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Coach Hiruni Wijayaratne

Coach Hiruni Wijayaratne

tom_blog_3What a crazy year this has been.  We’ve gone through a pandemic of the century, lost loved ones, observed the pain & suffering of so many, and seen our running industry turned upside down.


I’ve read countless inspirational stories from many across the U.S. and around the world.  As I’m hopeful that we may be through the worst, I thought it might be helpful for me to share my experience of the last six months with our wonderful Runcoach customers and anyone else that might find my perspective helpful.


This is a bit selfishly cathartic for me but I’m hopeful my experience and some advice may be beneficial.


This will be a 6-Part Series with the following topics:


  1. Running with Bad Air Quality

  2. Recovery from Injury (My Knee Surgery)

  3. Alternatives to Running with Current Restrictions

  4. Some Perspective on Black, Indigeneous and People of Color from a Running Lense

  5. Running After Coronavirus Symptoms

  6. Our Path Forward to Road Races & What We Can Do Now



Running with Bad Air Quality

Many of us in the northwest part of the country and now with extensions to the midwest, have experienced extremely poor air quality from the tragic fires in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.


As runners, we always want to push through adverse conditions. I haven’t been running (more to come on that topic) and I’m acutely aware of the detriments of inactivity.  However I believe that poor air quality has long-term bad effects.  So what can we run in and what can’t we?


Here are my thoughts:


  1. AQI readings above 100 are a non-starter - please find alternatives (see below)

  2. AQI readings in the 80-100 range may have an effect and should be considered with caution

  3. AQ below 80 is probably safe but you should still listen to your personal biometric feedback in this range


Personal biometric feedback is your breathing within and after a run.  There is a difference between wheezing and heavy breathing.  Think of wheezing as strained breaths where you can feel it down deep in the lungs. You will feel wheezing from asthma and unhealthy air during and after your run.  We don’t want to run through wheezing as the lungs are remodeling to transport necessary oxygen and some tissue could be dying.


On the other hand, heavy breathing is normal and we experience this through heavy exertion.  A great marker to distinguish between the two is how you feel after a run.  You should not have labored breathing or any wheezing within an hour of workout completion.


Here are my favorite sites/apps to check the air quality.


  1. Purple Air - this site uses a community of personal air sensors at residences and businesses to provide a view of your area’s AQI

  2. AirVisual - this is an app available for iPhone and Android users;  it uses 10,000 locations to evaluate, predict, and report on current and future air quality


So what to do if the air quality is poor?


  1. Wear a mask?

    1. I’ve been walking in an N-95 mask which seems to keep out many particulates; there are many varieties to choose from

    2. I haven’t experienced the new Under Armour sports mask but heard it is comfortable for runners

  2. Run on a treadmill if possible

  3. Consider an alternative workout indoors such as the Peloton (more on this in an upcoming post), Elliptical, pool for swimming or deep water running, or any of the HIIT or other at-home workouts with a cardio focus

  4. Adjust your plan - ask your coach or look at the forecast and pick a better day to run


The bad air quality won’t be here forever.  In these times, it is important to remember those who have lost lives, homes, pets and much worse in the fires.  Still the loss of your workout is personal and not to be diminished.  I like to think of how much I appreciate running in these times and the hope that I will have the opportunity to run in clean air soon.

Virtual races and time trials have been the medicine of choice for athletes like Ward who are missing the excitment of racing. As the race scene is still uncertain, we encourage everyone to test their speed and endurance through a self-timed race. You are working hard, why not snag a shiney new personal best? 

Ward's Recap of his recent time trial to Coach Tom:
ward_V2"I took my local coach, Susan (also wife of 45 years!) to the local high school track. As we squeezed through the locked gate, I said "Welcome to my world!"

She was only mildly amused as she crawled free of the gate. Laughing

The weather conditions were good - partly cloudy, slight breeze and temperature in the mid to upper 70's. Track was empty. I had rested all week - no runs (although I do a lot of physical labor - I am the "custodian" of a log cabin and 31 acre piece of property).

I set my 400m splits up to run a 7:25 1,600.

Here are my actual splits (per 400 meters):

1:50.74
1:50.52
1:44.58
1:38.58   
Final time = 7:04.42 !!!!

My heart rate steadily climbed up to 150, 155, 160. My max heart rate during the run was 168. It peaked as I "sprinted" (a generous term) down the final 50 m.

It was a very good effort. I did not have much left in the tank at the end and was running very close to my maximum effort (as much as you can do by yourself).

I also had my assistant take some short videos of me running towards camera, away from camera, and from the side. I thought you might like to examine my stride (if not my wonderful Covid haircut and Dave Wottle golf cap!*)

Conclusions:
1. My stride, as I suspected, is where I have lost most of my speed. I guess because I am weaker, my legs don't propel me as far with each step. My tempo is the same, my stride is much shorter. I look like an OLD MAN. I am an OLD man!

2. My max HR is probably about 170

3. I can run a sub-7 minute 1,600 m

Thank you for the challenge Coach!

-Ward


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.

watermelonIngredients


  • 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.

 

Distance runners need strong core muscles.
A strong core helps runners and walkers improve stability, balance, and posture.  A strong core prevents waster lateral movement while running, which means more energy is directed to move forward, faster!



Join Coach Tom for a full body workout.
full_body_core

Add Deep Breathing Exercises To Your Routine

There are various benefits of deep breathing exercises. These range from reduce stress to improved digestion and a natural pan reliver.

When done correctly, deeo breathes release toxins, promote blood flow and foster healthy body functions and sound sleep.

If you follow a Runcoach training program, chances are you have seen the term "cross training". 

So what exactly does it mean? 

Cross-training means a type of exercise that you can substitute for running. We include things like cycling, swimming, and strength training in this category. 

The purpose of cross training is to improves your aerobic fitness without the impact of running.  This is why most people consider cross-training to also be an injury prevention tactic during training. Below I will list some of my favorite cross-training exercises. I recommend taking at least one cross training day each week to prevent injuries, allow your body and mind to rejuvenate, & become a well-rounded athlete. 

cartoon-girl-on-elliptical-cross-trainer-vector-12090079_2#1-Elliptical
These are easy to find at any gym. Wipe off the handles before use and get pedaling.  Remember to maintain good posture and not place a lot of stress on your lower back. You should feel nice and tall, while moving the legs and arms in synchronization. 

Workout:
Elliptical 20 - 30 minutes total 
To challenge yourself, add in one minute of hard effort every 5 minutes. 

**Extra challenge: Set the resistance on the machine to a higher number for 30 seconds, pedal hard. Reduce the resistance for 5:00. Repeat. 




b1f9a3a5-f0ea-4ab6-a5f9-b9c8962b2444.__CR0016001200_PT0_SX800_V1___#2-Get in the Pool

The water is a great ally for us runners. If you can find a pool, maximize it for more than just a dip to freshen up. The two best methods to use the pool is to either aqua jog (pool run) or swim.  

Workout:
Aqua jog/ swim 30 - 40 minutes total. When aqua jogging it might be helpful to have a flotation belt. 
To challenge yourself, add in 2 minutes of hard effort every 8 minutes. 

**Extra challenge: Simulate a fartlek in water. After a 5-minute warmup aqua jog, or leisure swim, perform 1 minute hard/ 1 minute easy, 2 minutes hard/ 2 minutes easy in rotation 30 - 40 minutes. The "hard" and "easy" are all effort based. Whatever feels tough and relaxed to you on the given day. 


#3-Full Body Workout

Running is an extremely liner sport. This means we always move in one direction, often neglecting many muscle groups. Those neglected muscles need attention too. Especially your core. 

Workout:
15 – 20 minute full body workout. 
To challenge yourself, add in a 5 - 8lb weight. 

Checkout Coach Tom’s favorite full body workout.


Other Ideas: 
-Jump rope 
-Cross fit
-Pilates/ Yoga class
-Rowing machine
-Spin bike 
-Heavy weight lifting session
-TRX or HIIT Session










Races as we knew them are indefinitely put on hold. So what now? 
Well there's actually many others way to challenge your self and stay fit. Case &  point, run a marathon in 25 hours.

Runcoach athlete Aimee shares her motivations behind this unique quaratine challenge! We're sweating just reading about it!

aimee3
1)What are your reactions to the COVID19 pandemic?

COVID 19 has been and will continue to be an extraordinarily difficult experience for many in our nation and around the world. Many of my close friends are on the frontlines in healthcare and I am so grateful for their sacrifices. They make it possible for me to do something fun, like run a marathon in 25 hours. 

2)How do you stay motivated to continue to be active?

I live in Florida with two young boys so inactivity has not really been a choice! I am surrounded by great weather and lots of energy! We have been doing lots of running, biking, swimming and kayaking through the quarantine which has been such a blessing. However, the biggest motivator  for me is that I truly believe in the mental and emotional benefits of exercise in addition to the physical effects. So even on days that I do not feel motivated or excited about exercising, I remind myself of the reason I stay active: to practice self care. Not only for myself but also to hopefully be an example to my kids and students. 

3)Tell us a bit about the quarantine challenge and how you completed it?

I completed the “Marathon in 25 Hours” Quarantine Challenge. My training partner Mellissa found the challenge on Instagram and we decided to try it! The challenge began on Saturday at 12:00 noon. The plan was to run two miles on even hours (12:00, 2:00, 4:00 …)  and on odd hours we would run one mile until we reached 18 miles on Saturday. Towards the end of the evening Saturday I was losing motivation so I modified the plan and ran 3 miles at 7:00pm and 4 miles at 8:00pm to reach 18. On Sunday, we began running 1 mile on the hour every hour at 6:00am. We completed 8.2 miles to finish the full 26.2 in 25 hours! 

Admittedly, when I first saw the challenge, it did not seem intimidating. We had just completed the Dopey Challenge in January which consisted of 48.6 miles in 4 days (5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon). Then I completed another full marathon in February. So this seemed doable. However, I grossly underestimated the effect stopping and starting would have on my body and mind. The first several rounds were great but eventually my legs started tightening in between runs. It was difficult to get them moving again! It was also challenging to find motivation to get up and start the next round as the day continued. This is why I modified the plan and increased my milage towards the end of the day. I knew eventually I would succeed in talking myself out of getting off the couch so I just got to 18 as fast as I could! Sunday was a little bit easier as it was just a mile per hour. But with 6 miles left, I found myself fatigued. I reached out to a friend of mine and she encouraged me to dedicate each mile to someone in my life and focus on them rather than myself. That was hugely beneficial in helping me finish out the last 6 hours. 

An additional component of the challenge that I did not anticipate was fueling properly. In retrospect, I should’ve had a better plan of what I was going to eat and when to eat it. Spreading the miles out over so many hours but running every hour made it difficult to eat enough calories throughout the 25 hours. 

One fun thing about this challenge was that I was able to run at a pace much faster than my traditional marathon pace. I completed this marathon 40 minutes faster than my PR!

4)How did you find Runcoach?

I am new-ish to running. I started running two years ago because of a deal I made with one of my students (I am a college professor). My first goal was to complete a half marathon which I thought was certainly impossible. I have never been a runner, much less a long distance runner. Once I completed the first half marathon, I fell in love with running. It has truly made me a better mom, wife, professor, friend etc. I then set a goal to complete a full marathon. I have now completed 2 ( 3 if you count the challenge) marathons, 5 half marathons, 2 10Ks and several 5k’s in a little less than 2 years. I had proven to myself that I can, in fact, finish. So I set a new goal to improve my time and become a stronger runner.  I felt overwhelmed trying to plan my speed workouts, tempo runs and guess my goal paces so I started looking into finding a running coach and that search lead me to the runcoach app. It was such a relief to find the app! I have been using the app for a little over a month and my speed has already increased significantly and I feel much stronger during my long runs! I plan to run a marathon in November and cannot wait to see the progress I have made with the help of the app and coaches. 

5)What’s your advice to folks struggling with motivation due to race cancellation?

My advice is to remember why you are running. Races are certainly one of the best and most exciting parts of running. However, the health and wellness benefits are undeniable and more impactful than medals and race shirts (which are admittedly awesome and the only things I collect!) 

aimee1aimee2

What is mental health?Picture1

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’. Mental illness can impact anyone, of any age and background. Achieving and maintaining good mental health and well-being is important for everyone.


How common are mental health issues?

It is estimated that, 1 in 6 working age people can suffer from mental illness. Another 1/6 of the population can be affected by symptoms associated with mental ill health, such as worry, sleep problems and fatigue, which, while not meeting criteria for a diagnosed mental illness, will be affecting their ability to function at work.

Have a conversation:

It's okay to feel stressed out or unsure of how to cope with the daily demands on your plate. Keep a pulse on your heart rate, behavior, and mood. If you notice changes, have a conversation!

> Choose a trusted friend, coworker, 
> Select a private and comfortable place and time
> Discuss the changes you’ve noticed 
> (if you are having a conversation about another person's well-being) encourage them to talk openly. Don't complete sentences or jump in to provide a solution or opinion.

 

You have rights in the workplace. Read more about the US Equal Employment Opportunity Coalition and National Alliance of Mental Illness.



Take 5 simple steps toward better well-being:

1) MOVE : Exercise is a great way to release stress, improve your mood, and increase energy.
2) MINDFULNESS : Pay attention to the world around you. Focus on the present.
3) NUTRITION : Choose wholesome food choices, a colorful plate, and hydrate often.
4) GIVE : Perform acts of kindess. A simple gesture goes a long way for you and the reciever. 
5) CONNECT : Increase the amount of positive relationships in your life. Reduce the negative and time consuming.



d747ee20C180EC5-D2A8-4A67-872C-D253DB3024D8_2Teresa shares her incredible journey with the Runcoach community. She encourges us to first and foremost "START". However small the gains are, there are improvements!

Major milestone:
I started with the desire to lose weight- started walking. Now I feel it is truly a miracle- I can run 10 miles. I lost the weight but the other effects are priceless! No more depression, or back pain, I have more energy and I feel like I look so much better. I can actually see muscles in my legs and arms.


What is the secret to your success?
I started very small. Jogging for only 30 seconds initially. I continue to incorporate walk breaks into my run


What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?
My biggest obstacle was the weather and day light kept me from gettin in my runs. Bought a treadmill to deal with this.


What is the most rewarding part of training?
Seeing the success and improved health. My thinking has changed- other areas of my life I now use the same strategies. Start small and stick with it. Progress not perfection is what I strive for.


What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?
Don’t give up. If a 200 pound woman can do it anyone can!


Anything else you would like to share?
You are worth it.



jo-houJoanna ran an incredible race at the 2020 Houston Marathon. She talks about her journey to the finish line, how she ran a "dream time", while managing a busy schedule, minimizing distractions, and  other obstacles. She encourages everyone to have fun and be kind to yourself through the process of gaining fitness.


Major milestone:

A major fitness milestone is definitely running my first marathon in January of 2018. I was going through a difficult time in my personal life so training was not a priority but I decided to still go through with the run. I did not feel ready for it but I proudly finished and I'm glad I went for it. As of January 2020 I have completed three marathons!


What is the secret to your success?

The secret is not being hard on myself when I have a bad day or training session. It's telling yourself it's okay not to PR and that I will get another chance at it tomorrow.


What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?
Time management! It has been a learning curve over the years with minimizing distractions but I know watching less TV or no TV and packing my stuff the night before have really helped. Those two minor changes have stuck with me over the years.


What is the most rewarding part of training?
The community. I've met a lot of people over the years that share similar goals and it's nice to have others to lean on when I need advice or accountability. It's rewarding making meaningful relationships along my fitness journey.


What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?
Don't forget to have fun!!


Anything else you would like to share?
All of us runners/ triathletes had to start somewhere. It was not an overnight success but more so a lifestyle change/process. Start at one mile and work your way up. You too can run a marathon.


What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?
It works! Stick to your plan and schedule and you will see results.

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