(Photo by Wayne L. Johnson - waynepacer.smugmug.com)
As I turn 50 years old in less than one month on April 10th, it is time to announce my first race for 2013 - The Congress Avenue Mile in Austin, Texas on May 18th: www.congressavenuemile.com. It was the second race in my 20/20/20<5@45 event back in 2008. I won the Masters Heat (over 40) in 4:50 at 45 years old. I have begun training now to try to beat my time of five years ago. Racing the mile faster five years later at 50 would be a great way to kick off the racing season. In 2013, I will be returning to some of my favorite races around the country. We travel to Texas first.
Our training concentrates on first establishing a running and strength base. In the photo above, we destroyed one of my 6 pound medicine balls on aggressive throw downs in the strength portion of the workout. As in the past, I put in 30 miles a week with each day being a different distance and theme to race one mile well in May.
With St. Patrick's Day upon us today, I will be toasting the holiday with my green drink specially prepared by beautiful Sekyen. The concoction is made of kale, carrot, celery, spinach, and apples - and it is pure energy! Happy St. Patty's Day to you all...
Most people discuss the two most common ways to run faster by increasing stride frequency or increasing stride length. However, I feel the key to running faster is landing stiffly on the pad of your foot. The more time that you spend on the ground, the slower you will go. It is simple - fast running is not done on the ground but in the air. If you have not worked your entire body to incorporate speed and explosion, you will not perform very well or you will get injured.
When I am running faster, my foot lands stiffly on my foot pad (the area between the toes and the arch of your foot). This area is commonly referred to as the "ball of the foot" which has a fatty pad that protects the five metatarsal heads and provides a nice cushion when you land. When you run fast you are putting 100% of your body weight on this specific area. When I say landing "stiffly," I mean that my heel does not hit the ground. I am trying to reach out in front of my body as far as I can and still land on the foot pad; thus , decreasing my time on the ground. Landing on your heel is like putting on the brakes due to your leg being straight and spending too much time on the ground. A variety of injuries (from your foot to your back) can occur if you continue to land on your heel. Once I land on the pad of my foot, I explode forward and up with almost a bounding feeling.
The best way to find out how you land is to take your shoes off and run. See if you land on the ball of your foot, your heel, or flat. A soft flatter landing (still hits the foot pad first but allows the heel to touch) is good when running slowly and with a shorter stride length as you do not want to run with a stiff landing unless you are elongating your stride length. If you continue to land stiffly with a short stride length, this will create a sheering effect as your femur pushes down in front of the tibia creating knee pain.
Please spend time strengthening all your muscles, ligaments, and tendons (especially in your legs and feet) before trying this stiff foot pad landing. Please visit www.BodyProtection for your copy of the exercises and movements to create the strength you need to become an explosive, fast runner.
What is Juicing?
Juicing is essentially the process of extracting the juice of fruits and vegetables and drinking them. Some nutritionists advocate juice fasting for periods of time for anyone interested in cleansing their bodies or losing weight, and this has been proven successful time and again. Athletes however, use juicing in order to boost their nutrient levels and give their bodies a timely injection of energy before, during, and after sporting activity. Almost all of the nutrients and goodness from the fruit and vegetables remain in the juice but the fiber is taken out, leaving a highly concentrated juice drink.
When you drink a fresh fruit or vegetable juice (which does not contain the fiber) the body is able to transport the vitamins and minerals around the body extremely efficiently. This provides you with a ‘quick fix’ of healthy, vibrant, natural energy. Because the fiber has been extracted from the juice, the digestive system does not have to remove it, meaning less work for the same nutritional goodness. The digestive system uses up to 60% of the body’s energy when it is working hard to digest a big meal, and this is why you often feel lethargic after consuming a large feast. Juicing is a quick and effortless way for you to get an influx of nutrients into the body.
How Can Athletes Utilize Juicing?
Juicing can be used to great effect by athletes who are looking to maximize the body’s potential as it allows you to load the body up with nutrients without using up valuable energy during digestion. You can also consume much more equivalent fruit and vegetables as it is condensed into a refreshing drink. Used as part of a well planned training and nutrition regime, juicing really can provide you with an additional boost just when your body needs it.
Freshly squeezed juices contain huge amounts of electrolytes, which help to rehydrate the body, and getting it from natural juices is the healthiest way. If you are really looking to give the body a boost of nutrients, you can also add in some natural hemp protein powder, spirulina, or wheatgrass powder to help the body to fight fatigue in the aftermath of heavy exercise. Research shows that the optimum time for the body to take in natural proteins in around 30 minutes after exercise, so having a juice drink 30 mins after exercise will be a great way to replenish lost nutrients.
For greatest effect, juices should be consumed on an empty stomach as this is the quickest way for your body to extract the goodness from the liquid. This means that on a race day you can utilize the body boosting power of juicing by consuming a nutrient dense juice one hour before the event, another during the race (if possible) and then another 30 mins after completion, with added natural protein powder if desired. This regime can also be followed on training days.
How to Get Started
There are countless different recipe ideas and combinations out there, with some being particularly good for short term energy boosts, and others for prolonged energy usage. The trick is to try as many different juices as you like and see what works best for your body. Beetroot, cantaloupe, pineapple, kale, spinach, celery, apple, orange, pear, lemon, and watermelon are all great items for athletes to juice as they provide tons of energy for the body. A ‘green juice’ may take a little bit of time to get used to as the flavors are particularly strong, however your body will reward you for sticking with it. You can always start with more fruit based juices and slowly add in your vegetables if you prefer.
Juicing is the perfect way to stock up on nutrients and energy without placing extra demands on the body due to heavy digestion, so if you want to feel light and energetic before and during exercise, give it a go.
So many runners just go out and jog through their distance training for the week. They like the camaraderie of their fellow runners as they speak about their lives, races, and nagging injuries. They jog long and slow many times during the week and when they have more time on the weekend, they go a little longer. Then after so many miles of running, they wonder why they are not getting any faster in their races.
These runners have trained their slow twitch muscle fibers and their aerobic base all week, but they have not developed their fast twitch muscle fibers and their anaerobic base. If you are one of those runners who love to run, hate to go to your local track, and want to get faster, here is a simple way to get faster in your running workouts.
Instead of just jogging with your friends, take 20-30 minutes in the middle of your next run and increase your pace and effort. A fun and easy way to do this is to take turns choosing different objects to open up your stride to for a short burst. For example, one person might say "to the telephone pole" which is 100 yards away. After you all pick up your pace to the telephone pole, then slow back down to your normal jog for some time to recover your breathing. Then the next person might say "to the stop sign" which is 50 yards away. After you all pick up your pace to the stop sign, then again slow back down to your jogging pace to recover. By changing the short distances and the recovery times in between targets, you begin to work your body in a way that will help you get faster. You will begin to feel muscles higher up your legs that not have been incorporated before in your running style and you will feel your lungs expand even further with your deeper breathing.
You might find out that the chatter begins to wane as the intervals increase, but I hope you find the change in your run not only beneficial to your race times, but also a lot of fun as you begin to open up your stride with your friends.
I attended our high school regional cross country championships and a pro tennis tournament yesterday. I wanted to observe two of my athletes compete. One at the cross country meet before I begin his speed preparations for track season and a tennis player before I prepare his 2013 schedule. I learned a great deal by seeing the race and the match in person. With all the statistics and other various numbers that computer programs spit out, for me there is no comparison to actually being at the event. I know it might sound like "old school" to some, but I need to use my senses to watch live action, hear the sounds, and feel the intensity of competition. It is what has kept me in love with live sports since I was a youth and developed my instincts as a coach.
It was indeed a day of contrasts. The runner ran a personal best falling over after crossing the finish line in pure exhaustion. The tennis player competed well for a set and then drifted away losing the last 12 of 13 games. I find it interesting why some athletes rise to the occasion and others collapse. Certainly some have not worked or prepared properly, some do not care as much, and some fear competitive situations. Why can't we try our best in the competition, win or lose with grace and humility, and take responsibility for our actions? It seems so simple, so wonderful, so free. We have been cluttered with so many other thoughts that the joy of competing against others has been tarnished. I am not naive to the fact that there are many things associated to sports success: money, scholarships, and fame. But when I put my toe on the starting line of a race, the only thing that matters to me is the desire to give my best. I just wish the young athletes of today do not miss out on how much enjoyment and satisfaction can come from true competition. My athletes had contrasting realizations yesterday that only competition could bring out. The journey continues...
If you can do the physical, the most difficult part of the game to master is the mental. This is what many athletes miss in their preparation for competitions. I was asked by a reporter the other day about the greatest challenge on The 2012 Isles Mile Challenge and I said "constantly taming my mind on tour." I feel our minds love to jump around hurting our concentration and focus. Being present focused seems so simple, but yet is so elusive. Our minds jump from the past to the future keeping us mentally weak and hurting our athletic performances.
So how do we begin to tame the mind?
1) Stay in the here and now. This race, this point, or this play is all that matters. Every other thought will diminish your performance. Easy to say, extremely difficult to do, but it is something you can learn.
2) The mind-body connection is bridged by your breathing. People laugh at me when they hear me breathe during a mile race (heavily through the mouth and nose), but they also laugh when they hear me perform my breathing exercises for relaxation, focus, and visualization (almost Darth Vader like). Deep breaths through the nose activates the lower part of your lungs and will increase blood flow and increase energy. Longer exhalations than inhalations can also help you relax and calm your entire body.
3) Create habits that keep you in the present. For example, get used to giving your absolute best mental effort in every competition (something you can control) and forget about the outcome (something you cannot control) - it is an amazing zone of performance that you will want to repeat again and again. You will be free to compete at your highest mental level.
Since my return to Florida, I am trying to listen to my wife and rest a bit more. I have to admit that I have had difficulty "decompressing" after every one of my tours and this year is no different. A little down time, an occasional nap, and a swim in the salt water are very much in order for September. Also on my return, I try to help out a few of my running buddies in their workouts.
We try to take advantage of our natural surroundings in Florida and workout/run on the beautiful flat beaches in Sarasota. I was assisting one of my running buddies in a six mile run on Saturday and we ran by four manatees in the shallow waters of Siesta Key. Manatees are as big as cows and are very friendly. It was one of the many blessings in our early morning workout.
Even though I am not training for competition this fall, I hope to enjoy the simple pleasure of running and to inspire the other runners preparing for competition. Maybe this fall I will do a little better getting accustomed to life not on tour...
Aloha! After a couple of days on Oahu, we flew to Maui to visit one of our longtime sponsors at www.OneMileRunner.com, Maui Jim Sunglasses www.mauijim.com. It was our first time visiting the location where Maui Jim began in Lahaina. Even though Maui Jim moved its headquarters to Peoria, IL after purchasing RLI Vision in late 1996, the Hawaiian culture and way of life that Maui Jim promotes dates back to its roots here in Lahaina.
Having an opportunity to meet the owner and CEO of Maui Jim, Walter Hester, and his entire Lahaina staff was a treat for Sekyen and me. We felt the warmth, hospitality, and care that Maui Jim prides itself in everyday with its superior customer service and employee relations.
(Sekyen and I with Walter Hester)
(Bill Haywood and Jen Williams with me at the entrance of the Lahaina location)
Being a Fitness Ambassador for the Maui Jim Team http://www.mauijim.com/teammaui.html called 'Ohana (Hawaiian for family), I was asked to test out a new pair of sunglasses called "Hot Sands." Even though "Hot Sands" will not be available for purchase until later this year, you will see me testing out the model during the last leg of The 2012 Isles Mile Challenge on the Big Island this Saturday.
Sekyen and I wanted to say a special thank you to Ruthie Belden, Executive Assistant to CEO, who took the time out of her busy schedule to show us around the facility and share with us the values of Hawaiian history. Mahalo!