Monday, March 25, 2013

Rodes City Run Race Report

For those of you living in other parts of the country, this past weekend was the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I am typically (8 of the last 10 years) in Las Vegas for a guys trip during this weekend. Due to lots of factors, including the fact that I'm getting too old for five days in Vegas, and we have a new baby at my house, I decided not to make the trip this year - in fact, none of the usual crew went. 

The Rodes City run is always run on the same weekend as the start of the tournament - so I've only run this race twice before. A 10K run is a distance I'm familiar with because it's how far the run is in an Olympic distance triathlon - which I've done around 10 of in the last 4 years. But going out and only running a stand-alone 10K (6.2 miles) is a different animal all together.

My previous times for this race were 52:17 (2001) and 44:07 (2011). So instead of just trying to PR for this race, I decided to set a goal of 42 minutes; which would be hard, but is more in line with my 5K time from a few weeks ago and what I thought I could do if I really pushed it.

After my 5K experience with my Garmin watch, I knew that I couldn't rely on my watch for an accurate pace, so I just knew that I wanted to do each mile around 6:40-6:45. If I did that, I could finish in under 42 minutes.

The race starts out pretty flat. I ran the first mile in 6:41. The second mile is pretty much all up hill and I was still feeling strong and managed a 6:46 mile. I grabbed a water at the aid station and took a few sips. I could tell that my heart rate was starting to elevate during the start of the third mile.

Mile three has a big descent followed by the biggest climb of the race. After this hill, every incline felt more and more difficult. I managed a 6:38 mile thanks to the descent at the beginning of the mile.

During the fourth mile I really struggled to maintain my pace. It felt like I was constantly looking down to make sure I was holding close to 6:45 or so. I had my watch set up to show total time, current pace and total distance. There were a few times during mile 4 where I slipped over 7 minute per mile pace. I kept telling myself that it was less than two miles to the finish. I ran the 4th mile in 6:44.

Mile five has lots of rolling hills and was difficult for me. I was setting small goals like trying to hang with people that were close to me or trying to pass runners up ahead that I could tell were slowing down (more than I was!). I kept looking at the total distance on my watch...which was a mistake. It's like watching water boil. Every tenth of a mile seemed to take forever. My legs were burning and I was breathing like I was doing speed work around a track! Mile 5 took 6:43.

The sixth mile starts with a hill and ends pretty flat. Despite that, I was slowing considerably. I just told myself that my goal was within reach as long as I pushed through the finish. I saw my mile split time of 6:52 when I finished mile six and knew that it was going to be close. The last two-tenths are down hill, so I started to sprint, while glancing down at my total time as it crept closer to 42 minutes. I ran the last 0.2 miles at a 6:16 pace and crossed the line at 41:49!

After missing my 5K goal by 4 seconds two weeks ago, it was a good feeling to get this one. I demolished by 10K PR by over 2 minutes as well. I've been doing lots of short, high-intensity runs since I finished Ironman in August of 2011 and it's clearly paying off. No way I would have been able to hold this pace for 6.2 miles two years ago!

Avg Pace Per Mile: 6:43
Division (M 30-34) Place: 32nd out of 374
Gender Place: 138th out of 2877
Overall Place: 161st out of 6572

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because the provide great products and services.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Run Gait Analysis - Part 4

So let's wrap up my run gait analysis. I've looked at several different aspects of my running form over the last few weeks, you can find those blog posts here:

The final things that I want to cover involve hip drop, shoulder position and arm position while running. 

Hip Drop is the dropping of the hips from horizontal upon foot strike and weight transfer. So let's take a look at my hips:

Right foot strike - hip and shoulder drop

Left foot strike - hip drop (shoulders are aligned)
So as you can see, when either foot strikes the ground, the opposite hip drops 7-8 degrees from vertical. A drop of more than 14 degree indicates a real weakness...anything below 12 degrees is pretty good. A weak hip or glute will cause this hip drop to be worse. So over a year of hip and glute strengthening is paying off! A larger hip drop also makes it harder to hold a high cadence. Hip drop requires the foot to be on the ground much longer, leading to a slower cadence.

If you notice on the top picture, my right shoulder drops when my right foot strikes the ground. This is the result of a tight Quadratus Lumborum (QL) on my right side. Notice that my left shoulder does not drop in the same way during a left foot strike. The QL is a muscle in the lower back (see image to the right). If I can get this muscle to loosen up, the shoulder drop will go away. I'm currently doing some stretching pre and post-run to work on this. When I was having this anaylsis done and Mike Rowles at Occupational Kinetics told me that my QL was tight, I knew that it wasn't the first time I had heard that. Two years ago I was having some deep-tissue massages done trying to relieve IT-Band tightness and the massage therapist told me that same thing. She concluded that the QL was tight only on my right side because I leaned to the right while driving - with my right elbow resting on my console. At the time I made a point to sit up straight while driving, but I now realize that I have gone back to my old ways of leaning while driving. So once again, I'm trying to rid myself of this habit.

So finally, let's take a look at what my arms are doing while I run. During one of our Kids Center Team Ability workshops last spring I was told by a PT that I carried my hands too high while I ran. Good form is maintaining a 90 degree bend at the elbows throughout the entire arm swing. You should also keep the elbows close to the body and not let your hands cross your midline as you swing the arm forward. Keeping your hands loose is also very important.

Good 90 degree elbow bend and loose hands
As you can see from the image above, I do a pretty good job at keeping my elbows at 90 degrees and keeping my hands loose. I've made a conscious effort to change my arm swing and it's just become my new form now. If you look back at the images above from behind, you will see that my elbows flare out a little bit. I need to keep them closer to my body. This likely indicates a balance issue. I'm using my arms to help maintain my balance while running. Single leg balancing drills will help with this.

So there are a lot of other things that I could look at and might in the future. But that's it for now. It will also be useful to have this analysis at hand for future reference. I highly recommend getting one done if you are serious about limiting injuries and getting faster. I have several things to work on, but overall my form has improved greatly over the last 2-3 years....on a related note, so has my speed!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because the provide great products and services. I'll have some posts coming up soon discussing what each company has to offer runners/ may be surprised!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Anthem 5K Race Report

Official Results:
Avg Pace Per Mile: 6:27
Division (M 30-34) Place: 33rd out of 436
Gender Place: 166th out of 3316
Overall Place: 185th out of 7800

My ultimate goal this season is Ironman in August. So doing a 5K this early in the year, when I've done very little speed work, isn't ideal. That being said, I was hoping to run a sub-20 minute race. I've never broken the 20 minute mark and I was confident that this was the year.

I thought that I was going to be smart and use the "Virtual Partner" feature on my Garmin watch to make sure I stayed on pace. I set the pace to 6:25 minutes per mile, which would equal a 5K time of 19:57. I would just be able to look down at my watch and see how many seconds ahead or behind this pace I was...pretty simple.

I started out feeling good. The weather was in the high 30's and sunny - perfect! I started near the front, but still had to do some people-dodging during the first 1/4 mile or so. I glanced at my watch once things cleared out and I was 3 seconds ahead of pace. I stretched this out to 6 seconds by the end of the first mile. So far, so good.

My breathing picked up a bit going up the hill in the second mile, but even after the short climb, I was still 3 seconds ahead of my goal pace. My breathing settled a bit and I started to feel the burn in my legs as I finished up mile 2.

I made the last turn onto Main Street and knew that I still had a sprint finish left in me. Just before kicking it up for the finished, I took one last look at my watch...still 5 seconds ahead of pace. I was going to get my sub-20 minute time!

I put my head down and sprinted the last 1/4 mile to the finish, never taking another look at my watch. I stopped my watch as I crossed the line. I looked down...20:03??!!? What the hell? How could that be? I was several seconds ahead of my pace and I knew that I didn't slow down at the end.

I quickly scrolled though my watch and saw that the overall distance was 3.16...and not 3.10 - which is what I based my 6:25/mile goal pace on. I knew that I had run all the tangents and hadn't moved around the road too much passing people early in the race. So was the race long or did my GPS just act up? Probably a little of both.

I've know that GPS watches are not accurate, but I had too much confidence in mine on Saturday and it burned me. Could I have run 4 seconds faster and met my goal? Sure. But I thought I was doing what I need to do based on the pace my watch said I was running. 

The Garmin told me that my average pace was 6:21/mile for the race, which would translate to 5K time of 19:43...well under 20 minutes. 

Sprinting to the finish as my form falls least I'm not heel-striking!
I'm not really sure what I should have done different. Last year I didn't use the "Virtual Partner", but I hit my lap button at every mile marker and knew that I needed to run 6:25's or better (which I didn't do). Maybe that's a better strategy since the course mileage I based on those markers.

I was disappointed for a little while, but I'm over it. Bottom line is this was still a 5K PR for me and I'm faster and feeling better than I ever have. Next up is the Rodes City Run 10K in two weeks...can I break 42 minutes???

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because the provide great products and services. I'll have some posts coming up soon discussing what each company has to offer runners/ may be surprised!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Run Gait Analysis - Part 3

So let's get back to analyzing my run form. I've already looked at forward lean and foot strike, so today I will try and cover the rest of what's going on with my legs. The next post will look at my hips and shoulder's while I run.

Leg extension is measured by how far behind the body your leg extends during the recovery phase of your running stride. A good angle is somewhere between 18 and 30 degrees (from vertical), with closer to 30 being optimal. The further you extend the leg behind the body, the closer your heal comes to hitting your butt. This high-recovery leads to a faster recovery and more than likely a faster cadence. 

My leg extension is 30 degrees

It's also important to look at the angle of your leg striding forward. Stride angle is mainly a function of leg and hip flexibility. For every degree you increase your stride angle, you increase stride length by two percent. The key to faster running is higher cadence and longer strides. My stride angle is horrible. Poor flexibility is what keeps me from increasing this angle. Tight hamstrings, quads and hips are to blame.

My stride angle is only 73 degrees

World-class marathoner Ryan Hall has a 90 degree stride angle
Another key factor regarding stride is the over-stride angle. It's the angle of your front leg when your foot first touches the ground. As I mentioned in a previous post, landing under your hips is critical to efficient running. A positive angle is bad, slightly negative is good. I'm at +16 degrees...ouch!

+16 degrees from vertical...not good.

A much more ideal landing angle
So while there are several more things that I could break down about my stride, I think I've covered enough. There are some good things and some bad things about my running form. The goal is to work on one thing at a time. I won't be able to (nor should I try) to change everything. But the goal is to become more efficient and faster, so achieving this goal will require me making the effort to improve!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because the provide great products and services. I'll have some posts coming up soon discussing what each company has to offer runners/ may be surprised!

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