29 July 2009

Yoga for Runners

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm now focused on making a return to running in the spring. I'm trying to cover all bases this time and am leaving no stone unturned in order to avoid injury again. So with that in mind I'm now planning at least a month of stretching and strength work before I even lace up my running shoes.

In my last post I outlined a series of stretches and strength exercises that I thought I might do. I've now done a bit more research and decided an actual Yoga routine for runners might be the better way to go in order to get in all the stretches I need to focus on.

I've found a couple of sites so far which offer a range of Yoga poses suitable for runners.

- At the 'Younger Legs for Older Runners' blog there is a great Yoga routine especially for runners, explained by Kelle Taylor. This is the one I'm trying out at the moment.

- At Runners World they have another routine especially for runners. Check it out here. I like a couple of these poses that are not included in the Younger Legs routine which I may also include.

At this stage I will be doing this routine twice a week for the next month.

As far as the strength training is going, I've decided to dust of my weight bench which has been sitting idle in the garage for the last year. I'll detail that routine later.


25 July 2009

Time to stretch and strengthen

In less than six weeks spring will be here and that heralds the start of what I hope will be a come back to running.

I've been maintaining the fitness work over the winter with stationary biking and swimming. Now its time to pick it up a gear and start a more intensive routine of stretching and strengthening to compliment the fitness work and to make sure my body is up to the rigours of running again.

The idea is to try and do each workout at least two times a week. It should take around 30 - 45 minutes. Here's what I've got planned.


Up to 20 reps x two sets each

- Lunge (standing upright, step forward and drop the trailing knee to the floor, rise and bring feet together, repeat on other side)

- Squats (one legged for more difficulty)

- Calf raises

- Toe raise (up to tip toes to strengthen feet muscles)

- Clam (lie on side, bend legs, raise one knee, feet remain together)

- Kick backs ( standing upright and kicking back each leg to work the butt muscles)

- Side plank ( Lie on side, elbow supporting the body, keep body straight, hold for up to a minute the repeat on other side)

- Leg raise (lying on back, keep legs straight and raise them to 90 degrees, slowly)

Stretching / yoga poses

Most of these I got from the Bikram Yoga class I use to attend. I'm still a big fan of Yoga for runners to improve flexibility. While I can not fit a regular Yoga class into my routine at present, hopefully a few key poses a couple times a week will do the trick.

Hold each stretch for up to a minute then repeat the routine. Forgive me for I don't know all the names of these poses so I'm just describing them here;

- Triangle pose - feet apart, arms wide , one foot pointed to side, bend at waist toward that foot, touch toe and stretch to ceiling with other arm.

- Stand with feet two to three feet apart, bend forward , hold heels - Gives a deep hamstring stretch

- Knee to shoulder - lying on back ,hug your left knee to you left shoulder, repeat on the right, then both.

- Airplane - lying on stomach arch the back, lift legs, arms wide.

- Kneeling stretch - kneeling on floor, butt between feet, fall back to stretch quads & improve ankle flexibility.

- Hamstrings stretch - straight leg, head on knee and hold.

- Back twists - sitting on floor, foot to butt, grasp knee with opposite elbow, twist back, look behind.

- Calf stretching

There are some more Yoga poses suited for runner described here. It could be worthwhile including a few of these in the mix also.

Lack of cross training in some of the areas I've mentioned is a common cause of injury due to the muscle imbalances created by running. So why not try to incorporate some of these into your weekly routine if you've been a bit lazy in this area.


17 July 2009

VO2 Max pace chart

Estimated paces for VO2 max training (short speed workouts), lactate threshold(tempo) training and long slow distance training. All paces in minutes /mile.

10K time/ VO2 max pace/ LT pace / LSD pace

40 / 6:00 / 6:50 / 8:30
42 / 6:15 / 7:10 / 8:55
44 / 6:35 / 7:30 / 9:15
46 / 6:50 / 7:50 / 9:40
48 / 7:05 / 8:05 / 10:00
50 / 7:25 / 8:25 / 10:25
52 / 7:40 / 8:45 / 10:50
54 / 7:55 / 9:05 / 11:10


15 July 2009

Increasing your VO2 Max

While I haven't been doing much (okay any) running lately, I haven't let that stop from trying to read as much as I can on the subject in order to improve my knowledge. The hope is that when I do start running again I'm going to be a better runner loaded with all sorts of new found knowledge.

One area in which I haven't paid much attention to previously (ie pre injury) is the various forms of training that one needs to undertake if your goal is to really become a stronger and faster runner, and really improve your race times - and who doesn't want that right?

As a beginner runner all I wanted to do was get outside and run, I wasn't concerned too much with such terms as VO2 max and lactate threshold. If I was able to run at a reasonable pace without too much discomfort for anywhere up to 60 minutes I was happy.

I'm now starting to gain more of an understanding about the physiology of running and how having a greater awareness of your own limitations can help a runner to improve and not risk over training and injury.

I'm learning about things like VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold which sound like a foreign language to most beginners, but really they are basic fundamentals of running that all serious runners should have some knowledge of.

What follows a quick synopsis of what I have learned so far - feel free to skip the rest of the post if you know all this stuff.

VO2 max is the highest rate of oxygen consumption that your your body or muscles can attain during hard exercise. Typically once you have reached you VO2 max your performance or training intensity will begin to plateau as your muscles tire. With regular training at your VO2 max pace a runner can increase their VO2 max and thus will become fitter an faster.

A speed workout. Photo by Frankjuarez

That, as far as I have been able to ascertain, is the theory behind the 'Speed' workout. A weekly workout where one runs short fast repeats of anywhere from 200 to 800 meters with jogging spells of two to three minutes in between.

How fast should these repeats be run though? Well that depends on the individual but it need not be an all out sprint but rather should be at a speed which is appropriate to your current VO2 max. Run faster than your VO2 max pace and you risk injury or over training.

Your VO2 max can be estimated based upon your time for a 10k race. For example a runner who runs a 40 minute 10K it is estimated would reach their VO2 max if they were to run at 5:59 mile pace for 11 minutes.

It is considered that the best way to improve ones VO2 max is to run intervals at your VO2 max pace and therefore this runner should run their intervals at their VO2 max pace of 5:59 miles.

What does this mean for me? Well I've never races a 10K but I have run a 5k in 23 minutes. Assuming I get back to that level of fitness I presume I could have run a 10K in about 48 minutes which gives me a VO2 max pace of 7:07 mile pace.

Now I'm some way off doing any speed workouts but when the time comes now at least I have some knowledge of what the aim of this workout is.

Next time some thoughts on Lactate Threshold training.


07 July 2009

Lisa Tamati in Badwater

New Zealand ultra runner Lisa Tamati lines up at the Badwater Ultra marathon starting in Death Valley this weekend. It will be Lisa's second appearance at the infamous ultra marathon event, notorious for its scorching temperatures.

Photo by OmarOmar

In 2008 Lisa was the 10th placed female covering the 135 mile course in a time of 38:24 (that's 38 hours, 24 minutes!).

Lisa has been training for the last week in the heat and altitude of Arizona and is hoping for a finish under 28 hours this year.

Follow Lisa at her blog here.


01 July 2009

Our new arrival

Our eagerly awaited new arrival joined our family on Monday. Alice Rose was born at around midday weight 2.9kg. She is a beautiful baby.

Mum and baby came home from hospital today. The boys can not get enough of their baby sister, Jack particularly. Any chance to help out and they are there in a second.

Here's a couple of pictures.


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