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Wild Rumpus Sports

Technique Drills

I know this blog is on a skiing website, and I know that this is the time of year when a lot of readers (if I have a lot of readers) might be looking for some technique drills to get ready for the upcoming ski season. I don’t think this is the post for them (but it might be. You’ve come this far, so why not keep reading?)

This is a post about technique drills for running. It is not a post I ever thought I would write, as I have always been skeptical of any attempt to dictate running form. My experience over the past couple of months at my running club, however, has changed my mind. In particular, this week I considered not going to the weekly track workout, as I have been nursing a hip injury. But I went. I felt my hip a little during the warm-up, and then we moved into drills. By the end of the drills, I had no pain, and I had less pain and soreness after the workout than I have over the past week after easy runs.

I have also noticed that the drills we do get me ready to run fast during a track workout better than any other warm-up routine I have ever tried. I don’t know that it actually makes me race faster, but it makes speedwork go smoother.

Now, I am not going to claim to be an expert in this area after a couple of months. Indeed, as my running club is Dutch, I don’t understand a word of what my coach says when explaining a drill, let alone know what if any justification he has for it. But I have gleaned a few key principles:

1. Accept that speed drills will take some time. Our typical routine is 15 minutes jog, 5 minutes active stretch, 20 minutes of drills, then intervals. Part of this is because we do a lot of drills, and part is because we need to take adequate recovery.
2. Vary the drills in a session, and intersperse 100 meters accelerations. We might do two variants of a quickness drill, then a strength drill, and then run 100 meters one or two times, and then repeat with new drills. The reason this seems to work for me is that a drill teaches a muscle to activate in a certain way, and then running fast allows your brain to connect this muscle use to running in a concrete way.
3. Vary the drills from session to session. This is emphatically not about getting really good at certain drills. The goal is to use a drill to teach your body something about running – how to get quick turnover, or more float in your stride, or better posture. By using drills that are accessible but not too familiar, you maximize the chances that you will teach your body about running and not about performing drills.

Okay, so what are the drills? High knees running at different tempos, single leg lops, double leg hops, bounds, running forward or backward with straight knees, and then each of these with the resistance of either a medicine ball held in your hands or a partner provide resistance with an elastic band. One of my favorites was grabbing the bar at the top of a fence and holding your legs up off the ground (so you were almost sitting on the fence, but touching only with your hands) for 30 seconds, then right into a 100 meter stride. This is a great way to get your transverse abdominis to activate while you are running. As I said in the three principles, you mix something that practices high tempo, something that practices balance and coordination, and something that practices force generation. You do enough strides and accelerations to connect it to running. And then you fly through your workout.

There might even be something for skiers to learn here. My favorite drills have always been the ones that lead in a clear way into skiing with good form…

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Dam tot Damloop

Okay, WordPress has eaten this post twice. The most brilliant prose I have ever written, and it is gone (as far as you know). Here are the highlights: The Dam tot Damloop in Amsterdam has 48,000 participants. The winning time was 45:19. I was 30th, 28th man, 2nd over 35, in 52:05. The Dutch have outdoor, semi-enclosed urinals at there races which makes the line at the port-a-johns a lot shorter. Near the start of the race I ran for over a kilometer through a tunnel under the canal. That was kind of cool (not least because in created a small hill on which I made crazy amounts of time on the Dutch runners who really can’t handle the least hint of an incline). buy eye drops online

Running in Holland

I still don’t have internet at my house here so this may be a short post. But I am getting running figured out – who needs internet or a cell phone or food that your youngest child can eat when you know the closest track and a good trail for long runs? Anyway, I found both of those last two things. It is about a 9 km bike ride to the track owned by Leiden Atletiek, a club I may end up joining. They have a beautiful and well-maintained eight lane outdoor track. I did ride about 18 km yesterday just to get there, as I did not remember exactly where the track was. And no one I asked even knew there was a track in the area – which is no surprise given that the track is hidden with residential neighborhoods on one side and a big urban woods…


Wow! Blogging has been slow this month. So I will make a quick summary. I raced Loon Mountain a few weeks ago. I had an unremarkable race to end up third. I like to think that I could have at least scared Ryan Kelly for second place (instead of being a minute back) but I didn’t, and Josh Ferenc was untouchable another 20 seconds up. And last week I raced the Bill Luti, bringing home my third title in that race with another so-so effort: a younger runner led me through the mile in 5:00, and then dropped like a rock even as I had a lousy second mile up the hill. The big event of the month was running the Pemi Loop with Kris. We have both had our eyes on this ~33 mile loop with ~10,000 feet of vertical for many years, and finally decided to go for…

Mt Washington

I have been slow to report on the Mt Washington road race, but it is still worth writing about. In many ways it was actually a boring race. I went out hard on the first couple hundred meters of flat, sharing the lead, fell to 11th when the climb started, and passed about one person per mile until I reached four miles. Just past mile five, former winner Rickey Gates passed me back, and so I finished in 8th place. I was 30 seconds behind Rickey at the finish, and almost a minute ahead of 9th place, so there just wasn’t much drama (unlike last year, where I passed Dan Princic in the final minute). It was, however, a great day. I ran up the hill in 1:05:55, a little over 30 seconds under my previous best. I have been pretty tired the last couple days in a way that…

Racing Up, Racing Down, and Moving

So usually if a race is a week old I figure there is not point in blogging about it. But I am going to today, because I have an excuse… Anyway, I raced the Pack Monadnock 10 miler last Sunday. I raced this three years ago, losing to Brandon Newbould in the final climb (the course climbs about 1800 feet, half in the last two miles). This year I entered with elaborate contingency plans should I be racing any of several potential rivals, but none of them showed up. I had a 20 second lead by two miles, over a minute by seven miles, and earned an easy four-minute victory. Then I went home to work on packing up my house. The next day my nephew and I moved all of our furniture and most of our boxes. On Thursday, in addition to more moving-related tasked, I did the downhill…

Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

With my impending move to the Netherlands, I have decided that this is definitely the time to get in as much mountain running as I can while it is still an option. The flat courses in my future could be good for PRs, but this weekend I drove up to Sleepy Hollow for the kickoff of that USATF mountain running series. I was a little confused about the course and ended up running the middle of three loops for my warmup, when I had hoped to run the final loop. This had no effect on the outcome of the race, nor did the fact that I expected Josh Ferenc, the defending champion who is running more and more ultras, to take the race out slow, and so I arrived at the line having run a fairly relaxed warmup. Maybe after running ultras this race feels like a 100 yard dash…

Running Season

I just had my first race of the year. It was an inauspicious lead up, as I took most of last week off from training with a nasty virus, and then took Tuesday off of both training and teaching to stay home with a sick child. This pushed my first track workout to Wednesday, only two days before my first race. I have been trying to get away from 400s on the track – I have found that I am getting better and better at doing 400 meter repeats as time goes on but that my performance in these workouts is less and less connected to my racing. So I did three times (200/200/800) with (200/200/400) recovery. The 200s were all 33 and 34. The 800s were 2:25, 2:26, 2:27, as steadily increasing effort levels. This is fairly fast for a skier (or a 38-year-old teacher) but not promising. I…

Last Intevals on Upper Osceola

Yesterday I did my final set of skiing intervals, on one of my favorite places for intervals, the Upper Osceola trail at the North End of Waterville Valley. Readers should have three questions about this (listed below in ascending order or relevance): 1. How did the intervals go? Can you give us excruciating detail? 2. Why are you doing ski intervals after all the races are over? 3. What do you mean by final? [You should read this answer.] And my answers: 1. The intervals were okay. My goal, as it often is, was to go faster each time, and I did that. The snow was wet, dirty, and slow, and I don’t know how well I was skiing, so my time for the first intervals was quite slow – 5:51. On the second interval I managed to hold on to V-2 a little better and got to the top…

A Frustrating Final Race

I skied my last race of the season on Saturday. It did not go well. The last time I raced the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon, I dropped the second place finisher in the first 5 km. Even though I knew that several Craftsbury Green Team members would be there, along with David Sinclair and a strong college skier contingent, I still let the memory of easy victory allow me to believe I was the favorite. Unlike the last time I skied this race, there was still a very large group at 5 km. And I (in what is a bit of a theme for this race) was careless, allowing myself to drift back in the group on a big downhill, so that when I major pile-up occurred at the bottom of the hill, I couldn’t avoid it. I did managed to bail in such a way that I broke neither…