Monthly Archives: July 2017

Running: Benefits of Shorter Steps

Taking shorter steps while running might sound counter intuitive.  For some people, it might actually be true.  For many others, especially a large percentage of recreational runners, shorter steps are the answer to many running form and injury issues.

Just about anyone who runs knows that ‘heel strike’ isn’t something you want to hear.  It has a really bad reputation that it doesn’t necessarily deserve.  It is, however, often equated with over striding.  Taking steps that are too big almost always results in heel striking while heel striking shorter stepson its own isn’t the horror you might have heard.  Shorter steps have several benefits over ones that are too big and here are four big ones:

Faster turnover:  Taking shorter steps means you’ll take more of them over the same distance.  That might sound like it also means more work, it actually means less.  If each step is shorter, your feet spend less time on the ground and less time on the ground means less time to get injured.  With your feet underneath you, you’ll also have forward momentum on your side and be able to use gravity to help you move along.

Stop stopping:  Landing with your foot out in front of you is the same as putting on the breaks.  shorter stepsReally.  It’s the same thing your dog does when they don’t want to go.  Put their center of gravity behind their feet, throw those paws forward and say ‘nope’.  Keeping your feet underneath you with faster turnover will keep your body moving forward with less effort.

Happy muscles.  When we kick that leg out in front during over striding, our quadriceps are doing the bulk of the work.  That muscle does not want to do that.  Ever tried to walk down stair after a marathon?  Yup.  It’s not fun.  Shorter steps fire up powerhouse glutes and hamstrings for happier running muscles.

Reduce injury risk:  Faster turnover, no braking and happy muscles mean a lower risk of injury.  You’ll get to use the elasticity of your Achilles, foot arch and calf to absorb the impact of each step rather than the bones and joints that hit when you over stride.  Once muscles are doing the work, instead of bones, risk for any number of injuries can decrease.  IT Band issues, knee pain, hip pain, ankle issues and general body soreness can all decline with proper stride length.

The best way to determine if you’re running with an appropriate stride length is to have a professional gait analysis.  A quality running coach will let you know if shorter steps can help you earn better form and faster times.

Coach Meredith

Running Books for Your Reading List

There’s only one thing runners like to do more than run.  That’s talk about running but unfortunately our vocal cords occasionally need a break.  At that time, break out this reading list featuring some of Team ECRP‘s favorite, and most useful, running related books.

Pre (Jordan) – The story of America’s most fabled tracklete, Pre is a biography of Steve Prefontaine.  Well crafted and uncomplicated this exciting tale lends itself to page turning.  reading listWhile also providing a bit of education on the history of track and field, this short novel should be on every runner’s shelf.

Eat & Run (Jurek) – This chronicle of Scott Jurek’s ‘unlikely journey’ to ultramarathon greatness is peppered with lots of smiles and tasty recipes.  With a main focus on how nutrition effects performance, Eat & Run is a great resource for vegetarian and vegan athletes.  Even for meat eaters these recipes are worth a try.

Anatomy for Runners (Dicharry) – Get ready to learn.  Chock full of knowledge, Jay Dicharry’s guide will lead you to happier and healthier running.  Doesn’t the subtitle ‘Unlocking Your Potential for Health, Speed and Injury Prevention’ sound enticing?  Anatomy features exercises and explanations that are easy to understand and process.  A must read for runners serious about improving.

Born to Run (McDougall) – This massive best seller should definitely be on your reading list.  Even if you’ve already covered it, consider cracking it open again.  This epic tale of one runner’s desire to end foot pain started the minimalist movement.  No matter how you feel about zero drop shoes, the story of Mexico’s Tarahumara will inspire you and that next marathon registration.

Ready to Run (Starrett) – ‘Unlocking your potential to run naturally’ is Dr. Kelly Starrett’s goal with this big book.  So get ready.  This guide will teach you more about movement that you likely care to know but it’s 100% worth it.  The founder of MobilityWOD.com has worked with professional athletes from all fields of play and wants you to become a stronger, more efficient runner.

Build Your Running Body (MacGill/Swartz/Breyer) – Bob Anderson, the founder of Runner’s World, calls this the ‘best running book ever’ and there’s no arguing with that.  Yes, it’s full of physiology and science however it’s easy to understand and digest.  Following the guidelines in this book will help you run faster, reduce injury risk and have more fun.

Coach Meredith

What Did You Say? Running Terms for the Non-Runner

Lots of runners have friends who aren’t.  In spite of the fact that one of us might be hanging out with people who could care less about your latest long run, there’s only one thing we like more than actually running.  Talking about running.  To make sure your friends can stick with you, give them Team ECRP‘s basic list of running terms to guide them.

Race Pace – This is the pace at which a runner tackles a race.  It varies with race distances since we run faster for a 5k than we do for a marathon but the idea is always the same.running terms

LSD – This does not reference the narcotic and there’s no hallucinating here.  It stands for Long Slow Distance run and is a staple of all training plans.  Usually run on the weekends it’s the longest run of the week.  The one your runner friends stay in on a Friday night for.

Fartlek – Swedish for speed play, fartleks aren’t only fun to say, they’re fun to do.  Used by the best runners in the world, these constantly varied outings are an important part of training at any level.

Bonk – Also known as hitting the wall, it typically happens around Mile 20 of the marathon.  Bonking is the moment your body starts to quit on you.  You’re out of fuel, energy and the final 10k is pure willpower.  It is possible to avoid, however, through proper mental and physical training.

PR/PB – Personal Record in the US and Personal Best both here and abroad this stat is a runner’s most prized.  It’s their fastest time a given distance and like race pace, it’s different at every officially timed distance.

Foot Strike – Runners don’t strike like unions, they strike the ground with every step.  A hot topic of debate lately, foot strike is often equated with another running error known as over striding.  It’s not the concern it was once thought to be and for the most part isn’t brought up too much these days.

DNF/DFL – Did Not Finish or Dead F*****G Last.  There are a million reasons you might DNF a race.  From injury to bad weather popping up before you’re finished, every serious runner has had one.  DFL, however, is less common.  Since someone has to be last, races usually have a sweeper.  The sweeper stays behind the final participant and makes sure nobody gets left behind.

BQ – The ultimate, bucket list goal for many runners.  BQ is one of the most hallowed running terms.  Short for Boston Qualify, it means you’ve earned the right to run in America’s most famous Patriot’s Day race.  A challenging feat, getting that BQ is a dream come true.

And this just covers the basics.  There are a ton of running terms out there to learn if you want to.  Luckily, if you take these with you next time you go support a friend or family member at a race no one will know you’re a newbie!

Coach Meredith

When It’s OK To Quit a Workout

We’ve all had bad workouts.  We’ve all wanted to walk away before finishing workouts.  A lot of times, however, our competitive and training focused natures won’t let us.  Luckily, there are definitely times when we should quit a workout.  And there are times we should push through.  These are some basic guidelines from Team ECRP you can use when things aren’t going you way to decide what to do.

QUIT WHEN
You’re hurt.  Even if it’s only a twinge, calling it quits on a workout isn’t the end of the world.  It’s much better to be cautious then run yourself into a serious injury.  Listening to your body quit a workoutcan be hard but it’s something you have to do.  If something feels funky or your gait is off, walk away and figure out what’s wrong before you come back.

It’s dangerous.  Did it start down pouring a few minutes into your trail run?  Is there a pop-up thunderstorm just overhead?  Is the sun going down in a strange neighborhood?  Are the heat and humidity oppressive?  Any of these can be a solid reason to quit a workout.  Finding a treadmill or waiting until later is always a better answer than injury.

You don’t need it.  Maybe you’re bumping up your mileage this week or taking a recovery run instead of a swim.  It’s OK to quit a workout when it isn’t a super important one.  If you can easily sub another type of session to get the stimulus you were looking for on that day, go for it.

STICK WITH IT WHEN:
It’s hard.  That’s how we get faster and stronger.  If we never pushed ourselves to perform a a higher level, we’d never get any better.  Finishing a challenging workout is its own reward, and helps us hit that next PR, if we can do so safely and injury free.

You’re tired.  There are lots of things that can cause us to lose sleep.  Working out can help relieve stress and release endorphins that improve mood.  Staying awake for 24 straight hours just to get a workout in is definitely not the answer but even a quick jog can shake off the cobwebs and put a smile on your face.  It’s also good practice for race day.  You never know who might be partying in the hotel room next door.

The weather’s bad.  Bad weather and dangerous weather are different.  If you quit a workout because it’s cold or raining, how does that help you?  Conditions on race day are mostly unpredictable.  To prepare for the unknown, train in every environment you can.  Learn how to handle wind, rain, snow, heat and humidity.

Use these guidelines to loosely determine if you should quit a workout while you’re ahead or power through like the champ you want to be.

Coach Meredith

4 Reasons to Race (Medals Not Included)

Of course we all want that race day bling.  But there are lots of other good reasons to race that make it great whether race medals are hanging at the finish or not.  Here are four good reasons Team ECRP likes to show up at the start line when there isn’t something shiny.race medals

Give back.  There are two ways you can give back to the running community through a race.  You can volunteer before or during the event or run it for charity.  Heck, you could even do both.  There wouldn’t be any races if it weren’t for volunteers.  They provide everything from packet pick-up to water stops and handing out those precious race medals.  If no one volunteered, paid help would sky rocket the costs for both participants and race directors, making it so expensive most of us couldn’t afford to race.

Another great way to give back is to run for charity.  Usually you’re able to make a donation at the end of your paid registration but at lots of events your registration, and maybe some other goodies, are comped if you raise a certain amount of funds for a designated charity.

Test yourself.  Even if you aren’t running for a PR, racing is a valuable training tool.  The excitement and atmosphere of race day push you beyond your normal workouts.  It’s a good way to check in on how your training is going and if you’re getting more fit.

Make friends.  Runners come from all over to run all kinds of events.  Thousands of them are trying to run a race in each of the 50 states (and collect those race medals).  Races are a wonderful place to make local or far away friends.  From finding yourself paired up next to someone running the same pace to standing in post race party beer lines there’s always someone new to chat with.  Because, of course, runners love to talk about running.

Change your scenery.  Roads close for races and if you ever want the chance to run down the Las Vegas strip without getting run over, you’ll need to sign up for this race.  With roads shut down or usually private property opened up for racers, participating in an event can give you special access.  Some of the views and scenery are definitely worth the price of entry alone.

Coach Meredith