6 Tips for Running in Heat

Read these tips to keep safe and prevent burnout during hot weather runs.

Things are starting to heat up outside, which means now is a great time to start preparing for running in the heat. Heat and humidity can make running a greater challenge and wreak havoc on your pace. In warmer weather, your body has a harder time cooling, causing your body to work extra hard. Your heart rate elevates and breathing becomes more rapid than it is during your normal pace. But fear not. There are a few tricks for running in the heat that will keep you going safely.

Hydrate

Hydration is key when it comes to running at any time of year, but it is especially important when in the heat. If your workout is less than 45 minutes in duration, water is all you need. But if you run longer than 45 minutes, you should aim to drink 3 to 8 fluid ounces of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to replenish electrolytes and energy stores. According to new research in a recent study at the University of Arkansas, thirst alone is not the best indicator of your need for hydration.

Be Patient and Change Things Up

Your body may take about two weeks to adapt to running in the heat. Slow your pace, reduce your intensity and be patient with your body rather than trying to push through it. This will enable your body to acclimate so you can continue to run without running into burnout. Your body will slowly become better at cooling off so you can run at your normal pace again.

Take Breaks if Necessary

This is especially important for new runners, but all individuals can benefit from this. Allow power breaks every 4 to 8 minutes when getting started with running in the heat. This allows your body to cool down some, helping you to manage your core body temperature. You want to avoid your body temperature rising too much, at the risk of overheating. Overheating can slow you down a lot.

Run During Cooler Times of the Day

The temperature is usually cooler in the morning and evening. If you run in the morning, you may run into higher humidity but will still be able to avoid the high temperatures of the day. The air quality is generally better in the morning as well. Avoid running between 12 and 3 pm.

Pay Attention to the Weather

If a heat alert or poor air quality have been listed for the day, consider running indoors. Running outdoors in dangerous heat will do you much more harm than good and can force your body into overdrive, taking more time to recover from the workout than usual. Nobody will judge you for hitting the treadmill for a day or two.

Dress Accordingly

Dress in technical apparel that is light colored, loose-fitting and wicking, which allows moisture to pass through to be evaporated. This will help to keep you cooler. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB rays and perhaps a hat or visor as well. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen.

Ways to Make Running Feel Less Terrible


Struggling to get moving? Try these tips!

We all have experienced it – that sluggish feeling that keeps you less-than-motivated to gear up for your next run. Sometimes a couple days off is all you need, but there are some other things you can try to add a little pep to your step.

Take Walk Breaks

One study found that regular walking intervals during a long run can help you maintain the same pace that you would have if you ran the entire way while being gentler on your body. Walk breaks are more than just physical, though. Walking breaks can help you overcome mental barriers as well, helping you to look at hurdles of long distance running that once seemed overwhelming as more manageable, smaller pieces when you incorporate walk breaks.

Play Another Sport

You may benefit from a break from the pavement. You can still get a good workout in while playing a sport. Softball, soccer, field hockey, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, and rugby are great ways to get a run in without calling it running. Look for a local league or just play for fun with friends to give your mind a break from those long runs.

Get Caffeinated

Although some health gurus might say otherwise, one study published in the British Journal of Sports Science revealed that people who drank a cup of java before a timed run on a treadmill finished quicker than those who were in a placebo group. If you are not into coffee, try an herbal caffeinated tea.

Slow your Pace

Sometimes slowing down is the ticket to making a run feel better. If you regularly battle getting going on your runs, schedule an easy day specifically for slowing your pace. You should be running at a pace that is slow enough that you can speak in short sentences. If you have a hard time slowing down, consider running with a friend to ensure you stay slow enough to be able to speak.

Fuel with Carbohydrates

Grab a carb-rich snack before hitting the pavement. A few carbohydrates can bring your blood sugar stores up and improve your mood.

Create the Perfect Playlist

Cue up Spotify and create a pump-up playlist that will get you moving. Studies have proven that music can increase your motivation and improve your performance when running. You can even create playlists that are unique to the kind of run you are on with different tempos for long runs, races, and so on. According to Scientific American, music helps to distract people from fatigue and pain while increasing endurance and elevating mood. Music may also be able to promote metabolic efficiency.

Look to Your Feet

Are you dreading your workouts because your joints are aching or your miles feel somewhat flat? You may need a new pair of running shoes. If you haven’t replaced them in the past 300 to 500 miles, it may be time!

With these simple steps, you can hopefully overcome any mental hurdles keeping you from training for your next race.

4 Reasons Rest Days are Important

Regardless of your level of running, here’s why rest days are vital.

Many runners have long lists of goals they want to accomplish. When looking at your list compared to your schedule, it is easy to breeze over rest days. Why would you slow down when you have so much to cross off your list?

The answer lies in the importance of rest days. Taking a break is as important as making time for longer runs. Rest days play an important role in strengthening your body as well as sharpening your focus. Rest days are also helpful because they give you time to recuperate so you actually want to continue with training.

Rest should never be skipped over. Each time you run, your body actually experiences a breakdown of a tiny amount of tissue. Rest days allow you time to recover after, making it possible for you to hit the pavement again for your next run. Your body needs time to adapt so you can get stronger (and faster if that is your goal). If you fail to take rest days, you may find you develop staleness to the idea of training, making it harder to stay on schedule. On rest day, your body also uses nutrients and experiences hormone and other biological changes to rebuild itself.

Regardless of whether you are a regular trainer or a recreational runner, there is good reason to take a day off each week (or more)!  Here are four of those reasons.

You Avoid Injury

Rest is vital when it comes to trying to avoid an injury. Rest days allow your body time to fully repair. The impact of running can stress tissues, which can increase cell turnover and forces the bone to become stronger. But your bones need time to repair. If you do not allow yourself time to rest, you may wind up with a stress fracture.

Your Muscles Have Time to Recover

You create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers any time you exercise, including when you run. Those fibers are rebuilt by your body in preparation for the next running session. This is great but there is a catch. The rebuilding response only occurs when time is taken off. Depending on the intensity and duration of your training session, your body needs a minimum of 36 hours to rebuild. Without rest time, your muscles will have no time to recover and will only continue to break down.

Tendons are Protected

Tendons are connective tissues that work to hold your muscle and bone together. They constantly work as you move but they do not receive blood as easily. This means that if they sustain injury, it can take longer for them to repair – another reason rest is vital. The constant beating that tendons incur during running can lead to chronic problems as a result of overuse, such as tendonitis,

Stress Relief

Running is a form of stress relief, but each time you run, cortisol (the stress hormone) increases in your body. The body does not know if you are running for fun or running from danger, so it amps up the amount of cortisol flowing through you. Increased cortisol can cause irritability, mood issues, sleep problems and other health issues if your cortisol levels become too high. If you over train without rest, you can offset your cortisol levels, causing unnecessary stress on your mind and body. Rest and recover to keep yourself in balance.

4 Tips for Running in the Rain

Embrace the elements with these tips.

Races are rarely ever canceled for rain. Some runners love a good run in a torrential downpour while others prefer to avoid running when rain is in the forecast. If you are in the latter group, it is important to learn how to embrace the elements and be prepared for inclement weather on a run.

Below are some of our best tips for running in the rain so you are not completely miserable. Chances are, with adequate preparedness, you may wind up enjoying running in rain!

Layer Wisely

If you plan to run in shorts, you may want to throw some compression shorts underneath to prevent chafing. When your body is wet, the risks of chafing are heightened.

Clothes that fit closely may also help to keep you from getting overly wet. Loose-fitting clothes are more likely to make you feel soaked and heavy. A fitted shirt and spandex shorts are a great option for rain (which can also help to prevent chafing).

If the temperature is forecasted to be below 50 degrees, grab a wind shell made of nylon or other waterproof material. This top layer will benefit you if it rains when the temperatures are cool since rain can make you feel even colder. The shell will not keep you completely dry but it helps to hold in some body heat, keeping your core temperature up, thus decreasing any risk of hypothermia. The Brooks LSD Running Jacket is a great option.

Wear a visor or baseball cap to keep rain out of your eyes.

How Do Your Shoes Look?

Take a quick look at the bottom of your regular running shoes. If they look smooth on the bottom, you may want to grab a different pair. Smooth-soled shoes are apt to cause you to slip when running. Look for shoes that have grooves on the soles that are deeper than one millimeter. These grooves enable water to run through them, offering a better grip on the wet road.

To keep your feet warmer and drier, look for a pair of shoes that feature waterproof fabric.

If your shoes have mesh and you don’t have the time or a budget to buy new shoes, you can wear thinner socks, which may keep you from absorbing much water, which could make you feel soggy and weighed down.

Be Willing to Modify Your Run

Rain can slow you down. If it rains on your sprint intervals day or a day you want to beat your personal record, you may want to rearrange your schedule. Speed workouts and time goals are not well-suited for rainy days because the weather can reduce your speed. Rain can add as much as two minutes per mile to your total time. Rainy days can also increase your risk for injury for certain types of training. Pushing off and landing on a wet surface adds more demand to your connective tissues and muscles. Endurance training is better suited for rainy days, when you can embrace the resistance provided by all of that wetness.

Modify Your Stride

When running on a wet road, you can modify your stride to decrease your risk of wiping out. Instead, take quicker and shorter strides, which will reduce the amount of time your feet spend hitting the wet surface.

Remember, if it is storming (and especially if there is lightning in the sky), stay inside.

 

4 Do’s and Don’ts of Cross-Training

Try these exercises to help you reach your goal on race day.

Cross-training is an excellent way to supplement your running, building strength and flexibility in muscles you do not normally use. There is a plethora of information out there on cross training but in an effort to simplify it, here are four rules of cross-training that will help you reach your desired goals as a runner.

Choose the right workout. It is important that you take the time to identify what your end goal is and what you want to get out of your cross-training.

If you are looking for core stabilization and strength, opt for some Pilates work. Look for online videos or hit up a class at the local gym.

If you need something restorative, opt for yoga. Yoga not only restores your body but it also improves your breathing, mobility and core strength all at once!

Looking for a longer workout with a little more impact? Hit up the gym and do some reps with barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells. These exercises are all essential to adequate strength training for runners.

Add regular strength training to your routine. Whole body strength training should be implemented 1-3 times each week. This will take your running to the next level.

Deadlifts are a great option when strength training as they train muscles that you do not regularly use when running, working your hamstrings, glutes and core. They also help to improve your posture, which betters your running form!

Another great strength training exercise is the overhead press. This exercise improves shoulder strength and mobility, which can contribute to a better arm swing when running.

Don’t replace running with cross training. Cross training helps you to mimic a run workout without adding as much of a pound to our joints. Some runners inadvertently replace runs with cross training because of this.  Remember that cross-training workouts will not help you to reach all of your goals by race day. Running should still be the focus!

If you want to change things up, you can hop on a rower or bike or even jump in the pool to get a similar workout impact as you would on the pavement. Interval workouts transition easily for runners.

Include HIIT if when you are in the off-season. After race day, you can train however you want. During the off-season, you can train like any athlete. Although it is advised that runners avoid HIIT when leading up to race day, you can dive in head first after the big day.

Circuit-style fitness and bootcamp classes are excellent options for a workout that is already laid out for you. Otherwise, you can create your own workout that will get your ticker pumping.

Transitioning from Road to Trail

Apprehensive about switching from the pavement to the dirt? Press on with confidence with these tips!

There are benefits to running on both the road and the trail. If you have yet to try trail running or are somewhat nervous about setting foot on the trail, these tips will help prepare you so you can benefit from trail running too!

How is Trail Running Different from Road Running?

If you run on pavement, chances are you have a couple routes you frequent when getting a workout in. You also may have grown bored of looking at the same things or feeling the same at the end of a run. Most pavement is on flatter terrain, which keeps your fitness level at a certain point without challenging you much.

Trail running is tougher, as there are more uphill and downhill treks. You may have to be a little more agile too, navigating around tree stumps, streams, rocks or perhaps even some wildlife. Trails can change from day to day with new challenges and obstacles which can enhance your workout. At the end of a workout, you may feel different depending on your path for the day. You could feel strong, prepared, defeated or weak.

Weather conditions and views change during trail runs. Challenges keep you awake. Trail running can keep your training fresh while expanding your options and giving you some beautiful ever-changing scenery along the way.

Enough with the convincing of why you should try trail running – here’s how.

Release your expectations. It is a good thing to be eager to begin a new workout but be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. To avoid burnout or injury, start out with an open mind and no expectations.

Begin with a mileage you are familiar with. Maybe even drop down a mile or two from your normal distance because the trail can be a bit more challenging. Your run volume is going to take more effort and time to take on.

Expect increased muscle soreness as well due to increased technical stepping and elevation changes.

Also, forget your paces. Your moderate effort pace will undoubtedly change when you set foot on the trail due to the aforementioned hills and obstacles. Simply allow your general level of effort to guide you as you propel forward.

Run at a pace that is comfortable. Keep in mind that your pace may change to match the portion of the trail that you are on. Over time, you will gain a better understanding of your pace on trails and how and when to push your speed.

Enjoy the run. Although the switch can be tough, it is so rewarding. The challenge of trail running will equip you to be a stronger runner. And while being challenged, enjoy the beauty of nature away from all of the regular distractions of life. No stop signs or lights, no cars, no polluted air, and minimal people. A trail is a place where you can focus on yourself and your goals, surrounded by beauty and with minimal distraction.

Learn More And Get Involved in the Running Community!

6 Online Resources Runners Everywhere Should Utilize

They say that knowledge is power — so here are six online resources that offer information on everything from injury prevention to marathon optimization to news and current events in the running community.

1. Runner’s World

This online/print magazine has literally thousands of published articles available for free on its website. The majority of this content is relatively short-form and tends to provide overviews rather than in-depth explanations — nonetheless, because articles are published so frequently, this is one of the best resources for anyone interested in staying up to date.

2. Running in the USA

For American runners, this site is the go-to guide for in-person races and events. Self-described as the “Largest database of races and clubs,” Running in the USA is a wonderful resource that has helped countless runners connect with their local communities and participate in exciting runs.

3. Running Competitor

Another online/print hybrid; this one offering slightly more quality and depth than Runner’s World, but with a slightly less comprehensive and set of archives. One topic that Running Competitor does cover quite expansively, however, is injury prevention, so anyone concerned about topics such as pulled muscles or tweaked tendons should be sure to check out this publication.

4. MarathonTraining.com

For any runner who wants to cross that 26.2 mile threshold and accomplish the rare feat of finishing a marathon, this is an important resource. Here you will find progress plans, diets, and other specific information tailored specifically to the super-athletes like you who dream big and train hard.

5. Reddit’s r/Running

For those not familiar with Reddit, the so-called “front page of the internet” is a forum-based website that allows users to post and discuss content from across the web. This leads to a broad mixture of both resources and quality, but because visibility is based on a democratic voting process the best of the best is usually pretty easy to find. Alternatives to the Reddit “running” community include r/racing, r/couch to 5k, r/first marathon, r/raceit, and r/trail running. Animal lovers, be sure to remember to check out the ever-popular r/running with dogs, too!

6. Virtual Pace Series.

Call it shameless self-promotion, but we’ve included ourselves on this list! Here are a few reasons why Virtual Pace Series online is a great resource for runners to keep in mind:

  • Our expansive database of running events includes dozens of virtual races that can be completed in from anywhere in the world, giving you the opportunity to continue progressing as an athlete and participating in the running community wherever you may be.
  • The Virtual Pace Series blog contains dozens of articles offering information, news, and advice for runners.
  • We truly believe that our philosophy on running, along with our inspiring company story, contributes to the sport in a unique and innovative way!

Sign up for Virtual Pace Series today for more information on running your first virtual race!

Cross Training for Runners

4 Common Exercises and the Benefits They Offer

Whether you are a seasoned marathon runner looking to take your training to the next level, or a brand new runner trying to maximize your initial gains while minimizing soreness, the benefits of cross-training are numerous.

Virtually any type of physical activity can be helpful for your running — from yoga to polo, simply finding an engaging workout that you enjoy is the most important step. However, for the sake of showing off some examples, this article will discuss four of the most popular forms of cross training and how they help runners just like you to reach their short and long-term fitness goals.

1. Cycling

From mountain biking to street cycling, riding a bike is an obvious choice for runners simply because it is accessible and offers similar physical demands to running. It elevates the heart rate, requires a fair amount of stamina, and is leg-driven. However, there are a few differences from running, too. One of the biggest appeals of cycling is that it lower-impact: runners who struggle with joint pain or other frequent injuries will be happy to substitute some of those pavement-pounding jogs with a bit of peddling. Biking can also be a good muscle-builder, especially for trail-based bikers who like hitting inclines.

2. Swimming

Water aerobics are even lower-impact than cycling, so this is another fantastic choice for people who want to be careful and conscientious. Swimming won’t build leg muscle in the same way that biking could, but it does offer the benefit of being an extremely well-rounding exercise that contributes to core strength and upper-body stamina. A strong core allows runners to build endurance and maintain better posture even when fatigued, so long-distance runners are ideal candidates for a swimming cross-training routine.


3. Weight Lifting

Sprinters and even 5K runners tend to work for a different build than what marathon runners aim for — so if you are a short-distance runner who wants to add a bit more drive and power to your stride, then pumping some iron might be a good choice for you. Weight lifting also adds definition and stamina that is enviable for nearly all athletes, though; and even marathon runners have been known to adapt a light-weight high-repetition weight lifting routine for the purpose of strengthening their cores while looking and feeling great.

4. Sports

Competition brings out the best in most athletes — as does consistency. And because the ‘fun factor’ is crucial to remaining consistent even on those days when you are feeling too busy or worn out to continue, we highly recommend finding a sport you are passionate about. This could mean heading down to the courts at the gym, joining the company softball team, or even signing up for virtual races: whatever you need to do to stay competitive and motivated for the long haul. An added bonus for these kinds of activity? They are a great way to make friends and stay engaged with your community!

Unconventional Running Tips That Have a Scientific Basis

Do You Use Any of These 3 Training Strategies?

Every runner has their own specialized routine and rituals, ranging from the conventional to the downright quirky. And though some may be effective due only to the placebo effect, others are surprisingly scientific. In this article, we will take a quick look at a few popular yet unconventional training techniques that have a scientific basis.

Start Lifting.

Many runners shy away from lifting — especially heavy, bulk-building styles of lifting — because they believe that too much muscle equals too much weight. And while it is true that long-distance runners should not be as concerned with bulking up as, say, football players, science has shown that building core and leg muscles can lead to faster times on the track. Maintaining a regular lifting routine can help reduce your risk of injury as well. Also, for all those whose goals focus more on looking and feeling great over performance, incorporating weight training is an absolute no brainer. Regardless of your objectives, you’ve got nothing to lose, so get out there and pump some iron!

Give Carb Rinsing A Try.

It is a well-documented fact that carbohydrate-rich drinks (think Gatorade) can help improve athletes’ performance by replenishing lost energy while also contributing to hydration. The problem is that, for many runners, swallowing large amounts of liquid during a run can lead to unpleasant stomach issues. If you have experienced this type of problem, then you will be glad to hear about this strange technique that has actually been clinically shown to provide many of the same benefits as drinking gatorade without the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort. Carb rinsing is very much what it sounds like: athletes swish a carb-rich beverage such as gatorade around in the mouth before spitting it out. By allowing your body to consume very small amounts of carb-rich liquid — while also “tricking” the brain into thinking more fuel is on the way — athletes are able to notably boost their performance. However, as obvious as it may seem, it must be noted that carb-rinsing does not provide nearly as much hydration and replenishment as actually drinking liquid ever could, which is why those who utilize this technique should be extra sure to fuel up both before and after every event.

Race All By Yourself.

There are many reasons why race-day times tend to vary wildly from training times. On the positive side, being at an event can cause an adrenaline rush which aids performance. On the other hand, nerves, inadequate sleep, and disruption in training patterns can negatively impact performance. At the end of the day, the more accustomed one becomes to racing, the less of a discrepancy there will be, which allows for greater consistency and planning. That is one reason why participating in virtual races is growing in popularity every day. If you are interested in learning more about this exciting new trend, we encourage you to check out our list of upcoming 5k and 10k events here at Virtual Pace Series.

Maintaining Consistency With Your Running Routine

5 Tips for Runners of All Ages and Experience Levels

Whether in business, studies, or fitness, consistency is the key to success. Any experienced runner will tell you that hitting the track several times per week, even if it’s only to run a mile or two, leads to far more progress than heroically long yet sporadic efforts ever could. Of course, any experienced runner will also admit that getting out of bed for a run can be challenging — especially when inclement weather, sore muscles, or general busyness get in the way. If you struggle to overcome such roadblocks, the following 5 tips may be able to help.

  1. Track Your Progress.

Self-improvement is one of the most common motivations for runners, which is why keeping a log of your times, distances, and other important metrics may be important for you. This strategy is great because it does more than simply inspire you to get out and run, it also helps you to push yourself even as the miles add up and fatigue starts to set in.

  1. Practice Self-Care.

Of course, no matter how hard you do drive yourself, taking care of number one is always important. Without a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and proper hydration, no one can perform their best — and few people are likely to stay consistent in their commitment to running and getting fit if they don’t feel its positive effects! If you want to learn more about how lifestyle and running intersect, we recommend browsing the Virtual Pace Series blog to find topics of interest to you.

  1. Train Wisely.

Slowly and steadily building your miles while gradually trimming down your times is the healthiest and most sustainable path to success. Not only do you risk injury by doing otherwise, you also rob yourself of the chance to become a truly accomplished runner.

  1. Focus on the Here and Now.

As cliche as it may sound, living in the present, is both extremely important and extremely difficult. Because runners tend to focus on big events such as races and marathons, they are especially susceptible to the negative effects of focusing too much on the past or the future. Mentally beating yourself up due to a subpar performance can cause you to become discouraged and break from your routine, for example — and, similarly, constantly dreaming about that marathon next year can actually detract your attention from the long and difficult road you must take in order to achieve that goal. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that so many successful runners love mediation! 

  1. Find Running Buddies.

Finally, it is important to recognize that us humans are social animals, and we thrive on shared experiences and common goals. For this reason, finding a running community — whether in-person or virtually — is one of the best suggestions any new runner can receive. If you’d like to learn more about virtual running experiences, then check out Virtual Pace Series online today!