Monthly Archives: February 2015

Running in the Cold? Be Prepared

It’s winter.  Training doesn’t stop just because it’s cold or snowy out and neither should you.  Running in the cold is just fine as long as you’re prepared for it.  With the scientifically perfect running temperature somewhere between 50 and 55 degrees, running when it’s 25 outside can present a few challenges.  Here are five tips to help you succeed with your cold weather training.

Plan.  Give yourself time to get moving indoors and figure out which way the wind is blowing.  It won’t feel quite so chilly out there if your blood is pumping.  You’ll also want to finish your run with the wind, rather than against it.  This will prevent your sweaty body from getting blasted by cold air and help you finish strong.running in the cold

Layer up.  You’ll figure out what works best for you as you gain experience but if temperatures are below freezing, layers should be at least two deep on the bottom and two or three thick on the top.  I like to be warm.  My below freezing gear includes stockings, long tights, wool socks, tank, thin layer and a fleece lined half zip.  Make sure your outermost layer is bright and remember that you can always take something off should you become too warm.

Protect your small parts.  Even if there isn’t snow on the ground, you’ll want to protect your feet from the elements.  Wear shoes with the least amount of mesh possible and try pairing them with wool socks.  Keep hands and ears safe by always sporting earmuffs or a warmer and gloves or mittens.  Running in the cold can look cool!

Stay hydrated.  Even if you’re not dripping sweat, running in the cold burns through fluids as your body works overtime to keep your core temperature and muscles warm enough to perform.  Your body doesn’t send the same thirst signals to your brain in the cold, making a good hydration plan a key part of running in the cold.

Expect to slow down.  Your body works overtime trying to stay warm but muscle contractions just don’t happen with the same power as when it’s 50 degrees.  There are a slew of other reasons running in the cold isn’t the same as on those perfect days, too.  If there’s snow on the ground, expect to slow down even more as you pick your way through snow drifts and potential icy areas.

Use these tips for running in the cold to stay safe and warm this winter.

Coach Meredith

Winter Blues Buster: Running on the Beach

It might be the middle of winter, there might be feet of snow outside your door but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about warmer days ahead.  If you’re lucky enough to be on a vacation or live near some sand, maybe even a beach, those warm days are perfect for hitting the soft stuff for a run.  Running on the beach has its own set of rules and is a great addition to any training or vacation workout schedule.  Here are a few important things to know before you take off, with or without shoes.Running on the beach

Running on the beach in slippery, giving sand  with or without shoes makes the contact time between your foot and the ground longer.  This longer contact time lessens stress on the legs, hips and knees.

This increase in contact time also means glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and foot muscles have to work a little bit harder to get through a step cycle.  A study by The Journal of Experimental Biology found running on the sand can be up to 50% more difficult than running the same pace on the road.  Running on the beach can be a shorter but equally as effective workout as one on the road which is great news for vacationers who want to train but don’t want to miss any extra moments of relaxation.

All of the slipping and rolling that comes along with running on the beach requires small muscles, tendons and ligaments in your knees, ankles and feet to work harder.  Strong ankles and feet mean more stable road running and less likelihood of common running injuries.

If your running on the beach plan includes dipping your toes in the surf, be aware of the shoreline’s slant.  Run an out and back route to keep your hips happy and even.  If your plan involves more deep sand than wet feet, be on the lookout for holes dug by sandcastle builders, sharp shells and other debris.

Running on the beach means a shorter workout, less strain on your body, lovely scenery and stronger feet.  That makes a sandy workout good for every other mile you rack up, too.

Coach Meredith

5 Reasons to Do Interval Training

Interval training is an important part of any training plan.  Whether you practice high intensity interval training (HIIT) in the gym or speed work sessions on the track, interval training has many benefits for any level athlete.  Here are 5 reasons you’ll want to include interval training in your event preparation plan.interval training

  • You’ll burn more calories.  The challenge of a tough interval workout burns more calories than a steady state run but your body will also by busy burning calories to repair damaged muscles for hours following the session.
  • Intervals increase lactic acid threshold.  Produced by anaerobic activity during high intensity activity, lactic acid needs to be broken down for muscles to function properly.  Trading moments of lactic acid build up with lactic acid breakdown teaches the body to become more efficient at breaking lactic acid down.  This results in the body adapting to handle higher levels of activity for longer periods of time before becoming fatigued.
  • Intervals have been proven to increase fat-free mass, aerobic power, blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity.  They also provide a massive increase in human growth hormone (HGH) which is responsible for increased caloric burn and can help slow the aging process.
  • You’ll break through a barrier.  If it’s weight loss, the additional calorie burn from an interval workout can help.  If you’re looking to run or cycle faster, the increased rate of turnover during a fast interval can get your body get used to moving those legs fast.  If you want to be able to work at a steady state for a longer time, the benefits to your cardiovascular system will make longer, slower efforts easier.
  • Intervals are fun!  Using varied interval workouts prevents boredom and is a great way to judge progress.  You can do high intensity training anywhere, with or without equipment and without a big time commitment.  A thirty minute high intensity interval workout will garner the same benefits as a two hour long steady state endurance workout.

Everyone can reap benefits from interval training. Need help adding interval training to your plan?  Ask us!

Coach Meredith

Change Your View, Change Your Outcome

We’re well into the new year and you may have noticed lots of those new people from a few weeks ago are now missing on the gym floor.  These individuals had the wrong approach to hitting their goals.  They likely didn’t look for coaching, a plan or a goal to reach for.  They set a resolution and decided to exercise in 2015.  Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between exercising and training and no one told them that changing your view can dramatically change your outcome.change your outcome

Exercise can be a chore.  It isn’t a whole lot of fun.  It’s boring.  It’s probably the same thing every single time.  Exercise can be goal oriented but often doesn’t revolve around a goal that is SMART or well defined.  There isn’t particularly a plan when you walk through the gym’s doors to exercise and that can spell disaster.  While it is possible to see progress through simply exercising, odds are you’ll end up taking one step back for every two forward and be pretty close to where you started in year’s a time.  Exercise doesn’t usually come with a nutrition plan based on what kind of activity you’ll be engaged in or a proper recovery plan, all of which can hamper progress and prevent success.  Exercise doesn’t push you to try new things.  Exercise is all about right now.  I’ll sweat now.  I’ll burn calories now.  Change your outcome, or lack thereof, by starting to train.

Training, in contrast, is not about now.  It is much more than ‘physical activity’.  A training program has a definitive moment when you will be tested at some point in the future.  There is a deadline and a plan.  A training program designed to help you reach an attainable goal in a reasonable amount of time will have structure and focus.  It will have accountability through check-ins, periodic testing and a nutritional element.  You will do things you don’t enjoy so you can have success at what you love.  Your workouts will be efficient and effective every single day.  Work and social engagements will not prevent you from doing a day’s workout.  And you will see progress, no matter what your goal is.

Making the choice to change your outcome means deciding to stop exercising and start training.  Set a specific goal and become better.  Track your workouts, be efficient with your time in the gym, fuel your body properly and take each workout seriously.  You don’t have to be an athlete, you just have to think like one.

Coach Meredith