31/1/10 – Running to the limits & foot striking

I've been a fan of channel 4's coverage of 'fringe' sport early on weekend mornings for some time. This morning I watched an enjoyable documentary called Running to the Limits about a formally obese (now he's not) man who sets out to run a sub 2:20 marathon within two years. It was a pretty interesting look into the lengths high level athletes have to go to when training and inspired me to dig out my running shoes and go for a scoot around the block. It was quite handy as I've been meaning to go out for a few jogs to lay the foundations for some sprint work in the summer.

It also reminded me of an article I had read earlier in the week about the differences in the way your foot strikes the floor if you are wearing heavily engineered running shoes compared to barefoot or minimal shoes. Engineered shoes seem to encourage heel striking (lots of impact, bad for the knee) whereas running barefoot or in minimal shoes encourage forefoot striking (less impact, generally better).

My running shoes are pretty built up with support everywhere and initially it wasn't even easy to work out which bit of my foot was hitting the pavement first, clearly they are designed with heel striking in mind (when I bought them I thought all the cushioning and the fact I couldn't really FEEL the floor with my feet was a good thing, I now disagree). Anyway, after some experimentation with consciously striking with the heel or forefoot it seems I land mostly on my forefoot anyway. I think that is because I'm very aware of damaging my knees so try and land as softly as possible which generally means coming down on the front of the foot as it has more give. Forefoot striking would also explain why it my calves that are always most sore after a run – apparently forefoot striking puts extra strain on your calf muscle as it absorborbs a lot of the impact, acting a bit like a spring I guess.

This has reignited my interest in the whole barefoot/minimal thing. I always go barefoot around the house and don't wear any shoes when I workout out but I am still too scared of freezing cold feet and wearing weird looking shoes to go the whole way. Vibrams have a more shoe looking version coming out soon which are tempting but I think a pair of Nike Free are a more appealing first step for me right now – the wife wouldn't be seen outside with me in shoes with toes.

PS – Everything in the running article makes sense, reflects my experiences running and the different levels of impact I felt when experimenting today. The sceptic in me couldn't help but notice the study was part funded by Vibrams USA though.

30/1/10 – strength

Headstand – 2 x 30 sec
Frog planche – 60 sec (20,20,20)
Adv tuck front lever – 60 sec (20,20,20)
Partial HeSPU – 3,3,3,3
24kg KB plank row – 3 x 5L/5R
24kg KB one leg deadlift – 3 x 5L/5R
24kg/20kg farmers walk – 4 x 1 min

I had a pure strength session yesterday, all static holds and compound lifts. I upped the length of the holds on both statics to 20 seconds. The advanced tuck front lever was hard but I think I could go for longer on the planche. I’ll stick with 20 seconds though as I don’t want to fatigue my shoulders too much early on and impact on my headstand press up. The headstand press up is coming along ok, I can only press for part of the motion so kick up into a handstand with a pillow and a book between my hands, lower until my head touches the book and press back up. I’m going follow a standard 5×5 routine with but instead of putting more weight on a bar when I can do 5 sets of 5 reps, I’ll increase the range of motion.

Most of the pure pulling exercises I do are variations on the pull up so I’ve started doing rows to work a different range of motion, they have a great core element too. The deadlifts are to build some pure posterior chain strength to aid me in my quest for higher swing numbers, I do them on one leg to get more put my limited selection of weights.

The farmers walks are a great finisher, I made a 20 kg weight by strapping 4kgs of ankle weights to my 16kg kettlebell them did one minute carries around the living room swapping which hand held which weight after each one.

All in all it was a good session, this will become a Saturday staple for a while.

29/1/10 – Kettlebells

A quick kettlebell session tonight. I didn’t want to do anything too hectic but felt the need to move some metal. I went back to a couple of old favourites: the turkish get up and goblet squat – it was pretty much a weighted mobility session.

16kg TGU – 3 x 1R/1L
24kg TGU – 5 x 1R/1L
16kg Goblet squat – 3 x 5
24kg Goblet squat – 2 x 5

25/1/10 – rings & swings

I changed up the swings a bit last night going for a shorter time but higher intensity. The jump from 17 to 20 swings at the start of each minute was a killer. I’m going to continue to cycle between slowly increasing reps while working for 10 minutes and doing shorter sets at my goal intensity – all leading towards 200 in 10 minutes (which is a big step towards 300 in 15!). 

Rings were fun as always, they make me feel like a monkey man. 

Rings – basic ring series (3 pull ups to start) – 1,1,1 
Rings – Dips (with 10 sec hold after last rep) – 5,5,5,5 

24kg swings – 6mins, 20 TOM = 120

23/1/10 – a mixed bag

Head stand – 2 x 30sec

Partial HeSPU – 3,3,3,3

16kg OALCCJ – 8mins, 6RPM (switch hands @ 4mins) = 48

24kg OA swing – 10L/10R, 10L/10R, 10L/10R

Finisher (for time) – 10 burpees, 20m farmers walk (20kg/24kg) = 5:22

A real mixed bag yesterday. I took a few days off during the week as I didn't have the energy to make a workout worthwhile but then went ahead and over did it a bit in my first workout after the break – something I always do.

My first go at headstand press ups were good, I was able to press through a larger range of motion than I was expecting. The set of long cycle jerks was my longest ever and felt good. The slow pace suits me right now and gives me a chance to focus on technique. It felt like my leg drive is getting better, I had barely any fatigue in my shoulders which surprised me considered I had just finished four sets of HeSPU. The swings were probably unnecessary but I add them automatically, my technique was shite towards the end though. The finisher was evil but excellent, I want to start doing some met con like this semi-regularly – my conditioning is usually done at more of a steady pace, it felt good to do something that was a bit more hell for leather and intense, I'd push the farmers walks up to 30m next time though.

More intense than 24kg swings? I wonder if I'm a bit weird.

18/1/10 – Rings & swings

I finished a six week cycle last week so have changed things up slightly. This was hard, quick and lots of fun.

Rings – basic ring routine – 1,1,1

Rings – Dips (10sec support hold after last rep) – 5,5,5

24kg swings – 10 mins, 17 TOM = 170

The basic ring routine was: three L-pull ups, pull to an inverted hang, lower into back lever (hold for 5 sec), lower into german hang, pull back up to inverted, lower into front lever (hold for 5 sec), lower to L-hang. It was all tucked in some way, I tried to keep in an advanced tuck as much as possible and was strict with it when lowering into the levers.

The increased volume on the swings was hard work but felt good the whole way through. 200 in 10 mins is not far off.

16/1/10 – kettlebells & clubs

I tore a big chunk out of my hand during my LCCJ set last weekend so stuck to jerks today. The bumps were just the first dip in a jerk so the bell floats up to about head height and then come back down, I'd read about them on t'internet but I'm not 100% convinced, I think a few heavier jerks would be more beneficial.

16kg OA swing – 20L/20R

16kg OAJ – 2 x 4 mins, 10 RPM (switch @ 2 mins) = 80

24kg bumps – 8L/8R, 8L/8R

24kg OA swings – 10L/10R, 10L/10R, 10L/10

4kg club circuit
Shield cast – 1 minL/1 minR
Swipe – 1 minL/1 minR