February 23, 2012

5 Tips for Long Distance Runners

Last night after my Wear Blue: Run to Remember Volunteer meeting, I was going through my emails and received an article on long distance running from  I was intrigued and started reading the article and the first thought that came through my mind was, "I need to share this with my fellow runners on my blog."  The points that they mentioned were on target with what has been helping me be a successful long distance runner.

So, here is a summary of the article.  If you want to read the full article, you can click the link above.

1.  Patience 
Give yourself a long enough training runway to properly prepare. With more time, you can increase your running happiness meter and evolve into the best runner you can be. If your upcoming race is a new distance for you, give yourself time to succeed.  A little extra time allows for life's inconveniences (illness, travel, aches, pains) and will keep your long-distance running on track.  Practice patience and evolve into your best runner.

2.  Planning
Use a planner (digital or paper) and plug in your life schedule first. Include your travel, obligations you can't get out of, holidays, and other events that may be potential training obstacles (including your cycle, girls). Then begin to plug in your training around it. While doing so, consider your busiest days, your calmer days, and develop your training days with the flow of your life.

If Mondays suck the life out of you, schedule an easier paced run that day and balance the energy demands so you can recover efficiently and train harder on a lower stress day.  There is an optimal training recipe for everyone and all you truly need to do is create your plan with the flow of your life. When you do, you'll recover quicker, improve faster, and run stronger. 

3.  Cross Train
Cross-training runners have shown to have fewer aches, pains and injuries. They develop balanced strength and maintain a constant level of motivation through the season than runners who don't cross-train.
Cross training allows you to maintain a high volume of training, while lowering the impact on your body.
Modes that are similar to running such as cycling and elliptical (or the ElliptiGO) are great to mimic the running motion but don't have the impact forces on the body. This allows you to recover faster. More importantly, add an activity you enjoy as you'll look forward to it and it will translate to a more satisfying training lifestyle down the road. 

4.  Run Mindfully
Some days will be perfect: you wake up fresh and can't wait to run; your running clothes match (including your socks) and you feel like you can run forever. Other days, will feel like you wonder why you're even trying to run: your breath is labored during the walking warm-up; your iPod dies in the middle of your workout and every mile feels like 10. This is the life of a marathon runner.

The key is to maximize every workout to push on the days you feel like a super hero and ease up on the throttle on those challenging days. When you adjust in the field, you allow your body to run at the right effort on the day and recover more rapidly -- setting yourself up for a stronger run down the road. Run by your effort, by your breath and how you feel rather than a pace on your watch. Pace is the outcome; effort is the focus.  Your pace will vary based on sleep, recovery, fuel, stress, fatigue, and more. Your effort will be your north star and guide you through a high-quality workout and efficient recovery. 

5.  Take Note
As you create, modify, and tweak your training plan,  keep track of all the details along the way. It's a great way to stay motivated as you'll see your progress in time and an effective means to optimizing all the secondary training variables including number of hours of sleep each night, your diet and the changes you make along the way, what you eat or drink while running, stress level, travel, mileage on your shoes, flexibility, strength and more. Long-distance running is the staple ingredient for your training, and these variables flavor your recipe giving it structure, stability, and success. Whether you use a manual or digital log, keep tabs on the details—because with every mile, you're creating your marathoning style. 

These are great tips that I have been using during my marathon & ultra training.  I hope you find them useful and can implement them into your training.

Happy Runnings.

February 21, 2012

Hydration & Long Runs

So, it's been a few days since my 12 miler on Saturday.  After the run I felt sore and exhausted.  I knew that the soreness was probably because of being tense from the cold, wind, and rain.  What I couldn't figure out was why I was feeling so worn down and exhausted.  It took me a very long time to catch my breathe.  I drove home, took a shower, and still was feeling a bit out of breath.

Disclaimer:  I'm about to say something a bit nasty, but I'm sure most can relate.

After going to the bathroom and seeing the color of my urine, I realized why I was so exhausted.  I was not properly hydrated.*  Where did I go wrong?  I've been thinking about this since that day.  It's now Monday night and this run was on Saturday morning.  Obsessive much?  Yes, I am!

 *Dehydration causes fatigue because if your body doesn't have enough fluid, it draws fluid from your bloodstream, making your blood thicker.  When your blood is thicker, it puts more strain on your heart resulting in fatigue.

I know I hydrated properly the evening before...and the morning of.  So, I must have failed properly hydrating myself DURING my run.  I have to admit that I usually drink more water than I did this past week.  Our friends from Patriot's Landing in DuPont are always out there (rain or shine) on the 3 mile route handing us bottled water.  They truly are awesome and put a smile on my face every week.  I usually take a bottle and sip on it during the course of the run.  I haven't yet mastered the art of running and drinking at the same time, so I usually have to stop to drink.  Lately, I've taken a bottle and have practiced drinking on the run.  I'm slowly mastering the skill.  (Sounds silly, I know).  Back to the point.  This week, I didn't take a bottle with me because I didn't feel like carrying it.  It was cold, windy, and raining.  No thank you, I couldn't be bothered with carrying that bottle for miles.  BIG MISTAKE!

I did have a small cup of water at the other water stops and had a cliff bar as well.  So, I'm sure my issue was not having enough carbs.  Side note: I finally have learned how to eat and run at the same time...I know! Silly. But on long runs, it's essential.  For those training for the ultra marathon (the 12 miler), I stashed some water and gatorade along our route.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at that point, my cooler was gone.  Someone took it.  Not sure if someone wanted the cooler, the contents, or took it by accident to store for Wear Blue.  At first I don't think any of us minded much, but when we headed back to the park, that water was really missed.  In reality we went almost 1 hour without hydrating while running.  NO GOOD.

I don't think I felt it much during the run because it was extremely cold, windy, and raining.  I just wanted it to be over.  You don't really feel yourself sweating and I guess the rain prevents you from feeling dry (even dry mouth).  However, it was a great learning experience.  No matter what the weather, how much you sweat, or how you feel at the moment, you must hydrate. 

This is why long runs when training for endurance events are so important.  You learn what works and what doesn't work.  What you should and shouldn't do/wear.  What you feel comfortable with or in and what you don't. 

So, I leave you with 2 important things you should know as a runner.
  1. Importance of Hydration
  2. Importance of Long runs
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please leave me a note below.

Happy running.