Brian’s Blog

How to Adjust Your Training to Summer Heat

Summer-running-top-tip-to-help-running-in-the-heat

“A secret to happiness it letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be.”  – Loubis and Champagne

Hello Runners,

Summer is certainly in full swing in Colorado and throughout the rest of the country.

I certainly felt the effects of the heat during my long run today, which resulted in a slowed pace and even having to cut the run short, because I started too late in the morning.

So, a couple of quick tips to help you better train in the heat include staying well-hydrated before, during, and after your runs. Also, run early in the morning or early evening and wear light colored high tech lightweight wicking fibers.

Here are a couple of other recommendations that I wanted to share with you:

Adjust Your Running Pace Accordingly

You should adjust your pace with increased heat and humidity, instead of trying to complete a run at a specific pace not adjusted for heat and humidity, and become discouraged that you didn’t achieve this pace. One way to adjust your pace is by feel. So, if your training plan calls for a long run at an easy pace, make sure to adjust the pace, so that it still feels easy, even with increased temperature and/or humidity.

Fellow running coach Jeff Gaudette has a pace calculator based on temperature and dew temperature (basically relative humidity). If you know these you can use this calculator to adjust your pace accordingly for an easy, tempo, or race pace training run:

https://runnersconnect.net/training/tools/temperature-calculator/

Beware of Proper Recovery

The summer also offers challenges as far as proper recovery. If we have to start our run earlier in the morning to beat the heat we may not be getting enough sleep at night. This can add up over time and result in us being more fatigued during our runs, especially if we are not adjusting our sleep schedule accordingly. Thus, you may need to adjust your expectations and pace accordingly, as well as your sleep schedule.

In addition, we tend to be more active with other activities during the summer, whether it’s yardwork, doing a hike or being at the beach the day before a run. These can all affect our running performance. Again, this will require us to adjust our expectations and our pace.

Recovery Between Workouts May Be Slowed

Our body is designed to stay in homeostasis to keep us alive, and this includes for our body temperature. During the summer months, more of your blood is being diverted to your skin to cool you, rather than transporting oxygen to and nutrients to your muscles to help them recover. Thus, recovery between workouts will be slowed and your muscles may not be repaired and as strong for your next workout.

Therefore, it can help, as Coach Jeff Gaudette recommends, to include an additional recovery day during your training week. You may also want to include an occasional down week. This can help you catch up on sleep, allow you to enjoy a consequence-free hike or day at the beach, and can help you avoid overtraining and getting frustrated with what appears to be a lack of progress.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

P.S. If you know anyone who might benefit from this email, please share this with them. Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page. Thank you.

How to Help Speed Your Recovery from Long Runs to Get the Most Out of Your Training

July 5 2019 Lower South Colony Lake Trip pic 2

Hello Runners,

While I was on a recent hike I thought about something I learned from fellow running coach Jay Johnson about recovery from long runs. It is important to perform some exercise on the day after a long run, or event like a marathon, to help speed recovery. Specifically, it is most beneficial to perform a non-running aerobic exercise that will still deliver oxygen-rich blood to the muscle fibers damaged by your long run. This extra oxygen will help speed the repair and recovery of these muscle fibers.

There are a variety of different aerobic exercises that can be beneficial, such as cycling or swimming. However, Coach Jay Johnson recommends that runners perform a brisk walk, or hike, at a pace of at least three miles per hour. He goes on to say this walk or hike should be performed in a flat area, or in an area with gently rolling hills.

I recommend that your brisk walk or hike be 45-60 minutes. You may also want to incorporate some foam rolling, active isolated stretching, yoga poses, or static stretching afterwards to further enhance your recovery from a long run.

So, start incorporating brisk walks or hikes after your long runs to help you recover faster and be more ready for your next tough run.

An added benefit is that the brisk walk, or hike, allows you to spend some quality time with friends and/or loved ones. I often perform recovery hikes with my wife and dog, which allows for some great connection time.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

P.S. If you know anyone who might benefit from this post, please share this with them. Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page, by clicking on the Facebook icon, which will direct you to the like button on Denver Running Coach. Thank you.

Include Hill Repeats to Be Stronger on Race Day and to Transition from Shorter, Higher Intensity Work Bouts to Longer Tempo and Goal-Pace Runs During Your Training

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”

Hello Runners,

As I reached mile 25, I saw the beast in front of me. It was the last obstacle standing between me and qualifying for the Boston Marathon for the first time, and it was formidable. I saw it take its toll on other runners before me as they struggled to ascend, with many having to walk. It seemed like a cruel joke.

I’d arrived the day before without my luggage, including my running shoes and running clothes, which had been taken from me, by an overzealous flight attendant, as I could not stuff the carry-on they were in either under my seat or the overhead bin. Unfortunately for me, my flight later got redirected, as did my luggage, because of a thunderstorm. As a result, I arrived the afternoon before the marathon without my luggage, and I was now in need of running clothes and shoes. I got the clothes at the expo and shoes at a local running store. I walked around as much as possible to break them in that evening.

When I arrived at the start line the next morning, I had pretty much given up on my goal of qualifying for Boston. Sure, I’d put the training in, but now I was running in new shoes that weren’t broken in and I wasn’t absolutely sure they were the right size and fit.  Who knows if they were going to cause blisters and other issues during the marathon. However, my mindset changed after about a mile when another runner flew by me. I decided to catch him and it was “game on” as far as qualifying for Boston.

After each mile, I did the math in my head as far as what pace I needed to run to still qualify. As I got to mile 25, qualifying for Boston was within my reach. However, I’d forgotten about this hill. The last major obstacle I would need to overcome to qualify. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so to me walking any part of the hill was not an option. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, however part of my training had included hill work, including hill repeats; the topic of this post.

How To Perform Hill Repeats 

I recommend performing hill repeats on a hill with approximately 4-6% incline. The best surfaces to perform these on are a hard-packed trail free of roots, rocks, etc. or on a treadmill. You can perform these on the road, which I did in preparing for this marathon. If you perform hill repeats on the road, I do recommend recovering with a walk to minimize stress on the joints.

Perform a dynamic warmup and easy run first, of at least 15-20 minutes before performing hill repeats. Then perform 4-6 hill repeats at a comfortably hard effort (~5k pace). Recover with a slow jog or walk for at least 3 minutes. To start, I would perform hill repeats lasting 30-45 seconds. Then progress the length of the hill repeats for the next two weeks.

Sample Hill Repeat Progression

Week 1: 4-6 x 30-45 second hill repeats with 3 minute recovery in between hill repeats

Week 2: 4-6 x 45-60 second hill repeats with 3-4 minute recovery

Week 3: 4 x 60-75 second hill repeats with 3-5 minute recovery

Benefits of Hills Repeats

  • Strengthen the muscles of the legs (quadriceps, glutes, calves, etc.)
  • Increasing range of motion of the ankle joint
  • Help transition from shorter, higher intensity work bouts like VO2max intervals to tempo and goal-pace runs
  • Improve running form and running economy (efficiency)

Fortunately, I had incorporated hill repeats in my training for this marathon. I was still strong enough to attack this hill and run all of it. Then, I was able to push myself and finish strong for the last two tenths of a mile. As a result, I beat my qualifying time and I was able to laugh at all the obstacles I had encountered in my way, including that last hill.

So, I recommend that you consider incorporating hill repeats into your training. I typically include these with runners I coach.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Embrace the hills during training because they will pay off on marathon day.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

P.S. If you know anyone who might benefit from this email, please share this with them (there is a share button below). Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page. Thank you.

Make Some of Your Long Runs More Challenging Than Your Marathon To Make Your Marathon Easier

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

Hello Runners,

Over the past few weeks I’ve been incorporating hills and trails on some of my long runs. These runs have been really challenging and my paces have been about a minute less than my goal pace. However, I’m getting some great benefits from these runs that are going to help me on marathon day! I used this strategy for the last marathon I ran a few years ago, and while I watched many runners struggle in the last five miles, I was still strong. In fact, several spectators made comments of that nature.

If you are running a flat marathon, such as the Chicago Marathon, you will most likely be pleasantly surprised at how strong you feel by incorporating some tougher long runs in your training. If you are running a marathon with hills, especially at the end, such as the NYC Marathon, then you will be stronger on these hills.

Fortunately, I’m able to run from my house to areas with hills, trails, and both. Here are some benefits to running in such areas:

Benefits of Running Hills

  • Great leg strengthener, especially for quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and muscles connected to the ankles providing great support for our knees and ankles to help minimize risk of injury and increase running pace
  • Our muscles are made up of different muscle fiber types. You may have heard of these. Basically, we have Type 1, or slow-twitch fibers, which we predominately use when we run a 5k, half- or full-marathon. However, for longer events, such as marathons, these fibers need a break from continually contracting. This is when we use our other muscle fiber types, especially the intermediate, Type 2a fibers, to give our Type 1 fibers time to recover before using them again. Basically, cycling between different fiber types during marathons, allows us to keep running. While the Type 1 fibers are great for endurance, the Type 2a are great for endurance and speed. Training on hills helps strengthen these fibers and helps improve their endurance performance, so they can help us out more during our marathon. This can result in a faster running pace, minimization of fatigue towards the end of a marathon, and allows us to be stronger on any hills we encounter during our event.

Benefits of Trails, Especially with Rocks

  • This is great for running form because it forces us to pick up our knees more, which improves running cadence (number of steps you take per minute). Unfortunately, I was not as focused on getting over some of the rocks on the trail I was running on a couple of weeks ago. I tripped and did a face plant resulting in some nice cuts and scrapes on my hands, elbows, knees, stomach. Fortunately, it wasn’t worse than that! So stay focused when running, especially in rocky areas!
  • Running on trails can provide some nice variety to our training, and often will require the use of some different muscles to help stabilize us more, especially muscles connected to the ankle joint. This can help with running form as well, in that it can improve our stability when you have one foot during your marathon or other event.

So, I recommend incorporating some tougher long runs early on in your training. I would focus more on flatter long runs on roads, or hard packed trails with minimal rocks, during your last 2-3 months of training. This will allow you to run closer to your goal event pace.

Also, you will need to appropriately balance these tougher long runs with your runs during the week, so that you can allow for recovery and still complete these runs. This is certainly something I keep in mind when developing training plans for the runners I coach, and for my own training plan.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Also, if you know anyone who might benefit from this email, please share this with them. Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page. Thank you.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

How To Get The Most Out Of Your High Intensity Runs

“Comfort, the enemy of progress.” – PT Barnum

Hello Runners,

In my last post I discussed the importance of VO2max for your aerobic fitness and performance. I also talked about how you can improve VO2max. One thing I mentioned was an appropriate progression over 3-4 weeks, so that you continue to get the benefits of each workout as your body becomes more aerobically fit.

Whether it is improving your VO2max, lactate threshold, speed, etc. there are several variables you can adjust in your progression from week-to-week to get the most benefit out of your workouts. They include the following:

Number of repetitions

One way to make your workout more challenging from one week to the next is to increase the number of work bouts you perform. For example, in week one you might perform four work bouts, week two five work bouts, and then six work bouts for week three.

Length or duration of work bout

A second way to accomplish progression is to increase the length or duration of work bouts. So week one might be 30-second work bouts, week 2 45-second work bouts, and week three 60-second work bouts.

Pace or effort

Generally, I don’t change this variable alone during a progression, however I might change it if I’m changing the length or duration of a work bout, such as when I’m doing Fartlek runs. Usually if I increase the length or duration I will slightly decrease the pace, such as performing the work bouts at a pace that is 5-10 seconds/mile slower. Or, I might perform work bouts of the same duration at a slightly faster pace from one week to the next. If you include hills as part of your progression (see below), the effort may be the same from week-to-week, but obviously your pace will change.

Recovery time

Another way to make a workout more challenging from the previous week is to cut the recovery time. For example, the recovery time may be twice as long as the work bout for the first week, equal to the work bout for the second week, and half the time of the work bout for the third week.

Surface in which you perform work bouts

A way to add variety and challenge to a workout is to add some hills during the second or third week of the progression after running in a flat area during the first 1-2 weeks.

So, try changing one or more of these variables from one week to the next for your higher intensity workouts to make them more challenging, so you continue to benefit from these workouts. However, be sure to make adjustments that are appropriate and keep in mind the goal of your workouts. That is are you trying to improve VO2max, lactate threshold, etc. It is important to know the purpose of each workout, so that you are performing a workout that will most benefit you. This is certainly something I spend a significant amount of time with for the runners I coach and for my own workouts.

Here is an example of a four week progression for Fartlek runs. This is something I would include early in training to help your body adjust to performing higher intensity workouts:

Week 1:

  • Perform dynamic warmup
  • Run 20 minutes at an easy pace
  • Perform 6 30-second work bouts at a comfortable hard pace (~ your 5k pace, if you’ve done a recent 5k) in a flat area
  • Recover with a slow jog for 2 minutes in between work bouts
  • Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace
  • Perform cooldown

Week 2:

–              Perform dynamic warmup

–              Run 20 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform 6 40-second work bouts at a comfortable hard pace (~ your 5k pace, if you’ve done a recent 5k) in a flat area

–              Recover with a slow jog for 2 minutes in between work bouts

–              Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform cooldown

Week 3

–              Perform dynamic warmup

–              Run 20 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform 6 40-second work bouts at a comfortable hard pace (~ your 5k pace, if you’ve done a recent 5k) in a hilly area

–              Recover with a slow jog for 2 minutes in between work bouts

–              Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform cooldown

Week 4

–              Perform dynamic warmup

–              Run 20 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform 6 60-second work bouts at a comfortable hard pace (~ your 5k pace, if you’ve done a recent 5k) in a flat area

–              Recover with a slow jog for 2 minutes in between work bouts

–              Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform cooldown

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Also, if you feel anyone can benefit from this email, please share it and “Like” our page.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

VO2max: What Is It, Why Is It Important to Your Running Performance, and How Do You Improve It

Hello Runners,

There are three factors that are most important to your running performance and can affect whether you finish an event pumping your fists in celebration, or hanging your head in disappointment.

These factors are your running economy (basically how efficient you are when you run), your lactate threshold (maximum pace you can sustain for a prolonged period of time), and your VO2max or maximal oxygen consumption.

One of my workouts last week specifically focused on VO2max. For this particular workout, I performed a dynamic warmup and then ran at an easy pace for 20 minutes. Then the real fun began! I performed 40 second work bouts in a flat area (a track for example) at a hard pace. I focused on form during these work bouts to maximize my speed and effort. After each of these work bouts, I did a slow jog recovery interval for two minutes and then repeated for a total of six work bouts. I finished my run at an easy pace for approximately 10 minutes. Then I finished up by performing stability, mobility, and strengthening exercises and foam rolling. This was a challenging workout!

What Is VO2max?

VO2max is the maximal amount of oxygen our body can use to produce energy by aerobic energy systems when we are running at maximal effort, and is considered the “gold standard” for assessing aerobic fitness. VO2max is affected by our body’s ability to take oxygen into the body and deliver it to our running muscles, which incorporates our cardiovascular system, including the heart, blood, and blood vessels. Another important determinant of VO2max is the muscles’ ability to extract oxygen from the blood and use it to produce energy. This involves our “mighty” mitochondria in our muscle cells. The mitochondria are the powerhouses that will extract oxygen and use it along with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in our body to the produce energy for us to run.

How Is VO2max Measured?

There are labs that will assess your VO2max by measuring the volume and composition of the gases you inhale and exhale while running. This test is usually performed on a treadmill in which the speed and/or incline is increased every 2-3 minutes. Basically, run until you feel you can run no more, or it is deemed that the test needs to be stopped for safety purposes. The test typically lasts ~12-15 minutes. As you might guess, it’s a hard test! In addition, you need to wear apparatus that will allow the volume and composition of gases to be measured. Here is an image of a typical VO2max testing setup:

vo2max testing

It is also possible to have VO2max measured outside while running on a track, although this requires sophisticated equipment.

VO2max can also be estimated based on time to run a mile. The advantage of this is that it doesn’t require sophisticated equipment and having to wear potentially uncomfortable apparatus. I offer this estimate as part of my running evaluation I do with runners. I can also offer this to runners who may not be able to do an in-person running evaluation with me.

It’s most helpful to repeat the measure of your VO2max after at least three months, to see if it has improved with your training.

What Factors Affect My VO2max?

There are several factors that affect VO2max including genetics, gender, age, fitness level, and training.

How Do I Improve My VO2max and Thus, My Running Performance?

There are several ways to improve VO2max depending on your fitness level. For beginner runners just running frequently and increasing the duration of your runs can significantly improve your VO2max, especially over three months.

For intermediate and advanced runners, it is more difficult to improve VO2max. However, hard work bouts in which you are running several minutes at ~95-100% of your current VO2max can help improve it. I recommend starting with hard work bouts for 30-40 seconds. Recover with a slow jog for 2-3 minutes between these bouts. Repeat for a total of 4-6 work bouts. Over the next 2-3 weeks, I recommend a progression in which you increase the time of your work bouts. This will depend on what’s appropriate for you. For runners I coach, we discuss how these work bouts went each week, as well as their fitness level to determine the appropriate progression. In addition, you should have been recently cleared by your physician to participate in vigorous physical activity. Also, you should have performed some previous speedwork, such as Fartlek runs, before engaging in VO2max work bouts.   

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Also, if you feel anyone can benefit from this email, please share it.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

What To Do When A Race or Training Run Doesn’t Go Well

“Successful People Don’t Fear Failure, But Understand That It’s Necessary to Learn and Grow From.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Hello Runners,

I hope your running is going well.

As I mentioned in the last post, I did a 5k during Memorial Day weekend. It was a nice, low-key 5k. There were about 20-30 runners. Certainly no frills, but it was a free 5k and you got your time at the end. Plus, it offered the opportunity to run in a competitive environment (or non-competitive environment, if you wanted) with other runners. I mainly used it for some variety in my training and as a measure of my aerobic fitness early in my marathon training.

I certainly enjoyed the event, and it’s nice to have this option only 5 miles from my house every Saturday.

I had a couple of goals for this race, which I did not achieve. This certainly will happen at some point during our races or training runs. When this happens with runners I coach, we discuss what happened and how to move forward.

So, instead of beating ourselves up for less than expected results, I recommend that you learn from your performances that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. However, before we focus on this, I recommend considering the positives from the race or training run, and asking yourself, “what did go well?” I’m sure you will be able to find some silver lining.

After you have identified the positives, I recommend taking some time to reflect upon what didn’t go well and why that might have been. If you could do the race or training run all over again, what would you do differently? Was it not being properly hydrated or fueled? Did you make a bad food choice the morning off or night before? Maybe you realize that you need to improve your fitness and/or speed and can focus on this more.

Here are a few things that I learned from my 5k that might help you:

Pacing

One of the biggest challenges with races is getting caught up in the race environment and what other runners are doing. I’m certainly guilty of this, and it happened to me for this particular 5k. I started at the front and within the first minute I was in third and wanted to win the race. I went out too fast in the first mile and got distracted from my goals, which included a negative split (running second have faster than the first have). As a result of going out too fast in the first mile, I had to slow my pace in the second mile. I was able to use self-talk to push myself through and actually ran the third mile faster than the second, but I didn’t achieve my goal of a negative split. Now, in a 5k, this wasn’t a significant issue because the race is short enough that I only had to struggle for a short time. This same approach would not work well on marathon day! So, this is something I need to be careful of. A friend of mine actually did go out too fast in a recent marathon, and unfortunately for him, the last 11 miles were a struggle, and the result was disappointing.

Know the Course As Best As You Can

Beware that there may not be race volunteers at every turn and some turns may not be well marked. This was the case during my 5k. Although most of the course was straightforward, there was some confusion that I and another runner had shortly after the first mile. Although it didn’t cost a lot of time, it did cost some time, and certainly at that point my chance of winning the race was gone. You should also be familiar with the race profile and know when and approximately how long and steep the hills are, if there are any.

Improve Fitness

Certainly this race was a good assessment of my fitness, and made me more aware of the difficulty in breaking three hours is a marathon. Yes, I was able to run a slightly faster than goal marathon pace for this 5k, but it’s a 5k, not a marathon! Therefore, I will need to be consistent with all of my remaining training, including all of my runs and other aspects of my training that support my running, including strengthening exercises and cooldowns, so that I can get the most out of my runs.

Adjustments to Running Form

Something else I’ve thought about are any adjustments to my running form that might help me improve my efficiency and speed. One thing I have been working on for a while, is incorporating more forward lean. After my 5k, I decided to incorporate a drill in my dynamic warm-up to make this adjustment more natural. For those of you who are intermediate or advanced runners and consistently incorporate core strengthening into your training, I recommend incorporating a slight forward lean, from the ankles, into your running form. You can practice this during your dynamic warm-up for 30-60 seconds, until it becomes natural:

  • Stand perpendicular to a full-length mirror, so that you can view your body position from the side
  • Engage the core muscles to stand erect
  • Slowly lean forward from the ankles, until the point in which you fall forward
  • While doing so, make sure that your body is in one plane, and that you are not leaning from the waist or head and neck
  • While you are leaning forward, imagine yourself being pulled up and forward by the top of your shirt. This cue will help you keep the core muscles engaged.
  • Once you start to fall forward, catch yourself and return to the starting position
  • Repeat

When you are running, you should lean from the ankles just to the point where you start to fall forward. Now you have gravity helping to pull you forward, thus you don’t have to work as hard. This is a key component to chi running and is one reason why chi running is effective. However, make sure the lean is coming from the ankles and not waist, neck, etc.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Also, if you feel anyone can benefit from this post, please share it.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Have Fun with a 5k Early in Your Marathon Training

Hello Runners,

I encourage you to consider running a 5k in your first two months of half- or full-marathon training. I found an organization called Park Run (https://www.parkrun.us/) that does local free 5ks throughout the year.

First, running a 5k can be a nice change from the normal routine of weekend long runs, which your body and mind will greatly appreciate! If you do most, or all of your training alone, a 5k will be a great opportunity to be around and connect with other runners. In addition, being in a race environment can be motivating and inspiring and help you enjoy and appreciate your training more.

Also, a 5k early on in your training can be a great way to determine your baseline fitness. Your performance from your 5k race can be used to predict your performance in a future half- or full-marathon, depending on your training for the next 12-16 weeks. This training will need to include long runs and other workouts that appropriately stress your aerobic system, such as progression and threshold runs.

Your pace for a 5k can be used to determine paces for your training runs by using prediction calculators. I use races and prediction calculators with almost all of the runners I coach, to tailor their workouts, so they are getting the most benefit, while training at paces that are most appropriate for them.

There are several online calculators that can be used including:

www.macmillanrunning.com

However, you need to use these intelligently in predicting your future half- or full-marathon pace. This includes taking 5-10 seconds off your 5k time and then plugging into the predictor calculator. Keep in mind this is a projected pace for these events, and certainly not a pace you would run these events at now. After all, you won’t have done long runs much more than 8-12 miles at this point.

You should aim for a negative split in your 5k. That is to run the last half of the 5k faster than the first half. The easiest way to accomplish this is to keep a consistent pace for the first three miles and then speed up for the last 200 meters or tenth of a mile. Also, Coach Jay Johnson, in his book Simple Marathon Training, recommends running the first mile very conservatively, including running the first half mile at a pace that is challenging, but comfortable. He says don’t worry about those people who pass you because most of them will be running a positive split (slower second half of the 5k). He suggests a negative split race is a better predictor of your aerobic fitness than a positive split race.

Make sure you recovery well from your 5k. You should perform a cooldown after the 5k, including walking and then stretching/foam rolling. Also, I recommend a brisk walk or other low to moderate cross-training the next day for approximately 30 minutes. You may want to take the following day off from running completely before resuming your running.

So, go out and enjoy a 5k!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

References:

  • Simple Marathon Training, Jay Johnson.

How to Speed Your Recovery from Races and Difficult Training Runs

Hello Runners,

Congratulations to all those who ran the Colfax Half- or Full-Marathon on Sunday.

This reminds me of the importance of recovery, either from an event, such as a half- or full-marathon, or a tough training run. In a previous post (link to this), I discussed the importance of recovery. One important form of recovery is sleep, which I got plenty of after my 15 mile run on Sunday! In previous posts, I discussed tips (link here), as well as foods and supplements (link here) that can help you improve sleep to aid your recovery.

Research has shown that another important form of recovery is the use of cold or contrast water therapy (alternating between heat and cold). After my second marathon, I used ice baths for the first time. Basically, I ran cold water in the tub, got in and then added ice. This was not enjoyable, but wow, did it work! It only took me a couple of days to physically recover from this marathon, whereas for my first marathon it took about a week.

Although I don’t use ice baths very often, I do use cold water in the shower, after some of my challenging training runs. I recommend not overusing ice baths because they can stifle some of the important fitness adaptations that occur during the recovery process. However, I would recommend them, or contrast water therapy after events, such as half- or full-marathons, or tough training runs in the last few weeks before your event.

Cold Therapy for Recovery

What is it?

  • Immersing body parts or whole body in cold or ice water
  • This can be in a bath with cold and/or ice water, or even using a cold water shower
  • To see benefits the water temperature only has to be as low as 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit

Benefits

  • Evidence from research has shown that following intense exercise with cold water immersion reduces muscle soreness over the next several days
  • Research has also shown that taking an ice bath reduces the drop in performance that follows a high-intensity, long-duration effort (like distance running)

When and how long should you expose your body to cold therapy?

  • You only need to soak for 10-15 minutes maximum, you may try shorter amounts of time such as 5 minutes to build up tolerance
  • You should perform cold/ice water immersion within the first two hours after your event or hard training session
  • Continue to perform ice baths for up to two days after your event, or hard training session, if you are still sore

How does it work?

  • Cold therapy constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown
  • Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a faster return of blood flow, which helps move the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body
  • Immersion in water exposes the body to hydrostatic pressure and this pressure helps clear out waste products and reduces inflammation in the muscles
  • Cold water temperatures also decrease nerve impulses, reducing pain from soreness or injury

Other Tips

  • To make the ice bath experience more tolerable, fill the tub with two to three bags of crushed ice, then add cold water to a height that will cover you nearly to the waist when seated
  • Before getting in, put on a warm jacket, a hat, and neoprene booties if you have them, make a cup of hot tea, and collect some entertaining reading material to help the next 5-15 minutes fly by

Contrast Water Therapy (CWT)

  • An alternative to cold/ice water immersion to help speed recovery

What is it?

  • Exposing the body to alternating bouts of hot and cold water

Benefits

  • Benefits for recovery from an event, such as a half- or full-marathon, or particularly tough training session, seem to be similar to those of cold/ice water therapy

When and how long should you expose your body to CWT?

  • Most research studies have shown that alternating between water temperatures of 45-68° F for the cold water and 93-106° F for the hot water is best
  • Each immersion should last between 3-5 minutes and the total immersion time should be between 20 and 30 minutes
  • You should end your CWT with cold and not heat
  • Use CWT for the first two hours after an event or particularly tough training session
  • Perform CWT for the first two days after an event or training session, if soreness persists

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the use of cold therapy or CWT for recovery.

As a reminder, I am offering a new coaching option to help you achieve your running goals. Each month you will receive a customized training plan with workouts to progress you toward achieving your running goals. During the last week of each month, you and I will have a 15-20 minute coaching call to discuss your progress, and address any questions or concerns you have regarding your training. I will then send you the next month’s workouts based on your progress and your running goals. During the month you will also have the opportunity to email me questions that you have.

In addition, you will have access to my Facebook Training group, which will allow you to be part of a community of runners. This will give you the opportunity to be supported during your training, as well as ask questions and receive training tips.

To initiate the process, we would have a 30-minute free coaching consult to discuss your running goals, running history, current training, favorite workouts, and any current or past injuries.

The cost for this coaching option will be $59/month, which is a significant savings from the customized weekly coaching service that I offer ($159/month).

For questions email me at brian@denverrunningcoach.com

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

References:

Ways To Have Fun With Your Training Runs and A Special Offer To Help You Achieve Your Running Goals

June 23 pic 1 6 mile morning runHello Runners,

As I finished my second week of marathon-specific training this past week, I was thinking about the importance of making training enjoyable and different ways to do so. I will discuss several of these ways later in this email. However, before I do, I want to share with you a new coaching option I am offering runners to help them achieve their goals.

For this new coaching option, you will receive a customized training plan with workouts for the entire month. During the last week of each month, you and I will have a 15-20 minute coaching call to discuss your progress and address any questions or concerns you have regarding your training. I will then send you the next month’s workouts based on your progress and your running goals. During the month you will also have the opportunity to email me questions that you have.

To initiate the process, we would have a 30-minute free coaching consult to discuss your running goals, running history, current training, favorite workouts, and any current or past injuries. The first month of your training will include a 5k or 10k race, or similar time trial, based on what is most appropriate for your fitness level and running goals. The results from this race or time trial will be used in subsequent training. Each month you will receive a new training plan with workouts to help progress you towards achieving your goals based on your progress from the previous month.

The cost for this coaching option will be $59/month, which is a significant savings from the customized weekly coaching service that I offer ($159/month).

For questions, or to get started, either reply to this email, or email me at brian@denverrunningcoach.com

Now, back to the ways to make your training more enjoyable, which I will include in your customized training plans.

Immediate gratification

  • Training for a half- or full-marathon takes a lot of dedication and at a minimum you will be training for 4-5 months. So at times, it might be difficult to get excited about a goal that is months away, while you are struggling through individual training runs or other workouts. Therefore, you need to celebrate your small wins along the way, because as humans we are hardwired to seek out immediate gratification. So, set yourself up to receive immediate gratification for each of your workouts. Is it stress relief, a sense of accomplishment, the hit of endorphins that make you feel awesome! Whatever it is frame your training and workouts around this to better help you enjoy your training.

Celebrate the small wins

  • Also, celebrate the small wins you are achieving as your progress towards your ultimate goal, such as completing that first 10-miler, 20-miler, difficult speed workout, etc. Share this with your significant other, family, friends, etc. Let them know how awesome you are. You deserve it!

Do the workouts you enjoy

  • Most runners have favorite workouts they enjoy doing, so perform these periodically, to help you enjoy your training. One of my personal favorites are ladder workouts, such as performing 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 4-, 3-, 2-, 1-minute work bouts (commonly referred to as intervals) at a somewhat hard to hard pace.

Incorporate shorter races in your training

  • It can be helpful to incorporate some appropriate shorter races into your training. Being in a race/event atmosphere can help re-invigorate you and help bring more energy into your subsequent training. Plus, doing an event can help you see the progress you are making in your training, which certainly can be motivating!

Run in an area you enjoy

  • Do you have a favorite place that you enjoy running? Then, do at least some of your training runs there. This may require driving, so wake up a little earlier to get to your favorite running spot and enjoy it.

Vary your training routes

  • One of our most basic needs is the need for variety. So, satisfy this basic need by varying where you perform your training runs. This might include doing some runs on trails, if you perform most of your runs on the road, or mixing in a few hills, if you usually run on flat terrain. I love to explore new areas, and so I will incorporate this into my runs, especially my long runs.

Avoid what you don’t like

  • For me this is simple, I don’t like running on the treadmill, so I don’t. Yes, this means running in cold and rainy weather sometimes, but I have a much better time than on a treadmill. Also, I find the track to be boring, so I perform my speed work on roads and trails, even incorporating hills sometimes for variety.
  • So, avoid, or at least minimize running in areas, on surfaces, etc. that you don’t enjoy. Your training runs shouldn’t be a slog.

Consider what inspires you

  • I am always inspired by the natural beauty of Colorado. In fact, that was one of the primary reasons why I moved to Colorado about seven years ago. So, I choose running routes that will incorporate natural beauty in some way. This makes my runs more enjoyable and reminds me how grateful I am to be in Colorado and to be alive!

Have a strong enough and the Right Why for training

  • I always recommend runners think about their goals and reasons why it is important to achieve those goals. If you have goals that are meaningful to you, and you remind yourself of these on a daily basis, it makes it easier to put in the training necessary to achieve these goals.

You don’t need to do a bunch of 20-milers to be successful in the marathon

  • Your weekly long runs should not be a weekly “death march.” You don’t have to do a bunch of 20 mile runs to be successful in the marathon. I usually only do two when I’m training for a marathon, and instead perform shorter long runs which incorporate speed or hills. Again, I run in areas I enjoy which make the long runs more pleasurable.

Don’t need to “hit your paces” for every run

  • Yes, there are certain workouts in which attaining a certain pace for a portion of the run is important, but this shouldn’t be the case for all runs. In fact, on easy days I would recommend not monitoring your pace at all and just focusing on enjoying an easy pace run. For my weekly runs with my friend, Sam, I don’t even notice the pace until after the run, and often it’s about 2-3 minutes slower than my goal marathon pace.

Consider doing some of your easy runs with other runners

  • If you don’t normally train with others, it might make training more enjoyable to do a run on occasion with a friend or running group. Just make sure to run your own pace. Often running groups are social, so I would choose easy runs to do with these groups, so that you can keep the pace conversational. I know I really appreciate the easy runs I have with my friend every week.

Consider your training runs a gift

  • I strongly encourage you to frame your runs as a gift you give yourself and not something you feel you should do. Consider all the great benefits that you’ll get from your training runs, such as stress relief, a sense of accomplishment, more energy, inspiration, etc. If you perform your runs in the morning it is a great way to start the day!

So, have fun with your training and try a few of the recommendations I shared. If you found this to be helpful, please share this with anyone you feel might benefit.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Your friend and coach,

Brian