Post Season Reset

You may, or may not have noticed.  Runcanvas has taken a much needed two week break.  Sometimes we need a moment to step back, relax and reset.  Runcanvas will be back, in full force tomorrow. Until then, check out this awesome guest post by Zolts Running. 

Boston Finish

Photo by the Boston Globe (link to https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/bigpicture/2016/04/18/boston-marathon/kDrUzb4urXePSrurAuuMYP/story.html)

If you are at all like me, you are already planning your fall race schedule and contemplating new goals for them even though the spring racing season isn’t quite over. Or, perhaps you just ran a PR in your goal race and are already plotting your next attempt. While this can be both exciting and productive, it is also important to prepare to take a step or two back to rest and reflect on how things went this season before getting too hung up on where to go next. This will help prevent injury and burnout later.

If things went well then you should celebrate your victory and give yourself a well-deserved break from the intense training. Then, assess what you did well and what (if anything) could threaten a successful season to follow (developing injuries, crazy work/life schedules, etc.) and plan accordingly.

If things did not go as well as you had hoped then it is important to figure out what went wrong, what you can do differently, then immediately stop looking back to dwell on it and trudge forward. Have you ever crossed paths with someone on the sidewalk who was looking down or the other direction and poised to crash right into you unless you moved aside? It’s annoying and dangerous, just like falling into the trap of dwelling on past mistakes which prevents you from make the future more predictable and in your terms.

Doldrums

Burnout is an insidious little monster that can hit when you least expect it – fortunately you don’t have to get sucked in too far if you take action quickly enough.

Burned Out and Bored

If you have been running for some time now then you probably remember your first year – every run seemed exciting, you felt fresh, and a new race PR was always around the corner. The weekly long run was always a new adventure and you couldn’t wait to post your workout on social media so your friends and family could see how far you pushed the limits. Running was fun and you couldn’t get enough of it. That is, until your mind and/or body decided you’d had enough. Turns out consistency in training is a double-edged sword: the good thing is that your mind and body adapt to your training to take you to the next level of fitness but the bad thing is that your mind and body adapt to your training to make you plateau.

At some point those 15 mile Sunday morning jaunts alone on the streets are bound to get boring and those V02 max workouts on the track that hurt so good will start to hurt so bad. This is because quality workouts like these have the power to improve your performance by stressing your body and mind but also the power to kick you when you’re down. I have seen it plenty of times – someone takes up running seriously for the first time, is full of enthusiasm, then just months later finds themselves physically injured and/or mentally burned out. They decide to quit running or eventually return to the sport, only to do everything possible to ensure that this vicious cycle continues in perpetuity.

This doesn’t have to be the case! Yes, if you continue to run year after year you will eventually experience some type of injury (hopefully limited to something just minor and annoying) and struggle to remain motivated through the performance plateaus (yes, you will eventually stop getting a PR in every race). However, if you are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of impending burnout then you can stop it in its tracks before it takes you out for months or longer and come out of the process stronger than ever.

Exhausted Runner

In larger cities it seems like there are multiple races to choose from nearly every weekend, especially during the spring and fall. They can provide an exciting and motivating environment to run your best but can become addictive to the point where they hurt your performance if you aren’t careful!

Enthusiasm is energizing and consistency is key

One of the training concepts that I totally failed to understand or appreciate for the longest time was periodization of training, or dividing it into phases. I didn’t see the point in just running easy mileage and waiting to throw in speed work, tempo runs, etc. until later, only to rest up after the big race before tackling the next. I wanted to do a long run every week, a tempo run every week, and speedwork every week, ALL YEAR ROUND, and I wanted to run up every hill that I saw in the process. I tried to race nearly every single weekend and each one was supposed to be a PR attempt and if I wasn’t getting better every time then something was wrong with me and I just needed to train harder. Sometimes when I would run a disappointing race I would make myself do a challenging “punishment workout” the following day. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

I assumed that if you were spending all your time on the streets putting in easy mileage then you were being lazy and giving up valuable fitness. I figured I would do a V02 max workout every week whether I was racing that weekend or not and that in the end I would get the last laugh – pretty funny, right? Not really! What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was playing with fire by wantonly performing these very stressful workouts week after week, without allowing my mind and body a chance to regroup. At first the PRs may come rather easily but at some point you need to realize that you can’t expect one every single season. Plan for the longer term and you’ll reap the rewards later.

Time to Reset: If Your Running Has Fallen and Can’t Get Up, Change It Up

After an exciting 2015 full of PRs in nearly every distance I raced, 2016 started ominously. I got a DQ in my first race for wearing headphones (never seemed to be an issue before) and finished significantly slower than I had in the previous year. Even worse, I had chronic and painful injuries that had gone unaddressed and in my hasty attempt to go from one strong racing season to another I failed to rest my mind and body. As a result I missed some key workouts due to the injuries and felt flat during most of my tune-up races, failing to show any improvement during the training cycle. I managed to run an okay time in my goal half marathon but it was far from a PR and it would be the last time I had an okay race that season.

The next week I ran another half marathon (still in denial that I needed to rest and regroup) and completely fell apart mentally. It was the domino that started a whole series of bad races, each one worse than the next. Eventually I realized that I was not going to be able to just will myself out of this hole and decided that I had to start making amends for my overtraining and failure to address my injuries sooner.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation – and I hope that you never do – then you are going to need as much time as it takes (and it can take many months) to reset yourself as a runner. This may include one or more of the following:

  1. Take time off from running and exploring other activities that keep you in shape but you have neglected (cycling, weightlifting, swimming…up to you).
  2. Pursue hobbies that you had to give up or put on the backburner in order to make time for training (writing, playing a musical instrument, learning a foreign language…whatever makes you happy).
  3. Hire a running coach or consider trying a new one if you really need a new stimulus.
  4. Find new places to train and new groups of runners to train with.
  5. Take the time to rehab chronic injuries and build a strong foundation to prevent new ones – in more extreme cases this might even include getting any needed surgery that you may have been putting off for a long time because you didn’t want to take time off from running but which will improve your running in the long term.

Superhero Runner

Whatever Happens, Don’t Get Discouraged

I have a friendly competitor in his 50s who I often talk to at races and he once gave me a simple piece of advice but it has stuck with me: “Don’t get discouraged”. Remembering this really helped me when my running hit rock bottom last year and I could have easily given up. Sometimes you have to be able to let go of the things you cannot control in order to master the things that you can. You will never be a fresh rookie runner again but that doesn’t mean you can’t get back to feeling like a superhero again when you run.

 


andrew

 

Author of Zolts Running, Andrew is a member of the KC running community and started running in his early thirties.  Since then he has completed over a hundred races, including 33 half marathons, his favorite distance.  Andrew is a member of Team Run 816.  

Training in the summer heat

 

It’s starting to get warm around here, and I love it! I love warm summer time and the warm weather that comes with it.  It helps that as a teacher, I don’t work.  I enjoy training in this weather as well.  I will take hot summer weather over cold winter weather any day. Training in the heat definitely comes with its own troubles and challenges, so you need to take steps to ensure your training safely.  The good news is, heat training can have additional training benefits.

sweat sparkle

How does heat affect your run?

When you run in the heat, you are probably aware that your body perspires more. The perspiration isn’t what cools you down, but the evaporation of sweat. *Nerd Alert* Middle School Science Lesson* Sweat is a liquid.  As those liquid molecules heat up on the surface of our skin, they begin to move more rapidly.  Heat is energy. The heat from your body is transferred to those droplets of sweat on the surface of your skin.  The increased energy begins to break the bonds that hold the liquid together and the liquid changes states of matter, from a liquid to a gas.  This is evaporation.  As the sweat evaporates, the heat (energy) is removed and your body cools. Humidity levels can impact how quickly that sweat evaporates, slowing down the cooling process.

As your body sweats more, your body also increases blood flow to the surface area of your skin.  Blood contains plasma, which is released when you sweat.  This means you are losing water and electrolytes, while lowering blood volume levels in hot weather.  The loss of plasma also changes the viscosity of your blood, making it more difficult for your heart to move the blood efficiently through the body.  Your muscles rely on the movement of blood to receive oxygen and other nutrients as you exercise. This increases stress on your heart. As your body needs more resources to keep you cool, your muscles begin to get less priority over those needed resources, such as oxygen. Your body will shift from aerobic to anaerobic more quickly, which is why a normal pace will feel much more difficult. This increases the stress load of the workout on the body.

Safety Issues

The increase of needs on the body, can put your body in a more dangerous situation when you fail to recognize symptoms.  I have had runs that I have called quits early because of nausea, dizziness and issues with perspiration.  The key for safety to listening to your body and taking steps to keep yourself safe.  Some of the main concerns for heat training include,

Heat Cramps and Heat Exhaustion- Both are brought on by dehydration and imbalances of electrolytes.  Staying properly hydrated is key.  It is recommended that you include water and sport drinks to help balance your fluid and electrolytes.

Hyponatremia- This is caused by taking in too much water.  This increase of water can dilute the sodium levels in the body.  This becomes a greater concerns on longer runs.  Again, including sport drink and water or taking salt tabs can help prevent this situation.

Heat Stroke- Occurs when your internal body temperature rises to unsafe levels.  If you become dizzy, disoriented or stop sweating you need to begin cooling your body immediately.

Again, the key is listening to your body and having a safety plan in place.   Running with a partner or carry your phone is a good idea.  It’s always better to go ahead and call a run early if you think you may be struggling with heat illnesses.

Tips for running in the heat

Again, I love running through the summer months and would choose heat training over cold weather every time.  There are steps you can take to increase your comfort and safety.  Here are some things you can do

  • Build up slowly– Think of heat training as another training stimulus. Anytime you add a new training stimulus you need to build up slowly.  Decreasing intensity and distance for a couple weeks as the temperature rises, and your body adapts, is a very smart idea.  The good news is, acclimation can be fully developed in 7-14 days.
  • Run Naked! Okay, okay so that’s probably not the best idea. Running in less clothes, is however. Increasing the amount of skin exposed to the air will allow your body to naturally cool itself through the perspiration process, as mentioned above.  Keeping your clothing loose and lightweight will also be very helpful.  Lighter colors will reflect more light, while darker colors absorb it. Choosing lighter colors helps with keeping cool while making you more visible along the road.
  • Plan Ahead-I do a lot of my easy runs in the heat of the day, unless the temperatures become dangerous. However, I try to get my speed work and long runs done in the morning when it is typically cooler.  I also look at the weekly forecast when I am laying out my calendar.  I have flip flopped a few workouts to make sure I wasn’t doing a speed session in unsafe conditions.  Safety will always be priority.  If you can, look for routes that have more shade.  Asphalt and concrete are also going to retain more heat over softer surfaces.
  • Hydration– It’s also a good idea to plan your hydration ahead. This can include choosing routes that have access to water along the way, carrying/wearing a hydration-pack, dropping water ahead of time, or my favorite; joining a supported group run. Drink water throughout the day, and for runs longer than an hour, add in a sports drink.
  • Don’t stress over pace– You’re going to need to run more by feel. Remember the purpose of your run?  Your body is working harder in the heat and by getting stuck on a certain pace, instead of running by feel can lead to over training with the added stimulus of heat training.  Your body will have a harder time with active recovery if you are trying to maintain a certain pace that feels harder in the heat. * Check out my post on slowing down your easy run!  As a new runner, it may be difficult to go by feel, another option is using a heat calulator.

Advantages

Think of heat training as another training stimulus.  It comes with its own advantages.  As your body is acclimating to the heat, it is learning to become more efficient.  This efficiency doesn’t go away when the temperature drops and can have a great impact on your fall racing season.  Just like any other training factor, there needs to be balance and there is a fine line between enough and too much.  I also think there is a great mental component to training through the heat.

 

What do you prefer to run in, hot or cold weather?

Weekly Recap, May 1st-May 7th-Still taking it easy

   Another weekly recap, where I don’t have a whole lot of fancy workouts to write about. Just easing my way back into training after my marathon.  It was a fun week though, and great weather. Plus, my birthday!

Here is my weekly recap

Monday- 6.1 miles at 7:21 pace, total time 44:59

Got in 3 miles with my track kiddos today and then a few more solo miles.  Kind of a happy/sad day as it was my last workout with this group of kiddos.

Tuesday- 7.8 miles with 2 miles at 5:30 pace

I planned a small track workout to start getting some speed back into my legs.  The Girls on the Run group from our feeder elementary school was using the track. So instead, I decided to case a segment that one of my friends took.

Wednesday- 4.3 miles at 7:27 pace, total time 32:16

We were supposed to have a track meet today but it was canceled because of rain.  I was able to get a short run in after work and luckily it was pretty dry.

Thursday-4 mile at 7:53 pace, total time 31:56

Another easy 4 miler today.  Just trying to get back into the routine.

Friday- Scheduled Rest Day

Super long day at our track meet, I planned to take this one off. I actually went home very sore after standing on my feet all day.

Saturday-4.2 miles at 7:52 pace, total time 33:52

I had a pretty busy day planned, so I kept my run short. Mostly, I just wanted to enjoy the nice weather with my family this weekend.

Sunday- 4.6 miles total, Birthday 5k

Did a fun local 5k for my birthday.  I was able to take 1st overall fairly easy, which was nice.

So here I am, feeling pretty good and ready to jump back into full mode training again.  I have had 3 weeks of really light running and I feel healthy.  I think the light running also helped me get mentally read for the next training cycle.  I have already reached out to coach Jeremy to start thinking about fall goal races and talk about what I would like to get out of this next round of training. 

Runner Problems-When Nature Calls

Let’s be honest, we have all been there. Probably multiple times.  You are on a run, and nature is calling.  Panic begins to settle in because you are miles away from the restroom.  This is a potty emergency!

It’s almost a rite of passage.  Your not a real runner until you have experienced a bathroom crisis while on a run.  Although embarrassing, you are not alone. So check out some of these Runner problems-When nature calls.

  • When you are running by someone you knows house.  You gauge your level of friendship based on how comfortable you are with stopping by on a run to use their restroom.  

knock on door

  • When you REALLY, REALLY need to go in the middle of your run, and then the urge goes away as soon as your finished.  

need to go

  • You are now in the habit of planning your routes, based on bathroom locationsbathroom routes
  • When you just went before the race, and have to get right back in line because of a nervous bladder. bathroom lines
  • The fear of legit crapping your pants in the middle of a race.  Seriously, I have had nightmares.
  • Only your runner friends understand your excitement over seeing a new porta-potty. Opening up new route possibilities.pretty potty

Just a little runner humor for your Friday afternoon! Got any hilarious or embarrassing incidents your willing to share!?

Ditch the Treadmill and Run in the Rain

If you live in the Midwest, you may have forgotten what the sun looks like over the weekend, as we have had tons of rain.  This has many runners heading indoors for the treadmills or skipping their workouts all together.  For me, if there isn’t lightening, I plan to head outside. 

Running outside in the rain doesn’t have to be a miserable experience.  Just like running in the super cold temperatures, the key is dressing appropriately for the weather.  I have included a few tips for making your runs in the rain more enjoyable, or at least help avoid a miserable disaster.

  • Dress appropriately- This means dressing for the right temperature. Many runners see the rain and will immediately think cold. Over-dressing will cause you to sweat more, which will actually leave you colder at the end of your run.  If it is chilly, say 30-50 degrees, think layers.  Your base layer should definitely include a technical moisture-wicking fabric that will help draw moisture away from your skin.  For me, anything over 50 degrees and I will be dressed in a tank top.  Fitted clothes are a better option, as they will typical cause less chafing and won’t get all floppy and heavy if they get wet.
  • Rain Jacket- A super light-weight water resistant jacket that breathes well is great. You can always add layers underneath for colder runs, but you want to have that light weight jacket that breathes well for those warm rainy runs.
  • Hat or visor with a bill- I hate hats, so I stick with visors. That’s more personal preference. A hat or visor will keep the rain out of our face and make your run more enjoyable.
  • Wicking Sox- When I run in the rain, I always use my Swiftwick socks. They are thin and do a great job of preventing and rubbing and blisters.  A quality pair of running socks that wick moisture away are a definite must for running in the rain, and avoiding disaster.  If you don’t have any, head to your local running store and see what they recommend.  If you are in the Kansas City area, head to KC Running Company!
  • Lube- Body glide, RunGuards, Base Camp or even Vaseline. Something to lube up those areas that may rub.  Trust me, it’s better to use and not need it than the other way around.
  • Extra Shoes- If it is a long run, I will toss an extra pair of socks and shoes into my car. I may not need them but sometimes this helps if I start getting hot spots or I am just sick of my feet being soaked.   It’s really great if you start a run in the rain and partly through the run, the rain passes.  Having a fresh pair of shoes and dropping off your jacket can really ramp up the second half of your run.  Again, it’s better to have and not need.
  • Protect your electronics- This includes double checking to make sure your GPS watch is water proof and placing other electronics in a sealed Ziploc bag. Be careful with wired headphones.  My husband, unfortunately, ruined his phone when rain ran down the headphones and into his phone.  His phone, otherwise, would have been fine as he had a water proof belt on. Either skip the headphones, or reach for wireless headphones.
  • Avoid messy hair- Ladies, I don’t know about you but running in the rain leaves me hair a knotted tangley mess. To avoid that hot mess, I will spray detangluler on it and then braid it. My go to spray is It’s a 10 miracle product, but I am sure any detanguler or even some conditioner would work fine.  Just don’t get to crazy or you could have a gooey mess running down your face.
  • Be Visisble- Think neon crazy, highlighter party. Visibillity is lowered in rainy  and often cloudy weather.  Make sure you are seen.  Wearing bright clothes or flashy lights like THESE from Nathan Lights can be a huge help in keeping you safe.  At night reflective gear is great, and drivers SHOULD have their lights on in the rain. However, I  have found that this is often not the case. So I choose bright colors and lights over the reflective gear.
  • Stay Hydrated- Even when you are dripping wet, you need to make sure you are adequately hydrated. Probably less of a concern for your usual easy run, but maintain your routine for workouts and long runs.
  • Think Positive- You are in control of your attitude. If you aren’t a fan of running in the rain, at least think of it as another training opportunity.  At some point, it might rain on race day and having practiced with how to handle clothing, shoes and avoiding chaffing will make your race day less stressful. Try to have a little fun with it, be a kid again.  The last mile run, yell and jump in puddles.

Make it a great run, or not, the choice is yours. 

After the run get out of your wet clothes right away and if you can get a warm shower in.  A towel or two and a bag to place your wet clothes in can help if you have to drive after your run.  Loosen up the laces of your running shoes and stuff some newspaper in them, to help them dry out more quickly. 

Do you have any other rainy weather tips? Comment below and let us know what works best for you.

Wednesday Weekly Discussion-Sharing Your Runs/Workouts on Social Media

So, while on Facebook, this particular blog post caught my eye. People Who Post About Fitness On Facebook Are Likely Narcissists.  The article covers a study conducted by researchers at Brunel University in London. My immediate annoyance was the misleading title, which sort of gives the interpretation that a majority of people who post about fitness are some how narcissistic.

I can definitely see how someone who is narcissistic, or at least had narcissistic traits can gain validation through superficial posts of any kind, including fitness post.  I do think it is important to be careful when using clinical terms such as narcissism to classify everybody who enjoys sharing their weight loss or fitness journeys. Here is a great article that suggests we stop carelessly labeling others  narcissistic  and other clinical diagnoses. Bottom line, while people who have narcissistic traits may be more likely to post fitness related content (or any brag worthy content) on social media. Doing so, does not increase the likelihood that you carry those traits.

The article, and original study, did make me reflect on my own social media postings. I do share some of my workouts on social media, and enjoy sharing my running journey through my blog.  I don’t typically share my daily running activities on my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I do share races and personal achievements.  I share my running log on my blog as a mode of connecting with readers, sharing my journey and later I will be able to reflect on my experiences I have shared.

On the flip side, a study done by MIT suggests that sharing your workouts on social media may motivate others to exercise more.  I feel good sharing positive posts, including workouts.  It’s way better than some of the constant negative noise that gets blasted out constantly. Sometimes social media can give participants the additional support they need to be successful.  One study found that participants who shared their weight loss progress on twitter lost more weight, on average, than those who kept it to themselves.  

There are definite pros and cons.  Posting on social media can always come off as bragging and a bit self-centered.  Honestly, almost all of social media posts can be viewed as a bit self-centered. Sometimes we find ourselves negatively comparing ourselves to other peoples posts, which is not healthy.  Also, posting can motivate and inspire. Posting your fitness activities can lead to connection with those who share similar interest.

I enjoy following my friends fitness journey and seeing hard work pay off.  I want to celebrate with them and give them encouragement along the way.  Some people post daily, and some will post every once in a while. I always enjoy posts that are made to build people up.

Some people seem to get extremely annoyed by fitness post.  My opinion, if its not hurtful or derogatory and it bothers you ,it probably says more about your insecurities and less about the person who made the post.  People are always going to be butt-hurt about something.

What do you think? Do you share your fitness post on social media?  Does it bother you when others do? Join the discussion below!

 

2017 Weekly Recap- April 24th, Still Recovering and Looking Ahead

2017 Weekly Recap- April 24th, Still Recovering and Looking Ahead

    I am now two weeks post Boston Marathon and not a lot of training to write about.  Small stuff here and there, I am mostly spending my time doing non-running activities.  Sleeping in has been awesome, catching up on grading at work and we are heading into the end of the track season for my middle school kiddos.  I’m not sure how I would do in a race, but overall I feel pretty much recovered.  No lingering soreness, I’m not tired.  I feel ready to jump back into training this week.  I plan on stair stepping my mileage each week and getting back into workouts once summer break starts.  The timing really works out nice with end of the school year stuff wrapping up and final test and grades needing to be done.

Here was my puny, although very relaxing weekly recap

Monday- 3.6 miles at 7:56 pace, total time 28:49

 Ran some easy loops with my track kiddos.  Today was the only day I wore a watch to practice, so the only time I actually got an idea of how much I ran

Tuesday- Off

 Planned to take the day off, we had a track meet this evening. I enjoyed heading home as soon as the meet was over, instead of squeezing in a workout after the long day

Wednesday- 30 minutes

Played games at track practice today.  Our kiddos took it easy between meets and we had a little bit of fun. It was a nice reminder to take time to enjoy running and not focus on a time/pace.

Thursday- Off

 Another LONG track meet.  Got home pretty late and was very happy to plop my rear-end on the couch and not train.

Friday- 30 minutes           

 I snuck in some loop around the neighborhood today, during my plan period. I have never done that before. Our block scheduling at work gave me the extra time.  I kept my pace super easy, basically a shuffle because I didn’t want to go back to work all stinking.

Saturday-6 miles at 7:30 pace, total time 45:00

  Rain, Rain go away! It rained so much this weekend, I forgot what the sun looked like.  I was hoping a break in the rain would allow me the option to go outside, but I missed my chance.  When I finally got around to running, the lightening was too close to chance it.  I did 6 mile on the dreadmill.

Sunday-Another Off day

 Spent the day with my family for my sisters birthday. We headed to Kauffman and watched a Royals game.

royals
Mu super cute kiddos running the bases after the game 

 

Yes, I took a lot of off days this week.  None of my runs were anything exciting.  That’s exactly what I wanted.  It was a great mental and physical break.  I spent extra time foam rolling and stretching after my little runs.  This week I feel good and I am ready to begin building my mileage back up as we finish the school year and head into summer. 
I have some pretty lofty goals I want to chase after this fall.  I am not going to lie, some of them seem kinda far-fetched.  If I don’t reach them, I don’t have anything to lose. So I am ready to try.  I am taking the summer off this year (previously I have worked through the summer) and I am really going to enjoy hitting some high mileage weeks and adding in more strength training.  I feel confident that working with my coach. He will lead me in the right direction and my job will be to put in the time and effort.  I don’t have anythign set in stone as far as races goes, I plan on hitting some local 5ks and probably a couple 10ks.  I would like to build up to a goal half marathon this fall.  I haven’t narrowed down which one yet, but I have 1-2 that have caught my attention. I will wait to see how the early fall training/racing goes before I decide on attempting another full marathon.