Which Marathon Is the Best for You? #running #marathon

running-advice-bugOver the past few years, the number of marathons around the world has exploded. Whether you’re interested in running on the Las Vegas Strip at night or meandering quietly through a forest, there’s a marathon for you. But picking out just the perfect race these days can take a little thought. Here are five things to consider when choosing your next great adventure:

1. Size

US News Photo 1Marathons can range from just a few runners to tens of thousands, and the size of the race has a direct impact on your race experience. Conventional wisdom might lead you to think that small races don’t have the same amenities as the largest races, but some small race organizers take surprisingly good care of their limited numbers of entrants. In fact, in some cases, small races might offer more food, drinks and personal attention than their big-city counterparts, simply because feeding 100 people is a lot easier than feeding 40,000. On the flip side, small races might offer nothing at all other than an organized route and a timing system. Aside from services, the size of the race also dictates the number of spectators who’ll be cheering you on (or not) and whether you’ll be sharing the road with cars. Think carefully about what you want the race environment to feel like, whether that be small and quiet or crazy and loud. And make sure to ask some questions, such as what services will be offered on the course or what the environment will be like on race day.

Coach Joe’s Pick: The Fargo Marathon has a reputation of being one of the best in the country, with amazing spectators, as many as 50 bands on the course and an indoor start and finish at the Fargodome.

2. Course

I once saw a small group of bib-wearing runners doing laps around my local park. After talking to some of them, I realized they were doing a 50-mile race by running 50 laps around the park’s 1-mile loop. This sounded terrible to me. Race courses can take on all dimensions and sizes, so it’s best to check out what you’re getting into before signing up. Marathons can be held on a variety of surfaces, from trails to highways to running tracks, and can traverse anything from industrial parks to the wildest of mountains. Before signing up for any race, read through a description of the course to get a feel for what it’s all about and make sure to check out the “elevation profile” to see how much climbing and descending you’ll have in store.

Coach Joe’s pick: To get out of the city, check out the Big Sur International Marathon near Monterey, California, for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, crashing surfs and coastal cliffs.

3. Registration

With a surge in popularity, a number of marathons have adopted somewhat unique and unusual registration schemes to prioritize entrants. Even many small races now use lotteries or have short registration windows because they quickly sell out. The Boston Marathon is perhaps the most famous race to require a qualification time to enter, but you might be surprised to find that other races ask for qualifying times in order to prioritize registration or to determine your start order at the race. The bottom line? Plan early and check out the registration process and deadlines so you have the best shot at getting into your dream race.
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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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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

Running Advice and News

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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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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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Why do we run anyway? #running #marathon

running-advice-bugI used to always ask runners why they run. I don’t ask that question anymore, because most people can’t really articulate the answer. Now I ask almost every runner I meet this question: “do you run because you love it or because you have a talent for it?” I find the answers quite profound.

Photo: Joe English, Futurist Media

Photo: Joe English, Futurist Media

What I’ve heard from runners is both as surprising and varied as the runners themselves. I’ve heard people say that they run because they it helps them sleep. I’ve heard people say that they run because it allows them to eat whatever they like or drink more beer. I’ve heard people say that they do it to be with their friends. Some have told me that running gives them purpose in their life or they are doing it as a remembrance for someone. I’ve heard people say that it gives them direction and goals in their lives. I’ve heard people say they do it for the guys (or the girls). I’ve even heard at least one person say that she runs because she actually likes portable toilets, but she may have been pulling my leg.

But rarely do I hear people say straight-out: “I do it because I’m good at it.” And this seems to be true even among very fast runners.

I was thinking about this the other morning before a race. I wasn’t feeling very well. I was kind of tired and cranky. My legs were bothering me and my bike wasn’t working correctly. It all felt kind of like a big hassle that day. I asked myself the question that I ask so many other people: “Joe, do you do this because you love it or because you’re good at it?” Of course, on the one hand, I’m good at it. I’ve been doing it all of my life and have enjoyed great success as a runner. But as I thought through my answer I found myself thinking that there must be more than that. I know that If all we have is talent, then it makes it very hard to overcome the hassles, the struggles, the pain that we’re going to inevitably feel as we run. If we don’t have something more driving us, it seems to me, that it becomes very hard to overcome these barriers.

It’s the joy part of the equation that keeps us coming back for more.

Even if we don’t love running every single day, we must at least like it a little. Without the “like”, without the joy, without those many other things that it brings to us then we probably would just find excuses not to do it.

My psychologist friend likes to use the analogy of a tree, imagining that you are the tree. She says that the roots of the tree are what hold it up and keep it sturdy when the wind blows against it. Those roots need to include certain things: friendship, pleasure, exercise, spirituality, and love. The strong the roots, the stronger the tree when it gets stormy. The first time we talked about this, I said “well, my running is my exercise.” She didn’t like that answer much. ‘Are you sure?’ she asked. ‘Is it your exercise, or your spirituality, or your source of friendships?” I think I ultimately concluded that it was a mixture of many of the roots of my tree. Running brings a lot to my life, including the ability to help others, a time to meditate, and a time to ponder things more deeply than I can when I’m bombarded by everything going on in my life. Run strengthens me physically, but it also strengthens me in many other ways.

So even on a bad day, when running may feel like a hassle, there’s more to it than that. It’s more than just talent and more than just exercise. It’s also more than just joy. Running may be one of the very roots that holds our tree up when the wind starts blowing hard. And I suppose for that, I can say that I love it.

Coach Joe English @coachjoeenglish, Portland, Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News @runningadvice
(c) Running-advice.com 2015

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Five Key Stretches for Runners (in just 4 minutes) [Run Time Episode 4] #running

running-advice-bugOn this special “Quick Tips” episode of Run Time, Coach Joe English shows you runners five key stretches that every runner should be doing every day. These stretches are easy, relaxing and we’ll teach you about them in just a few short minutes.

Run Time is the talk show for runners. We feature interviews and advice for runners of all skill levels. Find more episodes on our web-site at running-advice.com. Follow Coach Joe English @coachjoeenglish

Future episodes will dive into running topics, including mental strategies, picking the best races, dealing with injuries, eating, book reviews and much more. Stay tuned. running-advice.com.

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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Why is the Boston Marathon a Big Deal? (in Two Minutes) #bostonmarathon #bostonstrong #marathon

running-advice-bugOn this special “Quick Tips” episode of Run Time, Coach Joe English answers the question: Why is the Boston Marathon such a big deal to runners? And he answers it in just two quick minutes. If you’ve been asked what’s so special about the Boston Marathon, then we’ve got the answer for you.

Run Time is the talk show for runners. We feature interviews and advice for runners of all skill levels. Find more episodes on our web-site at running-advice.com. Follow Coach Joe English @coachjoeenglish

Future episodes will dive into running topics, including mental strategies, picking the best races, dealing with injuries, eating, book reviews and much more. Stay tuned. running-advice.com.

Running Advice and News
www.running-advice.com

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