Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pacific Coast Trail Runs WOODSIDE 17KM Race Report

A couple Saturday's ago (4/14/2012) I had the good fortune to run in Pacific Coast Trail Run's Woodside 17km Race. For those who do not know, Woodside is a beautiful small town located about 30 minutes south of San Francisco. It's nestled up against the Coastal Range (I think generally it's the Santa Cruz Mountains) with some horse ranches, vineyards, Redwoods and some bad-ass-hilly-windy trails.

It rained Wed to Thurs last week so the trails were a bit muddy but the weather cleared and it was a beautiful Saturday morning for the race. "PCTR" offered 10km, 17km, 35km and 50km distances. Working my way back from injury I chose the 17km and having a quick recovery I was looking forward to a faster race.

The race started at 915am which was mellow. There was a slight bottle neck as all of the runners moved from the start line on a field onto the single track. After about a half mile of pretty flat trail we started climbing... We climbed up about 10 or 11km to Skyline Boulevard. It was a challenging but not to technical climb with a lot of switch backs. Once we hit the (well-stocked) aid station at Skyline Blvd we turned around and started our descent.... This part of the race was awesome! I spent it bombing down the trail winding through the Redwoods. I made up for my slower than anticipated climb, passed some people and ended up finishing 6th place in my age group (30-39) and 19th place overall.

I noticed that most of 17Kers did not carry h2o or electrolyte drink. I carried a small 12oz bottle of Cytomax (see pic below)... i found it helped me quite a bit to push on up the hill and continue pushing on a hard downhill run. I wasn't wearing my Garmin that day but I know I was getting into mid 6 min/mile pace on the way down.

It was an excellent, fun race and I would highly recommend it to all runners. Here's me coming into the finish...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Running Exercises and Conditioning

I don't often write posts about running advice but after coming back from an injury I have been focused on what makes my running engine run smooth. I think one of the most important things about being a successful runner (successful = healthy and running as much as possible) is to keep as versatile a training schedule as possible. Mixing up the terrain that you run on, the shoes that you wear, the time of day you run (that's a tough one!), doing cross training exercises and STRETCHING with a focus on alignment will help you grow as a runner.

The foundation consists of building up mileage slowly while simultaneously building up strength (this can translate to whatever level of running you're at). You need your whole body to be strong but strong in the right way. Building your mileage slowly while strength training a few times per week will build up your endurance muscles quickly and effectively. I find that lunges (make sure you keep your knee directly above your ankle through the whole movement and I find that reverse lunges, the ones where you step back are best to maintain focus on your quads, balance and butt muscles) are great foundation builders. I am also a firm believer in calf raises, lighter squats, pull ups (or muscle ups if you can do them), flys, slow push ups and a lot of core work... not ab work but core work: Planks (see video below) are crucial to running long distances, Toe Taps (see video below).

After you've built your foundation (never stop doing those exercises, I dedicate 2 solid days per week to strength training and throw in bits and pieces of strength training throughout the week), you can start ramping up the mileage and switching up the terrain that you run on. A serious runner, or a runner who wants to become stronger, faster and run farther should run all types of terrain: trails, track and hills. If you can stay off of concrete and/or pavement completely you'll be better off. Hills are exceptional running tools. Short workouts on hills (up and down) are great for building running strength and stamina. Same with speed work at the track.

Stretching: It is crucial to stretch everyday, even on your off/rest days. The most important stretches to do are: calf stretches, quad stretches and hamstrings. Ok, hamstrings are probably the most important of all and you should do them with a rope laying on your back. See video below. If you're having running related injuries from Plantar Fasciitis to lower back pain to calf pain to knee pain the few minutes you spend on your hamstrings per day might just fix you!

Good luck out there! Run like water flows.


Toe Taps:

Hamstring Stretches (sorry about the music and cheesy yoga style):