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lee_yogaStephanie Lee (pictured) has been practicing yoga for over 12 years in a variety of diverse settings that include Hawaii, Greece, Italy, and Thailand.

RC: Yoga is a commonly mentioned term these days, but what exactly is yoga and what is it intended to do?
 
SL: There are many types of yoga practices, each offering something different, but all with a common strand. Yoga can be your own sanctuary outside of the madness of the day's routines.  It's a safe, non-chaotic environment where you can find peace in your body and mind.  When you leave the studio, you can take those learnings with you and apply to everyday life situations.  Once a yogi, always a yogi.  Yoga can help you build a healthy lifestyle that complements Western Medicine. It's a loving and comfortable environment to discover the connection of your physical, emotional and spiritual body.

RC: What generally about yoga might make it beneficial for runners?
 
SL: There are a wide range of benefits from practicing yoga.  Not only is it physically challenging to your body, it's an opportunity to relax and focus the mind with wonderful benefits to all of the internal organs in need of repair and detoxing. Yoga improves your posture and blood flow, it lowers cortisol [hormone released in response to stress], releases tension, provides an immune boost, helps regularity and most of all aids in peace of mind.  It's an inner balance. Yoga, paired with running, can create more flexibilty, strengthening of the joints and muscles, and gains in your ability to stay focused.  It can enhance your breathing and provide you with a better night's rest.  In all yoga practices, you need to spend that time within your own body on your mat.  In some practices like Bikram, you are facing obstacles such as remaining in the studio throughout the entire 90 minutes with absolutely no talking in extreme heat.  It is a very challenging environment as at times there can be up to 60 people in some classes.  This is where you need to pull your wandering mind back in and focus on being present within yourself and your own abilities to complete the class.

RC: What are a couple beginner poses or exercises a runner might try to explore these benefits?

SL: Some basic, yet very beneficial poses a runner may be interested in incorporating to their workout are the following:
Half Moon, Eagle, Separate Leg Stetching (which are all in the standing series), plus Wind Relieving Pose and Half Tortoise, which are a part of the floor series [ed note:  Runcoach does not have an association with or specifically endorse any of the sites used to illustrate each pose].  It would also be advised to incorporate controlled breathing and meditation as these can go hand and hand with a runner's world.



Night_running_cropped

Although we earn a small reprieve from the early morning darkness with next month's time change, many runners are just settling in for a long winter of running in the dark.  Whether you rise early to beat the rush before the workday begins and the kids wake up, or fit in a run at the end of the day, nighttime running is a fact of life for many athletes.  Here are a few tips for staying safe and maximizing these workouts until the sun reappears.

Avoid risk-taking

While running the same route again and again might seem unappealing, or stopping your awesome tempo run briefly to make sure a passing car sees you, it is always worth it.  Stick to routes where lighting can help provide safety and mark your path, even if that means doing multiple loops around a few block radius.  Head to a local track and run while kids are playing soccer or lacrosse under the lights in the evening.  Put off exploration of that new trail until the weekend when you can run in the daylight.  Set aside the headphones so that you can be alert to your surroundings (yes, you can do it).

Choose routes for the presence of sidewalks away from the roadway.  Consider places of business where early morning activity takes place in a typically safe manner, such as a gas station, bagel shop, or Starbucks and include them on your run.  Check for daily sunrise and sunset times so you can safely estimate when you will need to be in spots that are safe for those times of day.  In short, give yourself at least one more measure of safety precautions than you would ordinarily take.  That may mean boredom and repetition, but is always better than not being able to run at all or risking adverse events

See and be seen

Many running apparel companies and specialty brands have introduced reflective clothing and devices to help runners stay safe in the dark.  Sometimes we focus on being visible to cars and others by wearing reflective gear, and other times we focus on keeping our path lit with headlamps and other illuminating devices.  In reality, both are important at all times.  A hard fall because of an unseen root or sidewalk crack is dangerous, and of course it is crucial to be visible to vehicular traffic.   It isn’t always possible to be completely visible in the dark, but taking care to be seen and to seeing where your feet will travel can be a crucial safety precaution.

Keep others in the loop

Whether you live with others in your household or reside independently, leave a note, a text, or other word where you plan to go every time.  If you encounter any trouble on an evening run, it may be until daylight before anyone is aware of your extended absence or be able to see you in distress alongside a road.    Particularly if doing something strenuous or extended, such as a long run for a marathon training cycle, estimating a time of return can help ease the mind of others who aren’t used to the length of these runs, as well as determine when you are indeed overdue.    Whenever possible, try to meet others for nighttime runs.  Both as a safety measure and as added encouragement when the winter is at its darkest and coldest point, a partner or group willing to meet you at a nighttime hour can make all the difference.

Be creative

Roads and outdoor tracks may not be the only venues for getting in runs.  Enclosed walkways, indoor public spaces, the perimeter of a well-lit parking lot, and even a circuit of long hallways in winter-affected cities might provide occasional safe locations for runs when things are truly awful and dark.    Consider a short-term gym membership, even if just to break up the workout by running there, doing some miles on the treadmill, and running home.  If winter is really getting the best of you, consider sampling some indoor cross training disciplines you have been waiting to try, or investigate the possibility of all-comers indoor track meets in your community as a way to get in a good hard effort inside.

While nighttime running may not be pleasant for many, runners across the country and around the world have thrived with a schedule comprised primarily of workout times before dawn or after dusk.  The good news is that sunlight is likely around the corner as spring returns, and the challenge of darkness is an opportunity to exercise the type of commitment and persistence that will serve you well when faced with a rough patch in your next goal race.  Embrace the challenge, stay safe, and keep up the good work.



Ask the Practitioner: Back Pain

Written by Dena Evans September 17, 2012

Angelique-headshot-web
Dr. Waite holds a B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from Palmer College.  She has treated the knees of professional cyclists, the hands of musicians, the backs of police officers, the shoulders of golfers, and the feet of marathon runners.  Dr. Waite is a certified Active Release Techniques (ART) and Graston Technique provider, and specializes in the treatment of all manner of soft tissue and repetitive strain injuries.  




rc: Many recreational athletes struggle with periodic back pain.  What
are a few of the most common problems you see as people seek treatment
in your office?


AW: Low Back Pain due to Psoas (long muscle along the lumbar region) tightness, Paraspinal Lumbar tightness (knots in the low back in muscles adjacent to the spine), and Sacroiliac joint pain due to ankle instability
rc: What are some common situational factors the average person can
avoid to in order to reduce the chance of developing periodic back
pain?

AW:  Common causes of low back pain include sitting for long periods of time and continuing to use your running shoes beyond 300 to 400 miles.  Since running is a repetitive motion exercise which can lead to repetitive strain injuries, don't put off making an appointment for myofascial release such as Active Release Technique.  Make sure you stay hydrated and don't over train!

rc: What can you do at home to encourage maintenance of a healthy back?

AW:  Simple things we can do include maintaining a daily stretch routine, getting up and moving around every 20 minutes if you have a desk job, going to a Pilates or Yoga class once a week, using your foam roller on the hamstrings, adductors, quads, and IT bands, and making sure you cross train as an increase in overall strength and core strength will give you a more efficient stride.


photoChef John Barone is a Michelin-trained private chef who is also in the midst of preparing for his second ING New York City Marathon in November.  With career stops at revered restaurants including the French Laundry in Yountville, CA, as well as Jean Georges and Per Se in New York City, Barone's cooking philsophy stems from his love of fresh and locally sourced ingredients and interest in healthy food for active lifestyles.  As he ramps up the mileage himself, here are a few of his tips for the rest of us trying to combine training and booked calendar with eating well.

rc: What are some prep tips for runners who are training hard and on the go?

JB: Revamp leftovers! Instead of looking down upon leftovers, turn them into new creative dishes. Grilled chicken from the night before can certainly be sliced and put into a wrap with fresh vegetables.
Plan Ahead.  After working a long day and then training, the last thing someone feels like doing is going home to sweat in the kitchen.  In the morning before work, get some of your prep out of the way,  e.g. chopping and marinating.  This may save 10-15 minutes before dinner is served, but it adds up!

On an off day from work, plan a day with time for cooking.  Prepare a few meals to last you 2-3 days. This way all you have to do is reheat!

rc: Fall is here.  What are some ideas for tasty seasonal dishes to prepare?

JB: When I think of fall, I think of apples! There are so many things you can do with them for a quick healthy snack. Cut the apple and drizzle on some melted dark chocolate.  if you feel ambitious enough, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and maybe a dollop of whip cream! YUM!

Soups are a great fix in the fall. There is nothing better to comfort you after that run on a cool fall day!  Pumpkin or squash soup is fantastic,  Cut either into small chunks then cover with chicken stock or water (to stay vegetarian)  Cook until soft, then puree in blender.  Season with salt, pepper, touch of cinnamon (and I always like to serve with a little creme fraiche)!

rc: What are the foods to avoid when eating out or night before a race?
 
JB: I would try and avoid fatty foods, shell fish, exotic foods or anything that one is not used to. Eat something that is familiar to you.  Stick with a meal higher in complex but with some simple carbohydrates, healthy lean protein, and not a lot of fat.  I always like to start with a healthy salad filled with lots of leafy greens and vegetables, and I usually have a piece of grilled chicken with some sauteed spinach and brown rice.


NEW iPhone app!

Written by Kate Tenforde August 21, 2012

perform iconNew name, new look, new feel!

The runcoach iPhone app is here!  Download it now!

Note: The latest version is called runcoach.  Version 1 was called
iRunning coach.

Now it's even easier to check and log your workouts on the go! 

This new enhancement is FREE for all runcoach members.  Once you download it, you can use the same username and password to access the mobile site.


Ryan_Victah_Oly_Trials

The first two weeks of August were filled with amazing performances, as well as the emotions that occur when things do not go according to plan.  When watching these breathtaking physical feats and (taped-delayed) moments of extreme anticipation, it can be hard to see a connection between the accomplishments of the world’s best athletes and our own everyday endeavors. However, there are several lessons these thrills of victory and agonies of defeat can teach us.  Here are a few:

1. Do not let a discouraging start prevent good things from happening by the end.

Early in the swimming competition, Michael Phelps barely squeaked into the final of the 400 IM, only to be assigned an outside lane and finish shockingly fourth and out of the medals.  For one used to the rhythm of “swim, win and repeat,” the walk from the competition pool to the warm down area must have been a long stroll without the interruption of the national anthem played in his honor.  However, by the end of the meet, almost no one looked upon his efforts as anything less than the coronation of the most decorated medalist ever.

Like many of our races, Phelps’s schedule was a marathon, not a sprint, and given the opportunity to turn things around, he was able to refocus and end on several high notes, with individual and relay golds alike.  Next time some other early mishap threatens to derail your day, (ie your alarm doesn’t go off, the first mile or two feels harder than it should, you miss your first fluids, etc) keep in mind the confident mentality you had the evening before all that occurred.  You are still that person.  Your training hasn’t just evaporated instantaneously.  Plenty of positives remain to be had.  Giving up mentally only assures you that you will miss out on at least some of those takeaways.

2. “Normal” is oftentimes more than good enough.

During the qualification of the women’s team gymnastics competition, elder stateswoman Aly Raisman was seen looking Gabby Douglas straight in the eye, encouraging her with the admonition, “Normal, Gabby.”    With some of the most complicated and challenging routines in the competition, Gabby Douglas was obviously prepared to do what it took, both for the team and her own all-around competition.  She just needed to execute and not let the big stage take her out of her familiar rhythm.

Many times we expect race day to be a completely breathtaking day and we act like it,  We feel the need to don a cape and become some “super” version of the boring everyday person who does the neighborhood loop at 6am.  By the time the gun goes off, you have prepared your body to handle the challenges by working hard on all the days when there is no adrenaline involved.  The excitement of the day may indeed make the same pace feel little easier to start, and that’s in your favor.  However, be confident in the work you have put in, that your “normal” will be plenty to accomplish your goal.  Take pride in the execution of your plan, and let your faithful and consistent adherence to it herald the success of the day.

3. Let your resolve be strengthened by your training partners and / or immediate context.

Galen Rupp took silver in the 10,000 meters, earning the first U.S. men’s medal in that event since 1964.  Ahead of him was only his training partner, hometown favorite Mo Farah.  Immediately behind both of them were the Ethiopian Bekele brothers, with Kenenisa the two time reigning 10,000 meter champion and world record holder.  Rupp has been one of America’s best for the past several years, but how did he kick these guys down?

As reported in the USA Today the following morning, Rupp told the press that the last lap reminded him of practice back in Oregon, saying, “I knew if I could stay close to Mo, then good things would happen.”   Some of us have the luxury of training partners or familiar faces in local races we can use to help buoy us when things are getting tough.  “If they can do it, then I can do it,” we tell ourselves, and many times, it works!  The larger lesson here, though, is that when we break challenging and formidable tasks down into smaller, more recognizable, and less daunting parts, we can relax enough to use our energy only for the running rather than the worry.  Focus on the things you know and can control.  Draw confidence from that knowledge and let the unknowns go.

4.  Ability needs execution to produce a result.

After several years of frustration, dropped batons, tripping and falling, and various other mishaps, the United States track and field relay teams finally put together four clean preliminaries and four crisp finals.  The women won gold in the 4x100m and the 4x400m, while the men took home silver in each.  Sure, the men’s 4x100m was beaten by a world record-setting Usain Bolt and company from Jamaica, but their silver medal time equaled the previous world record and set a new US best.  The women absolutely crushed the world record in the 4x100m and scared the US record in the 4x400, winning by a country mile.

While there are several strong medalists and performers among the current relay pool, the United States has always had a strong sprint corps, deep in every event, and capable of putting on a show like that every Olympiad.  The only thing stopping them has been the seemingly small detail of how to get the baton successfully around the oval.

For us, it is instructive to remember how special a performance or an experience can be if we just execute the small details.  Did we remember body glide?  Did we tie our shoes with double knots?  Did we leave time to have a good breakfast and adequate fluids before heading to the line?  Did we follow our race plan and not get sucked out into a field of fool’s gold with several consecutive milesplits way ahead of pace?  We can’t control the weather or what others will do.  However, when we nail the basics, we can leave room for the special day to occur.  You may never run the backstretch like Allyson Felix, but then again, she may never run a half marathon or marathon, so in some ways (ok, in only one way) you’re even!



New Workout Descriptions

Written by Kate Tenforde August 16, 2012
We’re excited to announce our latest enhancement – new workout descriptions!

The content of your workouts will not change.  We are just making the workout descriptions easier to understand.  The new format contains an outline that reads like a cookbook and simplifies the times you need to run. Less thinking, more running!

 Your workout descriptions will change in 3 places:

  • Today tab
  • Training tab
  • Weekly/Daily workout emails

Here is an example of the enhancement in action:

 Before Enhancement                                                                                                      After Enhancement

 



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