Showing posts with label running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running, an Individual Sport

While there are ways to make running a team sport, such as relays, track meets, and cross-country teams, it is still by its very nature an individual sport.

To me that means that I am responsible for what goes into my running, and I get all the benefits of what comes out.  I can't go out and run awesome and feel great if I don't put in the time to train and practice.

Another similar individual sport is golf.  The thing I like about golf is that if you put in hard work, you will see results.  While you may have good days and bad days, if you are a beginning golfer you aren't going to go out and shoot under par on 18 holes, because there is not that much luck involved.  You need to be a skilled golfer to do that.  This is the same for a beginning runner, you will not go out run 6 minute pace in your first 5k.  You have to train and improve your skill to reach that level, you don't just get there from being lucky.

The one thing luck can give you is people that positively influence you, or train with you as a partner or team.  Even then, it is ultimately up to you to put in the practice and training necessary for you to improve.  And when you do improve or achieve your goal, it is OK to feel good about it.  It isn't selfish to feel good about your accomplishments. That good feeling is the motivation to put in the effort to get there in the first place.

So go out there, put in the work, get the results, and feel good about it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Start Running, Week 2

It's week two of the Start Running plan. W'll step up the workout slightly, but we'll keep the four days of rest to make sure your body has plenty of time to recover and rebuild muscle between these workouts.  I'm sure your legs, ankles and knees are pretty sore after the first week, but that soreness will fade and you'll soon be able to go run for miles without being sore the next morning.  It's important to know the difference between muscle soreness and pain.  Learning the differences will help you identify if you are doing anything to cause injury versus just getting a good muscle building workout.

A warm up and cool down should begin and end your workout, this is typically just a couple minutes of slow walking and stretching your legs and arms out.  Your run pace should be comfortable, not fast. A pace of 9:30 to 12:00 minutes per mile is normal for a beginner depending on age, fitness level, and gender. 

Week 2 Plan
Day 1: Half mile walk/run intervals.  4 miles total.
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Half mile walk/run intervals.  3 miles total.
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Walk half mile, run half mile, walk half mile, run 1 mile at easy pace, walk half mile, run half mile.
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest-Week 3 will be more running and less walking.

Extra Curriculars:
  1. Make an appointment to see your doctor for a physical.  Be sure to tell them you have started to run and ask if you are healthy enough to train for a 10K.
  2. Visit a local running store.  Tell them you are new to running and would like their help in selecting a new pair of shoes.  They should take good care of you and help you select a shoe that is right for your foot.  Be sure to get sized, and make sure the shoe has enough room in the toe to and hold your foot snug to prevent blisters.  Don't be afraid to spend a good amount of money here.  A good pair of running shoes will last you 400-500 miles and help prevent injuries.  Consider the purchase your reward for making the commitment to get into better shape through running.
  3. Start looking for local 5K races in your area that are coming up in 2-3 months.  Consider signing up to give yourself some additional motivation for training.  Races may seem scary at first, but you'll soon find out that they are extremely fun and exciting activities.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

For the Ladies!

Only 37% of the marathon field at the 2012 Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, California, were women. But 61% of the Surf City Half Marathon participants were women, and if you combine both the marathon and half marathon participants, 57% of the 16,581 runners were women!

What does this mean? From local running groups to 5K's to half marathons and beyond, you can be sure that there will be plenty of fellow female support - in short, there is no better time to get out there and start running! To help, below are some tips that I've picked up along my way.

1. Invest in a good pair of shoes. A good friend of mine was working hard to get in shape for her first half marathon, only to have to drop out a month before the race due to plantar fasciitis - an injury that could have been prevented with proper support.  The shoes I'm running in today are the ASICS GEL-Excel33. It's worth the time to visit your local running store and have them fit you with a shoe that will support your foot and personal running style.

2. And, of course, a few good bras! My favorites are the adidas TECHFIT Bra and the Nike Pro Compression Bra. Like regular bras, you may have to try a few brands and styles before you find the perfect fit, but a good bra will make all the difference in comfort while you're running!

3. Headbands are a necessity. I have long hair. And I tend to get grumpy when I cannot keep my hair out of my face while running. Instead of giving in to my urge to cut it all off (an urge I unfortunately succumbed to during a Mexican vacation which left me with a sunburn and very bad hair for longer than I'd like to remember) I braid my hair and use these: Scunci No-slip Grip Headwraps. They might be a bit tight at first, but true to their name, they don't slip and work like a charm!

4. Find a running partner. Running with a friend, significant other, or local running group is a great way to stay motivated! If you find yourself without a partner, grab your iPod shuffle. and hit the road!

5. Find a favorite running trail. You'll find yourself looking forward to your runs so much more if you enjoy the scenery along your route. Don't be discouraged if you find a trail that you love but it's longer than you're capable of today.  Walk part, run part, and look forward to the day you're able to run the whole thing!

6. Get a great bag to tote your gear! If you're headed to the gym on a rainy day, or maybe out to a Saturday morning race, this bag will be perfect for toting shoes, water bottles, a banana, and flip-flops and a dry shirt, post workout or race!

7. Finally, get a racing outfit! Tiger Woods wears red and black every Tournament Sunday, it's just one more way that he knows it's go time. Come up with your own color scheme and race attire, I guarantee it'll help psych you up! And go wild with colors, when I'm not running, my go-to is a grey t-shirt and jeans, but on race day, I love this combo!

Gradual Progress

The rule of gradual progress for distance running is a valuable tip I picked up from the book Chi Running. The author, Danny Dreyer, explains that everything that is a great accomplishment comes through a gradual development sequence or progression.  If you are building a house, you would start with excavating and pouring a foundation, then building the walls, then putting on the roof before you start to finish the inside and move your things in.  If you didn't follow that sequence, it would be a disaster.
He applies this principle to distance running. It is important to set reasonable expectations as you start running, and allow your body to make the necessary changes to help you through the stages of development as a distance runner. Injury prevention is often overlooked by most individuals new to running, but a sudden injury will quickly put a stop to your progress as a runner.  Injuries are irreversible, so the only way to not have them is to prevent them before they happen, otherwise you are faced with weeks, maybe months or years of recovery.

There are many other great tips in the book Chi Running.  It's an easy read with great pictures to help you improve your running on a mental and physical level.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

You'll feel better when you're done!

I hate running! A common thought among beginners and even those that have been running for years. It's hard. Some days a mile feels impossible.

But you don't quit. You keep pushing, find the energy to take the next step, and finish your run. And it's an amazing feeling that is all your own.

Growing up, I was always around fitness.  If I got up early, I would find my mom in our basement, working out to recorded episodes of classic 80's workout TV. I watched my mom teach aerobics while I ate my Happy Meal and played in the kids' room at our local fitness center.  I even sometimes joined in her summer afternoon water aerobics class, splashing around to Calloway's "I Wanna Be Rich" ( you know you love it).

But growing up, my family wasn't runners.  We played tennis, and instead of running cross country or track, I played on the high school tennis team.

I didn't start routinely running until after college, after gaining the "first year of real work, along with a commute" 15 pounds, and finding that I needed an efficient way to get in, and stay in shape. I had run a few 5k's, and maybe a mile or so on the treadmill once a week, but I didn't consider myself a runner, and definitely didn't think I had the physical makeup of a distance runner.  I'm shorter, with an stockier athletic build, not long, lean muscles that seem so perfect for running miles and miles. But I started slowly, walking a mile to warm up, and then running a mile or two, and walking again as a cool down.  I found a 6 mile running trail nearby, 3 out, 3 in, and fell in love with it.  Most days I would walk at least half of the 6 miles, but when I was feeling really great I would run 4 or 5.  The first day that I ran all 6 miles I remember feeling invincible. I think this is when my addiction began.

But I'm not saying I'm always jumping out of my pants, barely able to contain my enthusiasm to run. You've heard of Catholic guilt? Well, I've got it, but in a slightly different form.  On days that I'm exhausted and would rather pour myself a delicious beverage and sip it slowly, my mom's voice is inside my head: "Get out there. You'll feel better when you're done!" Surprisingly, 9 times out of 10, I do. And to that 10th time, I say, " Pour me another glass, I've earned it!"

Start Running, Week 1

If you are new to running, I would like to welcome you and say that I'm glad you are making the commitment to get in better shape, improve your health, and dedicate yourself to a hobby that is motivating and positive for you and those around you.  Many people have also made the same commitment and it has changed their lives.  Some run for fun, others have goals of completing half or full marathons and possibly qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  It is important to keep your goal in mind every time you run.  Running doesn't have to be a chore, it should be something positive that you are doing for yourself.

The first few weeks of running are hard, and may cause you to rethink your commitment.  I'll give you some tips on how to get started, remain positive, and prevent getting burnt, out or even worse injured.  I'll also provide a basic plan to follow.  Plans are great to keep you focused and structured, and keep you from doing too little or too much and burning out and quitting.

Week 1 Plan
Every running plan should incorporate two basic things: running and resting.  As you become a better runner, more details will become incorporated such as cross training, speed-work, and long runs, but at the beginning it's these basic things.

For week one, I want you to pick three days to workout and you will have 4 days of rest. 
Each workout day will consist of walking and running intervals.  This will boost your cardiovascular system and begin to build muscle.  A warm up and cool down should begin and end your workout, this is typically just a couple minutes of slow walking.  Your run pace should be comfortable, not fast.  I repeat, not fast.  This is not a race, so don't treat it like one. A pace of 9:30 to 12:00 minutes per mile is normal for a beginner depending on age, fitness level, and gender.  You need to have discipline in your training, and follow the rule of gradual progress.  Gradual progress means that you can't immediately become great, you need to improve a little bit at a time as you train, get more fit, and gain more experience.  So here's the plan:

Day 1: Half mile intervals of walk/run/walk/run.  3 miles total
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Half mile intervals of walk/run/walk/run.  3 miles total
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Half mile intervals of walk/run/walk/run.  3 miles total
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest, get ready for Week 2

Don't worry about it if you need to move the days around, just try your best to get in 3 days of working out and 4 good days of rest.  Those rest days are when your muscles are rebuilding, they are very important.

If you are running outside and don't have distance markers, I recommend trying out  There you can plot out an outdoor course in your neighborhood or local park.   Once you create a few courses you can use them over and over again, and change them up by running different routes each day.

If the weather doesn't cooperate, it pays off to join a gym to have access to a treadmill.  I always recommend running on a treadmill at 1% incline to better represent outdoor running.

You can run in the morning before work or school, or at night after work or school, or whenever your schedule allows.  I have noticed that I typically have less energy at the end of the day making the workout more challenging, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

You may be wondering what equipment you need to get started. Luckily running doesn't require much. As you run more you will begin to form preferences for your apparel and gear as time goes on.  I will also talk about some of the items that have worked well for me personally.
  • Athletic shoes, preferably good flexible soled running shoes. We'll talk more about that later, but for now anything with a nice flexible sole will work to get you started.
  • Athletic socks.
  • Athletic shorts or pants.
  • A towel, it's nice to wipe sweat from your face.
  • A water bottle, hydration is very important!  I have found that bicycle style water bottles are great for running, they are easy to use while running and won't spill all over you. 
  • A plain t-shirt will work, but shirts with breathable fabric will be more comfortable and chafe less.
  • A sport watch.  Just a basic sport stop watch with a lap memory will help you track your mile paces as you run.  I recommend the Timex Ironman series.  They make watches for men and women.

Now is also a good time to start a workout tracking sheet.  Keep track of the distances or times that you run each day.  This data will turn into valuable information as you begin to improve.  You will begin to see gradual improvement as your training progresses both from the data and your physique.  Seeing that is great motivation.

Have fun.  See the Week 2 post for next weeks tips.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Great Gift Ideas for Runners

GPS Watches:
Garmin Forerunner 305
This GPS watch is the classic. This model includes a heart rate strap, and USB cable for downloading training results and courses to your computer.

Garmin Forerunner 405CX
This is the updated version of the Forerunner 305.

Nike+ GPS Sport Watch powered by TomTom
Only has 3 hour battery life, not recomended for marathon running/training.

The Ironman series of watches by Timex are a classic staple of running. Lightweight and feature packed, with large lap-memory and a big display.

Heart Rate Monitors:
Measuring your heart rate is the best way to analyze the amount of effort you are exerting while training, making a heart rate monitor a valueable and essential training tool.

Pedometers, like this model from Omran, keep track of the number of steps you take each day. Many come with cables for dowloading step data to your computer for history tracking and analysis.

Music Players:Apple iPod Shuffle
An affordable, lightweight, and long lasting MP3 player that is perfect for using while running indoors or outside.

Apple iPod Nano
Everything we love about the shuffle, with a touch screen.


Water Bottles:
Fuel Belt offers a wide line of water bottles, including belt models that make carrying them easier. They are available in many sizes and colors.

Polar makes an insulated water bottle that keeps your drinks cold. Great for running and cycling.

Camelbak makes a variety of backpack styled water bags like the Hydrobak 50oz, available in different colors.

Energy gels like these from Gu and Cliff provide essential nutrition for long training runs and races to keep you from hitting the wall.

Powdered electrolyte drink mixes replinish the electrolytes lost in sweat helping you to recover from training more quickly.

Gear Essentials
Look for shirts made from breathable fabrics. Brooks makes high quality running apparel used by the pros.


These brightly colored jackets made by Brooks are good for improving your visibility to motorists.

A light colored hat can keep the sun out of your eyes and keep your head cooler when running outdoors on a sunny day.


If buying as a gift, be sure you know their size and shoe preferences. Some runners consistently buy the same brand and model.
Asics Gel Nimbus 13

Brooks Pure Connect

Tifosi makes a variety of affordable sport sunglasses.

A good quality sport sunscreen won't wear off with sweat. Should be SPF 30 or greater. Don't wait until it's too late!

Runners need a way to carry all of there gear around when travelling or going to a race. A nice bag from Asics or Adidas are perfect for carrying shoes or a change of clothes.

Resistance Bands are great for toning and strength training.


Born To Run

Chi Running


Without Limits

Spirit of the Marathon

Chariots of Fire


A magazine subscription is a gift that keeps on giving, with new issues covering the latest in training tips, stories, and reviews of runnign gear.
Runners World

Running Times

Fun Stuff

Gift Cards:
Let that runner get whatever they have their eye on! Amazon sells almost everything that a runner could want.