Tag Archives: racing

Hill Running Basics

Hill running is a major tenet of most training programs from 5k to ultra marathon.  If it’s not a regular part of your running workouts, a special hill work session is usually scheduled at least once every two weeks in a quality training plan.  To be successful running hills, you have to be good at going both up and down them as well as have the power and endurance to do it more than once.  To rock the next hilly race course you face, here are a few tips to help you build the hill runningstrength and power it takes to go up along with the control and balance required to get safely back down.

Pick the right hills.  Not all hills are created equal.  While there are lots that can help your hill running improve, training on one that’s too long, too short, too steep or not steep enough can render your workout ineffective.  Running a long, gradual hill can increase strength, ankle flexibility and reduce neuromuscular inhibition, leading to better coordination.  Sprinting a short steep hill will help build power and decrease neuromuscular inhibition, making it easier to run hard and fast.  Choosing a hill that matches your workout is key to getting the most out of it.

Run at the proper speed/tempo/heart rate.  Sprinting all out up and zooming willy nilly back down your favorite local hill isn’t an effective way to train.  Plan your hill running workouts to target specific zones of strength and cardiovascular effort by working out on the right one at the correct intensity.  Practice a downhill tempo that’s faster than going up, practice using gravity to help you recover on the way down and be sure to take appropriate rest between repeats.

Downhill matters, too.  Leaning back on a downhill is common, we are trying to slow down to maintain balance.  Unfortunately, leaning back ignores a chance for a gravity induced, no effort increase in speed.  Keep your spine straight and perpendicular to the downhill surface to take advantage of a bonus pick up in pace while increasing your stride rate to get the most out of the hill’s ‘easy’ side.

Treat hill running like strength training.  Don’t let it take over your running schedule and be sure to allow your body some extra time for recovery.  A good hill workout should be done once every 8-10 days or even once every two weeks.  If your normal route includes some hills, that’s great, but to really get the most out of them a special hill only workout is your best bet.

Use these hill running tips to help build your training plan and find success on the next hilly race course you face.

Coach Meredith

Race Day Etiquette: Runners and Walkers

Race day can be a stressful time.  Whether you’re chasing a new PR, trying a new distance or just easing back into things from an injury, adrenaline is flowing and the race environment can race daybe electric.  You’ve trained, you’ve fueled, you’ve arrived and you’re ready to rock.  Here are a few things that can help ensure both you and every other participant has a great race day experience.

Respect your corral.  Line up in the correct one, if you’re assigned.  If there aren’t corral assignments, ask around and try to line up with a group that has the same goal time.  If you plan on running 10:00 miles refrain from starting with your friend who will be running 8:00s.  Why?  Slower runners at the front can cause traffic jams.  Faster runners will be forced to pass, adding distance and costing valuable seconds when aiming for a new PR.

Water Stop:  If you’re drinking, stay close to the tables and don’t crowd at the first one, you’ll get faster, smoother service further down.  If you’re not thirsty, stay in the middle and keep moving.  No matter where you decide to grab hydration, know what’s going on around you before coming to a complete stop.  If you can’t get fluids down smoothly while running, try a power walk or step to the side.  Done drinking?  Try to aim that empty cup towards a trash can.

Walking:  Walkers are racers, too.  Just like at a water stop, if you’re going to take a walking break, make sure those around know it’s coming.  Make for the edge of the course, put a hand up or even shout it out.  This will prevent you from being run over or into and keep you out of another’s race day way.

On course:  Stay skinny.  Whether you’re running or walking, stick to traveling one or two wide.  Courses are often on narrow roads or trails, sometime with moving traffic only a cone’s width away.  Lining up three or four across and not allowing enough room for someone to pass can irritate other participants and cost them valuable seconds they’ve worked hard to shave off.

Finish:  One of the best parts of race day is the Finisher photo right after you receive that fancy new bling.  If you’re waiting for a friend to come through for a photo-op, step to the side or even consider a location away from the hustle and bustle.

Snacks:  We all need to refuel, rehydrate and relax after a race.  Take only what’s been allocated for you in the finisher area.  Those who finish behind you deserve the same nutrition, fluids and goodies you do.

Pack these race day etiquette tips in your drop bag and everyone will have a smooth event experience.

Coach Meredith

Get Ready for Race Day

Training for a race takes a lot of time and effort and there’s nothing worse than working hard for a race day that doesn’t end the way we want.  Here are some of my favorite tips for runners who are preparing to run their best from Start to Finish.

A big part of running your best race is to realize that race day actually begins long before you’ve picked up your number.  Planning and practice are key elements of a good performance.  These are a few things to do before race day arrives so you can put your best foot forward.

Practice with different sources of hydration on training runs and test out different fuels for both before and during the race to make sure you know what’s best for your body.  Compare hydrating with water versus as sports drink.  Try eating a gel versus a bar on those long training outings.  Learning how your insides respond to different nourishment means avoiding digestive issues, staying hydrated and giving yourself the best chance you can to put together the race race dayyou want.

As race weekend approaches, study the course.  If you know what’s coming at you, you can mentally and physically prepare for it.  What mile brings the hills and which ones are flat?  Is it out-and-back, point-to-point or a loop?  Where are the hydration stops, Port-a-Potties and gels?  How about the bands?  Are you going to need your own music?  Anything can happen out there and it’s important know what support will be around you on the course.

Once you’ve nailed down your race day hydration and fueling plan and learned the course, take the final few days before race morning to rest up and prepare your body to work hard.  Tapering, carb loading, stretching, massaging and getting plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your event are some guaranteed ways to perform at your best.

It’s race weekend, what’s next?

After you check out the expo and pick up your number, pin it on clothing you’ve run in at least once before, are familiar with and want to be photographed in.  Being uncomfortable is a surefire way to make your race more difficult and the last thing you want is to be distracted by a chafing seam.

Get up race morning and follow the fueling and hydration plan you developed while training. Stick with what you know works!  You’ll want to head to the corrals early enough to have time to stretch out and get your body going with an easy jog and a few strides.

Once you’re off, be careful to start slowly.  The start of any race is an exciting moment.  With all that adrenaline pumping, it’s easy to get swept up in the group and go out at a fast pace.  Burning through your fuel in the first mile doesn’t leave much for the rest of the race, especially when you’ll need it for a strong finish.  It’s much easier to increase your pace on legs that are ready to go than maintain it on legs that are tired.

After you’ve beaten the urge to rush out of the starting chute and settled into your run, start thinking about the course you’ve studied.  Hug corners, run the inside of curves and take the shortest route possible from Start to Finish.  Courses are measured this way.  Taking wide turns or weaving through groups can add to both your finish time and total distance.

Most importantly, trust your training. You’ve put in the hard work to have a successful race.  Believe in yourself, take a few of these tips with you and you’ll be hard to beat come race day!

Coach Meredith

Prepare for next race with us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com for more information on all the ways we can help you rock your next race day.

*This was originally posted here*

Racing Shoes: Are They Right For You?

Racing shoes can come in many forms.  With lots of options, finding the right pair of racers might not be hard, but do you really need them?  Read on the learn the differences between racing shoes and normal training shoes and the potential benefits and risks of racing in a lighter shoe than you train in.

Let’s start with the basics.  Training shoes are heavier, thicker and more supportive than racing flats or lightweight training shoes.  Normal training shoes typically come in weighing anywhere from 8-10 ounces per shoe while lightweight training shoes range from 5-7 ounces per shoe and racing flat can be as light as 3-4 ounces.  The reason those other types of shoes weigh less than your regular trainers is because they have less cushioning and less support.  That being said, these are some of the pros and cons of sporting a barely there pair on race day.racing shoes

  • A lighter shoe is that your muscles don’t have to work quite so hard to pick up each foot.  Studies have shown that each ounce you remove from the weight of your shoe can increase your speed by one second per mile.  Take off three ounces, that’s three seconds per mile and almost ten seconds off your 5k time.
  • Lighter racing shoes can also make you feel faster.  They’re special for race day.  Just like your lucky underwear or breakfast, your shiny race shoes might not only weigh less but make you feel lighter, faster and more positive.

Unfortunately for some runners, lighter shoes won’t have much of an impact and can actually cause problems.  Here are some potential problems to keep in mind before you trot off to the running store for a new pair of racing shoes.

  • The limited cushioning in racing flats or lightweight trainers mean they don’t provide a lot of buffer between your foot and the ground you’re running on.  This lack of support, motion control and stability can be problematic for those who need them.
  • Light racing shoes might not be for you if you’re worried about an injury, tired, sore or are one of those who need lots of support and cushioning.
  • Consider what you’re wearing them for.  A 5-, 8- or 10k isn’t very long and doesn’t give you lots of time to get hurt.  For a 10 miler, half or full marathon, your regular trainer, lightweight trainers and performance trainers are probably a better answer.

If you do decide to give lightweight trainers or racing flats a try, be sure to run in them before you race and talk to your coach about your decision.  You wouldn’t wear brand new shorts on race day and it’s not a good time to experiment with new footwear, either.  Racing shoes can be a big change from your regular runners and your body will need time to learn how to adjust.

For more help with picking the right shoe to race in, ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

Start Running! Here’s How.

Want to start running?  Starting something new can be very intimidating and running is often tops on the list.  Even those who have taken a hiatus due to injury or burn out can have trouble getting started again.  With the potential for injury, getting a physician’s clearance before beginning a run/walk or running program is incredibly important.  After being cleared, here are some tips for getting your running program started.

Support.  Make sure you have the right shoes and use a specialized running store to find them.  Properly fitting and supportive shoes will prevent injury and help keep you pain free.  For women, a properly fitting and appropriately supportive sports bra is just as important as good shoes.  Don’t be afraid to try a few different options to find the one you like best.

Before and After.  Warming up is a key element to getting in a good workout, so spending five to ten minutes raising your heart rate and getting muscles ready to work will help reduce your risk of injury and aid you in achieving better results.  Just as warming up is important, cooling down after your session with five to ten minutes of stretching will ease post run soreness and tightness.

Comfort.  One element of having a successful start is staying in your comfort zone.  Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast or you risk burning out, being injured or not enjoying your new activity.  Stressing out about how fast you run when you are a beginner will have the same effect.  Concentrate on building endurance, and being proud of yourself for starting a new activity, before being concerned with how fast you run each mile.

Find a buddy to run with.  You don’t need to run with a friend every time you head out, but once a week running with a friend can be a great motivator.  There are lots of programs available on the internet you and a friend can work on together.  It’s always a great idea to find a coach or join a group of other beginner runners in your area, which is a great way to find the perfect running buddy.

Race.  You don’t have to be ready to race, but getting out and experiencing one is a great way to set goals and stay motivated.   The race shouldn’t be about winning your age group, or even running the entire way, it’s about being in an electric atmosphere where a bunch of strangers cheer for you.

Check out FitNicePT’s newest program, VB Mother Runners, and learn how we can help you get started today!  Not a mom?  Ask us about our other training options!

How to Use Timed Runs

There are lots of methods people use when training for a race.  Whether a 5K, 10K, half marathon or Iron Man, every runner has a different program, but the goal of each program is the same: finish in less time than I did before.  To reach this goal, every runner needs to run for time.  There are different types of timed runs out there, and each one serves a different purpose.  Short times runs, tempo runs, and distance runs can all fall into the timed run family and each one is valuable to any training program.

Short timed runs serve as benchmarks and baselines, giving you a sense of what your race pace will be by letting you know what kind of pace you can maintain over a period of time.  They are a great way to evaluate improvement in your fitness level and give you an idea of what your next goal should be.

Tempo runs are used to increase lactic acid threshold, or the point at which muscles feel fatigue.  They accomplish this by teaching to body to work when it’s already tired.  Tempo runs start with an easy pace to warm up then slowly increase to reach 10K pace for a short time in the middle, before finishing with another block of easy running.  A 30 minute tempo run would consist of 10 minutes warm up, ten minutes at a comfortably hard pace, with a peak at 10K pace around 15 minutes, then finish up with 10 minutes of easy running.

Your long timed run is there to make sure you can finish your race.  To be successful, determine how long your longest timed run should be, estimate the time it will take you to finish your race.  If you’re racing 13.1 miles and comfortably run 9 minute miles, you can guess you’ll finish in about two hours.  Your timed runs should build up so your body is ready to work for two hours.  If your body isn’t prepared to ahead of time to work for the amount of time it’s going to take you to finish, the end of your race will be tough both physically and mentally.

No matter what flavor of timed run you plan on doing, they are a great tool when you travel.  Running for time means you don’t have to measure new routes or waste time on the internet finding something, or somewhere, that’s already been measured, giving you more time to relax.  Running for a predetermined time is also perfect on days when you don’t feel 100%.  You can run for 45 minutes without caring how far you go or worrying you didn’t get a good enough workout in because you know did what you set out to do.

Have questions about running for time or training for your next race?  Contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com!