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!
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
When your running schedule calls for a break, use the time off wisely.
Runners have a strange relationship with rest days. Early in the year, it’s hard to get them to take a day off because they fear they’ll lose momentum. Later in the year, when their training loads are heavier, those same runners might be grasping for days to take a break. But no matter how far along you are in your training, resting is important because it keeps fatigue from building up and lets the body lay a solid foundation for the work to come. Here are five things you can do to rest, refocus and relax when your running schedule calls for a rest day:
1. Take a yoga class.
Yoga offers great benefits to runners. For one, stretching and lengthening leg muscles undoes some of the damage caused by repetitively tightening those same muscles when running. Stretching in a structured class environment ensures you’ll stretch your entire body, rather than just those trouble spots like your legs. Perhaps more important, yoga helps clear your head and focus on your breath. When practiced correctly, yoga combines a centering, clearing and calming environment with movement and balance exercises. Together, these factors make yoga the perfect rest day complement to your high-energy daily runs.
I’ve often wondered if I should change the name “rest days” on my running schedules to “focus days.” Off days provide much needed time to think and reflect on your progress, your goals and your motivation for running. As the months wear on, failing to take a break to check in with yourself can ultimately lead you to a sad state called burnout. As a runner for nearly my entire life, I look forward to rest days to reflect on how I’m doing, talk with friends about their running and make sure things are on track for my season. Spending some time quietly reflecting on the joy of running goes a long way when it comes to recharging our mental batteries and allowing us to do more when we get back to it the next day.
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
Lots of my age-group duathlon buddies have expressed surprise and a bit of consternation about draft-legal racing on the bike coming to our part of the sport. I’ve talked to a number of people that have said they don’t feel that draft-legal racing will be safe and they want to avoid those races that head that way, but here’s the thing: draft-legal is coming. We all need to start thinking about it.Draft-legal racing has been the norm at the elite ITU level for some time now. Many people may not realize that it has also been the norm for juniors and Under 23 (U23) as well, essentially training a whole new generation of athletes as youngsters to learn how to race draft-legal. Outside of the United States, draft-legal is not frowned upon as it seems to be here. In the US, we seem to have been trained to “hate” drafting on the bike as that’s been the rule since the beginning of the sport for most races here.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU), which is the governing body of the sport, has started moving individual age-group events to draft-legal racing. Starting in 2016, the ITU Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon World Championships will both be draft-legal. This means that drafting will be legal in ITU races for elite, junior, U23, and age-groupers — that is for all but paratriathlon/paraduathlon. It’s already legal for all distances of winter-triathlon and cross-triathlon. This just leaves the standard (or “Olympic”) distance and longer distances races.
Clearly this feels like a test to see how age-groupers do with draft-legal racing at the shorter distance. But the writing feels like it is on the wall that the standard distance won’t be far behind.
Now, the ITU doesn’t govern all triathlons and duathlons. Many are sanctioned by national bodies like USA Triathlon or organizations like Ironman or local organizers. But again, it feels like national bodies will begin to follow suit to get their athletes ready for the overall change in the sport, so we should see national bodies start re-framing these rules sooner rather than later.
It’s time for the next episode in our new video series: Run Time, The Discussion Place for Runners. That’s right, we’re producing a new talk show just for you runners. We plan to have all kinds of cool people on the show: coaches, doctors, industry insiders, authors and lots of runners!
On this episode, Coach Joe talks with RunWestin running concierge Chris Heuisler (@RunWestin) of Westin Hotels about what a running concierge does, what kind of support runners are looking for when they travel and some of the upcoming races that he’s excited about this spring and summer.
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
Over 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.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.
I want to get behind the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, I really do. But to me the New Year’s Resolution is kind of the marketing hype of personal improvement. We see this in fitness centers and gyms being swollen with people for the first month of the year and then returning to their previous levels. We see this in the fact that many New Year’s resolutions get broken within weeks, days, or even hours of being made. We go through the act of thinking up New Year’s resolutions because people tell us we should and that’s quite simply the wrong reason.
New Year’s resolutions are about effectuating change in our lives. Underlying the desire to try something new must be a motivation to change. We not only need to put a stake in the ground to get thinner, faster, eat better or drink less. We need to want to change the behaviors in our lives enough to overcome the habits that we’ve formed and to get to the end result we’re searching for.
Here’s the thing. We start the new year with all of the tools that we had, or didn’t have, on December 31st. If you are a person that knows how to effectuate change in your life then you can make changes that stick. If you don’t know how to make changes, or don’t have the motivation to really change, then you stand as much chance sticking to your resolutions as two dry pieces of paper sticking together in a desert.
The positive side to this is that we can make changes anytime. We don’t have to wait until December 31st to change a part of our lives. All we need are those tools that will help us stick to the changes that we want to make in our lives. I can give you three tips that will greatly help in setting and making changes in your life.
Tip 1 — Set a Specific Duration for your Goal — Experts say that if you can change a behavior for just 21 days, you’ll make a change to behavior that lasts. I like to make goals for one month, especially when trying something new. By staking a specific time to the change, such as trying a new diet or adding a new workout, you can mentally tell yourself that you are doing this or that thing for a short period of time and in that time you’ll be able to experience and see the results of the change. When you get a chance to feel the impact of the change on your life, it makes it easier to keep it going for another month and so on.
It’s not very often that I actually ask a manufacturer to send me a product to test. I pick out the best gear for myself and my athletes, but taking time to write about it all doesn’t rank that highly on my to-do list. But when it came to the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling shoe, I had to make an exception. I needed to try out these shoes and they didn’t disappoint me.I first saw the Tri Fly Octane while on a visit to triathlon gear e-tailer Trisports.com down in Tucson. What will strike you upon picking up the shoe — after the bright orange color — is the weight of the shoe. This shoe is quite literally half the weight of any other shoe around it on the triathlon shelf. At 185 grams, they are ridiculously light. For comparison, my previous shoe weighed 295 grams. And while I’m not usually obsessed with weight, these shoes are so much lighter than anything else I have seen that it really stands-out.
The lightness of the shoe comes from a combination of things. One of them is the mostly-mesh upper on the shoe. This reduces the amount of bulky material, but it also lets a lot more air through the shoe and lets water drain out quickly. This is a bonus when you have wet feet getting into the shoes in T1. The flip-side is that riding in this shoe on a cold-rainy day is not that much fun. My booties needed to make an appearance early this Fall.
The shoe sports a carbon-fiber base that makes it very strong. Even for a powerful cyclist that likes to push the pedals hard like me, it provides an un-flinching platform to push against.
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.
Here’s a question that I can throw at you today. Will YouBeRu (#YouBetterRun) be the next Instagram or Uber? Perhaps not for everyone, but if this one takes off athletes, race directors, live sports event producers and spectators may one day follow athletes in a whole new way.
If you follow my writings on my Event Futurist blog, you’ll know that I believe that technology has the power to transform live events, connecting people and enhancing their experiences. This is true of many new technologies that help share content among event participants and that help connect participants with one another. In the sports event production space, there have been many great advances in athlete tracking and monitoring as well. Way back in 2005 I worked on a project to bring live video feeds to the courses on Ironman triathlons and things have gotten progressively better from there. Spectating at Marathons and Ironman Triathlons is tricky, because athletes don’t always move at constant speeds — and even when they do it’s hard to figure out where they are with complicated wave starts and only best guess estimates for their pace on race day.
Systems that track participants for the most part still rely on timing mats along courses, which means that data about an athlete’s progress only happens when (and after) an athlete has crossed a mat, generating a time “split” or event for the system to track. Yes there are some more exotic methods of tracking athletes such as placing small cellular transmitters on bikes as they have done at times in a races like the Tour de France or extrapolating performance like the Boston Marathon did in its app this year. But the field is still open for an app or system that collects live data on athletes to help spectators know exactly where they are or will be on a race course so that they can see them, cheer for them and be there to give high-fives and hugs.
Enter a new start-up from Denmark called YouBeRu, which operates under the very poignant hashtag #YouBetterRun. The idea behind this new technology is to harness the power of smartphones to act as the timing mats. Participants wear a wrist band that sends out a signal and people with the app on their phones become the receivers along the course. This means that each time an athlete wearing a band goes by someone on the course, the data is collected and shared with users of the app. The idea here is to create a grid of timing locations that is much more dense than the number of mats that you can put out on a race course.