Strength Training for Triathletes, from VeloPress

Strength Training for TriathletesIf you’re into exercising, you should know about VeloPress. If it’s a sport in the triathlon (or associated topics like nutrition), they’ve got you covered. Here’s a short review of Strength Training for Triathletes, 2nd Edition, by Patrick Hagerman.

I have barely seen this book since it arrived, since it has been my spouse’s constant companion for her triathlon training. She doesn’t usually travel with (or need) books for exercise, but this one has gone with her to the gym or pool regularly. That’s a good sign.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

Certified USA Triathlon coach and NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year Patrick Hagerman, EdD, reveals a focused, triathlon-specific strength training program that will enable triathletes to push harder during training and on the racecourse when the effort is hardest. Triathletes who master this progressive strength training program will also become more resistant to injury, meaning fewer missed workouts.

Strength Training for Triathletes features 75 of the most effective strength training exercises for triathlon swimming, cycling, and running plus core strength and general conditioning. Full-color photographs illustrate each simple exercise, and exercises are grouped so athletes can focus on their own individual performance limiters. Hagerman simplifies the science underlying strength training, offering easy-to-follow guidelines on resistance and reps that will make triathletes stronger through every phase of the season.

The exercises themselves are split into seven chapters: one for “core conditioning,” and then one each for upper and lower body for swimming, cycling, and running.

The author asks right away: why train for strength when the triathlon is an endurance sport? Why train muscles and not just cardiovascular?

The short answer is that strength training makes muscles stronger, and stronger muscles can perform longer at higher intensities before they fatigue.

Or, in other words, “When you have more muscle to rely on, it takes longer to wear it out.”

As a runner I found compelling the science behind this that Hagerman unpacks. When I think about working out, I only ever want to run (more miles!), but he makes a convincing case for the value of strength training—not just as its own end, but also as a means to the end of better race endurance (and speed).

As for the exercises themselves, the descriptions are short, easy to follow, and accompanied by pictures so you are clear on what to do.

 

Knee Raise

 

Dumbbell Incline Press

 

 

There’s a great accompanying Website for the book, with more exercises and excerpts here.

And if you sign up for VeloPress’s newsletter, you get $10 off an order through their site.

You can find Strength Training for Triathletes, 2nd Edition here (publisher’s page) or here (Amazon).

 


 

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy, offered without expectation as to the content of this review.

Book Note: Runner’s World | How to Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know

9781635651836

 

Yesterday in the mail I received for review a Runner’s World book I’ve been looking forward to reading: How to Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know.

It’s a book of lists. It reads like a series of short, digestible blog posts, which has already made it easier for me to pick up and dive into.

34 chapters are divided into 6 sections:

  • Section 1: 205 Training Tips
  • Section 2: 193 Nutrition Tips
  • Section 3: 126 Gear Tips
  • Section 4: 158 Motivation Tips
  • Section 5: 169 Tips for Staying Healthy
  • Section 6: 157 Racing Tips

(That adds up to 1,008 tips, if you’re curious.)

The book is helpful from the beginning, with “The 5 Golden Rules of Training”:

  1. The vast majority of your miles should feel easy.
  2. Your “easy effort” should be really, really easy.
  3. Increase milage gradually.
  4. Aim for three… quality workouts each week: a speed workout, a long run, and an in-between workout at a comfortably hard pace (a “tempo run”).
  5. Follow every hard or long run with at least one easy or rest day.

As you might guess from the title, the book is playfully irreverent at times (though not in the tiresome way that The Brave Athlete is). Given its nature as a book of lists, I’m not expecting to find in-depth running science or extended philosophical reflections on running. However, I think this might be the first running book I’ve seen that has a whole section on how to lace up your shoes! Something I do before every run, but have barely considered how to do (except to crank them down as tight as possible).

I look forward to digging in more. You can check out the book at Amazon here, and at its publisher’s site (where you can read an excerpt) here.

 


 

Thanks to the publisher, who sent me a review copy, but with no expectation as to the content of my review.

Feetures Plantar Fasciitis Sock: My New Favorite

One good turn deserves another. I’ve been enjoying my second pair of Feetures socks even more than the first.

You know how a lot of runners have that certain shirt or pair of socks that they are bummed about when it’s in the dirty laundry and not ready for their run? That’s how I’ve gotten to be with the Feetures PF Relief sock.

“PF” is plantar fasciitis, which, like so many other runners, I have unfortunately developed the last couple months.

I’ve tried just about everything. The kind of hideous-looking recovery sandal from OOFOS (but with good arch support), KT tape, rolling my foot out, physical therapy, a podiatrist, etc., etc. Especially since I am trying multiple things at once, it can be hard to say what all is working and what is not, but these socks with their intense compression have been a welcome companion on my runs.

There’s so much compression that they’re a little tricky to get on! In fact, when I first put them on I noticed some thread stretching/thinness where the heel goes in to the rest of the sock. Maybe an inevitability given the compression?

 

 

 

My contact at Feetures told me that seam stretch is normal. She said, “It’s a result of the Y-Heel construction of the sock and is more evident in the PF sock than some of our others!”

I worried about the sock unraveling, but after dozens of runs, everything is secure.

I generally prefer no-show socks, but I like the quarter sock I have here, since it gives me more sock to hold on to when I get it on. Here’s another view:

 

 

There are “L” and “R” socks in each pair, so you’re always putting the same one on each foot. I am a size 13, and the XL sock (12.5+) has been true to size—a perfect fit, in fact. The sock is 88% polyester and 12% spandex.

There are four different PF relief socks now, in black and white. Check them out here.

My only complaint about this sock is the price point: $29.99. Feetures is a great company and, from all I can tell, a worthy place to spend money, and these socks are my new favorites, but $30 for a pair of socks is tough to swallow.

I’m not sure if these socks will come down in price. I hope they do. At the same time, runners looking for PF relief are willing to try just about anything. The “lifetime guarantee” on this sock doesn’t hurt either.

And I just learned about an affiliate program Feetures has, so if you are a new, would-be customer and want $10 off—on that sock or any other—clicking here will give you a discount.

 


 

Thanks to the good folks at Feetures for the review sample, provided without any expectation as to the content of this review.

Feetures Running Socks

Remember as a kid, when you would get socks in your Christmas stocking and think it was a super-boring present?

As an adult, that feeling changes. (I have been happy for every pair of wool socks I’ve gotten.) As a runner, I’ve come to appreciate good socks even more, to the point that I eagerly check the mailbox multiple times a day until an awaited pair of running socks arrives.

I reviewed Thorlos running socks here. I thought those two pairs would be enough. But I was curious what else was out there, so I reached out to Feetures, and they were kind to send me a sample pair of socks: the Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab Sock.

 

 

It was a good mail day, the day they arrived:

 

 

The first thing I noticed and appreciated was this small touch: the socks are marked “L” and “R”:

 

 

This sock is 95% nylon, 5% spandex, so it feels a bit what I would imagine putting on pantyhose feels like. They are a comfortable fit, and the “light cushion” is just a bit of added protection from the pounding of feet on the pavement. (Feetures has other cushioning options.)

The compression the socks provide is noticeable but not at all uncomfortable; these feel great to put on and wear. They are excellent at wicking away moisture, whether for a short, intense run, or long, slow distances.

One of my favorite things about the socks is it boasts the “The Perfect Toe®” technology (yes, that is all rights reserved!), which means just “no irritating toe seam,” which seems to be a rarity, even among athletic socks. I really didn’t think at all about these socks when I was wearing them—which is a good thing.

My personal preference might be for more cushion, but that’s in part due to some extra support I’m looking for these days to stabilize things after an ankle sprain last fall and developing plantar fasciitis (woo hoo). But there is definitely a place for these light cushion socks, especially if you don’t have lots of room in your running shoes. And Feetures even has a PF-specific sock!

Check out the socks above here. The Feetures site has plenty more options, too.

 


 

Thanks to the good folks at Feetures for the review sample, provided without any expectation as to the content of this review.

Book Review: The Inner Runner

 

On the one hand, Jason Karp’s The Inner Runner is the running book I’ve been looking for: it’s not focused on technique and training but on the why of running.

This is from the publisher’s description:

Why are so many people drawn to running? Why is running the most common physical activity? What is it about running that empowers so many people? And how can runners harness that power to create a more meaningful life? The Inner Runner addresses these questions and a whole lot more. This book is not about how to get faster or run a marathon; rather, it explores how the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and helps you harness your creative powers. Learn about the psychological, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual benefits of running and introduce lifestyle changes based on the latest scientific research on running and its effects on hormones and the brain.

That description and the chapter titles drew me right in:

  • Why Do We Run?
  • Healthful Runs
  • Better Runs
  • Creative and Imaginative Runs
  • Productive Runs
  • Confident Runs
  • Becoming a Better Runner and a Better You

“Better Runs,” for example, discusses the benefits of a variety of runs: slow runs, fast runs, long runs, paced runs, track runs, social runs, and more. Karp is at his best when he gives advice that is both physically practical and psychologically helpful. Regarding starting a race too fast, he says:

Whether the race is a mile or a marathon, you can’t put running time in the bank. You will end up losing more time in the end than what you gained by behind ahead of schedule in the beginning. …Listen to your inner runner. When you run a race, ask yourself within the first mile (or the first lap or two of a track race), “Can I really hold this pace the entire way?” Be honest with yourself. If the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is no, then back off the pace, so you can have a better race. (61-62)

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Karp’s inspiring coaching. On running fast he writes:

Rather than worry about your pace or become a slave to the technology of running, make your runs better by feeling your runs and improving your own kinesthetic awareness. …Faster running comes when we don’t try as hard, when we are relaxed, when we are so well trained that the effort is almost effortless. (68-69)

9781634507950-frontcoverThough the book is more philosophical in nature, Karp delves just enough into the science to convince the reader-runner that he knows what he’s talking about. I can only imagine how invigorating it would be to have Dr. Karp as a coach. For example, he says, “The amount of time spent running is more important than the number of miles, since it’s the duration of effort (time spent running) that our bodies sense” (151). And I love the idea of “developing an inner GPS and becoming an expert ‘feeler’ of our runs” (70), even if it takes more time and work than The Inner Runner might imply.

On the other hand, The Inner Runner left me wanting more.

I resonate with Karp’s experience of running as a primary locus of creative ideas. But I had hoped he would get a bit more technical, or at least more deeply reflective, about what that process looks like for him. For example, in the chapter “Creative and Imaginative Runs” he writes, “I don’t have such a clear sense of how my running influences my writing or my other creative pursuits of my sense of self…” (107). There’s nothing wrong with that lack of clarity, but it made me wish Karp had either dug deeper or just left out that chapter altogether. So, too, with this promising but otherwise unexplored insight:

Ultimately, in life’s bigger picture, running is just an activity I choose to do. It shouldn’t define my self worth. Yet it does, and I am perplexed as to why. (179)

A number of sections read like journal entries that could have been edited down to make the book hold my interest more consistently and pack a more powerful punch.

Still, the book is inexpensive, and I starred at least a dozen passages that I’ve gone back to. I’ve also deeply internalized Karp’s advice about not coming out of the gate too fast and asking whether this initial pace is one I can sustain. That alone made the book worth reading.

You can check out The Inner Runner: Running to a More Successful, Creative, and Confident You here at Skyhorse Publishing, and here at Amazon.

 


 

Thanks to the good folks at Skyhorse Publishing for the review copy, sent without expectations of the content of my review.

Short Review of the Brooks Ravenna 9 Running Shoe

Ravenna 9I just posted this short review to Brooks’s site, and thought I’d share here, too.

The Brooks Ravenna 9 is the best Brooks shoe I’ve tried. It’s springier and faster and lighter than the Ghost 9 and Ghost 10. It holds up well, too, for 5-10-mile runs. It’s got good support, especially in the heel.

It’s not a stability shoe, per se, but it feels plenty stable, without compromising weight. Coming from the Ghost, I found this shoe really fun and easy to run in. It’s a good blend between being fast and supportive enough for longer runs.

My only complaint is that the amazingly bright yellow and blue color isn’t available in the wider version (black only for that). I had these bright shoes for a few days and got lots of comments. My runs were good, too, but the right shoe was too narrow, so I returned them (super easy process with Brooks) for the 2E wide black ones, which feel much better. That said, both the normal and wide width could stand to be just a bit roomier in the toe box, as the Ghost is.

All in all, a great shoe. Find it here on Amazon (affiliate link) or here at Brooks Running.

Thorlos Running Socks

Two or three black toenails ago, I got some good advice from a friend and running buddy: invest in some quality running socks.

I think I knew there was such a thing as “running socks,” but it never really occurred to me to try them. I reached out to Thorlo, Inc., maker of Thorlos socks, and they were kind to send me two pairs for review, which I share here.

 

Experia Energy

 

The first sock I tried was a “supportive performance compression” sock. I didn’t realize how much I’d appreciate the compression, coming off an ankle injury. I got the extra large, which fits shoes size 12-14.

Some pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

I have no idea how it works, but the “Copper Ion technology” is meant to keep away odor (and does), so I can use these socks for at least three runs before I even need to think about washing them. I guess one person’s “ew… gross” is another person’s “longevity!”

The cushion is thin, as advertised, but the compression and moisture wicking features make this a great sock for both short and long runs. There’s enough cushion that I no longer need to double-sock one foot, which I had been doing as one foot is ever-so-slightly smaller than the other, resulting in a different fit for each running shoe. The sock helps a lot with that, even with just a bit of reinforcement at the ankle and toe box. Other than reinforced areas the sock is pretty sheer, so it’s a super lightweight sock, and really breathable. I’ll be using this for a long time, and look forward to some 10-milers in it.

You can purchase or find out more about the Experia Energy/Compression socks here.

 

Classic Running Sock

 

I also tried the Thorlos classic running sock (ankle length, XL for shoe size 13-15). This is the most cushioned Thorlos sock you can get, so you need to make sure you have the room in your shoe for it. (If you can wear medium thickness wool socks with your running shoes, you should be fine.)

This one is “for feet that hurt during or after activity,” which I was especially keen to try so I could have more padding to avoid blisters and dark toenails. It works great on that front. It’s a heavier sock than the Experia Energy, but I’ve enjoyed running with all the padding, and it protects toes and toenails really nicely.

 

 

 

 

 

Moisture has not been an issue, as the sock mostly wicks it away. But feet will get warmer faster in this thick sock, so that’s something to be aware of. (As I write this, it’s barely in the double digits Fahrenheit outside, so I may opt for them if I can get myself out on a run today!) So far I wash these just as infrequently as the lightweight sock.

I have a slight preference for the Experia Energy, but your mileage will vary (running joke, get it?), depending on what your needs are and what kind of runs you’ll be doing. I especially like the classic sock for shorter runs where I want to just go fast and have the added stability. It’s much more comfortable than I expected any running sock to be. You can find the classic sock here.

Thorlo makes lots of other socks. Check out their site here. They make their socks in the U.S. (North Carolina) and are a third-generation family business.

Thanks to the good folks at Thorlo for the review samples—I don’t expect these two pairs of socks to wear out any time soon, but their site will be the first place I go for my next running socks.