This may be the most brilliant running meme that has hit the Internet.
A new Twitter page called Runners + Cats (@RunnersandCats) has become an internet sensation with almost 3,000 followers since its first tweet on May 30. The account shares photos of runners with photoshopped cats in the background. Yes, that’s right, cats. It’s a ridiculous concept, but one that has gained much popularity within running’s social media networks. Other runners have even contributed to the feed with photoshopped cats and runners of their own.
It’s an enigma as to why the combination of runners and cats is so delightfully entertaining, but it just is. As a preview, check out 15 of our favorite photo-bombing kitties found on @RunnersandCats. You’re welcome.
An icy treat before a run in the heat improves performance and lowers body temperature.
A few summers ago, I crewed for Dean Karnazes at the Badwater Ultramarathon. For some reason I asked Dean’s other three support crew if I could take the first turn pacing him, while he was still in Death Valley. I encountered no objections. I ran with Dean for 25 miles in 113-degree heat. I then bailed out and let the next pacer take a turn as Dean continued for another 92 miles (having already covered 18 miles before I started pacing him).
It was an interesting experience. We kept Dean going by stopping our two vans after every mile and supplying him with cold drinks, pouring ice water over his head, and giving him ice to put under his hat (which always melted long before he’d covered the next mile).
All of these measures helped Dean, I’m sure. But according to the results of a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Jonathan Dugas (with whom I had the pleasure of coauthoring The Runner’s Body, along with Ross Tucker), there’s something else Dean could have done before even starting the race that would have given him an additional boost: have a slushie.
Granted, Dugas’ experiment was not done in the context of the Badwater Ultramarathon, but it was a fairly extreme test nevertheless for the 10 participants, who were not competitive runners: a treadmill run to exhaustion at ventilatory threshold intensity in a 95-degree environment. This test was done twice, with at least five days between the sessions. Before one treadmill run to exhaustion in the heat the participants drank cold (39 degrees), flavored water. Before the second, otherwise identical session they ate an ice-cold (30 degrees) slushie of the same flavor and overall volume.
Dugas was curious to see how the slushie would affect the participants’ body temperatures before and throughout the running test, as well as how it would affect their performance. Before they had even stepped onto the treadmill, Dugas found that the slushie lowered their core body temperature compared to the cold water. Then things got really interesting.
On average, the subjects were able to run approximately 40 minutes before quitting in exhaustion after they had drank the water. After eating the slushie, they survived for an additional 10 minutes, on average—a massive, 25 percent improvement. Even more interesting, at the time they quit, the participants had slightly higher core body temperatures in the slushie trial than in the cold water trial: 102.8 degrees vs 102.3 degrees.
What do these results mean? First of all, they demonstrate that core body temperature is a major limiter of running performance in the heat. They also reveal that reducing core body temperature before an exhaustive run in the heat enhances performance by increasing the amount of time it takes for the core body temperature to climb up to the maximum tolerable level.
There’s more, though. If the effects of the slushie on the subjects were entirely physiological, then they still would have quit running when their body temperature reached 102.3 degrees, just as they did in the cold water trial. And if this had been the case, they might have run only 5 minutes longer instead of 10 minutes. But in actuality, the subjects were able to get even hotter inside before raising a white flag.
This particular finding indicates that there was a psychological effect at work alongside the physiological effects. Further indications of this are to be seen in the fact that the subjects gave lower ratings of perceived effort and thermal sensation while running in the slushie trial than in the cold water trial. So it appears that, in addition to cooling them down, the slushie also made the subjects feel cooler and more comfortable, which enabled them to run to the point of reaching a higher core body temperature before they felt too hot and uncomfortable to continue.
There aren’t too many Dean Karnazeses out there. Most runners avoid racing in temperatures of 95 degrees and above. But if you ever do, be sure to eat a slushie before you start.
You may be able to race faster on three or four runs per week than you do on six or seven.
There are three key workouts that every runner should do each week. These are essential, must-do workouts. All of your other runs are optional. In fact, if you want to, you can create a training plan that includes only your three weekly key workouts and no other running.
The first run of the week is a speed session. Follow that up with a strength workout on Thursday evenings. And end the week on either Saturday or Sunday with a long run.
If you are a triathlete, this leaves lots of time to swim and bike. If you are just running, this leaves lot of time for recovery.
If you are a compulsive endurance athlete and cannot bear the thought of only running three times a week, here is your fourth workout: Do a tempo run on Wednesdays.
You might think that such an approach would make training easy. In fact, it makes it harder.
Most runners are middle-of-the-road runners. That’s why they’re middle-of-the-pack runners. They run too slowly to get faster and too fast to recover and get stronger. They tend to run everything down the middle. They don’t improve, and they don’t recover. That’s why I recommend doing only three runs a week. There’s time to recover and then run hard (again).
Those slow aerobic runs take an awful lot of time, train your mind to avoid pain, and slow you down. They keep you in your comfort zone. That’s great if you want to race in your comfort zone. But most people at least talk about running faster. You need to embrace the pain in order to get faster. Training in your comfort zone will keep you racing in your comfort zone. Of course we all start pushing beyond our comfort zone, but most of us reach a point where we decide we can’t get any faster, don’t want to work any harder, or just want to enjoy the moderate success we’ve achieved.
It’s important to warm up well for all of your key workouts. Do drills that elevate your heart and respiration rates, work your range of motion for running, and most importantly, mimic the running stride you need to use throughout the workout and during all of your runs (for example, hopping and touching one knee to the opposite elbow).
My approach to speed work consists of short, very intense efforts, typically not longer than 30 seconds apiece. Your shortest, fastest speed intervals can be 50-meter sprints. The longest, slowest speed session I prescribe is three by a mile at 10K pace with two surges during each 400 meters. Jog during your recovery, or better yet do butt kicks as recovery. The objective is twofold: learn to move your feet very quickly, and learn to use efficient running technique. Once every four to six weeks I have my athletes do a 3 x 1-mile time trial as a benchmark of improvement.
An entire speed workout, including warm-up, cool-down and recovery periods, takes 60 to 75 minutes.
Our strength work is lots of hill repeats. There is no better method of building running strength than running hills.
We do three types of hill work. The first involves running fast up a 200m hill and then run fast back down the same hill. These up-and-down intervals are done in sets of one to four. After each set, the runners do a 200-400m jog or 200-400m of butt kicks. We always keep moving and always come back to a drill that improves our technique. The complete workout comprises eight intervals with the following set counts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1.
The second hill session is a five-mile time trial on rolling hills. We focus on finishing faster than our average pace. It is critical not to slow down during this type of workout, so you may have to start out slower than you think you should.
The final hill workout is skipping. Skip up that 400m hill, turn around and do butt kicks on the way down. This is a very difficult workout, but it produces tremendous benefits in explosive strength and in running efficiency.
Our long runs always finish faster than they start and faster than the average pace we hope to run in our goal race. We break the long run into segments — two, three or four — and set a goal pace for each segment. The idea is to learn to run negative splits — that is, to finish faster than you start. We use this type of long run to build pace awareness, build mental toughness and improve fitness.
For example, a runner training to run a 1:40 half marathon might do a 15-mile long run with 5 miles at 8:00/mile, 5 miles at 7:45 per mile, and 5 miles at 7:30 per mile.
While we record pace and heart rate during these (and all runs) we avoid looking at our watches during the run. Instead we rely on our “feel” for the pace.
The term “tempo run” evokes all sorts of ideas. However, it’s really about picking a distance that is shorter than your goal race and running it faster than your goal pace. This would be your fourth run of the week. You do not need to, nor should you do a tempo run every week. Your level of recovery should determine whether you do this run. When you are well recovered on Wednesday, do a tempo run.
Finish all your workouts with a cooldown that will gradually bring your heart rate and your respiration rate back down to resting levels. This is also the time to do drills that will strengthen the muscles we rarely use during running.
About The Author:
Neil Cook is a coach with the Asphalt Green Tri Club in New York City.
I was just riding along this morning when a guy whizzed past at about 25 MPH on his red Specialized Turbo on the Guadalupe River Trail this morning. You can just see the rider and his bike in the enlarged inset.
Green shirt pulled out the stops to chase Turbo Guy down. I tagged along in this little chase until I dropped my camera immediately after shooting this photo
The Turbo is Specialized’s entry into the electric bicycle market.
Every week the Land Use bulletin from the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) comes out and I scan it for any developments of note on Queen Anne – but somehow, this one didn’t come through in our updates. Luckily, one of our readers clued us in to the future of the lot that now houses Kidd Valley (thanks, Greg!).
Queen Anne Kidd Valley, photo courtesy of Kidd Valley
According to a filing with DPD, a representative from the Velmier Companies applied for the project review at 531 Queen Anne Ave N (where Kidd Valley is located). The application is for a one-story, 16,000 foot retail pharmacy with 33 underground parking spaces. No official word, but the Velmier Companies web site lists CVS as a client.
An early design review is set for July 17th at the Queen Anne Community Center, room #1, 6:30pm. No word on what will happen to Kidd Valley (relocation or otherwise).