Use Proper Stress and Rest To Achieve Your Maximum Potential

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“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle”

I will add to this quote proper recovery.

Recently, I have been reading Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and (running coach) Steve Magness. It’s a book I highly recommend. As an 18-year old Steve Magness competed against several Olympians in the mile in an event called the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon. This was quite remarkable considering that Magness was competing against such high caliber runners at such a young age. He did not win that day, but he still ran the mile in 4:01. Unfortunately for Magness, his running career plateaued that day and he was never able to run a faster mile. Magness attributes this to an improperly designed training regimen that did not incorporate proper stress and recovery; especially recovery. For his training, Magness would run 9 miles in the morning, go to school, lift weights, and then run 9 miles again in the evening, and he would do this every day. Magness shared that he experienced burned out and his running career ended soon after.

However, we get to benefit from Magness’ experience. Yes, I realize that we are not elite runners like Magness, however if we don’t train and recover properly we will plateau, as well, and not achieve our maximum performance.

Proper training includes providing the proper stress to our body, based on our health, fitness, running history, age, goals, and injury history. We need to include some runs that are challenging, but still doable. Our training program should progressively build our endurance and speed, and then include race-pace specific training for our event. We also need to recover properly during our training. This might include a run at snail’s pace. Or, this could be a day off from running, in which we incorporate supportive low- to moderate-intensity cross-training. Massage/stretching, diet, and sleep are also important components of recovery.

As far as the importance of recovery, Deena Kastor, U.S. women’s record holder in the marathon, as well as one of the stars of Spirit of the Marathon, says, “During a workout you’re breaking down soft tissue and really stressing your body. How you treat yourself in between workouts is where you make gains and acquire the strength to attack the next one.” Kastor realized early on in her running career that simply working hard wouldn’t do. Deena follows up intense training runs with significantly easier recovery runs. She also sleeps 10-12 hours per night, has a meticulous approach to diet, and has weekly massage and daily stretching sessions.

The best marathoners in the world, the Kenyans, also appreciate the benefits of recovery and will alternate between very hard training days and very easy (snail pace) days. Research studies have shown this approach to be effective in other sports as well, including Nordic skiing, in which Olympic Norwegian skiers will walk uphill at a snail’s pace on easy training or recovery days.

Several years ago, a friend of mine was using a popular training program to prepare for his first marathon. The program instructed him to run a “practice marathon” during training about a month before his actual marathon. My friend followed the program and actually had a decent time during his “practice marathon”. However, his actual marathon was over 30 minutes slower. Basically, it took my friend a significant amount of time to recover from his “practice marathon” and so he lost fitness before his actual marathon. Plus, it takes a significant amount of time to recover psychologically from the demands of a marathon, typically much longer than it takes to physically recover. My friend wasn’t properly recovered for his actual marathon and his performance suffered as a result.

You need to give your body the time and space to adapt to the training stress. Rest supports growth and adaptation, which can help make you a stronger and faster runner, and can be as productive and sometimes more productive than an additional workout. Rest, although typically viewed as passive, is an active process which allows for physical and psychological growth. I know for myself that I feel much stronger and fresher after a day or two of rest, and I’m sure you feel the same way.

Also, consider that if you are constantly stressing your body with long runs and other intense workouts, not only do you not provide the time and space for physical and psychological growth, you also put yourself at risk for overtraining and breaking your body down, while significantly increasing your risk of injury. For example, a neighbor of mine used to run a marathon almost every month. Unfortunately, this took a significant toll on her body and I would see her barely shuffling along during her training runs. Her training and recovery were not optimized, and as a result she was not able to achieve her peak performance. Instead, she was in a constantly overtrained state and was constantly injured.

So, make supportive recovery an important component of your training to help you reach your maximum potential.

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

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. We would love to hear from you!

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

Your friend and coach,

Brian

References

Peak Performance. Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. Rodale, Inc. New York, 2017.

What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes? Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2010 Sep;5(3):276-91. Seiler S.

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

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

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

This Is Just As, If Not More, Important Than Achieving Your Running Goals For 2019

June 23 pic 3 recovery hike medium version goals post“It’s About the Journey Not The Destination”

Hello Runners,

I was inspired to write this post during a recent run I did with my friend, Sam, who I usually run with once a week, for about 60-90 minutes.

Last week, I included a link to a previous post on setting and achieving your running goals for 2019:
http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/get-ready-to-achieve-your-running-goals-for-2017/

Yes, setting meaningful goals is important, and it is especially beneficial to write them down, so that you can frequently see them to remind yourself of them. Goals can motivate us and they provide us direction. Without goals we are just training and our training will mostly likely not be as effective. As a result, it is much easier to miss workouts, and so our running performance will not improve as much as it could.

However, it seems that in this country, we are obsessed with goals. And we only celebrate if and when we achieve those goals. As a result I feel we miss out on a lot of what we could be enjoying. To me training is the spice of life and the event we trained for is just the culmination of the great experiences we have had along the way.

Also, it’s possible that we don’t achieve our goal(s) on race day, even though we put in the effort and trained hard. Life happens and the weather could be too hot, too cold, we get sick, we miss a turn (I’ve done this!), have an unforeseen freak injury, etc. How do we respond?

One of my favorite books is Mindset by Carol Dweck. In her book, Dr. Dweck discusses how people respond to such situations, in education, sports, business, and relationships. Do we become frustrated and give up on our goals? Or, do we appreciate the journey and all we’ve accomplished along the way, and recognize that even though we didn’t achieve our goal(s) this time, we are a better runner and have made progress and are closer to them.

Along with this, is celebrating the small wins on our journey. Whether it’s completing our first 10 mile run of the year, or our first speed workout. Maybe it’s completing all workouts for a week. Whatever it is, and whatever way is appropriate and meaningful for you, celebrate!

Also on your journey, enjoy your training runs. This brings me back to my run with Sam…
On this specific easy run, we were deeply immersed in conversation on topics that varied from his latest race and training, to my recent trip, to politics (my least enjoyable topic on this run), and to our high school cross-country coach. We both had some great memories of our coach and the significant impact he made on our lives. It was great to reminiscence about that! Yes, Sam and I have running goals, but we were able to enjoy our run that morning, and I benefited tremendously because it inspired me to write this post!

Besides engaging in conversation during my easier runs, I enjoy taking pictures. I’m so grateful to be living in beautiful Colorado, and sometimes during these runs I will stop and take a few pictures of some inspiring scenery. It’s great to have these pictures to look back at and use them for these posts! Doing these things make running and my attempt to achieve my running goals more enjoyable.

Yes, I have a goal of breaking three hours in the marathon this year. However, even if I don’t achieve this goal, but I’m making progress, enjoyed my runs, and celebrated my wins along the way, it will be a great running year!

I encourage you to keep in mind that if your training is appropriate and consistent, and is progressively moving you towards your goal(s), you will become a better runner, and this will help you to achieve your meaningful running goals. It may not be this year, however if you enjoy the journey and celebrate your small wins along the way, it will be a great running year!

Before I leave, I want to remind you that I will begin my official training tomorrow, and I will be posting my workouts and tips to help you on your journey to achieving your goals. I will send you weekly summaries of these posts, instead of inundating you with daily emails. However, you can access the daily posts under Brian’s Blog at denverrunningcoach.com. Keep in mind that the workouts I do may not be appropriate for you, and you might consider having a customized program designed for you to meet your specific needs.

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

Be your best self today.

Your friend and coach,
Brian

Have You Set Your Running Goals for 2017? If Not, Let’s Get Started!

I have a confession to make.  I am very much a goal-oriented person.  Sometimes this drives my wife nuts.  You may or may not be a goal-oriented person.  However, I feel that if there are things you want to accomplish in life, it’s important to clearly define what they are and make a plan to achieve these.  This includes what you want to accomplish with running.  We are creatures of habit and often times, left to our own devices, we can get stuck in patterns and routines and not do what’s necessary to achieve our goals.  It can be easy to “slack off” and the next thing we know, a year is passed and we are no closer to achieving what we want in life.

Therefore, I am challenging you, if you have not already done so, to sit down and clearly define your running goals for 2017.  In defining your goals, you should also identify why these goals are important to you and what impact they will have on you when you accomplish them.

Before establishing your running goals it is important to assess what time you will have available for training.  It certainly doesn’t make sense to set goals that won’t be attainable because we don’t have the proper amount of time to train for those goals.  Therefore, I strongly recommend assessing the time you would have available for training based on the other commitments and priorities you have in your life.  This would include time for family, significant other, work and/or school, friends, community, other hobbies/interests, and sleep.  Be honest with yourself and determine realistically the amount of time you will have available for training each week.  Is it ten hours? five hours? two hours?

You also need to consider your current fitness level.  Where are you starting at?

Depending on these considerations, what is possible?  I recommend setting goals for yourself that will challenge you and be a stretch.  However, these goals should be attainable, if you dedicated yourself to their achievement.  Set yourself up for success!

Next, you should consider any barriers, or obstacles, that might stand in your way of achieving your goals.  How will you overcome these when they come up?

What will these goals mean to you when you have accomplished them?  How will you celebrate?

Finally, post your goals somewhere where you can see them every day, such as on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, etc.

In the next article, I will discuss one obstacle that might stand in your way of achieving your running goals for 2017 and how you might prevent it from doing so…

 

You may want to use the following to help you set your running goals for 2017:

 

I have the following commitments and they will require the following number of hours per week:

  1. Family
  2. Significant other
  3. Work and/or school
  4. Friends
  5. Community
  6. Other hobbies/interests
  7. Sleep!
  8. Others

 

Based on these I have the following amount of time available for training each week:

 

Based on the amount of time I have available for training and my current fitness level my running goals for 2017 are:

  1. Have fun!

 

Visualization (you may want to do this a couple of days per week for 30-60 seconds):

What will you see, hear, touch, smell, and feel when you accomplish your running goals? How will you celebrate when you achieve these goals?  Be as specific as possible.

 

 

 

What are the potential barriers/obstacles that could impact your training and potentially prevent you from achieving your running goals for 2017:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

What will it be like if you allow these potential barriers/obstacles to stand in your way of accomplishing your running goals:

 

 

What will you do to overcome these potential barriers/obstacles, so that you are successful in achieving your running goals for 2017:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Please post your questions and comments below in the comment box.

Thanks!

Coach Brian

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.

What Are Your Running/Triathlon Goals That Will Make 2015 A Phenomenal Year!

I hope that 2014 was a great year for you, and that you achieved all of your running and/or triathlon goals. I hope it was a fun year for you as well! If things didn’t work for you in 2014, and training became more of an obligation, or chore, than a form of recreation, then it may be time to refocus your goals for 2015.

Recently I read an article from a sports psychologist who was working with a triathlete who was unhappy with his triathlon results for the 2014 season. (http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/multisport-lab/articles/redefining-success-for-triathletes-120914.aspx) I encourage you to read it.

I also encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to reflect on how your running went for 2014. Did you feel you accomplished your goals and enjoyed running? Or, did you feel you underperformed? Was training more of a chore, or obligation, than a form of recreation? Did you feel a sense of dissatisfaction, or even despair, as far as your training and running performance? If this is the case, you may benefit from considering how you define success and what goals are really important to you. It also may be as simple as having a better support system and/or others to run with. This may be what you need to bring joy back into your running!

How do you define success in running/triathlon? What will make 2015 a successful year for you in running/triathlon? What will make you truly happy and give you joy if you accomplish it in 2015?

For your 2015 goals, I recommend that you take a few moments while relaxed and by yourself to write down the goals that are really important to you (maybe you write them down after an enjoyable run ☺). Not what’s important to your mom or dad or brother or sister, or even your spouse and/or best friend. What’s really important to you? I hope one of your goals is to have fun! Maybe one of your goals is to complete your first 5k or half- or full-marathon. Maybe it’s setting a new personal record and/or qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Maybe it’s completing your first half or full Ironman or qualifying for Kona. Maybe it’s improving your health and fitness so that you can be a better partner, parent, friend, and/or contributor to your community or society. Whatever it is make it your goal(s).

Now that you’ve written down your goals, keep them somewhere so that you can see them every day. For me it’s the refrigerator door. Maybe for you it’s on the bathroom mirror, or visor of your car. Whatever works best for you so that you can see your goals everyday.

Your next step is to identify the potential barriers or obstacles that might prevent you from achieving your awesome goals for 2015. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to identify these. Now, next to each barrier or obstacle, write a sentence or two on how you will overcome this barrier or obstacle.

I would love to hear what your goals for 2015 are, and what barriers/obstacles you might encounter along the way to achieving these goals.

As the late Steve Jobs said:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart, and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

 

May 2015 be your best year ever!

Coach Brian

 

My Goals for Running/Triathlon for 2015 Are (I would limit the number of goals to no more than three):

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The Obstacles that Could Prevent Me From Achieving My Goals Are:

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For Each Obstacle I Will Do the Following So That I Achieve My Goals for 2015:

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