running

MAKE THIS YEAR THE YEAR!

Each year millions of Americans start the New Year by setting New Year resolutions. Starting fresh, dreaming big, setting goals, and continuing to improve themselves from previous years. Most, unfortunately, will either give up or fail to meet their goals, however research has shown that those who do set New Year resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals. So as we begin another year and you reflect on the previous years accomplishments use these helpful tips I always share with individuals to help accomplish your New Year resolutions.

BEAT THE HEAT

It’s that time of year, Summer! Along with longer daylight and nice weather comes the heat and humidity. Something many runner’s dread; the hot, sticky feeling while running both short and long runs. Your run can feel twice as hard since your body tires faster due to the heat and humidity. Learn to beat the heat with these helpful tips.

Set an Alarm: Sunrise is the coolest time of day for a run. Even though some mornings may be more humid it beats the afternoon heat.

Go Tech: While running your morning and evening runs wear technical fabrics to help wick sweat away from the body.

Wear a Visor: Beat the sun and stay cool by wearing tech type visor to help keep the sun our of your eyes while allowing the heat to release from your head. NEVER wear a hat, hats only trap heat.

Drink Up: Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water or other electrolyte drinks. Drink at least 8 ounces of water prior to your run and 4-6 sips every 15 minutes while running long runs.

Slow Down: Something that’s hard for every runner, slowing your pace. Every five-degree increase in temperatures above 60 degrees, runners should slow their pace 15-20 seconds per mile. Temperatures above 85 degrees runners should slow their pace 30-40 seconds per mile.

Staying cool and hydrated during the hot and humid months is key to any training program. Yes, water is great for shorter runs, less than 60 minutes, but you’ll likely need something more for longer runs.If you’re training for a distance race, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day and after any long runs. Try one of these mid-run drinks to help stay hydrated while running.

  • Gatorade Endurance Formula
  • Osmo Nutrition Active Hydration
  • Heed Sports Drink
  • Nuun Active Hydration
  • Clif Shot Electrolyte Hydration Drink Mix
  • Zico Pure Premium Coconut Water
  • Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator
  • PowerBar Preform Sports Drink Mix

Finally, always listen to your body. If you feel yourself overheating, getting tired or weak during a run always stop and walk to re-hydrate. For many runners stopping and walking can be frustrating however, it beats getting dehydrated or causing serious injuries any day.

ENERGYBITS

As a runner, personal training and person living a healthy & fit lifestyle I’m always on the go and looking for something to give me the energy I need for my runs and workouts. I’ve tried numerous different pre-workout supplements through my running life however, none have truly done what they say. They either taste horrible because you have to mix with water, make you crash at the end of a good run or workout or just don’t do anything in general (which typically happens). Due to this I’m always looking for the next best pre-workout product.

Recently, thanks to Twitter, I was able to test ENERGYBits Algae tablets. ENERGYBits were founded to help individuals get energy faster, easier and healthier. With more than 97% of American chronic illnesses caused by nutritional deficiencies ENERGYBits felt as they needed to create something to help. With no caffeine, chemicals, sugar, gluten or soy, just plant-based nutrition. These 100% natural, certified NON GMO organic green algae tablets are made of over 40 vitamins/minerals and contain 64% protein, which are both essential for athletic performance and health. With only one calorie per tablet ENERGYBits will help stop your craving and give you the steady stream of energy one will need to get through any run or workout. With the slogan, “It’s OK to swallow,” each single serving package is swallowed before any run or workout. I would highly suggest that you don’t chew, I tried and they taste horrible, so stick to the label and swallow!

I recently tested these tablets for my Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in Washington, DC last weekend on April 6th. Before any race I’m always looking for a boost of extra energy due to waking up so early and needing to get focused. Typically I take any pre-workout supplements about 30-45 minutes before my race or workout. Since I was new to ENERGYBIts, I decided to take the tablets on the way to the race, about 20 minutes before the run. As you read earlier, I tried to chew them due to the lack of water nearby and it turned out horrible. Due to this I waited until I got to the race to finish the single serving packet. While waiting at the start line I could already start to feel the effect of the tabs, the hunger that I woke-up with went away as my mind started to focus on the race. As a frequent runner getting focused is one of the most important yet difficult aspects of getting ready for a long-run, but with the ENERGYBits I didn’t have any issues. The best part, I didn’t have to guzzle any unnatural and bad tasting pre-workout drinks like I’m use too. At the beginning of the race I could feel the energy kicking in as I begin my 10-mile journey. It felt as if I could run through anything, at any speed and nothing could stop me. Through the whole race I felt great, had amazing energy and didn’t feel my body crash or get hunger spells. Following the race, which I completed in 1:02, I felt just as fine. I didn’t crash and still had the energy and drive that I had during the run.

Following my first time experience I would highly suggest any runner, trainer or anyone looking for a boost of energy to try ENERGYBits. They are super easy to “swallow” and give you the energy one will needed to complete any task throughout the day. Since my Cherry Blossom 10-Miler I’ve continued to take the tabs for regular runs and workouts. Due to their small packaging and easy to swallow tabs I can carry them wherever I go and use them whenever I need too. If you are looking for extra energy while monitoring what goes in your body I would highly suggest you check out ENERGYBits website to learn more and try the product our yourself, I mean what do you have to lose, energy?

WORKOUT OR REST

It’s that time of year again, cold weather, common cold and other illnesses. When the Winter months set in many runners often ask, should I continue my run or workout through the symptoms of the cold or should I take some time to rest and recover?

While feeling under the weather, exercise is the last thing you really want to do, but in some cases, light to moderate exercise may actually help you feel better and recover. However, when your body is already under stress and not feeling well, pushing it might do more harm that good. Below I’ve provided a few tips to consider before pushing yourself.

  1. “Neck Rule”
    If your symptoms are above your neck such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat, light to moderate exercise should be okay. If your symptoms are below your neck such as chest congestion, coughing, upset stomach, muscle aches or swollen lymph nodes, time to rest and recover. Also, avoid exercising while having a fever!
  2. Exercise
    If you do decide to exercise while feeling under the weather, perform moderate workouts such as walking, jogging, and yoga instead of high-intensity workouts such as lifting weights and endurance running.
  3. Hydrate
    Keep hydrated! While fighting off symptoms of the cold many medications dehydrate individuals so it key that you continue to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids though-out the day and if you do decide to run or workout remember to hydrate even more to help replenish what the body has lost.
  4. Gym Workouts
    If you do decide to workout at a gym or public place due to cold temperatures outside please be courteous and remember to clean the machines before and after use. Also, try to use machines that are away from other individuals to avoid spreading or even catching another bug from close-by individuals.
  5. Wash Your Hands
    WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY! While feeling under the weather continue to wash your hands frequently to help avoid spreading the illness to other areas and individuals. Also, it’s key to remember to wash your hands after working out at the gym, using public spaces and before eating.

Finally, always listen to your body. For some it can be very frustrating to take time off, but when you’re not feeling 100%, you’re not performing at 100%. If you do continue to run or workout, dial it back a bit, focus on low intensity workouts and most importantly give your body time to heal! If you are able to do this you will be back to your regular runs or workouts in no time!

NEW YEAR – FRESH START!

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, cold runs, tons of food, and previous year reflections. Whether you achieved your 2013 fitness goals or not it’s time to start thinking about 2014. Knowing what you accomplished this year will only help you choose what new accomplishments to shot for in the New Year. Having a new goal set prior to January 1st will help ensure you a successful running year! Let these accomplish help you move forward to bigger accomplishments.

This Year: Never Ran
Next Year: Run Occasionally

If you’re thinking of starting a fit and healthy lifestyle and picking up running start slow. Running is great form of exercise but can be scary at the beginning. Setting weekly goals will not only help break down any running fears you may have but also allow you to see your progress through the months and year. Start small and continue to progress until you reach a level you are happy and satisfied with.

This Year: Run Occasionally
Next Year: Run Regularly

If you already run occasionally but are looking to increase your mileage or speed start running regularly. Become more consistent with your runs by scheduling at least 4-5 runs a week including hill runs, fast runs, and easy runs. These different runs will help improve your endurance as well as continue to keep you motivated.

This Year: Never Ran a Race
Next Year: Run a 5K Race

So you run regularly but you’ve never registered or ran a race?! Start small by registering for your first 5K. Start by asking your local running store which 5K they recommend or if they have any upcoming 5K races. Many local running stores host their own  races throughout the year. If you’re running store does host small races this is a great way to get more involved with the store, run your first race, and start meeting other runners in your community. On race day, remember to line up near the back of the pack on either the right or left side to help with any walk breaks that might be needed. Also, always remember, HAVE FUN!

This Year: Finished Your First Race
Next Year: Run Faster

Now that you’ve ran and completed your first race it’s time to get faster. To get faster you have to run longer while including speed-work. Once again, start off slow with one long run at a good speed once a week. As you continue to improve start incorporating more long runs throughout your week/weekends. Also, this is a great time to start incorporating speed-work into your workouts to help increase your overall speed. Speed-work includes, regular sprints, hill sprints, and intervals. These little things will only help improve your speed throughout time.

Knowing what you learned from the previous year and how you are going to accomplish your new year fitness goal will only lead to your overall fitness success. With the helpful tips above along with a six, nine, or twelve-month plan you can accomplish any running adventure. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

THE WINDY CITY! – CHICAGO MARATHON RECAP

Chicago, also known as “The Windy City” due to its gusty winds and cold weather, offers a wide range of activities, sporting teams, and down to earth residents. With 237 squaremiles of land, Chicago is home to more than 2.7 million residents, 100 hundred different neighborhoods, and thousands of attractions that help bring more than 40 million visitors to the city each year.

One of the cities largest events is the Chicago Marathon. Each year thousands of residents and runners from all over the World come to Chicago to conquer the flat, fast course. This year’s marathon hosted 45,000 registered participants with 39,115 runners crossing the finish line. With the course going through 29 neighborhoods, runners get to experience all of Chicago; from Chinatown, Downtown, Boys Town, Old Town, and the many other attractions. Along with these great neighborhoods and attractions the Chicago community itself came out in the millions to help cheer, support, and make the marathon the most active and energetic race I have experienced (outside of the Marine Corps Marathon). With the estimated 1.2 million supporters there, there were no straight-a-ways, turns, or neighborhoods that didn’t have supporters cheering you on and giving runners the support they needed throughout the race.

For me, the first 2-3 miles I stayed on track with the 3:05 minute group, tracking with them but also wondering if this was the right speed. It seemed kinda slow, I mean I even got to stop and actually use the bathroom, which never happens in any of my past marathons. Following my bathroom break I decided to break away from the pack and run at my own pace, which was faster than 3:05. Through miles 5-12 everything seemed to be going very well, I was drinking water, eating my GU’s at the right times, and staying focused. Staying so focused and slightly increasing my pace throughout miles 13-22 lead me to mile 22, where my challenges started. At mile 22 I started to lose focus due to a knot in my right calf that then lead to leg pain in the same leg. Since running a marathon is 80 percent mental once you lose that focus and start thinking of the worst, things begin to go downhill and of course that is what happened to me. At mile 23, unfortunately I had to stop due to the sharp pains that were occurring and get assistance from the EMT Crew that were along the route. While being assisted by the EMT Crew I learned that by salt intake had dropped to zero and was the reason for my muscle issues. A few salt tablets and leg massages later I was back on the course, not feeling my best, but back to running and loving every minute of it due to the amazing crowd support. I was able to complete the Chicago Marathon in 3:17, placing 2,297 out of the 39,115 runners that completed the race that day.

The Chicago Marathon was a great course; fast, flat, friendly, energetic, but deceiving at the same time. With the reputation of being a flat and fast course myself and many other runners out paced themselves, running faster than intended, which then only lead to my injuries and slower pace at the end. I am very thankful that I was able to complete the race in the time I did, and can only look forward to racing the course again in the near future, with bigger goals and a more determined attitude.

POST-RACE PITTSBURGH MARATHON

POST-RACE PITTSBURGH MARATHON

It has been over 2 weeks since I completed by 3rd marathon. Countless hours of training and many, many hills later, I now can successfully claim the title, “Runner of Steel.” Following my completion of the Pittsburgh Marathon, I can finally sit and reflect on the race, the course route, and my overall experience in the State of Independence.

PRE-RACE PITTSBURGH MARATHON

The time has finally come: I’m here in Pittsburgh, PA with less than 24 hours until the 5th Annual Pittsburgh Marathon. The question, as it always is the day before a race, is “Am I really ready for 26.2 miles?”

The Pittsburgh Marathon is located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, which is known to many as the City of Steel. The race itself boasts intense hills, sharp inclines and 5 bridges that runners will crisscross along their 26.2-mile journey.If they complete the race successfully, they will receive a metal, yes, but they will also be known as a “Runner of Steel” from this day forward. The 2013 race marks the 5th year that professional athletes and runners will gather in Western Pennsylvania to make their mark on the PGH Marathon.

As a 2X marathon athlete, I have trained for this day by alternating my short and long runs, monitoring my eating habits, and preparing myself mentally. Now, with less than 24 hours to go, there is nothing more I can do. No more training needs to be done. The most important thing for me right now is to relax, enjoy being in a new city, and let my worries and anticipations go. Oh, and a good night’s rest is always welcome! I’ve got my gear ready to go. My water bottle filled; my GU gel’s packed along my water bottle belt; my running attire ready, and my breakfast for the morning of my run already planned. I completed my last workout prior to my run this morning at the hotel and can now only relax.

The temperature this weekend in Pittsburgh is in the high 60’s. It’s sunny and I could not have asked for anything better. As a result of my training, I’m more confident than I have been prior to my first two marathons. I’m ready to conquer the city of Pittsburgh with its historic districts, unapologetic hills, its 5 bridges, and any other obstacles that may arise. The time has come! There is no looking back. Only looking forward. I’m ready to put another notch in my marathon belt. By 10:30AM tomorrow I will become a 3X marathon athlete but I’ll also be a “Runner of Steel.”

I encourage you to follow me on Twitter @TravisSmith09. Here you can cheer me on as I make my way along the course. You can send encouragement, and see how I finish. Join me and run with me!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Any runner will tell you that fueling the body and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to any successful running program. Whether you are training for your next big race or just running casually, you must fuel your body with the right foods prior to your run and following your run. Eating the right types of foods will help give you the energy you need to get through your runs while rebuilding certain muscles groups following your runs.