Archive for ultra running

3 TIPS to Jumpstart YOUR Running This Fall!

Deb-Trails For A Cure

Team Pursuit Ultra-Runner Deb Livingston, at the start of the "Trails To A Cure" trail race!

Now that FALL is officially here in the northern hemisphere (or so it seems based upon those early morning temps!), its time to talk RUNNING! Fall is truly running weather!  There's so many great running events and races in the fall, and we get the benefit of having trained all summer, so the cool temps instantly make us more fit and fast!  The fall is also a great time to improve your speed and strength. Train smart this fall and watch out, you may arrive in the spring better and faster than ever. Here's 3 tips to jumpstart your running this fall:

1. Get your STRIDE RATE UP!  A higher overall stride rate isn't a magical elixir that will turn you into a faster runner, but it is one element that, especially if you're striding slowly (plodding?), is key for improving.  One reason is that running is a neural activity. That is, if you are plodding along at 85 or fewer stride cycles per minute, you're training your nervous system to essentially react slowly, and thus not building some of the foundational skills (remember: nervous system = skills) that will ultimately lead to faster running. ​Striding more quickly will also help you land more under your body and maintain better balance if you run on trails, two important and basic elements to improving as a runner.

(If you haven't listened to our podcast with running expert and coach, Owen Anderson, Ph D, we discuss this aspect in great detail. Check it out!)

Virtually every runner should have at least a 90 stride-cycles-per-minute rate, which = 180 strides per minute.  ​How do you easily check to see where you are? There's many ways to do it, but here is one simple way:

While gazing at your watch, count how many times your right foot hits the ground in 30 seconds. Multiply by two, and you have your stride rate cycle for 1 minute.  Multiply that times two and you have the total number of strides you are taking in a minute. The goal is 90 stride cycles per minute, or roughly 180 strides per minute.

2. Get into the HILLS! Flat roads are "fun" and "relaxing" to run on, but unless you are working VERY hard, they aren't going to help you get faster. (Unless that "flat" is a track, in which case you might be building the things you need there to help you improve. Notice I said "might.") The way to TRANSFER over the stability and strength you're developing in your supplemental strength training (you ARE working on your strength, aren't you?) is to RUN IN THE HILLS!

When I am running in very hilly terrain, I don't moniter speed or pace as I might on the flats. Assuming you're not doing hill intervals, the smart approach is to just run, staying near the middle to top of your aerobic zone most of the time, working with the terrain. This fall, challenge yourself to run hills, climbing and descending relentlessly.  You'll be super glad you did!

One IMPORTANT caveat: If you aren't moving well or building strength and stability in a smart way, the hills can break you. An injury that comes from running on hilly terrain is a red flag that some OTHER element in your training is lacking, e.g. flexibility, mobility, or basic stability/strength.

One last thing: Practice good form when running UP and DOWN. Tall chest and long spine, stiffen the ankle when climbing very steep grades, keep your arm carriage tight when going up (use elbow drive back for power and speed), and use your arms for balancing when descending steep hills.

3. Get OFF road and ONTO the Trail!: We talked about trail running in a recent podcast; how running on the trail vs. the road can really give your running ability a serious BOOST. Of course, there's much more to be gained by someone who always runs on the road, vs. someone who is already doing some trail running. If you're a road runner 80-90% of the time, then it IS TIME to get OFF ROAD! So, what are the ways that trail running can positively impact your running ability?

  1. Resistance to injury: The trail is always changing (depending upon how technical it is), so you're not constantly pounding the same movements or muscles with every stride. Udulating terrain, rocks and roots, etc., force you to constantly adapt and footstrike patterns and balance change and improve. The ground is softer and because of every step being slightly different, your risk of injury from repetitive stress goes down.
  2. Transferring strength: One other fantastic way to improve and transfer that strength you're building on the floor is to get off road, because dealing with the undulations in terrain as well as the steep UPS and DOWNS, builds incredible strength in the feet, legs and trunk! Take a close look at a true trail runner and what you'll see is a very strong runner. When you combine the trail with climbing and descending, you have the MAGIC that will build an incredibly resilient and strong runner, who could THEN head out onto the road or track with much better chances of building speed in a powerful way.

Enjoy your running this fall even more by incorporating some of the above suggestions into your program. Get faster and stronger and have more fun!

Happy trails!

~Coach Al 

Runners: Are You Injured? Here’s the Secret Solution You Need!

Don't train through injury and don't think wishing it away will solve your problem!

Don't train through injury and don't think wishing it away will solve your problem!

And what IS that secret solution?

(Drum Roll Please.........)

The "secret solution" is THE TRUTH....

.....which is something you probably don't want to hear.  I get it.

Listen up: if you're injured, you've got a real problem.  No, it isn't life or death.....but because you love to run, it's a real problem.

And the solution to your problem ISN'T as easy as just "resting and letting it heal." 

Yes, the words, "I'll just rest it and let it heal" is, without a doubt, the most common strategic response I hear from injured runners, on how they will solve their injury woes.

Allowing time for your body to rest and heal is hardly ever a bad idea, but it is foolish to believe (or hope, or pray) that simply resting and taking time away from running is all you need to overcome your injury.  Hardly ever works that way, I'm sorry to say.

There is only one way that works, based on my over 30 years of experience as a runner, triathlete, coach, and running biomechanics expert who's performed hundreds of gait analysis on injured athletes:

Until you determine the reasons WHY the injury occured, and then address that cause at its root level, your injury will likely return once you resume running. 

The choice is always yours. You can keep beating your head against a wall and living with some level of pain on a daily basis. You can keep throwing money away on race entry fees for races you never end up actually doing. The choice is always yours.

Doc and I are here to help, when you're finally ready to SOLVE your problem and enjoy running for the rest of your life.

Make it a great day!

~Coach Al 

ps:  The 2nd most common response I hear from injured runners is that they'll go to see their orthopedic doctor. Really?  Remember my friends, while there are many good orthopedists out there, their primary gig is using sharp toys to cut you.  For many, it isn't on helping you to address the movement oriented issues that are very likely the cause of the injury.  Think about it!

Breaking News: Pursuit Athletic Performance to Open New Training Facility!

Breaking News:

Pursuit Athletic Performance to open a NEW State-Of-The-Art Training Facility! 


Here it is, the exciting news we have been anxiously waiting to share with all of you: Pursuit Athletic Performance is moving into a NEW larger, state-of-the-art training facility! We are growing and expanding!  We are super-psyched and we hope you are too!!

Centrally located in Chester, Connecticut at the top of Inspiration Lane (no, we are not making that up!), this facility (much larger than our present space at nearly 8000 sq ft) will provide more than enough space for:

  • group and individual adult and youth classes and personal training
  • triathlon, running, cycling, AND field sport (soccer, lacrosse) camps and workshops
  • a computrainer bike studio (aka the Pain Cave)
  • an expanded state-of-the-art gait analysis lab
  • treatment areas for chiropractic, massage, and more
  • a kitchen (which will evolve into a cool, fun and relaxing hang out space)
  • and much more!

Plans are in place to offer a wide array classes for both adults AND kids (think yoga, adult bootcamp/strength and fitness, youth bootcamps, and more), and even winter long weekly INDOOR triathlons! With computrainers for cycling, treadmills for running, and Vasa Ergometers for swimming, it'll be easy!

The pictures below are just a tiny SNEAK PEAK of what is to come.  Construction is ongoing: the lights are still being worked on (which is why you see the glass from the lights hanging), inspirational and motivational "fathead" wall art and photos are being added daily, and much more. Each of the training spaces including mirrors and floors are still to be added. As for the computrainer studio (aka Pain Cave), it is just about ready to go!  We are just a few weeks away from being ready to rock!

We HOPE you're as excited as we are!  PLEASE tell your friends and EVERYONE you know!

More information and news, including the OFFICIAL GRAND OPENING, will be coming soon!

Make it a great day everyone!  We can't wait to see you in Chester!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

MORE On Running Biomechanics and Footstrike Patterns…

Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM

Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM

We recently had Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM on our podcast (episode 47) to discuss all things running!

Biomechanics, foot strike patterns, running shoe design and use, barefoot running, and much more are topics we covered. If you missed that podcast you definitely want to check it out. Go here.

Dr. Kirby gave a new lecture on July 30th 2014 entitled: "Running Footstrike: Rearfoot, Midfoot or Forefoot, Which is Best?" 

One of our passions here at Pursuit Athletic Performance is dispelling training MYTHS, especially those that are hurtful to those who don't know any better. For example, one of our most read blog posts from the past was one we did on the MYTHS associated with "gait analysis," especially the kind you'll get in a running shoe store (hint: it isn't gait analysis at all!). Didn't read that one? You can find it here.

We also believe it is important to highlight science-based information from true experts when it becomes available. This very recent lecture by Dr. Kirby helps us achieve both.

To view the lecture go here:

Thank you Dr. Kirby.

Make it a great day everyone!

~Coach Al 

Yoga For Endurance Athletes With Ultrarunning Champion Debbie Livingston

Hello Everyone!

Coach Al here with Pursuit athlete and ultrarunner champion Debbie Livingston.

Debbie is fresh off her WIN at the Traprock 50K ultrarun on April 13!

Traprock organizers call the race a true "test of the runner’s fitness and mental stamina." Fitness and stamina? Yeah, Deb's got that! And her season is just going to get better. Huge congratulations to her!

Debbie is also a long-time, accomplished yoga instructor. In our post today, she talks about the benefits of yoga for endurance athletes. Yoga not only keeps her physical body in balance, but also helps Deb hone the mindfulness she needs when training for and competing in ultra-endurance events. At Pursuit Athletic Performance, we work on those same tenets with athletes every day:

Integration of mind and body

Balance in the body of muscular strength and length

For certain runners and triathletes ("certain athletes" being the caveat here), yoga can be is the perfect way to increase much needed mobility and flexibility.  Some key elements regarding yoga practice for runners and athletes include:

1. Those who tend to enjoy it the most, need it the least!

2. Those who "hate it" likely need it most!

What I mean is...for those of you who are already very mobile and flexible, yoga can lead you down a path where you end up improving—and in some cases, over doing—movement elements you already "own" to some degree. For those (like me) who aren't very flexible or mobile, the practice can be very helpful in improving on that limitation.

As is always the case, a good yoga class—where each person only goes to their limits and learns their body while focusing on their own unique limiters—is the ideal approach.

 In this video, Debbie demonstrates "Melting Heart." The pose is TREMENDOUS for flexibility and mobility of the mid- and Yogaupper back (lats) and thoracic spine. It feels great, especially if you're tight through this region. 

Get down on the floor and do some yoga! Aaaahhh..... 

More yoga videos with Debbie coming soon! Until great! 

Coach Al

Coach Al: Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Race Report

Rim to Rim to Rim, r2r2r

THIS WAS THE MOMENT that we'd anticipated so many weeks ago. That moment when we'd be truly tested. This sort of suffering is what many endurance athletes, including me, enjoy in a bizarre sort of way. ~Coach Al

On November 16, 2012, our intrepid coach, Al Lyman, took on the 46-mile ultrarunning legendary challenge, The Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run. The experience was truly epic for him--as is his race report! It's such a cool story and incredible adventure, we made it into an ebook for your convenience. You can access a FREE direct download by clicking here or on the cover image.

Here are some excerpts from the book. There are lots of training tips and lessons learned applicable to all endurance athletes. And if you know Coach, you know it's all tremednously valuable information on how he trained, lessons learned, and a good dose of uplifting inspiration.

On Timing The Last Long Run:

In my opinion, many marathoners and ultra-runners routinely make the mistake of running their last long run, way too close to their event day. Nearly 20 years ago, first through reading some intriguing research and then by way of personal practice, I learned that if I left at least 4, if not 5 weeks, from the day of that last long run until event day, I'd be more "healed" from that long training run and have a better chance for success on race day as a result. Most runners make this mistake for two reasons: following poorly conceived training plans written by folks who don't know any better, and/or a lack of confidence stemming from a belief that the body will "forget" how to go long. It doesn't.

Coach Al's Philosophy on Approaching the Training:

We all have a philosophy - a belief system - that guides our actions and our thoughts. Every single day, in one way or another, we express our philosophy to the world and people around us, either with the words we use or the actions we take, or don't take.

The approach I took to prepare for this run reflected MY philosophy. This is what I believe. In my mind, I accepted that the ONLY chance I had to be able to finish this run and remain healthy preparing for it was to approach it this way. As I considered the consequences of being wrong I got more excited! I absolutely LOVED the pressure and challenge of seeing what would happen.

The Actual Training and Preparation With A Major Focus on Strength:

My intent and goals were clear. Get as strong as I could, progress my long runs making them gradually more like the Canyon run would be, and be sure to show up as rested and ready as possible on the day, using every "trick" I'd learned over many years of training and racing, to help me get ready.

As I envisioned and planned a training strategy moving forward, the center piece - the focal point of my training, was enhancing strength. NOT the 'rehab' or "muscle confusion" BS type of strength. Real strength. I'd focus on a few key exercises which I know are so important for the abilities I would need, and really work them (on a foundation of solid high quality movement, of course!)

I knew it was the only way I'd be able to handle the increase in running miles and ultimately achieve success on the day. I had no trouble convincing my training partner Tim that the same held true for him. So, he joined me 1x per week in our Lab for 1-2 hr strength sessions where I guided him in a progressive program I designed to enhance our strength. We also, naturally, worked on proprioception and balance (to handle the undulations and knarly, loose rock trail), eccentric strength and resilience (to handle the unending downhill we'd encounter), and just plain old total body strength, especially legs, hips, glutes (to enhance our ability to power the steep ups on the trail and handle the extra weight of the pack, knowing we were going to be out there for hours). I enjoyed those sessions and I know Tim did too.

Lots More!
Tons more good stuff in the ebook including a look at what Al would have done differently, as well as nutrition, and a great section on "What Did I Learn?" Enjoy!

Carly Stroich-Eisley: Vermont 50 Ultra Run–This Is How Recovery Should Be!

Pursuit Athletic Performance

Hello Everyone!

One of the ultrarunners in the Pursuit Athletic Performance family is Carly Stroich-Eisley. Last weekend, Carly took on the Vermont 50 ultra run. While I hope to be able to share her race report soon, I had to share her recovery check-in only three days post race. Read her words and know this is how recovery is supposed to be! A real testimony to the power of BEING STRONG.

In years past, before our training together, Carly would have carried injury and pain from an effort like this for weeks on end. Instead, she knocked it out of the park. This is how an athlete who is strong, stable, balanced and durable is able to crank out year after year of performance without breaking down.

How does she feel so good after a race of 50 miles through the mountains of Vermont?

Many of you know my coaching philosophy is based upon restoring authentic movement and building a base of balanced strength from the ground up so that athletes can train and race to their true potential.

You simply cannot train and race to your ultimate best with a body that is unbalanced, weak, and broken.

Cultivating speed and outstanding personal performance is what we expect all our athletes to be able to achieve--and they do. By rebuilding the athlete's body from the inside out-- so that it is injury resistant, durable, and able to withstand more training load--we create the perfect confluence where fulfillment in sport and personal happiness is greatly enhanced. Carly is a great example of just that.

Thanks, Carly! You have a great and bright future ahead of you!

From Carly:

I am amazed at how well I was able to do in the Vermont 50, and how well I am recovering given the amount of training time I really had for this! I am walking normally, quads feel much better and I can get up and down steps and from a sitting position with no trouble today. Just had the normal post-race soreness which is mostly gone, no real pain anywhere. My right calf and Achilles were tight, lightly massaged and stretched it and feeling much better there too.

I stopped and thought about it the other day, after the race... I essentially had no quality running whatsoever from the end of March until July (and the quality of my running before that is very debatable...) And I was able to bust out the Vermont 50! And in a fairly respectable time. Insane!!

Strength training rocks!!

I can't wait to see how I can do with additional time to train and prepare. 🙂

Sedona Trail Running Camp & Retreat, April 15-19, 2012

Hello everyone! Coach Al here.

I am very excited to announce that I have partnered with Ultra Running Champion Debbie Coach Al, Sedona Trail Running Camp & RetreatLivingston to host a five-day trail running camp and retreat in beautiful Sedona, Arizona!

The camp will be held Sunday, April 15 to Thursday, April 19, and we have no doubt it will be the experience of a lifetime!

The camp and retreat will be hosted at the spectacular Red Agave Resort in Sedona.

Debbie and I see this as more than just a running camp. This five day "running retreat" is an educational and inspirational experience designed to develop you as a COMPLETE runner.

As we run, eat, and live together, surrounded by the magical red rock formations of Sedona, you will be immersed in aspects of training that are essential to becoming a stronger, faster, and mentally-tough competitor. There is no doubt you will emerge a smarter, reinvigorated runner equipped with the tools you need to make you faster and more resilient--ready to unleash your highest running potential.

The Sedona retreat is also the ideal lead-in to the legendary Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run to be held April 21, 2012. Debbie is competing in the race. If you are already registered for this challenging event, the retreat in Sedona is the perfect venue to help you cap your physical conditioning, shore up your mental game, and share an uplifting event with other runners. What a fantastic way to wrap up your training! See our event page for more details.

The camp is open to all runners of all levels and abilities who want to improve, learn, and share. It is is limited to 15 athletes - first come, first served! Registrations need to be completed no later than March 18, 2012.

Explore the who, what, when and why, plus complete details, bios, and more at the here. Make the commitment to yourself and to your training in 2012, and register today!

Feel free to contact me with any questions. Hope to see you in Sedona!