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How to do speedwork without a track

SEP 21, 2022

Minute 1: Why massage is more than just a luxury

If you close your eyes and ponder massage therapy, your mind probably conjures images of Malibu spas and scented candles that cost more than a new pair of running shoes. It’s easy to think of massages as pampering, not performance enhancing, but they can be both. Tour de France riders have relied for decades on soigneurs to provide daily massages. For runners, proper massage therapy can help prevent injuries and promote recovery. Isn’t that what a massage gun is for? Yes, but those machines are not as good as human hands, and in fact are best deployed by a trained therapist, according to this new story: “12 Massage Gun Benefits, A Few Drawbacks and Things to Keep in Mind.” To learn why every endurance athlete should try out the real thing, check out: “Massage: The Best 50 Minutes You’ll Ever Spend As A Runner.” Research has shown that massages can improve immune function, release dopamine, and reduce recovery time by about 30%, but certain types are more effective than others, according to: “Massage for Runners: The What, When and How.” Active release technique and trigger point massage both target specific problem areas, so they’re good for dealing with an existing injury. Deep tissue massage works entire muscles with high intensity pressure, making it a good option after a hard training session. Swedish massage uses a combination of flowing strokes and light to moderate pressure to keep you relaxed and improve your blood flow; perfect a few days before competition. Private massage therapy can run about $100 per hour, so if that is beyond your budget, self-massage is another option. Read about foam rolling and other tools to keep you limber up toward the bottom of: “The Powerful Benefits of Massage for Runners (and how to do self-massage on the cheap).”

Minute 2: Sprints and intervals for the trail

“For some players, luck itself is an art,” says Martin Scorsese in the opening scene of The Color of Money. While luck as strategy may work in billiards, it is a pretty poor way to improve your running performance. For that we need plenty of miles and plenty of speed work. Runners who neglect the second part of that equation are like pool sharks who forget to chalk their cue – poised for a scratch. Part of the problem with speed work is the need to travel to a track to get in a workout. Many of us don’t have a good track nearby or just don’t like the counterintuitive nature of driving somewhere to go for a run. If you’re looking for a way to add some structure to your faster runs, whether you’re on the road, trail, check out: “Try this effort-based speedwork to crush your fall trail race.” The first method is called out-and-back repeats. Pick a fast pace that you can hold for 3 minutes, and take off on a trail. Once that time has elapsed, pick a landmark to remember how far you made it, and jog or walk back to the trailhead. Then, go out again, and challenge yourself to make it back to the landmark or even just beyond it. Do that 6 times, and end with a 10 minute cooldown jog. The next method will jumpstart your ability to be quick off the line while improving your top end speed. Find a straight section of a trail that’s about 100 meters long, and divide it into thirds. Run the first third medium hard, the second hard, and the third medium hard again. For more ideas, check out: “How to Do a Track Workout Without a Track.” Some runners will find that one speed workout a week is plenty, but others believe speed all the time is an underrated method for training. If you’ve never heard about the “Feed the Cats” training philosophy, you should check out “10 Common Misconceptions About Feed the Cats” to learn why only a handful of sprints per week can have a serious impact on your speed. BTW, if you’re not familiar with The Color of Money, this YouTube clip is our favorite scene in the movie, featuring Tom Cruise at his brash best, set to Werewolves of London. #NoSpeedLimits

Minute 3: If your mileage increases, so should your meals

Planning out your diet as you train for a big fall race is just as important as plotting your runs. You’re going to need hundreds of extra calories per day for adequate energy and recovery, consumed at the right time. If you need some ideas on how to create a menu that won’t break the bank or eat up all your time, check out: “Marathon Training Diet + What I Eat in a Day.” Fans of low carb diets take note: your best bet is to get between 55-70% of your calories from carbs for optimal performance. This will give you enough energy to log high mileage, although it may result in putting on a few pounds. Ironically, gaining weight while training for a marathon is fairly common, as people take time to figure out how much food to eat. You’re also probably building muscle mass in the process, so a little weight gain is actually a sign of progress in the right direction. When it comes to the times you eat, it’s important to make sure you’ve got energy for a run without weighing yourself down. A small carb-y snack beforehand, followed by a larger meal with plenty of carbs and protein when you’re finished running should keep your energy up and your recovery swift. Just because you’re eating more doesn’t mean you can’t do so in a sustainable and healthy way. Take a look at “I'm An Eco-Dietitian & These Are The 5 Foods You'll Currently Find In My Cart.” Chickpeas have an excellent macronutrient composition of carbs and protein, and their growth process is good for the environment as it returns nitrogen into the soil, allowing other plants to grow later on.

Minute 4: The best weird fitness tech you need to try

It’s no secret that we are big fans of the WHOOP band here at our global HQ in Boston. Part of that is homerism, since their main office is only a few blocks away from us and sits on the Boston Marathon course. Mostly, however, we appreciate the sleek design and the accurate tracking of our recovery. If you don’t want something else on your wrist, we get it, and won’t judge if you opt for a ring product like Oura. To learn more about some of the latest technology for athletes, check out: “The best fitness gear to upgrade your workout routine.” Oura is on the list because it offers sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and even blood oxygenation. Of course, you’ll need to link it with your phone to see all these metrics since there’s no room for a screen on such a small device. We are trying to keep an open mind on a new tech offering from Therabody, but we are skeptical. Their new SmartGoggles are meant to massage your face as you prepare for bed. “Therabody Releases Company’s First Wearable Focused on Sleep.” At least one reviewer likes them, although we can’t help thinking they will go the way of Google Glass. One new item that does not trigger our skepticism nerves is the long-awaited rowing machine from Peloton. Say what you want about the company, but they know how to build high quality hardware. You can see details here: “The $3,195 Peloton Row workout machine is up for preorder now — and I just tried it.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • The long run is one of the most important facets of training for an endurance athlete, but as the name suggests, there’s a lot that can go wrong across all that time and distance. It can help to do some prep work to ensure everything runs smoothly, and for that, you can make use of these “10 Long Run Tips From A Run Coach.”

  • We’re willing to bet that lingonberries are not part of your regular diet. Don’t feel embarrassed; we’re not lingonberry eaters, either. They’re similar in taste to cranberries, but a bit less tart, making them easy to eat as a standalone snack. They also work well in jams, but regardless of how you eat them, experts can’t recommend them enough. They've got some of the highest concentration of vitamins, antioxidants, and polyphenols of any food, so check out “What to know about lingonberries” for more details.

  • We don’t know what it is about NFL quarterbacks and insane athletic longevity, but they certainly seem like they've cracked the code. Sometimes it takes out-of-the-box thinking to get remarkable results, and Aaron Rodgers has displayed no shortage of that in recent media appearances. Some of his more outlandish theories and methods have his own teammates poking a bit of fun, as you can see in “Aaron Rodgers' teammates appear to reference Packers QB's ayahuasca use in TD celebration.” The Onion joined in as well with “Aaron Rodgers Downplays Rough Start As Normal Ups And Downs Of Massive Global Conspiracy.” He may be unorthodox, but if it gets results, who are we to judge?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Many of us love having a buddy join us on our runs. They keep us motivated and push us to go a little farther and a little faster. Many expectant parents dream of pushing a smiling little running buddy in a baby jogger as they travel together along sunny pathways. The reality is that as much as we love our young companions, they don’t always share that vision. Infants require an expensive stroller, plenty of snacks, and don’t always wait till you’re home to take a bathroom break. If your running buddy is less than two years old, you will get a laugh out of this “realistic” view of taking your kids along for the run. No children were hurt in the making of this video. :-)


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