Five Ways to Improve Your Vacation Workouts #running #marathon

running advice bug Five Ways to Improve Your Vacation Workouts #running #marathonI’ll be honest. I have a love-hate relationship with vacations. I love going on vacation; I hate the fact that even though I am supposed to be so “un-busy” that I typically struggle to keep up my workouts when I’m away. Vacations are, by their nature, times when we are out of our routines. So in that vein, our workout routines tend to suffer. I just returned from a long vacation and I put some of today’s tips into practice for myself. I came back more fit than when I left. That makes my relationship with vacations a lot more loving.

Joe in Costa Rica 2012 300x198 Five Ways to Improve Your Vacation Workouts #running #marathon

Running in Costa Rica in 2012. Photo: Corrin Miller

Today I offer you five ways to help you make something of your vacation in terms of your fitness. Next time you travel, think about trying some of these fun alternatives to get in some quality workouts!

Tip 1 — Do something you can’t do at home — Vacations take us to far-flung places and new environments, so let’s get out there and try some new things folks! My current trip was to Hawaii and I have often dreaded running in the heat while there. This time I mixed it up and did a series of workouts centered around the breach. I did a number of open-water swims, taking advantage of the warm water that we don’t have at home in Oregon, and the soft sand of the beach. For my beach workouts I concentrated on technique and strength building (e.g. I slowed way down in the soft sand and focused on my form), to do something I just can’t do at home: run in the sand with waves splashing at my feet.

Tip 2 — Break up the routine — Runners are creatures of habit. I kind of cringe when I walk into a hotel fitness center and see people plodding along on a treadmill when they are in a beautiful place that warrants being outside. Use the fitness center for things like weight training or core work, but take advantage of the change in scene if you can. Exploring a new place is fun and it also is a change of pace from those routes that you run day in and day out back at home.

Tip 3 — Go short and fast — Is the family waiting for you to take them to Disneyland? ‘No time to go for a long run’ you say. Get out and do something short to get your engine running. You’ll feel better as you make your way through what will likely be busy days filled with lots of walking. I feel a lot better about myself doing even a 20 minute run than nothing at all. I think you will too.
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Suggested Alternatives for High Intensity Interval Training #running #triathlon

running advice bug Suggested Alternatives for High Intensity Interval Training #running #triathlonA reader named Karen writes to us this week asking about alternatives to get in her higher intensity workouts (speed or quality work) while reducing the impact on the lower body. It’s true that high-speed running does place a great deal of stress on the muscles and joints of the lower-legs. The benefits gained in strength and fitness from these workouts generally outweigh the risks, but as Karen’s question points out there are instances when it makes sense to avoid too much pounding on a particular part of the body. Here’s her question:

Spin Class Image 300x200 Suggested Alternatives for High Intensity Interval Training #running #triathlon

Spinning: great alternative for low-impact, high intensity training

I was the first kid on the block to have a joint replaced- I got the joint below the big toe replaced when I was 38 (years of 4″ heels followed by a botched bunionectomy.) I’ve been told by a good orthopedic surgeon that people can only get one toe joint replacement – when this one goes, you can’t get another. After the replacement goes, all they can do is pin the joint in a slightly bent position so as to do as little damage as possible to the knee, hip and back.

The best way to avoid wearing out the replaced joint is to avoid unnecessary pounding – so basically, no running. Are there other ways to achieve HIIT goals that don’t involve sprints?

That big toe sure is important in running, especially when running fast. Push-off and balance comes starts with the big toe and when people’s big toes don’t flex right, we can see all kinds of issues, including lower-back problems. The body is a chain of connected parts that pull against a lever and when there isn’t enough flexion in the toes, the whole chain upward toward the lever can have problems.

So first, keep in mind that maintaining good flexibility through the legs and feet will really reduce the impact on your joints. The stiffer your muscles are, the more pounding that you’ll put onto your feet, toes and heels. Or said another way, the more flexible you are the more fluid and resilient your body parts are, which puts less pressure and impact on them. You want to be springy, not stiff, to run.

The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to get high intensity training in without running. My favorite are spin classes on a spin bike. Spin is very effective in doing intervals, getting the heart rate way up, and burning a lot of calories in the process. When I’m really training hard, I aim to do 2 or even 3 spin workouts per week, because my body can’t handle working out on the track more than 2-3 times a week. This lets me do additional high intensity work without the pounding and potential for injuries.
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Will I finish the marathon tomorrow? #running #marathon

running advice bug Will I finish the marathon tomorrow? #running #marathonI was speaking to a group of runners a couple of weeks ago and one of them jokingly quipped: “If I asked Siri, will she tell me whether I will finish the marathon tomorrow?” I thought about it for a minute and then thought, ‘I should really try that!’ Well the results weren’t great. Google likewise didn’t come up with much in the way of conclusive answers. So I decided to answer this all important question: “WILL YOU FINISH THE MARATHON TOMORROW?”

DSC 3133 XL 300x200 Will I finish the marathon tomorrow? #running #marathonI know what you’re thinking: there’s no way that Joe can predict whether any particular person is going to finish a marathon or not. There are just so many factors that come into play. But honestly, I can break this down into a five question test and for the most part say whether you’re going to finish a marathon or not.

First let’s set the playing field for you. The finish rate in most large marathons is about 80-90%. That means that among those that start the race about 8 out of 10 people finish the race. This may seem high to you, but in reality most people that attempt a marathon have done some level of training and get themselves to the finish-line. Finishing here is not measured in speed — we’re talking finishing “at all” and it may not be pretty. But that means that most people finish the race. The question we now jump into is what happens to those last two people and what throws those rates way out of whack.

Question 1: Did you train for the marathon? Most people read that question and say, “duh, of course I trained for the marathon. It would be insane not to train for a marathon, right?” Yeah, that’s true, but it happens. I have walked many a marathon with the last person in the race and they tell me that “I just didn’t train.” For whatever reason — whether they were too busy, too sick, too unmotivated — it just didn’t happen. My favorite all time story was a women in here late-60s that had been on a cruise that stopped in Anchorage on the day of the Mayor’s Marathon and she “just did it” because it was happening that day. SHE FINISHED! ANSWER: if you haven’t training, the odds that you won’t finished skyrocket, but even then it is possible to finish.

Question 2: What is the weather going to be on race day? The number 1 reason beyond all reasons that drop the finish rate in a marathon is if the weather is unseasonably hot. When the temperature is above 75 degrees, the finish rate starts sinking. This is especially true in places where people haven’t been exposed to warm weather — like in Chicago in the Fall. Hot weather can drop the finish rate by 10-20%. ANSWER: if the temperature goes way up, your odds of finishing drop, but so long as you hydrate and slow down, you can still finish.
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Why Runners Need to Take the Time to Heal #running #marathon

running advice bug Why Runners Need to Take the Time to Heal #running #marathonWhen an injury happens many runners want to push on through and keep on training. The problem is that training while injured typically just sets them back further by both delaying their recovery and reducing the quality of the training that they’re doing. In other words, they’re not only making it take longer to get back on track, but their performance is even being further reduced by doing garbage training. A reader wrote in to me with the follow question and I’d like to share my answer with you:

tired runner 630x421 300x200 Why Runners Need to Take the Time to Heal #running #marathon

My boyfriend and I both run cross country. A few weeks into the season, my boyfriend got injured and his performance has been suffering ever since. He never gave his initial injury proper healing time, and as a result he has been battling various pains all season. His injuries are really killing him, and as a fellow runner, I know how he feels. This has been happening for over a month and he brings it up at least every other day. I’ve been supportive, sympathic, and as motivating as I can be, but I just don’t know what else to say to him anymore. I tried giving him advice on how to heal, but he just keeps running and ignoring his discomfort. Then when he does bad at a race, he complains. It hurts him to watch the rest of the team improve, while his performance slowly declines. He has every right to be sad, and I want him to talk to me about what is bothering him, but I just don’t know what to do anymore. How do I raise his spirits? Should I talk to him? If so how do I do that?

The first thing to understand is that his performance in his races is tied to the quality of his training. When he’s injured, he can’t get the quality in his training that allows him to improve. This means that not only is he not getting faster, but the rest of his team is getting better as they train, so the gap will just grow so long as the injury is still slowing down his training.

I wanted to start there, because he needs to understand that every time he trains with his injury he’s just delaying the day until his training can get back on track. He does need to recover from the injury, let it heal, see the sports trainer, stretch and do everything else to get better. He needs to do that in order to train fast again.

I see this a lot with runners where they kind of keep on going through the motions of training, but they aren’t getting any benefit out of it, simply because they’re hurt. The only impact of their training is to delay getting better.
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Four Critical Moments in Your Marathon Performance #running #marathon

running advice bug Four Critical Moments in Your Marathon Performance #running #marathonThe marathon is a long race and requires a level of precision to hit a specific goal time. If you’re running for a specific time, there are to me four key moments that will determine how well you do, whether you meet your goals, and whether you’ll hit the wall or sail on through it. Today, let’s take a look at those four moments and think about why each of these is critical to your race day performance.

DSC 8227 300x198 Four Critical Moments in Your Marathon Performance #running #marathon

A runner at the 2012 Vancouver Marathon. Photo: Joe English

All running races require a level of pre-planning that goes way back to the beginning of the season when your training schedule was constructed. Having laid out a plan and done the work, race day is the execution of the strategy that was embodied by that plan. Where many marathon runners mess it all up is by changing up their goals or strategy on race day — or to put it another way, by forgetting what they did in training or not following their own plan. That’s why these four moments become so critical: they keep you glued to the plan that you’ve trained to execute.

Moment #1 — Twenty minutes before the race — My first and perhaps most critical moment comes just before the race. Before taking a single step of the race, and before the gun goes off, I like to spend five minutes of quiet reflection thinking through my training and what I have set out to do in this particular race. Twenty minutes is usually just before I hit the start corral, after my warm-up, and before all the singing and fireworks start. It’s also when I take a first energy gel to get the energy pump primed. I spent a few minutes asking myself some key questions and reminding myself of what I set out to do. “How did this training go in comparison to how I thought it might go?”; “How are the conditions today as compared to the way that I envisioned them?”; “I am ready to run XX time and that’s what I plan to do.” This is my final review of how things went and a reminder that grounds me to my actual capability on the day.

In my last national Duathlon competition this Summer I recall giving myself a reminder that I had not come to that race to win, but only to qualify for a spot on the next year’s team. The course wasn’t what I expected and my training had been weak due more than expected travel. Pulling myself out of the pre-race hype right before the race, helped me calm down and have more reasonable expectations. I did this while lying on the grass and talking about my expectation with my partner. She helped me remember what I was trying to do on the day and this stayed with me all through the race.
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Review: Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling Shoe #triathlon #pearlizumi

running advice bug Review: Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling Shoe #triathlon #pearlizumiIt’s not very often that I actually ask a manufacturer to send me a product to test. I pick out the best gear for myself and my athletes, but taking time to write about it all doesn’t rank that highly on my to-do list. But when it came to the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling shoe, I had to make an exception. I needed to try out these shoes and they didn’t disappoint me.

Tri Fly Octane Review: Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling Shoe #triathlon #pearlizumi

Pearl Izumi’s fantastic Tri Fly Octane cycling shoe

I first saw the Tri Fly Octane while on a visit to triathlon gear e-tailer down in Tucson. What will strike you upon picking up the shoe — after the bright orange color — is the weight of the shoe. This shoe is quite literally half the weight of any other shoe around it on the triathlon shelf. At 185 grams, they are ridiculously light. For comparison, my previous shoe weighed 295 grams. And while I’m not usually obsessed with weight, these shoes are so much lighter than anything else I have seen that it really stands-out.

The lightness of the shoe comes from a combination of things. One of them is the mostly-mesh upper on the shoe. This reduces the amount of bulky material, but it also lets a lot more air through the shoe and lets water drain out quickly. This is a bonus when you have wet feet getting into the shoes in T1. The flip-side is that riding in this shoe on a cold-rainy day is not that much fun. My booties needed to make an appearance early this Fall.

The shoe sports a carbon-fiber base that makes it very strong. Even for a powerful cyclist that likes to push the pedals hard like me, it provides an un-flinching platform to push against.
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Kastor Breaks World Masters Half-marathon Record #running #marathon #kastor

running advice bug Kastor Breaks World Masters Half marathon Record #running #marathon #kastorDeena Kastor remains one the greatest American distance runners and she showed that off to the world this weekend by crushing the World Record for Master’s women runners in the half-marathon. In running 1:09:21 she busted some other world master’s marks along the way, including for the 15K, 10 miles and 20K.

Kastor DeenaFans PhillyH14 300x169 Kastor Breaks World Masters Half marathon Record #running #marathon #kastor

Kastor after Rock N Roll Philly 2014; Photo: Andrew McClanahan PhotoRun

Kastor is no stranger to running fast. In addition to taking the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and holding the American record for the marathon, she also holds American records for the half-marathon, 15K, 8k and 5K. She’s also won the London and Chicago Marathons. Her 5K personal best of 14:51.62 is pretty smokin’ fast.

I met Kastor over ten years ago and I remember feeling that I dwarfed the diminutive runner, whose arm at the bicep was about as big around as my wrist. At 5′ 4″ and about 104 pounds she’s small but mighty fast. She is a source of inspiration for many runners, not only due to her speed but due to her longevity and the calm and class that she exudes when she talks about running.

Famed running commentator John Bingham called the race this weekend. He said on Facebook afterward, “. . .to be able to talk to her and listen to her speak with grace and humility and gratitude was as inspirational as her performance.”

After the race, Kastor remarked “I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. Today’s race was a benchmark. “It was really humid out there and I didn’t feel great, but I ran fast so I’m thrilled.”

Kastor reportedly plans to run the New York City Marathon this year and may take another shot at the US Olympic Marathon team in 2016.

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Pros and Cons of Taking Breaks from #Running and #Cycling

running advice bug Pros and Cons of Taking Breaks from #Running and #CyclingSometimes you have to take time off from your running or cycling workout routine. Whether it be due to an injury or other life events, there are times when we just can’t get to it. During those times we athletes can beat ourselves up and feel that we are “getting behind,” but we shouldn’t despair. It’s not all bad news; there are actually pros and cons to taking breaks. Let’s think about those today.

Blank Calendar1 300x225 Pros and Cons of Taking Breaks from #Running and #CyclingFirst, let me give you a piece of advice before we jump into the pros and cons. When you do have to take a break, embrace it. Tell yourself that you are on a break. Don’t try to throw one workout in and try to get back to it when whatever’s in the way is still there. One odd workout in a month of time off doesn’t help much and it may just make you feel lousy about starting and stopping. Embrace the break and then when you can get back to it fully commit to getting back to it!

Now let’s think through some pros and cons of taking breaks:

The big con #1 that jumps out right away (it’s what you’re all thinking about) is the loss of fitness: Yes, there is a loss of fitness during breaks so we don’t want to embrace so many breaks that we don’t ever train. The loss of fitness tends to hit your long endurance and top speed first. So what you may see when starting back up again is that you can still run or ride, and you may even be able to go pretty hard, but you won’t last long and you won’t be as sharp as normal. I’ve been known to do a sprint triathlon or a 5K race even after taking a month or so off. I wouldn’t expect to PR and I wouldn’t try that with a marathon or half-Ironman, but if it is something short and quick the body often remembers.
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Is YouBeRu the Future of Running Event Timing and Tracking? #running #marathon #triathlon

running advice bug Is YouBeRu the Future of Running Event Timing and Tracking? #running #marathon #triathlonHere’s a question that I can throw at you today. Will YouBeRu (#YouBetterRun) be the next Instagram or Uber? Perhaps not for everyone, but if this one takes off athletes, race directors, live sports event producers and spectators may one day follow athletes in a whole new way.

Smartphone App 300x195 Is YouBeRu the Future of Running Event Timing and Tracking? #running #marathon #triathlonIf you follow my writings on my Event Futurist blog, you’ll know that I believe that technology has the power to transform live events, connecting people and enhancing their experiences. This is true of many new technologies that help share content among event participants and that help connect participants with one another. In the sports event production space, there have been many great advances in athlete tracking and monitoring as well. Way back in 2005 I worked on a project to bring live video feeds to the courses on Ironman triathlons and things have gotten progressively better from there. Spectating at Marathons and Ironman Triathlons is tricky, because athletes don’t always move at constant speeds — and even when they do it’s hard to figure out where they are with complicated wave starts and only best guess estimates for their pace on race day.

Systems that track participants for the most part still rely on timing mats along courses, which means that data about an athlete’s progress only happens when (and after) an athlete has crossed a mat, generating a time “split” or event for the system to track. Yes there are some more exotic methods of tracking athletes such as placing small cellular transmitters on bikes as they have done at times in a races like the Tour de France or extrapolating performance like the Boston Marathon did in its app this year. But the field is still open for an app or system that collects live data on athletes to help spectators know exactly where they are or will be on a race course so that they can see them, cheer for them and be there to give high-fives and hugs.

YouBeRun Bracelet 300x156 Is YouBeRu the Future of Running Event Timing and Tracking? #running #marathon #triathlonEnter a new start-up from Denmark called YouBeRu, which operates under the very poignant hashtag #YouBetterRun. The idea behind this new technology is to harness the power of smartphones to act as the timing mats. Participants wear a wrist band that sends out a signal and people with the app on their phones become the receivers along the course. This means that each time an athlete wearing a band goes by someone on the course, the data is collected and shared with users of the app. The idea here is to create a grid of timing locations that is much more dense than the number of mats that you can put out on a race course.
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Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting (Without Music) #running #fitness #marathon

running advice bug Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting (Without Music) #running #fitness #marathonWhether you’ve been running a long time or are relatively new to it, there can be a sense of fatigue that sets in when running the same routes, the same miles and at the same time of day. Even those runner friends of yours might start sounding a little boring after awhile. It’s not like you want to hear another story about the difficulty of their job, is it? Some people use music to distract them from these feelings and I often hear people say they “can’t run without music.” I think they can. I think you can. It’s just a matter of spicing things up a bit. Today, I’m going to give you five ways to make your run more interesting and I’m not including changing up your playlist.

Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting
Joe and Cal at Crater Lake 300x128 Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting (Without Music) #running #fitness #marathon1. Go somewhere new and get out of your “route rut” — I have an interesting perspective on this one. I travel a lot. I mean a lot a lot. When I’m on the road, every run is more fun. I’m exploring a new city, trying not to get lost, and perhaps keeping out of danger in certain places. But it helps me see that there is a freshness that comes with running in new or different places. Now, I understand that not everyone can be on the go as much as I am, but there’s more than one place to run in your own city. I’m constantly amazed when I find myself running down some new road that’s within a mile of my home. I’ve lived in the same place now for almost 10 years and I’m still finding new neighborhoods and places to run. So if you’re feeling stuck in a “route rut” then make it a goal to run a different direction, explore a new neighborhood or just go someplace else to run. Ask your friends where they run. I’m constantly surprised by the answers I get and I’ve found some fun new roads just by asking around.

2. Run your route backwards (not literally!) — If you really do have the same route that you run all of the time, run it backwards from time to time. You will be surprised how different the hills and turns feel when you’re going in the opposite direction. And no, you silly heads, I do not mean physically running backwards. Although running backwards would also be fun, albeit slower and more dangerous!

3. Play a game — As a parent I have become somewhat of an expert in occupying a busy little mind. Yesterday I was on a plane next to a four year-old girl named Ryan who was pretty bored. I kept her busy by giving her mind something to think about. We played “I Spy” out the window of the plane for quite some time. You may need to distract your own brain at times by giving it something else to think about other than putting one foot ahead of another. Think about how much more difficult it is to run for a long time on a treadmill than outside and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 30 minutes on the treadmill can be torture. This is because there’s nothing to look and the senses just get bored. A couple of my favorite games when running — reading every road sign (you will be amazed how many there are), jumping every puddle, and seeing how many coins you can collect on a single run (the key here is to look at the place where cars make right turns at an intersection by a cross-walk and there is a little grit and gravel built up. Go figure.). There are more elaborate games you can play with people, but think about things you do with kids and it will be a good start.

4. Run somewhere. I love to make a workout into a journey. Rather than just going out and back, sometimes I like to run somewhere specific — a one way trip that is. I will often ride from Portland to the Pacific Ocean for example as a long ride. The fact that a run or ride is a one-way journey somehow feels different. Of course if you do this, you need a way to get back home. But then you can always pick somewhere that has transportation or ask for a ride. Three of my friends and I wanted to run a very long trail once. We ran all the way out and then called a cab to get us home. We smelled awful, but it was a fun run and I still remember it today.

5. Change up the routine This may be a bit of a catch-all, but runners get in such a groove sometimes that it can become a grind. Let’s just think here about changing the time of day, wearing different shoes or (my favorite) leaving the watch at home from time to time (no pun intended). Minor changes in the routine can make a big difference in how things feel and that can definitely make things more interesting.

I hate that shirt that says “Running Sucks”. Running doesn’t suck. It’s great. We just need to get out of the rut and start having fun again. That is, after all, what running is all about.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
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