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.

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:

Recover Better With Better Sleep: Sleep Aids That Can Help You Improve the Quantity and Quality of Your Sleep Part 2

In the last post, I discussed different sleep aids that you can use to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. This is important for facilitating recovery from challenging runs that you have and will allow your body to undergo certain adaptations, which will allow you to become a better runner.

As I promised, I will discuss other sleep aids in this post, focusing on what you eat and the timing of what you eat, as well as supplements.

What and When You Eat Matters

The food you eat before bed can affect your sleep. Research has shown that a high-carbohydrate meal may be detrimental to sleep. Even though a high-carbohydrate meal can get you to fall asleep faster, it will not be a restful sleep. Instead, high-fat meals can promote a deeper and more restful sleep. If you still want to eat a high-carbohydrate meal for dinner, you should eat it at least four hours before bed, so you have enough time to digest it.

Avoiding caffeine before bed is also important and for some people caffeine should not be taken less than eight hours before bed to optimize quality and quantity of sleep.

Certain Foods with Sleep Promoting Properties

Taking the following foods before bed (such as dinner or dessert) can be helpful in promoting both sleep quality and quantity.

Almonds: Almonds are a source of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Almonds are also an excellent source of magnesium which also may help improve sleep quality. In fact, my wife and I have had success as far as sleep quality when taking almond milk before bed.

Chamomile Tea: Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain to promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.

Kiwi: Kiwi contains serotonin which regulates your sleep cycle. The antioxidants (vitamin C and carotenoids) in kiwis may also help promote sleep due to their anti-inflammatory effects. This is another food that my wife and I have been eating before bed, which also seems to be beneficial.

Tart Cherry Juice: May be an effective sleep promoter due to its high melatonin content.

Fatty Fish: Including salmon, trout, and mackeral contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D and this combination has the potential to enhance sleep quality because both increase production of serotonin.

Walnuts: Walnuts are one of the best food sources for melatonin. Walnuts also contain fatty acids that help increase the production of serotonin.

Passionflower Tea: Contains apigenin, an antioxidant that produces a calming effect and increases GABA, a brain chemical that inhibits other brain chemicals that induce stress. 

Supplements

There are too many to talk about one blog post, however I will mention a few. Be aware that there is always the potential issue of the quality of supplements and possible side effects. So you should check with your physician before taking any supplements.

Melatonin: I recommend using this sparingly, such as when you experience jet lag from travel, because taking this often can affect our body’s natural production of melatonin. This supplement may also be beneficial for daytime sleep quality for those whose schedules require them to sleep during the daytime.

MCT or coconut oil: take 30-60 minutes before bed. Dave Asprey discusses the use of MCT oil in his book The Bulletproof Diet as a helpful sleep aid. MCT or coconut oil can be effective for minimizing any food cravings that might keep you awake, because it provides a slow-burning source of fat fuel and won’t cause insulin levels to spike, which occurs when you have carbohydrates or protein. Dave provides a recipe for a beverage called the Non-Coffee Vanilla Latte, which specifically incorporates MCT or coconut oil. I have used this beverage to help improve my own sleep. Here’s the recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 cups of hot filtered water
    • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or ghee
    • 2 tablespoons MCT or organic coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon unsweetened vanilla powder
    • ½ teaspoon organic cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of cardamom or ½ teaspoon of raw organic honey
  •   Add all ingredients to a blender and process until all are incorporated. It is important that they are blended with blender, Vitamix, etc. and not just stirred by hand

Magnesium: Magnesium promotes sleep by reducing inflammation and it reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to interrupt sleep. Magnesium also appears to increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain messenger with calming effects. The best forms of magnesium are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, aspartate and chelate because they are the most absorbable forms. Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide.

Valerian Root: Valerian root is one of the most commonly used sleep-promoting herbal supplements in the US and Europe. However, safety remains uncertain for long-term use, and in special populations such as pregnant and lactating women.  

Glycine: Glycine is an amino acid thought to act in part by lowering body temperature at bedtime, signaling that it’s time to sleep.According to the research, taking fewer than 31 grams per day appears to be safe, however more studies are needed.

L-Theanine: Consuming a daily supplement containing 200-400 mg of this amino acid may help improve sleep and relaxation.

CBD oil: now legal in at least 30 states, this supplement has gained popularity as a sleep aid the past few years, although research is limited as far as its effectiveness. There are people that I know, including my wife, who swear by CBD oil as an effective sleep aid.

If you have, or suspect you have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder, you should meet with a specialist, if you haven’t already doe so, to be assessed and have a treatment plan developed for you.

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

Please feel free to share this with anyone you feel might benefit.

Sleep well.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

References:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-fall-asleep

The Bulletproof Die. Dave Asprey, Rodale Inc: 2014.

“Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality.” St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Adv Nutr 2016 Sep 15; 7(5): 938-49.

“High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset.” Afaghi A, O’Connor H, Chow CM. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 Feb; 85(2): 426-30.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-to-help-you-sleep

“Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being.” Zeng Y, Yang J, Du J, Pu X, Yang X, Yang S, Yang T. Curr Signal Transduct Ther 2014 Dec; 9(3): 148-155.

“Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin.” Meng X,  Li Y, Li S, Zhou Y, Gan R, Xu D, Li H. Nutrients. 2017 Apr; 9(4): 367.

“The magic of magnesium.” Boomsma D. Int J Pharm Compd. 2008 Jul-Aug; 12(4): 306-9.

“The effect of magnesium supplementation on the primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. J Res Med Sci 2012 Dec; 17(12): 1161-9.

“Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Srivastava J, Shankar E, Gupta S. Mol Med Report 2010 Nov 1; 3(6): 895-901.

“Herbal medicine for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Leach MJ, Page AT. Sleep Med Rev 2015 Dec; 24:1-12.

“Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality on adults with sleep problems.” Lin HH, Tasi PS, Fang SC, Liu JF. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011; 20(2): 169-74.

“Phytoserotonin: A Review.” Ramakrishna A, Giridhar P, Ravishanskar GA. Plant Singal Behav. 2011 Jun; 6(6): 800-809.

“Diet promotes sleep duration and quality.” Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Nutr Res 2012 May; 32(5): 309-19.

“How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs.” Young S. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 Nov; 32(6): 394-399.

“Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Anitioxidants Contribute to Selected Sleep Quality ad Cardiometabolic Health Relationships: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Kanagasabai T, Ardern C. Mediators Inflamm. 2015; Oct 19.

“Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep.” Halson S. Sports Med. 2014; 44(Supple 1): 13-23.

“Fish Consumption, Sleep, Daily Functioning, and Heart Rate Variability.” Hansen AL, Dahl L, Olson G, Thornton D, Graff IE, Froyland L, Thayer JF, Pallesen S. J Clin Sleep Med. 2014 May 15; 10(5): 567-575.

“Health Benefits of Nut Consumption.” Ros E. Nutrients. 2010 Jul; 2(7): 652-682.

“Melatonins in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood.” Reiter RJ, Manchester LC, Tan DX. Nutrition. 2005 Sep; 21(9) 920-4.

“Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin.” Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Food Nutr Res. 2012 Jul 20.

“Serotonin and sleep.” Ursin R. Sleep Med Rev. 2002 Feb; 6(1): 55-69.

“Risks and Benefits of Commonly Used Herbal Medicines in Mexico.” Rodrigues-Fragoso L, Reyes-Esparza J, Burchiel S, Herrera-Ruiz D. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2008 Feb 15; 227(1): 125-135.

“The role of GABA in anxiety disorders.” Lydiard RB. J Clin Psychiatry. 2003; 64 Suppl 3: 21-7.

www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-aids

“Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag.” Herxheimer A, Petri KJ. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002; (2): CD001520.

“Shift work: coping with the biological clock.” Arendt J. Occup Med (Lond). 2010 Jan; 60(1): 10-20.

“Valerian for Sleep: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Bent S, Padula A, Moore D, Patterson M, Mehling W. Am J Med 2006 Dec; 119 (12): 1005-1012.

“Effectiveness of Valerian on insomnia: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.” Fernandez-San Martin MI, Masa-Font R, Palacios-Soler L, Sancho-Gomex P, Calbo-Caldentey C, Flores-Mateo G. Sleep Med. 2010 Jun; 11(6): 505-11.

“Biorhythms and possible central regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy, and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion.” Durlach J, Pages N, Bac P, Bara M, Guiet-Bara A. Magnes Res. 2002 Mar: 15(1-2): 49-66.

“Benzodiazepene/GABA(A) receptors are involved in magnesium-induced anxiolytic-like behavior in mice.” Poleszak E. Pharmacol Rep. 2008 Jul-Aug; 60(4): 483-9.

https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/20/magnesium-the-most-powerful-relaxation-mineral-available/

“The Sleep-Promoting and Hypothermic Effects of Glycine are Mediated by NMDA Receptors in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.”  Kawai N, Sakai N, Okuro M, Karakawa S, Tsuneyoshi Y, Kawasaki N, Takeda T, Bannai M, Nishino S. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 May; 40(6): 1405-1416.

“New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep.” Bannai M, Kawai N. J Pharmacol Sci. 2012; 118(2): 145-8.

“The nature of human hazards associated with excessive intake of amino acids.” Garlick PJ. J Nutr. 2004 Jun; 134(6 Suppl): 1633S-1639S.

“The acute effects of L-theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans.” Lu K, Gray MA, Oliver C, Liley DT, Harrison BJ, Bartholomeusz CF, Phan KL, Nathan PJ. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Oct: 19(7): 457-65.

“The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):348-54.

Recover Better Through Better Sleep: Sleep Aids That Can Help You Improve the Quantity and Quality of Your Sleep

Last Sunday’s afternoon long run was a tough one! The run was hilly and I threw in a few hill sprints to make it even more challenge. After I performed my strengthening exercises and cooldown, I was ready to go to bed! This reminded me of the importance of recovery and different ways to we can recover to get the benefits from a tough training run. Click this link to read this previous post:

Marathon Training 2019 Day 18: How To Get Better Sleep and Sleep’s Importance As Part of Recovery Part 1

One of the most important modes of recovery is sleep. The amount and quality of the sleep (it should be a high quality deep sleep, in which you go into a deep sleep throughout the night) that we get are most important to our recovery and will help facilitate the adaptations stimulated by our tough training run, so that we can become a better runner. After all, if we are doing a tough run to become a better runner, we ought to get the benefits from our effort!

To help me improve the quality and quantity of my sleep, I took a teaspoon of magnesium chelate (the brand I use is Garden of Life and usually take the Raspberry Lemon flavored one. Disclaimer: I have no affiliations or investment with Garden of Life) before I went to bed that night. I also used a guided meditation/hypnotherapy, and not only fell asleep quickly, but was able to sleep well throughout the night.

There are other sleep aids that I have used, and you may have used a few of these as well. I will discuss a few of these below and continue with more in the next. This is not an exhaustive list, but there may be a couple that might help make it easier for you to catch more Z’s and better facilitate the recovery process from your training runs:

Lower the room temperature in which you sleep

  • This one you may need to experiment with to find the temperature which works best, however you should adjust the room temperature to somewhere between 60-75 degrees Farenheit.
  • Also, taking a warm bath or shower before going to bed can help speed up the body’s temperature change. As you body cools down afterwards, this can help send a signal to your brain to go to sleep.

Meditation/Hypnotherapy/Breathing Techniques/Listening to Relaxing Music Such as Buddhist Chants

  • Sometimes my wife and I use a guided yoga shavasana from her yoga instructor that has helped us fall asleep
  • You can also using a breathing technique such as the following:
    • First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth and make a whoosh sound.
    • Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to four.
    • Hold your breath and mentally count to seven.
    • Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a whoosh sound and mentally counting to eight.
    • Repeat this cycle at least three more times.
    • Initially, you may need to shorten the counts for holding your breath and exhalation
  • Listening to relaxing, soothing, and sedative music can improve sleep quality. Research has shown that Buddhist music created from different Buddhist chants for meditation can also been an effective sleep aid.

Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule

  • Our body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, cues the body to feel alert during the day and sleepy at night. Waking up and going to bed at the same times each day can help your internal clock keep a regular schedule.
  • You should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Get Light Exposure During the Day, But Minimize Exposure At Night

  • Irregular light exposure can disrupt circadian rhythms and negatively impact the production of melatonin, a hormone essential for sleep
  • Therefore you should be exposed to light during the day (this should include natural light), however minimize light exposure at least 30-60 minutes (avoid screens, such as phone, computer, TV) before doing to bed and while sleeping (may consider using blackout curtain)
  • Disconnect all electronics and put away computers and mobile phones, so you can ensure a quiet place, free of distractions.

Journal and Visualize Things That Make You Happy

  • Journaling 15 minutes before bed can be helpful. Write down how you are feeling at that moment, including both positive and negative thoughts, including any stress and anxiety you are feeling.
  • Practice and concentrate on an environment that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed to help you fall asleep. You might also incorporate gratitude.

Aromatherapy

  • Use an essential oil diffuser which will infuse your room with relaxing scents that encourage sleep.
  • Research has demonstrated that lavender and damask rose oils have been effective for sleep.

In the next post, I will discuss other sleep aids that can improve sleep quantity and quality, including foods and supplements.

If you have, or suspect you have sleep apnea, you should meet with a specialist, if you haven’t already, to be assessed and have a treatment plan developed for you.

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

Sleep well.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

References:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-fall-asleep

“Thermoregulation as a sleep signaling system.” Gilbert SS, van den Heuvel CJ, Ferguson SA, Dawson D Sleep Med Rev 2004 Apr; 8(2) 81-93.

“Sleep, vigilance, and thermosensitivity.” Romeijn N, Raymann RJ, Most E, Te Lindert B Van Der Meijden WP, Fronczek R, Gomez-Herro G, Van Someran EJ Pflugers Arch 2012 Jan; 463(1): 169-76.

“A warm footbath before bedtime and sleep in older Taiwanese with sleep disturbance.” Liao WC, Chiu MJ, Landis CA. Res Nurs Health 2008 Oct; 31(5): 514-28.

“An official American Thoracic Society Statement: The importance of healthy sleep. Recommendations and future priorities.” Mukherjee S, Patel SR, Kales SN, Aya NT, Strohl KP, Gozal D, Malholtra A, American Thoracic Society ad hoc Committee of Health Sleep. Am J Respir Crit Care Md 2015 Jun 15; 191 (12(: 1450-8.

“Circadian rhythms, sleep deprovation, and human performance.” Goel N, Basner M, Rao H, Dinges DF. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci 2013; 119” 155-90.

“Light as a central modulator of circadian rhythms, sleep and affect.” LeGates TA, Fernandeez DC, Hattar S. Nat Rev Neurosci 2014 Jul; 15 (7): 443-54.

“Melatonin: an internal signal for daily and seasonal timing.” Trivedi AK, Kumar V. Indian J Exp Biol 2014 May; 52(5): 425-37.

“Music therapy improves sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders: a meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies.” Wang CF, Sun YL, Zang HX. Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 Jan 51(1): 51-62.

“Sedative music facilitates deep sleep in young adults.” Chen CK, Pei YC, Chen NH, Huang LT, Chou SW, Wu KP, Ko PC, Wong AM, Wu CK. J Altern Complement Med 2014 Apr: 20(4):312-7.

“Effects of music videos on sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with chronic insomnia: a randomized control trial.” Lai HL, Chang ET, Li YM, Huang CY, Lee LH, Wang HM. Biol Res Nurs 2015 May; 17(3): 340-7.

“Effects of Constructive Worry, Imagery Distraction, and Gratitude Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Pilot Trial.” Digdon N, Koble A. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 24 May 2011.

“The effects of aromatherapy on sleep improvement: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis.” Hwang E, Shin S.  J Altern Complement Med 2015 Feb: 21 (2): 61-8.

“Effect of lavender aromatherapy on vital signs and perceived quality of sleep in the intermediate care unit: a pilot study.” Lyttle J, Mwatha C, Davis KK. Am J Crit Care 2014 Jan; 23(1): 24-9.

“Effect of Rosa damascene aromatherapy on sleep quality in cardiac patients: a randomized control trial.” Hajibagheri A, Babaii A, Adid-Hajbaghery M. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2014 Aug; 20(3): 159-63.

Marathon Training 2019 Day 55: Benefits of Resistance Training (Weightlifting) and When Should You Perform This

March 5 2019 run“Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.” – Byron Dorgan

This post is from Sunday’s workout in which I ran ~8 miles at an easy pace. I also included 5 x 8-second hill sprints with full recovery during this run. Immediately after my run I performed the following strengthening 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 (~60 seconds)
  • Pushups on stability ball (8 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward-and-back (12 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 (~20 seconds)
  • Glute bridge hip lifts (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • 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)
  • Bounce on stability ball with smaller ball between thighs (3 minutes)

After these exercise I rolled the plantar fascia with a softball because of some plantar fasciitis creeping up and foam rolled calves, hip flexors/quadriceps and hamstrings.

Tip of the Day:

Performing strengthening exercises that address muscle imbalances/weaknesses, improve stability and mobility, and improve power and speed are an important component of every runners training program. These exercises can improve running performance and help minimize the risk of injury.

The question is, on what days should you perform strengthening exercise, especially those exercises of higher resistance and lower repetitions, such as when using weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, or even, just body weight?

True or False: The best time to perform heavier resistance training is on your harder run days, such as when you perform long runs or speed work.

I have spoken with many runners about the best time to perform resistance training. Some runners have asked me if the best time to perform harder resistance or strengthening workouts is on easy run days or days off from running. This discussion leads to another important component of your training, which I mentioned in a previous post, which is recovery. Adaptations to the training you do occur during recovery, not when you are actually performing the workout. Therefore, you need appropriate time to recover. If you are doing harder resistance training or strengthening exercises on your easier or off days from running, there is little or no time for recovery. Thus, you won’t get the benefits from the speed workout or long run you did. Major bummer! 🙁  You also won’t get the benefits of a harder resistance or strengthening workout. Double bummer.

Yes, I know for time sake it would be easier to fit the harder resistance or strengthening workout on a shorter, easy run day, or a day off from running. However, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym lifting weights, like my brother and I used to do when we were younger, and I had other goals than improving my run time.

So, the answer to the statement above is true. The time needed to perform harder resistance and strengthening exercises should be at most 15-20 minutes. You can see above the exercises that I did after a long run, and this took me about 15 minutes to perform. Also, I recommend performing the resistance training after your run, because the run should be the most important component of that day’s workout.

So, remember the following, “Keep the easy days easy, and the hard days hard.” This will allow you to stress your body on the hard days (and offer additional challenge from the resistance training, basically feeling like you have run additional miles) and allow your body to adapt during the easy days (such as easy run with strides, brisk walk or low to moderate cross-training workout). For example, in the Fitness Training Program I have included monster walks with a resistance band on long run days and days when I’m performing hill sprints, but not on days when I’m doing an easy-paced run with strides. On easy run days, I have included exercises that should not be as challenging resistance-wise, but still beneficial.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to be smart with incorporating and progressing harder resistance or strengthening exercises into your training plan, or you can be injured and that can set your training back. Many of us have desk jobs and thus, have significant muscles imbalances and weaknesses that should be addressed first, before using heavy resistance.

I also highly recommend that you have a spotter with exercises in which you are lifting weights.

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

I wish you the best with your training.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 18: How To Get Better Sleep and Sleep’s Importance As Part of Recovery Part 1

February 1 2019 sunset photo“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit”

Today, I did not run, but 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)
  • Prone planks (~30 seconds)
  • Side planks (~20 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~15 seconds)
  • Clamshells (15 repetitions on each side)

Later in the day, I did a hike with my wife, Karen, and our dog. It was such a beautiful day!

Recommendation:

For beginners and those who have taken a significant amount of time off, and who took the past two days off from running, I recommend an easy run of 25-35 minutes in a primarily flat area. You should perform the exercises above immediately after your run, and perform a cool-down.

For those who have already run 2-3 times this week, I recommend a day off from running and performing the exercises above. You might do a brisk walk or hike.

Tip of the Day: In a previous post, I talked about the importance of recovery and mentioned some of the different aspects of recovery. Today, I want to focus on one of these aspects which is sleep. I discussed this in a previous article:

http://www.denverrunningcoach.com/recovery-between-workouts,-what-to-do-and-why-its-important/

As I mentioned in this article there are many important benefits of sleep and ideally you should get 7-9 hours per night and wake up without an alarm clock. I’ve heard that Sir Richard Branson lets sunlight wake him up each morning. Research studies have shown that good quality sleep increases athletic performance (www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/74081.php)

If you are having trouble falling asleep there are several things that you can do to help you fall asleep and help ensure that you are obtaining high quality sleep. Sleep quality is determined by how fast you fall asleep and how much time you spend in REM and delta (deep, restorative) sleep. I certainly don’t have enough space in one post to go through all the different things that would be beneficial, however I will mention a few, and then discuss more in a future post(s).

Here are a few things to avoid that can negatively impact your sleep quality:

Bright Lights:

  • For at least 30 minutes before going to bed, try to avoid bright lights
  • If working on computer close to bedtime dim the screen by using f.lux (free software)
  • 5 minutes of white light from a screen shuts off your melatonin production for hours and can wreck the quality of your sleep, so it’s best to avoid screens in the evening entirely

Violence:

  • Watching graphic violence on TV, computer or phone, might make it harder for you to fall and stay asleep because this can put you in fight-or-flight mode
  • If you do this, try using the HeartMath Inner Balance Sensor for a few minutes to reverse the effects and get out of fight-or-flight

Caffeine:

  • Don’t drink coffee after 2pm or at least 8 hours before bedtime, whichever comes first
  • Some people need more than 8 hours of caffeine avoidance for maximum sleep performance, so track caffeine intake and sleep patterns

Second Wind:

  • There is a window from 10:45-11:00 pm when you naturally get tired. If you don’t go to sleep then and choose to stay awake, you’ll get a cortisol-driven “second wind” that can keep you up until 2am
  • You’ll get better sleep when you go to bed before 11pm and wake up feeling more rested, than if you’d gotten the same amount of sleep starting later

Stress:

  • Non beneficial stress decreases immune function, shortens lifespan, and impairs sexual performance, as well as destroys sleep
  • Deep breathing exercises like Art of Living, pranayama yoga, and meditation can help your brain shut down and recuperate, my wife and I have been incorporating a deep relaxation Shavasana for twenty minutes before going to bed, which has helped tremendously!

In a future post(s), I will discuss other factors such as what and when you eat, and other tips that may be of benefit.

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

Sleep well.

Your friend and coach,

Brian

Marathon Training 2019 Day 4: Importance of Recovery

September 9 2018 Family hike“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Dekker

Today, I slept in later than I normally do and realized that my body needed it! This relates perfectly to today’s tip on recovery. One important aspect of this is “listening to your body” and not pushing through when your are tired and/or sore, because this can lead to injury and/or getting sick.

Today, I took a scheduled day off from running and did a fairly easy walk with my dog, Zadar (in photo above from a hike last year), for ~30 minutes. After our walk I did some 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))
  • Prone planks (~30 seconds)
  • Side planks (~20 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~15 seconds)
  • Clamshells (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (5 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

I also spent more time with foam rolling and eccentric exercises than I usually do.

Recommendation: For beginners and those who have taken a significant amount of time off, who took the past two days off from running, I recommend an easy run of 20-30 minutes in a primarily flat area. You may want to incorporate any of the following exercises that I did, if you can properly perform.

For those who have already run 2-3 times this week, I recommend a day off from running, and you may also want to perform any of the exercises above, in which you know how to perform properly.

For everyone, I highly recommend performing cool-down exercises.

Tip of the Day: Recovery is just as important as your training runs to help you achieve your running goals. Adaptions, such as increasing the number of red blood cells and blood vessels to carry oxygen to the muscles that help you run, and the number of mitochondria, which produce the energy to contract these muscles, don’t take place when you are running. They take place when you are not running. So, you need to have recovery to facilitate these adaptations occurring to make you a better runner. There are different components to recovery including: easy run days, cross-training days, days off from training, nutrition, sleep, cool-down, etc. that are all important. I will be discussing these in more detail in future posts. However, I want to make you aware of the importance of recovery and its role in improving your running performance. Without proper recovery you increase the risk of overtraining, which can compromise your immune system and break down your body. So, you need to incorporate proper recovery into your training program.

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

Be your best self today.

Your friend and coach,

Brian