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.

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!

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!

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.

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!

A little dose of R&R and mother nature’s healing can get you back on your feet in no time.

When you have been faced with an injury and want to get back on your feet as quickly as possible, a little rest, relaxation and proper diet are all you need. Along with allowing yourself to heal while refraining from pushing yourself too soon, eating the right foods or nutrients can help to boost your healing process. Below are some common nutrients that are known to help with specific types of injuries.

When Knee Surgery Strikes

Whether your surgery is to replace your knee or your ACL or meniscus need a little work, specific nutrients can help bolster your wound.

Protein is important for runners who are immobilized by surgery. Aim to get about 0.9 grams per pound of body weight on a daily basis – or about double the daily recommended intake for a healthy individual at your weight. Excellent protein sources include meat, fish, dairy, beans, legumes, seeds and whole grains.

Another important source that can help to heal post-surgery is collagen, a wound-healing connective tissue. You can find this in lean meats including fish, chicken, pork, and turkey. It is important to know that too much saturated fat can actually delay recovery as it causes inflammation.

Zinc is another important mineral in the process of recovery. A zinc deficiency can actually slow recovery time so grab foods like dairy, whole grains, meat, fish and chicken to get your daily doses.

Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammation located in the joints. Fifty million Americans suffer from creaky knees and other arthritic symptoms. Although there is no cure, diet can play a huge role when it comes to alleviating arthritic pain.

Collagen is a great supplement that helps to improve symptoms of arthritis. If you supplement for 24 weeks with 10 grams of collagen, you may experience less joint pain, according to one study.

Stress Fracture

Overuse injuries like stress fractures affect the bones, feet and lower legs. Stress fractures take place when the muscles are fatigued and undue stress is thus transferred to the bone.

Get in plenty of calcium and vitamin D if you have a stress fracture. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), athletes with stress fractures should strive to get a minimum of 1,000 mg of dietary calcium in daily. One glass of milk (8 oz) contains about 300 mg. If you get tired of milk, you can also get calcium from other sources including broccoli, kale, bok choy, spinach, turnip greens, fortified orange juice and soy products.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in the healing of stress fractures. Get your daily dose from sun exposure as well as foods like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, egg yolks, cod liver oil, catfish, and mushrooms. If you are severely deficient in vitamin D, your doctor may subscribe a supplement.

Remember to take it easy while you fill your body with good nutrition in order to heal as quickly as possible so you can get your feet back on the trail (or pavement) as quickly as possible.

According to new evidence, running even affects what is inside of your bones – in a good way!

You may already know that running can help you age better by improving your mental health, giving you cleaner arteries and denser bones and by strengthening your heart and lungs. But now you can add to the list the fact that it can keep your spinal marrow tissue healthy. In fact, every six miles you run per week can take a year off of this crucial tissue’s age, according to new research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The study examined spinal marrow adipose tissue (MAT) in four different groups of people: runners averaging 12 to 25 miles every week, runners averaging a minimum of 30 miles per week, cyclists averaging a minimum of 90 miles per week and sedentary people. Each group had about 25 people in it, with a total of 101 overall (54 being women). The average age of the subjects was 30. Interestingly, the key finding was that the two groups of people who were runners had the lowest MAT levels of all, which is a good thing. Even though the cyclists were highly active, their MAT levels were similar to the idle group.

So why is this important? According to lead researcher Daniel Belavy, associate professor at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, “Humans are born with predominately red blood cell producing bone marrow; however, with age, this converts to a yellow fatty marrow. This can negatively impact blood and bone metabolism in areas such as the pelvis, vertebra, thighs and hips, and contribute to other chronic conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis.”

Marrow is like a type of regulatory organ that has an impact on what happens throughout the rest of your body. When you have more MAT, your body has less space for marrow to produce red blood cells. MAT levels are also believed to influence fat stores in other areas. When your marrow tissue is fatty, the regulatory processes slow down.

According to Belavy, the runners who were most active, running over 30 miles per week, had the healthiest tissue. Their marrow tissue was eight years “younger” than the people in the sedentary group.

According to researchers in this study, when it comes to this discovery about adipose tissue, it is not simply about runners being leaner than other people. The study did include cyclists who were highly active, riding at least 90 miles each week. The point is that “Marrow fat is governed by different rules than the fat stores under the skin,” according to Belavy. It is about much more than just burning calories.

So keep your mileage up to keep even more areas of your body as young and strong as possible!

 

You train and hustle, working hard to prepare for a race. After the race, what do you do? Do you take time to recover or do you hit the ground running again? Many runners fail to take the right amount of time to adequately recover after a big race. Why is taking a break such a big deal?

When you run a big race (especially a marathon), your body faces various different effects. Some of the issues you may find yourself dealing with are:

  • Physical or mental exhaustion and burnout
  • Stress fractures
  • Injuries from overuse, such as runner’s knee, shin splints or tendonitis
  • Weakened immune system or increased susceptibility to sickness as a result of an exhausted body
  • Inability to reach peak training levels

This important, yet neglected part of training plans takes time. Allow yourself at least one day off every 7 to 14 days to restock glycogen stores, reduce fatigue and build strength. If you fail to give yourself time to rest, your one day of rest can turn into a several-week-long forced break. If you dive right into recovery right after a race or tough workout, you can improve your recovery process drastically.

Signs that You Are Not Recovering Adequately

Your body will give you signals if you are not giving it the rest it requires. This can lead to injury. Common signs that you need to give yourself a rest day may include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Illness
  • Pain or soreness
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Bad workouts
  • Poor sleep

If you experience any of these symptoms, consider taking a break or at the very least, an easy day.

Replenish by Taking it Slow

If you want to keep moving, consider slowing things down a bit. Run at a slower pace for one to three days after a hard workout, allowing blood to flow to your muscles while flushing away broken down proteins. This can also enable new proteins to develop to rebuild damaged tissues and carry carbs to replenish depleted stores in your muscle cells.

Recovering After a Marathon

Marathons can take a huge toll on your mind and body. Recovery does not just naturally happen. You need to help it along – especially if you plan to run again.

Many of us find it difficult to slow down our pace after a race, wanting to stick with a fast-paced, regimented schedule. Instead, follow these tips for the first 72 hours post marathon.

The first 24 hours:

  • Refuel with a high carb drink and a small amount of protein immediately following a race.
  • Eat frequent snacks high in carbs but also contain 25 to 30 grams of protein for the first 24 hours.
  • Gentle foam rolling and compression can help to remove toxins from the muscle and improve blood flow. Aside from this, relax.

25 – 72 hours:

  • Wear compression clothing but try light exercise. Active recovery helps the body’s natural repair process by delivering more oxygen and nutrients where it is needed.

 

A great option for those who want fitness and convenience

Are you motivated to toe the line with other athletes but there are no upcoming races near you? Or are you busy on race day and cannot make it? A virtual race may be the option for you! Skip the pre-race nervousness with other runners and enjoy this new trend in the running world.

With virtual racing, you can sign up online and complete any challenges on your schedule. You can even choose your own starting time. You will still get the benefits that come with competition in person including community support, competition, and rewards for taking place in a virtual race.

Register online and receive a race bib just like you would in a live event. Once you are finished racing, upload your finishing time and you will receive a medal in the mail.

Here are some more reasons why you need to be doing virtual racing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less Stress

You can easily work around whatever comes your way with virtual racing. Is the weather bad? Don’t sweat it – or do by hitting the treadmill! Are you feeling tired? Take it easy and just enjoy the distance. Are you sick or had a hard night of sleep? You can simply reschedule (a benefit you never get with real-life 5ks).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flexible Scheduling

Let’s face it. Life is busy. You probably want to run more races than you can fit in your schedule with work, family, and travel. Stay motivated by setting goals with virtual racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation

By joining a virtual race, you can get geared up and in the racing mindset. Knowing you will be sharing your results, you may surprise yourself with how well you do! You might even set your own distance personal record because of your newfound motivation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Anywhere

Is your city filled with trails and fitness centers you have wanted to check out? By signing up for multiple virtual races, you can give yourself a reason to take advantage of each of those places! Or do you already have a favorite place to run? With virtual racing, you have the option of running on your favorite trail every time you race!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experiment

Virtual racing offers runners opportunity to experiment with new training methods and plans to determine what works best for you when it comes to hydration and nutrition before and during a race. You can also work out the details with what resting time is best for you before and after a race, which supplements work best for you and even which apparel works best for you and your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Embarrassment

One reason many people fail to get into running races is out of fear of embarrassment. A virtual race enables you to treat yourself like the runner you are without worrying about running with other people or the fact that others looking at you.

 

 

Disappointment, stress, and fear are feelings that can affect our enjoyment as runners. Some races or workouts may present a mental barrier that is harder to overcome than a physical one, leading you to struggle with even getting your laces tied to run. If you have ever faced this kind of challenge, read on to learn how you can overcome these mental hindrances to your success on the pavement (or trail).

Comparing Yourself to Others

It is sometimes difficult to not compare ourselves to runners we think are better and/or faster. Although having other runners around to compare yourself to can be motivating, enabling you to set realistic goals, there will almost always be someone faster than you. The trap of comparison occurs when one takes this too far, potentially hitting a wall of disappointment head-on. Not all runners are created equally, meaning we do not all have the same genes or resources, time or training. If you find yourself making self-defeating comparisons on a regular basis between your pace and those of runners who are faster, stop – right away. Are you putting in all you can? If you are, find encouragement in the fact that you are putting great effort into your workouts and that you have likely improved greatly in comparison to your pace before. Motivate yourself by your own times!

Fear of Failure

Although fear can be a driving factor, it can also do just the opposite. Many runners end up overwhelmed, giving into fear, which may result in anxiety, a lack of confidence and a running experience that is less than our best. When fear begins to creep up on you, acknowledge it first and then begin to take steps to positively change your thoughts. Set realistic goals, taking small steps in achieving them. Practice relaxation techniques. Develop positive affirmations toward yourself. Be willing to risk failure in order to succeed. If you don’t get up and try again, you will not ever make it. Be the best you can be when you make a commitment to reach a goal or win a race and keep your expectations in balance. Celebrate by looking up at what you have achieved instead of down at what you have failed to accomplish in your eyes.

Constantly Trying to Beat Your Record

Setting and beating your own personal record is a great delight when it comes to running. But some runners get caught in a cycle of constantly trying to beat their own personal record. This can lead to disappointment and burnout in some. Instead, enjoy your runs regardless of whether you are beating records or not. That is not to say you should not strive to succeed and achieve growth. Just simply change your outlook and look for other rewards as well – not just gaining the fastest time.