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.