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French is coming off a sensational month of racing. However, it took him months of hard work, trust, and patience to reap the fruits of his labor. Read about his journey and top tips for all runners to reach a new personal record in this month's Runcoach Success Story below.


Running Major milestone:
I ran a PR in 10K and 5K within same month!french_lewis2


What is the secret to your success?
Realizing that my job is to follow the training plan Runcoach provides, not to exceed it. Be consistent with the training and getting enough rest.


What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?  The biggest obstacle was my misconception that if the training plan called for a certain distance at a certain pace, running faster would, of course, be better. This led to a couple of injury filled years because my body was always working hard, never having time to recover and build strength.


What is the most rewarding part of training? The most rewarding part of training is feeling good. For me, I run because I enjoy it, I like being fit, I like knowing I am doing what I can to be healthy. About a year ago, after I messaged Coach Hiruni about a particularly tough speed workout she prescribed, her response stuck with me. The heart of the response was “Remember, tough workouts don’t last, but, tough people do.”


What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community? Follow the plan. Learn from my mistakes of believing, no matter what I read on Runcoach’s website, that I always needed to work hard to get faster. Easy days should be easy, hard days hard. Your body needs time to recover from the hard efforts. This is especially true as your body ages.


Anything else you would like to share? Again, listen to your body. I give Runcoach a huge amount of credit for my two fastest races taking place after I turned 50. However, I can not minimize the importance of having in person guidance in selecting shoes that match your running type. I was stubborn in thinking that the 0 drop shoes that worked well for a 42 year old me would still be good for 49 year old me. My local running store finally told me, after years of self denial, just try these 6mm drop shoes. That was the start of injury free training and racing.


What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience? It might sound simple, because it it. Follow the plan. This should be easy, the coaches tell you what to do, just do what they say. For people who are using the free service, I started there. It works very well. For those using the paid service, talk with your coaches, they all want you to succeed.


Summer is the time for colorful, fresh, and fruity.

Fruits are in abundance this time of the year. You should be able to find all ingredients at any local grocery store. The prep for each drink is under 5 minutes!



1) Watermelon Juice - High in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. It’s about 92% water.

fruitIngredients


  • 1 small watermelon
  • 1 lime is desired


Directions

  1. Slice the watermelon in half. Use spoon and scoop chunks of watermelon into the blender. Discard the rind.
  2. Blend the watermelon until it is totally pulverized. This shouldn’t take more than a minute. For extra flavor, squeeze the juice of one small lime into the blender and blend for a few seconds.


2) Lemonade - Great source of vitamin C. Also helps to improve your skin and digestion.




lemonIngredients

  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 cups cold water (to dilute)




Directions

  1. Cut your lemons in half. Juice your lemons. A regular lemon juice should do the trick. Remove seeds.
  1. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir so that the sugar dissolves completely and remove from heat.
  2. Pour the juice and the simple syrup sugar water into a serving pitcher. Add 2 to 3 cups of cold water and taste. Add more water if you would like it to be more diluted (though note that when you add ice, it will melt and naturally dilute the lemonade).



3)Tart Cherry Smoothie - Beneficial for post run/ workout recovery. Tart cherries battle inflammation, while the protein from the Greek yogurt rebuilds muscle.

cherries
Ingredients

¾ cup tart cherry juice
1 cup frozen pineapple
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt


Directions

1. Place tart cherry juice in blender. Add frozen pineapple and yogurt.
2. Blend ingredients until smooth.
3. Serve chilled.

 



Written by Neely Gracey
Updated by Kristin Martin



Did you know that water does more than just keep you hydrated? Obviously, that is an important role, but water is essential in your body for three other important tasks.

keep-calm-and-stay-hydrated-1

   1-Water helps transport nutrients to the working muscles during training

   2-Water eliminates waste products (like lactic acid) during high intensity training

   3-Water works to keep your core temperature cooler by dissipating heat through sweating

Hydration does not have to be from water alone. Here are some other ideas of delicious, refreshing, and hydrating summer drinks.

The ramifications of not having enough fluid in your system can start with just 2% fluid loss. Headache, lack of concentration, dizziness, fatigue, inability to recover, and overall decreased ability to perform. Nothing that helps your training or allows you to work hard towards your goals. To avoid any of these happening to you this summer, here are a few things to include in your daily routine.

   1-Drink 8-12 ounces of water when you first wake up to kick start hydration

   2-Drink more than just water. Adding in electrolyte beverages will help your cells saturate with fluid and not dilute your body’s natural salt chemistry

   3-Drink consistently throughout the day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times

Hold up your water bottle in a toast to quality summer training and good hydration!



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.



summer_runsRunners often love to keep a routine.  In fact, many of us are downright stubborn.  Most of the time, like the last few miles of a marathon, this is an asset.  However, in the warmer months, the conditions may dictate the need to make some adjustments in order to keep your training on track for your fall goal race.   Sometimes, being willing to adjust can help you make the best of an admittedly less than perfect set of conditions, and provide a great opportunity to learn that you can succeed even if you have to deviate from your plan just a bit. 

In this episode of Personal Best, we examine a few quick tips encouraging you to adjust your training for the hottest time of the year.


Be prepared to consider running at other times of day

Perhaps you squeeze in your run at your lunchbreak or at the middle of the day.  Although that may usually provide your best time to run, consider planning ahead, at least on your harder days, to run in the early morning or evening.  Yes, there are benefits to training in the middle of the day to late afternoon vs early in the morning, but the amount of performance benefit lost by training in 95 degrees with 90% humidity is far greater than the impact made by training in the early morning before the sun is overhead or in the evening when it goes down.  Plus, this is also the exact time of year when many runners are beginning to take on new training challenges related to their fall goal races and are vulnerable to a bad day or two if the conditions are not conducive to a strong performance.  If your work/ family schedule doesn't allow this temporary change on a regular basis in the summer, look ahead on your schedule to a few of the most rigorous workouts and do everything you can to protect a favorable time of day in which to complete those at least.

If you can't switch the time of day from when the sun is directly overhead, you can also.....

 

Be prepared to consider running in different venues

Yes, your workout sheet may say "Track," but oftentimes the temperature of a track surface can be several degrees warmer than the surrounding areas.  Use your car odometer or handheld GPS to measure out your track distances on a bikepath or safe road, preferably one that offers a stretch with a bit of shade.  Yes, the surface may be a bit less perfectly flat and reliable than the track, but you will ultimately feel better the closer you can come to a reasonable temperature in which to complete the workout.   Run along a street with more intersections (being careful and paying attention to traffic) that offers shade.  Run the same short loop twice where you might otherwise do it as part of a longer loop that includes much more exposure.  Do what you need to do to accomplish your workout, and allow yourself to be able to recover and come back well the next day.  Come race day this fall, you'll be glad you made a less scenic, but safer choice.

Many gyms will offer trial memberships, or reasonable prices for a month or two in the summer.  Take advantage of these and get on a treadmill.  Some runners are diehard outdoor runners.  However, consider how pleased you will be to run at the right pace, particularly with the luxuries of a waterbottle and towel that you do not have to hold yourself, potentially a TV to watch your favorite team play, etc.  You're not a wimp if you go inside to run on a treadmill!  You are an athlete that is prioritizing your performance and wants to feel good doing it.

 

Plan your running around fluid intake

Many of you know to hydrate, before, during, and after longer runs.  We discussed that topic a few months ago here.  However, there is no time of year where it is more important than the summer.  Before you head out on your normal route and in addition to your normal plans, which may include bringing along a water bottle or camelback, consider adjusting slightly as needed to incorporate parks with water fountains, and vendors or convenience stores that won't mind you buying a quick bottle of sports drink with sweaty dollars pulled from your shorts pocket, etc.  During these months, you will need significantly more fluids than normal, and because you should be in the habit of taking them before you are really parched, you are going to need to plan for a larger amount of intake and at more spots along the way.  In addition to drinking, plan to splash water on your head and neck, and other key cooling areas like the back of your wrists and knees.  Don't get caught out! Finish strong because you have been hydrating the whole time.

 

Wear light colored, breathable fabrics

Although another simple step, it bears reminding that lighter colors absorb less heat, and breathable fabrics will help keep you, if not cooler, then less hot and sweaty.  A hat or visor and sunscreen are key also both to avoiding the immediate problems posed by a sunburn as well as long term problems.  Stay consistent!  Plan ahead for the day.  Bring bodyglide and/ or an extra pair of socks if your sweaty feet tend to cause blisters or too much slipping, and a shirt for afterwards so you aren't sitting in your car dripping and sweating.  It is amazing how much better you will feel if you take care to attend to your attire.

Generally, we think of winter as the harshest season.  Often, summer actually provides the greater challenge because we tend to forget how severely the temperatures can affect us.  In addition to the above, it is important to note that all these steps are important both for your training as well as to avoid heat stroke and non-running related serious heat/ sun ramifications.  Take pride in your training, but not so much that you are not willing to adjust and be flexible if the conditions are unsafe.  If in doubt about a choice you are making to go ahead with a workout, and you don't have a trusted fellow runner to discuss it with, contact us at help@runcoach.com!



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.



Written By Dena Evans
Updated By Coach Hiruni 

Many of us set running goals that culminate in a large race event with thousands of people.  Even if you are not completing your goal race at the ING New York City Marathon (more than 45,000 starters) or the Zazzle Bay to Breakers (more than 50,000 starters in 2011), your race day experience will likely not resemble your typical “roll out of bed and head out the door” long run.  How do you manage to find your normal, confident, well-trained self in the midst of a completely abnormal situation?  Try these tricks for race day success.

Weeks or at least days before your race, take advantage of all the available information on the race website.  If your race requires transportation to the start or transportation from the finish, examine your options and discuss the best choices with any friends or family members meeting you.  Closely examine the course map, particularly if the race offers an elevation chart.  Knowing exactly when you can expect hills, and how often hydration, gel, porta potties, and other key items are offered can help ease your stress by eliminating some of the unknowns of a big race.

If you have a web confirmation of your entry, double check you have the correct corral or wave start time, and exactly what tasks you will need to accomplish at the expo (shoe chip confirmation, etc).  One of the key reasons to do this well before you race is to be able to contact the race organization in a relaxed way if you have any questions or discover any discrepancies.  Usually, the organization is scrambling on race weekend and is off site at the expo so get on it early.

One key way in which many large races will differ from your typical workout is the length of time you will be required to stand at the start and the amount of walking you may be required to do to get to the starting area.  Again, read through the race materials well in advance and have a sense of what this will entail.  If it worries you, remember that everyone who is racing will also go through the same process, and that all the racers in prior years made it the same way.

To help condition yourself for this and to remind yourself that you will be ok, practice by walking a half mile or a mile before starting a few of your long runs, and then walking that same distance home when you are done.  Plan to wear a last layer of clothing that you would be ok with discarding (pick from your Goodwill/ Salvation Army pile at home).  This will leave you with a bit more warmth in the wait at the start, and less of a dilemma than if you had worn your favorite and most expensive outerwear to the line.  A $3 plastic parka or a trash bag with head and arm holes punched through can also provide a cheap alternative to hold in a bit of warmth.  $1 drug store knit gloves (or multiple layers of the same) can also be handy.

Even the most experienced racers have the butterflies on race day.  Sometimes this means extra trips to the restroom, particularly if you are well-hydrated.  The amount of facilities available at a particular race can vary widely, and it is likely you will need to wait in line, sometimes for quite a while.  In addition to being very deliberate about using the facilities at the last comfortable and private location you will have before you head out, consider going right when you arrive at the staging area.  If there is a line, you will have allowed yourself time afterwards to grab a drink or sit and relax a bit, and you won’t be as stressed as if you have left it to the last minute and are now faced with a full bladder, a huge line, and 10 minutes until you need to be at the start.  A travel pack of baby wipes or Kleenex (accompanied by a small bottle of Purell) in your gear bag can also be invaluable in case improvisational measures are required, or if race management hasn’t managed to keep pace with the usage of toilet paper in the facilities available.

Finally, all of the machinations required to get tens of thousands of people in place to start a huge race require several hours of organizing the people involved.  You may need to leave hours before your race and rise at a very early hour.   It is worthwhile taking at least a time or two to get up earlier than normal before your run in the weeks leading up to the race to prepare yourself for what that will feel like on the big day.  It is difficult to suddenly go to sleep at 8pm on the night before, so don’t expect yourself to be able to get a perfect and luxurious night of sleep from an artificially early hour.  Instead, just do your best to have an evenly paced evening so your food is digested, your stress levels are low, and your body can wind down as quickly as it naturally can.

Many experienced athletes have different strategies for managing the above challenges.  2012 Olympic Marathon Trials Fourth Place finisher and our May 2011 Pro’s Perspective interviewee, Amy Hastings, reported that she plans by making Post-It note lists of all the things she will need to do on race morning between waking and beginning the race.  Others may have great ideas – if a particular issue continues to trouble you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your fellow runners or to us (write us on the Forum or tweet us at @focusnfly).  We’re athletes ourselves and have been there.  Now that you have done the hard work of training, we’d love to help you enjoy and excel on race day!



You wouldn’t know it by the strength of her British accent, but Rosie has been in the US for over 10 years. She arrived in Indianapolis to run track and cross country at Butler University. Since then she has progressed through the distances, from 1500 meters to the marathon.rosie_bio3

Rosie is fresh of the plane from her most recent race at the British Olympic Marathon Trials, where she placed third with a time of 2:31. Wowza! She loves all things science-based and enjoys putting her Sports Science Degree and running experience into practice.

 In addition to her coaching on Runcoach, she is a strength and mobility coach and today we asked her to share a few little tips, which may help in your next race build-up:

 Hips don’t lie~

Hip mobility is a huge focus area for runners, whether you are in a car, seated at a desk or watching TV at night, sitting with your knees and hips at 90 degrees can be a little tough on the body.

As runners, hip extension is paramount when opening the stride. However, the everyday seated position can lead to tight and shortened hip flexors which can decrease the length of our stride, costing us precious seconds over each mile and even leading to injuries.

 If you have the ability to sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair it will help to keep your hips mobile throughout the day, while activating and recruiting stabilizing core muscles.

Here are some of her favorite hip-opening stretches.
stretchs2

Another key area that we often neglect are the adductors. If we asked you to log how many steps we take in the forward motion compared to the lateral motion each day we'd wager that the majority of us only build in lateral movement when turning very tight corners.

 This is why our adductors can become weak and as a result, tight.

By adding a little focused work to strengthen these stabilizing muscles we can once again work towards decreasing injury risk.

Strength exercises for this exercise include clamshells, monster walks, and lateral steps with resistance bands.

One of her favorite stretches can be viewed below. The mountain backdrop certainly makes the stretch more enjoyable.

Hold each stretch for 1-2 minutes or move gently in and out of the stretch for mobility, avoid aggressively bouncing.

s3
Taking a few minutes each day to focus on the little things can pay dividends in the long run, no pun intended. Happy running.



Q:  After some of my long runs I completely crash for the rest of the day, and I can't afford to be down for the count - I have stuff to get done!  What can I do?

A:  Make sure you are leaving for your runs with a full tank - hydrated, and with 100-200 calories at least in the hour or two before you start.  Plan for and consume 4-8 oz of electrolyte replacement beverage every 2-3 miles (25-30 mins.) for long runs beyond an hour.  And, most importantly, replenish with carbohydrates as soon as possible after your run = 15-30 minutes max.  A banana, apple, orange, peanut butter sandwich, or energy bar with primarily carbs and some protein included are great choices to save in your car or keep ready at home for your return.  We know that in a depleted state your body will grab carbohydrates and convert them to working glycogen quickly.  So the post-run quick meal (100-200 kcal) within 30 minutes is key.  Miss this window and you'll be playing catch up the rest of the day!


Q:  What should I eat the night before a race?

A:  You should eat familiar foods at a normal dining hour.  The day before a race, incorporate plenty of carbs, but do not stuff yourself with two pounds of pasta.  Eat a moderate amount of a well balanced meal (pasta, chicken breast or bolognese sauce, salad, roll is one example) at dinner, and sip both water and sports drink throughout the day.  Steer clear of alcohol.

One mistake a lot of people at destination races make is to set out from the hotel for dinner at 7, head to a casual dining restaurant which is busy on weekends, wait 45 minutes or an hour for a table, and all of a sudden, start dinner at 9pm when the alarm clock is set for 5am.  Plan ahead and give your body time to assimilate the food and get ready to sleep! You and the line of people behind you at the porta-potties will be grateful.


Q:  How much should I drink during a marathon or half marathon?

A:  First of all, we recommend taking a drink to the start line and consuming 4-8 oz right before the gun goes off.  This is your first water stop.    Plan to consume 6-8 ounces of fluid every 2-3 miles or 25-30 minutes.  For bigger races with aid stations every mile or two, one good rule of thumb is to just take fluid every time (so you don't have to think about it).  A good strategy is to alternate sports drink and water.  Pinch the top between your thumb and fingers, and you can nurse it for a few more yards.  Most importantly, do not wait to consume fluids until you are "thirsty".  At that point, you are already playing catch-up.  Drink early, and when in doubt, choose the electrolyte replacement drink over water - then you'll get both the minerals and the H2O necessary for hydration.


Q: Everybody says I should try this (bar/ gel).  How do I know if it is right for me?

A:  Practice!  Your initial long runs serve as trial and error nutrition workouts.  Once you find your comfort zone with a particular drink, gel or bar include consumption in your longer and more rigorous workouts. Nutrition-wise, nothing you do on race day should be brand new territory.  We recommend consuming a gel packet (always with fluid) or similar amount of carbs through another source such as a banana every 45-60 minutes during a marathon or half marathon, which means you should also be doing this on your Big Kahuna long runs.  Keep in mind if you are following the earlier recommendation of energy drinks every 25-30 minutes you may not need the additional gel/bar/banana replacement.  Many utilize a combination of drinks, gels and food to provide quick available carbs within the race.  Everyone's body is different - make your refueling plan during workouts as deliberate as the other parts of your race preparation and you'll have one less unknown to worry about!



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