Is Red Bull an Option for Runners? #running #fitness #energy

running-advice-bugOne of my athletes wrote to me today with a great question about using energy drinks — drinks of the non-athletic kind like Red Bull — in their racing and training. Today, we’ll draw a distinction here between energy drinks made for athletes (those that contain primarily sugar and electrolytes) and energy drinks made for daily consumption (those containing stimulants). But first, here’s the question:

I have tried gels and chews and it’s just not for me… I have been running with an electrolyte/ carb hydration liquid, along with water. Toward the end of my long runs, last 3-4 miles I added half redbull half water mixer….
I have been doing pretty good with this combo… What are your thoughts? Any recommendations on energy/carb drinks that i should try?

Will -energy drinks- work for runners-On the first part of your question, it is just fine to use liquid-based sugars rather than solids or semi-solids (chews, gels or bars). Many runners ask if they “need” to use gels or bars, but in reality most elite runners actually use liquid energy drinks. They do this both because it is faster to drink out of a bottle than try opening something in a package and because being liquids are typically absorbed more quickly. So if that’s working for you then great! Just be careful not to make the mixture too concentrated. If the concentration of sugar gets to be too high, the stomach can get touchy quickly. Note however that these elite athletes tend to train their stomachs to take higher concentrations of sugars than most of us could “stomach” (pun intended), so watch out for products made specifically for elite athletes. You may need to build up to something like that over time.

With regard to the Red Bull you’re just adding another layer of stimulation to the mix. Red Bull and most energy drinks have stimulants in them like Caffeine or Taurine. While these stimulants don’t actually give your muscles energy, they do boost your mental state and this can be important late in a run or race. Red Bull also has sugar in it (both sucrose and glucose), so you are getting more sugar energy from the drink as well. This may be important, because there are many types of sugars and changing sugars can either be helpful or harmful depending on your stomach.
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How is Your Marathon Pace Supposed to Feel? #running #marathon

running-advice-bugLet’s get real for a moment about marathon pacing. If you’re running a marathon parts of it are going to feel somewhat unpleasant. This is true for just about everyone. However, a marathon is a long journey and the pace feels different at different points along the way. By understanding how the pace should feel at the various stages of the race, you can avoid either going out too hard or too slowly and hopefully make the tough parts go more smoothly.

How should your #marathon pace feel?

How should your #marathon pace feel?

Before we jump into the play-by-play of the marathon, let’s reemphasize that knowing your pace is an important skill for marathon runners. Understanding what pace you can run for a specific distance is where the growth comes for most runners as they progress over time. At the beginning of a marathon runner’s experience the focus just tends to be on “getting through it” but after doing a couple of big runs, runners are more likely to start setting specific goals and it takes paying precise attention to pace to meet those goals. It’s also important to understand that the pace that we can run and sustain is scientifically related across a spectrum of distances. To say that another way, if you push yourself as hard as you can at 5K, we can calculate pretty specifically how fast you can go at various other distances. This knowledge can take the guess-work out of your pacing, but it requires a little work to get there in terms of testing yourself and then paying attention to your pace as you train and race.

So let’s say you’ve arrived at a target finish-time for your next race in a race. There are a couple of race strategies that you can use to get there — put here in the simplest of terms:
1) “I’m going to ‘wing’ it” — you can just go out and see what happens. This is the strategy for more runners than you might think. Unfortunately, it puts you at the highest risk of blowing up late in the race, because you really don’t know what pace you should be running at the beginning.
2) “I’ll go out hard and pray” — you go out hard to “bank” time for the slow-down that will likely come at the end of the race. This is also a tremendously common misconception of the way pacing works. Colloquially speaking we would say that for every minute you get ahead of your pacing capability in the first half the race, you’re going to pay for it with four minutes in the second half.
3) “I want to run a negative split” — Some people try to warm-up slowly over a number of miles and then crank up the pace in the second half. This is actually quite difficult to do in practice unless you’re talking about a very narrow negative split (or leaving a lot of time on the table). The reason as outlined below is that you become more fatigued as you go along so it feels harder to run THE SAME pace as the miles advance. This means that trying to increase the pace late in the race is pretty darn tough (but not impossible).
4) “I want to run an even pace” — The smart money is on trying to run your goal pace for the entire race. The best runners in the world execute their pacing plans down to extremely narrow margins — such as 5K splits within 1 second of each other across the whole race. We don’t all have to aspire to that sort of precision, but it certainly is a benchmark to envision what’s possible.

So how is that pace going to feel? I like to break down the race into quarters for simplicity and here’s what I say about each part of the race.
First Quarter (miles 0-6) — The first quarter of the marathon should feel fantastically easy. You should be running on a combination of sheer adrenaline and being well rested from a light week (or weeks) coming into the race. The focus of the first few miles of the marathon should be warming up and holding back to avoid going faster than goal pace. If the pace in the first quarter of the race feels too fast, you’ve most certainly gone out too hard. Happily if you are paying attention and are running the correct pace early enough you may not have done yourself in. Ignore it and you will pay for it later.
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Four Key Weight Loss Tips for Runners #running #fitness #weight loss

running-advice-bugYou might think that running and weight loss are a match made in Heaven. Many people would have us believe that running is a ‘free pass’ that let’s us eat whatever we want and stay thin forever. Unfortunately, the truth isn’t quite that rosy. Staying thin and losing weights means paying mindful attention to what we eat, even when we have a lifestyle that includes lots of exercise. Today, four key weight loss tips that runners should keep in mind.

4 Weight Loss Tips for #runners

4 Weight Loss Tips for #runners

1) Running is not a free pass to the buffet — Contrary to popular belief, you can’t eat whatever you want, even if you are a runner. Why not? First off, running doesn’t burn all that many calories in relation to the number of calories that may be packed into the modern foods that we eat. If we assume that we burn very roughly 115 calories per mile when running it’s going to take a lot of miles to burn off a high-calorie meal. Let’s go crazy and have a plate of Pesto Cream Penne at Calfornia Pizza Kitchen: 1,210 calories. That would take you 10 1/2 miles to burn off. And that doesn’t include the bread, salad, desert or a drink. Plus there’s worse news here: 690 of those calories come from fat, which isn’t especially helpful to fueling your runs. So that advice that you heard about carb loading needs to be taken carefully.

2) You do need carbohydrates, but you don’t need sugar — I know that strictly speaking carbohydrate and sugar are in the same family of nutrients, but they have very different impacts on your body. You have likely read that carbohydrate is helpful to fueling your runs, but loading up on sugar is not at all helpful to a lifestyle that leads to weight loss. Eating sugary foods quickly raises your blood sugar making you feel full quickly, but the effects of this surge are not long lasting. You’ll be hungry again quickly. And simple sugars aren’t good for stocking away to be used in endurance workouts. So the first thing to do here is to look at the ingredients of what you eat and try to eliminate added sugars. The second thing to do is to eat foods with slowly processed sugars (also known as low glycemic index foods). A helpful tip here is to eat starchy foods like bread, potatoes and pasta the night before a long run, but watch out that your food choices aren’t loaded with hidden sugars. Get other natural sugar in your diet by eating whole fruits. The fiber in whole fruit slows its digestion in the body, giving you longer lasting energy and less of a sugar rush than other highly sugary foods. Plus fruit is packed with healthy vitamins and anti-oxidants.

3) Eat small, frequent meals — Eating smaller, more frequent meals keeps your blood sugar more consistent and keeps hunger at bay. Perhaps worse than other people runners get “hangry” when they get hungry. Their bodies do need calories for fuel and hunger is simply a signal that you need to eat. But the longer you go between meals, the more prone you are to over-eat. Keep hunger at bay by eating frequently. Learn to snack on healthy foods like nuts and whole fruit. If you’re saying, ‘I’m not really that hungry’ by dinner time, you will be less likely to pig out late in the day before you settle in for the night.
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Six Tips for Hot Weather Running #running #runner #fitness

running-advice-bugTemperatures are up out there runners and they seem to be staying that way this summer. Running in the heat can be challenging, even dangerous. If you take the proper precautions and the right expectations, you can run smart and keep the heat from hurting you. Today, six quick tips for runners to deal with running in hot weather.

6 tips for Hot Weather Running from Running-Advice.com

6 tips for Hot Weather Running from Running-Advice.com

1. Slow down — running in hot weather is very much like running up hill. Just as running up a hill requires more effort, running in hot weather also should slow you down. And the hotter the weather, the steeper the hill. The problem is that we runners want to hit our pace goals. Comparing a hot weather run to a cool weather run is not an apples to apples comparison. Slow down as the heat goes up. Trying to run at a similar effort level that you would in cooler weather.

2. Dress in loose, light clothes — wear light-weight, breathable clothing, rather than tight form-fitting fabrics. The body cools itself when air moves across the skin and comes in contact with your sweat. Loose, flowing, fabrics aid in cooling much more than tighter fighting clothes. Tight fitting clothes are fine for the gym or running in cooler weather, but when you’re braving heat that feels like the Sahara, dress like you live there.

3. Cover your head — keeping the sun off your head both cools you and keeps the sun out of your eyes. The later relaxes your shoulders and upper body. Hats are also handy because you can dunk them in cold water or even put ice in them as you run. The cool water will drip down your neck, providing even more cooling power.

4. Increase your fluid intake — You need to be consuming as much fluid as your sweating. If you sweat a ton, then you need to drink a ton. We’ve written plenty on this topic. Here’s one of our videos where I talk about hydration with a sports scientist from Gatorade.

5. Drink your electrolytes — plain water only does half the job. You need sodium, potassium and magnessium as well. If you are a salty sweater (someone typically with a white ring on your forehead or white lines on your clothes after you dry out), that is a visible sign of the sodium that you are losing. Use a drink like Nuun that contains electrolytes, but doesn’t contain sugar that may upset your stomach. Click here to view or buy Nuun on Amazon from our Amazon store.

6. Run early — run when you are fresh, the sun is less intense and temperatures are relatively cool. Afternoon workouts in the heat are tough both physically and mentally.

Stay safe and healthy out there runners.

Coach Joe English, Portland, Oregon USA
Running-Advice.com and RUN Time

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Why Should All Runners Do Speed Work? (in two minutes) #running #run #runner

running-advice-bug Why should you run speed work? Today I tell you runners the importance of speed workouts in just two quick minutes. Watch to find out why speed workouts are so important to your development as a runner.

This week on RUN Time from Running-Advice.com.

Run Time is the talk show for runners, featuring interviews, discussions, quick tips and more. Run Time is hosted by Coach Joe English. You can follow Joe on Twitter as @coachjoeenglish

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Five Things I’ve Learned About Running That Change Everything #running

running-advice-bugMy stomach was bothering me today. I wanted to go out for my run, but I’ve been doing this running thing for a long time. I know it’s a mistake to head out the door with a stomach ache. You’re just asking for trouble. While I reflected on that, I came up with a few other things that I’ve learned in my time running that . . . change everything . . . if you take the time to learn them.

"You can't run with diarrhea." Photo: Joe English

“You can’t run with diarrhea.” Photo: Joe English

First, you can’t run when you have diarrhea. I know this seems like an odd thing to begin with, but it is true. You can’t run when you have diarrhea. Or another way to say this is that you can’t simultaneously keep diarrhea inside your body while running. With some real effort, you can train yourself to keep the diarrhea from explosively erupting if you really concentrate. But, honestly, it’s just easier to walk until you’ve found a more appropriate place to let it out. Perhaps more importantly, diarrhea is a stand-in for many things that keep us runners down. Like the proverbial thorn in the lion’s foot, there are just some things that keep us from doing what we intend to do. Sometimes you just have to stop and walk, let the shit out, and then continue on with your run. Shit may get in the way of our dreams in the short-term, but you will one day conquer it if you keep after it. It ain’t pretty, but that’s life.

Second, people that don’t run will never understand why we get so excited about running. I’m personally not sure why people get excited about reeling in a big fish. I don’t enjoy tracking down a tough software engineering problem. I may never get excited about birthday parties, large trucks or bowling alleys. We’re all different. We like different things and we get excited about different things. Running is our thing and they will never get it. It doesn’t matter if we’ve shaved 31 minutes off of our life-time PR or just found the perfect pair of shoes for running in mud. It also doesn’t matter if we’ve run 50 marathons in 50 states or done “a real bitch that nearly killed us.” They still won’t get it. And that’s fine. The important thing is that we are happy, fulfilled and joyful. All of us. It’s about acceptance and allowance. Let me run in peace and I will let you fish in peace. But please don’t try to force me to come fishing with you and I won’t make you run with me.

Third, it isn’t the distance that matters, it’s the effort that we put into it. People ask me all of the time why I would “bother” running 5K road races. People have also marveled at the fact that at times I have logged forty or fifty miles of running and walking in a day on marathon courses. You can pack a lot of effort into a short distance. It’s not the quantity of miles, it’s the quality of the effort. We decide where we focus and it’s our attention that makes the experience meaningful. There are times when we really need to focus. There are times when we have to muster all of our energy and put everything into it. At those times do it and don’t get distracted by anything else. There are times to slow down and relax too. It’s not about the things we do, it’s about how we do them.
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Run Time — The John Bingham Interview (Part II) — Episode 6

running-advice-bugThis week on RUNTime we have part 2 of our discussion with the ever insightful John “The Penguin” Bingham. On this episode we talk about the different generations of runners over the past few decades, how they’ve changed, and we talk about the future of running events. — with Joe English and John Bingham.

This is part 2 of 4 parts.

Run Time is the talk show for runners, featuring interviews, discussions, quick tips and more. Run Time is hosted by Coach Joe English. You can follow Joe on Twitter as @coachjoeenglish

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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21-days Without Sugar: Five Things I Learned (series part II)

running-advice-bugThey say that once something is raised to your awareness it is hard to let it slip back into the unconscious. Once you know something you can’t un-know it. After my 21-day experiment to eliminate added sugars from my diet, I was left feeling overwhelmed by the experience. Not only do I now look for sugar on the ingredients of everything I eat, I’m starting to fully internalize how difficult it would be to purge hidden sugar from your life on a more permanent basis. It would certainly mean a different approach to eating at home, but the prospect of eating when traveling or eating out at restaurants is daunting.

5 tips for dealing with hidden sugar in your diet

5 tips for dealing with hidden sugar in your diet

Hidden sugar is systemic: it’s a way to make foods more cheaply and therefore those making food have an incentive to use a lot it. Until we reach a tipping point that the general public considers sugar something that makes food “toxic” it won’t be purged out of the food. People, for one thing, like the taste of foods with sugars in them and collectively we don’t make good choices when it comes to choosing things that are good for us. But if we take something like gluten or MSG as an example, there have been at their respective times a point when people started to be on the lookout for these items and over time we’ve seen more and more gluten-free products — and MSG is generally no longer used in fast-food cooking. We’ve seen something akin to this recently with high-fructose corn syrup; people are on the lookout for it. But sadly, I think food manufacturers are simply replacing high-fructose corn-syrup with other added sugars that haven’t been branded as “bad.”

Let’s not forget why this is important. There are three reasons: 1) sugar is likely addictive or at least seems to shape our behavior in that we want to eat more of it; 2) sugar packs more calories into smaller amounts of food, which leads us to eat more mass to fill our stomachs; and 3) sugar is quickly absorbed into our system, but doesn’t have a long-lasting effect, meaning we want to eat again sooner than we should. Just think of those tiny pastries at the Starbucks counter. Their sweet and sticky and pack 500 calories in a little square. They taste good going down, but you’ll be hungry again in an hour after eating them. This is what I would call the “snack trap.” You’ve “snacked” rather than eaten a meal. You likely didn’t get what you needed and you’ll be hungry again in an hour. Boo!

This feels like one of those things that could make you throw up your hands and say, ‘there’s just no way.’ But there are some things that we can do to keep this in our conscious awareness and hopefully make a dent into the sugars that are hiding in our food. I can at least offer five things I learned that we could all practice in our shopping and food choices.

1) Read the ingredients and ignore the marketing — There’s so much distraction happening on food packaging that is can be hard to spot the healthy foods from the pretenders. I was browsing the bread aisle and I picked up one of the healthiest looking breads last week. It said “100% Whole Wheat” on the front and then in big read letters said, “No High-Fructose Corn Syrup!” The second ingredient in the bread was sugar and it had the most sugar of any that I looked at that day. While the marketing claim was true, the statement was misleading in that it implies that the product has less sugar in it. In fact, it had more sugar than most of the breads, they just didn’t use high-fructose corn syrup. Turn the package around and make your choice from the ingredients list.
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21 Days Without Sugar Experiment: that was hard! (part 1)

running-advice-bugThere seems to be tremendous interest right now in the health effects of sugar in our diets. Many people say that it is sugar, rather than fat, that is leading people to be overweight. Documentaries like “Fed Up” talk about both the addictive nature of sugar and how the idea of “eating better and exercising more” makes little sense when the environment makes it practically impossible to eliminate sugar additives from your diet in the first place. No matter how hard you try, the deck is simply stacked against you, so the thinking goes.

SugarSo 21 days ago I set out to see if it was possible: could I eliminate sugars from my diet and what would be the impact on my behavior and general sense of well-being? I didn’t go into this trying to fix some specific problem or to lose weight. Rather in the end I learned a lot about how it felt and really how hard it was to do it.

The ground rules of my test
First things first, what did this experiment mean to me? I planned to eliminate foods containing sugar or sugar additives as ingredients in food. That would include anything appearing on a label such as sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, malto-dextrine and many other items. This was not intended to be a test of one type of sugar against another or their respective nutritional values. As an athlete I wanted to keep some carbohydrate in my diet so I kept WHOLE fruit (not fruit juice) and some carbohydrate (such as rice or pasta) so long as those foods didn’t include sugar additives. Most bread, for example, includes various types of sugars (depending on the recipe) so most bread was out. I also kept some cheese in my diet, which includes lactose (sugar from milk) but I would not have eaten something like sweetened yogurt or even sweetened almond or soy milk because of the added sugar in those products. Why keep cheese, you ask? Because I have been trained to have desert after a meal and a little cheese and fresh fruit was about my only choice.

In the beginning I thought, “this will be easy” (seriously I did!) because I cook at home a lot. I figured that so long as I was cooking, I simply wouldn’t add sugar to what I was cooking and I would live on meats, nuts, vegetables and whole fruit. But it only took about one meal to figure out just how hard this was going to be. Even cooking at home, nearly every condiment and sauce in my pantry for preparing foods had sugar in it. To my astonishment, this included most of your basic condiments such as mayonaise, ketchup, bar-b-que sauces and the like. The first cook-at-home meal, was pretty plain until I got out to the store to buy new versions of pretty much everything in the fridge. It didn’t stop with condiments either. I was floored to see sugar in places that I thought I could most definitely eat — like bacon (MEAT!), beef jerky (ALSO MEAT!), potato chips, and bread.

I replaced many things with alternatives, most of which tended to be locally made or small-batch products. I found mayo, fresh garlic sauce, hot dogs, and peanut butter, all without sugar, but it certainly took some doing. The first lesson of this is that if you look at the labels, you may be surprised at where you find sugar as an ingredient.
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Run Time: The John Bingham Interview (Part I) — Episode 5

running-advice-bugThis week on Run Time we kick-off a four-part series of interviews with John “The Penguin” Bingham. John was a Runner’s World and Competitor columnist and humorist who became the voice of the “Back of the Pack” during what’s called the Second Running Boom. On part one of the interview, John tells me how he got started as the Penguin and how his voice resonated with a whole generation of runners.

This is part 1 of 4 parts.

Run Time is the talk show for runners, featuring interviews, discussions, quick tips and more. Run Time is hosted by Coach Joe English. You can follow Joe on Twitter as @coachjoeenglish

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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