A Runner’s Arm swing affects your cadence and heart rate

The other day I was riding my bike through the park and I noticed there were a lot of runners running with poor form.  The easiest thing to notice when passing by quickly on the bike is how people hold and swing their arms.  It appeared to me that they were working unnecessarily hard.  I began to wonder how something as simple as arm swing could affect someone’s pace, run cadence, and heart rate.  I suspected that with running with your arms low, at waist level would decrease run cadence due to making larger arm swings.  The larger arm swings would require more energy, thus raising their heart rate.  Those two things would decrease the pace they could sustain at any given heart rate.  I decided to test this out on our treadmill.  I set the treadmill at 9 MPH and a 1% incline to simulate out door running.  Below is the video of the test and screen shots of the data within the video.  If you don’t have time to watch this short video, the findings are below the video:

  1. 9 MPH at 1% grade with arms at correct height (about chest level at a 90 degree bend at the elbow) = 150 BPM and a cadence of 180-185
  2. 9 MPH at 1% grade with arms at waist = 155-156 BPM and a cadence of 165-170
  3. I could sustain the same HR of 155-156 BPM with the correct arm bend and swing at 9.2 MPH.  That is about 10 seconds per faster per mile.


  Correct run form (and arm position) from my triathlon days back in 2015.

This arm bend angle is too big. Running with an arm bend a this angle will decrease cadence, increase heart rate, and slow you down.



Cycling to Maintain and Improve Running Fitness

One of the things I feel that I do differently at Progressive Endurance for my athletes is not having them run nearly as much as they would without guidance and or under the guidance of another triathlon coach. Not one year of coaching has gone by when an athlete hasn’t questioned why they aren’t running more. The most common one I hear is along lines of, “when am I going to a 20+ mile run to get ready for my Ironman race?”, or “I think I need to be running more miles during the week.”

One of the things I noticed when I raced professionally for 3 years that anytime I (or any other athlete I competed against) had an overuse injury it was nearly always due to running. I also almost never ran more than 40 miles in a week when training about 20-25 hours a week. Why only 40 miles with that many hours of training? Because I am a firm believer that running fitness can not only be maintained, but improve, with less run mileage and focusing more on cycling. While my sample size to prove my point isn’t nearly big enough, I want to show with two case studies that happened this year that supports my theory on how running less and cycling more than most training plans can maintain and improve running fitness.

Case Study #1 – Isaac Blackman

Isaac was in his second year of training with Progressive Endurance this year. He was getting ready to do his first 70.3 race when, just one week before, he crashed his bike and fractured his clavicle. The injury was obviously a mental blow to him. 70.3 Galveston wasn’t his main focus for the year. His main goal was Age Group Worlds in the Netherlands in the middle of September. Here are his threshold run paces at the most recent test prior to the crash and the test after the MD cleared him to run again.

Run threshold prior to injury – 5:43/mile

Run threshold after injury – 5:55/mile

Isaac was unable to run for about a month and then was only able to do easier running for few weeks after that. Basically 2 months with little to no running. We focused more time on the bike and could squeeze in an additional speed session on the bike due to not running or running less. As you can see he only lost about 12 seconds per mile during the 2 months. Once he was able to run normally again, based on the feedback he gave me, we decided to keep focusing more heavily on the bike and do a long run on the weekend with speed built into it with just easier runs throughout the week. Last year, he didn’t break a 6:00/mile in the 10K off the bike in his olympic distance events. In his second to last race of the year in the middle of August, Age Group Nationals, he broke that barrier and ran a 5:56/mile. In the final race of the year, Age Group Worlds, he crushed the run and ran a 5:45/mile off the bike for a 10K. He was only running about 3 times a week. 2 of the runs were typically about 40 to 50 minute runs that were aerobic in nature.

As you can see, he did loose a little bit of speed from the injury initially but it was not that much. He quickly regained the fitness and hit a new PR by running a little less and biking more.

Case Study 2 – Mike Hermanson

Yes, I am doing a case study on myself. This is not a bragging session, but just trying to drive home my point by using an extreme example of how cycling maintained my running fitness. My most recent 5k race time when I was still running and training for triathlon was a very chilly Anthem 5K in 2015. I went out a too fast and ran about a 16:55 (5:25/mile). I obviously continued running consistently throughout the 2015 season. But after that season, I quit triathlon and started pursuing road bike racing. I ran occasionally during my bike training but I was not running enough to get my body used to it and was always sore for a few days after running 4-5 miles a couple times a week. I decided I was tired of being sore and hung up running around March of 2016. I have since moved on to focusing my racing on mountain biking in the 2017 season and haven’t ran at all since then. On October 4th, 2017 I decided to run a 5K because one of my friends and I started tossing around the idea of doing an Xterra triathlon in 2018 and because I thought if I ran well, I could use it as a case study for this blog. I hadn’t ran for about 18 months and only cycled for fitness. My legs were a bit tired from a 3.5 hour MTB ride the day before. I wasn’t concerned about running the fastest I could, but to just show how running fitness can be maintained with cycling only. I ran that 5K in 17:59 (5:47/mile). Yes, it was about 1 minute slower than the Anthem 5K, but it is incredible how I only lost a minute of time after only cycling for 1.5 years.

So what’s the take away from this blog? Here is a quick bullet point list of what I think people should consider after reading these two examples:

  1. If injured from running, take extra time than what you think to make sure you are healed up. Maintain your fitness by cycling. The extra week or 2 you take off to allow your body to completely heal will not affect your running fitness that much.

  2. Consider running less during the week and do your speed workouts and distance runs together. The body only know intensity and time, running faster for shorter distances will create the same training stress as a long slow run.

  3. While there is a time and place for a long run (I typically don’t run my athletes over 17 or 18 miles for their long runs for an IM race), you definitely don’t need to do it several times. Some people run nearly 20 miles or more every weekend for a month or two to get ready for the IM. They are not able to recover in time. You can gain a lot of running fitness just with the long bikes and bike intensity.

  4. The cardiovascular engine can be trained well on the bike and the body can recover faster from cycling as compared to running. This means you can do more consistent workouts. And consistency is the best way to build fitness.


BSX Insight run test

This video shows me doing the run test on the BSX Insight and how it works.  It is super simple, blood free, and can be done anywhere there is a treadmill.  This device is incredibly useful for any biker, runner, or triathlete that wants to get faster. Use coupon code MAVMIKE to save $40 on the BSX Insight Multisport Unit! #StopthePricks


Anthem 5K 2015

First video race report.  Kind of a test run (no pun intended) for some other things I want to do in the future.  Watch the video of the Anthem 5K located in Louisville, Ky.  It’s the first leg of the Triple Crown of Running!


Work the core in the off season

About a month ago, I started running with Spalding University Cross Country and Track team located in Louisville, KY.  Although running is my strongest of the three disciplines, I thought I should even make it better and run with runners.  However, I realized I needed more than just running with runners.  I needed to hit the gym with runners.


The assistant coach, Bradley not only joins in on the morning runs written by the head coach, Kevin, but he prescribes the strength and conditioning workouts following the runs.  None of them require much more than your body, a medicine ball, and a swiss ball.  However, I’ve noticed my hips being a little sore the day following these routines.  I know that I’ve neglected doing this stuff for a long time and think that maybe this stuff may be the key to bring my running to the next level.

I decided to record the workouts and make them available to you so that you can become a stronger runner/triathlete and prevent injury.  Bare with me as I learn the ins and outs of this video making… hope you enjoy it.


2014 triathlon season in review

My first attempt at a video blog.  Hope you all enjoy it.  Thanks to everyone that had a part to play in this last season… already looking forward to 2015!

Save money when shopping with my sponsors with these codes:
Cobb Cycling – MAVMIKE saves you 5% and free shipping
Infinit Nutrition – MAVERICK saves you 10%
Energy Bits – MIKE502BITS saves you 20%


KDF Marathon Race Report 2014

This year the KDF would be my second time running the race… and it would also come just 6 days after NOLA 70.3.  I wasn’t sure how well I would do with still having a little bit of fatigue in my legs from the previous weekend, but I thought it would be a fun race to do since it is in my backyard.

On Wednesday before the race, a random cold sore showed up on my lip.  I was really confused to why it happened to pop up since I wasn’t sick, or even feeling a little under the weather.  However, Friday evening while I was at our Good Friday Service, I started feeling a little congested and a sore throat.  Now the cold sore made sense!  But, the timing to finding out why wasn’t the greatest.  I was hoping that I wouldn’t feel horrible in the morning and still be able to have a respectable race.  I didn’t sleep great the night of the race, but it could have been worse.

I woke up with a little more congestion and my throat was just a little more sore than the night before.  I felt good enough to race and decided to give it what I had.

I started the race in the A corral.  Not sure why I didn’t in the elite corral, but I didn’t really care.  I knew I could get really close to the front of the line regardless.

The start gun went off and I started out with a 5:22 mile and then settled into pace for the rest of the marathon.  By mile 4, I knew my goal time of a 2:35 wasn’t going to happen.  I didn’t have the energy I needed from being sick.  I actually contemplated just doing the mini marathon, but I felt like that would be “quitting” for no good reason, and didn’t want anything to do with that.

Just before the mini marathoner and the full marathoners split, we run into the Church Hill Downs, home to “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”  It’s always kind of fun running around the in field that in just a couple weeks will be crowded with people watching the first leg of the Triple Crown Races.  We then exited the stadium and headed for Iroquois Park, the hilliest section of the race (and probably all of Louisville).

Once getting to the park, I backed down the effort a little bit for the 3 miles through the park.  I didn’t want to push that section too hard and then pay for it in the final miles of the race.  Once we exited the park, we got back on Southern Parkway and met runners making their way to the park.  This part of the race is nice, a little bit of company to be had.  A few “good jobs” were tossed back and forth to/from the people I knew for the next few miles.  Then, about mile 17, I joined back into the group of mini marathoners.

For the next few miles, I had to bob and weave quite a bit to work my way through the crowd.  Getting to the aid stations was a bit a challenge since they were on the left side of the street and I was on the right side of the street.  I had to cross about 4 lanes of road/runners, grab my own drinks, and then zig-zagged back to the right hand side of the road where the least amount of dodging was required to make forward progress. I made a conscious effort to drink a lot of fluids during this race in comparison to last year since I felt that hydration was reason I didn’t close out the last 4 miles well… and it was a lot warmer this year.

Mile 21 came and that meant I finally was able to split from the mini marathoners again and have open road.  Still no signs of hitting the wall and struggling the last four miles like last year.  However, my slowest mile did some from mile 22-23, but it was mostly uphill.  I kept drinking water and taking small sips from the flask of Napalm (Infinit’s version of an energy gel) I carried during the entire race.  I felt good (relatively speaking) and closed off the last three miles with all of them just being a few seconds over 6 min miles.  No bonking this year!

I finished 7th over all and about a minute slower than last year, but I’m still happy with it.   Considering I was sick, raced a 70.3 the weekend before, and it being much warmer this year, I think I put together a good race.

Equipment/Nutrition during the race:

Newton MV3 running shoes

Napalm Highly Caffeinated (www.infinitnutrition.com) – use code “maverick” at checkout to save 10%

Salt Stick Electrolyte pills

Swiftwick socks

Champion System Tri Kit


I also want to  give a big thank you to Maverick Multisport for pulling all these sponsors together to help make training and racing possible.  And a big thank you to Vibra Healthcare for sponsoring me this year.  Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to race or train as much as I would like.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my wife and all my in-laws for doing the mini marathon this year.  It was a great to exchange stories after the race.  Huge congrats to all of them!



Papa John’s 10 miler 2014 Race Report

Louisville is a great place to be an athlete.  Several really good athletes call this place home.  So it’s no wonder that the annual Triple Crown of Running brings in some talent from all over the nation/world.  It starts with a 5K around the end of February, steps up to a 10K around the beginning of March, and finishes with the Papa John’s 10 miler around the end of March.  The only Triple Crown race that appeals to me is the 10 miler.  I don’t like having to fight thousands of people for parking and such for short races.  This was the first time I’ve participated in the Papa Johns 10 miler because every other year I’ve been out of town that weekend.  I decided to use it as a test set for me for running this week since my coach had me on a light training week and was doing test sets on each discipline.

I knew this course would be tough.  Several false flats, 3.5 miles of running crazy hills in Iroquois Park, and then in the final mile running over a big bridge to burn the legs out one last time.  In the 10.2 miles of the race, there is 510 feet of climbing, which nearly half of it comes while going through Iroquois park from miles 2.5 to 6.25.  I knew I would need to back off the speed a little going through this section to save the legs for the return trip to the finish line.

The race started at 8, and I found myself at the front of the line with some elite runners.  The gun went off, and I took off with a group of 3 other runners, with several other runners following just a few yards behind.  I crossed the first mile marker in 5:18.  A little faster than my goal pace, but after crossing the mile marker, I tried to settle into a pace and not burn my legs out.

Once we made the turn to the park (mile 2.5) I was sitting in 5th or 6th place.  The hills through the park were brutal.  I have to say that I really like running hills though.  I hold my own going up them, but I think that I’m good at using the downhills to give me free speed and also recover.  This was my strategy going through the park.  Work the uphills, recover (but still run fast) on the downhills.  I exited the park in 8th place.  I had my fastest mile just after exiting the park… 5:10 pace.  I felt great coming out the park.  I had one guy about 20 meters behind me, but I figured I could hold him off.

The wind started to pick up and create a headwind at about mile 7.  By mile 8, the guy behind me caught me.  I stepped in right behind him and took advantage of the slight draft he was creating.  I felt my legs starting to recover a little.  I knew I could out kick him in the final stretch if I was patient and attacked at the right time.

Mile 9 starts at the base of an overpass of some railroad tracks.  I let him take the lead, but made sure to keep him work hard by putting in a few surges and run side by side to make sure I burned his legs a little to have him try to hang on to the lead.  Once we crested the hill, I tried to take advantage of my ability at dropping people after a hard climb and blasting down the hill.  It worked.  By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, he was about 10 yards behind.  Reaching the bottom, the course took a turn into the headwind.  I knew I had to keep pushing it to prevent him from being able to use the draft.

We entered Papa John’s Stadium, and he was now about 15 yards behind.  I picked up the pace just slightly to make sure he wouldn’t pass me at the end.  I crossed about 15 yards ahead of him.  I thought I finished 8th overall, but since he crossed the start line about 2 or 3 seconds after I did, he technically beat me by less than a second.  I can’t see exactly, because the time sheet on line only went out to the seconds place.  On paper I finished 9th, but I know that if he would have started the same exact time as me, I still would have beat him since I strategically drafted off of him, pushed him up the hill, and beat him down the hill and into the stadium.  But, in all honesty, it wouldn’t have changed much.  The race only paid out to 5th, so the end result was the same… no money.

I’m still thrilled with my race though.  With the course being long about a 0.2 miles long, I actually beat my goal pace by 1.5 seconds per mile.  I ran between a 5:28 to 5:29 on a hilly course.  This is a great confidence booster going into NOLA 70.3 for my triathlon season opener in my second year with Maverick Multisport

Equipment used:

Thanks for all those cheering on and off the race course during this event.  It definitely helps.


Run Woodstock 50 mile Race Report

I like first time experiences… they are always the most memorable.  I will always remember my first triathlon, my first ride in an ambulance, my first Ironman, my first 50K run, and now I can add a 50 mile trail run to the list of things I’ll never forget.

My friend, Chris, and I took a camping trip to Hell, MI to take part in the Run Woodstock event this past weekend.  He talked me into doing the 50 mile run with him back in March.  I was a little scared of what I may look like doing it, but I figured after training for an Ironman that was just 13 previous to this race, I knew I would have the aerobic conditioning to at least complete the race.

I went into the race with the mindset of wanting to do good (as always) but other than that I really had no expectations.  I knew my nutrition strategy and how I was going to execute it or even how to change it as the race went on to meet the demands of the course.   The race started at 6, about 45 minutes before it is light enough to see anything.  So we actually had to run with head lamps for the first of three laps (each lap was about 16.6 miles).

The night before the race, Chris and I realized that I had a legitimate shot to win this race, so I decided to go for it.  I lined up at the front of the start corral with a bunch of 50K guys and took off into the woods.  It was part of my strategy to go out with the 50K runners for the first 11 miles (the groups split at that point to make their loops come out to about 15.5 and only have to do two of them) and make any of the other guys running to win the 50 miler that I was running the 50K and not realize that they needed to push it to catch me.  I sipped on Infinit’s bike formula (yes, bike formula, not the run formula since the intensity was low and I could handle the extra calories and protein in the mix) even though I didn’t feel thirsty to just be sure that I didn’t fall behind too quickly and dig a deep hole that I wouldn’t be able to recovery from.  About 50 minutes into the race I decided to take my first salt stick.  I took my eyes off the trail just long enough to toss my head back and swallow a couple pills… when I hit a root and took a nose dive.  My container holding salt tabs shattered when I hit the ground.  I picked up enough to get me through the first lap, because I had another container at the drop bag Chris and I were sharing just in case something were to happen.  I picked myself up and got back on the heels of the 50K runners.  I walked about 3 or 4 hills the first lap since they were steep and didn’t want to burn precious glycogen in my muscles that would be needed much more later.  I made it to the end of my first lap in 2:22, grabbed a few things from my drop bag (mainly more bike formula from Infinit) and dropped off the head lamp.  I made my way through the campground and back into the woods to start the second lap.

I felt great all the way through the second lap, but I did walk a few more hills this time… maybe 6 or so.  I was able to pass some of the 50K runners on their second loop just before coming back out to the campground (which was mile 33.3 for me).  Just as I entered the campground, one of the spectators yelled at me and jokingly said, “you know this isn’t a triathlon, right?”  I was wearing my TYR carbon kit for the race because I knew it would prevent chaffing and it was also very functional.  I was able to stuff some gels from the race course up the short legs, hold a snack size bag of infinit to mix up at some point along each loop, and had a water bottle with a pouch to carry my salt tabs.  I smiled, but couldn’t think of anything clever to say back… so I just went on my way.

The third lap was very tough mentally for me.  I had just completed the second loop about 7 minutes slower than the first one, and the sun was coming out making it warm up quickly.  The humidity was also rising, or at least it seemed that way.  I was going through my infinit and salt tabs much quicker now.  Also on the third loop, a mountain bike race had started and there were bikers all over the trails.  It made it hard to keep the pace steady as I had to jump off the trail and wait several times for them to pass.  At the first fully loaded aid station (there was one about every 4 miles) I tried to eat some real food… a couple bites of a PB & J.  It tasted so good, but as soon as it hit my stomach, I became nauseated.  However, I was still able to run, and after about 10 minutes the feeling went away.  The miles started passing slowly in my mind (and also because I was moving much slower now).  I did everything I could to distract myself.  I reminded myself over and over again about running efficiently with good economy of motion.  Just as I made it to the last fully loaded aid station about 4.5 miles before the finish, it started to rain.  It rained just enough to knock the temperature down a bit, but not enough to ruin the trails.  I was wearing my Newton Gravity’s to race this since the trail wasn’t too terribly technical (and they worked great!).  And even though it rained a bit and I was sweating, the Swiftwick socks were doing their job and keeping my feet a comfortable as possible.

I made to a water aid station just under a mile from the finish and ran in with a guy that was completing his 4th 100-mile run this year.  I crossed the finish line in first place for my first 50 miler!  No money, but I did get a really cool trophy (see picture below).  I can honestly say that running 50 miles is much harder to race than an Ironman.  However, I believe that Ironman racing is harder to train for.  Not sure if I’ll do another 50 mile trail run again, because right now all I can think about is sleep and food.

Thanks again to my sponsors and all those that support me.  And also to God for allowing my body to do what I demand from it every day.



Derby Festival Marathon Race Report

One week before the Kentucky Derby, a lesser known race with less bets (if any) is run.  This race attracts about 17,000 athletes between the mini and full marathon.  The mini is more popular than the full, but the full marathon still had about 3,000 athletes.  This was my first stand alone marathon since 2011.  My time for that race was about 2:56 2 years ago.  I knew that I could run faster than that and had a goal of getting below 2:40 for this race.  That being said, I had a hard training week leading up to saturday with only a two day taper.  I had a 4 hour bike ride on wednesday and a 1 hour swim as my last hard day of training, so that weighed on my mind on  race morning.  The other thing that weighed on my leading up to the race was the fact that Derby Marathon is a big local race.  Racing in my hometown is bittersweet.  I love it for the energy that I draw can draw upon from people on the race course or lining the streets that cheer specifically for me as I go by (I must say the Louisville Landsharks is a great club to be involved with) during the race.  I also get more nervous for local races because  I know lots of people will be there that I know.  When I go somewhere far away for a race, I can blend in and be just another athlete.  I tried not to let the nervous energy about racing at home get to me, and just focus on completing the race and hitting my goal.

Race day started with a 5:30 wake up call.  I threw on my race kit provided my TYR and Maverick Multisport, some Swiftwick socks, my Newton MV2’s provided by Ken Combs Running Store in Louisville, and some racing glasses to illuminate the cloudy day provided by Smith Optics.  I also made sure to grab the all important race day nutrition:  Inifinit‘s NAPALM and some salt tabs.  I grabbed a throw away bottle to use before the race to sip on some water to get hydrated after sleeping all night.  I couldn’t find an old water bottle or a bottled water in the house, so I found an empty peanut container and used that for my water bottle.

I wasn’t able to get into the elite start corral since I hadn’t run a marathon recently enough to qualify for that start corral, but I did find my way to the front of the next corral.  At the start of the race, I was about the 5th row back of people (if there is such thing as a row of people when lining up for a race), and quickly found myself in the mix at the front after the gun went off.

This was the first time I ran the new course since they changed it to a loop course in 2011.  Instead of starting out in Iroquois Park with a ton of hills, marathoners would tackle the hills in Iroquois miles 11.5 through 14.5.  During that 3 mile loop around the park, we had about 525 feet of climbing.  I purposely back off down the effort going through the section so I wouldn’t burn out my legs with still having over 10 miles to go once getting out.

I exited the park and hit the 16th mile marker still feeling really good, averaging about 5:50-ish per mile and decided to try to hold on to the pace or even pick it up a little bit since we had a gradual down hill as we headed back towards downtown for about another 5 miles.  I averaged 6 minute miles for the next 5 miles, took a right hand turn to hit some more hills before the last three miles that were mostly down hill or flat to the finish line.  Those hills really took a toll on me.  My pace dropped significantly to 7 minute’s per mile (ouch)!  However, I was able to hang on to that pace as my thighs started rejecting any more forward motion.  I crossed the finish line in 8th place with a 2:39.

I’m very pleased that I was able to hit my goals during this race.  However, I would have liked to been able to hold something closer to a 6:30 for the final 4 miles.  I knew I would slow down at the end of the race, but if I could have knocked off :30/mile for the last 4 miles, I could have ran a 2:37.  Two minutes wouldn’t have changed my overall place in the race, but in my mind is significantly more impressive.  Maybe next year!

After the race, one my local sponsors, Q’doba Mexican Grill, invited me to a soft opening of their new Fern Creek location.  It was a perfect post race treat.  I was able to bring my parents and my girlfriend (who ran the mini-marathon) there and enjoy some good mexican food before heading to the Louisville Science Museum for some entertainment in the afternoon.

Thanks to all my sponsors for making this possible.  And to my family and friends for all the encouragement. And of course I couldn’t do it without the health and ability graciously given to me by God.  Next up, Ironman Texas.

Cya at the starting line…