7 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Race

You don’t have to opt out of racing if you don’t have enough cash!

Running is a fairly inexpensive form of exercise. Typically, the only expenses you incur are running gear, including shoes and workout clothes. But if you enjoy races, you know that the expenses can add up pretty quickly. Competing in races is an excellent way to stay motivated while keeping you on track with your exercise routine, but you may steer clear of races for financial reasons. If you love races, here are some tips on how you can save at your next event.

Register Early

Many races offer the proverbial worm to the early bird – in the form of a discount. Depending on how early you plan ahead, you can save a significant chunk off of registration fees as many races have several registration points on the calendar where the fee increases after specific dates.

Run as a Group

Some races offer group registration, which is often accompanied by a group discount. Grab some friends for your next race and have everyone divide the price. Running with friends is fun and nobody will turn their noses at a lower price.

If you can find a charity group to join, you can not only run at a discounted rate but your money will go toward helping people in need. You may even land some additional gear to boot.

Check with Your Company and Health Insurance

An added bonus of some health insurance plans is that a portion of gym membership and race fees is paid for. Some companies strive to promote good health and fitness so they help people live healthily by assisting in fees.

Skip the Gear

You don’t need another race t-shirt. You may want it but an official race tee is not always included in the registration price. Some races allow participants to choose whether they want to spend extra money on a shirt. To make your next race more budget-friendly, skip the tee.

Stay Local

Although traveling around to races is loads of fun, if you are trying to stick to a budget, only register for local races for a time. The cost of accommodation and transportation adds up quickly.

Volunteer

Putting on a race requires a lot of manpower, which is why volunteers are needed. Volunteers may hand out race packets, direct traffic or hand out water. Some races compensate volunteers by giving them a free entry for a future race. You can save money and give to a community by volunteering for a race.

Run Virtually

Virtual races are a fun way to save money on races. They are typically cheaper than location-specific races. You can still reach a goal or set a new PR while running at the same time as others, but in your own neighborhood rather than with a group of people at one location.

How to Fix Runner’s Knee

It’s all in your hip.

One of the most common ailments among runners is runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). This condition is characterized by pain located under, slightly above or slightly below the kneecap. Sometimes you may hear a popping sensation; sometimes you may not. The condition typically worsens when running uphill or downhill and in severe cases, the knee may swell.

Runner’s knee often occurs as a result of an increase in mileage. Some runners may experience occasional pain while others are plagued by it almost every time they add more miles. The condition may also be a result of poor running form or core strength.

Treating and Preventing Runner’s Knee

The best way to treat a case of runner’s knee is to track back to the initial root cause of the pain so you can focus your energy on correcting it. There is typically tension found in the hips, quads, lower back and/or abdominal muscles so focusing on stabilizing and strengthening these areas is a great place to start.

According to research, stabilizing the kinetic chain by way of strength work can do wonders when it comes to reducing pain associated with runner’s knee. According to one study, 19 participants who suffered from runner’s knee (PFPS) underwent an eight-week hip- and core-strengthening program, which resulted in a significant improvement in terms of pain as well as knee function. Another study from researchers at the University of Kentucky found that gait retraining is helpful in reducing symptoms of PFPS. In this study, runners with PFPS underwent eight gait retraining sessions, which focused on internal hip rotation, pelvic drops and other exercises that were done in hopes to reduce pain while improving hip mechanics. After the training, the athletes reported a significant decrease in pain. Improvements were also noted in running mechanics. This goes to show that strengthening and stabilizing through gait retraining can go a long way when it comes to reducing not only pain but the cause of runner’s knee.

If you have not ever experienced runner’s knee, strengthening and stabilizing your body through gait retraining may also help prevent the condition. By fortifying your hips and core, you are reducing your chances of injury.

Hip-Strengthening Exercises

Here are some of the most common exercises prescribed to help runners strengthen their hip and core regions, which are proven to be helpful in both treating and avoiding runner’s knee.

Bridge: Lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, lift your butt off the ground slowly. Keep your back straight while engaging your lower back and glutes, holding for 10 seconds. Slowly lower your body back down to the ground. Repeat this exercise seven to 10 times.

Clamshells: Lying on your right side while bending your knees at a 45-degree angle, keep your feet together while slowly lifting your left knee to “open up the clamshell” per se. Pause and lower your knees to then “shut the clamshell.” Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times on both your right and left side.

Bird Dog: While on all fours, lift your left knee and right hand off of the ground, bringing them toward each other under your body. Then stretch your left leg back behind your body and your right hand out in front. This completes one exercise. Repeat this 15 times and then do the same with the opposite sides.

What Causes Leg Fatigue when Running?

When your legs wear out before the rest of you does.

A good run is exhilarating, sending feel-good endorphins throughout your body while your lungs fill with air and your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through your veins. But not every run goes so well. Sometimes your runner’s high is offset by fatigued legs that feel painful, tired and/or weak. If you have experienced leg fatigue while hitting the pavement, it could be caused by pushing yourself too hard, wearing inappropriate footwear or other causes, such as underlying health conditions.

How to Improve Leg Fatigue While Running

If your legs are having a hard time keeping up with your cardio, a number of reasons may be the culprit. Here are some along with a few options for improving your condition.

Change Up Your Game

Run less often with higher quality. You may be wearing yourself down. Run by what your body is telling you and go with it along the way. Make your runs higher quality, at a higher speed or doing a speed workout or tempo run. This allows your body some time to recover before getting back out for the next run, which in turn enables you to run harder, stronger and faster than if you ran more frequently.

Check Your Posture

Leg fatigue may also present itself as a result of incorrect posture or technique while running. Running in a straight line and at a constant speed is more efficient in comparison to running at various speeds or in along an erratic path. Try lowering your center of gravity as well while running as this may increase your power and balance, which can make it easier to run without becoming fatigued.

Check Your Feet

If your running shoes do not have adequate tread or are slick, it can negatively impact your ability to efficiently strike the ground. This can lead to a loss of momentum which may heighten the risk for fatigue.

Fuel Yourself Wisely

Improper nutrition can wreak havoc on your performance. Look at your diet to ensure you are getting enough calories and in the right amounts. A diet in low calories or one that is nutrient-deficient can contribute to leg fatigue.

Genetics

Your endurance level is partly due to genetics. Some people are able to run longer distances than others because their lactate levels stay fairly stable during workouts. Lactate levels in your body relate to your body’s mitochondria, which can positively impact your respiration and endurance levels when mitochondria levels increase. If you do not have a genetic composition that is conducive to high-performance, fatigue may set in earlier, leading your legs to feel wiped out.

Other Complications

If your persistent leg fatigue is not associated with what you wear, how you train or what you eat, you could be dealing with something more serious. Circulation issues, spinal issues or muscular issues may be contributing to what ails you. For example, vein issues can cause a heavy feeling in your legs while a pain in your hip, thigh or buttock may point to a spinal issue. If you seem to have chronic leg fatigue while running, you may want to take it up with your doctor.

What You Should Know About Training on a Treadmill

Is there much difference between running on a treadmill vs. outdoors?

It is raining cats and dogs outside with flashes of lighting shooting down. You really don’t want to get drenched yet don’t want to miss your run either. So you opt for completing your training session indoors on a treadmill. A treadmill is a great training tool for runners when weather conditions are not favorable or running outdoors is simply not an option. Running on a treadmill has its benefits.

Reasons You May Choose to Run on a Treadmill

In some cases, treadmill running is a better option. When it is too dark outside or the weather is too icy or slick and potentially facilitating to a fall or injury, treadmill running is a better bet.

If the conditions outdoors are not conducive for you to run safely at a faster pace, you can hop on the treadmill to achieve the same level of exertion without risk.

Speaking of risk, the treadmill belt is more forgiving than hard pavement, offering less impact and making it easier on the body. As a result, the treadmill can be a great option for those coming back into running from injury.

The treadmill is also great for running hills and doing incline training if you do not have access to steep hills. You can create your own resistance using the grade on a treadmill.

Another reason you may opt for treadmill running rather than outdoors is if you have children. Leaving your kids unattended to go for a run may not be the best strategy for your family. Running on a treadmill enables you to get your workout in while keeping your kids safe and supervised.

Comparing Indoor and Outdoor Running

Although running on a treadmill has benefits, there are some differences you should be aware of.

The mechanics of your running stride differ on a treadmill than when you run outside because the machine powers the treadmill belt. When you are on the treadmill, you push off with your quads, unlike outdoor running where you rely more on your hamstrings for momentum. As a result, your hamstrings will not be worked as much on a treadmill.

The terrain also differs on a treadmill versus outdoors. If you are accustomed to running on a treadmill, you must be extra mindful of varying terrain when hitting the pavement or trails outdoors to avoid injury.

Running outdoors offers wind resistance, even in the most ideal outdoor conditions, which is something you do not get inside. Your pace is resultantly much easier on a treadmill. Keep your effort level the same on a treadmill as outside by upping your incline by 1.5 percent to account for the loss of wind resistance.

If you have done the majority of your training indoors, be cautious when moving your runs back outdoors. Transition your outdoor runs gradually to avoid injury and start with an easy, shorter run. Build from there.