Why Running Matters

There has been a lot of debate and discussion in the running community over recent years as to the best way to run. The trend was towards more minimalistic footwear, away from the more supportive footwear. All over the web there are blogs and a significant presence in social media of those promoting this approach to running as being better and more natural. Books were published on the topic and all the running magazines had articles on barefoot and minimalism running. The extraordinary presence online and in the media of the concept was not matched in reality in the market place, with now less than 5% of running shoes being sold are in the minimalism category.

All of the benefits that were claimed for barefoot or minimalism was a thing like a better more efficient running economy and less overuse injuries. All the most recent research that has published in the first half of 2013 has shown that there are no differences between the different running techniques in the rates of overuse injuries. The metabolic cost of running or energy efficiency has also been shown to be the same in all the most recent studies. This simply means that all the claims for the benefits of going without the less supportive footwear are not supported by the most recent research. There are plenty of anecdotes of runners with a long history of running injury who are now running injury free after changing to a more minimalistic running shoe. Similarly, there are plenty of anecdotes of the opposite happening. Previously, via social media, the trend toward minimalistic running was driven by the most vocal of those anecdotes. Now the research is showing that there are not the benefits that were claimed by all the anecdotes and a more common-sense approach is being seen in the media.

What has become increasingly clear recently is that different running techniques load different parts of the body differently. So what is the most suitable way to run for one runner is not going to be the most suitable way to run for another runner. This is in contrast to the widely promoted almost cult-like approaches such as Chi running, Pose running and many other that advocate a one-size-fits all approach to running technique. If a running has a long history of injury, then changing the way they run to get the load of the area that they are having a problem with makes sense. That same change for another running may load another area too much and result in an injury. If a running is to choose the way that they should run, they should continue to run the way they are if they are not having any problems and ignore all the rhetoric and propaganda about a particular running technique is better than another. If they are having problems with the way the run and have a history of overuse injury, then they probably should get advice from a running technique coach on what they can to to improve or change their running technique.

 

The Reason Why You Must Run

This is my list of why I run and I hope this list will inspire you to either run – or embark on starting to run. Please note though, that the real list is about 50 reasons long so in an effort to honor brevity due to our collective ADD in today’s society I will keep it short. Thanks Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook! Yes, all of which I do use, so I am a guilty participant of our societal problem! Hey, if you can’t beat em’, join em’!

The above is a great transition into the very first reason I run so without further ado, foreplay, chatter – here’s the list:

1. CLARITY
I run because running, unlike almost any other activity, clears my head. In fact, I find that every time I get the desire to “clear my head” it is usually followed by a sudden urge to go for a run! It’s funny though as it’s almost an oxymoron – the clearer my head gets the more things I find running through it… hmmm… which leads right into reason number two.

2. CREATIVITY
If you are a creative spirit or want to encourage more of your creative side, trust me there is nothing like a good dose of oxygen being sucked into your lungs on a nice solid run coupled with the release of endorphins rushing through your body to get those creative juices flowing. Seriously, I wrote this blog in my head on today’s morning run. Literally, half of all my business ideas, blog ideas and workout videos, etc. have been created while my feet were burning tread (wearing shoes) or my toes were crushing sand (barefoot run). In my humble opinion freeing up creative juices leads right into reason number three.

3. SPIRITUALITY
For me – running is a “moving meditation”. I have always been the type of runner who enjoyed running alone – and at one time I had a partner who made me feel bad about wanting to run solo. I realize now, that I just simply cherish that “me time”. Running has always been my therapy time – time to reflect, connect, inspire, rejuvenate, etc. Be warned, reason number four is not so spiritual.

4. VANITY
Simply put, running is one of the best ways to stay lean and mean! Yes, I know, “but Rebecca – running’s so hard on the joints”, “running breaks my body down”, “my knees gave out long ago, I can’t run”. Not so fast, even if your body type or joint issues etc. prevent you from running on land, there are many other ways to skin this “cat”. Check out my blog title “Get In the Water” to learn about Aqua Jogging if you have access to a pool or hit the beach and run in the soft sand. If those options don’t work for you, you can get a lot of the same benefits from so many other cool workouts these days – there really is no excuse. I have been lucky that for the past 20 years I have been able to maintain my love affair with running. Which leads right smack into reason number five.

5. BECAUSE I CAN
I run because I can! There was a time some over 20 years ago when I couldn’t run because at that time I was very busy being self destructive in an addiction that had hold of me for many years. And then not to sound too cliche here but it’s true, running really was the thing that saved my life – oh yah, that and my good sense to knock it off if I did in fact want to make an impact on this world in this lifetime! Leading me into reason number six.

6. HEART HEALTHY
Do I really need to say any more here? Thousands of studies have been done to prove that a daily dose of just 30 minutes of exercise improves heart health. But specifically, running can lower cholesterol, reduce your resting heart rate, improve lung capacity and help you live a longer life!

7. HUMILITY
There’s nothing like a good, challenging run to keep one humble. I consider myself to be a pretty “fit” person but on any given day I can head out for a run feeling on top of the world and within minutes I am reminded of how fitness really isn’t a destination as it is more of a journey. No matter how fit I feel I am – running quickly puts things back in perspective – whether it’s when I simply pick up my pace and feel winded as I strive to keep at it, or by when I add a few hill repeats which instantly remind me where my “running legs” are truly at or a long endurance run in the soft sand where I realize how every surface taxes my body differently. Speaking of difference – reason number eight.

8. DIVERSITY
You never have to see the same things twice if you don’t want to – running affords you the ability of so much variety whether it’s variations of locations, surfaces, workout type etc. I never understood why people would say, “running is so boring” because when you truly explore ALL the possibilities – it is anything BUT boring. Perfect segway to reason number nine.

9. MUSIC
Running is not boring – especially when powered by your favorite mashup! There is nothing like a great mashup or great playlist to motivate and inspire a fantastic run. Two of my favorite all time running songs – Toto’s Hold The Line or Roundabout by Yes.

10. ANYWHERE, ANYTIME and FREE
Reason number 10 is a combo reason – see how I said the list was really longer than ten. Seriously, though – other than running shoes and an outfit – running is easily accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere and it’s free. There is no heavy equipment needed, no reservations needed, no gym membership required, it’s just you and a pair of shoes getting your fit on!

 

Tips For Recover After Marathon Races

If you are an experienced athlete with a number of marathons already under your belt, running faster is not just a goal which relies on increasing physical speed, but the attention which is given to recovery. In order to run faster than you did before and exceed previous goals, training and conditioning of your body is necessary. However, fatigued muscles and dehydration are a condition which athletes are likely to gain after running. In order to recover you must focus on receiving hydration and rejuvenating your muscles while replenishing their glycogen supply. It will be essential to picking up where you left off in your mission to run faster.

Once you have completed a major running event, giving time for your mind and body to calm down and recover is perfectly natural. Like the owner of a motor vehicle who notices smoke coming from the hood after many hours of driving and pulls over for a pit stop, you must do the same with your body at some point but preferably after you have met your goal in running a marathon or race.

Through proper training you should have enough stamina and strength built up to endure an entire race, but when you cross the finish line and it’s time to go home definitely plan for a decrease in your physical activity. As you determine how quickly you choose to return to normal training, make sure you have achieved some sort of inactivity for the resting of your body and mind. A gradual return to regular training and major racing can include various forms of informal exercise such as basic workouts to warm you up. Follow these tips in order to make a gradual recovery toward regular training after a race and your chances of running faster than before are likely to increase:

When you have finished a race which is relatively short such as a 10K, wait about 3 days before you pick back up and start performing extreme runs again. This break period is preferable for runners who are accustomed to reaching long distances. If you are not an athlete of this caliber, it is advised that you give yourself approximately 5 days of recovery time before you return to heavy running.

If you are of the category of runners who have accomplished races of a 10-mile distance, you are in a category of athletes who deal with a greater set of challenges due to the demands of this race. Since this level of athleticism places more stress on your body, it is recommended that you wait 4 to 5 days before returning to training and racing. The general recovery period for all marathon participants to employ after completing the event is to maintain zero physical activity for 4 to 7 days, then pick back up with a week of running which is moderate to casual pace. After following this schedule it will gradually condition your body to recover while readjusting it to a state which is suitable for a full return back to intensive training and running.

Let us further examine each of the schedules which you can use after a race to get you back to normal training and running, breaking down the daily activity and timing you will use for each. These schedules apply to those who are fresh off of a short race such as the 5K or 10K, a marathon runner or more advanced race runner who will eventually recover from their racing using off-season recovery.

Athletes who just finished a 5K or 10K challenge should employ the following 10-day recovery regimen. On the first day, plan to rest and do not engage in any physical activity which challenges the muscles you use during running. During this time, you will allow your muscle fibers to cool and stiffen which is the state that allows them to perform for you at their best when it’s time to get physical. Lack of rest after the rigors of a race can lead to tearing of your muscles, which is not a part of your body that is easy to replace.

On the second day, head out for an easy 3-mile run and increase your mileage to 5 on the third day. Day 4, complete a speed play run with your easy running distance increased to 6 miles, on this day you can move at the pace of a 5K run. On the fifth day, go back to resting again and do not exercise. Day six should be another easy 5-mile run which will increase to 10 miles on day seven. The eighth day you should perform a combination of the easy run and sprints at a distance of 4 miles, make sure you find a hill which you can do some uphill runs at eight to ten seconds of full-speed movement. This trade of easy and full-speed high-paced running is a great way to condition yourself to run faster, it is also a technique which helps you to conserve energy over distance. On day nine, do another easy 5-mile run and on day ten mix it up with a warm-up run of 1-mile which transitions into a 4-mile run which concludes with another 1-mile run to decrease your pace.

This next training schedule is for marathon runners who need a good way to condition their body for a quick return to their sport after a race recovery period. In comparison to the regiment recommended for 5K to 10K athletes, this schedule features less mileage as a way to provide marathon runners the amount of recovery suited to their particular physical needs.

Day one is a day of rest, let your muscles recover and regain the oxygen they need to perform while you receive proper nutrition and hydration to rejuvenate your mind and body. On day two you will not be running yet, use this as an opportunity to perform a 2-mile walk. Day three take a dip in the pool for a run which consists of a half and hour in the water. On day 4 you will hop on the running machine for an elliptical workout of 40 minutes, this is an exercise widely favored by injured runners. Day five you will run for 4 miles and on day six you will rest again. On day 7, pick your mileage up a notch to 5 miles and on day 8 get back on the elliptical trainer for a 40 minute run. Day nine is the same as day 7, perform another run of 5 miles. To conclude your recovery training on day ten, do a speed play run of 6 miles at a 5K pace.

Overall, you should look at the road to recovery after a race as a series of physical and psychological challenges. As you replenish and condition your body gradually from fatigue to rest and back to heavy exertion, consider the mental factor which come into play as well. The exercise schedules outlined above are designed as a way which allow you to recover mentally by receiving rest and accepting a gradual return to competitive athletic challenge. This pace is important mental conditioning which prevents athletes from jumping back into physical activity too quickly. With this method you can take time to reflect upon reaching new milestones of speed and endurance at a pace which is naturally suited to the human body, resulting in physical and mental conditioning which will help you run faster.

 

Things You Must To Know When Running At Night

Yes, it’s that time of the year when running in the dark seems to happen, whether you are running early in the morning or later in the evening. And with the demands of family life, running times are limited to early mornings before work or late after sunset, so that basically means most of my running happens at night during the winter.

But for some, this means spending more time on the treadmill and an end to running outside, but you don’t have to. By making just a few personal safety adjustments, you can continue running your regular neighborhoods or trails, even in the dark.

Run where you know

It’s important when running at night to stick to well-lit and familiar areas. Try to run on routes that you know well. Exploring unfamiliar terrain in the dark is a good way to get injured. Uneven sidewalks, small potholes, sticks and stones, and cracks in the pavement can cause twisted ankles or embarrassing falls. Don’t risk serious injury that can set back your winter running.

Stay light on your feet

Even if you run in familiar areas, you’re bound to step on something unexpectedly. The other day, when I was out running at night, it had been raining previously for several days, but the roads were fairly dry. I had been running on dry asphalt and had forgotten about the soggy ground. As I rounded a curve, I ended up stepping into a huge puddle of mud. Fortunately, I was running with my older running shoes, so I wasn’t as pissed. I moved back onto the pathway and kept my pace. When running after dark, remember to keep your weight on the balls of your feet and be prepared to react to unexpected foot strikes.

Don’t sweat the pace

As you run, pay extra attention to the ground in front of you and less to your tempo. It’s easier react to surprises when your pace is a little slower. It’s more important for you to complete your workout without injury than it is to keep the same pace you keep in the daylight. Slow down on the darker stretches of road and save your speed work for the well-lit areas.

Safety is top priority

Your personal safety should always be a concern during nighttime running sessions because you can’t always see people hidden in dark areas. Let someone know where you will be running and what time you expect to return. If possible, run with a buddy or with man’s best friend.

Stay Street smart

When I run near the street, I like to run against traffic so I can watch the traffic approaching, rather than allow them to come from behind. You don’t stand a chance if a drunk or distracted driver veers off the road in your direction from behind you.

Be visible to them

Runners are very difficult for drivers to see. You may have adjusted to the dark, but a driver may be distracted by the glare of oncoming lights. A driver may not be looking into the area in front of them that is illuminated by their headlights. This light prevents drivers from developing good night vision, so things on the side of the road, including you, appear extra dark and difficult to see. Your best bet for safety is to wear bright clothing and some reflective gear. Here is some of my recommended night gear.

Reflective Vest: Most vests are lightweight and fit over any top to provide high visibility. The zipper or combination zipper and velcro straps can be easily adjusted for most sizes.

Headlamp: I was given a headlight as a gift and found it to be a really handy item. It was powerful enough to cut through the darkness, allowing me keep my pace and still see the path. You can clip the newer lightweight models to your hat or visor and will hardly notice it’s there.

Flashing Light: These lightweight lights are a bright and effective way to make your presence known. Wear the red flashing lights on your back and the white/clear ones on the front of your body. This will help drivers and fellow runners know the direction you are travelling long before they can actually see you. They make you feel safer when you are pounding the asphalt in the dark.

Have a happy and safe winter workout. If you have winter running tips, please share them with us in the comments section.

 

Teach Your Kids To Love Running

Love to run but want to get your whole family involved? You can get your kids up and running with physical fitness fun. Here are some ideas how and why it’s a good idea.

Some parents first expose their children to running from the time they’re in the stroller. The parents’ habit of running every day gives their children the sense that exercise is part of a normal routine, and that it’s something they, too, can do.

There are many benefits to running. Families that get fit together are healthy and happy. Running increases endorphins, burns calories, builds muscles, and helps create a strong cardiovascular system. Children are natural runners and love to go fast, whether it’s on the playground, running around the yard, or chasing after a pet or a kite. Studies are showing that children who begin to enjoy running at an early age are more successful in sports, keep a healthy weight, and establish a lifetime of heart-healthy fitness habits.

In addition to the health benefits, research shows that active teens are better students. The British Journal of Sports Medicine released findings that eleven-year-olds who spend more time being active did better on some tests than eleven year olds who were less active. Their findings also showed that those who were more active as eleven-year-olds did better on some of the tests two to five years later.

Consider starting your child out with running games such as playing tag, pickle, kick the can or Red Rover or spider. What about running around with squirt guns or spraying each other with a hose? Once your child is ready to hit the road, you can continue to make it a game. Run toward a specific destination: the stop sign, the neighbor’s mailbox. Then hit the next destination. Many children cringe at the thought of running two miles, but building up from one goal to the next makes this accomplishment easier than they imagined.

Once your kids have built up some stamina and muscle, you can build up to races. Are you running a 5K? Let your kids be there to cheer you on. After they’ve seen a race and know what to expect, consider bringing the little ones along in a stroller and see if the older ones want to run alongside you. They can start out slow and build up to a faster pace.

At home, kids might enjoy fitness apps to make their running more fun. One favorite is an app that forces you to run fast to avoid a zombie attack. The app synchs with your music. As the music plays, you begin to run. Shortly after the first song, there’s a radio-like interruption that informs you that zombies have been sighted nearby. You must out-run them or be eaten!

Once you’ve proven your mettle, the DJ keeping watch in the tower above your neighborhood will allow you to become a part of their running team and will ask you to make runs to get supplies and medicines while avoiding the zombies. The app tracks your movements and knows if you’ve sped up enough to avoid the flesh eaters. What better way for your teen to enjoy running?

There are a lot of ways to make running fun. Whether it’s a family game of tag outside, running through a scavenger hunt or obstacle course or competing in a local race, getting your kids up and running is a worthwhile activity for everyone. It can give them a healthy heart, more confidence and even do better in school. Why not consider bringing your kids along next time you’re going for a run?