Summer Running

Oak Bay Half_Beach Drive

Summer is here and with this prolonged spell of hot weather we need to make adjustments for running in the heat, such as running at cooler times of the day and ensuring you are well hydrated.

With running clinics also starting up all over the Island it is time to think about your goals. Many of the clinics are focused on fall races – usually a marathon or half marathon – and so we will be running all summer, probably in hot, and sometime humid temperatures. Here are some tips for coping and enjoying your summer running.

  • Choose when to run. If you can try and run early in the morning. If you are in a clinic this may well be decided for you. Most start at 7:30 am or 8 am to avoid the heat of the day. Other days, if your lifestyle allows, you can run even earlier. On the plus side is if you are training for a half or full marathon you will have completed your long run early and can enjoy the rest of the day.
  • Plan cool routes. We are fortunate to live near the water where sea breezes make it cooler, and we also have trails, as in Elk/Beaver Lake, where there is abundant shade. Check out victoriaweather.ca which has live temperature readings from all over the region, so you can find the cooler spots to run.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We can never stress the importance of drinking water. It is important to drink not just on the run but the day before. Carry water, or if you are running for more than hour have an electrolyte or sports drink. Plan your route where there are washrooms and water fountains so you can top up your bottle. Dehydration is a serious condition so avoid caffeine beforehand, and before you partake of that post-run refreshing beer, drink water first to hydrate.
  • Fuel. On long runs you may want to carry some sport nutrition such as gels or chews. These can then be eaten periodically during the run. Experiment with how often to eat – every 30 minutes is standard but for a longer marathon training run, it may be you need to fuel every 15 or 20 minutes. Many runners think that water will keep them hydrated but water doesn’t have carbs or sugar you can lose energy quickly over a longer run. With the addition of extreme heat, you can feel drained and nauseous. So experiment with running and eating and see what works for you.
  • Wear technical clothing. Wicking fabrics are the norm for runners but there are a lot out there, so check in with your local running store for advice. Tech shirts do regulate body temperatures so even on cool days the fabric will keep you warm. The close fit the shirt the better – this enables it to wick away moisture. You can get shirts with UV protection – darker colours have a SPF of 40 and lighter colours SPF 20. Chafing can be an issue for many so investing in a 2-in-1 short with a liner may avoid that, and always apply Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product, on sensitive areas. And don’t forget the visor and hat – this protects your scalp and your forehead from the sun. Sunglasses also protect the eyes and also avoids you squinting which can in turn cause tension in the upper body.
  • Adjust your training. If you were planning a training run or workout with a high RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) then adjust accordingly. The RPE varies from 1-2 where little effort is required to 9-10 which is maximum effort. In the heat you will feel like you are working harder to maintain your pace, so run by how you feel, not what your GPS is telling you. If it gets too warm, run at a lower RPE.
  • Post-exercise cooling. If you plan on running near the ocean or lake, then a dip into the water after you run works wonders. Wade in and give your legs a soak for 15 minutes – you will be amazed how quickly this will aid your recovery. Have a recovery sport drink or chocolate milk afterwards. Research has shown that chocolate milk has produced great results.
  • Skip the run and do something else. If the temperature is out of your comfort zone – just don’t do it or head to the treadmill in your gym. The other option is to cross train and go for a bike ride. Incorporating some hills with some steady endurance is a good substitute for a run.

These are just a few tips for help you enjoy your running this summer. See you on the trails.

Trail Tripping

cash on mt doug

It’s Brr out there. After a glorious summer and magnificent fall with warm days, cool nights, and lovely sunsets, we have had a cold winter. Two cold snaps in December and then January have left us hibernating, but this is a wonderful time to get out and explore the trails. Whereas the sidewalks have been icy, the trails on the whole have been crisp underfoot. The cold leaves form a carpet when I run, the crunch under my footsteps often the only sound I can hear – besides the happy panting dog beside me!

So as the seasons turn once more, I think of the many trails we can explore on foot – either as a brisk walk, hike or a run. We can choose to run by lakes, the ocean or through residential areas where rural trails are in abundance so let’s start with Mt Doug. It is the largest park in Saanich and has a myriad of trails at its base. All of the trails have excellent markers and there are maps at some intersections, so getting around is fairly easy even if you are directionally challenged. If you hike to the top you have a 360° view of Victoria. For runners keeping to the lower trails can still offer a challenge with many undulations and tree roots. It provides a good workout and your dog will love you for it.

The 10k trail that circumnavigates Elk and Beaver Lake is a gem in Victoria. On a warm day it provides shade and on a rainy day: shelter. It is ideal for running or walking as there are many places for your canine friend to cool off. Just beware of the algae warning signs. It has been particularly bad this past summer and your pet could get sick if exposed to it. The trail is marked every kilometre so you can explore by distance or minutes.  Watch for others enjoying the trail, in particular horses. Dogs can be off leash as long as they are under control. And keep an eye out for the National rowing team who train on Elk Lake year-round.

Another beautiful place to exercise is Thetis Lake. Rated moderate to challenging by the CRD, this 834 hectacre park has an abundance of trails that intersect to you can make your journey as short or long as you like. Arbutus trees are a feature of this lake trail as is natural wildlife on the water. Like Elk and Beaver Lake there are areas for your four-legged friend to enjoy a cooling swim. The all-year round doggie beach is a particular favourite allowing your best friend to socialize with like-minded canines. If you like to run or walk early then you will see triathletes training as the main beach is a popular spot for swimming.

Victoria has two great urban/rural trails that intersect – Lochside Trail and the Galloping Goose Trail.  Lochside Trail is a 29 km trail from Swartz Bay to Victoria and even though there are paved and road sections, the Royal Oak Drive to Sayward Road and beyond to Island View Road has some off road and is surprisingly quiet. It is a favourite for cyclists so if you are running with your dog then it is advisable to leash up. Ocean views are a feature of this trail.

Lochside meets the Galloping Goose trail at the Switch Bridge. It is 60 km of sheer delight for recreational athletes with many cyclists also enjoying the Goose. The pathway is now paved all the way to Colwood. However, beyond Colwood it is still mainly trail and stunning to explore – particularly around Roche Cove and Matheson Lake and all the way to the Sooke Potholes. This part of the Goose is surprisingly quiet and largely undiscovered so ideal for a quiet, solitary run or walk. It is marked every kilometre so you can choose to join the trail at a convenient spot and venture forth for as long or short as you like.

Other areas worth exploring are Horth Hill Regional Park near Sidney, Durrance Lake in Mount Work Regional Park, Francis King Regional Park in the Highlands, Goldstream Provincial Park and John Dean Provincial Park on the Saanich Peninsula.

 

Fit to Travel

foam-roller-the-grid-product1

Summer is a great time to get outside and maintain your fitness regime. For many it is time to start training for fall races, for others just enjoying the many summer activities on offer is a must. Summer is also a time for vacation, and we are often faced with the dilemma of how to maintain a fitness regime and avoid weight gain while away, particularly in an area or country we are not familiar with. Here are some tips to keeping you motivated and moving.

  • If you are a runner this is a no brainer. Pack your running shoes, some gear and go explore. If you are staying in a hotel, they may have walking routes you can use. If you are travelling alone and prefer not to run on your own in a strange city there may also be local clubs you can tag along with. You can contact a local running store who may have a list of clubs, or see if the Hash House Harriers has a chapter. They are a world-wide running club and welcome visitors.
  • Another way to explore while getting some exercise is to rent a bike. You can go a lot further and see a lot more. You can usually rent a helmet with the bike so you don’t have to worry about packing one.
  • Take a hike. If you are vacationing with family then a social way to exercise is to go for a hike/walk. Many cities now have walking tours and you can choose your distance. If you are in an area that has scenic trails then hiking is a great way to stay fit and burn calories. Pack a lunch and you can enjoy a great day out.
  • Many hotels have gyms/spas so if working out is important to you, then choose a hotel with fitness facilities. This can be a bonus particularly if it is hot outside. Most hotel gyms have cardio equipment and weights so you can get your workout done in an air-conditioned environment and then enjoy your vacation with a clear conscience.
  • Swim. If your hotel has a good size pool, swimming is a great all body exercise. Or find a recreation centre with a pool and swim lengths.
  • Pack your own equipment. It is so easy today to pack a few items in your case and not really take up a lot of space. Start with a Grid Foam Roller – at only 13” long and 5” in diameter it is light and hollow so you can fill it with almost anything. Start with resistance bands – a great substitute for weights, so you can keep up with your strength training, therapy ball – for massaging out tight spots, skipping rope, and a yoga strap for stretching hamstrings.
  • Exercising with your own body weight is simple and easy to do. A simple circuit could include jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges, burpees and the plank. These can be done on a beach, in a park or in a gym.
  • Stairs. Find some stairs and run up and down for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Your heart rate will get elevated so make sure you walk down the stairs to recover. You can also incorporate this into your run.
  • If you practice yoga, pack your mat and a DVD. Some hotels have DVD players or use your laptop. You can also download some videos beforehand on to a tablet.
  • Traveling can wreak havoc on our bodies – sitting too long on a plane, not getting enough sleep because of long flights or a major time change. So it is just as important to think about massage tools. The Stick for example is wonderful for massaging tight muscles from the neck down to the calves. A therapy ball, as mentioned above, you can lie on to sooth tight spots.
  • Just as important as maintaining an exercise regime is watching what you eat. Yes indulge a bit – that is what holidays are for, but try and make some healthy choices. Stay hydrated by drinking water (buy bottled if the local water is suspect) and try and incorporate fruit and vegetables in your meal choices. You can also pack some of your favourite energy bars to snack on.

These are just a few tips to help you stay fit and ward of those extra pounds away while you are away. There is nothing worse than coming home and finding you have lost a lot of fitness and gained excess weight. Ideally you should be able to get straight back into your routine within a few days, thanking yourself for keeping on track while you were away.

Quality not Quantity

Galloping-Goose-Trail-just-outside-Victoria-SM

How obsessive are you about your fitness routine? Is it the most important thing in your life and you would rather die than miss your scheduled run or workout? Or are you okay maintaining your fitness by “just” being active three or four days a week? For many, fitness is an obsession and when it reaches that level, it sometimes is no longer be enjoyable, so perhaps it is time to get off the treadmill and re-evaluate your lifestyle and goals.

We live in a competitive age and peer pressure can be intense. Group exercise, running clinics, and training rides are all there to motivate us and improve our fitness, which admittedly does have enormous benefits, but the environment can be competitive and before you know it you are signed up for a number of events, and you are broke – or even worse injured from over-training!

So it may be time to sit back and think – what do I really want to achieve and can I do that without breaking the bank balance? The answer is that of course you can. We are blessed with living in a place that means we can exercise year-round outside, and there are affordable activities and events you can do while still maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.

For runners this is a no-brainer. If you are tired of training runs at a goal pace, then just go for a run with your dog and treat it as Fido’s run. If your run is near water and your dog likes to swim, stop and let him/her have a paddle. On a warm day your dog will appreciate it. If you don’t have a 6-year-old lab who loves to run and swim (sorry – have to mention my boy Cash) then find a friend, pick a nice trail and do it!

Finding new places to run can be adventurous. Again grab a two or four paw buddy and explore new areas and terrain. We have abundant trails in Victoria – if you like a challenge, Mount Doug or Thetis Lake are options, or the Galloping Goose beyond Langford is relatively flat and not that busy.

Another tip is to run by feel and not time. Leave that $200 GPS behind and enjoy the actual run itself, not the fact that you have to run 8km today at a 5:30 pace. If you really have to know how long you ran check your watch before you leave and then when you get back, or put the GPS in a pocket and resolve not to look at it while you’re out there.

If you really can’t go a few weeks without running a race, then run some of the low-key community events. The Vancouver Island Running Association (VIRA) put on a series of races from 5k – half marathon every winter/spring, or check out the MEC race series that runs year-long.

So you have been a five-day-a-week runner for ever, and now as you get older want to still run but afraid your fitness level will decrease. That isn’t the case if you cross-train. Substituting a run with a bike ride or a swim is an excellent way of maintaining your fitness. You will still get a good cardio workout without the excess strain on your body that too much running can cause. Cross-training is also a great way to help injury prevention.

The Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails are perfect for cycling and if you like to ride in a group look out for the number of non-competitive rides available this year. MEC’s Century Ride is popular, and this year they are offering two rides, in May (with a choice of a 50K and 100K ride) and October (60K and 100K). MEC’s philosophy is simple: “We want to be able to offer everyone easy access to events that otherwise people wouldn’t do,” says Caitlin Brown, MEC Event Coordinator. Their ‘meet-up’ rides and runs are a great no-fuss option and available to anyone who just want to drop-in. They also offer clinics for those that do need that extra motivation.

Many of us head to the pool when we get injured, but why wait for that dreadful moment? Depending on your weight and the intensity of your swim you can burn many calories, and you feel toned afterwards as you are using every muscle in your body. If you haven’t swum for a while, don’t dive in and do an hour straight off or you will feel very sore the next day. Just like any activity, build up gradually. Pool running is not just for when you’re injured either – it can be a great way to get a no-impact, low-stress, cardio workout.

As we head into the warmer weather this is the perfect time to think about your fitness regime particularly if you do feel you are doing too much, or just want a change. It really is all about quality of life and getting out and enjoying a healthy lifestyle which you can do without being obsessive about it.

Are you in the Trend for 2016?

fitbit

Have you heard of Fitbit or Strava? HIIT or Fusion classes? Well, according to experts in Canada and south of the border we are in for some fabulous, fitness fun this year as we endeavour to experiment with different activities and tackle new technology. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Canadian Fitness Professionals Inc. (CanfitPro) have both released their top 10 fitness trends for 2016, and, although not dissimilar, they do differ. Let’s look at the comparison.

ACSM

  1. Wearable Technology. Fitness trackers and smart watches will be huge, according to ACSM. Fitbit, Garmin and the Apple watch will see a growth, particularly the Apple watch, which can do everything except start your car!
  2. Fitness Apps. There will be growing need for apps, not just for counting calories but nutrition and coaching and training plans. Strava is one of the latest apps that logs your run or bike ride and by sharing it with others, you can track each other.
  3. Personal Trainers Practicing Health and Wellness Coaching. Personal trainers will become a one-stop-shop for individuals who want the complete package – trainer and wellness coaching.
  4. Workplace Health and Wellness. A healthy employee is a happy one. Company gyms, perks such as gym membership, ergonomic aids such as stand up chairs, company-sponsored events – all will grow this year.
  5. Faith-based Fitness Program.  Exercise will become mainstream as churches, mosques and other faith-based communities come together and share health and fitness values.
  6. Functional Fitness. More specific classes and programs will emerge for different demographics. Youth camps and senior cardio classes will be part of the functional movement.
  7. Public – Private Fitness Partnerships. Equipment companies and clubs will see how they can work directly with the public, whether it is working with schools or in the community.
  8. Combined Group Fitness Classes. The trend will be to combine your favourite fitness classes giving you an aerobic and cardio workout in one. Boxing and Pilates (Piloxing) is already becoming popular.
  9. Group Personal Training. As an increased way of doing business, personal trainers will offer group training for group of two – five.
  10. Educational Fitness Workshops. In our hunt for knowledge about why we do a certain exercise, there will be chances to learn the techniques and concepts behind the workouts.

CanfitPro

  1. Functional Fitness. Number six on ACSM’s list is number one here, although the definition differs. Here it “involves exercising using multiple muscle groups versus one specific muscle group at a time.” Functional fitness programs include practical, balance-challenging movements that simulate activities like carrying groceries, unloading the car, getting up from a chair.
  2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts involve intense periods of exercise followed by durations of rest, often alternating cardio and weight bearing exercise. HIIT has grown exponentially over the last two-three years and is offered at most fitness clubs.
  3. Life/Wellness Coaching to Complement Fitness Training. Number three here concurs with the ACSM trend. Coaches provide expertise and support to help clients improve their health and lead a more balanced lifestyle. Trainer, nutritionist and coach all in one.
  4. Nutrition and Healthy Eating Programs.  Nutrition doesn’t appear anywhere in the ACSM trend. But those in health and fitness are becoming more aware of nutrition and how it relates to energy levels.
  5. Express Workouts. Once called circuit training – a fast, efficient 30 minute workout for those on a tight schedule.
  6. Older Adult Training. ACSM touch on this in their Functional Fitness trend – designing specialized programs for the older/senior population.
  7. Fusion-style Group Fitness. Number nine on the ACSM list, these classes combine different disciplines with the goal of developing strength, balance, agility and coordination from one exercise class.
  8. Personal Training. A stand-alone trend here whereas ACSM grouped it with life coaching. Trainers create customized fitness plans and offer advice for healthy eating, among other services.
  9. Working with Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals. With so many fitness professionals out there, we want to research and find the best qualified professional.
  10. Body Weight Training. Using your own body weight to create resistance is a growing workout trend. TRX is an example of a very popular workout with movements such as lunges and push-ups.

ACSM and CanfitPro agree on four of the trends, although some definitions differ, with our American counterparts favouring the growing technology. But all of the predictions are interesting, and we are all bound to find some we can identify with and say ‘yes I will do that this year.’ So why not pick five of these trends and see if you can change up your training this year. Then you can call yourself a trend setter.

Get Inspired by Helping Yourself and Others

2hr run clinic July 4 Run

With the end of the year drawing to a close and the dawn of a new one just around the corner, we often reflect on what we have achieved and start setting goals for the New Year. So let’s look at ways we can inspire ourselves by setting goals, but also see how by inspiring others, we fulfill a selfless need that is in all of us – a need to help and motivate.

Firstly, think of someone who has inspired you. Many of us have heroes – these are individuals who motivate us by what they are achieving. We are in awe of them and they inspire us to want to make changes to our fitness routine whether it’s training for your first marathon, taking up a new sport, or just simply getting off the couch. By them setting an example we are motivated to follow suit. You may have a friend or mentor who inspires you – you work out together or join a run clinic with a goal in mind. Perhaps you have a personal trainer or coach who sets goals and keeps you on track.  Without that training schedule you know you wouldn’t success and achieve the results you want.  Once you have identified your inspiring individual, write down the reasons why that person is so inspiring and what you can learn from them. Can you turn this into an experience you can share or inspire others? Of course you can.

You have noticed your friend is in a rut with their training, or they have lost interest in their sport for whatever reason. Take him/her under your wing and motivate and encourage. Suggest a change up in routine, try a new fitness class, start a new sport, or switch a run day with a bike ride. Join them and lead by example. Make it a project. If you have been running in training clinics for a while and feel you want to do more, then volunteer to be a run leader. Use your knowledge and enthusiasm and pass on to others and help them reach their goals. You may have to put your personal goals on hold, but the satisfaction of seeing others achieve theirs is immense, particularly knowing that you had a hand in their success.

Then of course you can inspire yourself. Think of your achievements and goals over the last year. Were they reasonable, too lofty or achievable? Remember the SMART principle – Simple, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. All goals should be based on this. Get inspiration from what you did achieve, no matter how small, and build on it. Write down what you want to achieve next year. Is there an event that you have always wanted to do but it has been out of your reach? Tell yourself that this is the year to do it. Be decisive. Share your goals with others and they will feed off your enthusiasm (and they may even train with you). Staying motivated can often be a difficult task so use some tools to help you. If you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon watch some inspirational running videos like the ‘Spirit of the Marathon,’ or read inspiring stories (George Sheehan is a particular favourite). Find some inspirational quotes or develop your own mantra. Along the way, reward yourself if you have accomplished a stage or achieved a target you set yourself, as part of your goal.

So make 2016 a year you can inspire others while inspiring yourself to achieve personal goals. Then this time next year you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

 

Safety First – Staying Active and Safe this Fall

running on the beachStaying active through fall and winter can be a challenge for many of us. It is the time of year when we want to curl up on the couch with a warm drink rather than face the darkness and inclement weather that the season brings. While it can be exhilarating to exercise outside when it is cooler and darker, given the choice of working out indoors or outdoors, we often go with the former choice, but with a little preparation and thought there is no reason why you can’t make the most of the outdoors.

Whether you are running, cycling or walking having the right gear is crucial for comfort as well as safety. From head gear to shoes there is a myriad of choices out there and so there really isn’t any excuse for not dressing appropriately. Remember a warm body is a happy body so take the time to invest in some proper clothing. Ear bands and hats are an essential item if you feel the cold (remember 80% of your body heat is lost through the head) as are gloves or mitts. You may need to wear one, two or three layers on your body depending on the weather and wind chill. There are many thermal and technical moisture-wicking fabrics out there so ask your favourite running, cycling or outdoor store for recommendations. Tights can come in varying degrees of thickness so this will depend on the temperature and your comfort. And don’t forget socks. Not cotton, but smart wool.

Once we put the clocks back at the end of October, then the days will get shorter and we face the prospect of exercising in the dark, in the mornings and evenings. Being visible is very important and always remember, just because you can see, that oncoming car doesn’t mean he can see you. There are many poorly lit streets in Victoria and so wearing light colours is important. Many jackets are now made with reflective materials, but you can still buy bright yellow safety vests to go over any jacket. Runners and cyclists should check out a cool new product – the Tracer 360, a fibre optic visibility vest, which is lightweight and has multicolour flashing modes, which can be seen for over a quarter mile. Head lamps are also good to wear and cyclists should always have front and rear lights.

If you are taking out your four-legged friend for a walk or run at night, it isn’t only you who needs to be visible. There are reflective leads and collars on the market and also LED lights specifically for attaching to a collar or harness.

There is usually a lot more planning to do when exercising in the dark – the usual routes during the day may not appear as attractive at night. So this could be a good way to try new ones – just ensure they are well lit, well frequented and have good footing. If your neighbourhood is dark then drive further afield. Running on Dallas Rd in winter with waves lashing the beaches and the sea spray in your face is very invigorating. Although we have a great trail system in Victoria, sections of the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails aren’t well lit and so it may be best to avoid those at night. Exercising with a friend is always more fun at the best of times, buddying up in the winter is even better.

We always talk a lot about hydration and fuelling while exercising during the summer months, but tend to neglect this over the fall and winter. It isn’t warm, I am not sweating so why do I need to drink water? We can still get dehydrated even in the cooler temperatures, our bodies don’t give us the obvious signs as they do in summer, but we still perspire – particularly if you are on a long run or ride – so always hydrate before and during and refuel afterwards.

Exercising can be fun and safe during the dark days of fall and winter, you just need to be prepared to brave the elements and get out and do it.

Cool Summer Running

Aug 1 runSummer is here and for many of us it is time to get out and enjoy outdoor activities – not that we can’t do that all year round on Vancouver Island. But we take on a different perspective when it is warmer, dryer and knowing that we may have three months or more of fabulous weather. With the long range forecast calling for a hot, dry summer we also need to be cognizant of being out in the sun in extreme heat, and taking the necessary precautions to avoid sunburn. Depending on the activity we also may have to adjust our schedules to workout when it is cooler.

Take running as an example – the Island is the best place on the planet to run. Which is why we live here – right? We can run outdoors 12 months of the year – not many places in Canada can boast that. But there is that special time of year when all we need in addition to a good pair of shoes is a singlet, shorts, hat or visor and we are off exploring the wonderful trails and pathways here.  But with the hot summer predicted we may need to make adjustments to our schedules and also what we wear. Here are a few tips for running this summer.

  • When to run. Depending on your running goals and if you run alone or with a group, run early in the day or later in the evening. If it is already 16°C at 8 am with a forecast high of 25 then run at 7 am. If you are training for a half or full marathon you will have completed your long run before the heat of the day.
  • Choose your routes. Run by the water and enjoy sea breezes, where is it usually a few degrees cooler, or on a trail with a lot of shade.  The victoriaweather.ca website has live temperature readings from all over the region so you can find the cooler spots to run
  • Hydrate. It is important to drink not just on the run but before. Drink water the day before a long run and the day of. Carry water (there are some great water belts out there) or if you are running for more than hour have an electrolyte or sports drink. Plan your route where there are washrooms and water fountains so you can top up your bottle. Dehydration is a serious condition so avoid caffeine beforehand, and before you partake of that post-run refreshing beer, drink water first to hydrate.
  • Eat. On long runs you may want to carry some sport nutrition such as gels or chews and fuel beforehand. Many runners think that water will keep them hydrated but often forget that the difference between a good and bad run is fuel – they can lose energy because they haven’t eaten enough. With the addition of extreme heat, you can feel drained and nauseous. So experiment with running and eating and see what works for you.
  • Wear wicking fabrics. Never wear cotton on a summer run (yes people still do). There are many new fabrics out there, so what to wear? “Firstly, it’s important for technical shirts to be a closer fit as their purpose is to wick away moisture,” says Nick Walker, Owner of Frontrunners. “Tech shirts regulate body temperature so on cooler mornings the shirt will also keep you warmer.” There are shirts that have body mapping: mesh panels on heavy sweat areas such as under the arms and the back. You can also get shirts with UV protection – darker colours have a SPF of 40 and lighter colours SPF 20. Sugoi and New Balance have a shirt with ‘ice-fil’ – a cooling fabric so when the body sweats, the shirt is cool to touch. Chafing is an issue for many so investing in a 2-in-1 short with a liner can avoid that, and always apply Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product, on sensitive areas. And don’t forget the hat and sunglasses. According to Walker, your face is more relaxed when you are not squinting, and that ensures you don’t tense in the shoulders and upper body.
  • Adjust your training. If you were planning a training run with a high RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) then adjust accordingly. The RPE varies from 1-2 where little effort is required to 9-10 which is maximum effort. In the heat you will feel like you are working harder to maintain your pace, so run by how you feel, not what your GPS watch is telling you. If it gets too warm, run at a lower RPE.
  • Post-exercise cooling. In addition to water and your favourite nutrition try chocolate milk – research has shown it has recovery elements. After a hot run, and if you are by the ocean or a lake, wade in and give your legs a cool soak for 15 minutes. You will feel a lot better for it.
  • Skip it! If the temperature is out of your comfort zone – just skip the run. It won’t hurt and you can always head to the treadmill in the gym and do the run there.

These are just a few tips for help you enjoy your running this summer. See you on trails.

Fueling Your Body for Exercise

simon waterYou are what you eat is an old cliché but so true when it comes to staying fit and healthy. We all have to ensure we get the required nutrients in our body, but if you exercise this is even more important. In fact your performance depends on it. Whether you are learning to run or planning an epic bike ride what you take in and how often will determine your success.

There are often misconceptions about how much you should eat – and drink – before, during and after exercise. How much protein should I eat and when? Is carbo-loading still the thing to do prior to an endurance event? Do I have to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated? You can listen to all the nutrition advice in the world, and read the hundreds of articles out there, but the bottom line is you need to find out what is right for you and your body type.

We all need protein, carbohydrates and water but a 130Ib woman doesn’t need the same as a 200Ib man. Eating small amounts of low fat protein such as chicken, turkey and eggs should be part of a daily diet. Carbs are essential as well, but in moderation – the days of gorging on pasta the night before a race are gone. We have such a variety of carbohydrates now – couscous and quinoa are examples – so it is easy to have a great variety in your diet. The essential thing to remember is don’t change up your diet radically, particularly leading up to an event.

Eating and running is different from eating and cycling. Most cyclists have the luxury of being able to eat prior to a ride and fuel up during it, but runners have to be more cautious. Personally, I never ate anything three hours prior to running, for years. This can be quite challenging when my long runs were in the morning. By not eating it meant I hadn’t had food for 10-12 hours. Even though I have an electrolyte drink on long runs, my energy level was affected and I often felt tired towards the end. Replicating this habit in a race situation can be a disaster when you have specific goals in mind.  So I smartened up and started experimenting with foods and found those I can eat 90 minutes before a long run. So a breakfast before a long run (and by long I mean minimum 90 minutes) for me is a yogurt drink and an organic crunchy bar. I then have a sport drink and also a pack of carbohydrate chews on the run.

This might work for me but not for everyone. I know someone who sets their alarm for 4:30 am in the morning, has a peanut butter sandwich – conveniently pre-made and by the bed – and then goes back to sleep until it’s time to get up and run. Experiment until you find what works. Carrying your nutrition with you on long runs is important – even if you may not feel hungry at the start, you will need it. It takes 20 minutes or so for your food to digest and get into your system so plan ahead. We have all heard the term ‘bonking’ – when you have hit the wall because you have run out of energy. You need to ensure that this doesn’t happen by spreading out your nutrition.

Staying hydrated is as important and you need to drink before you get thirsty. So do we need to drink eight glasses of water a day? That depends on our body type and weight and what other fluids you consume. Drinking too much can have an adverse effect – Hyponatremia is a condition when the blood becomes diluted from too much water. Sipping during the day and topping up your glass frequently is the best scenario – mixing in an electrolyte adds flavour, and is recommended the day before an endurance event. And what about those electrolyte drinks? There are so many out there that you need to try them and see what works for you. There is a misconception that you need to take in electrolytes from the start of your exercise routine. That isn’t the case. Water is quite adequate for up to an hour of exercise. More than an hour and you should have a sport drink or another source of fuel as your body needs to replenish its glycogen stores.

Nutritionists recommend eating within an hour of exercising. Depending on what you have just done this may not be practical or feasible. I can’t eat anything for at least an hour after I finish a long run, I just can’t stomach it, so I will munch on any remaining chews I have, so at least I know that I am taking something in.

With all the different types of nutrition out there you can have fun trying different brands and flavours. And when you find your magic formula, stick to it and make it part of your regular exercise routine.

 

 

The Resolution Factor – Making Goals Work

resolutionsIt is around this time that we start thinking of our New Year resolutions and set out goals for 2015. In past articles I have offered tips on how to make goals the SMART way – Smart, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – so that these goals can be achievable. So if you did make goals this time last year now is the time to look back and assess how you did.

It is a good exercise to analyse your goals and see what worked, what didn’t and if it didn’t ask why. This way we can adjust our goals and be more realistic in the future.

If one of your goals was trying a new activity ask yourself honestly if you enjoyed it and if so how long did you do it for. Was it all you had hoped it would be? If you are a runner you probably set yourself a goal race – 10km, Half Marathon or even a Marathon – or even a Personal Best time.  How was the training and were you able to avoid injury and run your race?

The biggest barrier to making successful goals is time. How often do we say ‘I don’t have time to run today, I am just too busy.’ So that 45 min activity gets put off and then it is easy to procrastinate and miss another workout and so it goes on. Other barriers may be work related, personal issues or just the weather (we all like to blame the weather after all!)

So as we see another year out and a new one in, here are some suggestions on how to stick with the plan.

  • Take a moment to write down your goals and – more importantly – make sure they aren’t the same as last year. If one of your goals was to run a 10k and you did, then your next goal is to improve on your time. Be realistic – a 10% improvement is achievable. Or your goal may be to run more 10k’s – if so target the races you want to run so you can properly train and plan.
  • Ask yourself why you are making resolutions. What is the intention? All goals should be for you so you may need to remind yourself and write down why you are doing this.
  • Don’t make a drastic change in routine when you set your goals. While that may seem odd (some may say that the whole point of making a resolution is to make change). But the resolutions likely to succeed are the ones that don’t involve a major change to routine. Perhaps you are already running but getting bored with doing the same routine. Try cross-training or join one of the growing bike or triathlon groups. You can certainly think out of the box but ask yourself if you are comfortable with it. If you aren’t you are less likely to succeed.
  • Think about how you can realistically succeed with your goals. If you are a runner or cyclist are you likely to stay on track with others around you, or are you more focussed training on your own? There is no right or wrong way – we are all different, some prefer the camaraderie of being in a team, while others enjoy their own company without the peer pressure.
  • Consider the barriers that may impede your chances of achieving your goals. While this may seem negative, we need to be realistic. If there is a particular time that you know you will be busy at work, consider that when you plan. The ‘I don’t have time’ factor means you may not have time for a 60 minute endurance run, but you could fit in a 20 – 25 minute speed workout which will reap the same benefits.
  • Re-visit your goals every two months. Are you on track? Do you need to make adjustments? There is nothing wrong in adapting your goals if you feel something isn’t working for you, or if you have had a personal or work issue that may impact on what you want to achieve. The important thing is to be honest with yourself and rather than abandoning the goal, change it up and make it work for you.