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Whether you’re a new runner or a long-time competitor, having a well-thought out training plan is vital. If you’re not confident in your ability to create one yourself, go out and get a copy of Daniels’ Running Formula (2nd Edition). In my experience it is by far the best book on training theory for the masses out there.
It’s got several selling points:
1) Credibility – Jack Daniels is a PhD in exercise physiology and has been a leading researcher in the field for decades. Most of his work deals specifically with distance running and how to improve your training. So when he talks about a study and what it means for your training, he knows he’s right because half the time it’s his own study that he’s citing!
2) Accessibility – Even though the information presented is rooted in physiology, Daniels doesn’t expect you to understand the science behind it all. He explains the importance of different workouts and training in terms of how it helps your running instead of why. Even for runners with no background in the sciences, the concepts are easy to grasp and apply.
3) Usefulness – A lot of training books go into great detail on the science or the theory and provide precious little in terms of practical application. Daniels commits virtually every page in his book to usable information. There are detailed, 24-week training programs for every race distance from 800m to the marathon and often includes several versions depending on your ability level.
There are also charts for determining training paces, in-depth sections on racing strategy, how to put together your own training program and everything in between. Even at 280+ pages it doesn’t feel like there’s any filler.
4) New Information – If you have the first edition of Daniels Running Formula, it’s still worth it to pick up the new edition. While much of the information is the same, there are a number of major changes between the two editions. The two that I use the most are the inclusion of training plans for the 800m (the shortest distance in the first edition is 1500m), and a new table for calculating tempo pace for long tempo runs.
The first edition includes paces for 20-minute tempo runs, but the new version includes paces for tempo runs lasting from 20 minutes to an hour. It may sound like a minor addition, but it’s one of the tables I use the most. For me, the new edition was worth it for that addition alone.
Whether you’re just getting started in competitive running or are looking for a new way to spice up your training, Daniels Running Formula is a vital addition to any runner’s (and coach’s) library.
Get the Daniels Running Formula from: AbesBooks.com or Amazon.com
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…
Yes. You read that right. I’m singing a little bit of The Sound of Music. But there’s a reason I’m embodying Maria Von Trapp today. I’ve been humming My Favorite Things ever since I was asked to write about my favorite things for running.
When I first got this assignment, I was a little stumped because I don’t usually run with anything more than my iPod Nano, my 2008 Top 10% Gate River Run Finisher hat, and a Nike watch. But the more I thought about it, I realized I may be light on running accessories while I’m on the trail, but off the trail it’s a different story. If you peak inside my little Honda Civic or inside my closet door, you’ll definitely see some running paraphernalia. So here are a few of my favorite things for before and during a run.
Foam Roller: The OPTP AXIS Roller Black
This is the crème de la crème of foam rollers in my opinion. This is the same brand my message therapist, my chiropractor, and my physical therapist have in their offices. I’ve used other foam rollers in the past, but they broke down easily. The OPTP AXIS Roller is extra firm, so I can use it over and over again and it keeps its shape.
Get them at RoadRunnerSports.com: Foam Rollers
You can also find them at Power-Systems.com: Foam Rollers
Zensah Ultra Calf & Shin Sleeves
If you don’t own compression gear, my friend, you are missing out. If you’ve read some of my posts here, you know I’m recovering from PRP injection, and that my running form is changing because of it. As a result, muscles that have never hurt in my life are hurting now (because I’m actually using them, whereas I wasn’t before).
I decided to try the Zensah Ultra Calf & Shin Sleeves hoping to help my tender legs feel their best during my recovery. I chose sleeves over socks because I don’t like to wear socks to bed. Plus, I wear sandals a lot, so I can wear the sleeves to work hidden under my pants (and yes, I’ve done that) and I don’t have to field a bunch of questions from my co-workers.
If you want to know more about the benefits of compression gear overall, check out the post by my fellow www.10k-running.com blogger Carl Leivers. He’s a collegiate coach and he says both he and his athletes notice a difference in their long run recovery days when they use compression gear.
Get them from RoadRunnerSports.com: Zensah Ultra Calf &Shin Sleeves
Also purchase them through Amazon.com : Ultra Calf and Shin Sleeves
180s Ultralite CTG Convertible Gloves
Before silver white winters melt into spring (forgive the second Sound of Music line, I couldn’t help myself) the 180s Ultralite CTG Gloves keep my hands cozy during cold morning runs. Initially they’re gloves, which I think are better than mittens because you have the use of your fingers in case you need to tie your shoelace or easily pick up something during your run.
But the gloves have a hidden compartment on top that holds what the company calls a “retractable hood.” On rainy or colder runs when your hands need more insulation, you can pull the hood over your fingers so your gloves become mittens. The 180s also feature a raised fabric pod on the index finger so you can control your MP3 player without taking off the gloves.
Find them through RoadRunnerSports.com: 180s Ultralite CTG Gloves
Sure you've seen people at the gym working out with extra large “rubber band” type objects. A lot of gyms have resistance bands available in the aerobics classes or out in the free weight area. They've become pretty popular, and why not? They are a change from the old yoga ball or hand weights routine.
Most commonly, you'll see resistance bands being used around a foot in place of toe raisers, between a stationary object and a hand in place of bicep curls, or between two thighs or ankles in Pilates. These are all great drills for resistance bands; however, as a runner there is a whole world outside the gym where you can be taking advantage of resistance band training.
Enter Myosource Kinetic. Imagine a rubber band string connected between two knee braces. The rubber band string is only a few inches long, meaning each step you take wearing this resistance band especially designed for Track and Field is a workout. This would be like working out with more gravity or at a higher elevation—it simply makes what you're already doing that much harder. Their products are easy to incorporate into your regular routine with obvious benefits up front. Simply put, you can do your strength training and speed or agility training at the same time—period.
Now let's look at my personal favorite: Jump Stretch. This product is used to do what is known as “resistance running.” My junior high and high school had a product like this that we used throughout the season each year. It was fun, challenging, effective, and a welcome break from the “same old.” This large, flat, rubber strap is about 6-10 feet long and comes in a variety of strengths (depending on your size, shape, age, and ability). The drills require two people.
One will be running in front with the rubber band comfortably around his or her hips; the other will be standing behind the runner providing resistance by holding the strap and leaning back away from the runner. You can run 40-50 meters, stop, and switch athletes, or create a more complex regimen involving a ladder, sets, or wind sprints. Don't forget you can work your lateral muscles, vertical jump muscles, and many other things. All of these resistance band exercises will give you more explosive speed, build up leg muscle strength, and help you focus on proper technique.
At JumpStretch.com, you'll find a multitude of resistance bands for runners and instructional videos with lots of great training ideas and tips. An average-strength band is $25. At Myosource.com, you'll also find many different bands and instructional tools. Their basic running resistance band package starts at $39.95 and includes a variety of band strengths in the package. Also try ResistanceBandTraining.com for more ideas and information.
If you watched any of the Olympics in 2008, you probably noticed the war-paint like athletic tape that volleyball player Kerri Walsh wore. It’s called KT tape and it’s the latest and greatest trend in injury management.
For a long time this unique tape and application process were limited to chiropractors and other sports medicine professionals (you can even become certified in the taping process). But it’s now available in more consumer-friendly forms and is definitely worth looking into if you’re struggling with injury.
What is KT Tape?
KT tape is not just athletic tape that comes in different colors. Its elastic qualities allow it to manipulate the skin and the movement and function of muscles in ways that traditional athletic tape can’t.
You can think about traditional athletic tape as limiting the range of motion at the injury site, and KT tape as assisting the range of motion. In most cases, the KT tape will be stretched and then applied to the skin. The elastic then contracts and creates a microscopic “lifting” of the skin. This allows pressure to be taken off pain receptors at the injury site, and reduces pain.
How do you use KT Tape?
KT tape is going to have different application processes depending on the injury that you’re treating. Demonstration videos for taping everything from shin splints to carpal tunnel can be found here: INSTRUCTIONS
This new consumer version of the tape comes in convenient, pre-cut strips that allow you to follow the demonstrations without any special training.
There are a few differences between the application of KT tape and regular athletic tape, however. As I mentioned, it’s often stretched to utilize the elastic properties of the tape. The adhesive is also heat-activated, so it takes some friction to get it to stick properly. The upside is that once it’s in place, it’s more or less waterproof and should stay in place for several days.
Does it work?
In a word – yes. I wish I had more of a scientific background to understand why it works. But I’ve personally used it sporadically to alleviate patella tendonitis (“runner’s knee”), and I’ve used it effectively with my athletes as well.
I would caution you that this product definitely treats the symptom, not the cause of the injury. So I would recommend it as a short-term solution to get you through the marathon that’s a few weeks away, rather than a long-term fix. Sooner or later, you’ll have to address what’s actually causing your injury. Until then, at about $13 a roll, this is certainly worth trying!