Staying Fit During the Off Season

Some off seasons I work hard to keep a base and stay fit.  Some off seasons, I don’t.  This year, I didn’t and I can definitely feel the difference.  I have no regrets about that and fitness will come back.  Last week, a reader, Mike, asked about keeping a base in the off season.

Everyone needs a break in their running.  Running year round can result in injury or like me: burnout.  Feeling completely out of shape isn’t the most pleasent way to begin running again, and there are ways to cross train and get the most from an off season.  Ultimately, the off season should be used to rest and recover.

Here are a Few Methods I’ve Used to Keep Fitness:  

Create a Schedule or Plan:

Like when you are running, it’s important to create a plan.  Whether you want make a goal to run 2-3 times a week, cross train, or whatever, just make a plan.  When you aren’t training for anything, it becomes easy to just not do anything.  Believe me, from late April until early June, I took a week of rest which turned into 2 months.  I worked out sometimes, but not enough to keep any base fitness.  I was fine with that though!

Create a Realistic Plan:

Sure you could dedicate the amount you currently dedicate to running, but it’s an off season.  Thinking out loud, you aren’t supposed to go hard, you are supposed to relax and enjoy other things.  I typically recommend about half the time you would dedicate to running but make the plan realistic for you.  Find new hobbies you enjoy, do new things, or heck do nothing at all.

Do New Things:

If all you do during your running off season is run or run fewer miles, it’s not really an off season.

Here are some other examples of other great fitness options:

Strenght Training: Some off seasons I get into it, some off seasons I don’t.  I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable in it but you can get great strength training advice from those who are or a certified coach.

Swimming: If you read LOLZ blog long ago, you might remember I swam far before I ran. Swimming is a great full body workout.  Let’s be honest, it’s more fun in the summer and outdoors but it’s just as good in the winter too.

Yoga: Yoga is becoming trendy.  Especially hot yoga, now that it’s getting colder.

Spinning and Cycling: I’ve done a few spin classes before.  I don’t need (or want) to invest in a road bike and fun spin classes are good enough for me.  Plus normally they have top 40s music, which I like.

Group Classes: Personally, I like group classes in strength and cardio because I feel like it’s more fun, I actually do core and strength, and I like pop music.

Cardio Machines: Most runners like cardio marchines as much as they like the treadmill. I like them because I can catch up on Netflix, TV shows, or just be mindless for an hour and still get a good workout in.  Sometimes, I catch up on the social media too.  You can go nuts and raise your heart rate if you want, but gym equipment is all about what you put into it.  If you slowly pedal an elliptical, you won’t get as good of a workout as if you go crazy pretending you are racing the elliptical user next to you.

Finally and Just as Important as Working Out: Don’t Forget about your Diet.

When you aren’t burning as many calories, you don’t need to eat as much.  This is something I’ve always personally struggled with and I typically gain anywhere from 5-10 pounds.  I did from April until now too.  You should not deprive yourself but you probably don’t need to eat 5 cookies after a strength session.  It’s all about balance.

Keeping a base has it’s place, just like everything else in the fitness world.  I am a firm beliver, that it’s important to take a fair amount of rest so your body will be ready for the next training cycle.

Related Posts:
How to Build a Running Base and Stay Healthy
Why Building a Base is So Important for Running
Quick Core Ideas for Runners
Why Rest? Why Cross Train?

Questions for you:
What are your favorite things to do during an off season?
Do you take an off season?  Why or Why Not? 

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How to Build a Running Base and Stay Healthy

A few weeks ago, I posted about building a base for running.  Since then, I’ve been trekking along.  I’ve slowly either increased mileage or added speed work (in the form of races).

Over a month ago, thinking out loud, my longest run was about 6 miles.  Last week, I ran 10, and while I was tired, I wasn’t injured.  My paces have slowly gotten faster, and my body has become less and less fatigued.

After writing the post, several people emailed and asked to write different posts about the importance of the base building.  Believe me, without a foundation your training will crumble, and you will get injured.  I’ve been there, and the last thing you want is to be injured shortly after training again.  So here we are, back to base building.  Please keep in mind I’m not a professional, coach, or getting paid.  I’ve just been around the injury block a few times…

In Short, to Build a Successful Base, you Should Focus on Three Principles:

  1. The Length of Your Longest Run (don’t increase it too quickly)
  2. The Length of Your Weekly Runs
  3. Don’t forget rest!  Take an easier week every 3 weeks (the rest is the most important!)

After about a month, you should see an increase in endurance and less injury prone.   

That fitness increase is currently what I am seeing.  When I began running again, my paces were probably closer to 10 min miles.  Now I’m running about 9:15 and race.  I’m running longer and a bit faster.

During your base building phase, you should run longer to build more endurance and stamina. 

First, I do not mean go out and run 20 miles every day (or ever…running 20 milers every day isn’t wise).  You should slowly increase your mileage and keep it easy.  There is no point to race your training runs.  That will also lead to injury.

You should slowly increase your mileage and keep it easy.  There is no point to race your training runs.  That will also result in injury.

But What are the Benefits of Running Longer and Easier? 

  • Build Mental Toughness
  • Improve Muscular Strength
  • Become More Energy Efficient

So How Fast Should I Run? 

Once again, I’m not an expert and I’m speaking purely on experience.  Personally, I’ve found that running anywhere from 60-90 seconds slower than your race pace has worked.  Most of the time during base building, I don’t bring a watch with me.

During easy runs, you should be able to “talk” the entire time.  Realistically, you shouldn’t increase your long run by more than 1-2 miles every week.

Finally, The Importance of a Rest Week: 

Around 4 weeks, you should cut back your distance. Otherwise, you’ll set yourself up for an injury.  You cannot continuously build your mileage, or your body will break.  You will lead to a small injury or issue.

Taking a couple of rest days can save an entire season of running.  Stress fractures aren’t a single injury but form over weeks of continuous stress.

In short, building a base takes time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is fitness.  

Related Posts:
Why Building a Base is So Important for Running
How Easy is it to “Get Out of Running Shape”?
Racing My Way to Fitness

Questions for you:
How do you build your base?
What is your favorite type of run?  Easy? Long Runs? Tempo? Race? 

How Alternating Shoes Can Benefit Your Running:

One of the most asked questions I get while working in a running store, is: “do I need two pairs of shoes”?

The short answer is, you don’t need anything… 

But this post isn’t about the short answer.

Thinking out loud, alternating shoes can benefit anyone running, from those training for a 5k to those training for a marathon or even ultra marathon.

Keep in mind, your rate of injury does go up if you alternate the wrong types of shoes.  Every shoe is made for a different foot type and if you alternate the wrong shoes (for your feet) then you will get injured.

There are very few situations you should rotate a stable and neutral shoe together.  Make sure that the shoes you’ve chosen are correct for your particular gait and feet.  Every shoe is good for someone but there is no “best shoe”.   I cannot stress how important it is to go to your local Running Store and get your feet analyzed. 

But why Alternate Shoes?

Increase the Durability of Your Shoes:

Well yes, having two pairs of shoes means you use the shoe less frequently but it also means your shoe have time to recover and bounce back from each run.

So why do shoes last longer? If you give shoes 1-2 days to “recover,”  the materials in the midsole don’t continuously compress.  Like a sponge, they fluff or bounce back closer to their original state.

Instead of getting the traditional 300-400 miles on a shoe, you might get a few more.  

It does naturally cost more to buy two shoes, you are getting more for your money.  Always ask your running store if they give a discount for buying two shoes, we do where I work

Different Shoes are Made for Different Things:

Take the Hoka Bondi 5 versus the Saucony Type A.  Both of these shoes make weekly appearences in my running but they are made for different types of runs!  The Hoka Bondi 5 has over double the weight and cushion of the Saucony Type A.

The Hoka Bondi 5 was created for a long run, recovery run or to withstand training. Saucony Type A is a minimal racing flat.  If you train in the Saucony Type A for every run, you will get injured.  If you raced in the Hoka Bondi, your body and feet would be working significantly harder.  Every shoe has a time and place.  I did write about racing flats here.

Alternating Shoes Can Prevent Injury:

As I mentioned above, this only works if you do it correctly!  While it’s not the magical way to prevent injuries, you can decrease your injury risk by alternating appropriate shoes.

Stress fractures happen from doing the same thing day in and day out.  If you run the same route, in the same shoes, every day you are more prone to an injury.

Even if you rotate two of the exact same style, then your feet are working in very similar ways.  Choosing different brands or models allow your body and feet to work just differently enough that it can decrease the stress put on any given area of your body.

Should You Rotate the Same Exact Style or Different Brands?

Alternating two of the same style allows each shoe to have a longer life span.

Alternating different styles allows each shoe to have a longer lifespan and your foot will work differently in each shoe.  You’ll be less suscipatble to injury by alternating different types or brands of shoes.

It’s just fun.  This isn’t a scientific fact but running in different shoes is just fun. 

What am I currently alternating between?
Hoka Bondi 5 (long runs, daily runs)
Saucony Freedom ISO (daily runs)
Brooks Launch (speed work, short runs)
Saucony Type A (speed work)

Incase you missed any of the previous weeks Running Store and Training:
Thoughts While Working in the Running Store
Should Race in Racing Flats?
Are you Getting Enough Protein for Running?

Why 5ks are the Best

Questions for you:
Which shoes are in your shoe rotation?
Have a question about shoes?  Ask below!

Living Minimally

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in New Jersey for 10 days.  It’s been an adjustment to life, weather and just getting back into my regular routine.

I didn’t have to stay 6 weeks in Montgomery.  I did have to go down, but I could have driven back solo while my husband finished his course.  I could have driven down, did what I needed and drove back to New Jersey (driving close to 4000 miles in 6 weeks). Instead, I chose to drive down once, stay there during the quiet weeks and drive home together.  That way, we could drive one car, stay together and it would be more enjoyable that way.

When we moved to Alabama, I packed everything I would need in two suitcases.  We weren’t sure the exact time frame, but you can live out of a suitcase for 2 months.

To be completely honest, I was nervous to go down there.  As I mentioned, I left my job for 6 weeks.  I didn’t know anyone in Alabama.  While I had things to do, it definitely was not as much as living back in New Jersey.

But I wanted a risk, new adventure, and challenge.  I told myself: if I had lived in the middle of nowhere, Texas, I could make it Alabama.  Thinking out loud and truth be told, despite the constant tornados, I liked Alabama.

Living in Alabama taught me a lot how to live minimally.  I learned I have far too much clutter here in New Jersey.

Essentially, I lived out of a suitcase in a two room hotel for 6 weeks.  In the hotel, we had a kitchenette but no oven.  It wasn’t bad, and we were able to eat healthy and make do without it.

So how did we go from too much stuff to a suitcase full? 

Lucky for my husband, he has two work uniforms.  Then he needed about 2 regular clothing outfits. Since he was running and training for his marathon, he brought more shoes than I did. Realistically, he could have probably lived out of a backpack…As an over packer myself, I could not.

Downgrade:

Do you really need 5 pairs of black leggings? Sure, the material might be slightly different or the pattern but is it necessary?  I brought exactly 10 outfits that could be paired differently.  Different tops and different pants.  I brought three pairs of leggings and did laundry every few days.  I grew to love that clothing enough that I won’t be wearing any of it for a few weeks now that I’m home.

When I got home, I had even forgotten I owned certain leggings.  At that point, I realized I had too much stuff.

We Learned New Simple and Basic Recipes:

We didn’t have an oven.  So we were forced to cook the majority of foods from a pan or the microwave.  For example, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is by roasting them.  Roasted beets are delicious!  Instead of forgoing beets at all, we decided to try something new and boil them.  It worked out just as well and honestly it’s something I’ll do back in NJ too.

So while living in a 2 room hotel for a while wasn’t ideal, it did teach me a lot.

When I got home, it took me about a week, but I downsized and donated a lot.  What were some questions I asked myself:

  • Race Tshirts: Does the shirt have meaning to me?  Did I PR? Do I like the shirt, if it wasn’t my favorite, it was donated.
  • When was the last time I wore an item?  If it wasn’t in the last full calendar year, it was donated.
  • Do I have multiple of the same thing?  Base layers are great, but do you need 4 pairs of nearly identical black leggings?  I couldn’t even remember all of the similar styles I had.
  • Running Shoes: As someone who works in running retail, I had over 20 pairs of shoes.  I’m actively running in 3 pairs right now! I kept one model of each brand, and donated 13 pairs.  It feels like a fresh hair cut.

I’m happy to be back and I don’t regret staying down in Alabama for the full six weeks.  I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me.

Questions for you:
How do you figure out what to keep or donate?
What are some tips you have to live with less clutter?

 

How to Race Well

I am someone who likes to race a lot.

Big races…

small races…

short races…

long races…

I like them all!

I thrive on the excitement of races. While every race is not a PR, I have found I thrive on racing frequently.  I also enjoy it.  I like meeting new people, pushing myself to the finish line and getting a good workout in.  Thinking out loud, I decided to compile a few tips and tricks that help me in any of my races.

How to Race Well:

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:

I believe that to run a goal race well; you should have a few practice races.

It is good to practice your nutrition, gels, CLOTHING, and pace goals beforehand.  Of course, you can do this in a training run, but nothing beats the real deal.  I know it took me 30+ 5ks to execute and PR at the Flower Show last year.  I highly doubt it takes most people that long.

STAY CALM:

Remember you’ve been preparing for the race. You’ve put in the work, and all that is left is the actual race.

Good nerves are not a bad thing but don’t let them get the best of you.  A while back, I was interviewed on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, I’ll have another.  She asked if I got nervous during races and the answer was not really.  I race so much that while I do have a few nerves and butterflies, it’s never overwhelming because I’ve been in that situation before!

(Race) Confidence is key!

REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING:

Between racing and training, the majority of time is spent training.  Don’t forget about how you’ve prepared for the race. Focus on the good aspects of training.  Let’s be honest, a bad run sticks in our head longer than a good one.  Try not to forget about the good training runs too! Those are what build your confidence!

Before a major race, I like to scroll through my training log and look at the runs I crushed and felt confident!  

I feel a lot better going into a race knowing I crushed goal workouts.

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN:

After the weather in 2016, I learned to toughen up in bad weather.  Before 2016, I had never really raced in bad weather.  The first five years, I had always lucked out, but very few races ever go smoothly.  It’s important to realize there will always be uncontrollables at a race and how you handle them will define your race!  This is a lesson I’ve learned with running and life.  You cannot control everything.

Uncontrollables can be many things:

  • the race start is late
  • the weather is awful
  • or the course is changed
You can’t control every variable of a race, but you can control how you react.  Every racer deals with the same uncontrollables.  Remember, every racer is dealing with the same issues and we are all making the best of it!

ENJOY THE RACE:

Every race has both high points and low points.  Embrace the good points as much as you complain about the low points.  Even in 5ks, you can have amazing moments and moments you want to forget.

REMEMBER THE END PROCESS AND MEETING YOUR GOALS IS WORTH IT.

Another post you might like: Racing in Undesirable Conditions

Questions for you:

Do you like racing?

adidas Supernova Shoe Review

The adidas Supernova is a brand new shoe from adidas.  It replaced the Adidas Glide.  I never ran in the Glide, but I have run in the Energy Boost which I liked.  Boost is the material that adidas chooses to construct their shoes out of.  It’s a much more “bouncy” shoe, and it reminds me a lot of Newtons (which for anyone who read my blog in 2010-2012, I almost exclusively ran in).

Fit:
Like with the energy boost and almost all of the adidas line, adidas fit narrow.  The shoe is seamless so if you have wider feet (like myself), then it will stretch to fix your foot.  However, it does run narrow.  In most models of shoes, I wear a 10 wide.  In the adidas Supernova, I wear a 10.  The 10.5 was too long, and the shoe does not exist in wide.  It fit pretty well, but if there were a wide, I would have gone that route.

adidas supernova shoe review

A huge plus is that the shoe is seamless.  You don’t have to worry about the shoe rubbing bunions, or if you have a high instep, it won’t rub there either.

Ride:
The boost material in adidas shoes makes them much more bouncy and responsive.  The heel is well cushioned where the forefront of the shoe has less boost and is more responsive.  With every step, I felt propelled off the ground as the boost material responded.

The Supernova Glide is a great option for those who want a lightweight but want to stay in the adidas line.  Especially for someone currently training in the Energy Boost and wanting a lighter shoe to race or do speed work in.

Another bonus about adidas is they use Continental tire rubber at the bottom of their shoes.  There is more traction than several other brands. It was my shoe of choice when running outside in any conditions with possible ice.

adidas supernova shoe review

Similar Shoes:

Brooks Launch, Asics Nimbus, ON Cloud Surfer, Saucony Ride

My Current Rotation:
Brooks Ghost 9 (easy runs, long runs)
Saucony Ride 9 (easy runs, long runs)
adidas Supernova
Saucony Type A (speed work)

I like the adidas Supernova a lot, I just wish it came in wide!

Questions for you:
Have you run in adidas before?
What is your favorite running shoe?

 

Tips for Running through the Winter

I originally began writing this post when I thought I would be living through a New Jersey winter.  Now I’m sitting here in Alabama, and it’s close to 70 degrees outside in January.  As long time readers know I’ve been through many different temperatures during winter.

I went to college and worked in Upstate NY where there is often 2 feet of snow, but nothing closes.  It ranged from -30 to 30. 

Digging my car out was fun
Digging my car out was fun

I’ve lived in Virginia and New Jersey where a few inches generally shuts down everything. 

And now I live in Alabama where today the high is 70 degrees (but last week it was 25).  So my 2017 winter will be a combination of a couple of states from New Jersey to Alabama. 

With anything, it’s important to run and train smartly.  If you ever feel unsafe, run inside or rest.  There is never shame in that.  (In college, I slipped and fell on ice.  It resulted in a fractured humorous, and I wasn’t even running outside…I was just walking!)

Another fun fact about winter training is that all of my PRs now are currently from winter races.

February 2015 Phoenix Marathon: 3:14,59

January 2016: Carlsbad Half Marathon 1:22.57

February 2016: Flower Show 5k (18:13) 

So thinking out loud, I’ve created a few tips to running through the winter.   

First and most importantly: Don’t be afraid to adjust your workout:

A few years ago, I was visiting friends in Rochester the weekend of my last long run. Rochester ended up getting a massive blizzard and running outside was unimaginable.  (You know it’s a problem when things in Rochester close!).

I ran my last 20 mile run on the treadmill (see why I don’t hate the treadmill).  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t desirable either.  Running outside would have been unsafe and hazardous.  If I hadn’t felt good on the treadmill, I probably would have skipped the run altogether.  Luckily, I felt fine.

Prevent Sliding with Yak Trax:

You will be amazed at what a difference Yac Trax make while running outdoors.  You’ll be able to grip the ground and ice much easier and stay safe.  I cannot stress how awesome they are (no they aren’t paying me to tell you).

Don’t Forget: Main Roads are Plowed First: 

The main roads are going to be plowed before local roads and sidewalks.  Who knows, your sidewalk may never be plowed.  Being smart with how and where you run is important.  Always run on the opposite side of traffic and don’t run down the middle of the road.

snow storm after

Some local are often cleared quickly too: 

My high school was located in a neighborhood, and the roads to and from the school were cleared quickly.  During winter storms I could often run a 1-2 mile loop around my high school.  Boring?  Yes, but if you like outdoors then that was your best bet.

Wind Protection:

Even when the temperatures are brutal outside, the wind factor can play a bigger role. Layering appropriately is important.  It’s not just about “wearing as many layers as possible”. Runners World has a great “what to wear” calculator here.

I recently learned that Vaseline can be an excellent protection against the cold and wind. It’s waterproof and helps block the wind too.  I don’t know how I didn’t know that!

Rain Protection:

You can prepare for the snow but don’t forget about the rain. In my opinion, winter rain is one of the toughest elements to run through.  It’s important to appropriately layer.  My personal favorite jacket is from Gore-Tex.  I’ve run through 30-degree torrential downpours, and my long sleeve underneath has stayed completely dry.  While it is pricey, it’s worth the cost if you are running outdoors in the winter.

broad street 10 miler 1

With that, winter running can be an enjoyable experience.  Training through the winter can set you up for Spring PRs.

Relevant Posts: 

How to Race in Inclement Weather 

Why I don’t hate the Treadmill

Questions for you:

What are some tips you have to train through the winter?

How cold is it where you are?