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There are almost unlimited ways to get an enjoyable workout in when you are in a recovery cycle, need to give a running related sore body part a rest, or when you are hoping to add activity without additional running mileage.  In the chart below, we focused primarily on activities which function as running replacements in terms of cardiovascular stimulation vs activities like yoga, which may have other helpful primary benefits such as flexibility, etc.

Have a question, comment, or recommendation on your favorite cross training exercise? Write to your coach!
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Updated by Cally on July 15, 2023







































As the temps drop and the leaves turn, that can only mean one thing. Fall road racing is here.Marathon Runner Group

It can be easy to fall into the mindset of "I have to have the perfect build-up to my race." I'm here to tell you no such thing exists. Here are some tips and tricks to help when the inevitable happens!

1. Injuries happen. It is important to stay calm. Remember you can only control so much. Book an appointment with your physical therapist, reach out to your coach for training adjustments, cross train if necessary, and rest (body and mind). Stress won't help the injury, and can only hurt it further. This doesn't necessarily mean your race is over. Missing time now can be a blessing in disguise for the future!

2. Illness happens. All of the hard work and training can sometimes suppress the immune system. It's not uncommon for marathoners to catch a cold during their taper. Also very easy to panic in this situation, but try not to! There is a lot you can do that will help your body come up. Try and focus on hydration, eating foods that nourish (I crave homemade chicken noodle soup), and extra sleep. Taking off training during this time is recommended. This is your body's way of saying, "hey I need a break so I can perform on race day." Fitness doesn't diminish from a few days off. Try and push through it and you could make it worse.

3. The fatigue will set in, and when it does you will doubt yourself. Don't! Training for a marathon is hard work. One day you're smashing a workout, and the next you're barely able to get out of bed. The body takes time to absorb all the training, so there will be times you feel flat and tired. This is normal, but important to listen to. Give yourself rest if you feel like you need it, as pushing too hard during this time can send you into a hole that is hard to get out of. As you do more and more build ups, you will know the difference between tired and too tired.

4. Nerves are normal. As the race creeps closer, nerves will too. You want the right balance of nerves to help you get excited and not overly anxious. I like to start a book during my taper (no not a running book). Sometimes taking your mind elsewhere when you have a big event coming up is the perfect recipe to help calm things down. Get creative, but find something different to occupy your time that you'd normally spend running more miles. You want non running focus in your life so that you get a break from obsessing over the big day!

5. Enjoy the process. We put so much into a single day that it can get overwhelming. Try and remember part of the fun of this is the preparation. Without this piece the race wouldn't be what it is. Smile and know you are doing something special.



If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve likely had days when your cycle has impacted your runs or workouts. Some of those interruptions may have felt so severe, you've wondered how and when you should exercise during your cycle.

We chatted with Dr. Sahana Gopal, Head of Product at Wild AI (Wild AI is - an app that helps you train, fuel and recover with your female physiology) about the top five most common questions, related to your hormonal changes and how to be prepared tobe in "flo" with your cycle. 

  1. Should I run during my period?

WILD-AI_1You can definitely run while on your cycle, provided you aren’t suffering from period-related symptoms.
Some research even shows that gentle exercise can help reduce severity of period pain. Your hormone levels are actually the lowest at this time, which means that there is minimal impact on your metabolism, your resting heart rate is typically at its lowest, and your time to recover may be quicker. For instance, because female hormones impact metabolism, your body is better able to utilize carbohydrates which are the primary fuel source for high intensity type running. Lower levels of hormones also mean that you’re able to cope with heat better and your time to recover from high intensity work may be shorter, compared to when your hormones are higher.

 

  1. Should I fuel differently during my cycle vs my normal diet?

Estrogen and progesterone are the two main hormones to consider across the menstrual cycle when it comes to nutrition. Because the levels of these two hormones are lowest during the period, they have minimal impact on metabolism and you can stick to your normal intake of protein and carbohydrates based on your workout intensity. It’s also a good idea to focus on having carbohydrates after training as more carbs may be utilized by your muscles at this time of your cycle. Because the period is an inflammatory process, eating foods rich in iron such as fortified cereals, dark green leafy veg and/or beans is a good way to keep levels in check due to blood loss.

 

  1. My cramps are so severe that running is difficult. What should I do to stay active?

Firstly, having a painful period is not normal and there is a lot you can do to change this. Because of the inflammatory process that leads to your period, it’s important to make changes (5-7 days) before its onset so that your body can cope with the increase in inflammation and pain symptoms.WILD-AI_2

  • -Have 1g omega-3 rich food or a supplement

  • -Have food rich in magnesium (250mg) and zinc (30mg)

  • -Reduce saturated fats and dairy products

  • -Have a low dose anti-inflammatory such as baby aspirin or white willow bark.

Always have any supplements approved by your physician.

If you still suffer from cramps, research shows that light-moderate exercise can help reduce pain levels. Try moving your body in any way that feels good to you at this time. Importantly, this doesn't have to be your hardest workout of the month, if you don't feel up to it. Consider focusing on stretching, yoga and flexibility work at this time instead.

 

  1. I’ve noticed my heart rate increases during my period. Is this normal?

Heart rate, particularly at rest, is usually at its lowest during your period, leading up to ovulation, which is the midpoint of the cycle. Once ovulation (release of the egg into the fallopian tube) has occurred, resting heart rate increases along with core body temperature as a result of the increase in female hormones, particularly progesterone.

 



Jack Daniels, an exercise physiologist who inspired some of the Runcoach ideals, said "The stronger your core, the more solid you are as you hit the ground, this reduces the need for unnecessary stabilization, and allows you to be a more economical runner."IMG_8268

What are you waiting for? It's ABSolutely time to get to work. Here are some videos to help you get started.

Side Planks
 2-3 sets
Works the internal and external obliques to build better core stability.

Hamstring Bridge 2-3 sets
Core is more than just your abs. One of the most common weaknesses we see in runners is their glutes which are the key powerhouse for propulsion with every step you take while running. 

Push-Ups 2-3 sets
Works your arms, upper body, and core. Can be done on your knees to start, and then as you build up strength, you will be able to do a full push-up!

Partner Punishment 2-3 sets
If you don't have a partner to help you out in this exercise, you can do leg lower and left controlling the resistance of gravity on your own to get a deep core exercise

Try to include core into your weekly routine and watch your form and strength increase!











When should I change my running shoes?

This is one of the most common questions among runners of all levels. The condition and life within your shoes have a huge impact on your body, and quality of your training sessions.

Below is an exchange between Coach Hiruni and Runcoach Athlete and avid endurance runner Andrei Marinus.

Andrei: I run over 200km (125 miles) per month, and a good pair of shoes (even on sale is easily over 100USD). So here’s the million-dollar question… When do I have to change them again?

Coach Hiruni: Excellent question. Most folks who take running seriously search for an answer to this question. There are general guidelines some shoe manufacturers have (400-600km or 250 – 400 miles) for wear and tear, but not everyone wears shoes the same way.

Andrei: Yes, I noticed very few of them mention a higher mileage. It could be the shoe company tries to sell as much as they can. But I also understand the reasoning - after a certain mileage, the shoe loses its advertised features, and stop protecting the runner.

Coach Hiruni: As a coach I am also reluctant to recommend running high mileage in one shoe, because I have the best interest of my runners at heart. I want you and my other runners to be protected when you leave your door for a run, and continue to stack up days, weeks, months of consistent training. There are aspects on your shoe and within your legs you can use as a guide to know it is time to upgrade your footwear.

Andrei: So it seems, the best judge should be the runner? I should listen to my body. Once I start to receive signs of pain or discomfort or simply just not the same bounce as before, it is a signal.  Though pain is universal, everyone experiences it differently. For me it is usually a bit of tightness in the ligaments around the ankle. I have ignored this in the past, telling myself that some Kenyan runners are doing marathons on bare feet, so if I keep running in worn out shoes, I would still be protected. How I wished I didn’t do that … I ended up at an orthopedist who promptly put me offline for two months. Imagine how I felt going from over 200km to zero … Let’s just say I had learned my lesson, and ever since I am really listening to my body.

Coach Hiruni: Agreed. Some of the best lessons are learned the hard way. Most people can also tell by simply looking at the bottom of the sole of the shoe. The tread (just like a tire) should look fresh. If you notice pieces missing, or the shoe just looks “old and tired” that’s a red flag! For some people this can happen as early as 200km (125-150 miles) into wearing a shoe.

Andrei: Right on that point. Look at the sole of the shoes that I ran in when I got my marathon PB and my first ultra-marathon. They will be always close to my heart, but I know they have to go. There is almost nothing left at the back the shoe, right where I land.

 pic1   pic_2

I am running in zero drops, you can imagine with no sole left at the heel, I kind of converted them into negative drops…



coldThe good news is that regular exercise can be a strong ally against the common cold and flu, as moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system. 

However, this is tempered by the body’s reaction to the stress placed on that same immune system when the runs get long.  According to researcher David Nieman at Appalachian State University (a marathoning and ultra marathoning veteran), there is a 3-72 hour window after our long, hard efforts (90 minutes +) where the body suffers a temporary impairment of the immune system, making marathoners and half marathoners sitting ducks for the post-long run or post-race cold.   

What’s a runner with goals to do? 
While it is impossible to control for everything, with a few precautions, hopefully the odds will skew a bit more favorably.

 

Stay hydrated

Although we normally associate the need for hydration with the other three seasons, dry winter weather, altitude if visiting a mountainous region, or the unfamiliar humidity of a warm vacation spot can catch us off guard.  Even if just staying inside, the dry air in our well-heated homes can make a difference.  Particularly if traveling by air or consuming more alcohol than usual (ahem), staying hydrated can be a key component to keeping your body working well and running well.  An oft-quoted rule of thumb is to consume 64 ounces of water per day, or 8 regular sized glasses.  Some even suggest dividing your weight in pounds by two and using that number for how many ounces you need, or even taking 2/3 of your weight in pounds if you exercise.  If these numbers seem daunting, the point is – you probably could use some improvement in these areas, even if only incrementally!

 

Get Vaccinated

True, you could get some variant of the flu or another virus still, but your body ability to fight it off is that much more prepared with the vaccination's 'cheat sheet'.  As recreational adult runners, we can’t always treat ourselves like professional athletes.  In this case, however, we can.  If you have a winter or spring goal race planned, and your brain fast forwards to a hypothetical, very inopportune illness the week of the race, then this becomes a slam dunk.  Don’t let random viruses sabotage your training or racing!

 

Wash your hands like a doctor

No, this has nothing to do with running, except that recreational runners with big plans don’t like them going awry.  Wash them well, for 30 seconds with warm water and soap, and avoid touching your face to spread what germs make it through the gauntlet!  Carry hand santitizer, and use it when washing hands isn't possible.

 

Sleep

Although sleep is always important for performance, it takes on an even greater role during cold and flu season as several studies have shown the body’s immune system can be significantly impaired with repeated sleep deprivation.  Six hours instead of eight may not seem like a big deal, but during the winter and while training hard, too many of those nights can end up having the reverse effect from what efficiency you hoped to accomplish during those extra hours of wakefulness – laying you out for a couple days or preventing training during a crucial period.  Be a jealous guardian of your sleep time, and you’ll likely be more efficient and effective during your waking hours anyway!

 

 

Eat well

It is always a good idea to eat nutritiously, but during cold and flu season, good choices of immune system boosting foods with important nutrients can be particularly important.  For example, try a bean chili – lots of veggies and beans with key vitamins and minerals, and some spiciness to clear the nasal passages for good measure makes this dish more than just a warm comfort food, according to researchers at Wake Forest.   If you unfortunately do fall prey to the flu, try these foods as a part of your "return to health" arsenal.

 

No immune system is truly immune. This winter, let your running habit be the catalyst for healthy habits that will hopefully give you (and your family) a better chance of staying active and on your feet!

 



Originally written by Dena Evans
Updated by Ashley Benson 

Ryan_Victah_Oly_TrialsRyan Hall was the first American to break one hour in the half marathon, running 59:43 in January of 2007 at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.  His first marathon later that spring represented the fastest debut of any US athlete (2:08:24), and his current personal best of 2:06:17 ranks him second to Khalid Khannouchi on the all-time American list.  After winning the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, Ryan finished 10th in Beijing, and has placed 3rd and 4th overall in the last two Boston Marathons, running 2:08:40 in 2010, the fastest American time in the history of the event.

On December 1, John Hancock announced Ryan's inclusion into the 2011 Boston Marathon elite field.  Before he can tackle Heartbreak Hill again, however, he will need to train through the winter like the rest of us.  Ryan took a few minutes with us to share some insight about winter and holiday running.

Photo credit:  Victah Sailer

Coach:  Growing up in Big Bear (California) and now training in Mammoth, Flagstaff, and other high altitude locations in the winter, you must regularly encounter some rough running weather (cold temperatures, snow, ice, etc).  How do you tweak your training to account for these less than ideal conditions?

RH: Training during the winter months is certainly not my favorite season to train through, but the weird thing is that I always come out of the winter in the best shape of the year.  I don't know what it is about training in the snow, cold, rain, etc. that makes me feel better than I typically do,  but I know that its worth it for me to tough it out through these gray months.  The hardest thing for me to do is to be flexible in my training schedule from week to week.  For example, if I am scheduled for a big tempo run on Friday but the snow is coming down in buckets I have to have an open mind and be flexible enough to move the workout back, which in the past has been difficult for me to do.  If I am not willing to move the workout back it means I have to be flexible to do the workout indoors on a treadmill or at least wait for the afternoon sun to clear the roads.  Luckily, now my coach is in charge of the weather and my workouts so it all works out.

 

Coach: I assume that the challenges of winter training might encourage mental toughness.  What are some key things you remind yourself during the winter to help keep you focused on the training vs the challenges that might be posed by the weather, shorter daylight hours, etc?

RH: One of the aspects of running that I love the most is the challenge.  I think we all run, to some degree, because of the challenges we face in training.  I don't like to give myself excuses with the weather.  Sure, sometimes I'll wait it out to try and run in the best part of the day but there are those moments when the wind is blowing hard and snow is coming down and I am in the middle of a workout trying to run against the wind and I remind myself, "What if it is like this in Boston on race day?"
 
I know that race day can hold a variety of conditions and I must be ready for them all. So, when I see the flags whipping when I wake up on race morning I can smile because I know I have prepared for it.  I think there is also something to be said for being able to block out the cold and wind.  You teach yourself that you can push yourself hard when things aren't perfect.  Whenever things are not perfect in training, I remind myself that they probably won't be on race day either.

Coach: You come from a large family with several folks who enjoy or have enjoyed running.  Did you have any running related holiday traditions with your family growing up or nowadays with your wife, Sara? Or have you heard of any fun ones from other families you might like to try in the future?

RH: Well, this isn't necessarily running, but last year after a long run, Sara and I went out into the forest to hike up a mountain and cut down our own Christmas tree.  That was a first for the both of us.  It was fun, but I was drained for what felt like a week after that.  This year, we will probably go cut another Christmas tree, but on an off day from running.  Other than that, Sara and I have done a jingle bell run a couple years back and had a lot of fun.  There is nothing like ending a cold run at a coffee shop with a hot chocolate waiting.                                                         

Coach: I know you enjoy doing some cooking from time to time.  Any favorite holiday dishes you might recommend for our runners trying to stay on track with their training when so much good food is available?

RH: Cinnamon rolls were on my mind until I got to the end of your question.  Many of my holiday favorites like turkey, egg casseroles, and yams are actually super nutritious.  They just are usually prepared in unhealthy ways even though healthy versions are out there and are equally tasty.  I love fresh winter foods like squashes, brussel sprouts, and cranberries.  This year I am hoping to get to cook the turkey.  I have a new healthy and unique recipe that is so good.  It requires skinning the turkey before brining it for 24 hours, baking it at 350 for the first hour, then turning the temperature down to 180 for the next 23 hours.  It's the most tender and tasty turkey I have ever had.  With that said, I think moderation is the key during the holidays.  I like to enjoy an occasional homemade dessert because I do like a good sweet every now and again and I always want to honor the person who took the time to make the dessert.                                                                                                                                        

Coach:  Like you, many of our Runcoach runners are heading into the holidays while training for spring marathons or half marathons.    Some folks feel like the race is so far off it won't matter if they skip out on training for a few weeks now, and others are nervous and feel like the race is just around the corner.  How do you recommend folks maintain a good balance with months ahead to train?

RH: Good question.  I would suggest to plan your training ahead so you know what days are going to be tough to get out the door.  Use these days for off or recovery days.  As long as you have a good plan with the long term goal in mind you will be alright.  I make sure I am doing the proper workouts during the proper phases of training.  What I mean by this is that I know that even if I am not killing my workouts in December and January it is fine because they aren't my biggest workouts in preparation for a spring marathon.  If I was killing my biggest workouts in December and January, then I would be concerned.  I wait to do the meatest part of the my training in February and March.


Treadmill Running Tips

October 24, 2021
You may refer to it as the "dreadmill". The boring nature aside, there are plenty of benefits to gain from using the treadmill to complete your training. Whether it's unpleasant weather, or for safety reason (looking at your early birds and night owls), make the most of the 'mill with these tips.

Six Tips For Enjoyable Indoor Running:


- Always set aside 5-10 minutes to "warm up".pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3757957
Don't start running at a high speed on the treadmill. Just as if you were outdoors, stretch lightly before starting you run. Then easy jog 5-10 minutes at a relaxed pace so that your body can prepare for the workout or run ahead. 


-Use a slight incline.
Set the treadmill incline between 1-2%. Since there's no wind resistance indoors, a gentle uphill better simulates outdoor running. If you are just getting started with running or new to treadmill, it's okay to se the machine at 0%. Make it a goal to be able to run at 1% within a month. 


Did you know having the incline at 0% is actually like running on a slight downhill. Don't slack off!


-Do not hold on to the handrail or console.

These are placed for safety, not to guide your activity.  When you hold on to the rail, it hunches you over. This is not an effective running or walking form. It can cause lower and upper back pain. Keep your spin nice and straight, and pump your arms forward. 


-Pay attention to your stride.
You should have the same stride as when you are running/ walking outside. Lots of people make the mistake of overstriding (landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body's center of gravity). This is because the treadmill belt helps to move you forward. 
To avoid this mistake, keep the belt at a pace you can manage. Keep your stride ligh and quick. If you have a device to track your cadence use it!


-Do not step on or off while the treadmill is moving.
Most treadmill injuries are cause by falling or jumping off a fast moving belt. If you need a quick break, use the pause function or slow the speed of the machine to a very slow pace, and step off.
Top prevent needing to step off, try to be prepared with a towel, headphones, water and your phone before you get started.


-Bring entertainment
To combat the boredom, bring music, a podcast, magazine, or movie to watch. I usually don't recomend using headphones outside for safety reasons, but inside it's perfectly find. Having entertainment will prevent you from constantly checking your time and distance, and allow you to relax. 

Be sure to aware of your form still. Nice and tall spine! 



altitudeWinter is not the only time your running may take you among the clouds.  Summer vacations or trips with family might bring you to the mountains.  When you need to run at high altitudes, keeping in mind a few simple things can make your experience much more enjoyable and productive.

 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

At high altitudes, you may not feel sweaty, even after you run.  However, that does not mean that you don’t need to replenish your fluids even more so than at sea level.  At higher altitudes, there is less air pressure.  Evaporation happens more rapidly both off your skin as well as every time you exhale.  At an altitude similar to Denver, you perspire about twice as much as at sea level.  If you are not being very deliberate about water intake, your running will suffer, and general dehydration may make you feel ill (headaches, nausea, fatigue are common effects) regardless.  Carry a water bottle with you, drink throughout the day, and avoid caffeinated beverages.  If you are concerned about how much to drink, weigh yourself before and after a run at altitude to get a sense of how much water you have perspired during the session.

 

Expect to adjust your paces

Running at altitude requires your body to function when your lungs aren’t getting the same concentration of oxygen with each breath.   Your body has to fight harder to produce red blood cells and the whole operation makes things more difficult on your muscles to function in the manner to which you may be accustomed.  If you can run an eight minute mile at sea level, doing so at an altitude similar to Albuquerque or Reno might leave you the finishing the length of a football field behind your sea level self.  For instance, your Vo2 Max pace is adjusted about 3% per 1000 feet, and expect it to still feel pretty tough.  Keeping a good humor and realistic expectations is key to successfully managing your schedule when heading to the hills.

 

It will get better...but it will get a little worse first

There is a lot of discussion about the benefits of training at altitude, but a long weekend at a mountain cabin won’t quite get you there.  When you arrive, your body begins to fight the good fight to produce red blood cells, despite the paucity of oxygen.  Initially, it will lose this fight, and your red blood cell stores will dwindle a bit over the first few days making these days successively more difficult to a certain extent.  After your body figures out that it needs to work a ton harder, it will, and production will ramp up like a toy company at Christmas.  However, this takes a about 2-3 weeks before supply can catch demand.  Once you return to sea level, this high octane production will dissipate fairly soon as the air pressure yields more oxygen per breath.  So, if you are serious about wanting to train at altitude, plan a longer stay, and don’t expect a huge boost months after you return.

Protect your skin

Even a cloudy day in the mountains can result in a sunburn with UV rays over twice as strong at many common mountain heights.  Wear hats and sunscreen, reapplying frequently to stay ahead of sun damage.

 

Keep fueling

At high altitude, your body must work harder to keep up with all the demands listed above and more.  A moderate caloric increase is appropriate to keep up with your body’s needs.

 

While the benefits and challenges of running at altitude are still being researched, a beautiful trail run in the mountains can provide qualitative benefits that go beyond the resultant blood chemistry, and training hard and with friends can plant the psychological seeds for many a goal race campaign.  Plan well, take care of your body while in the hills, and enjoy many a mile in the thin air.

Originally written by Dena Evans
Updated by Hiruni Wijayaratne



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