general conclusion - drink to thirst. As the authors conclude: During exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, in which fluid is readily available, drinking according to the dictates of thirst maximizes endurance performance. In athletes whose thirst sensation is untrustworthy or when external factors such as psychological stress or repeated food intake may blunt thirst sensation, it is recommended to program fluid intake to maintain exercise-induced body weight loss around 2% to 3%.

So, as in many things with running, listening to one's body and the messages it is telling you are essential. Learning just how much water you need - and not another runner - is key. Now if I could just pin down my calorie intake for the longer races, I might be set. That is proving to be much harder then my fluids.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Week In Review - More Barefoot Running Analysis And Socks And Blisters

Week in Review - More Barefoot Running Analysis and Socks and Blisters

Tuesday: 8 miles, 1,000' gain - 54:33 Went fast today, felt good. For the Creekside/Flume with a tag of Fools Creek this is my new PR for the loop.

Wednesday: 9 miles, 1,700' gain - Deadhorse again. Took me 1:21 today. Some snow still on the north side.

Thursday: 8 miles, 1,000' gain - 1:03 Slow today; tired. Amazing how much slower on this loop from just Tuesday's PR.

Friday: Off - 6 hours standing and walking.

Saturday: Off - 6 hours standing and walking.

Sunday: The race got moved to next weekend because the trails were muddy. I know, trail races are supposed to be muddy. However, according to the RD, in 2009 someone complained to Jefferson Parks after the race about the trail conditions, and now Jefferson Parks will not allow any races when trails are not "perfect." Oh well, another week of taper. Went skiing instead. 27,000' of descent. First day back on the tele's. Quads, stomach, and shoulders are worked!

Monday: 8 miles, 1,000' gain - 58:55 Faster then Thursday, but slower then Tuesday. Amazing to keep track of how one's time fluctuates, especially since my phenomenological experiences on the loop were relatively the same each time, although today did not feel too bad and I know on Thursday that I was tired and slow.

Two new studies have been published. The first is entitled "Changes in lower extremity movement and power absorption during forefoot striking and barefoot running." Like the other studies involving barefoot running, the authors wanted to look at the effects of barefoot and forefoot striking had on lower extremity movement and power absorption. The authors found that running with a forefoot striking pattern (which occurs in barefoot running or just running with a forefoot strike) resulted in reduced total lower extremity power, hip power and knee power. Furthermore, the authors also found that there was a shift of power absorption from the knee to the ankle. So, rearfoot (or traditional) running results in more power absorption from the knee, while running barefoot or on the forefoot results in more power absorption from the ankle. An interesting side note of this study is that the authors found it is more about the strike pattern and not being barefoot per se - alterations associated with barefoot running patterns are present in a forefoot pattern when wearing shoes.

The second study looked at running sock structure and blisters. It is an interesting idea, in that the particular weave pattern used to make a sock may influence blister formation in runners. The authors found that a plain jersey knitted pattern with two yarns were found to be most suitable for running socks. Great, so what is a plain jersey knitted pattern? Well, jersey knit simply means a single-knit, plain-stitched fabric with a face side that is markedly different from the back side (or, a clear inside and outside), while plain means a basic criss-cross method of weaving cloth. So the best socks to prevent blisters according to this study are ones that employ a simple criss-cross weave, with a face side and a back side. Now, which brands employ this weave? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Update, Foot Strike, Low Back Posture, Comfort, And Fatigue And Vertical Ground Reaction Force

Update, Foot Strike, Low Back Posture, and Comfort, and Fatigue and Vertical Ground Reaction Force

Friday: Off - 6 hours standing and walking.

Saturday: Off - 6 hours standing and walking.

Sunday: 11 miles, 1,400' gain, 1:21. A solid effort on the Creekside-Leland-Zoom-Chainsaw loop. There was still a little snow, but most of the sketchy ice has melted.

Monday: 9 miles, 1,700' gain, 1:21. Deadhorse climb. Funny how I did the exact same time both yesterday and today, but the mileage was different.

Planning on having a mellow week before this weekends race. Hopefully I can make it, as right now I don't have any way of getting to the race.

Two more studies have been published. The first, entitled "Effects of Foot Strike on Low Back Posture, Shock Attenuation, and Comfort in Running" looked at the differences between rearfoot and forefoot strike and biomechanical changes, specifically within terms of barefoot running. The authors wanted to know if the change from a rearfoot to a forefoot strike pattern as a result of switching to barefoot running also had an impact on lumbar spine range of motion. Surprisingly, the authors found that there was a decrease in the range of motion of the lumbar spine when runners switched to a forefoot strike pattern. However, this decrease in the range of motion did not make a difference in the flexion or the extension in which the lumbar spine is positioned, and that the rearfoot strike pattern was perceived to be a more comfortable running pattern. Of course, the study was limited to a single experiment, and over time barefoot running may be perceived as being similarly comfortable once a runner has become accustomed to it. As noted previously, the science on barefoot running is still out, but a rearfoot strike pattern does result in higher ground reaction forces, despite being perceived as being more comfortable. 

Interestingly, the second study conducted a meta-analysis of these ground reaction forces and muscle fatigue in the legs. Entitled "The effects of lower extremity muscle fatigue on the vertical ground reaction force: a meta-analysis" the authors found that over the course of running, the ground reaction force impact peak did not change as muscles became fatigued. Basically, the impact of the foot striking the ground during running did not change - it is the same whether you are tired or not. So, even when you are tired and your feet are dragging during the last stages of a long run or ultra, remember, the impact force is the same, it just feels like it is more. Here again then is a study showing that for the long runs and races, the mind plays almost a more important role then the body. Hopefully I can remember that next time I get tired and want to just walk - everything is really the same as when I started the run, I just think it is harder.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Update, More On Barefoot Running, And Common Leg Injuries

Update, More on Barefoot Running, and Common Leg Injuries

Tuesday: Another lap on the Elk Creek, D2, Zoom loop. Same time as last time, 1:08 for 12K and 1,400'

Wednesday: 15K up Creekside, Leland, Fools Creek and back down Flume. 1:21 - lots of snow and ice on the trail from the storm the previous night. A little tricky running on the ice, but fun, cold, and quiet.

Thursday: 12K up Zoom and then along the secret trail. Followed it for a ways, then dropped onto an old road and took that back to Leland, then down Sunken. The beginning of the secret trail is hard to find as they logged the first 200 feet or so, but the rest of the trail is solid and fun. Ran past Jack's Zig Zag and some other cool trail features. 1:11 at a casual pace.

Some new studies were just published. Both are meta studies, and don't really offer any new data or conclusions. The first looked for evidence of a forefoot strike pattern among barefoot runners. After a meta search they found that there is just not enough scientific evidence on barefoot running at this point to make any conclusions. However, they did find that there are data lending support to the argument that runners should use a forefoot strike pattern in lieu of a heel strike pattern to reduce ground reaction forces, ground contact time, and step length.

The second study looked at common running injuries in the legs of long-distance runners (anything over 3,000m).  They found that leg pain due to bone, musculotendinous, and vascular causes are common among long-distance runners, and that tibial stress fractures and medial tibial stress syndrome can sometimes be prevented and/or treated by correcting biomechanical abnormalities. On the other hand, exertional compartment syndrome and popliteal artery entrapment syndrome are caused by anatomic abnormalities and are much more difficult to treat without surgical correction.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eleven Miler And Dietary Nitrate Supplementation

Eleven Miler and Dietary Nitrate Supplementation

Ran a nice eleven miler this morning. Creekside to Leland to Zoom to Chainsaw to Creekside. It's great to have all of these trails back open, and it really adds some nice variety and switches up the hills. It took me 1:21:17 today to crank out the eleven miles (~1,400' gain). Felt pretty good, but a bit slow/heavy from yesterday's effort.

An interesting study has been published looking at the impact of dietary nitrate supplementation via beetroot juice on exercising muscle vascular control. As noted in a previous study, consumption of beetroot juice had a significant beneficial impact on running velocity, as well as in perceived exertion. In this study, the authors were interested in finding out if nitrate supplementation had a similar beneficial impact on exercising muscle vascular control. Based on their results, nitrate supplementation improves vascular control and elevates skeletal muscle O2 delivery during exercise, predominantly in fast-twitch type II muscles. So as with the previous study, nitrate supplementation (via beetroot juice) can not only help running velocity, but also oxygen delivery and vascular control to your muscles. More scientific evidence supporting the idea that athletes need to consume lots of veggies (and not just carbs and proteins) in order to ensure that they are getting enough natural nitrates in their diet.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week Update And The Effects Of Running On Mechanics And Muscles

Week Update and the Effects of Running on Mechanics and Muscles

Wednesday: Regular 15K loop in 1:19 with 1,600' of climbing. OK time, but really had no desire to push anywhere.

Thursday: Deadhorse Climb 15K - The usual out-and-back on the Deadhorse climb. 1,700' of climbing in 1:21. Felt good, but still off from the last race. Unmotivated.

Friday: Off - standing and walking for 6 hours.

Saturday: Off - standing and walking for 6 hours.

Sunday: 12K loop - Elk Creek, D2, Waterboard, Zoom. First time back on this loop since the spring. It has been closed for some time for logging, and only opened up last week. Last time I ran the loop it took me 1:23. Today I did the loop in 1:08:09. A nice improvement over the summer. With 1,400' of climbing, this is a nice fast loop.

The trail season seems to be coming to a close. The high stuff has gotten snow now a couple times, and there are no ultras or races that I can seem to find going into November and December (that I can get to). Perhaps that is for the best, as the ski season arrives and the mind turns to powder and jumps. However, I did sign up for the Bear Creek 10-Spot trail race in Lakewood at the end of the month. It was one of the only trail races I could find. I wanted to do another marathon - partly just to add to my Marathon Maniacs profile - but there don't seem to be any trail ones (only road). So, in order to prep for the 10 mile race at the end of the month, I've been focusing on more "speed" based runs. It's taken me a little bit to get back into it from the previous race, but I have a week now before tapering to try and push hard. I'm sure the 10-Spot will be super fast and I won't have a chance, but part of the goal with all races this first season was to just learn how to race. Running one that is really fast may not be up my alley, but it will give me more experience for next year. As I've learned over my very short racing career, having experience racing is a huge advantage. I can only imagine if I had run and raced during high school and college how I would be now.
Two new studies have just been published that add to our growing body of scientific knowledge on running. Both also verify my running experiences and common sense. The first looked at running mechanics after a 5 hour hilly run. The authors found, and what I have experienced, is that after running for five hours you get tired. Specifically, it becomes more and more difficult to lift your legs vertically and your stride length shortens. Basically you go from running to shuffling. Now, the authors did not look at how the intake of calories would have impacted their results (one would guess that they would not have found as significant results), but as most ultra runners could attest, the longer you run the more tired you get and the worse your running mechanics become. The second study looked at running speed and resulting muscle damage, primarily around the knee, although they also took other measurements. Again, as common sense and experience informs one, the faster your run, the greater the muscle damage. I've noticed this personally. After running an ultra, I'm dead tired, but don't seem to have much muscle damage to recover from. However, after running a really fast half marathon, I'm not as physically exhausted but my legs seem to be more sore. I think part of this also comes from the differences in running mechanics, in that during a fast half marathon my hamstrings and hip flexors are what get tired, presumably from a faster running kick, while during an ultra I never run nearly as fast and don't accrue as much speed-specific muscle damage. I've really noticed this over the past two weeks as I've tried to up my speed and not focus as much on the long distance. Over the winter I plan on continuing to work primarily on speed, which I will then shift to speed/endurance come spring and then all to endurance for the summer. In climbing the best training is to work on power over the winter, and then to transfer to power/endurance come spring, with a final transition to endurance for the summer. This prevents burnout, but also power seems to transfer better to endurance, while endurance does not really help power. So, I'm applying the same principles - hopefully speed transfers better to endurance then endurance does to speed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Deadhorse Hill Climb And Brooks Adrenaline ASR 9

Deadhorse Hill Climb and Brooks Adrenaline ASR 9

The forest service has opened up a couple trails (Creekside, Spruce, Deadhorse) after closing them for a month to allow for logging and fire mitigation. Prior to the closure I was running Deadhorse a bunch because it is a nice hill climb, with ~1,700' of gain in 4.75 miles, and so I was eager to get back and run it again after some time away. My usual time for this 9.5 mile route is 1:18-1:20, and today I pulled in at 1:17:44, which is a tad bit better then before. I was surprised as my legs felt heavy from Sunday's race, but I reached the top in 44:23, which was right on my average. Glad to get back on these trails before the snow hits!

I was also wearing my new Brooks Adrenaline ASR 9 trail shoe. This is my second pair, as I got my first pair back in mid-June. When I first got these shoes, I was really somewhat hesitant that they would hold up as most of the upper is a very light, see-through, breathable mesh with minimal supporting material on the toe or sides. Designated a trail shoe, beyond the tread it looks more like a road shoe. Either way, after 2 trail ultras, 1 mountain marathon, 2 trail half marathons, and a ton of mountain runs over all kinds of terrain the shoes really held up well. Because they have minimal supporting material on the tops and sides, they do widen out a bit in the toe box, which I had to let my feet get used to as my prior shoe was an adidas supernova riot trail shoe with a much more beefy upper. However, the tread held up well and so did the mesh - I only developed one hole on each shoe right where the pinky toe sits. I'm really happy with these shoes - light, very breathable, low heel profile, well draining, and most importantly, durable.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Snow Mountain Trail Half Marathon

Snow Mountain Trail Half Marathon

At the last minute today I signed up for the Snow Mountain trail half marathon. The race is part of the Colorado Endurance Race series, which hosted seven trail half marathons around the state. Earlier I had run the XTERRA Snow Mountain 20K, in which I placed 6th. I figured that this might be the same course and so I might have a chance to improve my time since I would know all of the hills. However, this time the course was totally different, involving two laps on a rolling course that had about ~1,400' total gain over the 13.1 miles. There was also a 10K at the same time, so when the gun went off I was out with the lead 10Kers. The course was great, with some grass running, rolling hills, single track, and a few sections of dirt road. After the initial mile or so I was in 5th and stayed in that position until the second lap, at which point I ended up in 3rd (as two of the runners were in the 10K race). From here, I could see the two other people in front of me, and tried to stay just behind them until closer to the end. This plan worked, as on the final climb before the descent and then the final crossing of Pole Creek to the finish I kicked it a bit harder and passed the guy in 2nd. Then I really let it fly, and as I was coming down the hill people were telling me to not let up as he was right behind me. I kept my pace, but on the final ~100' climb to the finish line I almost lost it as I tried to really put in a final push. Turns out the guy had dropped off and came in about a minute behind me. I finished in 1:37:05 which was good for second place overall (out of 175 people according to the RD). This could be a fluke, or I could finally be getting the hang of racing. My adrenaline was still high, but not nearly as bad as previous races. Either way, a super fun race on beautiful trails - and the big bull moose on the course sure gave a few people a good scare! I would recommend this race, and according to the RD there will also be one in Winter Park next year, which could be really cool (and hard).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Treadmill Uphill Challenge

Treadmill Uphill Challenge

A couple months ago iRunFar posted a video (see below) of the 2012 Uphill Challenge. The "challenge" is to run as far as possible on a treadmill in 15 minutes with a 15 incline. I've never run on treadmills before, but I remember thinking this might be a nice winter training activity since there are some days when you just cannot run outside here in the valley (when it is -10 below, I call it quits). So, today I figured would be a good day to try this challenge out and establish a baseline that I can work with during the winter. After warming up for a few minutes, I did two challenges: the first time I only got 1.03 miles in 15 minutes at a 15 incline; on the second challenge I did a bit better and got 1.27 miles in 15/15. As you can see, Max King banged out 1.64 miles in 15/15! The challenge was much harder then I thought, and I am excited to see how I fair with it over the course of the winter. At least now I have a baseline to try and beat - or just keep over the coming cold, dark months.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is Winter Here And Is Running Good For Postmenopausal Runners

Is Winter Here and Is Running Good For Postmenopausal Runners

Well, running up in the high country might be done for the year. Yesterday I wanted to do the long version of the Pawnee-Buchannon loop, but was shut down by rain/snow/cold/wind. The long version of this classic loop starts from the west side of the Divide at Monarch Lake and adds on ~7 miles and 1,500' of gain. Although the clouds looked foreboding,  I still thought I might have a chance and went for it. I was on a good pace, but decided not to chance it once I got soaked and frozen. Still, I ended up having an enjoyable day in the mountains, putting in 24 miles in 4:32 with around 6,000' of gain. Almost time to focus on skiing and shorter runs.

On another note, I ran across a new study that looked at changes in systolic function (the pumping of the heart) and diastolic function (the ability of the ventricles to relax and work properly) in postmenopausal marathon runners. Although they found significant changes in postmenopausal women before and after the marathon, there was an improvement of the systolic function (pumping of the heart) and no long lasting detrimental effects on the diastolic function (the ventricles). So, looks like running marathons is good for the heart no matter the age! Keep on trucking!
You can't tell because my camera doesn't zoom anymore, but there are 5 moose and 1 bald eagle in this photo!
Around the next bend, I ran into two more moose!

Getting wet - the camera had fogged up at this point.
Going up there...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hurd Peak And Strawberry Trails

Hurd Peak and Strawberry Trails

Been running around on the Hurd Peak and Strawberry trails near Tabernash. The Hurd Peak trails are a network of mountain bike trails that run up and down Hurd Peak between 8,700' and 10,000'. I've been able to find about 6 trails that you can link up for a solid 15K of running with around 1,300' of gain. However, there are more, as the other day I found a new trail that just kept going and going. I'll have to go back and see where it goes, but I think it eventually drops you out near Lake Granby.

Today I ran a great 21K on the Strawberry trails. Here again are a network of trails that go through Strawberry Park and allow you to connect via single track to either Lake Granby (via Doe Creek trail), or Meadow Creek Reservoir (via Caribou or Highlonesome Trails). You can also do a nice lollipop loop. Since these trails reside a little lower, they are often hot in the summer - but in the fall they are perfect. Below is the elevation profile of the 21K (took me 1:46:52) and some photos of the area. Lots of empty space!

On another note, some more studies have been published. The first study, entitled "the relationship between running economy and biomechanical variables in distance runners" looked at running economy in marathon runners and biomechanical variables. Now, there are a lot of different variables that can influence running economy (vertical oscillation of the center of mass, stride frequency, stride length, balance time, relative stride length, range of elbow motion, internal knee, ankle angles at foot strike, and electromyographic activity of the semitendinosus and rectus femoris muscles), but the overall findings indicate that working on these variables can have a significant increase in running economy. Form is king, that is.

The second study, which nicely ties in to the study on running economy and biomechanical variables looked at footstep manipulation during uphill running. The authors found that by increasing step length by a mere 4.30% when running uphill, it is possible to increase flight time 29.48% and decrease contact time 14%. Pretty significant. So, what is 4.3% increase in step length look like? Well, it is obviously different depending on grade and runner, but some basic math reveals that it is quite small. If an average step length is say 3 feet (36 inches), then a 4.3% increase is only 1.65 inches more. A quarter of a shoe length essentially. That is not hard to do if you keep your focus when running and don't allow yourself to get into some small-step shuffling. Again, working on one's biomechanical form during running, in this case by simply increasing your stride by a mere ~2 inches, you can improve your running economy and potentially have faster race times. It really is the small things I guess.

 Old Settlers Cabin
Strawberry Meadow

Monday, September 17, 2012

Speed Ascent of Stanley Mountain

Speed Ascent of Stanley Mountain

Yesterday, before the snow hit, I did a speed ascent of Stanley Mountain (12,521'). Although not really too challenging, the run allows for one to work on their speed at high altitude with several miles of relatively flat running above 12,000'. Starting at the top of Berthoud Pass, the trail quickly ascends several hundred feet until you are up on top of a large alpine plateau. The far western end is the true summit of Stanley Mountain, while there are three lesser summits in between. Round trip, the run is only 7.5 miles, but starts at 11,300' and stays above 12,000' most of the time. It took me 1:23:37, which is a fairly fast time for the altitude, but obviously not the distance.

Today, with heavy legs I tooled around within the Idlewild trail system for a little over an hour, enjoying the fall colors and the new dusting of snow on the peaks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Running Marathons or Longer Impacts The Body's Immune System

Running Marathons or Longer Impacts the Body's Immune System

A new study has just come out corroborating what many of us may already know. That is, running marathons, ultras, and long distances has a significant impact upon the body's immune response system. In this study, the authors looked at the impacts of running a standard marathon on lymphocyte and neutrophil selected functions. A lymphocyte is one of the two major types of white blood cells in body. The other are neutrophil granulocytes. Together, these cells are the first responders to inflammation, injury, cancer, and other types of immune-related functions in the human body. The authors found that there was a significant decrease in in lymphocyte and neutrophil function post marathon, and that this decrease in function resulted in an impairment in acquired immunity. So basically, after long runs, marathons, or ultras the body is in a state of impaired acquired immunity and more susceptible to infections, colds, and increased inflammation. Therefore, when recovering from such runs, it is important to keep this in mind. Not only do we need to replenish our fuel stores, but we need time to allow our body to recover its acquired immunity prior to stressing it again. How long this takes is still unknown, but with a decrease in some lymphocytes by 50%-80%, it could be mean several days to a week or more.

Ran my standard 15K loop yesterday. Tied my PR of 1:18, which was surprising since I spent 7 hours on my feet previous to running. I had some mountain bikers pass me on the way back, which might have helped me push the pace above what I was feeling like running.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Full Version James Peak

Full Version James Peak

Yesterday I did the "full" version of James Peak. I like doing full versions of peaks (here is one for Byers Peak), starting from the lowest point - usually the valley floor - as opposed to driving up to a high trailhead as is often possible on most peaks. The full version adds miles and vert, plus it feels good to have run a mountain from bottom to top. The full version of James Peak starts in Winter Park at the resort, goes up through Lakota to the waterboard road, hangs a right for a bit to Buck Creek, then up that to Corona. Once on Corona, the route follows the road for about .5 miles to an old closed jeep road that turns into a hidden trail angling straight up to about 10,500' where it re-connects with the Corona road. From there another .5 miles will take you to the Rogers Pass trail, which takes you along the Divide and up the north face of James Peak (13,294'). The full version of James Peak is 16.4 miles roundtrip, with ~4,800' up and another 4,800' down. It took me 3:23 to do the entire run - a decent time coming off a 25K the previous day (in 2:09).
 Looking southeast from the summit
Looking north along the Divide from the summit

Monday, September 10, 2012

Picking Things Up - Hill Climbs

Picking Things Up - Hill Climbs

Feeling good after some rest from last Sunday's race, and while many of the trails in the valley are closed so the Forest Service can do some logging, several good ones are still open.

Saturday: Did my standard 15K run with 1,600' of gain in 1:19, a minute slower then my PR. Legs still felt a bit heavy and I did the run late in the day after a full day of work. Can bring this down, hopefully before the snow hits.

Sunday: Buck Creek to Corona to Secret Trail. Was scouting out a way to do a "Full James" version from Winter Park. Found a way to link up trails to the Rogers Pass trailhead with only about .5 miles of dirt road, so I think I will try this soon. Should be a big day. On this scouting trip just did 7 miles with 1,900' of gain in 1:15.

Monday: Devil's Thumb Pass Climb. Ran Devil's Thumb Pass this morning. Another good climb with 2,500' of gain in about 8 miles. Ran it in 1:34, which is a fairly good time. Might be able to bring it down some more.

A couple of photos from the runs.
 Profile of the Buck Creek to Corona to Secret Trail climb
Profile of the Devil's Thumb climb