Home Workout With No Equipment

If I need to train at home and don’t have any equipment, I like to perform single leg squats, single leg hip thrusts, between chair push ups, and table rows. Maybe I’ll bust out 3 x 10 for the single leg squats, single leg hip thrusts, and table inverted rows, and 3 x 20 for the between chair push ups.

Performance Workouts [ exercise videos ]

Very comprehensive list of workouts & running drills (links to videos are broken) 



Ian’s Shoelace Site – Lock Lacing


Nice site with everything you need about lacing. For trail racing I prefer the lock-lace (High Lace Lock).

Lacing the Lydiard way

This is a nice alternative to the traditional lacing. Also check the lock-lace, esp. for trail running.

The Mechanics of Efficient Running « Canute’s Efficient Running Site

This is a version of my original post on the Mechanics of efficient Running posted on 29th December 2007, updated as I have obtained more information from comments, observations or reading.

This version was updated on 1st January 2008; details of the changes are listed at the end of the article.

This page has been substantially extended by a series of articles under the tile ‘Running: a dance with the devil’ posted in March 2008.  That series attempts to cover the main physical, biological and psychological  aspects of running.


The Mechanics of Efficient Running

This article is a speculative account of how to run with minimal consumption of energy and minimum risk of injury per kilometre. We will start by addressing the question of how to run at constant velocity on the flat in the absence of wind resistance, and subsequently consider how to adapt to wind resistance and hills.

The first principle is that according to Newton’s first law of motion, no propulsive force is required to maintain a constant velocity on a horizontal surface in the absence of wind resistance. The practical consequence is that muscular effort to drive the body forwards is likely to waste energy and increase the risk of injury.

However, it would be misleading to imply that no muscular effort is required. If the feet were fixed to the ground, forward momentum and gravity would combine to cause the runner to crash face-down, so it is necessary to move the legs forward alternately in such a way as to arrest the tendency to fall. In contrast to walking, while one leg is swinging forwards (‘the swing phase’), the other leg is on the ground (stance phase’) for only a part of the time. Thus, for a substantial portion of time the runner’s body is airborne. The effort to become airborne and the impact with the ground at foot strike, create risk of injury. The art of efficient running entails swinging the leg forward in a way that uses minimum energy with minimal risk of injury.

To understand how this is done requires an understanding of what muscular actions are required and what muscular actions are to be avoided. Learning how to do it requires acquisition of the correct sequence of movements, which can be facilitated by use of a specific drill (the swing drill, described in a separate article), and subsequent practice of this sequence of movement until it becomes habitual. In my experience, the sequence can be acquired with less than an hour of practice. Warm-up for each running session should begin with the swing drill and a period of relaxed running focussing on technique. Once the sequence of actions is habitual, execution of the procedure does not require conscious planning of each muscle action, but rather, the use of simple imagery to evoke the learned sequence.


General principles

Certain principles of physics and physiology can be invoked to determine the optimum sequence of actions. The guiding principle is that acceleration or deceleration of the body’s centre of gravity (COG) relative to the ground should be kept to a minimum, because acceleration and deceleration require energy and also have potential for injury. Furthermore, acceleration of one body part relative to another should also be used a sparingly. The following specific principles follow:

1) To avoid braking action, the foot should have near zero speed relative to the ground at foot-strike, so the foot should be moving backwards relative to the rest of the body at approximately the same speed as the COG is moving forwards.

2) Vertical motion of the COG should be minimized as downwards motion increases force on the ground and upwards motion requires energy. Nonetheless, during the airborne period, the body is unsupported and must fall. However, because acceleration under the influence of gravity causes a steady build up a speed, the body will fall less during a series of several short airborne periods than during a series of fewer longer airborne periods of the same total duration (See the article on calculations for the mathematical demonstration of this). Therefore, to minimize free fall under the influence of gravity, the airborne period should be relatively short.

3) Rotation of the body around a horizontal axis (i.e head moving forward and down relative to feet) should be minimized, as any rotation must be reversed if progressive lean and an eventual face-down crash is to be avoided. This principle must be set against the fact that a small degree of destabilization of the body from the stance will evoke automatic swinging forward of leg. The destabilization from stance is initiated by forward momentum, but when the COG is forward of the point of support, gravity will also contribute to the destabilization. Once the degree of destabilization is such that the torque exerted by gravity produces appreciable acceleration of the rotation, there is greater risk of wasting energy and of injury. Therefore, the body should lean only very slightly. Furthermore, because the body continues to move forwards over the grounded foot during stance, destabilization will increase the longer the foot remains on stance. Therefore, to minimize deleterious gravitational torque, the time on stance should be short.

4) If airborne time must be fairly short to minimize gravitational freefall, and time on stance must be short to minimize deleterious gravitational torque, then cadence must be high. Observation of elite runners indicates that it should be at least 180 steps per minutes (i.e. 90 full cycles of the gait cycle per minute)

5) According to Newton’s third law (action and reaction are equal and opposite) the vertical component of ground reaction force (GRF) must be equal and opposite to the downwards force exerted by the foot on the ground. The average value of the vertical component of GRF averaged over the full gait cycle must equal the body weight. As GRF is only exerted during stance, the average value during stance is the body weight multiplied by the ratio of total duration of the cycle to the time on stance. Thus if time on stance is half of the total gait cycle, the average GRF during stance will be twice the body weight. Peak GRF during stance might be considerably higher than this, unless the load is distributed as uniformly as possible over the stance period. This is probably best achieved by landing with the ankle almost neutral (or with a very slight degree of plantar flexion) so that weight is taken on the mid-foot; then rapidly transferred to the first metatarsal where the energy can be temporarily absorbed by some flattening of the longitudinal arch by a slight roll of the foot towards the inside edge (mild pronation). Some of the energy is stored in the stretched Achilles tendon, whose role includes sustaining the arch. This stretch can only be maintained if the calf muscle is contracted. Finally, the joints of the foot are stiffened by a slight roll laterally (supination) to promote recovery of energy by elastic recoil at lift off. The time on stance must be long enough to allow the transfer of energy between the structures of the foot, but in view of the fact that calf muscle contraction is required to maintain the stored energy, too long on stance will lead to exhaustion of the calf. Thus, consideration of foot dynamics also indicates the need for a relatively short time on stance. (But if airborne time is much greater than time on stance, GRF during stance will necessarily be high to ensure that average GRF over the entire cycle is equal to weight)


The components of the gait cycle

As outlined above, during the full gait cycle, each foot is engaged in a stance phase and a swing phase. During the swing phase, the foot must be lifted, moved forwards and allowed to drop back to the ground, moving backwards relative to the COG at the point of foot fall. Thus, the foot follows a quadrilateral path, rounded at the corners as each stage of the cycle grades in to the next one. The four segments of the path are:

1) Base position
In the base position the foot is on stance: The COG moves forwards over the foot, and the body is destabilized, initiating a reflex swing of the leg forwards to prevent falling. According to principles 3) and 5), time on stance should be short. During this time the processes of foot pronation and supination absorb, store and redistribute some of the energy of impact. Also, in the latter part of stance the tensed quadriceps recoils releasing some of the energy that had been stored in that muscle on foot strike, reducing the flexion of the knee and imparting an upwards drive to the body which helps compensate for the loss of height during free fall in the airborne period.

2) Ankle lift
The ankle is lifted towards the hip. This action is initiated partly as a reflex response to the destabilization during late stance, and is assisted by the recoil of Achilles tendon and quadriceps, but it is also under conscious control. It requires contraction of the hamstrings. However, because the hamstrings cross both hip and knee joint, unopposed hamstring contraction would also produce hip extension which would move the leg backwards behind the line from lift-off point to hip. Observation of elite athletes like Haile Gebrselassie suggests that the ankle should in fact curve upwards in a path that arches behind the direct line towards the hip, as would be expected if the main action is hamstring contraction. What image should we use to guide the path of the ankle? Dr Romanov, who developed the Pose style of running suggests an image of a piston that moves in a direct up-down action, but I find that for me, this image results in too much engagement of the hip flexors. I am still experimenting to find the image that works best for me. Because lifting the ankle requires active work against gravity, this movement (and the associated backswing of the arm discussed below) are the only actions of the gait cycle that demand conscious application of effort. This action is the principle driver of the swing.

3) Leg swing
The leg swings forward, largely under the influence of gravity, as the knee extends. The knee should not extend fully but remain slightly flexed so that it can help absorb impact at foot fall.

4) Foot fall
The foot falls to the ground as the hip swings back towards the neutral position largely under the action of gravity, with the knee remaining slightly flexed. Although voluntary muscle action is not required, a strong automatic stabilizing contraction of the quadriceps must occur to prevent the knee collapsing on impact. Because the hip swings back almost to the neutral position during the fall, the point of impact is under the COG (or at most slightly in front of it), thereby minimizing any braking effect. The quadriceps absorbs a large amount of energy at impact, some of which will be recovered by elastic recoil to assist in raising the body to recover height lost during freefall, and in lifting the ankle towards the hip in the next swing phase.

The ‘swing drill’ (see separate article) entails practice of the three segments of the swing: ankle lift, leg swing and foot fall, while the body is stationary, supported by the opposite leg.

Upper body orientation and movement should be used to facilitate the leg movements. The torso should be held in an almost upright orientation, with the pelvis dropped down and forwards producing perceptible feeling of drag in the vicinity of the solar plexus, and the shoulders should be drawn slightly back and rest downwards in a relaxed state. This orientation of the body facilitates a relaxed foot fall to the correct position under the COG.


Arm swing
The arms swing in a minimal arc in a reciprocal action to the leg on the same side. As the ankle is lifted towards the hip the arm moves back moderately forcefully, reflecting the sharp, compact movement of the ankle towards the hip. Then the arm swings forward largely under the influence of gravity, but not in a floppy state, while the leg swings forwards and the foot falls to the ground. If a compact arm movement is practiced during the swing drill, the brain will readily associate the compact arm swing with a compact leg action. Because proprioceptive feedback from the upper limb is more strongly represented in the brain than that from the leg, good form can be monitored more easily if arm and leg are coordinated.

All unnecessary muscle action should be avoided. However in addition to the actions described above there are several other important actions. Reflex contraction of the hip abductors minimizes pelvic tilt and dropping of the hip on the unsupported side. Footfall with slightly flexed knee and the impact absorbing foot action described above would be expected to minimise abrupt loading of the hip abductors while also protecting the knee joint and ankle joint and minimising sharp localized forces on the bones of the foot.

It should be emphasized that this description of efficient running is based in observation a few elite athletes and an attempt to apply the principles of physiology, anatomy and physics as described above, but has only been tested by the author himself. It has not been subjected to any form of controlled trial and hence must be regarded as a speculative proposal rather than a proven method of safe, efficient running.




Gordon Pirie, gritty and thoughtful elite athlete, former 5000m and 3000m world record holder and source of inspiration, whose thinking about running style has shaped my own;

Dr Nicholas Romanov, developer of the Pose technique of running, who has emphasised that running style can be improved by thoughtful application of principles;

Cable_Tow, sports medicine specialist and generous-spirited guru on the Fetcheveryone website;

nrg-b: Pose coach with a delightful sense of humour;

Jeremy Huffman, elite athlete and Pose coach;

Jack Becker, generous spirited Pose coach;

Jack Cady, developer of Stride Mechanics;

Haile Gebrselassie, elite athlete, marathon world record holder, and model for efficient running;

Fetch, founder of an amazing website for runners and pace-setter in one of the few races that I have ever won;

Danny Dreyer, developer of Chi running;

F. Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) who showed how changing one’s thinking can re-direct posture and movement, and honed the concept of listening to your body.

Changes from the original version posted 29th December 2007:

1 Jan 2008: The description of the path of the ankle following lift-off was modified to describe that curved upwards path exhibited by elite athlete, HaileGebrselassie


Long but very interesting post on a very important subject, both from academic perspective and for practical training. Body positioning and understanding gravity-assist form are really important .

Dynamic Stretching Exercises and Tips

Dynamic Stretching traditionally has been used in the athletic arena. But even everyday fitness, and weekend warriors need to use the this type of stretching. If you’re not an athlete you need to wake up muscles and stretch in a dynamic fashion too.

The Dynamic Stretching section will deliver content for many populations of people. Here you will learn the how to, why, when, where, for who of dynamic stretching.

Take your stretching and performance to new levels by incorporating this critical aspect of stretching in your day to day programs.

Check out the helpful resources and tips sections below to expand your knowledge.

Before starting your dynamic stretching routine read the

Dynamic Stretching Foundations



Really all you need to start training. I mostly do 5mins of over/unders, jumping jacks and walking ground touches.

After You Run: 4 More Moves To Stay Injury-Free

The first 3 mins show calf and hamstring stretches I found really good. Add some single-leg foreword hops and jumping on-the spot for an excellent cool-down routine.

Everything You Need To Know About Hill Training – General – Runner’s World

UAN: 159
Article type:–>

If you happen to live in a landscape dotted with tors, pikes and braes, then won’t have much choice about mastering the art of hill running. In fact, your perception of running up – and down – hills is likely to be different from that shared by the majority of the running population.

That would be that hills are the enemy. They’re an obstacle, standing in the way of fast times, a burden to be endured, a muscle-sapping, lung-bursting exercise in pain.

Of course most of this is true. Hills are tough and challenging. They break your rhythm, make it harder to run a fast time and put an immense strain on your body.

But hills are good for you and they’re good for your running. Training on hills improves leg-muscle strength, quickens your stride, expands stride length, develops your cardiovascular system, enhances your running economy and can even protect your leg muscles against soreness. In short, hill running will make you a stronger, faster and healthier runner. What’s more, the benefits are relatively quick to take effect. In as little as six weeks of regular hill training you can expect a significant improvement in your muscle power and speed.

Why hill running works
Runners today increasingly understand the importance of combining strength work with regular running. It strengthens tendons and ligaments, reduces the risk of injury and improves overall running form. The problem is that most runners tend to do the majority of their strength-specific work in the gym, through squats, leg extensions or arm and shoulder presses. While these exercises do increase strength and muscular power, they do it in isolation of your running, focusing on individual joints and small sets of muscles.

Hill sessions, in contrast, force themuscles in your hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract in a coordinated fashion while supporting your full body weight, just as they have to during normal running. In addition, on uphill sections your muscles contract more powerfully than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.

Science of hills
Much of the science supporting hill training was carried out in Sweden, initially at the Karolinska Institute. One major study carried out on marathon runners discovered that after 12 weeks of twice-weekly hill sessions, the athletes’ running economy had improved by three per cent. Although the subjects were trained runners, that improvement would still have helped them clip as much as two minutes off a 10-mile time or six minutes off a marathon.

Other research, carried out by Dr Bengt Saltin, discovered that runners who trained on hills have much higher concentrations of aerobic enzymes – the chemicals which allow your muscles to function at high intensity for long periods without fatigue – in their quadriceps muscles than those who did all their running on flat terrain. Heightened aerobic power in your quads gives you improved knee lift while running and also accelerates each leg forward more quickly as you run, which improves your speed.

Those who run on hills have also been shown to be less likely to lose fitness when they take time off from training. And many scientists believe that hill training can improve the elasticity of muscles, tendons and ligaments, allowing these tissues to carry out more work with less effort and fatigue.

Going Up
It is the moment all runners dread. You turn the corner and right in front of you is a big, imposing hill. But don’t wince, focus. Shift gears both mentally and physically and prepare to attack the hill; don’t let it attack you. Running hills well is all about rhythm; if you let the hill break up your rhythm you will slow dramatically. But if you make the proper adjustments and maintain your cadence you’ll make molehills out of the mountains. Here’s how:

  • As you start uphill, shorten your stride. Don’t try to maintain the pace you were running on the flat.
  • You are aiming for equal effort going up as well as down, not equal pace. Trying to maintain the pace you were running on the flat will leave you exhausted later in the race or session.
  • Take ‘baby steps’ if necessary and try to keep the same turnover rhythm that you had on the flat ground.
  • Your posture should be upright – don’t lean forward or back – your head, shoulders and back should form a straight line over the feet. Keep your feet low to the ground.
  • If your breathing begins to quicken it means that you’re either going too fast, over-striding or bounding too far off the ground as you run.
  • Use a light, ankle-flicking push-off with each step, not an explosive motion, which will waste energy. If the hill is long or the gradient increases, keep shortening your stride to maintain a smooth and efficient breathing pattern. If the gradient decreases, extend your stride again. Try to maintain the same steady effort and breathing throughout.
  • In a race, or when you’re training on a undulating course, run through the top of the hill. Don’t crest the hill and immediately slow down or pull back on your effort.
  • Accelerate gradually into the downhill.

Coming Down
Most runners make one or two obvious mistakes when running downhill. They either sprint, which causes severe muscle soreness later on, or they’re so hesitant to surrender to gravity that they’re constantly braking, which fatigues the quadriceps muscles. The optimum pace is somewhere in between. Try not to let your feet slap on the ground when you are running downhill. Step lightly and don’t reach out with your feet. Slapping can be a sign of weak muscles in the shin area, in which case you need to strengthen them. To help your downhill technique, follow these simple tips:

  • Try to visualise gravity pulling you down the hill.
  • Try to maintain an upright body posture, keeping your torso perpendicular to the horizontal.
  • Keep your feet close to the ground for maximum control, and land lightly.
  • As you increase your pace, emphasise quicker turnover rather than longer strides, though your strides can be slightly longer than normal.
  • The key to efficient downhill running is to stay in control. When you start, keep your stride slightly shortened and let your turnover increase. When you feel in control, gradually lengthen your stride.
  • If you start to run out of control when descending, shorten your stride until you feel you are back in control again.
Key Hill Sessions
Running hills is like doing speedwork, in effort if not in outright speed. It is hard on your body, so don’t do more than one of the following sessions per week.

Hill Intervals

This is the most basic and yet one of the most beneficial of sessions. Warm up with a 10- to 15-minute run and then do a set of intervals on a steep slope – it can be anywhere from 30 to 250 metres long. On the uphill section try to run at an intensity that is slightly harder than your best 5K race pace. Jog back to the foot of the hill and, when you’ve recovered, run hard up the hill again. Start with four or five intervals and gradually build up. You can increase the severity of this session by increasing the number of intervals and/or reducing the recovery time.
Benefit Boosts leg-muscle power, giving you quicker, longer strides.

Hard Hills

For this session you need an undulating loop which includes a variety of climbs and descents, rather than a single slope. After a warm-up, start to run continuously over the rolling terrain at slightly less than 10K pace. Try to attack the hills on the climbs, building gradually to 10K race pace. Stay relaxed, balanced and under control on the downhill sections. Even if you have to loop around and double back on the same hills, try to find a route where you are constantly climbing or descending.
Benefit Increases leg-muscle power, improves the fatigue-resistance of your muscles and prepares your legs for harder sessions and races.

Indoor Hills

If you are reading this in Lincolnshire or Holland, don’t worry, you can make your own hills with a treadmill. Again, warm up with 10 minutes of easy running, then set the treadmill to a one per cent gradient and the speed to 10-15 seconds per mile slower than your current 10K race pace. Run at this pace for five minutes then increase the gradient to five per cent and run for two more minutes at the same pace. This should force your heart rate up by 10-15 per cent, increase your oxygen consumption by 25 per cent and quicken your breathing by 35 per cent. Run easily for five minutes and then try to repeat the interval. Over time you can force yourself up to four seven-minute intervals (five minutes at one per cent, two at five per cent) and reduce your recovery to three or four minutes.
Benefit Conditions you to attack on hills and makes you an explosive hill runner.

Bounding up Hills

After a thorough warm-up, ‘bound’ up the same hill you use for your intervals. As you run up the hill, spring from foot to foot with an exaggerated vertical body motion, bringing your knees up high and stretching the Achilles tendons fully as your feet hit the ground. To do this, land on your toes with each foot-strike and rock back onto your heel before springing upwards and forwards again. Start with four or five repetitions. To recover, jog easily down the slope.
Benefit Enhances the strength and elasticity of your muscles, tendons and ligaments and makes you a more efficient runner.

Group Hills

One of the problems of training with any mixed-ability group is balancing the effort and recovery of each person. That’s especially the case on hills. To train effectively as a group, set off together on a moderate climb (between 50-100 metres from top to bottom). When the fastest person in the group reaches the summit of the hill, everyone turns around and jogs back to its foot, ideally reaching it at the same time. The goal if you are new to hills is to start gently and to gradually improve your position on the slope with each interval. Those running at the front should run the session as a basic hill interval session.
Benefit Combines all the physical benefits of hills in a more motivating and competitive group environment.

Downhill Hills

Most people’s idea of hill running is only half the story. Hill sessions usually concentrate on running up hills rather than down, the implication being that downhill running is the easy part and requires no practice. In truth, efficient downhill running is a skill that will save you just as many seconds in a race as efficient uphill running.

Start on a gentle slope with a stretch of flat terrain at the base. After 10 minutes of jogging, ease into the descent with a short (50-metre) burst. Build up over time to as much as 300-400 metres downhill. Focus on your technique and try to go with the natural pace of the hill, but under control. Don’t sprint down, and try to avoid the opposite situation, where you try to brake with feet and quads. You can either focus specifically on the downhill section, in which case jog or run/walk back up the slope, or combine it with another hill session and take your recovery at the base. Ideally, though, you should do your downhill training on a rolling course where you can naturally practice the transition from uphill to downhill running. Running down after a hard climb, rather than taking a breather, is one of the key skills of hill running.
Benefits Conditions your legs against delayed onset muscle soreness, optimises your performance on hills.

The Hill Clinic
Problem Cause
Breathing too rapidly Over-striding or bounding too high
Tight leg muscles Over-striding
Tight or sore lower back Leaning too far forward
Tired or sore shoulders and arms Too much arm swing, or arms extended too far forward
Problem Cause
Tight hamstrings or sore shins Over-striding
Arms flailing; loss of rhythm Going too fast
Sore lower back Leaning too far forward
Sore quadriceps muscles Probably over-striding, thus forcing your quads to work too hard; or too much braking
Hill-Running Answers
Why don’t I have the leg strength to run well on hills?
This is rather like asking why you don’t have the speed to run fast. At the moment you may not have the leg strength to run on hills, but that is probably because you don’t train on hills, and hence suffer when you meet them in races. If you want to change this – and you can – then you have to start integrating regular hill sessions in your training programme. All improvements in training are relative to your individual capabilities. No one is suggesting that you will suddenly become a fell-running champion, but if you train on hills, your body will adapt and you will have the leg strength to run them.

Are there any psychological tricks to make hill running any easier?
Consistent training isn’t a psychological trick, but it is your best weapon in the battle against hills. It gives you the confidence that you have the physical capabilities and the technique to defeat any hill in a race. Try to take on hills in training that are steeper and more demanding than anything you will face in a race. Once you realise that there is a stride small enough to tackle the steepest of hills and that you can maintain your breathing and form on the hills, then the slopes just become another part of the course. Other little tricks that work include trying to visualise a slight decline rather than incline when you’re going uphill – this works better on gentler slopes – or focusing on other runners rather than the hill. With the latter, give yourself targets to pick off as you go up a slope. You‘ll be surprised how many people you catch if you maintain a steady cadence and rhythm.

I live in a flat-as-a-pancake part of the country – can I duplicate the effort of hill running by running up stairs in a building?
Many runners who can’t find hills in their natural environment turn to treadmills to simulate hill sessions. This would be the ideal approach, but if that isn’t an option then stairs or steps can be useful. Try to ensure that you climb for at least 45 seconds in each ‘hill’ interval – which means three or four floors of an office building – and if you need to make the session harder, bound up the stairs two or three steps at a time.

Is there any benefit in running up gentle inclines quickly, or should all hill training be done on ‘real’ hills?
Training on steep hills prepares your legs for running on steep hills. Since the hills you face in races are likely to vary, the ones you tackle in training should also vary. Even gentle inclines require a slightly different technique and more effort than running on the flat. It is a useful skill to practice, although obviously you should be doing longer, faster sessions on the easier slopes. Ideally you should try to do a hill session that includes a variety of gradients, both up- and downhill.

How should I approach a race that starts with a climb?
In short, with caution. Firstly you should ensure that you have warmed up thoroughly before the race begins, so that your first running steps of the day are not an uphill slog. Always take that first hill cautiously. Overdoing the pace early on can release lactic acid into your muscles, which will really hurt your efforts during the remaining miles. Save your hill attacks for the second half of the course. By then, you’ll be pumping lots of oxygen to your leg muscles, and the weeks of hill training you have been doing prior to the race will pay off.

Can I use hills for speed training as well as for strength training?
Truth is, they are one and the same, which is why training on hills is often called speedwork in disguise. You don’t have to run fast to work hard when you are running hills, and they certainly condition your legs for the kind of fatigue you can expect in a race. Hills are also a good session to do on your own because the hill ensures that you get enough of a challenge out of the session. Remember, however, that hills are a complement to conventional speedwork; they are not a total replacement. The only way to run fast in races is to run fast in training. While hills may help you develop the leg muscles and respiratory system to cope with serious speed, you still have to condition the rest of your body to fast running.

Can downhill training really help prevent injuries?
Definitely. Most hill-related injuries, both minor and major, occur on the downhill sections of a course, when gravity is working with you and the full weight of your body is pounding through your joints and muscles. Practising downhill running during training forces your quadriceps muscles to contract ‘eccentrically’ – minimising the soreness which often follows a hard, hilly section – and will also condition the ligaments and tendons in your knees and ankles to the strain of moving fast downhill. You can feel these benefits with as little as 15 minutes of downhill running per month.

Why does my heart rate always skyrocket when I start running hills in a race?
Probably because you are running the hills much too hard. Most runners try to run too hard on the way up, are spent by the time they reach the peak, and have to take a breather on the descent. Your goal should be to maintain equal effort both up and down the hill, and on level ground. With a heart-rate monitor you have the perfect tool to gauge this accurately. Your heart rate will rise slightly as you climb the hill when compared with racing on the flat, but it shouldn’t jump up dramatically. If that happens, it is a sure sign that you are trying to hold your pace rather than your effort.

The Cerutty Legend “We can become what we believe we can become”

Excerpted from http://forums.glenhuntly-athletics.com and very close to what I prity much try to achieve in my current weight training workout. I mostly do single-leg excersises and low reps. Upper body bent-presses, push-presses, dumbbell snatches, chin-ups, pull-ups, some dips, all body-weight, lots of push-ups, mostly kuckle-style with one leg raised.  My heavy lift is only the deadlift and variations: farmer’s walk, single-hand barbell and sumo (wide-leg).

Two areas where Cerutty was particularly innovative were the use of weights and diet.

Percy saw strength training as essential to a runner’s development. He blew the myth that lifting heavy weights made and athlete bulky and slow. He advocated heavy weights with low repetitions.

The starting weight was what an athlete could move six times, but not ten (except for the dead lift). As soon as the athlete could move the weight ten times, the weight to be lifted was increased. Also, it was not uncommon for reps of two or three to be practiced.

The basic exercises were as follow: the snatch (to warm up, with a quarter to a third of the athlete’s weight), the rowing motion, military press, bench press, curls, the dead lift and one handed swings. The starting weight for the dead lift should be that the athlete can lift twenty times. This weight is lifted in three sets of ten.

Other weight lifting exercises were included, as were sit ups, chin ups and press ups. Sand hills, hills and stair climbing were preferred over weights to make the legs stronger.

His view on diet, as it was on most things, was strict and uncompromising. Raw, unrefined and unprocessed was how Cerutty liked his food. Rolled oats, dried fruits, fruit, vegetables, fish, water (litres each day), milk, nuts and a little meat were the basis of the diet. “Tasty” dishes and processed white bread were avoided. The food was predominantly uncooked.

Much of what is common knowledge and accepted these days was advocated fifty years ago by Cerutty.


Ode to Inverse Problems

Deep into the night and before calling it a day for today (disgusting rhyme but “lasciamo stare“) this is one of my geek-break-musing from actual work. The topic is a fascinating family of mathematical problems called “inverse problems”.  Wikipedia is a good place to get some more formal information but to make it really short here is a definition by example: 2+4=6, no doubt about it and this constitutes our “forward problem”, i.e. given a defined input we calculate a unique result; but what if some one asked to find out what you had to add up to get 6 but had no way to ask you or otherwise determine the exact combination? There are 4 different combinations to get 6 by adding two numbers and even more if you can add more than that, so how can you say? Well you can’t really and this is what makes an “inverse problem”, i.e. when you are trying to deduce the right answer from a pool of equally plausible alternatives. Welcome to the mathematical equivalent of delusion.  Now for the necessary soundtrack I will go for something very mathematical and at the same time delusional: enter sandman in the form of Gould.


In the very essence this is an area of applied mathematics but us lowly engineers sneak in, as always, to muddle elegant theory into crude and practical results. The later, the muddle bit, is in a broader sense the topic of my doctoral dissertation.  In my thesis I look into the problems arising in the stochastic reconstruction of random heterogeneous materials, like porous rocks for instance.  In simple terms I ma trying to come up with ways to get from a statistical description of 2D images to a fully 3D representation of the material that is true to the very nature of the original. Now, how can you describe statistically a 2D image? This is hard if you think in terms of a complex full colour image but if you picture  a simple black & white checkerboard this might become easier to grasp. Such a

El Tunel

El Tunel

 pattern can easily be translated to some rule (read statistic) that simply says “every 1 step of 10cm paint a black square, immediately followed by the same in white and then repeat  until you have reached so-and-so dimensions”. This is the recipe to make a black-and-white Rubik-type of cube were each sub-cube is of alternate colour. This is the idea that is applied to complex heterogeneous materials, a nasty term that means “something like a (natural) sponge, all irregular and weird but also the same way weird no matter which way you look at it”.  Now that we have established our toolbox of statistical descriptors we can venture to the real world. This methodology suffers from a serious practical limitation: it is not computationally feasible and to an extend even theoretically possible to have a complete statistical description of the intricate morphology of a complex material just by examining 2D sections of it. As always the mathematicians did their brilliant part and then we engineers started cutting corners and trying to fit our need to the delusional nature of this endeavour. My contribution, more like a mashup really, was to pick-and-choose ways to improve getting to a realistic representation of the real material by (in effect) cheating.  The “cheat”  consist of some educated guesses that use previously know information on how nature or industry generates/constructs a material and use this information to guide our solution algorithm through the maze of multiple plausible solutions to the one like the actual material we are trying to recreate. I’ve written about 180 pages of instructions manual to practising (dis)illusionists, called it a thesis and hope to get a PhD out of it the 17-Feb-09.

To end this musing I want to draw the attention to an intriguing and very personal experience of  inverse problems, that is learning from experience. Now at this point a disclaimer is of order; I am going to misuse and abuse scientific terms a little to make this artsy-fartsy, literary ending sound pompous. Don’t buy it, it is just fluff with no substance but I can’t resist making analogies out of analogies.  Think about it every time you are trying make a rational choice based on previous experience. What you  (we)  are really trying to solve is a horribly inverse problem. We are trying to estimate a new state of future affairs based on the (arguably) incomplete evaluation of past events, a classic in parameter estimation for those versed in reaction engineering. Now how much this helps when getting into an argument with your concubitus is another story and I wish you my best of luck!


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