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Jerric_blogJerric restarted his relationship with running after a 15-year hiatus. His return has been nothing short of remarkable. While juggling the demands of family, a career, and training, he recently set a 27 minute personal best while completing the NYRR NYC Virtual Marathon. Read about his "not so secret" tips for success!

Major milestone:

I started running around Christmas 2018 after 15 years! Then I completed by 1st marathon in Chicago in October 2019 (finish time 4:18). Just completedmy 2nd marathon the NYC (virtual) in October 2020, big personal best of 3:51

What is the secret to your success?

There really is no secret here - you must put in the time and work for training. But I also view my running time as my "me" time." I reflect on my day ahead, I catch-up on podcasts, I listen to audiobooks, I let my mind wander...

What is the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals and how do you get over it?

The biggest challenge is balancing running with family and career. There are days when I have an early meeting so I will wake up really early (4:30am) to get my run in. If it's important enough, you'll get it done.

What is the most rewarding part of training?

Nothing beats crossing the finish line. While overall health and wellness is the over-arching goal (and Runcoach shows how you are improving which is very encouraging), crossing a finish line is a tangible milestone on this journey. And thinking of all your family and friends who support you through the good times and bad as you cross that finish line is humbling.

What advice would you give to other members of the Runcoach community?

Follow the schedule Runcoach gives you. If you stick with the schedule, you will hit your goals. Also, be honest with yourself. If you can only run three times a week, put that in your profile so your schedule reflects this and it's not a stressor.

Anything else you would like to share?

Runcoach has really been good at predicting race performance for me. I keep doubting I'll hit those times for a race but I've managed to. The app is great and has helped me reach my goals. My coach, Hiruni, is always there to keep me focused. And no big deal but she's an 11 time Sri Lanken national record holder :)

What feedback would you offer on the Runcoach experience?

Runcoach has been key in my running journey. The free version gives you a training program that is flexible and will adjust automatically for missed runs and multiple races. The paid version gives you 1:1 coaching (mine is super-friendly and helpful!) and allows for even more customized training schedules. I'm very happy with Runcoach!



It occurs to me that we spend a good deal of time with emphasis on the keys to our training approach:

  • >Pace
  • >Progression
  • >Recovery

However sometimes I see even the most organized, motivated runners miss out on some of the basics.  Everyone knows to wear sweats and bundle up in the winter months, but what about the kind of cold Fall presents.  It's tricky to dress for the 40 - 50*F (5-15*C) days.

As always I am most concerned that all you remain healthy.  Remember if you're healthy, you're aerobic economy can be continuously developed through stress, recovery and compensation/conditioning.

So here are a few basics for running attire in the 40-60 degree temperature range.  hiruni_fall_clothes

  1. Wear a long-sleeve shirt and short sleeve shirt or vest over. It's key to keep the core warm.
  2. Wear long tights or knee long tights for women. And tuck your shirt into the tights.
  3. Consider light gloves and a hat or earband.
  4. If it's windy, a light windbreaker is a must. 
  5. Avoid cotton clothes. As you sweat the clothes will drench in making you colder.

As you run you will feel warmer, that's your body's engine heating up. That's why I suggest dressing for how you will feel 20 minutes into the run then the first mile. If you are running long, bring a change or clothes of a warm sweatshirt to change into after you finish up. It's never fun to be sitting in your frozen sweat on the drive home. 

 



Written by Jennifer Van Allen
Updated by Hiruni Wijayaratne 

ashley perrott tri mediumOne of the most challenging parts of getting fit is staying healthy and injury free.  Dr. Ashley Perrott  is an Ironman finisher, busy mom, and family medicine physician at Novant Health Salem Family Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (See photo, left, of Ashley with her parents and brother). Dr. Perrott is answering some of the most-common questions our users have on staying on track. 

How do you know which aches and pains you can keep exercising through, and which ones should send you running to a doctor?

 

Muscle soreness can be expected for 1-2 days after a more intense workout or more intense week of training.  This soreness should improve daily.  Recovery with rest or light workouts after an intense workout can help muscle soreness and stiffness. Try a light massage or foam rolling. 

Muscle injuries lasts longer than 1-2 days. You may notice the inability to complete a light workout or even regular activity.  Rest will generally help this pain.  Any pain that gets worse with activity should prompt the athlete to reduce speed/intensity to avoid injury.  Muscle pain or weakness that persists despite rest is a reason to see your MD.

Joint or bone pain, swelling, or redness may represent more significant injury.  Certainly a specific episode of injury (rolling ankle, falling, tripping) that causes deformity should prompt an evaluation at the MD in some fashion.  

If your joint pain feels worse with pressure on that joint (expecially if your are just resting and can feel the pain) schedule a doctor appointment immediately. 

Reoccuring pains, these are aches and pains that show up like clock work should be addressed. Shin splits, IT band stiffness, runners knee, achilles tendonitis are all chronic pain that tend to simmer down and flare up as you increase activity. It's critical to address the root cause of these pains, perform corrective exercises, and break the pain cycle for good.


Have a question about staying healthy and injury free? Contact Us. 






Tips for Race Eve

October 04, 2020

check-list-mdThroughout your training, you likely have given a lot of thought about how you will handle the challenges of race day.  Another day worth giving a fair amount of consideration is the day before the big day.  Before it sneaks up on you, here are a few general tips for making sure your “Goal Race Eve” sets you up for success.

 

Get the your pre-race shakeout done before noon

Certainly, many athletes have been successful when their schedules require them to do whatever pre race shakeout walk or run they have planned later in the day.  However, doing these few miles earlier in the day will likely put you in a spot where you are exercising at the time of day you will be on race day, and give you the maximum amount of recovery.  While probably minimal in actual physical benefit, it can make a difference to an athlete looking to feel in rhythm.

 

Avoid walking around aimlessly at the expo

If possible, take care of your bib number pick up two days before, when the process will likely be less impacted by crowds and nerves. If you want to order an official race shirt for a family member or yourself, you can often do that online.  If that isn’t an option or the expo is only open the day before, be strategic.  Decide what, if anything you need (want) to purchase, and make deliberate progress to accomplish that efficiently.  A big race expo could keep an athlete busy for hours, with myriad vendors hawking various energy bars, drinks, clothing, and other gadgets.  There is a time for testing all these things, but hours on your feet and a bunch of weird stuff in your stomach the day before is not a winning formula.  Be mercenary.  Get in and get out.

 

Plan your morning checklist

Sometimes nerves can get the best of us in the lead up to a race.  Many athletes find comfort in knowing that they just have to check off a series of steps and can focus on the doing rather than worrying if they forgot anything.  Lay out your exact outfit and pin on your bib.  Have your breakfast food ready and a bag packed with extra long sleeves, cold weather gear, or whatever you need for a meteorological surprise.  Riding a train or parking where you need change or funds?  Have that ready so you aren’t standing in line for a fare card or digging through your car for change. Let the race be about the race, and not about these mundane details.

 

Stay in charge

When friends and family are just as pumped up about race day as you are, they unfortunately don’t have an outlet like you will.  This can lead to some over enthusiastic ideas, too much excited energy and chatter, and epic plans that may not have anything to do what is best for you.  Gently make clear that your itinerary the day before is your itinerary, and while you appreciate their love and support, on this particular day, you need to prioritize the race.

 

Eat early, and in moderation

A lot of thought is often put into a pre-race dinner, but one important one is how your body will deal with that dinner in the hours between dinner and the race.  Plan to eat a bit earlier than normal.  With many races on Sunday, Saturday night can mean a bit of a wait in a restaurant, etc, pushing you to a later time of day when you actually are chowing down.  Eat familiar foods that you know will sit well  - no risk taking.  Even if you are doing a marathon the next day, keep in mind that your body can’t suddenly process a huge amount of food in a short time.  What isn’t used, is discarded, which can be a distraction on race morning.

 

Hydrate early and not only with water

Hydration is a key part of your race day prep, and it is important to make sure you aren’t trying to accomplish it on the morning of the race.  Throughout the several days before the race, include enough water and sports drink (for electrolytes) that your urine is very light yellow.  You are in good shape if that last day before the race, you are able to carry around a bottle for the occasional sip and top off.



So, where do you see yourself on December 31, 2020? hi-5

In a time of chaos, limited social life, increased time spend at home, apparently more "free" time, have you taken the time for some self-reflection. As runners, we are conditioned to set goals based on upcoming races. Well, that's not a sure thing anymore.

Does that mean you shouldn't set goals in favor of not having your heart-broken time and time again? Absolutely not. There is still plenty to strive to accomplish, endorphins to collect, and lifestyle changes to make.


1. Revisit personal annual goals
You may have wanted to run a Boston Qualifier or finish your first ultra-marathon. With both of those events now cancelled, think about why you wanted to reach those goals. 
- Set a smaller goal. Think running a personal best in a one mile - 5K or completing your longest long run ever. Things you can control as an individual have a higher chance of success. 
- Was your audacious goal tied to hopes of weight loss, or a more consistent running routine? That can still get accomplished. Start by setting up your schedule to allow you to dedicate 20-30 minutes per day to exercise. Repeat this for a few weeks, and you're at the start of a routine!

Once you set and complete smaller goals, you are more likely to remain motivated to reach the big, long-term goals. Otherwise, losing motivation could make your goals seem unattainable and increase the chances of veering off course.

2. Attend to your mental and physical needs

Take this strange “down time” from always needing to be in tip-top shape to rebound physically and mentally.

Aches and pains should not be part of your everyday life. If there is an area in your body that’s troublesome, take the time to rest and heal. Then discuss a plan of attack, which includes specific exercises to strength the supporting muscles and tendon with your coach. Same goes for a mental refresh. Burn-out is extremely common among distance runners. Take some pressure off yourself.

Working toward big breakthrough require both physical and mental energy, so it is important that both aspects are attended to when making an appropriate goal for the next time around.  If emotions are high or you are unusually physically worn down, setting a goal will more difficult and irrational.

 

3. Take inventory about what you liked and disliked about your past races

Did you use to race for charity and find your cause to be a crucial motivator?  Did you enjoy (or not enjoy) any travel involved to get to your race site?  Were you enthused by the crowds or did you enjoy the solitude of a less populated and more scenic race route?  Pick the top three enjoyable aspects of your race experience as well as the three aspects that were most problematic to help narrow down what types of races/ goals will suit your preferences.

Once you have a list and your motivators and dislikes, let’s get to work setting up the next challenge.

 

4. Use the resources at your disposal

This is especially key when we consider the change of seasons. If you live in a region where the winters are particularly cold or the summers particularly hot, or if you have become accustomed to doing long runs or challenging workouts during hours that can go from light to dark depending on the season, keep these in mind when selecting your next goal.

If it’s difficult to spend a great deal of time outside, then select a goal that’s short and fast, so your efforts can be concentrated appropriately. Remember, improving your speed is a valuable tool for any runner.



notesTraining hard for your big fall goal race is the most important things you can do to increase the odds of success on your big day.  Putting in the work may not mean that a challenge or two may yet await when you finally pin on your bib number.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing to greet the morning with a resilient mind.

 

Create quantitative and qualitative goals

Your primary goal may be to finish, or to hit a certain time, and that may be the guiding light in your training thus far.  However, consider all that you have learned or are learning about yourself along this journey. Having goals that take into consideration this gained knowledge and experience, as well as the memorable nature of the accomplishment can be important in case the primary goal appears far off or doubtful during a rough part of the race.  Intermediary time goals, goals to keep a certain attitude or pace through various distance markers, goals to consume certain amounts of fuel or fluid at certain times, even goals to promise to smile and enjoy the last few miles or to take a selfie at the finish line can occupy your brain and keep you on track to your ultimate quantitative goal.

 

Break down the race into smaller pieces

A half marathon or marathon can seem quite daunting when considering the full length.  If intimidated or feeling nervous, concentrate on one part of the race at a time.  Focus on making it through each 5K or 10K, to the top of the hill ahead, the tree around the bend, or even just to the next mile post.  Building a pile of small “wins” along the way can build a growing confidence that will form a crashing wave of certainty once the finish line is closer than the start.

 

Plan your focus for when a rough patch occurs

Rough patches are common for almost all marathoners and half marathoners.  These periods might mean a mile or a few where the progress seems much more hard fought than anticipated.  Oftentimes, these patches dissipate and a second wind of confidence follows. Experienced racers can look back and use previous experiences to remind them of the temporary nature of the difficult stretch, but first timers must also be armed with a quiver of motivation when the going seems unexpectedly difficult for a time.  Perhaps you had a personal motivation for starting your training, a charitable goal, a family member to which you’d like to pay tribute with a great effort, or other talismanic aspect that served as a catalyst for this entire endeavor.  Plan to remember your primary motivation and the reasons why you embarked from the starting line, and even remind yourself with a piece of clothing, or even a note written on your hand or arm.

 

Wear your heart on your sleeve (or better yet, your name on your chest)!

Spectators love to have something to yell besides “Yay!”  “Go!” and “Great job!”  Savvy racers looking for a bit of encouragement label themselves to give the crowd something to shout.  Even if they aren’t truly your personal cheering section, an enthusiastic spectator yelling for you individually can be an irresistible attraction to carry on.

 

Station your supporters at strategic points on the course

If you do have the luxury of a bit of a cheering section, consider where you will likely have a tougher time.  Certainly between miles 18 and 22, vocal support can help temporarily delay or distract you from the final challenge of a marathon’s last few miles.  Knowing where you will see family and friends can also provide the intermediate goals mentioned above, as well as the visual representation of the motivation you need to be strong and maximize the benefits of the training you have done all these weeks.  Some racers are fine as solo competitors, but oftentimes the trip to the starting line has taken a bit of a village of support.  Enjoying that village’s encouragement along the way can help make the far side of the finish line even that much sweeter.

 



tom_blog_3What a crazy year this has been.  We’ve gone through a pandemic of the century, lost loved ones, observed the pain & suffering of so many, and seen our running industry turned upside down.


I’ve read countless inspirational stories from many across the U.S. and around the world.  As I’m hopeful that we may be through the worst, I thought it might be helpful for me to share my experience of the last six months with our wonderful Runcoach customers and anyone else that might find my perspective helpful.


This is a bit selfishly cathartic for me but I’m hopeful my experience and some advice may be beneficial.


This will be a 6-Part Series with the following topics:


  1. Running with Bad Air Quality

  2. Recovery from Injury (My Knee Surgery)

  3. Alternatives to Running with Current Restrictions

  4. Some Perspective on Black, Indigeneous and People of Color from a Running Lense

  5. Running After Coronavirus Symptoms

  6. Our Path Forward to Road Races & What We Can Do Now



Running with Bad Air Quality

Many of us in the northwest part of the country and now with extensions to the midwest, have experienced extremely poor air quality from the tragic fires in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.


As runners, we always want to push through adverse conditions. I haven’t been running (more to come on that topic) and I’m acutely aware of the detriments of inactivity.  However I believe that poor air quality has long-term bad effects.  So what can we run in and what can’t we?


Here are my thoughts:


  1. AQI readings above 100 are a non-starter - please find alternatives (see below)

  2. AQI readings in the 80-100 range may have an effect and should be considered with caution

  3. AQ below 80 is probably safe but you should still listen to your personal biometric feedback in this range


Personal biometric feedback is your breathing within and after a run.  There is a difference between wheezing and heavy breathing.  Think of wheezing as strained breaths where you can feel it down deep in the lungs. You will feel wheezing from asthma and unhealthy air during and after your run.  We don’t want to run through wheezing as the lungs are remodeling to transport necessary oxygen and some tissue could be dying.


On the other hand, heavy breathing is normal and we experience this through heavy exertion.  A great marker to distinguish between the two is how you feel after a run.  You should not have labored breathing or any wheezing within an hour of workout completion.


Here are my favorite sites/apps to check the air quality.


  1. Purple Air - this site uses a community of personal air sensors at residences and businesses to provide a view of your area’s AQI

  2. AirVisual - this is an app available for iPhone and Android users;  it uses 10,000 locations to evaluate, predict, and report on current and future air quality


So what to do if the air quality is poor?


  1. Wear a mask?

    1. I’ve been walking in an N-95 mask which seems to keep out many particulates; there are many varieties to choose from

    2. I haven’t experienced the new Under Armour sports mask but heard it is comfortable for runners

  2. Run on a treadmill if possible

  3. Consider an alternative workout indoors such as the Peloton (more on this in an upcoming post), Elliptical, pool for swimming or deep water running, or any of the HIIT or other at-home workouts with a cardio focus

  4. Adjust your plan - ask your coach or look at the forecast and pick a better day to run


The bad air quality won’t be here forever.  In these times, it is important to remember those who have lost lives, homes, pets and much worse in the fires.  Still the loss of your workout is personal and not to be diminished.  I like to think of how much I appreciate running in these times and the hope that I will have the opportunity to run in clean air soon.



watchTechnology has improved our lives in myriad ways.  GPS devices have allowed us to track our endurance efforts, recording our pace, distance, heart rate, and many more metrics besides.  While providing a wealth of information, our relationship with the technology can become complicated and far more entangled than we could have possibly imagined.   These devices are best as a tool to help us train effectively and analyze where we have gone.  While possible that your GPS device can provide some accountability, take this quiz and see where you are on the spectrum of maintaining a healthy balance and perspective with your wrist-born tech.

 

Do you always round off your runs or walks to an exactly even number (5.00 miles, 3.50 miles exactly, 40 miles precisely for the week, etc), even if you are doing a lap around the parking lot or go up and down your driveway three times?

If your answer is yes, you probably enjoy order over chaos, and completion of your goals.  You might also like to look at tidy numbers on the screen. None of that is bad in and of itself, but it is always good to remember that training has a purpose and shuffling in circles for 27 meters to make a full mile doesn’t really make you any more prepared for the race.  Consider spending a week where you purposely don’t end on an even number in any run.  Encourage yourself that your achievement of the total includes the experience of the effort along the way and that your training need not be 100% perfect 100% of the time to be in a position to achieve your goals on race day!

Do you have a floor or ceiling pace under or over which you never go on training run / walk days?

If your answer is yes, you probably are trying to faithfully complete your training efforts at the paces prescribed by your runcoach pace chart.  However, always make sure that you listen to your body.  If you have a sore / tight muscle, feel tired from the prior day’s workout, are sick, or have another legitimate reason to be in true recovery mode, it is fine to slow dow.  Occasionally what felt like your easy pace turns out to be 30 seconds per mile or more.  Recovery is key to being prepared for the next hard day.  Sometimes, that requires doing a little less and easing off a bit (and being ok with that when you look at your watch).

Now that you have a GPS device on your wrist or in the palm of your hand, do you find yourself checking your pace almost reflexively every 50 meters along your route?

If this sounds like you, you might be just excited to have a cool toy to consult. But, with constant reliance on the watch or app (which is not always 100% accurate due to trees, weather, and other factors), you might also be at risk for missing a chance to understand and gain a feel for what your race pace or other paces might be.  While you might want to keep careful track of your mileage, occasionally pick a route you of which you already know the distance, and run it without your watch, gauging your effort based on what you perceive to be the pace.  You can log the miles accurately as you have measured it previously and using your total time, can figure the pace. However, you have taken an opportunity during the run to stay in touch with your instincts and listen to your body.

Do you avoid certain routes because of spotty satellite reception (and the shorter distances/ slower paces you might be given credit for on your device as a result)?

If your answer is yes to this one, you are human! We all like to see our best selves recorded and the greatest return on our efforts.  However, if the preoccupation with the numbers is causing you to miss out on tree covered paths, excellent trail running, and safe routes on bike paths that travel through tunnels, consider mapping these on the computer and manually entering in the distances, or just noting your estimated differences when uploading your info.

Data is helpful, but we should not become overly reliant on it.  As humans, we can use machines and technology to help us to our goals, but nothing replaces the individual effort and commitment we all need to achieve our goals on the day.  Continue to trust in your ability and instincts. Let your GPS devices and apps be tools, but only one of many, in your arsenal.

 

 

 



Recover Like a Boss

September 04, 2020

ice_bathCongratulations to all those who have completed their goal virtual races over the last few weekends!  Whether you are basking in the afterglow of a milestone reached, or still awaiting the joy of the finish line, it is important to consider the crucial training period of recovery.

 

Previously on the blog, we’ve covered a variety of topics related to recovery that are worth a quick read or re-read.  These include:

 

 

Throughout each of these, the main thread is the message is to take recovery seriously.  One of the ways runcoach differs from template training plans or social training groups that focus solely on the one goal race is the inclusion of a recovery cycle into your plan.  As runners ourselves, we know that running is an ongoing pursuit for many, marked brightly with the signposts of big goals along the way, but more importantly, something we enjoy doing every day.


When you take recovery seriously you can enjoy your daily running without the inconveince of the world of injury or illness.  


I know "recovery" doesn't win medals, or get the awe from your friends the way a hard workout or race does. Think of it this way, if you don't recover forget about the next finish line, a new start line maybe further away than you'd like. 



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