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.  





Interview with a Personal Trainer

Katherine Simmons ("Kado") is the Director of Community Outreach and one of our favorite coaches at Body Space Fitness. She played lacrosse at Cornell, where she was a four-year starter, two-time captain, and All-American, All-Ivy, and Academic All-Ivy honoree - and we haven't even mentioned how many pull ups she can do! She pursured her Personal Training Cert a few years ago and quickly became a top-tier trainer in NY. In May 2012, she became a BSF coach and started kicking the Hot Bird's butts! We love her sessions because she's a runner, an athlete, a pull-up machine (!) and embodies a holistic approach to training, which emphasizes mindful movement, balance, and plenty of hard work.

Why do you like working with runners?
I like working with runners because they like to move. Some move fast, some move slow, some run with perfect form, others flail like Phoebe from Friends. It really doesn't matter to me - if you enjoy moving your body around, and especially enjoy moving around outside, I will enjoy working with you.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Find your core! Incorporate core strengthening exercises into warm-ups and warm-downs and you will inevitably strengthen your stride, feel lighter on your feet, and prevent injury. Core strengthening exercises range from mat work like floor bridges and planks to resistance exercises like kettlebell squats, 1-leg deadlifts, and cable rows. Do them all!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why?
I am an athlete at heart, so any sort of activity that involves play, competitive or friendly, will make me happy as a clam. I played soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse growing up, stuck with lacrosse in college, and now have discovered the joy of two-hand touch football. But really, I will play any game with anyone who can handle my enthusiasm and nonstop commentary (e.g. "There's Kado...she's driving for the end zone...she makes the catch! The crowd goes wild!")

What is your favorite post workout meal? 
If I have time, I'll whip up a hearty breakfast bowl: quinoa cooked w/ chunks of fresh ginger & jalapeño, a dallopp of hummus, a couple fried eggs, and sauteed kale. Top it off with some sriracha and you're good to go. Otherwise, for a more traditional sort, I'm a big fan of Greek yogurt w/ berries and a scoop of ground flaxseed or chia seeds.

When did you start running and why?
Great question! Honestly I think I came out of the womb running, but always on a field or turf and always as part of a game. In 2009, my mom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and the news inspired my brother and I to sign up for the NYC Marathon. We started training with Fred's Team, an organization that raises money for cancer research for Sloan-Kettering. I don't think I had ever run more than 5-miles straight during all of my athletic training, but I was living in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts at the time, so couldn't have asked for a better location to train. I ran on the Appalachian Trail, I ran on quiet back roads, and I learned what it meant to just relax and listen to my breath and enjoy the quiet time. I would either sing my favorite songs in my head as I ran, or for the long training runs I would carry poems with me and try to memorize them. I loved the training and was able to play soccer and practice yoga to supplement it. Running for something greater than myself is what kept me going and to be honest I literally floated through the marathon, carried by the energy and the spirit of the city and the supporters, as well as the strength and pride I felt for my beautiful and fearless mother.

Training tip of the week

Many of us have our running routes and that's what we stick with - over and over, week after week. Changing up your running route offers many incentives: a different view, a change of pace and importantly, the opportunity to run on a different surface. Switching up the surface you run on will give your body a break and hopefully elongate your running career!

We recommend that runners find different surfaces for their weekly runs as it gives your muscles and joints a break from all the pounding. Concrete (sidewalk) is the hardest surface and thus, most jarring on your joints. Pavement (asphalt) is a bit more giving and the better option over sidewalks if possible. If you have access to a dirt path or a grassy route - jump all over it! Running on earth (dirt, grass, trails) is less stressful and jarring to your joints but it will make your muscles work harder because the surface is uneven. It will strengthen your ankes and give you that extra boost when you return to pavement or concrete. Treadmills are the best option when the weather is bad and you cannot run outside. The smooth surface is easy on the legs.

In conclusion, switching up your running routes, and surfaces, will make your runs easier because there's a different focus, give your legs a break and work your muscles differently. Try out a new surface or route this week!

Long Run Essentials: A Runner's Checklist

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 careful consideration things like safety precautions, nutritional and hydration needs, weather conditions and transportation needs.  To avoid disaster during a long run, here are our top things you should know before you go. 

KNOW . . .

1. YOUR ROUTE. This sets you up for everything else mentioned below, plus it prevents you from running longer than you should which can be costly if you are in the middle of specific race training  We're not saying that you need to know each and every turn, but you should have a general idea where you are running based on how far or long you plan to run that day.

2. WHERE YOUR WATER IS.  Does your route include drinking fountains? Or do you plan to buy water at various points along the way (in the middle and towards the end)? Or will you need to bring your own water or drop off water along your route before you begin? Don't forget to bring cash with you if you don't have free water throughout the entire run. 

3. THE WEATHER CONDITIONS. Check the weather forecast and consider changing conditions halfway through your run.  If the forecast calls for thunder and lightening halfway through your run, consider a less exposed route towards the end of your run.  Considering the weather is also important in deciding what to wear especially in regions prone to extreme heat and humidity or cold conditions.  For example: humidity plus cotton t-shirts or the wrong shorts during a long run = chaffing!

4. YOUR BAILOUT PLAN. It is essential to not only listen to your body if it's telling you that your long run isn't going to happen that day, but to be able to bail out of your run before it's too late.  In case you need to bail out early, bring extra cash and metrocard for unexpected transportation costs even when routed to start and finish near near your home or car.  Also, avoid areas with little to no support along the route (e.g. trail runs) if you are recovering from an injury or new to long distances.

5. YOUR REFUEL PLAN.  Every runner has their own unique refueling strategy on those 2 to 3 hour long runs.  Whatever your plan is, make sure you're prepared for it before leaving the house.  If you plan to pick something up along the way, don't forget to bring money to pay for it. 

6. WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET.  Don't leave home without some form of cash or bank card.  You won't regret bringing it and it can come in very handy in all different circumstances. 

7. WHERE YOUR KEYS ARE.  Nothing is worse than returning home after a long run to find you have locked yourself out either because you forgot your keys or they fell out during your bathroom pit stop or grabbing your shot bloks out of your pocket.  Our recommendation: put your keys somewhere that you won't access again until unlocking your door AND if they are in your pants/shorts pocket, make sure they don't fall out while going to the bathroom. 

8. SOMEONE ELSE IS LOOKING OUT FOR YOU.  Tell someone not on the run with you where you plan to run and approximately how long you estimate until your return. Always estimate the longest amount of time, rather than shorter to account for things like transportation, cool down, stopping for breakfast or lunch, or a slower pace than expected.  Think of this as, "if I am not back or you haven't heard from me by this time, something is wrong."  Make sure this person understands what to do in the event you are not back and where you might be if you're taking longer because you stopped for food or something else.

Running from Behind: Adjusting Expectations

When it's finally time to head to the start of a race, what happens if something goes wrong and you realize mid-race (or even at the beginning) that your original race goals are unattainable that day? Similar to the importance of setting race goals (whether for time or fun), it is equally important to know what it takes for you to feel a sense of accomplishment regardless of what happens on race day. One of our favorite west coast runners, Maren Elliott, shares her strategy after she was forced to adjust her own race expectations midstride last week while running the Bridge to Brews 10k in Portland, Oregon. 

by Maren Elliott

Races don’t always go as planned . . . even when you’ve run hundreds of them.  

I am one of the runners at the front of the start – not on the start line, just far enough behind it that I can keep the leaders in sight.  I like to know where I am in a race, keeping count of how many women are in front of me knowing where I stand in relation to the competition.  This morning, my race did not go as planned.

Even before I showed up to the course things were off.  I missed the packet pick-up yesterday so I had to arrive earlier than I normally do the morning of a race so I could claim my number. 

Clothing was also an issue.  Tank top, short sleeves… I couldn’t choose so I compromised with myself and decided on a long-sleeve over a tank top, which I expected to check at the start.  In the midst of locating the bag check and then realizing that I didn’t bring a bag to put my clothing in, I heard the announcement for the first wave of runners to start. 

I looked over my shoulder toward the starting line and saw the first group of runners, my group of runners, sprinting away from me.  So I chased after them.  Dodging left and right to avoid the people waiting for their start, I crossed the start line alone scrambling to tie the unnecessary long-sleeve shirt around my waist.  Things were not looking good.

At the first mile mark I realized that I didn’t start my watch so I had no idea what pace I was running.  Mild panic set in. Was I going too fast?  Too slow?  Where was I in the pack?  Should I be further up? I might hit the wall. 

It wasn’t until I hit the second mile marker that I started to find my rhythm.  We were on the downhill slope of a hard climb and I had a spectacular view of Portland.   I realized that I felt fantastic.  Without a clue of how fast I was running or what my current place was, my body had gone into its zone and I was racing.   

The final four miles were challenging and I ran hard crossing the finish line with every last ounce of energy.  Even now sitting on the couch with ice on my quads I don’t know what my final time was or how I ranked against the other women.  But I know that I gave it everything.  

7 Reasons Why Massage is Great for Runners

We asked one of our favorite Brooklyn massage therapists (who has helped us recover from many a long run) to discuss the merits of massage and why it's great for runners. 

by Jennifer Mayer, LMT

PREVENT: Massage can help prevent injuries by increasing fluidity in tissues, increase range of motion and increase flexibility. Additionally, massage is an excellent way to gain valuable information about the condition of your muscles and work out any potential areas of tightness that could lead to an injury.

STRETCH: Stretching improves range of motion, muscle flexibility and prevents injury. All three are important factors to keep you running healthy and injury free.

FLUSH: Running produces lactic acid, a metabolic waste product the gets stuck in the muscles. Lactic acid causes pain and discomfort by irritating the nerves in the muscle tissue. Massage flushes lactic acid out of the muscles, enabling you to recover quicker, with less pain and discomfort from workouts.

EASE: Massage helps the body move freely and with more ease. When muscle repairs itself after exercise and strength building, the muscle fibers are misaligned. Massage helps realign these fibers.

HEAL: By increasing blood flow, massage helps injuries recover faster by bringing essential nutrients and tissue repairing cells to the injury site. This increased flow also removes wastes created by the injury quicker, further supporting the healing process.

SUPPORT: Massage with an emphasis on structural alignment helps runners keep good posture and structural integrity by releasing tightness throughout the body. Releasing tight feet can do wonders for your gate and low back or hip pain.

DOWN TIME: Rest is an important aspect of any training regime. Massage encourages time for rejuvenation to restore your reserves.

Jennifer Mayer is a licensed massage therapist practicing in Brooklyn, NY. Over the past 8 years as an LMT Jennifer has had the pleasure to work with athletes from all backgrounds. From eager rock climbing kids, to professional cyclo-cross racers to individuals training for 10ks and triathlons to Olympic runners. Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum massage. You can visit her website for more information.