5 Tips for Easing the Transition into Fall Running #Running #Run #Fitness

running-advice-bugWith the summer quickly coming to an end, runners will start to see the sun is coming up a little later and setting earlier. Outdoor workouts are suddenly feeling a little cooler, darker and maybe a bit damp. Is it time to start thinking about moving workouts indoors?

5 Tips to Easing intoNot so fast. Fall still offers some great opportunities to get outside. So before you trade the running path for the treadmill, take advantage of the beauty fall has to offer with these five tips:
1. Stay outdoors as long as you can. Although the light is dimming and the weather is cooler, fall is a just a preview of what’s to come. Soon it will likely be much darker and colder. Fall is a transitional season, so look at it that way. Remind yourself that cool, damp and dark might seem dreamy in a few short months, when the alternative is snow, wind or driving rain.

2. Layer up. Wearing a light outer jacket that’s easy to take off will keep you warm at the beginning of your workout and is easy to take off a mile or two down the road. The rule of thumb is to dress for weather 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. This is because as you warm up, your body will feel that much warmer. So if it’s 50 degrees outside, wear base layers as if you were running in 70-degree weather. Wear your outer layer while warming up and take it off as soon as you’re warmed up. You don’t want to overheat, which will just soak your clothes and can lead to chaffing, chills – and general stinkiness – later on.

3. Wear reflective gear. Once the light dims, it’s a good idea to wear reflective clothing and carry a light with you when you run. Reflective clothing and lights help cars see you when you’re on the road. Most running gear, including many brands of shoes, hats, gloves and jackets include reflective strips that will make you easier to see. You can also buy a reflective vest that will slip over the top of your clothes to really increase your visibility for cars. Carrying a light or wearing a headlamp will help you see the ground so you don’t stumble and turn an ankle when running in low light.
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How do I know if I am over training? #running #marathon #fitness

running-advice-bugRunners are often at odds with trying to run enough to meet their goals and doing too much for their capabilities. When a runner steps over this line he or she runs the risk of over-training, which can mean an ugly feeling decline in performance. The question today is how do you know when you are over-training and what can you do about it?

ARe YOU OVER TRAINING-Before we dive in to the signs and symptoms of over-training, let’s take a moment to differentiate a couple of things. First, over-training and over-use injuries are two different things. Over-use injuries happen when a particular body part, such as a knee or IT band is worked too hard and it essentially breaks. Over-training, as we’ll discuss, does not necessarily imply becoming injured, although the two often go hand-in-hand. Second, fatigue is a normal part of training. Many of the benefits of our workouts come from pushing into a zone that will leave us very fatigued. This again is different from over-training, which zaps us of our ability to recover and continuing making forward progress.

The best way to understand over-training is to define it and then break down the definition. My definition would be that in most instances, “over-training comes from doing too much and too intense an amount of work without enough recovery.” Now let’s deconstruct that a bit.

First, the words “too much” here are relative and can vary from person to person and even as it relates to where you are for your own fitness. It’s obviously pretty easy for a new runner to do “too much” when they are just starting out, but an experienced runner can do “too much” when they have taken time off, become inconsistent with their workouts, or are just coming out of a slack period such as a winter break. Often runners “jump back in” and try to resume what they were doing at a previous time and that may be too much for their current fitness level. Also, runners can be impressed upon by what they read in the press about elite athletes and the volume of their mileage without understanding what goes into those miles and they’ll just jump in and try to emulate the numbers they see. I hear people tell me all of the time, so and so “runs 100 miles a week, shouldn’t I being doing that?” The answer is that it depends on your level, your current fitness, your goals and (most importantly) the make-up of those miles.
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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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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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Starting Over or Starting Up– Don’t Be a Hater #running #marathon #fitness

running-advice-bugIt’s springtime and that means that us runners are starting to train a little harder. The winter may have left you a little out of shape. It could be that you had such terrible weather that you couldn’t get outside much (that’s you on the East Coast) or it could be that you needed a break between racing seasons. Either way, it just could be that you’re hitting the pavement again and you might be feeling pretty pokey. My advice: don’t be a hater, be a lover.

Tired LegsOf course, I’m talking about self-love and hatred in this sense. On the one hand, it’s very easy to “hate” ourselves for “getting so out of shape” or “not being as fast as I was last season.” But you have every reason to love yourself right now.

First, you’re back out there doing it. That in itself is progress. Compared to those that are still watching March Madness in the sports bar, you’re doing something positive. Sometimes starting is the hardest part, they say. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on taking those first steps.

Second, it’s normal for it to feel hard when you start again. You will have lost some fitness, maybe put on a few pounds, or just generally forgotten what it feels like to run. Whatever the case, it won’t feel all magical and happy when you start back at the beginning of the season. The good news here is that you will spring back quickly. In a matter of weeks, you’ll be feeling much more positive that you started again and feeling much better to boot.
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Five Tips to Improve Your Travel Workout Experience #fitness #running #workouts

running-advice-bugLet’s face it, when you travel your workouts often suffer. Travel screws with your daily routine, impacting things like your schedule, access to your favorite running routes or the gym equipment that you have at home. Having just come back from a quick trip to Asia, I have five more tips fresh in my mind that will help keep your workouts on track and make the whole experience better for you.

Five TipsTip 1 — Develop a backup exercise routine that you can do literally anywhere — Whether you find yourself in an airport, on an island with no gym or just holed up in a hotel room, sometimes you will have no access to any equipment, the outdoors or a safe place to get out for a run. In these cases, I always have a set of exercises that I can do without any equipment to get myself active anywhere. Here’s an example of full-body workout that you can do anywhere. Do three-to-four sets of the following exercises doing as many as you think is wise for your fitness. You may want to start at 10 each:
– Push-ups
– Sit-ups
– Burpees — this is a combination exercise that includes a squat, push-up, thrust and jump. Certain to raise your heart-rate immediately.
– Squats
– Side-lunges

You’ll be surprised how much of a workout you can get doing simple exercises like this, especially when varying the number and the pacing. You can also add weight by grabbing something in your possession when doing some of these; I have used my back-pack for instance when doing squats or side-lunges. Heck put your laptop or a heavy book on your chest to add weight to your sit-ups.

Some other good exercises that you could do here include box jumps (to a bench or even onto a hotel bed if you’re careful about not falling over backward) and pull-ups if you can find a bar of some kind. (NOTE from Joe: shower-curtain rods do not generally support body weight.)
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Coach Joe Goes CrossFit — Part I — Picking a “Box” #CrossFit #Running #Fitness #Triathlon

running-advice-bugOver the past couple of seasons I have been asked a number of times if CrossFit would be a benefit to my runners and triathletes. Since I hadn’t tried it myself, I thought it was time to get some in-depth experience with it and provide you all the answer: will CrossFit benefit you as a runner or triathlete? Oh, the things I do for you, my dear readers. Over the course of the next few months I’ll be weighing in — both literally and figuratively — to tell you what I think of the whole experience.

I went into this with my mind open, ready for a new challenge and certain that I would be humbled a few times in the process. So far, I’m right on track.

Coach Joe at T9000 CrossFit

Coach Joe at T9000 CrossFit

According to Wikipedia, CrossFit is “promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport. CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises.”

From a methodology stand-point, CrossFit makes good sense for both runners and multi-sport athletes. CrossFit puts an emphasis on several things that benefit endurance athletes. First, CrossFit aims to strengthen the body, in particular the core, hips and legs. From a power production stand-point on the bike and run this should be a benefit to many athletes. In addition, CrossFit puts an emphasis on stretching and flexibility, especially around the hips. Being able to increase the range of motion of those tight runners’ hamstrings and quads will hopefully reduce injuries and lengthen strides. And finally, CrossFit includes a great deal of shifting between activities. Quickly moving from muscle-group to muscle-group — typically done under time pressure — is good to help triathletes with their transitions on race day.

My strategy was to get started: pick a gym, get myself enrolled and add this to my workout routine in the early “strength building” portion of my season. Ultimately, I wanted to add 2-3 CrossFit workouts to my week during the three months of January through March when I’m focused on building base and strength and my racing activity is moderately low. In my case, I traded off my 2-3 traditional “weights” workouts in the gym for my new CrossFit routine.

Picking out a “Box”
The first thing that you’ll need to do is find a CrossFit gym, which is called a “Box” in the CrossFit lingo. You may be surprised, or even a little over-whelmed with the number of choices you may have. In my local area there were almost too many to count. I visited a number of Boxes and decided based on three factors: 1) proximity to my house, 2) a structured introduction program and 3) a welcoming attitude. Thankfully, CrossFit T9000 in Hillsboro, happened to be the closest one to my house, but it also turned out to have one of the best introduction programs I experienced. There’s a lot to learn and many of the skills require a close attention to detail. Those Boxes that invest in you up front are helping you to avoid injury and get more out of the workouts once you get started.
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