You probably have heard that you need to do the things you are not good at, or the things that scare you to help make you a better and stronger person. The same applies to workouts. You didn't want to come today because we were running hills and you don't like them? Well that's too bad. If you want to get better and stronger, you'll do them. If you want to stay where you are, you'll stay in bed.
The same goes for any type of workout.
If you don't like tempo runs because they are hard for you, do them! Run them often. Learn from them. It's okay if you do not like a specific workout, but that's no reason not to do it. Remember that where you are right now is a necessary step. Sometimes we avoid where we are simply because we believe we are better than that, or think we need to be elsewhere on our journey. Don't discount any step. Embrace where you are and learn from things you may struggle with. Get out of bed and come run hills. Even if you don't like them, you'll be glad you ran as you begin to reap the benefits they provide.
So - if you hate hills, embrace them and learn from them. If you don't like tempo runs, learn what you can do to conquer them. If repeats baffle you, keep working - you'll get there. Remember, life is a huge learning process. You aren't expected to know everything right off the bat.
Remember, no one is perfect and we all have things we dislike. But, by working through our struggles, we become better people and stronger runners.
We are proud of you and your accomplishments. We know many of you are already seeing progress from the month we have been working together. Keep working hard - we love seeing you on Wednesday mornings. Keep up your cross training and other mileage and you'll be proud of what you can accomplish.
As a runner, you already know that what you eat affects your performance. You know that a diet of cheetos, twinkies, fast food, and soda will slow you down, not to mention add a little pudge in places you don't want it. You know that eating protein helps you build muscle, and making sure you are hydrated is key to a good workout. You know not to try new foods on race day unless you want to hang out in the porta-potty. That being said, you may have a stomach of steel while your running partner may be very sensitive to certain foods. The key is learning what works best for your body while keeping yourself healthy and fit.
You log your miles and workouts, right? You keep track of each mile split on a tempo run, and each split for a fartlek, but are you keeping track of what you put into your body? By doing this, you'll likely begin to see patterns such as:
1. When I eat ice cream cake and drink martinis for dinner my workouts the next morning are typically less than stellar.
2. When I eat a balanced diet of protein, greens, and carbs my workouts and runs feel great.
3. When I forget to eat a meal, I feel tired (and grumpy).
4. When I do not drink enough water, my muscles feel fatigued and my workouts suffer.
5. Too much of a certain food means way too many bathroom stops on my long run.
6. I'm traveling today and forgot to bring any food along. McDonald's for breakfast, White Castle for lunch, and Five Guys Burgers for dinner didn't sit well with my stomach. I feel sluggish and unhappy. I'll be looking for healthier options next time.
7. I did a 15 mile long run and did not eat or drink anything after the run for 5-6 hours. I don't feel well physically, and I'm also mentally fatigued.
8. I ate a healthy dinner, slept for 8 hours, and my workout went very well.
You get the picture. Learn from these patterns to see what works best for you.
Training and competition require a lot of energy. This energy comes from carbs, fats, and protein in your body. If you do not consume enough of these macronutrients, your body will not be able to perform at the level you would like. Training induces controlled levels of damage in your muscles. Your body rebuilding stronger muscles is what leads to growth in muscle mass and increased strength and endurance.
A good diet is a lot like a good training program. Over time, it will help you produce the results you want to see. Since both diet and training programs are more important over the long run than in the short, both should be viewed as a big picture. It's hard to totally derail yourself in a few days. A few days of eating poorly will not ruin your racing form any more than taking a few rest days from your training program (we don't recommend doing this all the time of course). Don't be anxious about day-to-day. Just keep the big picture in mind. If you slip up and eat the nachos, the pretzel, and the hotdog at the ball game, it's okay! The world isn't going to end (although you may feel miserable). Just get back on track and remember how eating well and training right will help you nail that PR.
So - eat well, train right, drink lots of H2O, and don't worry if you slip up once in a while. No one is perfect - just try to maintain a balanced diet. Integrate a healthy diet with a good training plan and the right amount of sleep, and you're well on your way to success. Happy Running!
Yesterday we completed a 3 mile tempo run with a 1 mile warm-up. This was the first time many of you had completed a tempo run, and we were pleasantly surprised with how well you did. In fact, maybe we need to make the workouts harder :)
You might be wondering a bit more about the tempo run - why do we do them? Do they work?
A tempo run is a faster workout/run that many call a lactate-threshold (LT) or threshold run. The idea of tempo running is to help improve metabolic fitness.
So, how do tempo runs work? Tempo runs work by increasing your LT (the point at which your body fatigues at a certain pace). Lactate and hydrogen ions are byproducts of metabolic fitness. During LT runs, the aforementioned lactate and hydrogen ions are released into your muscles. The ions make your muscles acidic which then leads to fatigue. So, the higher your LT, the better your muscles become at using these byproducts.
However, to reap the effects of an LT/tempo run, you have to put in the work at the right pace. It won't be easy, but if you want to nail that PR you'll do it, and you may even learn to love it.
Tomorrow, April 22 is Earth Day. You already recycle, take reusable bags to the grocery store, have a compost pile, buy local and eat in-season foods. So, as a runner, what other ways can you take care of the environment and protect it for generations to come?
We've compiled a few tips for you. #everydayisearthday
1. Find a Reuse-A-Shoe type campaign. Donate or recycle your old running shoes. Of course, they are also perfect for mowing the yard and doing chores.
2. Wash your running clothes with cold water and hang dry. Not only will you use less electricity, your clothes will last longer.
3. Ride your bike/walk/run to do errands. Yes, this is easier when you live in an area more conducive to foot traffic, but it can still be done, especially if you live in town.
4. Take up gardening! Not only will you get a bit of an extra workout, you'll have clean, healthy food.
5. Ride share to races and workouts if you cannot bike/walk/run there.
6. Use a reusable water bottle for runs and throughout the day. If you must use bottled water, recycle!
7. Bring your own bag to race expos.
8. Race local and participate in races making a choice to "go green"
9. Use old race shirts as cleaning cloths/rags
10. Invest in shoes made with bio-friendly materials
11. When you need new running gear, buy running clothes made from recycled post-consumer polyester. Some companies such as Patagonia will then recycle the clothes when you are done.
12. Donate money and time to local clean-up organizations, Rails-to-Trails, local park boards, etc that promote trails and running paths. Check with these organizations about clean-up days as well.
13. Organize a donation drive at a local race where runners can donate used items.
14. Run or bike to the gym instead of driving and/or find workout classes in the park to get your dose of fresh air and reduce energy consumption/use at the gym.
15. Look for specific (ex. "contains 75% post-consumer recycled materials") rather than vague statements about environmental impact.
16. Use your run/walk as a chance to clean up your community. Grab some friends and a few trash bags and pick up litter while logging a few easy miles.
17. We know your muscles are sore from that workout, but do you really need to be in the shower for 30 minutes? As nice as that hot water may feel, every two minutes of shower time you save can reduce your water consumption by ten gallons. So, reduce your shower time and save water and energy.
18. Plant a tree. Not only is it good for the air quality and environment, the shade it provides is a great place to relax after a long run.
19. We know you love your coffee. Invest in a reusable cup and sleeve. Not only will you reduce waste, but your coffee will stay warm longer! Additionally, lay off the K-Cups. Think about the amount of plastic and waste they produce.
20. Make sure to recycle the bottles and cans from that post-workout beer. Recycled glass reduces air related pollution by 20% and water related pollution by 50%.
Happy Earth Day, and Happy Running! See you in the morning for a tempo run!
Are you still wondering what else you can do to get faster? A simple solution: begin to speed up your “regular” runs. I know, easier said than done, however, the point of the workouts is to help increase your speed. Going faster on regular runs is a good measurement of your improvement. A good method for determining a good speed: if you are carrying on a conversation you should only be able to say a short sentence before you are out of breathe. Try this on your next run.
Yes, there will still be days you will be fatigued (definitely the day after workouts). On those days, if you don’t feel very well, go slower. I call these recovery runs. A recovery run is actually better for you than not running; it allows your muscles to loosen up and the blood flow to increase to those sore areas. Another option if you feel decent but still tired: run a few miles slower and then increase your speed for the rest of your run. And last but not least: a two-a-day! A two-a-day is like it says two runs in one day; these are great the day after a workout. Do a shorter recovery (2-4 miles) run in the morning and your typical, faster run in the afternoon.
I would also try to increase your speed on long runs too. I know, I know “long slow runs”. Believe me, doing long runs faster really helps improve your time on those longer races. On long runs, start slower and gradually find that comfort zone. Throughout a long run there are moments where you feel great, don’t let those moments be wasted! Speed up!
Now you have not only one but TWO ways to improve! Workouts and speeding up your runs!
On Wednesday morning, we met at Atchley Park and completed a nice, short, hill workout. The workout was as follows:
Warm Up: 1 mile
Drills: Butt Kicks/High Knees/Lunges
Strides: 4 strides
Hills: 2x6 hills with 3 minutes rest between sets
Cool Down: On your own
How do you feel today? Are your quads sore? Maybe your calves, core, or even lower back? Take these things into consideration as you think about your form and the way you run hills.
We wanted to share a few tips on running hills.
1. Do not look at your feet, and try not to look at the very top of the hill. Keep your eyes forward and conquer what is directly in front of you. You will make it to the top.
2. Drive with your arms. Push those elbows back to propel you up the hill.
3. Do not lean too far forward at the waist. Leaning forward limits your ability to flex your hips and and drive your knees up.
4. When you run downhill, do not lean too far back. When you lean back, you throw your center of gravity behind your body. Sure, leaning back will slow you down - but you want to take advantage of the speed you can gain going downhill in a race. During workouts, going downhill is your "easy" time, so just jog down.
5. Mental cues like "lean and go", "stand tall", and "drive" are great for hill running, since they serve as reminders to be conscious of your form, even when tired.
6. Remember, hills may be hard, but they are beneficial to you. So, do not discount them as a workout, and try to work them into your routine.
So, what can you take away from these tips?
- On the way up a hill, you are working against gravity, so remember to stand tall with a slight forward lean. Remember to drive your legs back and lift your knees up to take advantage of the power generated around your ankle. Also, try to keep your torso centered over your pelvis.
- As you head downhill, gravity is helping you along, so don’t be afraid to lean forward and really run down the hill. Remember to keep your torso centered over your pelvis relative to the slope of the hill. Try to maintain an even effort despite the fact that your pace is increasing.
Honestly, we hope you are a little sore today. If not, you can do more repeats next time.
See you next Wednesday morning for a tempo run! We will provide you with the details of where to meet soon.
Yoga - you probably have an opinion about it. Whether you are a seasoned yogi comfortable with the most complex inversions or a total beginner working to touch your toes, yoga can help you get faster and stronger while helping you become more in tune with your body and clear your mind.
We recently posted about the benefits of cross training for runners, and promised you a post on yoga and how to choose the right type for you.
So, you have decided to give yoga a chance. What type of yoga is best for you? You see hot yoga studios, hear about eastern versus western yoga, and wonder how in the world you are suppose to contort yourself into "that" pose. What the heck is Bikram? Kundalini? Vinyasa? Hatha? Why is everyone in class wearing Lululemon, what are Teeki pants, and can I get those abs, please?
Before we explore your options, a few basic things first:
1. You do not have to be a vegetarian or vegan to practice yoga. No, you don't have to give up alcohol to be a yogi and yes, it's still okay to eat ice cream cake for dinner sometimes.
2. You do not have to practice a particular religion to practice yoga. Your spirituality will benefit no matter where you are in life- trust us. Learn from it as you do from others each day.
3. You do not have to go to a studio to practice, although we recommend making sure you are practicing each pose correctly to avoid injury. There are some great videos out there to learn from.
4. Yoga is for everyone. It is not just for _______ people (you fill in the blank). There are no expectations and no judgment. Your practice is yours. Enjoy your time on the mat.
5. Yoga is not easy. Sorry.
Now that we have that cleared up, we will help you explore your options below.
If you are new to yoga or returning to yoga after an injury, pregnancy, or other life event, you might want to try a more basic peaceful style of yoga such as:
· Restorative Yoga
· Yin Yoga
· Gentle Hatha
Are you open to learning more about yoga and the philosophies behind the practice? If you have some experience with yoga and are mostly injury free you might like to try:
· Hatha Yoga
· Vinyasa Yoga
Do you have a regular practice and want to dig deeper? Do you have more experience with yoga than the average person? You might try:
· Ashtanga Yoga
· Anusara Yoga
· Kundalini Yoga
· Jivamukti Yoga
Do you love to sweat? Are you a powerhouse looking for a new challenging way to get exercise? You might like to try:
· Power Yoga
· Bikram or a Hot Yoga style such as Sumit or Fusion (yes, it's going to get HOT)
Do you have a deep yoga connection and practice already? Are you open minded to trying new things and are you athletic by nature? Do you have an adventurous spirit for branching out and trying new things on and off the mat? You should try:
· Acro Yoga
· Aerial Yoga
· Ashtanga Yoga
· SUP/Paddleboard Yoga
· Bikram or a Hot Yoga Style such as Sumit or Fusion (yes, it's going to get HOT)
We recommend checking out your yoga studio thoroughly. We also recommend making sure that your instructor is certified to teach yoga. Your goal is to increase strength and flexibility so you can build endurance and speed, not to get injured.
Here are a few of our favorite studios in the Springfield area.
Of course, you can also find various classes in the Lebanon area if necessary.
PURE Hot Yoga - Infrared heating - also offers SUP Yoga Indo Board friendly classes
Sumit Hot Yoga
My Hot Yoga - Offers non-heated and aerial classes as well
Dynamic Body - Offers TRX, Pilates, and Barre as well
Questions? Let us know!
We know many of you already cross train. We have athletes that do everything! Our athletes teach bootcamp, attend crossfit multiple times per week, get bendy in hot yoga, cycle, hike, swim, kayak, SUP, and dogsled (yes - that is definitely hard work).
So, if you are not currently doing some type of cross training, you might be wondering how you can start, what you can do, and how you can reap the benefits.
It is okay to try a few different things. You won't know if you like it until you give it a try. Find something you enjoy, and intertwine your cross training activities with your running schedule.
Here are a few examples of how different cross training activities can help you as a runner.
Bicycle Intervals Increase Speed
- When Tom Miller was a Ph.D candidate at the University of Utah, he had runners warm up on a stationary bike (at low tension). He then had them increase the tension until the wheel could hardly turn. Then, the athletes stood up on the pedals for two segments of high power pedaling for 30, 45, 60, 45, and 30 seconds. Between each segment, the tension was lowered for recovery. All runners who used this training method a few times per week for six weeks were able to improve their 10K times. A few runners even were able to PR.
Weight Training Improves Running In Many Ways
- There is no doubt strength training can help make you faster. Weight training helps increase the body's ability to use oxygen efficiently. Thanks to this, weight training can also help you with that final kick at the end of a race. Strength training will increase your proportion of type II fibers which are your "fast-twitch" fibers.
Weight training can also help decrease body fat, help provide you with a better body composition, help prevent injury, and help decrease stress.
Yoga Improves Flexibility, Assists with Injury Prevention, Improves Strength, and Helps You Mentally
- Can't touch your toes? That's okay - you are still welcome in yoga. Yogis come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of flexibility. Studies have shown that yoga knocks out stress, aids weight loss, eases pain, helps people stick with exercise, and improves running times. Yoga focuses on building strength and flexibility, and you will find that you will build strength in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors. You will notice you begin to run more efficiently and injury free as you begin to truly listen to and notice your body.
Holding challenging poses such as bakasana also helps build tenacity that will pay off for you later. It can help you learn to control your emotions and push through discomfort.
Of course, as with any new activity, you should be cautious with yoga. Don't get too ambitious too soon - follow a certified instructor as you are learning. Remember, it's okay if you cannot touch your toes. Everyone starts somewhere.
We will be writing a post on how to choose the best type of yoga for you soon if you are interested in pursuing your practice.
Swimming builds endurance and is a great way to stay in shape while injured.
- Swimming is an ideal form of active recovery for runners. It allows you increase endurance and oxygen capacity while giving you a break from pounding pavement.
You use your whole body while swimming, and you are creating different movement patterns which allows you to work muscles you are not working while running.
We hope these suggestions help you with getting started. Of course, there are plenty of cross training options out there. We wanted to provide you with a few and the benefits they provide. See you Wednesday morning for hills!
Well you made it. You didn't die even though you may have wanted to during that 4th set!
This week we completed the following: 5 minute warm up followed by 5 sets of 3:00 on/1:30 easy with a 5 minute cool down.
This workout came just one week after our first fartlek which was several sets of 2:00 on/2:00 off + warm up and cool down. So, week 2 was a bit more difficult. But you rocked it!
These workouts are all about going hard, and learning to pace yourself at the same time. You don't want to run so hard on the first "on" segment that you're not able to complete the rest of the workout. But, you want the tank to be drained by the time you finish the last set. You want to be able to distinguish "on" from "easy" - and if you go out too hard that can be tough So it's a learning experience, but you'll get there. You're tough.
Next Wednesday (April 15) we will meet at Atchley Park (gravel lot) at 5am for a good ol' hill workout. The workout will be as follows:
2x6 hill repeats. If there is time and you want to do another set, we can.
Warm-up: run, drills, strides. Hills. Cool-down: 10 min
See you Wednesday, and best of luck with your weekend training and races.
Good things in life come to those who work, and work hard. We know you have it in you, or you wouldn't show up at 5am to run. You would stay in bed and dream of unicorns, jellybeans, puppies, and butterflies. But you - you're tough. You're not lazy. You work, and you work hard. You're ready to run hills, tempos, repeats, and fartleks. Unicorns don't do that (I don't think), but you can, and you do.
Speed work is a challenge, both mentally and physically. Even if you have been running 20-25 miles per week of base mileage for some time now, speed work is a step up in the running game. You're pushing your body harder in order to gain strength, speed, and endurance.
Last week, we ran a fartlek of 2:00 hard/2:00 easy with a warm-up and cool down of 5 minutes each. The hard segment is designed to be hard, but don't take the easy segment too "easy". If you're running 6:30 pace for your "hard" segments, don't let your body run 11:00 pace for your easy segments. Maybe try 6:30/8:00-8:30. You want to allow your body to recover, but you need to keep your heart rate elevated to reap the benefits of the workout. If you are just beginning speed work and you need to take one of your easy segments a bit easier than normal in order to go hard on your hard segments, that is certainly understandable. Just don't make it a habit. You want to be able to distinguish between the hard and easy segments and push yourself to reap the benefits of each workout.
We know the workouts are hard, and we know they will hurt. That's why we formed the group - to provide you with a support system of other runners who have the same goals as you - to be faster and stronger. It's ok if you struggle through a workout. Not every day is perfect in running or in life and that is ok. Learn from the bad workouts, and learn from the good. As you progress as a runner, you will learn what works for you and what doesn't. Remember these things and apply them to each workout you do.
You can do this. We have faith in you and we are here for you if you have questions or concerns. We want to help you reach your goals, but we can only do so much. The rest is up to you. See you in the morning, sunshine. ☮
Who Picks the Topics?
Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!