Sunday, October 14, 2012

That's all she wrote...

Well, race day came and went. It was a long, soggy affair. Well done to everyone who chose to toe the line despite the weather. I'm proud of each and every person who ran the 5K, 10K, half and full marathons. You all did something that few ever even consider. Congratulations.  

I've really enjoyed writing this little blog. I was grateful for the chance to have an outlet for my obsession with endurance sports and to provide a little help to folks along the way. I hope that some of you have gained some knowledge from the blog and will refer back to it when or if the time comes. I consider this blog the start unofficial start of my coaching business, Emerald Island Endurance.  I am now available for coaching for all types of events, with specific emphasis on running and triathlon.  Interested? Drop me a note and we can get started right away. 

On a personal note, I am three weeks away from my own big fall race.  I will be racing the New York City marathon on November 4th.  I am running this race on behalf of Team Continuum, a non-profit organization that provides immediate, vital, assistance to cancer patients and their families. Unlike other cancer-related charities that raise money solely for cancer research, Team CAN has differentiated itself by advocating for cancer patients' immediate needs.  Put simply, Team CAN is about care, not the cure.  I humbly request that if you have enjoyed or benefit from this blog in anyway, that you make a donation to Team CAN on my behalf. You can donate directly online at: Bree's Team Continuum Page. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. 

Run for your lives my friends,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Avoid these prerace nutrition mistakes

A very timely article from Runner's World

5 Prerace Nutrition Mistakes


Get a good night's sleep tonight. It's actually more important than the night before the race.
This has always been a comfort to me since I generally don't sleep well the night before due to nerve.
More race day tips coming tonight and tomorrow!

Run for your lives,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Taper...a blessing and a curse

Oh, the wonderful complex world of tapering.  It never fails that every time I train for a big race, as the mileage and hours build, I find myself longing for the taper. If I can just make it to taper time, I will bask in guilt free wonder as I relax and let my body rest and prepare for race day. And then taper time arrives and I feel irritable, lazy and I begin to question every little tingle I feel.  I take solace in the fact that pretty much everyone goes through this same mental battle and IT'S COMPLETELY NORMAL!

What can you expect during a taper? Yes. The answer is yes, you can expect that.

There seems to be no wrong or right way to feel as you navigate your taper. What is wrong, however, is to question the benefit and necessity of a taper. Once you've entered the taper phase, the hay is in the barn, so to speak. It's very easy to question your training and your fitness, but you need to trust your body and the hard work you've done. Sit back and enjoy the extra time you have on your hands. If you have a lot of nervous energy, try meditation or visualizing how you'd like your race day to go. Don't decide to paint your house.

Here are things to avoid or watch out for during taper:

Making up for lost runs - You may have lost a long run or two along the way. Regardless of why this may have happened (injury, work, family), trying to squeeze one more long run in before race day is a big mistake. It can only lead to injury or extra fatigued.

Trying something new - An upcoming race can do a number of your nerves and may tempt you to make irrational decisions, like deciding you need a new pair of shoes for the race or trying a new nutrition plan that involves only coffee and cigarettes. Stick with what you know. Trust yourself and follow your plan.

Eating too much - You may have grown accustom to eating a few more calories during your training and it can be hard to stop this when your volume decreases. Be mindful...reduce the overall amount of food you're eating while still sticking to your normal food choices.

Not tapering - this seems like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people think they don't need to taper or decide half way through the taper that it's doing more harm than good.

Run for you lives,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Snot rockets!

I couldn't help but share this great article on perfecting the snot rocket; a skill that every runner really should nail down.  Apparently this is going to be the week of bodily functions. Sorry...but not really.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Everybody Poops

There are two types of runners.
1. Runners who have GI issues when they run.
2. Runners who don't have GI issues...yet.
While it may be a taboo subject to discuss, the fact is that most runners have experienced some degree of GI distress whether they admit it readily or not.
At the most basic level,  the reason for stomach rebellion  has to do with where your body diverts blood. When you are running, your running muscles (mainly your  quads and hamstrings) demand attention and so your body obliges by giving them extra blood and giving less to your GI system.  Add to that the nice jostling action of jogging and you may be in for trouble.
Tips on how to reduce and limit the issues:

1. Stay hydrated - dehydration draws even more blood and fluids from your GI tract.  It also makes it harder for your body to absorb fluids (and gels, etc.) you may take it during the run, especially during longer efforts. Try to drink 6 to 8 oz. of water 20-30 mins before your run and then drink to thirst during. Also take a few sips of water with each gel if you are using them.

2. Give it time - don't eat a meal or snack and then run out the door. Give your body time to clear out before your run. Big meals should be eaten 3 to 4 hours before, while snacks usually only need an hour or two.

3. Choose wisely - avoid high fiber and high fat foods before you run.  An ideal pre-run meal or snack isn't over complex and contains a bit of easy to digest protein.  Also try to avoid sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, which can have a laxative effect.  Lactose is another culprit and can cause issues whether you are lactose intolerant or not.

4. Don't try anything new on race day -  experiment with liquids and gels during training, not on race day. You never know how your body is going to react to a new product...don't wait until race morning to find out.

OK. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Run for the lives...but don't have runs for your life


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Give me a beat

Listening to music gives you an undeniable emotional edge when running. In fact, some races will not let runners who are professional or vying for an age group prize listen to music as it is conceived as an unfair advantage.

There are purists out there who think that listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc. takes too much away from the experience of running and inhibits your ability to get in "tune" with your body. There's also the safety aspect to consider. Running with music obviously hampers your ability to hear oncoming traffic...or bears.

But, I think those that take advantage of audio company far outweigh those that don't. So, for those of you who DO listen in...I thought it would be great to get the ultimate play list going.
Songs that I favor tend to be ones that I know well and can hum or sing along to or that remind of happy times. A nice thumping beat doesn't hurt either. Here is a sampling of what is on my running playlist right now:

Bruises - Chairlift
Lose Yourself - Eminem
You Make My Dreams Come True - Hall & Oates
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Simon and Garfunkel
Home  - Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
Lonely Boy - The Black Keys
Callin' Baton Rouge - Garth Brooks
Rockin' the Suburbs - Ben Folds
Paper Planes - M.I.A
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Sunshine - Jonathan Edwards
Faith - George Michael
Time to Pretend - MGMT
See The World - Gomez
Messages - Xavier Rudd
Anything by Vampire Weekend

Let's hear it from you. Post your favorites in the comments. Remember - there are no judgements when it comes to taste in running music!

Run for your lives,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Give it a rest already

Rest and recovery are just as important to any training plan as the workouts themselves. While some people long for their days off from exercise, some people really struggle with stepping back for a day or two.  By giving yourself time away from running, you allow your body to adapt to the stress you have been putting it through and come back stronger. Failing to allow for adequate recovery can lead to disproportionate fatigue, feeling flat during all your runs, injury, or burn out.

Aside from the physical break you are giving your body, recovery days are a good mental break from endurance training. They also give you a chance to reconnect with family and friends or catch-up with things that may fall by the way side while you are focused on your running schedule.  Not that I have any experience with that. I’m just guessing it might come up from time to time.
Aside from not running on rest days, there are a number of ways to enhance or speed up your recovery following your runs. They include massage, foam rolling, legs up the wall, or ice baths.

Massage – I don’t think this one needs much explanation. There are a number of highly skilled licensed massage therapists on the island that can work wonders on sore muscles or trouble spots. Lately, I’ve been visiting Linda at Northwoods Massage and have been very happy with the results.

Foam Rolling – Foam rolling is essentially self massage. While it’s not usually as effective as a full on massage by a professional, using a foam roller in a very good alternative and can be used every day. Fair warning, this is not a fun exercise. Be prepared to cry and shout profanity. This means it is working. A particular sore or painful muscle indicates that is deserves extra attention and is most likely very tight or weak. Take heart that this will become less painful as you work to eliminate knots and soften your muscle facia.
Here are a handful of links that show some good foam rolling exercise:

Legs up the wall – This is actually a restorative yoga pose that many runners and triathletes swear by. All it involves is lying on your back and sticking your legs up a wall. Stay in the pose for 1 minute for each mile you’ve run and try hard not to fall asleep.  Oh yeah…don’t get up too fast or you’ll wind up back where you started.

Ice baths – Full disclosure here…these can actually be more miserable than foam rolling. I have taken ice baths. I’ve taken many ice baths. I have been reduced to tears by ice baths. And I will do it again. Submerging yourself in ice cold water for 15 – 20 minutes post run will do wonders for inflammation and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). But they are painful. Oh man, are they painful. I recommend having a good book, magazine or powerful narcotic to distract you while you are sitting there watching the clock until you can get out. 

Run for your lives,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting warm...

Good article from Running Times on recent research on the best strategy for warming up before a race or long workout.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Last cycle of training for the half!

Here is the last four weeks of training for the half marathon.  The long runs in this phase are plenty long enough for you to practice your race day strategy, including what shoes and clothing you will wear and your nutrition plan. 

Your long run will peak at 11 miles, but don't fret too much if you only reach 10.  Don't worry about the fact that these runs still leave you shy of the 13.1 you will run on race day. Your training and tapering, along with the excitement of race day will easily carry you those extra couple of miles to the finish line.
As your weekly mileage continues to grow and reach it's peak, rest and recovery become especially important.  Listen to and respect what your body is telling you and relish your rest days. 

The taper week, which is week 12, is critical component of the plan. I will be posting soon about the ups and downs of the taper. 

Run for your lives,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stretch it out

Stretching ain’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of standing and bouncing your way to touching your toes. There are a lot of different approaches to stretching these days, with some folks saying that it’s not at all necessary.  And, while I think that some people can probably get away with little or no stretching, I believe that most people can benefit from practicing an efficient stretching routine.  I am an advocate of dynamic, as opposed to static stretching. This means that you stretch through movement, rather than holding your muscle in one position for a period of time.  If you choose to stick with static stretching, never stretch a cold muscle! Either perform your stretching after your workout or after you’ve warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes. Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, can be done before or after your run.

Here is a nice pre-run dynamic stretching routine that I follow and adapted from Runner’s World. Don’t start too quickly. Start slow and steady, focusing on form. As your muscles get looser and the exercise get easier, you can increase the speed in which you do them.

Swing one leg out to the side, then swing it back across your body in front of your other leg. Repeat 10 times on each side. Next swing one leg front anad back. Repeat 10 times on each side. Feel wobbly? Hold onto a steady object.

 While standing tall, walk forward with an exaggerated backswing so that your heels come up to your glutes. When this is easy, try it while jogging. Do 10 reps on each side.

Get in a "pike" position (hips in the air…like down dog). Put your right foot behind your left ankle. With your legs straight, press the heel of the left foot down. Release. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Lift your left leg up, bending the knee so it points out. Try to tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand without bending forward. Repeat 10 times on each side.

 Keeping your back and knees straight, walk forward, lifting your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes. Advance this by adding a skipping motion. Do 10 reps on each side.

Step forward using a long stride, keeping the front knee over or just behind your toes. Lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight.

Run for your lives,