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Caffeine and Running – A Good Boost?

October 10th, 2013

Coffee, energy shots, energy drinks, sodas, tea…the list of products with caffeine is pretty close to infinite at this point. The question for runners is how caffeine affects our training and our race day performance. Is it a useful stimulant that can improve your running experience? Does it actually work to keep fatigue at bay?

The Good

The consensus is that caffeine can positively impact athletic performance in many ways. The stimulant increases the production of both dopamine and adrenaline, which can affect performance in runners by increasing endurance and attentiveness. Research has also confirmed that caffeine can:

  • Increase the strength of muscle contractions and the amount of work performed during exercise
  • Cause the muscles to use fat – not glycogen stores – as fuel, which increases stamina
  • Release calcium stored within muscles, which increases speed and aids endurance
  • Make you feel that you aren’t working as hard, so you can run longer without feeling exhausted

The Bad

Should all runners consume caffeine before and during their runs? Not necessarily. Every runner will have a different opinion about how caffeine affects their performance and how they feel with caffeine in their system. Caffeine can cause headaches, intestinal distress and good old fashioned jitteriness for runners who aren’t used to it. And of course, runners with heart conditions or high blood pressure may be told by their doctor to stay away from caffeine.

The Sources

If you find that caffeine improves your performance, you can get your fix in many of the nutritional products we carry at the ‘House. For easy reference, here’s a complete list of the gels, bars and chews we carry that contain caffeine. For reference, a cup of coffee typically contains about 100mg of caffeine.

Energy Gels
2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel (100mg caffeine)
Clif Shot Energy Gel (0-100mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Hammer Gel (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
PowerBar Gel (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
GU Energy Gel (0-40mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Accel Gel (0-40mg caffeine depending on flavor)
GU Roctane Energy Gel (0-35mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Honey Stinger Classic Energy Gel (0-32mg caffeine depending on flavor)
VFuel (10mg caffeine)

Energy Chews
PowerBar Gel Blasts (0-75mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans (50mg caffeine)
Clif Shot Bloks (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
GU Chomps (0-40mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Honey Stinger Energy Chews (0-32mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Hammer Perpetuem Solids (0-10mg caffeine depending on flavor)

Energy Bars
Clif Bar (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)

What do you think? Does caffeine enhance your running performance? Do you have a favorite way of getting your caffeine?

Matt Run Training , ,

Understanding Heart Rates

August 15th, 2013

Many runners keep a close eye on their heart rate during exercise. So many, in fact, that we carry a wide selection of heart rate monitors. But like any piece of data, the number is useless unless you know what it means.

Jack Daniels, Ph.D, has a great blog post over at blog.saucony.com on the subject of Understanding Heart Rates. And he should know, having coached 30 NCAA National Champions, 130 All-Americans, and 5 Olympians over his storied 30 year career.

In his post, Dr. Daniels discusses the limited value of comparing your resting or max heart rate with other runners. He also cautions on the value of determining your appropriate maximum heart-rate value only by using a formula that is related to your age. His best advice? Keep a log book of your heart-rate values associated with rest and with each of your weekly runs, including pace, weather conditions, and other pertinent data.  As he writes, “When later in the year you see lower heart rates for rest or for the same intensity of exercise, you know your heart is getting stronger and you are getting fitter.” Amen to that.

Matt Run Training , ,

Trivia Time: 25 Fun Running Facts

August 9th, 2013

For runners like us, geeking out on statistics is almost a form of cross-training: we track our mileage with GPS watches, log our training details and carefully plan to reach our next PR. So when a rest day rolls around, what do we do? We hit up our old friend Google to find some fun running stats. C’mon, did you really think we’d waste a day on something unrelated to running?

  1. The average men’s finishing time in U.S. marathons is 4:26.
  2. The average women’s finishing time in U.S. marathons is 4:52.
  3. 57% of runners purchase at least two pairs of running shoes each year.
  4. Four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers’ favorite pizza topping is mayonnaise. Yep, mayo.
  5. In 1990, only 25% of road race finishers in the US were women. Now the ladies make up more than half of road race finishers in the US.
  6. Speaking of ladies and gents: many studies show that couples who run together also do…um… other things together more frequently as well. We’ll leave it up to you to guess the activity.
  7. If that fun fact doesn’t light your fire, how about this one: your feet can produce a pint of sweat each day.
  8. Speaking of bodily fluids, when we run, our hearts create enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet.
  9. The first New York City Marathon was held in 1970, when 127 runners paid one dollar each to run a few loops through Central Park. Fewer than half of the entrants finished.
  10. You can store about 2,000 calories’ worth of glycogen in your body to fuel your running. But it’s important to replenish your stores, so chow down on the carbs post-run.
  11. Fauja Singh is the oldest person to ever complete a full marathon, finishing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2011 at the age of 100. So no, you’re probably not ‘too old to run.’ Read more…

Alice Run Training, Running Sport, Women's Running , ,

5 Post-Workout Carb Fixes

August 6th, 2013

If you automatically reach for a bowl of pasta to get your carbs, you’re missing out on an abundance of carb-heavy treats. A cup of pasta offers about 43 grams of carbohydrates, but a few of our favorite post-workout carb refuel snacks offer vitamins and minerals in addition to carbs, to help feed your whole body well.

Bananas and Sunflower Seed Butter

Bananas pack 51 grams of carbs in each medium-sized fruit, and are also loaded with potassium to help prevent muscle cramping. For a quick and satisfying snack, smear a banana with some sunflower seed butter. To tweak this snack for hot weather, slice the bananas, smear each slice with sunflower seed butter, and stick ‘em in the freezer for a few hours before getting your munch on.

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Balsamic

A cup of quinoa will give you 39 grams of carbohydrates, along with 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein to help your muscles rebuild. Cook quinoa and mix with grape tomatoes and basil, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Acorn Squash

This tasty little squash offers a healthy dose of Vitamin C and filling fiber in every serving, as well as 15 grams of carbs. For a sweet yet healthy snack, drizzle a little bit of butter over cubed acorn squash and top with cinnamon and nutmeg, then bake at 350 until soft.

Sweet Potato Fries

This tasty tuber has 41 grams of carbs in a one cup serving, and plenty of Vitamin A for eye health. For a delicious snack, slice a sweet potato into fry-like strips, toss with olive oil and bake at medium heat until soft in the center and crispy on the outside. Try dipping them in a spicy mustard sauce for a little extra kick.

Yogurt with Melon

Two yummy, carb-rich foods get even better when you put them together. Yogurt gives you about 18 grams of carbs in each cup, along with probiotics for digestive health. Honeydew melon gives you about 16 grams of carbs per cup, and also offers a ton of Vitamin C. Cube some chilled melon and eat it over plain yogurt for a refreshing snack.

Alice Run Training ,

Anti-Chafe Products for Hot Days

July 5th, 2013

Running in hot weather is enough of a challenge. Moisture-transfer fabrics can certainly help pull sweat away from your skin, but when that isn’t enough, it’s time to bust out the secret weapons: anti-chafe products. Here are a few of our favorites.

Bodyglide 2.5oz

The ease of using Body Glide 2.5oz is a win in hotter weather. Keep one at home, one at work and one in your gym bag so you’re never caught without chafe protection. This balm glides on easily, with no mess. Swipe it onto chafe-prone areas before you head out for your run, and enjoy more miles in comfort.

Bodyglide Liquified Powder 1.6oz

We appreciate the non-greasy feeling of Bodyglide Liquified Powder 1.6oz. The creamy formula turns into a dry shield against chafing and blisters after application. Apply this cream to chafe-prone areas or to feet to prevent blisters.

2Toms SportShield Roll-On 1.5oz

Easily prevent chafing with the 2Toms SportShield Roll-On 1.5oz. The formula gives you a smooth and invisible layer of chafe prevention that will not rub off. This silicone-based, non-staining product washes off easily with soap and water after your workout.

Alice Run Training, Running Accessories , , , ,

50 Signs You Are a Runner

July 2nd, 2013

Maybe you’ve been a runner since your youth, and now (thousands of miles and dozens of pairs of trainers later) you’re still hooked. Or maybe, you’ve only been a runner for a few years or a few hundred miles. Either way, there are some telltale signs that you’ve given your heart to running. You just might be a runner if…

  • You “accidentally” run on your rest day.
  • You never seem to quite catch up on your laundry pile of running clothes.
  • You have some pretty serious sunglasses tanlines.
  • You have at least one photo of you dripping with sweat on your refrigerator.
  • You’ve been chased by a dog and lived to tell the tale.
  • You’ve had someone scream “run, Forrest, run” at you from a passing car.
  • You run so early that the coffee shops aren’t even open.
  • You judge songs you hear by how motivating they’d be on the run.
  • You’re kind of addicted to your Garmin.
  • You dream about running.
  • You write nastygrams when the manufacturer inevitably changes your favorite shoe.
  • You daydream about the trails while at work.
  • You’ve got one of those race distance bumper stickers on your car.
  • You find yourself gravitating toward hills, just for the challenge.
  • You spend an inordinate percentage of your monthly income on running gear.
  • You get a thrill from plotting your course on MapMyRun.
  • You consider a port-a-potty a luxury.
  • Read more…

Alice Run Training, Running Sport ,

Staying Hydrated All Day

June 28th, 2013

You already know that proper hydration is crucial for a good training session or race, but figuring out exactly what your body needs can be tricky. It certainly won’t work to skip the H2O all day and then try to guzzle a few glasses right before you head out on your run. For the most effective hydration, you need to sip steadily throughout the day, and the majority of your hydration should come from water instead of sports drinks.

Proper hydration shouldn’t feel like a chore, and there are plenty of ways to mix it up with your water to keep you interested sip after sip:

Freeze it

If summer is heating up your corner of the world, then a frosty, melting bottle of ice water can make sipping more enticing during the day. Put a bottle in the freezer the night before (make sure to freeze your water in a freezer-safe bottle that allows for expansion).

Keep it handy

If your water bottle isn’t close at hand, you won’t be as likely to drink throughout the day. Bring water with you for your day’s adventures with a handheld water bottle. This bottle can serve double duty on your post-work run, so you’ll be ready to go when it’s time to hit the roads or the trails.

Some like it hot

If it’s a chilly day, try drinking warm or room temp water. You’ll likely want to drink more throughout the day, and your body won’t have to expend extra energy warming up cold water  before it can be used.

Eat your water

Not all of the water you take in needs to come in a glass. Many fruits and vegetables contain lots of water – especially when they’re raw – and they can be a tasty way to hydrate throughout the day. Reach for juicy and refreshing options like chilled cucumber, watermelon and oranges on a hot summer day.

Infuse it

If plain ol’ water doesn’t really light your fire, then mix it up with a little flavor. Get flavor without loads of extra calories and sugars by infusing your water with fresh fruits or veggies and herbs. Simply slice up your favorites and put them in your water bottle in the fridge overnight. In the morning, use a slotted spoon to remove the pieces from your bottle and enjoy lightly flavored water all day. Our favorite combos? Watermelon/mint and blackberry/lime.

Alice Run Training , ,

What’s on Your Running Playlist?

June 27th, 2013

We know what some of you are thinking: um, real runners don’t listen to music when they run. And sometimes we agree. Sometimes we just want to head out the door and zone out in our own rhythm.

But there are also times when we want to plug  during an easy recovery run or a long run without a running partner. And when those days hit,the right mix of songs can make all the difference.

Here are a couple of musical morsels to give a try, if they aren’t already on your playlist.

What are your favorite tracks when warming up, running and cooling down?

To warm-up…

To set the right energy level, it’s time for a few jams you can sing along to.

  • “Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield
  • “U Can’t Touch This” – MC Hammer
  • “We Are Who We Are” – Ke$ha

To run…

Of course you want more up-tempo tunes to maintain a steady focus as you churn through the miles.

  • “The Impression that I Get” – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • “Days Go By” – Keith Urban
  • “Hey Ya!” – OutKast

To cool down…

When you start to bring your heart rate down, choose some mellow tunes to drain out the adrenaline.

  • “Suit and Tie” – Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z
  • “Umbrella” – Rihanna
  • “Cups” – Anna Kendrick

Alice Run Training , ,

Tips for Running on Vacation

June 26th, 2013

Whether you’re going to visit family or explore a new destination, you’ll likely find yourself traveling at some point this summer. If your fellow vacationers are also runners, it’s easy to plan a getaway centered around running. If you’ll be traveling with non-runners, the key to maintaining your training routine while traveling is planning ahead, and there are a few specific details to think about before you take off. Run through this checklist before you leave to be sure you’re workout-ready for your vacation this year.

Pack a running bag

If you have room, bring a small duffel or pack for your running essentials. Keeping your gear separate from the rest of your vacation necessities will make it easy to grab-and-go from your hotel room (or your tent…). Plus, you won’t stink up the rest of your belongings. Pack your trainers, a bottle for hydration and enough socks and run apparel. If you’re a music-while-you-run kind of person, then don’t forget to pack the tunes.

Plan a (rough) itinerary

We know, vacation is supposed to be a time of spontaneity – you get your fill of ‘carefully scheduled’ when you’re not on vacation, but hear us out. Planning a rough itinerary for your trip will help you plan ahead when it comes to squeezing in workouts. If you know you’ll be stopping by a museum in the afternoon, you can workout in the morning. If you see that one day will be particularly jam-packed, plan your rest day around it.

Adjust to a new time zone

If you’ll be traveling far enough to stay in a different time zone, take a few weeks to adjust to the new time zone before you leave. Gradually change your sleeping patterns to suit the clock where you’re headed, so your body doesn’t suffer the effects of a drastic time change. This way you’ll be ready to tackle workouts refreshed when you arrive at your destination.

Stay somewhere with a gym

When you’re looking for accommodations, try to stay somewhere that has a gym. You can run pretty much anywhere, but a gym comes in handy if you need to fit in a shorter workout on a particularly busy day. For a quick, intense workout, try an interval session with weights. If it’s going to be very hot (or very muggy) where you’re headed, it might be a prime time to mix in some cross-training by swimming some laps.

Pack nutrition

If you’re going to train while you’re on vacation, you’ll want to make sure you have some nutrition for pre- and post-workout noshing. Having a few healthy, portable snacks on hand can help prevent you from going too overboard with the ‘I’m on vacation, I’ll eat whatever’ mentality. For quick energy on the go, pack some Honey Stinger Waffles or Clif Bars.

Alice Run Training , ,

Tips for Running in Humidity

June 24th, 2013

It’s tough to train hard when your body’s working overtime to pump out sweat. If you live in an area that’s plenty humid during the summer months, you have to take a few extra steps to make your mileage bearable. Here are a few of our top tips for surviving swampy workouts.

Train Before the Sun Rises

If you head out the door in the dawn hours, you’ll have a better chance at a more pleasant run. Although the air will likely still be moist, it certainly won’t be as hot as later in the day. Running in the evening is not as effective as running early, because even when the sun goes down, wetter air holds the heat longer.

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Herre…

When running in humid weather, try to wear as little as (legally) possible. If you’re running in heat and humidity, you’re going to sweat. The real kicker is that your sweat will still collect on even the most moisture-wicking shirts and shorts available. Technical fabrics have a hard time performing at their best in humid weather, because the wet air causes moisture to evaporate very slowly.

Hydrate

Even though your sweat doesn’t evaporate very quickly in humid weather, you’re still sweating, so it’s important to keep an eye on your hydration. Even if you’re only going on a short run and don’t want to tote hydration with you, hydrate well pre- and post-run to help reduce your chances of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Read more…

Alice Run Training , , ,