Efficiency / Economy – Quickest Way to Improve Your Time

part 2/4 of this series

Efficiency is pretty easy to understand, it also happens to be where it is the easiest to make the gains. Some of it comes from working to learn the right form. It just makes sense to work efficiently. If you have a pace you want to go, it will be easier if you do it efficiently. Try running with one arm down the neck of your shirt for a mile if you think the efficieny thing is a bunch of hullaballoo. (This is what I do when my heart rate monitor isn’t cooperating and trust me, it is less efficient… of course I am frantically tugging the strap cause its slipping or licking my hand to get my skin wet so it starts working… and yes, I know I look funny but I want the thing working).

Another thing that improves efficiency is that your body adapts the muscles to what you do. You may have heard about fast twich and slow twich muscles. If you train and improve the wrong ones and then expect to perform well you will be dissapointed. This is why you cannot weight lift to run better, you must run (ok a long weight training regime might have you improve all sorts of things including running time, but the improvement is not from running more efficiently, it is from other areas). The muscles you use as you perform are the ones that are improved. The best way to gain efficiency is to first learn the proper form and then practice more and more. Until you get the sense that you can do it in your sleep and find that you can still perform as you let your mind wander you are not as efficient as you can be. Another way to think of it is you find yourself working out “in the zone” more often, the form you use is just second nature. You should eventually be able to still keep the proper form as you get fatigued, then you know you have been practicing enough. You can of course practice the wrong form and get this same feeling, it is more a sense of having learned your form as you practice it. You will need a coach or some video analysis if you want to begin the probably difficult task of having to unlearn the wrong form and so you can learn the right one. So go get a coach to make the most gains here.

To improve form is easy enough, you just learn it and then practiceas you learned it, that is properly. But can we make our muscles adapt faster or better? Sure thing. You will need to read more than what I have to share if you want all the details. I am not at a level where I need to get anything extra, I am still losing weight, that extra baggage gone is going to be the best thing I can worry about. Here are some articles to read more on the topic though:

Growing more blood vessels in your muscles just happens with exercise, researchers are trying to learn more about it to use it for curing disease:


We might know about muscle adaptation to exercise, but we don’t always know why:


Doing two workouts in a day with the second being with low muscle glycogen content sounds like a crazy idea to me, but this reaseacher has found it may help your endurance. To achieve this you simply workout in the morning after breakfast, and then don’t eat anything and work out again at lunch time before lunch. As long as you get a little boost of carbs just before the workout (think gatorade) so your liver glycogen doesn’t go too low (bonking) and understand that you will not be performing optimally because your muscles don’t have the normal amount of stored energy (hitting the wall), I can’t imagine it would do any harm, but it will definitely not be as easy to recover from. I actually have been focusing on a smooth recovery so I can work out twice a day three days of the week, this is the last thing I want to do at this point. I would put this in the list of try it to see if you like it cause you probably won’t:


So I have been learning all about form and the following videos either helped me learn or contain the same information that I was taught. I like to go through them once in a while, along with other new ones, to try and get little tidbits of wisdom that just flew over my head since I probably wasn’t ready. I am not going to regurgitate proper form in any events here, there are going to be hundreds of websites and books that will do a better job of it that I ever could. I like linking to the videos cause it is so much more helpful.

swimming efficiency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYt8x_7uL48

more videos from the same guy who is Ironman Champion Dave Scott on all three disciplines: http://www.youtube.com/user/ACTIVEdotCOM

bike fit and proper form:

This is a 6-part series that shows a cool bike fit system, it gives you an idea about how important it is to get a bike that fits which is a large part of having the proper form:  http://www.youtube.com/user/LindaTris

running form, now I admit this one is a little corny, but it is very helpful:



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5 Responses to “Efficiency / Economy – Quickest Way to Improve Your Time”

  1. forthelifeofme Says:

    I like your blog. First time finding it while tagsurfing. Very informative and it’s nice to see your progress :).

    What type of heart rate monitor do you have? I hate my MioZone and think I don’t want to get the one you have either… running with one arm does not sound fun!

  2. brianthinagain Says:

    Thanks for the nice comment… much appreciated.

    I actually am just embarrased to pull my shirt up and let my belly hang out cause that really would be a little easier…

    The trouble is my own fault though, for some reason the strap can be looser when I run on the tredmill but needs to be tighter for on the road yet I forget. And then when putting it on in a hurry I always always forget to get it wet, which will fix itself with the sweat soon enough but then the average is off. I usually rememebr this oh about 12 seconds after we start running which if on my own I would just stop but in a group that is not an option.

    The one I got was cheap but it works pretty darn good for what I needed, which is the number, the average, and cheap… They have a women’s version as well and I got mine for $59 at Sports Authority.


  3. forthelifeofme Says:

    I’ve heard Polar are good by thirdhand. The person heard from another that they were good but I’d like to know someone who used one of those. Very good price for yours. I’m hoping that I can find one that can be used with or without the strap. And I’ve never used one with a strap, does the strap need to be hooked up to the watch by a cord or is it something like bluetooth transmission?
    My MioZone, really crappy, but it has the two touchbutton thing. Thought it would be good for when I swim since they do recommend moisture. Apparently a pool full of water is not enough moisture for this thing…
    I like the face of that watch, looks nice. I’ll put it on my shortlist. At least 5 more days before I “have” to go out and buy one :).

  4. brianthinagain Says:

    The ones that don’t use a strap are going to have issues. The thing has to detect your heart electrical signals and the ones that don’t use a strap must detect it from one wrist to your other finger when you touch it to get a reading. The strap detects it from two spots about 3 inches apart just below your ribs, much better signal.

    If you want extra features Polar is the best. Garmin has some cool stuff too, they both have models that can graph your heart rate or map your route when connected to a computer. They will cost well over $500 for these cool features though. I want that stuff but cannot justify it for my workout, all I really need is some heart rate feedback on all sorts of days so I can learn the different feelings I get. I am still trying to figure out the details of why sometimes I feel like 162 is the same percieved effort as 170 on other days. It is also helpful when cross-training to tell how hard I am really working.

    One cool thing about the strap is most treadmills and elipticals in the gym that have heart rate monitors pick them up so you get the bonus of not having to grab the handles to read HR.

    The strap is wireless but it is just a burst that is measurable within about 3 feet. There are some mfg’s that have some id in the pulse as well to tell different ones apart, but unless you are lined up like sardines in a gym with other people it is probably not necesarry.

    The strap has a battery in it like ones used in a garage door opener. The battery is used when there is resistance between the two sides of the chest strap. So make sure you don’t wrap the thing up in a sweaty shirt and stuff it in your gym bag when you are done or it will drain the battery. Also the one that comes with it has been in the package a while so buy a spare right away if you want to be sure it will work. They usually max out as the battery is dying and read something crazy high like 228 all too often. This is your cue to change it.

    Hope this is helpful.

  5. forthelifeofme Says:

    Very helpful! Mine reads by two fingers on the face, but it’s nice to know how the “one touch” one’s do it. I figured there had to be some second contact point. It’s good to know about how the straps work. I’ll definitely get a second battery!

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