Masters Running

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long runs - running surface question (Read 480 times)

    Hello everyone (if you saw this on KR, my apologies, but there are people here who don't post on KR and I would like their advice): I'm training for the L.A. Marathon (road race), and I have an 18 mile long run next weekend. For long runs, is it better to train on dirt or harder stuff (blacktop/concrete) to simulate race conditions? I am concerned about preventing injuries. I mainly run half marathons, and for that distance my favorite course is a hilly dirt trail near my home. I have been using that lately but it's got disadvantages (like hardly any bathrooms or water). During the 14 and 16 milers, I carried a heavy 2-bottle trail pack on my lower back; I think the extra weight may have bothered my knees but I took a few days off and knees are ok now. I also replaced my shoes, just to be safe. So for the 18 miler, I'm considering using this asphalt/concrete bike path near the beach (it's got bathrooms and water), plus I can park my car nearby and pick up supplies as I need them. I have completed one marathon in 2006 and trained mostly on harder stuff, but since then I noticed my knees are rather sensitive. I'm trying to solve as many problems as I can: I have lost 10 pounds since that marathon. I wear orthotics and neutral shoes that I replace frequently (Asics Gel Nimbus and Cumulus). I have biomechanical problems (knock knees and one leg shorter than the other) so I do alot of cross training with a personal trainer. I would appreciate your wisdom on this subject since many of you are way more experienced than I am with the full marathon. thank you in advance, dromedary Smile p.s. I wasn't on CR very long, plus I didn't read it for half of last year so I may have missed this topic before. I appreciate all answers. You guys have way more experience than I have (or could hope to have).


    King of PhotoShop

      I hope we can get a discussion going on this, because I was going to ask a question in the daily on a similar subject. Here it is: It is said that there are some benefits to running on grass vs. running on hard surfaces. One benefit is that grass is softer so that you get less harsh impact which makes it easier on the joints. Okay, that's one. I thought of three more. What are they? As to your question, so as not to hijack your post Drom, if I'm healthy I do long runs on asphalt roads, but if the objective of the long run is to be out there on your feet for a long time, and if you are already having some injury concerns, you would suffer no harm at all by doing your 18-miler on a softer surface. It will take you longer of course but it will be a good endurance workout for you. I say why not? Spareribs


      My Little Pal

        Great thread gang. Dromedary, to simulate race conditions you'd need to run on the same type of surface of course. IMHO however, an off road run is more beneficial from a training standpoint for a couple reasons. First, the degree of difficulty is harder as with an undulating surface, you have to concentrate on your footstrike with each step. I learned by running the Va. Creeper Marathon how tough off road running is even on a well groomed trail. also, the impact is less and therefore less taxing on your body. All this IMHO. Spareribs, I can't identify your other 3 reasons but I did want to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed exploring your corporate website. Great job sir.
        At the end of the day, be happy with where you are and what you've accomplished.


        Back on Stride

          Withdrawn.

          Doug, Runnin' in Rochester, MI

            Biting tongue Tongue

            Lou, (aka Mr. predawnrunner), MD, USA | Lou's Brews | lking@pobox.com


            King of PhotoShop

              Lou, I assume you are biting your tongue as there was a string on hard vs. soft surfaces some time ago on CR. I recall Jim24315 once said to me, "try dropping a golf ball on that packed dirt track you run on, and then drop one on grass and see the difference." That was convincing. I use the grass now a lot on recovery runs and now that I have some PF problems. Spareribs
                Lou, I assume you are biting your tongue as there was a string on hard vs. soft surfaces some time ago on CR. I recall Jim24315 once said to me, "try dropping a golf ball on that packed dirt track you run on, and then drop one on grass and see the difference." That was convincing. I use the grass now a lot on recovery runs and now that I have some PF problems. Spareribs
                Yes, this is a good experiment for those of you who run barefoot on both surfaces. I remember the response was: Put a running shoe on both surfaces. Try dropping a golf ball into a running shoe on packed dirt, and then drop one into a running shoe on grass, and see the difference. But grass vs. dirt -- I'd venture grass is softer, even with the running shoe experiment above. The earlier argument, of course, was asphalt vs. concrete.

                Lou, (aka Mr. predawnrunner), MD, USA | Lou's Brews | lking@pobox.com


                Back on Stride

                  Ditto.

                  Doug, Runnin' in Rochester, MI


                  Marathon Maniac #957

                    SR - would one of the benefits of running on grass vs. harder substances be that, since you have to go slower, you can concentrate on form? Dromedary - for me, trail running would be more dangerous. I'm just so darn clumsy, and I don't pick up my feet enough, that I would injure myself by tripping and falling. Even sidewalk cracks are dangerous to me... Smile

                    Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."


                    i'm lovin' it... MM#1949

                      This is a good discussion and since I can't remember WRFB's conclusions, I'll just state my thinking: The pounding of roads is important to strengthen the muscles and bones and ligaments. But running on grass and other soft (irregular) surfaces provide lateral instability which you constantly correct for via ankle/foot movements. This really helps strengthen the feet and ankles and reduces the jarring of hard surfaces. Since both are important, try variations. My staple long run is about 4 miles pavement + 6 miles grass (beside the road) + 7 miles of dirt packed trails with pine needles. The trail portion is not very technical, quite smooth and minimal roots/rocks. Also, with running on grass, I notice more leg lift to avoid tripping. This is also additional workout for the legs. PS where does one find SMOOTH grass surfaces to run on? None around here.
                      Perch's Profile "I don't know if running adds years to your life, but it definitely adds life to your years." - Jim Fixx "The secret is to make in your mind possible what was not possible before. The secret is to make easy what was difficult, instead to make difficult what really is easy." - Coach Renato Canova


                      King of PhotoShop

                        1. Softer impact; less wear on joints, bones 2. Strengthens ankles, dorsiflexor, other muscles 3. Irregular surfaces force you to pick your feet up, which means you have to pick your knees up, or you stumble. Same with trails. Improves form. 4. You can't run as fast on grass as you can on the roads; because you're forced to slow down, your recovery runs are slow, and easy, as they should be. Those are the ones I could think of. Any more? Spareribs
                        coastwalker


                          Even though this issue has been discussed before, it never hurts to be reminded of the pros and cons of running on different surfaces. The only thing I would add the the good comments posted above is that, if running on hard surfaces, always choose asphalt over concrete because it has a smidge more give. FYI; as a racewalker, I rarely have a choice of softer/more uneven surfaces: There is no benefit (from a technique standpoint) to a high knee lift, so my feet are always close to the ground. So I would risk many faceplants on uneven surfaces. However, since the impact from walking is far less than from running, I can more easily get away with spending more time on hard surfaces. Jay
                            I really prefer running on trails. Perch, most of your route sounds wonderful! In the summer, I do most of my runs on trails or along bikepaths... either on the asphalt path itself, or more frequently along the shoulder of the path (usually a four-wheeler track). On these surfaces I feel I can just go on and on. BUT, I learned the hard way this fall that you do need to train for the surface you'll be running on, if possible! The Seattle Marathon is run on all roads and asphalt trails. This includes a lot of concrete and very hard pavement. My feet really took a pounding, and while I did run a PR time, my feet were sore for a day afterwards and I'd never had that happen before! This is also the problem with doing long runs on the treadmill... you get a cushioning effect on the treadmill that you don't get out on the streets.
                              Interesting topic, I try to mix most of my runs between sidewalk, road edge, grassy area next to road edge and on the ashphalt on the road. Do you really think there is that much of a difference in sidewalks and road surfaces though? I know the track is cushioned but the road feels the same as the sidewalk to me.I prefer trails in the summer months but find it hard to use them this time of year because of mud and snow. As far as form goes I know for me when I am on an uneven or slippery surface my stride changes dramatically. I understand the stability and strength benifits along with less pounding from the trails and grassy areas but I still think some good open hard surface running is important to keeping my form . Just IMHO.

                              Chumbawamba: I get knocked down But I get up again You're never going to keep me down


                              just a simple cat

                                Dromedary, the long run in marathon preparation is to get you ready for that endurance event. And some of that long run (towards the end) you should also try to get some marathon pace miles in. I don't think running on those dirt paths in PV will enable you to get either benefit; simulate LA race conditions or get up to marathon pace. Run the beach path! After the marathon, run lots of recovery miles on soft dirt or even smooth grass (if you can find it).

                                 

                                Running is stupid

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