Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Getting Faster One Day at a Time.

Hope you're all well. Things are fine here. Slowly getting back to some decent mileage. Have already done a couple of marathon pace tempo runs and on my second week of weights and strength training. I''m definitely feeling stronger.

In the next few posts here I'll go into the specifics of this training but in the meantime I wanted to share this video I came across with you. I plan to start such exercises, though at a little less intensity, in the summer months here.

Enjoy this video and try incorporating a few of these exercises and drills yourself. Come the racing season I reckon we'll be hitting new highs.

Message to Mark's wife. When Mark get's better I recommend he go and see "Coach" Rick Hoffman.


Saturday, May 09, 2015

Strength Training for Performance Running.

Graham Green (50) 2:31:5.. at this Years London Marathon. Poster boy for Strength.
Below, as I mentioned in the video, an extract from Gordon Pirie's book "Running Fast and Injury Free."

A race is an all-out effort over a short period of minutes or seconds. The aim of weight training for runners is to simulate as closely as possible the movements used in running their special event, and hence the demands which racing makes on the body. In this way, the body's strength can be developed, with an emphasis on ensuring that the body is balanced in strength, and not lopsided with one side stronger than the other, as commonly occurs because most people are either right- or left-handed. A runner should be equally strong in both sides of the body - left and right - and have balanced strength between the front and back of the body.

Many athletes I treat for injuries are stronger on one side of the body than the other, and it is my belief that injuries are often caused by this imbalance. The weaker side is pushed or pulled by the stronger side until it gives out. The most common injury of this kind is of the hamstrings, resulting from unbalanced back strength. Weights used in training should therefore demand equal efforts from both sides of the body, and to achieve this I have found dumb-bells very useful. Many of the runners who decry the positive effects of weight training have gained their superior strength with the assistance of a good Doctor or Chemist. Others - like Sebastian Coe and Steve Scott - are open about the significant role that weight training has played in their training.

With dumb-bell exercises, you should try to use heavier and heavier weights up to as much as one-third or even one-half of your body weight. This is very difficult. If you are able to easily handle as many as three sets of ten repetitions of a particular weight, then the weight is too light. If you cannot do at least six repetitions, the weight is too heavy. The same rule applies to weights requiring a bar-bell. You should aim to work to at least two-thirds or more of your body weight with bar-bells. The ultimate test is to be able to lift the equivalent of your own body weight over your head. When you can do this, you will be strong enough for running events. Top field event performers and sprinters can lift weights up to the level of the very best weightlifters. Valery Borzov, 1972 Olympic 100- and 200-metre Champion, was fantastically strong. World record holder Jarmila Kratochvilova became so powerful that her femininity was drawn into question (actually, her fantastic ability was the result of almost 20 years of hard training).

I was first introduced to weight training in 1952 by John Disley, who handed me a bar with 15 pounds of weight on it. I was puny (though already British running champion and record holder at this time). The 15 pounds of weight was almost impossible for me to push over my head. My arms and upper body protested violently against the exercise, and after one session with this “massive” weight my muscles were dead. By the next day, however, I began to feel the positive effects of my efforts, with strength seemingly beginning to flow through my body. In no time at all, I felt my three-hour runs going better. I couldn't afford to buy my own weights or go to a gym, so I found a log of wood and started my weight training at home in the garden, with builder's lead nailed to the ends of the log. I got stronger and stronger and, suddenly, I was stunning people with my sprint finishes, as well as pounding many of my competitors out of sight before the sprint even came round.

In 1953, a generous gentleman from Surrey (whose name I have, regrettably, forgotten) gave me a set of weights after seeing a picture of my training “log” in the newspapers. I did weights in our back garden facing the kitchen window. My mother often pulled faces through the window as I did the repetitions, grunting and gasping, and I had to beg her not to break my concentration while I was going at it like hell, because it made me laugh! Al Murray, the famous weight lifter, gave me solid advice on what and how to do weights. I went at the weights very hard in 1954, and so started the season in fabulous form. I set a world record for a grass-track mile (4:05.2), then suffered a broken bone in my foot from an accident and missed the rest of the season...
From those early days on, weight training has been a part of my preparation for races, and that of the athletes I train, although I have on occasion been “kind” to many of my trainees in New Zealand, allowing them to get away with only hard running. I will not make that mistake again. From now on, it's weights and running or nothing.

The most astounding thing about weight-trained athletes is that they often don't look the part. It is possible to get very strong without looking like Mr Universe or Rambo. Some very thin- looking individuals can be extremely strong, despite their skinny muscles and frames. Weight training does not go hand-in-hand with muscle bulge, unless you either munch a lot of steroids, or do a lot of slow, easy pumping. When we do maniac, high speed, all-out maximum weights, we get very fast and strong without putting on any bulk at all (you will not begin to bulge all over the place, girls). Most truly super-fit people don't look the part; fitness is a hidden quality. But when they “operate”, however, their performances reveal those “hidden” talents. The opposite of this case is The Incredible Hulk, who can't even jog across a room to visit his girlfriend without needing a rest when he arrives.

Before getting onto the specifics of an effective weight-training protocol, here are some general guidelines about fitting weights into your overall programme:

How often should one do weight-training?
Every second or third day is about right, along with a full running programme (curtail your weights several days before a race). Your weight training should also continue through the height of the racing season. Do not give away all the good training you have done just when you need the greatest amount of strength.

How hard should the weight-training be?
There are two types of weight sessions: (1) a full-out session in which you do all and every exercise as hard as you can; and (2) an easier session with half-dosages of fewer exercises. It is not uncommon for a tired runner to feel much fitter after a moderate session with the weights. These sessions seem to flush out your muscles. On the other hand, the full-out, go-for-it, maximum sessions tend to put the body down a bit, and numb it for a while; so those sessions should never be attempted near to a race day (say within six days). The body does cope easily with easy routines, however, and I sometimes even find that a few exercises with strong weights before a three-hour running session can bring fantastic strength into the running, making it feel much easier.

I have always found my best running fitness - when I was able to set world records and finish races in stunning fashion - to be absolutely tied in with my best form with the weights. The stronger I was at grappling with the weights (combined with a lot of hard running), the better I was on race day. It is interesting to note that the New Zealand veteran Derek Turnball, who runs world records in his age group, does weight training nearly every day in the course of his job. He will deny this because he never touches a bar-bell, but he is doing hard physical work all day long on his farm, and is as strong as a horse. He also does his running at an elevated altitude in the mountains around his farm. Derek has three major strength factors at work in his daily life: he goes for long runs; he runs up and down mountain paths; and he does weight-training as a way of life.

If you are an average sedentary person, you are likely to be as weak as a chicken, the very opposite of Derek Turnball. If this is the case, go to a specialist in weight lifting and have him test you for back, leg and arm strength. You will be shocked by your weakness. Then do weights for a month and go back to be re-tested; this time you will be astounded by your improved strength. Your running will become easier, and you will begin to go faster and faster.

I have a chuckle every time I go into a health club. There are runners and tri-athletes playing silly games with puny weights, instead of getting “stuck in” and doing something that would be really beneficial for them. We go into the gym and smash away for 45 minutes to an hour, breathing like rhinoceroses, and then get out. The average inhabitants of the modern weight room fiddle about looking at themselves in the mirror, and never seem to get going. They are there for hours, sitting on their hands admiring their expensive gear and big muscles in the looking glass.

One example of this was Richard Okesene, who was New Zealand Javelin Champion. Richard had a fantastic body, at least that's what the girls told me, and would play around with huge weights - in fact, some enormous weights, in the 300- to 500-pound range. But his capabilities as an athlete were puny, compared with his apparently tremendous strength. His heart and circulation were so bad that he couldn't last out a dozen reps in a light-weight exercise session. His endurance was nil. By the time he had run up the 30 metres to throw the javelin, he was exhausted. After only three months of our style of weight training, plus some hard running, his best throw in the javelin went from 60 metres to 76 metres. If Richard continued in this style of training, I am sure he would be able to throw 100 metres. Athletes like Richard are to be found everywhere, but like the dinosaurs with their big bodies and little hearts, they are bound for extinction.

Before I began weight training, I was a long distance and cross country runner who could grind it out with anyone, but a constant loser in a sprint. A diet of hard weights, however, turned me into a complete competitor, one who could pour on the pace and still sprint madly at the finish. 

A great book if your interested it is free to download online. If further evidence is needed we can't forget Yoshihisa Hosaka who at 59 ran 2 hours and 34 mins for the Marathon. Although I don't know exactly what his day work consists of, or if he indeed does lift but you can tell by looking at him: He is strong!!

Yoshihisa Hosaka at 59 a World record holder.