How to Choose the Right Gadget for the Runner on Your Gift List

running-advice-bugIf you’ve got an electronically-inclined runner on your holiday shopping list, you may be wondering how to pick the best running gadget for him or her this year. Loads of electronics out there promise to improve health, track information and even calculate arcane pieces of information such as your VO2 max and “ground contact time.” But, by homing in on what really matters for runners, you can simplify the shopping process. Here’s what to know about the various options before you start your spree:

1. Fitness and Activity Trackers

The Garmin Forerunner 620

The Garmin Forerunner 620

The Fitbit and FuelBand makers of the world would have you wear a device on your wrist that gives you a panacea of health-related information. Most of such fitness trackers use a pedometer to count your steps and integrate with a software application that can display information such as the number of calories you burn each day and how much sleep you’re getting.

While activity trackers are good for general information, many runners find them less useful than purpose-built sports watches. The information from a pedometer is typically based on counting steps, so it’s hard for many of these devices to differentiate between walking, jogging or running – each of which burn progressively more calories. Fitness trackers also won’t work well for tracking information about sports such as swimming or CrossFit, where the feet aren’t moving around that much.

Grade for runners: C

2. Smartwatches

The news this year has been all about the smartwatch, from the Apple Watch to the Samsung Gear to the Moto 360. Most of these devices include fitness-monitoring features, such as heart rate monitoring and step counting.

The primary drawbacks of these gadgets for many runners are twofold. First, to take advantage of the watch’s features, you may have to carry your phone along with you on your run. Many runners don’t want to carry an expensive, potentially large, device with them. Second, some of the devices may not appreciate getting doused in sweat or rain on a daily basis. My own experience with the Moto 360 taught me that wearing a smartwatch with a leather band leads to a very grimy, yucky-looking band in no time flat.

Grade for runners: B-
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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

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Comment Moderation System Off-line

running-advice-bugDear readers of Running-Advice.com, our comment moderation system has crashed and we’re trying to repair it. At this time, no comments are appearing in any of our posts and no new comments will show up on the site.

We are still receiving comments, but they appear blank to us. It isn’t clear if these comments will be recovered when the comments table is repaired. You may want to hold off commenting on posts until we get this resolved.

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Update — Coach Joe Returns for 2012

running-advice-bugFollowers of our Running-advice.com blog may have noticed that Coach Joe took an unplanned hiatus from the blog for the past few weeks. Coach Joe is looking forward to returning to writing and producing more running material starting the first week of January 2012.

Plans for 2012 include our continuing commentary on all things marathon running and our video series with Coach Dean Hebert. Coach Joe is also planning a new video show to be launched this year and is working on a number of other exciting writing projects.

Thanks for following the blog and Happy New Year.

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Interview – Duathlon National Champion Dave Salivski and Carrie Salivski (Episode 3-24)

running-advice-bug2011 USA Duathlon National Champion and 2010 Duathlete of the Year Dave Salivski sits down for an interview with Coach Joe English at the 2011 Duathlon National Champioships in Oro Valley, Arizona. Third-place medalist and partner in crime Carrie Salivski joins the conversation as well.

In this interview we talk about bike problems and how they can impact your mental game; how the two-some balance their family and racing; and whether Dave plans to turn pro.

Thank you to Dave and Carrie for sitting down with us on the day of their incredible performances in Tucson.

Click here to link to our video series home page:

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in our last two season, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

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Short Answer Mondays: Avoiding Overuse Injuries and Off-Season Breaks

running-advice-bugWe have two questions from readers this week for our Short Answer Mondays series. Keep those questions coming. The first question is well-timed as we’re starting to come up to Winter and the subject will be everyone’s minds. The other question, regarding overuse injuries, comes up all of the time. So let’s get going!

Becki writes in with our first question:

“I heard that I am supposed to take a 4 week break once a year from running to give their body a rest. Is this true? If so, what am I supposed to do during those 4 weeks?”

This is absolutely true Becki. Our bodies respond well to frequent changes in our exercise workload. By varying the type of exercise, the intensity and the amount of exercise, the body is constantly being forced to grow, change and adapt. In fact, the opposite is true as well — a lack of change in our workout load leads what we call plateaus (and often burn-out). Plateaus occurs when the body simply gets too accustomed to your workouts and they stop having much impact. The body gets bored and then you stop getting much of it the workouts.

Exercise scientists and coaches often use the term “periodization” when planning workout schedules for athletes. The concept is to divide the year into periods or cycles. There are “macro-cycles” — which are major cycles that can last a few months and there are “micro-cycles”, which could be as short as a few weeks. You may have heard terms such as “tapering” or “base-building”, which are terms that refer to different types of periods that can be used to structure training plans. There are many others, including periods that focus on strength, speed, flexibility, and endurance. And one other period is what we call the “off-season”.

The “off-season” is a time when we should really exit our sport to give the body a full recovery. Many runners do this after a big race somewhat by accident, because they are overly fatigued and end up taking a few weeks off. But all levels of runners, even elite athletes, are well served to plan a down-time of 4-6 weeks in which they do other things to give both the body and mind a rest.
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Video — Running After Kids (Episode 3-5)

running-advice-bugWe’re joined on the program by one of Coach Joe’s athletes this week, Kirsten Mitchell of Nevada. Kirsten joins us to talk about a vexing topic for many women runners, including many at the top of the sport — how do you come back to running after having kids?

On this week’s episode:
— Getting back into training after having children
— Balancing life, kids and running
— Dealing with fatigue
— Taking the kids with you on your runs

Click here to link to our video series home page:

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in our last two season, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

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Video – Sock Fetish (Episode 3-2)

running-advice-bugIt’s time for another episode of The Rungasm and today we have a very appropriate topic for a show with such a name. Today, Coach Dean is channeling some inner-weirdo and we delve into the topic of sock fetish. OK, not really. Actually Coach Dean just really likes his collection of running socks and Coach Joe shows that he is into the more technical side of the running sock.

On this week’s episode:
– We look into the respective sock drawers of Coach Joe and Coach Dean
– How do you choose a running sock?
– What different kinds of running socks are out there?
– What do your sock choices say about you?

Click here to link to our video series home page:

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in our last two season, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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Training — Can I be a vegetarian athlete?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

We receive a lot of questions from young athletes and often we see that the advice they are be given by their coaches or mentors is out of step with current thinking. Here’s a great example:


“I’m 16 year-old girl that runs on my high-school track and cross-country teams. My coaches have been getting on me, because I’m a vegetarian. My coach told me that other day that I can’t be an athlete and be a vegetarian. I thought that I read in some of your posts that you are a vegetarian. Is it true that you can’t be a vegetarian and athlete at the same time?”

I’m glad you asked this question and this one has a simple answer. Your coach is incorrect. You can certainly be both an athlete and a vegetarian. What this illustrates is that your coaches either doesn’t understand nutrition or they don’t understand what it means to be a vegetarian. You just need to educate yourself a bit and you’ll see that you can be a vegetarian athlete if that’s what you choose for yourself.
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Races — Kastor wins Rock N Roll Arizona Half Marathon, Hall second in men’s race

running-advice-bugPHOENIX — American record holder and Olympic Bronze medalist Deena Kastor returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in ten months today at the seventh annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon. Kastor set a new Arizona state record with a time of 1:09:43, ending the longest dry spell of her now-legendary career.

Kastor wins Rock N Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2010

“This race solidifies that my training has been going well,” said Kastor, after her victory that smashed the 15-year-old state record of 1:13:39 set by Marie Boyd in Tucson. “Running sub 1:10 off this training makes me excited about my next phase going into the London Marathon in April. Today was the first time in a couple of years I felt like my old self running again.”

Kastor, who broke her foot during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon and spent most of 2009 recovering, ran an aggressive first mile in 4:54 and was on American record pace through four miles before a stubborn headwind and lack of competition slowed her in the second half. Reigning American marathon champion Ilsa Paulson of New York City finished a disappointing second in 1:17:04, well off her 1:13:20 personal best.

“I knew it could go only two ways, really good or really bad,” said Paulson. “I’ve been doing a lot of miles for many months, but the speed is just not there yet, it’s the last thing to come. I felt like I could run a 5:45 pace forever, but when I had to try to run a 5:20 pace to stick with Deena for the first two miles it just fried my legs.”
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