The 1st annual Run it to the Summit is taking place Sunday, August 1st at Song Mountain Resort. The two LIVE race options are available - Single Summit boasting 594 feet of elevation gain in no less than a half mile AND the Double Summit boasting 1,188 feet of elevation gain.
This year's first Double Summit event has some great competition in both the female and male categories.
Double Summit Contenders:
Laura Kline: Laura's resume is substantial to say the least. A break down of Laura's accomplishments: Triathlons: 2013 Ironman All World Athlete in the 35-39 Age Group, All-American Triathlete in 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2013, and Represented Team USA in 2008. Duathlons: 1st in the 35-39 Age Group at the 2015 ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship (8th Overall Female), 2014 Long Course Duathlon National Champion, and 2012 Short Course Duathlon World Champion. Ultra Running: 2nd Place – 2018 USATF 50k road National Championship, 2nd Place – 2016 USATF 50k road National Championship, and so many more.
Erika Zazzara: When it comes to discipline, Erika's name always comes to mind. Erika has a long history of cycling prior to her entry into the Ultra Running scene. Erika's running break down: 2019 Morgan Hill Meat Grinder Marathon/2020 Morgan Hill Meat Grinder Half Marathon - 2nd place female/1st place female; 2019 Frosty Fat Sass 6 hour - 1st Place female; 2020 Table Rock Challenge - Last One Standing - 2nd place female, and English's Ridge Rumble 2018 10 miler and 2020 20 miler - 1st place female.
Lee Berube: Lee is the favorite male contender coming into this race. Lee holds multiple FKTs in the ADK mountains, 2017/2018 Whiteface Sky VK - 1st, 2021 Mount Washington Road Race - 3rd place. His uphill abilities seem to be strengthening with each race he does.
C Fred Josyln: C Fred has been a well known marathoner in the Syracuse area before moving to Pennsylvania to continue on the C Fred racing tradition of powerful, strong, running. Fred's PR in the marathon 2:18 at the Rock & Roll Marathon in New Orleans. The 2016 Camusett 50k - 2nd place earning him a spot on the USA Road 50K Championship Team. Send 'em Fred.
Jason Mintz: With a tally of 22 Top 3 placements out of his recorded 34 Ultrasignup races, it is safe say Jason is a strong contender. He has always had a way of just jumping into a race at any point of his training and throwing down miles and pace with surprising ease. Jason has run five 100 milers (including Western States 100), 2020 Cactus Crusher 20 miler - 1st place, and 2020 Morgan Hill Meat Grinder Marathon - 4th place.
Eric Boyce: Eric is a strong uphill and mountain runner from Central New York. He is a huge advocate for growing the running community in all forms from track to road to trail and mountain. He just recently finished 16th (5th Master) at Mount Washington Road Race. He is also putting on his own mountain race...Swain Mountain which is 6 days after Run it to the Summit!
AJ Beers: AJ is one of the dark horses for taking the win. He just recently broke 16min for the 5K and is very good at climbing and mountain running. We are very happy to have him participate in this event.
WAY TO GO WOMEN!!!! 59% of Run it to the Summit participants are women!!! Women are up to the challenge and ready to run!
According to Livestrong.com in 2019, "About 77% of trail runners are men and 23% are women. The percent of women trail runners has increased from 18% in 2013 to 26% in 2019." Our stats are proving the growth of participation amongst women in the running scene and we could not be happier!
RUNNER SPOTLIGHT! Elene Numerget
If you have met Elene or chatted with her through the OneNY Facebook group, you will know about her journey into running. Elene is venturing into the unknown by signing up for Run it to the Summit, having only done a few trail races.
In 2014, Elene was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes - at the weight of 300 lbs and causing harm to her health. It was then that Elene changed everything realizing she had her daughter needed to live for. Elene was on the right path and lost a bunch of weight and even began running a little.
Then in February 2015, Elene's younger sister, Diana, was diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma. One of the worst brain cancers imaginable. It came as a shock since her sister was the healthiest of the 3 siblings (a huge runner who had done multiple marathons including Boston in 2004). This news shook Elene's world. Elene kept moving even through the difficulty. Diana kept fighting and running while having experimental treatment at Duke (she was a professor there), but passed away on New Year’s Eve. Elene began to struggle with depression and her weight inched up; however, this did not stop her from continuing to control her diabetes through diet, medication, and exercise.
In 2016, Elene made a vow to complete 43 races in Diana’s memory…42 for her age and 1 more for Elene. Elene accomplished her first 5k in 57 minutes and her latest 5k she accomplished in 38 minutes!! In 2017, Elene needed to do something about her health and started the process to get bariatric surgery. That finally happened on 12/4/2018 and since then, she has gotten down 85 lbs. Elene has so far completed more than 60 races in Diana’s memory! Elene says that Run it to the Summit is looking to be the toughest event to date; but, she is more than up for the challenge! We know she will do great!
The Church of the Long Slow Distance (LSD) that all runners attend services at each weekend. 20%-30% of your weekly mileage should come from your long run (i.e. someone running 40 miles per week might do a 12-mile long run (30 percent of weekly mileage)).
Benefits from running long.
Key physiological adaptations that occur in the body during a long run are:
When you run long, you increase the enzymes within your muscle cells and grow capillaries/mitochondria. This allows for more oxygen to be delivered to the working muscles. You also strengthen your muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the process. Physiological adaptations like these will even help you in shorter races like the 5K; as it is still primarily an aerobic activity. The stronger your muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments become, the more efficient you become in race-specific training.
Other benefits from your long run:
How far is far enough?
The LSD is performed once a week, usually on a Saturday or Sunday. Runners whom not looking to complete an upcoming marathon, should look at where their current level of physical fitness is at to know how far they should reach. Runners that are not used to running long, must slowly progress their running time up to 90 minutes. This will properly stimulate the body's adaptations. Once the body is adapted, they can continue to progress their runs up to 2 hours. Basically, progression is the key word.
While you are adapting to running longer, your attention should not be focused on pace. You want to run at a conversational pace, if it feels too hard then it probably is. Tempo runs and workouts are for building lactate threshold and long runs are not. They should be carried out at a comfortable and conversational pace, as stated. Once 90 minutes feels comfortable, try to finish the last 15 minutes of your long run quicker - pushing at the end.
How can you tell if you are ready to up your mileage and that you are adapting?
So, you have made the decision to begin your running journey, congratulations! Running is a great sport that provides a variety of both physical and mental benefits. Running is an activity that helps to improve aerobic fitness, weight loss, reduce stress, increase lung capacity, lower cholesterol, and a way to find solitude or a way to meet an entire overly welcoming community.
Initial Cost : $0 - $200
Another benefit to running is that it is very low cost to start. It is recommended that a good pair of shoes, some moisture wicking clothing, and a positive attitude is all that you need to get going. Although for some, even these few items are not a necessity to purchase to get started. If you are new to running, below are just some general prices for some of the essential gear that you might want to consider if your a starting out.
1. Shoes - $80-$130
Shoes can vary in price depending on your needs. Finding the right shoe can be somewhat daunting if you are new or even just getting back after a long break. Going to a specialty running store is a good idea to get a feel for what pair of running shoes are comfortable for your foot and running style.
2. Clothing - $15-$75
Running gear like shorts, tanks, tights are all made out of lightweight moisture wicking material. They will help keep you dry (drier) and comfortable in all types of weather conditions. While these aren't a necessity, they will definitely aid you in your running. Getting new gear is also a motivator on somedays, because who doesn't want to go out on a run wearing some new threads?!
3. Safety Gear- $15-$75
This is not a necessity but it might be something to consider, especially if you run alone often. There are many items out there that are meant to keep runners safe depending on the environment being run in (night, winter, for self defense, etc).
4. Sports Watch- $15-$300
Again, this is not a necessity but there are several different types of watches that can track all types of data to keep a runner on track in their training plan. The benefit of a watch vs a phone is that depending on the technology / person, it can provide a connection to the outside world or not and they are lightweight and water resistant.
Use the Run/Walk method. This method is a great way to begin your running. It allows you to adapt to running at the right intensity as well as build the muscular skeletal system to handle the forces that running places on the body. This plan gradually increases the portions of run vs walk so that running becomes the preferred activity of transportation.
Workouts and Intensity
Make It Manageable. Workouts might be challenging in the beginning, but they shouldn't be so hard that you never want to run again or can't due to injury. For workouts, doing a proper warm up is essential. This will help prepare you physically and mentally for the challenges ahead. During each workout, begin at a comfortable level and gradually raise the intensity slightly. A good measure of intensity is if you can complete a full sentence of speaking while you are running then it is at the right level.
Aim for consistency in your new running program rather than speed or distance. Establish a weekly running schedule to get into a regular running habit.
Everyone's running form is slightly different but there are a few key aspects that a new runner should keep in mind. It is important to be mindful of your form, but don't allow it to hinder your enjoyment. Proper form can lead to a more efficient runner. There are a few tips to follow. Remember to stay upright, run 'tall' and relaxed, keep your head lifted and look up ahead so that you can see other runners / cars coming. Your arms should swing naturally back and forth from the shoulder joint (rather than your elbow joint). There should be a 90-degree bend at the elbow. Your hand should almost graze your hip as it moves back and forth.
Nutrition and Hydration
Be aware of your eating and hydration habits. The timing and content of what you eat and drink will effect your running. Again, each individual is different and each weather condition requires different fueling/hydration. Immediately before and during your runs, less is generally more. If the run is generally going to be an hour or less, your nutrition and hydration needs are most likely going to be met in the days / hours before you run, and then after your run.
When you first start your running program, you'll probably feel excited and energized about your new commitment. But, you're likely to experiences challenges along the way and these will test your motivation. In challenging times, relying on other peoples experiences can be very helpful. Many runners join a group. This can either mean physically or joining an online group that you can ask questions or advice. Different types of running groups appeal to different types of runners. There are groups that run to train for a specific race, groups that focus on the social aspects of running, and even groups that run for charity or for a common cause.
There are many different platforms to track your runs. When you feel like you are at a low point, it is a good idea to look at all the progress you've made. If you feel that you haven't been doing enough, then you can start making a change. If you have been doing too much then you can adjust as well.
Find a Race
A race may or may not be on every runner's radar but it certainly can help you focus your training and motivation. There are so many different types of races for every kind of runner, and each one can offer up different levels of swag, environment, competition, etc. Whether you do well or not at these races, the running community is there to support you in your result, good or bad.
May is mental health awareness month. May is a time to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and to help reduce the stigma so many experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people of all ages. Now, more than ever, it is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles, because that stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help. COVID-19 was instrumental in the boom of new runners this past year which sparked our interest in coaching/nutrition into finally becoming a legal business. Seeing so many people starting to run and become invested in their health not knowing where to begin, their next steps and having so many general questions made us want to reach out to everyone and lend a hand. Running is not only beneficial physically but also mentally.
"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
I, Lauren, am no stranger to mental health worries. I suffered/suffer from crippling anxiety and I cannot explain the triggers of it some days. Anxiety takes away many of your freedoms, you become prisoner to it and it controls your emotions as well. Anxiety tried to take away my passion of running but my deep determination to want more and more from running forced me to consistently lace up my shoes, even it was just to the treadmill or an out and back near my house. Running made me feel alive, feeling the blood rushing through my veins, the pulse under my skin, and the mental clarity. I am very open about needing Trintellix for depression (depressed because I have anxiety) and Xanax for calming me down when I am experiencing turmoil. Being open about my anxiety helped me to get a sense of control over it. If someone knew that I was having a difficult moment, it made me feel more relaxed about my feelings and could get under control faster.
For those trying to find something to keep their mind quiet or to channel their energy physical exercise has many health benefits. Taking your running outside in an open space on the roads or trail has other benefits, like lessening feelings of loneliness and isolation, a feeling of a sense of achievement, completing a goal. When you exercise and run, chemicals are released into your body that improve your mood. These naturally produced chemicals in your body floods your bloodstream and moves into the brain. This provides short-term feelings of reduced stress and calm. These chemical are called endorphins and serotonin. Running regularly can improve your mental health, reduce stress ( blood circulation to the brain is increased and the part of your brain that responds to stress and improves your mood is affected. This causes a change that temporarily improves your reaction to stressful situations), depression, and anxiety. your sleep habits, your memory, and ability to learn.
The key take-away for people who are not running is that just getting started is important. Through only a few minutes of running a day and building up gradually, you can start to experience all the benefits listed above. For instance, some brain imaging studies have shown that within ten minutes of doing a light jog you can get the rapid electrical activity in the hippocampus (Hippocampus is a complex brain structure embedded deep into temporal lobe. It has a major role in learning and memory. It is a plastic and vulnerable structure that gets damaged by a variety of stimuli. Studies have shown that it also gets affected in a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. - ncbi.com), giving you some real mental health benefits. The hippocampus is really important for emotional processing. If you look at conditions like dementia, cognitive impairment or even depression, this area of the brain shrinks. Also, running results in an increase in activity the anterior cortex - the key problem-solving and emotional resilience. For people who are already running there are continued benefits going up in a linear fashion from 30 minutes to about 300 minutes a week, where we believe the mental health benefits start to plateau.
New research overseen by Stubbs on a small group of elite and everyday athletes produced some startling improvements in brain activity after just 20 minutes of running. The everyday athletes saw an improvement of up to 29% in their ability to deal with stress and an% increase of up to 18% in relaxation levels. There was also a drop of up to 135% in their frustration levels, and they became less prone to making rash decisions. (https://www.coachmag.co.uk/mental-health/8602/how-running-can-improve-your-mental-health)
Resources for mental health advocacy:
A spike in the popularity of the Vertical Kilometer (VK) Racing is on the rise. So, what is a VK? A VK is the practice of running uphill as fast as possible. Competitors charge up steep mountains climbing 1000m over a course usually no longer than 5km.
Smaller versions of VKs are popping up everywhere calling themselves Uphill Challenges. These challenges are found mainly in the US, as we do not have the ample amount elevation in our "mountains" like our European competitors do. Even though we do not have the elevation, uphill challenges still present an enormous physical demand and quick increase in elevation or a short amount of miles.
Regardless of your race title, VK or Uphill Challenge, how do you train for such an event?
1. Find a hill and stick with it
While a big aerobic base and fast flat road running can give you the cardio output to do well in a VK race, you will need to practice your uphill running mechanics in order to adapt to running on a steep grade. However, you don’t need to move to the Alps to train. Simply choose a local hill and sprint up it. Sprints should be in duration from 8-15 seconds. At the end of each repeat, jog slowly back down before beginning the next effort.
This is a very demanding workout and aimed at increasing your climbing power and efficiency. A proper warm up is essential and it is a good idea to start your sprints at a conservative effort and build your speed as you get a few reps under you.
2. Light feet
Find a light shoe that has lugs that can "bite" into the ground. Over any distance carrying the least amount of weight will be beneficial and will add up. Shoes that provide traction will help your grip and prevent you from sliding backwards when the terrain gets steep.
3. Know the course and what it entails
In my first mountain race I made a huge error in that I did not study the course well enough. Grades on paper / pictures do not do justice to how steep and difficult a course can be! During my race I was not mentally prepared for all the climbing and I came out wishing I had done more in my preparation.
4. Mental preparation
As I mentioned above, preparing yourself for the course, and what lies ahead in your effort level and the physical exertion placed on muscles that you don't normally use in flat road running is critical. The perceived exertion in these uphill / VK races will be higher than what you will have for a road 5k or 10k race. It's very important to manage your expectations and effort level so that you can finish the race strong!
It may not seem like an important factor in timing your eating for a race so short, however, your body will be burning a lot of calories and working extremely hard. I would suggest practicing your fueling strategy and pre-race meal such that you are able to get the most of yourself on race day.
6. Take a deep breath
As you stand on the starting line, breath in deep and relax. Your training is complete and you have made it to the start. Running up a mountain is daunting but it is also fun!
7. Short quick strides
Similar to cycling or driving a car with a small engine up a hill, using a low "gear" will be an efficient way to get up the mountain. What this means in running is that you want to take short, quick strides and focus on taking one step at a time.
8. Power hike
There have been studies that have shown that on inclines steeper than 28%, athletes can reduce their energy expenditure by walking.
Lean your torso over your hips and push hard on your leading leg. The idea is that you can push down hard on your legs with your arms and thereby transfer more power into your legs. Some races offer the use of hiking poles to aid in climbing. Since power hiking is a new movement to some, it is good to practice in order to become efficient. So get out there and practice! Your body will thank you on race day!
9. Leave it all on the course
These races finish on the summit. Once the finish line comes into view and you can feel the top, the last five minutes of racing you don't need to worry about pacing yourself. Try as best as you can to accelerate and finish will all that you have! You have made it to the top! If possible eat a snack as you steadily make your way down, and don't forget to cheer your fellow competitors as you go.
If you are new to running, your goals will differ compared to a veteran to the sport. A coach can help prioritize and manager your training. Coaches help beginners and experienced runners avoid common training errors, duration of your runs, pre-hab, recovery, pacing in a race, and reminding them when to change shoes. They will teach you when to run at an easy pace, when to should schedule a long run or if you need to adjust your form or technique. You’ll learn how to “maximize the volume and intensity that your schedule, personal goals, and determination allow.
As both a runner and a running coach, it is easy for me to understand the important of utilizing a running coach to help you train for an important race or to help you begin your running journey. Luckily my husband is also a running coach whom I can use as a sounding board with my training throughout the year; however, I don’t always recommend being coached by your spouse! That is why I used his coach for many of my running years. Whether you are an elite runner, an advanced runner, or a beginner, it is nice to have someone tell you what to do. To wake up, read your daily workout and do it. It take a lot of the guess work out of the equation and gives you more time to focus on the goals ahead.
Reasons for a Coach
1. Help choose your goals
Often runners aren’t sure what their next step should be. As a beginner, deciding to run a race for the first time, or a more experienced runner wanting to run a longer distance or set a personal record; a coach can take an objective look at your ability, fitness, and goals, and help you take that step.
2. Inspiration and Motivation
Along with providing motivation, a coach can remind you of your goals and what steps you need to take to achieve them. Long training cycles can cause fatigue and lack of confidence. Your coach will help you get focused again.
Thinking about skipping that speed workout on your schedule? Are you sure you want to report that to your coach?
4. Individualized Plans
True, you can use something off of the internet. But will it recognize your individualized needs, schedule, or your tendency to get a plantar fasciitis? Your coach will create a plan that will fit with your schedule, your goals, and your body.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Your coach knows what you are capable of and will provide support to help you feel better about what you are accomplishing.
6. Train smart
Many runners who train on their own don’t realize that rest and recovery are as important as training.
7. Kick in the pants when you need it
Your coach knows you, which means they know what you need in order to stick with your training.
A coach will help you plan, train for, and achieve your running goals no matter what they are. Your coach can help you run faster, longer, or just simply, run.
Via emails, texts, and occasional phone calls, you can train harder and smarter than you would alone; while receiving encouragement, safety, quality workouts, and a feeling of confidence.
Body fat most often viewed as something we want to lose because we want to look more appealing and not viewed as something that is dangerous. However, fats that are stored around your organs can contribute to heart disease, dementia, cancer, depression, and many other health issues. Excess body fat and obesity are more than unappealing, they can be dangerous. Did you know that certain types of body fat are inflammatory diseases of their own!?
So, what is visceral fat? Visceral fat is excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue accumulation. “Deep” fat that’s stored further underneath the skin than “subcutaneous” belly fat. It’s a form of gel-like fat that’s actually wraps around major organs such as the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. If you have a protruding belly and large waist, that’s a clear sign you’re storing dangerous visceral fat.
Visceral fat is especially dangerous because they also change the way your body operates. Carrying around excess visceral fat is linked with an increased risk for:
Visceral fat is considered a toxin within the body and has the capability of provoking inflammatory responses, it can signal molecules that interfere with your body’s normal hormone functions. Fat tissue acts like its own organ by pumping out hormones and inflammatory substances. Storage of excess fat around the organs can increase production of cytokines, pro-inflammatory chemicals, which leads to inflammation, interferes with hormones that regulate appetite, mood, and other brain functions.
How Visceral Fat Develops: The brain/body connection is what is responsible for keeping us at a healthy weight or making us susceptible to weight gain.
At the core of your weight, appetite, and mood control are your blood sugar levels, which are controlled by the hormone insulin. Insulin balances your body's blood sugar levels by bringing them down after we’ve eaten a high-carbohydrate or sugary meal. When we digest food, our body breaks down sugar and starch molecules into simpler units called glucose or fructose. These simple sugars enter our bloodstream and trigger the release of insulin from the pancreas, and then insulin has the important job of ushering blood sugar into cells throughout our body. This process supplies us with energy. At the same time, insulin also corresponds to body fat storage.
When there’s too much glucose in our bloodstream and our cells already have filled glycogen storage, glucose is stored as fat instead. he result is usually weight gain, plus even more hunger, which leads to continued overeating. It becomes a viscous cycle for most people.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Visceral Fat: There still isn’t an easy way yet to determine how much stored fat is either visceral fat or subcutaneous fat, since visible belly fat is a combination of both; just realize that any big belly and large waistline poses a risk and is unhealthy. Women with a waist circumference that’s more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference more than 40 inches are at increased risk for various diseases.
Research suggests that when you diet, you mostly lose white fat, which is different than visceral fat and tends to be lost or gained evenly all over the body. You’re more likely to lose visceral fat when you do a combination of exercising and eating right — which are both important for hormone regulation.
5 Steps to Lower Your Risk for Storing Visceral Fat:
1. Reduce Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
2. Fill Up on Non-starchy Veggies, Fats and Proteins
3. Exercise Regularly
4. Reduce Stress
5. Prioritize Getting Good Sleep
Cites:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/visceral-fat-what-why-its-so-dangerous-emma-morgan/;https://www.healthline.com/health/visceral-fat, and https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-is-visceral-fat#1
Trail running and, especially, trail races are extremely different from training for something like a road race. DON'T let that intimidate you, instead let this excite you for new PRs, beautiful scenery, and a love for nature!
How do I start trail running?
Once you are out in the beauty of nature you are going to be hooked. Trail running is going to be harder and requires different muscles, so instead of worrying about pace get focused on the new experience.
These beginner trail running tips will help you to explore an entirely new side of your running and see a whole new world of possibilities!
1. Choose the right trail shoes.
Depending on how technical the trail is that you’re running, trail shoes add a level of stability and comfort that make them worth the investment. Just like in road running, there are several different options available that have different features such as varying lug depth, rock plates, and different material rubber soles. Depending on how much road you run to get to the trail, you may want to consider different shoes. If it is a smooth, grassy trail, you may be able to get away with road shoes for a little bit; but, it is best to have shoes with more grip.
2 . Socks
Ever ask yourself why trail runners wear tall socks? Stopping to repeatedly pull a rock or dirt out of your shoe to prevent blisters is pretty annoying! Also, depending on the trail you might be running through grass and that prevent scrapes, ticks, and bug bites. Another addition to socks are gaiters. These can be attached to some shoes and help to prevent rocks, dirt, or sand from getting in your shoes...which will prevent a lot of issues the more miles you cover.
3. Train with a hydration pack and food for refueling.
Depending on the length of trail race you’ll be running aid stations are sometimes few and far between and of course if you head out solo on the trails, you just want to be prepared in case you go a bit long or take a little wrong turn. It is easiest to carry your own hydration and fueling supplies so that you don’t get stuck on the trail feeling like you might bonk.
More often than not, your can run hours on the road without needing fuel; however, on the trails you’re often moving a bit slower and using many different stabilizer muscles!
Depending on the distance and terrain of the trail, some races will require certain gear or packs. It is beneficial to include this as part of your training so that you become efficient carrying everything you will need on race day.
4. Leave no trace.
Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.
Be prepared to carry out what you carried in. Training with your hydration pack will come in handy. It is like wearing tights with pockets, but many more! Your handheld or vest can carry your energy gels or stuffing away those squares of paper after your first side trail pee.
5. Trail racing requires balance.
Trail racing you will encounter rocks, roots, branches, holes, and more.
This varying terrain will require that you include strengthening exercises in your training that will improve your overall balance and ankle stability (i.e. bosu ball balance workout, core strength, barefoot wall touches, step ups, and walking lunges)..
6. Throw your road racing pace out the window.
When you begin training for your first trail race do not be discouraged if your pace is slower than on the road. A slower pace is completely normal. Your times will be slower because you’re navigating more difficult terrain and softer terrain. You will spend time working your way around obstacles while trying not to lose your footing on slippery leaves, mud, grass, or rocks.
Also, take a look around you will notice a lot of smart runners actually power hike the steep up hills, so that they have enough energy for the full race that lies ahead of them.
*Remember it will make you stronger in the end!
7. Do speed workouts on the track or on the road.
To get faster on the trails, just like the road, continuing your normal speed workouts (tempos, progression, and intervals) will keep your overall speed up.
Combining longer slower trail runs and short speed sessions will make you a better runner overall.
8. Pick up your feet!
In distance running, we keep our feet lower to the ground as a means of conserving our energy. Doing this on the trails could lead to disaster. You need to step up and over all the little things on the trail.
As your body becomes fatigued it is harder to lift your legs and the likelihood of tripping and falling down on the trails because more likely. So pay attention to footing and practice paying attention by looking a few feet ahead to know what may need to be traversed.
9. Hills! Hills! Hills!
Just like in road racing, hill repeats will help you to build leg strength and improve your aerobic capacity.
This will also train the use of a strong arm swing to help propel you climb each hill will not just using the power of your legs but also your core and upper body too! Trails often have lots of hill, this will help you prepare.
10. Find a friend to train with.
If you’re nervous about running trails alone or getting lost, then it’s time to embrace the power of group running or a single friend to go with you!!
11. Vary the conditions in which you train.
Weather can have an impact on trail conditions making them muddy and slick so be sure to hit the trails during your training even if they are a total mud pit. Running poles can be your new best friend for slippery condition or steep ascents. The slight addition of stability allows you to continue moving quicker.
Also, check to see the trail coverage, are you in the shade, are you exposed, etc. This will help you decide many things - Clothes, coverage, sunglasses, hydration, nutrition, sunscreen, etc.
12. Relish the adventure.
One of the best parts of training for a trail race is the training because you will get to soak up the nature that surrounds you including unexpected vistas and hidden waterfalls. There’s nothing better than discovering a new trail with an incredible scenic overlook!
The immediate differences that distinguishes female athletes from male athletes is usually focused on the body size and organ differences. However, the lifespan of the menstrual cycle provides many further distinguishing factors for the female athlete. The female's hormonal fluctuation influences both performance (i.e. muscle strength, time to fatigue, etc.) and physiological responses to exercise (i.e. blood lactate production, carbohydrate metabolism, and heart rate). Factors that need to be considered for exercise regimes should focus on the low/high pre/postmenopausal women in order to avoid the ‘Female Athlete Triad’ of disordered eating, osteoporosis, and amenorrhea.
The Female Athlete Triad:
*Amenorrhea (period loss)
*Osteoporosis (low bone mineral density)
*Disordered Eating (low energy availability) with or without an eating.
~~ONLY ONE symptom of the triad is needed for the diagnosis.~~
Early detection of these symptoms is important, as each component of the triad can have irreversible consequences and may increase in severity.
Coaches play an imperative role in the prevention of the female athlete triad and possess the ability to positively impact female athletes by educating and supporting them to adopt healthy patterns of behavior.
Coaching athletes is a very individualized process - no one athlete is like the other. Often this is why athletes gravitate towards private, personalized coaching in the first place. Group training (only*) does not provide an individual with the specific tools to fine tune THEIR skills nor the singular focus on the athlete's training, nutrition, or recovery. Another component of private coaching, that is often overlooked, is the extra needs of the female athlete. The females' need for training is much more complex than a males' need for training when it comes to biological/reproductive differences. The gender specific physiological, anatomical, psychological, performance fluctuations associated with menstrual cycle, menopause, and social aspects of the female athlete play a major factor in how training plans and nutrition should be set up.
For simplicity, I have broken the female athlete's career into two "stages" and the complexities that enter into each stage.
Prepubescent/Young Adolescents: According to www.globalsportsdevelopment.org, "A survey of eighty high school athletes found that 78% of the respondents had one or more of these conditions".
Young female athletes in high school track & field/cross country are in the middle of their early developmental stages. The greatest increase in bone mass happens during puberty; ages 11 and 14 years of age (ncbi.com). Often disordered eating and amenorrhea go together. Consistent hard training sessions, social pressures, and competitiveness to win are all major stressors. The stressors on weight/size is high and often females mistakenly see leanness as a way to enhance sport performance. Some females that participate in competitive sports may never even get their first period because they've been training so hard and others that may get their periods, but lose them once they increase their training and change their eating habits. Estrogen is lower in girls with female athlete triad. Low estrogen levels accompanied with poor nutrition/calcium, can lead to osteoporosis, another aspect of the triad. Osteoporosis is loss of bone density and improper bone formation. With poor bone density the athlete will get more stress fractures. Calcium deficiency now can also have effects on just how strong a woman's bones are later in their lives.
When building up mileage, coaches should try to organize the training weeks around the menstrual cycle, such that increases in the volume of training correlate with the latter part of the follicular phase. The follicular phase is when the estrogen level is high. The athlete should avoid doing threshold workouts around menstruation. If the athlete doesn’t feel well or is bloated (from the drop in progesterone going from the luteal phase to the follicular phase) she should not push herself.
Middle Aged: Females entering/in menopause have lower energy levels and bone density. The focus on staying injury free and recovery is extremely important. The severity and duration of symptoms of menopause widely impact performance and are hugely variable. The physiological impact of menopause alone may affect a woman's running and injury risk. Coaches must be mindful of this when treating peri-menopausal women. Most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 years - the average being 51 years of age.
The effect of estrogen's effects on tendons and ligaments is still very misunderstood; however, research implies that estrogen has protective benefits for connective tissue tensile strength, healing, and ability to load-bear. 95% of collagen in tendons is attributed to Type 1 collagen. As we can see with normal skin ageing and other muscular-skeletal conditions, age reduces collagen and connective tissue’s ability to repair. Studies suggest a connection between declining estrogen and pelvic prolapse (a process associated with pelvic ligaments and collagen content of surrounding tissue) (Le Blanc et al, 2017). Potential collagen changes with menopause highlight the need to not only consider changes to the commonly problematic gluteal, posterior tibial, and Achilles tendons, but also the need to address abdominal and pelvic floor changes. Another reason to continue pelvic floor exercises! Estrogen plays an important role in the growth and maturation of bone as well as in the regulation of bone turnover in adult bone. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the first 5-7 years post menopause, as estrogen levels drop (NHS website: Menopause and your bone health). Muscle strength losses peri and post menopause are well documented. Recent CSP promotional material quotes up to 8% muscle strength loss per decade from the age of 30 if no steps are taken to counteract this. A recent Finnish study (Bondarev et al, 2018) of over 900 women showed menopausal status is significantly associated with reduced muscle strength, power and vertical jump height.
Note: Long-distance female runners feel the social pressures that they need to fit in by having muscular quads, a six pack, and be feminine for society. This addresses the idea of hegemonic femininity, which speaks to the idea that a woman must conform to a certain role (which includes being emotional, passive, dependent, maternal, compassionate, and gentle) in order to be perceived as a traditional woman by society. The pressures to "look the part" can introduce athletes towards malnutrition. With all of these pressures and intertwined with the aspect of athletic competition the risk of Female Triad syndrome increases.
One of the most important aspects of coaching is understanding how to progress an athlete. This takes a careful approach to build the athletes confidence, fitness, and mental readiness so that on race day the athlete can fire on all cylinders.
So how does (or should) a coach do this? One way is to follow a very simple principle of progression. This principle essentially takes different aspects of the event; breaks them up into separate components so that each element can be worked on individually at first. Then once the athlete is proficient on each element they can integrate the pieces together and work to improve the specific demands needed for the race.
It is important to understand that progression is non-linear and that effort, time, or frequency of work does not necessarily equate to immediate improvement or steady improvement. Sometimes you will be working as smart as possible and have a slight regression or plateau before improving.
Below are examples of progression that coaches use to develop the athlete.
1. General Conditioning
- Basic movements in form / coordination and aerobic foundations are laid down.
- An example would be steady runs, some neuromuscular work to improve form.
2. Race Preparation
- Introduces improvements in making the runner more efficient more dynamically.
- An example is to begin to to higher end aerobic and some anaerobic work to help improve the over fitness of the athlete.
3. Race Specific
- This targets the race intensity and energy systems needed to complete the distance.
- Example would be repetitions at race pace / effort level.
- The ultimate test is the race; but, it can also be one of the best training tools to fine tune your training cycle or implementation. Depending on the race it can be used to work on improvements in race strategy / tactics / nutrition.
It is important that the coach can create a program that lays out a solid progression; however, it is also important that the athlete understands the progression and what the coach is asking of them. So, it is important to check in with your coach. Are the steps well defined? Are goals and objectives articulated well?
If the answer to those questions are yes, that is great! You are on the right path! If not, those questions are very valuable for the athlete in knowing what needs to be done and why certain aspects of the training are the way they are. Knowing these answers helps to establish a "Confidence Progression", where at each point in their training the athlete will develop more confidence in themselves and their routines. This ultimately leads to better performance and overall better training.