13 Fine Running-Related Links for July 2012

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Photo Credit: DSC_1025 by Flickr user Zach Klein, used under a Creative Commons license.

It’s that time of the month.  Wait, having just posted on a blog written primarily for women runners (and discussing why there are so few such useful running resources written by women), maybe I should clarify a bit – I mean that it’s time for the best of the month post.  And this month yields some good content, as usual.

And it’s not just that time of month – it’s that time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere at least, and specifically in North America this year) – when summer’s oppressive heat and humidity seems to make effective training impossible.  Fortunately, Jason Fitzgerald comes to the rescue with eight lessons he’s learned from dealing with the sweltering DC summers.  Whether you believe it’s man-made or not, global warming is a trend, so you better figure out how to deal with it, unless you want to focus exclusively on spring marathons.

Speaking of weather, John Davis at Runners Connect posts on a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for some time, basically explaining why a headwind is so much more impactful than a tailwind.  Since my background is in mechanical engineering (with a focus on fluid and thermal engineering), I of course have to share the governing equation:

I know that’s a lot of variables, but the only one that matters for the discussion here is the “v”, and there are two things to note.  First, this “v” is the “relative” wind velocity – if you are running into a headwind, you have to add your speed (typically 6 – 12 mph) to the wind speed; if you are running with a tailwind, you need to subtract your speed from the wind speed.  Second, since wind resistance or drag (F sub d) is proportional to the square of the velocity, this means it increases faster than the velocity of the wind does (i.e., 4 times the drag at twice the wind speed).  Combining these two factors, it’s clear that a headwind will penalize you far more than a tailwind will help – and John shares the results of some studies on oxygen consumption rates to prove the point.  What is most practical in the post, however, is the value of drafting off of another runner – this can reduce wind resistance by 80%!  Keep this in mind (and hope someone else isn’t aware of this) the next time you run a windy race.

While his blog focuses mainly on triathletes, Joel Friel has posted a list of the criteria defining mental toughness that is useful for any endurance athlete.  And “Martin”‘s comment on the post provides good suggestions on how to put yourself into positions during your training that force you to develop race-specific toughness.

The folks at Greatist.com have put together another share-worthy infographic, this time on how to use a foam roller.  Having used it this month to offset some hamstring tightness, I would say that there are better ways to use it than what they cite.  In fact, part of the challenge is knowing where the heart of your issue lies – in my case, rolling the quads and IT band in a gradual, thorough manner (1″ up, 1/2″ back, bending the knee for times when finding a point of tenderness, and really BRINGING THE PAIN) has helped my hamstrings far more than rolling the hamstrings themselves.

Maybe my favorite post of the month comes from Jeff Gaudette on Competitor, discussing how to train for the long term by mixing up your race distances throughout the year.  I’ve been thinking about shifting my focus away from the marathon for a bit, and this provides a good way to do so while still booking gains that will help in future marathons.

This was the month for talking glycogen depletion training, it seems.  First, John Davis (once again – if you’re not subscribed to Runners Connect, you should be) discusses the science behind the “bonk” and the theory supporting glycogen-depletion training.  Laura at Salty Running provides more practical advice on how to implement glycogen depletion training into your approach without starving yourself – by running long on back-to-back days (something I practice frequently). And even the “mainstream” publications got in on the act, with Alex Hutchinson advocating running before breakfast (another approach I practice almost daily) in Runner’s World.

While I’m not normally a big fan of lengthy-list posts, Matt Frazier at No Meat Athlete makes a compelling one in sharing 50 lessons learned from a 50-day run streak.  These are mostly practical points that provide good insights no matter what your “level” or goals.

Brian Martin shares (and expounds) on a framework for developing your strength-training regimen as a runner.  I’ll admit to being guilty of just using the same routines for leg strength and core work year-round, instead of adopting more of a periodization approach like I do with my running.  This is definitely something to reconsider after this marathon season.

From outside the world of running comes a helpful reminder on how to act like a kid again.  While the minimalists advocate running like a child (light, quick, on your toes), the point in this article is remembering how to have fun and not worrying about looking stupid.  Very appropriate for running as well as life in general (especially if you happen to have children).

And one more example outside of core running sites – Stepcase Lifehack asked 15 entrepreneurs how they encourage health and fitness in their organization.  My wife and I recently compared our work realities, where I find taking the occasional lunch to run or do above-mentioned leg or core work to be energizing.  She felt that such behavior would be frowned on, if not an outright impossibility, where she works – which is ironically one of the leading health institutions in the country. I’m curious if anyone else works at a company that encourages healthy pursuits (besides Stefan, as I know his company covers race fees).

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