Posts Tagged ‘running’

So you’ve set your sights on a 5K race. Maybe you got roped into it by your co-workers, you want to participate in a charity event or you’ve been running and want to try your hand at racing. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to run 3.1 miles with lots of other runners and test your mind and body. Congratulations! Now all you need to do is prepare for it.

Here’s a crash course in how to train for your first 5K, so when race day comes, you’ll feel good and have fun without crashing and burning.

Stretch after your runs to keep your muscles from tightening up.

  1. Build up your running base. Give yourself six weeks if you have already started a running program, or eight weeks if you haven’t run since that time someone chased you.
  2. Start slow. Work out for 30-minute sessions five times a week. If you’re not used to running, alternate walking and jogging until you reach 30 minutes. For instance, walk for 5 minutes, run for 3 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 3, until you hit half an hour. Don’t worry about your running speed at this point.
  3. Keep running. Stick with your routine and gradually add more minutes running until you can run for 30 minutes. If you start out running in 3-minute segments, for instance, add 2 to 3 minutes of running to the segments each week until you hit 30 minutes.
  4. Add speed workouts to your plan after four weeks of steady running. You can do interval training or tempo runs. If you do a tempo run, pace yourself to go at your goal pace for the race. Do a 10-minute slow jog to warm up then run for 1.5 miles at your goal pace and cool down with a 10-minute jog. Do one speed workout per week.
  5. Rest. Give yourself one day off a week so your body and mind can recover from training. If you don’t rest, you’ll be more likely to get injuries and burn out on training.
  6. Cross train. Set aside one day a week to do a different exercise that you enjoy — whether it’s cycling, tennis, basketball or dance. Working different muscle groups will help you get in better shape and give your body a break from running.
  7. Taper before race day. Tapering means to cut back on your workouts so your body will be fresh and rested on the day of the event. Give yourself a day of rest before the race, and two days before the race do a light, slow run of a mile to loosen up your muscles.

Even a slow, short run is better than no run.

Sometimes the hardest part of running is just getting out the door. Excuses are always plentiful – whether you’re tired, hungry, it’s too sunny out, too rainy, too cloudy, your favorite show is on TV or your eye is twitching, it seems like there’s always a good enough reason to skip a workout. But if you give in to the excuses one day, before you know it you’ll be skipping workouts left and right and joining the ranks of the complaining non-runners.

Here’s how to kick your excuses to the curb and get back to running strong:

  • Keep track of your workouts. If you record each run, you’ll be more likely to stick with the program to keep your records on track. Preventing your weekly mileage totals from plunging can be more motivating than you might suspect.
  • Share on social networks. Sites like Daily Mile and Nike Plus allow you to broadcast your runs on social networks like Facebook and Twitter while also offering personalized charts and milestones to you help you stay motivated. The running sites also have their own social networks, where you can add friends and cheer people on. Knowing your friends and family are cheering for you will encourage you to keep running and updating.
  • Make a deal with yourself. Tell yourself you will just run 10 minutes and then if you still feel like you can’t run, you will turn back and come home. Getting out the door is usually the biggest obstacle, and chances are, once you get started on your run, you will stick to it (unless you have an injury, in which case you should rest).
  • Reward yourself. On days when you feel sluggish or reluctant to run, give yourself an incentive. Be creative with your rewards and think about what you enjoy. Watching a movie or your favorite show, cooking a favorite meal, buying a new pair of running shorts or going out with friends can inspire you to get your run done.
  • Run with a partner. Grab a running buddy or join a running group — which you can find on sites like Meetup.com — and you’ll be less likely to skip runs because someone will be counting on you. Running with people also makes your workouts more fun and seem like less of a chore.

People often think crunches are the key to flat abs, but cardio exercise is actually the most important component of a workout plan to get rid of your gut. Cardio burns calories and helps you lose weight, including in your stomach. Without cardio, no matter how many crunches you do or how strong your ab muscles are, they will still be covered by extra weight, hiding your toned torso. You can literally run your way to flat abs by following a running-based fitness routine that burns calories and targets your torso. Here’s how to get killer abs:

  • Run five to six days a week. If you are just starting out, exercise for 30-minute sessions with alternating walking and running and gradually build up to running for the entire 30 minutes. See our Beginning Runners section for more training tips for new runners.
  • Step up the intensity of your training plan. If you are already a runner and have extra weight clinging to your belly or sides, you will need to add some oomph to your workouts to reach higher levels of fitness.  Increase your intensity by running faster or adding hills to your workouts. Adding intensity to your workouts burns more calories and fat and will rev up your metabolism so you don’t get stuck in a workout rut. Try doing a speed workout at least once a week and doing a hill workout once a week.
  • Do a long run once a week. Long runs are especially powerful fat busters because your body burns mainly carbs for the first hour of a run and then begins burning fat reserves. Train your body for long runs by adding one mile a week to your long run and every fourth week give yourself a break by staying at the same distance. Before you know it, you will be able to run for more than an hour and burn excess fat.
  • Incorporate circuit training into your workout plan. Do circuits once a week. Circuits call for high-intensity running alternating with strength training exercises. Circuits not only burn extra calories and fat but also help you build lean muscle mass and tone your abs. For circuits, run fast – at about 85 percent effort level – for three minutes and alternate your running with doing  two minutes of the following exercises: crunches, planks, bridge exercises, side planks and pushups. Do a 10-minute jog to warm up and cool down after your workout.
  • Banish unhealthy foods from your diet. Alcohol — especially beer, fried foods, processed snack foods and desserts are all high in calories and low in nutrients, and can cancel out all your hard work by packing on extra pounds to your gut. Do yourself a favor and eat nutrient-dense foods from all of the foods groups, and reach for healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, yogurt, smoothies and popcorn when you feel the urge to munch on something.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, forget the latest diet craze or the 10-minute miracle workout – running is your key to unlock weight loss success. Running burns more calories than any other cardio activity, making it one of the best-kept secrets to lose weight fast and healthily.

Weight Loss 101

The formula for weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is equal to about  3,500 calories, so if you burn an extra 500 calories a day, you will lose one pound in a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend losing one to two pounds per week for a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, you’ll be more likely to gain it back.

You can run your way to weight loss.

Running for Beginners

Beginning runners can get started with a few quick tips for beginners. To lose weight, work up to running for 150 minutes a week total, which is equivalent to five 30-minute running sessions a week. If you are just starting out, do workouts that alternate running and walking. You may start out walking for five minutes, jogging for three minutes, walking for five, etc., until you reach 30 minutes of exercise. Add a minute of running to each segment of your workout at least every week until you reach 30 minutes of continuous running.

Intensity and Duration

If you want faster weight loss results or if you have hit a plateau, increasing the intensity or duration of your runs can help you burn more calories and fat. Try doing a speed workout or long run to boost your calorie-burning power.

Considerations

See your doctor before beginning a running program to lose weight. Before getting started, make sure you pick out the right shoes to decrease your chances of injury and help you run comfortably.

Benefits

Running can help you lose weight and stay fit for a number of reasons. Running not only helps you burn calories but also boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories even while resting. Following a regular running program also increases your lean muscle mass, which makes your body more efficient at burning calories.

Besides all the weight loss and health benefits of running, it is absolutely free and you can do it almost anywhere. So what are you waiting for – grab your sneakers and hit the ground running toward weight loss success.

An inspiring quote can help give you a kick in the pants to get out and run, or keep you from breaking down and walking duringa tough workout. Here are some of my favorite quotes by famous runners. Feel free to add yours, the more the merrier!

Jesse Owens wowed the world by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.

  • “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'” -Peter Maher
  • “Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more then just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better then anyone else. It’s being creative.” -Steve Prefontaine
  • “I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” -Jesse Owens
  • “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” -Oprah Winfrey
  • “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” -John Bingham
  • “Again, racing for me was about energy management.” -Frank Shorter
  • “If you want to win anything — a race, yourself, your life — you have to go a little berserk.” -George Sheehan
  • “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” –Steve Prefontaine

MSRP: $85

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pros: Lightweight, fashionable, comes with Nike+ Sportband sensor space in bottom of shoe

Cons: Light on support for long distance running or heavy use, no motion control for runners with pronation issues

Runner: Marnie Kunz

Mens light blue and black Nike Free Run+ shoes.

The Nike Free Run+ is a sleek-looking running shoe with a wide variety of color combinations for men and women. The lightweight shoe offers an ode to “natural” training methods, which rely on little restriction and minimal guidance for foot movement, with the intention of allowing the body to move more closely to its natural form. In contrast with high-stability shoes or motion control models, the Free Run+ is more flexible and less rigid.

I was pleased with the aesthetics of my Nike Free Run+ shoes, as they appear more stylish and modern than a lot of the heavier, chunky-looking running shoes I normally trudge around in. In addition, there are so many color options to choose from, so you can go as bright or muted as you want with your kicks.

The shoe’s flexible, breathable nature made breaking them in quick and painless, and I felt comfortable running in them right away. As a longtime Nike Air Max wearer, I wasn’t sure how quickly my feet would adapt to the new model of shoes, but they seemed to fit like a second skin.

I was happily logging in miles – on the road, tracks and trails – for a few months before hitting a snag in my Free Run+ relationship. I started training for longer distances and, after completing my first 12-mile run in the shoes, my ankles and knees felt like they’d been beat with a hammer. After several days to recover and refrain from running – which seemed like eons in runner’s time, I was able to ease back into a training program, clad in new shoes, this time with much more support, and yes, some added bulk.

I still use my Nike Free Run+ shoes for short treadmill or outdoor runs, but since I began training for half-marathons and beyond, I have not regularly used the shoes. I’ve talked to other runners and done some research, and come to conclude that the Nike Free Run+ shoes can be useful for training, but are not ideal for long distances or uneven, rough terrain. Individual foot type also comes into play, as some runners need more support than others. I have neutral arches and no significant history of injuries. If you are injury-prone, training for long-distance races or have pronation problems, I would recommend shoes with more support.

The Nike Free Run+ is a stylish shoe for beginning runners with no special requirements, or for fitness runners who log in a few miles a day on the treadmill, but I would not recommend the shoe for long distance runners or those with flat feet, high arches or a history of injuries.

Whether you want to shave minutes off your race time or simply add some variety to your running routine, speed workouts can fill the bill. With the right speed workout program, you can run faster and stronger, feeling better than ever during your races and runs.

What is an Interval?

Intervals  are a popular form of speed training that you can adjust to suit your fitness level and training goals. An interval workout involves doing repeats of high-intensity running alternating with periods of active recovery, such as slow jogging or walking. Interval distances commonly range from 100 meters to one-mile repeats.

How Far

Choose an interval distance that suits your training goals. In general, the further the race or event you are training for, the longer your intervals should be. If you are training for a marathon, for instance, try doing one-mile repeats. If you’re a sprinter, on the other hand, go for shorter intervals of 100 or 200 meters. Middle distance track runners can do intervals ranging from 200 or 400 meters to 800 meters or one-mile repeats.

A track offers an ideal place to do intervals.

How Fast

The object of interval training is to train your body to run fast and to perform at a high intensity even while fatigued. Pace your intervals so that you run about the same time for each one. Beginners often make the mistake of going out too fast and doing an all-out sprint for the first interval and slowing down to a jog by the last interval, which will not help your race performance. Calculate your interval pace using a mileage chart or use your heart rate or perceived exertion rate to gauge when you are exerting 80 to 85 percent effort.

How Many

The number of intervals you do should depend on your fitness level and training goals. Most runners do between four and 10 repeats. If in doubt, start slow and do a low number of repeats. You can add more repeats to your program once your body adjusts to interval training, usually within a few weeks.

Recovery

Jog for at least 10 minutes to warm up before your intervals, and do the same to cool down after your workout. Between intervals, jog or walk to recover. Your recovery time should be twice as long as your interval time. So if you run 400-meter repeats in 90 seconds each, recover by doing 3-minute jogs between intervals.

Trail running can offer a nice change of pace for workouts.

If you’ve run yourself into a rut with your workouts, check out these quick tips to get you up on your feet and running happily again:

  • Switch up the scenery.  Instead of trudging down the same path every day, go to a nearby park, take a different loop or try making your own route. New scenery can be inspiring and motivating.
  • Listen to some tunes. Create an upbeat workout soundtrack and get pumped to run. Change up your music every once in a while to prevent boredom.
  • Run for a cause. Sign up for a charity race to benefit a worthy cause – whether it’s homeless pets or cancer survivors that you’re running for, your workouts will gain new meaning when you train for a charitable race.
  • Run with different partners. It’s not cheating if it’s running — changing up who you run with can help you vary your training runs and pace, as different partners will have different running times, route ideas and fitness levels.
  • Take a trip. Go on a day trip — or even an overnight trip — to run someplace completely different. Check out a local campground’s trails or venture to a quaint B&B for refuge after a run in the wilderness.
  • Fulfill the need for speed. Add some speed work to your training to stay on your toes with new challenges. Set goals to lower your interval times each week or aim to slash your race times after completing some speed work training.

I’m a RRCA-certified running coach offering individualized training plans for runners of all levels, but my specialty is beginners and people who want to lose weight.  I love to spread the sport of running to as many people as possible, so we can all share in the health benefits — both mental and physical — of one of the oldest, most effective forms of exercise, and have fun in the process. Forget what your coach or P.E. teacher told you years ago — running is not a punishment but a privilege that connects us with our primal nature while making us stronger people –both physically and mentally, better equipped to handle the stresses of modern life.

Running has been the most positive influence in my life since I first started cross country as an awkward (some things never change) 7th grader. Running has inspired me to live healthier in all areas of my life, as well as helped me connect with so many interesting and inspiring people all over, from the runners with prosthetic legs that ran along side me in the 10-mile obstacle course race at the Chicago Men’s Health Urbanathlon to my French “mom” on an exchange stay in France whom selflessly plodded along beside me in her scarf and flats so I wouldn’t get lost running around her town. From the fellow fanatics running the St. Louis Frostbite Series races in 12-degree temperatures this past winter to my marathon-conquering friends, I continue to be inspired by each runner who is willing to answer the challenge of “Can I do this?” with a “Hell yeah.”

So here’s to you, my fellow runners, for continuing to run and persist through times of pain, pressure, heat, cold and most of all, joy. May the streets of Runstreet inspire you along your path. For additional help and motivation, contact me for coaching and personalized training programs.

Give yourself a running boost with the right running shoes for your foot type.

Running is one of the few sports that requires no equipment, beyond a pair of running shoes and some exercise clothes. The beauty of running, besides the many health benefits, is that runners can practice for free outside almost anywhere, any time. Lacing up with the right running shoes will help you enjoy your runs more and prevent injuries.

Once you know what your foot type is and identify your training habits and needs, you can find the best shoes for you. After lacing up with your new kicks, you’ll be hitting the ground running strong for many miles to come.

Foot Type Test

In order to find the best running shoes for you, you should first determine your foot type – whether you have high, neutral  or low arches. Your foot type will influence what features to look for in running shoes.

To figure out your level of foot arch, wet your feet and step on a paper towel or cement slab. Observe your footprints.

  • If your footprints show the complete outline and inner section of your feet, you have low arches, or flat feet.
  • If your footprints have a section missing in the inner, center part of the prints, you have neutral arches.
  • If your footprints show just a line running from your heel to your toes, you have high arches.

Pronation

The degree of arch in your feet influences your running gait. Pronation is the inward motion that naturally occurs when your foot strikes the ground and rolls from your heels to your toes. If you have low arches or flat feet, you most likely will overpronate when running, which means your feet will roll inwards more than average. If you have high arches, you probably underpronate, meaning your feet do not roll enough when you run.

Runners with pronation problems should look for running shoes that are high in stability, which helps support your feet while running. In addition, if you have high or low arches, look for shoes with motion control features, as they help correct running gait problems. If you have neutral arches, your feet most likely have an ideal level of pronation, and you will not need motion control features. Runners with neutral arches should choose stability shoes, which offer support but do not hinder your natural foot motion.

Other Considerations

Your running training program should also influence the shoes you choose. Consider how far you run each week and what type of terrain you run on, as well as your body type and any history of injuries you may have.

If you are a long distance runner – such as a marathon or half marathon runner – choose shoes that have plenty of cushioning and support, as well as stability features. Likewise, if you normally run on hard surfaces such as cement or asphalt, you should choose shoes with extra cushioning. If you run a few miles a day on a treadmill, on the other hand, you will probably do well with a more lightweight shoe, as the treadmill offers some cushioning and your shorter run durations will not pound your legs as much. For trail runners, choose a heavier shoe designed for trail running, to offer extra support and traction for uneven terrain. If you are a heavier runner or injury prone, find running shoes with extra cushioning to help protect your joints from the pounding of running.

Once you identify your individual body’s needs, you’ll be able to arm yourself with a runner’s best friend and constant companion- a great pair of running shoes.