Prove your fitness on race day, not in workouts

Save the killer efforts for when it matters most

About a month ago, I ran a 5 mile race at 6:03 pace. Cesar asked me how I could run that pace for a 5 mile race when my mile repeat workouts were slower (generally 6:20-6:30 pace in early spring, working down to 6:10-6:20 pace). As I recall, I offered a two part response.

First, I was doing shorter repeats at faster than 6:00 pace so it wasn’t a pace I was unfamiliar with.

Second, I wasn’t racing my workouts. I would expect my mile repeats to be slower than 5 mile race pace. If they weren’t, I’d be close to race effort in my workouts.
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Rebounding from a busy holiday

I hope all of my fellow Americans had a wonderful 4th of July. I ended up keeping things low key but this past weekend, when I spent 12 hours at a theme park on Saturday, got me thinking about what some of you may be facing right now: that fatigue from a busy day or two.

It will affect your running but how to do keep that to a minimum? Here’s what I did to minimize the impacts on my running.
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Tracking devices: what’s useful?

About three months ago, I got the new Garmin Forerunner 645 after dealing with some issues for about 9 months with my old Forerunner.

The 645 is an amazing device on many levels. As a running device and fitness tracker, it measures about everything you could imagine that something simply strapped to your wrist can. It’s not perfect at everything but what it can do is pretty amazing.

That said, there have been plenty of reviews of this device. This is not about the device itself. It’s about the usefulness of all the things our watches can track these days. As I’ve stated before, all of this data can be a blessing and a curse.
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Ask me anything

It’s again time for one of my favorite things to do. Once again, it’s time for me to invite you to ask me anything you would like!

Within reason, nothing is off limits. Ask about training, racing, my thoughts on any news in the sport. Ask about the site, the coaching service, Club HillRunner.com or anything else that’s going on.

If you want to ask publicly, you can do so in the comments, on Facebook, or you can tweet at HillRunner.com or my personal account. If you want to ask more privately, you can use the contact form or, if you’re friends with me on Facebook or know my email address, you can reach me through those options.

So what have you been thinking about and wanting to ask?

Monthly roundup: May 2018

This month, I’d like to address a topic I often find myself discussing: running your easy days easy enough.

Then I’d like to address a few very common beliefs many runners carry around that are not (or may not be) right:

1) Running isn’t bad for your knees, possibly even if your knees are bad to start.

2) Lactate is not your enemy.

3) “Extreme” running may not be bad for your immune system.
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Developing Targeted Treadmill Workouts With NordicTrack And Other Experts

NordicTrack recently reached out to me to work on a project with them and I am excited to be able to share that project with you.

Some other blogging runners and I were brought together by NordicTrack to help runners everywhere learn how to develop targeted treadmill workouts. So, if you want your treadmill runs to be more targeted for your running needs, keep on reading!
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Remembering Coach Conway

I heard the news today that my first running coach and one of the two or three greatest influences in my life passed away yesterday.

Many of you who know me well know how important Coach Conway was in my life. He was a role model, inspiration, and mentor.

To those of us lucky enough to have been mentored by him, our lives have been transformed for the better because of his role in our lives.
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Summer running

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Summer is here! Or so we hope here in Wisconsin. It’s time for vacations, beach time, camping, and all kinds of outdoor fun!

It’s also time for the summer racing season, big workouts to prepare for those races while working through the heat and humidity, and all the other running considerations.

We all think of winter as the challenging and dangerous season for runners but there are challenges and safety considerations we need to keep in mind during the summer also. As well as the adjustments that we need to make not for our safety but to ensure we’re getting the most out of our summer time training.

Note: Some of what I say below may sound like medical advice. It is NOT meant as such. I am not a medical professional. I am just stating common suggestions for dealing with issues you might face while running in the summer. If you have any health related questions or concerns about your health, please seek the advice of a medical professional.

Pace: slow down

For most runners, ideal running weather is somewhere around 50-60 degrees (about 10-15 Celsius) with low humidity. When it gets cooler, you don’t slow down drastically but you do have to dress for it. When it gets warmer and/or more humid, there’s only so much you can do to dress for it. After that, the heat and humidity stress your body and you must slow down or pay the consequences.

Especially as the temperatures climb through the 70s and 80s (about the 20s Celsius), the stress on your body increases rapidly and you need to slow down or you will push your body too far.

What can we do about this? Slow down. Unfortunately, there’s not much else there is to do. I always remind myself that my paces will slow in the summer but they will come back strong in September and October as the temperatures get closer to ideal again.

If you’re racing in the summer, that’s fine but understand that it might be better to compete against other runners than against the clock. Even then, understand that some people are less affected by the heat than others. There are things you can do to mitigate the effects (hydrate, train in the heat to adapt to it, etc.) but there is only so much you can do. Don’t get upset about things out of your control. Believe in yourself and the process and know that things will get better as the weather cools.

Hydrate!

Hydration should always be a focus for runners. Most people walk around in at least a mild state of dehydration all the time. Runners are more susceptible because we are out there sweating. Add in higher sweat rates due to the heat and we’re even more susceptible.

The best form of hydration most of the time is water. You don’t generally need sports drinks or other “hydration” drinks. Water will work just fine.

The one exception might be on long runs. Unless you’re doing an extreme long run, you don’t necessarily need calories as you should have enough fuel in your body before the start of a long run to fuel the run. However, you’ll be sweating out a lot of electrolytes, primarily sodium – salt, and it can be a little risky to replace just water without also replacing those electrolytes.

Note on hydration

Don’t go overboard! Current recommendations are to drink to thirst. As you may have noticed over the past several years, there have been some cases of hyponatremia going around the running community.

Some people think of hyponatremia as an over hydration issue and it largely is. Most people who have suffered it simply took in far more fluids than they needed. However, the actual health concern is an imbalance of nutrients.

There is some evidence that taking sports drink or electrolyte tablets will reduce the risk of hyponatremia by keeping nutrient balance better in check. However, the most proven effective way to reduce the risk is to drink to thirst.

Overheating

Overheating is a real concern, especially on our hard days, whether races, long runs, or workouts.

The best ways to minimize the risk of overheating are to slow down and run in the early morning or late evening.

Pay attention to how you respond to the weather and what conditions hit you the hardest. Early morning is cooler than late evening but it’s also more humid. If you suffer in the humidity but do fine in dry heat, evening running may work better for you. If you can handle the humidity but not the heat, morning runs might help you out.

If you do start feeling overheated, find a shady spot, get some cool fluids if you can, and rest. If you stop sweating on a hot day, this is a sign of a serious problem and you should do all you can to cool down as quickly as possible.

Sun exposure

Finally, be aware of the amount of sun exposure you’re getting. Vitamin D is great but we don’t need much sun to cover our bases there. Skin cancer is not great. Again, running in early mornings and late evenings is the best way to reduce your sun exposure. If you do need to run in the middle of the day, get a good sweat resistant sunscreen and look for shade if possible.

Running in the summer is great! I wouldn’t give it up for anything, other than maybe a crisp October day. I hope you enjoy your runs this summer. As you do, also make sure you get the most out of your runs while staying safe. Keep cool and have a great summer!

Photo credit: _MG_7936.jpg by Gord Laqua, on Flickr