Category Archives: Goal Setting

5 Important Nutrients Runners Need

All runners know that to perform well you have to eat well.  Unfortunately when they try to eat the right things, or cut some bad things, they can restrict important nutrients, too.  Beware of grabbing the supplement bottle, however.  Too much of a good thing can cause stress on organs so focus on getting them from your food.  Here are five nutrients all runners need to have adequately represented in their diets.

Iron:  Iron provides tons of benefits to runners.  It’s a main ingredient in hemoglobin that takes oxygen to working muscles.  If your iron is low, you’ll feel sluggish and fatigued while recovery nutrientswill take longer than normal.  Get it from foods like lean cuts of beef, peas and broccoli, oysters and kidney or black beans.

Calcium:  We all know calcium builds healthy bones.  Running beats those bones up.  Keep them strong and avoid stress fractures by taking enough in.  Do so with dairy, kale, almonds and calcium fortified foods.

Potassium:  Like sodium, this is one very important electrolyte.  It helps those powerful running muscles contract and relax as well as maintaining fluid balance.  You can get your fill from one baked potato, bananas and dried fruit.

Vitamin E:  This immune booster is a must have.  It’s an antioxidant that also keeps blood vessels wide open and soft.  Good sources are olive oil, sunflower seeds, sweet potato and almonds.

Magnesium:  Fueling about 300 chemical reactions in the body, helping energy production and protein synthesis make magnesium incredibly important.  Most people are deficient but can remedy this by munching on a few magnesium rich foods.  Leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, peas and whole grains are good sources.

Make sure your grocery list includes some of the foods listed above.  You’ll get plenty of these essential nutrients and some tasty meals.

Coach Meredith

5 Ways to Stay Fit When You Travel

Spring break, summer vacation, holiday visits to family, all mean time on the road, in airports and away from home.  It can be very easy to get away from your home based training plan while you travel and that might spell trouble for your next goal.  Luckily, there are five simple things you can do to stay on track no matter where you are.travel

Keep a food journal.  Remember the 80-20 rule and find healthy choices while you travel.  There’s nothing wrong with an indulgence now and then, we’re only human after all, but remember that too much can set your training back.  Keeping a diary of what you’re eating can help you realize if you’ve gone too far off track.

Pack for activity.  DVDs, resistance bands and tubes are small enough to fit in any carry on and can help you workout anywhere.  If your bulky running shoes won’t fit in that carry on, wear them.  Same goes for a heavy cold weather coat.  Check out these additional recommendations for help with your travel fitness strategy.

Schedule activities.  Find out what there is to do in your destination.  If you’re in a new place, there’s no excuse not to try something.  You might check out a new class in vibrant New York City, go for a horseback ride in Wyoming, walk through wine country in Napa or scuba dive in Honolulu.  Canoeing, skiing, dancing and even a long sight seeing walk will keep you moving forward.  Even if it’s not your preferred mode of working on your fitness, any athletic activity will help you perform at a higher level when you get home.

Use your hotel.  Yes, they’re usually small, but hotel gyms give you a little space to move around.  Most hold stationary bikes, treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines and some have quite modern, state of the art facilities.  If there’s a pool big enough for laps or pool running, dive in.  Any hotel that’s more than one story features a set of stairs, don’t be afraid to use them.

Expect to have a tough first few days back.  Your body might still be recovering from jet lag or overindulging in food and drink.  Your muscles need a chance to get back in gear, too.  Stay hydrated, especially if you’re flying and try to plan for a recovery day once you’ve arrived back at home.

Coach Meredith

Miles: Running Quality vs Quantity

Many runners wonder what’s more important: running quality miles or just running lots of them.  The answer is both are important.  Of course you want every single mile you run to be a running quality (via linkedin)high quality one.  The trouble?  Running lots of miles, unfortunately, doesn’t guarantee they’ll be good ones.

It takes time to build the strength, stamina and durability you need to run correctly all the time.  Diving into a high mileage program without experience is a recipe for disaster.  Injuries, over training and frustration are the menu if you get overly ambitious.  Yes, it’s true that high quality along with high quantity is a proven recipe for success but not everyone has that kind of time or the necessary resources.

Beginners should slowly build mileage until their bones, tendons, ligaments and muscle can take the pounding running puts on them.  Running quality miles is much more important than volume early on.  Even experienced runners have full time jobs and lives outside of running that make it nearly impossible to log 100+ miles each week.  Does that mean you should give up on your newest goal?

No way!  It means you’ll have to focus on getting the most you can from each workout.  With a lower mileage program, you’ll likely have a bit more intensity and fewer recovery, or easy, runs.  Runners who have time constrictions might replace one easy outing with yoga or a short body weight workout rather than a longer session.  The key is to make sure each workout has a specific purpose that will help you reach your next goal and that you’re fully recovering from the harder efforts.  Remember, a few good miles are much more valuable than a bunch of not so useful ones.

Work with a coach to discover what volume works best for your body at your current level of fitness.  Then stick with your coach to get strong enough to increase it.   Making sure you can keep your running quality high as you increase your volume means you’ll be able to have both the quality and quantity you need.

Coach Meredith

5 Ways To Keep Your 2017 Fitness Resolution

There are all kind of new year’s resolutions out there.  Save more money, maintain a healthier diet and get more sleep are all wonderful goals for the next 365 days.  More than those, however, lots of people make fitness resolutions.  Things like shedding unwanted pounds, running that first 5k or getting serious about yoga practice are surprisingly common.  Unfortunately, just as quickly as those goals are set they often fall by the wayside.  Don’t let it happen to you!  Here are 5 tips for setting a fitness resolution you can stick with all year long:

Make a commitment.  A resolution is defined as “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc”.  A commitment is defined as “the act of committing, pledging or engaging oneself…a pledge or promise; obligation.”  The difference between two is clear.  Resolutions carry little emotional weight and are easy to move away from.  A commitment asks for you to invest, making it tougher to go off track without noticing.

Start small.  Running a marathon is a great way to get healthy.  It’s also a great way injure yourself and get frustrated.  Shedding 30 pounds is fantastic but it’s very hard, slow work.  No matter what your goal is, getting in over your head will lead to frustration and likely failure.  Setting small step wise goals like running 2 miles or loosing 1 pound a week that happen quickly keeps you feeling positive about your progress.  Lots of small goals also add up to some pretty big accomplishments!

Have a plan.  Since you’ve committed to becoming better in 2017, you will definitely need a plan.  Knowing how you’ll get where you want to go is half the battle when it comes to keeping your fitness resolution moving forward.  Take some time to figure out where your training will fit in your schedule, what you want to accomplish each week and what kind of support you’ll need.

Track your progress.  Write down what you do every single day.  Track the way you felt, what time it was, the weather, what you’d eaten before the workout along with what exercise you actually did.  It’s a great way to see you’re getting closer to your goal even after a bad day because that bad day is probably still an fitness resolutionimprovement over a few weeks ago.  You can never have too many reminders of how far you’ve come and how much further you can go.  A journal will also help you see how things like sleep, nutrition and mood can play a big role in how a workout goes.

Celebrate.  Make a celebration part of your plan.  Whether it’s registering for the race and drinking all the free beer afterwards or taking a vacation somewhere special for a recovery week, you’ll have earned it.  Yes, taking that fitness resolution to the point of success is a prize in its own right but…  After months of planning, hard work and unexpected challenges, a reward is a nice way to reinforce your success.

No matter what your goals for 2017 are Team ECRP wants you to rock them.  Use one or all of these tips to beat your 2017 fitness resolution and set the bar even higher in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Coach Meredith

Start Running: Time vs Distance

Many people each year get excited to run.  The supportive community, the free beer after a race, the fresh air and wonderful scenery all make more great people want to start running.  Unfortunately lots of these enthusiastic new runners will have their brand new running dreams derailed by injury.  With all the couch to 5k (C25K) plans available out there, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Here’s how to approach any program you choose with little stress, no injuries and lots of reward.start running

Start running for time.  Not per mile time or pace but chunks of time on your feet.  It can be as little as 30 seconds in the beginning.  Especially when you’re starting a new program spending time on your feet is more important than how far you actually travel.  Getting moving helps your body build aerobic capacity, the ability to use oxygen over a certain period of time.  The better your aerobic capacity is the further and faster you’ll be able to go.  Building aerobic capacity is done with long moderate efforts rather than short fast intervals.  Running for time allows you to find the zone you’re comfortable in while building your fitness without feeling pressured about how far you’ve gone.

By choosing to run for time rather than distance you also decrease the intimidation factor.  Adding another five or ten minutes to your workout is much more friendly than adding two miles.  Taking small steps toward your goal will help find success more often, keeping you motivated and excited to work hard.  Small increases are also key to staying injury free when you start running.

Since we all know injuries are the worst, doing all we can to avoid them is pretty important.  Suddenly putting lots of miles on legs that aren’t used to it can cause big problems.  From stress fractures to shin splints and IT Band syndrome, upping the miles too quickly is dangerous.  Gradually increasing the length of each timed running interval will help ensure your body adjusts to the additional load without fighting back.

Start running today with a few rounds of run-walk intervals and you’ll be conquering that 5k course in no time!

Coach Meredith

3 Comeback Tips for a Bad Race

Having a bad race is pretty much the worst.  Yes, there are horrible things going on in the world but the moment you cross that finish line after a less than desired performance can get emotional.  With fall race season rapidly approaching it’s important to remember that bad races happen and don’t mean the end of your running career.  Look how gracious Meb was after a bad racenot-so-wonderful Olympic experience!  We’re not all that talented but we work hard for those PRs and it hurts to miss a goal.  Here are 3 ways to bounce back after a challenging race:

Vent:  Be angry.  Be sad.  Be mad.  Feel all of the feelings.  Let it all out so you can move forward.  It might take one beer or four days but failing to move on will impede your next training cycle by lowering your confidence and sucking up your motivation.

Evaluate:
Your pre-race ritual:  While you can’t go back and change anything that happened during the race, you can change what happens before.  Did you eat right the nights before?  Were you sleeping enough?  Was your taper adequate?  Did your travel plans give you time to adjust to the altitude and time difference or recover from flying?  Each of these factors can change your body’s ability to perform at its best.

The Weather:  There’s only so much anyone can do about weather.  Which is a whole lot of nothing.  High winds, freezing temperatures, loads of humidity and heat waves can all have a major impact on your performance.  Sometimes a bad race isn’t all your fault and remember, everyone else out there had to deal with it, too.

Your goal:  Was your goal really reasonable?  Aiming to shave 30 minutes off a marathon over one season is noble but probably not attainable.

Your training:  How did your training go?  Did it include enough speed work?  How about a long enough base phase?  Did you train for the terrain you would be racing on?  Take a good hard look at your journal while examining what workouts were good and which ones weren’t.  Most importantly, make sure you weren’t overtraining or pushing through an injury.

Move on:  At the end of the day, OK, it was a bad race.  Was it the worst race ever in the whole world?  Probably not.  Look at all the things you learned!  Focus on positive parts of the event, make sure you’re emotionally ready then sign up for another.

Coach Meredith

 

Durability: Mental Toughness

Mental toughness sounds cool, even useful, but what exactly does it mean?  A mentally strong athlete is dedicated, comfortable suffering and driven.  When the going gets tough they hunker down, embrace the suck and remember what they’re working for.  It’s someone who has the ability to cope with many demands in a consistently superior way to their opponents while remaining focused, confident and determined.  That’s the kind of athlete East Coast Run Project builds.

An invaluable asset in competition, mental toughness is more than just being dedicated.  Yes, believing in your goals is a huge part of succeeding butmental toughness ‘mind over matter’ isn’t just something people say for the sake of saying something.  It’s true.  Your brain is programmed to sell you short.  Ever feel like you can’t run one more step then accelerate when the finish line comes into view?  A big fan of the status quo who’s adverse to pain and suffering your brain will shut things down long before your muscles.  Here’s a study that explains it in detail.  In short, your mental state does not always reflect your physical state.  You are truly stronger than you think you are.

Part of mental toughness is about accessing everything you’ve got.  Most importantly it’s finding the strength to use your brain to beat, well, your brain.  After you’ve accepted that your body can do more than your mind wants to you can use it perform at a higher level.  By misleading cyclists about a competitor’s speed this study discovered they magically had the ability to perform at a 2% (!!!) higher ‘maximum’ speed.  They pedaled faster than their ‘100%’ because they thought they weren’t there yet.  Their brains were tricked into thinking it was status quo when it wasn’t.

The fastest way to trick our brains?  Positive self talk.  Instead of muttering ‘this sucks’ or ‘is it over yet?’ in the middle of a muscle shredding workout, smile.  Saying ‘I got this’ or ‘this workout feels good‘ can actually make it easier.  It’s been shown that a repeated positive statement can give you the extra push you need to hit a new PR, finish within the time limit or conquer that fear.  Step one in developing mental toughness is finding that phrase.  Find the words that will keep you moving forward when things get hard and learn to use them.

Coach Meredith

Note: Telling yourself you’re fine when you aren’t isn’t always a good idea.  Injury and over training happen when we ignore and push through pain signals from our bodies.  Part of being a mentally tough athlete is listening to your body, knowing the difference between good pain and bad and knowing what’s on the line if you push past it.

Durability: Physical Toughness

Entry fees are paid, a hotel is selected and celebratory champagne brunch is booked!  You are financially invested in and 100% dedicated to your athletic goal.  Now you have to prepare to fight for it.  You must become durable.  The term durability refers to one’s ability to “resist wear, decay; [to be] lasting, enduring.”  A durable athlete maintains a steadfast course towards their physical toughnessgoals with a combination of physical toughness and mental toughness.  Both are assets East Coast Run Project seeks to create while helping you become a better athlete.

Physical Toughness

Physical toughness is more than just fighting it out for a sixteen week training cycle while avoiding injuries and staying focused.  Another term for mind over matter, physical toughness means bearing down and making your way through uncomfortable situations without any thought of quitting.

Physical toughness is not just strength.  You can be plenty strong without having much toughness.  The ability to overcome challenging situations and still perform well is the trademark of a physically tough athlete.  They can adapt to difficult terrains, continue functioning after a misstep and recover quickly.  This kind of grit, however, does not develop overnight.

You have to be disciplined and dedicated.  You must acknowledge that you are capable of more than your mind leads you to believe.  Push yourself each day to give your body a new challenge: shorter rest, a workout outside, a run through the deep sand.  Each test will make your body physically tougher.  Ultimately, the key to being a physically tough athlete is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.  And that takes practice.

Finally, physical toughness is not blind.  It has a soft side.  A tough athlete knows how important it is to listen to and respect your body because the last thing they want is to push it beyond its limits into over training or injury.  Challenge your body while being sure to give it the water, food and rest it needs.

East Coast Run Project is here to guide you on your journey to becoming a more dedicated, physically and mentally tougher athlete.  We can’t wait to have you visit again!

Coach Meredith

 

Dedication: Why It Matters

Webster’s Dictionary defines dedication as “a feeling of very strong support for or loyalty to someone or something : the quality or state of being dedicated to a person, group, cause, etc.”  Synonyms include allegiance, devotion and commitment.  At East Coast Run Project, this is our first team requirement.  You must have the dedication to your goals that reaching them requires.dedication

Why?  Because training is hard.  There will be rainy days and cold days and hot days.  You will be tired.  Soreness will creep in.  You will ask yourself ‘why?’

Know why you want to accomplish something.  Exactly what it means to you.  Be able to enjoy each step along the way even when it’s challenging is key to reaching your goals.

It’s easy to lose site of your goal and get off track with so many things trying to get in the way.  Be 100% dedicated to accomplishing what you’ve set out to.  Whether it’s a monthly objective, annual goal or long term destination, that dedication will ensure that you can make it through hard days.

Be 100% dedicated to your training, recovery and fueling every single day with your goal firmly locked into focus.

Coach Meredith