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Old 06-07-2011, 09:58 PM   #1
April Colon
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Improve my running

Hello everyone, my name is April. I have been doing crossfit type of training for almost a year now and loving it. Many of the exercises I have achieved great gains as far as strength goes but have hit a plateau in fat loss- I'm guessing around 15-20lbs to go. I'm pretty short and stocky, 5'1" 140lbs. One thing that I have ALWAYS been terrible at is running. I cannot get my mile time under 10 minutes. When I try to do 400 meter runs, I feel like my body is moving in slow motion. I know that weight loss would help greatly. Anyone have suggestions on how I can improve my speed and stamina?

Last edited by April Colon : 06-07-2011 at 10:06 PM. Reason: adding more info
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:01 PM   #2
Richard Colon
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Re: Improve my running

Figured I'd add a few points as I'm not only her workout partner, coach and the one that she puts a lot of faith in but also her husband. She's pretty bummed lately about her running ability. I tell her to keep at it and be proud of how far she's come with all her other training. It's still not enough and I honestly feel bad. I've helped her and others take the Crossfit journey and see the benefit. I've done so myself, am a big box personal trainer, have NASM certs, USAW cert and have engrossed myself in all manner of training, technique and all that goodness. I'm at a loss to her running troubles and am not satisfied with not having the answers to make her smile.

She's dedicated and driven enough to really take this serious - like competitively someday. She has the drive training wise. Anyone that can work 14hrs as a pediatric ICU nurse, put 2 kids to bed, entertain an almost teenager son and still be motivated enough to do Murph if it happens to be the WoD of the day is driven.

Some more specifics that she is too humble to talk about:

She's boxed with me for over a decade now. She can work through 3minute heavy bag rounds at a punch output of over 100 punches a round for numerous rounds.

She can jump rope (singles) for 10+ minutes at a rate of over 100 rev's per minute with relative ease.

She can do a 95lb Death by Clean and Jerk for 9 minutes.

She Deadlifts 250+, Squats about 200, Thrusters and push presses almost 135, KB swings 70s, can KB snatch a 44lb.

She can do a strict pull-up or 2 (she's working on that). She can knock out 30 strict consecutive push-ups and can do over 75 in 3 to 4 minutes.

She can work through a 7m AMRAP workout of 7 Deadlifts at 155 and 7 Burpees and get around 7-9 rounds done and then rest for 2 minutes and ask "whats next".

She box jumps 20-24" just fine, for high rep stuff like 20-30 unbroken and can do so until she is done with em (100+ or whatever is rx'd).

She has a lot to learn and a lot to work on but running makes NO sense at all. Once the workout requires a run down to the corner and back (about 250 meters), it all goes downhill. It doesn't hurt. She just struggles. Like she's dying. I ask if its her low back, her ankles, her shins, calves, quads, anything. Sure things tighten up on occassion and they feel "worked" but nothing really hurts. I ask her to go faster and she just can't..Again, based on previous movements - its not her lack of willingness to push hard. I tell her to run a mile and I and everyone else that she may train with says - "She can walk faster than that. She says she can as well." What gives?

Please help me and help her. She deserves to enjoy her Crossfit accomplishments but its breaking her down mentally with this running stuff...

Last edited by Richard Colon : 06-07-2011 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:23 PM   #3
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Improve my running

How's your nutrition? That's going to be key for any weight loss you want to accomplish.

As for the running, what kind of distance can you maintain a fast pace for? 100m? 200m? If the answer is 100m, you could start by doing something like 6x100m repeats at 80% effort with 2-3 minutes recovery once a week. Once that gets easy after a few weeks, stretch it out to 150m and increase the rest intervals a bit. Then 200m. And so on.

How are you on a C2? Can you row a relatively quick 500m? If so, your running problems aren't an issue of cardiovascular capacity, they're most likely an issue of inefficient running form.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:58 PM   #4
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Improve my running

Try new shoes. You wouldn't think it would make that much difference, but if I'm wearing shoes that aren't right for my running form, they might as well be bricks.

It definitely sounds like your cardio capacity is fine, so I second the advice to look at your form. Running is a skill, and people who don't do it much aren't good at it.

Katherine
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:02 AM   #5
Jon Gregory
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Re: Improve my running

How old are you? How long ago was it (before CF) that you last ran? Some people are just really bad at running but that doesn't mean you cant improve. Hamstrings are VERY important in running, work both strength and mobility. Running is actually a technical skill up there with Oly lifting so you might consider seeing a good running coach (no offense to your husband).
To increase max speed there are lots of techniques such as sled drags, 5/10/5 drills, hill sprints etc..
Without actually seeing you run its kinda hard to say what might help.
Like with most things, overthinking it can make the "problem" worse. Sometimes I'll be running quite happily and then start thinking about my stride pattern etc and then feel myself tightening up. Smooth is fast.
Economy of movement is important on longer runs (ie try to keep your legs moving smoothly under you with a relaxed and neutral upper body position). On sprints lean into it early and really pump the arms to help generate as much body power as possible.
I know thats all very general and may not be overly useful!
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:58 PM   #6
April Colon
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Re: Improve my running

I'm 37 years old. Every few weeks running is somehow incorporated into my work out but probably not more than 1/4 to 1/2 mile and a pretty mellow pace. I can keep a fast pace for 100m, but going closer to 200-250m I slow down significantly. I can row 500m in about 1 1/2 -2mins. As far as footgear, I use my vibrams almost religiously, but with the hot pavement lately I've had to interchange them with my regular running shoes. My diet is a work in progress. While it is overall pretty clean, cutting out most white carbs and replacing with more fruits and vegetables....I must admit late in the day I have that craving for something sweet. And I'm probably only getting about 1/2 gram protein per pound of body weight. So yes, there is lots to work on as far as diet goes. Like I said, I am short and stocky...5'1" 140lbs. My build is overall hourglass shaped but I have very big, muscular legs for my height...24 inches around. I'm definitely not petite. Could my body shape, especially my quad size be another hindrance? I appreciate all your replies. They have certainly given me a lot to think about.
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:15 AM   #7
Jon Gregory
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Re: Improve my running

Big quads won't be a hindrance at short distance. You aren't running regularly enough to improve. If you are OK over 100m its most likely a stamina issue which can only be addressed by running more. I find it takes me a long time to get my running legs back (I only run more than 400m intermittently) and its amazing how quickly fatigue sets in when you haven't been practising. On the issue of body type - yep, big factor. You don't see many runners with stumpy legs!
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Old 06-09-2011, 09:32 AM   #8
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Improve my running

Olympic-level sprinters on any event from 100-400m tend to have thick legs. Muscle mass in the quads and hamstrings is a good thing for sprinting and doesn't really start to become a disadvantage until you get to middle to long distances.

"1 1/2 -2mins" on a 500m row really doesn't really tell much--that's like saying I can between squat 200-400lbs. There's a huge difference between a 1:30 and a 2:00 500m row. But either way, a 2:00 500m row for a woman who's on the shorter side isn't bad, and would seem to indicate the problem is with your running and not your CVE in general.

Running a few quarter or half miles every few weeks isn't enough to get good at it. I would consider adding something like my suggestion of 6x100m at 70-80% into your preworkout warmup routine a few times a week. Then after you've adapted to that start stretching out the distance to 150m then 200m, taking off at about 50% then accelerating up to 80-90% over the course of each run. If you keep the volume and intensity relatively low they shouldn't mess up your workouts or recovery. Running is a skill just like anything else and you need quality repetitions to get good at it.

Then again it may be partly an issue of you having "slow feet"--you can work on stuff like dot drills or ladder drills to improve your footspeed, or just do a Google search for some of the agility work used by football, soccer, basketball, or rugby players.

As for your diet....more protein, more fruits and vegetables, fewer crappy carbs. Have some good snacks on hand for when the sweet cravings pop up, if you keep giving into them it's like someone who's trying to quit smoking having "just one cigarette."
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:34 AM   #9
Jason Martin
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Re: Improve my running

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
Try new shoes. You wouldn't think it would make that much difference, but if I'm wearing shoes that aren't right for my running form, they might as well be bricks.

Katherine
This.

Shoes can make a huge difference. I think the less shoe the better.

I am going to catch all kinds of flack for this... but I might recommend taking off your shoes and running barefoot (short distances) once or twice a week. You can learn a lot about your form by letting your feet "listen" to the ground.

Don't knock it until you try it.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:06 AM   #10
Edwin Burlton
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Re: Improve my running

Quote:
Originally Posted by April Colon View Post
Hello everyone, my name is April. I have been doing crossfit type of training for almost a year now and loving it. Many of the exercises I have achieved great gains as far as strength goes but have hit a plateau in fat loss- I'm guessing around 15-20lbs to go. I'm pretty short and stocky, 5'1" 140lbs. One thing that I have ALWAYS been terrible at is running. I cannot get my mile time under 10 minutes. When I try to do 400 meter runs, I feel like my body is moving in slow motion. I know that weight loss would help greatly. Anyone have suggestions on how I can improve my speed and stamina?
OK I used to be a beast at cross-country so I know what I'm talking about here. What I would do in my training in the holidays would be Monday: long intervals (over 500m), Tuesday fartlek, Wednesday rest, Thursday short intervals (under 500m), Friday short steady run (under 3.5 miles), Saturday long steady run (over 3.5 miles). What I'd do is have 6 workouts designed for each day and roll a die to decide which of the six I would be doing for each that week, and this gave me a very varied and balanced programme which led to rapid, continual improvement whenever I could be bothered to actually do it. All my runs were pretty much max efforts, as well.

Adapting this programme for a running n00b it might be something like:

Monday: 1. 3x800m with 3 minutes rest
2. 4x600m with 2 minutes rest
3. 2x1000m with 2 minutes rest
4. 5x500m with 1 minute rest
5. 500m, 1000m, 500m with 1:30 rests
6. 800m, 600m, 500m with 1 minute rests

Wednesday: 1. 5x400m with 2 minute rests
2. 10x100m with 1 minute rests
3. 600m, 2 minute rest 8x100m with 30 seconds rest, 2 minutes rest, 600m
4. 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m with 2 minute rests
5. 3x300m with 1 minute rests, 2 minute rest, 3x300m with 1 minute rests
6. 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m with 2 minute rests

Friday: 1. 1 mile steady
2. 1.5 miles steady
3. 2 miles steady
4. 2.5 miles steady
5. 3 miles steady
6 3.5 miles steady

Before each week, roll a die to get your numbered workouts for each day. If you think this looks too hard you can reduce distances, increase rests, cut it down to 2 days a week or whatever. I would recommend running on grass if you're worried about impact injuries, as the soft surface really helps. Don't go all out the first time you try any of this, but you should be working very hard when you've been doing it for a couple of weeks. You can measure distances with Google earth. Varying the terrain you run over is a good idea, especially as this doesn't include any specific hill training. Work on your running technique, don't wear too much when you run (if you are cooler you won't sweat as much and won't get as dehydrated) and racing flats are best if you can run landing on the mid/forefoot as opposed to the heel. Improve leg flexibilty also helps with running technique, but the main thing is do be tall and relaxed. Just imagine you're Keneneesa Bekele. Basically the only way to get better at running is to run a lot (it will also help massively with fat loss), and this would be a good way to go about it. Happy running.
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