Monday, April 24, 2017

That Time Ian Became Coach Ian

So a couple of weekends ago I took a course offered by the great Dr Jack Daniels, author of The Running Formula. Dr Daniels has been coaching for quite some time and before that was an accomplished athlete. His main focus has been on using the idea of VO2Max but making it accessible via a system he termed VDotO2. In this system you base you quality training sessions off of a VO2Max that has been determined via race results and not a lab test.

Now wait Ian, you are a huge believer in Heart Rate Training right?  And isn't Vdot based on an accumulation of data from many runners, then aggregated to show a pattern? Isn't heart rate about individuality?  Whoa! Let me answer these.

Yes, I am a firm believer in heart rate training. And I think all adult runners should get tested  to establish their base training zones. And heck, I still wear that monitor on each and every run.  I think that adult athletes have shown an inability to run easy when they first start out heck I as right there). We run like we think we are kids but we need to learn our limits. Heart rate is the perfect way to accomplish this. Zone 1 recovery and Zone 2 easy running is essential to becoming  solid and fast runner by building a base while limiting our chances of injury.

So how does VDot fit into this then? Well after years of training by heart rate while loosely following the Daniels approach, I have been very happy to see that his system and heart rate training are very good mirrors to each other. Both essentially push the athlete while simultaneously putting limits in place that should help us to limit injury. And limiting injury allows us to run more and running more allows us to run faster. 

A limit to heart rate training comes about in short efforts, like intervals and repetitions. The heart usually can't respond fast enough for the monitor to show you if you are giving too much or not enough. Instead having a pace or time set by years of observations allows you to dial right in on what you are supposed to achieve at a given workout. 

Heart rate in these cases still isn't useless.You gather the data and look at it afterword. Were you spiking appropriately in the intense portions and recovering as you should in the easy parts. Did you warm up enough and cool down sufficiently?

Heart rate is also great at putting limits during extreme temperature situations, or showing you if you aren't recovered enough from a previous workout, meaning you should (again) limit your next intense sessions.

I love working with adult athletes and helping them get past tough times, and showing them that smarter training doesn't mean you have to kill it every time you head out the door. Add in my growing knowledge of physio / strength training and my willingness to test everything I learn on myself first and I see a lot of fun times ahead.

Thanks to Dr Daniels and the RunSmart program for making this course available online, and let me tell you, that test isn't easy, but the course as well worth it in my opinion.

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Shoe Review - Saucony Zealot ISO

Not my actual shoe

So I found myself this spring with a pile of mostly worn out running shoes. Some I had rather liked, some not so much. But I also found myself starting to really ramp up my weekly mileage as my half marathon training has taken off. With a few aches and pains I knew I needed new shoes.

Into Aerobics First I went. I am rarely tied to any specific shoe, instead wanting what fits me best and fits the style of running I am doing. I had recently done a lot of running in a Skechers  shoe which I really liked, but it wore out quite fast for my liking. It would have been a great race day shoe, but I have that in my NB 1400's. Instead I wanted something that was going to give me a bit of support for longer training runs, and overall cushioning (without being squishy) for running frequently through the week (I usually run 5 days a week, sometimes 6).  

A chat with Luke at A1 and we tried a few options based on the criteria I talked to him about. In the end I bought this pair of Saucony Zealot ISO shoes. This is a shoe I had generally not even bothered to try as it didn't seem to fit what I liked about running shoes. First and foremost it looks clunky and huge. Also I had mixed luck with the Saucony brand in the past (I loved their Mirage but they stopped making it, I didn't find good luck with the Kinvara). 

But I decided to give this shoe a real try. And now three weeks later, I love it. Not as much for fast speed work, as I find it isn't as responsive as a racing flat for intervals, though it isn't bad for tempo work.

So this is a neutral shoe in the maximal world. That is it has no internal stability properties, has a low drop (4mm) and loads of cushioning (24mm on avg).  While it has no posting for arch support, what it does offer is a build up foam piece in the arch . This doesn't seem to affect your foot's natural movement from within the shoe, but when you start to get tired on longer runs, it helps to prevent tired muscles from allowing your foot to roll in upon impact. 

The cushioning aspect is definitely not a soft and plush feel. This shoe is still relatively firm (which I like) and this gives a more responsive road feel, IMO.  

Finally, the wear on the sole of this shoe seems, so far, to be quite good. With over 100km on it, I see little to no wear yet. A durable and comfortable trainer? I am happy.