Double Bass Learning Resources

As a classical instrument the double bass has been around for a long time, so teaching methods are very evolved and standardised. Most students nowadays begin their studies with the New Method for the Double Bass by Franz Simandl, and if you were to use only one book, this would be it. It’s a solid, progressive approach to learning the instrument, and will help you develop the technique necessary to play classical, jazz, or any other form of music. Continue reading

5K Running Training Plan for 2013

Towards the end of 2012 I achieved three significant personal best race times:

  • 5K @ 18:27
  • 10K @ 39:02
  • 1500m @ 5:02

The best performance was the 5K @ 18:27, and it is this distance I will be focussing on in 2013. Training in 2012 was based on the 1500m Plan A in Daniels' Running Formula and it certainly delivered results – my 5K time was in the top 250 in the UK, and 11th in the VW40 masters category.

Here’s a typical week from my 2012 training schedule during the development phase;

Monday 1 hour strength training 1 hour easy @ 4:48min/k
Tuesday 8 x 1K VO2 max intervals @ 3:35min/k
Wednesday 45 minutes easy @ 4:48min/k 45 minutes easy @ 4:48min/k
Thursday Track reps @ 1500m pace, total 4800m
Friday 1 hour strength training 1 hour easy @ 4:48min/k
Saturday Tempo Run @ 4:01min/k
Sunday 2 hours easy @ 4:48min/k

Most aspects of my performance continually improved on this, except the VO2 max intervals which peaked quite early in the programme. While there is obviously a limit to VO2 max improvement, I suspect overtraining / under recovery caused the plateau.

Interval and track rep sessions place a similar demand on the body as strength training workouts, and require two or three days rest (or easy running) to recover. As I was doing these on four separate days, clearly there was insufficient time to recover and gain the full training effect.

Also of concern were the large number of easy pace miles, which sometimes took training volume to seventy miles per week and placed additional demand on recovery. I suspect the real endurance benefits were from the long Sunday run, not these, so will try reducing them.

When I was training for the 1500m doing a total of 4800m track reps made sense, but not so much for the 5K, so I’ll reduce these to 2400m, and increase the length of the tempo run to emphasise endurance.

Current thought is that it is not necessary to do easy runs as fast as I was to gain the endurance benefit, so I’m going to slow the pace on these a little, especially on the recovery runs.

The planned 2013 training schedule is therefore;

Monday 8 x 1K VO2 max intervals @ 3:35min/k Strength training
Tuesday 20 minute recovery run 45 minutes @ easy pace
Wednesday 45 minutes @ easy pace 45 minutes @ easy pace
Thursday Track reps @ 1500m pace, total 2400m Strength training
Friday 20 minute recovery run 45 minutes @ easy pace
Saturday Longer tempo Run
Sunday 2 hours @ easy pace

Strength training and intervals / reps will be on the same day. The intervals and reps will be done in the morning to give them priority, and I’ll attempt to shorten the strength training workouts as much as possible while retaining their benefits. This will allow two full days for recovery with easy runs.

It is my conjecture that making training more specific and increasing recovery times will lead to faster race times than 2012.

Fitness Photo Shoot

Jennifer Clark Fitness - Photo by Kris Kesiak

Jennifer Clark fitness photo by Kris Kesiak

Towards the end of last year I decided to have some fitness photographs taken. One reason was simply to record a moment in time, the other to set and work for a challenge. I had never had photos of this type taken before, and knew there would be much to learn if the outcome was to be good. Continue reading

Strength Training For Musicians

Playing a musical instrument can be physically taxing and take its toll on the body if you do not use good technique and look after your strength and flexibility. In this post I’m going to focus on strength; read on to discover how to develop and maintain it without spending hours in the gym every week on complicated workout programs. Continue reading

Review of “The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide” by Sariel

Lego Technic is a system started in the 1970s that includes advanced components such as gears, electric motors and pneumatic actuators. These allow the construction of mechanisms and models that function similarly to real machines and vehicles, sometimes to a very high standard of realism. As someone who has made a contribution to this area in the past, I have been looking forward to the release this book for some time.

Pawel “Sariel” Kmiec is one of the foremost builders and exponents of Lego Technic. His goal was simple: In his own words, to teach you everything he has learned about building with Lego Technic over the last 20 years, and to use this to help you build your own models. However, he acknowledges that this was too much to include in a single book, and that certain omissions were necessary. But have these been detrimental to the overall quality? Continue reading

The Perfect Race

Sebastian Coe Winning 1500m @ Moscow Olympics 1980

Seb Coe winning 1500m @ Moscow Olympics 1980

Very occasionally you run a race where you give your all in every stride and truly realise your potential. Afterwards there are no “if only” or “could have dones”, just the quiet contentment of knowing you did your best, and it was good.

These are often faster than a superficial examination of your training times would suggest. How is this possible? Continue reading

How to Deal With Neck Pain

Many musicians suffer from neck pain, and as a bass guitarist I was no exception. Bass guitars are usually heavy instruments, and can put considerable strain on the upper body. My own neck pain developed to the point that is was seriously affecting my sleep and quality of life, as well as limiting the amount of time I could practice the instrument. Read on to find out how I identified and fixed the causes of the neck pain. Continue reading

Strathcarron Hospice 10k 2012

Strathcarron Hospice is a respected service in the Falkirk area where I grew up. They host an annual 10k road race to assist with fundraising, and while several of my family and some Bellahouston Harriers have participated in the past, I had yet to run it myself.

During the last four months I’ve targeted my training and competitive energy to 5k road races, and entered mainly to enjoy participating with family members and through an admiration of the good work of Strathcarron. But as the day drew closer racing mentality took over and I decided to beat my personal best time. Continue reading

Are Weak Lats affecting your Bench Press?

Strength training programmes usually consider back & biceps and chest & triceps as separate areas for development. Yet in the midst of a recent training cycle I noticed that they can exert a powerful influence on each other, and that weakness in one can hinder development of the other. But with smart application of this knowledge it is possible to turn weakness to strength. Continue reading

How to Compensate for a Headwind when Running

“If there’s anything that interrupts training or racing more than wind, I have yet to meet it” – Coach Jack Daniels

Modern training for middle and long distance running usually involves sessions at several paces: easy, marathon, tempo or threshold, interval, repetition (rep), and fast sprints. The body improves different components of the running system in response to these, a process known as the training effect. But if you don’t adjust pace to compensate for wind and hills, the effect will be less. So how do you ensure we’re getting the most from your workouts? Continue reading