Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Crank it Up

How to map the perfect training sound track.
By Susan Rinkunas

Participants in London's Run to the Beat Half-Marathon in October got a performance boost: The race had a scientifically selected sound track. Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., who studies the connection between music and exercise, selected almost 100 songs to play at 16 course points. "Music is a legal drug," Karageorghis says. "It reduces the perception of effort by blocking fatigue messages to the brain, and it can elevate positive mood." Karageorghis has found that runners who listen to songs with a tempo that matches their stride rate increase their endurance 15 percent.

1. Warmup Area
Play Slow songs with motivational lyrics to create a positive mind-set
Suggested Tracks "We Are the Champions," by Queen (64 beats per minute); "Faith," by George Michael (96 BPM)

2. Start
Play Songs with a slightly higher tempo to get you moving but that don't encourage you to go too fast
Suggested Tracks "Gonna Make You Sweat," by C+C Music Factory (116 BPM); "Pump It," by Black Eyed Peas (120 BPM)

3. Halfway Point
Play Music that increases in tempo
Suggested Tracks "You Shook Me All Night Long," by AC/DC (127 BPM); "Where Are We Runnin'?," by Lenny Kravitz (130 BPM)

4. Killer Hill
Play A special "booster" song that personally pumps you up
Suggested Tracks "Eye of the Tiger," by Survivor (108 BPM); "Livin' on a Prayer," by Bon Jovi (120 BPM)

5. Final Stretch
Play A fast song with motivational lyrics
Suggested Tracks "Let's See How Far We've Come," by Matchbox Twenty (166 BPM); "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," by Jet (209 BPM)

Most musicians record in the range of 110 to 140 beats per minute, Which is ideal for low- to Moderate-Intensity Running.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What's Your (Half) Type?

Use this quiz to decide which half-marathon training program is best for you
By Sarah Lorge Butler

PUBLISHED 07/11/2007

According to Terrence Mahon, who coached Ryan Hall to his breakthrough 13.1-mile debut, you can approach the half-marathon in one of two ways--extend a 10-K program or modify a marathon program. Whether you should use a short or long program depends on your strengths, preferences, and goals.

1. Which race scenario best describes you?
a) You struggle in the middle, but outkick other runners with a fast
final quarter-mile sprint
b) You pass a lot of people during the middle miles

Most runners know intuitively if they're geared toward speed or built for endurance, says Mahon. Your body responds to workouts in your strength area, meaning doing those runs enhances your training.

2. Which workout are you more psyched for?
a) Fast 400-meter intervals
b) A two-hour easy run or a long tempo workout

Doing what you like increases your motivation.

3. Which workout leaves you feeling more beat up the next day?
a) Long tempo runs
b) Short sprints

"If I give short, hard intervals for Ryan, he fatigues and it takes a couple days to recover," says Mahon. Needing more recovery time can affect the quality of your other key workouts.

4. What races are on your calendar this summer and fall?
a) 5-Ks and 10-Ks
b) A full marathon

Like Hall, who knew he'd run the London Marathon just three months after his half, your goals should factor into your decision on whether to use the short or long training program.

Answer Guide:
If the majority of your answers were "a," the short program is best for you; if "b," go with the long program.

Hamstring Strategies

How to handle this common runner's problem spot.
By Nikki Kimball

Tight hamstrings? You're not alone. Many runners complain about soreness in this group of three muscles in the back of the thigh, especially after intervals of fast running. Stretching helps reduce the risk of aches turning into full–blown injuries. But it can be difficult to get at the hamstrings without stressing the sciatic nerve, which runs parallel to the muscles in the back of the leg. This exercise stretches the hamstrings, not the nerve.

Put one foot on an eight–inch step. Keep your toes pointed forward and knee slightly bent. Looking straight ahead, lean forward from the hips and pelvis while maintaining an arch in your lower back. Once you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. If you feel a stretch in your calf, then you're stretching the nerve. Reposition yourself so the sensation in your calf disappears.

Nikki Kimball, a physical therapist in Bozeman, Montana, is a three–time USATF Ultrarunner of the Year.