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tom_blog_3What a crazy year this has been.  We’ve gone through a pandemic of the century, lost loved ones, observed the pain & suffering of so many, and seen our running industry turned upside down.


I’ve read countless inspirational stories from many across the U.S. and around the world.  As I’m hopeful that we may be through the worst, I thought it might be helpful for me to share my experience of the last six months with our wonderful Runcoach customers and anyone else that might find my perspective helpful.


This is a bit selfishly cathartic for me but I’m hopeful my experience and some advice may be beneficial.


This will be a 6-Part Series with the following topics:


  1. Running with Bad Air Quality

  2. Recovery from Injury (My Knee Surgery)

  3. Alternatives to Running with Current Restrictions

  4. Some Perspective on Black, Indigeneous and People of Color from a Running Lense

  5. Running After Coronavirus Symptoms

  6. Our Path Forward to Road Races & What We Can Do Now



Running with Bad Air Quality

Many of us in the northwest part of the country and now with extensions to the midwest, have experienced extremely poor air quality from the tragic fires in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.


As runners, we always want to push through adverse conditions. I haven’t been running (more to come on that topic) and I’m acutely aware of the detriments of inactivity.  However I believe that poor air quality has long-term bad effects.  So what can we run in and what can’t we?


Here are my thoughts:


  1. AQI readings above 100 are a non-starter - please find alternatives (see below)

  2. AQI readings in the 80-100 range may have an effect and should be considered with caution

  3. AQ below 80 is probably safe but you should still listen to your personal biometric feedback in this range


Personal biometric feedback is your breathing within and after a run.  There is a difference between wheezing and heavy breathing.  Think of wheezing as strained breaths where you can feel it down deep in the lungs. You will feel wheezing from asthma and unhealthy air during and after your run.  We don’t want to run through wheezing as the lungs are remodeling to transport necessary oxygen and some tissue could be dying.


On the other hand, heavy breathing is normal and we experience this through heavy exertion.  A great marker to distinguish between the two is how you feel after a run.  You should not have labored breathing or any wheezing within an hour of workout completion.


Here are my favorite sites/apps to check the air quality.


  1. Purple Air - this site uses a community of personal air sensors at residences and businesses to provide a view of your area’s AQI

  2. AirVisual - this is an app available for iPhone and Android users;  it uses 10,000 locations to evaluate, predict, and report on current and future air quality


So what to do if the air quality is poor?


  1. Wear a mask?

    1. I’ve been walking in an N-95 mask which seems to keep out many particulates; there are many varieties to choose from

    2. I haven’t experienced the new Under Armour sports mask but heard it is comfortable for runners

  2. Run on a treadmill if possible

  3. Consider an alternative workout indoors such as the Peloton (more on this in an upcoming post), Elliptical, pool for swimming or deep water running, or any of the HIIT or other at-home workouts with a cardio focus

  4. Adjust your plan - ask your coach or look at the forecast and pick a better day to run


The bad air quality won’t be here forever.  In these times, it is important to remember those who have lost lives, homes, pets and much worse in the fires.  Still the loss of your workout is personal and not to be diminished.  I like to think of how much I appreciate running in these times and the hope that I will have the opportunity to run in clean air soon.



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.  



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.

 

 

 

 



For some of us, inside running is a regular strategy. Work routine, location, time crunch, tough weather, safety precautions, rehabbing an injury, are all reasons to choose to the "Mill".  Wheter you are a regular or a newbie, here are a few thoughts on how to make the most of your time on a treadmill.

Treadmill Tips

hiruni_TMAny first timer on a treadmill can attest that the ride is slightly different than the ground in a variety of ways.  To account for these variances, we generally recommend some slight adjustments.  Without the wind resistance encountered when moving forward outside, the pace might feel a bit easier on a treadmill than on your normal run.  To approximate an equivalent demand, adjust the incline of the treadmill 1%-2%.

The second important consideration when running on a treadmill is attentiveness to your form.  With the ground traveling underneath and often a softer landing than most outdoor running surfaces, the body can easily tilt into various, slightly unfamiliar positions. If possible, run on a machine where you can gauge your posture in a mirror or reflecting window.  Try to keep yourself tall, with your weight over your feet.  The only thing worse than grumbling about running on a treadmill is grumbling about being injured because you were running strangely on a treadmill.  Attention to your form might even help you when you go outside again and have a clear, fresh picture of what your good form looks and feels like.

Because of the weather and the limitations of running indoors, you may have to adjust your workout a bit. 
> Increase the incline between 4 to 8%. The tougher grade can yield the raised heart rate you were looking for with your speed workout.
> Adjust your pace based on machine. If you are on an older treadmill don't try to run full speed. Instead make your interval longer by 1:00.
> If you are doing a tempo on the treadmill, start off 5-7 seconds slower. The belt can make you feel like you're moving your legs faster than normal. This will prevent you from pulling a hammy!


Runcoach Coach and Elite Marathoner, Coach Hiruni reports that treadmill workouts have definitely made an impact for her in the past years.  “One of the reasons I love the treadmill is that it is the best pacer in the industry. I live at altitude in a very hilly area. I can pace myself and stay on the target best when I use a treadmill. It keeps me honest and focued". 
To adjust your prescribed runcoach workout to a treadmill setting by manipulating the grade and pace, try using a treadmill pace conversion chart such as this one from HillRunner.com.  No two treadmills are exactly alike, so keep in mind you may have to make some slight adjustments with your machine.

Bad Weather and No Treadmill?

Occasionally, drastic situations may call for creative solutions.  If you are unable to run outside due to conditions and a treadmill isn’t available, all may not be lost.  If you are in an urban setting with a series of connected indoor walkways between office buildings, or within a long shopping mall, you may be able to just duck your head at curious onlookers and get at least a few easy miles in indoors.  Convention centers and long hotel hallways can even provide a last ditch opportunity on occasion.  Nike headquarters actually has a hallway where their athletes can run long strides and do so on a regular basis.  Tell that to anyone who questions you! 

The key is your safety above all. Make sure to be aware of variables like traffic, light, bacl ice, etc..   None of these options are ideal, but typically conditions which prevent the completion of a workout are temporary and a bridging solution might end up being better than nothing.

 



Add Deep Breathing Exercises To Your Routine

There are various benefits of deep breathing exercises. These range from reduce stress to improved digestion and a natural pan reliver.

When done correctly, deeo breathes release toxins, promote blood flow and foster healthy body functions and sound sleep.



Jack Daniels, an exercise physiologist who inspired some of the Runcoach ideals, said "The stronger your core, the more solid you are as you hit the ground, this reduces the need for unnecessary stabilization, and allows you to be a more economical runner."IMG_8268

What are you waiting for? It's ABsolutely time to get to work. Here are some videos to help you get started.

Side Planks
 2-3 sets
Works the internal and external obliques to build better core stability.

Hamstring Bridge 2-3 sets
Core is more than just your abs. One of the most common weaknesses we see in runners is their glutes which are the key powerhouse for propulsion with every step you take while running. 

Push-Ups 2-3 sets
Works your arms, upper body, and core. Can be done on your knees to start, and then as you build up strength, you will be able to do a full push-up!

Partner Punishment 2-3 sets
If you don't have a partner to help you out in this exercise, you can do leg lower and left controlling the resistance of gravity on your own to get a deep core exercise

Try to include core into your weekly routine and watch your form and strength increase!











There are almost unlimited ways to get an enjoyable workout in when you are in a recovery cycle, need to give a running related sore body part a rest, or when you are hoping to add activity without additional running mileage.  In the chart below, we focused primarily on activities which function as running replacements in terms of cardiovascular stimulation vs activities like yoga, which may have other helpful primary benefits such as flexibility, etc.

Have a question, comment, or recommendation on your favorite cross training exercise? Write to your coach!

cross_training_grid_cropped_v2




shutterstock_191142425You just ran a huge personal best in the marathon and spent the past week enjoying some well-deserved down time. You decide it’s time to start up again, but realize that post-race excitement is starting to dwindle and it’s much harder to get out the door than you anticipated. “How can this be!?” You ask yourself. “I just had a fantastic race and should be beyond excited to start again, right?” If you find yourself to be in this situation, fear not, you have a case of the easily curable post-marathon blues.

After fully investing in your training program for the past 3 months and being laser focused, it makes sense that it might be tough to get started again. I, personally, have always struggled jumping right back into full training after a marathon because I just spent the last 4 months completely focused on my goal. Oftentimes, we forget that running can be just as mentally taxing as it is physically taxing and we need to be sure to give ourselves time to recover in both ways after a marathon.

Here are a few tips to shake those post marathon blues and get that pep back in your step.

1. Throw pace and distance out the window and enjoy some unstructured training. It is mentally quite freeing to run on your own terms for a few weeks without a care in the world about pace. You will be spending quite a bit of time in the coming months focused on hitting splits, so enjoy some relaxed, care free runs and soak in the nice spring weather. Simply getting outside for a few leisurely miles can do wonders for both the mind and body.

2. Meet up with friends to keep things light and fun. Running with friends is a great way to unwind and relax. When you are chatting away, you start to focus less on how heavy/tired your legs may feel, and more on the conversations you are having. Before you know it, the run is done and you are feeling much lighter and happier than before you started. Never underestimate the power of running with friends.

3. After a few weeks, start to look at future races. I like to switch things up after a marathon and run some shorter races, like 5&10ks. It’s fun to set my sights on a new challenge and mentally change gears. Getting a race on the calendar will give you something to look forward to and help that motivation and excitement return.

So lace up your shoes, enjoy the warm weather, and shake those post marathon blues. Set your sights on a new challenge and enjoy the journey one step at a time. Happy Running!

 



Speed Work Makes the Dream Work speed
A little speedwork can help you run smoother and faster



Improving foot speed is one of the best things you can do to improve your times. Regardless of what race your are training for 5K or Marathon, faster foot speed, means faster pace. 

Sure, speedwork can seem like a scary beast you don't want to meet or know. But it doesn't have to be. Runcoach's training system encourages at least 1 speed workout every two weeks. This setup can ease you into faster paces, and help your body adapt to a new stimulus. 

Some of the speed work you'll encouter on Runcoach:

Strides - Short burst of speed. Usually 100 meters ( or 25 seconds) 
Fartleks - Periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running
Short intervals - High intensity bursts of speed, with slow "recovery" periods
Mix - A tempo effort, sandwiched by short speed intervals

Speed training can spice up your training and lead to better fitness and performances. Have an open mind, and give it a shot!




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