Running Advice

Add this move into every run

We always include strength training in our running plans. We believe it is a key part of any successful plan. The one move we always include is the Single Leg Deadlift. It tones the hamstrings, the hips and the glutes. All three are needed to stabilize the body while running. Additionally, balancing on one leg reduces strength imbalance between left and right sides.  Add this one move into every workout and your legs will feel stronger and healthier. Do 2 sets of 15 reps per leg. GO!

SIngle Leg Deadlift

Getting back to running after being sick

by Meghan Reynolds

This winter was a doozy - lots of work hours, work travel, some life hiccups and getting sick (twice!). Something had to give and it was training for a marathon for me.  Getting two colds this year really wiped me out as well and I knew that I needed to rest in order to fully recover. I kept my running short and easy and focused on building strength and stretching.

Now, after two months of craziness, I'm back and getting ready for fall marathon training. It's tempting to just dive back into my 12-14 mile long runs and regular paced runs. But, I know my body isn't ready and I don't want to get discouraged. To avoid the pitfalls of checking off miles and pace, I started running for time. So, 30, 40 or 60 min runs. I started this about 3 weeks ago and am just now starting to wear my watch on runs. This does two things for me: 1) hides my pace so I don't freak out if I'm slower and 2) allows me to just run! I run out for 15 or 20 mins and then come back. For the longer runs, I explore a different neighborhood until my watch says 60 mins or a loop that takes me about an hour.

I've found that this makes running more enjoyable and not so task oriented of hitting a set number of mile or a set pace. So, if you have had a doozy of a winter, don't despair. Start slow and start without miles or pace goals. Aim to hit total time running goals. Within 3 weeks, you'll be back and ready to go!

Sticking to your training plan when traveling

It can be challenging to stick with our training plans while traveling, for work and for pleasure. We usually recommend cutting back the miles so you can enjoy your vacation or not be overly stressed about fitting in a long run.

Meghan was just on a work trip for 7 days so she had to rearrange her training schedule to fit her work schedule. Here’s what she did to keep up her fitness and get her miles in. She was in Mexico City with a photographer so she was at the mercy of the light and the photographer’s schedule. While this got her awesome pictures, it didn’t leave a lot of time for working out. She decided to cut way back on her miles and focus on strength this week. Mexico City has terrible traffic so they walked a lot (5-8 miles a day) so she was conscious of how much her legs were doing. 

 The end of the race made for a perfect picture!

The end of the race made for a perfect picture!

  • Monday – travel day
  • Tuesday – 30 min run on treadmill and 5 minutes of abs
  • Wed – 15 mins of strength in hotel room
  • Thursday – 20 min run and 10 mins of strength in hotel gym
  • Friday – 20 min total body workout
  • Sat – 20 min HIIT workout
  • Sunday – 5.5 mile run (and she found a race!)

Traveling can be stressful so we always recommend going with the the least stressful option – finding a treadmill or cutting back on your miles. 

 


Base Building. Staying in the Game.

Ever wonder what you're supposed to do before your half marathon or marathon race training plans actually start? The average runner is not constantly in race training (if you feel like you are, stop and talk to us about recovery!). This period in between recovery and race training is hard for a lot us who thrive off of structure and goals.  For others coming back from an injury or time off from running, you might have the same question: How do you stay fresh and ready to dive into more technical demands of race training like intense hill and speed workouts and long runs? The answer? Do three simple things:

  1. ADD VARIETY TO 1 RUN PER WEEK
  2. BUILD UP TO 1, 90-MINUTE LONG RUN PER WEEK
  3. STRENGTH EXERCISES AT LEAST 2X PER WEEK

ADDING VARIETY:
What I mean here is vary your pace and vary your terrain at least once a week. You can be very structured about this or spontaneous depending on what works best for you and your lifestyle. Either way, start to incorporate faster intervals and hill work once a week. This can include progression runs where you get faster and faster each mile, short and long speed intervals (1 to 5 minutes), tempo runs, hill repeats or hill surges on a hilly run.  For specific workout ideas, download our Base Training Plan.

hillrunning_upperbody_ragnar2.jpg

THE LONG RUN:
In order to be race training ready, it's good to have the body accustomed to some longer distances so the long run isn't so taxing on the body. Accordingly, building up and maintaining the ability to run for 90 minutes is a good base line to settle in at during "spring training." Remember, as with any running routine, you want recovery weeks. So, every couple of weeks, drop your long run down to 60 or 70 minutes to give your body a break. Once you can do 90 minutes comfortably, start to challenge yourself on these runs either by harder terrain, faster paces in the middle or the end of the run.

TARGETED STRENGTH WORK
The majority of runners make just enough time in their day to get their run in. Maybe a few extra minutes for stretching . . . maybe.  But, building a strong foundation during this phase is just as important as maintaining the frequency of your running. While training plans aren't taking over your life, this is a good time to really commit to strength work at least two times a week. Focus on a couple core exercises and a couple lower body exercises. Honestly, 30-minutes a week is a good start (2, 15-minute strength sessions). Do it. Check out our video library for exercise suggestions.

Would you like extra guidance on how these three principles play out in a base training training plan? Download our free Base Training Plan. Once you have a chance to review it, feel free to reach out to us with questions about how to make it your own. Base building is casual and carefree - this is not a time to stress about missed runs, but it is a time to start mixing things up!


I ran a marathon. Now what?

The fall marathon season is almost over and many of you are probably wondering, what do I do now? You dedicate so much time and energy into that one day and when it's over, it's hard to not feel as if something is missing from your schedule. We've been there too. We've felt restless, lazy and directionless. I know, it sounds dramatic, but recognizing how you feel will help you recover. It's essential that you give yourself and your body adequate time to recover after a marathon. One easy rule of thumb is one day of rest for every mile you ran, so 26 days rest days. This doesn't mean you don't do anything, it means that you give yourself a break from any intense workouts for 26 days (think speed work or races).

We break it down into 4 weeks. The first week, no running. This doesn't mean become a couch potato. Instead, exercise but keep the intensity at an easy level. We enjoy yoga, walking, a bike ride, an easy spin class and active recovery classes.  The second week, do a 3-4 mile run on the weekend and continue with yoga, Pilates or a moderately intense spin class during the week. The third week, add in some running, but keep it to a conversational pace. Run 4-6 miles on the weekend. The fourth week, run 2-3xat a conversational pace and then add in some intensity during the weekend run. If you feel good during that run, you are recovered and can start planning your next race. If your heart rate is high and you are out of breath, take a few more days.  Recovery is a vital part of training and, if done correctly, will help you come back as stronger or stronger than your previous performance.

Tapering

by Meghan Reynolds

Some people love tapering; some people hate it. I personally love tapering. It usually comes right when I feel that my body just can't do another long run. I relish the shorter, faster runs, the ability to sleep a bit longer, not rushing to the track or out the door to get my run in. Tapering helps me focus on the race and allows my body to get ready for race day. The New York City Marathon is about 1.5 weeks away and we wanted to remind everyone to taper and why we do it.

The reason we taper before competitions is to maximize our potential on race day. This is not a rest or recovery period. Instead, these 2-3 weeks are when you reduce miles while maintaining intensity. If you are tapering for a marathon, plan to run about 30% less from your peak mileage 3 weeks out and about 50% less 2 weeks out from the race. While the miles decrease, your intensity doesn't. We recommend you run several runs at race pace and at tempo during the taper (especially, if you are going for a PR) . Don't slack on these runs or skip them, they are what will get you to the finish line in your goal time.

Use your long runs as race pace practice and wear the clothing you plan to wear during the race. We recommend running 13-15 miles 2 weeks out and 8 miles the weekend before a marathon (for a half marathon, run about 9-11 miles 2 weeks out and 6 miles the weekend before the race). During each of these runs, aim to run 4-8 miles at race pace. During the week (3 and 2 weeks out), run 15-20 minutes at tempo pace (only 1 time per week). These runs get your body use to that pace and will help you mentally as your body fatigues later on in the marathon.

Taper time can be hard for many athletes because we are so used to filling up our time with running and marathon training. This is a good time to refocus on sleep and eating well, or watch that DVD series you've been meaning to start or read a book you've had on your list. Keep yourself occupied and enjoy the extra time. Don't fret about the miles or what other people are doing. Avoid looking up blogs or articles about training or taper time as well. You don't want to freak yourself out! We recommend unplugging a bit the week before your race; go to bed early, shut the TV off, turn the computer off and leave the phone in the other room. Allow your body and mind to rest.

In the end, it's about trusting your training and staying positive. Believe you will do great and you will have a great race.

Easy ways to warm up

For many of us, we roll out of bed to run or bolt out the door after work. In both those scenarios, and probably countless others, our bodies have been in a state of rest or static for a long period of time. Running is a jarring activity, thus, you want to ease your body into your run. A fast walk or slow jog works well. Do that for about 2 minutes or a few blocks and then pick it up.

If you feel like your legs are not turning over or if the run is a faster run, you will want to do a few extra exercises to warm up the body. Here are 2 of our favorites that are easy to implement and do as part of your mileage. Do each exercise 2x for 30 seconds (or 1 full city block).

High Knees

Butt Kicks

For a more complete warm up routine, check out our dynamic stretching for runners. Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up before running because the movements take the joint and muscles through motions, getting them ready to fire, as opposed to static which is designed to relax muscles. We recommend this before any track or interval workout.


Staying motivated

Training for a marathon isn't an easy endeavor. There are early morning runs to avoid the heat, lots of long weekend runs, speed workouts, cross training, and to add to it, sleeping, eating and your non-running life! It can be hard to balance everything, especially during the summertime when we are taking vacations and enjoying the nice weather and longer days. Losing motivation or finding yourself skipping runs is a natural by product of training. When you find yourself in this predicament, try these 4 tips. They've helped me and Jessica out of a few ruts.

1. Meet a friend, or a group, for a run. Use your easy or recovery days to run with a friend. Use the time to chat and keep yourself honest with your pace (this should be your slower run). Group runs are great because of the different paces; one week the group pace might challenge you and another week, it's might help you hit that slow, easy pace.

2. Pick a destination. Use your running time to reconnect with friends and then continue the conversation over drinks, brunch or coffee. Or, head out by yourself - plot out runs that end at your favorite brunch spot, new coffee shops, or your local wine bar and reward yourself at the end.  Don’t forget your money (we keep our money and IDs in a plastic sandwich bag- it works)!

3. Change of scenery.  Keep things fresh or re-inspire your running by exploring new routes through your city. Hop on a subway, train or drive out to a park or lake you haven't run around.  If you’re traveling, look online for local running spots instead of leaving directly from your hotel. 

4. Accountability. Find a coach, a buddy, or a family member to hold you accountable. Give them your training schedule and ask them to ask you about your runs.  If that's too much, print out your monthly plan and tape it to the mirror in your bathroom or leave it on the fridge so you'll see it everyday.

The Do Anywhere Speed Workout

by Meghan Reynolds

We created this workout for people who are short on time, don't have access to a track and want to lose weight. It consists of alternating speed and recovery intervals, i.e. a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout. HIIT workouts increase your metabolism and bring a new quickness to your running. Your body burns more fat and calories after a HIIT workout than you do after a long run. This type of a workout is a great way train efficiently without having to buy a lot of equipment.

Here's the workout: warm up with a 10-15 minute easy jog and then do 2-3 rounds of this set: 120 seconds, 90 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 second speed intervals with a 1-minute recovery jog in between each speed interval.  Aim for a consistent pace within each speed interval and to be able to maintain the same pace for each one. Rest for about 2-3 minutes between each set. Run at least 1/2 mile as cool down and then stretch.

What is the appropriate pace for the speed intervals? That is up to and depends on your pace. We recommend running at 80% of your max heart rate. This is not an all out sprint - just below that. You should be able to finish each interval without feeling like you have to bend over to catch your breath or throw up. I let my breath guide me: when I'm wheezing (or my breath is raspy), I'm running too fast.  When we say recovery jog, we mean a SLOW recovery jog. It's more like a shuffle (without getting sloppy on your form). Seriously. 

To complete this workout all you need is a watch and maybe some fun tunes to help you pick it up on the speed intervals and get your feet to turn over faster. Have questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Have fun!

5 Tips for Newbie Runners

The most common mistake new runners make is deciding to just go and run. It's easy to do – just lace up those sneakers and head out the door, right? Wrong. Running without building up a base or starting out too fast can lead to injuries and burnout. Follow our tips below to enjoy the run and want to keep lacing up those sneakers.

  • Begin with run/walk intervals. Even if you are fit (go to the gym, take spin classes, etc), running is hard on your body. If you're not used to running, there’s more room for injury and soreness.  that's why we recommend newbies start with a Run/Walk approach. If you're off the couch, start slowly because an injury will only hamper your progress. Your run/walk intervals might be 1/3 (1 minute running and 3 minutes walking). If you're highly active, you might want to try 5/2 or 7/2 intervals.
  • Measure progress in minutes, not miles. When you first start running, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Once you hit 30 minutes of run/walk intervals, slowly begin to increase the run intervals by a minute or two each week. Once you reach 30 minutes of continuous running, you can begin to measure your progress in miles.
  • Focus on effort, not pace. During the run intervals, you want to be able to talk without feeling winded. If you start to feel winded, slow down. Monitor how your body responds to the effort during training (i.e. how you feel) as opposed to your minute-per-mile pace.
  • Frequency is important. Aim for three days of run/walk intervals and don’t run/walk two days in a row. The non-running days allow your muscles and joints to get use to the pounding. This doesn’t mean you shouldn't exercise. Go for a bike ride, take a yoga class or adopt a strength-training routine. You want to build up your cardiovascular health, so aim to be active five or six days a week.
  • Invest in the proper shoes. It's true that running is a pretty low-cost, low-maintenance sport. However, there are a few key pieces of "equipment" that require an investment. The most important piece is finding a proper shoe. Not all running sneakers are created equally, nor are all correct for you. Go to a specialty running store (not a store like Sports Authority) and talk to the sales person about your new endeavor and fitness history. Don't be embarrassed! They are there to help you find a shoe you love so you, in turn, will love running.

5 Ways to Prepare for Marathon Training

Wondering what you should be doing to get ready for fall marathon training? You’re not alone. Here’s how we recommend you fill those precious weeks leading up to the start of your marathon training:

(1) GET HEALTHY. Now’s the time for a little TLC for any extra tightness or nagging pain that’s been creeping it’s way into your spring running. Maybe this means taking a week or two off from running or a couple visits to your favorite therapist. Also, don’t forget the value of a good non-running shoe. Women, with warmer, summer weather comes flat sandals, flip flops and high-heeled sandals. None of these are good for your achilles or your feet. Instead, spend more time in shoes with about a 1-inch lift and some arch support.

(2) SETTLE INTO A ROUTINE. Marathon training must be a priority for it to be successful. So, make sure you’ve figured out a way to fit in at least 3 runs a week including one day a week that will work for your longer runs. If you figure out how to make your schedule work in advance, it’ll be a lot less stressful when training officially begins.

(3) PICK UP THE PACE. Get your body used to the faster paced workouts included in most marathon training plans with at least one run a week that includes speed bursts in the middle or at the end of your run. For example, after a couple miles into your run, pick up the pace 4-6 times for 15 seconds to a couple minutes. You don’t need to sprint, but get out of your easy, regular pace. Alternatively, finish your run with a fast last mile at a comfortably hard pace similar to a tempo pace. This pace should feel challenging, but you should still be able to control your breathing.

(4) LONG RUN PREP. Take a look at the long run distance in week 1 of your training plan. Now make sure you’re ready to tackle that distance by building up over the next couple of weeks to a mile or two below this distance. For example, if the first week of your plan has you running 10 miles, you should be able to run 8 miles before starting week 1. This way you adhere to the 10% rule of only increasing your long run distance by about 10% each week. 

(5) FIND A PLAN! No marathon experience is the same, so we believe no plan should be exactly same. Make sure your training plans works for you – not just your training partner. For a fully customized training approach and a fun, supportive environment, check out our 16-week training plans.  

Tips for Running with a GPS Watch (or not)

Get the most of tracking your runs with these GPS watch tips:

1. Pace setting: I prefer lap pace over current pace. Current pace bounces around way too much for me. If you have it in lap pace, then it measures your average pace thus far for the current lap (i.e the distance travelled thus far for that lap and your total time in transit for that lap – and calculates your average pace). Calculating the average pace prevents the watch from jumping around when you’re on a slight hill or have a quick speed burst within your lap that might screw you up if you were to look down at your pace at that exact moment.

What is a lap? It’s whatever you set your watch at. For current pace it’s based on one mile. If you want your average mile pace, then keep your lap set to 1 mile.

If you want to reset the pace before your lap is up, just hit lap on your watch and wait a few seconds for it to recalibrate.  Note that it does not adjust immediately. 

Overall, I find that current pace can really mess with your head if you’re trying to stay on pace using your watch.

2. Auto Pause: Turn this off. It's annoying (i think).

3. Auto Lap vs. Manual Lap: Auto lap is great when you are running tempos or long runs or somewhere without mile markers, but when you're on the track or in a race, turn off auto lap. It will mess with your tracking.

In a race, opt for manual lap every time. All you have to do is manually hit lap as you pass each mile marker. This way you know for sure exactly how fast you are running each mile according to the race course not the gps - often they are not exactly the same. If you forget at one mile, then hit lap at the next mile and divide by two for your average pace over the last two miles. 

I actually prefer a good ole timex stopwatch during races or turn off my gps altogether and manually hit lap.  This way I don't have to worry about losing satellite connection or low battery issues and I know I'm tracking myself the same way the race course is tracking me. Manual lap is also good for track workouts because you don't want it to accidentally lap you when you in the middle of an interval and often times your laps are shorter than the auto lap setting.

4. Ditch the GPS altogether.  Do one run a week without tracking your pace. It’s healthy to forget about pacing sometimes.

Jesssica's favorite watch these days is a good old fashioned sportswatch. The best part is you never have to charge it!

Spring Reboot

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Now that we have longer days, it's time to get back out there for some runs and start training for some summer races. Begin adding in some speed on your weekday runs - your summer racing times will thank you.

Here is an easy plan to begin building up your speed. Always warm up before doing any speed work. We recommend warming up for at least 10 minutes and cooling down for 10 minutes.

Here is a progression:

1) 10x 30 seconds fast with 1 minute reovery

2) 5 x 30 seconds with 1 minute recovery, 5 x 45 seconds with 1 minute recovery

3) Pyramid series: 2 x (30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 60, 45, 30) with equal recovery

4) 10 x 1 minute fast with 30 seconds recovery

5) 5 x 2 minutes fast with 1 minute recovery

The "fast" part of each workout is not a full on sprint. Instead, you want to run about 70% of your max, which is being able to say 1 word every 4-5 breaths. The speed interval should feel challenging but doable. Run the rest of your weekly runs at your normal pace.

If you are training for a race and you want to improve your time, run a 2 mile time test before starting any speed work. This will give you a baseline.

Cross Training to Get a PR

Training for a PR in any distance race is a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. It can be tough on your body and mind. We have found that focusing on specific workouts and understanding how to recover and use rest days are the key ingredients to running a PR. Most training plans will have key workout days and rest days; what many plans lack is cross training. Understanding how to cross train and use recovery days will make you a stronger and faster runner.
 
We distinguish between two types of cross training activities: (1) Cardio, which is spinning, elliptical, bike intervals, walking, swimming, aerobics classes, and (2) Strength, Conditioning and Flexibility which includes Pilates, yoga, boot camp, and strength sessions or classes. Both types are important while training and for overall injury prevention and long term running health.
 
Cross training days are important because they help you help build aerobic fitness and muscle stability. By increasing overall aerobic fitness, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, this makes your heart stronger, which enables it to deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently. Running is one of the best aerobic activities there is, however, just like your muscles, you need to switch up your cardio so your body can react and learn to work hard under all types of work. Muscle stability will help ward off injury and give you a much more solid base to increase speed. Running can overwork certain muscles, such as the hamstrings and quads, and essentially ignore major stability muscles including glute medius. Strength training brings more balance to your body.

Be careful to not overdue it on your cross training days. Too much intensity within a week can actually weaken your muscles. Classes are great because the instructor takes you through an array of work - hills or intervals, for example in a spinning class or full body strength workout in a boot camp class. If you workout on your own, it’s important to vary your cross training and make it counts towards strength, stability and fitness.Below, we have listed a few cross training ideas that will help elevate your training:

Spring Intervals

6-8 Sets of 30 seconds max effort speed intervals (ideally you are standing and the resistance is high). Recover at a very low and comfortable level for 2 minutes in between each sprint. Warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes each. Do this only 1x a week.

Easy, Recovery Ride

30-60 minutes at an easy relaxed pace that is similar to your effort on an easy run. This is a great option to improve blood circulation the day after a hard run workout. You can do this workout up to 2x a week.

Strength Workout Do 2 sets of each exercise 2-3x a week. Avoid doing a lot of lower body work the day before a hill or track workout. (you can watch a demo of each exercise on our YouTube channel)

  • Month 1: Plank (60 sec) | Side Plank (30 sec each side) | Lower Back Extensions - modified superman (60 sec) | Push-Ups (10-15x) | Bridge lifts (15x) | Bridge with Single Leg Walks (60 sec) | Single Leg Deadlift (30 sec each side) | Single Leg Calf Raises (15x each side) | Glute Press Up (30 sec each side) | Clamshells (12-15 each side)
  • Month 2: Plank Walks (45 sec) | Side Planks (45 sec each side) | Single Leg Bridge Lifts (30 sec side) | Pushups (20x) Single Leg Deadlift (45 sec each side) | Single Leg Calf Raises (20x each side) | Glute Press Up (45 sec each side) | Clamshells (20 each side) | Squat Jumps (30 sec) | Reverse Lunge (30 sec each side) | Lateral Lunge (30 sec each side)

Motivation Monday - Night Running

Yesterday was the first day the time change really hit me. I went into yoga class in daylight, at 3:50pm, and left in darkness, a little after 5pm. I felt like going to bed immediately and it reminded me how vital it is to be seen by drivers. It was really hard to see people, in black jackets, crossing the roads. It's even harder and scarier when it's a runner - who is moving much more quickly than pedestrians.

I'm not the best in the morning, thus, i prefer to run in the evenings. It helps clear my head and reduces the stress from the day. However, now that it's dark at 5pm, I need to dig out my reflective gear so I am safe while running through the streets. I recommend wearing reflective gear and a flashing tail light. We have a Nike hat that is crazy reflective (but not warm) and a jacket with a reflective area on the front and back. We also have running tights from lululemon athletica with reflective areas on the legs. One piece that I've recently added is a flashing tail light (kinda like a light you'd see on a bike). I have to cross a lot of streets to get to the trail that I like and I don't want to take any chances. The reflective gear and the tail light combined with me being more aware (not listening to music) ensures that I am safe while runing in the dark.

Most major running brands offer reflective clothing. They are expensive however. If you don't want to make that type of investment, consider a running reflective vest. You can put it over any top or jacket and be seen up to 1200+ at night.

Enjoy the night runs and be safe!

Slow Down on your Easy Runs


Stop looking at the watch during your easy runs and start thinking about whether you are running slow enough. An easy run should be conversational and a pace you feel like you could run forever at.  

While reading Matt Fitzergerald's new book, "80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Trainig Slower" to review on Diets and Review's website I was reminded that most of us run our easy runs wayyyyyyyy too fast. During training, when a workout calls for an Easy Run or a Recovery Run embrace the slow, comfortable pace and stop trying to push the pace boundary.  SLOW runs are just as important, if not more, than your speed work.

It might be hard at first to break the habit of pushing it a little more than you should on easy days, but with a little bit of dedication and focus, easier, easy runs might be just what you need to get that spring back in your legs.  

 

 

 

 

When marathon training is hard...Really hard

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I haven't written about my training in a while for a number of reasons: 1) I moved, 2) I started a new job, 3) my training has sucked. Yup, sucked. I haven't been hitting my mileage or my times. My legs feel like they are full of lead. There's no acute trauma or reason for this pain, instead, it's built up over a few years of not treating my legs to the time off or rest that they probably needed. I had a really bad skiing accident in Dec 2012 which lead to a lot of trauma on my left hamstring. I let it rest but proably not enough and I think I've been compensating since. My hips are not aligned and because of that, I have started to compensate in my stride.

This realization (coming after talking to PTs and massage therapists) is making me look at my marathon on Oct 5th very differently. I am going to start the race but I am going to listen VERY closely to my body and heed its warnings. If I have to slow down or stop, I'm going to do just that. It's tough having to adjust your goals, especially after working really hard to meet them, but I believe it's the best course of action for me - physically and mentally.

I will be racing on Oct 5th but it might not be for my 3:20 PR; it might be for a finish. I have 3 sets of goals and I will be happy to meet any of them. What I'm learning throughout this process is the importance of setting goals and being able to adjust them; life is in constant flux, thus your goals should reflect that.

Returning to the Trails After Pregnancy

By Jessica Green

It seems crazy to think back to this time last year - I had just given birth to my daughter and was in major recovery mode. At that time, all I could dream about was getting back on the trails in Forest Park, but I knew there was specific work to do before I laced up my running shoes and hit the trails hard. I knew this mainly because I am lucky enough to work with fitness professionals and therapists who taught me how to return to running the right way postpartum.

With targeted strength work, expert advice and a lot of patience, I'm running stronger and faster than I have in years. This week alone I hit the flat trails for speed, the hilly trails for a mid-distance run and am looking forward to a 20-miler this weekend which will include plenty of undulating trails. In the last month, I finally feel like I beat pregnancy!

A dear friend and amazing Pilates instructor, Frances  Darnell, once told me that it usually takes her clients about a year of hard work to feel comletely like themselves again after pregnancy. She was right in my case. She also had a lot more to say in the article that I wrote in this month's Trail Runner Magazine, "Hitting the Trails After Pregnancy." 

To all moms and moms to be, I highly recommend taking a look at the advice Frances and others offer in this article as you begin thinking about starting to run again after your pregancy. Here's a glimpse at the article if you don't have access to the magazine:

 

 

2 Great Alternatives to the Track


 by Jessica Green

Whether you have access to a track should not determine whether you are able to complete your track workouts during marathon training.  Certain workouts are designated for the track because a track provides precise, quarter-mile distance markers and a flat surface perfect for uninterrupted running and accurate feedback about your pace and times. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic for a lot of people to get to a track once a week for their track workouts. For some, it’s because a track is not nearby, and, for others, it’s because the thought of running around a track is very unappealing (to the latter, I recommend training in a group at the track - it's much more motivating).

Whoever you are, if you can’t get to a track, try these two alternatives to the track to get the most of out of your designated "track workouts." 

(1) Find a flat pedestrian path or trail with quarter-mile markers.  Most track workouts can be broken down into quarter-mile distances such as 400s, 800s, 1200, 1600s, etc.  Many cities have running paths with distance markers.  With the distances all marked out, all you need is a timer to track your workouts.  If your city doesn’t have a path with distances marked out, don’t be afraid to bring some chalk and make your own during your warm up.

(2) Set up your GPS watch to auto lap at .25 miles rather than 1-mile. This works well when you can’t find any distance markers. Plus, it provides you with your quarter-mile splits during longer speed intervals. This is important because it allows you to monitor whether you are running at a consistent pace or starting out slow and finishing fast or vice versa. 

Long Run Tips

Long runs aren't your typical "head out the door and run" activity.  Unlike shorter distance runs, any run lasting over 90 minutes should include a certain amount of advance planning, taking into consideration things like safety precautions, nutritional and hydration needs, weather conditions and transportation needs. To avoid disaster during a long run, check out our top things you should know before you go.

The primary purpose of your long runs is to build up time on your feet. In other words, build endurance by challenging your body’s ability to run for long periods of time.  Although the most important aspect of these long runs is plain and simple - log the miles, there are a few key considerations to take into account if you want to get the most out of this type of training run:
 
1) Race Pace Practice: Typically, you want to run 30-90 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace or race effort during your long runs. If you are training for specific time, inserting a few miles at your goal race pace in the middle or end of your long training runs is a great way to mentally and physically prepare yourself for what it actually feels like to run your target pace after an hour or two of running.  A word of caution – don’t be discouraged if race pace feels tough. Additional training, taper and adrenaline will help you on race day. Instead, focus on your ability to hit your target time and maintain it consistently for a few miles.
 
2) Hydration & Refueling Strategy: Use your long runs to practice your race day hydration plan. Too many people get sidelined with stomach cramps and bathroom issues as a result of too much or too little water on race day. Check out how frequently water is offered during your race and practice drinking at similar intervals during your long runs.  On your long training runs, we recommend drinking 4-6 ounces of water every couple of miles. If running over an hour, your body will want more than water. Include 30-60 grams of carbohydrates (150-250 calories) per hour during any run longer than an hour. This may include sports drinks, gels or energy bar. Feel free to ask us for refueling recommendations.
 
3) Dress Rehearsal: Use your long runs as dress rehearsals for the real deal by wearing clothes and running accessories that you plan to wear on race day. Longer distances bring out chaffing in new, and often unforeseen places, so it’s best to get familiar ahead of time with what works and what doesn’t. You can also do this for your pre-workout meal prep!