Friday, August 29, 2014

The 5 Most Common Mistakes That New Runners Make

Did you just started running within the last year?  Do you have running goals?  Don’t underestimate the importance of being patient.  It really takes about 2-3 years to really see what your true running potential will be.  Most runners set their expectations too high and end up getting injured because of it.  You have to first get your body used to running.  Here are the five most common mistakes that new runners make.

Having unreasonable goals:  When I first started running, I ran 3 miles with some friends at a 12:30 min/mile pace.  Within 3 months I was running at under a 10:00 pace.  I immediately wanted to get faster to keep up with some friends who ran marathons.  You should figure out what your goals are, but make them reasonable.  If you eventually want to do marathons, start with a goal of a 5k race, then 10k race, etc…  Keep doing this without skipping race distances.  Setting unreasonable goals will almost definitely result in injury.

Progress slowly:  Use the 10 percent rule when you are increasing speed or distance.  I started my half marathon training with a 5 mile long run and increased my long run mileage by a mile per week.  Your long runs should typically be easy (a comfortable speed where you could hold a conversation).  Check out for training plans for different race distances and abilities.  They are great plans and are free.

Not enough variety in your runs:  My training plan calls for one speed workout a week (intervals or tempo runs), one longer run a week and the rest should be easier runs.  You can add Fartleks to easy runs if you want to make them more difficult.  A Fartlek (a Swedish term meaning “speed play”) is where you run short segments (30-60 seconds) at a faster pace, typically your 5k race pace.  These faster segments can be done at any random time throughout your run.  They will help you get faster without taxing your body too much.

Fall in the race-day adrenaline hype:  I luckily did not have this issue during my first race because I listed to almost everyone talk about how they always start out too quickly.  You will typically run 20-30 seconds per mile faster than your training speed.  I try to find a person about half a mile into the race who is going the same pace that I want to run (or slightly faster) and chase them during the race.  Have a plan going into the race and stick with it.  Don’t get 2 miles into your first 5k and have nothing left in the tank because you started off too quickly.

The importance of strength training:  For me this is probably the most important key to staying injury free.  There are numerous plans you can follow for free.  I like the phone app Skimble.  I have been doing the Total Beach Body Series (10 workouts) over and over for the last 3 months.  They don’t require more than 10 pound dumbbells at the most and last 18-23 minutes.  It is considered High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and is one of the best ways to lose weight, get stronger and have more energy.  It has been the single most significant part of me becoming faster and running injury free for the last 6 months. 

I am a very impatient person when it comes to my fitness goals.  I started out too quickly and ended up with shin splints, Achilles tendon issues, tendonitis, and an issue with my hip flexor all within the first year of running.  If I would have just followed the advice above, I would have reached my goals sooner than I did.  All of the injuries slowed down my progress.  Please learn from my mistakes and don’t let it happen to you. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are Your Shoes Lonely? It Might Be Beneficial If They Had A Friend.

I had a conversation with a running friend of mine a few months after I started running that would change the way I thought about running shoes forever.  That conversation brought to light the idea of having several pairs of running shoes and what the benefits were.  To be honest, I never even thought about owning multiple pairs until then. 

I don’t have a big shoe budget and am fortunate to people close to me that have hooked me up.  I started with a pair of Nike Pegasus 29’s and then transitioned to the Mizuno Prophesy 2’s.  Mizuno shoes tend to fit my feet better and have a little more cushioning.  I also have a pair of Mizuno Precision 13’s, which is more minimal shoe.  I have retired the Pegasus but run in the Prophesy’s for my longer and easy runs and my Precisions for my speed work and races.  So, why should you rotate your shoes?

A typical pair of shoes is made to last from 300-400 miles before you will need to replace them.  When you run, you exert about 1.5 to 3 times your body weight on the shoes.  The foam that cushions your feet gets compressed when you run and having multiple pairs of shoes will allow 48 hours (or longer) for the foam to decompress completely.  If you don’t allow this to occur, you will actually be increasing the risk of injury because you are not getting the full protection that your shoes were designed to provide.  The shoes will not last as long either if you do not allow full decompression to occur.   

I know what you are thinking, “I will cost so much more to buy multiple shoes.”  This is the case in the very beginning, but you can look at it a different way as well.  Your shoes will last twice as long so you will not actually be spending more money in the long run.  You can actually buy multiple pairs of shoes when they go on sale to save even more money.  Running companies usually have huge sales a few times a year, especially when the new shoes come out.  

Another key reason to run in multiple shoes is that you can purchase different types of shoes that will be beneficial for different types of runs.  I use my Precision13’s for speed workouts and races because they are lighter and have less cushioning.  I use my Prophesy’s for longer and easy runs.  If you always wore the same type of shoes you feet would get used to them.  If you run in multiple types of shoes, they will strengthen your feet in different way, simulating running on different surfaces, thus reducing the risk of injury. 

With so many different types of shoes available, it is also good to try different shoe brands.  I am going to be buying a pair of Altra Instinct 2.0 shoes in the near future.  They offer a zero drop shoe that is cushioned and have a wide toe box to allow your toes to spread out naturally.  I can’t wait to add them to my rotation.  Please let me know what your favorite type of shoe is and how many pairs you have.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blog Contest: 50 Followers

Hi everyone,

I have decided to have a contest to try and get more followers to my running blog.  All you have to do is click the "Join this site" button to the right, under "FOLLOWERS").  You can sign in with your Google, Twitter, or Yahoo acounts or sign up for a new Google acccount. 

Once we get 50 followers, I will pick one of the followers at random to win a running package which consists of a Mino (see the product review from my "Pick a shoe, any shoe" post on June 10th), tube of Nuun electrolyte tablets, a pair of lace locks.  This package is valued at $30.  Please share this with your friends and family.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are You A Swinger? An Arm Swinger That Is.

There are so many questions I had early on in regards to my running form.  I had no idea of what I was doing.  I met with a running coach and he helped me with my form.  He talked about the importance of running efficiency.  There were three items that he discussed as being the most important part of running efficiency.  They were having a running cadence of 180 steps per minute, good arm swing,   I talked about running cadence in my July 2nd blog post, “The Need For Cadence Speed.” Today I will discuss the proper way to swing your arms while running and a slight forward lean (with proper head alignment).

The most efficient way to swing your arms can be different depending on whether you are running or sprinting.  Either way you want to swing your opposite arms and legs in sync.  You should have your elbows bent at roughly a 90 degree angle.  When you are running, you will mainly pump your arms back and recover when your arm comes forward.  you want to keep your elbows behind your waist.   When you are sprinting, you will still keep your arms at 90 degrees and pump your arms forward.  For both types of arm swing, you do not want your arms to cross in front of your body.  When your arms cross in front of you, the result is that you tend to rotate your body and your posture goes backwards (which is not good).  You should have short, compact arm movements (close to your body) while keeping your arms and hands relaxed.

It will take a little practice, but it is easy to implement and will make a huge difference that you will be able to feel.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How Many Gears Do You Have? Why Easy Runs Are Important.

When I first started running I had one gear, fast (or I tried at least).  Every run, I would try to run 3 miles as fast as I could.  Fast forward to today…  My training plan calls for 3 easy runs and two higher intensity runs a week.  It has been difficult to adjust to easy runs but I am starting to understand the true benefits after reading a few articles about “the easy run.”

Easy runs should be at a pace where you can have a conversation with your running buddy (or yourself, if you are running alone).  You should be able to say a full sentence without losing breath.  This equates to about 1.5-2 minutes per mile slower than your typical race pace.  Why do you need to have easy runs though?

Research has shown that it is important to build base mileage if you plan on doing any longer distance races (half marathon or longer).  Base mileage is defined as amount of miles that you run in a week.  The problem with running 4-6 days a week at full intensity is that you are not allowing your body to recover from your harder runs, where you are building your speed.  If you do not allow adequate time to recover, your endurance will gradually decline.  You could find yourself developing injuries and sometime you just watch your average speed drop.  I have even experienced a week of feeling fatigued and sore because I didn’t give myself enough rest. 

It can be agonizing to run at a slower pace if you are not used to it, but in my experience, it has made me focus more on my form and I feel that I am a stronger and more confident runner because of the easy runs.  Who would have thought you would have to run easier to get faster.  Let me know how you make your easy runs enjoyable.