Thursday, April 27, 2006

Breathe Deeper!!!!

DO says "During my last nite run with my MK Teammate Sim, he mentioned that my breathing was too shallow and suggested that i take deeper breathes using my diaphragm which will help my running .... i alway listen and take his running comments and advices seriously.. Sim Ann Eng is elite runner who run a 10km in 35-37mins and a sub 3hr marathoner... A rather humble n Nice guy who is always willing n prepare to share with us his experiences n knowledges! Thank You, Sim!!! "

While most runners take notice of their pace and distance, many people do not give any thought to breathing. However, how you breathe during your run can sometimes make the difference between a good and a bad run, and perhaps enable you to run at a faster pace with less effort.


The most effective breathing method for runners is to breathe in and out through the mouth. This is because of two main reasons. One is that you can get more air in and out of your mouth, rather than your nostrils. And secondly, you want to maintain a relaxed composure while running. This is achieved by having relaxed facial muscles. Nose breathing will result in a clenched jaw and tight facial muscles. So forget everything you've heard in yoga class, because "this ain't no yoga class." During your run, the mouth should be held open just slightly, and this position is called the "dead fish" because that is what it looks like. The breaths are short and shallow, but comfortable, not deep and long, and you shouldn't be aware of anything in particular. However, every now and then if you need to take a deep breath to re-group, it's absolutely fine.

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is better than chest breathing. This is because you are breathing in more oxygen and expelling more carbon dioxide. You can see if you are belly breathing by lying on your back and placing your hands over your stomach. Your stomach should rise and fall as opposed to your chest rising and falling. In order to practice this, picture your stomach filling up as a balloon would. Every time you breathe in, your stomach fills up the balloon and rises, and every time you breathe out, your stomach flattens. During this time, your chest stays mostly still. And, as an added benefit, while belly breathing, you are performing an isometric contraction of your stomach muscles. This will result in a more muscular and flattened stomach.


You can count your footsteps in time with your breathing. If, for instance, you have a 2-2 breathing pattern, you would breathe in while stepping left foot, right foot, then breathe out while stepping left foot, right foot. Then, the pattern would continue. If you have a 3-3 breathing pattern, you would breathe in while stepping left foot, right foot, left foot, then breathe out while stepping right foot, left foot, right foot. Then, this pattern would continue. If you feel out of control, either because of your breathing or your pace, you can use different breathing patterns to calm yourself down. Practice different patterns such as 2-2, 3-3, 2-3, or 3-4 to see what works best for you, especially during different conditions such as steep hills or racing versus flat, easy running.

If you hear your breathing while running at what should be a comfortable pace, you are running too fast. This may result in an out-of-control feeling. Slow down until your breath is very quiet.

by Mindy Solkin ...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Getting Ready To Compete At Altitude

I am currently training for September's Mount Kinabalu Climbathon... found this article by Owen Anderson, Ph. D. very useful and informative!
climbathon03OK - your training has been going great, but there is just one little problem: You are a sea-level athlete, and your upcoming, extremely important competition will be held at altitude. What do you need to do to minimize the negative effects of altitude on your performance?

Moving your spouse and kids (or your team, if you are a coach) to the site of competition is not feasible (in most cases), nor would it be good for your overall fitness. After all, altitude training significantly reduces the quality of training, teaching runners' bodies to move along at slower - not faster - speeds.
Naturally, you could take a more-practical approach to the problem. VO2max (and thus vVO2max) are reduced at altitude (compared with sea level), and so you could carry out sea-level training which would heighten VO2max as much as possible (so that the altitude-related declines take a great VO2max and turn it into a good one, instead of changing a good VO2max into a mediocre one). This means a steady diet of training at vVO2max, as well as at speeds ranging from 10-K alacrity to your very best running pace. Moving along for long, long miles at slower-than-race velocities won't cut it when it comes to VO2max enhancement.
Pursuing practicality, you could also make a sincere effort to optimize your lactate threshold while you are at sea level, waiting for your altitude adventure. After all, one thing is guaranteed about altitude running: There will be lots of lactate floating around in your bloodstream. Maximizing your lactate threshold will be a certain way to ensure that your muscles will simultaneously "cough up" less lactate into your capillaries as you scoot along in thin air and also pull lactate back in (to supply the energy you need to run) at the highest-possible rate. This means a complementary (to the VO2max efforts) array of lactate-threshold-lifting sessions, including lactate stackers (running incredibly hard for one minute, with two-minute recoveries) and hill climbs so tough that they make you cry.
The practical approach is not finished yet: You will also want to enhance your economy. The reasoning here is that if you are more economical you will be able to run at a lower percentage of your VO2max during the altitude race. This is good, since your VO2max will head south as soon as you get off the airplane at your altitude destination. Needing a lower fraction of a reduced VO2max can allow you to run just as well as when you required a high fraction of a more-magnanimous VO2max. So, your sea-level training will have to be rife with things which improve your economy, including hill training, explosive strengthening, and running-specific strengthening, utilizing movements which mimic the mechanics of running (of course, with more resistance than your own paltry body weight can provide). For the sake of economy, you should also do some running at the exact pace you will need for the altitude competition; for a race at 6000 feet or so, this tempo will be about 5-percent slower than the pace you would achieve at sea level on a course of comparable distance and difficulty.
Of course, adding in some "super-set" training is not a bad idea, too (Are you sure you'll have time for all of this? Perhaps that sea-level race in Huckleberry Falls, Wisconsin might be better than the Utah competition, after all?). In a way, super-set workouts simulate what will happen at about 6000 feet. That is, they force you to keep going at a steady, high-quality pace, even though your legs are leaden, your breathing is little more than death-bed gasping, and your perceived exertion is making you think that Borg should have added a "21" to his venerable scale. At the risk of sounding a bit esoteric, we can mention that super-set running forces you to keep on working even though hydrogen-ion concentrations inside your muscles cells have reached alarming levels. It is a good preparation for altitude, although - like the three previous strategies (spiking VO2max, lactate threshold, and economy) - it does have a shortfall. That is, it is easier to erase the crescendo of hydrogen ions associated with hard effort when you are running along at sea level than it is to get rid of the little fellows when you are actually at altitude, where the reduced oxygen pressures tend to magnify anaerobic processes in your sinews. In other words, even though you may get quite good at freeing your muscles from horrendous hydrogens during your sea-level workouts, things are still going to be quite different when you compete on the high-altitude stage. If you don't establish a lot of mental toughness as part of your training, altitude may knock you to the canvas, even if you have completed dozens of super-set sessions at sea level.
In addition to the general training strategies described above, there are some fairly specific steps you could take to improve your chances at altitude, including the following:
(1) Travel to altitude about one week before the actual competition. This will at least permit a ventilatory acclimatization to the altitude, although certainly not a complete blood adaptation. In other words, your breathing will feel less distressed when you compete, even though your blood won't be sporting magnified hematocrit or hemoglobin levels. In this case, training at altitude for one week should not produce significant problems for you, even though altitude generally depletes the quality of workouts. Since you will undoubtedly be in your tapering phase of training, you can emphasize short, sharp interval workouts during the seven days leading up to your race; your 400-meter speed, for example, is not going to be ravaged by the thin air prevailing above 5000 feet. The only drawbacks to this strategy are the extra costs of being at your race spot - instead of at home - for one week, the potential psychological burdens associated with being away from home and your normal routine, and the unpleasant physical sensations which sea-level denizens often experience when they sojourn at altitude for awhile (headaches, fatigue, parched lips, upset tummies, etc.).
(2) You could arrive at the competitive locale the night before - or even the morning of - the race. This would not permit the respiratory adaptations to altitude mentioned in strategy # 1, but it would also allow you to skirt the headachiness and fatigue which would almost inevitably show up if you arrived earlier. You would feel better at the start of the race (unless, of course, you were wiped out from your very recent traveling), and thus you might perform a little better. The disadvantage is that you would not be acclimatized to altitude in any way.
(3) Moving up the scale of expensiveness, you could also purchase/lease/rent a "high-altitude tent" and sleep in the darned thing for about 28 nights leading up to your altitude exertion. The advantage here is that your hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations would rise like rockets, and thus your VO2max - even your altitude VO2max - would soar like a hawk. During altitude running, each pint of your blood normally brings less oxygen to your muscles, compared with running along at sea level. Having more hemoglobin per pint would of course combat this alarming scenario, since it would boost the amount of oxygen which could be carried along per pint. At 6000 feet, you might not feel much different than you did with less hemoglobin at sea level. The potential disadvantages here are the cost of the tent and your partner's unwillingness to "camp out" with you for a month.
(4) You could travel to the part of the German Republic which used to be called "East Germany," locate one of the laboratories which was part of the vast East-German sports-science empire, and then train on a treadmill in one of the pressure-controlled, hypoxic chambers which those ingenious Germans used as an essential part of their overall Olympic preparations. Although you will be on a treadmill and not on terra firma, the hypoxic conditions will simulate what you will face at altitude, with fewer oxygen molecules peppering the interiors of your alveoli. It will be fun exploring the labs, but the key disadvantage here is that the benefits of hypoxic training have not been unquestionably established by reputable scientific research. Working under those hypoxic conditions might actually slow you down and thus produce more tempered physiological adaptations, compared with training in normal air.
(5) Moving back down the expensiveness scale but perhaps up the bizarreness gauge, you could have your kindly neighborhood physician remove a half-liter of your blood about 12 weeks before your altitude race. Six weeks before the competition, he/she would extract another half-liter of precious red fluid. The blood would be frozen, and then both half-liters would be re-infused into your bloodstream shortly before your journey to altitude. Your VO2max would certainly be up as you trod along the pavement or grass of your altitude race, and your blood would have a boosted buffering capacity, too (runners sometimes forget that hemoglobin is itself a pretty decent buffer which can sop up hydrogen ions), but it's possible that your school, the NCAA, the IAAF, the USOC, other competitors, and your parents might frown on the practice, not to mention the "man (or lady) in the glass."
(6) Best Tip: Forget schemes 1-5, and - one hour before the starting gun goes off - ingest the right amount of that great buffer found in your own refrigerator - sodium bicarbonate. The logic here is inescapable: Running at altitude lowers the extent to which your blood is saturated with oxygen, compared with running at sea level. Part of the reason for this is that blood and muscles become more acidic during intense running at altitude, compared with sea-level jaunting; this spike in acidity causes oxygen saturation of hemoglobin (aka SaO2) to plummet, leading to a lower delivery of oxygen to your poor leg muscles. Sodium bicarbonate reverses the acidity trend, thus improving SaO2. What happens is that sodium bicarbonate "soaks up" potentially fatigue-inducing hydrogen ions produced during strenuous exertion, including many of the excessive hydrogen ions which appear because exercise is being carried out at altitude. This mopping-up action, by upgrading SaO2, allows more oxygen to be delivered to the muscles. The best-available evidence suggests that sodium-bicarbonate supplementation might increase vVO2max by about 2 percent, partially offsetting the VO2max loss associated with being at altitude.
Of course, sodium-bicarbonate ingestion is as legal as swilling a glass of Gatorade™ before your event, but you have to take in just the right amount in order to give performance a boost. In fact, you would want to ingest about 300 milligrams of sodium bicarbonate per kilogram of body weight (about .005 ounces of bicarbonate per pound of body weight), dissolved in a glass of water, exactly one hour prior to the beginning of the race. The disadvantage of this strategy, though, is that sodium-bicarbonate intakes are linked with a high frequency of gastric distress. The first time you try it, in fact, it is almost certain that you will develop nausea, flatulence, and/or diarrhea. So, unless you think that running with an aching gut is cool, use sodium bicarbonate several times in practice during the weeks leading up to your big day at altitude. Your gastrointestinal system should adapt somewhat to the stuff, but if it doesn't you may just have to change your air ticket for a day-before-the-race arrival.
In the months leading up to your altitude challenge, remember that you will want your training to emphasize intensity, rather than volume. Running 80 or more miles per week at a moderate pace with a light emphasis on high-quality training is poorer preparation for altitude than running 40 miles per week with 12 miles at high intensity, for example. Bear in mind that athletes who have optimized maximal aerobic capacity, running velocity at max aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, running economy, running-specific strength, and power will definitely be at an advantage over those who have not done so (in terms of coping with the stress of altitude running). The higher your sea-level fitness, the better will be your ability to handle an altitude challenge

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Interval Running

DO says "Just did my first interval session last nite with the MF runners... it was tough.. i mean veri siong.. my heart rate hit 178 which near my max of 181 beats!! Now .. i want to refresh my mind if it still around on why i am torturing myself with the Interval... As SC5 would say .. I saw GOD last nite..hehee..."

Most runners seeking to maximize their 5K or 10K potential will need to adopt some form of interval training. After a base of solid distance running has been established, runners can add interval training to complete the elements needed for optimal racing fitness.

Purposes of interval training
There are three main reasons to do interval training:

1. Intervals are used to increase anaerobic threshold levels. By repeating sustained hard efforts at near anaerobic condition, the runner improves his ability to run hard without going into oxygen debt.

2. Interval training also increases a runner's endurance. This means that the runner can continue at a certain pace for an extended period of time.

3. Finally, interval training builds muscle strength. Typical distance running exercises the leg muscles in a certain range of motion, with the focus on slow-twitch fibers. By running at faster speeds, the runner exercises all leg muscles and improves flexibility during running, both of which will mean improved muscle performance in races. This makes running at a race pace easier and improves top speed for sprint finishes.

While these reasons can be summed up by the maxim, "If you want to race fast you have to train fast," they also indicate (at least reasons 2 and 3) that some small amount of intervals will also benefit even fitness joggers.

The amount and distance of the intervals, as well as the frequency of the training sessions, will be determined by the quality of mileage training, the type of runner involved, and personal preference. Two principles must be kept in mind when developing a training schedule that includes intervals: 1) the intervals must complement the distance mileage training (i.e., a runner needs to identify what is missing from the mileage running), and; 2) the type of workouts must suit the runner both physiologically and psychologically.

The latter point is important, especially for runners who are no longer part of a team. It is hard enough for a runner to motivate himself to do a tough workout, let alone one that the runner does not like or do well at. In short, for a runner to benefit from interval training, he has to show up at the track. And to reliably and enthusiastically show up at the track, the runner must have interval workouts that work for him.

Physiological differences

Different types of runners will benefit from different mixes of interval training. A runner with a greater amount of slow-twitch muscle fibers will generally do better with longer intervals. Conversely, a runner with a higher percentages of fast-twitch muscle fibers will tend to do better with an interval mix that includes more shorter intervals.

The slow-twitch runner will generally need fewer interval sessions than the fast-twitch runner. Indeed, too many interval sessions can quickly fatigue the slow-twitch runner's limited number of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which results in no staying power in longer races, or the appearance of no endurance. Runners with more fast-twitch fibers will generally thrive on more interval sessions. For example, it is plausible that a slow-twitch runner would need no more than one well-designed interval session per week, whereas a fast-twitch runner would need three weekly interval sessions to maximize his ability.

That being said, for slow-twitch or fast-twitch, a runner who is seeking to maximize fitness for a 5K or 10K will need to have a significant amount of high-quality mileage or longer intervals. Most runners who have trained on a team have seen a "workout king" ?? a runner who excels at interval training, especially shorter intervals, but fails to come close to the same level during races. The usual cause of this dissonance is a lack of endurance, which can only come from quality mileage or longer intervals.
Another caution when it comes to interval training is that runners can compete with other runners or themselves during these sessions and lose sight of what they are trying to accomplish.

The runner who has plenty of quality mileage ? runs pretty hard for much of his training, includes hills in his runs, does tempo or steady state runs ? will have less need for intervals than the runner who runs easy mileage. For example, in the classic Lydiard training regime, a base of quality mileage is followed by hill repeats and then by a period of shorter intervals (200 meters to 400 meters). This works because the runner has the endurance and a high degree of aerobic fitness from his mileage. The shorter intervals add the final piece to the mix and further muscle development.

In contrast, under the old Oregon system, the endurance and anaerobic threshold were built on longer intervals (800 meters and up) and on shorter intervals with abbreviated rest periods or moderate speed recovery periods (similar to fartlek). The quality of the mileage was less important because so many other elements of fitness were obtained from the interval training.

Shorter intervals are added to the mix to provide the final element of anaerobic threshold and muscle development. In sufficient quantities and at the right pace, shorter intervals can also provide some endurance building.

The majority of short intervals will be of distances of 200m, 300m and 400m. They can be varied, like the longer intervals, or there can be a set amount at a specified pace. Like longer intervals, some runners prefer "cutdowns" ? gradually reducing the time of the hard efforts from relatively easy to very challenging.

Adding short intervals, such as 6 x 200m at a relaxed sprint, at the end of longer interval sessions or tempo runs can provide needed balance in developing overall race fitness.

Also as noted above, shorter intervals should not be the exclusive form of interval training unless the runner does a substantial amount of quality mileage. An athlete who does easy mileage and only shorter intervals will likely never develop the endurance to maintain his potential over a 5K or 10K.

From this midpoint of recovery time, runners can vary the amount rest they take depending on their workout goal. Runners who are seeking to develop a greater amount of endurance can reduce their rest periods. Runners seeking to run faster during their hard efforts (usually to increase fast-twitch muscle development) can take longer rest periods.
Generally, within a reasonable margin of the midpoint recovery period (20 - 30 percent variation), it is simply a matter of preference to determine the amount of rest between hard efforts. The margin of fitness difference between a little more or a little less recovery period is inconsequential in the overall context of training.

The next question is whether to walk, jog or run during the recovery period. Again, this should be determined by the primary purpose of the training session. Walking obviously provides more rest than jogging if the rest periods are the same amount of time. Walking for recovery might make sense if the primary goal of the interval session is to maximize muscle development. If building endurance is the main goal, a walking recovery makes little sense.

Jogging during recovery is generally preferable to walking if for no other reason than the legs stay warm and loose between hard efforts, reducing the risk of injury during acceleration. Jogging during recovery also has the added benefit of keeping the runner running, which improves endurance and the mental toughness of the athlete.

Interval training provides a level of fitness that is difficult for most runners to achieve via distance mileage alone. As with much of training, flexibility is needed in designing and performing interval sessions. Every runner is different and will react individually to different workouts. But if the purposes and principles of interval training are kept in mind, the runner should both enjoy and benefit from interval training.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Viva Marathoner! Vivien Tang!

Her 2004 SCSM's Winning Timings!
Position RaceNr ..Name ...............Rank Finish Time NetChip Time
...1 ......27 ...Tang Yoke Pin, Vivien 13 ..2:59:51.. 2:59:49

VT01 vt02
" In 2000, Tang clocked 3:51.00s at the London Marathon. She finished sixth(3:11.00s) at the Venice Marathon in 2002 and 12th (3:12.00s) at the Hong KongMarathon a year later. At last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Hanoi, she came in sixth, clocking3:03.00s, a personal best. In April, she ran the Boston Marathon and finished in 34th spot in a time of3:05.00s. Tang, a remisier, has set herself a modest target of re-writing her personal bestof 1:27.23s for the half-marathon – set in the Gold Coast event earlier this year– in New Delhi.

Tang trained six times-a-week – sometimes twice daily "

Vivien sharing her experiences and views on running with us. It is my first direct face to face meeting with Viva Vivian Tang! This petite lady is a very kind and gentle person who is prepare to share her experiences and knowledges with amateur joggers like us... Thank You!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Typical Training Schedules for April!

For Monday's training with MK climbathon team,
Location : Bishan Stadium
Type : Training Run
Distance :14km

For Tuesday's training with MF,
Location: Queenstown stadium
Type: Speedworks
Route: N.A
No. of sets: 1 x 1.6 km, 2 x 800m, 2 x 400m
Pace: 5 min/km

For Wednesday's training with MK Climbathon Team,
Location : Bishan
Distance : 14km
Stairclimbing : 8 sets x 20 storeys

For Thursday's training with MF,
Location: Kent Ridge ParkType: Hill running
Route: Clubhouse -> Depot Rd -> Alexandra Rd -> Portsdown -> Science Park I -> Kent Ridge Hill (2 rds) -> Pasir Panjang -> Telok Blangah Way -> Henderson Rd -> Clubhouse
Distance: 13 km

For Friday's training MK Climbathon Team,
Location : Bishan
Distance : 14km
Stairclimbing : 12 sets x 20 storeys

For Sunday's run with MF,
Location: Sentosa - MF Hill
Type: Long endurance run
Route: Clubhouse -> Harbourfront -> Sentosa Gateway -> Sentosa Crove -> Tanjong Beach -> Siloso Beach -> Adventure Trail -> Sentosa Gateway -> Kampung Bahru -> Mount Faber Hill (2 rds) -> Morse Rd -> Henderson Rd -> ClubhouseDistance: 23 km
Start time: 7.15 am

If i do all the scheduled trainings , my run mileages will be at 80 km n 6 days per week! This is just too much mileages n training days for a novice like me! Must decide which trainings i must skip to avoid injuries or mental fatigues....

"In running you can't say you want to be the best. You just have to work very hard, really. You're only a hamstring injury away from oblivion." - steve jones


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