With summer weather coming, you may have noticed that your runs have begun to feel a bit more difficult. Your easy pace now feels like your hydro running and not moving anywhere. While running in the heat our bodies have to work harder to keep us cool, in turn, your heart rate will be higher and breathing becomes more difficult. Why? Your body is directing blood to the skin in order to cool you off through sweating, this means that there is less blood available to transport oxygen to your larger muscles and to your lungs. What would usually be an easy-paced run feels like a 5k sprint.
Now, distance runners are definitely not new to pushing themselves past their comfort zone when training; however, you typically start to hear complaining from just about every runner when the higher temperatures or humidity hits. However, let's put this in perspective, no one has ever improved their fitness/racing performance by being comfortable, More notably, it’s when you’re especially uncomfortable that you start to get a training effect. What is a training effect you ask? Ok, before we jump into what the training effect is. We should address how to properly and safely run in the heat until you are acclimated.
Less is Best
Wear as little clothing as legally possible - LOL. Stick to light-colored, loose, moisture wicking materials. Now is not the time for wearing all black nor cotton. Body Glide is your best friend!!!
Even if it's early morning or partly cloudy, protect yourself from skin cancer.
Wear a Hat
A hat will not only protect your skin from the sun, but it will also help to keep your face shaded.
Start Slow/End Slow
A warm up prior to a run should always be done. You want to gradually increase your heart rate.
Run Early in the Morning
Morning temperatures are usually the coolest during the summer.
Run in the Evening
Not a morning person? Then wait until the late evening when the sun is starting to set.
Take it Slow
Run for time and effort rather than distance and pace. This is important to try and do, I know it is hard to slow down sometimes.
Find your Local Trails
When the temperatures rise, asphalt absorbs heat and radiates it back into your face. Trail running usually offers shade from trees.
If you are running more than 75 to 90 minutes, carry water with you. You should also add some electrolytes to your water to help balance the extra sodium and potassium lost through increased sweating.
Now that we have talked about some safety and preparation for hot weather running, what is the training effect, how to get the benefits from running in hot weather?
Studies have shown that training two to three times per week for 20 to 90 minutes in hot conditions can produce beneficial training effects. Some of these benefits include:
So what does this mean as a whole? You can run faster and more efficiently in all temperatures.
Although we all would love to be able to run outside every day throughout the year, let's be honest about where we live. Upstate New York has some pretty harsh weather at times and there are times when a treadmill run is unavoidable. So how do we keep motivated when they are forced to run on the ‘mill?
If you just set the treadmill at one pace and run for an hour staring at a wall, you’re not going to find what brings you joy. But there are ways to make your treadmill experience a little more interesting.
Vary the pace and incline
Use the treadmill for a hill session. When you use the treadmill you should always set the incline a little (about 1%-1.5%) to better replicate running outside. To make the time a little more interesting throw in a few steeper inclines throughout your run!
Have a Plan
Running on a treadmill with no real idea of what you’re going to do, you are likely to feel less motivated. Go on the treadmill with a clear plan of what you are going to do, whether that’s distance, duration, or intervals - have a plan.
Have some Entertainment
Don't run in silence. Listen to a podcast, watch some Netflix, or put on some bangin' a$$ music to fly to.
Hide your Screen
If you watch the clock tick away on your screen or the line going around the track, you’re in for a very boring workout. It will feel like time is standing still. Cover your screen with a towel and just don’t look!
Try virtual running (like Zwift)
If you’ve not tried Zwift yet, it could be just the thing you need to stay motivated on the treadmill. Connect your Strava or Garmin Connect account, and run in real-time with others around the world. You will need a treadmill and a footpod to connect to Zwift. Then you need a device (tablet or phone) to run Zwift on.
Here are some treadmill workouts to make the time fly by:
Have you ever gone to the derby and watched a race? You probably noticed that you did not see any horses stretching before the race. Horses, our puppies, and other animals do not stretch before or after they run. Now, at your last half marathon how many people did you see in the corral stretching? It seems to be something that only we humans do. When I first started running, our group would stretch before our runs and after our runs. It was portrayed to me that in order to prevent injuries and to improve the quality of my workouts, stretching should be performed before and after each run. But was that really
The great stretching controversy. Since elementary school gym class, most of us have stretched prior to any athletic activities. We were taught that it would prevent injuries, improve performance, and reduce muscle soreness. Depending on the type of activity and the type of injury we’re trying to prevent, it is true, yes, stretching may play a safety role. If the activity includes power or springing movements, stretching can reduce injuries by increasing the compliance of tendons and improving their ability to
absorb energy. However, for lower intensity activities (that don’t include bouncing) such as running, cycling, and swimming, stretching doesn’t prevent injuries as we do not need our tendons to be compliant for these activities.
Stretching before strength training may limit how much weight lifted by an athlete because stretching affects the ability of their muscles to contract effectively. Stretching has a minimal effect on how sore someone feels after their workout. The harder or longer someone exercises microscopic damage occurs to the muscle fibers. These microscopic tears are a normal part of training. In response to the muscle fiber damage, our bodies get inflamed as blood travels to the site of the damage, the blood bring white blood cells the area to begin healing process.
An important benefit of stretching is to increase a joint’s range of
motion. When the joint is flexible the muscles are able to move dynamically through their full ranges of motion, which is important for runners. Stretching to increase flexibility, done alone and not as part of your workout, will make your running more effective. Higher weekly mileage and your long run has the potential to shorten and tighten you muscles, implementing a stretching routine throughout the week can help keep your muscle primed for your long run - before, during, and after.
Several factors that influence our flexibility:
♦ Joint functionality: The type of joint will determine the range of motion.
♦ Age: With age, muscles can shorten from a decrease in physical activity and a loss in elasticity in the
connective tissues surrounding them.
♦ Sex: Females tend to be more flexible than males of similar age throughout life, mostly due to anatomical variations in joint structures.
♦ Exercise: Exercising on a regular basis generally increases flexibility. A more sedentary lifestyle decreases
♦ Temperature: An increase in either body temperature or environmental temperature increases range of motion. That’s why it’s better to stretch after a warm-up.
I love running and I love reading. In fact, I tend to love doing them both simultaneously. However, I do all of my “reading” by listening to audiobooks. It is possible that reading while you run makes both more rewarding. I listen to my audiobooks if I get trapped on the treadmill, while I cycle on the trainer, while doing house chores, and sometimes while I am working.
My go to podcasts are: TheDaily, CrimeJunkie, and Dateline. I love true crime or a good mystery. It makes the treadmill run in my basement gym a bit tricky, trying not to fall off when a good scare happens, but it makes the time go by faster.
Also, I am completely addicted to my OverDrive App. You just link up to your local library and have thousand of audiobooks and e-books at your fingertips. Recently, I have become a fan of authors, Peter Swanson (Before She Knew Him, Every Vow You Break, The Kind Worth Killing...) and Lane Moriarty (Nine Perfect Stranger, The Husband's Secret...).
Are you a listener? What have you been reading/listening to? Give me some things to listen to!
Tempo runs, long runs, intervals, hill repeats, and strength training - with the amount of workouts needed to propel your running it sometimes seems that in order to run well, you would have to leave your job and be a full time runner. Luckily, there is a simple plan you can follow to maintain your training and run well - you just need to "periodize" your training.
Training Cycles, or "periodization", in your running is when we divide a training cycle with a specific goal in mind so you don’t do the same type of workouts all the time. Think of this like the "ebb and flow of hard work". Training cycles are often 12, 16, or 20 weeks phases. Periodization is the process of dividing your training into smaller periods of training where the emphasis, or the objective, of the training is altered during each period.
These cycles are broken up into high volume, easy running (base phase), low volume, hard running (preparation), race specific, fine tuning, taper phase, goal race (peak). These three phases are then followed by rest & recovery. Breaking your cycle into these phases allows you to combine the benefits of multiple workouts that collectively add up to peak conditioning. When variety is introduced into your training, you limit your chances of plateauing and/or becoming injured. Periodizaton is planning and the goal is to give you the best possible chance of peak performance at a certain time. You're always more successful when you plan.
What does each phase do for your running plan?
The Base Phase
Building a base develops endurance, the foundation of any distance-running plan. Investing in easy miles at a conversational effort will build a solid aerobic base. High volume of low intensity running and workouts.
Phase 1: BASE
This phase emphasizes easy miles. You are building a base by increasing miles and adding some speed and strength work.
Base Phase Workouts:
The Preparation Phase
This phase is a lower volume, higher intensity, short workouts. This phase also adds a layer of speed by introducing tempo runs and long repeats. When you implement these workouts into your training you are strengthen the ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues which prepares the body for the demands of faster running.
Phase 2: PREPARATION
Preparation means strengthening the body for the fast running to come. You continue to build endurance through long runs, but a few of your easy days become tempo miles or hill repeats.
Preparation Phase Workouts:
The Peak Phase
Race specific, fine tuning, taper phase. Hitting your peak is defined by short, fast workouts that simulate racing. These workouts fine-tune the speed you began in the preparation phase by further recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers, improving running economy, and strengthening muscles and connective tissue.
To peak for key races, mark your race on a calendar to map out your base, preparation, and peak phases. Each phase should be four to eight weeks long (you can extend the base or preparation phase beyond eight weeks. Do NOT extend the peak phase, this will send you into fatigue and injury). Roughly every fourth week, recover your body by reducing your miles by 10% to 50% and ease up on strength training. After your peak/race, you work your way through another periodization - starting with the base phase.
Phase 3: PEAK
GOAL: speed. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts and reduce the overall volume (miles/hours) by about 10%.
Peak Phase Workouts:
Endurance: The long run. Maintain your endurance by keeping your long runs slightly shorter than those in Phase 2, depending on your race goals.
Speedwork: Focus on short, fast repeats. You also have the option to run tune-up race that is shorter than your main event.
Strength: You can continue your strength training once a week, maintaining the same weights and reps or replace strength training with hill repeats one time instead. You also have the option of putting weight training off until after your race. Do what is best for your peak performance.
A little friendly competition to reach your goals or to squeeze out one last 400 meter is welcome but when does competition begin to become unhealthy? Competition is a foundational and essential component within the running world and it is viewed as a positive way to catalyze athletes and produce high levels of inspiration and athletic performance.
However, it is not just in the racing world where we find competition. Almost all human beings are naturally competitive and have an internal drive to gain an advantage over another in some form. So where does it end? When will we be satisfied? Using money as an example: as wealth is gained, a person's sense of happiness doesn't correlate–if everyone became richer, no one got happier. This is because in this case, people’s happiness stemmed from their relative amount of wealth when comparing oneself to others. The same can be said within an elite racing field or a recreational marathoner.
The difference between healthy and unhealthy competition really comes down to your frame of mind and attitude about your success and other people’s success. If your competitive nature is not kept in check you are likely to gain an unhealthy sense of competition which can leave you feeling disappointed, unfulfilled, and inadequate.
What is unhealthy competition?
Needing validation and attention. When competition is motivated by your desire to get attention and validation from others, this stems from a place of insecurity and low self-esteem. This weaker foundation negatively impacts your ability to perform and compete at the height of your true potential.
Putting down others. Competition can become even unhealthier when it becomes tearing other people down.
Winning at any cost. Unhealthy competition puts a huge emphasis on an outcome, rather than finding value the journey
Productivity level is lost if you are looking around the gym or the start line wishing you were more like someone else. If an athlete is confident and secure with themselves, they are not worried about what anyone else is doing.
What does healthy competition look like?
Unlocking your personal potential. Healthy competitors are far less concerned about how they stack up against the field, and are more interested in reaching new levels of personal potential.
Honoring mutually held values. If you think about sports and sports teams there is an unspoken unity drawing the individual players and teams together – a sense of shared values. Shared values like perseverance, grit, hard work, fairness, and integrity. Healthy competition emphasizes these values rather than the individual's benefit.
Enjoying the journey along with the outcome. Effective competitive environments recognize the value of the journey. When the focus is not primarily on the end goal, more attention is paid to the wisdom gained in the process of getting there.
When other people succeed, the best thing you can do is to take away elements of their work that inspire you and incorporate them into your own routine, while leaving out the things you don’t necessarily connect with. Then you engage in your own self-improvement. As a healthy competitor, focus on yourself and your progress without concerning yourself with others who have similar goals.
Firstly, why should a runner incorporate strength training?
Bodies that are strong, lack imbalances, and have stability do not break down as much. The output of power increases and the body is more resilient in its training. In general, runners who lift weights have better running form and are less prone to injury. Running is a limited and repetitive motion; but, most runners know that including cross-training, stability, and balance into your regimen will help to compliment the continuous use of the same muscle groups that's required for distance running.
Strength training can help to improve your running form and when you put more muscle on your bones it helps to dampen the effects of the forces put on your bones when you run. In order to build strength, you need to load the tissue enough to challenge the body and force it to adapt. If you are an athlete that often suffers from stress fractures, weight training can help you out.
There are a lot of runners whose strength regime often includes light weights with high reps; however, running already does a far better job at enhancing endurance than lifting weights. So having a routine that is endurance-based (low weight/high rep) does little to improve both your strength and your endurance.
So where to do we start? This all goes back to our first blog article about progressive overload. Progressive overload is a gradual increase in stress applied to the body during exercise. This should occur with small increases to the following factors; volume (length of training or weight), frequency (how often are you performing this training), and intensity (how hard your training). This challenges your body and allows your musculoskeletal system to get stronger.
So, how does a runner begin their lifting regime? Establishing a base of weight training fitness is step one. Please don’t go into a gym to see what your max Squat or Deadlift is on the first day. Seek out a competent trainer that can train and progress you accordingly.
It is recommended that a training block of 8 weeks with 8-12 reps is completed before testing yourself with any sort of heavy lifting. Each week seek out to do more than you did the training session before, whether that is another rep, another couple pounds, or another set! However, don’t lift more than you know you’re capable of. A good rule of thumb is that there should always be one high-quality repetition left in reserve. All lifts should be done with good form because when it comes time to start heavy lifting, any poor habits will be magnified and can lead to injury.
Distance runners need to run to get good at running. We know that much, but that fact doesn’t mean lifting heavy is a waste of time for them. In fact, it can be the difference-maker that keeps them stronger, faster and healthier than their competition.
One of the first worries runners have about lifting heavy is bulking up. If you are a recreational , competitive runner or an elite competitive runner, bulking up is not the optimal body type for endurance races where there is an increase in the time on your feet. The benefits of adding power to your stride would be negated if it also added weight to your frame.
Let's debunk this myth. Muscle “bulk” coincides with several variables, which include fueling/nutrition (excess calories), specific, heavy training 4-5 times per week, and enough rest from catabolic activities (such as running) so that adaptation may occur. If any of these variables are not in place, “bulk” will not occur.
Specifically, you shouldn’t be lifting heavy more than once or twice per week and the vast majority of your training will be in the form of running. Therefore, the time you spend running will vastly outnumber the time spent lifting heavy. This will also prevent any excess bulk.
You may experience some weight gain, however, any additional weight that you put on, should result in more power/velocity and the ability to handle the additional load. This could translate to that final 5 to 10 percent improvement in your running you are looking for! Consider adding one or two sessions per week of heavy lifting.
The list of physical benefits from long is a long list. You do not have to look too far to find positive physiological reasons more than just merely the physical reasons. The responses the brain has to physical activity is tremendous. Some positive effects include more brain connectivity, improved cognitive function, greater chemical messenger changes, new neuron growth, more regulated emotions, and a boost in your ability to learn. Our mind and bodies benefit from running; however, is it possible that our running can benefit from our brains?
If you had to guess, how much of running is physical and how much is mental? Even if the answer is a mere 1% mental then it is imperative to learn how our running performance can benefit through mental strength. In a normal training plan, the plan is often structured to have harder days, easier days, and often one longer day. If a run is more physically demanding, it becomes much more difficult mentally. It is also true that when we feel good, we generally run well. How can we turn a difficult run day into a better day and what is your mental training strategy?
Let's consider these steps:
Find a Routine
Practicing difficult training scenarios mentally prepare you for the challenges you face on a race day. Having a routine with structured hard days that are specific to your race may calm some pre race jitters. Part of this technique is recognizing what is a superstition and what is a routine. A routine is something that truly prepares your mind and body for running. The way you fuel your body with nutrition and your warm up routine.
Leave the negative thoughts home
Our minds are only able to handle one issue at a time. Things can be as simple as replacing a negative though with a positive thought to ease your mind. Each self-destructive comment should have a positive comment to counter it. When you are running take your negative thoughts and push them aside to make room for a positive thought.
Repeat your running mantra
Using a favorite quote, singing your favorite upbeat song, or having a couple of words you really like. comes in handy when running gets hard. Repeating these words in your mind can help you gain the strength that you need. Sometimes it’s a simple reminder as to why you are out there that day. O
Turn your weaknesses into your strengths
Do you struggle to get out the door in the winter? Do you hate hilly roads? Do you dread the CNY wind? Find a way to change those weaknesses into something you can enjoy. For example, “I love the strength I will obtain from the resistance of running hills or running in the wind. I am only becoming a better runner.” A slight twist in your perspective may make all the difference. If you have a hard time doing these things it might be time to find a running buddy, make a plan, set a time, get a coach, pick a race, or treat yourself when you succeed. Once you get into a routine, you’ll start to see your goals getting closer and closer.
The psychology of the sport of running is something that cannot be taken lightly or for granted. Hopefully these ideas will help you become mentally stronger so you can continue to become physically stronger.
The long standing joke for half marathoners and full marathoners is to carb-load the night before with a big plate of pasta.
The truth is, much more planning goes into proper pre-race nutrition than just simply overloading the night before. More importantly, if you planned on doing it all in one meal, you may end up hindering your performance with fatigue, gut issues, and inflammation.
For those of you who are just starting your running journey you may be wondering, what is carb-loading? Carbohydrates in the form of glycogen are your body’s preferred fuel and for races lasting longer than 1.5-2 hours, filling up these fuel stores are key to helping you go the distance.
Athletes need carbs to maximize the stores of glycogen in their muscles and liver. Your body only has so much room for this fuel source, so carb stores are needed to help you maintain your energy. Ever hear someone say they, “hit the wall” or “bonked”? These terms are other favorites and refer to your body running out of fuel. When you run out of your energy source your pace may start to slow, your muscle will cramp, and fatigue will set in. Through carb-loading, athletes have excess carbs stored in the liver making it easier for their bodies to release during races and long runs. Carbs also help with hydration. For every gram of stored glycogen there are four grams of water stored along with it. Hydration is extremely important factor when racing.
What does carbo loading look like?
It is always a good idea to gradually introduce any new stimulus into a training or nutrition plan. Carb-loading should be no different. Runners should prepare to increase their carb intake little by little prior to their event. This will ensure you have excess glycogen in your liver for your muscles to feed from during endurance exercises.
What are some best practices for carb loading?
Typically you should start carb-loading three to four days out from a race. In general you will need to slowly add more of a mixture of carbohydrates such as rice, legumes, potatoes into your meals. As you gradually increase your intake of carbs per meal, you will want to eat less fat and fiber.
Carb heavy meals, without practice and nutrition training on the gut, can cause extreme stomach upset. Be sure not to go overboard on the carbs.
The day before the race, stick to only simple carbs that are easily digestible.
Common Mistake When Carb Loading
Consuming all the carbs in one sitting
Doing this does not give your body enough time to fill its stores properly. It can leave you lethargic for the rest of the day and the following morning!
Eating more than you usually do
You've worked so hard in your training, do not deviate too much from what you have done in your build up. Yes it is important to top off your glycogen stores but it does not mean “stuff yourself” to get fuller glycogen stores. You are simply adjusting each meal to have a larger carbohydrate component.
Don't look at the scale
Gaining weight while carb-loading is natural. That’s because carbs help you retain water. Remember that for every gram of stored glycogen, you’re storing 4 grams of water. If you gain some weight, that’s actually a good thing. It means your body has the fuel and hydration ready to race.
Eating too much fiber
As you increase your carbs, runners should reduce their fiber intake in the last three days prior to a race. This is because fiber can be taxing on the GI system.
Experimenting with carb loading for the first time
You never want to “try” something new on race day. It is best to always plan ahead of a couple of long runs in your build up with some carb loading meals so that you know what to expect and how your body will respond.
Practicing will help you dial in your carb-loading plan just like you dial in your race nutrition plan. Then, once you know what works best for you, pre-plan your meals the last three days so you cannot stress about what to eat.
Not eating enough carbs
Runners typically eat healthy and know how to fuel themselves during their training. Race week can be a slight exception for those following low carb eating habits.
Not drinking enough when carb loading
Not all carbs are created equal.
There are different types of sugars: fructose, sucrose, glucose. Different carbohydrates have different ways to reach the bloodstream. Therefore, runners need to consider of what they’re drinking with what carbs they’re eating.
“Sports drinks contains fructose, glucose, and sucrose which are different sources of carbohydrates. They contain some sodium which helps with the transportation of glucose, meaning sodium is an important part of carbohydrate utilization." Running, and more specifically faster or higher intensity aerobic running, predominantly uses glycogen which is the body’s stored carbohydrate source. Eating a high proportion of carbs in the days leading up to an important race can ensure that glycogen stores are topped up, thus providing a runner with the maximum available fuel for the upcoming hard effort.
Do all races require carbo loading? No.
The body has enough glycogen stored to last for about 75-90 minutes. For most runners, this equates to doing a 5K, 10K, 15k, and maybe a half marathon without having drained glycogen stores. If this is the case, and assuming you already eat carbs as part of a healthy diet, you shouldn’t worry about carbo-loading before the race. As it was mentioned earlier, eating too many carbs may hinder your performance as you may feel bloated or lethargic the next day due to the additional water retained as part of the glycogen building process and ingesting too many carbs.
Those who are running 75 minutes or more however—running a half-marathon, marathon, and ultra marathon it would be well advised to consider adding extra carbs to their pre-race diet. Again it is recommended to do this in the two-to-three days prior to the race given that you have already practiced this method in a couple long runs.
A good guideline is to aim for seven to eight grams of carbs per kilogram body weight three days before the race; eight to 10 grams per kilogram two days before and 10 to 12 the day before. This will ensure that your glycogen stores are topped up and provide you with the most available stored fuel for the race.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have not practiced carb-loading, do not worry! This will not make or break your race. It won't undo any of the training you've put in. Your race day nutrition can will play a huge role in managing your energy stores during the race.
When I try to think of words to encompass running, the following come to mind: movement, outside, routine, endorphins, happiness, camaraderie, community, drive, endurance, mental health, positivity, appreciation, challenge, grit, and strength.
Start the Morning off Right
I get my main run completed most mornings or with an evening shake out if I can. Running in the morning really does set me my productivity level and brain functionality for the day. Going out before work for a few miles, coming home getting showered, and ready to go to work puts me in a positive mindset to attack the work day. No one has ever said they really regretted going for a run. If anything, most people would tend to agree that missing their run sets their day up incorrectly.
While most people's reasoning for not running, its difficulty, is one of the reasons why I like running. For me, if something is not easy, it isn't worth it. Some days you really don’t want to go out for a run but when I finish we feel like you have accomplished getting closer to your goal (fitness, a particular race, mental clarity, etc.).
Running is a form of endurance and is an ongoing battle in your head. It is so easy to give up, but what does that accomplish? Whether it’s to go out and run on your own for a few miles, run your first marathon or complete your first ultra run. The physical element of it all is important; however, how you train yourself mentally is where you need to practice. Breaking your race into smaller, do-able, segments, what are your motivations for the race, trust in your training, and be positive.. Overcoming your mental battles empowers you in other aspects of your life when challenges are thrown at you.
The Key is Consistency
Running most days feels like a routine and delivers some consistency in my life. It is routine, it is just something you do without question or thought.
Since I’ve been running I’m a lot more driven at work. Completing big, challenging races gives you the ability to think that you can achieve a lot more in work and no task seems insurmountable. It definitely gives you a positive mindset and a can do attitude.
Running has made me fitter, healthier and I think more about my diet. Everyone still loves that after long run pizza; however, running definitely has made me think more about what I am putting in my body and focus on how I can recover fast, fuel correctly, and make better choices.
I have made a lot of friends through running through running clubs, races, park runs, events and Strava. The whole running community is so friendly and there is so much camaraderie. Everyone is always lifting each other up.
Get out in Nature
Opt outside! Running has given me the ability to travel the world, enjoy local trails, and heal my connection with nature.