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?

 

Steps To Improve Your Running

How can you improve your running?

Knowing the answer to the 3 most common questions will help improve your running today.

How often should I run
How far should I run
How hard should I run

How often should I run?

At the very beginning, this was a tough question for me to answer. I had tried to get into running on several occasions previously. What I found was that I lost my motivation to get out there after a few runs or a week. So the best advice I can give you on this question is to start smaller and build up. Set a schedule that you know you can meet. If that means getting out 3 times a week then go for it, if you have the time and can plan more all the better. You will find that if you have a plan ahead of time and meet that plan, you will build confidence and will be more likely to keep at it.

For me, I found that the minimum I could do and still see the small gains I was hoping for was to run 3 times a week. Less than that and I was not consistently seeing improvements. Not seeing any improvement led to disappointment, and ultimately giving up on the process. Each time I finished a planned workout no matter how far or how slow, it built my confidence and helped me to get out the door on my next run.

How far should I run?

If you are just beginning this question is natural. However I would recommend that for the first few weeks, at least, you change the question around. Rather than worrying about how far you should run, focus instead on how long you should run. For me, I was able to build confidence knowing that getting out there for 20 minutes was something I could do 3 times a week. In my previous attempts, I would say I am going to run 3 miles, and I would struggle to get the mileage. Or the goal would end up taking far longer than I had planned. In both cases, the result is you will not feel as though you are improving your running, just the opposite I was developing a negative thought.

Start with a plan that has you focused on a time frame rather than a specific distance. With each run you will acclimate your body to the demands of running. As your body starts to adapt to the demands you place on it, you will see improvements. Maybe your first day out you can cover 1.25 miles in 20 minutes. If you stick to your plan, you will start to see gains and maybe after a week, you can cover 1.35 miles in the same time frame. Regardless of how big or how little the improvement is… CELEBRATE it. That is a success and you worked hard to earn that success.

The biggest recommendation I can give as newbie runner is to finish the workouts you start. If you find that the duration you have set for yourself is too much, shorten the workout rather than continually stopping early. It is a small change, but you will find that you build more confidence in meeting a goal or plan, than stopping short or making it up as you go.

How hard should I run?

I will be very honest with you while I learned the answer to this question for myself early on; it took me nearly 2 months to fully embrace.

It doesn’t matter!

Almost every run will seem like hard run to a newbie.

Most of us will not be able to run very far without huffing and puffing or feeling their legs ache. This is completely natural and expected. Your body is simply not accustomed to the motions and demands of running. This may occur after ¼ of a mile or after 10 steps. Just remind yourself, that this is only a starting point.

In my first week, I focused on jogging short distances (60 seconds) at as slow a pace as I could without actually walking. Then I walked for 120 seconds, and then I repeated the process. The actual times you choose will depend largely on how fit or conditioned you are when you begin your own journey. I know runners who started at as low as 15 strides of running and then walking. They key is to keep moving and make sure the walking portions are being done at a fairly brisk pace.

Here’s a secret… your heart doesn’t know if your running or walking. When you work harder than normal it is going to beat faster and pump more blood through your system and thereby improve your endurance. You just need to be active. All the while it is becoming more efficient and better at its job and therefore, you can ask more and more from it.

A good rule of thumb to improve your running is to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of your running should be at LOW intensity. Only 20% of all your running in a week should be at a moderate or high intensity. Don’t believe me, check out some of the elite runners schedules. They follow the 80/20 rule.

Conclusion

If you start with small achievable goals and then build upon those small successes early on, you will be more likely to stick with your plan and continue to improve your running.

The takeaways for a new runner are simple.

  • Commit to a plan that is reasonable and achievable.
  • Focus on a timeframe rather than a distance at the beginning
  • Finish your workouts
  • Celebrate your successes no matter how small
  • Find a walk/run interval that fits your current level of fitness.
  • Believe that you are getting better each time out. You may not see it on your watch, but your body is improving and becoming more efficient.

 

Losing Your Weight With Running

So you want to get started running. Running is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and get in shape. Running will build your core strength, increase your endurance, and give you more energy. Regular running can change your life.

To get started with running you’ll need to know some of the key aspects of running training. You’ll need to get the running equipment, design a running plan, and adjust your diet.

As they say, running is the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other. It is something that we as humans have evolved to be good at. Our bodies are designed for running. Our ability to sweat paired with our balanced torso, and head gives us a distinct advantage over other animals during long distance running.

I was like you, when I started running I’d run half a block and be completely out of breath and have a terribly crippling stitch. I was surprised how quickly that changed with some regular practice. I could measure the improvement within the first week. After about 2 weeks of running regularly, I could run 1Km before having to stop to catch my breath. After running for a few more weeks the heavy breathing, and racing heart stopped being an issue, I could jog and carry on a conversation (and I thought those runners were just trying to show off!) I would run until my legs started to ache with fatigue.

During this process I paid attention to my eating habits. It’s hard not to, when you think about the run you’re planning on doing later that day. I cut back on my sugars and carbohydrates and started drinking protein shakes. I lost 10 lbs.

So whether you want to loose weight, gain energy, or reach a goal of doing a particular race. You have to start your training somewhere. Here’s my suggestions for getting started.

Get Some Information Subscribe to a running magazine. Having the material show up regularly throughout the year will keep running on your mind, so it will be harder to kind of move on and forget to exercise. These magazines have some really great information about different running techniques to try, equipment reviews, and general tips and tricks from the experts about how to make running more enjoyable. Personally I recommend and subscribe to “Runners World”.

In addition to a magazine subscription you should consider buying a book or two on the subject. There’s tons of stuff to know. Everything from proper breathing and posture to designing appropriate training schedules to dealing with injuries. Check out Amazon.com or your local book store for suggestions.

Running Equipment The only thing you really need is a good pair of running shoes. Take the time to find a pair that really fit you properly. I suggest going to a specialty running store because they will know what type of shoe will work best for you. A pair of shoes will last for about 800 to 1000 miles of running. It’s not the piece of equipment that you want to cheap out on.

Other things that will make running more enjoyable include double layered sport stocks, shorts or running tights (yes even I wear tights), a running jacket, and gloves and a beanie for running in cooler weather.

The real secret of the decade for training has been the heart rate monitor. This device can accurately measure your heart rate as you are running. Your heart rate is a very good indication of the effort that you’re putting in. By watching it closely you can keep yourself in the ‘zone’ that is most efficient. For example, I know that once my heart rate goes above 180 bpm I will start breathing heavier, and will quickly have to slow down or stop. By keeping my heart rate closer to 160 bpm I know that I can run farther and burn more calories.

The advanced heart rate monitors can also be connected to ‘foot pods’ or ‘GPSs’ to measure your distance and speed. both of which will provide great motivation for your training.

The Runners Log A running log book is a useful tool. It’s great motivation because you’ll want to fill in the spaces with proof that your doing the exercise. A running log is also great for looking back and figuring out what training techniques worked best for you. That can be helpful when you want to run a new personal best.

You’re log book should contain the following information: distance run, total time, how you felt, and the weather. It may be a good idea to note the shoes you wore so you’ll know when it’s time to replace them.

Number One Tip My best tip for staying motivated is to sign up for a local run. Find a 5K or 10K to register for and train towards being able to complete it as best you can. Always have another run on the horizon that you have to stay in shape for. Find a friend, and have them sign up too while you’re at it. Don’t wait until you can run the distance before committing to a race. I ran my first 10K when the farthest I could run without stopping was 2K. The adrenaline you get from running in a race will boost your performance significantly.

Running Diet If you’re running regularly then you’ll need to eat. One of the leading problems people have with improving their running performance is due to lack of food. There is a tendency to think “oh, if I was only 5 lbs lighter I could run so much farther”. The problem is that when you run you’ll be breaking some muscle fibers, and if you don’t feed your body with proteins and carbs to rebuild the muscle you’ll just loose muscle mass which will not only reduce your performance but also decrease your metabolism making it harder to loose fat going forward.

That’s not an excuse to binge after going for a run. Have a good healthy meal, just make sure to incorporate some protein and carbs to help keep you fit.

Fact: You can only metabolize about 250 calories of fat per hour. So if you burn 700 calories during an hour long workout the majority of those calories are coming from either muscle, or food. This is why the optimal heart rate for burning fat is a rather low at just 60% of your maximum heart rate.

More than Running Running is great and all but there are other things that you should be doing in order to see the most progress possible. Running excessively without giving yourself enough time to adapt to the impacts on your body is a surefire way to end up injured. Even though you should be running a fair bit during your training, you should be swapping some running sessions for some cross-training exercises. Consider anything that will keep your heart rate up such as roller blading, biking, swimming, or wall climbing. This will work out your cardio-vascular system without stressing your joints the same amount that running would.

It’s also important to learn how to do the proper stretching. Stretching before and after each run will improve the recovery time, increase the performance during the run, and prevent injuries. Don’t underestimate the importance of stretching as part of your routine. In fact, I do yoga once per week to focus solely on stretching.

Strength training is key to increasing your speed, and it’s a corner stone of your running training. Increasing the strength of your legs and core body muscles will make a HUGE difference. Strong legs will result in more controlled steps, it will help keep your ankles and knees from becoming sprained, and improve your speed. To work on these muscles you can do some squats and lunges at home or the gym, or you can try running hills. A strong core will increase the efficiency of your running greatly. It will reduce the strain on the lower back which could cause pain. To strengthen you core do some sit-ups and the bridge (there are always abdominal exercises in the latest health magazines if you want some more ideas).

 

Tips To Buy Running Clothes

I love running clothes, and will buy something new for myself anytime I can come up with an excuse to do so! It doesn’t even have to be a good excuse or a new one…I’m not too proud to use stale, bad excuses when necessary.

In fact, more than half of my wardrobe is composed of running attire: running shirts and running shorts and jackets and tights. Running shoes and socks and hats, oh my!

I have tried (but not quite succeeded yet) to get every color available in both tops and running shorts. It’s an ongoing project, but a fun one…everyone needs a hobby, right? And you should see me stylin’ when I’m running in my orange running shirt and orange running shorts…in fact you can’t help but see me….I’m nearly neon at that point.

I do feel it’s important to be comfortable while running, and certainly color-coordinated as well. Not only does it make the experience of running much more enjoyable; the appropriate running clothes are important for body temperature regulation: to keep cool in the hotter months and warm during the winter months. Not to mention compensating for changes in humidity and wind chill, etc.

When I decided to train for my first marathon, it was the beginning of a new year. And that meant I had to start my mileage build-up in January. I definitely needed winter running apparel. Fortunately, that winter was a mild one.

Most days I could wear a short-sleeved running shirt with a lightweight running jacket and running tights. I always wear a running cap and on the cooler days, gloves. The cap serves a dual purpose: to keep the glare out of my eyes and on cold runs, to keep the heat in. The gloves usually get peeled off about half-way through my run. There were a few times running when I needed to wear a fleece hat, but usually only when it was windy out.

I discovered that a lightweight running jacket was essential for running at that time of the year. It not only kept me warm, but it was vented so that I didn’t overheat during my runs. I’ve heard that running causes the temperature to feel 10 degrees warmer. Before I had my running jacket, when I would run in colder weather, I’d wear a long-sleeved running shirt. But this wasn’t a great strategy as I was starting out my runs feeling cold, and then, once I did start to heat up, pushing up the sleeves just didn’t do the trick to cool me. By having a vented jacket, now the moisture wicks away from my skin, and I don’t get chilled during longer runs. Since I hate to be too hot while running, it’s nice that I can take my running jacket off if I get overheated, and put it right back on once I start to cool off.

We have very low humidity in western Montana, so if I’m running when the sun is out, it can heat up fairly quickly, even during the winter. Even though I would get warmed up in the sun, it was important for me to note that when running at temps below 45 degrees F, I needed to be wearing running tights. It is important to keep your leg muscles warm. Even though I might sometimes get a little too hot when wearing the tights, I found my recovery time was much quicker, and I was not as sore the next day. My main problem with running tights is that I just don’t have as many colors to choose from as I do in my selection of running shorts. I suppose that’s okay, cause I only have one running jacket. So what’s the point? I simply learned to be content to just wear different colored running hats.

The hardest training times for me were the transitional seasons: winter into spring and spring into summer. After running in tights and a jacket all winter, I got excited to put on running shorts without a jacket, just wearing a short-sleeved running shirt.

I did have to be careful though, because spring in Montana could bring some unexpected, very nasty weather. It only took getting caught in a spring snowstorm one time for me to realize that even though the day might look nice to start with, I was running for 2 to 2 ½ hours at a time. A lot can happen weather-wise during that time. As they say in Montana, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.”

I ran long training runs with my friend Vickie riding her bicycle along with me, and it was easier to start off with a lot more layers of running clothing. As I warmed up, I would shed an item of running clothing, and she would tuck it away in a saddle bag. I was doing a lot of my long runs during that unpredictable spring weather, so having her there alongside me for my long training runs made it easy to be prepared for whatever the weather might bring. Thanks, Vickie!

Of course, my favorite season for running is summer: primarily because most of my running clothes match that season. As I said before, I hate to be too hot while running, so my running shorts for the most part tend to be the kinds that have a generous runner’s split up the side to allow me the most comfort and the coolest run. But I also have quite a few longer length running shorts that are good for cooler mornings or late spring days.

My singlets (running shirts – tank tops) are of a very cool lightweight, wick-away material. I’ve noticed that some of my running shirts don’t breathe as well, so I use those mostly for early morning runs when it’s not too hot yet.

Okay….so maybe I have gone on a bit too much about running clothes, but my point is this: when running, I want to be smart about what I wear. So by having a lot of choices of what to wear, I never have to worry that I don’t have the right piece of running clothing. That’s how I justify it anyway

I check the conditions, and dress accordingly. And while I’m at it, why not look my best? Wearing nice running clothes makes me feel better about myself. After all, I work hard for this body!

So the three C’s of running clothing of critical importance: Comfortable and Color-Coordinated…. 😉

Tips Running For Beginners

There is a funny saying that cross-country runners like to throw around that goes something like this: “Our sport is your sport’s punishment.” Unfortunately, this quote carries with it more than just a hint of truth – most people simply hate to run. Running is hard, it takes time that could be spent doing other things, and for many people running is painful, uncomfortable, and not the least bit enjoyable. Ask any serious distance runner, and they can recount to you the scorn they sometimes receive from friends and colleagues about the fact that they run. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that I’m going to ruin my knees, or that we as humans simply weren’t meant to run long distances (which, as an anatomy professor and evolutionary biologist, I disagree with wholeheartedly). So how does one overcome this fear and loathing for all things related to running? In this article I’ll provide 10 tips regarding what helped me the most during the first few months of my transition from being a couch-dweller to becoming a full-fledged runner.

I officially mark May 2007 as the date when I started running. When I say running, I mean really running, not just jogging a few miles here or there when I felt like it. May 2007 is when I began to really call myself a runner, when I began a habit that sticks with me to this day, and has become such an integral part of my life that I couldn’t imagine living without it. Prior to this time, running was for me, as the saying at the beginning of this article alludes to, like a form of self-punishment. I did it because it was supposed to be good for me, or because some coach at some time ordered me to do it during some practice – I did not, however, enjoy running. That all began to change for me when I began to gain weight after the birth of my two kids. I realized that I was now in my 30’s, and if I was going to take control of my health, I needed to start getting serious about exercise. This brings me to my first tip:

Tip #1 – Find a Source of Motivation For me, having children was the primary impetus for beginning my running habit. I wanted to get my health back under control, and I wanted to be able to keep up with two little kids as they grew up and became even more active. To this day, one of my main motivations for running is to set a good example about the importance of exercise for them. A secondary source of motivation was entirely personal – I wanted to lose some weight. It turns out that I lost about 15 pounds during my first six months as a runner, and that was strong motivation to keep going.

If you don’t have kids, and your weight is not a problem, motivation can still be found in other areas. My next tip for beginning runners details one of the things that really helped to keep me going at the beginning of my running life:

Tip #2 – Sign Up for a Road Race I’m extremely competitive with myself, and one of the things that initially got me running was a deal that my wife and I made to sign up for and run a 4-mile road race on the 4th of July, 2007. When I signed up for the race, I had never run more than about three miles in one go, and four miles seemed like an astronomical increase over that. Signing up for the race and paying money to reserve my spot gave me a goal to train for, and because I’m not a quitter, there was no way I was going to back out. If you’re even the slightest bit competitive (even if just with yourself), signing up for a local 5k is probably one of the best things you can do to motivate yourself to keep running. For me, racing hooked me in a way I never would have anticipated, and running races is one of my prime motivators for training to this day. It also introduced me to a whole “running world” that I didn’t even know existed. In every town there are like-minded people who run crazy distances simply for the fun of it. These people are among the most open and friendly people I have met, and their enthusiasm for running can be infectious. If you want to gain entry into this little slice of the world, start by going to some road races – I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

So lets now assume that you have some source of motivation to get you off of the couch and onto the road or trail. What follows are the lessons I learned from personal experience that I think are the most important to pass on to a beginner who has made the decision to start running.

Tip #3 – Get Appropriate Running Shoes I can’t emphasize enough how important this tip is. When I say “appropriate” running shoes, this doesn’t mean to head to your local sporting goods store to pick out the coolest shoe in the “running” section. What most people don’t realize is that each of us has a particular type of running gait. The way our legs move, the way our feet hit the ground – each of us is a little bit different. When it comes to running shoes, you want to be sure that you find a pair of shoes that is suitable for your particular gait. How do you do this? The best way is to go to a specialty running store where they will analyze your gait (usually for free) and let you try out a few pairs of shoes by running around the block. Any good running store will do this, and getting the right pair of shoes for your body and gait type will go a long way toward making your transition into running go more smoothly. It will also to help minimize any chance of injury that might arise from making an uniformed choice of the wrong shoe simply because you like the way it looks. Finding the best shoe for you can take some trial-and-error, but it is well-worth the effort.

Tip #4 – Start Slow and Run Short When you first start running, it is best to begin by running slowly for relatively short distances. Running will be a lot more enjoyable if you don’t overdo it to the point where it becomes hard and starts to hurt. So, consciously and repeatedly tell yourself to slow down. If you need to walk, do it. When you’re out on the road by yourself, nobody is going to care if you take a walk break, and if this helps you to keep running, then it’s worth it to do so. For me, when I used to run sporadically before May 2007, I felt like I wasn’t getting any benefit unless I pushed myself to the limit. This made running unpleasant, and explains in large part why the habit never clicked. By approaching my development as a runner this time around as a long-term process, it became enjoyable, and I eventually got to the point where running harder and longer was a joy rather than a chore. I found that every increase in run distance was a new milestone, and triggered a desire to go even farther. This culminated in my decision to run a marathon in May 2008, one year after I began running, and that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Tip #5 – Track Your Effort If you need help tracking your effort, purchase a heart-rate monitor or a running computer. For beginning runners who own an Ipod Nano, the Nike+ system is a good choice. It’s cheap (Tip #6 – Eat and Drink Appropriately This probably goes without saying, but fueling and hydrating properly for your runs is critical. If you eat something (even just a Powerbar or similar product) an hour or so before you run, and hydrate well, your runs will be much more pleasant. Starving yourself to lose weight while running is counterproductive and should be avoided at all costs. Your body needs fuel to power your muscles on the run, and it needs fuel to repair any damage that occurs after you run. If you deprive yourself of fuel, your desire to run will fizzle away. One additional note about hydrating – if you run in the summer or in a hot area of the country, be wary of your hydration level. When it’s really hot I generally carry water with me. Sometimes I carry it in hand, sometimes I use a water bottle belt, and for longer runs I use a Camelbak hydration pack. Dehydration can be dangerous, and is easily avoided with proper preparation.

Tip #7 – Find Something to Pass the Time Some running purists prefer to avoid all electronic devices while running. I however, am a gadget freak, and can’t bear to run without my Ipod Nano attached to my arm (except during races – for that I go without). Listening to good music on a hard run can be incredibly motivational, and there are times when music alone can pull me through a tough patch. For long runs or slower, easier runs I like to download podcasts from Itunes or audiobooks from my local library’s digital audiobook download site. Most library’s offer these digital downloads now, and although MP3 player compatibility can be an issue at times, there are ways to overcome this and downloads are typically free with a library card. Listening to audiobooks on the run has opened up a whole new world of options for me, and there are times when I’m so engrossed in what I’m listening to while running that it feels almost effortless.

Tip #8 – Run with a Partner I tend to run solo or with my dog (who is a great running companion by the way), but many runners thrive on running with friends/family/co-workers. Having a partner helps to pass the time, conversation on the run generally forces you to slow down, and having a partner to keep you honest helps to prevent lapses in dedication to the sport.

Tip #9 – Join a Running Club Most towns/regions support local running clubs. Generally, these clubs cater to people of all levels and abilities, and joining one can be a great source of motivation. Meeting other local runners provides an avenue for learning about new running routes in your area, and they can be rich source of information and advice for beginning runners. Check out the Road Runners Club of America RRCA for information on finding a local club in your area.

Tip #10 – Join an On-Line Running Forum On-line forums are a great place to find information and advice on running. There are tons of running forums out there, so finding one to your liking should not be hard. A few examples are the Runner’s World Magazine Forums, the dailymile.com Forums, the Runner+ Forums, and the Cool Running Community Forums. Even if you aren’t an active contributor, reading through the collective knowledge on these forum sites can be incredibly beneficial.

I could probably go on-and-on with tips like those presented here, but I’ll cut it off at 10 for now. Probably the most important pieces of advice I can give to beginning runners are to stick with it and to have fun. As your running progresses, you’ll begin to experience both physical and mental changes that you might never have expected. Running improves the health of your body, but it also can change your mind (it’s a great stress reducer for one thing), and once you’re hooked, there’s no turning back.

Happy running

 

Tips For Women Over Fourty When Running

Being a runner over 40 has presented new areas of interest (and concern) for me on the road and more importantly in my training and recovery off the road. I love to run and it’s great to see research being done on older runners…the Stanford study that shows that running slows aging or the Yale study that shows that older marathon runners (women in particular) are improving their running times more than younger runners.

I would like to share some insights and tips that I have learned along the way. Many of these women’s running tips can apply to all runners, but they definitely take on a new perspective as the years go on and we get older, wiser, and perhaps, faster…

Training Tips:

1. Adding Miles: SLOWLY! Use the 10% rule. Add no more than 10% increase of the mileage each week. Here’s more detailed explanation and chart from FitSugar.

2. Warmup: As we get older, the body needs time to get going and giving it that time will help avoid injuries. See “The Perfect Warmup” from Runner’s World.

3.Cross-Training: Is a must for any runner, but as you age the relationship between cross-training and running becomes even more important. For a different, low impact, cross-training option, see our recent post on Aqua Running (Pool Running). Core exercises have become another essential, here’s some good ones from Runners World.

4.Strength Training: There is a lot of information out there on lifting weights and strength training, but being careful to start this in the “right” way is important as we get older. Running Planet has done a nice job w/ laying out The 8 rules of Strength Training”. We have some good videos on our Resources page.

5.Stretching/Yoga: Another must for the aging runner (and this has certainly been debated by many). Dara Torres proved this in her Olympic effort that stunned us all. She adhered to a strict resistance stretching regime (see previous post – Doing the Home Stretch with Dara Torres). I am not a huge fan of yoga, but here’s a good article by Runners World about a runner w/ a ITB injury who didn’t like yoga at the beginning, then became a convert. My always injury free LDF (“Long Distance Friend”) swears by power yoga!

6.Rest: This has become one of the most important parts of my training. If I don’t get enough rest, my body begins to break down. Listen (very closely) to your body.

7.Massage: Another Dara Torres staple and one of my personal favorites. It does not matter if you have a fabulous husband like I do or get from a pro, it works to relieve the stress of training and tired muscles. You can even do it yourself w/ some videos by Rich Poley who wrote “Self Massage for Athletes”.

8.Set a Goal: Having a goal or a race to strive for makes the training have a purpose and keep me focused.

9.Training Programs: A little planning goes a long way. If possible, try to plan your training to run more often on softer surfaces like trails, dirt roads, grassy parks, or even the track. A few good programs are on our resource page. There are many good ones out there–find one that suits you.

10.The Track: Most marathon training programs will include track work as it helps develop the fast twitch muscles to build speed and lung power during a race…getting older does not mean getting less competitive:) If I am training for a marathon, it really makes a difference for me especially in the later miles of the race. Good article from Runner’s World called “Running in Circles”.

11.Injury/Recovery: This one is hard for me as I have had many… at 46, I still like to run fast. There are several common injuries to running and I think I have had them all. See “Coming back from an injury” posts. I have learned to recognize my body’s warning signs and back off. Many of these tips (see Rest, Diet, Stretching/Yoga, Massage, Weight/BMI, Orthotics, and more) are meant to help avoid injuries or help w/ recovery.

12.Running with Music: Running with music can help motivation and provide a needed distraction. I have also learned about the importance of BPM (beats per minute) and ensuring that if you are listening to a song, be sure it is not too slow and unconsciously slowing your pace. Find 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s music along w/ best bands of today and learn more about BPMs in this post: Best Running Music Ever

13.Weight/BMI: It seems that fast marathoners have a low Body Mass Index (BMI). Marathon Guide has a quick tool to calculate your BMI. Knowing yours can help to find the “right” BMI for your best running performance. See also post: What’s the ‘right’ BMI for a woman marathoner?”

14.Running in Different types of Weather: I am not a treadmill runner, so I will run in anything short of a blizzard. With the right layers of clothing this is possible. However, if you are training in summer for a fall race, beware of weather differences. The weather during your race may be very different then when you are training. Don’t be discouraged if you are not able to run 17 miles the way you think you should when you are in 80-90 degree heat and high humidity.

15.Travel Running: Always bring the running shoes along! Some of my best runs have been among the monuments of parks, cityscapes and beaches of sand. Hotels (see this post that mentions WestinRun) now will provide maps (and sometimes runners) to guide you. With the help of Map My Run you can find a route from anywhere. Take a look at some of our Travel running posts.

16.Running and Sex: Here’s an interesting article by Running Times that quotes an Israeli scientist who declared “Women compete better after orgasm, especially high-jumpers and runners”…who am I to argue w/ Israeli scientists?

17. Fartlek Training: Sports Fitness Advisor has some good tips on how to incorporate fartlek into your training (psst…if you don’t know what fartlek is, check out 10Ktruth.com’s “Runnerspeak – Dictionary of Running Jargon and Other Sport Terms”).

Nutrition and Hydration Tips:

18. Type of Diet: Adhering to a well-balanced, low-fat, wholegrain diet that is higher in carbs has always been the best route for me. I love a good smoothie (see post Smoothie Operator –quick nutritional training meal”) while training. Here’s an interesting article w/ good tips on eating from Cool Running called “The Runner’s Diet”.

19.Hydration: It used to be all water and Gatorade for me, but now as I get older I don’t want the same amount of calories. I opt for the lower calorie alternatives like electrolyte powder mixes (see post: “Water log: Hydration and road recovery options for runners”).

20. Eating after Running: The window for eating after running is small, but important. See post “Refuel ‘Right’ after a Run”

Gear Tips:

21. Running Clothes/Bra: I like my running clothes sporty–not funky, but this is obviously personal preference. A good running bra will go a long way…avoid cotton at all cost. I have learned that running skirts are the most polarizing of all apparel items. However, if you love wearing a skirt, check out the Skirtchaser Race Series…looks like fun!

22.Running Shoes/Socks: Running shoes are so personal the only way to really find a pair is to go to a running store and keep trying them on until you find one that feels comfortable. There are tons of shoe guides for different types of feet that are helpful in narrowing it all down. Learning about pronation and choosing a shoe that fits whether you have normal pronation, underpronation (or supination), or overpronation (or hyper-pronation) is key. Runner’s World has a good article along with videos on pronation here. I have changed my shoe once. I alternate pairs of three for marathon training (it used to be two but with my foot issues, it’s now three). Here’s Runner’s World’s “Spring 2009 Running Shoe Guide”. The Asics Gel Kayano 15’s are the “Editor’s Choice” winners and also the shoes I use. A few other quick tips:

  • Measure your feet: As you age, your foot size may gradually change. Make sure salesperson measures your foot while you are standing up
  • Shop later in day: As the day goes on, you feet get slightly larger.
  • Orthotics and socks: Wear socks you use and bring orthotics to store when trying out shoes. Find “dry-wick” type of socks instead of cotton.
  • Check wear: Most shoes give you between 300 – 500 miles of running. Keep track of the miles (see #24- Running Log). Replacing shoes can avoid unnecessary injuries. Check for wear on soles and inside the shoe as well.
  • Local running store: Find a good store that specializes in running shoes. Bring in your old shoes when looking for new ones. A good running shoe specialist should be able to look at old shoe and note the wear/fit when choosing a proper new shoe. As about return policy, many stores will let you run in the shoes and return them if they cause problems. Once you’ve found the shoes that work for you, you may be able to find the shoes again on-line at places like Runners Warehouse (a bold pace readers get 15% off), Overstock, or Holabird Sports.
  • Break in the shoe: Don’t wear a new shoe to a marathon, be sure you have had time to break it in. However, when buying a new shoe, it should feel good when you are trying it on.
  • Thumb-width: Have a thumb width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I wear a 1/2 size bigger to make sure I have room in the toe box.
  • Get medical advice: If you have a persistent problem with your feet, get the advice of a medical professional. Believe me, waiting for a foot to heal can be agonizing. Don’t make it take any longer by waiting to get help.

Here’s a great video from Howcast that covers many of these tips: “How to Choose a Running Shoe”

23. Orthotics: I overpronate and could not live without these. If you have foot issues (plantar fasciitis, heal spurs, significant overpronation or underpronation, etc.), I’d recommend seeing a sports doc to consider orthotics as your new sole-mates:)

24.Running Log: Memory is not one of my strongest assets, so having a log to record my training keeps track of: weekly mileage, meals, shoe purchases (so I know when to retire shoes), favorite routes/runs, etc.

25. Running Watch/GPS: At heart, I am more of a zen runner (would rather not wear a watch or calculate each mile’s pace…just run), but the NYC marathon last year changed that for me. I went out too fast and had a hard time at the end. I now wear one again. There are great watches and GPS devices (see article from NY Times) that make it easy to calculate pace/time/distance. Another option in a marathon is to make use of “pacers” at a race…here’s Clif Bar’s Marathon Pace Team info.

26. Running Bag: See “What’s in your Running Bag? 10 Essential Items for Taking your Run on the Road”

27. Chaffing: Avoid blisters, use BodyGlide, Vaseline or new Asics Chafe Free. Apply anywhere that rubs…feet, nipples, etc. For more on Asics, see “The End of Run Chaffing?”

28. iPods: The must have for runners (even if you need to borrow from your child). I understand why a lot of runners do not like to use during races , but if you love music, this can be a great way to relax and keep going (ipods are now allowed at some races, see post “Music to my ears”). Be sure to choose songs that work w/ your pace/BPM.

29. Reading about Running: There are so many fabulous books out there on running that are fun to read. They can motivate and excite you. We have a few posted on our Amazon Store.

Racing Tips:

30.Finding a Race: Marathon guide or Racevine can help you find a marathons and other shorter races. These sites not only list races, they rate them.

31. Racing for a Charity: Millions of dollars a year are raised by runners for charity. It can make the race more meaningful if you have someone in mind as you run the miles. Supporting a good cause can also be a way into a sold-out race.

32.Women only Races: More magazine’s Marathon/Half-Marathon (they have the best expo), Zooma Women’s Race Series, Nike Women’s Marathon and See Jane Run are just a few of the women only races out there. They are fun, lively and a bit more polite then the co-ed races:)

33.Pace your Race: It is helpful to know your race goal and have the mile split times easily accessible. PaceTat is a durable, lightweight (actually weightless), and unobtrusive way to keep track of your pace while racing. These are simple transfers that you apply before you race and shows your mile split goals in clear large font. Brilliant idea, and only $2.00 – $2.99 per transfer. Or go the simple and FREE route w/ this tool from Clif Bar.

34.Speed at 40/Beating your PR:There have been numerous articles about how women are older women are getting faster and staying there (see ABC News article on Yale University Study). As we gain experience, we become more efficient runners. We know to run the tangents, prepare properly, and read tips like many we have listed here. We also have more time to train as our children get older.

35.Qualifying for Boston/The Boston Times: Boston is a great, tough race. It is an honor to run it. This is not one to be missed if you qualify. See some of our posts about the Boston Marathon. Check out the “Boston Marathon Qualifying Times.

36. The Race Day Survival Kit: You don’t want any last minute surprises on race day. Having a race day kit can help you to know you are prepared and keep you focused on the race. Assuming you already are wearing your clothes, shoes, have your watch, etc…there are still some items you need. There are two options… you can use a “check-in bag” where you have to wait in-line to get a claim ticket or use a “disposable bag” that has just the essentials and can be tossed. Here are checklists for both:

Check-in Bag:

  • ____Extra Clothes: Nice to have a spare top, shorts, and socks to change into after the race.
  • ____Sunglasses and sunscreen: If it’s a hot and sunny day, you’ll be glad you have these.
  • ____Towel: There may be a shower at the end of the race, but even if not, nice to have to towel off.
  • ____Phone: To contact friends after race
  • ____Money: For any emergency needs
  • ____Pre-race food and fluids
  • ____Post-race food and fluids
  • ____Race Number (if already have) and safety pins: Bring a few extra and you’ll make lots of friends:)
  • ____Race Chip (if already have)
  • ____Course map/Race instructions
  • ____Band-aids/Athletic Tape/First aid
  • ____BodyGlide/Vaseline/Chafe Free
  • ____Deodorant
  • ____Large garbage bag: Helpful if windy or raining before the race or just to sit on.
  • ____Wipes: Useful for nasty porta-potty
  • ____Magazine: Nice to catch up on Vanity Fair while waiting in line for race to start:)
  • ____Extra Goo packets: Use safety pin to keep a couple with you for during the race.

Disposable Bag:

  • ____Pre-race food and fluids
  • ____Wipes: Useful for nasty porta-potty
  • ____Throwaway old clothes: Sweatshirt or long-sleeve shirt. Most races donate discarded clothes to charity.
  • ____Race Number (if already have) and safety pins: Bring a few extra and you’ll make lots of friends:)
  • ____Race Chip (if already have)
  • ____Magazine: Nice to catch up on Vanity Fair while waiting in line for start:) Put in garbage before start.
  • ____Large garbage bag: Helpful if windy or raining before the race or just to sit on.
  • ____Extra Goo packets: Use safety pin to keep a couple with you for during the race

The Running Psyche Tips:

37. Making time for yourself: Running = sanity. Alone or with friends it has fantastic therapeutic results that last all day. I find doing it early in the morning is best as I know I’ll get my run in and “life stuff” during the day will not get in the way.

38.The Running Group: One of my LDFs and I always joke how we are going to write a book about the nuances of our running group. Finding friends to share running with is a wonderful thing and helps you to stay motivated and enjoy the company along with the run.

39. Running Websites/Blogs: There is so much on the web now that you can tap into for running advice, training, support…see our blogroll. It’s a great time to be a runner. If you’re not getting automatic e-mail updates from a bold pace, don’t miss out! Or if you prefer, get our RSS feed.

40. Going beyond your limits: I have to add this because it is the reason I give my son every time he asks why I run…”running for me is about going beyond the limits I have of myself in my mind”. He’s very logical and always answers…”limits are definitive–you can’t go beyond them”…I keep trying to prove him wrong.

Perhaps it is the fresh air or the hours of laboring over one subject with LDFs but from running has come some profound realizations. My LDF Heidi and I have decided that everything our children need to know about life we can relate to running. A life manual in the making perhaps? There is always “One for the THE Book…” decided on a run.

 

Signs That You Need New Running Shoes

The running shoe model needs to be fixed. Pronation, motion control, cushioning, and stability shoes? Get rid of them all.

It’s not just barefoot running and minimalism versus running shoes, the either/or situation many portray it to be. It’s much deeper than that. It’s not even that running shoe companies are evil and out to make a profit. Shoe companies may be accomplishing the goals they set out for, but maybe the goals their aiming for are not what need to be done. The paradigm that running shoes are built upon is the problem.

Running shoes are built upon two central premises, impact forces and pronation. Their goals are simple, limit impact forces and prevent overprontation. This has led to a classification system based on cushioning, stability, and motion control. The problem is that this system may not have any ground to stand on. Have we been focused on the wrong things for 40+years?

I’ll start with the customary statistic of 33-56% of runners get injured every year (Bruggerman, 2007). That is kind of mind blowing when you think about it. Since there are a ton of injuries going on, let’s look at what shoes are supposed to do.

Pronation:

As said earlier, shoes are built upon the premise that impact forces and pronation are what cause injuries. Pronation, in particular has been constructed as the bane of all runners. We have become inundated with limiting pronation via motion control shoes. The central idea behind pronation is that overpronating causes rotation of the lower leg(i.e. ankle,tibia, knee) putting stress on the joints and therefore leading to injuries. Running shoes are therefore designed to limit this pronation. Essentially, running shoes are developed and designed to put the body in “proper” alignment. But do we really need proper alignment?

This paradigm on pronation relies on two main things: (1)over pronation causes injuries and (2) running shoes can alter pronation.

Looking at the first premise, we can see several studies that do not show a link between pronation and injuries. In an epidemiological study by Wen et al. (1997), he found that lower extremitly alignment was not a major risk factor for marathon runners. In another study by Wen et al. (1998), this time a prospective study, he concluded that ” Minor variations in lower extremity alignment do not appear conclusively to be major risk factors for overuse injuries in runners.” Other studies have reached similar conclusions. One by Nigg et al. (2000) showed that foot and ankle movement did not predict injuries in a large group of runners.

If foot movement/pronation does not predict injuries or is not a risk factor for injuries, then one has to question whether the concept is sound or working…

Looking at the second premise, do shoes even modify pronation? Motion control shoes are designed to decrease pronation through a variety of mechanisms. Most choose to insert a medial post or a similar device. In a study by Stacoff (2001), they tested several motion control shoe devices and found that they did not alter pronation and did not change the kinematics of the tibia or calcaneus bones either. Similarly, another study by Butler (2007) found that motion control shoes showed no difference in peak pronation when compared to cushioning shoes. Lastly, Dixon (2007) found similar results showing that motion control shoes did not reduce peak eversion (pronation) and didn’t change the concentration of pressure.

This is sort of a double whammy on motion control shoes. If excessive pronation does not cause injuries to the degree that everyone thinks, and if motion control shoes don’t even alter pronation, what’s the point of a motion control shoe?

Cushioning:

Impact forces are the other major scoundrel of running injuries. The thinking goes like this, the greater the impact force on the lower the leg, the greater stress the foot/leg takes, which could potentially lead to injuries. To combat this fear, running shoes, particular cushioning ones, are to the rescue. Let’s take a look.

The first question is, do cushioning shoes do their job?

Wegener(2008) tested out the Asics Gel-Nimbus and the Brooks Glycerin to see if they reduced plantar pressure. They found that the shoes did their job!….But where it reduced pressure varied highly. Meaning that pressure reduction varied between forefoot/rearfoot/etc. This led to the interesting conclusion that their should be a shift in prescribing shoes to one based on where plantar pressure is highest for that individual person. It should be noted that this reduction in pressure was based on a comparison to another shoe, a tennis shoe. I’m not sure that this is a good control. Basically, this study tells us that cushioned running shoes decrease peak pressure when compared to a Tennis shoe.

In a review on the subject, Nigg (2000) found that both external and internal impact force peaks were not or barely influenced by the running shoes midsole. This means that the cushioning type does not change impact forces much, if at all. But how can this be? I mean it’s common sense if you jumped on concrete vs. jumped on a shoe foam like surface, the shoe surface is softer right? We’ll come back to this question in a minute.

Impact Forces: The picture gets cloudier:

But it’s not as simple as described above. In an interesting study by Scott (1990) they looked at peak loads on the various sites of likely injury for runners (Achilles, knee, etc.). All peak loads occurred during mid-stance and push off. This led to an important finding that “the impact force at heel contact was estimated to have no effect on the peak force seen at the chronic injury sites,” and led to speculation that impact force did not relate injury development.

Further complicating the impact force idea is that when looking at injury rates of those running on hard surfaces or soft surfaces, there appears to be no protective benefit of running on soft surfaces. Why is this? Because of something called pre-activation and muscle tuning which will be discussed below.

Supporting this data, other studies have shown that people who have a low peak impact have the same likelihood of getting injured as those with a high peak impact force (Nigg, 1997). If you want to complicate things even further, impact seems to be the driving force between increased bone density.

As a coach or trainer this should make sense. The bone responds to the stimulus by becoming more resistant to it, IF the stimulus is not too large and there is enough recovery.

Underestimating our Body: Impact forces as feedback:

Back to the question I asked earlier: How can impact forces not change based on shoe sole softness and why isn’t running on hard surfaces lead to more injuries?

The problem is, once again, we underestimate the human body! It’s an amazing thing, and we never give it the credit it deserves. The body adapts to the surface that it’s going to strike, if you give it a chance. The body adapts to both shoe and surface adjusting impact forces via changes joint stiffness, the way the foot strikes, and a concept called muscle tuning.

An example of this can be seen with barefoot running, the diminished proprioception (sensory feedback) of wearing a shoe negates the cushioning of the shoe. Studies using minimal shoes/barefoot have shown that the body seems to adapt the impact forces/landing based on feedback and feedforward data. When running or landing from a jump, the body takes in all the sensory info, plus prior experiences, and adjusts to protect itself/land optimally As mentioned above, it does this through a variety of mechanisms. Thus, you stick some cushioned running shoe on the bottom of your foot and the body goes “Oh, we’re okay, we don’t need to worry about impact as much, we’ve got this soft piece of junk on our foot.

One concept that needs to be further discussed is muscle tuning. It’s a concept recently proposed by Nigg et al. in 2000. He sees impact force as a signal or a source of feedback, as I stated earlier. The body then uses this information and adjusts accordingly to minimize soft tissue vibration and/or bone vibration. His contention is that impact force is not the problem, but rather the signal. Muscle tuning is essentially controlling these vibrations via a variety of methods. One potential mechanism is pre-activation. Pre-activation is activation of the muscles prior to impact. In this case it serves as a way of muscle tuning to prepare for impact and in addition can alter muscle stiffness, which is another way to prepare for impact. Pre-activation has been established with multiple EMG studies.

Shoes not only impact this, but surface type does too. As mentioned previously, the change in running surface did not impact injury rates. Why? Probably because the body adapts to running surface. In an interesting study measuring muscle activity, O’Flynn(1996) found that pre-activation changed based on surface. To prepare for impact, and presumably to minimize muscle/bone vibration, when running on concrete pre-activation was very high, when running on a soft track, not so much.

What all of this means is that the body adapts via sensory input. It has several different adaptation methods. A shoe influences how it adapts. The shoe is not doing anything to alter cushioning, it is simply altering how the body responds to impact. It’s a significant mindset jump if you think about it. Here’s the summary: The type of shoe and material of the shoe changes impact NOT because of alignment of the lower leg or because of changes in cushioning. Instead it changes impact characteristics because it alters the sensory feedback.

In conclusion on the cushioning concept. Well, what are we trying to cushion? Heel impact forces have not been shown to relate to injuries, in fact in one study low impact runners had a 30% injury rate compared to a 20% injury rate in high impact runners. Shoe midsoles do not change, or marginally change impact forces anyway. So, not only may cushioning not be the answer, the shoes might not even be doing their job. But what about those shoe cushioning studies showing improved cushioning with their new midsole?! Well, the majority of that testing is done by using a machine to simulate the impact forces that you experience during running. That means, yes it may cushion an impact more, but it doesn’t take into account the role of the body adjusting impact based on feedback.

The reason cushioning doesn’t work? Because the body adapts based on feedback and feedforward information. These results prompted one notable researcher(Nigg,2000) to call for the reconsideration of the cushioning paradigm for running shoes.

Barefoot running?

Quickly, this topic could not be complete without a brief mention of barefoot running. An interesting thing to note is that the initial peak impact force is absent in barefoot running when compared to running with shoes. What this means is that, the impact forces look like (A) for shoes and (B) for barefoot. That initial little blip in A is the initial impact force. There is a hypothesis that this initial impact force is related to injuries.

A recent study by Squadrone et al.(2009) compared running shoes, barefoot running, and running in Vibram Five Fingers. They demonstrated reduced impact forces, shorter ground contact and stride length, but increased stride frequency while running barefoot (and in Vibrams) as compared to running with shoes. This is not unexpected, but shows that running shoes do in fact alter our normal strides. An interesting point is the reduction in stride length but increase in stride frequency. Shoes tend to promote this longer stride at a consequence of ground contact times and frequency. This happens because of changes in feedback signaling, increased likelihood to land on heel stretched out, increased weight, all of which lead to longer times on the ground. It’s interesting to note that elite runners all have short ground contacts and high frequencies (as demonstrated by the often quoted Daniels study of 180 strides per minute).

Tying this to the discussion above on the body controlling things based on sensory information, when running barefoot, there is a higher degree of stiffness in the lower leg. Increased stiffness can result in an increased SSC (stretch shortening cycle) response, resulting in greater force on the subsequent push off (2001). Dalleau et al. demonstrated that pre-activation causing increased stiffness improved Running Economy. In his study, the energy cost of running was related to the stiffness of the lower leg (1998)

Another recent study found that knee flexion torque, knee varus torque, and hip internal rotation torque all were significantly greater in shoes compared to barefoot. What does all of this mean? Potentially, this means more stress on the joints in this area. Jay Dicharry put it best when he said:

“The soft materials in modern running shoes allow a contact style that you would not use barefoot. The foot no longer gets the proprioceptive cues that it gets unshod. The foot naturally accommodates to surfaces rapidly, but a midsole can impair the foot’s ability to react to the ground. This can mute or alter feedback the body gets while running. These factors allow a runner to adopt a gait that causes the elevated forces observed above.”

The one thing that non-barefoot/heel strike proponents use to dismiss midfoot striking/barefoot running is the Achilles tendon. They say, correctly, that the load on the Achilles is higher in midfoot striking runners. The Achilles is meant to take a large load. The problem is we’ve weakened the Achilles through years of wearing shoes with their elevated heels. Essentially, we’ve created the Achilles problem with the shoes meant to prevent it. The Achilles is designed to operate in a rubber band like fashion.. During impact such as the braking or contact phase of running, the achilles tendon stores energy and then subsequent releases that energy via recoil during the take off phase of running. The Achilles, can store and return approximately 35% of its kinetic energy (Ker, 1987). Without this elastic storage and return, the oxygen uptake required would be 30-40% higher! So, in terms of performance why are we trying to minimize the tendonous contribution? It’s like giving away free energy.

Running shoes do not utilize the elastic storage and return as well as barefoot or minimal shoes. More energy is lost with shoes than with barefoot running (Alexander and Bennett, 1989). In addition, in some models of shoes, the arch is not allowed to function like a spring. The arch of the foot can store around 17% of kinetic energy (Ker, 1987). Given these results, its not surprising that running barefoot when compared to running with shoes is more efficient. Several studies have shown a decreased VO2 at the same pace with barefoot running, even when weight is taken into account. This should be no surprise as I mentioned above, without elastic recoil VO2 requirement would be 30-40% higher. Running in a minimal shoe allows for better utilization of this system.

So, the take away message is that shoes change natural mechanics to one that creates mechanical changes that are not optimal for running fast (decreased stride frequency, increased ground contact, decreased stiffness of the system, decreased elastic contribution, and on and on).

Tying it together with elites:

Looking at elite athletes, when racing and training, they generally have higher turnover, minimal ground contact time, and a foot strike that is under their center of gravity. Since the majority of elites exhibit these same characteristics while racing, it makes sense that this is the optimal way to run fast. So, why are we wearing footwear that is designed to increase ground contact, decrease turnover, and promote footstrike out in front of the center of gravity? I have no idea.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I’m not some fanatic saying everyone ditch shoes now. Chances are you’ve been running in shoes for 20+ years. Your bodies done some adapting during that time. You’ve got to gradually change if you want to undue some of the changes.

The purpose of this article wasn’t to talk about the benefits of barefoot running. Instead it was to point out the problems with Running Shoe classification. It’s based on a cushioning/pronation paradigm that simply is not as true as they want us to believe. That paradigm needs to be reevaluated. It’s not founded on good science but rather initial ideas that made sense with no science behind them, but upon further review may not stand up to testing. A recent study found that using the good old shoe classification system that everyone uses, had little influence on injury prevention in a large group of Army Basic Training participants (Knapik, 2009). They concluded that selecting shoes based on arch height (like all major running magazines suggest) is not necessary if injury prevention is the goal. I guess that means the systems broken…

Where do we go and how do we fix it? I have no idea. Sorry, no genius answers here. My inclination is that we aim for letting the foot function how it is meant to function, or at least come up with some shoe that may alter foot mechanics but while still allowing feedback/functionality of the body. The first step is looking at the foundation on which running shoes are built upon, the motion control, stability, and cushioning paradigm. My take is that it needs to be reevaluated. I’m going to end with something I’ve already said, but it’s an important concept to get across:

The body is more complicated and smarter than we give it credit. The type of shoe and material of the shoe changes impact or stride characteristics NOT because of alignment of the lower leg or because of changes in cushioning. Instead it changes impact and stride characteristics because it alters the sensory feedback. The brain is a wonderful thing.’

If you found this article to be informative, I’d appreciate it If you passed it along. The goal is to get research based data out there so people can be well informed.

 

Tips To Increase Your Distance

So maybe you’re running for fitness or weight loss and logging 5 km or so 2-4 times per week. Then you wake up one day and decide, ‘Maybe I should run longer. I’ve always wanted to take on a 10 km run, or maybe even a half marathon.’ But there’s one problem: you don’t know how to safely increase your distance.

The first thing you should know is that it’s relatively easy to run longer distance, but you do need to know a few things. Increasing distance is a common cause of running injury but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of coming up hurt. I’ll cover some of those below.

Get Outside

If you’re currently running exclusively indoors on a treadmill or indoor track, plan to take your runs outside. For one thing, long duration treadmill runs are boring. The only time the scenery changes is when gym club members walk by or someone changes the channel on the TV.

I run outside in all seasons. You can dress for the conditions and enjoy the changing seasons, scenery and weather. The other benefit of running outdoors is that it has better health benefits that treadmill running. The changing grade, wind conditions and other elements all conspire to place added stress on the body, and it is stress that causes our bodies to grow stronger.

Schedule Your Long Low Run

Make one day a week the day when you run long distance. Many people like Saturday or Sunday morning and it becomes a ritual to head out with a group of like-minded runners aiming toward a common goal. For now, don’t try to increase the distance you run on your other runs. If you haven’t increased distance before, you will place yourself at increased risk of injury if you try increasing the distance of all your runs at the same time.

Stick to one long slow run which you can increase each week. A good rule of thumb for increasing distance is that it’s safe to increase your distance by 10-20% each week. That increase is for the total weekly mileage and/or the longest distance run. So get out your calculator and doing some figuring. Here’s an example:

You run 5 km 3 times per week for a total of 15 km. You can safely increase the distance of your long run to 6 km, which is 1 km or 20% longer than your longest run of 5 km. 1 km is only 6.7% of the weekly mileage of 15 km.

If you were thinking of running 20% longer than the weekly distance of 15, that would be 3 km added on to 5 km (for an 8 km run). That would be a 60% increase in distance. Bad idea!

Periodization

You should not try to increase distance every week for a long period of time. As you increase distance your body will adapt to the longer distances and for a while you’ll be excited as you cover new distances you’ve never run. However you will soon find that the distances become tougher and tougher. This resistance to training is a normal response by the body to continually increasing stress.

Periodization is a training method used by many athletes to overcome this resistance. The way it is done is to back off the training intensity – in this case running distance – every 4-5 weeks. So you would increase the distance of your long run every week for 3 or 4 weeks, then in the 4th or 5th week, you reduce the long run to a distance shorter than the previous week. The week after periodization, you continue increasing distance in line with the 10-20% rule. This will prevent the body from resisting training.

Consider a Goal-Specific Running Program

If you want to run farther, you might have a specific distance or perhaps a specific race in mind. There are running programs available that can take you from wherever you are to achieve your goal. A good program will be tailored for a certain starting point such as ‘able to run 10K.’ A good program will include a number of different training elements such as the long slow run, interval training, tempo runs and hill training. Each of these training elements conditions the body and its muscles a little differently. I liken it to baking a cake. You can’t make a cake (at least not one you’d like to eat) with flour alone. It takes a number of different ingredients assembled together to get the right results. Similarly, training for a specific distance or event should incorporate different elements in order to produce the right results.

Add Cross-Training to Your Program

Cross-training is training in any activity that is not specific to your sport – in this case running. Running can be very stressful to the body and can result in injury. Other activities such as swimming, cross-country skiing, bicycling, weight training or aerobics can be inserted into your training schedule instead of running. One benefit of this is that you may be able to increase the distance you run in other runs because you are dropping mileage. Another benefit is that you will actually strengthen muscles and tissues that will enhance your running performance. Cross-training can greatly enhance your running performance.

Check Out Your Running Shoes

Those shoes that have so faithfully served you for your short distance runs might not be up to the task of running longer distances. Sadly, you may need to buy some new or different shoes that will help you be successful as you crank up the mileage. You see, those shoes that work well for short distances might not provide adequate support because longer duration runs will tire out the muscles that support and protect you from injury. And avoiding injury is the name of the game.

So make your way to your local specialty running store and tell them what you’re up to. How much mileage you’re currently running each week, how far you intend to go. Take your old shoes so they can look at the wear patterns. You may be fine but you may wind up in a different shoe to support your new running goals. Besides, shouldn’t you reward yourself with a new pair of shoes to celebrate taking on this new challenge of running longer distance?

Increasing distance is a great way for runners to achieve more from their training. By approaching it with the right knowledge and skills, you can achieve great goals without injury.

 

Benefit of Barefoot Running

* Even if you do not jog or run, read on.

“When you run on the earth, and run with the earth, you can run forever ” -Tarahumara Indians

The more expensive your runners… the more likely you are to get leg injuries! It’s true, the multimillion dollar industry around the technology and science of creating running shoes is a farce. About a year ago, I had this intuitive feeling to start walking and running on soft grass. Instead of pounding the pavement in my runners and gradually sensing that my knees and joints were getting sorer, I started to take my shoes and socks off and start jogging on a grass oval near where I live. It was absolutely wonderful. Occasionally there would be some overnight rain, so the grass was slightly damp. I can’t begin to tell you how much more invigorating, energising and rejuvenating the whole experience was. More importantly, running bare foot actually felt more natural, and somehow more efficient and ‘less’ jarring on my body. After some ‘early-days’ testing I’m sure I’m running faster with less effort too.

After writing about the Tarahumara Indians in my first book, I came to know that they used to run in excess of 100 miles through the mountainous Copper Canyons of Mexico with nothing more than thin rubber-soled, home-made sandals. And I used to laugh watching videotapes of them shuffling along while beating some of the best elite ultramarathon runners from North America.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I have just recently finished reading one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s called ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher MacDougall(1). He is a US journalist with quite a high profile as a contributing editor for Men’s Health magazine and writing for prominent publications such as Esquire and the New York Times. The book outlines in detail how the human body was designed for running, and how to a large extent, the huge number of running related injuries we see in the modern world are not because running is bad for us. They are almost entirely on the incorrect way we run and most significantly… modern running shoes.

McDougall cites a multitude of scientific research studies, biomechanical analysis and expert opinions, to show that the more high-tech, expensive and ‘supportive’ our running shoes are, the more likely we are to get injured. This is due to the basic myth, that having running shoes or expensive orthotics, artificially supporting or propping up our feet is a good thing. Like anything where we artificially ‘prop up’ the body, and stop it from doing what it is designed to do naturally, the structures involved actually become ‘weaker’. Overtime, as the strength in the surrounding bones, ligaments and muscles become weaker, they are more likely to get injured. This is why about 75% of serious runners have some sort of leg injury each year.

A Glimpse of ‘Born to Run’

Here are some quotes and wisdoms from McDougall’s great book (though you’ll want to get it yourself if you like or have ever wanted to jog/run).

For millions of years, humans ran without arch support, pronation control or gel filled pads under their heels.” McDougall

Leonardo da Vinci considered the human foot, with its fantastic weight suspension system comprising one quarter of all the bones in the human body, ‘a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art’.

Abebe Bikila – an Ethiopian Marathoner ran barefoot over the cobblestones of Rome to win the 1960 Olympic marathon.

“Shoes block pain, not impact. Pain teaches us to run comfortably. From the moment you go barefoot you will change the way you run”. Barefoot Ken Bob

“Covering your feet with cushioned shoes is like turning off your smoke alarms” – Barefoot Ted

“Bricolage – the concept of ‘less is more’ or that the best solution is also the most elegant. Why add something if you’re born with everything you need?” Barefoot Ted

“A lot of foot and knee injuries that are currently playing us are actually caused by people running in shoes that make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate, and give us knee problems.

In 1992 when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people had very strong feet and a much lower incidence of knee injuries.” Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University.

“I believe that when my runners train barefoot, they run faster and suffer fewer injuries.” Stanford University head coach Vin Lananna

“There is no evidence that running shoes are any help at all in injury prevention.” – McDougall

In 2008 research paper for the British Journal of sports medicine, Dr. Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed that there are no evidence-based studies – not one – that demonstrate that running shoes make you less prone to injury.

“No stonemason worth his trowl would ever stick a support under an arch; push up from underneath, and you weaken the whole structure.” Gerard Hartman, Physical therapist for many of the world’s greatest distance runners.

“The foot is supposed to pronate.” Hartman (i.e. it’s perfectly natural!)

“Putting your feet in shoes is similar to putting them in a plaster cast” Hartman

“Painful truth No1. – The Best Shoes are the Worst” – McDougall

In the early 2000, Nike did their own research on barefoot running, and were astounded by the results. They quickly and subsequently shifted into finding a way to make money out of running barefoot. Two years later they launched worldwide TV ads showing barefoot athletes – from Kenyan marathon runners to Brazilian dancers, rock climbers and karate masters. The messages flashing across the screen were “Your feet are your foundation. Wake them up! Make them strong! Connect with the ground… Natural technology allows natural motion… Power to your feet.” Across the sole of a barefoot is the written, ‘Performance Starts Here’. And it all ends with the final slogan… ‘Run barefoot’.

And my two favourite quotes of all…

“The best runner leaves no tracks.” – Tao Te Ching

“You don’t stop running because you get older, you get old because you stop running.”

In a Nutshell

Interestingly, primitive cultures that haven’t had any type of modern running shoes, and instead have relied on the infinite wisdom of Mother Nature in designing the human foot, can run for many miles every day for their whole lives, and never, ever have one injury.

Why? Because our feet are exquisitely designed by the master creator herself. Over a quarter of the bones in our bodies are in our feet. When we land on our mid-foot (rather than that heel), which we tend to do when we wear ‘cushioned’ runners – because we know that the running shoes are going to cushion us – the weight of the body and the force it generates on the lower legs gets displaced.

Without the cushioning of expensive running shoes, instead of thrusting our front leg too far in front of us and thus impacting our lower body with a force of 12 times our body weight, we actually start running in a more ‘natural’ manner. The feet tend to skim closer to the ground, landing softer and on the middle and/or the balls of the foot. This utilises the unique design of the foot to displace the force more efficiently, taking the stress off the feet and lower legs.

Not only that, but this way of running also strengthens one’s feet, ankles and legs, thus minimising the risk of injury long-term. It is also far more efficient. If you start doing it for a few weeks, you will likely find that you can run just as quick as you previously did but with much less effort. *

What if you can’t run on grass?

No problem. Many people don’t have a nice lush, safe patch of grass to run on. Basically, there’s two options.

Option 1: What MacDougall and I recommend, is that you just purchase yourself a basic (and cheap) pair of runners. The cheaper, and the less shock absorption and support they have, the better. They will make you run more naturally, make your feet work as they were designed, and over time strengthen your feet, ankles and legs.* While the famous ‘Dunlop volleys’ are a bit of a source of derision and laughter these days, they are actually a great pair of runners to purchase. I bought a pair myself a few months ago for $17 at Target. They’re fantastic… and what a fashion accessory! I get some great looks at the gym from both guys & girls!

My ‘Stunning’ Barefoot Runners – I Get Some Great looks!!!

Option 2: The other option is to buy yourself a pair of ‘barefoot runners’. Yes, even the biggest manufacturers of running shoes in the world, including Nike, now admit that their most expensive runners are often the key cause of injuries. There are many brands of barefoot runners out there these days. I bought myself a pair of ‘Vibram five fingers’ (see left). These are probably the best known but you could Google ‘barefoot running’ or ‘barefoot running shoes’ and be able to get a cheaper pair somewhere.

* IMPORTANT NOTE: This should be done very gradually to avoid injury, see suggestions below. Suggestions for YOU:

    • Even if you just like to walk walk, rather than jogging or running, wherever possible, take your shoes and socks off and go barefoot (obviously, only if it is 100% safe to do so). Doing so on slightly wet grass is even better. (You get the benefits of the ancient practice of ‘earthing’ yourself also).

 

    • If you are a jogger or runner, especially if you usually jog on a gymnasium treadmill or on hard services, look to purchase yourself some ‘barefoot runners’ or some cheap runners (e.g. Dunlop volleys) with minimal support/shock absorption. Once done, gradually progress from walking, to a very slow shuffle to jogging over a period of ‘WEEKS’. Once again, this should be done very gradually and with the correct running technique (see 3.) to avoid injury!

 

    • Although I am suggesting it is better long-term to walk or jog either barefoot on soft surfaces, or with minimal support on harder surfaces, this. You MUST run biomechanically correctly. This includes having your body upright, back straight, head up, and hips aligned. Your feet skim close to the ground, your stride length should be much shorter (quicker is OK) and you should have a softish foot landing around the mid-foot. As your body will be unused to this way of moving, you MUST start off very slowly and build up very gradually. I would suggest just walking for a week or two, then doing short five-minute shuffles for another week. Then just build-up 5 or 10 minutes per week. I.e. this is a very gradual transition to a different form of jogging/running.

 

    • Please do not just rush out and start running around barefoot, as you will more likely do yourself injury or harm.

 

    • Jog on soft (dewy) grass – without prickles or bindies! Arghh! – where possible. This is beautiful!

 

    • Generally, try to avoid this (or any type of running) on really hard surfaces such as concrete. If running on such surfaces you might still want to use some more ‘cushioned’ support, make 100% sure you are running with the proper technique (landing ‘lightly’) or just try and avoid it altogether.Note; When running on hard surfaces such as concrete or pavement, I usually wear ‘normal’ running shoes (nothing high-tech, but something with a bit of padding). Whenever I run on grass, I run barefoot and whenever I am on a gym treadmill, dirt track, running or walking track etc, I’ll generally wear my Vibram five fingers. Regardless of the surface however, I try to run with the technique described above so that even on hard surfaces it doesn’t exacerbate potential problems (having some slightly dodgy/arthritic knees due to my years of football and heavy leg weights etc, I’m conscious of not trying to aggravate these further – but this may not apply to you).

 

    • For further information on all the scientific evidence, world leading expert opinions, and anecdotes of the world’s greatest runners who don’t wear modern running shoes and never get injured, or if you are just really into running, get yourself a copy of ‘Born to Run'(1). It’s a great read.

 

  • Get back to nature, and experience how walking and running were designed to be. It could truly revolutionise the way you think about jogging and exercise. You might even find it enjoyable, if not exhilarating. Seriously! Enjoy.

 

How To Running Faster

Wanting to be a good runner, lose weight or dreaming of crossing the finish line in a new record time means nothing unless you have the motivation to make it a reality.

The truth is, far too many highly qualified, deserving people don’t achieve what it was they were setting out for simply because they stopped trying just a few days, weeks or years from creating a masterpiece effort.

Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, Ryan Hall, to name a few, did not get the way they are without extreme amounts of hard work and dedication; yet they are looked on as if they are on another level, they are for a reason.

Now, you may be saying, ‘I’m not interested in being an elite athlete’.

There is nothing wrong with that mindset but what I do want for you is to help motivate you to see your true potential become a reality in your life.

This is a tough sport, results come sometimes years down the line. How much are you willing to take to see your goal, whatever that may be, come to fruition?

Running fast is an art and what is beautiful about this sport is everyone is an artist and can express themselves in their own way.

No one in a world of over 7 billion people can run, think and act like you.

You are special, you matter, you are an artist.

1. Persist

There is nothing more attractive than a disciplined individual who has the willingness to persist in the fact of setbacks. You will learn about yourself and often times you will find just how much potential you truly have by persisting when others let up.

Persistent athletes run faster because they have studied what does and doesn’t work in training. If you truly want to run faster than you have to be persistent.

Easy running will never challenge you. Your body adapts to the stress you place on it, if that stress is too minimal there will be no physical gains from that work.

You can’t drop 5 minutes off your half-marathon time by running relaxed miles everyday.

2. Care

Care about your craft. Running faster can be done by anyone who realizes this simple fact, anyone can run easy.

It takes skill to run fast and you have the potential to improve just as much as any elite runner anywhere in the world, but to be great at what you do in this sport demands you care more than the next guy or gal down the street.

Nothing can take the place of caring about your art (your goals).

How much you care will be clearly evident in the way you prepare for your races and the end result the moment you cross the finish line. Care more about seeing yourself succeed and you will run faster because you are paying attention to the little things that matter most in your training.

Diet, sleep, motivation are three you can work on.

3. Visit R.D.A.

I don’t want ‘fans’.

Fans are for superstars and I am not one of them.

If you want to feel like a part of a running family and interact with other runners who can help you run faster by their input than I encourage you to stop in and send a hello.

Running faster also occurs when you learn from others who may have done things you currently are dreaming about doing. Find out how they did it and adjust your training to create a similar or better result.

4. Relax

The first muscles of the body that usually tense up first are the facial and shoulder muscles.

You can easily stop this from happening simply by consciously using powerful words as your running such as ‘relax’, ‘smooth and powerful’..whatever you need to do to relax, do it.

You can run faster in your training and racing, simply by learning how to practice running more relaxed.

Too much wasted energy leads to stress, re-direct elsewhere where it counts and you will run faster.

5. Fight The Urge To Run Too Fast, Too Early In Your Races

It doesn’t matter where you are at in the first mile of your 5K, where are you at in the last half-mile?

If you have done your homework in training than you don’t need to concern yourself over the fact that you aren’t in the lead or even on pace the first few miles of your race.

What matters is are you able to react and speed up when the others who weren’t as wise and patient as you were, are slowing in the race.

It isn’t where you are at in the beginning of the race but at the end.

6. Implement Fartlek Running Into Your Training Regiment

One of the easiest ways to make training interesting and break up the monotony of the usual routine.

How many times have we been races, someone passes us and we can’t do anything about it.

It doesn’t have to be this way and if it happens to you or has in the past than implementing fartlek workouts into your training can be your secret weapon.

You want to be able to react when someone passes you or speed up at will, many times speeding up is easier than maintaining the same pace. Far too often we fail to realize that we have far more energy reserves but we get stuck in the same pace and think that is all we have.

If we can sprint at the end of the race when 10 miles earlier we think we are about to pass out is a great indication that we are not using our full potential.

It should also show us that we really have far more in us and how mental this sport is.

We can’t react because we haven’t trained body’s energy systems properly.

Using fat as your main fuel source at race speeds takes high-end, consistent hard work to become a reality

It doesn’t happen by running easy daily, staying in the comfort zone. It happens when you push your body like the great runners do.

Conserving carbohydrates so you don’t experience the ‘wall’ is what occurs when you learn to run longer periods of time at higher heart rates.

7. Lose weight

Studies have shown that weight loss can take off an average of 2 seconds per mile off of your race time.

8. Focus On Your Form

If you feel like your shoulders are riding up too high, lower them. Simple as that.

You usually don’t run into issues like this unless you are racing or doing a hard tempo run but you can easily adjust this in training.

The time to practice running relaxed and focusing on proper form is in training, so that come race day any issues can be instantly corrected while racing.

9. Get Out Of The Comfort Zone

It is a dangerous place that doesn’t take you to new heights, help you reach your capability. Steven Pressfield, calls it the Resistance in his book ‘Do The Work’.

All of our lives since we were young we are taught not to question, to adhere, follow the rules.

You and I are here for too short of a time to comply.

You need to start dreaming bigger, thinking higher of yourself and start working your ass off to see your dreams become a reality.

Why?

It may sound harsh but the majority of people simply won’t give a shit if you are trying to not.

I do cause I understand what this sport entails.

I know what you are dealing with but the people who tell you to ‘get a life’, ‘think realistic’, ‘your putting too much emphasis here and not here where I want it to be’ won’t.

You need to get out of your comfort zone.

I am sick and tired of hearing people who have been told their whole life that they don’t have the genetics, not enough talent and the rest of the lies society likes to throw on you, on me.

Start doing something about your training. You have a great deal of potential, act on it.

10. Don’t Expect Running To Be Easy To Run Faster

One of my biggest pet peeves as an athlete is people thinking I have talent.

I don’t.

Dathan Ritzenhein has talent. I watched that kid run 15.18 on my cross-country course at Malone University.

He absolutely destroyed the field that day.

My best 5K in high school was 16.16, nearly a minute slower. He has run 2.07 to my 2.19. Big difference.

I had a Soldier come up to me a few weeks ago and say, ‘Sir (a word I don’t even like being referred by but in the military it is said out of respect), I wish I could run as fast as you.

My response?

‘Aim to be better than me. Stop looking at me as better than you because I am not’. What he, like society as a whole, sees, is the event (someone he knows who can run faster than him).

He cannot possibly have seen the last 21 years of endless, monotonous, boring miles, hard work and sacrifice, the process it has taken to run faster than he can run.

11. Inspire Someone By Your Ability

It is completely worthless for me to tell someone I am a 2.19 marathoner without first telling them that they can do equally as good if not surpass this achievement.

Helping other people is one of the most noble acts any human being can do for another.

I wish our world, media outlets and news networks would stop spending unknown amounts of money brainwashing the world that we need more wars and trying to separate the world.

Some believe in the lie. I don’t.

There is not enough love in the world. Our news networks need a story and unfortunately wars are big business but to me, it is about the least inspiring part of life.

I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a Soldier. It is a profession where you either love it or hate it. I am in the middle.

I love the people I work with and am inspired by their dedication to their job but I hate these so-called conflicts that have been created by the elite and it is the Soldier, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marine and Seaman that fights and dies for these people.

Our world economy would not be in the state it is in if we would stop wasting our precious time fighting and start uplifting and inspiring one another to do big things.

You are important.

I don’t give a damn if you are 50 pounds overweight, a 6-hour marathoner, a 30-minute 5K athlete, you matter.

You matter because you can inspire someone to get in shape, to change their lives, to make a dream they thought was impossible, possible.

How can you run faster by doing this?

You’ll run faster because you’ll be inspired by what you have done with your life.

You’ll feel a rush to do something that others thought was impossible and they, in turn, will follow suit.

That matters.

12. How Fast You Run Doesn’t Give You More Worth

I have a lot of experience in this sport but there are things I learn everyday from my readers, from the emails I receive, from interacting with other runners on different social media outlets that exceed anything I have done as an athlete.

Be motivated to run faster, let it inspire you to do great things with your physical and mental abilities but don’t forget to be humble.

There will always be someone faster somewhere in the world.

There are school children in Kenya running three times a day who have more motivation than I have. It makes me question if I am doing all I can.

I hope I run a fast enough marathon time in the near future to give up my VIP treatment to someone a major race would never pay attention to.

I promise if this happens I will hand pick one of my readers to take my place in the VIP tent, the free hotel etc.

I will work my ass off to try to make this a reality. I believe in Christ’s words that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.

13. Invest In The Process And The Event Will Be Something You Would Not Believe Was Possible If Someone Told You

The bottom line is this. Goals should not be meant to be easy.

You only have one crack at this life so you had better start thinking wild goals.

It is only you who can say ‘this is impossible’. Others may tell you your goal is impossible but it is up to you if you want to believe that or not.

You have to act on it everyday. The days you don’t want to even more.

Where is the challenge in picking easy goals.

If you are a 25.00 minute 5K runner, what inspires you to try for 24.59? How about 21.15?

What sounds more appealing, exciting, inspiring?

It could be either and sometimes trying to match what we have done in the past is extremely difficult.

I ran 2.19.35 in December of 2007 and am still trying to better that time but I know if I ran a 2.19.34 I honestly wouldn’t be that inspired.

I know 40 years from now, if I don’t push my body to its utmost limit and try for something wild like 2.15.00 at age 36 I simply won’t get anything out of it.

You have to live on the edge because the comfort zone is not your friend.

You and I are not guaranteed tomorrow, start stretching your limits out on the roads and tracks.

I hate every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion‘- Muhammad Ali

14. Change Your Shoes Every 300-400 Miles

You will run faster by staying injury free.

Training in worn out shoes will not assist you in anyway in running faster.

A few small precautions like ensuring you are training in shoes that are in good condition will ensure you are healthy and safer from being injured. You cannot run faster by being stuck on a stationary bike for weeks on end.

15. Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You

This is crucial to becoming a faster runner. A common mistake far too many runners make is this notion that you have to run every day to get the most out of yourself.

Untrue.

You don’t have to train 7 days a week, twice a day to become a faster runner. It isn’t about mileage or how many days a week you run.

What are you putting into those miles and what are you doing with the days you do train are the questions you need to ask yourself.

If your Achilles tendon is feeling stiff, the best course of action is not to continue to run on land.

A great alternative is to get in the deep end of a pool and pool run. Zero impact on your joints and tendon.

Small adjustment, major fitness gains and you can take the injury you would have dealt with by continuing to run on it, out of the question.

Is it going to suck trying to run in the deep end of a pool when all you want to do is train as usual?

Absolutely.

What would you rather do. Train in the pool or be out of commission for a few weeks or worse, a few months?

Easy choice right?

More is not always better.

Work smarter, not harder. I ran as high as high as 142 miles a week trying to break 2.22.00 and I broke 2.20.00 running 90 mile weeks.

16. Pick Competitive Races

One of the best ways to run faster is testing your ability in competitive races.

What do you get out of running a race where you win by 4 minutes but run a time that isn’t close to what you wanted to run?

Sure it feels great to win but what about if you get into a race where you may finish 3rd and set a 7 minute personal best?

Which would you rather take? I guess that determines on your goals and who is reading this post.

I would much rather pick a race where I knew I wasn’t going to win but had a much better chance of getting tested, than choosing a race I was sure I could win but not be in the environment to get out of my comfort zone and not improve.

17. Fight The Resistance

Seth Godin, in his book, Watcha Going To Do With That Duck, puts it like this,

Hard work is about risk.

It begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection.

Hard work is about training yourself to leap over this barrier, tunnel under that barrier, drive through the other barrier. And after you’ve done that, to do it again the next day.

Stephen Pressfield, terms the resistance as anything that stops you from living the life you envision living.

What are the things stopping you from achieving your fitness or running goals?

Is it because you think you are too old, too fat, too slow?

You need to get around that thinking and the moment you hear that part of your conscious mind resisting, change the direction of the inner conversation you are having.

I remember very well how I felt when I failed missing my last chance to qualify for the 2008 USA OIympic Marathon Trials at the 2007 Chicago Marathon.

I started to question (for that day at least) if I was capable of a 2.22.00 marathon time.

I ran a 2.51.52 and had to walk and jog the last 14 miles. Two months later I ran 2.19, nearly 22 minutes faster.

You always have the choice of either listening to that part of the brain telling you to quit, that you aren’t good enough or you can take action and order it to work in your favor.

How?

By not letting up when things don’t go as planned.

There is a part of your brain called the amygdala where fear is located within the brain.

It is the part of the brain that is activated when we look in our rear view mirror and see the sirens of the police pulling you over or when you look at your phone and see it is your boss calling

You know that feeling.

You have to fight those feelings of worry, fear and their limiting effects it can have on your athletic performance.

Don’t focus on the things that are out of your control, envision what you do have control over and you will be in a better position to run faster.

You’ll be less stressed and more focused to do so.

18. Use A Heart Rate Monitor

There are many runners who have absolutely no idea if they are running too fast or too slow in training.

I completely agree with the fact that you can still get great benefits without using a heart rate monitor but it still is a great option to consider.

I have used heart rate monitors since I was a freshman in college. I started using them thanks to the advice of my collegiate coach, Jack Hazen, while attending Malone University.

Jack was named the 2012 London Olympics Men’s and Women’s head distance running coach at the games. It took some time to get adjusted to training with heart rate monitors.

I didn’t like a strap around my chest while I was running but I did like having a set heart rate to focus on while doing a tempo run and knew if I was running too slow that all I had to do was speed up and raise it.

It is simple and is a great way to stay motivated during the workout and you leave the guesswork of training intensity out of the equation. If an Olympic coach recommends it I have no concern over recommending it to you.

Again, it is only a recommendation and you should always train what works best for you.

Fight the resistance, dream big and train big. Don’t expect this to be an easy process because it isn’t.

Your goals will test your physical and mental capacity but I promise you that if you stay persistent and don’t waiver you will run faster and demolish any impossible goal you set for yourself.