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Science of Running (2 of 3 parts)

EVERY POUND COUNTS - Allan 'Coach A' Choachuy (The Freeman) - November 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Weighing 309 pounds nine years ago, running was always a struggle for me. A 5km run would take almost an hour to finish and I could ardly run one round around the oval straight. But during my ‘Biggest Loser’ stint inside the camp in Cavite, I made an effort to go for a short run, jog or power walk every morning. I don’t have a smart watch to tell how far I have ran. All I have is a heart rate monitor and stopwatch. So I would run around the pathway of the golf course and would set a time at 15 to 20 minutes as turning point of the run. So as the days and weeks go by, that turning time is slowly trimmed down. There was no pressure on how fast I would pace and the point of the run was to hit certain zone in our heart rate.

Light Zone or the Fitness and Fat Burning zone:

–60-70% of maximum heart rate. This zone improves basic endurance and fat burning. So for us in the camp who were obviously obese and overweight, this was the best zone we need to achieve. As we were getting stronger, we would move up to

Moderate or Aerobic, Cardio and Endurance Zone:

–70-80% of max heart rate. As we got stronger we then move and try to improve our endurance, cardiovascular performance. It is an enjoyable effort and basic training for a healthy heart.

This was the zone that I trained inside the camp but once I got out, I realized that I could run around the oval straight easily, no effort. From that point on, I joined fun runs every weekend which started with a 3km run, then 5km, 10km and eventually 12km. At first it was hard. It took me 1 hour and 40 minutes to finish the 12km. So the quest to be stronger and faster begin. To improve, one must suffer as well. With the heart rate monitor, I trained on these 2 difficult heart rate zones.

Hard or Anaerobic, Lactate Threshold Zone:

–80-90%. This zone is for shorter session. You can do 3-4 repeats of 10 minutes each. Keep the effort steady and don’t sprint or push at the end. Plan out your energy usage so you can do one more repeat. The results will be higher heart rate and at which lactic acid flows to your muscle. At this time, you feel the burning sensation in your muscle, which in effect makes you slow down. But by frequently training in this zone, you will improve your threshold to lactate acid and sooner or later you will find that in a long uphill run or climb, you can do it faster for a longer period time. For those who are obese and overweight, please be careful in this zone because training to much in the zone will make you a very ‘fit fat’ person. The final zone is the toughest. It’s good to do this at least once a week or for a start, once every 2 weeks.

Maximum or VO2 max zone:

–90-100%. This is the hardest effort in your heart workout. Just a few minutes once a week will have a big effect or result in strength, power, develop maximum performance and speed. After a good warm-up in very light and light zone, do 3 repeats of 3 minutes each.Take it easy around 3-5 minutes after each repeat.

As for me, I would run almost weekly. Imagine, the only guide for the distance during those runs was just the signage the organizers put up during the run. I would finish my fastest 5km in 29 minutes,  10km in 1 hour and 4 minutes, 12km in 1 hour and 16 minutes, 15km in one hour and 31 minutes, 21km in 2 hours and 24 minutes, and the 42km in 6 hours and 58 minutes. The 42km was disappointing, but it’s better than not running at all.

Fast forward to 2019, I have renewed my love and hate relationship with running. I am officially back in the running scene, powered with a very high-tech watch courtesy of the HOT Mommys. I could monitor my pace, max hours, elevation gain, temperature and even stride distance. The funny thing is that I realized that I am really slow now. The record time I set 4 to 5 years ago was very hard to achieve this time. Thankfully, coach Romulo Rosell, one of our mainstays in our boot camp, and Atty. Paul Yu gave me training tips to follow. Divide training into 3 sessions, speed session or interval, tempo run and LSD. Don’t cross your arm when you run. Try to imagine you would hit someone behind you using your elbow, swinging on the side is the best position and is the least amount of energy usage. Make an effort to swing your arm and elbow back, and least amount of effort must be on the forward motion. Your muscles will automatically propel it back forward, so we need that propulsion to our advantage to make our run easier. And finally keepi it simple. Forms follow function, bad form lead to bad function which lead to bad performance. You don’t need the expensive watch, shoes, and running clothes. What you need is your motivation, your sacrifice and yourself, so go out and run!.

Next week, we will focus on the 3 training sessions (speed works, tempo run and LSD). These are the things we need to do to improve our run time. It will also take up the importance of strength and conditioning in running.

For more questions, you may reach me at alanchoachuy@gmail.com

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