There 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. So 21 days ago I set ...
What should you #eat after a long run or ride to promote your recovery? Here are some suggestions in this week’s short video. Eat up runners!
This is Episode 10 in our RUN Time series from @coachjoeenglish. Many more to come!
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Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Running-Advice.com and RUN Time
Sometimes 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.
First, 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.
I love Strava. I just love it. There are many fitness apps out there today, but there are five things that make the Strava Running and Cycling GPS App my number one choice for tracking and comparing running and cycling workouts.First off, I have not been paid, solicited or even approached by the folks at Strava or any other company to write this review. I have been using Strava on my Android smartphone for more than a year. I have used it on both Samsung Galaxy S3 and now LG G2 Pro smartphones. In that time I have recorded about 1,900 miles of rides and almost 1,000 miles of runs. I should also note that I continue to use a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch and a cycling computer on my bike, both for the instant access to data that comes from these devices. But there are a number of reasons that I think Strava is tops for recording and capturing workout data.
Reason 1: It’s easy to use. For an app to really make it with the broadest range of users it has to be super easy to set up, use and navigate. Strava does such a nice job of keeping the interface simple. Say you want to switch between running and cycling? You just click the icon of the bicycle or the shoe at the top. That’s it. (It used to be two different apps.) You simply start a recording and then save it at the end. The app does the rest. The simplicity of Strava extends to the way it compares data to other athletes. It does it automatically. You don’t have to tell Strava to compare you to others or define the routes. Strava users define the routes, leaving this to those that care to do it, and the system makes the comparisons for you. It couldn’t be simpler.
Reason 2: It’s a training history all in one place. I used to be so haphazard about keeping records of my runs and rides. Forget writing them down or inputting them into TrainingPeaks. Since I take my phone with me on my workouts, now I simply hit start and have a record of all of my outdoor runs and rides in once place. This makes it very easy for me to scan back and see what I’ve done over the course of the last month or how long some ride or run might have been.
With the 2013 Long Course Duathlon Nationals (AKA Mt. Rainier Duathlon) coming up next weekend, I spent some time riding and running the courses yesterday to give you a sneak preview and some advice on how to approach the course.
I’ll start by saying that there is a lot about this course that I like and I think that everyone should find something that they like about it. The course offers a great deal of variety, but is not highly technical. The hill climbing on the bike will favor strong riders, but there is enough other terrain to help even that out a bit as well. In short, I think this is a fair race course and should be good for well rounded athletes.
Run Course 1: At just over five miles (5.12), this course isn’t quite a 10K but is long enough that it should slow down the sprinters a bit. Looking at this on the map, I thought that it would be totally flat, but the race organizers managed to find the one hill in this part of town to incorporate into the course. The hill starts after a hard left turn right at the 3 mile mark and climbs quickly up a rolling set of inclines. The hill is short but steep and I think this is going to separate the girls from the women so to speak. If anyone has gone out too fast, they will pay for it here. There is a nice recovery coming back down the other side of the hill and then the course flattens back out in the last mile.
My advice as always is to pace yourself wisely in the first run. Your running pace should be a pace (effort level) that you can keep up for the entire duathlon — not just for that first run. Most people go out way to fast in the first run. Remember that you have a lot of riding to do after you transition, so take it easy. Work your way up the hill and then use the down hill to recover and get yourself set for the transition as you come back to the start/finish area.
Bike Course: The meat of this race is going to be on the bike. At 28.88 miles this feels quite short for a “long course” race, however, the hilly terrain makes it challenging and it will feel longer. I think the way to mentally approach this course is to divide the laps into three segments: 1) the first portion of the race until you hit the bottom of the climb (0-6 miles), 2) the climb (miles 6-8), and 3) the recovery and descent (miles 8-14). You’ll do two laps of the course.
In a post a couple of weeks back I was considering whether drivers on the roads mean us runners and cyclists harm or whether we just cook that up in our minds through our own feelings. Do you remember the article? I asked if they “really mean us harm?” After considering this a bit more, perhaps they really do hate us after all. But so what.
In the earlier article I explained that our feelings and thoughts are related. When a driver cuts us off, we get angry. The anger comes from a thought that the driver “did that on purpose” or “was trying to scare me” — or something similar. If we really think about it, the feelings are totally different if we process this as “they didn’t see me” or “that was my fault”. Then we have other feelings, such as relief from not being hit. So I was proposing that we try to maintain our composure, making sure that our feelings stay positive and don’t impute negativity on other people that may not mean us any harm.
Before I go further, I had a very interesting experience that I wanted to share. I was sitting at a stop light on my bike waiting to make a right turn. The road that I was on was a one-way street and I was sitting in the far right lane. As I was looking up the street at the traffic coming from my left, I noticed that a car had it’s turn signal on — to take a right turn — the wrong way up the one-way street. The driver made her turn and in my head all I could think was “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” She made it about half a block before figuring it out and thankfully no one crashed into her. It was the other drivers that I noticed next — I saw people yelling things like “fuck you” and “you crazy bitch” at this driver. All I felt was relief that she hadn’t caused a huge accident. The anger that was pouring out of these other drivers was exactly what we were considering. No one would knowingly drive the wrong way up a one-way street unless they were in a Bruce Willis action movie. If any of those other drivers had been analyzing the situation at all, they would have realized that, but they went straight to the anger response.
I was kind of happy that I felt calm and more concerned about the driver than anything else. So I set off to test this in a couple of situations. On one of my rides a few days later, I was steaming along at a nice clip in a VERY wide bike lane. I was way over at the right side of the road, a good ten feet from the traffic. It was a clear day, a flat road with only light traffic. The picture that I’m painting for you here is that there is no way that I could have been blocking or impeding the traffic in any way. So along comes this truck and lays on his horn as he goes by me. This, of course, startled me but I typically accept this type of behavior from drivers so I didn’t really react. It happened though that I caught up with the truck at a light about 1/4 mile up the road. So I made the universal sign for “roll down your window” and I asked the driver the following: “Did you need to get my attention or were you just letting me know that you were there?”
Grrrr. . . I was in spin class this morning, and although I loved the instructor, she said something that rubbed me the wrong way. She’s actually just the latest in a series of spin instructors that has used similar language and I want to write about it today. In her most supportive and motivational way she shouted at the top of her lungs: “Come on guys, let’s give 110%!”
Baah. 110%. Really? I get it. It’s supposed to mean “don’t leave anything on the table”, but we really cannot ask our bodies to give more than 100%. Giving 100% is plenty, believe me. If you are giving it your all, you don’t need to give more than that. The problem is often that we don’t give it our all, but going above and beyond that is simply beyond what we can truly ask our bodies to give.
Let me step back a minute and tell you another story. A few weeks ago, in yet a different spin class, the instructor starting playing this little trick on the class. He’d set us up for a sprint of a certain amount time — let’s just say 60 seconds. He’d say, “OK, here we go, give it everything you’ve got for 60 seconds!” And then at the end of the 60 seconds he’d say, “OK, keep it going class for another 30 seconds if you can!” ‘Wait a second’, I thought to myself. If I am pacing myself to give 100% for 60 seconds then I can’t go for another 30 seconds. That’s 50% more than the amount of the interval. I SHOULDN’T have anything left at the end of the 60 seconds to give if I had already given it my all. That ‘well’ should be dry. Tapped out. If I can pull another 30 seconds out of that well then I wasn’t pacing myself right in the first place.
Am I splitting hairs here? Perhaps. But let’s think about this as a part of a more holistic approach to our lives. If we’ve constructed a good training plan for ourselves as athletes then that plan will have us working pretty hard and giving all that we have much of the time. There are times that we have to push ourselves and times that we can relax. The sum of the parts adds up to 100% — not more than 100%. If we’re giving more than 100% then we have a problem. Something doesn’t add up. Something will have to give.
So to have an attitude that has us shooting for greater than what we can actually achieve is self-defeating. I would argue that we should craft our thoughts and thinking in the following way: “give everything that you have today, but don’t lose sight of tomorrow and don’t forget about yesterday.” In other words, you want to find the balance that give as much as you can to optimize in your training life but keeps yourself in balance.
I went on a long, long ride yesterday. 110+ miles from Portland to the Oregon Coast. I was out there on the highways and by-ways, mixing up with cars, trucks and RVs. I waved at a few cops along the way and happily got where I was going on-time and in one piece.
But along the way, I got honked at, crowded, jostled and nearly cut-off a few times too.
I’m sure any of you reading this have had your share of run-ins with cars, seemingly aggressive drivers and people that seem to have it out for us runners and cyclists. My question today: do they really hate us or is it just in our minds?
Think about your reaction when a car jams down on the accelerator as they go by you or cuts closed enough that you feel the wind of their side-mirror go by your shoulder. How do you feel? Do you feel angry, mad, scared — or maybe a combination of all three? Those a strong feelings and I’d like us to think about where those powerful feelings come from.
In psychology there is a model that looks at things like this. It lays out four elements: an event, your thinking about the event, your feelings and then your behavior or reaction to the event. Let’s simplify and just refer to this as “Event – Thinking – Feeling – Behavior.” In our case, the event is say a car cutting close to you. The feeling is anger or rage. The behavior could range from yelling at the car to making an angry gesture, but is most likely something anti-social because it is stemming out of your feelings of anger or rage.
But the key element here is really the “thinking” piece of the equation. Why do we feel the anger or the rage? This stems from a thought that the driver “did that on purpose” or “was trying to scare me” or “is an a-hole” or “meant to hit me.” The list could go on and on, but all of these thoughts stem from our own internal thinking that the other person meant your some harm.
This is the story of nine dollars worth of gloves and a two dollar hat — and how they saved my ride yesterday. But it really isn’t about those things. This is really a story about making decisions and taking action when you’re in the midst of a workout or a race. What I hope you take away from this story is that you need to keep focused on making it to your goal and do something about it when something doesn’t go as you planned.Yesterday I had set out to ride 100 miles in preparation for an upcoming Ironman distance triathlon. I prepared all of my gear, including a backback full of full or food, spare tubes, money and the like. I was fully loaded to spend several hours out there on the road. The weather called for a dry day. There was supposed to be no chance of rain. It was over 40 degrees (F) out, so it would be perfect weather. I dressed accordingly, wearing what I would consider more than enough clothing for the weather. Multiple layers on top and bottom and — this important — wind-stopping gloves and outwear.
This is a critical detail. There’s a difference, as I was reminded, between wind-stopping and water-proof clothing. I was plenty warm as I set out and for the first 20 miles things were going great.
Then the rain started to fall. The skies darkened. It started to pour. I could see that this was no passing shower. Indeed, for the next three hours the rain pummeled me seemingly from everything direction. My gear was completely soaked. I could feel the water pooling up in my cycling shoes, even despite having neoprene booties over them.
So now I’m almost 50 miles from home and completely freezing and soaked. This where the advice comes in. I had to take an inventory of my options and you need to do when things go awry. My fingers were number and starting to tingle in that way that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to use my hands much longer.
I suppose I should have known I was in trouble last night when my five year-old son asked me “Dad, what exactly are the consequences of getting on Santa’s Naughty list?” In my head, I thought ‘not much because we’ve already bought your presents,’ but I decided instead to tell him that tried and true tale that “he might get coal in his stocking.” To this, my brilliant son responded, “coal is helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil Dad.” A perfect response from a five year-old with an iPad 2. But it got me thinking about who is on my Naughty List this year and today I have some thoughts.
First, I’d nominate the people that live on my running route who are fostering the independence and freedom of their pet. I don’t know his name, nor his breed, but I would call him part wolf, part Alaskan Malamute, and part ferocious dragon. He is let to roam free of fences or the chains that bind most pets to their residences. Instead he is allowed to run freely. And boy is he fast. So thank you Mr. and Mrs. Great Big Dog Owners for providing me some variety on my runs for your pets freedom allows me to hone my speed and agility. He hasn’t, thankfully, caught me yet.
Second, I nominate the guy in the BMW SUV that made such precise eye contact with me a few weeks ago… right before he turned in front of me on my bike. My apologies to him for almost scratching his car. I’m sure that this probably caused him some great worry for he even pulled over to check to make sure that I hadn’t actually scratched it. He communicated something with me as he was doing this, but I will not describe the gesture in this family-friendly publication. I thank you, Mr. BMW Guy, for honing my bike handling skills and making me a quicker, more agile rider.
Third, I will put on my naughty list the guy just yesterday that used his horn to alert me to the exact moment that the light we were waiting at together turned green. Had he not laid down on his horn, I might not have started across the cross-walk in that very first second of the light, causing him even greater delay in making his right turn. I thank you Mr. Horn Guy, for being so alert and helping me make sure that my hearing is good so that I sense cars around me when I run.
I have a Lance Armstrong signed cycling jersey hanging on my wall and I’m not planning on taking it down any time soon. The story unfolding around him annoys me to no end and I’d like to tell you why today.
I just wrote about drug use in sports in my column last week. I took that opportunity to work through some of the technical reasons that I thought targeting the athletes after-the-fact for the problems of professional cycling in the early 2000s was a mistake. I’d like to be a little bit more blunt about it now.
First, the point of anti-doping controls are to keep the playing field fair between the athletes in the competition. But what happens when the entire field is juiced as it would appear to be the case in this time period? When everyone is using, when the culture of the entire sport is about using, then the playing field is already unfair and even more it becomes unfair to those that are trying to adhere to the rules. Is this a shity situation? Yes. Is this unethical and unfair? Yes. But when the entire sport turns a blind eye to what’s going on, you have a big ugly mess on your hands and lots of unfair choices.
Second, these races happened. The big moments, the drama, the stories. They all unfolded just as we saw them unfold. Remember when Lance Armstrong got his bike hooked on that kid’s bag and he fell down and then jumped back on the bike only to fall again onto his top tube and then continue racing up the side of a mountain? Yes, you probably do. And the fact that Lance Armstrong might have been using EPO didn’t allow him to continue riding when he crushed his ball on his bike in the middle of a climb in the Tour de France. We can’t now say that all of those incredible moments of racing and tactics and skill suddenly have been altered by what was going on throughout the sport.