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Marathon Training Meal Plan

October 11th 2019

If you are interested in running a marathon, then observing a marathon training meal plan is important. Training for a marathon takes dedication, time, and proper fuel in the form of a solid diet plan. While you're training, keep an eye both on the snacks you eat to power a long training run and on the nutritious meals you eat throughout the rest of the day. Both can make a difference in whether you’ll be crossing the finish line or hitting a wall in the middle of training. To follow a proper marathon training meal plan, ensure you do the following: Focus on Carbohydrates Carbs are an important part of your marathon training meal plan. Although all three macronutrients are important for distance runners, carbohydrates are the cornerstone because they're your body's preferred source of fuel. According to Registered Dietitian Janice H. Dada, a marathon runner needs between 7 to 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight during the peak training period. Aim to include plenty of complex carbohydrates in your diet plan, including whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, and legumes. Running Coach Hal Higdon recommends limiting simple carbs, such as honey, sugar, and jam, to 10 percent of your calories. Don't Forget Your Fluids When drinking water, you should aim for a total intake of about half your body weight in ounces every day, so if you weigh 150 pounds, try and drink 75 ounces of water. Try to do most of your hydrating before and after a workout, when you need it most, and avoid relying on pre-workout energy drinks to carry the load. Also, lay off the booze. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body and it also affects blood sugar levels. Since distance runners depend heavily on stored glycogen from blood sugar for energy, this is bad news for your training. If you're committed to getting the most out of the hard work you're putting in, abstention is your best bet. Electrolytes are Important Electrolytes are an important part of your marathon training meal plan. Sodium is the most important electrolyte you’ll lose during your run. Sodium helps runners by easing muscle contractions and cramps and maintaining fluid stores. Sports drinks are a source of sodium, potassium, and other vital electrolytes, but if you’re marathon training in hot weather, you may need to further supplement with 400–800 mg of sodium in the form of salt or electrolyte tabs in your water or sports drink. Protein Protein is an essential component of all your tissues and an important part of your marathon training meal plan. It's especially valuable in helping you build and repair muscle, which you're doing a lot of while training. The average person training for a 5K does fine with about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight so the average 140-pound person benefits from 70 grams per day. Lean proteins such as fish, white-meat poultry, and trimmed steak are ideal options. Fats Fats get a bad rap, but the unsaturated kind provides support for vitamin absorption. Some, such as the Omega 3s, reduce inflammation so you recover from your runs adequately. Between 20 percent and 35 percent can come from fat, says the Institute of Medicine. Avocado, salmon, and nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats. Sample Meal Plan for Runners It is important to keep in mind that eating a well-balanced diet will enhance your performance time when it comes to training for a marathon. This means one should think about taking in nutrient-dense meals and snacks, keeping in mind the need to incorporate all three macronutrients (sugars, fats, and proteins). It is recommended to start the day with a complex carbohydrate along with a rich protein source. And of course, adding fruit will provide additional fiber and nutrients. Some examples are greek yogurt with berries and whole grain cereal, oatmeal made topped with fruit, or a smoothie made with fruit or veggies and milk. Lunch might include whole grain bread with turkey, avocado, and greens or a salad with chicken, beans, and vegetables along with whole grain crackers. Dinner can include a piece of grilled salmon, sautéed string beans and sweet potato, or chicken, broccoli, and brown rice. The importance of your meal plan is to be sure to provide rich sources of complete proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. In addition to three balanced meals, it’s important that you add in healthy snacks. Feeding your body on a regular basis allows for improved digestion and allows for your metabolism to remain intact. Also, these snacks should be coordinated with the training schedule, as it is important to refuel your body after a workout. These snacks or mini-meals should also be nutrient dense to meet the needs of the body and to maximize your ability to prepare for the marathon. Snacks can include fruit and nuts or peanut butter on crackers. Practice Fuelling Mid-run Over the course of 26.2 miles, your body will not be able to propel you forward properly without fuelling every 30 to 45 minutes. Abide by the motto “fuel early and often” and build this into your training routine, aiming to take on at least 30g of carbs per hour. The key is to stay ahead of any feelings of exhaustion, so keep topping up the tank, even if you don’t feel you need it. Once you feel your energy levels start to crash, it’s too late to get the maximum benefits from calorie intake. Recover From Training the Right Way Within 30-45 minutes of finishing a long run, you need a recovery snack consisting of both carbs and protein. This is an important window of time when your body is very responsive to nutrition and will quickly use any nutrients to rebuild and repair muscles. How you choose to refuel in this crucial period is crucial to your marathon training meal plan. What To Eat and When 1. Pre-Run According to Isabel Smith, a Registered Dietitian, “pre-run snacks should be made up of easily digestible carbs and should be low in fiber, fat, and protein.” Making sure to eat the right snacks will provide fuel and prevent cramping. Here are some high carb snacks to get you started: ● Greek yogurt topped with berries ● Crackers with hummus ● Whole wheat toast with almond butter and an apple ● Banana slices with peanut butter 2. During the Run Stick to only water if your training session will be an hour or less. For runs over an hour, supplement with an extra 30–80 grams of carbohydrates per hour. 3. Post-Run Meal A good post-run recovery meal should provide a mix of carbs and lean proteins. Carbs will replenish your energy levels, while protein helps your body repair muscle tissue. Also, consume about 20 ounces of fluid for every pound of fluid lost during your run. Give It Your Best Shot By taking the time to plan out a training schedule along with a balanced diet, you will be well on your way to finishing your first marathon. Take the time to understand the various macronutrients your body needs to give it the proper fuel and allow for your muscles to repair. Follow a marathon training meal plan and with just a little extra planning, you will easily be able to go the distance and cross that finish line! Don’t forget to check out the SportMe app to track your progress and always be race-ready.

10 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Shoulder and Neck Pain

October 11th 2019

In an age when most people spend a good chunk of their week hunched over a screen, neck and back issues are becoming some of the most common ailments that people deal with. While preventative measures like better desk setups are the best approach, there’s only so much that can be done. Luckily, yoga brings a host of new solutions to the modern physiological problems. Here are the 10 best poses for tackling shoulder and neck pain that you can do every day to alleviate any symptoms. 1. Ear to Shoulder/Neck Rolls Probably the most popular/well known stretch for relieving neck tension, the yoga equivalent takes it a little bit further. Sit upright and relax your shoulders, and push your chin against your chest to straighten your spine. Next, gently roll your head to the right or left until your ear touches your shoulder - use one hand to push your head, and the other to slowly push your opposite shoulder in the other direction. This is an extremely delicate stretch that doesn't require a serious amount of pressure - the opposing stressors and the sensitivity of neck and shoulders muscles will make you feel it right away. 2. Seated Forward Bend For the seated forward bend pose, sit upright with your legs aligned exactly straight. Take a deep breath inwards and fold forward, trying to cup your heels - make sure your chest touches your knees, or comes as close as possible. Now, here’s the important part - tuck your chin inwards while rolling forward, and hold that stretch, while slowly pulling your shoulders in. Count slowly to 5, exhale, and pull back out. This is a great pose because it’s intended to align your neck with the forward, natural motion of your upright spine. 3. Cross Body Shoulder Stretch Another classic stretch, this pose is wonderful for releasing tension in your shoulder muscles-- especially when a yoga breathing pattern is incorporated. Muscle tension in the deltoids and triceps are a common reason for your shoulders/trapezius clenching together, and this pose can aid in releasing the entire system. As always, start off in a comfortable upright seated position, and gently pull your arm across your body until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold this stretch for at least 3 breaths (inhale and exhale), then release, and switch to the other shoulder. This is an easy pose to do anytime during the day (vs just during a Yoga session), since you can do it from almost anywhere and it brings near instant relief. 4. Warrior II Pose This is a fantastic pose that’s primarily focused on releasing your chest and shoulders, which then indirectly forces your neck upright - 3 birds with one stone! (Or a slightly more morbid, less morbid saying). From a standing position, bring one foot back and another foot forward in a slightly slanted V shape (align the heel of your back foot with your front foot). Then, slowly, lean into your front foot while bending that knee (thereby stretching your back foot). While doing this, slowly lift both your arms and spread out your entire wingspan - one hand facing your front foot, the other towards your back. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then flip. 5. Two-Footed Pose This is one of those rare poses that does a great job at addressing two completely separate musculoskeletal regions. First lie on your back with your arms extended on your side, palms down, and keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Then slowly inhale and raise your butt off the floor, keeping your feet and palms where they are. It's important to keep your chin tucked into your chest this entire time and not move your head at all during the movement. Hold the post for 3 or 4 breaths and then exhale downwards. This is a fantastic pose, not only for neck alignment and shoulder release, but also for your pelvic area and can be a great core strengthening workout. 6. Cat/Cow Stretch Not the most flattering stretch (either in name or in movement), but this pose directly targets and stretches both your neck and shoulder muscles. Start in tabletop position with your back arched and look up at the ceiling (cow position) - then, slowly, round your back and shoulders forward and lower your chin until its nearly touching your chest (cat position). Alternate on inhale/exhale for at least 8 breaths. 7. Standing Forward Bend Pose This is one of the most foundational yoga poses you'll see in any beginner yoga class--and for good reason. It’s a wonderful way to correct rounded shoulders and generally release neck and shoulder tension. Start off standing at an upright position, with your feet aligned facing forward. Tuck your chin to your chest and slowly roll downwards, gradually moving lower until your hands touch your feet - hold that stretch and slowly exhale. Gradually come back up and repeat - its important that the rolling motion to the floor happens gradually, attuned to your breath, and your chin is tucked in at all times. 8. Hand Clasp Behind Back Another beginner pose, this is extremely good for people with tight shoulders or any kind of pain in the shoulder blades. Simply put, you stand upright and interlock your hands behind your back, then straighten your arms as far as you can while gripping tight. For an extra stretch to your neck while doing this, tuck your chin into your chest as hard as you can. You can adjust this pose depending on the severity of the tension on your shoulders by simply gripping harder or softer. 9. Melting Heart Posture This is an advanced pose that might be difficult for people who are still building up their flexibility. If you can hit it, though, it delivers a remarkable stretch to your entire neck, shoulder & upper back and is simply fantastic at releasing soreness and tightness. Simply put, you stretch forward on all fours as far as possible while keeping your legs in a 45 degree angle at the knees, and create as much of a curve in your back as possible. This is entirely a comfort game - the more of a stretch you can safely do, the better it is for you. 10. Sphinx Pose Another classic, the Sphinx pose is a good alternative to the melting heart for beginners. Simply lie down flat on your stomach with your palms facing down, shoulders on a 45 degree angle. Keep your legs entirely flat, then slowly raise your head and lift your upper torso as high as you can - this stretches out your entire back, and the further up you go the more your neck is stretched out as well. Once you're looking straight ahead, hold the post for a minute or 2 (or as long as you can). Consider complimenting this with the cat/cow pose to make sure you aren’t adding tension to your neck by only moving it a single direction. If you’re a runner, download the SportMe app. You’ll get a world class training plan and coach tailored just for you and your goals. Related: Can’t Run? Think Again

7 Ways to Stop Feeling Groggy in the Morning

October 11th 2019

You know those days where you get a full night's sleep but still wake up feeling awful? When you have to claw your eyes open, slowly crawl out of bed, and muster every ounce of inspirational energy your “Wake up energized!” Spotify playlist can handle? Like a held sneeze, a bitten lip, or an unresolved melody, a groggy morning is one of those micro-agonizing moments that can put a rut in your whole day. Luckily, the science is clear on what causes “groggy mornings, ”and there’s plenty of remedies that can help stop them from happening - so you can go back to waking up feeling fresh and kicking butt. 1. Sleep Apps The primary cause of groggy mornings comes from “sleep inertia” - a disruption in your circulation that comes from being interrupted out of REM sleep. While you sleep, your body is cycling in and out of phases of deep sleep. When you wake up organically (without an alarm), your body isn’t likely to be disrupted from these natural cycles.  Unfortunately, modern alarm clocks have no idea what your sleep cycle is, and will often wake you up blaring knee-deep in the middle of a sleep cycle - which is why the world hates alarm clocks. Apps like My Sleep App can help by attempting to wake you up when you're off a deep sleep cycle, typically asking you to set it on roughly 15-20 minutes before you fall asleep. There are even apps that use your phone’s built-in accelerometer to analyze the stage of your sleep and wake you up - they’re not foolproof by any means, but they’ll definitely give you a marked improvement in your sleep quality. 2. Open a Window! Sleep apps are great, and monitoring your sleep cycles is crucial. That being said, it’s difficult to eliminate waking up in the middle of deep sleep entirely. Even when waking up naturally, your body will often send you flying out of bed in the middle of an amazingly deep sleep cycle (add interrupted good dreams to the earlier list of life’s peeves). Opening a window brings in the fresh air and (hopefully) some vitamin D, which gets your endorphins firing and energized to counteract the grogginess. 3. Rethink breakfast You’ve probably heard the old adage of breakfast being the most important meal of the day - well, as it turns out, that's not really true and is largely a marketing gimmick made up by cereal companies. Breakfast can be important, but for many people, it’s even better to avoid it entirely - millions of people who practice intermittent fasting swear by the energy benefits of skipping breakfast. Whether you skip or don't skip is up to you, and you should experiment, but if you continue eating breakfast, consider the content - slow-release energy like fats and proteins are a far better option to level out your energy than carb loading. So avoid those cereals and sugary coffees and opt for whole grains, vegetables, cheeses, and meats. Related: Want to Run Well? Eat Anti-Inflammatory Style 4. Turn off your devices Cell phones are a modern scourge when it comes to your circadian rhythm - our bodies are tuned to use natural light as a circadian trigger, and introducing tons of blue light right before and after sleep throws your sleep cycle entirely out of whack. Avoid screens for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed so your body can adapt to the darkness. In the mornings, introduce more natural light - you can even consider getting a sun lamp if you’re in a darker part of the world. Your body relies on natural light to cycle properly - stop disrupting that cycle! 5. Exercise There’s no better way to kick your body into a rhythm than exercise. A brisk workout will get your blood pumping, oxygen flowing, and all-important endorphins to start flooding your system - you also get slight adrenaline boosts (especially if you’re doing something like interval training), which is basically nature’s energy drink Your body will benefit from incorporating a variety of workouts,  whether it’s yoga, strength training, or running. Going on a morning run is a great way to start your day and get your blood flowing. Download the SportMe app and track your progress as you go.  Related: SportMe Run Trainer FAQs 6. Whatever you do - don’t snooze Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle is bad - waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle two or three times in a 30 minute period is much worse. Snoozing an alarm and falling back asleep usually sends you back into a sleep cycle, which will only worsen the problem and make you more tired. If you’ve already woken up, just fight through it and stay awake - it’ll be much worse if you don’t. As the saying goes - if you're going through hell, keep going. Or something slightly less melodramatic. 7. Stretching During REM sleep, your muscles are literally paralyzed - that’s kind of why grogginess feels a bit like wading out of a mucky coma.  Stretching (or, if you’re really ambitious, yoga) reactivates those muscles, which releases a ton of endorphins into your system. Reactivating your muscles will make you feel better and look better! It’s a win-win. Ultimately, all of these “tricks” revolve around one thing - good sleep habits. If you’re eating right, sleeping on time, are proactive about your sleep patterns, and exercising, you should naturally reduce grogginess to an absolute minimum - and your body should be much better at handling those groggy mornings when they do come. So, the next time you're doubting whether you need those 8 hours - don't. Seriously. Related: The Top Ten Nutrition and Hydration Guidelines for Runners

The benefits of sports massages

October 11th 2019

One of the most important pieces of equipment a runner can own is a simple foam roller. I encourage my runners to pick up a foam roller because it's a fantastic way to perform self-massage. In lieu of getting a sports massage performed by a professional therapist, using a foam roller regularly is the next best thing. This being said, it's imperative to get regular sports massage if you're running on a regular basis to reduce the chances of aggravations/injuries. Don't think of sports massage as a luxury or an indulgence. Think of it as a 'tune up'. Just as your car needs a tune up periodically to keep running properly, the same is the case for your body (aka-'your vehicle for life') if you're running on a regular basis.  But, there's so much that one can derive from getting sports massages regularly during your training, that I pulled in the experts over at PSOAS Massage/Bodywork to break it down for us. Read on. The Benefits of Sports Massage Presented by Psoas Massage + Bodywork As runners, we all want to minimize the risk of injury, increase our potential, and make our next race or run the most enjoyable. While this article is mostly focused on running, the information is also applicable to other sports like cycling, rowing, swimming, or even competitive bowling. By incorporating knowledge of your anatomy and your limitations, a highly skilled Sports Massage Therapist will be able to help you find your most efficient running form, transcend your limitations, and help you get results. Your personal training program - combined with a Sports Massage treatment plan - is the best recipe for a successful race. Sports massage can provide all of the following: Increased Range of Motion (ROM) Part of being a better, faster, more economical runner is not just about logging the miles. If you can lift your knee a little bit higher with each stride or extend your leg back a bit further with each stride, this can help improve your performance. Sports massage can help facilitate this greater range of motion. Decreased potential for injury. When you run, you're incurring 3-5 times your body weight in impact force per footstrike. The result of this is microtears in muscle fiber, knots, and adhesions. Left untreated, the aforementioned can evolve into an aggravation or an injury. Sports massage can help address this. Increased awareness of your body. A quality sports massage will inevitably result in you having a better idea of the areas of your body that are tight or problematic. This knowledge allows you to do a better job taking care of yourself (enter foam roller) moving forward. Faster recovery of muscles after hard exertion. Muscles tighten, contract, and shorten when you run. A sports massage can help these overworked muscles relax, release, and elongate thus facilitating quicker recovery. Increased efficiency of muscle use. If one or more muscles are tight, it's not unlikely that you're not running as efficiently as you could be. The inevitable relaxation and release of these muscles via sports massage can increase efficiency of muscle use.  Decreased recovery time. As mentioned earlier, running can break your body down. A quality sports massage can increase blood flow/circulation, oxygen, and nutrient absorption. All of this can help decrease recovery time from a challenging run. Now that we've covered the multitude of benefits one can derive from sports massage, the next question is how often one should have a sports massage performed. Professional, Olympic, and collegiate athletes often receive daily sports massage while competitive and motivated runners often receive weekly sessions. Below are common schedules assuming a 10 week training program. These four plans range from the 'optimal' to the 'minimum' suggested for any training program. Aggressive. Weekly or bi-weekly sessions. Moderate. A session in week 1, 4, 6, 8, 9 and a day or two before the race. Minimal. A session in week 2, 6 and 9 – possible session in week 10 if needed. Spot. On an as-needed basis dependent upon injury, pain or soreness. Hopefully, the above illustrates the utility of marrying regular sports massage with your training plan. If the best runners on the planet are doing regular sports massage, it behooves you to at least consider following suit. If you're looking for some more ways to help improve your running, feel free to check out our stretching guide and/or blog at WWW.PSOASBODYWORK.COM

Nervous on race day? Sports psychologist, Dr. Michelle Cleere can help

October 11th 2019

You've logged the miles. You've done the work. You're at the starting line. Physically, you've done all you can do to prepare for what lies ahead. But, are you in the right head space? Are you ready mentally for what lies ahead? We're thrilled to have sports psychologist Dr. Michelle Cleere share some thoughts about getting into the right head space on race day. Read on for the lowdown. You arrive at your race. Why is it that when you look around some people are jogging, some are in their own world listening to music and others, you overhear, are talking about how nervous they are? The first two groups of people are probably preparing themselves for the marathon by getting into their zone. Do you fit into that last group? Do you get really nervous before a marathon? Butterflies? Upset stomach? Increased heart rate? Rapid breathing? The majority of runners will most likely fit in the last group. So, I am going to give you some tips to help you find your zone. The important thing to know about nerves is that they are going to exist. They are the body’s way of preparing us for something important. When nerves grow they turn into anxiety. Anxiety comes in two forms: cognitive (your thoughts) and physiological (heart rate, stomach ache, butterflies, etc). Nerves (anxiety) can be either situational: you get really nervous running a race, but do not get nervous during a normal training run. Or it can be a trait: you are a generally nervous person about things in your life. These are good thing to know about yourself because you can learn how to deal with both of them. One way to deal with either form of anxiety is by using a pre-race routine. Even if your anxiety is a trait that you are born with using a pre-race routine can help eliminate further anxiety. How does a pre-race routine help decrease anxiety? It’s a way of implementing control over your environment. It provides a stable environment for something that might be highly unstable. It’s especially helpful for anxious runners because if you are thinking about something that’s more positive, you cannot be thinking negatively about the race. The brain is pretty high tech. But, it cannot do two things at once. Hence, if you are in your own zone thinking positively you aren’t being distracted by negative thoughts. Routines also provide consistency and help ready an athlete to perform. Routines help you forget about race outcomes and keep you focused on the present moment. They keep you focused on the process. Some athletes have routines the night before a race, the morning of a race, during warmup and have mental ways of coping during a race. These are all helpful but the most important are geared toward the morning of and how you cope with things during the race. A morning routine might include: showering, eating, getting dressed, etc. What’s going to prepare you to run? A pre-race routine might include: walking or jogging, stretching, using some positive imagery, using a mantra, taking some deep breaths, etc. How do you get yourself into an optimal race space? Things to use during a race might include: using some imagery, talking to yourself positively, taking some deep breaths, using a mantra, refocusing on your environment, etc. What is going to get you out of your head so you can just run? Further technique explanation: Mantra: I am doing this versus I can’t do this; I am prepared and ready for this versus I haven’t trained enough; I am as good as anyone out here versus everyone else is better trained or prepared than I am. Using your breath: inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. And if you are thinking about your breath you are not able to think negatively or think about how nervous you might be. Imagery: imagine feeling strong throughout the race and finishing strong; your muscles are like the wheels of a train; you are seeing yourself as a bystander and seeing yourself running strong, fast and comfortably relaxed; etc. Meditation: simply being/existing Some final thoughts: Act as if this is merely another workout with friends. Remember no matter what, only good will come from the event whether you obtain your PR or you learn something from the experience. Mentally separate yourself from thoughts of winning and losing. Race like a child by enjoying the process and challenge of the event. Learn to trust your training experience in order to allow yourself to perform at near maximal ability without undue effort or pain. Do not try to foresee or foretell. Take things as they come or as they happen. Don’t worry about the what ifs! Stick to your physical and mental plan! Have fun! For more information visit Dr. Michelle’s website: drmichellecleere.com

Get to know Verity 'Beep Beep' Breen

October 11th 2019

She won the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2012. She’s got her own apparel company. She calls her life partner ‘El Husbandido’. Meet Verity ‘Beep Beep’ Breen. Verity’s talent is only matched by her wacky (and omnipresent) sense of humor. One can’t overstate the value of sense of humor when it comes to racing at a high level (which Verity has done PLENTY of). When you laugh, you can’t help but relax. When you relax, you always perform better. Is it any wonder Verity’s had such great success on the road? She’s always laughing. Therefore, she’s always relaxed. Therefore, she’s always out there kicking ass on race day. We all have much to learn from Verity. Have you always been a runner? How did you get into the sport? No, I have not always been a runner. I tested out soccer. I did three years of ballet in my teens. I even did one season of baseball. With running, I did this funny, random thing every now and again over the years. I would run the small block in the hood. Then, I expanded to two blocks and eventually, three. I asked my mother to take note of the time on the kitchen clock before I left and let me know how long I was gone. Quite sure she just made it up, but she told me I was pretty quick.  A few years later, I found myself engaged to a triathlete guy at 22. One night, I followed him on his run and whipped his butt on the way home. He was really annoyed. Luckily, as fate would have it, he called the wedding off some time later. I bought a car, a triathlon bike, new running shoes, and took a fabulous, new job in sunny Queensland. I then commenced tackling the sport of triathlon with great gusto. I eventually navigated my way into the Australian Triathlon Team for the Triathlon World Championships. I was 25 and so excited! I came to realize I could not only run, but loved running and the story starts there. -What does a 'typical' week of training look like for you? A typical base week is a minimum of 50 miles/week to keep general base fitness. When preparing for a key race, I might average 80 to 100 miles/week. I once did 8 weeks at 120+ miles. But, it didn’t work well for me. However, for some this kind of volume works swimmingly. I have always worked full time, so it’s tough to manage this kind of volume, a career, and still have a balanced life. BTW, cross training is king as far as I am concerned. I swim, spin, bike, and do weights every week. I do either power or bikram yoga to keep my flexibility and core in shape as I age.  -Has your training evolved over the years? What do you differently now versus 10-15 years ago? Yes, it has absolutely.  Every five years since I turned 30, I have put contingencies in place to reduce the risk of injury, improve the chances of having a long running career, and optimize as I age in order to continue to compete. Now at 49, I take one week off with no running each year. The week is chosen where it fits best. During this week I still enjoy moving my body each day with various easy forms of exercise that are not running.  A swim, easy hike, cycle, yoga, etc.   A mandatory rule after I clocked about 100 marathons some years back is a very low mileage week after every marathon. If I really go at one and race hard, I allow 4 weeks of easy running until I feel ready for sharp work, hard speed, etc. -Is there 'one' singular running accomplishment you can point to that stands out above all others?  The Canberra Marathon has always been a great race for me. Well, almost always. One year, the stars did not align. Things were not clicking for me that day. For some reason, I felt a bit low mentally. I gave a guy a lift to the race who was notching his marathon debut. At mile 20 (to my horror), I found myself getting swallowed by a pack of runners including ‘debut guy’! I freaked out. I looked across the pack at ‘debut guy’. He grinned back at me. I then looked at the two women in the pack. One was very relaxed, confident, and still able to chat. The other was very quiet, determined, and controlled. Something in me hardened. I was bound and determined to fight all of them to the finish. For 6 damn miles, I threw the book at them in hopes of breaking free. Every time I made a move, they responded. The four of us were stuck like glue. At the last hill before a final, flat 400 meter dash to the finish line, debut guy made a go for it and broke away from us. I followed debut guy. With every ounce of my soul, I threw in one final surge heading up hill. I broke away. I shook them off. At the finish line, each of us shared some prize money. But, we also shared major hugs and smiles. All of us won that day. Those two women set new PR's. As for me, I had an epiphany. A made up mind is a POWERFUL THING. -What's the story behind your 'Beep Beep' catchphrase? This is my signature signal when racing or training on trail or road. Due to the lightness of my feet landing people rarely hear me coming. So, in order not to scare the crap out of them, I yell 'Beep Beep' when I'm about to pass! It's always received with a laugh and gives people a chuckle creating good vibes. -Do you have any special tips/tricks you'd like to share with our runners? Be kind to your body. Keep it simple and real. Pay attention to the red flags. Spend money on massage when you can. Don't waste too much energy (or money) on the gimmicks.  Swim to loosen up the bones and the body. Do drills. Listen to people that don't try to tell you they are an expert.   Some people genuinely hate running, I say to them,  ‘That's totally ok, I hate cabbage.’ To be able to run as a hobby is a blessing. It's not a chore. The body loves to be exercised and will love you back if you do it the right way. xxx

The Saga of the Marathon Mutt

October 11th 2019

A few years ago, my parents adopted a dog. This came as a bit of a surprise to me as I had never heard them express even vague interest in owning a dog. But, for most of my childhood there was a dog in our house, so it wasn't the most bizarre thing they could have done. Little did any of us know how bizarre things would get once Sherman entered our lives. Sherman is a schnauzer/terrier mix and bears some resemblance to Max, a miniature schnauzer I raised when I was a teenager. Unlike Max, Sherman had been traumatized. He kept his distance from me when I first met him. I didn't personalize this as it appeared he was standoffish towards men in general. Not long after my parents adopted Sherman, he was thrust into my life via an odd set of circumstances. My parents were traveling abroad and my sister who had agreed to care for Sherman while my parents were away was unable to do so. For the first 12 hours Sherman was in our home, he stared at me warily from the corner of the living room with his eyes as wide as plates. He was terrified. Barely a year old, it was evident Sherman had been through a lot. After sharing the bed with me during his first night, Sherman was seemingly a new dog the next morning. Friendly and warm, he sought constant physical contact with me after keeping his distance the previous day. Sherman was warming to me and I was becoming quite fond of him. Borne of necessity, Sherman pretty much followed me everywhere. He joined me and my Run Club on numerous occasions. He even attended one of our team bar nights. He became the 'Marathon Mutt', the official mascot (or spirit animal) of Run Club. Sherman would end up spending nearly a month with me. During his stint with me, I saw him evolve from a scared, anxious, reticent mutt to a much more friendly, open, and loving dog. Sherman was becoming the dog he was perhaps meant to be before all of the trauma he had endured. It was with no shortage of sadness that I handed Sherman back over to my parents when they returned. In a short period of time, Sherman had become a big part of my life. It was tough to say goodbye to him. A few weeks later, I received a disturbing call from my mother. En route to Santa Fe, New Mexico my parents were in a car accident in the Mojave Desert. Their car rolled several times resulting in the car being totaled. Fortunately, my parents were fine. But, Sherman had been in the back seat of the car during the accident along with a number of items my parents were transporting to New Mexico. After the car stopped rolling, my parents looked in the backseat to find that Sherman was gone. They immediately started digging through the various items in the backseat assuming that Sheman had been buried underneath them. After several minutes of digging, they still couldn't find him. The windshield and several windows had been broken during the accident. Given that Sherman was not in the car, one could only assume he had somehow jumped out of one of the windows while the car was rolling and ran away. My parents spent over an hour looking for Sherman in the Mojave Desert near the site of the accident. There was no sign of him. My parents had no choice but to leave without Sherman. While I was relieved my parents were ok, I was despondent that Sherman was gone. I'm an eternal optimist, but I simply couldn't see any reasonable scenario in which Sherman could survive. He was lost in the Mojave Desert. A typical day in July yields temperatures well over 100 degrees. Sherman was not well suited to these kinds of conditions. If he didn't succumb to heat exhaustion or dehydration, there were coyotes and other predators that he surely would not be able to circumnavigate. I was despondent. This dog that had endured so much in his short life would die alone somewhere in the Mojave Desert in a markedly unpleasant way. I felt nauseous when I thought about what might happen to Sherman. Two days later, I was still feeling upset about Sherman's fate as I looked out the window of the Larkspur Ferry heading into San Francisco. Things had just started to look up for Sherman and fate deals him a hand like this? My cell phone vibrated as the ferry arrived in San Francisco. A voicemail indicator popped up on my display. I quickly dialed in. My mom had left a voicemail for me. Sherman was alive! While I generally consider myself an agnostic, Sherman's survival was unquestionably a sign of divine intervention. His survival (seemingly unscathed) defied any conventional wisdom. He was found roughly 50 miles from the site of the accident in Palm Desert. Sherman casually walked up to a truck and crawled underneath it to get a break from the heat. The owner of the truck found him, gave him some water, some beef jerky, and called my parents. Sherman was exhausted and pretty ragged looking according to his rescuer, but he had survived an incredible journey through the Mojave Desert. My parents promptly turned the car around and headed to Palm Desert to pick him up. I waited anxiously to hear back from my mom about Sherman's condition. Consistent with what Sherman's rescuer had indicated to my mom, Sherman was fine. He was thirsty, dirty, matted, and completely exhausted, but alive and uninjured. The kind man who rescued Sherman refused my parent's $100 reward indicating that Sherman had 'found him'. I was dumbfounded. It didn't seem possible for Sherman to be alive and well. I asked my parents to send me some pictures of him. I needed proof. Even upon seeing the pictures, I still couldn't believe it was really him. How did Sherman pull this off? What kind of dog was he? Did his difficult early life enable him to somehow survive 50+ miles in the Mojave Desert? Did he know where he was going? What kept him going? Maybe Sherman was born to do this. Maybe his hard knock early life enabled him to survive the impossible. Maybe the knowledge that his new found family desperately wanted him back kept him going despite the relentless heat of the Mojave desert. Maybe there were larger forces at work. None of us will ever know exactly what happened to Sherman in the desert or what kept him going, but I suspect it was all of the aforementioned. I often point to Sir Ernest Shackleton (leader of the first expedition to attempt a land crossing of the Antartctic content) as one of my heroes for overcoming impossible odds. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd find myself looking up to a dog the way I do Ernest Shackleton. But, inspiration comes in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. The next time you find yourself tired, fatigued, and about to throw in the towel, ask yourself, 'What would the Marathon Mutt do?'

Love on The Run - The Story of Jill and Shelly

October 11th 2019

We published a blog posting a couple weeks ago outlining a few of the many reasons to run on a more regular basis.  One such reason we included was that you can find ‘love on the run’. While one may not immediately associate running with love, I’ve been witness to love on the run innumerable times over the years via my Run Club.  Running does make you sexier, so the fact that you can find love (of the romantic or platonic kind) on the run shouldn’t be too surprising. Additionally, the lovely chemical bath associated with the runner’s high has a tendency to make one relaxed, comfortable, and tranquil. It’s always a bit easier to connect with others when you’re in this state of mind. I’ve seen total strangers become close friends in the span of a few easy miles on the road. I’ve witnessed dalliances, romances, and even weddings blossom as a direct result of running. One couple that saw their romance start with running is Jill & Shelly. This couple found love on the run in 2014. These two runners met via my Run Club, sparks flew, and scarcely a year later, they were married. ‘Jogging’ Jill and ‘Speedy’ Shelly have recently been joined by ‘Jogging’ Jack. While Jack may not be running much (yet), he spends plenty of time enjoying the act of running vicariously from his baby jogger. It’s not a question of if, but when Jack will join his parents on the road. We asked Jill and Shelly a few questions about how their ‘love on the run’ evolved…. #1 - How did the two of you first meet, Jill? Shelly and I first met on a Saturday morning run at Marathon Matt’s Run Club when we were running across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I was actually really nervous about running across the bridge. I have a little fear of heights and having never run across the bridge before I wasn’t sure if it was something I could do.   Shelly struck up a conversation with me during warm-ups and we ended up talking about a couple of random topics that really caught my attention.  We just kept talking all the way through that run and before I knew it we were across the bridge and heading back to the start of the run.  I had been so engrossed in my conversation with Shelly that I hadn’t paid a bit of attention to the heights, the run, the pace, or anything else but Shelly.    I just remember thinking,  ‘Wow! That was a really fun run and this guy seems really amazing.’  One of Matt’s coaches actually snapped a picture of Shelly and I running across the bridge that very first day we met. #2 - Did you join Run Club with the idea of meeting someone? No, not at all.  The year before I joined run club had been one of the hardest of my life.  I had been battling depression, I gained a lot of weight, and had been really inactive.   A couple of months before joining Marathon Matt’s Run Club, I had an epiphany that it was really up to me to turn things around for myself. I needed to challenge myself in fun and positive ways.  When I joined Run Club I was really just focused on running. I was focused on making every workout and doing what I was told so that I could progress in my running. I was shocked at how much I ended up loving it. I was also surprised to see how quickly I was able to see results in my running and efforts to lose weight.   I ended up completely getting my mojo back through running and it literally changed everything in my life.  A common saying about love is that you find it when you’re least looking for it. For me, this was absolutely true. But, I also think if I hadn’t put in the hard work both on myself and in running that I either would have never met Shelly or I wouldn’t have been in such a good place in my life to have been able to truly fall in love. #3 - When did you first think there might be a love connection? Was it during a run together? Our first date was a Beer Run (lol) and I think that was our true love connection. We always have fun on runs together. I think having just an insanely fun time with another person is one of the most important things.  If you can’t have fun together, then really what’s the point? #4 - How often do the two of you run together? We used to run together a lot more before we had our baby Jack. We ran at least two times a week. Now we shoot for one day a week, but even that has become really hard lately. #5 - Do you think you would have gotten together had it not been for running? I really don’t think we would have gotten together if it hadn’t been for running.  I don’t think our lives would have crossed paths any other way and again, I was in such a good place when I met Shelly because of running, that I really do think that running played a major part in our love story. #6 - Do you still run together? We do still run together just far less frequently.  We have an eight month old baby and having a baby has been the most awesome challenge of our lives. It’s been awesome in that it truly is AMAZING and awesome in that it is ROYALLY challenging.  When I was pregnant I would fantasize about putting my baby in the jogging stroller every day and going on long runs.   I even planned on running a marathon six months out from having Jack and then life happened. The reality hit of being a full-time working mom. I’ve had to allow myself a certain amount of space and peace around the fact that I’m going to have to slowly build my running back up. Running consistently again is going to take time. I’m so grateful to Shelly because he has been so encouraging and patient with me throughout this time. Shelly always makes things fun and I am grateful every single day of my life that I met him.  

Get to know elite runner YiOu Wang

October 11th 2019

Simply engaging in the act of running is commendable. We have nothing but respect for anyone who chooses to run on a regular basis. But, there are a handful of runners out there who command more than our respect. They command our reverence. This special breed of runner logs nearly 100 (or more) miles a week. They jockey for position near the front of the pack at every race. They qualify for the Olympic Trials. These runners flirt with greatness every time they toe the line. They are often referred to as 'elite'. Most of them are a perfect storm of passion, innate talent, and dogged determination. We had the great fortune to catch up with YiOu Wang recently who personifies this perfect storm. YiOu is a double threat elite having achieved success on the road and on the trail. YiOu punched her ticket to the women's Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012 with a qualifying time of 2:38:46 (6:03/mile). As if this wasn't enough of an accomplishment, YiOu's made her mark on the trail as well. YiOu was the second overall female at the Way Too Cool 50K in March. Even more impressive, Yiou notched a victory at the uber-competitive and uber-tough Lake Sonoma 50 (miler) just a few weeks ago! Read on for a little insight into YiOu's journey towards becoming an elite runner and some of what she does to keep herself jockeying for position at the front of the pack. -Have you always been a runner? How did you get into the sport? I was a terribly unmotivated runner as a kid and hated it. I think PE was the only class I ever got a B in. I swam and played tennis throughout middle and high school. My freshman year at MIT I experienced the atmosphere of the Boston Marathon and I got hooked. I loved it! I decided to try and qualify to run the Boston Marathon. When I started running I couldn't make it the whole way across Harvard Bridge without stopping, but I worked my way up to taking on marathon training and qualifying for Boston. -What does a 'typical' week of training look like for you? A typical week of training consists of 3 key sessions: speedwork, tempo effort, and long run. All other days are easy running with different specifications on terrain according to what kind of race I am training for. I generally run between 80 and 90 miles per week. The speedwork sessions I do on Tuesday nights in Mill Valley with the San Francisco Running Company training group. We do the workouts on the track, bike path or trail hills. The workouts consist of shorter intervals like 800s or mile repeats, or 60 second uphill intervals. I like to go to the Saturday morning group runs at San Francisco Running Company as much as possible. I can always get a good effort in with a lot of climbing. Sometimes, I will do tempo intervals on Saturdays. On Sundays, I do a long run on trails.  -You've had success on the road AND trail, which do you prefer? Currently I prefer running trails to road. I enjoy being out in nature, exploring the landscape and avoiding traffic. I find it more relaxing, mind clearing and euphoric to run on trails. I set a lot of goals for myself in the marathon and once I completed my goal of running an Olympic Trials qualifying time I started looking for new challenges. The trail world offers so many options and different kinds of races, everything from fast and short to long treks in the mountains. I also live close to the Mt. Tam trail system and I love taking advantage of the hundreds of miles of trails I can access from my house.  I probably should do a lot more of the "little" things! I make it a priority to work on my core at least 2 times a week. I've also incorporated more routines before and after running, especially workouts, including drills, leg swings and gentle stretches. I also have lots of lacrosse balls at home and at work that I use to massage my glutes and hamstrings whenever I am sitting down for a period of time. Sleep and diet are other important recovery tools. I am very strict about going to bed on time especially during the workweek and when I am leading up to a race even my weekend nights end early. I stick to a mostly whole foods diet and try to eat as well and as much as possible. -Do you have any special tips/tricks you'd like to share with us? A self motivation trick I employ is to talk to myself in the third person. Instead of saying to myself "I can do this," I say "You can do this" or even better "YiOu can do this!" I read about this technique last year and started utilizing it in my races.  If you want to learn more about YiOu or simply follow her amazing running exploits, you can check her out on Instagram or Twitter.

Top 10 ‘Insta-Famous’ Fitness Trainers with the Best Workouts for ‘Real Women’

October 11th 2019

Usually “I’m going to sleep now” actually means “I’m going to lie in bed and scroll through my Instagram for an hour.” For me, this usually entails stalking some of my favorite fitness inspirations, many of which not only give me the motivation to get up in the morning and actually go to the gym, but also inspire me to convert to healthier long-term lifestyle. I’ve compiled a list of “Insta-Famous” fitness sensation accounts that are designed for and target the success of “real” women. These trainers are honest and up-front about their own personal fitness journeys and the fact that they weren’t naturally born as perfectly shaped human beings. In fact, many of these women share their own personal struggles with weight, exercise and diet, detailing their ultimate lifestyle transformations as a way to connect to their followers. This tactic has been quite successful in amassing large followings; many of these fitness accounts have actually built their own online communities, full of motivated individuals who label themselves and connect through social media with special hashtags such as “#Kayla’s Army” or “#fbggirls.” The sense of positivity and motivation that these fitness idols exude, and the resulting communities that are created through these good vibes, make it no surprise that these women have garnered such strong and loyal followings despite humble social media beginnings.  So, without further ado, here is my list of the top ten fitness trainers on Instagram with the best, and most effective, workout and nutrition guides for real women like us! 1.    Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines)  Kayla Itsines is 4 million followers strong, and in my opinion, is the ‘Godfather’ of personal trainers on Instagram. She has built a fitness empire, and quite literally an army (“#Kayla’s Army”) from scratch. She started out posting “before and after” pictures of her personal clients, and quickly garnered attention due to the dramatic results. Fast forward several years and she now has her own Fitness app, “Sweat with Kayla,” as well as several popular twelve-week “Bikini Body” workout and health guides, including recipes and nutritional advice. Kayla even hosts meet-ups around the world, in which girls attend her Boot Camps just get their butt kicked by Kayla in person! 2.    Sophie Gray (@wayofgray) Sophie Gray, a holisitic nutritionist and personal trainer, is the owner of the popular Instagram account @wayofgray. She also has her own workout and nutritional guides that actually include videos of her coaching the user through the entire workout (great for those who need someone to constantly push them harder). She emphasizes the adaptability of the workouts for all levels and the need for equipment as optional. Sophie also notes that her guides contain the exact same workouts that she does herself to stay fit, and once you see her body…you’ll want to try them out for yourself! 3.    @BaseBodyBabes With over half a million followers on Instagram, the Base Body Babes, a pair of Australian personal trainer sisters, have exploded onto the Instagram fitness scene. The girls’ account emphasizes health, fitness education and inspiration, hosting a collection of perfectly curated images of their amazing bodies, workout outfits (yes, please) and aesthetically pleasing motivational snaps. The babes have their own workout and nutritional guides (of course) that can be purchased through a link in their Instagram bio, as well as own their own gym (now that’s badass)!  4.    Tone It Up (@toneitup) Founders Karina and Katrina (@karenakatrina) have over half a million followers as part of their #TIUteam. Their Instagram account provides glimpses into the fit lives of this vivacious twosome, who not only had their own TV show on the Bravo Network, but also have fitness, nutrition and lifestyle plans and guides for their motivated followers! They are currently running an “8 Week Fitness Challenge” with exclusive workouts, an eight-week meal plan, as well as tips and inspiration. And let’s be honest here…the transformations they post of their clients (and of themselves!) are enough to inspire any couch potato to at least try out their FREE starter pack! 5. Anna Victoria (@annavictoria) Anna Victoria is the creator of The Fit Body Guides, which includes a 12 Week Meal Plan (with a vegan/vegetarian meal option) and 12 Week Training Guide. Her Instagram boasts impressive transformations by her #fbggirl community using her guides, obligatory pre-workout mirror shots, and videos of her completing different exercises from her workouts. Like many successful fitness trainers on Instagram, she emphasizes the “strong, not skinny” approach, encouraging women to take on her guides as a means to grow stronger both physically and mentally, not just to lose weight for the sake of becoming “skinny.” Victoria’s journey from “skinny-fat” to strong and fit is relatable and inspiring, and posting her own transformation picture back when she first started her Instagram account in 2012 was actually the spark that started her rise to insta-fitness-fame. 6.    Amanda Bisk (@amandabisk) Amanda Bisk, a former Australian Pole Vaulter and exercise physiologist, is quite open about her struggle with chronic fatigue and giving up competing, as well as her journey to recovery through educating herself about healthy eating. She emphasizes “listening” to your body, fueling it with healthy foods and inspiring yourself to commit to goals you set for yourself, gaining control over how you live your life. She has a 12-week training program and motivation guide with a free week of pre-training on her website. After your 12 weeks are up, you will continue to have lifetime access to the program as well as the secret Members Group, an online fitness community that inspires and motivates each other. Like most other Insta-fitness guides and workout plans, no gym membership or equipment is needed and the workouts are short, sweet and effective (just 20 minutes)! 7.    Massy Arias (@massy.arias) Massy Arias is a personal trainer and health coach based in Los Angeles whose Instagram and website emphasizes adopting a healthy, active lifestyle and includes a variety of custom workout and meal plans designed to maximize fitness potential. She focuses on achieving a healthy balance between mind and body that surpasses the importance of achieving “desirable aesthetics,” citing her own emergence from depression and surpassing of physical limitations as amazing benefits of leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Massy’s website offers a wealth of different e-books and guides, including (but not limited to) custom meal plans and/or training guides, the “MA30DAY Fat Loss” challenge and the “MA30DAY Muscle Building” Guide.  8.    Emily Skye (@emilyskyefit) Just like the other fitspirations in this article, Emily offers a versatile meal and workout plan to her followers, emphasizing that her plans are for “all ages and body types” and can done at home or in the gym. Her “F.I.T.” Program (Fitness Inspiration Transformation) includes a video exercise library of over 80 unique exercises, home or gym workout options, as well as quick to make meals with meat, vegetarian and vegan meal plan options. Her meal plans even include weekly-itemized shopping lists…she basically does all the work for you! And if you’re still lacking motivation to work out, all you have to do is check out her Instagram to see some of her OWN transformation pictures (I just love when these fitness trainers show their vulnerable side and post pictures of their own progress over time—it is so inspiring and makes us “normal” gals feel like we can do it too!)  9.    Lyzabeth Lopez (@lyzabethlopez) Lyzabeth is an award winning ‘Master’ trainer, holistic nutritionist and creator of the “HourGlassWorkout”. Lyza acknowledges that all women have different body types, and she has created modifications based on reshaping different natural body shapes through ‘hourglass shape-training’ techniques. Lyza claims that her combination of ‘hourglass shape-training’ and a holistic eating plan is the ”bible” of all guides to getting lean, sexy curves. She herself cites a hard personal journey of transforming from an “anorexic body-hating teenager” to ultimately “loving and understanding food and exercise” through her education of healthy nutrition and experimenting with different workout routines. The success of Lyza’s guides is supported by hundreds of transformation pictures and her motivating Instagram account filled with gym mirror “ab-check” selfies and exercise clips. 10.    Faya (@fitnessontoast) Faya is a Swedish personal trainer and fitness blogger based in London. Her Instagram is filled with beautiful, bright pictures of yummy foods, cute activewear outfits, as well as diet and exercise tips. Her fitness blog is full of recipes, training tips and personal fitness exploits. She also has an E-Book, “The Four-Week Fitness & Food Effect,” inspired by sensible and scientific information that is sustainable for a longer-term healthy lifestyle. The guide promises weight loss from the first week, with increased energy levels, a faster metabolism, less bloating, improved body shape, and other positive benefits.  As you can see, one of the main reasons the women listed above have become so successful through social media is that their workout guides and motivational tactics are conscious of what the average woman’s schedule and body can handle. The efficient workout guides include adaptable exercises for all levels, usually don’t require equipment or a gym, and are able to fit into the workingwomen’s busy lifestyle. The focus on delivering results to real women, rather than emphasizing celebrity clients and the media’s obsession with the traditional “model-skinny” aesthetic, has been a great source of success in growing their personal brands. These fitness trainers provide realistic advice—emphasizing that hard work and dedication is required in reaching fitness goals and that there is no quick fix to losing weight and getting that perfect body—a transparency that I believe most women appreciate. Now, it’s your turn to pick out your favorite guide, commit to a goal, and get your butt to the gym! You can do it. 

Five ways to celebrate National Running Day on 6/1

October 11th 2019

Running's National Holiday is nearly upon us. Maybe you weren't aware that running has an actual holiday. But, is there any other pastime more worthy of a holiday than running? Consider for a minute just how much running does for you. Running makes you healthier. It makes you happier. It makes you smarter. It even makes you sexier. What's not to celebrate? If you don't have plans to celebrate our favorite pastime on Wed, 6/1, we've got a few ideas for you. Read (and run) on. RUN! This one is a real shocker. Go out and get some miles in. Log a few on a treadmill. Crank out a few on the road. Blaze a handful on the trails. Better yet, take advantage of an event celebrating national running day. However you do it, get some running in on National Running Day. There's no better way to pay homage than to engage in the act itself. Get someone to drink the Kool Aid. Another great way to celebrate running is to get someone else to drink the Kool Aid. Spread the disease. Infect one or more non-runners. Surely, you've got a friend or two who HATES running. Their only experience with running was as 'punishment' for misbehaving at school. They only run to the bus stop. Tell them a story about how running has changed your life. Share a tale about something incredible you saw while running. Try to bring them over to the dark side. Maybe you can get them to give running a shot. See if you can get your non-running friend to log 'just' a mile with you. Anyone can run a mile and a single mile is where it all starts. Seek out some 'readspiration'. There are tons of GREAT books out there about running. Some of my favorites have little to do with 'training' and more to do with amazing stories or personal experiences associated with the act of running. If you're looking for something quick (and hilarious), check out 'The Terrible and Wonderful reasons why I run long distances'. It's likely many of these terrible (and wonderful) reasons will resonate for you. Many of them are illustrated in hilariously graphic fashion.  For something a bit more philosophical and introspective, check out 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running'. Prolific author Haruki Murakami's quick read is a wonderful musing on how running inspires Murakami's writing and vice versa. For a glimpse into the rigorous demands of a Division I collegiate runnning program, give 'Running With the Buffaloes' a look. Chris Lear sheds light on the relentless training regime, the intense competition, and staggering demands of competing at this level. BTW, Coach Heather Burroughs (who we featured recently) is mentioned on a few occasions in this one. A few other great sources of readspiration include Born To Run, Duel in the Sun, and PRE. Take in a flick. If you're looking for some celluloid runspiration, there are plenty of great options out there. One of my favorites is The Long Green Line. This documentary captures a season of high school cross country with Joe Newton, the winningest high school coach ever. This excellent documentary is as much about running as it is about teamwork and life. Those fortunate enough to spend time with Newton are learning much more than how to run. Equally inspiring is Run For Your Life. Fred Lebow was a PT Barnum-esque character who somehow managed to get the New York City Marathon off the ground and helped launch the first running boom. What Lebow managed to do in creating the New York City Marathon with little more than smoke and mirrors was simply incredible. There's little question that running would not be where it is today without the magic that Lebow managed to create in New York in 1976. Few films capture the insanity that is ultra-running like The Barkley Marathons (The Race That Eats Its Young). The Barkley Marathons was inspired by a prison break and only TEN people in the first 25 YEARS of its existence actually managed to finish. Only those with a real penchant for self-flagellation sign up for this one. Hardly anyone actually manages to finish it. Not only will you get to know the fascinating characters who elect to toe the line, you'll spend some quality time with the lunatic/genius (Lazarus Lake) who directs this 'race'. Treat yourself! Get a new pair of running kicks at your local running specialty store. Pick up that awesome technical shirt you've been coveting. Splurge on a foam roller, a stick, or some other kind of self-massage tool. Better yet, go get a quality sports massage. Actually, getting a sports massage is less of a treat and more of a necessity in my book if you're running on a regular basis.  Whether it's getting some new gear/apparel, splurging on some new running shoes, or hopping on an anti-gravity treadmill, treat yourself!

Get to know Coach Heather Burroughs

October 11th 2019

According to Merriam-Webster, a coach is defined as 'a person who teaches and trains an athlete or performer.' But, as someone who has coached a variety of runners over the past decade, I can tell you this definition barely scratches the surface of what is involved with being a coach. Being a coach is much more than just teaching and training athletes. A quality coach wears a multitude of hats. Coaching requires acting as a confidante, a friend, a monk, and a counselor. It's a gratifying occupation, but one that comes with plenty of challenges. This is particularly the case if you're coaching at the collegiate or professional level. Coach Heather Burroughs is well acquainted with both. Heather was Colorado's first female three-time cross country All-American and has been coaching at the University of Colorado Boulder for more than twelve years. Heather's worked with some exceptional athletes including Jenny Simpson and Kara Goucher. Read on for some insight into the trials and travails of being a 'coach'. 1) Was there a singular moment or 'epiphany' when you realized you wanted to coach? Tell us a bit more about your coaching journey. Until I was about 25 years old, I was totally resistant to the idea of being a coach. Many friends, family and acquaintances had told me, “You should coach some day” and my response was, “Never!”. Partly that was because I was so absorbed in my own training and racing whereas coaching requires one to be very invested in others. But, I also didn’t believe I’d be any good at it. I thought that it was hard enough to figure out what works best for me. Now imagine doing that for a team of 20 or 30 or 40 other runners. Yet once I retired from serious training and racing, I realized I still wanted to figure out this sport and I really liked that challenge. For a few years after graduating, I worked in CU’s academic services center and still interacted with the team and followed their competitions. I was more excited about them than my actual job. 2) What is it you find most gratifying about coaching? Conversely, what do you find most challenging about coaching? Coaching can be a roller coaster with big highs and lows. There’s always something to look forward to in the near future. Not many jobs are like that and it can be addictive. Also, in general, our athletes are highly motivated and excited to be at practice or the competitions. I can’t say they look forward to math class or chemistry exams with the same enthusiasm. I’m grateful to be in a profession where athletes and other coaches show up with that kind of energy. They aren’t moaning about showing up for work on Monday. And yet, what’s most challenging is how hard one consistently has to work to be good in such a competitive environment. We work 6 to 7 days a week. College distance runners compete in cross country from August to November, indoor track from December to mid-March and outdoor track from mid-March to June. The only “off season” is about 6 weeks in the summer. And that’s when the new recruiting cycle begins. 3) Most of our runners have never trained at the collegiate level. What does a typical week of training look like? How many miles do your athletes log? What other activities do your athletes engage in? At CU, our athletes practice 6 days a week and run on their own for the seventh day. That’s a Saturday unless we’re competing and shift that “day off” to a week day. We always meet on Sunday morning for our long run which most of the team feel is the most difficult session of the week. Mileage varies depending upon age, training history, event area emphasis and durability. But generally, our women run 45-75 miles per week and our men run 70-100 miles per week. Besides training, our athletes have pretty typical lives – school, food, dating, video games, movies, social media and sleep. But being a serious, successful collegiate athlete definitely puts a damper on one’s social life, especially anything occurring after 11:00 PM! 4) It sounds like training at the collegiate level can be very demanding. As self motivated as your runners might be, I imagine there are times when fatigue (physical and mental) sets in. How do you help your runners fight through these 'valleys' and stay motivated throughout the course of a long season? As I mentioned, college distance runners are in-season for 10+ months of the year. No other NCAA athletes have such a long competitive stretch. Frankly, I believe it’s too much. Fortunately, we’re able to reduce the importance of our indoor season, largely because we’re one of the only major Division I schools that doesn’t have an indoor Conference championship. In addition, we schedule mandatory time off after the cross country and outdoor track seasons. But, the most important way to avoid such fatigue is to orchestrate the training and racing with an understanding of these problems: know the benefits and stresses of different types of training and racing, create a logical, long-term plan and always be ready to adjust for individuals or the entire team based on empirical data. 5) In addition to working with collegiate athletes, you also work with some exceptional post-collegiate runners such as Kara Goucher. Is there a marked difference in your approach to coaching collegiate athletes as opposed to post-collegiate/professional athletes? Yes, both Mark Wetmore and I work with a group of CU post-collegiate professionals including Kara. There are similarities and differences in our interactions with this group and the CU team. All of them are successes of the CU system, so we apply the same fundamental training philosophies to each. Also, while the post-collegians aren’t technically a team, they have to function co-operatively as a group. We often meet up to 8 of them together so they still have to share our time. We don’t have any prima donnas! Rather, they benefit from being in a group. Competitive running can be lonely and scary. Our pro women are so high energy and constantly impress me with how they can set aside their egos at practice. Among them are 4 Olympians and a World Champion yet they interact like sisters instead of competing stars. Our relationship with them is more democratic now than during college; they have a bigger voice in training and racing decisions. They also have more day-to-day independence and meet us 3-5 days per week instead of 6-7 like the collegians. And we expect more of them, both because they aren’t 18 years old and because that’s necessary to be successful at the next level.

Super Bowl Races 2016

October 11th 2019

The Super Bowl is coming, which means one thing. You’ll likely be overindulging in buffalo wings, nachos, pizza, beer, and a variety of other unmentionables.  We’re optimists here at SportMe, but we’re also realists. It’s hard to resist temptation at every turn. We also think it’s ok to periodically indulge (or overindulge).  All we ask is that you log a few miles (using SportMe Runner of course) in the morning before you segue into the football inspired bacchanal known only as The Super Bowl. To help you burn a few calories and minimize any guilt associated with any overindulging you might do later in the day, we’ve identified a handful of excellent races (road and trail) in the Bay Area taking place on the weekend of the Super Bowl. Golden Gate Trail Run 5M/Half/30K/Marathon/50K (2/6/16) If you’re looking to rationalize any Super Bowl overconsumption ‘prior’ to the ‘big game’, give the Golden Gate Trail Run a look. It goes down on Super Bowl Saturday. You’ve got FIVE distances to choose from including the marathon and 50K. Consider the fact that you burn roughly 100 calories for each mile you run. That mean’s you’ve got 2,600 calories to play with after tackling the marathon or 3,100 if you conquer the full monty of 50K! Just make sure that if you opt in for either of these distances, you’ve been logging some quality miles with beforehand! For those not interested in tackling 26.2 or more, there is the 5-mile, half marathon, or 30K option.  Bear in mind that there’s some serious climbing involved with all of the distances covered in this race. The 5 miler includes over 1,000 feet of ascent/descent meaning if this is your distance you are definitely not a coach potato. But, the climbs are well worth it as this race includes some of the most epic, inspiring views you can find.   The Golden Gate Trail Run takes place in the Marin Headlands in Sausalito just a few minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Click here for more details and registration. Enter code SportMe10 for 10% off race entry. Rattlesnake Ramble 5K/10K/Half (2/7/16) The Rattlesnake Ramble 5K/10K/Half is produced by the folks at Sasquatch Racing. This race goes down at Lake Chabot in Castro Valley (roughly 45 minutes East of San Francisco). There’s something for everyone at this race. If you’re brand new to running, the 5K takes place on a paved path that runs along Lake Chabot. The 5K is very friendly to trail running neophytes as there really isn’t any ‘trail’ per se to run. For 10K/half marathoners, it’s a different story. There are hills, trails, mud (assuming El Nino continues its dirty work), and epic views of Lake Chabot and the surrounding area. Rounding things out is a veritable post race party including technical shirts for everyone, medals (for half marathoners), woodallions (5K/10K runners), beer from Cleophus Quealy Beer Company, Hint Water, Mamma Chia snacks, Perfect Bars, and they’ve even thrown some massage from PSOAS Massage/Bodywork into the mix. For more details on this ‘trail party’ (as Sasquatch Racing likes to describe their races) going down on Super Bowl Sunday, click here. Enter code SPORTME for $5 off entry. Spreckles Lake 5K & Lightning Mile (2/7/16) The Dolphin South End Runners are an institution in San Francisco. They are the very first run club and are perhaps best known for their eccentric, irascible, and endearing founder Walt Stack who was featured in a Nike video years ago. Dolphin South End is a non-profit organization that produces races nearly every week of the year. Given how many races they pull off each year, they’re well produced, well managed, and well attended. DSE races are relatively Spartan, bare bones affairs. The $5 registration for non DSE members reflects this. The nominal registration fee means you won’t be getting a shirt, a medal, beer, or a lot of the other bells and whistles you might see with a larger race, but the DSE races have an undeniable grassroots charm and appeal. If you’re looking for a smaller race with a grassroots feel and a registration fee that is easy on your wallet, DSE has their [Spreckles Lake 5K & Lightning Mile going down Spreckles Lake 5K & Lightning Mile going down on Super Bowl Sunday in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. For more details about the Spreckles Lake 5K & Lightning Mile, click here. Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon® & 5K (2/14/16, normally takes place on Super Bowl Sunday) While this year’s edition of the iconic Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon does NOT take place on Super Bowl Sunday, it typically does. So, we’re including it. This year Kaiser takes place the following week on Valentine’s Day (run love anyone?). If you can’t make it to any of the aforementioned races, consider participating in the Kaiser Half or 5K to make amends for any Super Bowl Sunday gluttony from the previous week. This race has been around for more than 30 years. Helmed by local race producer Dave Rhody and his team at RhodyCo Productions. Visit the website here and use discount code SPORTME to get $7 off your entry (offer expires 2/7/16). This race attracts 10,000 every year. For many runners, Kaiser is their first serious road race of the year. If you’re looking to run your first half marathon or post a personal best for 13.1, it behooves you to give Kaiser a look. The race starts in the middle of Golden Gate Park before heading out onto the panhandle. The first six miles of the race are largely in Golden Gate Park. These miles are largely flat and downhill. Once you’ve conquered Golden Gate Park, the course drops you onto the Great Highway. From here, there’s a long stretch to the end of the Great Highway before heading back and finishing the race in the southwest corner of Golden Gate Park, where a great post race expo awaits you. This race is flat, fast, and well managed by Dave Rhody and his team. BTW, there’s a 5K for those not quite ready to tackle the half marathon distance. For more details about The Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half and 5K, click here to see elevation charts for both courses. However you decide to spend your Super Bowl morning, we hope its spent running and we hope you take SportMe with you.

Get Race-Ready With Our 8 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

October 11th 2019

You’re considering running a half marathon, but you’re unsure where to start. I get it, that’s why you’re here. Having the right training plan when you’re preparing to run a half marathon is the key to your success. A half marathon generally sits somewhere around 13.1 miles, so this is no small feat. You need to have the right strategy behind you if you plan on accomplishing your goals. First off, you should have run your fair share of 5Ks and 10Ks by this point. If you've never run a 5 or 10K, you might want to consider doing that first. The training is less involved, and the run itself is shorter.  If you’re ready to jump into a half marathon with both feet, I’m here to help you with some great tips and training ideas to get you started. Grab a couple of bottles of water and learn how you can prepare yourself for a half marathon in barely two months.  Related: Why the Half Marathon Might Be Your Jam 8 Week Half Marathon Training: Prepping There are various reasons why people run half marathons, but regardless of your goal, it brought you here. The first thing you'll need to do before you even think about training is to get yourself into the right headspace. You need to have a particular mindset to run a half marathon because it's not something that everyone can do. One you feel like you're mentally prepared to push yourself to the limit, you want to prepare differently. There are some necessary steps you want to take to ensure you're ready to train for a half marathon. Have the Right Gear The first step you should take is to throw out the loafers and get yourself a pair of high-quality running shoes. Even if you have some experience running a 5K you want to take your comfort to the next level with a half marathon. This is a 13 mile run so you need special running shoes that will provide you with a maximum level of comfort throughout the entire run.  Another point to note is that you want to break these shoes in plenty before hitting the pavement on race day. Make sure you wear them during your training, so you know if they are the right fit for you. They’ll take some time to break in and you don’t want to get blisters during the run.  Related: Shoes or LOSE Stay on Track Running a half marathon is all about discipline. Training for a marathon is also about control so that should be the most important word that you keep in your head throughout the entire process. You want to follow a smooth and steady approach with your training and make sure you never divert from the course you're on. Stay focused and keep your base mileage, speed, long runs, and recovery in mind at all times. One crucial factor of discipline is consistency. Once you start losing track of the data and you stop training regularly, you’ll have to start all over. Make sure if you set your mind to an eight week half marathon training plan you stick with it from beginning to end. You’ll be thankful you did on race day.  Related: Want to Get Better? Get Consistent Build Yourself Up If you ask any professional trainer, they’ll tell you that the key to success is not to overwork yourself in the beginning. How many people have you seen start a training plan and work themselves to the bone for three days and then give up? This happens all the time because people don’t have a proven training strategy right from the beginning. Don’t expect yourself to run 10 miles every day in the first week; start small and build yourself up towards your goals.  That is why I suggested that you run a few 5K or 10K races if you haven't already. These runs will prepare you for the big one, which will prepare you for bigger ones after that. Long-distance running is best for people who run regularly.  If we go back to the consistency point, while you don't want to work yourself too hard in the beginning, you have to build up your mileage over time. Increase your mileage volume by no more than 10% every week. Doing this will allow your body to adjust to the changes naturally.  Drink Plenty of Water Water is essential to staying injury-free and healthy during your training. If you don’t have enough water, you’ll experience cramping, dizziness, and fatigue. These three issues will kill your half marathon dreams and leave you feeling hopeless. The best marathon and long-distance runners have a plan for how much water they want to drink based on how far they plan on running. You want to keep yourself plenty hydrated leading up to each training, and you want to hydrate consistently throughout the run. Going hand in hand with water is your overall eating and drinking habits. During your training, it’s best to stay away from alcohol. If you plan on training consistently during these eight weeks, a night out could completely kill your chances of running the next day, which may spiral out of control. You also want to keep track of what you're eating leading up to race day. Make sure you intake plenty of protein and limit the amount of greasy, fatty foods you're eating. Related: Want to Run Well? Eat Anti-Inflammatory Style Switch It Up Add variety to your workouts not only for endurance purposes but for fun as well. If you feel like eight weeks of long-distance running might get tiring or even dull, consider switching things up and adding in other high-intensity interval training, strength training, or cool down with some yoga. Depending on your interests, you can choose whatever other workouts you want to do.  The ultimate goal for marathon runners it to become the best all-around athlete they can, and you should have that mentality too. You can learn to run incredible distances, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have enough upper body strength. On the flip side, you have people with a ton of strength training that can barely walk to their car without breaking a sweat. Everything needs to remain consistent when you’re training for a half marathon. Understand Stretching The worst thing that can happen is you pull a muscle and become unable to train for a few days. That will set you back, and if it's close to race day, it might even put you out. Stretching is incredibly critical to your success as a marathon runner, so you want to take this seriously. There are many different stretching exercises and strategies out there, so you want to find the one that works best for you and stick with it!  Make sure you stretch before each session, before every run, and after any workout you do. Many people forget to stretch after or they don't think about it, but you can pull a muscle after your workout when you're doing something you would typically do. I've pulled muscles after running from merely getting out of my car after the gym. Know When to Rest Although you're running a half marathon, it's a full marathon sized challenge, so you have to go easy on yourself every once in a while. This is an incredible feat, and you deserve a break every now and again, whether that be an easy run day or no running at all. You don't need to exercise everyday during your eight weeks.  If you wake up one morning and you are not feeling like it, give yourself that reward and hit the snooze button. If some friends invite you out when you’re supposed to be training, go out and worry about training tomorrow. Don’t make training for a half marathon your number one priority. You need to allow your body to recover and stay at peak performance level if you’re going to have success on race day.  Related: Why You Shouldn’t Skimp on Sleep During Training 8 Week Half Marathon Training: Schedule The key is to turn your body into a well-oiled machine and have the right training plan scheduled out. You want to know exactly what you have to do each day, so you don't have to think about it. Week 1 Training Monday: 3.5-mile warmup Tuesday: 30-45 minutes of strength-training exercises (lunges, squats, overhead presses, and planks) Wednesday: 3-mile tempo run Thursday: 30-45 minutes of yoga or pilates Friday: 4-mile warmup Saturday: 4.5-mile tempo run Sunday: rest day Week 2 Training Monday: 4-mile warmup Tuesday: 30-45 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: 5-mile speed run Thursday: 30-45 minutes of yoga or pilates Friday: 3.5-mile warmup Saturday: 6-mile speed run Sunday: off day Week 3 Training Monday: 4-mile warmup Tuesday: 45-60 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: Run uphill and back down 6-8 times Thursday: 45-50 minutes of yoga or pilates Friday: 5-mile warmup Saturday: 8-mile speed run Sunday: off day Week 4 Training Monday: 5-mile warmup Tuesday: 45-60 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: 7-mile speed run Thursday: 45-50 minutes of yoga or pilates Friday: 5-mile warmup Saturday: 10-mile speed run Sunday: off day Week 5 Training Monday: 4-mile warmup Tuesday: 60 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: Run uphill and down 6-8 times Thursday: 60 minutes of yoga or pilates Friday: 5-mile warmup Saturday: 12-mile speed run (start reducing distance for race day prep) Sunday: off day Week 6 Training Monday: 5-mile warmup Tuesday: 60 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: 8-mile speed run Thursday: 60 minutes or yoga or pilates Friday: 4-mile warmup Saturday: 10-mile speed run Sunday: off day Week 7 Training Monday: 5-mile warmup Tuesday: 30 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: 4 miles slow run Thursday: 30 minutes of yoga or pilates Friday: 4.5-mile warmup Saturday: 8-mile speed run Sunday: off day Week 8 Training Monday: 6-mile warmup Tuesday: 30 minutes strength-training exercises Wednesday: rest Thursday: 4-mile run Friday: off day Saturday: 3-mile warmup (take it easy!)  Sunday: Race! After implementing this training plan and all the tips above, you should have no problem running a half marathon. Remember, don’t overwork yourself. You don’t want to strain a muscle before the big day! If you aren’t already able to comfortably run for 6 miles at a time, try a longer marathon training program.  Don’t forget to eat healthily and drink plenty of water to give your body all of the nutrients it needs to stay energized and focused during your training. Check out our SportMe app to stay motivated and track your progress. Remember the two keys to your success are discipline and consistency. When you combine them, you become unstoppable! Good luck! Related: You Just Conquered Your Race. Now What?

Get to know Pete Kostelnick

October 11th 2019

Most runners manage about 20-30 miles of running a week. This kind of mileage is what Pete Kostelnick averages per day when he trains. A peak week of training for Pete can surpass 200 miles. It’s a staggering number. It’s hard to comprehend. It’s lunacy. But, it’s often said there’s a thin line between genius and madness. It seems Pete walks (ahem..runs) this line on the regular. Pete’s latest endeavor firmly straddles this line. Pete’s going after a world record. He’s looking to cover 3,100 miles in 44 days. Pete’s aiming to break the Guinness World Record for "Fastest Crossing of America on Foot (male.)" To achieve this goal, he’s got to notch about 70 miles a day. At first glance, this sounds impossible. But, consider the fact that independent of the staggering mileage Pete logs on a weekly basis, he’s conquered some pretty staggering races. Pete managed to win the Badwater 135 in 2015 and 2016. For the uninitiated, this race is characterized as ‘the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.’ The race takes place in July, starts in Death Valley, and ends at Whitney Portal. What this means is you’re looking at temperatures well into the 90’s early in the day and highs closing in on 120. Badwater covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. If Pete a race this demanding two years in a row, breaking a world record seems not entirely implausible. Read on to get to know more about Pete and the incredible journey he is about to attempt starting on Mon, 9/12 in San Francisco. Have you always been a runner? How did you get into the sport?  I didn't run much until I was a junior in high school, when I finally decided to sign up for cross-country.  I love to hike "14ers" in Colorado and it was while hiking Mt. Elbert with my uncle one summer that he encouraged me to sign up for cross country. I ran cross country my senior year as well, going from a back of the pack runner to a respectable 18-19 minute 5k harrier.  But, I never ran times that would raise any eyebrows.  What does a 'typical' week of training look like for you? In peak training mode I often approach or surpass 200 miles in a week.  I do roughly half (sometimes more) of my miles on a treadmill, which I've noticed keeps my legs a bit fresher than doing everything on pavement. I do most of my training miles at a 7:30-8:45 pace, which has become very comfortable.  I usually run before and after work so typically the only 20+ mile runs I do in one workout are saved for the weekends, where I'll often do 30-60 mile runs. I usually don't plan for off-days anymore, and take them only when traveling or my schedule doesn't allow for any running. Is there 'one' singular running accomplishment you can point to that stands out above all others?  Placing 1st at Badwater this year for the second year in a row and doing it in course record time was something I'm still trying to fully grasp. I think I was more excited about my 1st place after finishing in 2015, but this year had a lot more emotion invested in it.  I overcame a lot this year from a health standpoint and I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to race at all this year in April. I executed my race strategy to perfection as well. Do you have any special tips/tricks you'd like to share with our runners? If you want to do something, do it now and don't wait.  Take that first step, which is always the hardest! So many times we want to do something and keep putting it off and then it never happens when other things in life come up.  Dive in, make mistakes, and learn from them.   Running (and ultrarunning in particular) is all about learning from mistakes, and figuring out how to keep your mind, stomach, and legs all working together. What is your motivation for running 3,100 miles in 44 days? I love pushing myself to the extreme and I love traveling the US! I'm the youngest of five and every summer my parents would pack us all in a van and we'd drive to various destinations in the US (even Alaska). Needless to say, I've now been to every state and nearly all of them via the road. The only state I haven’t traveled to by road is Hawaii, where I honeymooned with my wife.  I love the open road and all the towns, people, and sights this country has to offer. Some of my best memories are from those trips my parents took us on. Mixing the adventure I experienced as a child from these road trips with my running is a dream come true.

How to Avoid Running Injuries

October 11th 2019

Injuries. They are the bane of every runner's existence. No runner wants one. Every runner fears getting one. Unfortunately, virtually every runner runs afoul of an injury. I wish I could tell you there's a way to magically avoid injuries. I've been running for over 25 years and coaching for over 10 years and I have yet to find a magic formula for avoiding injuries. Until a magic formula crystallizes, the best we can do is find ways to minimize the chances of injury. But, don't take my word for it. I've brought in the stellar physical therapists from Therapydia SF to break down the key risk factors for injury and a few ways to minimize the chances of incurring one. Warming Up Let's assume you signed up for a race. Many of you likely have if you're using SportMe Run Trainer. It may be your first or your twenty-fifth race. Naturally, you want to stay healthy. This is especially the case when you are training and looking forward to completing your upcoming race! The bad news is the rate of injury for runners is high and it’s even higher when training for a race. Before we get into some of the things you can do to reduce the chances of injuries, let's examine the two biggest risk factors for incurring a running related injury. History of injury The #1 risk factor for incurring a running injury is a previous history of injury, usually within the past 12 months. Injuries have a nasty tendency to beget future injuries. Runners are often anxious to return to running following an injury. This zeal to return can result in a premature return to regular running. Your initial injury may not be fully healed. This can potentially exacerbate the initial injury that never really healed properly. Even if you don't exacerbate the pre-existing injury, there's still a risk of getting injured again. It's possible you may have altered your running form to compensate for your previous injury and as a result overloaded another part of your body and created a new injury. Weekly Mileage The second highest risk factor for injury is weekly mileage.  Runners who log more than 40 miles per week were found to be more likely to sustain an injury. Most injuries in running are caused from overuse, which is defined as repetitive microtrauma to the musculoskeletal system. Increased training loads (such as running more when training for an event) can trigger an injury. When you run more, you can overload the musculoskeletal system to the point where it can’t recover, thus creating an injury. Pay attention to the mileage you're logging and avoid making significant weekly mileage increases week over week. Additionally, it's wise to periodically incorporate some 'cutback' weeks where you run significantly LESS mileage. We’ve covered the two biggest risk factors for injuries, but how do you reduce the chances of injury during your training? Change it up Given that most running injuries are caused by overuse and repetitive strain, it's important to inject variety into your training. You should be engaging in strength training, which is shown to decrease the risk of injury and improve performance. Additionally, you should also be mixing up your runs. Try running on trails, softer services, running uphill (there's less impact associated with running uphill), or altering your pace. Variety is the spice of life and it can also help stave off running related injuries. Watch your cadence It is important to have good cadence. Your cadence is the number of steps taken per minute, and it should be more than 170 steps per minute on both feet. That's 85 steps on the right and 85 steps on the left in a given minute of running. If your cadence is too low (160 or less), you may be putting too much stress on your body. Don't forget running can generate 3-5 times your bodyweight in impact force PER FOOTSTRIKE! It's important to minimize this impact. Focus on taking short quick steps and keeping your feet underneath your hips when you run. Be proactive.   Using ice and self-myofascial release (such as using a foam roller) is a great way to treat sore muscles, help expedite recovery, and reduce the chances of injury, but there are other ways to be proactive as well.   Listen to your body. If it's sore or otherwise complaining, you may need to dial your workout back or take a day off entirely. Sometimes, this is the best course of action.  When you are running, keep track of your heart rate and level of fatigue. Having a handle on this can help you better assess if you need to slow your pace or stop for the day.   If your heart rate is unusually high during a run or workout that is typically easy, this is a yellow flag. Your immune system might be compromised or you might be at risk for an injury. While becoming a good runner involves developing an ability to manage fatigue and discomfort, there’s a difference between discomfort and ‘pain’. If you ever feel sharp or stabbing pain, you need to stop running. This is not the kind of pain you want to run through. Avoid the ‘three too’s’ Logging too many miles can increase the risk of injury. Increasing your mileage too soon can increase the risk of injury. Running too fast can also increase the risk of injury. Combining these three 'too's' creates a potent injury catalyst cocktail. The combination of too much, too soon, and too fast can compromise your ability to recover and thus, increase the chance of injury. Avoid the ‘three too’s’.

Run to lose (weight)

October 11th 2019

People get into running for countless reasons. For some, it’s about crossing the marathon off their bucket list. For others, running on a regular basis is about scoring awesome bling at races. Some seek out running for the calming, meditative effect it can have. But, there’s arguably one reason above all others that motivates people to run on a regular basis. That would be weight management/loss. Running is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient ways to burn calories and lose weight. Read on for a few of the reasons why we think running is the best way to lose (weight). Is running easy? There are countless ways to burn calories. You can join a gym.  You can ride a bike. You can join a boutique fitness studio like Barry’s Bootcamp or SoulCycle. There’s nothing wrong with any of these options. But, all of them present certain barriers to entry that running doesn’t. Most gyms aren’t open 24 hours. Even if they are, there’s still usually a steep, monthly membership fee. Bikes are great, but they’re typically not cheap. Additionally, there’s the potential for flat tires and other equipment failure. The boutique fitness studios are great, but classes are usually quite expensive ($20-$30 for a single class). To boot, classes typically have to be booked in advance. This means there’s no guarantee you’re getting in. Running can be done anywhere. It can be done anytime. It can be done several times a day (if you’re really ambitious). Generally speaking, all you need is a pair of shoes (and the SportMe Run Trainer app) and you’re good to go! I’m not saying the actual ‘act’ of running is easy. It can be challenging. But, it’s relatively easy to get into a regular running routine as running presents very few barriers to entry. Is running one of the most efficient ways of burning calories? Running a mile burns roughly 100 calories. This may not sound like a lot (and it isn’t). But, if you manage a couple miles just three times a week, you’re looking at 600 calories/week. This comes to 2,400 calories a month you’re burning just by running two miles a day, three times a week.  Few forms of exercise burn as many calories as efficiently as running does. A person weighing 160 lbs. will burn 606 calories running for an hour at 12:00/mile. The only form of exercise that will burn more calories is jumping rope for an hour (861 calories). If you think running on a treadmill is tedious, try jumping rope for an hour. BTW, if you run 7:30/mile for an hour, your caloric burn equals that of jumping rope for an hour. Do you continue to burn calories after your run is completed? The demands of running are non-trivial. You’re generating anywhere from 3-5 times your bodyweight in impact force per footsrike. It takes a lot for your body to support an activity this intense for a few minutes, let alone miles. You burn plenty of calories while you’re logging your miles. But, the burning of calories doesn’t end once you’ve completed your run. Following a typical run, your resting energy expenditure tends to stay elevated. This only makes sense given the demands running places on your body. When is the last time you were fatigued, sore, and out of breath after walking two miles? Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against walking. But, running demands more of you. Consequently, your body has more work to do afterwards to recover, heal, and adapt. Does running provide a sense of accomplishment and boosts your mood? One of the greatest things about being a new runner is the opportunity to set ‘personal bests’ all the time. It’s likely that almost every run you tackle is the farthest you’ve ever run. Consequently, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment upon completing every run. Independent of the sense of accomplishment associated with notching a personal best every time you hit the road, there’s a wonderful chemical cocktail released every time you run. This cocktail includes serotonin and norepinephrine (among others). These chemicals help improve your mood and may even lead to the famed ‘runner’s high’. If running provides a sense of accomplishment and helps keep you in good spirits, it’s likely you’ll be coming back for more. The more you run, the more you accomplish, the better you feel, and the more calories you’ll burn. As far as vicious cycles go, running is about as good as it gets.

There's running, then there's running fast

October 11th 2019

If you think 'running' and 'running fast' are the same sport, think again. 'Running' is tough, don't get me wrong. It demands a lot. But, if you run often enough, long enough, your body adapts. The act may never become easy, but it does get 'easier'. It should get more comfortable. Running fast requires a completely different approach. It requires embracing fatigue. It requires becoming comfortable (or at least tolerant) of fatigue. Running fast hurts. I work with many who want to run faster. Most are willing to do the work. But, most are often challenged to embrace (or at least accept) the idea that getting faster requires getting uncomfortable. Unlike simply running, running faster largely stays uncomfortable no matter how much of it you do. Some days might be marginally more tolerable than others. But, getting faster involves discomfort. There's simply no way around it. Outlined below are a handful of tips for making the transition from 'simply running' to 'running faster'. Run Fast. It may sound trite. But, if you want to run faster, then run fast. There are a million ways to do it. You can do fartlek, you can do tempo runs, you can do intervals at the track, and the list goes on. But, there's simply no way to get faster unless you incorporate some faster running into your schedule on a regular basis. Just like with getting into a regular running routine, you want to proceed gradually, progressively, and methodically. Running fast(er) asks more of your body. It asks more muscles to do more work. Your body needs some time to adapt to this increaed workload. So, start slow. Starting with fartlek (aka-'speed play') is a great idea. Fartlek is typically loosely structured (akin to 'play') and usually only involves short surges or sprints. It's a relatively easy way to get acquainted with speed. Know Thyself. Many serious runners keep a training diary that includes how many miles they ran on a given day, average pace, weekly mileage, and other relevant details. It's not a bad idea to do this, but there are other ways to keep track of your running progress. If you're using SportMe Run Trainer, you've got access to plenty of great data you can leverage. Start paying attention to this data. Get a handle on what your average pace and distance looks like. Track your weekly mileage. In order to get faster, you need to get a handle on where you area and what you're capable of currently. If you can run 5 miles in 45 minutes comfortably, it's likely you can manage a 10K (6.2 miles) in under an hour. If you can barely get through 3 miles in 33 minutes, running a 10K under an hour might be a stretch. Knowledge is power. Maintaining a training diary (and reviewing it) and/or reviewing your training data in the SportMe Run Trainer will help you glean all kinds of knowledge about who you are as a runner. Knowing who you are as a runner can help you take the appropriate steps towards getting faster and setting appropriate goals.  Embrace Discomfort. OK. You don't have to hug discomfort. You don't have to invite it over for dinner. But, you need to at least 'accept' that getting faster involves discomfort. There's no way around it. Running faster is uncomfortable. You will be breathing harder, which can be alarming if you've never done it before. Your legs will get tired and heavy in a way they haven't before. You might even sweat profusely from the level of effort. You may not like any of this and you don't have to. But, you must accept that it is part of the process of becoming a faster runner. Without, these 'rites of passage', you will not get faster. Try to accept the discomfort for what it is. It's part of the process of becoming faster. If you're not feeling some degree of discomfort, you're not doing it right. This doesn't mean you should be killing yourself all the time. I would always discourage this. But, 'some' discomfort is required in order to get faster. Check Your Head. Running faster requires more of your body AND your head. Do whatever you can to get yourself into a positive head space prior to tackling your faster running. What this requires is a highly individual thing. But, there are a few things that always help me get ready for being 'uncomfortable'. I like to watch video of the pros (Shalane Flanagn, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezghi) running in the latter stages of one of their races. Seeing some of the best on the planet manage the INCREDIBLE discomfort they must feel and still keep moving forward never fails to inspire. I have certain go to movies that get me ready to get uncomfortable. Pretty much any flick that involves an underdog works for me. Rocky (almost all of them) works. The ridiculous training montage from Rocky IV always seems to strike a chord for me. I like to dial up a few specific songs on my playlist before I hit the track. Guns N' Roses ('Welcome to the Jungle'), Led Zeppelin ('Kashmir'), and  Beastie Boys ('Sabotage') always seem to wake me up and get me ready for battle. I'm getting ready for a fight when I head to the track. Some combination of video footage of the pros, a key scene or two from my favorite flick, and/or a few of my power songs usually check my head. Keep Showing Up. Given the discomfort running faster requires, it's easy to understand why one might get turned off. It's not easy to run. It's particularly tough to run faster. But, just like learning to run, you have to keep showing up in order to get better at it. You may not want to every time. You will have crappy days. If you can find a way to show up despite not wanting to, if you can gut out the crappy days, you will get faster. It's not a question of if, but when. You will run faster. When I was at my fastest as a marathoner, I wasn't doing anything magical. I was really just doing a couple simple things. I embraced discomfort and I showed up no matter what. I was ruthlessly committed to my tempo runs on Tuesday, my track workouts on Thursdays, and my challenging long runs on Saturdays (that usually included tempo). I was ruthlessly committed for nearly three years. During this period, I knocked nearly 45 minutes off my marathon time. I'm not saying the same could happen with you, but it might. There are a million different ways to train, but the one thing that works universally is consistency over time. Keep showing up.

Can't run? Think again

October 11th 2019

Training for a race is a serious endeavor. It's a journey that often requires days, weeks, and months. Just looking at your training schedule can be daunting. It's only natural that you'll have a day (or several) on which you're just not feeling up to snuff. Maybe it's been a tough week at work. Maybe it's been awhile since you've felt the runner's high. Having dealt with thousands of runners over the course of more than a decade of coaching, I've heard just about every excuse to NOT run. Outlined below are some of the most common excuses I hear and a few suggestions for overcoming them. The weather is crappy. I lived in Kansas when I got into running. The summers were brutally hot and humid. The winters were cold, bleak, and depressing. Kansas was FAR from a runner's paradise. More often than not, you were sweating your ass off or freezing your ass off. Whether you're training in Kansas or training in California, there's no guarantee the weather will be perfect. If you train long enough, you're going to be confronted with crappy weather when you have to get a key long run in. How do you deal with this? The reality is a race is hardly EVER cancelled due to inclement weather. So, while it may suck to run in oppressive heat and humidity or a torrential downpour, you may very well have to deal with bad weather on race day. Every time you go out and run despite inclement weather, you're better preparing yourself for this possibility on race day. Additionally, soldiering on despite inclement weather is a GREAT way to develop mental toughness. You're tired.  You had a long night at the office. You barely managed a few hours of sleep. You're running on fumes. We've all been there. Just looking at the run lined up on your schedule induces fatigue. The last thing you want to do is lace up and get your run in. I get it. But, bagging out on a run because you're tired can lead to something far worse. It can become a slippery slope. It can become a habit. Cut yourself some slack if you're feeling exhausted. Don't run as far. Don't run as fast. But, try to get 'some' running in. As exhausted as you may be, I can almost promise you'll feel better after just a few miles. You don't have time. Most of us have demanding work lives. Most of us have busy personal lives as well. Finding time for everything is a battle most of us face. Sometimes the fates conspire. Getting in a run becomes impossible. But, this should be an exception. Get creative. If you can't get the entirety of your 60 minute run in, break it up. Split the run into '2' 30 minute segments. If you simply can't get the entirety of your run in no matter how you slice it, get some of it in. Get 15 minutes in. Get something done. You're stressed out. It happens to the best of us. Stress becomes you. A run sounds far less appealing than a stiff cocktail. I've been there. I've found myself vacillating between a run and a cocktail. The run (almost) always wins this battle. Why? Running is one of the best ways to relieve stress out there. The simple act of rhythmic breathing (and sweating) never fails to bring stress levels down. BTW, you can still have your cocktail AFTER your run if you really want to. You're hungover. Whether you were drowning your sorrows or celebrating your latest win, you had quite an evening. The morning arrives unwelcomed. You're feeling ragged around the edges. You have a cup of coffee and it does little to clear the fog. Bleary eyed, you gaze at what's lined up on your training schedule. A faint wave of nausea overcomes you when you see how many miles you're supposed to log today. Running is the last thing you want to do. Curling up in the fetal position and sobbing gently is likely what you're feeling more inclined to do. But, don't give up on running yet. The first mile or two may not feel great, but nothing is forever. After breaking a bit of a sweat, the endorphins start to flow. The headache starts to subside. The fogginess recedes. You will likely feel vaguely human again by the time your run is complete. Just be careful to hydrate well before, during, and after your 'hangover run'.

Running is scary (but it doesn't have to be)...

October 11th 2019

Running is scary (but it doesn’t have to be)… I love the fall. It's the longer nights. I run faster at night. I am more alive at night. I’ve always been a creature of the night. I watched Psycho 2 when I was barely eight years old. I read Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King when I was ten. I've always gravitated towards the dark side. All of us have a dark side. Running does too. Running isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are anxieties and fears that keep countless from even considering logging a mile. Running can be scary. But, it doesn’t have to be. Read on for the most common running related anxieties and fears I encounter (and some thoughts about how to conquer them)… I can’t do it. Yes, running is hard. I would never say otherwise. I get it. It’s not easy. The act generates 3-5 time your body weight in impact force per foostrike. Running demands a lot. But, there are millions and millions just like you who have done it. There are people who don’t have legs who have done it. There are recovering drug addicts who do it. I’m not saying it’s easy. But, if you fear that you can’t do it, it’s likely you’re wrong. I’m not a runner. I’ve heard some variation of this one from THOUSANDS of runners over the past quarter century. ‘I’m not built for it’. ‘I’ve never been an athlete.’ ‘It’s not my thing.’ To be clear, I’m not trying to force running on anyone. If it’s not your thing, it isn't. Skateboarding isn’t my thing. I wiped out horribly as a kid. I’d likely wipeout on a hoverboard. But, I think ‘most’ people can do some kind of running (if they want to). You can be a runner and not run a marathon (or an ultramarathon). You’re ‘still’ a runner even if you’re only logging a couple miles twice a week (or less). I think many run for the hills at the notion of running because they think the barrier to entry is too high. But, we’re all runners at the end of the day. Who hasn’t run to catch a bus? If you fear identifying as a runner because you feel there’s some hard and fast definition of what a ‘runner’ looks like, let go of it. Even if you’re just sprinting to the bus, you’re still a runner. I’m not built for it. The gazelles that notch sub five-minute miles for 26.2 miles are a rare breed. They are a perfect storm of world-class training and often world-class genetics. There’s likely a nice dose of luck in there as well. Most of us are not so lucky. I likely don’t have the right genetics to perform at an elite level. I weigh a bit more than your ‘average’ gazelle (165 versus about 105-110). I’m not built to be one of the fastest runners on the planet. But, here’s the thing. Most of us aren’t built to be the best runners on the planet. Such is life. But, don’t abandon all hope! You can still enjoy running. You can still perform at a high level. You can still do amazing things! There are so many incredible stories of people who aren’t ‘built’ for it who nevertheless ‘did it’. Oprah ran a marathon. John ‘The Penguin’ Bingham did it. The reality is we’re ALL built to do it in one, way, shape, or form. You may think I’m full of it (and you may be right). But, just give Bernd Heinrich’s ‘Why We Run’ a read. You might think differently. I’m slow. Light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles PER SECOND. Usain Bolt can run 100 meters in just over 9.5 seconds. There are a handful of people who can conquer a marathon in just a hair over two hours. Comparatively speaking, WE’RE ALL SLOW! So what? Why does this matter? Who really gives a shit? Don’t fear being slow. At the end of the day, we’re all slow. You’re in good company. I will get hurt. People talk ALL THE TIME about how running is a metaphor for life. It’s a cliché. But, it’s TOTALLY TRUE. There are some things in life that are certain. Death. Taxes. Pain. As far as I know, no one has found a way to circumnavigate death. Ghosts don’t count because they are simply people who have passed on who are ‘confused’. We all pay taxes. Well, most of us do. Life is amazing. It can give you glorious, incredible, ecstatic moments. But, it can also bring you to your knees. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t got hurt in life. Running can hurt you. It can bring you to your knees. It can also break your heart. There’s nothing wrong with fearing any of the aforementioned. But, can you live with not knowing all the incredible, amazing things that running can do for you? Are you cool with NOT meeting all the incredible, amazing people who do it? I didn’t think so.

SportMe Run Trainer FAQ's

October 11th 2019

Shot by Kalyan Chakravathy, licensed under CC by 2.0.  Every day at SportMe, we field a litany of questions about how the app works, how to train, and just about everything in between. Some questions surprise us. Some questions perplex us. Some questions enlighten us. Below are some of the most common questions we field (and the answers we provide) about how the app works, how to train, and just about everything in between. -Can I use SportMe app on a treadmill? Absolutely. When you' start' a run, there's a little switch at the bottom of the screen that indicates, 'Treadmill Run'. Enable this switch before you start your run to run in treadmill mode. -I just ran 5 miles, but the app says I ran 4.75 miles. Why doesn’t the app indicate 5 miles? There is no consumer app and/or device that uses GPS that is 100% accurate. Go on a run with a Garmin Forerunner on one arm and another device (or app) on the other. It's likely you will see a different reading for each. There are a number of factors that can contribute to inaccurate/inconsistent GPS readings. If you're running in an area with dense foliage, you might have problems getting an accurate reading. If you're logging miles downtown near lots of tall buildings, you might have issues as well. Bridges can also interfere with GPS readings. So, can atmospheric conditions. Ultimately, ALL of the aforementioned factors can interfere with GPS satellite triangulation. FYI, GPS-enabled smartphones are typically accurate to within a 4.9 m (16 ft.) radius under open sky....assuming none of the aforementioned factors. -What should I do if I miss a run/workout? Generally, we'd say resist the urge to 'make up' the run/workout. Training for a race (of any distance) is not like taking a survey class in college. You can't 'cram' in missed runs/workouts in the last week of your training cycle. This approach has a tendency to increase the chances of aggravations/injuries. Try to let go of the missed run/workout and simply get back on track with your schedule as soon as you can. The reality is that 1-2 missed runs/workouts is not going to impact your running fitness in any significant way. If you missed 1-2 WEEKS of training, that's a different story. -How can I get faster? There are a variety of ways to get faster. In the immortal words of coaching legend Bill Bowerman, 'If you want to run faster, run faster'. Running faster could include fartlek (aka-speed play), track workouts (200, 400, 800 meter intervals), tempo running, and/or running hills (aka-speedwork in disguise). It's not easy. Most of the time, it's not fun. But, if you want to get faster, running faster is the only answer. The period of time in which I improved most as a marathoner occurred when I was ruthlessly committed to fartlek, track workouts, tempo running, and hills. 2-2.5 years of consistent speedwork took my marathon time from a 3:30 to a 2:43. Just some food for thought. -How do I execute my speed work? Click HERE. -I have a specific time goal in mind for my race. Will SportMe Run Trainer help me achieve my goal time? The first thing most runners want to do once they conquer a particular distance is to run said distance FASTER. We get it! The desire to run faster is only natural. Currently, SportMe Run Trainer is designed to generate a custom training plan. But, we are actively exploring incorporating a pacing component into our app. We understand the desire not only learn how to train for a particular distance, but how to get 'faster' at the distance you're training for. -How do I cancel my subscription? It pains us to field this question, but we get it. The app just isn't you, for whatever reason. We have no illusions the app is perfect. But, we're always trying to improve. If there's anything you can share with us that will help us make the app better, we're all ears. This being said, here's how to cancel your subscription.. On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store. Tap your Apple ID at the top of the screen. Tap View Apple ID. You might need to sign in or use Touch ID. Under Subscriptions, Tap Manage. Tap the subscription that you want to manage. Use the options to manage your subscription. -Is there anything that Apple wants me to know about this app? Funny you should ask! Apple wants you to know the following details about the SportMe subscription: – Payment will be charged to iTunes Account at confirmation of purchase – Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period – Account will be charged for renewal within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period, and identify the cost of the renewal – Subscriptions may be managed by the user and auto-renewal may be turned off by going to the user's Account Settings after purchase – Any unused portion of a free trial period, if offered, will be forfeited when the user purchases a subscription to that publication, where applicable.

Want to run a great race? Nail your pace.

October 11th 2019

Shot by Ludo Rouchy licensed under CC by 2.0 Pacing properly is huge. If you don't have a handle on your pacing, your daily runs can be drudgery. The euphoric 'runner's high' will almost never materialize. Most importantly, not having a handle on your pacing can result in a disappointing experience on race day. Figuring out your pacing requires a little work. But, if you want to nail your goal time on race day or simply enjoy running more, it's worth it to do the 'legwork'. Read on if you need some help dialing in your pacing. Which are the main running pace types? Comfortable/conversational pace Comfortable/conversational pace is the pace at which you should be doing most of your runs. Even elite level runners do most of their runs at comfortable/conversational pace. Figuring out this pace is relatively easy. If you can comfortably carry a conversation with someone while you're running, you've identified comfortable/conversational pace. This pace should not feel taxing. It should feel as though you can maintain this pace for miles without getting fatigued. Tempo pace I'd generally characterize tempo pace as 10K race pace. This pace is more aggressive than comfortable/conversational pace, but it's not an all out sprint. You might be able to get out a few words, but you certainly can't have a conversation comfortably with anyone while running at this speed. This pace should generally align with the fastest pace you can maintain for a 10K (or maybe a half marathon) assuming optimal conditions. Fartlek Fartlek pace is akin to 5K race pace. It's not a sprint, but it's a markedly aggressive pace. It's certainly faster than tempo pace. Think of it as 85-90% of your 'sprint' pace. It's a pace you'd be able to maintain for 3.1 miles, but that's about it. Track Run pace This pace 'generally' aligns with fartlek/5K race pace. This being said, the pace will vary a bit depending upon the length of the track intervals you're running (200M, 400M, 800M, etc). If you're unclear about how to execute for your track runs, click here. Race pace Race pace is going to be different depending upon the distance you're running. Your 5K race pace is likely going to be MUCH faster than your race pace for a marathon. But, the general idea is this pace is the 'maximum' pace you can reasonably maintain for the particular distance. If you can cover 65-85% of the distance at this pace with some degree of comfort, it's 'likely' you've identified your race pace for the particular distance you're training for. Much of the above can be identified to a certain extent by 'feel', but these pace ranges (and more) can be derived by one or more key data points. Specifically, they can be derived by a recent race time or simply going to a track and doing a one/two mile 'time trial'. Let's assume you have a marathon personal best of 4:00. Here's (generally) what your pacing should look like.. Short/Medium Runs 9:04-10:01/mile. This pace should 'generally' feel comfortable/conversational. Long Runs 9:05-10:25/mile. This pace should 'generally' feel comfortable/conversational. Tempo Runs 8:00-8:09/mile. This pace should generally align with the fastest pace you can maintain for a 10K (or maybe a half marathon) assuming optimal conditions. Fartlek pace 7:56/mile for Fartlek (aka-5K race pace). Track Run pace (:44-:49)-200M (1:44-1:50)-400M (3:37-3:48)-800M (5:36-5:57)-1200M (7:48-7:59)-1600M Race pace Again, race pace will be different depending upon the distance. But, assuming a 4:00 marathon personal best, here's a general breakdown of race pace for a variety of distances: (7:56/mile)-5K race pace (8:14/mile)-10K race pace (8:42/mile)-Half Marathon race pace (9:10/mile)-Marathon race pace Hopefully, the above gives you a better sense of how to dial in your pacing throughout your training cycle. Ultimately, it is during your training cycle that you should get a better sense of what kind of pace you 'should' be able to maintain on race day. If you can nail your pace, you've got a good shot at a great race.

You just conquered a marathon, what now?

October 11th 2019

Running a marathon is non-trivial. Conquering one requires days, weeks, and months of consistent training. It requires no shortage of compromises and sacrifices. Once you cross the finish line, you’re bound to feel an avalanche of emotions. It’s likely you’ll find yourself awash in bliss, ecstasy, and a little agony. There’s a reason why the marathon is often characterized as a metaphor for life. You experience ‘all the feels’ over the course of 26.2 miles. For some, the marathon is simply a bucket list item. For others, it’s just the beginning of a longer journey. Regardless of how you define your marathon experience, it’s only natural to ask ‘what now?’ If you’re not sure what to do once you’ve crossed the finish line, we’re here to help. Read on for our thoughts around recovering from 26.2, resuming running, and a few ideas about what to do next.  Keep Moving. You’ve just crossed the finish line. Your body is protesting in all kinds of distressing ways. You’re a house of pain. The natural inclination is to collapse, curl up in the fetal position, and weep. But, don’t do that quite yet. While it may sound counter-intuitive, you need to keep moving for a few more minutes. Don’t panic. We’re not talking about running. But, walking for 5-10 minutes immediately following your marathon is a great way to help expedite recovery. Walking for a few minutes will help flush out lactic acid and other toxins that have accumulated in your legs over the course of 26.2 miles. Drink. Even if you hit every aid station and consumed tons of fluids regularly during the course of the race, you’re still likely somewhat dehydrated. You need water. You also need electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium). As you’re walking around, casually knock back some water and/or sports drink. I’d also recommend drinking something that has the magical 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. You need carbs to help replenish your glycogen stores. You also need protein to help expedite healing of the multitude of micro-tears in muscle fiber you sustained over the course of the marathon.  Get friendly with the foam roller. If you don’t have a foam roller, get one. As a runner, it’s the most important item you can own aside from a pair of quality running shoes. Once you’re done walking (and consuming ample fluids), spend some quality time with the foam roller. Massage your quads, calves, IT band, glutes, and give some special attention to any spots that are particularly tight or sore. Ultimately, this may be EVERYTHING.  Using the foam roller will help relieve tightness, adhesions, and help increase blood flow to all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that sustained damage during your marathon. Ice, ice, baby. It’s likely the last thing you want to do, but draw a cold bath. Once the tub is full, gently lower yourself in. Once you’re in, dump a bag or two of ice in the tub. Soak in the ice bath for 15-20 mins. It’s not a bad idea to wear a sweater and/or a hat to help keep your upper torso warm while you’re soaking. Knocking back a cup of coffee or hot tea while you’re soaking is a good idea as well to help brave the cold. You may be wondering why you’re subjecting yourself to this kind of torture after you’ve already endured 26.2 miles of torture. Rest assured, there is a method to this madness. As mentioned earlier, you’ve sustained a TON of damage as a result of completing your marathon. You’ve got microtears in muscle fiber. Your legs are rife with inflammation. When you have a bruise, contusion, or a sprained ankle, usually the first thing you do is ice it to help control the inflammation. The ice bath is working the same way on your beleaguered legs. A quality ice bath will help reduce inflammation. EAT! While you likely ingested some calories immediately following the race via whatever post race food was provided and whatever fluids you consumed, you need more. You burned in excess of 2,600 calories over the course of your marathon. You need carbohydrates, you need protein, and you need it within the first 45-60 minutes of completing the marathon. If there was ever a time to eat ‘all the things’, now is the time. We’re not condoning being a total glutton. But, there’s no shame in being a bit self-indulgent. Order an appetizer. Have a second beer. Don’t Run.   Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth marathon, going out and logging some miles the next day is likely not a good idea. This is particularly the case if you’re feeling markedly sore and having problems navigating chairs and stairs. If you feel you simply MUST do something, go for a light walk. Keep it to 30 minutes. Do some foam rolling following your walk. It’s not a bad idea to stick to this routine for the first week following your marathon. Gradually resume easy running. After a week of light walking, gradually resume some easy running. Run a bit slower than you normally would. Run a bit less than you normally would. If your typical routine entails running four miles three times/week, run two easy, slow miles three times/week. Even if you feel great, stick to this routine for a couple weeks. The reality is you won’t be fully recovered from your marathon for 2-3 weeks. This doesn’t mean you can’t run, but tread lightly and listen to the messages your body sends you. Gradually resume formal training. After 2-3 weeks of casual, easy, unstructured running, you can start thinking about resuming more formalized ‘training’.  This being said, don’t feel compelled to resume training for another race. Listen the messages your body sends you.  If the idea of running makes you physically ill, don’t do it. Give yourself an additional day of rest. Alternatively, do some easy cross-training (swimming, cycling, spinning, elliptical training, etc). But, if you’re feeling physically (and mentally) sharp again, start thinking about what’s next. You certainly can start looking at another marathon. But, don’t feel compelled to tackle 26.2. Training for a marathon is a major undertaking that isn’t always lifestyle friendly. There’s no shame in switching gears and focusing on running a faster half marathon, 10K, or even a 5K. Part of being a well-rounded runner entails training for a variety of different distances. Mixing things up will help you get better at ALL distances, stave off aggravations/injuries, and avoid burnout.

Race Week Flight Plan

October 11th 2019

Photo Credit: Flickr | Jan Kraus licensed under CreativeCommons You’ve logged the miles, you’ve done the crosstraining, you’re just a few days away from race day. BUT, do you have everything covered? With just a few days left until you toe the line, we've outlined a 'flight plan' for you that practically guarantees you'll have a positive experience on race day. Monday– –Identify your race day wardrobe. Make sure whatever you choose is something you’re comfortable running in. Ideally, whatever you wear is something you've used during your training cycle. You want to avoid trying anything new at this stage in the game. Additionally, keep a close eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly. You want to plan for both ideal and 'less' than ideal conditions. Bringing a few different wardrobe options accounting for both scenarios would be wise. –Scout the course. Any race worth its salt posts course maps, elevation charts, course descriptions, and other relevant information about the course on their website. Set aside some time to review all of this content. Where are the challenging parts of the course? Are there any hills? Is there anything about this course that's different from what you've done during your training? Take note of anything you find and keep it in mind as your formulate your pacing strategy. You may need to dial back your pace/level of effort during hilly segments. Conversely, you might want to leverage downhill segments to pick up a few seconds. It’s always a good idea to get the lay of the land before race day! Tuesday– –Nail down your travel plans. You want to plan on getting to the race start AT LEAST 30-45 minutes in advance of the actual start. Figure out how you’re getting to the start of the race NOW. Don’t wait until later this week. Arriving well in advance of the start of your race will give you time to use the restroom, warmup, and make your way to the start. If you're driving to your race in the morning, allow PLENTY of time! It will likely take time to find parking. –Schedule a sports massage. After weeks (months?) of diligent training, you may have some residual soreness/tightness. Now is the time to take care of this. Schedule a quality sports massage later in the week (a couple days before your race) to help knock out those last few kinks.

Find the training shoes to match your running style

October 11th 2019

When you haven't gone running in a while, you just don't feel like yourself. But hey, the new year is the perfect time to restart your running routine and take it to the next level. If you're not new to running, you already learned that regular exercise is a powerful mood booster. And a natural way to get in shape.  The body of your dreams starts with the right running shoes. We tested dozens of the latest pairs to find these top picks.                                                                                                                  Real Plush Feel      The exceptional shock-absorbing cushioning keeps the ASICS Gel Nimbus 19 atop of its line. Set your next personal record with this training shoes. Asics iconic design meets sport-proven performance in these men's running shoes.         - Its trademark cushioning and stability offer premium comfort for every run.        -  The revolutionary FlyteFoam midsole technology provides better protection and  responsiveness in an ultra-light foam.        -  Remarkable for its lightweight design, paired with extra support.        -  The gender-specific cushioning works to the distinctive advantage for both gender versions. Offers Reliability The ASICS GT 2000 5 offers moderate pronation control, along with an exceptional cushioning. The breathable mesh upper offers  seamless support, while the outsole delivers solid traction. Women's version is available here.      -  The runners appreciate the shock-absorbing cushioning of the 5th version of the GT 2000.     -  The structured Heel Clutch System, paired with the Duomax Support System, provides outstanding support and stability.     -  The additional beathable mesh upper provides excellent foot-hugging support.     -  Additional midfoot overlays offer a wraparound feel in the midfoot, particularly in the arch. Support & Cushioning Bridging the gap between form and function, the ASICS Gel Cumulus 19  delivers a plush ride with plenty of comfort. Its trademark underfoot cushioning hugs the foot so that it moves in harmony with your footstrike. Men's version is available here.      -  Pairing exceptional comfort with great efficiency, right out of the box.     -  The underfoot cushioning system prevents some foot-discomfort during all kind of runs.     -  The traction system given by the outsole is very reliable. Great For Running Over Any Distance Offering a high level of shock-absorbing cushioning and comfort, the ASICS Gel Kayano 24 keeps your foot stable during explosive lateral moves. Men's version is available here.      -  Real comfort feel with its innovative cushioning.     -  Great option for long term races and marathons.     -  Firm grip of the outsole, especially on the heel area.     -  The mid-sole unit’s shock-absorbing ability prevents any duress generated by the constancy of the foot-strike.     -  Its lightweight nature makes running more efficient. Lightweight Design and Enhanced Energy Return Featuring a revolutionary midsole cushioning, the ASICS Gel DS Trainer 22 provides great comfort and a cloudlike landing every time your foot hits the ground. This model provides enhanced traction for sharp cuts and quick bursts of speed. Men's version is available here.      -  Its revolutionary FlyteFoam provides lightweight support.     -  This model is appreciated for the cushioning to weight ratio.     -  Remarkably comfortable, right out of the box.     -  Enhanced traction, particularly when changing directions or rounding a curve.     -  Those who prefer night time running will appreciate its reflective details in the heel. Improves your Speed Recapturing the feeling of your best-ever run, the ASICS Roadhawk FF provides excellent cushioning and a lightweight design. Women's version is available here.      -  The snug fit of the upper prevents sliding inside the shoe.     -  The shoes' lightweight design increases their efficiency during running.     -  Given its great all-round features, it's great for both indoor and outdoor workouts. Energy Return Take your running experience to the next level with this lightweight shoe designed for performance. Now featuring a resilient Flytefoam midsole, the ASICS Gel DS Trainer 22  offers increased energy return. This model provides enhanced traction for sharp cuts and quick bursts of speed. Women's version is available here.  -  Its revolutionary FlyteFoam provides lightweight support.     -  This model is appreciated for the cushioning to weight ratio.     -  Remarkably comfortable, right out of the box.     -  Enhance traction, particularly when changing directions or rounding a curve.     -  Those who prefer night time running will appreciate its reflective details in the heel. Real Plush Feel Offering a high level of shock-absorbing cushioning and comfort, the ASICS Gel Kayano 24 keeps your foot stable due to DuoMax Support System. Women's version is available here.      -  Real comfort feel with its innovative cushioning, this model is equiped with FluidRide cushioning system.     -  Great option for long term races and marathons.     -  Firm grip of the outsole, especially on the heel area.     -  The mid-sole unit’s shock-absorbing ability prevents any duress generated by the constancy of the foot-strike.     -  Its lightweight nature makes running more efficient. A Facebook Messenger chatbot is here to help you pick the best runing shoes for your running style. SportMe Shoe Picker combines coaching advice and run training experience to recommend the best running shoe for your running style. Free shipping & return. Try it out!

The Top Ten Nutrition & Hydration Guidelines for Runners

October 11th 2019

As a runner, you ask a lot of your body. What you eat and drink impacts your energy, performance levels, and recovery. When you eat consistent meals full of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, you will have the energy you need to stay active, recover quickly, and perform at a high level. Here are my key tips to maintain a daily, well-balanced diet for health, wellness, strength, and stamina. Start the day off right. Breakfast is often characterized as the most important meal of the day. For this most important meal of the day, aim for a high-fiber, protein-packed breakfast. Example: Greek yogurt with berries, granola, and chia seeds Example: Egg scramble with sweet potatoes and fruit on the side Eat fruits and/or vegetables at each meal. Fruits and vegetables provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals, which you need as a runner. Additionally, they contain lots of fiber, which helps maintain a healthy gut. Lastly, many fruits and vegetables have high water content and thusly, can help you hydrate. Pro-tip-Ideally, half your plate should be full of fruits and/or vegetables. Aim for a variety of multi-colored fruits and/or vegetables. Focus on whole grains for additional fiber. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber. But, whole grains provide additional fiber. Why is Fiber important? Fiber fills us up and keeps us feeling full longer. Fiber also helps regulate bowel movements and blood sugars.  Examples: quinoa, barley, brown rice, oatmeal Consume at least one serving of lean protein sources at each meal. Getting in quality protein regularly is important, especially for runners. FYI, a serving size is about the size of your palm. Examples: turkey, fish, quinoa, eggs, chicken. Eat every three to four hours to control hunger levels. Eating every three to four hours can help control hunger levels and prevent crashes from low energy. Pro-tip-Have some healthy combination food snacks (apples, hard boiled eggs, carrots, almonds, etc) readily available at your desk when you’re working. An ideal snack should have at least 2 food groups in it. Always have an afternoon snack (ideally with protein). Afternoon snacks help prevent sugar cravings and caffeine-cravings, can better control hunger levels, can reduce portion sizes at dinner, and can reduce the risk of making poor food choices at dinner.  Examples: An apple with almond butter, a hardboiled egg with some almonds, a cup of yogurt and a banana Be consistent with your eating habits. Being consistent with your training is a big part of what gets you to the starting (and finish) line. Being consistent with your eating habits pays dividends as well. Consistency will result in better-controlled hunger levels, reduced sugar & caffeine cravings, and bolster your immune system. Pro-tip-Set an alarm in your calendar to remind yourself when to eat breakfast, when to eat your afternoon snack, etc. Your meals should contain the same number of calories. Make your meals as even as possible. This means your breakfast, lunch, and dinner should contain roughly the same amount of calories. In particular, avoid making dinner the biggest meal of the day.  Pro-tip-Aim to make your dinner the same size as breakfast and lunch. Drink about 8-10 glasses of water per day (64-80 ounces). In order to perform optimally as a runner, you need to be well hydrated. One of the easiest ways to stay hydrated is to consume 8-10 glasses (64-80 ounces) of water daily. Pro-tip-Have a water bottle readily available at your desk, bed, etc. BTW, if your urine is clear and copious, you are well hydrated. If it’s a dark yellow/amber color, you are dehydrated. Timing is Everything. It's not just about 'what' you eat, but 'when' you eat. Timing tips for Fueling: Pro-Tip-Before a run: Ideally give yourself at least 30 minutes to digest your food. The amount of food depends on your weight and length of the run. The longer you run, the more you will need to pre-fuel. Pro-Tip-During a run of 90 minutes or more: Aim to consume something every 45-60 minutes. The amount depends on your weight. The choices of food, gels, gu’s, gummies, bars, carbohydrate/electrolyte drinks, etc, depends on your personal preference and what works for your gut. Pro-Tip-After a run: Aim to consume both carbohydrates and protein within 15-30 minutes. The amount of carbohydrates depends on your weight (0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight). Ideally, you ingest about 20-25 grams of protein. Also make sure to rehydrate. When working out, increase your fluid intake to accommodate sweat losses. Drink to thirst and/or every 15-20 minutes. Aim for a combination of water and electrolytes while running. When you sweat, you’re not just losing fluids. You’re losing key electrolytes (sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, calcium). Pro-tip-You can make your own sports drink by following this recipe- Mix 1 quart of liquid (options: green tea, herbal teas, coconut water, plain water, etc.), 1/8-1/4 tsp high quality salt (or more if needed), 1 tsp calcium magnesium powder, and 1/4 cup or more of juice (optional- use grape, apple, lemon, lime, pineapple, etc). Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, is a Bay Area-based Registered Dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and weight management. Sarah has helped hundreds of endurance athletes properly fuel for their events from ultrarunning, ironman, triathlons, and more. She is the nutrition columnist for UltraRunning Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and other publications including author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year. Connect with her at SarahKoszyk.com.

A Runner's Survival Kit

October 11th 2019

Part of the beauty of running is the simplicity of it. As a friend of mine once said, 'It's like walking, only faster.' While running demands much more of your body than walking, the act is quite similar in that all you're really doing is putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again. If you know how to walk, it's likely you know how to run (or can learn how to do it). At a high level, all you really need to get started is a quality pair of running shoes. If you're frugal, you can theoretically get by with nothing more than this. But, if you want to run farther, faster, farther AND faster, or simply want to steer clear of aggravations/injuries, picking up a few items above and beyond 'just' a pair of quality running kicks is a good idea. What I've outlined below is what I'd characterize as 'A Runner's Survival Kit'. While none of the items below (aside from shoes) are necessarily 'required', if you want to make running a 'lifestyle', I'd encourage you to at least consider some of the items below. Pumped Up Kicks There's no question that THE most important piece of equipment you can own is a quality pair of running shoes. Your running kicks provide you with cushioning, support, and stability for 300-500 miles, typically. The #1 question I get about running shoes is 'What's the best pair of running shoes?' The answer to this question is, 'It depends.' It depends on how you're built, it depends on 'how' you run, it depends on what 'kind' of running you're doing (trail, road, track, etc). There is no one BEST shoe. There is just the best shoe for 'you'. Every company (Nike, Adidas, Asics, etc) makes a variety of shoes that work well for just about every runner out there. Ultimately, it's a matter of finding a shoe that fits well, that feels good when you're running, and looks awesome. I'm just kidding about that last item...mostly. If you want to know my favorites, I'll tell you. But, take my suggestions with a grain of salt. Just because theses shoes work well for ME, doesn't mean they will necessarily work for YOU. In no particular order, here are my 'current' top three pumped up (running) kicks..... The Salomon Speedcross 4 will always have a special place in my heart. These workhorses have powered me through countless miles in the Marin Headlands. They carried me through my first 50K and first (and likely last) 50 miler. They're built to last. The Speedcross is adept at handling both technical and non-technical trails. The aggressive outsole design will keep you sure-footed even in the sloppiest of conditions. For trail kicks, they're pretty light at just about 10.5 ounces. To boot, these shoes look pretty hot! :) The Hoka Clayton is a shoe I strapped on reluctantly at first. Years ago, I'd logged more than a few miles in the very FIRST pair of Hokas (that would be the Hoka One One's 'Bondi B') and didn't enjoy them. But, the Clayton's were a revelation. Far from being a bulky, clunky monstrosity like the Bondi B, the Claytons felt sleek, efficient, fast, AND super cushioned. They are shockingly light at just over 8 ounces. In short order, these shoes became my go to for any long distance road run and they served me well at more than a few track workouts and tempo runs. The Adidas Ultraboost cast a spell on me immediately. It was love at first run. The boost midsole material is for real. I felt like there was a spring in my step no matter how far or long I ran. It's also got a snug, slipper-like fit. While I generally like rotating through 3-4 pairs of shoes in a given week of running, I find myself slipping on the Boosts a bit more frequently than the other kicks in my arsenal. TLC (rollers, sticks, etc) If you own a car, it's likely that you get regular oil changes, bring your car into the shop for general maintenance, and spend a few bucks periodically to make sure your car continues to run smoothly. As a runner, think of your body in the same way you would your car. The miles you log will inevitably lead to microtears in muscle fiber, tightness, fatigue, etc. Thus, you need to give your body some regular TLC (that's 'Tender Loving Care' for the uninitiated). You can do this in a couple ways. The first is to get a regular sports massage every 2-4 weeks. Another way is to do some daily self-care with some kind of self-massage 'tool'. There are countless self-massage tools available to you. But, my favorites are as follows.... Pro-Tec Foam Roller. I'm not going to lie to you. Using a foam roller can be 'uncomfortable'. But, trust me, it hurts so good! Following a run, EVERYTHING has a tendency to contract and tighten up. You've got micro-tears in muscle fiber, adhesions, and more. Spending some quality time with a foam roller can help increase blood flow, expedite recovery, and loosen up anything that might be tight. Get friendly with a foam roller and it will pay divideds. The Travel Stick.  The foam roller is great, but you need a little real estate to use it properly. Additionally, the foam roller is not terribly portable. Enter the RPI Travel Stick. This guy is portable, versatile, and (nearly) as effective as a foam roller. I like having a stick handy in the trunk of my car at the end of a long run. Spending a few minutes rolling things out immediately following your run is a great way to expedite recovery. The Orb Deep Tissue Massage Ball Sometimes, you've got to dig DEEP to get to the root cause of a problem. Similarly, you may find yourself ailing from a particularly deep, complex 'knot' that needs some targeted TLC. The foam roller and/or stick works great for general tightness and adhesions, but if you've got something 'specific' that's deep, you need something like a massage ball to get at it. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. I'm not going to get into what you should eat/drink before or after your runs. If you want some direction around pre/post run fueling and hydration, check out our Nutrition & Hydration Guidelines. But, I am going to share some of my favorite fuel and hydration items you should consider using DURING your run. FYI, you want to aim to consume something every 45-60 mins. Similarly, you want to aim to consume some fluids (water AND electrolytes) every 15-20 mins. Below are some of my favorite items.... GU Energy Gels. I was introduced to GU Energy Gels EONS ago when I was training for my first marathon. They worked like a charm back then and they still work well for me today. There are basic flavors like vanilla and chocolate, but they have some exotic flavors as well like Salted Watermelon, Caramel Macchiato, and Mint Chocolate. Some of these flavors have caffeine for an extra boost. Some don't. Just as is the case with your running shoes, you've gotta find the flavor and formula that works best for YOU. GU Energy Chews. If you simply can't handle the taste and/or consistency of GU Energy Gels, all is not lost. There are other options. One of my favorite alternatives are Clif Bloks. I've always been a family of gummies of pretty much any kind. That's effectively what Clif Bloks are. They're little gummy 'bloks' you can chew during your run. Once again, you're looking at a multitude of flavors including Black Cherry, Salted Watermelon, Ginger Ale, and Margarita. To be clear, the Margarita flavor does NOT include tequila! Be advised, Bloks are not quite as portable or easy to carry as GU Energy Gels. NUUN. When you're running (regardless of weather), you're losing fluids. To be clear, you're not 'just' losing water. You're also losing electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium). Knocking back water every 15-20 mins. during your run is great, but if you're running for more than an hour or so, you need a bit more. Grab a water bottle, throw a NUUN in, and you're set. Each tab dissolves quickly and contains 360MG of Sodium (the primary electrolyte lost in sweat), 100MG of Potassium, and 25MG of Magneisum. Dress the part. While you 'can' run inside a climate controlled gym on a treadmill, you're not 'really' a runner until you've logged a few miles outside. Additionally, virtually NO race is cancelled due to inclement weather. With this in mind, it's a good idea to have a few items in your closet to deal with whatever mother nature throws your way. Here are a few items I dig... Men's Ultimate Tee-Tiger Camo. I'm fortunate enough to live in San Francisco where the weather is pretty tolerable even on the worst day. Having at least one quality short sleeve shirt that wicks away sweat/moisture is essential. I'm also a sucker for pretty much anything with 'camo' print. inov-8 Ultrashell Half Zip. For those days when the weather gods don't smile on you, it pays to have a solid jacket that can weather the storm. The Inov-8's jacket will help you manage rain, wind, and just about any inclememt weather that comes your way. While this isn't the cheapest jacket on the market, it will keep you dry in a torrential deluge as it's FULLY WATERPROOF. Adidas Men's Run Shorts. Sure you can get by with an old pair of gym shorts, but if you're serious about your running and you plan on running more than 45-60 minutes, it's a good idea to have a quality pair of running shorts (or two) in your arsenal. These shorts wick away moisture, have a key pocket, and are built to last. They also have a reflective logo for extra visibility during your night runs. Stance Fusion R2D2 Crew. This sock is a winner for a variety of reasons. For starters, the sock actually adapts to your body temperature and helps wick away heat/moisture. They also provide arch support and targeted leg compression. Lastly, I LOVE R2D2! There is just one (well...a few) more thing(s). Body Glide. If it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. I'm talking about CHAFING. I was blessed with big, strong, powerful quads. They've powered me to numerous finish lines and PR's. BUT, they have a tendency to rub together which can result in some NASTY chafing. Body Glide is great for inner arm chafing, inner thigh chafing, or any other chafing you might encounter. Headsweats Bigfoot Trucker. There are few things I love more than going out and logging a few miles (or hours) on the trails in the Marin Headlands. Frequently, these trails are bombarded with plenty of high quality Vitamin D (aka-sunshine). For conditions like this, it's great to have a quality cap to keep the sun out of your face. I am also a fan of Bigfoot(AKA-Sasquatch). The name of my race production company was inspired by Sasquatch, so this hat is a no brainer!  To be clear, you can survive without all of the items above. But, if you want to thrive at the sport, having at least 'some' of the items above in your running survival kit is a wise idea.

Want to Run Well? Eat anti-flammatory style…

October 11th 2019

Runners often ask me for a quick list of top nutritional tips. However, my functional medicine background leads me to look at clients holistically and, as a result, strict lists don’t come easily. But, there’s one piece of advice I have for pretty much anyone -- whether you’re a weekend warrior or an elite athlete. It’s all about developing an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle strategies. Not sure what inflammation has to do with your running? Simply put, inflammation is one of the body's natural ways of protecting itself. It’s a necessary process to help the body fight infection, improve healing, and generate pain as a signal when something is wrong.  However, inflammation can become overactive and destructive, causing chronic pain or diseases like asthma and cancer. Even if you’re incredibly healthy, refining anti-inflammatory strategies can help support your training, enhance your performance, and reduce your recovery time. Before I get to the diet tips, I always remind clients to make sure they’re getting adequate rest, minimizing stress and – ideally – getting regular bodywork. My clients often forget about these factors, when they are just as important as dietary elements. But, food is important too and has a huge effect on inflammatory responses in the body. As Alessio Fasano says, "The gut is not like Vegas; what happens in the gut doesn't stay in the gut!" With that in mind, here are some of my top tips for developing an anti-inflammatory diet: 1. Regulate (your blood sugar by eating regular, balanced meals, based on the “healthy plate” model). Fill half your plate with leafy greens and crunchy vegetables (i.e. broccoli, arugula, brussel sprouts). Fill no more than ¼ of your plate with whole grains and/or legumes (i.e. brown rice, Fill the last ¼ plate with a lean protein, about the size of your palm (i.e. eggs, fish, edamame) 2. Hydrate To figure out how much water you need a day, take your body weight and divide it in half -- that’s how many fluid ounces you should drink. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink approximately 75 fluid ounces of water throughout the day 3. Fiber is your friend. Fiber is great for the “good” bacteria in your gut that support solid immune function! And there are so many ways to incorporate it: whole grains, chia seeds, fruits and veggies… 4. Avoid the sweet surrender. Ideally, sugar should be less than 10% of your daily caloric intake. This includes sugars found in milks and any processed foods -- not just the sugar you may add to your coffee/tea/cereal etc. This means minimizing consumption of both processed foods and alcohol. 5. Eat healthy fats. Incorporating omega-3’s, as well as poly-unsaturated and mono-saturated fats, is a crucial anti-inflammatory strategy. You can find these in foods like oily fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, almonds, olive oil, and elsewhere. 6. Cook with anti-inflammatory spices. I love adding anti-inflammatory value to my meals by using spices that regulate inflammation. Try ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, nutmeg, cayenne, and clove. 7. Identify and eliminate food allergens. If you consume a food you’re sensitive to, your body triggers a host of inflammatory reactions. This can backfire, causing swelling, pain, and other physical responses that keep you from performing your best. Take the time to determine your sensitivities; it’s worth it! 8. Honor your preferences Keep in mind that it’s more difficult to eat well if you feel deprived by your current eating plan. Use the above tactics to make healthy lifestyle changes instead of trying to stick to any particular type of ‘diet.’ 9. Nutrition is not just about food and hydration. The last big tip I have is to think broadly about how all the choices you make affect your well-being and capacity to perform. Whether it means changing your sleep or commute patterns, or exploring the ways bodywork can improve your running time, I encourage you to think big! Still have questions? Please join me for a Q & A at Psoas Massage + Bodywork in San Francisco on February 28th  at 5:30pm. Learn more and register here. Hope to see you then! Karyn Forsyth Duggan is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Natural Chef. After working as a Nutrition Consultant in private practice for 2 years, Karyn partnered with One Medical in San Francisco from ‘08 through ‘17. She’s now partnering with Psoas Massage + Bodywork – offering consultations to clients to help them optimize the benefits of therapeutic massage, expedite recovery, and enhance athletic performance.

The key ingredients for cooking up a great training plan

October 11th 2019

Assembling a great training plan is akin to cooking a great meal. If you've done any cooking you likely know a multitude of ingredients, herbs, and spices is required to make culinary magic happen. It also entails using the right proportion of ingredients, herbs, and spices. Additionally, there's often an element of timing that can make or break whatever you're preparing. Similarly, a great training plan includes a melange of different runs, rest days, and cross-training days. If you assemble your plan well and time it properly, you might be looking at a personal best on race day. If you don't, you may be looking at a lackluster performance on race day. Worse, you may find yourself staring down an aggravation or injury. Fortunately, if you're training with SportMe, we can put together a recipe for you that will likely have you conquering your first race and/or notching that elusive personal best. Outlined below are the key 'ingredients' that comprise the training plan(s) we create for our runners. Use these ingredients wisely. Day Off While technically not a run or workout type, a 'day off' is important to include in your training schedule. When you run, you're actually breaking your body down. Running causes microtears in muscle fiber, it also places stress on your bones, depletes your glycogen stores (your primary fuel source when running), and results in loss of water and electrolytes. It is during the rest and recovery phase that your body heals, adapts, and gets stronger. So, it's important to allow sufficient recovery between individual runs and workouts. It's also critically important to allow full days of rest/recovery periodically. Even professional athletes incorporate full days of rest and recovery into their routines. Not taking days off can lead to overtraining. Overtraining can lead to fatigue. Continued overtraining can increase the chances of aggravations and injuries. So, having at least one day/week of full rest and recovery is necessary for almost all runners. Run / Walk Running is an extraordinarily demanding act. Just taking a single stride can generate 3-7 times your body weight in impact force. This is part of the reason why running is one of the most efficient and economical ways to burn calories. Running a single mile burns about 100 calories. If you've NEVER run before, running just one mile continuously may be inordinately challenging, if not impossible. With this in mind, utilizing a run/walk approach is a great idea. This approach entails running for a short period of time followed by walking for a short period of time to recover. The run/walk method id a great way for beginning runners to get into a regular running routine. Over time, you can gradually increase your run intervals and shorten your walk intervals. Eventually, you may be able to wean yourself off walk breaks entirely. Short Run Contrary to popular belief, the 'no pain, no gain' mentality isn't necessarily the best one when it comes to running. As I mentioned above, running demands A LOT of your body. Simply cruising at comfortable/conversational pace for a few miles can be quite taxing. With this in mind, the short run is a key ingredient in any training plan. Simply getting a few easy miles in is hugely beneficial. A short, easy run may 'seem' unimportant. But, there's more to a short, easy run than meets the eye. A short, easy run helps bolster your resistance to injury. It develops heart muscle. It also helps build up the skeletal and muscular systems necessary to manage your race distance. In short, it's a key ingredient in any training plan. Medium Run A medium run is 'similar' to a short run. The pace/level of effort for this run should be easy. But, the duration for a medium is generally slightly longer than a short run. The medium run is particularly useful for those tackling the half or full marathon distance. If done properly, a medium run can help improve overall endurance. Whether you're training for 13.1 or 26.2, developing endurance is a HUGE part of the equation. So, the recipe for success at either distance should include a medium run (preferably in the middle of the week). Fartlek Run For the uninitiated, 'fartlek' is a Swedish term that means 'speed play'. If you want to get faster, but have never done any kind of speed work before, including some fartlek in your schedule is a great way to get started. With fartlek, you typically run faster for a short period of time. After running faster for a minute or two, you'll segue into comfortable/conversational pace for a period of time before seguing back into a faster pace for a minute or two. A typical fartlek run entails toggling back and forth between comfortable/conversational pace and a faster pace. You generally want to aim for 5K race pace during your faster segments. If you don't know what your 5K race pace is, think of it as 85% of your sprint speed. It's an aggressive pace, but not an all out sprint. Fartlek runs are great for improving speed and muscular endurance. Speed Run / Track Workout When I improved the most as a marathoner it was during a wonderful 1.5-2 year stretch when I diligently hit the track. I was ruthlessly committed. Every Thursday like clockwork, I'd descend onto the track and knock out anywhere from 8-10 repeats of 800M at 5K race pace. I'd be lightheaded, dizzy, and exhausted by the end of this workout. But, it was these dizzying workouts that helped me go from a 3:30 marathon to a 2:45 during this 1.5-2 year stretch. To be clear, I was doing more than 'just' showing up on the track. But, if you're feeling the 'need for speed', there's no way to overstate how important a weekly 'speed run' at the track can be. Doing regular speed runs will put you on the fast track to running faster. A quality speed run at the track helps in a multitude of ways. These kinds of runs help you develop speed, endurance, stronger legs, biomechanics/form, and mental toughness. In short, a speed run gives you a ton of bang for the buck. The long run is unarguably the most important run of the week for anyone tackling the half or full distance. But, a quality speed run is in many respects the most important run of the week for anyone who is looking to get faster (which is pretty much everyone). Long Run If you're training for the half marathon or marathon distance, the long run is the most important run of the week. When training seriously for the half or full, my entire week revolves around being ready to tackle the long run. This means I'm not doing anything terribly demanding the day before the long run. I'm not doing anything terribly demanding after the long run. The long run is also my dress rehearsal for race day. I'm dialing in whatever fuel I'm using (GU Energy products, Tailwind, etc). I'm also making sure I'm fine tuning my hydration needs. I'm figuring out what outfit works best for covering 13.1 or 26.2 miles. If you're looking to run long (13.1 or above), the long run should be your top priority during the week. That's not to say the other runs/workouts you have lined up are unimportant. But, endurance is paramount when it comes to the half marathon and/or marathon. Nothing helps you develop the ability to endure like the long run. Depending upon what you're training for, you may not need to include ALL of the ingredients above in order to make magic happen on race day. But, using a variety of them will undoubtedly make you a stronger, smarter, and injury resistant running. Get cooking!

Shoes or LOSE

October 11th 2019

One of the great things about being a runner is you don't need a ton of gear/equipment to get started. Unlike triathlons which require a bike, a wetsuit, and a litany of other items, you only really need a quality pair of running shoes to get started as a runner. But, many new runners have no idea what kind of shoes they should purchase. The options can be overwhelming. There are countless brands one can choose from including Nike, Adidas, Asics, and newer brands like Hoka or Newton. In addition to the multitude of brands one can choose from, there are numerous 'styles' of running shoes to choose from. Walk into any store that sells running shoes and you'll find shoes that are characterized as 'neutral', 'motion control', 'lighweight trainer/racers', and more. Rather than being overwhelmed by the options and/or simply picking the cheapest pair you can find, we'd encourage you to go to the experts. Go to a running 'specialty' store. If it's a quality shop, they'll measure your feet. They'll watch you walk. They'll watch you run. They'll recommend shoes that are appropriate for the kind of runner YOU are. We were fortunate to chat recently with SF/Bay Area based runnning specialty store called A Runner's Mind. If you want to learn a bit more about the importance of proper running shoes and how a quality running specialty shop can help your running, read on... Why are running shoes important? Your feet are the foundation to your body. If you think about the amount of force that is applied on the body throughout the running cycle, you begin to understand how remarkable your feet are to within stand that amount of weight and impact against a hard, concrete surface. Your shoes naturally impact the way your feet are able to adapt to the terrain. Ideally, your running shoes are making it a little easier and more efficient for your body to absorb shock and move your weight from one foot to the next. Without the proper shoes, the sheer force of impact can displace the body’s alignment which can increase the risk of injuries throughout training. What is “the best” running shoe? There is no such thing as “THE best” running shoe. We can almost argue that every shoe we carry is THE BEST running shoe… depending on your body’s mechanics. Finding the right shoe for you is largely based on your body’s biomechanics. This means, the runner has to take into consideration how their foot hits the ground and whether it’s able to maintain a neutral stance or if the foot excessively over-pronates, and the hip placement of the runner is out of alignment as well. This may suggest that the runner would benefit from guidance through a more structured shoe. The terrain you’re running on may also require a more specific type of shoe as well – for instance, if you’re training for your first trail ultra-marathon then you’ll want to invest in a trail shoe with an aggressive outsole to provide thorough traction through more technical terrain. Why buy running shoes at a “specialty store” like A Runner's Mind if I can get a better price at a big sporting good stores? Local running specialty stores are commonly staffed by passionate and experienced runners. We pride ourselves on our expert knowledge and customer service. We take the time to understand how your body works and functions to find the best possible fit. Although that is only a small part of what we do; community is the framework of any running specialty store. Our goal is not only to find the best product to suit your individual needs, but it is also to provide a central hub for runners and walkers and fitness enthusiasts of ALL calibers to come in and feel a part of our family and community. To support specialty stores means you are also supporting local, and I think that’s a message that often gets lost. Instead of offering your support into big box franchises or online retailers, you’re supporting your neighborhood. Your money goes directly back into the community you live in. That’s important. That allows our communities to grow and thrive. Shop Local. Run Local. What else do you offer that could help a runner who is training for their first (or 50th) race? First things first, it is absolutely critical to make sure you have the appropriate footwear to get you through your training as well as race day. From there, there are multiple departments that are equally important to consider. These are things such as figuring out your nutrition and hydration strategy which may mean you need to decide if you’re carrying a hand held bottle or a hydration backpack. It also means understanding what types of fuel works best with your bottle. Is it something like an energy gel or something even denser or lighter than that as a fuel source? Recovery and self-therapy tools are equally important. Products like massage tools like the R8 Roller or a foam roller are great with working the kinks out after a long training run and making sure the body stays loose. There are also things like headlamps and handheld lights to consider if you’re a runner who runs either early in the morning (before daybreak) or a late night runner. Visibility is important – not only because you need to see what’s ahead on the trail but also, oncoming traffic can see you too. These are just a few quick suggestions, but there are a litany of other products to check out at your local running shop. If I wear the same shoe as Kara Goucher will I be able to run as fast as her? If that were true, I would own so many Meb Keflezghi or Galen Rupp shoes – it’d be ridiculous. You could try that or you could simply keep training. You can pour the sweat, blood and tears that all these incredible athletes have into their training and you may get there someday! There is always hope if the motivation and inspiration is there, but hey! Who knows? You can definitely try that. But, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. :) Photos via A Runner's Mind

Setting realistic race goals

October 11th 2019

I toed the line at my first marathon with lofty goals. I'd qualify for Boston. I'd break 3:00. My first marathon would be glorious. 26.2 miles later, I was confronted with a glorious disaster as I hobbled my way across the finish line. Little had gone right. I had no one to blame but myself. I'd made every rookie mistake one could make. I didn't respect the distance. I'd gone out too fast. I'd defined race goals that were grossly inappropriate. Defining appropriate race goals can be tricky. There are a multitude of factors to consider and there's some work involved. But, If you're interested in notching a personal best, running at a high level, or simply enjoying your race experience, it behooves you to do the work and nail down realistic race goals. Read on for a few things to keep in mind when defining your race goals. How to set realistic running goals? Don't set overly aggressive goals for your first race.  Few people actually cover 26.2 miles during the course of their training for the marathon. So, there are likely things you're going to experience on race day that you've never experienced during training. With this in mind, if you're notching your very first 26.2 miles, your best bet is to simply focus on completing the distance as comfortably as possible. Save the aggressive goals for the second or third crack at the marathon.  Granted, if you're a seasoned/savy runner who has notched numerous half marathons and posted a time that generally 'projects' to a Boston qualifying time, a goal of qualifying might be reasonable. But, few first time marathoners fall into this category. Whatever distance you're training for currently, tread lightly if it's your first time toeing the line. The energy and adrenaline of race day can absolutely give you a boost. But, this boost will not enable you to do something superhuman. Set goals that align with your training. Ideally, the goals you set for race day should have some basis in reality. If you're training for a half marathon and wondering what kind of time you can manage, take a close look at your long runs. What kind of pace have you been able to manage comfortably for them? Generally speaking, if you can manage 75-80% of your race distance at pace 'X', you 'should' be able to manage the entirety of the distance at this pace on race day. This assumes you've done the proper training and the stars align. Whether you're training for 26.2, 13.1, or any other distance, your goals should generally align with what you've done during the course of your training.  Tune up, evaluate, and recalibrate.  I'm a big fan of doing a 'tune up' race roughly 50-65% of the way through a training cycle. A tune up race is a great way to evaluate what kind of shape you're in. It's also a great way to determine how close (or far) you are from your race goals. If your tune up race goes swimmingly, this gives you a great data point. You may be right on track for a great race. If things don't go well, it may be time to recalibrate. You may need to adjust your training to better align with your race goals. You may need to adjust your race goals depending upon how much time is left in your training cycle. A quality tune up race can be hugely beneficial in helping you define quality race goals. Define multiple race goals. Throughout this piece, I've used the word 'goals' rather than 'goal'. There's a good reason for this. It's a bad idea to head into a race with one, singular goal. Things happen on race day that you can't control. Maybe the weather gods frown on you. Maybe you find yourself battling GI issues. Defining your race goals is similar to applying to college. You've got your 'dream' goal, your 'target' goal, and your 'safety' goal. I'd also add one additional goal. The 'finish' goal.  If you're training for a half marathon and your training generally aligns with a 2:00 finish time, your dream goal might be 1:59 (or faster). Your target goal might be 2:00-2:05. Your safety goal might be 2:05-2:10. Your finish goal would simply be to 'finish' the race.  Setting multiple goals allows you to adapt to the things you can't control. Having multiple goals defined also pretty much guarantees that you won't walk away from a race empty handed. It's a near certainty that you will nail at least one of your goals.

I've got this weird pain in my leg (or knee or foot), what is it?

October 11th 2019

The act of running can generate anywhere from 3-5 times your body weight in impact force per footstrike. Covering just a single mile can generate thousands of jarring footstrikes. Not surprisingly, a fear many runners have is being felled by injury. There are many things you can do to reduce the chances of running related aggravations/injuries. But, it's virtually impossible to eliminate the possibility of injury entirely. The best runners on the planet with perfect biomechanics/form and the best support and resources at their disposal still end up sidelined occasionally. The good news is that most aggravations and injuries can be overcome. But, in order to overcome them, you need to be able to hone in on exactly what's awry. You also need to identify how to best treat the injury when it comes up. Aches and pains typically provide clear clues as to what's ailing you. Outlined below are some of the most common 'clues' your body provides, what they likely mean, and how to best deal with them. We hope you never find yourself injured. But, everybody hurts...sometimes. I've got this funky pain on the outside of my knee. You might have ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome). This is a connective tissue injury due to friction between the distal lateral quads, ITB and hamstring tendons located on the outer part of your knee. It may be tender to the touch and can be aggravated by running, particularly downhill. It may develop due to a combination of lateral hip weakness especially in the gluteus medius, tightness in the lateral side of your hip and quads, or poor foot biomechanics, particularly with overpronation. Some other factors that may contribute to ITBS are leg length differences, core weakness and running on cambered roads. Possible treatments to alleviate your pain may include a strengthening program for your glutes that includes exercises such as bridging, sidesteps with a resistance band, and sideplanks. Other possible treatments are light foam rolling around the glutes and outside quads and trying a new pair of running shoes. I have pain at the bottom of the back of my leg. It's been bothering me for awhile. You may have achilles tendonitis/tendonosis. While tendinitis refers to a more acute injury, tendonosis is a more chronic condition related to failed healing of the injured tissue causing thickening of the tendon and scar tissue. You may have tenderness when you squeeze the achilles tendon and notice some swelling or even a small bump. This may be due to repetitive trauma, poor foot biomechanics, tight calves or weakness in your hips and core. Conservative treatments include foam rolling your calves, rest, choosing exercises that are easier on the tendon like swimming or biking, or hip and core strengthening (bridges, front and sideplanks, sidelying shells, side steps with a band resistance band). Orthotics may be helpful to correct any misalignments or a new pair of shoes may be worth exploring. I'm dealing with this really intense, searing, nauseating pain in my leg. It's so painful. I can't run on it. This may be a stress fracture. Most stress fractures are caused by overuse when the muscles become fatigued and no longer absorb the shock of running, a sudden significant increase in mileage, a change in shoes, or decreased bone density (i.e. osteoporosis). It may feel like a deep ache that eases with rest, worsens with activity, but never seems to improve. The pain may increase at night and gradually worsening overtime. It is a good idea to see a medical professional to get this diagnosed. It is important to avoid pain which means you may need to walk with crutches or a walking boot to assist the healing process. If pain-free you may be able to swim, bike or do yoga to maintain your level of fitness while you are healing. I've got this weird achiness/pain in my shins. You may have SHIN SPLINTS also known as MEDIAL TIBIAL STRESS SYNDROME or ANTERIOR TIBIAL STRESS SYNDROME. This can be caused by excessive pronation (flat foot) or excessive supination (high arched foot), leg length difference, improper shoe wear or worn out shoes, poor running mechanics, overtraining or a dramatic change in training (frequency, duration, intensity, or terrain).  The muscles that attach to the MEDIAL (inner edge) tibia or the ANTERIOR (front outer edge) tibia and the covering of the bone (periosteum) where those muscles attach can become inflamed with repetitive or excessive activity.  The MEDIAL muscles include the posterior tibialis and soleus while the ANTERIOR muscles include the anterior tibialis and the interosseous membrane.   You may develop vague, diffuse pain along the edge of the tibia and often tenderness in the muscles. The pain is usually worst at the beginning of activity and decreases during training.  Eventually, you may feel you cannot do the activity without pain. It is important to differentiate SHIN SPLINTS from a STRESS FRACTURE – the tenderness along the tibia is usually more diffuse and there is a lack of edema with SHIN SPLINTS.   If there is concern for a STRESS FRACTURE, you should see your physician. Treatment for shin splints can include activity modification – non or low impact activities, cross training, decreasing distance and intensity, avoiding hard surfaces (concrete); change of shoe wear – replacing shoes regularly and making sure you are in the proper shoe; lower extremity and core strengthening; lower extremity flexibility.  A biomechanical analysis as well as video analysis of your gait can assist in correcting biomechanical alignment issues.  When I get out of bed in the morning, there is a sharp/searing pain in my heel. This pain is really pronounced when I run. You may have PLANTAR FASCIITIS. This can be caused by tight calf muscles, incorrect shoes, a heel spur, poor biomechanical alignment, excessive pronation (flat foot) or excessive supination (high arched foot), training or surface errors, a thin fat pad at the heel, or high impact activity without adequate strength. The plantar fascia is fascial tissue that runs from your heel to your toes and supports the arch of the foot.  It is designed to absorb the stress and strain we put on our feet but sometimes the tissue can be irritated by putting too much stress on it.  This leads to inflammation, pain at the heel or along the arch, and stiffness.   Often you will have pain first thing in the morning due to tightness in your calves and the fact that your foot and ankle stay in one position during the night. Treatment can include ice, calf stretching, strengthening of the muscles of the foot and ankle, modifiying your training as well as the surfaces you are training on, taping, custom shoe inserts or orthotic devices, and/or evaluation of shoe wear. A biomechanical analysis as well as video analysis of your gait can assist in correcting biomechanical concerns. Should you find yourself injured and in need of help to get back on your feet, Sydney and her team of physical therapists at Therapydia SF are here to help!

Why You Shouldn't Skimp on Sleep During Training

October 11th 2019

This is a guest post written by Mary Lee from Tuck.com Hard work and a healthy diet are a sure way to train effectively, right? Turns out there’s more to it than that. To maximize the effectiveness of your workouts, you need sleep. For adults, that’s a full seven to nine hours of uninterrupted shut-eye. Sleep gives your body time to recover, rebuild, and contributes to your athletic performance in more ways than one. What are the benefits of sleep on your running performance? 1. Muscle Building and Recovery Any damage that’s been done to the muscle tissue whether it be from a hard workout or injury requires recovery time. While you need a day off from training every now and then, the majority of the work takes place while you sleep. Sleep plays a “permissive role” in muscle recovery, allowing the body to invest its resources towards building stronger muscles. Muscle building and repair both require human growth hormone (GH), which gets released during stage 3 sleep, the first of the deep sleep stages. You experience a spike in GH during the first sleep cycle of the night and subsequent smaller bursts until you wake up. However, during sleep deprivation, the timing and amount of GH released changes. There’s a delay in release and it never reaches the full amount that you’d normally get when you get enough sleep. 2. Improved Performance Adequate sleep can also help improve your physical and mental performance. While you sleep, the brain gets to work removing harmful proteins that can be toxic to brain cells. It also eliminates unneeded connections while strengthening those that are used the most. Without this cleansing/pruning time, neurons in the brain slow down their activity. As the brain slows down so do your thought processes, reaction times, and decision-making skills. These changes can’t help but affect your athletic performance. A study conducted amongst Standford University’s men’s basketball team explored the relationship between sleep deprivation and athletic performance. When athletes sleep time was extended to ten hours, their sprint times, free throw percentages, and three-point shot percentages increased. Participants also reported feeling happier, less fatigued, and more alert during the day. Whether you’re looking to break a personal record, shave seconds off your time, or simply feel better after a long run, you’ll need sleep to do it. What are some examples of healthy sleep habits? Like all aspects of your life, sleep can be improved with healthy habits. To catch a few more minutes of sleep try: Keeping a Consistent Bedtime: The human body loves a good routine. By keeping a regular schedule, the brain can correctly time the release of sleep hormones. Avoid Strenuous Workouts Close to Bedtime: An evening run might seem like a good idea, but the rise in body temperature and release of endorphins and adrenaline can keep you awake for hours. Try to avoid strenuous workouts within four hours of bedtime. Get Comfortable: It could be a lumpy mattress or a few running aches pains that keep you awake. Either way, getting comfortable is essential for restful sleep. You may need an extra pillow or a mattress topper to get the right level of support but extend your sleep hours. To truly get the most out of your training, you have to give your body the time it needs to recharge, heal, and rebuild. When you get the rest you need, you’re allowing your training to work to the fullest, pushing you to the next level.

You just conquered your race. What now?

October 11th 2019

You invested days, weeks, and months to get yourself to the finish line. Now it stands right in front of you. It's just a few strides away. Despite your fatigue, you summon one last surge and power across the line. You did it. You conquered your race!  If you stayed healthy and trained properly, your race went well and you're awash in a profound feeling of exhilaration. If things didn't pan out the way you hoped, you might be awash in disappointment. Whether your race was a glowing success or an epic disaster, you're likely mulling over a few questions. How can I improve on this performance? Why did my race go poorly? What now? Regardless of how your race panned out, I've got a few ideas for how you can best move forward. So, if you need a little help sussing out the best way to proceed with your training after conquering your race, read on. How to move forward with your training after running a marathon? 1. Rest and recover. It's likely you're feeling  a bit tired, sore, and beat up in the wake of conquering your race. It's important to respect the messages your body sends you and allow some time to recover from what was likely a maximal effort. The general rule of thumb around recovery is about a day per mile. So, if you ran a hard 5K, you'll likely bounce back pretty quickly and feel fine in a few days. If you just conquered a marathon, you likely won't be fully recovered for 2-3 weeks. Whatever distance you covered on race day, your body likely needs some rest and recovery.  I'm not saying you 'can't' run or be active during this 'recovery' period. But, keep things light and easy. If you're feeling markedly sore, doing a searing session of intervals at the track is probably not the best idea. 2. Take a break from running. Even the best runners on the planet logging 100+ miles/week take breaks. Most of the time these breaks occur after a key race that was preceded by a long and challenging training cycle. If the best on the planet are taking breaks from running following a race, consider following suit.  Your body needs a break. Take a day, week, or a couple weeks off entirely. Avoid any substantive running.  If you can't resist the urge to do something, try some easy, light cross-training (cycling, spinning, swimming) in lieu of running. If you can't resist the urge to run, keep all of it slow and easy for awhile. Be gentle with your body following a race. A break from running can also help you rediscover your running mojo. Once your body is healed, you'll feel spry and ready to segue into next training cycle. It's a lot easier to segue into structured training again if your body is happy. If your race WAS an epic disaster, a break from running might be exactly what the doctor ordered. 3. Just maintain. You need to allow sufficient to fully recover from your race. But, you don't want to lose your hard earned running fitness. I totally get it.  I generally wouldn't recommend jumping back into serious training immediately following your race. But, doing a scaled back version of your 'peak' week of training can help you maintain most of your running fitness for several weeks. Start with about 60% of what you were doing before you entered taper. Let's assume you were training for a half marathon and your peak week of training included three runs (5 miles, 5 miles, and 10 miles). If you want to maintain most of your running fitness, start your 'maintenance plan' at 3 miles, 3 miles, and 6 miles.  You can keep the mileage static for a few weeks or gradually increase your mileage over the course of a few weeks. A maintenance plan like this will help you maintain most of your running fitness for 4-6 weeks. 4. Get reacquainted with your life. Training is tough. I'm not just talking about the act of running. I'm talking about simply finding a way to carve out the time and energy to make your training happen. You likely made numerous compromises and sacrifices during your training cycle. Maybe your social life suffered. Perhaps you invested less time in your other passions. Undoubtedly, some part of your life was compromised during your training cycle. Whether you're unsure about how to proceed with your running or not, spend some time indulging your other passions. If you haven't seen some of your friends for a while, line up some quality time with them.  Spending some time and energy getting reacquainted with your life after a tough training cycle is important. Doing this can help you recharge mentally. If and when you decide to start training again in earnest, you'll likely feel more enthusiastic about your next training cycle and running goal(s). Training doesn't just demand physical energy. It demands mental energy. You want to make sure your body and your head are in the right place before you embark on a new training cycle. 5. Pull the trigger on another race. One of the best ways to kickstart a new training cycle is to register for another race. I'm not necessarily saying do it immediately following your race. But, when your body feels fresh again, when you head feels like it's in the right place, pull the trigger. If your race was abysmal, I understand why you might be hesitant to sign up for another one. But, the truth is you're not really a runner until you have a crappy race. And, running another one may may be exactly the kind of palate cleansing you need. Getting another race on the calendar can help you run further, faster, or help exorcise the demons of a bad race. 

What to do when the voices of doubt creep in...

October 11th 2019

Taking a stride feels daunting. Everything feels laden and heavy. You're running on fumes. If what I'm describing doesn't sound familiar, rest assured it will if you continue running. You're not 'really' a runner until you've found yourself face-to-face with the demon known as 'fatigue'. It pays all runners a visit. Typically accompanying fatigue are the insidious voices of doubt.  Unlike a demon you'd encounter in the latest flick from Blumhouse, fatigue (and the voices of doubt) can never truly be exorcized. All you can do is get better at 'managing' them. Fortunately, I've got a few tricks for wrangling these demons. Read on... How do you overcome fatigue when running? 1. Make things small.  I was about 40 miles into my first (and only) 50 miler. My peripheral vision started to fade. My quads were completely destroyed. I was fading fast.  The idea of logging a mile (let alone another ten) was daunting. I could no longer think about the remainder of this ridiculous project I'd signed up for. I had to break it down. A mile was too much. So, I had to go smaller. I tried to lock in on the bush on the side of the trail about 100 meters ahead. I'd slog my way there.  I'd take a deep breath and focus on the old, dying, leafless tree on the left of the trail (a stark reminder of how I felt) and drag myself there. I made things small. You do enough small things, big things happen.  I (somehow) managed to get myself through those final ten miles simply by making things small. Make things small and you'll get to the finish line.  2. Go to your happy place. Managing fatigue during a tough run or race sometimes involves playing tricks on yourself. One that I like to play on myself involves visualizing my 'happy place'. I pull this one out usually when a single mile starts to feel like a stretch. This technique usually goes hand in hand with 'making things small'. My happy place is Kezar Track in San Francisco. A mile never feels daunting to me here. On a sunny day, I could log countless, comfortable miles and never feel fatigued. So, when the fatigue starts to possess me, and a mile becomes markedly taxing, I visualize myself at Kezar. I see myself running easy, comfortable laps on a sunny day perfect for running.  This little trick always makes me feel better about getting through the next mile (or ten). Go to your happy place when fatigue makes its presence known. Visualize yourself running there, it's always nicer. 3. Self-affirmations.  There was a SNL skit decades ago called 'Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley'. Stuart was known for being exuberantly (and irrationally) positive. He was all about telling people they were 'good enough, smart enough, etc'. The skit was usually pretty silly, but Stuart was onto something. Self-affirmations can be helpful in a variety of ways. They can be particularly helpful when you're drowning in running induced fatigue. When you find yourself neck deep and doubting you can persevere, remind yourself of who you are. Remind yourself of what you've done to prepare for this. Remind yourself of how many challenges you've faced and overcome.  Rest assured, you are good enough. You are strong enough. You're smart enough. I'm also guessing (doggone it) most people like you.  4. Find your mantra.  When fatigue hits, the voices of doubt can get LOUD. They can tell you all kinds of self-defeating things. You can't do it. This is too hard. You don't have it in you. But, independent of using some self-affirmations, there's another way to deal with these voices. You can quiet them. You may be able to silence them entirely.  I pull out a mantra. My go-to mantra is really simple. I just tell myself 'Focus and Relax.' I keep repeating this mantra again and again. If I'm really focused on this mantra, the voices of doubt fade. Only the mantra remains. The mantra keeps me focused on what I'm doing. The repetitive nature of the mantra keeps me relaxed. A quality mantra can help you get through the dark valley of fatigue and doubt. 5. Breathe. It's hard to overstate the importance of breathing. We wouldn't be here without it. You certainly couldn't run without inhaling and exhaling, at least periodically. Not only is breathing properly critically important in order to run in any substantive way, breathing can help manage fatigue. If you can manage fatigue, the voices of doubt are less likely to creep in. Even if they do manage to creep in, they probably won't be as loud.  Simply put, I consciously focus on my breathing when I'm fighting fatigue. I consciously focus on getting my breathing under control. I try to take slower, deeper breaths on the inhale. I try to exhale slowly. This technique may require me to slow down a bit. But, that's ok. Slowing down and refocusing on breathing for a minute or two is just what I need.  I've found this technique acts as a 'reset' of sorts. My breathing slows down. My heart rate usually slows down. I relax. If you're relaxed, fatigue (and discomfort/pain) is less pronounced. It's less present. So, are the voices of doubt. If you can find a way to utilize some of the tips I've outlined above, you'll likely find yourself better equipped to deal with fatigue and the accompanying voices of doubt. If you get better at managing these two demons, you're bound to become a better runner. It's also quite likely you'll find yourself actually ENJOYING running more! What tips do you use to deal with fatigue? Shoot us a note at runners@sportme.com and tell us. 

Newsletter, November 26 - The Mental Game

October 11th 2019

I hated my first run. I was in my twenties, slightly overweight, and the holiday season was upon us. A girl I liked had signed up for a Turkey Trot 10K and so did I. I was determined to prove that I, too, was a runner. My brother runs every day to 'live longer'. Running, he says, is by far the most efficient exercise. You can do it anywhere, at any time, and you'll burn 100 calories every ten minutes. You don't need to drive to the gym and schedule around a class - you just go run. So I did.  The first thirty seconds felt exhilarating, I admit. But then I hit a wall. All of a sudden, my body screamed. My lungs hurt, my legs felt wobbly, and my brain started telling me all sorts of very convincing reasons why it was ok to stop: you should ease into this...don't push too hard or you'll get injured...if you hate it you'll never do it again. But, I was afraid to stop because if I did, I might never start again. That became my philosophy on running - whatever it takes, keep going. I survived that first run (and every one since then). I overcame self-doubt, fatigue, and solid excuses to finish my run. I felt amazing for the rest of the day. But the next day, I dreaded the idea of running again. And therein lies the rub. To enjoy running, for me, is to enjoy how I feel after I run. It was only after running for weeks that I started to anticipate the post-run joy. I would run earlier and earlier in the day so that I would have less pre-run dread and more post-run joy. Eventually, the pre-run dread turned into something like eagerness to feel post-run joy. Finally, it became excitement to run. Understanding your own psychology when it comes to exercise is important in planning your fitness strategy. You have to find a way to talk to yourself and compromise with your mind - whether that means rewarding yourself for working out, motivating yourself by committing to a race or a weight goal, or inspiring yourself by running for a cause. One of the best workout planning tips I found is to have a backup plan. If plan A is to run before work every day, know in advance that if that plan fails, plan B is to do a brisk walk at lunch, or to shoot some hoops after work. Life will inevitably interfere and excuses are easy to find - but good planning usually gets you where you need to go. What tricks do you have to overcome mental fatigue? Hit reply and let us know. -Andrew SportMe Product  Tune-Up Run: The Krampus Cross Country 5K/10K  Sunday, December 9, 2019 in San Francisco Whether you're a road or a trail runner (perhaps both?), it's a great idea to get some quality miles on the trails. There's plenty of science to support the therapeutic benefits of being closer to nature. Trail running can also help improve your biomechanics/form, strengthen your core, and even help you get faster.  If you live in (or near) San Francisco or have been waiting for the perfect excuse to visit, come log a few miles on the beautiful Presidio Trails. All runners get a tech tee, a multi-functional medal, and access to a fun, pre-race brewfest on Friday, 12/7 at A Runner's Mind in San Francisco!  If you have a race on the calendar, a tune-up run is a great way to check your pace. If not, putting a race on the calendar is one of the best ways to commit to a training plan. Sign up now and start training. Register for Krampus Cross Country 5k/10k Pro Tip: Make Things Small There's almost always a point during a challenging run, race, or workout when fatigue starts to set in. Once fatigue starts to set in, a lap around the track seems daunting, a mile feels major, and the finish line seems terribly far away. If you find yourself in this space, 'make things small'. Don't focus on the mile that's directly in front of you. Focus on the next block or the next stop sign. If you're on the track, don't focus on the entire lap. Focus on the straight segment in front of you, then focus on the curve, then focus on the next straight. Breaking a challenging, tough workout down into smaller, bite-sized chunks is a great way to deal with the physical and mental fatigue you encounter while running. Dive In...    What do when the voices of doubt creep in...     Taking a stride feels daunting.     Everything feels laden and heavy.     You're running on fumes.     Fatigue never goes away, but you can get better at managing it.     Read on for a few tips on managing fatigue. Workout of the Week: Group Fartlek What is it? The Group Fartlek is a fun run to do with a group. Everyone runs in a single file line, with the back person sprinting to the front. How to execute it: Find four or five friends and go for a run. Get in a single file line. The leader sets the pace.  The person at the back of the line has to sprint to the front of the line. Then they become the leader until the next person sprints to the front. Why you should do it? Group runs have a variety of benefits: they improve accountability, provide a sense of community support, and can be more fun. Adding a fartlek component helps improve your pace.  Dive In...       There's running, then there's running fast.             Want to become a fast runner?         Running fast requires a completely different approach. It requires embracing fatigue. It requires becoming comfortable (or at least tolerant) of fatigue. Running fast hurts.         Accepting this is the first step in becoming a fast runner. New in SportMe: Web Sign Up and Import to Calendar While you will need to download the iOS or Android app to get the full set of SportMe features, you can now create a training plan and view it from your desktop computer at www.sportme.com. You can also print you calendar, or import it directly to you default calendar. Questions? Feedback? Shoot us a note at feedback@sportme.com or just reply to this email. Download SportMe

Want to get better? Get consistent

October 11th 2019

When I improved most as a marathoner, it was during a wonderful two and a half year stretch. I managed to shave more than 45 minutes off my marathon time during this period. In case you're wondering, I wasn't drinking any magic potion(s). I showed up for my tempo runs on Tuesdays. I showed up for my lung searing session of intervals at the track on Thursdays. Whether I was tired, hung over, or otherwise less than 100%, I ALWAYS showed up for my long runs on Saturdays. In short, I was ruthlessly, relentlessly consistent. The true 'secret' to becoming a better runner is consistency. If you stay healthy and you're consistent with your training, good things will happen.  Outlined below are a few tips for keeping consistent. Employ them (consistently) and you'll likely find yourself running farther, faster, and posting personal bests. How to get better at running? 1. Sign up for a race. I hardly ever need to be prodded to get my miles in. Running is like breathing to me. A day without running is like a day without sunshine. But, I have no illusions everyone is wired this way. For many, running is hard work. The runner's high doesn't materialize every time you lace up your kicks. Blowing off a run can be easy if you had a tough day at work. Skipping a session at the track can be similarly easy if you're stressed. It's easy to rationalize taking a day or two off. If you haven't done so already, sign up for a race. Few things keep you committed like a date circled on the calendar. You'll be far less inclined to skip a run if a race is looming on the horizon.  2. Get a plan. If you're using SportMe Run Trainer, you're in good shape. It's likely we've already created a plan for you. Hopefully, you're following it! Your plan should include some structure, a gradual progression of mileage, periodic drop back weeks, and align with your current level of running fitness. There's nothing wrong with simply running for the sake of running. But, if you're struggling to stay consistent and your current running routine has no real rhyme or reason, get yourself a plan. A solid plan is a great catalyst for consistency. 3. It's not bad weather, it's a 'developmental opportunity'. I grew up in Kansas. Summers were hot, humid, and generally miserable. Winters were bleak, gray, and bitterly cold. If you were lucky, you'd encounter a few weeks during the Spring and Fall that were ideal for running. But, the rest of the time I was sweating or freezing my ass off. I rarely enjoyed running in oppressive heat and humidity or the bitter cold of winter. But, dealing with inclement weather regularly forced me to develop mental toughness. It also forced me to develop ways to get out the front door despite less than ideal conditions. I started viewing bad weather as merely a 'developmental opportunity'. The more I exposed myself to it, the better I'd get at dealing with it.  Decades later, I can count on one hand the number of times I've bailed on a run due to nasty weather. So, the next time you find yourself thinking of skipping a run because of inclement weather, remind yourself that it's a 'developmental opportunity' and get the miles in. To be clear, if the weather is dangerous or hazardous, stick to the treadmill! But, otherwise, find a way to get outside and get the miles in. A race is VERY rarely canceled due to bad weather. So, braving the elements is actually an important part of your training.  4. Find a run club or crew. My first 'run club' was actually my cross country team. Knowing almost nothing about running, I simply tried to hang on. Most days, I'd barely manage to do so. At the end of each run for the first few weeks of training, I was wrecked. The next morning, I'd be sore and tired. Running was the last thing I wanted to do. But, I'd show up because I was part of a 'team'. While it was never really indicated explicitly, I knew they were counting on me. Or, I thought they were. There are few substitutions for 'casual accountability'. Signing up to run with a team, a club, or a 'crew' is one of the best ways to stay consistent. I've managed a running club in San Francisco for more than a decade. I've had innumerable runners tell me over the years that they simply wouldn't run if not for the company of their fellow runners. So, find yourself a running crew and you'll inevitably be more consistent.  5. Go Streaking! I'm not necessarily saying you should run every single day, although a few runners can and do. But, try to get a running streak going. Exactly what this streak looks like is up to you.  You could aim to get in a minimum of '3' runs/week every week for the next month. Maybe your streak entails getting a minimum of 15 miles in every week for the next month. Set up a streak that revolves around doing a speed workout every week for the next month. Nail one of these streaks and reward yourself with a beer, a nice meal, or a massage. Incentivize consistency in your running. Doing so has a funny way of encouraging more of it!

Why you need a coach (and how to choose one)

October 11th 2019

There are plenty of apps at your disposal that can help you post a personal best. Free training plans abound for runners of all levels. There are also countless gadgets that can help you become a better runner. But, if it is wisdom you seek, if you're lacking runspiration, or you just generally respond better to the human touch, you may need a coach. What are the signs that you may need a running coach? If your running has gotten stagnant, if your love for the act has waned, if the runner's high is a distant memory, you may need a coach. These are but a few reasons why engaging a coach might be something to consider. Once you start contemplating the idea of engaging a coach, consider what to look for in a coach. What to look for in a running coach? It's not a complicated formula. It's mostly common sense. Below are five things you should ponder when considering engaging a coach. 1. Experience This one is a no brainer. How long has this coach been a runner? What kind of distances has this coach covered? What are their personal bests?  Everyone wants a coach who has qualified for the Olympic Trials, but this kind of experience is hard to come by. Additionally, it may not be entirely necessary. There are tons and tons of coaches who have countless miles of invaluable experience and wisdom, but have never even sniffed the Olympic Trials. Bear in mind, greatness as a runner doesn't necessarily equate greatness as a coach. Sometimes it does. Sometimes not.  Whether your coach was a former Olympian or merely a really passionate age group winner, experience is important. Make sure your coach has some. 2. Credentials I have USATF and RRCA coaching certification. Most coaches worth their snuff have one and/or the other. There are a few other certifications out there, but USATF and RRCA are the most well known. Certifications are good for establishing a baseline level of knowledge on how to coach properly. But, coaching effectively for a distance of any kind is complicated. Getting certified is just step one in the journey towards becoming a quality coach. Certification gives you the baseline 'science' you need to grasp to coach someone. But, experience is where the 'art' lies. Helping people train for a race is a science and an art. It's great to have one or more coaching certification(s), but depth and breadth of experience is as much if not more important to have than any certification(s). Ideally, your coach should have both. 3. Specialization in your distance Every coach is a bit different. One might cater to runners transitioning from the couch to their first 5K. Another coach might specialize in helping runners qualify for the Boston Marathon. You want to identify a coach who specializes in the distance you're training for. A coach that has a gift for helping someone go from the couch to their first 5K might not be the best resource for helping you improve your marathon time. Similarly, a coach that specializes in helping people improve their marathon time may not be the best resource for helping you run your first 5K. 4. Availability It's important to size up your prospective coach's availability. If you need a coach to review your training diary, chat with you on the phone regularly, and meet in person every week, make sure your coach is well positioned to support this level of service. Some coaches support hundreds of runners. A coach like this may not be able to provide what you need. But, if all you need is a little support, someone to answer training questions periodically via email, and minimal need to meet in person, a coach who supports hundreds of runners may work fine for you. Spend a little time sussing out exactly what you need from your coach. Make sure the coach you engage has the availability to effectively support your needs. 5. Personality/Bedside Manner If you want to engage a coach, get some sense of his or her personality. It's likely you will be working with this person for weeks (maybe months) leading up to your race. If you're the kind of runner who responds well to humor, a stern taskmaster may not be the answer. Then again, having a coach who is stern and holds you accountable might be exactly what you need. Take the time to chat with your prospective coach on the phone or in person to get some sense of their personality and coaching style. You don't have to fall in love with your coach, but make sure your coach has the kind of personality and bedside manner that you can work with for an extended period of time.

The Power of a Streak

October 11th 2019

You've probably heard that 80% of success is showing up. It seems easy to shrug off, but test the theory out. Show up to the gym every day and see if you get in shape. Don't worry about pushing yourself, or even working out. Just make sure you show up. Coaches use this technique to help people break bad habits. Can't get yourself to floss? Commit to floss at least one tooth. Most likely, you'll do the rest. The hard part is overcoming the mental barrier to start. Don't feel like running when you get home from a long day at work? Then put your shoes on and agree to run to the mailbox and back. Anything extra is bonus. Small actions can create big changes over time. So break your goals into small, repeatable actions you can do every day and start a streak. -Andrew SportMe Product Dive In...     Want to get better? Get consistent.    The true 'secret' to becoming a better runner is consistency. If you stay healthy and you're consistent with your training, good things will happen.    This post outlines a few tips for keeping consistent.    Employ them and you'll find yourself running farther, faster, and posting personal bests. Read more... Race of the Week: The Carlsbad 5000  Sunday, March 25, 2019 in Carlsbad, California The best races are typically associated with consistent pacing from start to finish. But, dialing in your pacing can be challenging if you're tackling a course with hills or undulating terrain. Fortunately, our race of the week is tailor-made for locking in your target pace from the get-go! The Carlsbad 5000 is flat and FAST! In fact, this race is touted as the FASTEST 5K in the world. So, if you're looking to post a personal best for 5K, give this one a look! Putting a race on the calendar is one of the best ways to commit to a training plan. Sign up now and start training. Check out the Carlsbad 5000 Pro Tip: Find a Crew If you're struggling to stay consistent with your training, join a running club or 'crew'. Casual accountability is powerful. It's tougher to bail out on a run when you know others will be running without you.  Dive In...    Can't Run? Think again.    It's only natural that you'll have a day (or several) on which you're just not feeling up to the snuff.    Maybe it's been a tough week at work.    Maybe it's been a while since you've felt the runner's high? Here are the most common excuses we hear along with suggestions for overcoming them.    Read More... Workout of the Week: Target Pace Run What is it? The Target Pace Run is designed to help you hone in on whatever your 'target' pace might be for the race you're training for.  How to execute it: Run a comfortable, easy mile or two to get warmed up. Segue into your target pace for your 5K, 10K, Half, or Full. Try to maintain this pace consistently for 1-2 miles.  Segue back into comfortable, conversational pace to cool down. Gradually increase the number of miles you're running over time until you can manage 2/3-3/4 of the total race distance at your target pace. Why you should do it? There's really no way to know if you can manage a particular pace unless you try to run at least a few miles at said pace. Incorporating target pace runs is a great way to get a handle on whether or not the target pace you have in mind is realistic.  Need help? You can create managed Target Pace Runs with the SportMe First 5K + Speed Coach app. New in SportMe: Apple Watch App You can now leave the phone at home and run with the SportMe Apple Watch app. Start your long or short run, track or tempo workout, right from your wrist. Track distance, calories, heart rate and pace. Questions? Feedback? Shoot us a note at feedback@sportme.com  or just reply to this email. Get the App Published by SportMe Marathon Trainer and Coach

Holiday Running 'Hacks'

October 11th 2019

While the holiday season might be characterized by some as 'the most wonderful time of the year', it can be 'the most challenging time of the year' to stick to your regular running routine. Between inclement weather, shorter days, longer nights, holiday parties, and a litany of other challenges, it's easy to let your hard earned running fitness fall by the wayside. But, with a little creativity and perseverance, your running fitness doesn't have to take a major hit during the holidays. Read on for a few of my 'hacks' for maintaining your running fitness during the craziness of the holiday season. Leverage your lunch hour. Winter often delivers shorter days and longer nights. If you enjoy getting your miles while the sun is out, this can throw a wrench into your regular routine. But, a little creativity and a slight alteration to your routine can help you get your fix. Try leveraging your lunch hour during the hazy shades of winter. Regardless of where you live, it's likely this is the warmest time of day. Similarly, this is when you'll likely have the most daylight.  I've also found logging my miles during lunch hour almost inevitably results in a more lucid, productive afternoon.  It's not inclement weather, it's a 'developmental opportunity'. It's easy to use inclement weather as an excuse to not run. Few runners I know actually enjoy running in rain, sleet, snow, or bitterly cold conditions. What's to enjoy about freezing your ass off or getting drenched? I'm not going to claim running in nasty weather is fun (although sometimes it can be). But, try to reframe the experience of running in the snow, sleet, or rain. Don't think of it as inclement weather. Think of it as a 'developmental opportunity'. Running in crappy weather presents a great 'opportunity' to develop mental toughness. A race almost NEVER gets canceled due to bad weather. So, it behooves you to have some experience logging the miles in less than ideal conditions.  To be clear, if the weather is legitimately dangerous, I am NOT saying you should run in it! But, 'most' inclement weather can be managed by adding a layer or two (or shedding a layer or two). Get Warm. If the desire to get outside and log a few miles is being stifled by bitterly cold conditions, don't abandon all hope yet. Most runners don't warm up properly. If there's ever a time to do a quality warmup, it's when the conditions are frigid.  Try jogging in place (inside) for a few minutes. Follow this up with a few minutes of some dynamic range of motion drills. You might even try drinking a hot cup of tea while warming up.  After spending a solid 5-10 minutes warming up, put on your layers and head out. The hazy shades of winter will likely feel a bit more palatable. Try the treadmill. I often characterize the treadmill as a 'last resort'. If running outside is simply not possible due to the weather, safety, or some other valid reason, hop on the treadmill. If you are forced to use the treadmill, bump the incline 1-2% to better simulate running outside. While I'm not a fan of the 'dreadmill', there's definitely some value in logging a few miles on one. If there's a specific pace you're trying to get a handle on, simply lock it in on the treadmill. This exercise can help you get a feeling for the cadence and level of effort associated with this pace. If the weather makes it prohibitive to run outside, give the treadmill a shot. Get creative. Between holiday parties, travel, and family gatherings, you might simply find yourself struggling to find the time to run. While it may not be possible to train the way you have for most of this year, that doesn't mean running has to be jettisoned entirely. Get creative. If you only have a 30 minute window, take advantage. Inject some fartlek or tempo into this 30 minutes to give you a bit more bang for the buck. If you play your cards right, a quality 30 minute run can go a long way. If you can't get outside and if you don't have access to a treadmill, you can STILL do something that at least 'resembles' running. Sometimes, you've got to get creative. I've got a circuit routine I do in my living room on these rare, challenging occasions. The routine entails running (in place) for 5 minutes. Then, I segue into a set of '4' drills. Each drill lasts 45 seconds. A core focused set of drills might include a standard plank, a left plank, a right plank, and a superman/woman. Once I'm done with the drills, I segue back into running in place for 5 minutes. I'll usually do 30 minutes of running in place and 15 minutes of drills. I'm the first to admit, this is NOT the same as running. But, it's at least a vague approximation.  The holiday season presents all kinds of obstacles to maintaining your running routine. But, if you leverage a few of my 'hacks' above, you'll enter the new year with most (if not all) of the running fitness you've acquired this year.

The Most Challenging Time of the Year

October 11th 2019

I sign up for one challenging race every year. My first one was a 10K (still my hardest race experience), then I tackled a half marathon, a full, then a triathlon, then a half-marathon with 3,000 feet of climb, and now I'm signed up for a marathon on my next birthday.  Each race was a little different than the last and each race scared me. And therein lies the magic. A little bit of fear about an upcoming run can literally keep you on your toes. I find that I have three types of running days - days I'm definitely running, days I'm definitely not running, and days that could go either way. Those swing days are the ones I try and turn. Having a race that scares me gets me off the couch and on the run. It gets me over the hump. That's why our philosophy is to Always Be Training. Get something on the calendar and be working towards a goal. If you're not improving, you're declining. The holidays are a tough time to train, but setting a goal and making a plan can be a big help. -Andrew SportMe Product Thoughts, stories, or feedback? Hit reply and let us know. Watch: Always Be Training Workout of the Week: 'Fake' Run What is it? If the weather prevents you from going outside and you don't have access to a treadmill, here's a routine that approximates running. The best part: you can do it in your living room. How to execute it: 5 mins of running in place + 30 secs of heel raises, 30 secs of squats, 30 secs of lunges, 30 secs of high knees.  5 mins of running in place + 30 secs of left plank, 30 secs of right plank, 30 secs of standard plank, 30 secs of superman/superwoman.  5 mins of running in place + 30 secs of jumping jacks, 30 secs of butt kicks, 30 secs of mountain climbers, 30 secs of pushups.  5 mins of running in place + 30 secs of flutter kicks, 30 secs of bicycle crunches, 30 secs of v-situps, 30 secs of Russian twists.  5 mins of running in place. Why you should do it? It's cold outside. Or raining. Or you don't feel like putting on shoes. Or your Achilles needs a break. There are a lot of reasons to do an in-home workout. The important thing is to keep the blood flowing every day. Need help? Hit reply and we'll give you some personalized guidance. Dive In...  Can't Run? Think again.   Having worked with thousands of runners for more than a decade, we've heard just about every excuse NOT to run. In this post, we outline some of the most common excuses and how to overcome them.  Read more... Race of the Week: NYRR Midnight Run December 31, 2018 in New York, New York If you don't have plans to ring in the year in Times Square, give the NYRR Midnight Run a look. The actual run (4 miles) starts as the ball drops at midnight, but the dance party warmup for this one starts at 10PM. Log your first miles of the year under a fireworks display. FYI - this race can also help you earn a coveted spot in the New York City Marathon. Putting a race on the calendar is one of the best ways to commit to a training plan. Check out The NYRR Midnight Run Pro Tip: Leverage Your Lunch Hour Try leveraging your lunch hour during the hazy shades of winter. Regardless of where you live, it's likely the warmest time of day and the time with the most daylight. It's also likely to result in a more lucid, productive afternoon. Dive In...  Holiday Running 'Hacks'  Some call it the most wonderful time of the year. We think of it as the most challenging time of the year... to stay fit. Between inclement weather, shorter days, holiday parties, and a litany of other challenges, it's easy to let your hard earned running fitness fall by the wayside.  Read More... New in SportMe: Trainer Chat One of the best features about SportMe is the Trainer Chat. You can send a message to our running coaches and get real feedback and guidance. Not sure how to execute a run? Need guidance on stretching? How about some encouragement?  We're here to help. Questions? Feedback? Shoot us a note at feedback@sportme.com or just reply to this email.

Get better without logging a mile

October 11th 2019

To get better you have to get out and log the miles. But, there's much more to becoming a better runner than simply logging the miles. If you want to run farther, get faster, or simply avoid running related aggravations and injuries, there are a litany of things you can do that don't involve logging a single mile.  While I'd generally say there's little sense in sweating the small stuff, the small stuff can make a big difference in your running. Below are a few of the small things you can do to become a better runner. No additional mileage is required. Sleep like a pro. Whenever one of my runners tells me they're feeling flat, fatigued, or otherwise out of sorts during a run, I usually inquire about their sleep. More often than not, the runner I'm questioning tells me they didn't sleep well. A common reason for lackluster performance is poor sleep. The act of running breaks your body down. It's during the rest and recovery phase that your body heals, adapts, and gets stronger. It stands to reason that compromising the rest and recovery phase can lead to poor performance. It can also lead to injuries if you're not careful. As your training progresses and your mileage increases, your body needs more sleep to recover from the work you're doing. In general, a 'normal' adult needs about 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you're an elite athlete, you need about 8-10 hours a night. While you may not be an elite level athlete, there's something to be said for treating yourself like one.  Spend some additional quality time in bed and you'll perform better and reduce the chances of aggravations and injuries. Treat yourself. The overwhelming majority of the discomfort and pain my runners report is tied to soft tissue. Soft tissue includes muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia. Soft tissue tightens and contracts when you run. Running also creates microtears in muscle fiber. Left untreated, unhappy soft tissue can lead to poor performance, aggravations and injuries. A quality sports massage is all about making soft tissue happy. If your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia are happy, you'll likely be running happy. Additionally, a quality sports massage can help improve your range of motion. Improved range of motion means improved running economy and efficiency. So, treat yourself and get a quality sports massage. BTW, there are a litany of other reasons why we'd recommend a sports massage. Click HERE for the lowdown. Warmup for your run. Part of the beauty of running is you can simply throw your shoes on and head out. I've done this myself on numerous occasions. But, this approach isn't ideal. I often tell my runners to emulate what the pro's do. Virtually every professional runner does some kind of quality warmup routine before they actually 'start' their run. There are a variety of reasons why warming up before your run is a good idea. Warming up allows your muscles, bones, and joints an opportunity to loosen up. It also gradually raises your heart rate. A quality warmup also makes it easier to get into the rhythm you want to sustain for your run. Getting into a comfortable rhythm increases the chances of you finding the runner's high.  Your warmup doesn't need to be terribly complicated. You can walk (or jog) for 3-5 minutes and follow this up with some dynamic stretches & range of motion drills. Warming up before your run almost inevitably leads to better running. Cooldown after your run.  After a challenging session at the track or an exhausting long run on the road, the desire to simply collapse might be quite pronounced. Resist this urge. Do a quality cooldown before you collapse. Spend a few minutes walking to gradually bring your heart rate down. Doing this will also help flush out any lactic acid that may have accumulated in your legs. If you're really ambitious, knock back some water and/or a sports drink while you're doing this. After a few minutes of walking segue into some liberal stretching of all the major muscle groups (calves, quads, glutes, hamstrings, etc) for a few minutes. Then, perform some quality self massage with a foam roller or a stick. Lastly, ingest something with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.  This may sound like a lot, but this whole routine can be pulled off in about 10-15 minutes. Doing a regular, quality cooldown can help expedite recovery and reduce the chance of aggravation and injury.  Take a day off! Running has a tendency to attract the Type A (++) personality type. This personality type tends to include a 'no pain, no gain' mentality. Running at a high level requires a certain level of commitment. But, as I mentioned earlier in this piece, it's during the rest and recovery phase that your body heals, adapts, and gets stronger.  While it may seem counterintuitive to take a day off, it's often just what the doctor ordered. A day off should leave you feeling physically and mentally refreshed. It's not unlikely your next run (or workout) will feel great. Rest days are actually a critical component of any training plan. If you're never giving yourself a day off you're likely not performing as well as you could be. It's also likely you're increasing the risk of aggravation and injury. So, take a day off!

How to get better at running (without running)

October 11th 2019

I'm not built like a runner. I have a strong base, but I'm on the beefy side. My torso is large and bulky. I'm a little overweight. I'm basically the opposite of a gazelle. But I have non-physical qualities that make me well suited for running, I'm stubborn. When I start something I have to finish it. I value efficiency. I like measured progress. The mental aspects of my running abilities help me get off of the couch and onto the road. Running is about a lot more than just running. By the time you lace up your shoes, you're 90% of the way there. -Andrew SportMe Product Thoughts, stories, or feedback? Hit reply and let us know. Dive in...  Get Better Without Logging A Mile  To get better you have to get out and log miles. But there's much more to becoming a better runner than simply logging miles. Here are a few of the small things you can do to become a better runner.  No additional mileage is required.  Read more... Workout of the Week: The Foam Roll What is it?Ok, so it's not exactly a workout, but it's important! Even if your running biomechanics and form are perfect, you're inevitably going to find some areas that get tight or unhappy. If you don't already own a foam roller, get one. Using a foam roller on a regular basis is a great way to improve range of motion and expedite recovery. In short, use a foam roller for just a few minutes after every run and you'll be a better runner without logging a mile. How to execute it: Spend 20-30 seconds doing some quality self-massage of all the major muscle groups (calves, illiotibial bands, quadriceps, hamstrings, abductors, gluteus maximus, etc). If you find a particular area to be sensitive, it could use some foam rolling.  Lower the sore spot onto the foam roller so that the roller is between the ground and the muscle. Lower it until you reach a point of discomfort, but not pain, and hold it there.  Wait 20-30 seconds.  The pressure alone is helpful, but rolling slowly back and forth is even better.  Don't forget to breathe!  Why you should do it? Foam rolling helps runners increase range of motion and decrease recovery time after a hard workout. Though it can be uncomfortable, it is an important part of running maintenance.  Need help? Hit reply and we'll give you some personalized guidance. Pro Tip: Treat Yourself The overwhelming majority of the discomfort and pain our runners report is tied to soft tissue. Soft tissue includes muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia. Soft tissue tightens and contracts when you run. Running also creates microtears in muscle fiber. Left untreated, unhappy soft tissue can lead to poor performance, aggravations, and injuries. A quality sports massage is all about making soft tissue happy. If your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia are happy, you'll likely be running happy. Additionally, a quality sports massage can help improve your range of motion. Improved range of motion means improved running economy and efficiency. So, treat yourself and get a quality sports massage. Dive In...  The Benefits of Sports Massage  Don't think of sports massage as a luxury or indulgence. Think of it as a 'tune up'. We pulled in the experts over at PSOAS Massage/Bodywork to break it down for us.   Read more... SportMe Highlight: Run Types When you get your training plan on  SportMe, you'll see all sorts of run types designed to improve different aspects of your running. These include Long Runs, Fartlek, Track, Tempo, and Target Pace, to name a few. Change things up a bit and try switching up your run types for a challenge. Questions? Feedback? Shoot us a note at  feedback@sportme.com or just reply to this email.

What's Your (Running) Story, Chris Swanzy?

October 11th 2019

Over the the past few years I've been working with SportMe, I've dealt with countless runners. Most of the time, I'm telling folks what to eat, what to drink, how to suss out an injury, or something else training related. But, every once in awhile, I encounter something special. I encounter someone who shares a great story with me. They share a story that strikes a chord. It's a story that inspires me to run, it reminds me why I love it, and why it's all worth it. These stories light my fire and keep me going. I want to share these stories.  So, we've got a new blog series we're launching called 'What's Your (Running) Story?' For our first post in the series we're shedding light on Chris Swanzy. Chris has a demanding job, a wife, five kids, and somehow managed to shoehorn in a marathon training cycle (and vlog it all) using Sportme Run Trainer. He battled hot & humid summers in Texas. He got up at 4:45AM many times. Chris is now a marathoner and hungry for more! Read on for what motivates Chris, why he wanted to conquer the marathon, and what he secretly contemplated putting in his Camelbak (*hint....it's NOT water!). Got a compelling, inspiring, amazing, transcendent, or insanely funny running story for us? Drop Marathon Matt a line at MARATHONMATT@SPORTME.COM and we'll feature your story in the newsletter! Congrats on conquering your first marathon, Chris! What was the driving force behind this whole idea of running a marathon? Something has always intrigued me about running a marathon. In the back of my head for years was the idea of conquering 26.2. I am a very driven individual in business and other aspects of my life. But, I’ve never tackled anything as ‘physically’ daunting as a marathon. I thought I could probably go out and “finish” a marathon with a little training. That wasn’t enough for me. My goal was to “run” a marathon. To do this, I knew it would take a tremendous amount of commitment to the training process. You started your journey towards 26.2 miles THREE years ago. Why did it take you so long to get to the starting (and finish) line? Three years ago the idea of running a marathon started for me. I laced up and started training for the 2015 Dallas Marathon. My training was going well and I was starting to see results. In addition to training for a marathon, I was playing soccer for a recreational team. In early October 2015, I was playing in a game and a player from the opposing team gave me a solid blow to the ribs. I heard a loud crack and was in excruciating pain. The result was several broken ribs. This halted my marathon training completely. I was barely able to sit in a chair let alone run. It took me two months before I could even think about running again. At this point, my marathon was only a few weeks away. I had to elect not to run due to insufficient training. This bummed me out pretty good. I basically just threw my hands up and gave up. I quit running all together. For the next couple of years this failed attempt at a marathon was eating me up inside. But, I was struggling to motivate to start training again. I finally decided this year that I was going to force myself to do it. I was going to do whatever it took to make it happen. I knew I was going to need accountability. So, I came up with the idea of documenting and vlogging about my journey on YouTube. I knew that if I put it out there and people were watching, I was going to have to go through with it. I never open my mouth without backing it up. My wife, kids, parents, friends, YouTube, etc would all know about my decision to run the marathon. If I were to quit, I would let all of them down. I especially wanted my kids to see that if you set your mind to something, you can do it. It may not be easy and it may take a ton of hard work but you can do it! You've got a wife, kids, and a job. How did you juggle ALL of this along with training for 26.2? This was probably the most difficult part of the training process. I underestimated the time it took to get the training in. In addition to a demanding job, my wife and I have five kids. (18,17,16,13,11). At the beginning of my training, the time I invested was minimal. My early runs were short and with the sun setting around 9PM, I could get my runs in after work. As my runs started getting longer, it became increasingly difficult to make the time needed to get the miles in. I had to tell myself if I didn’t do this now, I would never do it. It was now or never. I HAD to make the time. I had to get creative sometimes. I logged more than a few miles REALLY early in the morning. Believe me, it was never easy waking up at 4:45 AM with only a few hours of sleep. The only thing that woke me up was the little man on my shoulder reminding me of my commitment I had made to myself and everyone else. You logged a TON of long runs during the course of your training. Did you 'treat' yourself following these long runs? If so, what kind of 'treats' are we talking about? I love my beer! The evening following a long run or the day after, I’d often go out to eat with my wife and throw back a few beers. There were many times I considered putting a few miller lite’s in my camelbak as opposed to water! You ran four times a week to prepare for your first marathon. Was there anything else you did to prepare for 26.2? I didn’t do much besides put my shoes and shorts on for the first several months of training. As my runs became longer, I reached out to someone I knew that was a marathon runner for direction. I also watched several videos on youtube for training advice. I learned that diet was a big part of my training. I needed to prepare myself before my long runs so that my body could hold up as the miles accumulated. I started bringing fuel (Gu packets) that helped replenish some of the energy I was burning. I started to see a difference in my endurance by introducing this before and during my runs. I followed the training put in front of me with the SportMe App. I told myself, “If you follow this and do what your training plan indicates, you WILL accomplish your goal.” Turns out, I was right! How did you ‘mentally’ manage your long runs as your marathon training progressed? I live in Dallas, TX. We had a good span of rain during my training that never seemed to end. This presented a few obstacles. I can’t run on a treadmill (which I call a hamster wheel). I have to run outside. Additionally, the normal trails I run were covered in water for a long time due to the rain. I had to run on suburban sidewalks. There was a solid month (if not longer), where everything was covered in mud. Running on sidewalks in suburbia gets difficult when you are trying to put together a 9 to 18 mile run. It’s mental for me. If I run on a long trail, it feels easier. Sidewalks are a different story. When I was running by houses on sidewalks, I just would see house after house after house. It felt like the runs were twice as long. So, I broke up the distance into sections. For instance, on a 15 mile long run, I would think only about 7.5 miles. I would tell myself, “you only have to make it 7.5 miles”. I knew I had made it 7.5 miles in the past. Once I hit that 7.5 miles, I then would change my mindset to “I only have 7.5 miles left”. I would tell myself you have run 7.5 miles before you can run 7.5 miles again. I had to trick my mind into thinking I was only running distances I had run in the past. So, after running the first half of the 15 miles and making it 7.5, I would say ok 7.5 is left. I can do this, I have run 7.5 before. Then as I would hit 6 miles left, I would say I have run 6 miles before, this is easy. Then as I hit 3 and 2 miles left, I would do the same. I constantly had to trick my mind into thinking I was running less. Then the next thing you know, you finish 15 miles! I am a true believer that your body can do more than you think. But, you have to get your mind to go along for the ride. I think the ability to run long distances is (almost) completely controlled by your mind. You live deep in the heart of Texas and the bulk of your training took place during the hot, humid months of summer. How'd you manage to get your miles in despite the heat and humidity? Why did I ever think July would be a great month to start training??? Deep in the heart of Texas definitely describes it. I ran into a tremendous amount of heat for the majority of my training. I tried as much as possible to run early in the morning. But, most of my runs took place in the evening when it was blazing hot! I told myself, If I can do this now, I can definitely do this in December during the race. As rough as the weather was in Texas during the summer, it pales in comparison to Dubai! I took a trip there over the summer with my son. The temperature was 106 and it felt like 140 degrees with the humidity. I had 12 miles scheduled and I barely made it to 8 before I thought I was having a heatstroke. This was one of the most brutal experiences of my life. Running during the summer in Texas no longer seemed so bad! What were your biggest learnings during the five months you trained for 26.2? I learned so much about myself through the training process. I learned I was made of tougher stuff. I learned I have a strong mind. Training for a marathon strengthened this trait even more. I learned to never underestimate a marathon and what it takes to get there. Would you do it all again? I finished my marathon on a Sunday and on Monday, I put a 26.2 tattoo on the inside of my bicep as a constant reminder of what I accomplished. A few days later I looked into the NYC marathon. I pledged to raise $2,600 for a charity for the opportunity to run this iconic race. This time around my goal is to break 4 hours and 30 minutes. I look forward to the new challenge and what should be an amazing experience of running 26.2 in NYC!

Running Resolutions for the New Year

October 11th 2019

I'm in the fortunate position to help hundreds if not THOUSANDS of runners every year. I have individual runners I train. I lead the charge for a Run Club in San Francisco that sees 75-100 runners year round. I engage with countless runners year round via SportMe Run Trainer. In reflecting on ALL of the various questions, concerns, and conundrums I've tackled this past year, there are a handful of problems I dealt with that simply stood out more than others. Some of these problems included injuries, lackluster race performances, or simply feeling isolated and alone during a lengthy training cycle. If any of these problems resonate for you, you might want to read on. What I've indicated below are the most common 'resolutions' to some of the biggest (and most frequent) problems I dealt with this year. Embrace some (or all) of these resolutions and you just might find yourself faster, happier, and healthier in the new year. Resolve to rest with no shame. I have a number of runners I work with on an individual basis. It's not unusual for me to assign additional miles, intervals, hills, or other 'developmental opportunities' to help them notch their next personal best. But, just as frequently, I'm advising my runners to 'rein it in' in order to run better.  Ruthless consistency is what I often preach if you want to become a better runner. But, ruthless consistency doesn't mean you never take a day off. It doesn't mean rest is not part of the training equation. Rest can be the answer to staving off an injury. It can also be the answer to posting that elusive personal best you've always been chasing. Don't discount the power of a day off.  I know it's not easy to do. I understand it may 'feel' like you're doing 'nothing'. But, a day of 'nothing' can sometimes be more productive than a grueling, lung searing session of intervals at the track.  Resolve to get OFF the treadmill. If it's unsafe to run outside, hop on the treadmill. If the weather is dangerous (not just 'uncomfortable'), log your miles on the treadmill. Otherwise, get OFF the treadmill. I encounter innumerable runners who log most (all?) of their mileage on a treadmill. This is fine if your race actually takes place on a treadmill. But, I am not aware of too many races that actually take place on a treadmill. If you're a pianist, it's likely most of your practice takes place on an actual piano. Rehearsing on a portable keyboard might be better than nothing, but it's not the same as the ebony and ivory of a Steinway.  Your training should be as specific as possible for what you're doing on race day. So, if you're preparing for a race on the road, embrace the road for most of your training. If the trail is your final destination on race day, log most of your miles on the trail.  Train specifically for what you're tackling on race day and you'll undoubtedly have a better race. So, get off the treadmill unless there simply is no other viable option. Resolve to run unplugged. Set aside the watch. Remove your headphones. Unplug the heart rate monitor. Disconnect from everything you feel you must be connected to in order to run. Running 'unplugged' forces you to focus on the act of running. It forces you to listen to your breathing. It demands you pay attention to your footstrike. Periodically doing an 'unplugged' run can help you develop better body awareness. Runs like this can make you realize you're capable of running faster (or farther) than you think you can. Unplug every once in awhile and you may discover something amazing (or at least enlightening). Resolve to get yourself connected. One of the great things about running is the 'community'. Running is an 'individual' sport, but when you lace up your kicks, you're entering an INCREDIBLE community of millions of people doing the exact same thing. I've been witness to the genesis of countless friendships, numerous romantic dalliances, a few marriages, and much more. If you're not part of a club, 'crew', or some other group of runners, find one (I've got a great one in San Francisco, BTW!). The company of others can help keep you accountable. It can help you run faster, farther, and better. Perhaps most importantly, running with others connects you with others.  You might make a litany of new friends. You might stumble onto a soulmate. But, you'll undoubtedly be a better (and perhaps happier) runner for getting yourself connected to the running community.  Resolve to get someone into running. I'm at my best when I'm running regularly. I'm fitter. I'm sharper. I'm a better person when I'm running. There's plenty of science out there to indicate my experience is not unique. Running slows the aging process. It stimulates brain cell growth. It's a veritable panacea. There's little doubt in my mind the world would be a better place if EVERYONE was doing some kind of running. If you're with me on this one, get someone into running. I can (almost) promise you they will thank you for it (eventually)!

A song for every run...

October 13th 2019

If you’re like most runners, you head out with your headphones on. I have nothing against the latest podcast, but there is little question that the right tune at the right time can take your run to the next level. Whether you’re logging some easy miles on the sidewalk or unleashing hell at the track, there’s a song for every run.  I don't throw on headphones as often as I once did. But, when I do, the tracks below always come in handy. Be advised, this list skews heavily towards tracks released in the 70s, 80s, and 90’s. In other words, these aren’t just some of the best running songs out there, they’re some of the best songs EVER ;) A long, slow, easy run. I tend to gravitate towards something mellow, rhythmic, relaxed and lengthy when running long. The song that best captures this energy for me is 'Riders on the Storm' by the Doors. It's a slow, relaxed, rhythmic track that seems to go on forever. It also has the vaguely foreboding sound of rain and thunder in the background for the duration of the track.  If you're anything like me, it's hard to hold back and run 'easy'. Listening to 'Riders on the Storm' effectively forces you to relax. It forces you to run easy.   This one is my go to track for any run that lasts more than two hours. On occassion, I've even put this track on repeat for miles. Riders on the Storm is particularly effective during a long run when it is 'actually' raining. Give it a shot! A lung searing interval session at the track. A lung searing interval session at the track isn't a run. it's a FIGHT. So, I need the kind of song to get me in the right head space to fight. I need a fight song. Just about anything that is angry, aggressive, and/or defiant works. I love Judas Priest's 'You Got Another Thing Coming'. It's got an undeniably defiant edge to it.  But, the song that never fails to get my adrenaline flowing is 'Welcome to the Jungle' by Guns N' Roses. It's unrelenting. It's angry. It's everything I need. Notching a few (or numerous) 400/800/1200 meter intervals is a beastly challenge. It is throwing yourself into the maelstrom. It is the jungle. If this one doesn’t light your fire and make you want to unleash hell, I don’t know what will. An epic trail run.  If you run on the trails long enough, you're going to encounter something amazing. You're going to encounter something epic. It's not a question of 'if', but 'when'. I encountered my first (and only) rattlesnake on the trails. I saw sunsets so beautiful they stopped me dead in my tracks. An epic trail run requires an epic track. Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' is my epic track of choice. It has a rhythm that builds. It gets bigger. It crescendoes. Then, it starts building again.  This one simply 'sounds' like an epic journey. I love it for long runs of any kind. But, it's all too appropriate for a lengthy sufferfest on the trails.  A personal best. You've invested months and miles for this one. A personal best is right there for the taking. But, you have to rise to the occasion. For a moment like this, you need a track that inspires you. It needs to enervate you and elevate you. This track needs to remind you can go further, faster, higher. The Red Hot Chili Peppers rendition of 'Higher Ground' does it for me. This song captures the essence of my first year as a runner. Every run was a personal best. So, was every race. I just kept chasing the runners in front of me until I reached higher ground. It all culminated with my FIRST win at a race after nearly ten months of relentless training. It was two miles on the track. It was a massive personal best.   While I wasn't listening to this song during the race, I still give the Red Hot Chili Peppers most of the credit for this win as I was playing 'Higher Ground' obsessively before the race. Higher Ground is aggressive. It’s unrelenting. It is a track that does not back down. In other words, it's a great 'personal best' track.

Prepare for battle...

October 11th 2019

As much as a daunting long run intimidates, a challenging session of intervals at the track intimidates more. A long run 'might' result in some fatigue and discomfort. The track GUARANTEES fatigue and discomfort.  So, don't think of an interval session as 'running'. Think of it as a 'battle'. In order to survive, you have to be in the right head space. You also need the right plan of attack.  Stepping into the ring with a tough looking session of 400s and/or 800's is not for the meek or timid. But, if you want to notch a personal best, you're going to have to fight for it. Prepare for battle on the track properly and you'll be ready for it on race day. How to warmup before hitting the track? I always encourage a quality warmup before any run. But, warming up before a session at the track is pretty much mandatory. Forgoing warmup can definitely impact your performance and increase the chance of injury. Ideally, this warmup should be more liberal than what you normally do. If you do nothing, do something. If you do something, do a bit more than you normally do.  You need to get your heart rate up. You need to break a bit of a sweat. You need to be 'warm' before you segue onto the track. Log an easy mile or two. Follow this up with some quality range of motion drills. There are COUNTLESS range of motion drills out there, but buttkicks, high knees, leg swings, and dynamic toe touches should definitely be in the mix. Unlike a longer, easier run when you can leverage the first mile or so to warmup, a session at the track allows no such luxury. You will be running hard from the get go. Your body needs to be ready for it. Lastly, dial up a few of your fight songs as you warmup. 'We Will Rock You', 'You've Got Another Thing Coming', and 'Welcome to the Jungle' always put me in the right headspace. Find the songs that will get you ready to rumble.  Which is the best way to tackle the track? Slow(er) or fast(er)? It's pretty common to be anxious when you hit the track. It's easy to go out too fast. Just as it rarely (never) pays to go out too fast at a race, such is the case with tackling the track. Consciously go out slower. If your target pace for a session of 400M intervals is 2:00, aim for 2:02 for your first interval. Think of your first couple trips around as a glorified warmup. After you've got the first couple intervals conquered, then segue into your target pace. How to be consistent while hitting the track? The best races are typically associated with consistent pacing from start to finish. The track presents a great opportunity to rehearse this consistency. Rehearse consistency at the track and you've got a better shot at winning the battle on race day. Once you've conquered the first 'slightly' slower intervals and segued into your target pace, lock it in. Try to keep your pacing consistent for the majority of your session. Assuming a target pace of 2:00 for 400M, try to keep the majority of your intervals between 2:00-2:05. If you find yourself struggling to keep your intervals within a five second range, you likely started too fast. If your pacing continues to get slower for each subsequent interval, you likely went out too fast.  How to finish it? While 'consistency is king', try to save your best for last. Finish fast if at all possible.  For that last lap, dig deep. Find that extra gear. Fight through the discomfort and fatigue.  Notching a personal best on race day may require fighting through fatigue and discomfort. Do it enough times on the track and you can (likely) do it on race day. 

Going long...

October 11th 2019

It looms on your training schedule like a storm. It's daunting. It's intimidating. It's the toughest run of the week. I'm talking about the 'long run'. A long run can be an amazing, life affirming experience that takes you places you never thought you could go. But, an improperly executed long run can bring you to your knees. I've experienced transcendence and been brought to my knees numerous times by the beast known as the 'long run'. Along the way, I've learned a few things about how to slay this beast. Read on for a few ideas around how to maximize the chances of transcendence and minimize the chances of finding yourself on your knees. Before.  Treat the night before a long run largely as an exercise in relaxing. Do some gentle stretching, some foam rolling, some light yoga, and/or take a hot bath. Focus on doing whatever it is that makes your body happy and relaxed.  If you have plans the evening before going long, keep things light. Don't go on a bender. Don't stay out late.  Assuming you stay in, aim to get your last meal of the day in early (5ish) and make sure it's a nice mix of lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Drink plenty of fluids. Ideally, urine should be clear and copious by the time you turn in for the evening.  Before you turn in for the evening, do some due diligence. Take a look at the course you're running the next day. Identify the challenging segments. Make a mental note of where they're located. These are spots where you may need to adjust your pace/level of effort.  If you want to go the 'extra mile', spend a little time visualizing your run. Turn off the lights. Close your eyes and visualize your self running strong. Visualize yourself at the challenging points of your long run battling through fatigue and persevering.  If you need some additional 'runspiration', dial up a few of your fight songs the night before. If there are books or movies that help get you in the right headspace, dial them up. Do what you need to do to get your head ready for battle. Aim to get up an hour or two early and get some fuel in the tank before you hit the road. Exactly what you consume is largely dependent upon 'when' you're running. If you're eating something an hour before your long run, keep it light. I usually do something like half a bagel with a little peanut (or almond) butter and half a banana. A cup of yogurt works well for me as well. Experiment with a few different options and find what works best for you. During. Whatever target pace you have in mind for your long run, aim to go out a bit slower for the first few miles. Going slower initially usually allows you an opportunity to suss out how you're feeling and what kind of day it's going to be. If you're feeling stellar after the first few miles, segue into your target pace. If not, you might want to simply maintain a slower pace for a few more miles. Aim to ingest fluids every 15-20 mins (or according to thirst). Make sure you're not just taking in water. You need to replace electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium as well). NUUN is a great product for replacing electrolytes, but there are tons of other products out there that can help you replace electrolytes. In a similar vein, try to take in a GU Energy gel (or something similar) every 45-60 mins. If your long run is only about 45-60 mins, you may be able to skip taking something in. But, if you're staring down a long run of two hours (or more), you definitely need to consume something during your long run. Try to avoid getting ahead of yourself. Make things small. Focus on the mile that is right in front of you.  As fatigue sets in during the latter stages, a mile may begin to feel more daunting than usual. So, make things even 'smaller'. Focus on the next stop sign, bush, or block.  When the fatigue starts to pile up, voices of doubt have a nasty tendency to creep in. Confidence can wane. Just as you need a nutrition/hydration strategy, you need a strategy for silencing these voices. Try using a mantra. My go to mantra is 'focus and relax'. When I'm markedly fatigued, I try to repeat this mantra over and over again in my head. It makes it harder for the voices of doubt to creep in and derail me. Remind yourself that you've tackled something as tough (or tougher) than what you're currently doing. If you don't have a run or workout you can point to that's been as tough or tougher, surely there's something in life you've dealt with that has challenged you. Remind yourself of the challenging things you've overcome in the past.  Try to consciously focus on running as efficiently and economically as possible. Your form tends to degrade when you're fatigued. If you're running on fumes, the last thing you want is to run 'less' efficiently. Focusing on form also helps keep your mind trained on something positive. After. Exhausted and spent, there's a natural impulse to collapse, curl up in the fetal position, and cry following a long run. Feel free to cry, but try to avoid immediately collapsing and curling up in a fetal position. There's still some work that needs to be done. Your body is optimally positioned for recovery within the first 30-45 minutes following your long run. It behooves you to take advantage of this window. Take advantage and you'll likely be walking around like a normal person the next day.  Spend a few minutes simply walking. Over the course of the miles (and hours), a ton of lactic acid (and other unpleasant stuff) has taken up residence in your legs. Simply walking around for 5-10 mins. can help flush it out.  While you're walking around, knock back some water/sports drink. Even if you've been hydrating diligently, you're likely still somewhat dehydrated.  It's also a great idea to consume something with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. Chocolate milk actually has this ratio. It also goes down pretty easy after a tough long run.  After 5-10 minutes of walking, segue into some liberal stretching and/or self- massage with a foam roller. Stretching will help lengthen/elongate anything that is tight/contracted. Self-massage will help increase blood flow and facilitate the healing process. While it's not easy to do, a quality ice bath 30-45 minutes following a long run can go a long way towards expediting recovery. Draw a cold bath. While the bath is being drawn, brew some coffee or tea to drink while you're soaking. It's also not a bad idea to put on a turtleneck or something warm on your upper body. Once the cold bath is drawn, soak your lower body for about 15-20 minutes. If you want to take things to the next level, dump a couple bags of ice in the tub after you sit down. Soaking in an ice bath may be the LAST thing you want to do, but many of the best runners on the planet use this technique to recover from their runs.  If you can manage to execute some or all of what I've outlined above, your long runs likely won't bring you to your knees (nearly as much). You may even find yourself enjoying going long.

A trail for ten cities..

October 11th 2019

It's likely that wherever you are, there is some kind of trail network nearby that you can leverage. If you're not sure where to begin, we can help. Below are ten cities and a trail (or two) for each of them. So, lace up your trail kicks and prepare to get dirty! Boulder, CO. Boulder is a veritable mecca for trail runners. The high altitude, the amazing views, and the endless miles of trails attracts some of the best runners (road or trail) on the planet. If you're looking for wide, fire roads or technical, rocky ascends, you can find it in Boulder. If you're just getting into trail running, the Flatirons Vista Loop has fairly gentle terrain with some slight hills. If you're looking to develop some strength and endurance, give Mount Sanitas a look. This small mountain provides plenty of tough climbing. San Francisco, CA. Nestled within the Presidio is the largest trail network in San Francisco. From Julius Kahn Park you can follow Ecology Trail deep into the heart of the Presidio. Alternatively, you can follow the trail across Arguello, connect with Bay Area Ridge Trail and make your way to one of the best views in the entire city, Immigrant Point Overlook. Most of the trails in the Presidio are friendly to beginners with little technical terrain and few major climbs. If you're looking for something tougher, head north across the Golden Gate Bridge into the Marin Headlands where you'll find some of the best trail running in the Bay Area.  Portland, OR. Portland is a trail runner's paradise. Many of the trails in Portland are surrounded by dense forests with heavy canopies that keep runners relatively dry. Back Creek Canyon is a popular spot and well suited to beginner trail runners. The trails are relatively flat and pass by a number of points of interest including some of Portland's largest Douglas Fir Trees. For a more challenging jaunt, tackle the North Wildwood Trail that follows the contour of ridge that Forest Park covers. You can expect gently rolling hills, old-growth trees, and bubbling streams. You can also expect no shortage of peace and solitude. New York, NY.  Central Park is your best bet if you're in or around Manhattan. If you're looking to get your trail fix, the Bridle Path Loops are likely your best bet. Both loops are on soft packed dirt. With no technical terrain and no substantive climbing, the Bridle Path Loops are a good place to cut your trail running teeth. If you're a bit more seasoned, give Sandy Hook a look. It's a great spot during the summer for a quality trail run (and post run beach time). You can expect log hops, roots, and more.  Santa Fe, NM.  If you need a quick and dirty handful of trail miles, check out the Dale Ball Trails. If you're staying in the Plaza downtown, you can access this 22 mile trail network just a few miles up Hyde Park Road. The terrain is largely smooth and rolling. So, it's accessible to trail newbies and veterans alike. If you're feeling really ambitious, it's possible to run from the north end of town to the towers at the top of Ski Santa Fe. Be advised, this run is 18 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing.  Potomac, MD. If you're in Maryland and jonesing for some trail running, Billy Goat Trail is your best bet. This trail connects the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Potomac River just outside of Washington D.C. This trail includes '3' sections (A, B, C). If you're new to the trails, you probably want to stick to sections B & C. If you've got a few trail miles under your belt, Section A includes some rugged, rocky, challenging terrain.  Asheville, NC.  One of the best trail running sports in North Carolina is the Art Loeb Trail. This trail network is 30 miles long and located within the beautiful Pisgah National Forest. The network is broken up into four sections. You can opt for a shorter, out/back segment if you're new to the trails or tackle ascending and descending peaks near the Blue Ridge Parkway if you need something more challenging. Williamsburg, MI. Not far from Traverse City is a stellar trail network known as Vasa Pathway. There are loops of 3K, 5K, 10K, and 25K are well marked and maintained year round. No matter how much trail experience you have, this trail network has something that will work for you. Additionally, you can expect no shortage of natural beauty with wildflowers in the spring/summer, amazing fall foliage, and snow covered pines in the winter.  Renton, WA.  About 20 miles from Seattle you'll find Cougar Mountain Wildland Park. This park includes 30 miles of trails that wind through the park's wildlands. There are smooth and flat segments well suited for beginners as well as steep singletrack segments for those seeking a challenge. No matter what kind of trail run you're looking for, you can expect lush forests and epic views.  Helena, MT. Helena boasts over 70 miles of singletrack trail running and amazing ridegline views. One of the best spots to get some quality trail running in is Mount Helena City Park. The park is about 620 acres, rises 1,300 feet above town, and offers six trails totaling 20 miles.  Given the multitude of trails at Mount Helena City Park, there are plenty of quality options for new and seasoned trail runners. BTW, if you like knocking back a beer or two following your trail adventures, check out the offerings at Blackfoot River Brewing Company.

Tackling the 'Super Bowl' of running

October 11th 2019

I love blazingly fast 5Ks. I'm a fan of challenging 10K's. The half marathon is also a blast. But, there's one distance that holds a special place in my heart.  It's the veritable 'Super Bowl' of running. I'm talking about the 'marathon'. The marathon promises agony, ecstasy, and everything in between. There's an undeniable mystique to this distance. Getting to the starting line, let alone the finish line, is a daunting task. But, it's this very opportunity to challenge one's perceived limits that seduces countless would be marathon runners.  I'm not going to claim anyone can (or should) tackle a marathon. I think 'most' can if they really, REALLY want to. But, before you decide to tackle 26.2, there are a few things you should think about. Does your schedule/lifestyle allow for training for a marathon? Everyone 'wants' to conquer a marathon. The 'idea' of doing it is amazing. Running 26.2 miles is an incredible accomplishment.  But, does your lifestyle support it? Are you working 12-16 hour days? Are you married with kids? Training properly for a marathon is akin to taking on a part-time job. You've got plenty of miles to log every week. But, there's more to it than logging the miles. You have to prepare for long runs. You need to recover from your long runs. You need to get more sleep. There are a litany of 'little' things you must do when training for 26.2. All these little things take time and energy. If you're already running a bit short on both, now may not be the best time to take on the marathon.  Do you have enough miles under your belt? The demands of training for 26.2 are non-trivial. Before you dive headlong into a challenging marathon training cycle, make sure you're ready for it. I recommend getting at least 2-3 half marathons under your belt before exploring the marathon. If you're brand new to running, I'd discourage tackling a marathon right away. Your body needs some time to simply adapt to a regular running routine. Get a solid 6-9 months (at least) of regular running in before you start thinking about going after the marathon.  Can your body handle a marathon training? I've been extraordinarily fortunate to cross the finish line of every marathon I've entered. Some are not so lucky. Some end up in a medical tent. Some end up in the hospital. Some never come home. I don't say this to frighten. It's just the truth. At virtually every marathon, a 'small' percentage of the runners who show up have some kind of medical problem. See your doctor and get a thorough checkup. Make sure there aren't any underlying medical issues that might present problems down the road. It's critically important to do what you can to make sure your body is capable of handling 26.2. How bad do you want it? Training for a marathon is a major project. A typical training cycle for 26.2 can be anywhere from 12-26 weeks depending upon your current running fitness. You're looking at 3-6 months of consistent training.  The marathon is a serious commitment. You're going to have to make sacrifices and compromises in other areas of your life to make it happen. Your life must change (at least temporarily) in order to train properly.  During the course of your training, there will be days when the weather gods frown on you. Some runs will be rough from start to finish. There will be times when you simply don't want to run, but must.  So, you need to ask yourself, how bad do you want it? If you want it bad enough, you can deal with the crappy weather. If it means enough to you, you'll find away to survive the runs that simply suck. The marathon is a daunting challenge that requires a lot from anyone who endeavors to conquer one. But, if you can commit to the training and endure the inevitable challenges that accompany said training, you may just find glory on race day. 

Reasons to love running...

October 11th 2019

I wish I could tell you I fell in love with running immediately. But, it wasn’t love at first mile. My romance with running was a bit of a slow burn. Once the soreness and fatigued faded, the love started to blossom. But, it’s a romance that’s had ups and downs. We’ve even taken a few breaks. But, I can never breakup with running. There are many reasons why my love for running will never die. But, I will keep this brief and stick to just a few. Read on for a few of the many reasons to love running. It is a fantastic salve for stress, anxiety, and depression. I got into running when I was an awkward, anxious adolescent. I was uncomfortable in my own skin most of the time. Then, I found running. Whatever troubling thoughts rattling around in my head seemed to disappear as soon as I got a mile or two under my belt. The challenges of adolescence felt less challenging. Running was a salve. It still is today. When stress, anxiety, or the blues hits me, few things help turn things around like a few miles on the road or trail. There’s plenty of science that backs up this idea as well. If you find yourself feeling out of sorts, try lacing up and getting a few miles in. It makes you smarter. While the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other may ‘appear’ simple, running actually requires more brain power than you might think. Running is an act that requires a lot of coordination. It also requires careful thought and strategy, particularly if you’re tackling a challenging long run or tough interval session. Recent studies have shown the brains of runners have a number of different connections tied to higher level thought that you don’t see with those who are sedentary. There also is more connectivity in runners than in those who are sedentary between parts of the brain that aid in working memory, multitasking, attention, decision-making, and the processing of visual and other sensory information. If you think about it, this only makes sense. You’re doing a lot when you run and it’s not all about your legs and your heart. The head does plenty when you run. So, you’re strengthening your mind when you lace up and hit the road (or trail). It slows the aging process. While Botox and all manner of cosmetic enhancements, augmentations, and ‘repairs’ might help preserve the ‘appearance’ of youth, running is actually the real deal. I’m not claiming logging a few miles can turn back time or grant you immortality. But, recent research suggests running does slow the aging process. A recent study revealed that telomerase length and activity increased by two- to three-fold in an endurance running group compared to a sedentary group. Telomeres shorten as we age which leaves our cells vulnerable to damage. So, keeping telomeres long and active helps prevent cell deterioration. If you want to slow the aging process and preserve your youth as long as possible, keep running. It gets you high. The runner’s high is real. My experience with the high has always been a wonderful feeling of peace, happiness, relaxation, and vague euphoria. Talk to just about any runner who has experienced the runner’s high and you will likely hear a similar description. The blissful experience of the high is what keeps many runners coming back mile after mile. If you’ve never experienced it, log a few more miles and you’ll likely find yourself intoxicated. In case you’re wondering, the runner’s high is largely attributable to the release of endocannabinoids. The impact is similar to that of cannabis. If you want to increase your odds of catching the high, try a long, slow run of 1-2 hours.

What's Your (Running) Story, Davina?

October 11th 2019

She’s conquered 17 half marathons. But, none of them were quite as special as the one she completed in Okinawa this past January. At age 60, Davina Lock tackled the 60th edition of the Nago Half Marathon! Notching her 18th half marathon was no walk in the park. Davina hadn’t done ANY consistent training in nearly three years. Additionally, training in Okinawa meant she was usually confronted with staggering heat/humidity or rain. In short, nearly every run was a ‘developmental opportunity’. Every runner aspires to run well into their 50’s, 60’s, and beyond. Davina is doing just that. Read on for some details about Davina’s journey and what keeps her lacing up and hitting the road year after year. Got a compelling, inspiring, amazing, transcendent, or insanely funny running story for us? Drop Marathon Matt a line at MARATHONMATT@SPORTME.COM and we'll feature your story in the newsletter! Congrats on conquering your half marathon, Davina! What was your motivation for running a half marathon? Was this your first attempt at 13.1? I have run 17 half marathons in the past. But, not since moving to Okinawa in 2016.  I turned 60 this year and this year’s Nago Half was the 60th anniversary of the race. I thought it would be fun to do the 60th at 60. Also, it is swelteringly hot and humid in Okinawa during in the summer. So, I thought running a half marathon in January would be the perfect time of year. Did you encounter any challenges while preparing for your half marathon (bad weather? Illness? Injury? Anything else)?  My challenges started with not being a consistent runner in 3 years. From 2009 until March 2016, I ran numerous races and was always in the training frame of mind striving for a better and better personal best. My first half marathon was a very hard 2:40:01 and my best was 2:16:21. When I moved to Okinawa, I ran less and less. I eventually stopped training consistently in October of 2016. After that I ran no more than 2 or 3 miles at a time and only a few days a week, MAYBE. So, getting back into regular, consistent training like I had done in the past was a real challenge.    The weather here is either sweltering hot typhoon season (with rain) or rainy season. So, weather is often a challenge. But, I started my training in October and the weather was great, initially. But, by December, the runs became more challenging and I was dealing with rain most of the time. My brother is a trainer and long ago I told him I couldn’t run if it was raining.  He said, ‘A Runner Runs. PERIOD.’  So, was I a runner or not.? I knew I was a runner. So, I ran. Since I was going to sweat anyway, what was a little rain? Some of the hardest speed workouts were in pouring rain. But in the end – It RAINED from mile 9.5 to 13.1 on Race Day. So, all the miles I logged in less than ideal conditions served me well on race day. You logged a LOT of miles during the course of your training. Did you 'treat' yourself following some of your long runs? If so, what kind of 'treats' are we talking about? I never gave myself a “treat” for my long runs per se, but I did allow myself a sweet now and then knowing I was logging many miles. My biggest “treat” was sharing my splits with my trainer brother.  I was so excited. I was doing so well after such a long break from consistent training. Seeing improvement was the greatest treat. You ran four times a week to prepare for your half marathon. Was there anything else you did to prepare for 13.1? Yes. Before I started training, I had just finished Beach Body 80 Day Obsession, which is very challenging. After completing Beach Body, I saw a HUGE improvement in the strength of my legs.  Then, I started doing Beach Body Lift for strengthening my upper body.  I continued to do Lift as I trained for my half marathon; often doing a hard weight workout followed by running.  My body was SCREAMING after these training sessions, but I knew it was due to pushing myself in a positive way. I fully attribute the great half marathon I ran on race day to the mixture of a strong body and an excellent running program.  Both challenged me, but it was totally worth it. Was there any point at which you found your long runs 'mentally' challenging? If so, how did you ‘mentally’ manage your long runs as your training progressed?  Yes. Long runs are always mentally challenging. But, having completed a FULL marathon in the past, I knew I could do this. I kept telling myself, ‘I CAN DO HARD THINGS!!’  I always do a lot of positive self-talk. I actually say it out loud when I run.  I CAN do this!  I AM a Strong Runner!!  I love to dance, so I would listen to my favorite dance music sometimes. I would also think through some issues that were on my mind and spend some time praying during the latter miles of a tough long run. It sounds like training in Okinawa is TOUGH. Not only did you deal with significant rain, you had to deal with marked heat/humidity. How'd you manage this, and do you have any tips for runners dealing with similar conditions? I purchased various items that would stay cold during my runs. I would often freeze my hip belt water bottles, so they would stay cold throughout my run. I also adjusted my schedule. As much as I hate mornings, I would get up before the sun and run 4-5 miles in the dark with 75 degrees at 80% humidity. Then, after work, I’d log an additional 4-5 miles in scorching heat (95-100+ temps….crazy right?). Breaking the run up helped me get my miles in and endure the heat and humidity.  I still did my long runs on Saturday AM. But, I would be out around 6:30-7am.  My biggest tip for handling the heat is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. What were your biggest learnings during the period of time you trained for your half marathon? I may not be as young as I once was or nearly as fast as many Japanese women my age. But, I am only competing against myself. I learned that I “CAN” Do Hard Things. I also learned that I have many, many years of running left. I have a great role model in my mom who has been a competitive race walker for the past 30 years. She is now 84!!!  She just decided to do the New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon this February.  No matter what life throws at me, I know I CAN DO HARD THINGS!!! Would you do it all again? Absolutely. God willing, I have at least 20+ more years of enjoying racing running or walking. I thank Sport Me for an excellent training plan.  My goal was 2:30 and I got a very strong 2:21:57.  I even rode my bicycle back to the hotel and went on a bike ride later that day. It was a BLAST. Thank you!

There's running a race, then there's 'running' a race

October 11th 2019

If you're reading this, you're likely training for a race. If not, it's likely you've participated in a race in the not too distant past or will in the not too distant future. There are countless races of almost every distance imaginable on pavement, asphalt, or trail every weekend all over the country.  Races help people stay committed to their training. They provide an opportunity to connect with fellow runners from all over the world. Races also provide an opportunity to challenge your perceived limits.  But, what does it take to actually make a race happen? How do the bananas materialize at the finish line? Who makes the awesome medals you get when you cross the finish line? Why do races cost so much? This post sheds some light on the high level tasks, challenges, and expenses involved in producing a race. If you've ever wondered what it takes to bring a race to life, read on. Rest assured, 'running' a race is just as challenging (if not more so) as 'running' one!  Permits and insurance. Whether a race takes place on a trail, a road, or a treadmill, a permit is required. If we're talking about a big road race with THOUSANDS of runners, the cost of a permit could easily be THOUSANDS of dollars. But, before a check is even cut for the permit fee, a ton of paperwork (and meetings) has to be conquered.  In addition to wading through permit paperwork, meetings, and cutting a (typically large) check for permit fees, there's insurance. Whoever issues a race permit will likely require some kind of insurance which is another process involving more paperwork and more fees. All permit and insurance fees are likely paid by the race director before a single person has even registered for the race. Obtaining insurance and nailing down a permit is great, but there are still many miles left to cover before the gun fires and the race comes to life. Road closures, course marshals, and traffic management.  If a race takes place on the road, there will likely be road closures. Road closures don't come cheap. Depending upon how many roads are being closed, when they're being closed, and the impact of said road closures, the expense associated with this could easily be THOUSANDS of dollars.  Road closures may also necessitate hiring off duty police officers (at a steep hourly rate) to help manage key intersections and traffic. Assuming a number of road closures and intersections that need to be managed, a race might be paying THOUSANDS of dollars to a veritable army of off duty police officers.  A trail race with no road closures will likely be markedly less expensive, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a slam dunk. Trail races typically require a number of course marshals at key trail intersections to help runners navigate the race effectively. The SWAG! Virtually all races provide their runners with some awesome post race 'SWAG'. Typically, this SWAG includes a shirt, a medal, and some snacks/beverages/goodies. Just as permits, insurance, road closures, and off duty police officers have a pricetag, so does SWAG. Orders for shirts and medals are usually made weeks (or longer) out from race day. This means the shirt and medal order(s) are largely an educated guess. So, leftover shirts and medals are common with most races. If a race is LARGE, the order for shirts and medals could (once again) easily cost THOUSANDS of dollars.  Sponsors may provide 'in-kind' donations of snacks, beverages, and goodies. But, if this kind of sponsorship doesn't materialize, the race foots the bill for all of the snacks, beverages, and goodies.  Volunteers. You may be wondering how any race can turn a profit given the various expenses involved in just getting one off the ground. Fortunately, much of the work required on race day can be done by volunteers. This would (seemingly) be a win. But, a large race may require hundreds of volunteers. A large race with an army of volunteers likely necessitates hiring a volunteer manager to assign tasks, communicate details, and more to all volunteers. Getting solid, quality volunteers for a large race still comes with a bit of a pricetag.  Sponsors. If a race is small, sponsorship will likely come largely in the form of 'in-kind' donations. There are companies looking to get their products/brands in front of runners. Donating some product to a race (or two) is a great way to get some exposure. Hopefully, the inclusion of said product will also improve the experience (and value proposition) of the race. A large race might be fortunate enough to have one (or more) sponsor(s) cutting checks. If you've ever wondered why a company's logo appears on all the race shirts, all the goodie bags, all the medals, etc., it's likely because said company cut a generous sponsorship check.  Any sponsorship revenue a large race receives is likely used to help cover the (likely steep) cost of production of the race. Again, that cost of production includes permit fees, insurance, shirts, medals, and the list goes on. So, a sponsorship check or two can go a long way towards a race surviving for another year (or more).  The pricetag. Races are expensive! I hear this sentiment not infrequently. It's generally valid. The pricetag for most races is not inexpensive. But, the cost associated with producing a race isn't cheap either. Small or big, the race you sign up for has likely spent THOUSANDS of dollars before you even get to the starting line.  While this knowledge may not make the pricetag of a race easier to swallow, it might make it more palatable.  Training for and running a race is non-trivial. But, footing the bill for and producing a race isn't a walk in the park either. Whoever produces the race you're participating in similarly invested days, weeks, months, and plenty of dollars in making the race happen.  So, runners and race directors are kindred spirits. Both have endured. Both have persisted. Both desperately hope for a positive experience on race day.  So, if you have a positive experience on race day, let the race director know you enjoyed yourself. Post a positive review on Yelp. Give the race some love on social media. 

Your race blew up in your face, now what?

October 11th 2019

After days, weeks, and months of training, race day arrives. You're excited at the prospect of running a great race and/or perhaps posting a personal best. But, that's not the way it plays out.  Everything goes wrong. Your race blows up in your face. After all the hard work you did, what you're left with is a disaster.  You might be struggling to process your disastrous race. You might be thinking you want to burn your running shoes and put your race singlet in a paper shredder. But, don't do this yet. I've got a few ideas about how you can diagnose your disaster, bounce back, and perhaps run better than ever. Do a quality post-mortem. Bad races don't typically happen in a vacuum. There are (almost) always reasons why things went off the rails. Take a close look at ALL the things that might have catalyzed your disastrous race. It's possible you trained 'too much'. This may sound crazy, but it's very common. Most runners 'overtrain'. If you didn't rest/recover enough or you didn't taper properly, this might have contributed to a lackluster performance on race day.  It's possible you didn't train enough. I realized about 16-18 miles into my first marathon I hadn't trained enough. It made those last 8-10 miles brutal and resulted in a pretty unpleasant race. Personal and/or professional stressors may have been at play. People often don't think about it, but stress can TOTALLY interfere with your ability to perform. If you were inordinately stressed out in the days leading up to your race, this might have contributed to your crappy race. There are a litany of reasons why your race might have gone off the rails. Spend some time sussing them out. See if you can hone in on a few of the culprits. Don't obsess. Crappy races wound you. These wounds don't often heal easily. While I'd advise digging deep to hone in on what went wrong, don't hold onto this race too long. What transpired on race day is likely an aberration. It's most likely NOT an indication that you're not meant to run. It's most likely not an indication that something much bigger is wrong. So, don't obsess about your disastrous race. Try to think of it as an anomaly. The painful truth is you're not 'really' a runner until you've had a crappy race.  Move on. It's understandable that you might not be in the kind of headspace to resume running or training right now. That's totally fine. But, do something to move forward. For me, this means indulging other passions. I'm a voracious reader, so I dive even deeper into whatever book is on my bedside table. If books aren't your jam, spend some quality time doing something that makes you happy.  I've found that a few days or a few weeks away from running can be just what I need. Usually, the urge to log a few miles creeps in. When it does, I indulge in whatever way makes sense. Once I lace up and head out, I'm not thinking of it as training. I'm not even necessarily thinking of it as running. I'm just thinking of it as doing something I love.  Give it another shot. This may be the toughest step in the process of bouncing back from a crappy race. Pull the trigger and sign up for another race. The best way to deal with a disastrous race in my experience is to (eventually) get back on the horse and give it another shot.  In full disclosure, my first marathon was a complete disaster. It was an experience that cut deeply. But, I recognized the errors I made in preparing for my first crack at 26.2. The mistakes I made informed my next attempt at 26.2. My second marathon ended up being a glowing success. I shaved nearly 30 minutes off my time.  So, glean whatever insights you can from your disaster and use them. If you can learn something from your disastrous race, it's more than likely your next race will be a much better experience. 

Are you ready for 26.2?

October 14th 2019

The marathon is a race like no other. 26.2 miles is a staggering distance. It’s a distance that simultaneously intimidates and inspires. While I think nearly everyone can do ‘some’ kind of running, I don’t necessarily think everyone can (or should) do a marathon. But, I completely understand the desire to do one. If you’re mulling over the marathon, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you pull the trigger. If your answer to all (or most) of these questions is ‘yes’, it might be time for you to get ready for 26.2 Do you have enough time to train for 26.2? Training for 26.2 requires time. I am not just talking about the time it takes to complete a long run. I am also talking about the time it takes to properly prepare for a beastly long run and recover from one. Nutrition and hydration might have given short shrift while training for other distances, but you don’t have that luxury with the marathon. You need to be well hydrated and fueled for your long runs. This likely means getting up early prior to your long runs to get something in your stomach and throw back some fluids. You also need to leverage the 30-45 minutes immediately following a long run to expedite the recovery process. This typically involves stretching, hydrating, re-fueling, foam rolling, and possibly taking an ice bath. Independent of the the time demanded by a typical long run (before/during/after), a marathon training cycle consumes plenty of time. It’s inevitably longer than training for any other distance. If you’re in half marathon shape, it will likely take you 3-4 months to prepare. If not, it could be more like 5-6 months (or longer). Make sure you have the time to commit to training before tackling a marathon. Do you have enough training to give your first marathon a shot? If you’ve never done any kind of running before, going from 0 to 26.2 may not be the best idea. Running is an extremely taxing activity and it’s a major undertaking just to simply get into the kind of shape where you can run on a regular basis. If you’re coming off the couch, I would recommend spending a year (or more) simply getting into a regular running routine. If you’re running for the first time, Try to simply get comfortable with the act of running. Log a couple half marathons. Then, give the marathon another look. If you’ve already got a few half marathons under your belt and a few years of regular running, it might be a good time to stare down 26.2. Of course, this assumes you’ve got the time (and inclination) to do so. Are you ok with the increased risk of aggravation/injury that comes with training for 26.2? The incidence of aggravation and/or injury increases with those training for 26.2. If you’re currently recovering from an injury or are injury prone, this is something to consider. While I love the marathon, every serious running injury I have incurred has been associated with training for this distance. I don’t share this to take the wind out of your sails, but I’d be remiss in my role as a coach to not make you aware of the risk associated with training for the marathon. I don’t want any of my runners getting injured. If you follow a quality schedule and take care of your body, you might be just fine. But, there’s a chance you might hit a speed bump during your marathon training that sidelines you. Just keep this in mind. Do you want it bad enough? You might have the time, training, and absence of fear around getting injured, but the last question you should ask yourself is the most important one. Do you want it bad enough? Training for a marathon is a daunting endeavor no matter what kind of shape you’re in or what kind of running experience you have. It’s a serious commitment. Your social life might take a hit. Other interests and/or hobbies might need to take a back seat. The marathon demands concessions and compromises in order to prepare for it. It involves a large investment of time and energy. It also does involve an increased chance of injury. So, you really need to take a long look at all of these considerations. After you’ve done so, you need to ask yourself ‘Do you want it bad enough?’ If after doing so, you still desperately, passionately, undyingly want to conquer 26.2, go for it. I will do whatever I can to help!

Why the half marathon might be your jam...

October 11th 2019

While the marathon has a certain mystique and ends up on countless bucket lists every day, it's not the most popular distance. Far more people run half marathons every year. 13.1 might not have the same kind of allure 26.2 does, but there are some very good reasons why this distance resonates for so many people. Half marathon training is not an all consuming affair. A typical marathon training cycle can easily be 16-20 weeks depending upon your current level of running fitness. This is 4-5 months of running three (or more days) a week. It's likely this routine includes cross-training, yoga, stretching, foam rolling, and more. Training for 26.2 can be a life consuming endeavor. Training for a half marathon is not nearly as demanding. I've known many people who get into half marathon shape in 10-12 weeks from simply running 2-3 times/week. I'm not saying this approach will get you a personal best, but it can get you across the finish line. If you want to get into great running shape and still have a balanced lifestyle, the half marathon is worth a long look. The risk of injury is lower with the half. I love the marathon. But, the truth is every serious running related aggravation and injury I've sustained has been associated with training for this distance. I'm not alone in this department. The risk of aggravation and injury spikes considerably when training for 26.2. Just running a single stride can generate 3-7 times in impact force per footstrike. Consider doing this for 26.2 miles versus 13.1. The marathon simply asks much more of your body than a half marathon. The half distance poses a far lower risk of aggravation and injury. I've worked with thousands of runners over the years. The aggravations and injuries I see with the half are far less frequent and far less severe than with the full. So, if steering clear of aggravations and injuries while maintaining a high level of running fitness is one of your goals, the half marathon is worth your consideration. It's easier to recover from a half marathon. The general rule of recovery for running is about a day per mile. So, if you run 3 miles, you're theoretically not 'fully' recovered from this run until three days later. This doesn't mean you can't run during this stretch, but you might need to take it a bit easier for a day or so. If you're training for a marathon, you'll eventually stare down a 20 miler. There's a reason why the longest run (often 20+ miles) is usually three weeks out from race day during a marathon training cycle. It's because your body needs about three weeks to fully recover from a run as demanding as this. Conversely, log a 10 miler while training for a half marathon and you're likely going to feel fully recovered in little more than a week. The half doesn't demand nearly as much as the full. So, recovering from a long run during a half marathon training cycle is going to be much faster. If you're bound and determined to conquer 26.2, I get it. But, at least get into solid half marathon shape first. Get a few 13.1's under your belt. In the process of doing so you may just discover that the half marathon is actually your jam.

What's the keto diet all about?

October 11th 2019

When you run at a moderate speed, your primary fuel source is carbohydrates. This is largely because carbohydrates are an easily accessible fuel source that reside in your muscles, liver, and blood. But, if you run long enough, your body will start to exhaust its supply of carbohydrates. As your body runs low on carbohydrates, it begins to leverage more fat as a fuel source. This usually occurs right around the time you begin to hit the dreaded 'wall'. When you hit the wall, you almost inevitably slow down. Running becomes much tougher. This is largely because fat is not the most efficient fuel source for the act of running. It's harder for your body to access it.  This is unfortunate as 'pound for pound' you get more energy from a gram of fat than you do from a gram of carbohydrates. You also (likely) have way more fat available to use as a fuel source than carbohydrates. Imagine if you could find a way to leverage all that fat to fuel your running.  As It turns out, you can. You can train your body to use more fat. One way to do this is by utilizing the 'keto diet'.  We reached out to Registered Dietician and Sports Nutritionist, Sarah Koszyk to weigh in on the Keto Diet and whether or not it's something runners should consider as a way to improve their running performance. Read on for the lowdown. So, exactly what is the 'keto diet'? The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake (from 20-50 grams per day) and replacing the carbs with fat. Extremely low intake of carbs results in putting the body into a metabolic state called, ketosis. Ketosis is where the body produces ketones and instead of using carbs for energy, the body burns fat. Ketosis can be dangerous when too many ketones build up in the body. High levels can lead to dehydration and change the chemical balance of the blood. However, a steady state of ketosis can make one feel less hungry and it may help maintain muscle mass. If I'm training for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon, will the keto diet work for me? It will work if one is consistent with their intake. It takes the body about two to four days of eating very low amounts of carbs for the body to start burning fat for energy. People who choose to follow a keto diet need to strictly adhere to it to get the fat-burning results. You still need to make sure you are adequately fueling pre-, during, and post-run. The only difference is the source of fuel you are intaking. Are there any side effects with the keto diet? Low-carb diets can suppress some markers of protein synthesis and result in a potential reduction in high-energy performance. This results in less energy to go all out during training or in a race. Is the keto diet similar to the 'Whole30' diet where you do it for a limited period of time? Or is it a diet you can do all the time? The challenge for following a keto diet is maintaining it over time and not having “cheat” days where a person eats more carbs than allocated. The body needs time to sufficiently become fat-adapted so that it is trained to tap into fat stores for energy during activity. This process can take several months for runners to truly start to burn fat for fuel. People need to be diligent and super consistent with their food intake and that can be a challenge for some. It’s a diet you must do all the time. Will the keto diet impact my running? The bottom line is that fat can be used for fuel under strict conditions but runners need to be very consistent with their diet so the body can actually tap into fat stores. However, many people may not strictly adhere to the keto diet, and therefore, won’t allow their body to efficiently use fat for fuel. The average person who runs at higher intensities and shorter durations should focus on carbohydrates as the main fuel source. For optimal performance, include moderate carbs in one’s daily diet. Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, is a Bay Area-based Registered Dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and weight management. Sarah has helped hundreds of endurance athletes properly fuel for their events from ultrarunning, ironman, triathlons, and more. She is the nutrition columnist for UltraRunning Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and other publications including author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year. Connect with her at SarahKoszyk.com.