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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!

Recover from Injury with Common Nutrients

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.

New Research Finds Another Way Running Keeps You Younger

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!

 

Determine How Many Miles a Week to Run or Walk

Follow these rules to figure out how many miles you can safely aim to get in.

Whether you are preparing for a 5k, 10k or a marathon, proper training is important. Many runners mistakenly think more mileage is better overall. Instead, there is a catch. More mileage is better but only up to the point where you can achieve your potential. Once you reach that point, if you exceed it you are only increasing your injury risk. Below are some rules to keep in mind when determining your mileage range.

Mileage Requirements Increase In Correspondence to Performance Goals

If your aim is to merely reach the finish line of a race, you can run fewer miles when training. But if you aim to finish a race with the fastest time possible, your mileage requirement will increase.

Allow Your Body to Adapt

When you plan to up your mileage, take it slow in order to allow your body the necessary time to adapt to the increase in workload. It is generally considered safe to add a mile to each run you do per week as long as you run at least two weeks at that level before adding more. If you run three times a week, you can then up your weekly mileage by three miles. If you typically run five times a week, up your mileage by 5 miles. Then stick with that increased level for another week (two weeks total) before advancing another 3 or 5 miles.

Some Miles Count More

Depending on how you are working out, some of your weekly miles can count as more than others. Workouts that include tough track workouts, short repeats and/or tempo runs are harder to recover from than the same amount of time spent doing easier aerobic running. When you do harder workouts, decrease the total mileage a little to make up for the added stress on your body to keep yourself from doing too much and risking injury.

Additionally, the farther away your pace is when running at race pace, the less your miles will help when it comes to racing performance. The principle here is that you become good at what you do during practice. If you tend to run slower when training at longer distances but your race is a short distance, fast-paced trek, chances are you are not going to do as well during the race. On the other hand, if you are sprinting short distance runs when preparing for a 10-15 mile cross country race, your training will do little for you. Try to train in a way that will help you achieve your overall race goals. If you plan to participate in a 50-mile race, go on five or six our slow runs. If you want to smoke a fast 5k, train accordingly. This will help you achieve your overall goal.

Remember that high mileage totals do not do you any good if you end up injured and have to sit on the sideline during a race.

 

Why Runners Need Upper Body Strength

Improve your efficiency and prevent injury by strengthening your upper body.

Many runners fail to make time for strength training. Many runners feel that it is unimportant or simply do not have the time while others just flat out hate it. But pumping iron for runners is incredibly important – not only for increasing your efficiency when it comes to running but also for preventing injury! Below are a couple of reasons why along with a few exercises you can do to start building strength.

It is important to note that the end goal is not to add a ton of muscle that will negatively impact your performance and pace. Instead, you are simply increasing your strength by increasing your neuromuscular adaptation, or the ability for your muscles to work together. When you strengthen your upper body, you become a more balanced runner.

Now here is why.

For Efficiency’s Sake

Every time your feet hit the pavement, you use not only your legs to push you forward but also your arms, chest, torso and back to improve efficiency and balance. Your arms pump when you run, enhancing your forward movement. So, the stronger your arms are, the more efficient they will be in your forward movement.

Prevent Injury

Have you ever suffered from aches, soreness, cramping, strains and/or inflammation after running? Has it happened in your shoulders, neck or arms after running regularly? If it has not, it does not mean it will not. This is not an uncommon occurrence and is typically the result of poor form.

What is more is you can be fine for miles and miles and suddenly something can switch, causing a kink in the kinetic chain. A number of factors may contribute to this: rounding your shoulders, shrugging your shoulders up to your ears, holding a cell phone or water bottle or swinging your arms too widely.

A strong upper body can help you to maintain proper position and posture as you work out. It is important that you develop and maintain this strength. This can help you to run longer without fatiguing so easily as well as prevent that hunched, painful look toward the end of your race.

Upper Body Exercises for Runners

Pushups: You can start out doing pushups – as many as you can for one minute. Advance this toward to minutes as you are able.

Once you feel like you are ready, try single-leg pushups. Get in pushup position. When dropping down, lift your right leg 8 to 10 inches from the floor. Return to starting position. Descend again, raising your left leg this time. Do this as many times as you can in one minute.

Man Makers: Get in a pushup position with one dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbell in your right hand up to the side of your chest. Lower it to the floor. Repeat with your left arm. Next do a pushup. After the pushup, tuck your legs in toward your chest and stand, lifting the dumbbells into an overhead press. Reverse this pattern, heading back into starting position. Do this as many times as possible for one minute.

Try to get some upper body workouts in before your next race. Pay attention to how your body responds and you may be surprised.

 

Couch to 5k in 10 Weeks Plan with Virtual Pace Series

An easy plan for any beginner!

Running for rookies can seem like a huge feat at first. With a successful training plan, you can remove the guesswork while taking your fitness up a couple notches! By the end of 10 weeks, you should be able to run a little over 3 miles! All you need to get started running are some comfortable clothes, a pair of running shoes and a watch.

Weeks 1 and 2
Three Days Per Week
For these first two weeks, you are going to focus on moving for 30 minutes straight. Simply walk outside and head in one direction for a total of 15 minutes. Then turn around and head back to your destination, which should take another 15 minutes, give or take. During this 30 minute stretch, follow these tips:

  • Walk for the first 5 minutes of your workout. This is your warm-up period.
  • Walk for the last 5 minutes of your workout – you always need to cool down.
  • In those 20 minutes between, jog or run – whichever you prefer. Be careful to not push yourself. Many beginners like to alternate between jogging and walking by jogging until they feel tired (or for 30 seconds at minimum). Once they feel tired (or the 30 seconds are up) they walk until they feel recovered and repeat the process.
  • Aim to do this three times per week for two weeks.

Weeks 3 and 4
Four Days Per Week
This time you are going to walk out of your door and travel in one direction for 18 minutes, turn around and head back. This makes your workout total 36 minutes. Follow these tips:

  • Walk for the first and last five minutes of your workout.
  • During the middle 26 minutes, run or jog as you please. Go at a pace that is comfortable for you; do not push yourself. Rather than 30-second intervals, this time aim for 45-second intervals between walking and jogging.

Weeks 5 and 6
Four to Five Days per Week

This time around you will work out for 40 minutes total, going 20 minutes in one direction and 20 minutes back to where you started. During your workouts, follow these tips:

  • Walk for your first five minutes and your last five minutes of each workout.
  • During the middle 30 minutes, run or jog, keeping an easy pace without pushing yourself. Alternate between walking and jogging/running for a minimum of 60 seconds.

Weeks 7 and 8
Four to Five Days per Week

This time you are going to work out for 46 minutes total, heading 23 minutes in one direction and 23 back.

  • Walk for the first and last five minutes of every workout.
  • During the middle 36 minutes, run or jog at an easy pace. Alternate between jogging/running and walking every 90 seconds (you can stretch this more if you want to). You should be able to hold a conversation while running. If you cannot, slow down.

Weeks 9 and 10
Five Days per Week
Rev things up a bit by heading in one direction for 25 minutes and 25 back, totaling at 50 minutes.

  • As usual, walk the first and last 5 minutes of each workout these weeks.
  • During the 40 minutes between, jog or run at an easy pace, going until you start feeling tired at a minimum of two minutes. Walk until recovered and start again.

Consider recruiting a family member, spouse or friend. Running often is easier with someone by your side! Remember to stay hydrated while running as well!

How to Recover After a Race

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.