efficiency

Three Simple Ways to Improve Running Efficiency

Get Strong. It’s not uncommon for runners to acquire muscle imbalances that create more work for the body when we ask it to run or move (inefficiency). In fact, even runners that strength-train regularly can fall victim to muscle weakness if they’re not addressing the imbalances directly.

For example, prolonged sitting can cause the glute medius on both sides to weaken or shut off, causing instability and lateral shifting in the hips. This weakness hinders your running form via wasted lateral movement and can also cause overuse injuries like Iliotibial Syndrome and other issues down the chain. 

The key is to not only include the typical functional multi-joint exercises for runners (squats, lunges), but to also include the more simple exercises (like the clam) that might not seem like they’re doing much but are helping you activate and strengthen a weak, inactive muscle. Here is a list of exercises that will help balance your body strength and better stabilize to run more efficiently with less wear and tear. 

  • Planks (standard, mountain climbers, side plank raises)
  • Squats (single and double leg)
  • Lunges
  • Clams
  • Push Ups
  • Row with resistance tube or weight
  • The Bridge (with both feet on the ground or single leg)

You can also find the IronStrength Workout for runners here or download my free Strength Workout for Runners for your smart phone here.

Get your power on. Adding plyometrics into your regular routine will boost strength and speed by improving the elasticity of the muscle via the stretch-shortening cycle. That is, when the muscle is stretched before an explosive contraction, like bending through the knee before a single leg jump, it contracts more powerfully and quickly.

Because these exercises are explosive in nature, it is best to weave them into your program after you have established a solid base of strength-training, once per week, and in rotation with your strength-training program. Perform these exercises after your runs to focus on good form, as performing plyometrics with sloppy form can quickly lead to injury. Here are three plyometric exercises for runners. By the way, plyometrics are a little like child’s play once you get the hang of it.

  1. Power skips: Keeping your arms in running form, skip for a total of 20 on each leg, focusing on landing lightly on the balls of your feet and increasing the height of each skip.
  2. Leg bounding: With an exaggerated running form, bound forward by jumping with each stride, focusing on an exaggerated knee lift for 20 seconds.   Walk back to recover and repeat 2-3 times.
  3. Squat jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend into squat position with your hips back and knees bent. Tap the floor with your hands and jump up reaching your hands to straight over your head. Bend your knees as you land, touch the ground again, and repeat for 20 seconds. 


Improve your stride rate. Your stride rate is simply the number of steps you take in a minute. To find it, count the number of strides on one foot for one minute and double it. The goal is to have a stride rate of around 180, or 90 per foot. If it’s much less (170) than that, it likely means you’re creating more vertical energy (oscillation), projecting more upward motion than forward, and you guessed it, wasting energy. It also means you’re employing braking forces with every stride rather than rolling quickly over the ground. The key is to practice patience while increasing your stride rate and decreasing the time you spend on the ground. 

To improve your stride rate, you can run to a music mix at 180 bpm, invest in a metronome (musician’s timing device), or add the following drill to the beginning or end of your runs (it makes a great active warmup). Although this drill (and running with a faster cadence) may feel awkward at first, that just means you’re creating new neuromuscular patterns that will soon start to feel more natural. It’s important to note that when running to music or a metronome, it’s best to focus on taking shorter strides and increasing the cadence gradually. If your stride rate is 170, for example, you could set it to 174 and progress slowly from there.

Striders: On a flat straightaway, start running with short, quick strides. Gradually increase the length of your stride while maintaining quick turnover for 30 seconds. Slow down gradually, walk back to the start, and repeat a total of four to six times.

It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and optimal running efficiency isn’t, either. The good news is a little time invested with these exercises can make a significant difference in your running performance down the road.  

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/three-simple-ways-to-improve-running-efficiency

DARPA synapse based chip uses 100x less power - Most complex computer chip ever built

New chip design mimics brain’s power-saving efficiency; uses 100x less power for complex processing than state-of-the-art chips  

DARPA-funded researchers have developed one of the world’s largest and most complex computer chips ever produced—one whose architecture is inspired by the neuronal structure of the brain and requires only a fraction of the electrical power of conventional chips.

READ MORE ON DARPA | NEWS

"A million spiking-neuron integrated circuit with a scalable communication network and interface," by P.A. Merolla et al. Science, 2014. www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/… 1126/science.1254642

The average American office worker spends more than nine hours of every week preparing for, or attending, project update meetings, according to the results of asurvey released last week by the software firm Clarizen and Harris Poll. That’s up nearly 14 percent from the last survey four years ago.

Experts say poorly run meetings grind away at employee engagement and make companies less reactive by bogging decisions down in human red tape. Some companies, including Mattel, try to create limits around the size, duration or frequency of meetings.

But meetings often last longer than they need to, Rogelberg says, because managers don’t understand Parkinson’s Law. This is the idea, backed up by research, that tasks take as long as the time allotted. If you budget two hours, it takes two hours.

And So We Meet, Again: Why The Workday Is So Filled With Meetings

Illustration credit: PW Illustration/Ikon Images/Getty Images

detail from Hoover : the story of a crusade. (1926)

The marks on the carpet show how long each stroke should be and a metronome guides her in making a given number of strokes per minute. By measuring her carbon—dioxide exhalation while she works, the amount of energy required to sweep with different devices and in different ways—slow, fast, long strokes, short strokes, etc.—is accurately determined. Such tests were made to determine Hoover technique and they demonstrated that the Hoover offers
the least fatiguing way of cleaning carpets and rugs

Please fire me. I get in trouble for my “lack of efficiency” but I’m working on an computer that still has a floppy disk drive and runs on Microsoft Windows 2000! It’s 14 years old… Oh, and I get constant alerts of shutting down due to a thermal event. It heats up so bad it sounds like it’s gonna take off.

Scientists develop human brain based circuit board - 9,000 times faster & more efficient than a PC

BY TOM ABATE -

Stanford scientists have developed a new circuit board modeled on the human brain, possibly opening up new frontiers in robotics and computing.

For all their sophistication, computers pale in comparison to the brain. The modest cortex of the mouse, for instance, operates 9,000 times faster than a personal computer simulation of its functions.

READ MORE ON STANFORD | NEWS SERVICE

The awesome strength of a hummingbird

The only type of bird that relies solely on its own strength to hover in the air, a hummingbird flapping its wings requires more mass-based mechanical power output than any other form of locomotion. Now, scientists have discovered that the tiny bird’s efficiency comes from the ratio of the wing’s length to its width. Researchers from Stanford University and Wageningen University tested the hover performance of 26 hummingbird wings from 12 different species in a machine that measured the torque and lift the wings produced at various angles. The study, published online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, shows that the power needed to sustain a hummingbird midhover is highly dependent on the bird’s wing aspect ratio. During the down stroke, wings with a larger aspect ratio (3.5 to 4.0 for hummingbirds) use significantly less power than wings with smaller aspect ratios. The study also found that the aerodynamic performance of hummingbird wings is “remarkably similar” to that of an advanced microhelicopter rotor. But the wings were up to 27% more efficient.

I’ll be the first to admit that I procrastinate a lot. If I could major in putting things off, I definitely would. And while I know it’s rarely a good idea, I choose to procrastinate over and over again. I’m sure a lot of you can relate. It’s so much easier to binge watch Netflix than it is to buckle down and see to responsibilities! I’ve read a lot of advice articles and even a few psych studies about how to stop procrastinating, but it’s pretty useless. I know I’m not going to stop any time soon, so instead, I like to focus on procrastinating better, so that when I actually do get to work, I’m more prepared than I was before.

You can too with this complete guide to procrastinating better from Living Between the Lines.

Human Urine Is Shown to Be an Effective Agricultural Fertilizer

Researchers say our liquid waste not only promotes plant growth as well as industrial mineral fertilizers, but also would save energy used on sewage treatment

"It is totally possible to use human urine as a fertilizer instead of industrial fertilizer," says Heinonen-Tanski, whose research group has also used urine to cultivate cucumbers, cabbage and tomatoes. Recycling urine as fertilizer could not only make agriculture and wastewater treatment more sustainable in industrialized countries, the researchers say, but also bolster food production and improve sanitation in developing countries.

Urine is chock full of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which are the nutrients plants need to thrive—and the main ingredients in common mineral fertilizers. An adult on a typical Western diet urinates about 500 liters a year, enough to fill three standard bathtubs. And despite the gross-out potential, urine is practically sterile when it leaves the body, Heinonen-Tanski pointed out. Unlike feces, which can carry bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, urine poses no health risks—astronauts on the International Space Station even drink the stuff—after it’s purified.

This would be amazing

Process allows for tiny stacked solar cells to achieve higher efficiencies - Measured at 43.9%

By Rick Kubetz -

As an energy source, the Sun has always been a dependable provider. Although it freely shines on everyone, the ability to capture and convert the Sun’s abundant energy is anything but free. However, new technologies aimed at achieving “full spectrum” operation in utility-scale photovoltaics may soon make solar energy a viable option.


“A few simple ideas in materials science and device assembly allow us to bypass many of the limitations of traditional photovoltaic technologies,” explained John Rogers, whose research group is developing these concepts. As a result of these new efficiencies, external industry experts project solar energy electricity generation costs that can reach, without subsidies, levels that are lower than coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

READ MORE ON THE  COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AT ILLINOIS