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.

Marathon Training 2019 Days 19 and 20: Fitness Training Program

February 3 2019 long run“There Are No Limits To What You Can Accomplish, Except The Limits You Place On Your Own Thinking” – Brian Tracy

Over the past two days I did easy pace runs of ~38 minutes and ~7 miles. After today’s ~7 mile run I performed the following exercises:

 

  • Leg swings forward and back with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg stands (~30 seconds)
  • Pushups (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward-and-back (10 steps in each direction)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~40 seconds)
  • Side planks (~30 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~30 seconds)
  • Glute bridge hip lifts (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balances (~30 seconds)

After these exercises I performed foam rolling for ~15 minutes.

Recommendation and Tip of the Day: These are both the same for today. If you have not already done so, I recommend opting-in on the Welcome page to receive a Fitness Training Program. This provides a training plan with running, cross-training, stability, mobility, and strengthening exercises for 2-3 months, depending on your running history and the amount of time you have taken off from running. This program will help you achieve the aerobic and neuromuscular fitness you need to transition into more specific half- and full-marathon training. Once you have completed this program please feel free to contact me to talk more about a customized training program for you that is specific to your running goals, fitness, running history, and time available for training.

Live your best self today.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 16: Consistency: One of the Keys To Achieving Your Running Goals

January 30 2019 cold morning run consistency“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently.” – Marie Forleo

This morning my dog, Zadar, needed me to take him for a walk first thing after I woke up. So, I took him for about twenty minutes. It was another bitter cold morning and after we got done and got inside, I really did not want to go back out in the cold for today’s run! However, I remembered my goal, got my running clothes on, performed my dynamic warmup and headed out for ~32 minute run. As I was running, I was reminded of the importance of consistency with training for maximizing running performance and achieving running goals. So, today’s Tip of the Day addresses consistency. After my run, I performed the following mobility and strengthening exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Pushups (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with resistance band, 10 repetitions for each direction)
  • Prone planks (~40 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

Then, I spent ~10 minutes with foam rolling and eccentric lengthening exercises.

Recommendation:

  • Beginners:
    • I recommend doing an easy walk for 25-30 minutes.
    • Also, perform the following mobility and strengthening exercises:
      • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Single-leg stand (~20-30 seconds for each leg)
      • Standard or knee-assisted pushups (8-10 repetitions)
      • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with or without a resistance band, 8-10 repetitions for each direction)
      • Prone planks (25-30 seconds)
      • Side planks (15-20 seconds)
      • Supine planks (15-20 seconds)
      • Clamshells (10-15 repetitions on each side)
      • Y, T, I, and W (5-8 repetitions for each position)
      • Double leg hip bridges (8-10 repetitions)
      • Quadrupeds (8-10 repetitions on each side)
      • Toe yoga (10 repetitions for each foot)
      • Fire hydrants (5-10 repetitions on each side)
      • Knee circles forward (5-10 repetitions for each leg)
      • Knee circles backward (5-10 repetitions for each leg)
      • Single-leg balance (~20-30 seconds for each leg)
    • In addition, I recommend foam rolling, static stretching, yoga poses, or active isolated stretching for at least 5-10 minutes
  • Intermediate/Advanced:
    • Dynamic warm-up.
    • Then, I recommend a 35-50 minute run at an easy pace, ideally in a primarily flat area.
    • After your run, perform the following mobility and strengthening exercises:
      • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Single-leg stand (~20-30 seconds for each leg)
      • Pushups (10 repetitions)
      • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with resistance band, 10 repetitions for each direction)
      • Prone planks (~30-40 seconds)
      • Side planks (~20-25 seconds)
      • Supine planks (~15-20 seconds)
      • Clamshells (15-20 repetitions on each side)
      • Y, T, I, and W (8-10 repetitions for each position)
      • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
      • Quadrupeds (10-15 repetitions on each side)
      • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
      • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
      • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
      • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
      • Single-leg balance (~20-30 seconds for each leg)
    • In addition, you should perform a cool-down that incorporates foam rolling, static stretching, yoga poses, or active isolated stretching for at least 10 minutes

Tip of the Day: Consistency is one of the keys to maximizing your running potential and achieving your running goals.  Make sure that you have your goals written out, so that you can see them every day to remind you of the importance of performing your scheduled run or cross-training, mobility and strengthening exercises, and cool-downs every day. All of these aspects are important. If you don’t have time to perform the mobility and strengthening exercises and/or cool-downs after your runs, make sure to schedule a time later in the day when you can perform them. If you don’t, you will miss out on some of the adaptations that help you maximize your running performance and you may increase your risk of injury. There are exceptions, such as if you develop an injury or are feeling pain and/or soreness, especially in a joint (in this case you may need to take a day or more off or cross-train), if you are sick, or fatigued. If you are injured, have pain or soreness, sick, or fatigued you may need to take one or more days off, so that you can recover and get back to your training sooner. If your schedule calls for a long run or interval or otherwise higher intensity run, and you are fatigued, you might still be able to perform a shorter, easy run. So, yes, there are circumstances which may cause you to miss one or more of your scheduled workouts, however, as best as possible, you will want to minimize these occurrences. Certainly, if sustain an injury, you will want to have this addressed as soon as possible, and meet with a qualified healthcare professional who can properly diagnose the injury and develop a treatment and recovery plan for you.

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

Be your best self today.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 15: The Effect of Gratitude On Your Training

Key Summit Routeburn Track medium version“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” — Brian Tracy

During this morning’s face-and-finger-numbing bitter cold run, I thought about what I am grateful for, which includes my family and friends, living in beautiful Colorado, still being able to run after nearly 35 years, having the opportunity to help other runners achieve their goals, and the opportunity to explore and have memorable experiences. See Tip of the Day for more on living with gratitude. My run was for ~40 minutes in a primarily flat area, at an easy pace. After my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~35 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

After performing these exercises, I foam rolled for ~10 minutes.

Recommendations:

Beginners:

  • I recommend 25-35 minute run at an easy pace, in a flat area
  • Perform the strengthening exercises above
  • Then, perform either active isolated stretching, foam rolling, static stretching, or yoga poses for a cool-down

Intermediate/advanced:

  • I recommend 35-45 minute run at an easy pace, in a flat area
  • Perform the strengthening exercises above
  • Then, perform either active isolated stretching, foam rolling, static stretching, or yoga poses for a cool-down

Tip of the Day: Live with an attitude of gratitude. Almost every morning I spend at least 5 minutes thinking about what I am grateful for in my life. Sometimes I write these down, and sometimes I incorporate them in a picture, although I admit I’m lacking in artistic qualities. I encourage you to incorporate this daily practice in your life, especially first thing in the morning. It’s amazing how this can impact the rest of your day! This can really be beneficial when you have training runs that don’t go as well as you had hoped, and that would otherwise leave you feeling demoralized.

For today, and for however long you choose, live with an attitude of gratitude. It will not only help your running, but other aspects of your life as well.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 14: Simple Things You Can Do At Work To Make Yourself a Better Runner

November 13 2018 Birthday hike pic 3 medium version“Your true success in life begins only when you make the commitment to become excellent at what you do” – Brian Tracy

Today was a non-running day for me.  Instead, I went for a nice, snowy walk with my dog Zadar. After my walk I performed the following exercises:

 

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Prone planks (~35 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

During the day I also performed leg swings and single-leg balance. I try to do this throughout the day, but certainly get up and walk and get water every hour. These simple acts can help improve your running performance. See more below in the Tip of the Day.

Recommendation: Today, I recommend a brisk walk or hike of 20-30 minutes. Immediately after your walk or hike I recommend performing the exercises listed above. If you sit for long periods throughout the day, I recommend getting up every hour and at least walking and getting water. I also recommend performing exercises like leg swings and single-leg stands and balance throughout the day.

Tip of the Day:  It can be extremely beneficial to perform certain activities while at work to support your running.  Most of us spend a significant amount of the day seated at a desk.  It is important to get up periodically (I recommend at least every hour) and move around, get some water and incorporate exercises such as leg swings and single leg balance and/or stands.  These can help you stay well-hydrated, reduce tightness in the hip flexors, and improve balance and stability on one leg (we spend a significant time on one foot when running). Here is a video that demonstrates these and other tips that you can do at work to help support your running:

http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/five-things-you-can-do-at-work-to-make-yourself-a-better-runner/

I recommend accumulating 5-10 minutes total of single-leg stands/balance throughout the day. However, do not do this all at one time.

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

Be your best self today!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 13: Importance of Adding Variety to Your Running

June 16 pic 4 variety medium version“Variety is what I would recommend: As variety is the spice of life in food, so it is in exercise. Change it up. But most of all, don’t overdo it.” = Martina Navratilova

Today’s run was a “long run” of ~52 minutes in a primarily flat area, which included both roads and trails. I recommend you incorporate variety in where you run to help keep you motivated and it can be helpful for the rest of your body. I discuss more on this in the Tip of the Day. After my run I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Pushups (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with resistance band, 10 repetitions for each direction)
  • Prone planks (~35 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

After this I did foam rolling for quads/hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves for ~10 minutes.

Recommendation: For today’s run, I recommend performing a dynamic warm-up and then running at an easy pace in a flat area for 30-55 minutes, depending on your running experience, goals, and time off from running. You might add some variety to today’s run, such as running on hard-packed trails, if you usually run on roads. I also recommend performing the exercises above immediately after your run and then performing a cool-down of your choice.

Tip of the Day: Incorporate variety in your runs, including where you run and the surface that you run on.  I really enjoy exploring new trails!  I highly recommend not doing all of your runs on the road, and instead, do some on hard-packed trails. This can be significantly less impactful on your joints and may require you to be more focused, so that you don’t trip on any rocks or roots in the trail.  There have been times when I’m on trials when I’ve nearly stepped on a snake, so fortunately I was focused on the trail in front of me! You might also want to incorporate some hills. However, for the first 8-12 weeks do your runs in flat areas, as much as possible. The primary benefits of variety in your runs include preventing boredom, reducing the risk of injury because you spread the stress throughout more of your body, and varying the forces you engage with, so that you train on a deeper level, instead of being on autopilot during your runs. Finally, variety challenges your brain forcing it to change the way it communicates with your muscles, which will allow you to run more efficiently and powerfully from then on.

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

Embrace variety in your life!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 12: Importance of Nasal and Rhythmic Breathing

January 27 2019 long run medium version“Conscious breathing heightens awareness and deepens relaxation.” – Dan Brule

After a dynamic warm-up, I ran for ~34 minutes in a primarily flat area. It was a little chilly during the run and this reminded me of the importance of trying to breathe in through the nose to warm and filter the area before it hits your lungs. I will discuss more on breathing in the Tip of the Day below.  Immediately after my run, I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~35 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (7 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (7 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

Then, I did foam rolling for ~10 minutes.

Recommendation: If you have an easy day scheduled, as I would recommend for intermediate and advanced runners (running at least 4-5 days per week), keep the pace easy today. Again, depending on your running experience and time taken off you may choose to run 30-45 minutes today.  If you are a beginner running three days a week, you may want to do a 25-30 minute walk. For all runners, I recommend performing the exercises above. Then you should do at least a 10 minute cool-down.

Tip of the Day: Maintaining steady, rhythmic breathing while you run is vital to your running performance. It is also important to breathe in through your nose, while exhaling through the mouth, especially during the winter months.

Ben Greenfield, exercise physiologist and triathlon coach, in his book “Beyond Training” discusses the importance of deep nasal breathing. That is breathing air through the nose and into the belly, instead of shallow breathing in the mouth and into the chest. This can help relax the body and warms and filters the air coming into your body. This also better helps oxygenate your exercising muscles while you run. Greenfield says that if you simply can’t get in enough oxygen through the nose, then slow down until you get to the point where you can do nasal breathing, then gradually speed up again to higher intensity.

In addition to nasal breathing, your breathing should be rhythmic. In his book, “Daniels’ Running Formula”, exercise physiologist and running coach Jack Daniels discuss optimal breathing rhythms while running. What he recommends is using a 3-3 breathing rhythm for easy runs. That is taking three steps (right, left, right) while breathing in, and three steps (left, right, left) while breathing out. As we get into longer runs, and higher intense runs, this breathing pattern should shift to 2-2. Your breathing rhythms can be used to help monitor pace/intensity. If you are doing a 3-3 rhythm and feel like you are not getting enough air during an easy run, you are going too fast. Slow down until 3-3 is comfortable.

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

Good luck with your training!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

References:

  • Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. 2014.
  • Daniels’ Running Formula Second Edition. Jack Daniels. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2005.

Marathon Training 2019 Day 5: Importance of Easy Runs

August 25 2018 Sunset in Longmont pic 2 medium versison“Doing the little things can make a big difference” – Yogi Berra

Today I did an easy run of ~35 minutes after a dynamic warm-up. During this run I focused on keeping the effort easy and enjoy the run! Immediately after my run I performed the following exercises:

 

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Clamshells (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~30 seconds)
  • Side planks (~30 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

Immediately after these exercises I performed foam rolling and eccentric lengthening exercises for ~10 minutes.

Recommendation: If you have an easy day scheduled, as I would recommend for intermediate and advanced runners (running at least 4-5 days per week), as you most likely should during your first week of training, keep the pace easy today. Again, depending on your running experience and time taken off you may choose to run 30-45 minutes today.  If you are a beginner running three days a week, you may want to do a 20-30 minute walk. For all runners, I recommend doing any of the exercises above that you know how to properly perform. Then you should do at least a 10 minute cool-down.

Tip of the Day: You should have easy days in your training program on the days these are scheduled you should keep those runs easy. There is a reason why these runs are supposed to be easy. If you don’t keep them easy and push the pace, you won’t be getting the benefit of this run and this could negatively impact recovery, future training, and ultimately your running performance for your goal race. Easy runs are usually meant for recovery and building your aerobic fitness, especially early in a training program. So, don’t miss out on these when you are scheduled to do an easy run. Go along with this, each workout in your training program should have a purpose. Don’t go into your training blindly and just try to “wing it”. This won’t help you realize your maximum potential come race day.

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

Have a great day today!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Steps To Achieving Your Running Goals for 2019!

June 9 2018 pic 1 distant goal

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  – Lao Tzu

Hello Runners,

Happy New Year! I hope that 2018 was a great year for you. If so, and even if not, I hope you a looking forward to an amazing 2019. I know that I certainly am! This year is my 35th year of running and I will be training to improve upon my marathon PR, with the ultimate goal to break 3 hours. My plan is to run a late summer or early fall marathon and will begin training next week. I plan to use the first couple of months of training for fitness training, before I transition into marathon-specific training, since I took about three weeks off from running while recently visiting New Zealand, which was awesome!

This fitness training will allow me to build my aerobic base and focus more on my running form (running economy) to make myself an efficient runner. The emphasis for my marathon-specific training will be to continue improving my running economy and aerobic fitness and then to build speed.

Depending on your goals and current fitness level, you may not need to train as long, however, if you have taken some significant time off from running, or if you are a beginner who is planning to complete your first marathon, you might consider taking at least 1-3 months to progressively build your aerobic fitness before engaging in marathon-specific training. I also strongly recommend performing strengthening exercises that will help you improve your form and minimize the risk of injury.

Next week, I will begin daily posts of what I did for my training, as well as recommendations and tips. You can access these posts at denverrunningcoach.com under Blog Posts. For those who opted in through my website to receive emails with tips and recommendations, I will send weekly summaries, so that you are not being constantly bombarded with emails! However, you can also access the daily posts, as I just mentioned. The tips and recommendations can help guide you to improve your running performance, although you may consider a more customized training program to meet your specific needs.

I believe the beginning of each year is a great time to assess your health, fitness, and running form. This is a great time to meet with your physician, if you haven’t recently, to assess for cardiovascular disease risk factors, hormone and various vitamin and mineral levels.  Assessing these can help you identify any areas that may need addressing, so that you can maximize your running performance and your health.

I strongly recommend the following post for guidelines on what assessments to do before you begin your training for this year:

http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/get-ready-to-achieve-your-running-goals-for-2017/

http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/what-are-your-vitamin-d-levels-and-other-important-testing-for-runners-and-triathletes/

I want to talk a little bit more about iron and vitamin D, which I mentioned in the articles above, since these are commonly low in runners, and so vital for performance and health.

Iron:

  • Why it’s important
    • Iron is a primary component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your exercising muscles for energy production to allow you to run
    • Thus, iron levels can affect running performance
  • What test(s) are best to assess iron levels?
    • Serum ferritin test
    • Tissue-mineral analysis, very accurate, but very expensive!
  • What do I do if my iron levels are low?
    • You should discuss your test results with your physician, and if your levels are low discuss supplementation options with your physician
  • What should you consider as far as selecting a supplement
    • Most important factors are safety, absorption, and effectiveness
    • Choose natural forms: ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous sulfate, NOT the ferric forms of these
  • What type of supplements are best?
    • I recommend a whole food as opposed to a synthetic supplement
    • Whole food supplements will display: “100% Whole Food”, “From Whole Food Source”, “Naturally Occurring Food Sources”, “Food-Based” or something similar
    • Beware! “Natural” does not mean whole food based and is often primarily synthetic
  • Why are whole food supplements better?
    • Generally, more effective and safer than synthetic supplements
    • You get a better balance of nutrients and synergistic effects, which are better for your health and performance
  • Are there health issues with high iron levels?
    • Yes, so you should be tested and discuss supplementation with your physician before taking any iron supplements
    • High levels of iron are toxic and can lead to heart disease
  • Who doesn’t need an iron supplement?
    • Generally, men and postmenopausal women because body’s stores are high enough

Vitamin D:

  • Why it’s important
    • Affects all aspects of health including: bone health, maintains nervous system, heart function, normal blood clotting, fights colds and flus, plays an important role in cancer prevention
  • What test is best to assess Vitamin D levels?
    • 25 hydroxycholecalciferol (yes this is a mouthful and not super easy to say!) test
  • Best source
    • Production in the skin when contacted by the sun’s UVB rays
    • This is a problem though in most areas of the U.S. during the winter months because it’s impossible to get enough UVB exposure then, therefore you will most likely need to supplement during winter months
  • What do I do if my Vitamin D are low?
    • You should discuss your test results with your physician and if your levels are low discuss supplementation options with your physician, especially for the winter months
  • Should I supplement all year around?
    • Probably not, because your body can most likely produce enough vitamin D from sun exposure, except for the winter months. Again, you should discuss this with your physician
    • For the non-winter months you should get enough vitamin D as long as you are getting about 10-15 minutes of sun exposure at noon or early afternoon at least twice per week on the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen
  • What are the best supplements for Vitamin D?
    • Food-based which specifically say vitamin D, mixed form of vitamin D, or primarily vitamin D3 (active form of vitamin D)
    • Probably the best is high quality cod liver oil (although not super yummy), although be weary of mercury toxicity
    • Another option is a vitamin D-only supplement, I usually take the one by Thorne Research (vitamin D3/K2). You can check ConsumerLab.com, which is a great source for quality of supplements (they do charge $35 per year)
    • You should take any vitamin D supplement with food, especially fat to help with absorption
  • Are there health issues with high vitamin D levels?
    • Yes, so you should be tested and discuss supplementation with your physician before taking a vitamin D supplement
    • High levels of vitamin D have been associated with certain cancers

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help in any way.  Next, we’ll talk about running shoes and attire, as well as running in the cold and wind.

Be your best self today.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

References:

–              Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. 2014.

–              Super Nutrition Academy, Yuri Elkaim (Registered Holistic Nutritionist)

Disclaimers:

All the information presented in this blog post is for educational and resource purposes only.  It is there to help you make informed decisions about health-related fitness issues.  It is not a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician.  Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any exercise program or taking any supplementation.  Use of the advice and information contained in this blog post is at sole choice and risk of the reader.

Coach Brian Hand has no ties or investments in Thorne Research and does not receive any form of compensation for mentioning Thorne Research or their products in this blog post.

Get Ready To Achieve Your Running Goals for 2017!

Hello Runners and Happy New Year!  I hope that you had a great 2016 and are looking forward to an awesome 2017!

Have you thought about what you want to accomplish as a runner in 2017?  Is it improving your fitness and health?  Do you want to improve on your time in a 5k, 10k, half, full marathon, or ultra distance event?  No matter what your goals are, there are things you should consider, and steps you should take to maximize your chance of achieving your running goals in 2017.  In this article I’m going to briefly discuss five steps to take, which can help get you started on your journey to achieving your running goals for 2017.  So, that you can have a smile on your face when you have done so!

Step 1: Have testing and assessments done

Depending on your age, health, and last visit you should meet with your physician to be cleared to participate in vigorous physical activity.  First and foremost, you should make sure that you don’t have current disease, such as heart or pulmonary disease.  You also want to be sure that your thyroid and metabolic system are functioning properly.  Please check out this previous blog that provides more details on what you should have assessed, including vitamin D and certain hormone levels:

http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/what-are-your-vitamin-d-levels-and-other-important-testing-for-runners-and-triathletes/

I strongly encourage you to have the function of your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle joints assessed.  A physical therapist or physiotherapist can identify any possible muscle weaknesses/imbalances or flexibility issues that might be negatively impacting your running performance, increase your risk of injury, and potentially keep you from achieving your running goals in 2017.

Also, if you have not done so, I encourage you to have your running form evaluated.  There may be some minor tweaks or adjustments to your running form that may significantly improve your running performance and help minimize the risk of injury.  This can be performed by a biomechanist, exercise physiologist, or running coach.

For example, I have noticed a number of runners who have their shoulders hunched and/or rounded and have their heads forward.  I know a lot of this has to do with the fact that many of us have desk jobs and we spend hour after hour, day after day, hunched over our computers.  If you are training for longer events like half and full marathons running with hunched and rounded shoulders and a forward head will take its toll!  The upper body will fatigue and will cause other areas of the body to have to work harder to compensate.  Thus, these areas will fatigue faster as well.  So, one important aspect of successful running form is keeping your shoulders relaxed.  When you run you should check periodically to make sure they are relaxed.  If not, shake out your shoulders and hands and reposition them so that your shoulders are relaxed.  In a future article, I will discuss other tips that can help you improve your running form. 
Step 2: Assessing Time for Training and Establishing Goals

Before establishing your running goals for 2017, you should consider how much time you will honestly have for training.  You should honestly assess the time for other important commitments in your life, such as family, work and/or school, time with friends, community, other hobbies/interests, and yes, sleep!  After you have determined the amount of time for these, how much time do you have left for training?  You should also consider your current fitness level and amount of time you have been involved with running in developing your goals.

Also, the goals that you develop for yourself should be challenging and a reach, however you should feel that they are attainable, if you dedicated yourself to their achievement.

Now, write down your goals and how it will feel and what impact this will on your life once you have achieved them.  Post your goals somewhere where you can see them every day, such as on your refrigerator (where I put mine), bathroom mirror, etc.

Step 3: Support

Who will your support team be?  I like to think of this on two levels.  First, who will work with you with the commitments you have, so that you have time available for training?  For example, if you have children and need to take them to school, practices, watch them, etc.   Work out a schedule with your significant other and others who can trade off with you, so that you have time available for training.  For work, you may want to discuss having some flexibility in your work schedule with your boss/supervisor and co-workers, so that you can fit in your workouts.

Second, who will hold you accountable or lend an ear when things aren’t going well with your training?  Who is going to hold you accountable so that you get in most, if not all, of your workouts?  Does it help to train with someone like a significant other, friend or friends, local running group or club?  You might consider hiring a coach, who you meet with, or at least speak with on the phone, every week or couple of weeks, to make sure you stay on track to achieve your running goals.

Also, consider who will support you emotionally if your training isn’t going well.

Step 4: Running shoes/attire

Take a look at the soles of your current running shoes.  How worn are they?  At some point this year you will need to purchase new running shoes.  I will post a more complete article on this in the near future.  For now, here are three important factors to consider when purchasing your next pair of running shoes:

  1. Avoid high heels, that is a shoe with a significant drop in height from the heel to the front of the shoe. This negatively impacts proprioceptive responses in the foot (see more on proprioception below).  Instead, use a flatter shoe.  Initially, you may want to try a shoe with approximately a 6 mm drop from the heel to the front of the shoe.  Then, at some point, you may consider transitioning to a shoe that is zero-drop or close to a zero-drop shoe.  You may consider this not only for your running shoes, but also the shoes you wear the rest of the day.  Your feet and body will thank you for it.
  2. Avoid too much cushioning. A big factor in maximizing your running performance while minimizing the risk of injury comes from your body’s ability to respond when you have one foot on the ground.  This is termed proprioception.  The more in contact your foot is with the ground or surface you are running on, the better the proprioception.  The more cushioning you have in your shoes, the worse the proprioception, so your body is not able to respond to changes in running surface and your joint positions as well.  Thus, too much cushioning can negatively impact running performance and may increase your risk of injury.
  3. Get a shoe with a wide toe box, so that you can spread your toes. This will help you better control with your toes.  So much of your stability, when you have one foot on the ground, depends on your big toe being firmly on the ground.  If you are not able to get your big toe firmly on the ground, then you negatively impact your running performance and you increase your risk of injury.  So many shoes out there scrunch the toes and do not serve us.  Squeezing your foot puts the squeeze on your ability to control you’re your foot.  So don’t buy shoes with a narrow toe box.

As for running attire, do not run in cotton.  Cotton will soak up sweat leaving your running clothes heavy and you with the chills.  Instead, go with synthetic blends.  In cold, windy, and rainy weather dress in layers.  I will send a more detailed article on running attire in a future article.  Not enough space in this article to go into more detail here.

Step 5: Have a plan

Last, you should have a plan that will progressively get you to your running goals.  When you wake up each morning you should know what you are doing for a workout that day.  “Winging it” will not effectively get you to your goals.  Your plan should include 3-5 runs per week, depending on your goals, running history, age, and time you have for training.  You should also include cross-training, such as swimming, biking, or even walking at least 1-2 days per week to help you recover from your runs.  Strengthening exercises are a must in your training program, and should be done at least 2 days per week, and in most cases, 3-4 days per week.  Many runners are weak in the core, lower back, hip and pelvic stabilizers, so these muscles need to be strengthened.  I will include more on this in future videos.   Your training plan should also allow for proper recovery, so that your body can adapt to your workouts.  Thus, allowing you to become a stronger and faster runner.

Your run workouts should consist of three components: a warmup, the run itself, and post-run, which may include strengthening exercises, in addition to a cooldown.  The warmup should be dynamic to increase blood flow to and increase the temperature of the muscles you will be using when you run.  I will go into more detail on this in a future training video, however some examples would be rolling shoulders forward and backwards, walking on heels, walking on toes, leg swings side-to-side and forward and back.   No, static stretching, in which you hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds, is not part of an effective warmup.  The cooldown should include foam rolling and/or rolling with a tennis or lacrosse ball, or some other self-myofascial release.  I will discuss this further in future blogs and training videos.

 

Please share any questions or comments you have by clicking on the contact link at denverrunningcoach.com or by emailing me at brian@denverrunningcoach.com.  I can address these in the next article I send or a future article.