Tag Archives: training

Are You Too Sick to Run?

Can I run?  Should I run?  Wondering if you’re too sick to run is a common questions for runners.  This is a tough question to answer.  Everyone reacts to feeling badly differently and we all recover at different speeds.  What one person can do with a slight head cold might not work for another.  Here are a few tips to help you determine if you should hit that session or stay inside.too sick to run

Weather.  Take into account the weather.  Bad weather isn’t going to help you get well.  Heading out into cold, windy or wet conditions when you’re feeling crummy isn’t a good idea.  Working out can put a lot of stress on your body so don’t make it even tougher but adding adverse outdoor conditions.  Have an indoor or cross training session instead of braving the elements if possible and don’t worry about one or two missed workouts.  You’re better off being healthy!

Move Around.  Sometimes getting up and moving around can help you feel better all on its own.  Increasing circulation and putting muscles to work will kick your body into repair mode.  We tend to be idle when we aren’t 100% and that can make things worse.  If it feels more like lack of motivation than actual sickness, get up and move.

The Neck Rule.  If your symptoms are above your neck, say a runny nose and mild headache, you’re good to go.  When symptoms present below your neck, such as coughing or weakness, you should probably skip out.  The single exception to this rule is a fever.  If your temperature is climbing, stay put and enjoy some chicken soup with a movie.

Activity Level.  Many tapering marathoners catch colds.  Their bodies are so used to repairing and fighting during months of training that when they take a breather the immune system goes bonkers.  You’re probably not too sick to run if that’s your situation.  You won’t be doing any incredibly challenging workouts anyway, so enjoy those few light weeks even if you’re not 100%.

Coach Meredith

3 Reasons You Need a Running Buddy

Training is hard work.  There are tons of factors that play a role in getting you to the starting line without any serious bumps in the road.  One of the most important, however, is staying motivated and on track with workouts and recovery.  The best way to do this?  A running buddy!

A running buddy is more than just someone to complain with then the weather is bad or celebrate with when you hit that freshly earned PR.  Here are three of Team ECRPs favorite reasons to gather up all of your running friends and hit a workout together.running buddy

Better workouts.  Whether you’re on the track with your running buddy or a stranger, having some competition will help you push yourself a little bit more.  Like going out with the fast crowd at the start of a race, we all want to be in the front.  If your buddy is a faster runner, they might pace you for a speed session where you’re more likely to work harder and stay consistent.  If your buddy isn’t quite as quick as you, let them help you take it easy on a recovery day.

Socialize.  There’s nothing as tasty as those post race beers.  It’s even better when you have your training partner to celebrate with after you cross the finish.  A running buddy can introduce you to tons of people.  A running network is a great way to find your next race, explore new places to run or discover a perfect new piece of gear.

Accountability.  It rains.  It snows.  Outside can be cold or hot or windy.  On those tough days when you’re lacking motivation or the weather’s bad, your running buddy is there.  You’re going to show up when you know someone is waiting for you.  The suffering you endure together creates toughness you’ll need on race day.  It makes memories and can help you see the bright side of a not-so-good workout.

The really good news is that you can have as many running buddies as you want.  That’s one of the benefits of joining your local running group.  You’ll find a friend for any distance or any speed and rock your workout together.

Coach Meredith

 

3 Keys to Winter Training

Winter training is hard.  It’s dark, cold, windy, snowy or worse.  Unfortunately, working out during the bleak winter months is a must if you’re aiming for a spring race.  On the flip side, it winter trainingcan be fun to experiment and explore new avenues for staying on track with your training.  Here are three ways Team ECRP stays on track to rock their spring races.

Mix it up.  Try new things.  Crappy weather outside can force you indoors for workouts.  That doesn’t always mean the treadmill.  Try a spin class or going for a swim.  You can easily replace some of your easy aerobic runs with another activity that requires an equal effort without risking feeling like you’ve missed out.  You might even find something you really enjoy and want to stick with when the weather warms up.

Find a friend.  Or five or fifty or more.  Joining a training team or local running group can help you accomplish things you might not have ever imagined.  Running with a group can provide you with that accountability that helps you drag yourself out of bed on those dark, bone chilling (until you’ve warmed up) mornings.  A group can also help block wind while bringing laughter and memories that will keep you warm for a lifetime.

Be prepared.  Have a plan in place to deal with bad weather days.  Make sure you warm up before you head outdoors and have a dry set of clothes waiting for your return.  Most importantly, prepare your mind.  Be flexible with your winter training plan, unafraid to switch workouts to different days or perform a substitute activity.  Be sure to listen to your body but realize that pushing through a yucky run or two will only make you more prepared for race day.  You never know what you’ll face at the starting line.

Use these tips to power through your winter training and be ready when the weather’s nice to hit any goal you set.

Coach Meredith

 

The Pros and Cons of Heart Rate Training

Any runner who has looked to improve their speed or fitness has at least thought about using heart rate training to get better.  Heart rate training means using a heart rate monitor either on your wrist or around your chest to constantly measure your heart beat during exercise.  This training method bases workouts on target ranges.

Some people have great success with heart rate training while others prefer to run by feel.  Here are a few of the pros and cons to training based on heart rate to help you decide if it’s right for you.heart rate training

PROS
Slow down.  Many runners get stuck working medium hard too often.  That can lead to over training or, even worse, a serious injury.  It’s difficult to separate levels of intensity using the talk test unless you’re very experienced.  Heart rate training can help give guidance on just how easy the easy runs need to be.

Know your numbers.  Knowing what your resting and max heart rates are can be a great gauge of fitness.  If one goes down and other goes up you know you’re improving.

Stay in the zone.  Just like knowing your numbers can let you know if you’re improving, they can let you know how to work out.  You’ll want each workout to be a specific heart rate zone to create the desired adaptation.

CONS
Too many variables.  There are a wide variety of things that can change your heart rate that have nothing to do with your workout.  You naturally have a higher heart rate in the afternoon than in the morning.  Hydration, weather, sleep, stress and diet can all also play a major role in how hard your heart works while you’re exercising.  This many opportunities for variance make it difficult to compare apples to apples.

Inaccurate.  Especially when working at a very high intensity level, most heart rate monitors don’t respond fast enough to really let you know what’s going on.  Breezing through a few 100M repeats?  No way you’re going to get accurate data off a wrist watch.  Receivers can get sweaty and malfunction.  They can sense things that aren’t really going on.  It might pick up a close by heart rate monitor even if it’s on someone else.

Get stuck.  It’s easy to become a slave to data.  Paying constant attention to your heart rate can end up stopping you from pushing yourself hard when you need to and that won’t lead to improved performance.

Coach Meredith

Marathon Training: Fun with the Long Run

Every training plan includes a long run each week, ten days or two weeks.  They can be six miles or 25 miles but they’re a part of any quality training plan.  The aerobic benefits are massive while long runs also build mental strength and physical durability.  Mixing up your long run by adding a different challenge to it can make training both more fun and more effective.  Try one, or all, of these favorites from Team ECRP during your next training cycle.long run

Slow + Steady.  The regular long run, performed at an easy pace, holds the pace steady for its entire duration.  This is the best type of run when you’re starting to increase mileage or tackling your first 20 miler.  It strengthens your legs and your mind by making you push through the point of being tired.  You’ll build resistance to feeling tired and teach your body to burn fat, our best source of stored energy.  It also won’t leave you physically or mentally exhausted to the point that you aren’t up for it as often as you should be.

The End.  A fast finish long run simulates those final miles of a hard race.  The last 10k of a marathon and the last kilometer of a 5k are both challenging when you’re going for a new personal record.  A finish fast run will help build strength for late in the race, develop that closing kick so many runners look for and make you mentally strong.  You’ll run the last few miles of your run at goal race pace or maybe the last 1.5 as hard as you can.  For marathoners, this hard workout is also a chance to check in on fueling and hydration strategies for race day.

The Race Pace.  Running miles are your goal race pace is an absolute necessity but not all of your miles should be that speed.  Adding them to your long run is another way to push your limits and adjust to feeling tired.  After a proper warm-up, do some miles at race pace.  Run a recovery mile then do more miles at goal race pace.  Examples include 3-2-1 with a mile recovery between or, for marathoners, 5-4-3-2-1.

Surge Run.  This run is just what it sounds like.  You get to surge every so often and run faster.  Start these later in your run, after the halfway point.  Pick things up to 5k pace for one minute then recover for five minutes.  You can eventually lengthen the surges, decrease recovery time or add more repeats.  Like the other long run variations, this type of workout will build strength, mental toughness and resistance to fatigue.

No matter what kind of long run enhancement you choose, it will be a hard workout.  Account for the mental and physical toll it will take in your recovery and upcoming training plan.

Coach Meredith

3 Reasons to Start Running Hills

No one likes to see a race course filled with hills.  It makes for harder work and less of a shot at a PR.  Fortunately there are big benefits to running hills while you train for any race, especially an up and down one.

Pure Strength – It’s hard work running uphill.  running hillsMore muscle fibers have to fire and generate power to maintain your flat ground pace running uphill.  It also requires different muscles to work in different ways than flat running does and that’s good for building powerful running glutes.  In contrast, running downhill gives your quads tons of work to do and is also something that should be practiced regularly.

Build Confidence – If you can rock it in practice, you can beat it on race day.  Tackling hills on training runs is an invaluable tool in preparing for the unknown of an unfamiliar race course.  Being comfortable with running uphill a bit slower than race pace and down the other side a bit faster can be a huge benefit on a tough course.  Learning to control your downhill speed can also be a big help later on in a net downhill race.

Speed Work – Like speed work on flat ground, running hills makes you work harder than normal.  The knee drive and power required to run uphill lead to better running form and glute activation.  It’s a good place to work on increasing turnover or cadence for faster running and lower injury risk long term.  Increased resistance to fatigue and increased overall endurance are additional benefits of hill sprints.

Adding hill work to your training plan is important no matter what your next running goal is.  Make sure you use a qualified coach when you’re ready to start running hills so you do safely.

Coach Meredith

4 Reasons to Race One Mile

One mile isn’t very far.  It’s a racing distance most half and full marathoners are familiar with for only one reason:  mile repeats.  But there are a few things can running one mile all out, as fast as you can, do for you.  Here are four of Team ECRP‘s favorite, and useful, reasons to race one mile the next time you have the chance.

It’s fun.  While time trials are an important part of every training plan, training can get boring.  race one mileFinding a one mile race might be a challenge but take advantage if you can.  These short, fast races often have similar perks to longer and bigger events because they often take place together.  They can also be exciting to watch and lead you to set new goals.

You learn.  Using your one mile race time will help you establish training paces for other types of runs.  You’ll get feedback on where you’re strong and what you need to work on.  Racing one mile multiple times in similar conditions is also the best gauge around to see how your fitness is improving.

Bonus speed.  Races always give you an edge over training and that means you’ll run just a bit faster.  Not only will you be faster in a race than in a normal time trial, the benefit of pushing harder than you do in practice is seeing the quicker final result and gaining the confidence you need to power through hard workouts.

Recover quickly.  One hard mile is not twenty.  That might sound silly but it’s true.  Time trials are typically done as part of a bigger workout on days when your legs are feeling fresh.  Racing one mile means that mile is your workout.  You’ll recover quickly from it and be ready to tackle whatever your next training week has in store.

Training to race one mile is different than training for your longer race but including it, or any time trial, in your bigger plan is always worth it.

Coach Meredith

Running 101: Do You Need an Off Season?

Professional runners across all disciplines get an off season.  Whether they’re choosing to compete at certain times of the year or their sport predetermines it, they are sure to take time off between seasons.  For those of us who aren’t professional athletes, however, options to compete carry on all year long.  You can run a 5k every single weekend if you want to but you can’t race one.

If you’re just out there to get moving every time you toe the line, odds are you aren’t training at a very high level.  You might run for fun.  You might just run with friends.  If, on the other hand, you’re an age group or contending athlete your training is intense.  The more intense each training cycle is the more likely you are to need an off season.  Here are three reasons why.off season

Recover.  Injury prevention is a big reason to take an off season.  Our bodies cannot continue indefinitely to be beat up the way they are when we train and race hard all year long.  Work load is dramatically decreased, especially running, during the off season.  Both our minds and bodies need a break from the constant barrage of stimuli that come along with a hard training cycle.

Repair.  Take the time now to deal with any lingering issues.  See that physical therapist you’ve been putting off.  Get massages and take bubble baths.  Build strength in the muscles that got you through race season.  Eliminate weak spots and work towards strength goals that will help you run faster next race season.

Plan.  Goal setting is incredibly important.  Use this down time to look back at how your season went.  Why did it go that way?  Put time and effort in determining what went well and what didn’t rather than nailing each workout.  Decide what races you’ll target during your next training cycle and how to best prepare for them.  Set realistic goals based on past performances.

Taking an off season can be a wonderful training tool and a welcome break.  It’s the time to relax and have fun while letting your body heal and prepare for the next cycle of hard work.

Coach Meredith

4 Favorite 5k Race Week Workouts

Race week is stressful.  What’s the weather doing?  How early do I need to get to the start?  Is there parking?  It’s even worse if you’re traveling.  Will my flight be on time?  Does the hotel have an airport shuttle?  Is parking free?  Luckily having a solid week leading up race day can help race week workoutsease some of the race day stress.  These are some of Team ECRP‘s go to race week workouts to ensure a stress-free morning and successful race day.

Best done two or three days before race day, these short repeats focus on form and quality.  Race week is for sharpening up your body for hard work, not for making gains.  Throwing short bursts of speed into your otherwise lower mileage week maintains your fitness without additional stress.

400M Repeats – After a full 2 mile warm up complete 4 x 400M repeats at 2k pace with 2 minutes of very easy jogging or fast walking in between.  Running this workout faster than 5k pace will make your race day pace feel like a breeze.

Short Sprints – This is one of our favorite race week workouts because we still get to cover some miles.  Performed at faster than race pace to keep those strides long and powerful, these 30 second efforts are tons of fun.  Run your normal full 2 mile warm up then complete 8-10 repeats of 30 seconds at mile race pace with 5 minutes of easy jogging.

Alternating 200s – This workout alternates 200M of work with 200M of very easy jogging.  Complete a full warm up of at least 2 miles before starting 8-10 repetitions of 200M at 5k pace and 200M at recovery pace.

Easy Run – No matter what workout you choose to do, you’ll need an off or rest day before your race.  A shakeout run the morning before you toe the line is a staple for most runners.  It allows you run easy while getting muscles moving and blood flowing without depleting any glycogen stores or extra energy.

Mix and match these race week workouts for each 5k you’re tackling or find one you like and stick with it or mix it up each time.  Either way, make sure you have fun and remember to save it for race day.

Coach Meredith

 

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