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watchTechnology has improved our lives in myriad ways.  GPS devices have allowed us to track our endurance efforts, recording our pace, distance, heart rate, and many more metrics besides.  While providing a wealth of information, our relationship with the technology can become complicated and far more entangled than we could have possibly imagined.   These devices are best as a tool to help us train effectively and analyze where we have gone.  While possible that your GPS device can provide some accountability, take this quiz and see where you are on the spectrum of maintaining a healthy balance and perspective with your wrist-born tech.

 

Do you always round off your runs or walks to an exactly even number (5.00 miles, 3.50 miles exactly, 40 miles precisely for the week, etc), even if you are doing a lap around the parking lot or go up and down your driveway three times?

If your answer is yes, you probably enjoy order over chaos, and completion of your goals.  You might also like to look at tidy numbers on the screen. None of that is bad in and of itself, but it is always good to remember that training has a purpose and shuffling in circles for 27 meters to make a full mile doesn’t really make you any more prepared for the race.  Consider spending a week where you purposely don’t end on an even number in any run.  Encourage yourself that your achievement of the total includes the experience of the effort along the way and that your training need not be 100% perfect 100% of the time to be in a position to achieve your goals on race day!

Do you have a floor or ceiling pace under or over which you never go on training run / walk days?

If your answer is yes, you probably are trying to faithfully complete your training efforts at the paces prescribed by your runcoach pace chart.  However, always make sure that you listen to your body.  If you have a sore / tight muscle, feel tired from the prior day’s workout, are sick, or have another legitimate reason to be in true recovery mode, it is fine to slow dow.  Occasionally what felt like your easy pace turns out to be 30 seconds per mile or more.  Recovery is key to being prepared for the next hard day.  Sometimes, that requires doing a little less and easing off a bit (and being ok with that when you look at your watch).

Now that you have a GPS device on your wrist or in the palm of your hand, do you find yourself checking your pace almost reflexively every 50 meters along your route?

If this sounds like you, you might be just excited to have a cool toy to consult. But, with constant reliance on the watch or app (which is not always 100% accurate due to trees, weather, and other factors), you might also be at risk for missing a chance to understand and gain a feel for what your race pace or other paces might be.  While you might want to keep careful track of your mileage, occasionally pick a route you of which you already know the distance, and run it without your watch, gauging your effort based on what you perceive to be the pace.  You can log the miles accurately as you have measured it previously and using your total time, can figure the pace. However, you have taken an opportunity during the run to stay in touch with your instincts and listen to your body.

Do you avoid certain routes because of spotty satellite reception (and the shorter distances/ slower paces you might be given credit for on your device as a result)?

If your answer is yes to this one, you are human! We all like to see our best selves recorded and the greatest return on our efforts.  However, if the preoccupation with the numbers is causing you to miss out on tree covered paths, excellent trail running, and safe routes on bike paths that travel through tunnels, consider mapping these on the computer and manually entering in the distances, or just noting your estimated differences when uploading your info.

Data is helpful, but we should not become overly reliant on it.  As humans, we can use machines and technology to help us to our goals, but nothing replaces the individual effort and commitment we all need to achieve our goals on the day.  Continue to trust in your ability and instincts. Let your GPS devices and apps be tools, but only one of many, in your arsenal.

 

 

 



Recover Like a Boss

September 04, 2020

ice_bathCongratulations to all those who have completed their goal virtual races over the last few weekends!  Whether you are basking in the afterglow of a milestone reached, or still awaiting the joy of the finish line, it is important to consider the crucial training period of recovery.

 

Previously on the blog, we’ve covered a variety of topics related to recovery that are worth a quick read or re-read.  These include:

 

 

Throughout each of these, the main thread is the message is to take recovery seriously.  One of the ways runcoach differs from template training plans or social training groups that focus solely on the one goal race is the inclusion of a recovery cycle into your plan.  As runners ourselves, we know that running is an ongoing pursuit for many, marked brightly with the signposts of big goals along the way, but more importantly, something we enjoy doing every day.


When you take recovery seriously you can enjoy your daily running without the inconveince of the world of injury or illness.  


I know "recovery" doesn't win medals, or get the awe from your friends the way a hard workout or race does. Think of it this way, if you don't recover forget about the next finish line, a new start line maybe further away than you'd like. 



Breathing on the Run

August 12, 2020

breathing

Breathing on the Run
Originally written by Dena Evans
Updated by Hiruni Wijayaratne

This is a popular question from our athletes - "How do I breathe while running?

Breathing is important because we feel awful when it is ragged and shallow. Conversly, we feel better when we are running easily enough that we hardly notice it at all.

The faster you run, the quicker you will reach a point where you will have to concentrate on breathing to continue at that pace.  That is because the additional strain of the pace over time has caused your muscles to demand more oxygen on a quicker schedule. 

So how do you breathe better?

1) Relax 

Breathing is an art. Stay as relaxed as possible in your upper body. Drop your shoulder, extend your torso and neck, and drop your mouth.

During hard efforts, your body craves oxygen. So, you will need both your nose and mouth to intake oxygen. 

2) Focus on Form

Running posture often falls apart when we get tired – the shoulders hunch over, arms get tense, neck and jaw almost lock. 

Remind yourself to draw your shoulders away from your ears and straighten up nice and tall.  This allows for your lungs to have the maximum room to pack in more air and may be able to help ease symptoms of a side stitch by stretching out the afflicted area.

3) Breathe deeply

You can practice breathing properly even when not running. Start by sitting in a chair or lie down on a yoga mat. Place you hand over your belly. 

Inhale with your nose and feel your stomach/ diaphragm fill with air. You should feel the hand on your belly button rising. Exhale through the mouth.  A deeper breath is like sticking your water bottle directly under the faucet stream vs panting is like splashing it with droplets of water.  Fill up those lungs so they can do what they do best – get air to your screaming muscles!

4) Find a rhythm

Start by doing this on easy runs/ walks. Count your footsteps. Your breathing pattern may be 2-2 or 3-3, that is, it takes two footfalls (one landing of either foot) to inhale and two footfalls to exhale, etc.  

However, when you are tired and air is at a premium, try to spend a bit more time on each inhale than you do on each exhale, for what might end up as a 3-2 rhythm or a 4-3 rhythm.  The most important thing you can do is to fill your lungs with each inhale. Take your time, try to relax yourself generally by the almost meditative counting of your breathing rhythm, and / or let a favorite song guide your brain through the pattern. All of a sudden, you’ll be at the next mile marker or water station.



Breathing is different for everyone. All of us from novice to experienced runners, need to practice techniques in low stress situations before taking them to the streets in the big race.   Listen to your breathing on easy runs to find out what your natural patterns are.  Try to maintain a tall posture and open your chest when the running is easy before forcing yourself to find that position when the running is tough.  Test out a 3-2 pattern or a 4-3 pattern on your next interval or tough workout and see what feels right.  



idea

 

It is amazing how rumors or wives tales can be passed among friends or down through the ages, affecting the behavior of thousands without any basis on solid ground.  Even an experienced runner or walker can be operating off of a faulty or outdated instruction manual now and again.  Although we bring up these topics periodically in the blog, they are always worthwhile to review.

 

 

More mileage is always better

 

False.  Training allows you to prepare for the race task, and extended periods of significant volume could allow you to be prepared for very challenging tasks.  It also could leave you injured and unable to do any challenging tasks.   Your runcoach schedule is calibrated to consider what you have done in the past and will help you safely progress, prioritizing the goal of arriving at race day ready to do your best.  This means planned and regular recovery.  Every week will not necessarily include more mileage than the last.  Consistent training over time is the best way to gradually increase your volume, but in many cases other aspects of your schedule can make an even bigger difference than merely just mileage alone.

 

You must carbo-load before every race

 

False. Race-organized pasta feeds and a sincere effort to prepare as well as possible often lead participants down a road of excessive consumption the night before a race.  There is scant evidence that loading up in this fashion can effect shorter races such as a 5K or 10K, and even in longer efforts, fueling effectively during the race can often have a bigger say in the final analysis.  Consider also how much a body can process in 12 hours.  Consuming 3 or 4 times your typical size dinner must be dealt with, and that process might interrupt your morning more than any lack of energy you were worried about to begin with.

 

You can train at your current fitness and still progress

 

True! Hundreds of thousands of workouts for thousands of plans has reinforced our conviction that a training plan based on paces associated with your current fitness level can allow you to adapt and perform at a progressively higher level.   Training specifically for goal pace sounds like a great idea, but you might not have figured out exactly how far you can progress in the time between the current day and your goal race day.  What if you were actually in better shape than you thought?  What if you didn’t progress as far as you hoped?  Would you still embark upon that pace?  Of course not.  We provide the tools you need to make successful race efforts with confidence, knowing you have done the work to support your plan.  This doesn’t mean that you never have workouts that include paces faster than what might be your goal pace  - your 5K pace will always be faster than your marathon pace, but the data is based on you and your current fitness.

 

Exercise is bad for you as you age

 

False.  A widely cited and encouraging Stanford University study reinforced what avid runners have felt for years - that running actually has a positive effect on most aging athletes.  Senior citizen runners tracked for over 25 years have no increased incidence of osteoarthritis issues in their knees, have lower mortality rates, and generally have delayed onset of mobility and other issues related to aging.    Certainly older runners need to take good care of themselves, adjusting their schedule as needed, but sensible running actually appears to benefit a person as they hit the silver years.

 

Studies have found similar benefits from walking: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/research-points-to-even-more-health-benefits-of-walking

 

You aren’t a real runner if you don’t run fast

 

False.  One of the great things about our sport is that it provides an unlimited amount of access points, from walkers to Olympic sprinters and everyone in between.  Some of us are triathletes and some of us don’t have time to train for longer distances, sticking with 5Ks.  Some of us enjoy track workouts, and others stick mainly to the trails. As the ranks of adult runners and walkers increases, so has the definition of “athlete” broadened as well.  Any arbitrary cut off for what constitutes a “real” athlete could be just as nonsensical as saying that if we can’t match Usain Bolt or Meb, why try.  Count us among those who are glad the sport is inclusive, and we look forward to supporting you as you achieve your personal bests on the road ahead.



Our system syncs with Google Fit, which tracks activities on Android devices.
Here's how to sync Google Fit with your FOR RUNCOACH USERS: 

On your Runcoach app in a mobile device:


1. Tap the Three Lines (on top left corner of your phone screen).
2. Select "Device Sync"
3. Tap "Sync with Google Fit."

From the web, on a computer:

1. Login.
2. Select drop down on the top right of the page
3. Select "Device Sync" from the upper Right-hand corner of the screen.
4. Select "Google Fit" as the service option.

This action will take you to the Google Fit website.  Log in and follow the instructions.

*Remember: Your workouts are uploaded from the server of each syncing service, not the device that you wear. In order to upload your activity to your Movecoach or Runcoach training log, you must regularly sync your device to Google Fit's web platform.

FOR MOVECOACH USERS

On your mobile device:


1. Tap the Me icon (on the bottom-left corner of your phone screen).
2. Select "More."
3. Select "Sync A Service."
4. Tap "Sync with Google Fit."

From the web, on a computer:

1. Login.
2. Select "Training" from the top of the screen.
3. Select "Sync a Service" from the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
4. Select "Google Fit" as the service option.

This action will take you to the Google Fit website.  Log in and follow the instructions.

*Remember: Your workouts are uploaded from the server of each syncing service, not the device that you wear. In order to upload your activity to your Movecoach or Runcoach training log, you must regularly sync your device to Google Fit's web platform.



Must Have's in the Car
glove_box
Even if your runs primarily depart from home or office, running or racing will likely take you to points best accessed by car at some point or another.   Sure, you may not want to have everything in the car at all times, but a few key items left in the car (rather than trying to remember them each time out) can make a runner’s life a bit easier. 

Sanitizer/ Mask

No longer just a suggestion. 

There are bacteria killing hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes easy to use and dispose. A little bit goes a long way after an outdoor bathroom stop, opening a cattle gate, high-five given to a friend or stranger, endless scenarios. 

Maybe you are going to run some errands right before or after your run. Keep a clean mask in the car to use when entering an indoor public space like a grocery store. Keep your face covering clean and dry using these clean masks tips.

 

Blanket / towel (or more than one)

One of these items can provide protection and warmth after a surprise cold rainstorm on a November morning, or a layer between you and the driver’s seat when the air is thick with humidity.  Having a towel or blanket can also make it more likely you will take a moment to stretch or roll, or spend 5-10 minutes adding some core work to the end of your run when you have a spare few moments.  A saved space blanket from the end of a long race can also be an easy to store, useful item as a layer between a gross, sweaty, or wet you and your car.

 

Fuel

Fueling directly after a hard workout or long run is key to regulating your blood sugar and quickening recovery.  Take a moment to stack a few of your favorite bars and some gels for mid run replenishment in the glove box or in a Ziploc in the trunk.  This will ensure you can top off the tank at the end of your run and avoid a midday bonk or rash meal decision due to the sharp pang of hunger + fatigue.  Sometimes, you are coming from a location where you can’t select or prepare a snack to bring with you for before, during, or after.  If you have a snack readily accessible, your chances of success in that workout or run will increase.

 

Water

Even one spare 16 ounce bottle can be of great help if you exhaust your fluids on the run and arrive back at a trailhead with no facilities and a lengthy drive to the nearest gas station or store.  Water can also wash dirt or blood away as needed due to mid-run mishaps.  Pack a dissolveable tablet or two of your favorite electrolyte replacement fluid with your fuel stash, and you will be in even better shape.

 

First Aid Kit

A must.  Even if it includes only some bandaids, Neosporin, and some basic gauze, tape, and perhaps an anti inflammatory, the chance to tend to a mishap directly after it occurs makes a huge difference compared to how that same injury might react hours later.

 

A charger or an adapter

When in remote areas, having a phone charger that works with the car can be of significant help in a tough spot, and with the proliferation of chargers with USB ports, charging a GPS device with the car’s power is now easily possible as well.

 

Hat with a bill, gloves

A running hat with a bill is compact and crushable, but can help keep water from the eyes in a rainstorm and sun from the face when no clouds are in the sky.  Gloves (the cheap throw away kind), can feel like the most precious piece of clothing when they are really needed.  Neither takes up very much space.

 

A Foam Roller or a Massage Stick

Again, if your run is squeezed between other appointments or engagements, or involves a decent length drive to and from, consider keeping a stick in the car.   It takes up very little space, and can be used both to loosen up before the run as well as to start the recovery process without some of the stiffness inevitable on the drive back.

 

Every runner has their particular comfort items, their specific variations of this list that provide peace of mind and care when things haven’t gone well, or even if they have.  A bit of forethought to keep some of these items on hand when driving to runs can clutter the trunk, but can also help our bodies handle the rigors of training well, even while in the midst of our complicated lives.



Originally posted September 6, 2014. Written by Dena Evans.
Updated by Ashley Benson

Technology has improved our lives in myriad ways.  GPS devices have allowed us to track our endurance efforts, recording our pace, distance, heart rate, and many more metrics besides.  While providing a wealth of information, our relationship with the technology can become complicated and far more entangled than we could have possibly imagined.   These devices are best as a tool to help us train effectively and analyze where we have gone.  While possible that your GPS device can provide some accountability, take this quiz and see where you are on the spectrum of maintaining a healthy balance and perspective with your wrist-born tech.

 

Do you always round off your runs or walks to an exactly even number (5.00 miles, 3.50 miles exactly, 40 miles precisely for the week, etc), even if you are doing a lap around the parking lot or go up and down your driveway three times?

If your answer is yes, you probably enjoy order over chaos, and completion of your goals.  You might also like to look at tidy numbers on the screen. None of that is bad in and of itself, but it is always good to remember that training has a purpose and shuffling in circles for 27 meters to make a full mile doesn’t really make you any more prepared for the race.  Consider spending a week where you purposely don’t end on an even number in any run.  Encourage yourself that your achievement of the total includes the experience of the effort along the way and that your training need not be 100% perfect 100% of the time to be in a position to achieve your goals on race day!

Do you have a floor or ceiling pace under or over which you never go on training run / walk days?

If your answer is yes, you probably are trying to faithfully complete your training efforts at the paces prescribed by your runcoach pace chart.  However, always make sure that you listen to your body.  If you have a sore / tight muscle, feel tired from the prior day’s workout, are sick, or have another legitimate reason to be in true recovery mode, it is fine to slow dow.  Occasionally what felt like your easy pace turns out to be 30 seconds per mile or more.  Recovery is key to being prepared for the next hard day.  Sometimes, that requires doing a little less and easing off a bit (and being ok with that when you look at your watch).

Now that you have a GPS device on your wrist or in the palm of your hand, do you find yourself checking your pace almost reflexively every 50 meters along your route?

If this sounds like you, you might be just excited to have a cool toy to consult. But, with constant reliance on the watch or app (which is not always 100% accurate due to trees, weather, and other factors), you might also be at risk for missing a chance to understand and gain a feel for what your race pace or other paces might be.  While you might want to keep careful track of your mileage, occasionally pick a route you of which you already know the distance, and run it without your watch, gauging your effort based on what you perceive to be the pace.  You can log the miles accurately as you have measured it previously and using your total time, can figure the pace. However, you have taken an opportunity during the run to stay in touch with your instincts and listen to your body.

Do you avoid certain routes because of spotty satellite reception (and the shorter distances/ slower paces you might be given credit for on your device as a result)?

If your answer is yes to this one, you are human! We all like to see our best selves recorded and the greatest return on our efforts.  However, if the preoccupation with the numbers is causing you to miss out on tree covered paths, excellent trail running, and safe routes on bike paths that travel through tunnels, consider mapping these on the computer and manually entering in the distances, or just noting your estimated differences when uploading your info.

Data is helpful, but we should not become overly reliant on it.  As humans, we can use machines and technology to help us to our goals, but nothing replaces the individual effort and commitment we all need to achieve our goals on the day.  Continue to trust in your ability and instincts. Let your GPS devices and apps be tools, but only one of many, in your arsenal.


 

 


Virtual races and time trials have been the medicine of choice for athletes like Ward who are missing the excitment of racing. As the race scene is still uncertain, we encourage everyone to test their speed and endurance through a self-timed race. You are working hard, why not snag a shiney new personal best? 

Ward's Recap of his recent time trial to Coach Tom:
ward_V2"I took my local coach, Susan (also wife of 45 years!) to the local high school track. As we squeezed through the locked gate, I said "Welcome to my world!"

She was only mildly amused as she crawled free of the gate. Laughing

The weather conditions were good - partly cloudy, slight breeze and temperature in the mid to upper 70's. Track was empty. I had rested all week - no runs (although I do a lot of physical labor - I am the "custodian" of a log cabin and 31 acre piece of property).

I set my 400m splits up to run a 7:25 1,600.

Here are my actual splits (per 400 meters):

1:50.74
1:50.52
1:44.58
1:38.58   
Final time = 7:04.42 !!!!

My heart rate steadily climbed up to 150, 155, 160. My max heart rate during the run was 168. It peaked as I "sprinted" (a generous term) down the final 50 m.

It was a very good effort. I did not have much left in the tank at the end and was running very close to my maximum effort (as much as you can do by yourself).

I also had my assistant take some short videos of me running towards camera, away from camera, and from the side. I thought you might like to examine my stride (if not my wonderful Covid haircut and Dave Wottle golf cap!*)

Conclusions:
1. My stride, as I suspected, is where I have lost most of my speed. I guess because I am weaker, my legs don't propel me as far with each step. My tempo is the same, my stride is much shorter. I look like an OLD MAN. I am an OLD man!

2. My max HR is probably about 170

3. I can run a sub-7 minute 1,600 m

Thank you for the challenge Coach!

-Ward




hydrateSummer is one of the best seasons to be a runner.  Enjoy it to the fullest by taking care of these basics.

 

Winter weather often requires the use of treadmills and other indoor facilities, but summer’s heat or thunderstorms may also force you to the air-conditioned sanctuary of the gym.  Here are a few helpful things to remember about how to adjust when running indoors.

Highlights:
- Treadmills are not the enemy
- Bring entertainment (music, movie, book, podcast)
- Bring your own sanitizer (always clean any touchpoint, equipment before use)
- Treadmill belt if softer and less impact that running outside
- Set the incline to 1-2% on the machine 
- Ease into the run. Start nice and slow. 
- Hydrate well and often. Aim to take 3-4 ounces of water every 25-30 minutes.

If running indoors may not be an option, but running outdoors is not either, you may be in a spot where cross training is in order to maintain fitness.  What cross training activity makes the most sense?  Compare and contrast the vast array of currently available options available in gyms today.

 

Heading out on some adventurous runs or driving trips that might include a bunch of miles?  Consider this list of things you might not consider, but can be VERY helpful for runners who are spending a lot of time in the car.

 

All that humidity might leave you a bit sweaty.  Before you deal with the after effects of some serious chafing, read our quick Q&A with a dermatologist about chafing and how to avoid it.  

 

While one of the most obvious topics for summer running, hydration is always worth keeping in mind, particularly if your average fluid consumption consists primarily of coffee or diet coke! Use the summer to build some good habits and read about the “art of hydration” here.

 

 

 

 



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