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app_logo_croppedAt runcoach, we thrive on the data we receive from you – every workout logged, every piece of feedback received – all of it helps us further customize our training plans and help you reach peak performance.

 

We are thrilled that our new iPhone app has GPS functionality.  Our training plans can take you from wherever you are to wherever you are going along a completely unique and individual path.  Click on today’s date and press “Let’s Go,” and our app will guide you step by step through your scheduled workout and record the distance and path traveled via satellite.  If a run outside of what is schedule is required, just press the “Run” button on the top left corner, and our app can track you every step of the way.  Your prescribed workout, the pace and route you will actually run – even reminders about warm-up, drills, recovery jogs, and other details are right there for you.   While many running apps require unpacking your phone from your pocket, pouch, or belt to determine split times, ours even reads these details to you.  All the tools you need to execute and complete your workout are along for the ride in an easy to read and understand format.  When you finish, you can even share your success and progress with friends by posting your route and splits to Facebook in one click.

 

In short, we hope our app allows runcoach to be an even more vital and useful tool for your real time running and racing needs.   We will continue to hone our efforts to provide the absolute best mobile app products, including forthcoming functionality around editing workouts on a daily basis, integration with additional devices and an Android app.

 

We always appreciate hearing from our runcoach athletes, and as we launch the app, we would love to hear your feedback.  If you have downloaded the new app, please take a moment with our survey and let us know what you think!

Haven't tried the app yet?  Download it here



Need a bit of motivation?  We all have our moments where the light at the end of the tunnel seems a bit dim.  Take heart, and be encouraged by the words and sentiment of a few top athletes and coaches throughout history.

 

He’s not a runner, but he is undeniably one of the greatest….

 

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.  But I can’t accept not trying.

Michael Jordan

He probably never ran a marathon, but he motivated many….

 

The only time success comes before failure is in the dictionary.

Vince Lombardi

Famous for his gutsiness….

 

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

Steve Prefontaine

Joy in the daily run, even when you are a two time Olympian….

 

That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success.  They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.

Kara Goucher

Believe in your dreams….

Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.

Doug Larson

Have patience….

Good things come slow... especially in distance running.

Bill Dellinger

Mental toughness requires practice, even for a 3-time world Cross Country Champion…

Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.

Lynn Jennings

How the first sub 4:00 miler felt about running…

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.

Sir Roger Bannister

And finally….

If it was easy, I’d do it!

Seen on a marathon spectator sign

 

 



imagesWhile we have many athletes who have been training with runcoach for years, we also love the constant influx of beginning runners or runners now tackling their first challenging goal race.  On the blog, we talk about all sorts of topics, but we also have an extensive archive of short pieces detailing some of the most fundamental aspects of running.  So, whether you could use a quick refresher, or have been anxious to ask these questions but too shy to reach out, here is a sample of some tips we believe can help you reach your full potential!

 






Tips for running hills

 

What to do with your arms while running

 

How to breathe while running

 

How to choose the right shoe

 

What is a taper and how do I do it well

 

The art of hydration

 

Avoiding the post-run bonk

 

The mechanics of the running stride

 

Beyond these few topics, there are dozens of articles on our blog covering everything under the sun.  We have Q&As about almost every imaginable ache and pain with experienced practitioners, interviews with professional and world class athletes, and even a few profile of fellow runcoach athletes like yourself.  Check it out!



images-1Watching the Olympics can be a humbling experience, seeing athletes fling themselves fearlessly up into the air or hurtle down a mountain at 80 miles an hour with their chins just an inch or two off the ice.  Unlike the summer games, where many more of the sports have recreational or youth access points which familiarize them to the average viewer, the winter games can seem a bit more exotic if not from an alpine region.   Even so, the first week and a half of the Sochi Games has featured a lot of narrative, which can teach each of us a bit about our own athletic pursuits.

 


US Speed Skating Uniform Drama Lesson I - Avoid Letting the Distraction Become the Focus

The US long track speed skating team is used to a regular quadrennial dose of medals, and with returning top athletes like Shani Davis in the fold, much was expected of the team this time out.  While Under Armour had spent millions of dollars supporting the team and developing what was seen to be the fastest skin suit ever, the initial sub-optimal performances teased out vocalized doubts about whether or not the suits were actually slowing the athletes down with the new technology, as they had not been used before the actual Olympic Games.  Media chatter has become louder, the team switched back to the old suits, and yet, the athletes still had a tough time.

 

As recreational runners, we can obsess about our outfits and our gear, but once the gun goes off and the competition is still ongoing, it is important to focus on the task at hand. If possible, avoid evaluating your performance and the causes of its perceived success or failure until it is actually over.  Doubt and questioning of the course of action and plan you have chosen may be merited, but it won’t do much besides distract you from committing the energy needed for the task at hand in the meantime.

 

US speed skating uniform drama Lesson II - Avoid Trying Something for the First Time on Your Goal Race Day.

Likewise, the speed skating federation wanted an extra advantage by bringing out the new suits just for the Olympics with no prior competition trials.  Similar to trying a brand new pair of shoes or a new pair of shorts on marathon race day without knowing if those shoes will give you blisters or those shorts will chafe is not the ideal course to take.  Race day is a time to eliminate question marks.  Try out everything you can beforehand so you have more knowns than unknowns while racing.  Thankfully for many of us, we don’t have other national federations trying to gain a split second advantage over us as we try to set our own personal best amongst tens of thousands of other runners, so no harm done in breaking out those new socks in your tune-up half or on a long run.  Plan ahead and stick to the plan!

 

Trackster to Bobsledder – Switch things up and extend your running “career”

Although not the first to make the transition, Lauryn Williams and LoLo Jones made headlines this winter as former summer Olympians whose explosiveness as track and field was also a valuable commodity in the bobsled event.  While Lolo Jones hasn’t retired from hurdling, a fall and a failure to medal in the last two Olympics likely had her seeking a way to direct her energy away from the frustrating missteps.  Lauryn Williams has announced her retirement from track following the 2013 season, but after being introduced to the idea by Jones, has ended up winning the silver medal as the pushing athlete for the top American bobsled driver.

 

Although we don’t run for a living, it is often an important part of our daily life.  We rely on it for stress relief, time with fellow runners, goal setting, and many other roles.  When injury or a descent from previous PRs comes upon us, it can be tempting to just give up and walk away.  Many runners find new pastures in trail races when road races become overly demanding on joints and muscles.  Team relays can allow athletes to participate in events without requiring the extent of some of the more demanding training that better days might have featured.  Incorporating regular cross training can help athletes extend their running careers with more recovery, and find success in duathlons or triathlons.  Helping others through mentoring youth, taking leadership roles in charity running organizations or other opportunities can also extend the running life with additional texture even as PRs no longer are quite the focus. Today, we are fortunate to have so many interesting and diverse running events available on a given weekend – consider challenging yourself with a new discipline and / or distance, and hopefully you can prolong the enjoyment running gives that much longer.

 

Figure Skating’s New Scoring System -  Add up the good things instead of deducting for mistakes

Back in the cold war-era days when skating was judged by how close one came to a perfect 6.0, every imperfection meant sure deductions from the elusive 6.  Now, skaters have a chance to earn points for their technical and artistic components on a level system that rewards for excellence rather than deducts for mistakes.  A small difference, for sure, but a huge one that also relates to how we might view our own running.  A perfect day is very rarely had.  More likely, we can have what we would describe as a “successful” day in a variety of situations which leave us feeling positive about the workout, run, or race as we finish.  Every so often, things come together brilliantly and we experience the once in a lifetime zone. But, if we focus on the many small things that are adding up to a successful day than the one or two things that might differentiate this day from an almost hypothetical perfect one, we will have many more positive memories to help us continue scaling the next mountain.

 



Pro's Perspective - Jake Schmitt

Written by Dena Evans February 14, 2014



MarathonFinish

This week on the blog, we are bringing back one of our ongoing series through the years, the Pro’s Perspective.  In this installment, we check in with Jake Schmitt, 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier, and marketing manager with salesforce.com.

A 2005 Redwood High School grad, Schmitt initially stayed local to his Marin County, California roots by matriculating to UC Berkeley after a national level prep career.  A subsequent transfer to University of Washington yielded many outstanding results for Schmitt, where he finished as one of the conference, region, and nation’s top distance runners with collegiate bests of 13:59 over 5000 meters and 28:53 over 10,000 meters.

After joining the Bay Area Track Club and running full time upon graduation, Schmitt has made a successful transition to a full time job.  He has since finished in 7th place at the 2013 USATF Marathon Championships last October with a sizzling  2:15.  In addition to his traditional work day responsibilities and his training, Schmitt coaches Redwood High School athletes alongside his mom, who continues to coach him as she did during his prep years.

 

How does Jake keep up the dual pursuits of successful cloud marketing as well as fast times and world-class performances?  Runcoach caught up with him briefly this week to ask…

 

rc: What is your daily schedule?  How do you manage to balance work and high level running on a day in, day out basis?

JS: My goal is to get up and run every morning (laughs).  I usually do about 45 minutes, probably actually 2-3 times a week.  However, I like to do the bulk of my running in the evening.  I live in the [San Francisco neighborhood] Marina and it is lit and flat, so I am ok with that.  Every Tuesday, I go to Kezar [stadium in Golden Gate Park] for a track workout in the evening, usually 6-8 miles of tempo work.  I save my fast, quality work for Saturdays, and go long on Sunday.  Last week on Tuesday, I did some 800 and 400s at 3K pace as I get ready for a 3000m indoor this weekend.  My goal this spring is to qualify for the USA’s [Outdoor Track and Field Championships] in the 10k, and get my 5k and 10k prs on the track. I try to keep a relaxed approach, so that my day off moves around as needed each week, between Monday to Friday, and I just know that my weekends are going to be big.  I try to run 75-80 miles a week.

 

rc: We might assume that this would be tough with a full work day, but what are the plusses you have found in keeping this type of schedule?

JS: The most exciting part of running as a professional athlete vs. working full time is the idea of running as play.  When I leave work, it is a total delight to run.  The biggest thing for me is that running immediately became my “outlet” vs. my “struggle.” I’m with brilliant people every day that I respect a lot at work, but one of the great things about coaching high schoolers is that I remember that so many things can go off plan and you can still have success.  Somewhere along the line, you forget about that.  You just control the control-ables and just get on the line and race.

 

rc:  That sounds very encouraging, but there must be tougher aspects to keeping up two professions at once.  What are some of the difficult parts of your schedule?

JS: What I find is hard is trying to make what I am doing “normal” to other people.  Explaining people why I get up and run in the morning and then again in the evening, or why I eat what I eat.  I don’t want to be up on a “hilltop” by myself, I just want what I do to be normal, and in our culture, running this much or running twice a day is not very common.

 

rc:  For all the beginners out there just trying to make a fitness goal or complete their first 5K, what encouragement do you have?

JS:  A tactical piece of advice for beginners would be just slow down and make it easy so that you can finish and still go out again tomorrow.  Make it enjoyable!  My motivational advice is the same thing I tell myself.  I’ve been running since I was 6 years old, and it is still hard to get up in the morning and go for a run.  But, every time I do, I feel amazing.  I feel accomplished, relaxed, and I feel great the rest of the day.  If you can just feel that once, it feels so good! It will definitely encourage you to keep going again.



Bust these 5 Running Myths Today!

Written by Dena Evans February 06, 2014

TF_croppedDon’t let your running and training be hampered by arbitrary tales that may lead you off track.  If you find yourself caught in the trap laid by one of these myths, it is time to set yourself free!

Myth #1:  If you don’t have time for the entire prescribed workout, you should just skip the whole thing.

We all know the nagging pain of a day where the alarm didn’t go off, your toddler is sick, work is a fire drill, or the weather is garbage. The scheduled workout is Just. Not. Going. To. Happen.  In frustration, it can be tempting to bag everything and sulk.  Don’t.  Your schedule is the best-case scenario, and every single runner has had to punt and pivot now and again.  If the track workout isn’t an option, an aerobic run can still help clear your head, and keep you on track for either an adjusted workout day later in the week or next week’s tasks.  If the schedule calls for 45 minutes and you only have 25 minutes, your body will get a significant benefit from doing even half the work.  If you are taking an unplanned “zero” in the log, focus your mental energy on the positives – more freshness for the next session, accomplishment of the tasks and issues that have stolen your run time, and the confidence that a day or few off does not have to have a significant impact on your fitness level.

Myth #2:  Days off are for wimps.

Training hard is important to get toward your goal, but without recovery, your muscles don’t have the ability to adapt and recoup after the stress you have placed on them already.  Recuperation time allows your body to return to preparedness for the stimulus ahead and in doing so, get the most out of the upcoming challenge.  Running hard every day drives your body into a deeper and deeper hole from which it eventually becomes impossible to escape.   Build your schedule with some planned and regular rest, and the chances of you making it to the start line of your goal race will increase immensely.

Myth #3:  You will set a personal best every single race or you are not trying hard enough.

There are many, many factors that contribute to a personal best day.  An accurately (or inaccurately) measured course.  A tail or head wind.  Hills.  A bad meal the night before.  How well recovered you are.  Your bout of flu last week.  Neglecting to hydrate along the route or beforehand.  The list goes on and on.   These are not excuses, but factors which can both enhance or diminish the yield from your training up to that point.  Your actual fitness plays the largest role, but smart training includes a slight cyclical effect where recovery periods are interspersed with hard training and tapering for goal events.  100% effort each time can be a good way to practice the significant demand your body will require when it is primed for a signature day, but even top level effort each time may not always result in a new level of achievement, particularly for experienced runners who have been through the train and taper cycle in the past.  Concentrate on the quality of your preparation, the execution of your plan, and when your body is ready, you’ll have good racing habits and attitude down pat.

Myth #4a:  The more cushioning in your shoes, the better chance you have of avoiding injury.

Most athletes do not need to purchase the shoes with the maximum potential padding, structure, or stability in order to stay injury free, and in fact these shoes can sometimes impede your stride from operating at its greatest efficiency.  Each foot and every person is different.  Consider getting a gait analysis from an experienced staff member at a reputable running specialty store in your neck of the woods, and adding that info to your reasoning as you choose your next pair of shoes.  Well-cushioned shoes have indeed helped many non-runners become runners through the years, but for many athletes, other choices may serve the body better.

Myth #4b:  The less cushioning in your shoes, the better chance you have of avoiding injury.

In recent years, thousands of runners have become enamored with the “minimalist” segment of the running shoe market.  These are typically footwear with much or all of the heel lift eliminated, or shoes meant to simulate running barefoot with various ways of wrapping around the foot or articulating the sole.  While incorporating barefoot running or minimalist footwear into a larger program to strengthen the foot and lower leg can be very beneficial, these decisions must be made in context.  Injury history, the restraint to gradually incorporate this type of running, and the availability of suitable and safe terrain must all be considered.  Again, minimalist footwear have been invaluable tools for many runners, but just because you want to be one of those runners, doesn’t mean you are.  Get some input from your experienced local running specialty retailer or a podiatrist, and don’t do anything all at once.

Myth #5:  Training for a marathon is a great crash diet.

Physical fitness is a great by-product of decision to train for a half or full marathon.  Weight loss may result, but the “goal beyond the goal” should always be sustainable, healthy habits.  Athleticism, strength, endurance are all aspects of your best self that need to come to the fore in order for you to reach your race finish line.  Explicit, short term dieting and caloric reduction while maintaining a schedule of challenging running tasks can be detrimental to your training and health at best, and dangerous at worst.  We want running to be a life-long, rewarding pursuit, but we also know it fits into a larger context of healthy diet, sleep, lifestyle, and fitness choices.  Incremental changes you can live with, while adjusting to training, can help ensure that this goal won’t be the end of your training, but just the start.



5 Foods to Pick it Up!

Written by Dena Evans January 30, 2014

lentil-soupLooking for a way to invigorate your diet?  Try adding one or more of these to your daily routine and perhaps discover a new favorite food that packs a punch.

Lentils

During the colder months especially, lentils might appear in the hot case of your local supermarket in soup form, or in spreads and on salads in the summer.  Providing a hearty delivery of carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, lentils release energy slowly and in doing so, help blood sugar stay regulated.  In other words, lentils help avoid the spike and crash of more simple carbs.  Lentils also deliver vital nutrients, such as magnesium for heart health, and over one fourth of lentil calories come from protein – a great vegetarian source.

Chocolate Milk

Once the province of kids and adults looking for a late night snack with a glass of 2% and a bottle of Hershey’s syrup, chocolate milk has happily (for many) fully entered the discussion as a legitimate recovery beverage.  With a mixture of slow acting and quick acting proteins found in cow’s milk, plenty of carbohydrates, and a solid cache of calcium, chocolate milk helps you feel like a kid again in more ways than one.  Don’t feel guilty, and drink up.

Bananas

They have quick releasing carbs and are easily digestible – perfect for mid race or pre race fueling.  They come with a handy, naturally biodegradable case – perfect for carrying, and easy/ guilt-free to discard.   Lots of potassium gives you a great source of an important key to electrolyte balance, and hefty amounts of fiber helps with digestion and regularity.  What’s not to like?

Walnuts

On your salad, in your cookies, on top of cereal - adding walnuts to your diet on a regular basis can provide a host of health benefits.  Walnuts, an anti-oxidant source of Omega 3 fatty acids, have been studied to have a positive affect on a wide variety of health issues, particularly cardiovascular performance and cholesterol levels.  Sure, walnuts have a fairly high caloric and fat content if consumed in copious amounts, but the health benefits of a few ounces per day go a very long way.

Water

Just making sure you were paying attention.  Actually, it seems axiomatic that water is important, but even if you can’t add some of the more interesting foods into your diet right now, you bet you can add water.  Some runners are faithfully dividing their weight in pounds by two and drinking that many ounces per day, but most of us aren’t.  Add one more to the former by heading over to the water fountain right now!

 

 

 



jumping_dude

 In the midst of the second “polar vortex” this winter, running inside might become the rule rather than the exception.  Typical winter weather, however, when not quite so harsh, does allow for some outside running, particularly if following a few common sense guidelines about how to stay healthy and safe.

 

Plan ahead

Running in the winter demands good planning for the actual run, but also some foresight for the aftermath.  If you are coming straight in the house, then jumping in a warm shower and sighing “ahhhh” is no problem. But, if you must drive home, or have another stop on the way, it is essential to plan for dry and warm clothes along with your usual fluids and snack.  You also need a place where you can change. A car that is shielded enough to change inside, or a bathroom/ locker room that is appropriate and safe for the same purpose is worth planning ahead for when deciding where to park and run.

 

Layer it up

While actually running, a snug under layer with moisture wicking capabilities, topped by a thicker or wind-blocking layer can often do the trick, with either a third layer between or a vest on top to keep the core cozy as needed.  A loose layer underneath allows the wind to whistle through (burr!), and allows the sweat you’ve produced to stay wet against your skin.  Sometimes that may be tolerable during the run, but then chill you to the bone a few minutes after stopping.

 

Your body will heat up during the run, so a down jacket and two scarves is probably not necessary.  It is ok to start the run without feeling cozy as you will be feeling fine once you move around for several minutes. On the other hand, if you are as warm as you could ever want when you start, the increased body heat will very possibly leave you feeling hot, sweaty, and stifled halfway through your run, at which point you will likely be running around with a thick layer tied around your waist or just sweating like crazy at a time when you need to be hydrated.

 

Ease into it

For most middle-aged athletes, warming up slowly is an essential part of a training routine that avoids injury.  In the winter cold, this becomes even more important.  While we do not recommend a bunch of static stretching for cold muscles before you head out, we do recommend taking the first few minutes of your training run or warm up loop to prepare your body for the desired mid-run / workout pace.  You may cringe when looking at your GPS device, but the most important thing is to avoid the needless aches and pains that take you out of action completely.

 

Watch your step

We always recommend traveling on safe, well-lit routes, but in the winter, this is crucial.  For those that must run in the dark, it is important to be even more vigilant about the perils of black ice and other pitfalls of the winter road.  Running in the daylight is strongly recommended, and running with a partner or group should be much more of a priority.  Particularly if your run is on snow, a device like Yaktrax can be a simple and cost effective tool to assist with traction. Be careful not to cut it close on roads with minimal shoulder or crossings where you have to hustle to beat the light or other traffic passing on the road.  The risks are great, and the conditions are even less under your control.  Always err on the safe side.

 

Don’t skimp on the details

In the winter, the aforementioned warm shower or a quick dive into the car to drive home can be tantalizing.  Because of the tougher conditions, rolling, stretching post-run, hydrating, and refueling after training take on even greater importance, even as they are often skipped due to freezing fingers, howling winds, or other discomfort.  Budgeting even 5-10 minutes for the care and feeding of your body after a run can help increase the chances your training cycle remains intact throughout the tough winter months, and can help build good habits that will serve you well even when the weather is 70 degrees and sunny.



The first blast of the polar vortex may be “sooo last week,” but we can rest assured that more tricky weather is on the way.  For some of us, inside running is a regular strategy where you live or an occasional challenge when visiting difficult climates.  Others train on treadmills to accommodate the schedule demands of small children and their fickle nap habits.  Regardless, each of us will at some point be looking at an indoor run.  Here are a few thoughts on how to make the most of those times.

Treadmill Tips

Any first timer on a treadmill can attest that the ride is slightly different than the ground in a variety of ways.  To account for these variances, we generally recommend some slight adjustments.  Without the wind resistance encountered when moving forward outside, the pace might feel a bit easier on a treadmill than on your normal run.  To approximate an equivalent demand, adjust the grade of the treadmill up 1.5% if you are able to put that fine a point on it with your machine.

The second important consideration when running on a treadmill is attentiveness to your form.  With the ground traveling underneath and often a softer landing than most outdoor running surfaces, the body can easily tilt into various, slightly unfamiliar positions. If possible, run on a machine where you can gauge your posture in a mirror or reflecting window.  Try to keep yourself tall, with your weight over your feet.  The only thing worse than grumbling about running on a treadmill is grumbling about being injured because you were running strangely on a treadmill.  Attention to your form might even help you when you go outside again and have a clear, fresh picture of what your good form looks and feels like.

 Because of the weather and the limitations of running indoors, you may have to adjust your workout a bit.  Raising the level of the surface to a tougher grade can yield the raised heart rate you were looking for with your speed workout, even if the treadmill is not able to travel the speeds you would have been scheduled to attempt on a track or outside.  It also may be unsafe to run full tilt on a rickety treadmill, changing paces by pressing buttons up and down at 100% effort.  Running “uphill” on a treadmill can be a safer route for shorter intervals.

runcoach Elite team member and Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Heather Tanner reports that treadmill workouts have definitely made an impact for her in years past.  “One of the best, or at least hardest, workouts I've ever done was rep simulation work on the treadmill to work on economy.  20x30 seconds or 10x1 minute with equal rest @ 20% grade, 6.0 mph (or 15% grade, 6.5 mph), which I think equal a sub 70 sec 400 effort. This can be very hard if you pick the wrong pace/grade!”  To adjust your prescribed runcoach workout to a treadmill setting by manipulating the grade and pace, try using a treadmill pace conversion chart such as this one from HillRunner.com.  No two treadmills are exactly alike, so keep in mind you may have to make some slight adjustments with your machine.

Bad Weather and No Treadmill?

Occasionally, drastic situations may call for creative solutions.  If you are unable to run outside due to conditions and a treadmill isn’t available, all may not be lost.  If you are in an urban setting with a series of connected indoor walkways between office buildings, or within a long shopping mall, you may be able to just duck your head at curious onlookers and get at least a few easy miles in indoors.  Convention centers and long hotel hallways can even provide a last ditch opportunity on occasion.  Nike headquarters actually has a hallway where their athletes can run long strides and do so on a regular basis.  Tell that to anyone who questions you!  As long as in a safe setting, preferably with a partner, not during heavy traffic hours, and if lit so as to see the ground and watch for black ice, a covered parking lot could even provide a good hilly run – even if cold, it likely would be covered.  The long eaves of an outdoor school hallway can also provide shelter.  None of these options are ideal, but typically conditions which prevent the completion of a workout are temporary and a bridging solution might end up being better than nothing.

Next week, we will provide more tips for running outside in the cold.  Stay tuned!



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