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.

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