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Ron Slack- Escape from Alcatraz race report from WIN MORE STUFF Winner

THANK YOU to 7SYSTEMS for the opportunity to run in San Francisco.

It was definitely a check mark on the bucket list which I would do it again. On race day the water temps that I was worried about were gone once in the water. It was a different way to start a swim most definitely (jumping off a boat). As most, I found the bike course very challenging due to the hills and sharp turns on the bottom of some. Which limited the speed one could obtain on the back side. The run was the most fun for me with the beach run and sand stairs. I will take all the ups and downs of this race and use them for  the next, which is next weekend here in Edmonton and then on to Ironman Canada.


Run Economy & Resistance Training

By Megan Brown

As runners, our main goal is to get the finish line as fast as we can and in most cases, ahead of as many people as possible. To achieve this goal, we set up complex training plans which include: long runs, shorter aerobic runs, tempo/threshold intervals, speed intervals and hill repeats.

 

Now, what if I told you that you could also get faster by investing some extra time in ‘NON-running’ workouts?

 

No, I am not referring to hitting the pool or jumping on your bike! I am suggesting that you can get faster as a runner by hitting the gym for strength and resistance training.

 

You have probably heard many times that RESISTANCE TRAINING can improve run performance. Some cite reasons such as ‘increased strength’ or ‘increased power’ or even ‘fatigue resistance’ for improved performance. Although many of these outcomes do lead to performance enhancement, resistance training, if done properly, has the most profound impact on performance because of its effect on run economy.

 

RUN ECONOMY is formally defined as the amount of oxygen consumed to run a given speed for a given distance. To illustrate: Erin may require 49ml of oxygen to run a 4:30 km, while it may cost Wes 54ml of oxygen to run his 4:30 km, making him ‘less economical’. With all things being equal, who do you expect to get to the finish line first? I bet you wish you were Erin!

 

You can also understand this concept by comparing your body to a car, and oxygen to gas; the more economical your car, the less gas you require to get from A to B at a given speed. And since gas (oxygen) is one of the limiting factors of performance, you want be as economical as possible.

 

Interestingly, most recreational (and even professional) runners loose a great deal of economy through their RUN MECHANICS. Below are some of the more common mechanical flaws:

  1. Hip instability
  2. Slow foot contact time
  3. Poor hamstring activation
  4. Insufficient knee drive

Therefore, a sound (run-specific) strength and resistance program that focuses on improving hip & core strength, foot contract time, hamstring activation and knee drive will inevitably make you a faster, more economical runner.

Below are examples of exercises that might be seen in such a program:

1)     Hip raise with hip abduction against resistance

– lie on you back, knees bent and feet firmly planted on the ground with resistance band around your knees

– raise your hips forming an incline bridge while pushing your knees out against resistance

*Start with 1 set of 12, move to 2 sets of 12-10 then 3 sets of 12-10-8

2)   Plank on swiss ball – “Stir the pot”

– form a plank on your elbows on a medium sized swiss ball

– contract your core while ensuring the integrity of your back stays strong

– use your forearms to ‘stir’ the swiss ball to the right and then to left while keep plank stable

* Start with 1 sets of 6xeach way; 2 sets of 6x each way; 3 sets of 6x each way 

3)     Hip raise with single straight leg

–        Lie on your back with your left knee bent and foot firm planted on the ground and right leg straight on the ground

–        Raise your hip (as in #1) while keeping your right leg straight; focus on leading the movement with your right leg so that your right hip is parallel with left hip and the end of the movement

–        Lower hip (and right leg) + repeat

–        To add a challenge, you can have the foot of your bent leg on a medicine ball creating an unstable surface

*Start with 1 set of 12x each leg then 2sets of 12xeach leg + 10xeach leg

4)     Running A’s against resistance 

–        Anchor a strong looped resistance band around a stable pole or piece of equipment  

–        With your back to equipment and the resistance band at waist level, run as hard as you can forward against the resistance

–        If done properly, the resistance band should keep you running in one spot despite your efforts to power forward

–        Continue to lean slightly forward and drive your knees, executing a perfect running motion

–        5-8 sets of 10sec; powerful running with high knees and perfect body condition

Thanks Megan Brown for providing us with this awesome article about run economy. Megan is a multiple-time Canadian cross country running champion and the current Canadian 1/2 marathon championShe coaches a wide array of runners in Toronto as part of MB Performance and can be reached at megan.brown2012@gmail.com


Cyclocross Season

It’s that time of year again; the season between summer and winter when bike riding temporarily loses it’s identity. It’s a tricky time of year. The weather can be all over the place, North American road and triathlon races are by and large finished and it’s hard to know what kind of bike you are supposed to ride or whether you are supposed to ride at all.

Your road bike is a bit of a prima donna; it likes warm weather, clean streets and the energy of a good group. Your tri bike is even more of a snob, craving long open stretches of road in the blazing sun, you can’t even think about taking that out in the fall months without serious attitude. Your mountain bike is always eager to go out but it craves the trail networks, some mud and a few decent jumps. Granted the fall months are great for this but what if you just want to get out and do some long consistent riding?

Well there is a solution and it’s the cyclocross bike. Yes it’s totally fine to justify the purchase of yet another bike. If you already have three then why not four? Four is a nice round number if you’re a cyclist. You cover off all your conceivable bases unless of course you live in a city whereby you will probably need to purchase a really cool cruiser bike for those trendy jaunts about town.

Cyclocross has grown significantly in North America over the past few years. A good example is a small weekly race series here in Victoria that started several years ago with attendance around 15 people. Now there are close to 100 people ever week who race around various parks in town as the sun is setting on cool fall evenings.

Cyclocross offers the perfect balance between road riding and mountain biking and is ideal for semi off road adventures. Cross bikes typically take the shape of a normal road bike with a few small tweaks including a higher bottom bracket for greater clearance and tires that literally cross between road and mountain. Similar to a road bike, they are thin but with small treads like a mountain bike.

The main benefits to riding a cross bike at this time of year are numerous. You can access any type of road or bike path or just stay on the road. You won’t be moving as fast as when you are on a road bike so generally cooler conditions don’t affect you as much. Cross bikes generally have more clearance for fenders which is a good thing if you are planning on doing a fair bit on the road in wet conditions. In places like Victoria where we ride all winter most people are on cross bikes for this reason.

Cross bikes are typically cost effective unless you are fanatic about the component group you chose to run. Usually the frames are a little heavier and the components are not so high end so you can get into it for about a thousand dollars, which is not bad in todays often high-priced bike world. If you are really thrifty you will realize that your cross bike can essentially be transformed into a road bike with a $50 tire change and voila you’ve got a bike for all seasons.

So if you are sitting there thinking of all kinds of lame excuses why you can’t ride this fall why not dig into the cross scene? Most bike companies have cross bikes in their line up at very reasonable prices. Who knows, you’ll probably venture out onto some roads you would never dare touch with your road or triathlon bike. Have fun!