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Plans change, but the goal remains the same. 

Recently, the US Air Force Marathon announced the shift of the 25th annual event from in-person event to a virtual event.  You can read more about this decision here.

This sparked many of our trainees to evaluate all available options. 
Yes this was supposed to be the Fall of live races, personal bests, and golden memories. Instead, we are back to evaluating "options". As the road race industry and participants continue to navigate through uncertainity, let's remember why we commit out selves to train.  

For Runcoach trainee, Christi the decision was to charge ahead. The training was almost complete, and she is within striking distance of a new personal best half marathon result.

smalled_-_chrisitFrom Christi, "I decided to commit to using the Runcoach app when I signed up for the USAF ½ marathon.  I was looking for a straightforward program that would be user friendly and generate speed and threshold workouts specifically geared towards my fitness level and race time goal.   Completing the training workouts has improved my running form, VO2 max, and confidence.  It has been enjoyable to run such a variety of paces.  This has kept me mentally fresh and stimulated throughout the training weeks". 

Christi, we wish you light feet and a strong heart on your virtual race day. Go enjoy your personal winner's circle!



altitudeWinter is not the only time your running may take you among the clouds.  Summer vacations or trips with family might bring you to the mountains.  When you need to run at high altitudes, keeping in mind a few simple things can make your experience much more enjoyable and productive.

 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

At high altitudes, you may not feel sweaty, even after you run.  However, that does not mean that you don’t need to replenish your fluids even more so than at sea level.  At higher altitudes, there is less air pressure.  Evaporation happens more rapidly both off your skin as well as every time you exhale.  At an altitude similar to Denver, you perspire about twice as much as at sea level.  If you are not being very deliberate about water intake, your running will suffer, and general dehydration may make you feel ill (headaches, nausea, fatigue are common effects) regardless.  Carry a water bottle with you, drink throughout the day, and avoid caffeinated beverages.  If you are concerned about how much to drink, weigh yourself before and after a run at altitude to get a sense of how much water you have perspired during the session.

 

Expect to adjust your paces

Running at altitude requires your body to function when your lungs aren’t getting the same concentration of oxygen with each breath.   Your body has to fight harder to produce red blood cells and the whole operation makes things more difficult on your muscles to function in the manner to which you may be accustomed.  If you can run an eight minute mile at sea level, doing so at an altitude similar to Albuquerque or Reno might leave you the finishing the length of a football field behind your sea level self.  For instance, your Vo2 Max pace is adjusted about 3% per 1000 feet, and expect it to still feel pretty tough.  Keeping a good humor and realistic expectations is key to successfully managing your schedule when heading to the hills.

 

It will get better...but it will get a little worse first

There is a lot of discussion about the benefits of training at altitude, but a long weekend at a mountain cabin won’t quite get you there.  When you arrive, your body begins to fight the good fight to produce red blood cells, despite the paucity of oxygen.  Initially, it will lose this fight, and your red blood cell stores will dwindle a bit over the first few days making these days successively more difficult to a certain extent.  After your body figures out that it needs to work a ton harder, it will, and production will ramp up like a toy company at Christmas.  However, this takes a about 2-3 weeks before supply can catch demand.  Once you return to sea level, this high octane production will dissipate fairly soon as the air pressure yields more oxygen per breath.  So, if you are serious about wanting to train at altitude, plan a longer stay, and don’t expect a huge boost months after you return.

Protect your skin

Even a cloudy day in the mountains can result in a sunburn with UV rays over twice as strong at many common mountain heights.  Wear hats and sunscreen, reapplying frequently to stay ahead of sun damage.

 

Keep fueling

At high altitude, your body must work harder to keep up with all the demands listed above and more.  A moderate caloric increase is appropriate to keep up with your body’s needs.

 

While the benefits and challenges of running at altitude are still being researched, a beautiful trail run in the mountains can provide qualitative benefits that go beyond the resultant blood chemistry, and training hard and with friends can plant the psychological seeds for many a goal race campaign.  Plan well, take care of your body while in the hills, and enjoy many a mile in the thin air.

Originally written by Dena Evans
Updated by Hiruni Wijayaratne



French is coming off a sensational month of racing. However, it took him months of hard work, trust, and patience to reap the fruits of his labor. Read about his journey and top tips for all runners to reach a new personal record in this month's Runcoach Success Story below.


Running Major milestone:
I ran a PR in 10K and 5K within same month!french_lewis2


What is the secret to your success?
Realizing that my job is to follow the training plan Runcoach provides, not to exceed it. Be consistent with the training and getting enough rest.


What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?  The biggest obstacle was my misconception that if the training plan called for a certain distance at a certain pace, running faster would, of course, be better. This led to a couple of injury filled years because my body was always working hard, never having time to recover and build strength.


What is the most rewarding part of training? The most rewarding part of training is feeling good. For me, I run because I enjoy it, I like being fit, I like knowing I am doing what I can to be healthy. About a year ago, after I messaged Coach Hiruni about a particularly tough speed workout she prescribed, her response stuck with me. The heart of the response was “Remember, tough workouts don’t last, but, tough people do.”


What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community? Follow the plan. Learn from my mistakes of believing, no matter what I read on Runcoach’s website, that I always needed to work hard to get faster. Easy days should be easy, hard days hard. Your body needs time to recover from the hard efforts. This is especially true as your body ages.


Anything else you would like to share? Again, listen to your body. I give Runcoach a huge amount of credit for my two fastest races taking place after I turned 50. However, I can not minimize the importance of having in person guidance in selecting shoes that match your running type. I was stubborn in thinking that the 0 drop shoes that worked well for a 42 year old me would still be good for 49 year old me. My local running store finally told me, after years of self denial, just try these 6mm drop shoes. That was the start of injury free training and racing.


What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience? It might sound simple, because it it. Follow the plan. This should be easy, the coaches tell you what to do, just do what they say. For people who are using the free service, I started there. It works very well. For those using the paid service, talk with your coaches, they all want you to succeed.


Summer is the time for colorful, fresh, and fruity.

Fruits are in abundance this time of the year. You should be able to find all ingredients at any local grocery store. The prep for each drink is under 5 minutes!



1) Watermelon Juice - High in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. It’s about 92% water.

fruitIngredients


  • 1 small watermelon
  • 1 lime is desired


Directions

  1. Slice the watermelon in half. Use spoon and scoop chunks of watermelon into the blender. Discard the rind.
  2. Blend the watermelon until it is totally pulverized. This shouldn’t take more than a minute. For extra flavor, squeeze the juice of one small lime into the blender and blend for a few seconds.


2) Lemonade - Great source of vitamin C. Also helps to improve your skin and digestion.




lemonIngredients

  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 cups cold water (to dilute)




Directions

  1. Cut your lemons in half. Juice your lemons. A regular lemon juice should do the trick. Remove seeds.
  1. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir so that the sugar dissolves completely and remove from heat.
  2. Pour the juice and the simple syrup sugar water into a serving pitcher. Add 2 to 3 cups of cold water and taste. Add more water if you would like it to be more diluted (though note that when you add ice, it will melt and naturally dilute the lemonade).



3)Tart Cherry Smoothie - Beneficial for post run/ workout recovery. Tart cherries battle inflammation, while the protein from the Greek yogurt rebuilds muscle.

cherries
Ingredients

¾ cup tart cherry juice
1 cup frozen pineapple
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt


Directions

1. Place tart cherry juice in blender. Add frozen pineapple and yogurt.
2. Blend ingredients until smooth.
3. Serve chilled.

 



Written by Neely Gracey
Updated by Kristin Martin



Did you know that water does more than just keep you hydrated? Obviously, that is an important role, but water is essential in your body for three other important tasks.

keep-calm-and-stay-hydrated-1

   1-Water helps transport nutrients to the working muscles during training

   2-Water eliminates waste products (like lactic acid) during high intensity training

   3-Water works to keep your core temperature cooler by dissipating heat through sweating

Hydration does not have to be from water alone. Here are some other ideas of delicious, refreshing, and hydrating summer drinks.

The ramifications of not having enough fluid in your system can start with just 2% fluid loss. Headache, lack of concentration, dizziness, fatigue, inability to recover, and overall decreased ability to perform. Nothing that helps your training or allows you to work hard towards your goals. To avoid any of these happening to you this summer, here are a few things to include in your daily routine.

   1-Drink 8-12 ounces of water when you first wake up to kick start hydration

   2-Drink more than just water. Adding in electrolyte beverages will help your cells saturate with fluid and not dilute your body’s natural salt chemistry

   3-Drink consistently throughout the day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times

Hold up your water bottle in a toast to quality summer training and good hydration!



trainingWritten by Jen Van Allen
Updated by Rosie Edwards

While training with us, you'll have a variety of workouts to help you build all-around fitness. Each workout plays a unique role in building your all-around fitness, and helping you reach your goals.  It's important to stick to the pace and distance assigned for each workout. On your Schedule & History page, under the "Pace Chart" you'll see the suggested paces for each workout.  Below, you'll find more guidance on how to guage your effort for each run.

MAINTENANCE: Run at a conversational pace, or 65 - 85% of max heart rate. If you’re huffing and puffing, you’re going too fast.   These workouts are designed to build your aerobic fitness, without stressing your bones, muscles, and joints. Don’t take your easy runs too fast; save your energy for quality workouts like speed sessions and long runs.

REST: Let your body recover from training stresses, get stronger, and bounce back quickly for your next workout.  You may do a low-impact activity: walk, swim, bike, or ride the elliptical. Just take it easy.

LONG RUNS: Long runs are meant to build endurance, and get you comfortable spending hours at a time on your feet. Focus on finishing the distance at your target pace feeling strong. Practice fueling strategies and gear logistics to figure out what will work on race day.

THRESHOLD: This workout, also called a “tempo run,” should feel comfortably hard, but it’s not an all-out sprint.  You should be able to say 2 to 3 words while running.  Threshold workouts should be done at 85-92% of your maximum heart rate. Threshold workouts will help you develop the ability to hold a faster pace for a longer distance, and they’ll train your legs and your lungs to be more efficient.

SPEED SESSIONS: During speed sessions you’ll alternate between short, fast-bouts of running (typically 800 or 1500-meter repeats) and periods of recovery with walking or easy running. These workouts build cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, stride efficiency, and they get your fast-twitch muscle fibers firing. Those benefits will help you no matter what kind of goal is. Try to complete the assigned workout feeling strong.

To learn more about the purposes of each workout, click here.  Have questions? Contact Us.



summer_runsRunners often love to keep a routine.  In fact, many of us are downright stubborn.  Most of the time, like the last few miles of a marathon, this is an asset.  However, in the warmer months, the conditions may dictate the need to make some adjustments in order to keep your training on track for your fall goal race.   Sometimes, being willing to adjust can help you make the best of an admittedly less than perfect set of conditions, and provide a great opportunity to learn that you can succeed even if you have to deviate from your plan just a bit. 

In this episode of Personal Best, we examine a few quick tips encouraging you to adjust your training for the hottest time of the year.


Be prepared to consider running at other times of day

Perhaps you squeeze in your run at your lunchbreak or at the middle of the day.  Although that may usually provide your best time to run, consider planning ahead, at least on your harder days, to run in the early morning or evening.  Yes, there are benefits to training in the middle of the day to late afternoon vs early in the morning, but the amount of performance benefit lost by training in 95 degrees with 90% humidity is far greater than the impact made by training in the early morning before the sun is overhead or in the evening when it goes down.  Plus, this is also the exact time of year when many runners are beginning to take on new training challenges related to their fall goal races and are vulnerable to a bad day or two if the conditions are not conducive to a strong performance.  If your work/ family schedule doesn't allow this temporary change on a regular basis in the summer, look ahead on your schedule to a few of the most rigorous workouts and do everything you can to protect a favorable time of day in which to complete those at least.

If you can't switch the time of day from when the sun is directly overhead, you can also.....

 

Be prepared to consider running in different venues

Yes, your workout sheet may say "Track," but oftentimes the temperature of a track surface can be several degrees warmer than the surrounding areas.  Use your car odometer or handheld GPS to measure out your track distances on a bikepath or safe road, preferably one that offers a stretch with a bit of shade.  Yes, the surface may be a bit less perfectly flat and reliable than the track, but you will ultimately feel better the closer you can come to a reasonable temperature in which to complete the workout.   Run along a street with more intersections (being careful and paying attention to traffic) that offers shade.  Run the same short loop twice where you might otherwise do it as part of a longer loop that includes much more exposure.  Do what you need to do to accomplish your workout, and allow yourself to be able to recover and come back well the next day.  Come race day this fall, you'll be glad you made a less scenic, but safer choice.

Many gyms will offer trial memberships, or reasonable prices for a month or two in the summer.  Take advantage of these and get on a treadmill.  Some runners are diehard outdoor runners.  However, consider how pleased you will be to run at the right pace, particularly with the luxuries of a waterbottle and towel that you do not have to hold yourself, potentially a TV to watch your favorite team play, etc.  You're not a wimp if you go inside to run on a treadmill!  You are an athlete that is prioritizing your performance and wants to feel good doing it.

 

Plan your running around fluid intake

Many of you know to hydrate, before, during, and after longer runs.  We discussed that topic a few months ago here.  However, there is no time of year where it is more important than the summer.  Before you head out on your normal route and in addition to your normal plans, which may include bringing along a water bottle or camelback, consider adjusting slightly as needed to incorporate parks with water fountains, and vendors or convenience stores that won't mind you buying a quick bottle of sports drink with sweaty dollars pulled from your shorts pocket, etc.  During these months, you will need significantly more fluids than normal, and because you should be in the habit of taking them before you are really parched, you are going to need to plan for a larger amount of intake and at more spots along the way.  In addition to drinking, plan to splash water on your head and neck, and other key cooling areas like the back of your wrists and knees.  Don't get caught out! Finish strong because you have been hydrating the whole time.

 

Wear light colored, breathable fabrics

Although another simple step, it bears reminding that lighter colors absorb less heat, and breathable fabrics will help keep you, if not cooler, then less hot and sweaty.  A hat or visor and sunscreen are key also both to avoiding the immediate problems posed by a sunburn as well as long term problems.  Stay consistent!  Plan ahead for the day.  Bring bodyglide and/ or an extra pair of socks if your sweaty feet tend to cause blisters or too much slipping, and a shirt for afterwards so you aren't sitting in your car dripping and sweating.  It is amazing how much better you will feel if you take care to attend to your attire.

Generally, we think of winter as the harshest season.  Often, summer actually provides the greater challenge because we tend to forget how severely the temperatures can affect us.  In addition to the above, it is important to note that all these steps are important both for your training as well as to avoid heat stroke and non-running related serious heat/ sun ramifications.  Take pride in your training, but not so much that you are not willing to adjust and be flexible if the conditions are unsafe.  If in doubt about a choice you are making to go ahead with a workout, and you don't have a trusted fellow runner to discuss it with, contact us at help@runcoach.com!



Rest is Best

May 21, 2021

Written by Rosie Edwards.

We are runners. And for many of us (as runners), our mentality is to GO, GO, GO! We love to push the boundaries of what we think our bodies can do and live to test the waters in order to gain that extra 1%.

But have you ever stopped to think about how our bodies absorb all of the hard work that we put in?

Insert the HOLY GRAIL of training, REST.

rest_is_best







You might notice the Runcoach schedule has a "6 day max" of run day assignments.  Why does every individual need at least one day off? Let's find out:


- Recovery: Training is a stimulus or stress which elicits a response. We stress our bodies through physical activity. It is within recovery that we see sper compendation of fitness development through cellular adaptation, further capillarization in the legs muscles, and improved blood chemistry to move oxygen to your working muscles. 


- Injury prevention:
It’s no secret that running can be hard on the body. Many of us are road runners. We pound away at the concrete in preparation for our next big opportunity to go fast. Our muscles, joints and bones need a break from this.

 

- Mental breaks: Sure, running is fun, and it can be a great stress reliever. However, a rigorous training program can be mentally challenging, too. A rest day helps to give you time to enjoy other hobbies and avoid burnout.


- Replenishing glycogen stores
: When training we use the glycogen in our muscles for energy and it can be a training regimen in itself to keep these stores topped up through adequate nutrition. A rest day provides you with a day to top them up in preparation for your next big run.

 

So next time that you put your feet up, feel good about it. The rest is part of your training too, after all.



Winter Running

May 09, 2021
Originally Written by Kate Tenforde on Jan 09, 2015
Updated by Rosie Edwards on May 20, 2021

Winter has arrived!  The days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, snow is falling and roads are getting icy.  Are you starting to doubt that you’ll keep your fitness goals on track all winter long?  We’ve got you covered!  Here are some tips to maximize your training opportunities: 
  1. Apparel makes a huge difference! You don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive gear, but layering is key.  Plan to wear an outer layer that blocks the wind and an inner layer that wicks the moisture away from your skin.  If it's extemely cold, add a mid-layer.
  2. Don't overdress.  You'll definitely warm up as you start moving so pretend you are going to workout in weather that is 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it actually is.
  3. Run or walk in daylight whenever possible so you will be able to watch your footing.  If you must workout in the dark, always wear a reflective vest and bright clothing.
  4. Give yourself extra time to warm up.  Your muscles will need it.  Start out slowly and gradually increase your pace.
  5. We sometimes forget to drink enough water when it's colder.  Be sure to drink both before and after your workouts to avoid dehydration.
Treadmills can be boring, but if you can't find a safe trail or road, don't be afraid to head indoors.  Just keep these 2 tips in mind:
  1. A treadmill ‘pulls’ the ground underneath your feet, and there isn't any wind resistance.  Both of these factors make treadmill workouts a little easier.  Setting the treadmill at a 1 or 2% incline will offset these differences.
  2. Be careful not to alter your form.  It can be tempting to start leaning forward at the hips or to grasp the handrail.  Look for a treadmill in front of a mirror so that you can make sure you maintain your normal form and posture.


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