Run Efficiently

Shoulders down

This does not mean slouching your shoulders, but think about ‘pulling your shoulders away from your ears.’ Keep your shoulder blades to neutral, not too tensed or not too slouched down. This helps your arm swing and trunk rotation when you run.

Hands to your pockets

Don’t put them inside your pockets, but when you swing your arms keep them to the level where your pockets are or where your hands might slightly brush your hip. Keep your elbow at a 90 degree angle and point your hands forward. Remember that you want to move forward so you should swing your arms forward as well, not bringing your hands in front of your chest to keep your trunk from twisting too much.

Hold an egg

You can observe that a lot of runners tend to clench their fists. This small movement causes tightness around the arms and even tension on the neck and shoulders. Imagine holding eggs with each of your hands – you don’t want to break them so gently cup your hands and relax.

Land comfortably

I once went to a department store in the Philippines to look for a pair of shoes. One salesman ambushed me with his trivia to convince me to buy his shoes. He said that runners should ALWAYS land on their mid-foot. I disagree with this notion because runners have significant individual differences from one another. Most runners would be comfortable landing on their mid-foot but if you have a high arc, it’s a different story. Also in terms of technique, if you want to sprint then you’re better off landing on your toes. Some people will be more comfortable landing on their heels and then rolling their foot, as long as they have enough heel cushioning. What’s more important is your ‘stride length’ – you would not want your leg to be way ahead of you unless you are sprinting. Your feet should land directly underneath your body and as your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly bent naturally upon impact.

Running to Burn Body Fat

Ditch the Steady Cardio

Though a long running session at a slow pace has its benefits, for maximum belly fat reduction, opting for this training approach is futile and a waste of time. Instead, if you’re looking to get rid of belly fat in the shortest time possible, then interval running is the way to go. Also referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short) in the fitness circles, this type of training is ideal for burning body fat in the shortest time span. In fact, doing running intervals burns 3 times as much fat as running at slow and steady pace, according to new research from the University of New South Wales, in Australia.

In addition, interval training boosts metabolism levels through the roof, builds muscle mass-especially core muscles-and improves speed and endurance levels like nothing else.

Interval running combines intervals of high intensity running (80-90% of your maximum cardio capacity), with low intensity jogging breaks for recovery and rejuvenation. The on/off pattern is key for burning colossal amounts of calories without risking injury or overtraining.

A 35-Minute Interval Running Workout

Here is how to proceed with an interval running session:

  • Start with a warm-up. Jog slowly for 10 minutes to loosen up your muscles and get your cardiovascular system ready for the intensity ahead. A decent warm-up improves blood flow and helps you prevent premature fatigue and injury.
  • Increase your running pace to perform your first high intensity interval. Your first high intensity interval should be at no more than 80% of your max for one full minute. Your breathing should be heavy at the end of the 1st interval.
  • Take your first recovery break for 1-full minute. Jog faster than your warm-up pace and get your breathing under control.
  • Repeat the cycle 7-8 times.
  • End the session with a cool-down. Make sure to gradually reduce your running pace into an effortless jog, breathe deeply and stretch afterwards.

The length and intensity of each interval depends mainly on your fitness levels and training goals. If the one-full minute is too much, shoot instead for 30-seconds and build on that. Trying to run in someone else shoes will only get you injured and discouraged, instead find your own sweep spot and gradually progress forward.

Hacks For Running During Summer Time

  • Run at the coolest time. One of the hacks you can do to avoid the summer heat is run during the coolest point of the day. Good thing, free software and some apps can show the temperature highs and lows for the day or even for the week so you can schedule your run accordingly. Usually, sunrise and sunset are the coolest times. Midday is the hottest. But since weather changes can be abrupt, it’s best you check an app.
  • Look for a shady alternate route. Every runner has that favorite route. But when it comes to extreme weather conditions, you may need an alternative route to keep you safer from the elements. During summer, choose less open routes. Settle for more shades, like areas with more buildings and trees. Nowadays, there are apps which can calculate the distance of the route using GPS. They also show visuals. Use the app to get the distance. That way, you still get the same distance you run in your usual route.
  • Wear sweat wicking clothes. Even by regular standards, sweatpants and baggy clothes are a no-no. You don’t want them flapping around, then heavy and sweat-soaked in several minutes. Luckily, sweat-wicking clothes are now available in stores. Brands like Adidas, Nike and Under Armour have running apparel which takes sweat from your body and lets it evaporate inform of your clothes. This way, you are cooled off, feel more comfortable and lessen your risk of being exposed to bacteria build up. Most of these clothes are lightweight and trendy, adding more appeal to the technological benefits they already provide.
  • Wear light, breathable shoes. If you’re clothes are on point, you shoes should be too. Wear running shoes which are lightweight and made from breathable materials. These type of shoes allow your feet to ‘breathe’. Good circulation prevents hot, sweaty feet and bacteria. Heavy and stiff shoes typically wear you down. Light and flexible ones let you accelerate and move more efficiently.
  • Consume additional water. Even before you run, you lose more fluids during summer than any other season. You lose around six to 12 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of running. Pre-hydrate before you run. Drink an additional glass of water. Look for possible ‘hydration’ stations as well. Drinking fountains in the path, or even a convenience store you can buy some water or sports drinks.
  • Wear sunscreen. The sun’s rays are good for you. But they can also be unforgiving, especially during the summer. Don’t forget to apply some sunscreen. Even a thin layer with a high SPF will help protect your skin from certain cancers and diseases.
  • Run by feel. For sure you have a target pace, time and distance you want to achieve. But before you try to reach that, get the feel of your run. The heat and humidity will affect your performance despite of your best efforts. So don’t force it. Acclimatize by running at a slower pace. Adjust on the fly. If it feels you’ll be exerted double the effort just to achieve your goal, tone it down a bit. Don’t force anything. Work on your target slowly but surely.

 

Breathing While Running

It was speaking about how nose breathing will improve your performance 100 fold! I first went into detail about the history of nose breathing, from it being one of the most important factors in yoga and relaxation. It spoke of how they train race horses by forcing them to breath through there noses while training. To explain more about the yoga part first. You have to understand this huge point, which is your nose was made for breathing. Your mouth was not, now obviously you can breathe through your mouth but notice how when you wake up in the morning with a sore throat every time you sleep with your mouth open. That is because your mouth has very little protection from everything that is harmful in air. Your nose has tiny hairs called cilica are there to protect you from the harmful stuff in the air. Also when you breath through your mouth you are actually teaching your mind and body to hyperventilate. That cannot be good in any situation. Nose breathing allows you to fill your lungs up 70% more to capacity. Nose breathing also naturally slows down your heart rate, and allows you to go longer and faster. That is key to performing at a higher level. Heart rate has to stay down while you have more air and energy to out perform great athletes.

I learned that when they train race horses, a technique that they would use is to place the horse in water to swim distances and they would clamp the race horse’s mouth closed forcing it to train breathing through its nose. Now I don’t know how animal rights activist would feel about this but I do know that this will make anything that breathes a better athlete. This article went into depth about how babies come out doing this. You ever watch a baby when he or she sleeps? They sleep with their mouth closed, and then can learn bad habits growing up. I saw all this information and I knew that I needed to apply this technique in my football training, so I started slow by jogging my 2 miles in the morning only breathing in and out my nose. Then I started to practice deep nose breathing in my hotel room to expand my lungs.

Something that I still do to this day is I do yoga. Yoga is great for flexibility, but most people do not understand that it teaches you how to breath and expand your lung capacity. This could be huge for normal fitness people and athletes. It got to the point where it came natural to me in the game or in practice and I could start focusing on my football technique instead of dying out there because I couldn’t breathe. My tip is to start slow by just doing something maybe like a warm up with only breathing in and out your nose and then start doing hard workouts like sprints breathing through your nose to work up to your actual games and/or competitions, and just watch how much you feel better.

Run a Faster 5K

The 5k race is a distance which could possibly slip by you very fast, but aiming for the finish line unprepared, you could be facing unnecessary exhaustion and tiredness in the second half of the race. Having said that, the next obvious thing is having a training plan in place which is designed to address the exact demand – in this case, increasing your speed at a 5k race.

Reaching your personal best is THE GOAL! In order to accomplish a successful PR in a 5K, there are a few different types of workouts you should be inculcating into your training plan. You will be required to go a step beyond just your general aerobic runs, which will keep up your general fitness levels, but not your speed limits in a 5K. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ training program and you are going to want to tweak the workouts a bit to suit your needs. What a 5K training plan will do is develop the following areas in a gradual but consistent manner: Endurance, Strength, Speed, Tapering.

5K Speed Training Plan:

As is rightly said, ‘Train hard and go in rested’ is a good policy to follow. How to run a faster 5K is possible only through a dedicated training plan. Below we have taken into account some 5k specific workouts to incorporate into your 5k speed training plan to achieve that PR!!

  • Interval Runs:

Interval runs are used to up the runner’s anaerobic threshold levels, endurance levels and build muscle strength.

One minute intervals:

Start off with a pre-warm up by walking two to three minutes, warm up with a ten minute run at an easy effort. Follow with one minute of hard running, and one minute of recovery – repeat 8 sets of the same. Relax by running with an easy effort for five minutes followed by a three-minute walk.

Two-minute intervals:

Start off with a pre-warm up by walking two to three minutes, warm up with a ten minute run at an easy effort. Follow with two minutes of hard but with controlled effort running, and one minute of walking and one minute of jogging for recovery – repeat 6 sets of the same. Cool by running with an easy effort for five minutes followed by a three-minute walk.

1-2-3 Intervals:

Start off with a pre-warm up by walking two to three minutes, warm up with a ten minute run at an easy effort. Then repeat the following steps three times –

One minute of hard running but with controlled effort and one minute of an easy walk or jog for recovery.

Two minutes of hard running and one minute of jogging and one minute of walking for recovery.

Three minutes of hard running and one minute of walking and two minutes of jogging for recovery.

  • Tempo Runs: Tempo pace is completing a workout at speeds approaching 5K pace and maintaining it for a significant period of time. A tempo race is typically three to seven miles of distance to cover at a pace that is 30 -45 seconds slower than your 5K race pace. This workout is intended to be a hard effort, but not an all-out effort, which means that at no point in time should you be in oxygen-depleted stage whilst at tempo pace.
  • Hill Repeats. Hill repeats are a workout which will improve your efficiency by coaching a proper stride during fatigued legs. The concept is to run up an adequately steep hill for 40 to 60 yards, walk back down to the base of the hill and recover by waiting it out for two to three minutes before going at it again. Once a week, head for a hill repeat, taking in at least eight to ten sets each time.
  • Taper: Tapering refers to the reduction in your intensity and mileage before your race. In the case of a short race like the 5K, your taper would also require being short.

About Running Speed and Endurance Training

Speed is a combination of strength and power.

Strength is the maximum force your muscles could produce. It is developed through hill training but also with some weight training that should be focused on lower body parts.

Power is a neuromuscular capacity depending principally upon the fastness at which muscle fibers can be recruited for force execution, then movement. It is trained through short sprints and track repeats workouts. For example, 60m short sprints repeats with complete recovery is an excellent way to stimulate neuromuscular system in a way it is forced to engage as much force as possible in a very short bout of time.

Less structured types of exercise like fartlek or strides are also utilized to develop speed; these are methods not leading to a high level of tiredness while significantly enhancing speed-oriented capabilities of the runner. It is proven that neuromuscular system has memory, then not stimulating speed oriented components during training is a sure way to not succeed in being fast in the future.

When strength and power enhance, and speed is brought to an acceptable level, the next step is to work at maintaining this speed for a longer period. After all it is the prime principle of long distance running: run fast and long. Speed endurance is the term employed to qualify this capacity; it relies upon the muscles ability to maintain the high and fast force production longer and longer.

Challenges to deal with when training endurance is the production of acid lactic in tissue at a certain speed named Lactate Threshold. The fine art of training consists of elevating the threshold so that good speed is kept on an extended amount of time. Admittedly, lactate threshold pace can be maintained for one hour. It is then just above half-marathon pace for non-elite runners.

To train speed endurance, you should make middle to long length repeats on the track at a pace above lactate threshold. That means for example 800 meters or 1k repeats at 5k race pace. Recovery should be kept short to not let muscles the opportunity to recover completely, and then simulate endurance conditions and race rigor.

Finally, working below lactate threshold allows to make longer repeats length or split tempos for a duration that could extend to one hour at marathon pace. This type of work allows to situate precisely in race conditions and to teach muscles what exactly the speed they should maintain for this determinate duration (sometimes feeling so long during the race) looks like.

Barefoot Running Phenomenon

Ive been getting pretty fed up with struggling through every run with sore ankles, arches, knees and hamstrings and had almost given up and decided perhaps I just wasn’t built to run any further than 5km (even though I have in the past completed 2 half marathons and 1 full marathon, how I did this I have no idea!) until one of my clients started training for a half marathon and it got me thinking again about Barefoot Running.

The theory goes that over the last few hundred years or so (I’m no historian!) our feet have slowly been getting weaker from constantly being put into highly cushioned and “protective” footwear. Because our feet have not had to use their natural sensory and proprioceptive abilities, the muscles and tendons have become weaker and the pathway that sends messages from the foot to our brain’s has all but grown over.

What most of us don’t realize is that our feet are a highly sensitive tool, similar to our fingers and lips. If you think about how much we use our fingers to tell us whether something is hot/sharp/cold/slippery and then imagine trying to use your hands in the same way but whilst wearing giant mittens, this is basically what wearing highly cushioned shoes has done to our feet.

We no longer use them the way they were made to be used, resulting in 8/10 runners being injured over and again. The other major influence highly cushioned shoes has had upon us is the “heel to toe” technique. If you are anything like myself I have been rocking a pair of Asics and a solid heel to toe running technique for years. And I have the injuries to show it.

Landing on your heel with a dead straight leg sends an impact weighing twice your body-weight right through your ankle, knee, hip and into your lower back – there is no shock absorber other than the joints it travels through. When you land on your mid-foot, your knee is slightly bent; helping to absorb some of the impact into our calves and quads and away from our joints. If you take your shoes off and try a few hundred meters barefoot, you will most likely find that you naturally start to run mid foot. This is how we were made to run.

If I look back to when I was a kid right up until about 16, I never wore shoes unless I had to, ran like the wind and suffered no injuries. This is because each step I took I was landing on my mid-foot ( the wide fleshy bit just behind your toes) and my feet were using all their sensory abilities to send messages to my brain that increased my proprioception and in turn strengthened my muscles and tendons!

So, long story short I have brought a pair of vivo barefoot shoes ( the streets of London are no place for actual barefoot!) which are basically a thin bit of traction rubber designed to ease my feet away from my Asics towards a more natural and strong gate. I have also purchased “Born to Run” by Chris McDougall and 3 chapters in I can highly recommend it as an entertaining and educational read.

This, of course, could be another fad like all the rest, but the more I read the more sense it makes. I think Barefoot is onto something good and here to stay. All I need to do now is stop writing about it and get outside to give it a whirl!

Clothing For Running In the Dark

Luckily, times have changed so much since I began running over 30 years ago. It used to be that you could get a reflective vest and that’s about it. Or, you hoped that someone could see the small reflective strip that was on your running shoes. Now, there are so many neat things that you can use to run safely. Read on to find out different things that you can wear to remain safe.

Reflective running vests as well as reflective strips that go around your arms or ankles are still available. And, still one of the best ways to stay visible. The vests are lightweight and you really don’t know that you have them on – and they certainly make you noticeable to oncoming traffic. The strips are also easy and just wrap around and fasten with Velcro. The only downside that I’ve found with these is that when wearing them on your arms -sometimes they will slip and become annoying.

Reflective caps are something that I’ve come to love. I wear caps all the time anyway. You can get caps that are completely made of reflective material. Caps also come with a flashing red light on the back. Recently, I purchased a cap that I’ve fallen in love with. It has lights on the brim. The lights shine as a high beam (to illuminate the path in front of you), a low beam (to see your watch or more closely at your feet) or you can use both high and low beam at the same time. I wore this cap the other morning – and it worked great!

Running tops and jackets have come a long way with keeping runners safe, also. You can get jackets made completely out of reflective material. These work great – and with the newer “runner friendly” fabrics keep you warm and safe at the same time. Also out there on the market now are jackets that have a light source. Saucony makes a great running top (yes, I just had to get one) that has a small light comes with it. The light fastens onto the sleeve and can stay on all the time or you can set it to blink. And, the coolest thing about this – it plugs into your computer to recharge!

If you find yourself having to run in the dark from time to time, make sure that you are making yourself visible to oncoming cars. Luckily these days, you can also do it in style!

How To Do Hill Repeats

Find a hill for your hill repeats that is approximately 500-600 feet long. You want the hill to be steep enough that you are tested – but you want to be able to maintain proper form as you climb.

You want to make sure that you are warming up before you start your hill repeats. A nice slow and easy 1½ miles is a good warm-up before you get to your hill. You want to speed up slightly as you start up the hill – a good rule of thumb is your 5K pace. Push yourself, but make sure that you are keeping proper running form.

Make sure that you are not looking at your feet – concentrate on 10-15 feet ahead of you. This keeps you focused your hill. It is also important to make sure that you keep your shoulders relaxed – don’t tense up. As you pump your arms, keep them low and swinging front to back. Some runners cross them side to side in front of them – and this will hamper you in getting up the hill. Keeping your arms pumping lower and your stride will shorten and quicken – which will also help propel you up the hill.

As you reach the top of the hill – don’t stop – keep running through the crest of the hill. Slow down and jog slowly down the hill for your recovery. Then, do the hill again. After your repeats, make sure that you do an easy mile or so for a cool down.

To begin, you only should do 2-3 repeats during a workout. Then, you can add 1 repeat a week. Most advanced runners will run between 8-10 repeats in their workout. Also, you only need to do hill repeats once a week. You may also want to do different hills for your workouts – trying steeper hills one week and a longer hill another week.

Running hill repeats really can help you to become a stronger runner. They will hurt a little in the beginning, but after a while you will definitely see how they are helping you with your overall running.

Comparing Vibram Shoes

The issue of injury in running is also the main reason why many people are getting intrigued with the Vibram shoes. This brand of minimalist running shoes claims to possess the most comfortable and safe means of running. By theory, it really doesn’t provide a cure to prevent all injuries. But what does instead minimizes at least the same risks and at the same time offer maximum performance.

So the essence of any Vibram shoe is to let everyone engage in running while making sure they don’t risk themselves and their body to injury and pain. Now let us take look at the most popular models of the product line.

KSO

The KSO is labeled by many as the runner’s perfect choice. The acronym stands for Keep Stuff Out. The design basically provides better protection compared to other similar products from outside forces and debris such as water, dust, mud, and others, hence the term keep the stuff out. It also utilizes a strap for the purpose of better fitting and comfort. Apart from the strap, it is also equipped with the least amount of foot sole inside, making it ideal for more flexibility and feedback.

KSO Trek

The Trek is a KSO upgrade in many ways. For one, it uses kangaroo leather, which in turn has been proven to be more durable compared to that of the regular nylon material. The same kangaroo leather can last up to a hundred and thirty miles. The Trek is specifically designed with more treading. This corresponds to being the perfect footwear for running and taking on gravel, sand, and other tough terrains. The Trek is also a lot more stylish and cooler than the first KSO.

Bikila

Finally, you have the very popular Bikila. This footwear deviates from the notable weaknesses found in the KSO and other previous models. This is still intended for running but there is more treading. It provides the best comfort a Vibram footwear could offer. The plastic protector placed on the top of the toes also comes in handy for long mileage.