A Quick Review of My Boston Marathon Goal

IMG_1972For those of you that don’t know my pursuit of the Boston Marathon started all the way back on June 1, 2009 when I began my training for the Portland Marathon.  I set out with the goal of qualifying for Boston on my first attempt, not really sure if I could do it or not.  It was one thing to say I would and another to actually run the race and make the time.  I remember reading stories from Runner’s World magazine about how some runners had tried as many as thirteen times to qualify before finally achieving my goal.  My initial doubts were swept away after my first week of training.  I was not only exceeding my expectations for myself, but I recieved great coaching and encouragement to keep my confidence growing throughout my training.

As the mileage increased I continued to find success and stayed healthy as well, thanks to the many endurance circuits and supplement routines in addition to my runs.  The closer race day came and the more I thought about it, the better I felt about my chances for achieving my hard-fought goal.

The morning of Sunday October fourth brought an experience like nothing I had ever been a part of before.  Thousands of runners and cheering spectators made for an electric atmosphere.  The adrenaline coarsed through my body like rushing rapids, making me eager to start the race.  Once the race was on it was a combination muscular endurance, muscular efficiency, and sheer mental toughness that allowed me to will myself to the finish line.  As I crossed utter exhaustion consumed me, but it didn’t matter because being able to see my time as I finished made it all worth it.  My final time was 3hours 9minutes and 18 seconds! I had qualified for the Boston Marathon!!  The past couple of weeks I have started training again, this time with a new goal, to run under Three hours in the Boston Marathon…

Here is link if you want to read about my journey up to the Portland Marathon on our Train2move Site.

I look forward to sharing my quest to reach my next goal with all of you!

Josh Platt

If We Could ask Santa for Anything to Help us Run Better it Would be………

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IMG_2283Scott Olson – When we began discussing this topic the first thing that popped into my head was speed. I miss being able to run fast. I remember what it felt like to really be able to open up and hit that top gear and just cruise for a bit. I had a few glimpses last summer of it for the first time in a long time but once the High School Seasons came around my time for my own training disappeared.

So If Santa could give me a gift of running I would ask him to grant me the ability to run at my fastest speed that my body is capable of at any time. Runners often talk about that running high. That spot you can reach during runs where everything feels perfect for a time. If you have never felt this sensation, you need to because it is one of the most powerful and cleansing experiences I have ever received from working out. For me this occurs not during distance running but during those moments of feeling fast and free in my stride.

IMG_2234Loren Sheets – I would have to say that I wish Santa could drop a pair of slightly longer legs into my stocking. I am jealous of Usain Bolts long legs, and his huge stride. If I only had those genetics. Longer legs require greater strength and power in the muscular system, especially around the hips, to be able to move. Luckily Bolt has that power in his hips, so his long legs work to his advantage. If I could be 3 to 5 inches taller (6’3 – 6-5′), I have a feeling that I would be significantly faster if I also trained my muscular system to be powerful and efficient (which is what runwithpower is all about!) Hopefully I wake up Friday morning to find a new pair of longer legs sitting under the tree.

IMG_2147Josh Platt – Being able to run at top speed and having some longer legs both sound pretty cool (Especially since i’m only 5’8″) but if Santa could give me any gift to help me run I would ask for the ability to run without ever “hitting the wall” or getting tired.  This is every distance runner’s dream and can be the difference between a good runner and a great one.  The feeling of being able to speed up and blow past the competition as they are fading away and fighting their stride is a pretty amazing feeling.  I know I could have used that in the Portland Marathon for the last five miles or so!  Luckily through my training with runwithpower I will have better endurance than ever as I prepare to take on the Boston Marathon!

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Parachutes: How to incorporate them into Sprint Training

Parachutes can be a great tool to enhance aspects of your sprinting stride when used correctly. The idea of the parachute is simply to add outside resistance in opposition to your forward inertia that will force you to recruit a greater number of muscle fibers in your hips to initiate your stride. They are just one type of resistance training with sport specificity to sprinting. There are other ways to do resisted runs, such as having a partner holding straps or bungee cords that wrap around your waist, or pulling weight sleds. Parachutes allow you to do resisted runs on your own, and have the ability to be released during your sprint so you can then accelerate.

IMG_2274It is important that you have trained your stride to be efficient before you add the resistance of a parachute. Any imbalance in your hips that affects your stride will be intensified by adding the parachute to your run. Remember Law 3, that the body is designed to respond to stimulus according to the natural strength progression. Well, parachute runs are higher in the strength progression than simply running, so it requires a more efficient muscular system to do correctly and there will be greater potential for muscular compensations. That being said, there are ways to incorporate it into your training as long as you know how to neutralize the negative effects it may have on your body. In our sprint training programs, we will provide the proper exercises that will ensure a high level of muscular efficiency by neutralizing these negatives.

One important factor that you need to consider when doing parachute runs is wind. You do not want to do parachute runs on a windy day, because of the unwanted lateral demand it can have on your stride as you run. Many times the parachute will be pulling your body all over the lane from side to side if it is windy. This will affect your ability to train your stride, as your body will have to try to balance itself out and compensate for the lateral stress of the parachute. Use parachutes on days with little to no wind.

Here is a link to some good parachutes if you are looking to buy one and begin to incorporate it into your sprinting.

Loren Sheets

Do you tighten up when you run; Part 2

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This is one of my favorite running videos. This is a great example of one specific runner, Jeremy Wariner, who has the efficiency in his muscular system that enables him to maintain a smooth, powerful stride even while other runners lose their form near the end of a race. Wariner is the 3rd runner in the all green Baylor University singlet. Practically none of us could ever begin to approach Jeremy Wariner in terms of speed, simply because of the fact that we all have not been blessed with his level of genetic ability. Yet through proper training, any runner can develop the muscular efficiency that will allow them to be able to run with nearly as much power and fluidity at the end of a race or game as at the beginning without hitting the wall and losing their form.

Another runner to watch is Baylors 4th runner, 4×400 Olympic gold medalist Darold Williamson. Back when we were talking about the components of speed, stride frequency and stride length, we emphasized how we can make the biggest improvements to our speed by training to increase our stride length. Watch how long Williamson’s strides are compared to the runner several meters back. His leg turnover is not any faster than probably any of us, really, yet his tremendous speed is due to the fact that he can cover so much ground with each stride.

I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I did. Wariner is one of my all time favorite runners, he reminds me of the older generations of runners who were so fluid and powerful as opposed to the tight, muscle bound sprinters of the modern era.

Loren Sheets

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Training Tip #1; Use Stairs to Build a More Powerful Stride

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TRAINING TIP #1

THERE IS MORE TO DO THAN JUST RUN ON STAIRS

Stairs are typically used as a way to increase knee drive and many runners will occasionally run on them. We wanted to show you some additional moves to use while at a stadium or around stairs that can help increase your power in your stride. These can also be used as a warm-up before you go run. Keep looking for our new Warm-up and Cool-down program coming out in the next week. Combine these stair drills with the warm-ups and you will be amazed at how much better your stride will feel.

Scott Olson

Hood to Coast Teams Announced and…….. We are in!

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We are extremely excited to announce that in our first attempt we have been accepted as one of the 1,000 teams for the 29th Annual Hood to Coast Relay to be held in August of 2010. There were nearly 2,000 entires this year and for the 12th straight year they filled all 1,000 open spots on the first day of registration. If you have not heard of the event before it is a 197 mile relay in Oregon that begins at the top of Mount Hood and works its way through Portland all the way to the sand on the beach in Seaside.

Each team is made up of about 12 runners and each runner has 3 separate legs they must run. The legs vary from as little as 3.5 miles all the way up to 7.5 miles. Check out their website at the link above to see the maps and even a breakdown of each of the legs by difficulty.

This is going to be a great chance to share with you many of the training techniques we use and we will update you weekly on how the progress of our team is going. We also want to take this chance to go through the entire experience with you. From a quick summary of each of the legs to the uniqueness that is the event itself. We hope you join us along the way!

Congratulations to the 2010 Runwithpower Hood to Coast Team!

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Scott Olson

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Do you tighten up when you run?

How many of you find that when you are running for a while, you begin to lose your form? Your shoulders and neck begin to tighten up, you begin to arch your lower back, and all your muscles are straining, trying to fight fatigue that seems to be slowing you down. I knew this feeling well, especially when I hit 300 meters in a 400 meter sprint. In most races, there is a term runners use called “the wall.” In the 400, the wall usually happens around 300 meters, but depending on the runner, they can hit the wall at various points in the race. In other sports, this invisible wall sometimes happens at the later stages of the game. Teams sometimes run “4th quarter” sprints at the end of practice in an attempt to combat this ugly aspect of the game or race.

But what really is the cause of this tightness and fatigue? Is it simply a lack of endurance? Why can some people seem to just run without losing their form while others can go from a dead sprint to nearly collapsing in a matter of seconds? The question we all should be asking is how do we train our bodies to overcome this sudden loss of power and fluidity?

The sudden loss of form known as the wall can be attributed to a muscular compensation somewhere in our bodies. An efficient stride is dependent upon all the muscles of the body working together doing their job, but because of many forms of isolated muscle training and inactive lifestyles, our muscular systems develop compensations. Certain muscles learn to compensate and take over the jobs of other weaker and underused muscles.

The result is the overall efficiency of the entire muscular system becomes very low. The muscles that have to compensate fatigue very quickly due to inefficient movement of the skeletal system, and when this happens, such as near the end of a race or in the 4th quarter, your form falls apart and you “hit the wall.” Most athletes believe that they simply need to increase their endurance, but usually all they are doing is increasing the muscular endurance of the muscles that are already compensating for the rest of their weak, undertrained muscles. This is not a very effective strategy in comparison to getting rid of the muscular compensations altogether.

Our programs are built on the 4 Laws of Training. With these 4 Laws, you can train your body to become much more efficient, and get rid of any compensation that may exist in your body that is causing you to tighten up and lose your running form. You can never teach your body to relax and run with more fluidity, like most trainers and coaches try to do, when your muscular system itself is limited by its own compensations and weaknesses. By retraining your muscular system and getting rid of muscular compensations, your running stride will naturally increase in power and fluidity.

Loren Sheets

What are the Best Upper Body Moves for Runners Part #1

This may surprise you but we think that running all comes down to efficiency. Ok maybe that does not surprise you but we do wonder why so many programs think that laying on your back pressing a barbell off your chest is somehow going to impact your running. What you will hear is, well doing bench press will strengthen the muscles of the shoulder and upper back and help you to hold better posture as you run. Really? Last time I checked I could not get a very good running workout lying on my back. I wish, especially on those really cold mornings where you just want to lay in bed.

There are two theories behind strength training and running. The first is that you are a runner who also wants to look a certain way so you lift weights to help build muscle in your arms and chest  and back or wherever else you want to add muscle size and definition. The second is that you are a more serious runner and you wold like to train in such a way that improves your upper bodies abilities when it comes to making you a better runner.

These exercises are actually built for both theories. Contrary to popular belief you CAN and will firm up, define, and add power to the muscles of the upper body without using weights at all. Most runners simply buy into the mentality that lifting weights brings.

When you think about running and the role of the upper body this can really help determine the type of training you should do to help maximize your ability to run with power. Your stride begins and ends in your hips. The initiation of the linear motion begins in the muscles that constitute the hip flexors and proceeds to create a chain reaction down the legs and up through the torso. Your arms are simply a byproduct of the muscle patterns that are created in your hips.

IMG_2213Runners who have an efficient stride in their lower body almost always have great arm mechanics. Runners who have poor efficiency in their hips almost always have poor arm mechanics as well. Just watch the next time you are around a group of younger sprinters. The kids who have been blessed with a nice stride all have great arm mechanics, those without great strides have arms that are all over the place.

Most running coaches and trainers look at the arm mechanics and try to fix the issues with various arm drills and special equipment that forces your arms to try and manufacture good arm mechanics. Our approach is a little different. These drills and techniques can be helpful but unless you correct the stride, you can do all the arm work you want, you still have an inefficient runner. Remember the key is not to force the body to have proper arm mechanics but instead give it the necessary stimulus to develop natural arm mechanics on its own.

I realize most trainers will say that the fancy equipment is the only way to improve arm mechanics but that is just the limitation of the trainer. As you improve your overall stride, your arm mechanics will also improve. Once you reach a high level of efficiency, then the time to help enhance your already great arm mechanics makes some of these tools a little more valuable.

Scott Olson

Dorsiflexion in Sprinting

Dorsiflexion is the action of the ankle joint that brings the dorsal, or top region, of the foot upward towards your body. Flexion of the ankle or foot is another term commonly used to refer to dorsiflexion. The action is opposite of plantar-flexion, which is pointing the toes downward and extending the ankle. The primary muscles in dorsiflexion are the muscles on the anterior portion or the leg, the tibialis anterior (muscle in the front of the shin), whereas plantar-flexion is controlled by the gastrocnemius and the soleus (muscles of the calf). Dorsiflexion is emphasized in speed training and plyommetrics.

Studies show a correlation between speed and ground contact time. As speed increases, the time the foot spends in contact with the ground decreases. The idea behind training a dorsiflexed ankle position is so that the ankle keeps the foot in the best position to make contact with the ground and quickly “rebound” resulting in less time of the foot in contact with the ground. A fast runner needs to be able to plant their foot in a dorsiflexed position so they can get it off the ground as quickly as possible as to not slow themselves down. Many “specialists” suggest that training your foot to spend less time on the ground is the best way to improve your overall speed.

The idea of dorsiflexion sounds good, and it is in fact one of the biggest training standards for running technique in the modern speed training world. But, there is a flaw in this logic. Again, we are not saying that dorsiflexion itself is a bad idea in that it is essential to an efficient runners stride. The flaw comes in how practically all training programs approach teaching dorsiflexion. It is true that there is a definite correlation between foot contact time and speed. But, one of the biggest misconceptions, not just here but in many fields of study is that correlation equals causality.

IMG_2219Just because less foot-ground contact time correlates with greater speed doesn’t mean that training the foot to pop quickly off the ground will equate to greater speed. Less time the foot spends on the ground is not the reason sprinters run faster, it is the effect of running faster. It is simply a byproduct of your body moving faster. The faster you run, the shorter your foot will be in contact with the ground. Correlation, but not causality. Greater speed is attained by a greater amount of force applied to the ground to propel your body forward. This power is primarily generated at the hip joint, not at the ankle. A dorsiflexed ankle helps to transfer this force into the ground and therefore is a component of speed, but if you do not focus on increasing power from the hip, then all the dorsiflexion in the world will only make you so much faster. It is true that ankle dorsiflexion at the point of ground contact is the most efficient position for transferring the power generated in your hip into the ground and back to your body, but you will still only be able to run as fast as your body will allow depending on the efficiency and power of your stride.

Dorsiflexion should be naturally occurring movement as a result of an efficient stride. Stride efficiency begins at the hip, not the foot. When you train your stride to be powerful and efficient originating from the hip, then as you pull your foot through by driving your knee forward, dorsiflexion will occur as a natural movement of the ankle as you bring your foot down to make contact with the ground. The focus of you training should not be to try and shorten the time your foot remains on the ground by forcing a dorsiflexed position. This should occur naturally as your build an efficient stride from the hips down causing your speed to increase.

The focus of training programs should be on increasing hip power and efficiency. In the future we will be building programs that you can purchase that take your body through a progression that follows the 4 laws of training we have described that will totally redesign your muscular system starting at the hips, following the strength progression, as to fill in any gaps in strength and efficiency. Your hip strength, range of motion, and overall power will increase as a result, giving you the necessary tools to run with the most powerful stride possible.

Loren Sheets

Proper Running Form and Muscular Efficiency

If you have already read about our 4 laws of training then you have an idea of what our training system is all about. If you have not read them yet we recommend you check them out first. Either way here is our take on running form and how to train for it.

Wherever you look for training to become a better and faster runner, you will always hear about proper running form. Why is form so important? First off I would like to say that at runwithpower we do not argue the fact that proper running form certainly will improve your running. We differ from most trainers and coaches as to exactly what proper running “form” is. Let me demonstrate this in as few words as possible (a series of books could literally be published on this topic). Most running and speed coaches will try to “teach” athletes what to do with their arms, their knees, their posture, their ankles, so on and so forth, in order to achieve what we would say is the most efficient running stride possible. It’s not hard to recognize when some has improper running form. You literally can see it in the fact that when you watch any group of people running side by side, they all look different.

If there is such thing as the “most efficient stride” then it will look just about the same in every person, doesn’t matter if they areIMG_1565 tall, short, or whatever. If you have been reading about our training philosophy up to this point, maybe you have begun to pick up on our reasoning that when we talk about the correct anatomical position on the structural joints and full range of motion due to an efficient muscular system, when training according to the 4 Laws we have described, all this translates to correct running form.

So in effect, we don’t necessarily believe that you can teach someone proper running form, especially if their muscular system has inefficiencies that affect how their skeletal system is positioned and literally moves. You have to train the body according to the 4 Laws of training we have described in order to allow the body to naturally begin to run with better, more efficient form.

An analogy we use frequently is comparing the body to a car. Think of the alignment of a car’s wheels and how the performance of a car might be affected if the wheels were slightly, or drastically, off. A sprinter could be compared to a high performance race car. A long distance runner might be comparable to any car driving thousands of miles. The point is, in the race car analogy, a serious accident could occur if the wheels weren’t aligned properly, or the engine might have to work significantly harder to accelerate a car with poorly aligned wheels. In the analogy of a long drive, they will wear out quickly if they are off, as well as you will get less gas milage over the course of a long trip, say if the tires were flat. The flat, misaligned wheels of a car can easily be compared to skeletal misalignments in our bodies that negatively affect our overall performance.

So our idea of running with proper form is similar to driving a finely tuned car. The difference is you can’t teach a car to realign its wheels. Adjustments have to be made to the actual car itself, just as we have to literally train our muscular system to reposition our joints in a manner that promotes more efficient movement. You can’t just teach someone to run with a more efficient stride. It must be a byproduct of efficient training.

Loren Sheets

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