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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



trainingWritten by Jen Van Allen
Updated by Rosie Edwards

While training with us, you'll have a variety of workouts to help you build all-around fitness. Each workout plays a unique role in building your all-around fitness, and helping you reach your goals.  It's important to stick to the pace and distance assigned for each workout. On your Schedule & History page, under the "Pace Chart" you'll see the suggested paces for each workout.  Below, you'll find more guidance on how to gauge your effort for each run.

MAINTENANCE: Run at a conversational pace, or 65 - 85% of max heart rate. If you’re huffing and puffing, you’re going too fast.   These workouts are designed to build your aerobic fitness, without stressing your bones, muscles, and joints. Don’t take your easy runs too fast; save your energy for quality workouts like speed sessions and long runs.

REST: Let your body recover from training stresses, get stronger, and bounce back quickly for your next workout.  You may do a low-impact activity: walk, swim, bike, or ride the elliptical. Just take it easy.

LONG RUNS: Long runs are meant to build endurance, and get you comfortable spending hours at a time on your feet. Focus on finishing the distance at your target pace feeling strong. Practice fueling strategies and gear logistics to figure out what will work on race day.

THRESHOLD: This workout, also called a “tempo run,” should feel comfortably hard, but it’s not an all-out sprint.  You should be able to say 2 to 3 words while running.  Threshold workouts should be done at 85-92% of your maximum heart rate. Threshold workouts will help you develop the ability to hold a faster pace for a longer distance, and they’ll train your legs and your lungs to be more efficient.

SPEED SESSIONS: During speed sessions you’ll alternate between short, fast-bouts of running (typically 800 or 1500-meter repeats) and periods of recovery with walking or easy running. These workouts build cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, stride efficiency, and they get your fast-twitch muscle fibers firing. Those benefits will help you no matter what kind of goal is. Try to complete the assigned workout feeling strong.

To learn more about the purposes of each workout, click here.  Have questions? Contact Us.



CaptureAs with any new adventure, when you are starting off, it can seem dauting to set a goal. To take some that stress off, we’ve asked our coaches for their top tips.

A goal, no matter the caliber is critical to keep you focused. A goal should be ambitious, but not so wild that it will take you an exceedingly long time to reach it. As a beginner, you will see various levels of successes rather quickly. Use this to your advantage and set several personally relevant goals.

 

(1)    Exercise Regularly – Run consistently

This can be simply to run/ walk/ move your body and sweat 2 – 3 times per week, for a month. Building a routine is the first step toward meaningful change in your life. Your body adapts the more times you teach it to do a skill. Continually running/ walking will improve the response within your body

(2)    Run a Specific Distance

Be it one kilometer, mile or 5K – marathon, set a distance that you can be proud of completing. Time or pace is not relevant at this point. This is a personal record of the farthest distance you can cover in one-go.

(3)    Run Non-Stop

Set yourself a goal to run on-stop over a realistic distance. At first you can even make it a goal to run around your neighborhood without stopping, then move up to a loop around your local park.

(4)    Select a Race

Live events are a rare luxury for now, but you can still register to support a race organization which is meaningful to you. Most virtual races will send you a finisher medal, and other awesome swag. These are treats to reward you for reaching the goal. 

(5)    Weight Loss

Lots of people start running to lose weight. Just like setting your eyes to run a certain distance, you should set a weight loss goal for each week and each month. Experts recommend 0.5-1kg (1-2 lbs) as a safe weekly weight loss goal.



calendarLike the recipe of your favorite dish, your runcoach training plan combines many difference types of ingredients.  Each of these ingredients are important, even as some of them come in large quantities and some are just a pinch of salt on top of a mound of flour in the bowl.

 

Your runcoach pace chart provides a wide array of paces for various types of workouts prescribed on your individualized schedule,.  Your marathon, maintenance, 80% and half marathon paces are paces your body should be able to handle for long durations – paces at which your cardiovascular system can keep up with the oxygen demand of your muscles for extended periods of time.  Even though you may not be out of breath during this type of running, your muscles are building more extensive and efficient pathways for oxygen and energy delivery.  In addition, your mind is preparing for the lengthy race task ahead.  If you are using a heart rate monitor, this running is done somewhere in the range of 65-85% of your maximum.

 

While some “Pace Runs” on your schedule might be prescribed at slower paces, “threshold” running is designed to challenge you at a comfortably hard level.  This pace should be sustainable for a shorter period of time, say 20-25 minutes, but should not feel easy to continue much beyond that duration. It should also not feel hard after just a few minutes of running.  This area of pacing helps to challenge your body to become more efficient with handling a steadily accumulating blood lactate level (something you will have to do in races shorter than a half marathon).  Threshold workouts are ideally executed at about 88-92% of your maximum heart rate.

 

Crossing the “threshold” literally and figuratively, leads us to paces that can only be performed for shorter, more challenging periods of time.  Balancing intervals or repetitions with just enough rest or active recovery allows an athletes to spend a significant cumulative period of time at a quick pace and high heart rate, conditioning the body and mind to operate effectively and efficiently at that level of demand, which is ideally in the mid to high 90s of maximum heart rate percentage.  If one ran a series of 800m intervals at 4:00 with 90 seconds recovery, each successive interval would see the athlete’s heart rate shoot up more and more quickly within the 4:00, but ideally not so quickly that the athlete could not complete the interval at the prescribed pace.  This effect may result in the first couple intervals of a workout feeling slightly easier than anticipated, tempting the athlete to run faster than the prescribed paces.  While this may seem logical – to run harder initially and shoot the heart rate to the moon on the first interval – the workout is designed to create its effect by the end of the session.  What may seem like a comfortable pace on the first interval turns out to be a misguided assessment as the athlete slows down precipitously at the end or requires way more rest than assigned.

 

Some athletes may wonder why an 800m or 1500m pace might even be assigned to them as they train for a half or full marathon.  Although the bulk of an endurance race training schedule includes work preparing for the paces, energy efficiency, heart rate demand, and mental effort of the longer races, workouts prescribed with some quicker paces allow an athlete to work on running economy.  Workouts or even strides on your schedule at 800m or 1500m pace provide a valuable opportunity for athletes to challenge the fundamentals of their running stride, to teach their legs to have a bit more range of motion in the stride, to strengthen their feet to push off the ground more effectively, quickly, and with strength.  Although they may seem inconsequential in the larger picture, even small improvements in this area can result in large gains considering how many thousands of strides we take during the course of our general training.

 

While it is normal and natural to feel more at home with one type of workout over another, avoid the inclination to slough off the types of workouts that seem unfamiliar or not in your wheelhouse.  Each of the paces prescribed in your schedule has a purpose.  Commit to executing each workout with mindfulness and a sense of purpose.  This is your best chance of turning out a race day “dish” you’ll remember for years.



Updated by Rosie Edwards.

This month, we touch on a question that comes up over and over with brand new and experienced runners alike.

Form Tip:  Arms

Q:  What should I do with my arms when I run?



Updated by Rosie Edwards

While not everyone can be the running equivalent of a Tour de France champion, dancing on your pedals as you climb the Alps and the Pyrenees with the ease of a mountain goat, we all will encounter hills in our running, and probably all could use a periodic refresher on how to get the most out of our efforts on the ascents.

With the climb or descent looming ahead, how should you prepare to for the challenge ahead? Read on for a few simple cues....

1.  The basics of general good running form almost all still apply.  Keep your arms at 90 degrees (click here to review our column on What To Do With Your Arms) and keep your shoulders low (not hunched) and square to the direction you are heading.  Keep your hands relaxed and swinging through your "pockets", and maintain tall posture.

2.  Don't lean too far into the hill on the ups or too far back on the downs.  Try to maintain a slight lean forward (long lean from the ankle, not the waist) both up and down, just as you would on the flats.  Leaning too far forward on the uphill restricts the ability of your knees to drive and can compromise your ability to maximize your inhales if you are hunched over.  Stay tall, open up your chest, and give your legs and lungs room to work.  On the downhills, braking yourself by leaning backward puts unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints, and often squanders a chance to make up ground in a race.  A little forward lean, when not on an area with dangerous footing, can help get you a couple seconds closer to that PR, and leave you a bit less sore the day after.

3. Concentrate on cadence.  Resist the urge to overstride on the downhills, and do your best just to maintain your rhythm on the uphills. Yes, you will be going faster than the flats on the downhills and slower than the flats on the uphills if you maintain a similar rhythm and effort level, but you will also most likely arrive at the top of the hill without wasting a bunch of energy for little advancement, and keeping your stride landing underneath your body on the downhills instead of in front will minimize excess pounding.

4.  Don't spend a lot of time on the ground.  Keep your feet pushing off of the ground quickly, just as you would on the flat. For those used to heelstriking on the flats, hills can be a valuable tool to build foot and calf strength as you land more on your midfoot than you might normally.  On the uphills, it should almost feel like your feet are striking the ground behind you.  On the downhills try (as we have discussed), to let your feet land underneath you so you do not have to wait to let your body travel over the top before pushing off again.

5.  Look ahead.  Sure, it is tempting to look at your feet and make sure your legs are doing what we have just been talking about, but looking several steps ahead will help you anticipate any undulations in the hill ahead, any poor footing areas requiring caution, and will keep your posture tall (more air in the lungs!)  and your arms at the right angles.  

This fall, may you approach every hill with anticipation and crest the top with satisfaction! 

Have a suggestion for next month's Personal Best?  Email it to us at info@runcoach.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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