Newsletter Archives: Volume 4, April 1999
Even after the most stressful day, a slow 60-minute run leaves
me feeling positive about myself and the future.
Speed Play..... for those
who don't like to do speedwork
Almost everyone wants to run faster. Even the most non-competitive
runner has days when he or she could use 5-10 extra minutes, wishing
that the neighborhood loop would take less time to complete. The
following tips have helped lots of folks pick up the pace, while
minimizing aches, pains and injuries.
First, be very clear why you want to run faster. For fitness runners,
slow running bestows the same health benefit, the same fat-burning
and the same training effect as fast running. Running faster is
nice for the ego, but it only helps you run faster. If you're re-starting
a speed training program, be careful. Running even slightly too
fast at the beginning of a run can decrease the enjoyment of the
run significantly, as it dramatically increases the chance of injury.
Almost every fitness runner has the seed of an athlete. By giving
yourself a gentle tempo increase as noted below, you'll feel lighter
on your feet during many of your regular runs. If you don't get
locked into specific time increases, you can enjoy the best part
of speedier running‹the boost it gives to the running spirit.
The following components can be inserted into your training with
little risk of injury. Be sure to warm up thoroughly before doing
any running faster than you've been doing recently. By gradually
introducing these faster inserts to your schedule you'll improve,
probably without realizing it.
Run a longer long run.
Your neighborhood loop record will probably be broken (as well as
your current 5K or 10K times) simply by increasing the long one
to 12 miles( 15-17 for max performance). When long ones exceed 10
miles, do them every other week. You must run these slowly‹at least
two minutes per mile slower than you could cover that same distance
on that day. A one-minute walk break every 4-8 minutes from the
beginning will also speed up your recovery while giving you all
of the endurance from that run. On the non-long-run weekend, you
could do a 5K race, a hill workout, or a slow run (about half the
distance of the current long one).
Will improve your leg strength which will help you run faster with
better efficiency. Pick a hill with a moderate grade‹not a steep
one. After a slow mile warmup, run up a 100-200 yard hill at a pace
that is fast but not all out. Walk down the hill. Repeat this 3,
4, or 5 times. Keep your stride length relatively short, and pick
up the turnover of feet and legs. There are many other good workouts
which will keep you at the top of your speed pyramid, including
the ones in my books, Galloway's Book on Running and Marath on Marathon!
Acceleration-gliders will make you lighter on your feet.
Twice a week, during the middle of an easy run or as final preparation
before a speed or hill session, pick up the turnover of your feet
and legs for 50-100 meters. Walk or jog slowly between each of these
for 1-2 minutes. Don't sprint! Keep your feet low to the ground,
lightly touch, and work on running faster without spending much
effort. The best venue for this session is the last 10 meters of
a gentle downhill, which will give you momentum to pick up turnover
onto a flat area.
During your acceleration gliders, while on flat ground, count the
number of times that either your left or right foot comes down for
30 seconds. Walk or jog for a minute or so and do it again. On each
successive acceleration, try to increase the count by 2-3. Develop
a light touch of the foot and quicker turnover of legs and feet.
By this time next year, you'll run faster if you add nothing more
than the cadence drill to your running program‹but you must do it
at least once a week.
The stamina necessary for the marathon is developed exclusively
through increasing the length of the long run. Slower is better.
The total focus of the long one is to build endurance - that's it!
Even those who are trying to improve speed are better off by running
slowly in the long one: the slower you go, the faster you recover.
Endurance is developed through extending the length of the long
run whether you go fast or slow. The long one is your most important
component, and you can't run it too slowly.
Injury of the Month: Achilles
With the normal stress of running, small micro-tears occur in the
tissue of the Achilles tendon. Normally they heal quickly. However,
if there is too much stress and too little rest, they won't heal,
will collect in an area and produce inflammation.
Diagnosis. Inflammation is usually at the narrowest part
of the tendon, at the paratenon sheath. The fluid between the tendon
and the sheath expands. There is often a cracking noise when moving
the tendon, and it may be sore. (This is rare.)
Treatment: Ice massage for 10 minutes at least twice a day.
Use a heel lift felt, cork, etc. (a Spenco is too soft) in both
running and street shoes to reduce tension on the tendon. Take
aspirin (with meals or with milk) if okay with your stomach and
your doctor. Be regular with it for a week or so to tell if it's
effective. It reduces swelling. Consult with doctor about length
Achilles Tear: When the tendon is already weakened, it can
be partially torn by the additional stress of speedwork, hill running
or simply stepping in a hole. A complete tear is a more serious
and painful injury. This often requires surgery, but fortunately
tendon tears occur in only about two percent of Achilles injuries.
Diagnosis: If you can't rise up on your toes while standing,
you may have a tear. There is a lump in the lower calf area and
a gap where the tendon is torn. You can feel this through the skin.
If you suspect a tear, try to find a specialist who has a good deal
of experience with Achilles problems.
Treatment. Ice massage and use heel lift as for inflamed
Achilles (above). Don't run for at least 4-6 weeks (or length of
time prescribed by doctor) to let swelling subside and healing process
begin. If you stop at an early stage, your "vacation" may be only
a few weeks, but if you push the tendon too far in this state you
may be out for months. Consult with your doctor. When starting back,
run every other day for another 4-6 weeks or until things feel
better and normal functioning has returned.
NOTE: Beware of injections of cortisone or other steroids, for
they may weaken and/or dissolve the tendon. Get several opinions
before getting such a shot; it could set you back months, years
From Galloway's Book on Running by Jeff Galloway (Shelter Publications,
1984) pp. 216-218
- According to USA Track & Field's Road Running 1999, the NYC
Marathon had 339 finishers in 1975 and 31,539 finishers in 1998.
- From the USATF Road Running Information Center: Female finishers
are the fastest growing number of marathoners, up from 10.5 percent
in 1980 to 34 percent in 1998.
- Pay attention to portion sizes, says the American Institute
for Cancer Research in "A Healthy Weight for Life" (prepared by
the American Institute for Cancer Research, December 1998). "Too
much of any food even healthy, lowfat plant-based foods can
put on pounds if portions are more than you need. Keep in mind
that it is the total balance between the calories you consume
and the calories you burn that determines whether you lose weight.
Pay attention to how much you're eating to help keep excess calories
at bay." One of their tips for controlling portions is "Don't
keep serving bowls on the table 'family style.' If you want more,
wait five minutes before getting up for seconds. Make sure it's
really hunger you want to satisfy and not just an automatic habit."
(This booklet is full of easy-to-read, practical information on
how to eat healthier. The format even helps you develop your own
action plan. For information, call 202/328-7744.)
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