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The Art of Hydration

Written by Coach Tom McGlynn February 01, 2020

screen shot 2012-08-21 at 4.27.42 pm

You already know how to hydrate and how to run.  But do you know how to put the two together?

It has been proven that proper hydration can drastically improve race results but many runners have trouble drinking water and sports drink while on the move.  The constant motion jostles your stomach which is already void of necessary blood resources which are attentive to your leg muscles. This is one of the many reasons that the art of hydration is essential.

We use the word ‘art’ as opposed to ‘science’ because there is a limited amount of calories and fluids that can be utilized intra-run (unlike cycling, walking and other activities).  Because of this we recommend experimentation to determine the most effective personal hydration routine (ie. Much like runcoach training the below is not a one-size-fits-all assignment. Experiment and find the routine that works best for you).

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Your hydration routine starts before the run
  2. Drink 8-16 ounces of water or sports drink with your pre-run breakfast (slightly more on race day when you are up early and have more time to digest)
  3. Coffee shouldn’t count into this equation as it is ultimately a diuretic (makes you pee)
  4. Caffeine is fine to consume as is normal for you
  5. Clear urine is a great sign
  6. Stay hydrated leading up to the run
  7. Take one final bathroom break right before the run
  8. Then take one final drink before your start (less than 2 minutes prior is best)

For runs longer than 75 minutes or runs in the heat, you will need more than just water.  We recommend sports drinks containing sugar and salt in appropriate quantities.  Here are some tips to pick the right drink for you:

  1. Check the race website you are training and find out which sports drink they will serve on the course
  2. If the race drink sits well with your stomach then stick with it; if not go for an alternative
  3. Look for ingredients that include sodium (salt/electrolyte) and sucrose (sugar)
  4. Become well acquainted with the drink and find a way to have it on race day (carry a bottle)
  5. Drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 20-30 minutes within the run
  6. Sports gels can be effective as they include key nutrients – take these in lieu of a sports drink.  They must be taken with water.
  7. Because of caloric density you may only need to consume gels at every other fluid stop – keep up with water at every stop

Start refining your personal art of hydration at least 10 weeks prior to race day and practice before, during and after most runs.  Here are some tips for refueling on the run without carrying a water bottle:

  1. Hide your water bottle somewhere along your running route
  2. Plan to pass this spot every 20-30 minutes or place more bottles along your route
  3. Invest in a fuel belt.
  4. Enlist a friend to ride a bike with you or meet you intra-run to provide fuel
  5. If gels are your fuel of choice simply carry some with you and then target public water fountains along your course

The exact amount you need to drink can be tricky and will vary from person to person.  Here’s a science project to help you learn about your hydration needs:

  1. Weigh yourself prior to a run without any clothes on
  2. Go for a run
  3. Re-weigh yourself after without any clothes on
  4. Calculate the difference and hydrate accordingly within your next run

Example: if you weighed 160 before a 90 minute workout and then weigh 157, you have lost 3 pounds and require 48 ounces of liquid. Your schedule for a similar event would be 8 ounces every 15 minutes to maintain your weight.

Note: This is just an example.  Please try this yourself and keep in mind that the amount you need will vary depending on the temperature, humidity and other personal physiological factors.

Proper hydration can improve your race results from 5K to the Marathon.  Invest some time into the development of your art of hydration.

 



5 Foods to Pick it Up!

Written by Dena Evans January 30, 2020

lentil-soupLooking for a way to invigorate your diet?  Try adding one or more of these to your daily routine and perhaps discover a new favorite food that packs a punch.

Lentils

During the colder months especially, lentils might appear in the hot case of your local supermarket in soup form, or in spreads and on salads in the summer.  Providing a hearty delivery of carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, lentils release energy slowly and in doing so, help blood sugar stay regulated.  In other words, lentils help avoid the spike and crash of more simple carbs.  Lentils also deliver vital nutrients, such as magnesium for heart health, and over one fourth of lentil calories come from protein – a great vegetarian source.

Chocolate Milk

Once the province of kids and adults looking for a late night snack with a glass of 2% and a bottle of Hershey’s syrup, chocolate milk has happily (for many) fully entered the discussion as a legitimate recovery beverage.  With a mixture of slow acting and quick acting proteins found in cow’s milk, plenty of carbohydrates, and a solid cache of calcium, chocolate milk helps you feel like a kid again in more ways than one.  Don’t feel guilty, and drink up.

Bananas

They have quick releasing carbs and are easily digestible – perfect for mid race or pre race fueling.  They come with a handy, naturally biodegradable case – perfect for carrying, and easy/ guilt-free to discard.   Lots of potassium gives you a great source of an important key to electrolyte balance, and hefty amounts of fiber helps with digestion and regularity.  What’s not to like?

Walnuts

On your salad, in your cookies, on top of cereal - adding walnuts to your diet on a regular basis can provide a host of health benefits.  Walnuts, an anti-oxidant source of Omega 3 fatty acids, have been studied to have a positive affect on a wide variety of health issues, particularly cardiovascular performance and cholesterol levels.  Sure, walnuts have a fairly high caloric and fat content if consumed in copious amounts, but the health benefits of a few ounces per day go a very long way.

Water

Just making sure you were paying attention.  Actually, it seems axiomatic that water is important, but even if you can’t add some of the more interesting foods into your diet right now, you bet you can add water.  Some runners are faithfully dividing their weight in pounds by two and drinking that many ounces per day, but most of us aren’t.  Add one more to the former by heading over to the water fountain right now!

 

 

 



Beth is a super grandma and mom. She advocates to find joy every day, and how running helped to create a better version of herself. Go Beth!! Beth


Major milestone:

In life...being the Mom of three amazing big people and grandma of four beautiful little ones! In running..making a daily effort to become a runner, mentally or physically, after signing up for the half marathon.

What is the secret to your success?

Believing in myself. Living with intention, and finding joy in every day.

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?

I am by nature a private person, so one of my greatest obstacles in this experience has been sharing my goals with others. Asking for advice is another. I signed up as a charity partner for Children's Minnesota and because I want to do right by that charity, I had a reason to share my goal with others.

What is the most rewarding part of training?

I love the escape. I also love the feeling of strength and accomplishment To lose myself in music and training helps me to be a better mom and grandma.

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?

Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Set your goal and do your best.
Anything else you would like to share?

My family tells me it is still an accomplishment to train and run, even if the bus picks me up, but I'd like to finish the Half Marathon, still running. My 6 year old granddaughter delights in saying "my grandma is a marathon runner" so I'd like to prove her right. I'd also like to cross that finish line not too far behind the son who tossed me a challenge to run with him!



The number one rule for race day fueling; Don’t do anything new. Training with a race goal in mind, means that every run you do is practice for the race. You are training your muscles, your body, your mind, and your stomach. Learning to fuel and hydrate to get the most out of your training and racing will make a huge difference in the outcome of your performance, and it all starts in your daily practice.

Pre-Race Routine. For any run over 60 minutes, you will want to eat and hydrate beforehand. Beneficial-Facts-of-Healthy-Breakfast-for-School-Kids(See blog on Pre-Run and Post-Run Nutrition). This is a great opportunity to eat and drink the same thing you will on race morning. Once you know what sits well in your stomach, and fuels you for your miles, then stick with it! A standard pre-race breakfast is coffee (or tea) for a little caffeine, a bagel/toast/oatmeal and banana for carbs and fuel, and 16oz of electrolyte mix for hydration. Have this about 3 hours prior to the start of your race of any distance. Try this protocol before workouts and long runs and see how you feel! Adjust accordingly to determine what works for you, and then, don’t deviate.

Mid-Race Protocol. If you are doing a training run or race longer than 60 minutes, you may need to fuel and hydrategelsthroughout. Look up what electrolyte fluid and gels the event will provide. It is very common in half marathon and marathon distances to offer gels on the course, but you want to know the brand, flavor, and if they contain caffeine. Then you will practice with those fluids and gels leading into the race to confirm they work for you. If they do not, you will need to carry your own. In training and racing, take gels every 35-45 minutes. Get the gel in right before a water station, and then drink water to wash it down (do not take electrolyte fluid with a gel). In between, you can take water and electrolyte fluid to stay well hydrated. If you are racing less than an 60 minutes, you will need nothing, or only water to get through the distance.

Practicing your Pre-Race Routine and your Mid-Race Protocol will help you figure out what your body needs to be successful and run strong the whole way!



imgresWhat is a Runner’s High?

 

When we exercise, we expect to feel better as a result.  We achieve a fitness or time goal and are fired up by the accomplishment.  We lose weight and like the result in the mirror.  Maybe, we just do something we have never done before and appreciate the new mental or physical dimension in our lives.  Some athletes, however, claim to feel better after exercise because the exercise itself makes them feel better.  Significantly. Commonly, this is called a “Runner’s High.”

 

This “high” has been explained through the years as a rush of endorphins, neurotransmitters secreted by our bodies during things like pain, excitement, and sex.  Endorphins act a bit like morphine chemically, so the conventional wisdom has been that they feel like it as well.

 

On the other hand, Jude Dickson and her University of Edinburgh colleagues, in their paper Does Exercise Promote Good Health, propose three hypotheses about the Runner’s High:  the distraction hypothesis (it takes our attention away from painful things at the time), the mastery hypothesis (we learn new things and achieve a goal), and the social interaction hypothesis (things are often more fun and seem easier in a group). So, is the Runner’s High a chemical reaction via endorphins, or a psychological reaction that is somewhat coincidental to running?  Regardless, all runners have days where we feel better than others, but the feeling of euphoria associated with this phenomenon can be fleeting or nonexistent for some runners, and relied upon as a pick me up for others.  But, can it be captured, quantified, and achieved systematically? 

Although an internet search of “endorphins” and “runner’s high” yields 70,000 results, that close association has been only modestly borne out by research.   For one thing, it is hard to quantify what exactly a “high” is, as the reflections of athletes differ widely as to how a Runner’s High actually makes them feel.  Secondly, although endorphin levels seem to elevate after exercise (likely because of the stress or pain the body has undergone during the exercise), that elevation doesn’t seem to have a uniformly positive result on mood, according to Sarah Willett in an oft cited article from Lehigh University.

 

The strong association between endorphins and Runner’s High in the wider public view persists. However, despite a well respected 2008 study by German researchers which found a strong correlation between endorphin production and the bloodstream of runners during and after two hour runs, not all agree that the correlation equals causation for the elusive high, in part because the large size of endorphin molecules make them difficult to pass the blood – brain barrier.  And, after all, if there was such a strong direct result, wouldn’t we all enjoy Runner’s Highs after / during every hard workout or run?

 

Other relatively recent studies have linked the same type of brain receptors that play well with marijuana use to a naturally occurring endocannabinoid, which appears to be produced in the bloodstream in large amounts during exercise.  A 2003 study with Georgia Tech college students yielded this finding, as have several subsequent similar or related studies with mice both in the US and abroad.  These molecules appear to be much smaller than endorphins. If they can pass the blood-brain barrier, does this mean that all the times we’ve joked that “running was our drug” we weren’t really too far off the mark?

 

Ultimately, questions remain to be answered about how a Runner’s High occurs, why, and frankly, what it is, exactly.  Runners are like snowflakes.  Each of us is at least slightly different from the rest both psychologically and physiologically, and it might not be unreasonable to think that the difficulties science has had in firmly establishing a cause and effect with this phenomenon lies is the infinite amounts of ways in which running can create a positive effect in our lives.  While we wait to find out what the chemical cause is once and for all, we encourage you to enjoy your Runner’s High not because of why you have it, but for the fact you have it at all.

 

 



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