Archive for the ‘running’ Category

Marathon Math: How Not to Hit the Wall

21 Oct

A marathoner’s worst nightmare — hitting “the wall” — may be completely avoidable if athletes adhere to personalized pace limits proposed by a biomedical engineer and runner. Benjamin Rapoport’s mathematical formula, published online Oct. 21 in PLoS Computational Biology, shows the speediest pace any marathoner can sustain for the entire race.

sciencenews“A 10-second difference in pace per mile could make the difference between success and a dramatic failure,” says Rapoport, of Harvard Medical School and MIT, who experienced his own traumatic wall splat in the 2005 New York City Marathon. He started out pushing too hard, he says, and was out of steam by the last few miles. Rapoport finished, but with a slower time than he wanted.

To avoid this scenario, a runner has to maintain a pace that conserves carbohydrates, the body’s main source of quick-burn energy, all the way to mile 26.2. Rapoport calculates the ideal pace from a measure of aerobic capacity called VO2max, along with a few other variables. VO2max indicates how efficiently a body consumes oxygen.

“This is a unique area that hadn’t been addressed in the medical literature in any substantial way,” says Mark Cucuzzella, a physician and running coach based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. “He’s lending some hard numbers to what experienced runners and coaches have been doing.”

A man with a VO2max of 60 — which, after training, is attainable by only the top 10 percent of male runners — can achieve a 3:10 marathon finish time, according to the model. This time happens to be the cutoff for 18- to 34-year-old men to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Elite male marathoners clock in with a VO2max in the high 70s. The average untrained young man’s number is in the 40s. (Incidentally, Rapoport, who has run 18 marathons, has a VO2max above 70 and breezes through marathons in less than three hours.)

VO2max is usually measured with specialized equipment while someone exercises at maximum exertion, but the value can also be estimated by measuring heart rate while running at a constant pace.

Rapoport’s model also shows that a slightly faster pace can be maintained by consuming a midrace snack.

This carb-eating strategy can help, but it can’t win races, since the body can store only so much fuel, says Cucuzzella, chief medical consultant for the Air Force Marathon and a marathoner himself. “It’s not about how much sugar or spaghetti you eat the night before a race,” he says. “There’s a critical pace.”

Rapoport plans to put an easy-to-use version of his formula on the Internet to help runners calculate their ideal pace. “My primary goal is to give any marathon runner a qualitative plan for their training,” he says.

Image: Flickr/Stijn Bokhove

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Nike Unveils New iPhone App Just for Runners

06 Sep

Nike has just rolled out a new iPhone app for runners, available for download now [iTunes link].

The Nike+ GPS App for iPhone will pull in data from the device’s accelerometer and GPS to give runners an effective, accurate and useful tool for getting in shape and staying motivated. So far, it’s available in English only and sells for $1.99.

Although fitness apps abound in the App Store, few carry the street cred or instant name recognition of Nike.

The app will allow runners to visually map and track every run, indoor and outdoor, “free range” or treadmill. Nike says the app even works when a GPS signal is unavailable. Mapped routes show a breakdown of the runner’s pace at various points during the run, as well. You can track your distance, time and number of calories burned.

One interesting aspect of the app is the “Challenge Me” feature. It helps runners challenge themselves to run greater distances, longer times or quicker paces than their previous runs. Aside from giving challenges, the app also provides in-run, on-demand motivational messages from pro athletes and celebrities.

And of course the app carries the now-obligatory social sharing features. Through integration with, runners can save each run to their online profiles and share the run through the site, Twitter and Facebook.

We have no word so far on when to expect Android, BlackBerry or other apps, but Nike says the app will work for iPod touch (second, third and fourth generations), iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. The company makes no promises about how the app will function on an iPad; then again, if you’re running with your iPad, you might need less motivation to run faster and more motivation to give the tech gadgets a rest.

Here’s a video sent to us by Nike showing some of the ins and outs of the app:

What do you think of Nike’s app so far? Is this something you’d use for your running routine, or will you stick to the free apps already available?

Reviews: Android, App Store, Facebook, Twitter

More About: App, fitness, iphone app, Nike, Nike+GPS, runner, runners, running, sport

For more Apple coverage:


Last Minute Tips for Running a 10k

25 Feb

Today I was on Fox Morning News Extra to give viewers information on this weekend’s Rodeo Run 10k in Houston.

Here are more of my top tips:

-Don’t wear new shoes. I didn’t get a chance to talk about the shoe I was holding…but shoes are really important. It’s too late to go buy new shoes for this weekend, but if you have knee problems or shin splints about after the race it’s most likely because you are wearing the wrong shoes. Go to Luke’s Locker and get fitted for the right kind for your foot type.

-Stay hydrated the few days before and leading up to the race. But, don’t go crazy drinking too much water the morning of the race. Stick to water unless it’s pretty warm and/or you will be sweating a lot, then mix in some Gatorade or electrolyte fluid. This weekend’s race should be cool in the 40’s.

-Don’t try to get in a last minute workout or go out and run crazy fast today or tomorrow hoping to improve your race time. You will only make yourself sore and put yourself at risk for injury. If you want to improve your 5k or 10k need to start at least a month ahead of time. You will not get any faster the last week of the race. Lay off heavy weight training the day before the race and maybe 2 days before if you aren’t used to it.

-Eat good the few days before. This means healthy, “clean” foods and limit sugar, fiber and sodium the night before and morning of the race to avoid an upset stomach. Just eat what you normally do, as long as it’s healthy. I normally have a glass of wine with dinner…so I still do, even the night before a big race. The morning of the race, eat something easy to digest like low-fiber cereal or a banana. You don’t need crazy amounts of carbs the night before or energy gels during the race until you start running races that last you around 1.5 hours.

-Wear layers if it’s cold. This weekend it will be pretty cool, but after the first mile or so you will warm up. I usually wear a light jacket or thin long-sleeve top over my tank and then take it off and tie it around my waist if I have to. Or…I just wear it during my warmup before the race and then either do the bag-check or have a friend hold it for me.

-Warmup first. The only time I don’t warmup is for marathons. For a 5k or 10k you definitely want to get your legs warm first. Walk or jog (or combo) for about 10-15min and then do some light stretches AFTER you warmup.

-Get there early. This was always a hard one for me because I want to get as much sleep as possible! But, if you wait till the last minute you won’t have time to warmup or use the bathroom and it’s always a good idea to have that last minute potty break! Porta-potties are gross but you can always pack a mini hand sanitizer gel in your back pocket.

-Pace yourself. Don’t haul a** at the front just because some guy looks like he’s going to beat you. Half of those speedsters will end up slowing down and you can pass them later. Trust me. Go slower at the beginning and gradually pick up your pace each mile. Then, if you’ve got energy left to burn…kick it up a notch the last mile and then really sprint the last 100meters if you’ve still got some juice!

**Check back soon..I’ll be posting my 10k playlist today or tomorrow.


15+ Podcasts Every Geek Should Listen ToClimbing | ReadBurner

16 Sep
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