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Santa_Hustle_5k_14The red coffee cups are out at Starbucks and the Christmas carols are playing in stores.  The holidays are certainly almost upon us, which for many runners means some disruption in the daily running routine.

 

For many of our runcoach athletes, this may mean some time off, either due to vacation or unexpectedly busy weeks.  Many athletes want to plan ahead by blocking off time in their schedules, but we encourage runners to log what actually occurred as it happens or upon return, and let the system then adjust for the appropriate course moving forward.  Prioritizing long runs and pace runs can often allow a sparse period for daily running to elapse without too much loss in fitness progress.  Our hope is to encourage you to do anything you can do, and not be discouraged if you can’t complete the entire schedule on a given week or two.

 

Over the last few years, we have given some advice on coming through the holiday season like a champ.  If you are viewing the upcoming months with trepidation about all the changes the season may bring, read some of our tips and reflections and take heart – you are not alone!

 

The holidays require some flexibility and a positive attitudeRead about some basic strategies for surviving the holidays with your goals intact.

 

Big storm on the way?  Holed up in a much colder environment?  Read on about how to weather the weather and still be productive in your running.

 

If you are going to need to run in the dark, don’t leave the house without our tips!

 

Need to cross train in the gym or pool? Which cross training discipline is the best for you?

 

Want to chuckle at some of Coach Dena’s personal reflections on running in bad weather and when on family vacations? Read on here and here!

 

If you are hoping to start the new year with some resolutions, here are some tips for actually sticking to them!

 

Most importantly, take a deep breath, keep a sense of humor, and fix your eyes on the horizon.  You can do it!

 

 

 



holiday-mealA little more than a month from now, you’ll have the chance to consider some potential New Year’s resolutions.  Where you will start from on January 1 will have a lot to do with how the next few weeks go.

While the holiday season can provide some of the happiest moments of the year, it can also wreak havoc on your running goals.  Here are some ideas for how you can make the most of the season and keep your motor running before hitting the ground full speed on January 1.

Even if your schedule doesn’t normally include morning running, consider scheduling your runs for the early hours.

The first few weeks of December often include more events outside of your control than potentially any other time of the year.  Office functions or extra hours / shifts at work, recitals, school events, and holiday obligations for school aged kids, other civic, religious, or social events and obligations –the calendar can get pretty crowded.

That run you already scheduled after work can quickly get pushed to the wayside when you find out from your spouse at 4 that you need to be somewhere you had forgotten about at 6:30, dressed neatly and with a bottle of wine for the hosts.  Maybe your mom needs you to drive her across town for that special ingredient she wants to put in the pie she is making tomorrow and aren’t you just the one to take her this evening after work but before they close at eight?  There goes the run.

Late in the month, family meals (in addition to food shopping and preparation), odd schedules, the irresistible pull of a bowl game or the warm couch (and the inevitable snooze), can successfully thwart the most stalwart runner in their efforts to stay on track.    If you are able to run in the morning, even if it is not the best series of workouts you have had all year, you at least ensure that you don’t put yourself in a gapingly large training hole.  At this point, it is dark in the morning AND in the evening, so you probably won’t miss much there.  You will however, be able to give yourself a silent high five every day, even when the rest of your schedule may leave you scrambling.  So, block it in now!

Stay hydrated

Yes, you should drink water because you are training and you want to stay hydrated.  But, the holiday time is also a key hydration zone in many ways that will also help you feel more like yourself when you do get a chance to hit the road or the treadmill.  Maybe travel is in your plans. As we have mentioned before in Personal Best, you should aim to drink a cup of water for every time zone you cross while flying in the dry air-conditioned atmosphere of an airplane.  If mountains or other dry, snowy climates are in your future, this is also important as high altitudes and dry air can leave you under-hydrated before you realize it.  You may already be out of your element or preferred weather conditions for a time during the holidays, so everything you can do to at least keep your body working well will be key to move from just salvaging a situation to a place where you get some quality running accomplished despite the challenges.

Even if your holiday plans do not include travel, proper hydration remains crucial to staying on track.  It can assist with digestion when faced with a gauntlet of rich foods and a never-ending stream of chocolates in the break room.  It can also help combat the dehydrating effects of holiday related alcohol consumption and give your family feast some welcome company in your stomach so you are not as likely to go overboard for the fifth time this week.

Include the family in some running

Find a Turkey Trot, or Jingle Bell Jog 5K /10K the family can walk or jog together while you get in a tempo run.  Pick an outing or two where others can walk or hike while you and whomever is up for it can run.  Plan a run during someone else’s shopping or errands, so they can go crazy in the stores while you take off for a few miles down a nearby bike path before meeting them back at the car.  Think in advance of ways you can meld your run seamlessly into another’s schedule so that you can avoid missing a quality hour with family when everybody is finally home and you’ve just decided to head out on the trail.

Enjoy what you do get done, and don’t worry about what you can’t fit in

If you are unable to perfectly complete every single day’s training from now until the end of the year, you are probably not alone.  The holidays are special because you do often have the time to travel or to visit with friends and family in ways your schedule wouldn’t normally permit.  It is important to enjoy these times and maintain a balance that keeps running in perspective.  If you have a choice in days of the week to get certain things accomplished or can recalculate your schedule in advance to account for certain problem dates coming up, try to prioritize the hard workouts and long runs, so if you don’t get everything in, you will at least have tackled the most challenging days.  However, even if you are stymied in this effort, the important thing is that you don’t fall completely out of touch with your goals, that you don’t let guilt over two or three days missed keep you from getting back to the schedule next time out, and that you stay healthy.

Everyone, from world class athletes to beginners, will find the holidays to be a time requiring flexibility and variation in their typical routine.  You are not alone.  Look ahead as best you can, stay relaxed, and see if you can arrive on January 1st with only minor adjustments needed instead of a complete overhaul.  Perhaps you will have even learned some tips that will make the next holiday season even better.



tired_runner

 

At runcoach, we love celebrating the great race results that roll in after each weekend.  Although sensible training and belief can ensure that many race days proceed well, occasionally an off day or an unexpected turn of events affects us all.

 

One of the best ways to recover from a tough race is to have a short memory.  In every race, there are many things a runner can control:  clothing choices, food choices, pacing choices, fueling choices, and more.  Likewise, there are several factors that are beyond the control of the athlete:  the weather that may prove those clothing choices to be wise, the digestive system that may repudiate those food choices, the topography or wind that may prove those pacing choices to be miscalculated and events like an unexpected bathroom need or unseasonably humid weather which may show the fueling choices to be inadequate.  Because we really do not control quite as much on race day as we believe we do, it is unproductive to dwell on a disappointing result when it was significantly affected by one of these factors.

 

Certainly, we also know there are times when we weren’t quite as tough as we had envisioned, when the effort given seemed monumental at the time, but retrospect asks the question, “Was there more in the tank?”  In these times just as well, we need to avoid miring ourselves in what could have been and focus on what we plan to do next time out.

 

Because running is a singular pursuit, requires such strong task commitment both over the long training cycle as well as during a race effort, and the sense of accomplishment is so great when done well, runners often have a hard time divorcing our overall confidence from one or two tough days out of many.  But, we should.  Difficult things by definition would be easy if everyone could do them, and running long distance is most definitely a difficult thing.  Without minimizing the value of finishing a large goal or glamorizing the somewhat sanitized notion that the victory is only in attempting to begin, if you have trained well for a goal race, you have should have satisfaction for what you have learned about yourself along that journey.  A race completed, but not as fast as expected, is a race where the spirit of perseverance yielded a finishing result, which on a better day would be the type of commitment that will indeed lead to a PR.  If Murphy’s Law prevailed on a particular day, you have a great story and a lesson of resilience in the face of a gauntlet of unexpected difficulties.

 

Sometimes, the tough day has definite antecedents in choices we have made or training that trended less positively than we would have hoped leading in.  This is where the running log enters into the conversation.  When the dust is settled, an examination of any correctable factors is well in order, but always in the context of fact versus feelings.  Beating oneself up over situations that can neither be redone nor controlled next time is not productive.  Preparing to do battle with more training, a mellowed sense of humor, and a renewed sense of hope is crucial.  Carrying the burdens of a previous tough race is a heavy load.  If you are able to leave that load and focus on the opportunity ahead rather than the unrealized promise of a previous race, you have the opportunity for a much more positive experience.  Running toward a goal is always more productive than running away from a fear. Daily, practice focusing on the run at hand, the potential of the present day, and the joy or challenge of the experience presently underway.  Have a short memory, and in doing so, you’ll leave more room for new ones!

 



When post-goal race elation subsides and the physical recovery period is well underway, many runners have a difficult time turning the corner toward the next horizon.  Some athletes come away from a goal race so hungry for the next one that they over-enthusiastically barrel down the road toward the next goal without giving their bodies ample time to rest. Instead, for many runners, a huge bucket list item is a hard act to follow, even if we know that goal setting has finally allowed us to move the needle on long sought hopes.

 

The knowledge that the physical challenge of a long race can be described as a “how” rather than the “if” it was the first time is a powerful tool. Addressing the “how” requires a bit of work above the shoulders, both before and during the races ahead.  We’ve written about a few of these topics on the blog, including the areas listed below:

 

 

At runcoach, we love to see runners break through and achieve their goals week after week, but we know sometimes the immediate road ahead has a focus on general fitness rather than a big goal race.  We are here for you either way, and your individualized program can adjust to meet your needs for the run tomorrow as well as your destination goal race in 2014!



Recover Like a Boss

October 24, 2013

RaceRecoveryCongratulations to all those who have completed their goal races over the last few weekends!  Whether you are basking in the afterglow of a milestone reached, or still awaiting the joy of the finish banner, it is important to consider the crucial training period of recovery.

 

Previously on the blog, we’ve covered a variety of topics related to recovery that are worth a quick read or re-read.  These include:



 

Throughout each of these, the main thread is the admonition to take recovery seriously.  One of the ways runcoach differs from template training plans or social training groups that focus solely on the one goal race is the inclusion of a recovery cycle into your plan.  As runners ourselves, we know that running is an ongoing pursuit for many, marked brightly with the signposts of big goals along the way, but more importantly, something we enjoy doing every day.

 

Taking recovery seriously is an important part of being able to enjoy your daily running without avoidable detours into the world of injury or illness.  We attack our running goals, sometimes seeking the badge of pride for finishing, hitting a certain time, or doing something of which our friends and neighbors will be justifiably in awe.  Recovering well doesn’t elicit the same sort of pats on the back or have the same cache as race results, and so makes us feel like we are weak or wimpy for needing it, and not any more accomplished for successfully doing it.  By definition, the lack of incidents means the recovery period has been a success.  Even so, it is important, necessary, and those that master the rhythm and resist the temptation to blow through it are often the ones who end up getting the most enjoyable race experiences over the long run.  The next start line doesn’t have to be that far off – recover like a boss and you will often actually get there faster!

 



large-running-race-start-lineDeck the halls with gel and sports drink – fa la la la la, la la la la!

 

‘Tis the season for a goal race. It is natural to get a bit nervous, especially if you have a lot of little questions about how to handle race day.  Before you tuck yourself into bed on the night before with visions of sugar plums and finish lines dancing in your head, stay ahead of a few key things that many first timers need to know, and many experienced racers need to remember.

 

Avoid overeating like crazy on the night before

Many athletes have heard of the term “carbo loading” and believe that means stuffing an entire pound of pasta down the hatch on the night before the race.   It is true marathons require plenty of fuel, and it is also true that carbs are very helpful toward this task.  However, it is also true that a body cannot process four times the  normal amount of food in the same amount of time.  If you eat more food than your body can digest and process helpfully, where will it go?  Where will the excess end up?  Ponder….. Eat until full, but not until explosion levels!

 

Don’t drink two gallons of water 24 hours before the race

Hydration is important, but with too much water, the bloodstream can be stripped of important electrolytes, a potentially VERY dangerous situation on race day.  Hydrate consciously with a mix of water and sports drink or other fluid containing electrolytes for several days before the race so you aren’t pounding large bottles at the expo on the day before.  When your urine is light yellow, nearly clear, just keep sipping so your bladder isn’t under duress with an excess amount of fluid on race morning.

 

Bring throw-away clothing to the start

If it is cold, cold-ish, wet, or wet-ish, an extra layer can be very helpful at the start, particularly if you are in the second wave of a large race and you are going to be standing there for 30-40 minutes, shivering and nervously fidgeting.  “But wait,” you say, “It is supposed to clear up and be nice by the finish so I don’t want to bring my nice zip down.”  Fine, but that’s not an excuse to freeze for three quarters of an hour before you even start running.  Bring a long sleeved shirt that was already headed for Goodwill, and toss it to the curb with the rest of the detritus at the start or after a few warming miles with a hearty “Job well done!” Yes, you will look like a dork, but you will be a warm dork.

 

You must eat before you run a marathon

Is it physically possible to run a marathon without breakfast?  Probably.  Is this something you want to do, even if “I don’t normally have time to eat before my morning runs so I didn’t want to start now.”  No. Way.  This is folly.  If you don’t normally have time to eat, you must consciously change that practice and figure out what works for you in the weeks leading up to the race so you have some fuel in the tank on race day.  The nerves, the waiting at the start, the length of the run and the wait until you have food afterwards – not eating is unwise.  Extremely unwise.  Have a good day, and get something that works for you down the hatch.  No excuses.

Likewise, you must drink during a marathon

Again, is it possible to do it without drinking?  Yes.  Is this smart? Not in the least.  Don’t pick race day to be a hero for water conservation.  Drink 6-8 oz of water and sports drink (alternate!) every 45 minutes or so, if need be in the form of several small splashes from a few fluids stations.  You will have a much more enjoyable time, probably get across the line more quickly, and have a much, much more enjoyable recovery.

Do not switch horses mid-stream

Well yes, riding horses is probably cheating.  However, if you have run in one style of shoe, do not change them the day before the race.  Break anything new in three to four weeks before, when you have a chance to do at least one long run in them to find out how they feel.  Shoes, fuel packets, clothing, pre-race dinner, pre-race breakfast – all of these things should be very status quo on race weekend.  Experimentation is for folks who have one under their belt!  Notch this one and then look into switching things up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



large-smiley-facesMany of our members are in the middle of their fall goal race training, building up for a winter race, or tapering for an upcoming red-letter day.  The first big long run of a cycle can be exciting, but training demands a lot from your body.  Occasionally you find yourself waking up a little creaky, taking a bit longer to get up from your chair at work, or stressing out about taking an extra flight of stairs during your taper (shouldn’t your legs feel absolutely perfect ALL DAY, EVERY DAY)?  If you are in midst of or on the cusp of tapering, take a peek at our tips for a successful taper.  However, if you are in the middle of a big cycle and don’t feel quite as fresh as you did at the start, take a moment and refresh yourself with one of these quick tips!

 


Get up

Nothing builds creaki-ness more than a 2-hour run followed by 8 hours straight in a chair, staring at the computer.  Make sure to regularly get up and walk around during the course of your day (once an hour is a good rule), whether it is spent in the office, behind the wheel, or in an otherwise mostly stationary position.  The blood flow is good for your recovery, and the resetting of your scenery can be good for your outlook.

 

Drink Water

Many runners are very conscientious on race day or long run day, but don’t have the same commitment to hydration on the average Tuesday.  If you are making repeated demands on your body, prepare it best by keeping your body well –hydrated even on days when the pressure is off.  Keep a glass of water just small enough to need refilling regularly.  Buy a bulk pack of your favorite non-caffeinated beverage and keep it cool in the fridge.  Even if you don’t like water, give yourself a healthy source of hydration to look forward to.  You’ll get your walk and your water at the same time.

 

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Yes, do exactly this.   Although foam rolling can be inconvenient in work clothes and locations, keep one around.  If you have a moment and a quiet, carpeted corner, the loose muscles gained can provide a new lease on the rest of the day.  If you don’t keep one handy, you can’t do it.  Keep one under the desk.

 

Take a mini sleep-cation

The race is eight weeks away, and in your mind, you only need to concentrate on sleep the week of.  However, at least half the battle of the race is getting to the start line in the best shape you can be.  Life may not allow you to get a solid 8 hours each night, but if feeling run-down, take 2-3 nights where you commit to an earlier bedtime.  Call it a race week rehearsal if you need to justify it to yourself.  You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel, so much so it might convince you to carve out more sleep on a regular basis!

 

Go grocery shopping

On your way home tonight, go grocery shopping and get the good stuff.  A steady diet of take out can be both more expensive and less healthy than a load of appealing groceries.  Refresh your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Food is fuel for all your hard runs.  Fill your tank with food that will help you achieve your goals.  After all, if you opened your fridge and found fresh produce, you might eat it!

 

 

 

 



fast_k8_jacket_cropped

 

Katie Dalzell is the Lead Designer for women’s running apparel company Oiselle. Along with founder and CEO Sally Bergesen, Katie is designing stylish and functional clothes for women from their headquarters in Seattle, where they have been based since Bergesen’s first collection in 2007.  Staffed almost entirely with active female athletes and growing alongside the numbers of female road runners and racers nationwide, Oiselle takes their design seriously, recently showing the spring collection for the first time at New York’s Fashion Week.  This week, we caught up with Dalzell to get a quick bit of insight into the design and production of the young and growing market of running clothes created specifically for women.

 

 

rc: With the huge growth of the numbers of women regularly running and racing, everything from running shorts to commemorative race shirts is beginning to be offered in a "women's fit".  When designing clothes for women, what are the major differences in shape and construction from men's or unisex styles?

 

KD: I am typically not a fan of unisex clothing. Women and men are shaped differently, and so the best fitting clothing will cater to each gender individually! Unisex clothing is generally made to fit a mans body, so it lacks the detailing and fit required to truly flatter a woman's curves and shape. Even women’s apparel with a "boyfriend fit" is designed for women's bodies, and fit on women, to accommodate and flatter our different shapes. So the biggest difference? Boobs and hips, of course!

 

rc: Who or what is your muse as a designer of women's running clothes?  What characteristics capture the women you are designing for?

 

KD: My muse isn't necessarily a single person. At Oiselle, runners and the running community are our driving inspirations, though we believe that running apparel can cross borders into most athletic endeavors, and even daily fashion. I design for strong, healthy and motivated woman who are free thinkers and unapologetic. Oiselle's motto is "FEMININE FIERCE", and all of our designs are wrapped around this idea.

 

rc: When shopping, to what should women pay attention when making a purchase they hope will perform well over hundreds of miles and last for years?

 

KD: Pay attention to the fabric and construction of the garment. Does it look like it was constructed with thought and care? Attention to detail? Attention to detail is very important in the longevity of a garment. Look at the seams and stitching, the finishings (hems, armholes, necklines, etc.). Also look for technical finishes catered to the sport, and well constructed, soft liners. Fabric is just as important. For athletic apparel, look for the technical aspects of the fabric. Synthetic fabrics are currently the best option for running apparel. The majority of quality fabrics used for this purpose are nylon and polyester, often blends, and often with spandex. Blends with synthetic and natural fibers can work well too, such as poly/cotton or poly/rayon blends. Look out for "distressed" finishes (often on jeans), as they can often develop holes easier! Though I believe that when a garment is well loved it can be even more beautiful than brand new! :)

 

rc: What's around the corner for trends in women's running wear?  What can we look forward to?

KD: There has been a gap between fashion and running apparel in the past. Sally recognized the need to combine these two elements to create beautiful, fashion forward but highly technical running apparel, and so Oiselle was born! I'm very excited about the future of running apparel, as there are so many unexplored and unexpected ways to design into this market. It's becoming much more fashion forward and in line with ready to wear trends. Future trends are using technical fabrics in unexpected ways, bridging the gap between ready to wear and athletic apparel. Look forward to modern and edgy styling with bold lines, fabric and texture mixing, and effortlessly chic running apparel that you will want to wear on your longest run, and on a fun day or night out!

 



Race day is almost here! Remember to lay low and stay off your feet the days before the race (no Expo attendance for longer than 1 hour). Your reward is race day itself and the challenge of running. . . .

Arrival

Make sure you get outside and feel the air. Go for at least a 20 minute walk or jog on either the day before, or two days before (or whatever is on your schedule).

Think about what you did, not what you didn’t do in your training. When you go to pick up your race number and run into old friends, family etc. everyone will want to ask about your training so they can tell you about theirs. Forget about theirs and don’t compare yourself to anyone. You followed a terrific training schedule and are well prepared.

Night Before, Morning Of

Have a full meal the night before. Try and consume some complex carbohydrates (pasta). Do not over eat, but make sure you fill up.

On race day eat a light breakfast of 200-300 Kcal of carbohydrates including the sports fluid you drink. If you have a normal pre-race breakfast then stick with it. Don't try any new foods before the race. Drink gatorade (or any sports drink that doesn’t include protein) and/or water frequently to assure you are hydrated (clear urine is a good sign). You should stay well-hydrated throughout the morning before the race. At some point prior to the race stop drinking so you can empty your bladder before the start. It is important to refrain from over-consumption of water alone, as that will drain your body of needed electrolytes.

I suggest you take some throw away warmups to the start especially if it rains or will be cold. This could be an old t-shirt or old sweat pants. Also old socks will keep your hands warm. Some runners will even wear a t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away. This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.

Take a bottle with gatorade/sports drink to the start with you and right before (less than 5 mins) the gun goes off drink 4-8 ounces. This is your first water stop. If you drink close enough to the start you shouldn’t have to pee – the fluid should only drip through your kidneys because most of your resources (blood) will be in your legs and out of your gut as soon as the gun goes off.

Early Miles

I suggest that you start 15-30 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace. Your second mile should be 5-10 seconds slower.  By the third mile you should reach goal pace I recommend this approach as it may activate (and utilize) a higher percentage of fat fuel over the first couple miles. Remember we are trying to conserve glycogen and muscle for as long as possible.

Stay on top of hydration. Drink early and often (4-8 ounces every 20 minutes). It is better to consume enough fluid early and sacrifice the later stops if necessary.

Remember the 3 ‘C’s’

Confidence: Have confidence in your ability and your training. Remember all those hard workouts you did. Remember those early mornings, late nights, sore calves, tight hamstrings etc. - they weren’t in jest.

Control: You must relax yourself early in the race. You absolutely must go out under control and run easy for the first 8-10 miles. Remember the 1/2 Marathon is evenly divided into three sections of equal effort: first 5M, second 5M and last 5K. We want to save a little bit for the last 5K (Miles 10-13).

Collection: Keep your thoughts collected and on your objective. There will always be lots of distractions on race day. The further you get in this race the more you need to focus on yourself, goals and race strategy. Don’t let the fans and competitors into your zone.

The Ebb and Flow

I said before that I can’t guarantee anything about the training or the race itself. Well, I can guarantee this: you will feel good at some point and you will feel bad at some point within the race.

Races usually ebb and flow, runners rarely feel terrific the entire way. We always hit little walls. If you hit one just focus on the next mile, don’t think about the end of the race. If you take each difficult moment one mile at a time you will usually feel better at some point. It always comes back because. . .

You Always Have One Cup Left

That’s right – you always have one cup of energy left. The difference is that some people find it and some don’t. Remember what normal, untrained people do when they feel discomfort – they slow down and feel better. You are not a normal un-trained person.

You are a runnining machine!

You are programmed to give your personal best so. . .

Go get that last cup!


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