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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? Weigh in on the forum!

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Ask the Practitioner: Back Pain

Written by Dena Evans September 17, 2012

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




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


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

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

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

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


Summer heat might be receding, but work, family, and community commitments tend to pick up just as many runners hit high mileage periods in advance of their fall goal races.  The more demands placed on your body, the more important it is to maintain good nutritional habits.  Many runners have a tough time sticking to these beneficial patterns because the rest of life outside of running doesn’t always cooperate with that intention.  What to do?

Here are a few tips to help keep up with nutritional demands in the midst of a hectic daily schedule:

Keep a full water bottle on the bed stand and drink first thing in the morning. We know we should hydrate.  We also know we shouldn’t rely on coffee or Diet Coke all day, but are inclined to do that in order to stay “up” for the various challenges in our path from 8-5 (or longer).  Water also aids in digestion, allowing our bodies to assimilate the good (or not so good) food we consume in a more efficient way.

The best way to ensure you act on good intentions is to eliminate the obstacles holding you back.  You may forget a water bottle at home and/or yet again arrive to the start of your run, under-hydrated. In an ideal world, you should hydrate systematically throughout the day, with sports drink as well as water.  Be sure that your blood has plenty of electrolytes and that you have replenished sufficiently from perspiration in your last training session.   Failing that scenario (and that scenario is often failed), make sure that you’ve at least given yourself a fighting chance by getting some H2O down the hatch before you do or eat anything else.

Buy a box of your favorite bars and stash them everywhere.

Fueling during, before, and after your strenuous training is key to recovery as well as to just accomplishing the task in hand without hitting the wall.  Many times we are coming from work or another commitment, heading out first thing in the morning, fitting in a run at lunchtime, or otherwise shoehorning our workout into the sliver of time provided by the rest of the day.  Many times, that means we don’t have handy nutrition.  As a a result, we end up waiting too long to eat after a run, crash during a workout, run out of energy to even start, or finish with less punch because we ran out of gusto midway through.

Next time you are at Costco, Target, the supermarket, or shopping online, instead of purchasing a bar or two for the current instance at hand, purchase a box.  (Added bonus - this is often less expensive per unit.)  Take a few and stack them in the glove box, your briefcase, your purse, your desk, your sports bag, and in any other household vehicle you might end up driving to a run.  You’ll immediately forget about these anyway, and probably still try to address your nutrition needs on a day to day, run to run basis.  However, when you inevitably find yourself on a day where you have nothing to eat before, during, or after a run, a light bulb will go off above your head and you will be very glad you have your secret stash.

Get in the habit of always ordering salad on the side.

More than ever, Americans eat meals out of the home.  Social, work, athletic and other commitments leave us in need of quick meals or require us to socialize over a meal.  We all have been told since childhood that vegetables are an important part of our diet – after all, they provide crucial vitamins, minerals, fiber, and digestion regulation.  There will be plenty of times when a healthful set of options is not available.  When the opportunity is presented, always order the salad (and eat it without heavy doses of dressing).  Many times, salad is an option instead of fries or chips, vegetables are negotiable when ordering a sandwich, or a salad is possible to add on the side of an entrée for a nominal cost.  Always take this option, and you will mitigate the effects of the unavoidable bad nutrition situations you must navigate the rest of the day.

Have a healthy snack before you go

If your schedule requires you to eat out, if your office seems to have donuts or somebody’s birthday cake lurking in the break room more than once a week, or even if you are headed to the movie theater or a sporting event, have a piece of fruit or a healthy snack beforehand.  Chances are, what you have at home is less processed and better for you than concessions, party food, or sheet cake.  It is often very difficult to avoid over-consuming foods that are not helpful to your athletic goals.  By taking the edge off with a healthy snack beforehand, you increase the chances that you will make sane choices and employ appropriate portion control.

Of course, many non-runners lead busy lives and have a hard time staying on top of good nutrition.  Undoubtedly, running a session of mile repeats or a 20 miler on the weekend adds a layer of complexity and urgency to your nutrition needs, while further eroding your discretionary time to take in the appropriate food.  While none of us will be able to keep a perfect record on this front for any extended period of time, celebrate the wins when you make a good choice.  Don't dwell on the bad choices when you fall short.  If you have figured out a path to accomplishing success one time, you can find it again.  This will transform a single occurrence into an important habit.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NEW iPhone app!

Written by Kate Tenforde August 21, 2012

perform iconNew name, new look, new feel!

The runcoach iPhone app is here!  Download it now!

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

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

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


The Art of Hydration

Written by Tom McGlynn August 21, 2012

screen shot 2012-08-21 at 4.27.42 pm

You already know how to hydrate and how to run.  But do you know how to put the two together?

It has been proven that proper hydration can drastically improve race results but many runners have trouble drinking water and sports drink while on the move.  The constant motion jostles your stomach which is already void of necessary blood resources which are attentive to your leg muscles. This is one of the many reasons that the art of hydration is essential.

We use the word ‘art’ as opposed to ‘science’ because there is a limited amount of calories and fluids that can be utilized intra-run (unlike cycling, walking and other activities).  Because of this we recommend experimentation to determine the most effective personal hydration routine (ie. Much like runcoach training the below is not a one-size-fits-all assignment. Experiment and find the routine that works best for you).

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Your hydration routine starts before the run
  2. Drink 8-16 ounces of water or sports drink with your pre-run breakfast (slightly more on race day when you are up early and have more time to digest)
  3. Coffee shouldn’t count into this equation as it is ultimately a diuretic (makes you pee)
  4. Caffeine is fine to consume as is normal for you
  5. Clear urine is a great sign
  6. Stay hydrated leading up to the run
  7. Take one final bathroom break right before the run
  8. Then take one final drink before your start (less than 2 minutes prior is best)

For runs longer than 75 minutes or runs in the heat, you will need more than just water.  We recommend sports drinks containing sugar and salt in appropriate quantities.  Here are some tips to pick the right drink for you:

  1. Check the race website you are training and find out which sports drink they will serve on the course
  2. If the race drink sits well with your stomach then stick with it; if not go for an alternative
  3. Look for ingredients that include sodium (salt/electrolyte) and sucrose (sugar)
  4. Become well acquainted with the drink and find a way to have it on race day (carry a bottle)
  5. Drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 20-30 minutes within the run
  6. Sports gels can be effective as they include key nutrients – take these in lieu of a sports drink.  They must be taken with water.
  7. Because of caloric density you may only need to consume gels at every other fluid stop – keep up with water at every stop

Start refining your personal art of hydration at least 10 weeks prior to race day and practice before, during and after most runs.  Here are some tips for refueling on the run without carrying a water bottle:

  1. Hide your water bottle somewhere along your running route
  2. Plan to pass this spot every 20-30 minutes or place more bottles along your route
  3. Invest in a fuel belt.
  4. Enlist a friend to ride a bike with you or meet you intra-run to provide fuel
  5. If gels are your fuel of choice simply carry some with you and then target public water fountains along your course

The exact amount you need to drink can be tricky and will vary from person to person.  Here’s a science project to help you learn about your hydration needs:

  1. Weigh yourself prior to a run without any clothes on
  2. Go for a run
  3. Re-weigh yourself after without any clothes on
  4. Calculate the difference and hydrate accordingly within your next run

Example: if you weighed 160 before a 90 minute workout and then weigh 157, you have lost 3 pounds and require 48 ounces of liquid. Your schedule for a similar event would be 8 ounces every 15 minutes to maintain your weight.

Note: This is just an example.  Please try this yourself and keep in mind that the amount you need will vary depending on the temperature, humidity and other personal physiological factors.

Proper hydration can improve your race results from 5K to the Marathon.  Invest some time into the development of your art of hydration.

Share your hydration thoughts with us on Facebook at runcoach.com and qualify to win a half-zip, technical runcoach shirt.



Ryan_Victah_Oly_Trials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Ability needs execution to produce a result.

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

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

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



New Workout Descriptions

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

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

 Your workout descriptions will change in 3 places:

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

Here is an example of the enhancement in action:

 Before Enhancement                                                                                                      After Enhancement

 



Avoiding the Post-Run Bonk

Written by Dena Evans August 06, 2012
toxins-cause-exhaustionClyde Wilson was a naval service member who enjoyed weight training and working out, when his doctor on the USS Carl Vinson informed him he was on the verge of needing medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol.  After making a transformative change in his nutritional habits, he went on to study chemistry and cell biology at Stanford and now teaches there and the University of California San Francisco Medical School.  In addition, he runs The Center for Human Nutrition and Exercise Science in Palo Alto, California.


This month, we asked Dr. Clyde to weigh in about the lethargy many runners struggle through after a long run.

1.  When many runners finish a big long run, often they report feeling extremely lethargic and low energy for much of the rest of the day, even after eating.  From a nutrition perspective, what may be going on here?

 Athletes need to replace their carbohydrate losses from training at a rate that their muscles are willing to absorb those carbohydrates.  If you burn 1000 calories in a workout, roughly 800 calories of which are carbohydrate, and attempt to replace all of those carbohydrates at one sitting, the over-flow of calories into your bloodstream will send more than half of it to fat cells, where the carbohydrate will be converted into fat. 

Therefore, eating enough calories is not enough. 

The calories have to go into lean tissues to actually help you recover.  Not eating enough is another way to fall short.  So the athlete has to eat enough carbohydrate, but spaced out over time or eaten with vegetables so that the carbohydrate calories enter the body at a rate muscle is willing to absorb them.  Protein helps re-build lean tissue but is unrelated to the feelings of lethargy after hard training.

2.  What are some best bet tips on things runners can do after the run to avoid that day-long bonky feeling?


The best thing a runner can do to avoid the day-long bonky feeling is to eat 100-200 Cal of carbohydrate, mainly in the form of glucose, every 2-3 hours.  You could start with a recovery drink (first ingredient should be maltodextrin) right after training, and then granola, bread, yams, or similar foods an hour later and every 2-3 hours after that.

3.  What, if anything, can runners do during the run to help avoid these post-run problems as well?

During running, consume 50-250 calories of glucose per hour (depending on training intensity, how much lean mass you have, and how well you are hydrating).


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