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Trail Running Can Prevent Injuries. Say What!?

by: Janae Richardson

When we think about the topic of injury prevention a lot of things come to mind…icing, massage, foam rollers, strengthening exercises, etc.  What if I told you trail running could also be added to this injury prevention list? Say what!?  I know right now you are picturing rolling your ankle, tripping over a rock or root, falling off a steep cliff, or running into a rattle snake.  While these are all possible risks of trail running, one could contend that while running on the roads you could just as easily trip over a curb or pothole, get bit by a dog, or even hit by a car.  The truth is, trail running has some definite injury prevention benefits and here’s why…

Read More….

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Build An Aerobic Base: A Guide for Off-Season Training

[Originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Oct Nov Dec Edition 2015 – Click Here to read other great articles from this magazine edition]

The fall and winter months are a great time of year to put in some easy running mileage. In fact, it is my favorite time of year because I feel like I can really enjoy running again. The pressure of a race looming in the near future is gone and I can focus on running because I love what it does for both my mind and body. Some runners like to continue to do intervals, tempos, etc. during these off-season months, but if your goal is to increase your weekly mileage and build a solid aerobic base then the safest way to go about it is to avoid coupling mileage increases with intense workouts. You risk injury, overtraining, and burnout. For me it works best to at least take a couple months to run distance and build up my mileage base. If anything, it is the mental break from intense workouts that I need to be primed and ready to jump back into more intense workouts come the beginning of the year.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF BUILDING AN AEROBIC BASE?

There are some definite physiological benefits to spending consistent time running easy mileage. We strengthen the cardiovascular system. We create a more powerful pump (heart), which helps get more oxygen rich blood to our running muscles at an increased rate. We increase the cross-section of blood supply in our muscles with the increased number of capillaries (small branches of blood vessels) in our body. We also increase the size, number, and distribution of mitochondria in our body. Mitochondria is where aerobic metabolism takes place, so this increases our body’s ability to take up and utilize oxygen more efficiently. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, we can become better at conserving our glycogen stores and be more efficient at utilizing fat for energy. Base mileage, if done correctly, also helps build up a resistance to injury and builds a foundation for us to handle more intense/ quality workouts down the road. And if you are still not convinced of the importance of easy running and base mileage, think about how the different energy pathways of the body are utilized during different race distances. We have energy being produced with the presence of oxygen (aerobic pathway) and energy produced with out oxygen (anaerobic pathways) depending on the intensity of the activity being performed. If you take a look at the energy contribution chart you can see that even a shorter race like the mile requires 80% of the body’s energy to come from aerobic metabolism. The marathon requires over 97% from the aerobic pathway! So it makes sense that we should spend 80% or more of our training time developing our aerobic system.

HOW MUCH MILEAGE SHOULD I BE DOING DURING THIS PHASE OF TRAINING?

When it comes to weekly mileage goals, like a lot of training aspects, it is very individual. I know some runners that run consistent 100 mile weeks, some runners who 65 miles per week is their edge, and other beginner or masters (over 40 years old) runners that 30-40 miles a week are what their bodies can handle. So many factors go into this that it is something you have to be very careful about. Jack Daniels, a well-known exercise physiologist and coach, said there is no magical weekly mileage number. He did say, however, that good marathoners tend to be in the 70-150 miles per week average (1). This is a wide range, but it does help us understand that for marathon running, longer weekly mileage is important. While the exact ideal weekly mileage for each person is not always clear, one thing we do know is that it takes YEARS to build up to having your body handle the stresses of 70-150 mile weeks. Runners that are able to handle this amount of mileage have built up to this gradually over years of training. So when deciding on how many miles to do each week, consider what event you are training for (training for a 5K is going to require much less miles than if you are training for a marathon) and then consider how many years you have been running. I’d say if you are just getting started then shoot for 25-35 miles a week. If you are an intermediate runner (3-5 years of running) that has consistently been running 25-35 miles a week then start your base mileage out at the 35-45 range. If you have been running for 7-10 years with consistent mileage above 50 miles then I think you would be okay to start hitting ranges above 60.

HOW DO I SAFELY INCREASE MY MILEAGE?

The most conservative, safest approach would be to stay at the same weekly mileage for 3-4 weeks before increasing your mileage. This gives your body time to adapt to the stresses you are putting on it before you add more demand to it. I like to take a mileage recovery week before making the jump to a new weekly mileage goal. So after the 3rd or 4th week of higher mileage, I drop my mileage for one week by 20% and allow myself a recovery week from the higher mileage. For example, if you are running 60 miles a week for 3 weeks then on the recovery week you would decrease your mileage by 12 miles (20% of 60) and run 48 miles. Then after the recovery week you could head into three consecutive weeks at 66 miles a week. How do I know how much I increase my mileage when it is time to make a jump? Some experts recommend, using the 10% rule of thumb. This means increasing your mileage by 10% of what you have been doing, but maximum amount being 10 miles. Another approach is to increase by the number of training sessions you are doing in a week (1). So if you workout 7 times a week, then you can increase your mileage by 7 miles.

WHAT PACE SHOULD I RUN MY BASE MILEAGE?

These easy distance runs are more of a function of time spent running rather than intensity (1). You can’t really go too slow on these runs, but you can go too fast. If you go too fast on these runs you change the desired result and purpose of the run. I would describe these runs as easy to moderate. At a conversational pace. If you are looking for a heart rate range, your distance run pace should be 65-79% of your heart rate max. If you want to base easy run pace off of race paces you can do that too. For instance, these runs should be 45-60 seconds slower per mile than marathon race pace or 1.5-2 minutes slower than 5k pace (1).

Sources:

(1) Daniels, Jack (2005). Daniel’s Running Formula. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Janae

Janae Richardson – Runner | USATF Certified Coach | Masters in Exercise Science

Janae has a master’s degree in Exercise Science from Utah State University and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist. She ran collegiately at Weber State University and continues to enjoy running competitively in road races. As a certified USATF coach she also enjoys coaching runners of all levels of ability. Janae and her husband Ken Co-founded UtahRunning.com in 2009 and reside in Ogden, UT with their three children.

 

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How to Tackle the Marathon

The marathon can be a fickle beast, but with some experience, wise training, and prudent in-race decision making, it can be tamed. I consider myself a seasoned runner but, when I stepped on the road for my first marathon I was in for a rude awakening. I had underestimated the toll 26.2 miles puts on your body, especially at race pace, and I had not respected the distance as I should have. I’ve since run a few more marathons, and although I’m still seeking faster times, I have improved my performance substantially. I’d like to share a few tips that I’ve found useful for improving my marathon performance.

There’s No Substitute for Mileage

Over the last few years I steadily increased my weekly mileage as I continued to be disappointed in my marathon performances. With each increase in mileage I, for the most part, saw an improvement in my marathon PR. There’s certainly a strong correlation between the number of miles we run in training and our marathon race performance. Increasing volume at first was a scary and tough decision for me. I endured three stress fractures in college, due to increasing volume and training load too quickly. I was under the impression my body couldn’t handle more miles. But I made the decision to increase mileage and I did so very slowly over time.

To increase your mileage I recommend an average of five miles per week for each training block. For example, if you are trained 12-16 weeks for a marathon and averaged 50 miles a week during that block, consider attempting 55 miles per week on your next 12-16 week block. This is a safe way to increase without jeopardizing an injury, but as always listen to your body and back off if you fear you’re overdoing it.

Slowing Down to Speed Up

Around the same time I decided to increase my mileage I also decreased the pace of my easy and recovery day runs. By slowing down on my easy days I was able to improve my half marathon PR by 2 minutes and my marathon PR by 8 minutes. Going slower allows me to run more miles and to be better recovered for my hard workout days. When we run a hard workout we cause micro-tears in our muscles and these, if given time, will adapt and heal stronger than before. This is how we get faster and stronger. But, if we push the pace the day after a hard workout, we may not be allowing the muscles to fully heal and adapt before we tear them down again in the next workout.

Another benefit of slower running on easy days is that your body becomes more accustomed to using fat as an energy source. At faster paces we mainly use glycogen as our energy source. But, in the marathon we often need fat in addition to glycogen as an energy source, especially late in the race when glycogen levels have been nearly depleted.

What’s a good easy day pace? That depends on how hard you ran the day before. But it’s not uncommon for my recovery pace to be 2:30 slower per mile than the pace I ran my hard workout at. Then if I have an additional easy day before my next workout I may go 1:45-2:00 slower per mile. But mostly I don’t even look at my watch during recovery runs, I just run whatever pace feels easy and at which I feel my body will recover.

Read More….

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Ice Bucket Challenge – Runners have been doing this for years!

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The Ice Bucket Challenge!

While we don’t want to downplay the widespread participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge or the fact that the ALS Association has been able to raise 100 million dollars (a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million ALS was able to raise during the same period of time last year), we do take pride in the fact that runners once again are able to “one-up” the average person.  While people are dumping buckets of ice water over their heads and experiencing the cold rush for a minute or so, runners for years have been participating in ICE BATHS where we immerse our bodies up to our chests in ice water for 10-15 minutes!

Mo-Farah-ice-bath

So what are the benefits of ice baths for runners and what are the best conditions for an ice bath…

Benefits of an Ice Bath

  • reduces inflammation and muscle soreness following an intense workout
  • reduces the drop in performance that follows a hard, long, or fast workout

What are the best conditions for an ice bath

  • MOST EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY AFTER WORKOUT
  • STAND IN DEEP WATER. The bulk of the advantage from ice baths actually seems to come from the water pressure not the cold water temperature, so the best way to do an ice bath is if you can stand in a pool, lake, or river.  Although less beneficial (because of less water pressure), sitting in a fairly shallow tub is better than nothing and will still provide some benefit.
  • TEMPERATURE OF WATER BETWEEN 50-59 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT
  • DURATION: 10-15 MINUTES

So while we’ll show our support with the Fad of the Ice Bucket Challenge, us runners will continue to do what we’ve always done and utilize ice baths as a recovery tool!

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Running 101: 4 Lessons for Every Runner

Well, it’s back to school again. The time of year when we do our back to school shopping and our back to homework routines. We’re already seeing everyone posting pictures on Facebook of their kids first day of school. With furthering our education and intellect on our minds we have a few important lessons to teach you about running…

LESSON #1: IF YOU RUN YOU ARE A RUNNER

LESSON #2: SUCK IT UP

LESSON #3: RUNNING IS A GREAT FAMILY ACTIVITY

LESSON #4: IT’S ALL WORTH IT

 

 

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by on Aug.21, 2014, under Motivation

Core Muscle Exercises

WE ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS OUR WEAKEST LINK!!

Sometimes we put so much focus on getting in the miles, the intense workouts, the long runs, and eating right, that sometimes we neglect to strengthen the area of our body that is going to carry us through all the training and across that finish line. Our core is our foundation. If we don’t spend a little time on strengthening our core muscles 2-3 times a week an injury will find us. 

So check out this video from our friends at Mountain Land Physical Therapy. It contains a few simple core exercises that can easily and quickly be implemented into your training program. 

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