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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.

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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…

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Wear Heels? How to Treat Your Runner’s Legs Right

June 15th, 2013

Not the Best Solution for Your Next Run

Many of you ladies wear high heels on a regular basis. Some studies say that up to 40% of you wear heels to work every day. While most of us at the RW offices sport a pair of running shoes on a typical workday, we get it. Heels have a certain something – they give you a little extra boost and show off those sculpted calves you’ve carved on the roads and trails.

But be careful, because constant heel use can cause foot and leg damage that can inhibit your running. Achilles tendon injuries are one of the most common problems experienced by runners who wear high heels frequently. Take our tips to treat your Achilles right and keep your training on track – don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you to throw your fave heels away.

Pack a Pair

If you want to don a classy heel at the office, try wearing a more comfortable shoe for your to-and-from to give your feet and legs a break.  Stash a pair of flip-flops or flats in your purse to slip on during your commute. Wear your comfier shoes if you go out on your lunch break, too. Giving your feet a break from all-day heel wearing will help prevent permanent damage to your Achilles. Read more…

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Should You Take Ice Baths?

June 14th, 2013

Many coaches and athletes believe that ice baths can help your body recover from strenuous exercise, like a long run or a heavy sprint session. The idea is that the intensity of the cold water on your legs helps flush out lactic acid and other toxins, and the bath approach is able to treat a large area of muscle at once. Blood flow to your muscles also increases post-ice, which means more oxygenated blood to help your body recover more quickly.

Creating an ice bath is pretty darn simple: just fill a tub about halfway with cold water and then empty three bags of ice into it. This should bring the water to between 54 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s good to confirm the water temperature with a thermometer, and to start on the high side of this temperature range for your first few times in.

The hardest part is often convincing yourself to actually get in. Sit in the tub so that your legs are fully submerged, and grit your teeth until your time is up. Five to eight minutes should be plenty of time (and, sorry, might feel like a mini-eternity).

So would your training and performance benefit from adding in an ice bath routine? It depends. Below are some suggestions for different runner profiles.

If you log high mileage with lots of long runs

If you’re lacing up nearly every day for high mileage training, then ice baths could enhance your recovery and training. Many distance athletes will take an icy plunge for 5-15 minutes following their two longest runs of the week. Read more…

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Stay Fit This Summer for XC Season

June 11th, 2013

If you’re a competitor with a cross-country season coming up in the fall, you can’t afford to neglect the training opportunities of the summer months. In many cases, if you just stay disciplined enough to run regularly all summer long, you’ll have an edge when the season starts. Here are a few tips on how you can get in some serious training without it becoming a chore.

Take a Break

You spend most of September through May training and competing, so it’s totally reasonable to bookend your summer training with a week or two off to let your mind and body recover. Though it might be hard, take an entire week (or maybe even two if you’ve been nursing injuries or mental fatigue) away from running or training. This is a great time to plan a vacation, because you won’t have to worry about juggling training and your other vacay activities.

Train Early

For most of us, summer brings at least a few weeks of pretty hot weather. Running early in the a.m. is a great way to beat the heat and reduce some of the dangers of running in hot weather. If you plan on hitting the pavement first thing in the morning, make sure to hydrate effectively the day before, so your body is equipped for your training session. If you’re a real early bird who’s out before the sun rises, make sure you have adequate reflective gear so motorists can see you.

Run with Friends

Round up a group of fellow runners or teammates and train together over the summer. It certainly doesn’t hurt if a few of these friends are faster than you are – that’s how you’ll get better. You can turn it into a social event by sharing a weekly run and then taking turns hosting a post-run BBQ. It’s a triple win: training run, bonding time and good eats.

Take an Active Vacation

Instead of trying to fit running into your vacation, plan a vacation around your runs. Choose a city or wilderness area you want to check out, and travel there with the intent of exploring on foot. If you’re a trail runner, try camping in a new spot, and kick off each day with a run to explore the nearby trails. If you prefer roads, head to a city and see what’s going on each morning when you run. It’s easy to note the places you’d like to check out again later in the day.

Play

Who says games are only for kids? Pick up games like ultimate Frisbee and tag can be a great way to get in a little extra movement and socialize at the same time. Gather up a group of friends and pick a time and place to meet each week. Activities like these will help you relax and keep mental fatigue at bay so that you’re ready for more challenging workouts.

More Tips

In addition to the suggestions we mention above, check out these training tips in the Runner’s World forum for some other perspectives on summer run workouts that can help you prepare for XC season.

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Fresh Summer Snacks

June 7th, 2013

The summertime heat can subdue even the most voracious appetites, but you still have to keep yourself fueled. When high temps crush our appetites, we reach for the fresh flavors of fruits and veggies to whip up healthy and easy snacks. Try one (or five) of our favorite summer snacks to keep you running strong through the hot season. We’ve got something to satisfy whatever your palate craves – sweet, salty… even sour.

Frozen Yogurt

Okay, we know what you’re thinking – we said healthy snacks. Hear us out. Start with about half a cup each of Greek yogurt and frozen fruit of your choice. Toss them into a blender and pulse them until your mixture has a nice creamy consistency. If you want a little extra sweetness, add a touch of honey. Put your fro yo in the freezer for about 45 minutes to let it firm up a bit more, then stir and enjoy a protein and antioxidant-packed snack.

Kale Chips

Kale chips are a salty, savory delicious alternative to potato chips. Remove the fibrous inner part of the kale leaf and tear the leaves into chip-sized pieces. Toss the leaves with a tablespoon of olive oil and seasonings of your choice. Spread the chips out on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Check on your chips about half way through and shuffle them around on the cookie sheet so that they bake evenly. When finished, the chips should be light and crunchy. Enjoy them alone or with a side of guac.

Apple with Almond Butter and Cinnamon

We took a little twist on the apples and peanut butter so many of us remember from our childhoods. Slice up your favorite kind of apple and spread the slices with almond butter (try crunchy for an added texture experience). Sprinkle the top with cinnamon to taste, and enjoy. Apples are plenty juicy to give you a little hydration boost, and the fat and protein from the almond butter will help fuel your day.

Dill Pickles and Cheddar

If you’re craving something salty with a little touch of sour, it’s hard to beat the dill pickle and cheddar combo. Choose a high quality dill pickle, and extra sharp cheddar. Slice the pickles into chunks, and slice the cheese into very thin pieces. Use toothpicks and skewer two pieces of cheese and two pieces of pickles on each for an easy-to-eat finger food. This snack has a nice sodium boost that can help you replenish the salts you lose on a long hot run.

Dark Chocolate Strawberries

The classic dessert of dark chocolate and strawberries is tasty any time of the year. To make this snack healthier, use extra dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher) to minimize the sugar content, and drizzle the melted chocolate on strawberries instead of dipping them. To make this treat even more refreshing, stick the chocolate-drizzled berries into the freezer for a few hours before eating.

Cucumber and Hummus

Cucumber has a very high water content to help you with your hydration endeavors this summer. Chill an English cucumber in the fridge for a few hours prior to prepping this snack. Slice the cucumber into spears, and dip the spears in your favorite hummus. The chickpeas in the hummus have protein to keep your body satisfied, and the cucumber will offer a delicious and refreshing crunch for anytime snacking.

PB Banana Bites

PB banana bites are like a miniature, healthier version of an ice cream sandwich. Slice a banana into ¼” slices. Mix a few tablespoons of peanut butter with ½ teaspoon of honey and spread the mixture between two banana slices to make a mini sandwich. Place the bites into the freezer so you can grab a few for a quick snack on the go.

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How To: Take a Rest Day

June 6th, 2013

The Rest Day Equation

Hill workout? Check. Negative splits? Check. Rest day? Uh…maybe tomorrow. Yeah, we thought so. Most dedicated runners excel when it comes to pushing through long runs or sweating out an intense sprint training session. But when it comes to resting, many of you are at a loss. We’re not going to tell you to trade in your trainers for a pair of bunny slippers, but skimping on rest isn’t doing you any favors. Here are a few tips to make the most of your rest day:

Rest After Max Effort

If you’re only going to rest one day each week, plan your rest day for the day following your hardest workout. Giving your body a little extra chance to recuperate from a strenuous training session will help you to maximize the benefits of your workout.

Sleep

If you can schedule your rest day on a day when you don’t have work, it will help you squeeze the most juice out of your day off. This is the perfect excuse to sleep in a little. Your body repairs itself most effectively when you’re catching some zzz’s, so stocking up on your day off can help enhance your performance on your next workout day.

Try Compression

Slip on a pair of compression socks, sleeves or tights to give your legs a little extra love on your day off. Graduated compression for recovery can reduce muscle soreness and decrease recovery time by encouraging increased blood flow. Blood carries away toxins in tired muscles, and oxygen-rich blood helps muscles recover.

Eat

Even though you’re taking a day off, don’t skip out on much-needed calories for the day. Your body needs plenty of fuel to recover from your week of training, and you won’t pack on pounds in one day without training. Focus on foods rich in protein to help repair muscle tissue, and carbohydrates to help replenish your depleted glycogen stores.

Laugh

Forgive the corniness, but taking a rest day isn’t just for your body, it’s for your mind also. Resting can help ward off the mental fatigue that often accompanies tough training. So give your mind a little vacay on your day off. Browse the comedies on Netflix or spend some time with good friends who always leave you in stitches. Laughing will lower your cortisol levels, give you a generally more positive outlook, and help you feel refreshed.

Run…Errands

We know: it’s not the most glamorous thing to do on your day off, but hear us out. If you take the time to crush your to-do list on your day off, it will free up your time during the rest of the week. If you don’t have to worry about running errands during the week, you’ll be able to focus on your training sessions more effectively. Get your errands out of the way early in the day so you can just kick back and enjoy the, uh, rest of it.

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Electrolyte Capsule Supplements Compared

June 5th, 2013

Electrolytes: they’re what plants crave. Do you? As the weather heats up, getting an extra dose of electrolytes on the run can help prevent dehydration. An electrolyte supplement can also go a long way in helping to prevent some of the dangerous effects of heat exhaustion, including muscle cramping, lightheadedness, and nausea.

A consistent supply of electrolytes during sustained activity keeps your muscular, digestive, nervous, and cardiac systems healthy. In many cases, distance runners will need more electrolytes than a sports drink or gel can provide. That’s where electrolyte supplements come into play. These supplements provide a balanced blend of electrolytes designed for quick uptake in the body.

All of the electrolyte supplements Running Warehouse carries include sodium and potassium. Here are some other benefits of specific supplements:

For Higher Sodium: Succeed Vegetarian S! Caps

Succeed S! Caps have the highest amount of sodium per serving with 341mg in each capsule. That’s over 33% more than SaltStick Caps, the next saltiest supplement.

For Vitamin B6: Hammer Endurolytes Capsules or Powder

Reach for Hammer Endurolytes Capsules or Hammer Endurolytes Powder if you want an electrolyte supplement with Vitamin B6.  B6 is key in protein metabolism as well as the metabolism of carbs and fat. It’s also necessary for the proper functioning of many enzymes in the body, which are crucial to metabolic function.

For Caffeine: SaltStick Caps PLUS

The electrolytes in SaltStick Caps PLUS come with a little extra kick to keep you going. Each capsule contains 30mg of caffeine (a shot of espresso contains about 40-75mg of caffeine), which can help you push farther when you’re out on a training run.

For Vitamin D: SaltStick Caps

Try SaltStick Caps if you want a little extra boost in your Vitamin D intake. These electrolyte capsules include 100 IU of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D is essential for proper cell functioning and is a key player in the development of strong bones.

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10 Favorite Summer Fruits and Veggies

May 24th, 2013

One of our favorite things about summer (besides all the gloriously long days to run in the sunshine) is hitting up local farmers’ markets for fresh and delicious produce. Fueling your body is key to health and performance, and seasonal summer produce can add an extra dose of vitality to any meal. Reach for varieties that are high in antioxidants to help combat free-radical damage produced during exercise. Here are ten of our favorite summer fruits and vegetables:

1. Avocados

Ahh, the creamy deliciousness that is the avocado – also called the alligator pear by the particularly awesome. Avocados provide plenty of healthy fat and a hefty dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Folate. Just one cup of this berry (yep, berry) has about 25% of your daily needs for Vitamin C, a key antioxidant for immunity. Slice some avocado into your lunchtime sando, or blend some with a little cocoa powder and honey to make a creamy pudding.

2. Blackberries

Delicious raw or baked into delicious treats, blackberries are little antioxidant powerhouses. Just a cup of these beauties (raw) contains about 50% of your daily Vitamin C needs, and eight grams of fiber to help you feel full longer. Toss blackberries into a salad or mix them into your morning quinoa for a sweet spin on a classic meal.

3. Chard

These greens might seem unassuming, but chard has some serious health benefits. One cup (raw) has around 44% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, 18% of your needs for Vitamin C, and 374% of your needs for Vitamin K. All of this nutritional benefit is packed into a whopping seven calories per cup. Yeah, we said seven. Because of its mild flavor, Swiss Chard works well when blended into smoothies for a little extra nutritional boost in the morning or post-workout.

Read more…

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7 Hot Weather Running Safety Tips

May 21st, 2013

Some runners like it hot. And we’ve got to agree, there’s a lot to enjoy when hitting the dirt or the pavement on a nice toasty day. But if it’s really hot outside, it’s important to take a few extra precautions. Take a look at our top tips for running safely in hot temps.

1. Hydrate Pre-Run

If you’re already a little dehydrated when you head out the door for a run, you’re risking severe dehydration and heat exhaustion – especially on a hot day. Many runners will drink at least 16 ounces of fluid (either water or a drink mix) about two hours prior to heading out into blazing temp, and follow it up with another 8-16 ounces 15 minutes before starting their workout.

2. Protect Yourself from UV Rays

Running in the sun’s rays for a short period of time nets you a little Vitamin D, but there can be too much of a good thing. Protect your skin from damaging UV rays with clothing that has UPF protection (like the Asics ARD Singlet or a pair of arm coolers), running sunglasses and a quality sunscreen. Also, seek out as much shade as you can while you’re out.

3. Bring Fluid with You

If you plan to be out for more than 20 or 30 minutes when the weather’s scorching, it’s a good idea to bring hydration. Your hydration needs during your run will depend on how much you sweat and how long you’ll be out running. In hotter temps it’s a good idea to drink about five to eight ounces of water (that’s one or two big thirsty sips) every fifteen minutes or so. Read more…

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