Monday, December 14, 2009

Off Season Training, My Best Running Partners, and More

I had to add this picture of my dogs. I walk my dogs almost everyday. I tell my clients I don't consider walking them exercise it is just a bonus. I have a client that will tell me she exercised because she walks her baby in the stroller. I told her that is bonus and not exercise! I walk my dogs because they love it and because I owe it to them as their owner. The bigger one in the picture sitting up is the best running partner! She will easily do a 5-7 mile run with me and then walk with the others a few miles. My dogs are the greatest! If you have dogs, don't take them to the dog park and let them run around the park while you stand around. Why not take them for a walk and get the bonus (exercise) I get everyday! Dog parks seem great in theory but they are contributing to making the population FAT! I don't need the walk, I am not trying to lose weight but I still make time to do it. I train people who are very fit (triathletes and runners) and I also train people in the gym who are wanting to get fit. It doesn't matter which category you are in you can still get the bonus exercise (it won't hurt). It may take some time away from watching TV but trust me that is OK! I have another client Carla that works at one of the local casinos here in Las Vegas. She tells me she gets some exercise because it takes her 20 minutes to get from her car to the area in the casino that she works in. I told her simply, this was not exercise, it was bonus! The bottom line is quit making exuses and get your butt in the gym and anything else you do is the extra bonus that may help contibute to making you a healthier person. BTW my dogs get carrots for their snacks, fish oils on their dog food in the morning.......they are three healthy dogs! Oh and they are some of the best looking dogs around.

I wanted to expand on one of my posts about off season training. I mentioned that it is time to do long slow training and this is correct to a point. That is not to say that you will not do any higher intensity workouts in the off season. It is always a good idea to push yourself in both off season training and close to races. Continue some interval work in all areas of triathlon training in the off season. Pushing yourself in the pool will only help you in the future. Doing a good interval workout on the bike once or twice a week is great. Incorporating intervals on the run once in a while will only help you during race season. You may not do as much in the off season but you still need to incorporate it into your training. How much will depend on your current level of fitness. If you are not fit and have not been working out at all then my suggestion might be slightly different.

I currently have my very funny Train With Cyndee Tech Shirts available on my website. I had to take a picture when 3 of my clients showed up in them to train with me at LVAC. Below is a great photo of Andrea, Anne, and Pam all in Train With Cyndee shirts! Thanks for representing!

If you like these you can email and I can get you one. They are also available on my website

The client in the center of the photo finished her first half marathon at the Vegas R&R Half. She was so excited she signed up for the Surf City Half in February in Huntington Beach CA. She got me to sign up too. Several others I coach or have coached in the past are now going to do it. Josh, Nancy, Denny, Adan, Anne and me are all planning on going for the race. It should be fun.

While surfing the Internet over the weekend I came across a really good article on proper running technique. I thought I would include it in my blog because I think almost anyone who runs could benefit from it. I found it on It is by another coach named Rich Strauss an associate of Joe Friel. Below is the article as it showed up on the trifuel site. The best thing I got from this article was to go through the checklist periodically when your running. I tend to run and let my mind wander, when I should really be thinking about my form. I did a 6 mile run this morning and just focused on a shorter stride. Anyway hopefully you will get some good information from it like I did. So here it is:

Proper Running Form
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Source: Rich StraussBio, More Articles
Many people believe that you are born with either good or bad running form, and that there is little that you can do to change it. We have all seen "natural runners," and envy their fluidity and grace. But by knowing a little bit about the physics of running and trying to adopt some of the common traits of all "good" runners, it is possible to improve on what you're stuck with.
Physics: Your body's center of gravity is in your midsection. Any force that is applied to the ground in front of this center gravity acts as a braking force to your forward movement. Picture a runner with an exaggerated running stride. Every time he plants his heel forward of his body, he applies a braking force, slowing himself down. In addition, before he is able to apply force to the ground and move his body forward for the next stride, he must wait until his body has moved directly over his foot. If you look at the form of most good runners, you will see that their feet strike the ground directly beneath their body. Running with this shortened stride is also characterized by a "mid-foot" strike (not on the heel, not on the toes, but at about the ball of the foot) and a high cadence, or "quick feet."
System Checklist
Now, having said all of this, don't watch me run. My wife Sue says that rather than run, I "lumber." But she also says I've gotten much better. This is my "System Checklist" that I use to critique my running form as I run. I start with my head and work down my body.
Head: Neutral position, don't look or down. Try to think of centering your head on your shoulders. Face muscles are relaxed and loose. Try to feel your facing bouncing with each stride. Sunglasses and a hat always help.
Shoulders: Relaxed, loose, but not "hunched forward." Think of "running proud" with your shoulders back, but don't try to actually pull them back. This creates muscle tension and is a waste of energy. Any forward lean must be supported by your lower back, changes your center of gravity, and results in wasted energy.
Arms: Any excessive side to side motion, or swinging across your body is a waste of energy. Try to think of everything moving in a straight line and in one direction: forward. Keep your elbows in and bring your arms up in a straight motion. Hands should be relaxed and loosely cupped.
Hips: Very important. This is the home of your center of gravity. Try to run with your hips forward. Pretend as if you have a rope tied around your waist and someone is pulling you forward with it.
Feet: I changed from a heel striker to a mid-foot striker and I'm convinced that this has kept me injury free. Try it if you want, but just beware. But regardless of how you plant your foot, you can try to plant it directly under your body and your center of gravity. Try running with a quick cadence of 88-90+. Simply count the number of times that your left foot strikes the ground in one minute. It will feel strange at first, but if you practice enough it will become second nature. Also, think "quick feet." Try to make as short as possible the time that your foot is on the ground. I've gone from 82 rpm at my IM pace to 90+. One of the most satisfactory compliments I've ever gotten in a race is when a spectator said "good cadence" to me at mile 25.5 at IM California. I spent a lot of time working on this and its nice to see it paid off.
Miscellaneous: Limit your vertical oscillation: run forward, not up and down. Try this trick: run with a hat and pull the brim down to just over you eyes, so that it takes up half of your vision. Run, look forward, and try to keep the brim of your hat steady on the horizon.
Count your cadence: just like counting your strokes in the pool, I have found that the act of counting my cadence on the run focuses my mind on my running form. Every 5 minutes or so I'll do my little system check above, and then count my cadence. It keeps me in the game and prevents my mind from wandering.
Not good runner, but I'm trying.
Rich StraussFounder, Crucible FitnessRich is a Joe Friel Ultrafit Associate, an Ironman World Championship Finisher, a USAT certified coach, and the founder of the Pasadena Triathlon Club in Pasadena, CA. Rich has personally trained over 250 Ironman finishers since 2001, and helped thousands more coach themselves more effectively through his training articles and active discussion forum. His endurance training company, Crucible Fitness, offers a range of personalized coaching and performance services, including FIST certified bike fitting and metabolic analysis with the NewLeaf system. He also sells affordable half and full Iron distance training plans through TrainingPeaks. Visit for a complete list of services.

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