Wednesday, November 13, 2013
"Seizing up" on long runs - Marty
I am a 59 year old male runner who has completed 9 marathons and numerous 1/2 marathons. My training ranges from 30 base miles/week
to 50+ when I am preparing for a marathon. Over the last 2+ years I have developed significant hamstring tightness and cramping
during and after long runs. Post run throbbing/low level pain continues for a couple of days. I've been to a sports physician
locally who put me on a good stretching program. It helped a bit but didn't solve it. I'm wondering if this is a result of
some type of muscle inflammation or something along those lines. I was curious as to your experience and thoughts about how
to get past this. I literally seize up during some long runs and in a marathon.
5:17 pm est
Reply - coach Janet
are several things to think about on this one Marty.
1 - are you running your training runs at appropriate paces
or are you pushing too hard? Many runners in my experience train at paces that are too fast for their current fitness
level and in the process not only put themselves at risk for injury but also short-change some of the physiological adaptation
that needs to take place to support better running economy at aerobic paces.
2. - are you fueling properly before,
during and after your long runs. Not only carbohydrate replacement but also electrolytes like Sodium, Potassium and
Calcium... electrolyte imbalance due to not replacing as much as you need to could contribute.
3. Any time someone
complains of hamstring pain I'm curious about their hip strength. Here's why - hip extensors (your gluteals) and hamstrings
work as a team when you run so if you're a bit weak in your hips, too much of the load is being borne by the hamstrings.
Increasing strength in your hips is usually a great first intervention.
4. Biomechanics - this is a broad
area to look into but things like choice of footwear, and your unique skeletal alignment can play into the mix. Since
you got some relief with the stretching exercises your healthcare professional gave you - perhaps there are other areas of
tightness that are contributing as well -- tight quads perhaps? Tight hip flexors? Tight calves?
this is food for thought -- if I can be of more assistance let me know... janet at runningstrong dot com.
Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Hitting a Plateau - Beth
9:26 am est
I have been in a plateau this entire cross country season, I haven't improved at all. This is my first year running high
school cross country, however I ran for two seasons previous that club cross country. I extended my club track season into
the end of July and was only able to get two weeks rest before I started cross country in August (by that time pre season
was over). My coach said that he thinks one of the reasons I have plateaued is because I didn't get enough rest in between
seasons. My question is whether I should run club XC into mid-December after high school ends (this Saturday) and whether
running club or not running club would help with my plateau? (The club I would run for is VERY competitive and rigorous,
so it wouldn't be just easy running).
Reply - coach Janet
As I'm sure your coach has told you,
lots of things go into the mix when it comes to performance. You need the right amount of training (too much is detrimental,
as is too little), the right amount of fuel (restricting calories can devastate performance and eating too much is detrimental
as well), the right amount of rest, and the right mental attitude.
With that in mind as you consider whether or not
to continue club X-country into December, really examine how you're feeling. Are you tired? Do you still look forward
to your training runs or do they sometimes feel like work? Are you battling injuries? If so that's a clear sign that
taking a few weeks off competitive running might be a good thing. Also realize that if you don't do COMPETITIVE running
that doesn't mean you're sitting on your butt eating bon bons.... you're still running, but perhaps at a lower mileage level
and with reduced emphasis on the harder training bouts of hills and speed...
I don't think you'll HURT your performance
by taking a break as long as you're paying attention to the other details. Make sure you're fueling well, getting adequate
sleep, and paying attention to the signals from your body. Perhaps a few weeks of down time between competitive
seasons would be a help for you! Hope this helps - Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Marathon goal - Aneli
Hello! I am 18 years old and I live in the Bay Area. I have been running since I first joined cross country in my freshman
year in HS. I am currently in my first year in college. I ran my first half-marathon this past summer in August. Then, I had
my second this month where I was first in my age division! Now, I am preparing for another half-marathon in Tiburon, CA in
this coming November. Starting this personal running career is an amazing and just purely exciting. In time, I want to be
able to complete triathlons. For now, I am starting small even though 13.1 miles is still a lot! Anyway, I am debating when
I will be ready to run my first full marathon. There is one I am very interested in registering; it is the San Francisco Marathon
on July 27th, 2014. I wonder if between now and that date is a good time to prepare while taking consideration of the fact
that I am still new to this "career." Is running a full marathon within 9 months too early? Should wait more and
train more in the meantime or it is okay? I run up to 20-40 miles a week in every month. The mileage depends on my half-marathon
training. It would be great to have an insight and some advice from you! Thank you!
10:54 am edt
Reply Coach Janet
think you would be safe to target a marathon in July - you've been running for 4 years, you've completed half marathons, and
if you're healthy and injury free it won't take a big leap to get you from your current weekly mileage of 20-40 up to a consistent
mileage of 40-50 which would support you completing your first marathon. As with any distance the first time - the goals
should focus on getting to the start line healthy and getting across the finish line feeling good and having enjoyed the training
and the race. Once you've completed that first marathon, then you have a better sense of how the distance unfolds during
a race, and how best to improve your time. For most athletes the first marathon should have goals that are not highly focused
on finish time -- but instead on learning the event and then subsequent marathons can be for PR's. I don't think running
a marathon in 9 months is too much for you with your current fitness level. Train smart - respect the distance and build
your fitness/endurance base first before focusing on intensity workouts like intervals and pace runs. Fuel well, underfueling
robs you of performance and health. Train at proper paces (hint, not race pace!) and listen to the feedback from your body.
Good luck! Enjoy the journey and let me know if I can be of assistance. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Friday, October 11, 2013
Improving half marathon time -- Todd
10:56 am edt
I am a 1/2 marathon fanatic and have run quite a few now. My best time is only 2:29 though and I am getting frustrated.
I want to get faster, and I also want to increase my distance to train for a full marathon. How do I do this, and are these
2 goals mutually exclusive of each other?
Reply - Coach Janet
Todd, these two goals are absolutely
NOT exclusive! In fact they work together really well. Nothing builds speed in a race as well as endurance! If
you build your overall stamina and endurance to be able to run longer distances, then the shorter ones become less of a "strain"
and can be done at higher intensity (speed) more easily. Think about this - Would you expect your 10k time to improve
if you built your long run up from perhaps the 5 or 6 mile range to a long run of 10? You bet! By training smart
and building your endurance and therefore your fitness base, you also build your ability to tolerate a higher volume of specific
speedwork. When you can do more speedwork, you can improve your race times.
How do you do this? Build sensibly,
train at the right paces, do some key strength exercises to work on areas that will help your performance, and when the time
is right, transition into some speedwork to insure that you know how to run the right pace. You know.... I know
a great coach that can help you with this :-) Get in touch if I can be of assistance -- best regards - Coach Janet Hamilton,
MA, RCEP, CSCS, RRCA-certified
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Deep water running - Pat
In training for an ironman & and injury arises, if one deep water runs the remaining "long runs" until race
day, which is approx 7 weeks away. How do you think the quads will hold up? Besides the deep water run there will be one
short run (5-6miles) per week outside. Thank you
12:13 pm edt
Reply - Coach Janet
Deep water running is a
great form of aerobic conditioning, but unfortunately it doesn't load the leg muscles in a fashion similar to running.
The resistance of the water is not the same as what your legs experience when they're dealing with gravity. With only
7 weeks left to train for an event as substantial as an Ironman -- you may want to evaluate your readiness and consider picking
another event that allows you more time to rehabilitate and then rebuild your running muscles. Your cardio fitness will
be there... but your leg strength will be affected by this layoff from running. It's hard to run a marathon on one weekly
run of 5-6 miles....
Best of luck on your rehab - hopefully you're back on your feet soon! Coach Janet Hamilton,
MA, RCEP, CSCS
Breathing, and squats for ITB - Janet
Hi Coach, I have two questions. First, what's your opinion on rhythmic breathing for injury prevention? I recently read Running
On Air, and according to the author, alternating the foot strike while exhaling can prevent same-side running injuries. I've
been practicing it, but it's very awkward and seems to make my breathing ragged and uneven. My second question is about ITBS
and squats. I read an article that said if one is prone to ITB problems, any type of squats should be avoided, yet glute strengthening
is supposed to protect against ITBS. Are squats really problematic for ITBS sufferers? Thanks for your time. Janet
10:29 am edt
- Coach Janet
I like the idea of what I refer to as an asymmetrical breathing pattern, especially it seems helpful
for people who suffer from side-stitches when they run. I usually encourage athletes to inhale for two footfalls, then
exhale for the next three. For example inhale on the left and right foot falls, then exhale left-right-left then the
next inhale starts on a right foot. If you find that feels awkward you can try switching to three beats for the inhale
and two for the exhale. Many runners use an even pattern (so they'd end up initiating the inhale and exhale always
on the same foot) and I don't think there's a ton of research out there to show that one method is better than the other.
As for the ITB question - you're right... one of the keys seems to be getting your hips as strong as possible. I encourage
things like clamshells, hip drops, planks, bridges etc... and I do recommend squats! In my humble opinion, squats
are part of life! If you sit in a chair, you squatted. If you get up, you came up from that squat. Squats
are life. With that said, my recommendation for those with current symptoms is to squat only to a depth that is comfortable
and painfree, and use body weight only until such time as you're able to squat to chair seat depth with no issues... then
if you want to add resistance by using weights you're probably safe to do so. In my experience I find that ITB issues
are often related to hip weakness, especially the gluteus medius and the lateral core region (lateral muscles of your low
back like quadratus lumborum) and tightness in the calves and hamstrings. Dealing with those deficiencies should help. Hope
this helps! Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Walking Shoes - Kathy
You were quoted in the Better Homes Garden August 2013 issue about "a Pair of Walking Shoes." I enjoyed the article
very much, and there was a picture of a pair of walking shoes. What brand and style were they. You talked about arch support,
rooms for toes and non slippage at the heel. I have one wide foot and it is often a challenge finding the right shoes. The
ones pictured had orange and white laces on white with orange accents. Thank you.
10:17 am edt
Reply - Coach Janet
sorry to say that I don't know what model the magazine used! If you're dead set on that particular pair you'll have
to contact the magazine and ask the editors about the shoe they used for the graphic. On the other hand, perhaps it
would be even better if you went to a technical running shoe store in your town and asked them to properly fit you with the
shoe that not only fits your foot, but also offers just the right amount of support (too much can be almost as bad as too
little!). Look around for a running shoe store in your town - Fleet Feet is one nationwide chain that has stores in
many towns across the country. You're not likely to get the help you need with shoe fit/selection from the "big
box" sports retailers -- their sales people just aren't as knowledgeable about footwear. If you want, send me an email
and I'll try to help you find a store in your town. janet at runningstrong dot com...
Hope this helps -
Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Mileage requirements for 3k x-c runner - Anonymous
What's your opinion on what the total number of miles a middle school XC athlete training for 3k meets should build up to?
8:16 pm edt
Reply - Coach Janet
I'm a fan of making sure that the athlete has enough mileage base to support
the speedwork needed to make the race time they're shooting for. With that said - I'd say that shooting for something
in the range of 20k a week seems reasonable. Consult with your middle school cross country coach -- I'm sure they have
a plan in mind.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Training with a cold - Fern
Hello, I am currently training for my first half marathon after having a baby 11 months ago. My training is going well and
I am doing a 12km race next weekend. I have however caught a bad cough and have had to take three days off. I am worried
about how this will affect my fitness and the training I have done. The half marathon is in 8 weeks time. Also, is it advisable
to still do some sort of exercise with a cold, even if it is light cross training, or should one take complete rest. I would
also like to comment that my body says rest and get better, but my mind does not agree.
10:05 am edt
Reply - Coach Janet
Hi Fern, missing a few days of training is not going to affect your fitness. Not to worry -- fitness doesn't
evolve or evaporate in that short a time period! Trust in all the hard work you've done over the last several months
of training and respect the feedback you're getting from your body. The most important aspect of any race performance
is to arrive at the start line healthy and injury-free. Sometimes that takes a little finesse -- but the outcome will
always be better because you're healthy! You mention you still have 8 weeks to train for your half marathon, so you're
probably not going to miss a beat from this little issue. This is where giving yourself ample time to train up for an
event really pays off -- if you have a training interruption due to illness or life-commitments or injury - it's not a big
deal, you've got plenty of time to get back on track. Not to worry -- get well soon! Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP,
Monday, August 12, 2013
Knee stability / push off - Dave
Hi Janet, I have a question about knee stability / push off power. This is in relation to something I just experienced today.
I have been planning on running a half-marathon this October. In preparation for the race training, I worked on building
a solid base and have very slowly worked up to about 16 miles a week with a long run of 6 miles. Everything has been going
really well until today. I went for a short easy 2 mile jog and although I wasn't pushing it at all, I could tell that I
had pretty much no push of power in my right leg. I finished the run and my knee doesn't hurt, it just doesn't feel right.
It doesn't feel stable and it feels weak now. When I try to walk up steps now I have almost no push off in my right leg.
Again, no knee pain, but an inability to push off. The other thing I have noticed is that my lower quads now feel strained
in my right leg as well as my right hamstring. I have been stretching regularly as well as working on core and hip strength.
This has been my longest stretch running regularly for a few years. I am contemplating stopping running until I can get
in to see someone about this, though I think this will definitely kill any chance I had at running the half (This is upsetting,
but I would rather not do more damage than may already be done). I have just never experienced anything like this and don't
know what to make of it. I was wondering if you have ever seen anything like this. Thank you for your time. Best, Dave N.
2:58 pm edt
Reply - Coach Janet
Hi Dave, have you ever had any issues or injuries to your lower back? Sometimes
issues going on there will present as leg weakness even more than localized back pain. Just something to think about.
Had you followed your usual training schedule the past week -- same number of rest days and same number of days between training?
Had you done any unusual activities that might have strained things like working in the garden, or perhaps lifting/pushing/pulling
heavy objects? It certainly makes sense to take a few days off running but if you can walk without symptoms you still may
be able to do that and keep your mileage up a little bit that way. It's certainly not the same load on your aerobic system
as running but the action of walking does a nice job of helping with hip strength. Perhaps you can do some harder aerobic
conditioning in the water? Deep water running is a nice cross training mode - but if you've got something going on in your
back it might not be well tolerated. Rest is a good first step -- and perhaps with just a couple of days off and some walking
you'll be back in the groove quickly. You're wise to evaluate your race based on how your body is doing and adjust goals
accordingly. They'll make more half marathons, your health is more important than pushing through when you should be stepping
back! Best of luck - hopefully this will be only a brief break! Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Sudden onset knee pain - Maura
During a run today I had a sudden onset of pain behind my knee. It was so severe, that I had to stop and walk the remainder
of the run. Walking was fine, I could only feel a slight strain, but each time I tried to run again the pain was severe and
circled my knee and shot down the back of my calf. I try to get in a minimum of 20 miles weekly, but have been inconsistent
over the last two years due to foot and hamstring injuries. I cross train with cycling and Pilates. Any thoughts?
12:31 pm edt
- Coach Janet
Hi Maura - the first thought I have is that I don't have enough information. Other than
that - anytime an athlete tells me about sudden onset of sharp pain that stops them in their tracks I want to investigate
further. Do you have a history of knee injury in the past -- any locking or clicking (thinking cartilage injury here)?
Were you running on more challenging terrain when this happened (trails)? Were you doing speedwork? Have the previous
issues with foot and hamstring injuries fully resolved and did you deal with the underlying factors that brought those on?
At the very least a few days off running would be something to consider -- allow whatever is injured a chance to heal.
During this short break, if you can walk symptom-free that's a GREAT form of cross training. I'd be happy to help, but
I'm going to need to know a lot more about your injury history, your training, your general health etc.... feel free to send
me an email and I'll send you a questionnaire to fill out to get started. Hopefully a short training break will help
get this resolved quickly. Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Potential for a sub-7:30 5K pace - Frank
I AM 65 YEARS OLD AND MY TIMES IN THE 5K ARE IN THE LOW 25 MIN.I GAVE UP RUNNING FOR 2 YEARS BECAUSE OF A BAD KNEE.I HAVE
BEEN RUNNING FOR A YEAR NOW AND MY TIMES IN THE 5K ARE OVER 2 MIN. SLOWER NOW.I WAS 170LB WHEN I QUIT RUNNING NOW I AM AT
183.I HAVE 8 WEEKS BEFORE THE SENIOR GAMES.I NEED TO RUN A 7.30 MILE BY THEN.CAN YOU TELL ME IF YOU THINK THIS IS POSSIBLE.
9:43 am edt
Reply - Coach Janet
It's hard to say based on the information you provided -- certainly running for
a year now (presumably symptom free) means you should have built your endurance enough to be able to tolerate a little bit
of speedwork, but without knowing more about your specific training in the past few months it's hard to venture a guess.
What you're hoping for is about a 6% improvement in time over your previous (25 min) 5k and an improvement of nearly 14% over
a more recent 5K (27 min range). Can you improve? I would certainly anticipate so. Can you get that amount
of improvement in 6 weeks? Not so sure. The best way to maximize your potential given the short time window you
mention is to
1. Stay healthy -- do all the "little things" to keep yourself in good racing/training
form including eating healthy foods, drinking adequate amounts of fluids, performing flexibility and strength exercises, sleeping
well and training consistently.
2. Train smart -- Maximize your endurance by doing one longer run per week. Use
one run per week to work on race-pace specific intervals.
3. Train your brain -- spend time each day working on
your mental preparation -- visualize your race and your successful outcome.
4. Taper properly - a few days to a
week before your race, ramp your training back so that your legs can rest and recover. Don't stop running, but just dial it
back so you can rest a bit.
Good luck -- let me know if you would like more specific assistance. Best regards
- Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
New runner with knee pain - Suhail
12:16 pm edt
Hi Coach, I have started running for past 6 weeks now. I started off gradually with walk, then increased the intensity
and now I run for 30 mins with walk breaks in between. But I have been feeling pain in the joints. I changed my feet position
when running and also got a new shoes for myself. The pain in knee has reduced to a little extent, but it is there. When I
climb down the stairs I feel acute pain in knee. I know iam doing something wrong, but not sure what. Can u please assist.
Reply - Coach Janet
Suhail, if you're new to running it is important to keep in mind that it takes
TIME for your body to get strong. You're only 6 weeks into the process and you're already well along the way if you're
able to run for 30 minutes with only occasional walk breaks. You're obviously doing a lot of things right. Make
sure that you're running at an appropriate pace -- nice and easy and conversational... if you can talk to your running partner
without being breathless you're probably running at the right pace. If you have to talk in short phrases only, then
you need to ease up a little. Make sure you're doing some consistent (daily) exercises to maintain your flexibility
- especially calves, hamstrings, hips... Also doing some strength work to focus on your hips and core region as well
as your legs. There are some good introductory articles on this website here: flexibility and strength that might be helpful for you. If you have questions - email me and perhaps I can clarify it further. Most of all,
be patient with your body as it adapts to the demands of training... it's not an overnight process! Best regards - Janet
Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Running after ACL surgery - Srini
Hi there, I am no big runner and recovering from ACL reconstructions 6 months now. I want to run 5K and get my fitness back.
Any suggestions. I have started road running and managed 1 mile in 11 mins. But not able to move forward... Need some suggestions
12:00 pm edt
Reply - Coach Janet
ACL surgery is no small thing, and it's not unusual for it to take
many months before the leg feels back to "normal" - long after it's functional enough for most activities!
The biggest issue seems to be getting strength back in the quadriceps, and also the hip muscles on that side. Hopefully
you had guidance from a Physical Therapist on how to regain your strength -- if not... push your doctor to refer you
to a good PT that has sports medicine expertise. I prefer functional exercises like squats, lunges and a variety of
balance/reach exercises, and also an emphasis on lateral hip and core muscles. As you regain strength in the leg, gradually
build your mileage. I prefer to break up the weekly mileage so that not every day is the same in terms of distance.
Once a week - a longer run. The other days of the week alternate between short and medium. Distance is of course relative
to your current status. Initially "long" may be 2 miles! As you get stronger that mileage gets longer.
Focus on stamina first, not speed. Do your strength work 3 or more times a week initially until your strength is equal
to your non-surgical leg. Hope this helps -- if you want more detailed assistance, send me an email and I'll give you
more information about private coaching. Best regards and good luck! Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Training to improve times - Jake
Hi Janet, I am a 29 year old, athletic non-runner. In bets with runner friends I ran a 5:25 mile (on track), and raced a 21:06
5k with zero training. Now I'd like to train and shave some time off of myself and 5k. My goals are a sub 5:00 mile and a
sub 19:30 5k. Can you please point me towards the best training plan for my goals and base line? Thanks!
2:14 pm edt
- Coach Janet
Wow... that's a strong performance for someone who considers himself "an athletic non-runner".
Just imagine what you could do if you actually trained! One of the most important aspects is that you build an adequate
base of training in order to tolerate a reasonable volume of higher intensity interval work. It's tempting to just go
out there and hammer on the speed aspect -- but if you do that without an adequate base or infrastructure you'll just increase
your risk of injury. Take a long-term view of this... Pick a race or two that is perhaps 3 months out -- divide
your training into cycles with the first period being devoted to consistently running at easy paces while building your endurance
base. This builds not only the heart/respiratory system endurance, it also allows the muscles, tendons and bones to
get adapted to the unique stresses of running. After perhaps 4-6 weeks of building your base, then shift into a phase
where you include some higher intensity interval work. Don't forget to allow some taper time prior to your target race
-- usually a few days of reduced volume and intensity is adequate for a race as short as a 5k. I can't really point
you to a "canned" plan --- though there are dozens posted on various websites I'm sure. I think you'd be wise
to use something more personalized and customized to you -- that way you can take advantage of your already proven genetic
gift! Good luck, let me know if you have questions or if you want a personalized plan you can check out the "services"
page of this website and send me an email inquiry. Have fun with the training! Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP,