What’s Your Hydration and Nutrition Plan for Your Big Race?

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“Plans Are Nothing: Planning is Everything” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Hello Runners,

So, you’ve put in some great training, and you have a goal, and maybe even a purpose higher than yourself, which can get your through some of the toughest portions of your marathon. The weather on your race day is ideal. You’re able to run without any injuries. But, you could still fail to achieve your goal on race day due to dehydration or fatigue caused by burning up all your available carbohydrates.

Therefore, you need a plan before and during your event to make sure you stay as hydrated as possible, and don’t run out of available carbohydrates. Basically, we don’t have enough available carbohydrates in our body to complete a marathon. We need to take on additional carbohydrates during our event.

Where so many runners fail on race day is not having a game plan for how they are going to hydrate and fuel themselves during their event, or they have a game plan ahead of time, but don’t follow through. Also, many runners rely on what’s handed out at the event without practicing with it ahead of time (sports drinks, gels, etc.), and sometimes found out the hard way that what’s handed out is not best for them.

So, what’s your hydration and nutrition strategy for your event? How often will you drink? Will you use a sports drink? If not, what will you eat, so that you have enough energy to finish your marathon? Hopefully, you have been practicing your strategy during your training and have a plan you will use during your big race.

Practice Hydration and Nutrition (Fuel) Strategy During Your Long Runs

Your long training runs are a great time to practice hydration (how often and how much you will drink) and figure out what you will use for fuel during your event, as well as when you will consume this. There are lots of options available as far as fuel, including sports drinks, gels, beans, chews, real food, etc. You may want to practice what will be handed out at your event, that way if it works for you, then you don’t have to carry your own fuel.

Most likely your event won’t have these, but here are some fuel options you might try: SuperStarch by UCAN, Infinit-E by Millenium, and Vitargo. Some other options which are lower in calories, but provide electrolytes include Osmo Nutrition and Skratch Labs. Ideally, practice under similar conditions that you will experience during your event.

The Week Before Your Event

Before I talk more about your hydration and fueling strategy during your event, I will mention what you should do both the week of and the day before your event. After all, you want to start out with a full tank, otherwise, you will be trying to play catch up during your event, and that won’t work and will negatively impact your performance.

So, be sure to hydrate well throughout the week before, and especially the day before your event. Limit alcohol consumption during that week, as well, especially the day before your event. At a minimum you should be consuming half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume at least 75 ounces of water per day.

During the week of the event, this is the time to load up on carbohydrates, including grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits (such as blueberries). You should also be consuming proteins including nuts, seeds, beans, tempeh, fish, other meats, if you normally eat them. Fats are the nutrient you need least during the week of your event.

It is popular for events to have pasta dinners the night before an event. This is more traditional than beneficial. This pasta will really not help you during your event. In fact, you may want to have a salad with some nuts or a small bowl of pasta or white rice for dinner, and eat a larger meal for lunch or in the early afternoon. This larger meal should consist primarily of easily-digestible carbohydrates (such as white rice and white pasta), with some protein, and little fat. Avoid spicy foods and any new foods. Beware of eating a lot of fiber the day before an event and FODMAP foods (beans, onions, garlic, dried fruit, apples, pears, etc.), which can cause gas and bloating.

During Your Event

Don’t consume anything on race day that you haven’t practiced with during your training. Several years ago, when I was living in Maryland, I made an annual habit of running the Baltimore half-marathon. I really enjoyed that event and the crowd support throughout much of the event was great! Within the last few miles of the event there were people who traditionally would hand out gummy bears. Boy, was it tempting! Many people indulged. I passed and recommend you do the same. If you want gummy bears, have them after the race.

General guidelines for hydration

Water loss through sweat of as little as 2% can negatively affect performance, if fluids aren’t replaced because of:

  • Decreased blood volume resulting in the heart having to work harder
  • Increased usage of carbohydrates which can lead to fatigue happening sooner
  • Ability to dissipate heat is reduced
  • Imbalance of electrolytes which can cause cramping and weakness
  • Possible cognitive impairment

Keep in mind this will depend on your sweat rate and the conditions of your event. If you sweat profusely you will likely need to include electrolytes as well. In general you should consume 250 to 500 mg of electrolytes per hour. See previous post. During your event drink 3-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes (a gulp is ~ one ounce), basically drink to thirst.

General guidelines for nutrition

The main cause of fatigue in those participating in endurance events is running out of available carbohydrates in the body. You will need to determine if you will use fluids or solids for your carbohydrate fuel, and which you will use. If using solids, you may want to wash these down with water, don’t use a sports drink to wash them down. During your event, make sure you using something that doesn’t bother your stomach, contains little or no fiber and that you consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate (~120-160 calories) every hour. For events lasting 4 hours or longer you may want to consume ~60 grams/hour.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that you may need to carry your own fuel, whether it’s a sports drink or solid, during your event. This has been pretty much the case for me in every marathon I’ve run. I don’t do well with the sports drinks typically handed out at events.

Even if you have a strategy, you may need to develop a plan B and possibly plan C. What if you encounter heat and humidity during your event? What if they run out of sports drink or water at an aid station? (This happened at the Chicago marathon several years ago).

You should be well-hydrated before the start of your event. You should have eaten a well-balanced diet on the day before your event to ensure that carbohydrate stores in the body are maximized. Also, you should start calorie and fluid replacement early in your event.

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.

References

Bob Seebohar “Triathlon Nutritional Strategies” USA Triathlon Level I Coaching Certification Clinic June 7, 2013, Englewood, CO.

Luke Humphrey with Ketih & Kevin Hanson. Hansons Marathon Method. Velopress, Boulder, CO, 2012.

Ben Greenfield. Beyond Training. Victory Belt Publishing, Las Vegas, NV, 2014.

Matt Fitzgerald . Marathon Roadmap The Plant-Based Guide To Conquering Your First 26.2.

Importance of Running For A Higher Purpose To Help You Through Challenges During Your Training and Event

your-purpose-in-life-is-to-find-your-purpose-and-give-your-whole-heart-and-soul-to-it

“The deepest of all human needs in the need for meaning and purpose in life and work.” – Brian Tracy

Hello Runners,

Every once in a while we hear stories of people performing amazing feats of strength to pick up a car to rescue someone trapped underneath. How are people able to do so, and can you use this to help you overcome significant challenges in your training and event?

In 2011, Jennifer Pharr Davis set out to break the record for hiking the Appalachian Trail (2185 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia) in less than 50 days. At that time, the overall record was 47 ½ days held by several competitive male athletes who specialized in ultra-endurance events. However, 12 days in, and with 1650 miles to go, Pharr Davis was broken-down, depleted, and ready to give up. Shin splints and diarrhea had been wreaking havoc with her body for the past 4 days. Negative thoughts and fear were poisoning her mind. She was off the pace she needed and was ready to give up. She approached a juncture on New Hampshire roads where she was meeting her husband, Brew. She told him she was quitting. However, Brew reminded her that he had given up so much of himself to support her on this hike, and that achieving the record was a team effort.

At that point, she realized that the hike was more than about her and the record. Instead, she focused on the love of her husband, being in nature, and the love of her god. Her psychological stress removed, Pharr Davis pushed through her physical discomfort and broke the record by 26 hours. She had harnessed the power of purpose to overcome her fears and doubts. She had focused on something beyond herself and reflected on her core values, allowing her to courageously confront challenges and improve her performance.

We have the ability to do the same. Research by Dr. Victor Stretcher has shown that when people focus on a self-transcending purpose, or a purpose greater than themselves, they become capable of more than they ever thought was possible. Stretcher believes that this is due to ego minimization, which is important because the ego’s job is to protect our “self” and to shut down and flee when faced with threats. When we transcend our “self” and minimize our ego, we can override the fears, anxieties, and physiological protective mechanisms that often hold us back from achieving major breakthroughs.

Also, Dr. Tim Noakes noticed that runners were able to speed up during the final stretch of a race when the end was in sight and questioned why so many runners, seemingly overwhelmed by fatigue, were able to do so. Through his research, Noakes showed that physical fatigue occurs not in the body, but in the brain. It’s not the muscles that wear out, rather, it’s the brain that shuts them down even though they have more to give. This shut down is an innately programmed way of protecting ourselves. Basically, our brain intervenes and creates a perception of failure before we actually harm ourselves. Noakes suggests the brain is our “central governor” of fatigue and that our “ego” shuts us down when confronted by fear or threat. In other words, we are hardwired to retreat when the going gets tough. However, Noakes says it is possible to override the central governor with transcending purpose, such as someone saving another person trapped under a car by lifting the car, or Jennifer Pharr Davis’ performance in breaking the Appalachian Trail record.

Every year people with little or no running experience join organizations like Team in Training to complete their first marathon in support of those with cancer and other diseases. Many of these people have run no more than a 5k in their life, if even that. Another challenge these runners experience is that the training programs used by these organizations often include minimal mileage during the week, thus making the weekend long runs much more difficult. However, many of these runners still push through because they are running for something bigger than themselves. In the case of Team in Training it’s for those with leukemia and lymphoma.  Others run for loved ones who have been stricken with other life-ending diseases, including other forms of cancer.

So, what’s the higher purpose that you are running for?

The idea of transcending yourself can be applied to other areas of your life as well, such as your work.

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 post with them. Also, if this was beneficial, please “Like” our page. Thank you.

References

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

Tim Noakes. “Time to Move Beyond a Brainless Exercise Physiology: The Evidence for Complete Regulation of Human Exercise Performance.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 36, no. 1 (February 2011): 23-35

Tim Noakes. “J. B. Wolffe Memorial Lecture. Challenging beliefs: ex. Africa semper aliquid novi,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 29 no. 5 (May 1997): S71-S90.

Overcoming Challenging Runs with Mindfulness and How You Develop Your Mindfulness Muscle

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“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

Hello Runners,

Recently I’ve had some really challenging runs including a 20-miler. Certainly the further we get into marathon training, the more challenging the workouts can be, whether it’s a 20 mile run or a tempo or marathon goal pace run for a sustained period of time.

In these situations, as well as those in other areas of our life which require us to push ourselves to help us grow as a person, we need to get uncomfortable being uncomfortable. Obviously, easier said than done. This is something that elite runners are able to do quite well, and there are probably aspects in your own life in which you do this well. Maybe it’s with your job and/or juggling multiple responsibilities. Maybe it’s giving an important presentation or networking.

As Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness share in Peak Performance, when you begin to feel uncomfortable during a tough workout or event it can help to have a conversation with yourself such as, “This is starting to hurt now. It should. I’m running hard. But I am separate from this pain. It is going to be okay.”

This touches upon the importance of being mindful and developing mindful fitness, which you can apply to other aspects of your life such as giving a presentation, dealing with a challenging client, dealing with a challenging child, etc.

By being more mindful, you create the space for you to choose how you respond to stress, instead of having an automatic response to stress. While you are immersed in the challenge, you can use mindfulness to remain calm. After a challenge, mindfulness lets you choose to turn off stress and transition to a more restful state.

Developing mindfulness is like developing a muscle. One great way to do so is through mindful meditation, which I do for a few minutes each day, typically first thing in the morning and before I go to bed.

Research studies have shown mindful meditation to be extremely helpful in overcoming stress in military personal, and it can help athletes in all sports manage stress, improve focus, and enhance performance.

To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the moment, without judging yourself and without being distracted by stressful experiences from the past or stressful anticipation of the future.

Guidelines for Mindful Meditation:

  • Choose a time to meditate when other distractions are minimal. A great time might be first thing in the morning or before going to bed. Another option might be during your lunch break.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck, and back straight but not stiff
  • Set a timer so that you are not distracted by thoughts about the passage of time
  • Begin breathing deeply, in and out through the nose
  • Allow your breath to settle back into its natural rhythm and focus on nothing but the sensation of breathing, noticing the rise and fall of the abdomen with each breath; if thoughts arise, notice them and don’t suppress them. Acknowledge your thoughts and use your breath as an anchor. You might visualize your thoughts as puffy white clouds and watch them disappear across the sky. Direct your focus back to the sensation of your breath.
  • As you conclude your meditation session, sit for a minute or two, become aware of where you are and then gradually get up.
  • Meditation can be a challenge itself because our mind can be super active and it can be difficult to quiet the mind. So, start with one minute and gradually increase the duration, adding 30-45 seconds every few days.
  • Consistency is important in building your mindful muscle, just like building any other muscle. Along those lines frequency of meditation is more important than duration.
  • Apply your growing mindfulness abilities in everyday life and have calm conversations with yourself during stressful periods
  • Realize when you want to “turn it off” and then choose to leave stress behind. Pausing to take a few deep breaths helps to activate the brain’s command and control center, instead of allowing the portion of the brain that responds automatically to take over.

You can also use guided meditation to develop mindfulness. This may be easier, especially if you are just starting out. Some apps which will guide you include Insight Timer, Headspace, and Pranayama. (Disclaimer: I have no associations with Insight Timer, Headspace, or Pranayama.)

So, incorporate a few minutes of mindful meditation into your day and strengthen your mindfulness muscle to help your performance during difficult training runs and your next event.

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. Thank you.

 

References

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

Beyond Training. Ben Greenfield. Victory Belt Publishing  2014.

Jha AP, Stanley EA, Kiyonaga A, Wong L, Gelfand L. Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience. Emotion. 2010 Feb;10(1):54-64.

Jha AP, Morrison AB, Dainer-Best J, Parker S, Rostrup N, Stanley EA. Minds “at attention”: mindfulness training curbs attentional lapses in military cohorts. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 11;10(2)

Solberg EE, Berglund KA, Engen O, Ekeberg O, Loeb M. The effect of meditation on shooting performance. Br J Sports Med. 1996 Dec;30(4):342-6.

Zanesco AP, Denkova E, Rogers SL, MacNulty WK, Jha AP. Mindfulness training as cognitive training in high-demand cohorts: An initial study in elite military servicemembers. Prog Brain Res. 2019;244:323-354.

Gaëlle Desbordes, Lobsang T. Negi, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, B. Alan Wallace, Charles L. Raison and Eric L. Schwartz. Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state. Front. Hum. Neurosci., 01 November 2012.

Daphne M. Davis and Jeffrey A. Hayes. What are the benefits of mindfulness, July/August 2012, Vol 43, No. 7

Lillian A. De Petrillo, Keith A. Kaufman, Carol R. Glass, and Diane B. Arnkoff.  Mindfulness for Long-Distance Runners: An Open Trial Using Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE). Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, Volume 3: Issue 4, Pages: 357–376.

Rachel W. Thompson, Keith A. Kaufman, Lilian A. De Petrillo, Carol R. Glass, and Diane B. Arnkoff. One Year Follow-Up of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) With Archers, Golfers, and Runners. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, Volume 5: Issue 2, Pages: 99–116.

Lucia Bühlmayer, Daniel Birrer, Philipp Röthlin, Oliver Faude, Lars Donath. Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Performance-Relevant Parameters and Performance Outcomes in Sports: A Meta-Analytical Review. Sports Medicine, November 2017, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 2309–2321.

 

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.

Should I Take Salt Tablets During My Long Runs and Half and Full Marathons?

Fueling-for-marathon-hydrating

“Strive for balance. Then shall you find harmony.”

Hello Runners,

In my last post, I discussed strategies you can use for running in the heat.

Another important consideration, when running in the heat, is replacement of electrolytes.

What Are Electrolytes And Why Are They Important?

An electrolyte is a substance that will conduct electricity when dissolved in water. They are essential for many of the body’s functions such as:

  • Skeletal muscle contraction for you to run (specifically the muscle needs calcium, sodium, and potassium and when these become unbalanced this can lead to muscle weakness or excessive contraction)
  • Heart function to deliver the oxygen and nutrients to your muscles to produce the energy you need to run
  • Nervous system function
  • Fluid balance
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Maintain proper blood pH

All important functions necessary to keep you alive!

An imbalance of electrolytes through loss can result in cramping, twitching, weakness, and if not addressed, seizures and heart rhythm disturbances.

The important electrolytes include: sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, phosphate, and chloride.

How Are They Lost?

Electrolytes are lost in sweat when we run. They can also be lost during a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.

How Should You Replace Them?

There are a number of different options for replacing electrolytes lost during exercise. Since balance between different electrolytes is important for them to function properly, I don’t recommend taking something that replaces only one or two electrolytes, like salt tablets.

Also, I don’t recommend many of the popular sports drinks including: Gatorade, Powerade, Propel, Vitamin Water, Accelerade because they usually contain lots of sugar/high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients, which can upset your stomach.

Here are some sources of electrolytes you might try (disclaimer: I have no affiliations with or investments in any of the companies that produce these products):

Tailwind nutrition endurance fuel

Nuun tablets

Lyteshow liquid concentrate

Ultima replenisher mix

Optimal Electrolyte by Seeking Health

Vega Clean Energy

Skratch labs mix

Coconut water in the refrigerated section of the grocery story by any of the following brands: Harmless Harvest, Unoco, Liquitera, Vital Juice or Juice Press

Another option is to make your own using by combining the following:

  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of lime juice
  • 1 ½ cups of unsweetened coconut water
  • 2 cups of cold water

I recommend experimenting with at least a couple of these during your training to find the one that works best for you to use for your event.

The amount of electrolytes you will need to take depend on several factors including: the temperature, humidity, your sweat rate, as well as your initial levels of electrolytes. The recommendations for electrolyte replacement typically focus on sodium. Typically, it is recommended to replace 500-1000 mg/hr of sodium for long runs and events, such as half- and full-marathons, as well as ultras and triathlons. However, you may need to adjust this depending on sweat loss. And remember, you will also be taking other electrolytes, along with sodium, to stay balanced.

You should continue to consume electrolytes after your long run or event (~500 mg sodium, along with other electrolytes).

In addition, it is important to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet because they are a great source of electrolytes.

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. Thank you.

 

References

Bob Seebohar “Nutrition for Triathletes” presented at USAT Certification Training 2014

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/electrolyte-water#what-it-is

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Electrolytes panel – blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:464-467.

DuBose TD. Disorders of acid-base balance. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 17.

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

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

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

Hello Runners,

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

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

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

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

How To Perform Hill Repeats 

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

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

Sample Hill Repeat Progression

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

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

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

Benefits of Hills Repeats

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

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

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

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

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

Your friend and coach,

Brian

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

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

Hello Runners,

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

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

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

Benefits of Running Hills

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

Benefits of Trails, Especially with Rocks

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

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

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

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

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

Your friend and coach,

Brian

How To Get The Most Out Of Your High Intensity Runs

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

Hello Runners,

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

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

Number of repetitions

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

Length or duration of work bout

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

Pace or effort

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

Recovery time

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

Surface in which you perform work bouts

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

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

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

Week 1:

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

Week 2:

–              Perform dynamic warmup

–              Run 20 minutes at an easy pace

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

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

–              Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform cooldown

Week 3

–              Perform dynamic warmup

–              Run 20 minutes at an easy pace

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

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

–              Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform cooldown

Week 4

–              Perform dynamic warmup

–              Run 20 minutes at an easy pace

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

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

–              Run for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace

–              Perform cooldown

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

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

Your friend and coach,

Brian