Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Email from Brad Henz -- Drink the Kool-Aid


Every run is a test with your mind. Remember the lessons, log your journey, and never forget your destination.
--Brad Henz

Here is an article I want you take a look at...

This is not a complete article...there are sections I have taken out to discuss at a later time :)

Great job last night!!!


Running on the Shoulders of Giants
Training lessons from 15 years of close contact with elites
By Scott Douglas
As featured in the JanFeb 2009 issue of Running Times Magazine

Since the early '90s, I've been privileged to regularly be around elite distance runners. Actually, not just around, but with -- as in run with, dine with, and talk at length with -- thanks to a combination of professional assignments, natural curiosity, and a willingness to place myself in potentially disastrous situations. ("A hilly 44-miler with ultra legend Ann Trason? I'll be fine!" I wasn't.)

What follows is some of what I've observed as commonalities among the many elites I've invited myself to tag along with. Some are approaches to running, some are things done while not running, some are habits of mind. All are things that non-elites, yours truly included, regularly do otherwise, to the detriment of our running. If you're looking for a New Year's running resolution or two, you could do worse than adopting some of these ways.

Work the Recovery

We've all heard that between workouts is when our bodies make the gains in fitness that training spurs. But how many of us keep paying attention to our running during that time so that our recovery is maximized? Conversely, how many of us slip out of runner mode a few minutes after finishing and do not resume our athletic identity until soon before the next run?

Elites overwhelmingly fall into the first camp. Of course, most of us can't take daily naps or get massages twice a week. And frequent ice baths, while no doubt effective, can test the dedication of even the most hardcore racer. But one of the most important ways elites enhance their recovery is practical for everyone: They consistently get in fluids and calories, especially carbohydrates, soon after finishing a run.

Research has shown that carbs taken in the first half hour after exercise are absorbed by muscles at a rate three times greater than normal. Although the rate of conversion into glycogen slows after that, the recovery window when your body is most receptive to refueling stays open for about another 90 minutes. Regularly neglecting to take advantage of the opportunity for enhanced recovery results in that feeling of dragging through a lot of runs, never feeling as fresh as you think you should.

I've known about the recovery window for years, and have tried to force down calories soon after long runs and hard workouts, despite the gripes of my wimpy gastrointestinal system. But I hadn't realized how much better of a job I could do until Meb Keflezighi came to town for the 2007 Beach to Beacon 10K.

The day before the race, Meb and I ran the second half of the course. Almost immediately after finishing some striders on the grass, Meb had a banana and some sport drink. We ran together the three days after the race, and he did some version of the above each time.

Meb would have probably run the same time in the race if he had forgone a banana after jogging a few miles. What observing him over a few days really impressed on me was the habit he made of post-run nutrition – to Meb, it was simply part of the day's training, as integral as tying his shoes correctly. I've seen the same approach with James Carney, Joe LeMay, Anne Marie Lauck, Boaz Cheboiywo, Andrew Leatherby, Chris Solinsky, and on and on and on. (Solinsky and Carney are fans of chocolate milk.)

Drill, Baby, Drill

An increasing number of elite distance runners do as sprinters have long done, and regularly perform form drills and dynamic range-of-motion exercises. While most of my workouts with elites 10 or 15 years ago were simply runs, more recently drills show up on the program if I stick around for more than a day. Sometimes they're after an easy run, sometimes before a hard workout, sometimes after a tempo run. I even saw Shalane Flanagan doing drills within an hour of winning the Olympic trials 10,000m.

Every run I did in Kenya with locals was followed by at least 10 minutes of skipping, butt kicks, bounding and the like. Americans I've run with recently -- Carney, Solinsky, Tegenkamp, Keflezighi, Jonathan Riley, Anthony Famiglietti -- don't do them every day, but definitely often enough that they're an integral part of their training.

The reasoning is straightforward: The exercises fine-tune running form, increase range of motion and foot speed, help correct muscle imbalances, and strengthen many of the core stabilizing muscles, such as the hip rotators. The result is a stronger athlete less susceptible to injury and more capable of maintaining good running mechanics in the second half of a race.

Be a Reality-Based Optimist

Elites are born with great physical gifts that become obvious once they start training hard. But they really reach their potential by having a mindset that all of us, regardless of our genetics, can adopt.

How many times have you had a good string of training going, but then have a bad workout, and suddenly freak out about what kind of shape you're in? How often has one sub-par race come to be taken as the new norm of your fitness?

The elites who consistently achieve excellence think otherwise. I've talked with scores of national- and world-class runners whose outlook I've come to think of as "reality-based optimism." That is, they have confidence that great things will happen if they do the right work. They see a fabulous workout or race as a hint of what they can achieve, not a unique occurrence.

In contrast, a couple of bad workouts, or a worse-than-expected race, are taken as aberrations. They are indications that something is amiss, and are opportunities for analysis: Am I not sleeping enough? Did I run like an idiot? Were my expectations in line with my current fitness? Am I on the verge of being sick? And so on. (See "Dealing With Disappointment" here for how two Olympians conducted this sort of post-mortem after unsatisfactory races in Beijing.)


Contributing editor Scott Douglas formerly served as editor-in-chief of Running Times.

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