Most runners spend at least a portion of their runs outdoors, especially as the weather gets better in the spring and summer months. Running outside is a great way to get through those challenging runs by having more to look at than the treadmill in front of you at the gym, which is a great tool to keep your mind active. While there are many benefits to running outside, doing so increases your exposure to the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Over time this exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer.
It is recommended to wear sunscreen while spending any time outside but many runners find the greasy feel of sunscreen unpleasant. Wearing a pair of running arm sleeves with a high UPF factor is a great solution. These sun sleeves are made by a number of manufacturers and can block 97.5-100% of the sun’s harmful rays. If you are a casual runner or a pavement-pounding veteran, the sun protection that running arm sleeves offer is one of the top reasons to have a pair in your running kit.
How often do you start a long run when it is a little chilly outside and then end up around mile 4 regretting that extra layer you put on? It happens to the best of us. Even if you take off that long sleeve tee, you’ll have to carry it with you for the rest of the run. Which leaves you with two choices, be too hot or deal with the annoyance of a shirt tied around your waist and slog through the rest of your run.
This is where the beauty of running arm sleeves comes in. If you had a pair, you could start your runs comfortably warm, and then just slip them down toward your wrists when you warm up. Worst case you have to take them off, which is easy to do while staying on that 8 minute pace. They can easily be tucked into your amphipod belt or case and be out of your way, adding little extra weight to carry. This works great if your run travels through some forested areas that are noticeably cooler than the uncovered portions of your route.
Some runners use compression sleeves for arms to help reduce swelling induced by longer runs. This swelling is due to muscle vibrations and tears, which induce an inflammatory response. This draws excess fluid into the arms. Wearing compression arm sleeves helps prevent arm swelling.
Compression arm sleeves can also be used as a recovery tool. After a long run simply put on a pair of recovery compression arm sleeves. These compression sleeves increase blood flow, which helps the removal of lactic acid that built up in your muscles during your run. This speeds the amount of time it takes to recover from a long run and also reduces muscle soreness.
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.
Take it slow
Experts have devised a set of guidelines called “The 10% Rule.” Simplified, this rule recommends an increase in training mileage at 10% per week and no higher. The motivation behind this rule is to avoid training errors which occurs when the human body is subjected to sudden changes in running intensity and mileage.
The body requires a recovery period so that it can respond well to the demands of training. Rushing the body may result in muscular and soft tissue injury. Experts in sports, biomechanics and kinesiology all agree that pushing too hard is not the answer to advancing forward. On the contrary, it can even delay successful achievement of running goals.
The best approach to training is to increase the monthly and weekly running mileage total based on the 10-percent rule. A person who is injury prone must also consider a lower target such as 3% or 5%. Even top runners base their training program on this rule and they apply the same principle when they engage in interval training, trail running, and hill running as well as other training activities. This approach is also helpful to a runner who wants to gauge their personal training threshold.
Listen to your body
It pays to be sensitive to what your body is telling you. If there is pain anywhere, pay attention to it. Do not dismiss it, but take appropriate action. Don’t drown the pain in medications, but instead take decisive action to determine what’s causing it. Even at the slightest sign of discomfort, it is best to lower the running intensity for a while or even substitute other lighter activities such as walking or bicycling. It is important to remember to return to running only when absolutely pain-free. A consultation with a sports medicine specialist is the best way to go.
Remember that running is a physical activity that puts immense amounts of stress on the human body. Although it does not involve lifting weights, the lower limbs still receive repeated high impact loading. Be a smart runner and include injury prevention in your training program.
Good warm up is the key
When running farther, your mental preparation isn’t actually the only factor to doing it. If you want to run as farther as you can, you need to prepare your body as well. While you don’t really need to do an extensive warm-up and stretching session like if you were to run at your maximum speed, you only need to do a few exercises to prepare your muscles for more strain and to prevent yourself from getting injured (don’t forget to cool down as well after every running session).
Don’t push yourself too hard
I know that most people are impatient because they need instant results. However, if you want to build up a good running endurance, then patience must be in your gear bag. Good runners usually put in very small increments that most people don’t notice. However, after several weeks or even months, these small increments become very obvious to anyone. Try increasing your distance by 5 or 10% each week. When you first start, try to measure what’s your maximum distance that you can’t cross. You should stay in that zone until you become comfortable with it. After a week, try to increase it a little and get comfortable to it and so on and so forth.
I always perform better when I have company with me. The reason behind this is that you get motivated when someone is running with you. Motivation is what keeps a beginner runner away from giving up on running the first few weeks. So try to make use of it.
Shed Weight with Protein
As you know, protein is critical for muscle repair and proper recovery, but it can also help you suppress appetite by keeping hunger pangs at bay. Researchers at the Cambridge University and The University of Sydney found that people who ate a daily diet comprising of fifteen percent protein consumed less calories protein – 1036 fewer calories over four days – than those whose diet is ten percent.
Ditch the Low-calorie Drinks
Low-calorie drinks are popular but don’t let the label fool you. Research from Yale University found that diet drinks can actually hinder weight loss by making you crave sugary foods. These drinks are usually full with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharin, which boost blood sugar levels thus increasing your desire for unhealthy snacking and the likelihood of overeating.
Banish the Booze
You may like your beer, but in excess it can wreak havoc on your weight loss and training performance. According to a Swedish study published in the journal Obesity, consuming alcohol boosts cortisol levels and diminishes testosterone in men, thus leading to an accumulation of abdominal fat. Not only that, researchers at the University of Helsinki found that alcohol hinders post-workout recovery by cutting the delivery of fatty acids and carbohydrates for the body.
Make It Consistent
Though the above eating guidelines can help you lose the pounds for good, what makes the difference is consistent action. In other words, you need to implement what you’ve just learned on a regular basis – at least up to the point where you start getting the desired results. To be consistent with your running weight loss program, you need to take small steps, think baby steps. Seek incremental progress, not perfection, as the famous alcoholic anonymous saying goes.
- Running helps your brain age better.
We are all worried about gray hair and wrinkles, but how many of you give a second thought to your brain showing signs of age. In addition to preventing or reversing age-related shrinkage, running affects brain chemicals in a way that sets runners up to have healthier-than-average brains later in life. Researchers proves that athletes’ brains showed greater metabolic efficiency and neural plasticity.
- Running boosts your ability to learn and recall information.
Moderately fit people do better on memory tests than those who were less fit (or not fit at all). There is also a great deal of research that links running to a better ability to focus, to juggle multiple tasks, and to make distinctions. Most runners will tell you that they can focus on tasks way better after they have logged some miles. Personally, I have a hard time focusing if I haven’t had my morning sweat session.
- Running conditions your brain to store more fuel.
Most of you already know that training conditions your muscles to store more fuel, but you might not realize that your brain adapts in the same way. Researchers believe that larger glycogen stores in the brain may be one of the reasons running boosts cognitive function.
- Running keeps your brain full of feel-good chemicals.
Exercise promotes the release of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Additionally, like many antidepressant medications, running helps your brain hold on to mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. It does matter where you run. Studies show that best results are achieved when running out in the open, in nature – like in a park, on a trail, or on the beach. Quiet, serene spaces are better than crowded city street, and far better than the treadmill at the gym. Several studies found people in parks experienced brain activity similar to that seen during meditation, while people on streets experienced frustration.
Running shoes that are under the stability category are designed to control your feet from turning outwards when you run, balances your heel, and supports the arcs of your feet. These types of running footwear provide extra cushioning and excellent stability for your feet when you run. These shoes are for runners who lands on the outside of their heels and slightly turns their foot inward (pronates) when running. The arc of these shoes are not as rigid and may have varying degrees of support.
The shoes under the neutral category are usually designed with a flexible forefoot and soft but firm mid-sole. These are the best types of shoes when you tend to land on the outside of your foot. You can determine where your foot lands by checking the soles of your old shoes – if the outside of the sole is worn out, then you tend to land more on the outside of your feet. This may also be the best pair for people with a high foot arc. Check if the arc of the shoes you’re planning to buy has enough support or rigid especially if you have a high foot arc. These kinds of shoes support the arc of your foot more than your ankle or your knees. You can observe that this type of running footwear often has a curved sole.
The soles of running shoes under the motion control category are usually straight or flat. Some designs have slightly curved soles but the main goal of these running footwear is to keep the heel secure and minimize the rate of pronation when you run. These shoes usually have a wider landing base for your heels, and a strong, rigid heel counter. These are good for runners who have flat feet or low arches. Runners who tend pronate their feet and have unstable knees when running can benefit more from these types of running shoes. Check the soles of your old pair – if they are worn out on the mid-sole, then this category is for you.
Here are some tips when buying your running shoes:
- Walk and Run in the store. Spend time with your chosen pair before buying it. I know lots of people who buys specific kind of shoes just because they discovered that some great runner used it to finish first place in a race. You have different needs and what works for others may not work well with you. Test out the running shoes in the store. Don’t be afraid to take a few steps on them and even run a couple of meters if possible. Some good running stores even have treadmills for you to run on!
- Don’t throw your old pair – yet. Bring your old pair of running shoes to the store where you’re going to buy your new shoes. If the place where you are shopping for a new running shoes is specifically a running shoe store, they may have staff who knows about shoes and can analyze the wear pattern of your old shoes. Because you will want to try on walking and running on your new shoes, bring your socks with you and any orthotics if you have one. If the running store have equipment for foot analysis, do not hesitate to have your gait analyzed even if you already know your foot arc or foot type. Let the staff know your running history, goals, injuries and what type of training you usually do.
- Know your soft spots. One of the main reasons why we need to wear shoes is comfort. Your feet should be comfortable enough while you walk or run in your new running shoes. Pressure spots or loose fitting shoes often leads to blisters.
- Perfect Fit for your Feet. If your running shoes are too loose and your feet slides inside your shoes, you will lose energy on every push off that your feet makes when you run. It is okay to adjust and re-adjust the laces of the running shoes while inside a store. Tie your laces so that you have a feeling of security without discomfort.
- Running shoes are special. They are designed specifically for forward motion (i.e., running forward), heel cushioning and arc support. If you have time to observe the soles of different types of shoes, you can see that they have horizontal line patterns on their sole. If you plan on using running shoes for other sports or physical activity, you will wear them out faster and you may even risk yourself injury. Cross-training shoes are designed for more lateral support (moving sideways, etc.) and toe flexibility. Buying a different pair like a cross-trainer for other activities is a good investment because your running shoes will last longer and you will reduce risk of injury.
Luckily, anyone with flat feet can live a normal and happy life. For the jogger, it is essential to take extra care while jogging. There are stretches and exercises that can reduce the suffering caused by having flat feet. These exercises certainly help and can be a part of a long term solution. Some people even find yoga helpful to strengthen their foot muscles and tendons.
Exercises can only go so far; people who run on a weekly basis, need to do more to avoid injury. Many joggers have turned to jogging barefoot, or wearing minimalist shoes such as Vibram Five’s. Many people do not like running without shoes as they offer protection from the elements and hazards. This makes running difficult for anyone who overprontates to run comfortably. Luckily, there is a way to run without pain without sacrificing pain. All of the leading shoe manufacturers make running shoes designed specifically for flat footed runners.
Stability shoes offer ample mid-sole cushioning, while still offering support and durability. The most popular stability shoe is the Nike Zoom Structure Triax + 15. The Asics Gel 2170 is also a reasonably priced shoe perfect for people with low arches.
Motion Control shoes offer more support than stability shoes and are excellent for heavier joggers and walkers. Some motion control shoes are too thick and heavy, but luckily there are a couple of great motion control shoes.. The New Balance 1226 is supportive while still offering flexibility, the design of the Asics Evolution 6 is perfect for anyone looking for superior motion control while not sacrificing comfort.
Anyone who has flat feet needs to take action to prevent injuries in the future. With ill fitting footwear, the jogger is vulnerable to injuries to the whole body, from the feet all the way to the neck. Anyone who stretches their feet properly, and who wears the correct shoes will alleviate most, if not all, of the symptoms and pains associated with having flat feet.
First of all, if you run at different paces, it may be a good idea to only stay together at the beginning of a workout together or the end. If one of you is a faster runner, you may get irritated having to run at a slower pace. And, actually, it can be harmful to you. So, plan to just run the first mile (it will be the warm up for the faster runner) or the last mile together.
Another variation of this is if one of you runs farther than the other. You can run as far as one of you wants – and then the other can continue on their longer run. This can be done by doing a loop around your neighborhood and then dropping one of you back at the house. If you go somewhere to run – while one is running farther – the other can make a water run.
Don’t try to be your spouse’s coach during your runs. Barking orders at them can only cause them to roll their eyes at you and be silent the whole run. If they ask for your opinion – that’s one thing. But, if you are constantly trying to get them to run faster, breathe differently, etc; – you will end up running by yourself very soon. A better way is to wait until after your workout and then casually say, “it may help you if… “
If you run a road race together, you don’t want to compete with each other. Instead, you want to encourage each other and cheer each other on to their best race possible. Racing against each other will only cause resentfulness later on. Just be each other’s best cheerleader.
When I was in high school and college, creatine had just started becoming immensely popular, especially among weightlifters and football players.
Creatine is something that occurs naturally in the body that helps supply energy to the cells in the body, with a focus on muscle tissue. Numerous studies have been done on creatine, and while originally thought to have negative side effects, more recent studies are showing that creatine taken in the right doses could actually be fairly safe. (Talk to a doctor before running out to the store and buying some!)
The theory behind creatine supplements is that they will help boost your energy and recovery so you can push yourself past your natural limits. Creatine has a short burst effect in the body, which makes it better suited for the weightlifting or sprinting crowd rather than the endurance runner.
Creatine comes in many different forms, but if taken in a pill form before an endurance event it can be devastating. The gastrointestinal side effects creatine pills can have will leave you wishing you’d have just stuck with a bagel and banana. If you’re an endurance runner, creatine is best left alone.
Oddly enough, this one had never occurred to me as something that athletes would use as a supplement for training. I learned about ibuprofen the hard way having taken it for a headache before going for a run. Like creatine, ibuprofen can have some horrendous gastrointestinal side effects, including destroying your stomach lining.
Ibuprofen has been extremely common for endurance athletes to use prior to running. Runners believe that taking it before running helps mask any pain they might feel while running and let them go longer and/or faster.
Here’s the problem – medicines like ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug – which covers pretty much every over the counter medicine except Tylenol) can cause major problems for you, especially if you end up dehydrated. We’re talking kidney failure, heart problems, and even death.
Earlier this year, a healthy 23 year old died during a marathon due to a hemorrhage in his GI tract that was attributed to taking ibuprofen during the race. Is that kind of risk really worth shaving a couple minutes off your time?
I am a huge fan of whey protein. After I finish a run, I find it’s the perfect snack when mixed with a smoothie. Whey protein is considered to be a safer supplement, easy to digest, and helpful in aiding muscle repair.
Whey protein is the byproduct that’s left after cow’s milk is converted to cheese and is rich in amino acids that work with your muscles.
The thing is though, it’s better taken after a run rather than before. Taking it after makes it easier for your body to digest and will allow it to work with building your muscles after they’ve been worked. Before a run, it may just sit heavily in your stomach and not really prove beneficial.
Like with any other product, you should always do some research before using whey protein, but I do find Designer Whey to be one of the best whey protein products out there. It’s designed to dissolve quickly in liquid, which means your body will have an easier time absorbing it. And it tastes delicious!