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 ...
Getting out for a run when the weather sucks is tough! Today I give you my advice on making those workouts happen when you’d really rather not.
This is episode number 9 of RUN Time and the first in our 2016 running video series. We’ve got loads more on tap that should be coming out almost every week!
I post even more frequently on Facebook. Check it out here: www.facebook.com/runningadvice
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Running-Advice.com and RUN Time
Temperatures 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.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
A reader named Karen writes to us this week asking about alternatives to get in her higher intensity workouts (speed or quality work) while reducing the impact on the lower body. It’s true that high-speed running does place a great deal of stress on the muscles and joints of the lower-legs. The benefits gained in strength and fitness from these workouts generally outweigh the risks, but as Karen’s question points out there are instances when it makes sense to avoid too much pounding on a particular part of the body. Here’s her question:
I was the first kid on the block to have a joint replaced- I got the joint below the big toe replaced when I was 38 (years of 4″ heels followed by a botched bunionectomy.) I’ve been told by a good orthopedic surgeon that people can only get one toe joint replacement – when this one goes, you can’t get another. After the replacement goes, all they can do is pin the joint in a slightly bent position so as to do as little damage as possible to the knee, hip and back.
The best way to avoid wearing out the replaced joint is to avoid unnecessary pounding – so basically, no running. Are there other ways to achieve HIIT goals that don’t involve sprints?
That big toe sure is important in running, especially when running fast. Push-off and balance comes starts with the big toe and when people’s big toes don’t flex right, we can see all kinds of issues, including lower-back problems. The body is a chain of connected parts that pull against a lever and when there isn’t enough flexion in the toes, the whole chain upward toward the lever can have problems.
So first, keep in mind that maintaining good flexibility through the legs and feet will really reduce the impact on your joints. The stiffer your muscles are, the more pounding that you’ll put onto your feet, toes and heels. Or said another way, the more flexible you are the more fluid and resilient your body parts are, which puts less pressure and impact on them. You want to be springy, not stiff, to run.
The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to get high intensity training in without running. My favorite are spin classes on a spin bike. Spin is very effective in doing intervals, getting the heart rate way up, and burning a lot of calories in the process. When I’m really training hard, I aim to do 2 or even 3 spin workouts per week, because my body can’t handle working out on the track more than 2-3 times a week. This lets me do additional high intensity work without the pounding and potential for injuries.
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.
Whether you’ve been running a long time or are relatively new to it, there can be a sense of fatigue that sets in when running the same routes, the same miles and at the same time of day. Even those runner friends of yours might start sounding a little boring after awhile. It’s not like you want to hear another story about the difficulty of their job, is it? Some people use music to distract them from these feelings and I often hear people say they “can’t run without music.” I think they can. I think you can. It’s just a matter of spicing things up a bit. Today, I’m going to give you five ways to make your run more interesting and I’m not including changing up your playlist.
Five Ways to Make Your Run More Interesting
1. Go somewhere new and get out of your “route rut” — I have an interesting perspective on this one. I travel a lot. I mean a lot a lot. When I’m on the road, every run is more fun. I’m exploring a new city, trying not to get lost, and perhaps keeping out of danger in certain places. But it helps me see that there is a freshness that comes with running in new or different places. Now, I understand that not everyone can be on the go as much as I am, but there’s more than one place to run in your own city. I’m constantly amazed when I find myself running down some new road that’s within a mile of my home. I’ve lived in the same place now for almost 10 years and I’m still finding new neighborhoods and places to run. So if you’re feeling stuck in a “route rut” then make it a goal to run a different direction, explore a new neighborhood or just go someplace else to run. Ask your friends where they run. I’m constantly surprised by the answers I get and I’ve found some fun new roads just by asking around.
2. Run your route backwards (not literally!) — If you really do have the same route that you run all of the time, run it backwards from time to time. You will be surprised how different the hills and turns feel when you’re going in the opposite direction. And no, you silly heads, I do not mean physically running backwards. Although running backwards would also be fun, albeit slower and more dangerous!
3. Play a game — As a parent I have become somewhat of an expert in occupying a busy little mind. Yesterday I was on a plane next to a four year-old girl named Ryan who was pretty bored. I kept her busy by giving her mind something to think about. We played “I Spy” out the window of the plane for quite some time. You may need to distract your own brain at times by giving it something else to think about other than putting one foot ahead of another. Think about how much more difficult it is to run for a long time on a treadmill than outside and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 30 minutes on the treadmill can be torture. This is because there’s nothing to look and the senses just get bored. A couple of my favorite games when running — reading every road sign (you will be amazed how many there are), jumping every puddle, and seeing how many coins you can collect on a single run (the key here is to look at the place where cars make right turns at an intersection by a cross-walk and there is a little grit and gravel built up. Go figure.). There are more elaborate games you can play with people, but think about things you do with kids and it will be a good start.
4. Run somewhere. I love to make a workout into a journey. Rather than just going out and back, sometimes I like to run somewhere specific — a one way trip that is. I will often ride from Portland to the Pacific Ocean for example as a long ride. The fact that a run or ride is a one-way journey somehow feels different. Of course if you do this, you need a way to get back home. But then you can always pick somewhere that has transportation or ask for a ride. Three of my friends and I wanted to run a very long trail once. We ran all the way out and then called a cab to get us home. We smelled awful, but it was a fun run and I still remember it today.
5. Change up the routine This may be a bit of a catch-all, but runners get in such a groove sometimes that it can become a grind. Let’s just think here about changing the time of day, wearing different shoes or (my favorite) leaving the watch at home from time to time (no pun intended). Minor changes in the routine can make a big difference in how things feel and that can definitely make things more interesting.
I hate that shirt that says “Running Sucks”. Running doesn’t suck. It’s great. We just need to get out of the rut and start having fun again. That is, after all, what running is all about.
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News
If ever there were a bucket-list race that is overlooked it might be the Crater Lake Rim Runs Marathon. This past weekend I ran the event and today I provide you my list of the Top Five Reasons you should run this amazing and different marathon.
Five Reasons to Run the Crater Lake Marathon
2. You want to really, really, challenge yourself. This sucker is hard. I would say that Crater Lake is one of the toughest marathons you’ll find anywhere. Included on the list of what makes this one so tough is the fact that the race course is entirely above 6,000 feet elevation and peaks out at over 7,750 feet. Also, you’ll have some nasty climbs to deal with and almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain. If that weren’t enough, one of the toughest hills on the entire course is set between miles 22 and 24 — just when you’re feeling freshest.3. You want to run some serious descents. The up hill climbs may get all of the press, but running down hill can be equally tricky. It may not require as much effort, but it can tear through your quads and leave you trembling. Get ready for some big descents. The course tips downward from it’s peak about mile 14 and is almost all down until mile 22. Ouch.
Sometimes all of us runners, even the most dedicated ones, go through periods where our motivation slips away. It’s kind of like having a case of “The Mondays”, where we just lose that fire for running — just a little bit or maybe a lot — and we need a little help to rekindle that lovin’ feeling that we have for our favorite sport. Whether you’ve been sick, put on a couple of pounds, or just gotten busy at work, today I provide you five ways that to rekindle your desire to go running in a snap!
Step 1 — Get back out there today! — If you’ve been slacking, even with a marathon or race coming up on the horizon, the first thing you should do is put those shoes on and head out the door; and you need to do it today. I know that seems obvious, but it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll start back up tomorrow, at next Saturday’s group run, or when you “feel better.” There’s nothing that gives you a better reminder of why you run — or perhaps how far you’ve fallen behind (see the next step) — than just going for a run. You feel better after a run, even a short one, because your body changes after running. Things are going on, both mentally and physically, that will jump start your desire to run again. So step one: go today!
Step 2 — Start with a short run — Perhaps one of the worst things you can do when you’ve lost your motivation is to bite off more than you can chew on the first run out the door. You may have a picture in your mind of what you need to do to get back on track, but I pretty much promise you that a if you start out with a 10 or 12 miler after taking even a week or two off, your body is going to be in full revolt. Again, the body changes when we run, but the opposite side of that is also true. On that first run, the pump is not primed to go. Whether you metabolism has slowed a little or your just dehydrated, take it easy on the first one as you get back out there. Step two: keep the first one short!
Step 3 — Sign up for a race — You may be training for a marathon that’s months away, but a race this weekend or next brings things into the near term. Races help our minds focus. Sign up for a 5K or 10K race and then go through the motions to get out there and do it. It’s a great reminder of the fun of organized runs and the competition might just spur you on to a good high-energy workout too. Step 3: race!
Nearly 650 athletes from 44 states and Washington, D.C., are on the start list for this Saturday’s 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Harriett Island Regional Park. The race will be held on July 19, 2014.After a three-year stint in Tucson/Oro Valley, Arizona, St. Paul will host the best duathletes in the country this weekend and again in 2015. Age-group duathletes and paraduathletes will race their way to national titles in both standard-distance (4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run) and sprint-distance (2.9k run, 20.8k bike, 2.7k run) events. Races will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT on July 19 with the standard-distance race, followed by the sprint race at 11:45 a.m. CT. Visit usatriathlon.org/du14 for complete event details, and follow the race live at usatriathlon.org/du14coverage.
Twenty-three returning national champions highlight the field in Saturday’s races:
Sprint Defending Champions
Michael Ashworth (M30-34, Jersey City, N.J.)
Margaret Bomberg (F75-79, Chico, Calif.)
Celia Dubey (F40-44, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Joe English (M40-44, Hillsboro, Ore.)
Terry Habecker (M65-69, Ithaca, N.Y.)**
Janet Jarvits (F45-59, Pasadena, Calif.)
Heysoon Lee (F70-74, Morristown, N.J.)**
David Morrow (M60-64, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Patty Peoples-Resh (F55-59, Redlands, Calif.)
Kristin Villopoto (F50-54, Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Timothy Winslow (M19U, Elk Grove, Calif.)**
Standard-Distance Defending Champions
Andy Ames (M50-54, Boulder, Colo.)
Donald Ardell (M75-79, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Jason Atkinson (M30-34, Alamogordo, N.M.)
David Burkhart (M60-64, Brighton, Mich.)
Kirsten Chapman (F50-54, Edmond, Okla.)
Kerry Mayer (M65-69, Brookfield, Wis.)
Robert Powers (M90+, White Bear Lake, Minn.)
Erica Ruge (F40-44, Rhinebeck, N.Y.)
Jennifer Scudiero (F30-34 and female overall winner, Eagan, Minn.)
Dave Slavinski (M40-44, Point Pleasant, N.J.)
Chelsea VanCott (F20-24, Oceanside, Calif.)*
Keith Woodward (M60-64, Stowe, Vt.)
*Indicates athlete is racing in the sprint event
**Indicates athlete is racing in the standard-distance event
Duathlon Nationals is the sole qualifying event for the age-group 2015 Standard- and Sprint-Distance ITU Duathlon World Championships in Adelaide, South Australia, on Oct. 14-18, 2015. The top 18 finishers in each age group, rolling down to 25th place, will qualify for Team USA.
Team USA is comprised of the nation’s top multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU World Championships event. Visit usatriathlon.org for more on Team USA.
In addition to the weekend’s races, USA Triathlon and local St. Paul shop TrüBerry Frozen Yogurt have partnered to collect unwanted sneakers this week through July 19. Donated shoes will be given to Listening House of St. Paul, a day/evening shelter and community resource center that provides hospitality, practical assistance and counsel to people who are homeless, disadvantaged or lonely. Shoes may be dropped at 949 Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and those donating shoes will receive a buy one, get one free item from TrüBerry.
Source: USA Triathlon
Running Advice and News
I know that runners hate to stretch. You might think it’s kind of like flossing your teeth: you know it’s good for you, but you’re most likely only to do it when you have a dentist appointment next week or you’ve got a popcorn kernel stuck in your gums. Stretching is the same for many of us; stretching is one of those things that we do when something hurts or is slowing us down. But stretching your muscles has some great benefits, including preventing injuries, reducing soreness and potentially making you run faster.
Look no further than elite runners at many races. Watch the Kenyans and Ethiopians do their warm-ups. They tend to stretch a lot as a group. The reason is that running actually tightens and shortens your muscles. In order to loosen (or lengthen) muscles, you need to stretch them out again. Think about how hard it is to run when you are feeling “tight”. Now think of trying to run really fast on tight muscles. That’s hard to do. These elite folks know that keeping loose and long muscles is what allows them to extend and keep their strides long.
Here are five signs that your body may be telling you that you need to stretch!
1. Your heels hurt before you get out of bed in the morning — if you’re lying in bed and you can feel your heels being tender then you need to work on stretching out your feet and calf muscles. This feeling may be the pre-cursor of the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the fascia in the feet — and it hurts a lot. The key is to make those feet and calves loose and limber. Start by stretching your feet even before you get out of bed in the morning.