There are two major aspects of training for runners; the physical training, and training of the mind. When training for a race, we push our bodies to the limit, and experience success through hard work, sweat, guts, and exhaustion. Yet, no matter how hard we push our bodies to work, without the proper mental training and attitude, the legs will say, “go” but the mind says, “no”. Here are three basic ways to “train your brain.”
Goals are perhaps the most important part of a training plan. Without proper goals, you lack structure and motivation in your training. A proper goal should incorporate the SMART goal guidelines:
Specific (example: hitting 6 min pace or faster for a 5 mile tempo run)
Measureable (Running sub 20 in the 5k)
Adjustable (changing goal from wanting to break 40min in 10k, to break 41 minutes first)
Realistic (A 3:05 marathoner hoping to break 3 hours)
Out of all the important elements of training, perhaps the most important one is the simplest of all; sleep. There are many great benefits to a good night’s rest, besides just feeling refreshed on your morning run. When you sleep, your body releases HGH, the human growth hormone that helps aid in muscle and soft tissue recovery. Sleep also boosts the immune system, along with cardiovascular, brain and nervous systems. Sleep helps keep your metabolism and weight under control. When you deprive yourself of sleep, your body starts to change the way it stores and processes carbohydrates. Sleep deprived runners face problems such as decreased cardiovascular performance, decrease in the hormone leptin, which helps us control our hunger, an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which makes us feel hungry.
The number of hours of sleep necessary for each runner varies. Typically, the average person needs about 8 hours of sleep for general well-being and beneficial recovery. However, some runners may feel ten hours are necessary. Its important to note that the number of hours of sleep you need does not decrease with age, even though the number of hours slept at one time may become difficult. Continue reading “Sleeping More Can Improve Performance”
After recently taking a trip out west to a running camp in Mammoth Lakes, California, I’ve experienced the feeling of frustration while trying to adjust to altitude. Despite the heavenly display of panoramic mountain views, I found myself counting down the minutes of my first few runs while I huffed and puffed the thin, dry mountain air. It’s a common known fact that altitude affects breathing, particularly when you’re an endurance athlete embarking upon a long run. Yet, beyond this difficult stage of shortness of breath and what seems like jogging, people training at altitude know that the more they struggle up there, the easier it gets down here. Altitude training has become increasingly popular since the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when Africa and Mexico dominated the distance events because they were fully acclimated years in advance. Since then, altitude training camps have popped up in great numbers, and people have tried everything from altitude tents to masks, in attempt to compete with their African rivals. While altitude training is proven to increase red blood cells and oxygen delivery, there are a few things to know about benefits, disadvantages and risks involved in the adjustment process.
Have you ever thought about all the little pains us runners deal with day to day? From our feet, ankles, calves, hamstrings, and knees, to our hips, groin, back and more. Sometimes we wish there was just one magical cure for all of these problem areas. Active Release Therapy, the manipulation and movement of soft tissues, can actually help cure injuries of all these areas. Active release therapy (ART) is a hands-on massage technique used by doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists (see Runners Feed Wellness Team) to locate and break up adhesions to help heal soft tissue injuries.
When you hurt a muscle or ligament, the body’s natural response is to heal the area by laying down scar tissue. However, this scar tissue can shorten the muscle’s range of motion, therefore causing pain or stiffness. While scar tissue or adhesions may heal the muscle temporarily, eventually it becomes a nuisance if it isn’t broken up. Once the soft tissue is damaged, injury can lead to altered biomechanics for compensation. Continue reading “What is Active Release Therapy?”
Have you ever scheduled a morning run the night before, only to hit the snooze button ten times, then run straight to the coffee maker rather than the trail? If you’re anything like me, or the 45% or so of us who are not early birds, you understand completely. It’s not that we don’t love running, or that we’re lazy, after all, sleep is important. However, there are many benefits to morning runs to consider. Next time you’re lying in bed wanting to hit snooze think of the acronym GREAT to help you jump out of bed and start running.
Goals – Posting your goals somewhere you will look every day is important. Try posting them on a sticky-note near your bed or alarm clock. Every time you see the note it will remind you that your goals are more important than your 10 extra minutes of sleeping.
Routine – Create a consistent morning routine that you follow even on mornings you don’t run. Although it may be tempting to sleep in late those days, it can really throw off your whole schedule and keep you up at night. Routines will also help you stay on schedule with your daily tasks, and running early has the benefits of extra hours of free time. Finally, when race day comes, you’ll be used to this, and won’t be that person yawning on the line. Continue reading “Finding Motivation to Run in the Morning”
When it comes to refueling, sports drinks can be very beneficial to runners. They aid in preventing cramps, dehydration, decreasing muscle damage and provide energy. Every year some new product hits the market claiming to be the best for your body. With many fads over the years favoring certain drinks over others, how do you know which to buy? Here is a review of several popular sports drinks available.
Like most sports drinks, Powerade provides electrolytes lost through sweat. Its patented ION4 formula includes sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, along with B vitamins for energy metabolism. Powerade provides 14 grams of carbohydrates, 100 milligrams of sodium, and 25 milligrams of potassium per 8oz serving. All eight flavors that Powerade sells are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. If you’re looking for a low calorie option with all the same electrolytes, Powerade Zero has zero carbs and calories, and is sweetened with sucralose. Continue reading “Choosing the Best Sports Drink”
Have you ever been on an easy 5-mile run with a friend, you hit 40 minutes at an assumed 8 minute pace only to discover their GPS watch says 7.95 miles. You stop, but your friend jogs around in circles until the watch reads 8.0 miles. You can’t help but laugh as you see this, but then again, maybe this is you. While the technology in the last few years is impressive and certainly can help you train smarter, some of us forget how to run free, go by feel and give our watch tan-line a break. It’s important to understand when to use these gismos and gadgets, and when to leave them at home. After all, many of the world records still exist from days long before ipods and heart-rate monitors, and it didn’t take a GPS watch to measure the first marathon completed in ancient Greece.
Everyone gets nervous before a race. The days leading up to a big competition are often particularly stressful. We start to worry more and more about our diet, rest, and training. The funny thing is, no matter how nervous we are, the stress goes away as soon as the gun goes off, and those butterflies fly right out of our stomach. It’s all because running is a top notch stress buster. Not only does it produce those good old endorphins that give us the “runner’s high,” it also gets oxygen flowing to our brain and allows us to enjoy the fresh outdoor air and escape everything else in our busy lives. So how is it that running, a sport known to reduce stress, can end up making life more stressful?
Keep Running Simple
We’ve all had those moments when we start stressing about eating right, getting sleep, getting sick or injured, or deciding how fast to run. Then once you add in all the stress from school, jobs, families and social life, running becomes almost a chore at times and fitting it into our daily schedule can be difficult. If this sounds familiar, it is time to reevaluate your outlook on running. The best thing about running is that you only need yourself, a place to run, and probably a pair of shoes. Running is simplicity. Running shouldn’t be a cause of stress; it should be a cure. Continue reading “Running To Reduce Stress”
For as long as I have been a runner, I have always been a fanatic for running quotes. I can remember back in my freshman year of high school I printed off a fifty-page packet of running quotes I had collected. Each day I would scroll through the pages and carefully select the perfect quote to write on my coach’s dry erase board for the following day. To me, reading those quotes was so inspiring it made me want to go run that instant, and I was certain those who read them would feel the same. Not only was the top left corner of his dry erase board one big smudge by the end of the year, but that packet of quotes was cut up into hundreds of strips of paper. I still have those quotes, a faded strip or two on my bulletin board, some taped to my mirror, others tucked away in boxes ready for the right moment when I will hand them out to someone. Continue reading “Top 20 Running Quotes”