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

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What Should I Wear When I Run, Especially in Cold, Rain and Wind?

Depending on where you live, training at this time of year can be a real challenge because of the weather.  However, as someone who has run several early spring marathons and has trained for several years outside during the winter, it is doable with the proper attire.

Obviously, the types of conditions you may encounter this time of year will depend on where you live.  So, I wanted to share some recommendations for you as far as proper attire if you are running outside and are encountering cold, rain, wind, as well as you some general guidelines are far as running attire.  In the future, I will send out another article on running in heat and humidity.

General guidelines:

For running attire, I highly recommend that you avoidcotton.  Cotton will stick to you once you start sweating and it does not wick sweat away from your body, which can give you the chills even when you are running on a warm day.  Instead, I recommend that you use synthetic or technical fabrics for your shirts, shorts, sports bras, tights, socks, and even underwear.  These fabrics are effective in wicking sweat away which can significantly improve your body’s ability to regulate its temperature.  This can be particularly beneficial if you run/walk, so that sweat is moved during the run segment, so that you are not chilled during the walk segment.  Some examples of technical fabrics are Dri-FIT and COOLMAX.

In general, for running tops short-sleeve or long-sleeve T-shirts will work well.  You might also prefer to run in tank tops depending on the temperature.  Depending on the conditions you are running in you may need additional top layers, which I will discuss a little later.

Women should select a few good quality sports bras, which are supportive, fit properly, and are not too stretched out.  Select a sports bra designed to fit your size and that will provide support during high intensity workouts.  Also, the sports bra should be made of moisture-wicking seamless fabric to prevent irritation.  The sports bra should have flat seams, which minimize chafing.    Be aware that most sports bras need to be replaced after about 70 washes, when the elasticity is lost, or if your weight changes significantly.

As far as the lower body, running shorts allow the most freedom of movement and breathability, but running capris or pants are suitable alternatives.  As far as socks, choose synthetic blends like those made from polyester, acrylic, or COOLMAX, instead of cotton.  These synthetic blends can help keep your feet dry to help minimize blistering.

Your running attire may need to be modified based on weather conditions and the environment.  If running outdoors in winter weather, you will need to add some base layers, running tights, gloves and hat.  If running indoors such as in a gym, you have the freedom to wear minimal layers.  A hat or visor can be helpful when running while it is sunny, and a lightweight jacket that repels water will make running in the rain more tolerable.  Keep in mind when running outdoors to be careful not to overdress. Once you warm up, your extra body heat can make it feel about 15 to 20 degrees warmer.

Next, I will go into more specifics for running attire in certain conditions, including cold, rain, wind, and darkness.

Cold weather running

1.Head and neck

On cold days, you can lose up to approximately 10% of your body heat from your head, so it’s important to keep your head covered.  Also, you should protect your skin from the cold and wind to prevent frostbite and chapping. Here’s what I recommend for your head and neck:

Thermal hat: A fleece or wool hat can help keep your head warm during winter runs. You can easily tuck it into your running pants, if you feel you are starting to overheat.

Neck gaiter or bandana: Neck gaiters, which are often worn by skiers, can be extremely valuable for protecting your neck and face on a frigid, windy day.  They are also helpful in that you can pull them up over your mouth to warm the air you are breathing in.  Similarly, you can use a bandana over your mouth to warm the air you breathe.

Balaclava: A balaclava is a type of headgear that covers your whole head, exposing only your face or part of it, and sometimes only your eyes. They’re usually made of fleece or wool, and are only necessary if the temperature or wind chill is below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lip balm/Vaseline: Protect your lips from chapping with some lip balm. You can also use Vaseline on your nose and cheeks (or anywhere else on your face) to prevent windburn and chapping

2. Upper body

The key to dressing when winter running, especially with your upper body, is layering.  Wearing layers is helpful in that it not only keeps in heat, so that you stay warm, but it will also allow sweat to move through the layers to be evaporated, which dissipates heat, so that you don’t overheat.  Here are the important layers that you need for your upper body:

Wicking base layer: The layer closest to your body should be made from a synthetic wicking material.  Some examples include Dri-FIT, Thinsulate, Thermax, COOLMAX, or polypropylene. This material will wick the sweat away from your body, which will help keep you dry and warm.  Do not wear cotton for your base layer!  Cotton is poor at wicking moisture and so once it gets wet, you’ll get and stay wet.  Typically, for temperatures between 40-55 degrees Fahrenheit you can usually just wear a long-sleeve base layer.

Insulating layer: Your second or middle layer, which is needed for very cold weather (below 10 degrees Fahrenheit), should be made of an insulating material, such as fleece. This layer is important for continuing to wick moisture away from the skin and for removing heat, so that you don’t overheat.  This layer should also trap some air to keep you warm.  There are a variety of different fabrics that could make effective middle layers including: polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece, Dryline, and Polartec.

Wind- and water-proof outer layer: The outer layer should protect you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow), but also allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling. Wearing a jacket with a zipper can be helpful as far as regulating your body temperature because you can zip or unzip it, as necessary.  Some recommended materials for the outer layer include: Gore-Tex, Supplex, Micro Supplex, nylon, Windstopper, and Climafit.  Usually, for temperatures between 10 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will only need a wicking base layer and an outer layer.

Gloves/mittens: Covering your hands are important because you can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your extremities. On cold days, wear gloves made of material that will wick away moisture. When it’s extremely cold, mittens are a better choice because your fingers will be together and will share their body heat.

3. Lower body

Tights/running pants: When you run your body is generating body heat, so typically you don’t need as many layers on your lower body.  Usually, you will just need one layer such as a pair of tights or running pants made of a synthetic material such as Thinsulate, Thermax, COOLMAX, or polypropylene.  When temperatures are below 10 degrees Fahrenheit you may want to wear two layers.  The first layer would be tights, which will serve as a wicking layer.  The outer layer should be wind-proof pants, such as track pants.

Shoes: Your feet should stay warm while you run, as long as they stay dry.  So, try to avoid puddles, slush, and wet snow, as much as possible.  Ideally, your running shoes should have a minimal amount of mesh.   Also, for your runs in the snow you might consider using waterproof trail running shoes, which can help keep your feet dry and provide better traction.  Yak Trax Ice Grippers, which can slip right over your running shoes, can also help with traction in the snow.

Socks: Wear a good pair of wicking socks made of either acrylic, COOLMAX, or wool.  These will help keep your feet dry and minimize the risk of developing blisters.  Also, select socks that will at least cover your ankles to avoid the socks slipping into your running shoes.

Running in the rain:

1. Wear a hat with a brim

A hat with a brim will keep the rain off your face, so you can see, even in a downpour.

2. If it’s cold, dress in layers

If it’s cold and rainy, you may need to wear multiple layers.  Make sure that the base layer, or layer closest to your body, is made of a synthetic or technical fabric, such as polypropylene or CoolMax.  This will help to wick water and sweat away from your skin.  For the outer layer use a wind- and water-resistant jacket.  Don’t use a waterproof rain slicker, which will trap in moisture and heat.

3. Don’t wear too many layers

Dress for the temperature as if it were a dry day.  Don’t wear too many layers because these layers will get wet and will become heavy.

4. Be visible

Select outer layers that are very bright, or light-colored, and have reflective strips, since running in the rain often means poor visibility.

5. Wear old running or tennis shoes until the start on the day of your event

If it is raining on the day of your event, keep your running shoes and socks in a plastic bag, while waiting at the start. You may be able to check your old shoes in your gear check bag, or leave them with a family member or friend, and put on your running shoes and socks right before you head to the starting line.  If it has stopped raining by then, you’ll be able to run the race in dry shoes and socks.

6. Prevent chafing

For long runs apply Body Glide or Vaseline on parts of your body where you would normally chafe or get blisters — such as your feet, inner thighs, underarms, sports bra lines (women), and nipples (men).

7. Protect your electronics

Store electronics, such as your cell phone and iPod, in a zip lock bag, or other water-proof carrier.

8. Dry out your shoes

When you get home from a wet run, remove your running shoes and stuff them with crumpled balls of newspaper. This will help the shoes keep their shape, and the paper will dry the shoes by drawing moisture from the shoes. Don’t put your running shoes in the dryer, or in front of a heater, because they may shrink or become warped, so that they won’t fit properly.

Running in the wind:

In warm weather, the wind can help evaporate your sweat, so you may feel comfortable.  However, if you’re running in cold, windy weather, make sure you’re prepared for changing conditions by dressing in thin layers. For example, you can always take off a light jacket if you warm up, and put it back on if the wind picks up again.  It is important to protect exposed skin, especially your face, from chapping during windy conditions.  Vaseline and lip balm can be helpful in doing so.  If it’s sunny, you should use sunscreen. Sometimes the cooling effect of the wind makes people forget that they can still get a sunburn.

Running in the dark:

Running outdoors, particularly at dusk and nighttime, presents safety concerns. To ensure that you are visible to others, especially motorists, wear bright-colored clothing. Wearing accessories such as reflective clothing, reflective tape, or a clip-on light, or reflector will also make you easily visible to others.

References

Cespedes, Andrea.  Proper Running Attire.  The Nest,

http://woman.thenest.com/proper-running-attire-15304.html

Greene, Wayne.  2004.  Proper Attire.  Runner’s World,

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-apparel/proper-running-attire

Janos, Karen. Running Gear for Beginners: The Essential, Helpful and Fun.  Active,

http://www.active.com/running/articles/running-gear-for-beginners-the-essential-helpful-and-fun

Kochan, Bethany. 2015.  Running in Humid Weather.  Livestrong.com,

http://www.livestrong.com/article/477606-running-in-humid-weather/

Luft, Christine.  2016.  Basic Running Clothes for Beginners.  About Health,

http://running.about.com/od/shoesapparelandgear/a/runningclothing.htm

Marie, Christina.  Proper Running Attire. AZCental,

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/proper-running-attire-4527.html

Myers, Janine.  A Beginner’s Guide to Running Gear.

http://breakingmuscle.com/running/a-beginners-guide-to-running-gear

Sugar, Jenny.  2011.  What Not To Wear Running.  Popsugar,

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Wear-When-Running-20606063#photo-20606063

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.