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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slow Down on these HOT and Humid Days!

The hot and sticky days of summer are here. Make sure that you are making some adjustments in your running. Most runners begin to slow down at 55 degrees and start suffering at 65 degrees. Of course, the body can adapt to heat stress and push the threshold up a bit, but you usually can’t run as fast on a 75 degee day as on a 45 degree one. High humidity is also a major problem. It’s like a wet blanket; it doesn’t allow much evaporation or perspiration and your body heat builds up.

If you try to run too hard in hot or humid conditions you’ll hit “the wall” sooner than expected. Trying to maintain a goal pace in heat is like going out too fast early in the race. Temperatures generally increase hour by hour; therefore you must adjust your pace for the temperature expected at the end of the race.

Adjusting Race Pace for Heat: Estimated temperature at finish – Slower than goal pace – 8 min mile becomes…

55-60 degrees – 1% – 8:05
60-65 degrees – 3% – 8:15
65-70 degrees – 5% – 8:25
70-75 degrees – 7% – 8:35
75-80 degrees – 12% – 8:58
80-85 degrees – 20% – 9:35
Above 85 degrees – Forget it… run for fun or hit the treadmill!

(Source: Jeff Galloway)

Monday, July 4, 2011

If you like running, this is for you ...

Happy Fourth of July.

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend connecting with friends and family, and celebrating the liberties that we are all so fortunate to enjoy.

I wanted to share a quick video for all my running friends out there.

When I completed my first marathon with a pretty decent time, a veteran runner asked me what I thought was the key to my success. 

Flattered that one of those "super-fast" guys thought I did well for a "newbie", I was caught a bit off guard by his question, and simply said, "consistency in my training".  

After thinking about it, I realized that showing up day after day for months and months, some good days, some bad ones, with tiny (almost insignificant) improvements day in and day out, over time made a massive difference in my running.  

Yet, the one thing I noticed only a few weeks after adding in, was 3 series of exercises that really allowed my running to kick into high gear.

I want to share those 3 with you.  

If you want to become a better, faster, healthier runner, check this out:
(One Note on the first series called "The Triple Threat":  You'll do the Bridge first, then move right into the Leg Curl without resting, and then right into the Hip Lift, again without resting.  All 3 exercises in a row, each exercise for 8-20 reps = 1 set of the "Triple Threat").

If you wanna run fast, these 3 series of exercises are exceptional.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who's the Boss?

Your musculoskeletal system is the REAL limiting factor in training.

By Greg McMillan

You've been taught to "listen to your body" to avoid overtraining.  This listening, however pertains only to the cardiorespiratory system.  You can feel your breathing and know when it changes.  you can even feel the metabolic system when you do hard repetitions on the track.  you can feel the lactic acid locking up your stride.

What you can't feel, however, is the stress on the musculoskeletal system while training.  The muscles never say, "Hey, I'm about to tear!"  Instead, the say after the fact, "Hey, I'm torn."  The bones don't say, "Excuse me, but the stress load along the shin bone is beginning to tear the muscle away from the bone and cause me to micro-fracture."  And the plantar fascia never says, "if you don't stop pounding me, I'm going to start telling you with the feeling of a steel spike to the heel on your first step every morning!"

The musculoskeletal system is too nice.  It doesn't want to interrupt your enjoyment of the run.  It waits for several weeks, when you're in GREAT SHAPE and ready to tear it up; then it speaks up.  But by that time, you're so far into the injury that you're in for a long down time.

Training at the Musculoskeletal Level

Instead of listening to the cardiovascular system, we need to program our training with our musculoskeletal system as the gauge.  As mentioned, the can't be done by listening to your body.   The musculoskeletal system is simply too shy to speak up.  So, we need to plan the training with the musculoskeletal system as our limiting factor.

While the musculoskeletal system may be shy, it's extraordinarily plastic, meaning that i can adapt.  If you stress a bone, for example, it becomes stronger.  That's why weight-bearing exercise is so important for bone health.  The muscles react in the same way.  You stress them and they adapt to better tolerate that stress.  And I don't mean just in the pumping-iron-stress kind of way.

Use the musculoskeletal system guide below to guide your training.  The younger you are (especially high school runners) and the more injury-prone you are, the more frequently you need to plan recovery days and weeks.  If you were blessed with great biomechanics and a highly adaptable musculoskeletal system, then the less frequently you'll need to take rest days and weeks.

I've created this simple scoring system to help you help your musculoskeletal system.  Use it and you'll avoid injury and see your fitness build from month to month, year to year.  Rescore yourself every training cycle, as your body should be more injury-resistant as your mature as a runner.

IF you're a new or young runner, are injured once every three months or have dealt with a chronic injury for more than a year, score yourself with a 1. 

IF you're a newer or younger runner who has "niggly" injuries that pop up every three to six months, or you're determined to avoid injury by preemptively resting your musculoskeletal system, score yourself with a 2.

IF you're an experienced runner who rarely gets injured but does have a lot of life stress and notices that every now and then a common injury pops up, give yourself a 3.

IF you're a seasoned runner who has never been injured, give yourself a 4.  (Lucky you!)

How to use the Musculoskeletal Guide

Your score indicates the number of weeks between recovery weeks.  For example, if you scored a "2," then you can train at your 100 percent volume and intensity level for two weeks, and then should plan the next week as a recovery week.  If you scored a "3" then you'll train normally for three weeks, and then take a recovery week in the fourth week.  The key is to plan for this recovery instead of waiting for an injury to force you to take a recovery week.  I recommend reducing mileage by 10 to 20 percent on the recovery weeks, as well as taking an extra day off or easy day, depending on your running frequency.  Maybe do one less hard workout during that week or back off on the stress of that workout if you maintain all your hard workouts in your recovery week.

Once you get your score, stick with it for the full training cycle no matter how you're feeling.  After all, avoiding interruptions in training is MORE important than doing the greatest training of your life only to be stuck on the sidelines on race day.  The greatest challenge is to rest when you're fittest.  But it's precisely in this peak performance zone when you're most susceptible to overstressing the musculoskeletal system.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Alter-G Treadmill: Ideal For Bouncing Back From Injury

Here's how one Running community member has maintained her half-marathon training while injured.

In the midst of my training for my first-ever half marathon, I've been suffering from posterior tibial tendonitis, which can be very painful to run with, due to the amount of impact. But I've been rehabbing my injury with lots of great tricks that my physical therapists have turned me on to. One of them is the Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill, which offers precise levels of partial weight-bearing so that athletes can train with less pressure on their joints. Usually, I run for 30 minutes on the Alter-G at 70 percent weight, which I suppose is what it would feel like if I were running 30 pounds lighter. It's not as simple as it sounds: Because you're not at normal weight bearing, you have less control when running, which means you need to use more core strength when running to keep everything tight and together. Still, when I'm running on it, I don't feel any pain — and it's easy to run much faster than normal. Lots of fun, and a great way to build back your cardiovascular and running strength when bouncing back from injury!

Whether you're just starting the Couch to 5k program for beginners or are logging miles training for a marathon, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill can help in a big way.

More information here:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My favorite post-long run snack!

Want a recipe to recover fast after a long or hard run?

The simple formula is this:  Timing + What You Eat = Fast Recovery!

There is a window of opportunity post workout where your muscles are like a dry sponge – 30 to 90 minutes after you’re finished. When you eat during that window, you provide your muscles the essential nutrients to quickly recovery … allowing for another strong and effective workout next time out.

What you eat is JUST as important as when you eat … and The Optimum Recovery Ratio suggests ingesting one gram of protein for every four grams of carbohydrates.

My 3-year old daughter and I created a very tasty snack that fits closely into the optimal Recovery Ratio ... it's awesome ... and guarantees your kids will eat some extra fruit!

Kayla's Reese Delight

  • Place 1 robust tbs. of crunchy peanut butter (low fat and/or organic) into a coffee cup - zap in the microwave for 35 seconds to soften 
  • Pour an ounce of organic low fat milk, or almond or soy milk into the melted peanut butter - stir vigorously until mixture becomes a thick liquid 
  • Drop in one full scoop of chocolate Beverly Muscle Provider - mix together thoroughly. You may need to add a little more milk to adjust the consistency - it should be a thick dipping sauce.
  • Then dip a banana, sliced apples, grapes or strawberries into this heavenly delight ...and ENJOY!!!
There you have it – a delicious treat that even the kids will love!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Final Prep for the Flying Pig!

Here we are, the week of your Flying Pig event!

Now that your training is over, there are 3 things you can do to get prepared for a great run on Sunday.

1. Keep all of your thoughts positive!

Too much stress the week of a marathon (half or relay) will take its toll on your physical capabilities and performance on Sunday. This week is all about positive thoughts – there’s nothing else you can do to prepare, other than some short, easy runs, laying out your running gear, and the 2 other keys below. Just remember, YOU ARE PREPARED and you WILL DO WELL on Sunday. The most important thing at this point is to absorb as much joy from this experience as possible.  Go to the expo, watch some of the events on Saturday, get into the spirit of the Marathon weekend.  This is a special time.

2. Create Your Race Plan

Mentally plan out how you’re going to run on Sunday. Take caution in starting too aggressively (which is likely to biggest reason for a slower than anticipated time). It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event...or have your competitive juices kick in when the gun goes off...or even to just forget to check your pace with each mile marker.

You’re going to be jacked up with the crowd and festivities. So again, RELAX.

Plan your race out in segments and make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank for the home stretch. Check your times at each mile. For example, if your goal is to finish the marathon in 4 hours (or half in 2 hours), you should be averaging about 9:09 per mile. If you have a Garmin the tracks your pace, you’re all set. If you do not, other options include running with a pace group, or plotting out what your ideal time should be at each mile marker.

(You can go to to plug in your ideal completion time and find your per mile pace).

Also, you might consider having two goals, if a finishing time is important to you. An “I’m happy with this time” goal and an “I’m totally thrilled with this time” goal. As an example, I'm running the half on Sunday.  My best half time to date is 1:44:50.  I'll be happy if I hit that again, but thrilled if I get close to 1:40:00.

3. It’s Time to EAT!

Starting on Wednesday, the goals is to maximize glycogen storage in muscle, which means you need to eat more complex carbohydrates than you normally do.

Remember, all carbs are not created equal. Some supply energy very quickly (with very quick corresponding “crashes” in blood sugar) while others provide a slow, steady stream of energy. Carbohydrates are classified by numbers between 1 and 100, called the glycemic index (GI).

Complex whole grain carbs are generally lower on the GI and filter into your system more slowly. Foods that are low on the GI list tend to keep your blood glucose stable and give you a steady supply of energy, allowing you to maintain longer runs for longer periods of time. Wednesday through Saturday you want a lot of low GI foods – whole grain bread, pasta, rice, cereal and beans.

And you'll want to make sure you're drinking lots of water with those carbs.  The idea is to store extra glycogen in your muslces, and that requires plenty of water.

Saturday afternoon/evening, you can transition away from the pastas to more of the simple carbs.  Hey, you want a few cookies or other sugary foods? The night before a long run event is the time to do it!

Just be cautious on Saturday, if you've suffered Runners Gut or other digestive problems on long runs, avoid dairy (lactose), fiber and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and beans; they contain raffinose, a gas-inducing compound.

A simple carbohydrate is high on the GI and dumps into your blood stream very quickly. This is what you want to consume during the Flying Pig, especially if you're doing the full marathon. And whatever strategy you’ve been using for pumping sugar into your system, stay with that system. Gels, sport drinks, or whatever, don’t mess around with changing your approach on race day - whatever you used during your long runs will work for you on Sunday.

Remember, you are creating an experience that you will remember vividly for the rest of your life. Go out on Sunday, enjoy this incredible milestone, and soak up as much of this experience as possible!!

I look forward to seeing you at the Pig - Get Your Oink On!!

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins